Tag Archives: Matthew Antaky

ODC Dances Downtown With Two Premieres

3 Apr

Friday March 20, the second of ODC’s annual spring Dances Downtown, K.T. Nelson choreographed one and collaborated with Brenda Way on the second.

In the personnel department I learned from publicist Mona Baroudi that Anne Zivolich had left the company to work for Apple. What a bite that takes in the company’s talent! However, ODC has gained Katherine Wells, and what treat it is
to see her dancing with an ensemble known to be generous and caring of its members.

K.T.’s Nelson’s work, Dead Reckoning, if you read the program notes, was about Nature and its vastness, starting with the ensemble being frenetic as only K.T. can assemble such chaotic activity, skillfully abetted by a commissioned score by Joan Jeanrenaud with percussion by PC Munoz. I am watching, scribbling in the dark, and it soon quieted down to seemingly unrelated single passages, then a pair, then a trio which often has not so much a triangular relationship, but an encounter, like the finale where a couple literally moves over the prone figure of one individual. Fight for survival, unawareness, the succession of life? It’s hard to tell as white petals, presumably snow, is dropped from a set of steps by a single figure and then a pair of figures, and finally a cascade from the flys.

Overall, as you probably have noticed, I paid a great deal of attention to the props and the setting. While dancing extremely well, it seemed that the dancers’ emotions got lost in the structure around them, Given the emotional
background was Nature, however, perhaps that’s a just assessment.

K.T.Nelson and Brenda Way collaborated on The Invention of Wings; it was supported by Matthew Antaky’s light and scenic design. There was a sound score by Olafur Arnalds, Ben Frost and Ben Juodvalkis. Apparently comissioned for Ai Weiwei’s Alcatraz Exhibit, the theme dealt with suppression, starting with the Yayoi Kambara’s disrobing, then wrapping herself and rolling in a strip of cloth after two writers filled a lengthy strip of paper from backstage to front with scribbles. It was torn up by two men, apparently censors. What followed was apparently a study in repression; but for all the devices and movements, I failed to register to my fairly common mind signs of mind and body control.

The ten dancers in the company were terrific, dancing full out, if I did miss some recognizable emotions. I also commend the tribute to Yayoi Kambara who leaves ODC this year to explore her own choreographic potential. While I may not comprehend choreographic manifestations, I applaud the class act ODC maintains when it comes to recognizing dancers and collaborators. Maybe some day the light will dawn for me under my private bodhi tree.

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Liss Fain at Z Space

11 Jan

Among her other attributes, Liss Fain has taste, as evidenced in her continuing collaboration with Matthew Antaky for Installations and Lighting Design. At Z Space, with its vaulting ceilings and worn wood floors, it was a visual winner all the way.

Fain also is drawn to unusual authors for her movement inspiration; for this it was English novelist Virginia Woolf, who survived childhood incestuous experience, enjoyed a modicum of happiness, but committed suicide at the outbreak of World War II by loading her pockets with stone before wading into a nearby river.

From Woolf’s writings Fain chose phrases from The Waves and Moments of Being around which to choreograph After The Light for her six dancers, minimally costumed, effectively, by Mary Domenico; Fain elected to have Marty Pistone and Val Sinckler record the phrases and thoughts she selected. Dan Wool, the composer, provided the music, employed effectively, and sparingly.

Fain had the audience sit or stand around the set/installation, Antaky’s evocative English garden metallic structure for the forty-five minute performance; they looked like village witnesses, a silent chorus, the gazebo marking the dance space with its stark white marley floor. A spotlight began the illumination as the dancers stood or sat motionless, Katherine Hawthorne, tall, motionless near one of the seated Kurashige sisters; on the other side of the set Jeremiah Crank and Alec Lytton sat near one another, equally motionless.

In addition to Megan and Shannon Kurashige, the sixth dancer was Carson Stein, similar in size, fleetness and dramatically dynamic, if two such words can share kinship.

With the still beginning, the subdued quality remained throughout the ballet, though arms swooped and interwove themselves, several lifts accomplished by Crank with one of the Kurashige sisters, the second one providing the work with a spectacular vertical jump. The movement patterns were fluid, strides were long, ensembles forming and evaporating rapidly. The language, the black tights with white tee shirts embellished by translucent embroidered suspenders, reinforced the cliche of English behavioral restraint, the underlying tensions conveyed by lengthy strides, lifts, the port de bras, the fluidity of the small ensembles.

Liss Fain Dance at YBC’s Forum Space

24 Nov

Liss Fain has a reputation for taste and the cerebral. Both were in full view in the program at YBC’s Forum space November 17-20 under the title “Art is Not In Some Far-Off Place” and “The False and True are One.”

The taste category inhabited Matthew Antaky’s Lighting and Scenic Design,, space as measured as a cha-no-u ceremony led by a Urosenke tea master. Dividing the performance space in quadrants with spectator benches placed against the panels delineating  the perimeters, similar panels further divided the four dancing quadrants.  It gave  the spectator formal limits yet invited her/him, to wander around the edges of the dancers’ spaces, as most did, wine or water in hand during the hour-long, non-stop essay.

