Archive for January, 2012


It’s not the apocalypse, but the pressure might have you feeling that way. Cirque’s open call for ballet and contemporary dancers is tomorrow, Jan. 29 at the Rock Center for Dance. If this year is like previous ones, about 300 of your closest friends will be there as well, so pack a snack or two — you’re going to be there awhile — and come out. Guys are slated for 9 a.m. until noon and girls will join in at 11:30 a.m. until around 6.

For details about and photos from last year’s audition, click here. And remember to bring your game face!

Updated 3/16/12
“Pina” was featured on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”–click on the link here to listen to Neal Conan’s interview with director Wim Wenders.

“Pina,” a 3-D international film tribute to German choreographer Pina Bausch, who died in 2009, was nominated for an Academy Award. The production by Wim Wenders was nominated under the best documentary feature category and chronicles the work of Baush and her ensemble, Tanztheater Wuppertal. The actual ensemble members play themselves onscreen as well, which is pretty stinkin’ cool. (Internet Movie Database has more for movie buffs here.)

The Los Angeles times called the film “a knockout.” If you’re interested in reading more about the particulars of “Pina,” head over to the LA Times review here. It’s definitely worth a read, especially for anyone not familiar with either the movie or the choreographer.

More than dancers are talking about the production, it seems. After the blown-out-of-the-water effect of films like “Avatar” in recent years, “Pina” seems poised (get it? Like a dancer, poised?) to take 3-D in a new direction. Wenders has been quoted in several places talking about the dynamism that the medium offers for documentaries.

Predictions about trends in film making aside, though, it’s becoming apparent that if “Pina” is playing in a theater near you, go see it. Now. Otherwise, catch the trailer below.

The Academy Awards will be announced Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Information about debute dates for “Pina” is available at the movie’s homepage here.

The National Endowment for the Arts analyzed census data from 2005-2009 and came up with something that isn’t news to a lot of dancers: only about 28 percent of this barre-grasping crowd has a full-time, year-round job.

That might sound like the other 72 percent spends long, empty days eating Ramen and scrounging for work. However, as a story in the LA Times chronicles, this isn’t necessarily the case, either. Dancers may profess being bad with numbers (although most of us can count to eight pretty well), but many are killer freelancers. As artists interviewed for Laura Bleiberg’s story attest, this can be a very effective survival strategy.

To meet some of the pro freelancers in Los Angeles, head over to the story above. For details on the NEA report, follow the link here. It’s chock-full of interesting stuff.

Do you have stories about freelancing to stay afloat, or landing a full-time job? Feel free to share in the comments!

Cirque du Soleil, supplier of serious eye candy in Las Vegas, is stepping beyond the stage and into the Trifecta Gallery in the Arts Factory downtown. Those who work for the company were invited to submit works of art for “Parade: the Collective” and no medium was off-limits: paintings, fabric compositions, sculptures and more are all featured in the gallery.

This is the seventh such exhibit that Cirque has organized with the interest of promoting artistic exploration and freedom for its employees. If nothing else, it demonstrates the lofty artistic goals of the company and how, through methods like “Parade,” the creative minds seek to make art available for everyone.

Check out the Trifecta homepage for more information about the exhibit.

Melena Rounis, a Cirque du Soleil dancer currently in “The Beatles LOVE,” will be groovin’ into the Rock Center for Dance on Jan. 24 for a one-time hip-hop master class. Rounis has organized the Step Up and Dance fundraisers for several years running, is the co-founder of Drive Dance Centre in Vancouver and is an excellent source for old-school funk — and lots of energy — in Las Vegas. (Find out more about Melena at her website here.)

The class is $15 and runs from 2-3:30 on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Be there and get your groove on!

Photo by John Beane

Insurgo Theater Movement debuted a new version of what is becoming a classic tragicomedy clown “Nutcracker” Dec. 19-Jan. 7 at the Plaza, this year including two glib, flightless birds as protagonists.

The show opens witha a strategically lit set made of plastic, draped and stapled to the back of the stage. A frosty, arctic climate is the setting, as it turns out; a white stage and two waddling penguins (Michelle Meyer and Melanie Ash) confirm the locale.

Comical exchanges between the birds comprise the bulk of the show, but it is no less poignant because of this. Sweetness abounds, and the appearance of a dashingly dressed — and superbly acted — Nutcracker (Brandon Oliver Jones) provides yet another avenue for wordless warm fuzzies.

The plot itself is Insurgo nuance at its best. A Nutcracker mysteriously appears in an enormous gift-wrapped box and decks out a chilly set with Christmas cheer. Penguins cavort, Santa’s jolly offstage presence is implied and, especially for an offbeat production, the show ends optimistically.

However, stealthily woven throughout the plot is a thread of references to such issues as overfishing and ocean pollution. Suffice it to say that a hungry penguin gnawing on a plastic bottle isn’t 100 percent funny, and it probably wasn’t intended to be. It’s clear that director John Beane and assistant director Daneal Doerr have some big topics on their minds, but this does little to dampen the whimsy of the show.

From a choreographic standpoint, “The Insurgo Nutcracker” is spot-on. Clutzy, cuddling penguins carom around the small stage, bumbling into each other, the  Nutcracker and various inanimate objects. The effect is darling and makes for  most entertaining versions of “Nutcracker” classics like “Waltz of the Flowers” and the snow scene from George Balanchine’s original. And with a 40-minute running time, the production is accessible to all but the most staunch of Scrooges.

Needless to say, this might not make the list for balletomanes. However, for the rest of us, “The Insurgo Nutcracker” warrants recognition as a holiday tradition in the making. Sugarplum is nice, but until you’ve seen a pique-turning penguin in a tutu, you have yet to witness the full embodiment of “sweet.”

“During this Christmas season, from the early days of December until mid-January, London is clogged, blighted, with stagings of The Nutcracker.” It is a state of affairs which would seem ludicrous were it not so artistically stultifying, and so horridly typical of artistic policies and artistic funding.”

So writes Clement Crisp in the Financial Times. He elaborates on this statement throughout the article, citing the myriad productions of the holiday standby and total potential theater capacities (250,000 audience members, by his reckoning) as evidence. Inertia rules, as he puts it, and even if you’re a sugarplum addict, his article is worth a read. Find the full version here.

What are your thoughts on Nutcracker traditions? Is the production perfect as a classic or in need of some reworking? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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