“These are the memories of human beings,” Cambodia photographer Kim Hak says in Cross Transit, an engrossing collaboration with Japanese dancer and choreographer Akiko Kitamura and Amrita Performing Arts Center of Phnom Penh. There’s one night left — March 23 — to see the show at Japan Society. With the seventy-five-minute multimedia piece, Kitamura continues her exploration of the future of Asia, following To Belong, on which she worked with Indonesian artists on such topics as diversity and inclusion. Cross Transit is Kitamura and Hak’s attempt to recapture a past that has gone missing because of the violent reign of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979; in a way, the work is a dance about photography and architecture. In voiceover Cambodian narration that is translated by an English speaker, Hak explains that many families, including his own, had to either destroy or bury personal photos to protect themselves from the oppressive regime, hiding their identities to avoid being arrested, tortured, and killed.
While recovered family photos and new pictures taken by Hak of abandoned buildings are projected behind them on three stretched canvases, Kitamura, Ippei Shiba, Yuka Seike, Yuki Nishiyama, Llon Kawai, and Chy Ratana move about the otherwise dark stage like lost souls or ghosts, reaching out with their hands and arms, trying to make connections in awkward, aggressive ways. They dance in haunting silence, to Hak’s words, narration by Paul Dargan, electronic noise, a Cambodian pop song, percussive sounds evoking gunshots and the snap of a camera, original music by Hiroaki Yokoyama, and vocalizations by Yoshie Abe; Akihiko Kaneko designed the set and the projected films, with dramatic lighting by Yuji Sekiguchi and naturalistic costumes by Tomoko Inamura. The motion of the dancers is initially slow and individual but eventually moves more closely in unison, with several impressive lifts and carries and rolls along the floor. In one section the dancers call out words in English, Japanese, and Cambodian, including “Here,” “Home,” “Now,” and “What are you talking about?” (The non-English words are not translated.) The Cross Transit project, which began in 2014, continues with “vox soil,” a collaboration between Cambodian, Indonesian, Indian, and Japanese artists. Kitamura (Enact Frames of Pleasure, Ghostly Round) and Hak will participate in a Q&A following the March 23 performance at Japan Society.
Japanese dancer and choreographer Akiko Kitamura’s Cross Transit has been traveling across the world, and it pulls in to Japan Society this week for two shows, on Friday and Saturday. The seventy-five-minute work is a collaboration between Kitamura, Amrita Performing Arts Center, and Cambodian photographer Kim Hak, with performers from Japan and Cambodia — Kitamura, Ippei Shiba, Yuka Seike, Yuki Nishiyama, Llon Kawai, and Chy Ratana — moving in front of a stretched canvas onto which their shadows are cast and Hak’s deeply personal photographs and video, capturing a Cambodia that is fading from memory, are projected in a collage-like, fragmented manner. The piece also includes text by Hak, with costumes by Tomoko Inamura, lighting by Yuji Sekiguchi, sound design by Hiroaki Yokoyama, and set design and projections by Akihiko Kaneko. Kitamura (Enact Frames of Pleasure, Ghostly Round), the founder of the Leni-Basso dance company, spent time in Phnom Penh studying Cambodian movement, spiritual rituals, and martial arts and participated in workshops with Hak; Kitamura, who was last at Japan Society for the world premiere of TranSenses in January 2017, has also collaborated with Indonesian artists on To Belong in her quest to incorporate a wide range of Asian artistic styles into her movement language and to bring countries together through cultural exchange. The March 22 performance will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception, while the March 23 show will be followed by an artist Q&A.
Since launching in 2014 in response to the lack of affordable rehearsal space in New York City, the CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI) has supported more than a hundred residencies, totaling nearly six thousand stage and studio hours, for established and emerging choreographers and companies at thirteen CUNY colleges across all five boroughs. CDI is now celebrating its fifth anniversary with a dance festival taking place March 20-23 at Baruch Performing Arts Center, featuring two programs of wide-ranging movement works by eleven choreographers who have been CDI residents. “The CUNY Dance Initiative is a vital part of the performing arts ecosystem, providing space for choreographers to experiment and develop work without the administrative and financial burdens that typically come with making work in New York City,” Howard Gilman Foundation executive director Laura Packer said in a statement.