Where the quadrants merged was a square platform raised on a step, supporting a vintage table and lamp, chair inhabited by actress Nancy Shelby. Her delivery of text from The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis cued the dancers’ involvement and progression from one quadrant to the next. Shelby executed her assignment with a measured delivery suitable to the ruminating quality of  Davis’ prose.

Lydia Davis’ prose ruminated on micro examinations of memory, happiness, sharing – qualities a conventional replica would require leaps, smiles, embraces of the head to chest, protective encircling of the torso.  While there were lifts, partnering, encounters with the warmth associated with happy human contact was missing.  The dancers frequently faced each other, touched, supported or briefly
partnered a colleague but “togetherness” seemed absent, except perhaps when dancers sat and regarded their fellow participants.  It may well be that I believe in clear beginnings, which there was, middles, I suppose happened with the changes in quadrants, and endings, which I felt inconclusive.

This is not to say that the dancers were lacked their chops, nor that Liss Fain neglects variety.  In Mary Domenico’s elegant crinkled fabric off white ending in grey hems, a winter-bare branch tracing up one side of the thigh-ending garments or male tights, the range of bodies was one of the distinct pleasures of the evening.  Jeremiah Crank, tall, lean with sculpted muscles contrasted with Alec Lytton’s shorter, more tightly knit physique, equally well defined.  Jeannifer Beamer Fernandez, the lean American girl type was every bit as well defined; Katherine Hawthorne echoed these qualities with a larger skeletal structure, punctuated with a circular tattoo on one forearm. Shannon and Megan Kurashige provided shorter models of exactitude, starting in the quadrant nearest my bench,
their developpes measured to the fullest. In the distance Carson Stein initially was paired with Lytton.

Yuri Zhukov’s Product 4, ZSpace, San Francisco, September 1

4 Sep

Z Space was the vessel of Yuri Zhukov’s Project 4  debuting September 1               for a three-performance run utilizing seven dancers; five men, two women,          some peopling the Zhukov annual productions before.   Prodigiously talented,     Zhukov’s offerings included not only the choreography for the single piece, Dreams Recycled, but also costume design with Tilly Amundson, part of the video work, and five handsome photographs on sale in the lobby afterwards via silent auction. Zhukov’s inventions were seconded by videographer Austin Forbord and Lighting Designer Matthew Antaky.

Project 4 featured third year returnees Christopher Bordenave and Sergio Junior Benvindo de Sousa; second year veterans Kaja Bjorner, Allie Papazian and Darren Devaney.  New to the Zhukov Project series this year were Douglas Scott Baum and Martyn Garside.

Zhukov’s choreography has a generous concept ruling it: making his dancers look good and displaying  their amazing techniques.  What’s not for a dancer to like?  On the flat performing space, the dancers performed in sock like foot coverings, enabling them to execute dazzling turns a la seconde emerging from a pivot, frequently with a contracted torso with arms twined around the head, twisted against each other, clasped behind the back.

In dream-like terms, the men were trussed up, manacled, abused, shot, dying. Yet, for all the extremist positions, no one position was maintained too long; it was as if Zhukov’s classical training at the Vaganova Institute did not allow him to dwell on gore or the grotesque over long; it’s neither good manners nor certainly is not classical.  Therefore, what was seen were sketches, occasional use of males in quartet motion, and the sequences with the spoken word, nothing cohering, more of a troubled mind than a semblance of coherence or narrative.

For program notes, a narrative would appear on the left, followed by one on the  right, six of them, before the unwritten denouement, printed against images of two male performers, some shades of grey almost too dark to read with ease. The spoken narratives were delivered low key, almost thrown away – Katja Bjorner’s was about Seeking, being propelled forward, then an encounter with a man, not clearly perceived, but felt in the body,  a perfect description of the Jungian shadow concept.

Chris Bordenave’s Remembering imagery was a visit to his mother’s room only to discover her face was covered with all seeing eyes, a fascinating cross between the Goddess Tara image and sexual prohibition.

Martyn Garside’s passage held elements of madness in its description of Killing with a cheese-wire, very narrow, very sharp with the fascination of the resulting long, thin red line.

Dream number four was de Souza’s Running, using an extended video of his running along nameless concrete buildings, before Baum’s Petit Prince-like recitation regarding Skiing.

Devaney’s Hallucinating incorporated images of jelly fish projected floating across the large screen.

Somewhere  Garside unrolled a swath of white paper across stage front, scribbling as it unfurled, outlining his body, doodling madly before abruptly tearing it into bits.

Allie Papazian was not given a particular solo, emerging in a short black dress; with its swinging skirt, she moved laterally from stage left to  right with slow, exaggerated developpes  thrusting her hips forward with torso and shoulders almost parallel to the floor.

In a nod perhaps to his native landscape, Zhukov included a woodland scene with Bjorner framed and moving through it, repeating the image of her earlier narrative. There was an encounter with Papazian ending in a kiss; a sudden blackout, again never exploring such an intimacy. Near this  all seven dancers appeared briefly together.

This is Zhukov’s first work to depart from some semblance of narrative; the  rehearsal period  may have left appropriate developments unrealized.  Zhukov repeated visual elements seen before in a new context.  Despite the superb performances given by the dancers, Dreams Recycled needed another two or three go arounds.

Even unfinished, however, Zhukov’s ideas and imagery are something to
anticipate.