On March 20 and 22, CDI presents Heidi Latsky Dance (preshow living sculpture court installation ON DISPLAY), Urban Bush Women (the solo Give Your Hands to Struggle, choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, with music by Bernice Johnson Reagon), Sonia Olla & Ismael Fernandez Flamenco Company (Ella, with an original score and live vocals by Duke Bojadziev), Andrew Nemr (an excerpt from the autobiographical Rising to the Tap), Miki Orihara (the solo Shirabyoshi, created with Noh artist Tanroh Ishida), and Loni Landon Dance Project (For Three). The March 21 and 23 lineup consists of Kinesis Project (a preshow site-specific performance adapted from Breathing with Strangers), Gabrielle Lamb/Pigeonwing Dance (a world premiere in collaboration with composer James Budinich), Parijat Desai (the solo Pardon My Heart, with Hindustani music and verse by poets Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Marcus Jackson), MBDance (the spoken-word trio Up and Down Her Back), and Ephrat Asherie Dance (an excerpt from Odeon, set to music by Ernesto Nazareth).
MoMA, Museum of Modern Art
Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
March 16-18, free with museum admission of $14-$25, 12:00 and 3:00
Exhibit runs through June 7, $14-$25
In conjunction with the wide-ranging exhibition “Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern,” MoMA is presenting “Kirstein and Balanchine’s New York City Ballet: Four Modern Works,” a series of dance performances in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at noon and 3:00. The exhibit, which opens on Sunday and continues through June 7, consists of nearly three hundred paintings, photographs, sculptures, letters, videos, drawings, and ephemera collected by or associated with the Rochester-born Lincoln Kirstein, a polymath, cultural critic, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, librettist, and writer who cofounded the New York City Ballet with George Balanchine and was part of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives unit during WWII. The presentation, hosted by NYCB corps de ballet member Silas Farley, will include excerpts from 1941’s Concerto Barocco, 1946’s The Four Temperaments, 1948’s Orpheus, and 1957’s Agon, accompanied by Brooklyn-born pianist Elaine Chelton. The works will be performed by Farley, Gonzalo Garcia, Anthony Huxley, Sara Adams, Ashley Laracey, Unity Phelan, Peter Walker, Devin Alberda, Marika Anderson, Eliza Blutt, Meaghan Dutton-O’Hara, Laine Habony, Baily Jones, Olivia MacKinnon, Jenelle Manzi, Miriam Miller, Andrew Scordato, and Mary Elizabeth Sell. It’s free with museum admission, but there is limited seating.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Decadance/Chicago is an exhilarating evening of invigorating motion and sound, energetically performed by the talented Illinois troupe, returning to the Joyce for the first time in four years. The piece consists of excerpts from nine works by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company, a kind of evolving greatest-hits package. The evening opens with a tall young man in somewhat Hasidic garb, instructing us to turn off our cellphones in a very serious tone of voice. When the second act begins, he asks the audience a series of questions that get rather personal. Both introductions immediately work to create an intimate, quirky, magical space for the performers and audience to inhabit. The sixteen-person company, each one worthy of singling out — Craig D. Black Jr., Jacqueline Burnett, Rena Butler, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, Alysia Johnson, Myles Lavallee, Adrienne Lipson, Florian Lochner, Ana Lopez, Andrew Murdock, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon, and Connie Shiau — exhibits Naharin’s Gaga movement language, “which emphasizes the exploration of sensation and availability for movement,” resulting in a unique and identifiable vocabulary that offers dancers chances to improvise amid the complex structures.
Staged by Ian Robinson and Rachael Osborne so that several of the excerpts flow smoothly into the next, Decadance/Chicago highlights the upper body at the start, particularly the arms and hands, as dancers come together and break off into solos. They rarely slow down as they move to Dick Dale’s “Hava Nagila,” Goldfrapp’s “Train,” Arvo Pärt’s “Fur Alina,” Marusha’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” Ali Hassan Kuban’s “Mabrouk Wo Arisna,” Dean Martin’s “Sway,” the Beach Boys’ “You’re Welcome,” and a woman reciting Charles Bukowski’s 1972 poem “making it,” the last with poetic cumulative choreography for five women. The company lines up at the front of the stage as the dancers suddenly burst into brief solos; they break into three groups and play a game of horse as each dancer either copies the previous one or dares the proceeding one to match them; the cast ventures into the audience and grabs partners to dance with onstage; and then they bring out the showstopping Anaphase, in which fifteen performers are arranged in a semicircle of chairs and remove their Hasidic garb (black pants, white shirt, black jacket, and black hat) to Naharin and Tractor’s Revenge’s adaptation of the traditional Passover song “Ehad Mi Yodea,” a dazzling display that leaves the audience breathless.
The excerpts range from 1993’s Anaphase — which I have now seen three times, the first by Batsheva, then by Alvin Ailey, in which I was one of the audience members brought onstage, and now by Hubbard Street, with my wife getting chosen to dance, and it has been a joy on each occasion — to 2011’s Sadeh21 and also include Zachacha, Naharin’s Virus, Three, Telophaza, George & Zalman, Max, and Seder. Experiencing Naharin’s choreography performed by this young, high-energy, spectacularly gifted company makes for an electrifying evening that’s not to be missed. Decadance/Chicago continues through March 10, to be followed March 12-17 by HSDC’s versions of a trio of works by Canadian choreographer and Kidd Pivot founder Crystal Pite, A Picture of You Falling, The Other You, and Grace Engine, all with music by Owen Belton. Batsheva fans can catch Naharin’s Venezuela March 27-30 at BAM.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago returns to the Joyce for the first time in four years with an exciting two-week season of two fab programs. From March 6 to 10, the company, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year, will put its own spin on Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva favorite, Decadance, an evolving greatest-hits-like presentation featuring excerpts from multiple works. Decadance/Chicago consists of nearly two hours of sections from such Naharin pieces as Minus 16, Virus, Three, George and Zalman, Max, Anaphase, and Seder. There will be a Curtain Chat at the March 7 performance. From March 12 to 17, HSDC brings a trio of works by Canadian choreographer and Kidd Pivot founder Crystal Pite, A Picture of You Falling, The Other You, and Grace Engine, all with music by Owen Belton. HSDC is led by artistic director Glenn Edgerton; the members of the company are Craig D. Black Jr., Jacqueline Burnett, Rena Butler, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, Alysia Johnson, Myles Lavallee, Adrienne Lipson, Florian Lochner, Ana Lopez, Andrew Murdock, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon, and Connie Shiau. Tickets are going fast, so you best not wait if you want to catch this hot troupe in action.
In 2017, Israel’s Vertigo Dance Company celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with One. One & One, a soulful, energetic production imbued with spirituality and immersed in a connection to the natural world. The company, based in the Vertigo Eco-Art Village in Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Heh in Jerusalem and dedicated to social and environmental awareness, will be in New York City March 5-6 to present the U.S. premiere of the work at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The sixty-minute piece, choreographed by troupe artistic director and cofounder Noa Wertheim, is set to an original score by Avi Belleli performed by violists and vocalists Galia Hai and Oud Eliahu Dagmi and vocalist Ilai Bellelil. Ten barefoot dancers (Sian Olles, Liel Fibak, Sándor Petrovics, Shani Licht, Etai Peri, Daniel Costa, Hagar Shachal, Jeremy Alberge, Korina Fraiman, and Yotam Baruch), dressed in white or gray shirts and dark pants (the costumes are by Sasson Kedem), move about Roy Vatury’s stage, which ranges from a chessboard-like appearance (the lighting is by Dani Fishof — Magenta) to being covered in dirt, creating an ever-changing ground of abstract shapes and patterns. “In the last few decades, some wonderful dance artists have established an important place in Israel’s cultural landscape, and Vertigo Dance Company is among them. Vertigo’s excellent dancers express a distinctive voice through an impressive movement quality — visceral and raw, but with a surprising, acute sensitivity,” BAC founder and artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov said in a statement. The title comes from a quote from Yoma, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4: “And thus would he count: one, one and one, one and two, one and three, one and four, one and five, one and six, one and seven.”