Not That Will Rogers

Alejandro’s got a new dance!
April 4, 2009, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Companies, Dance, People
Alejandro Cerrudo

Alejandro Cerrudo

This weekend is Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Spring Series.  Woot! I can’t wait.  Alejandro Cerruda has a world preiere called Off Screen.  I’ve been pretty smitten with his work Extremely Close, so my dance pants are tingling.  His movement is so organic and weird and wonderful.  His movement for partners is light and so so complicated.  Check out clips of both of those works here. I wonder if he has any interest in an Artisitc Director or Associate Artistic Director at title.  What is to happen as Artistic Director Jim Vincent departs in June?


Reconstructing Dance History: “The Rite of Spring”
Dancers in traditional Himalayan costumes in "The Rite of Spring"

Dancers in traditional Himalayan costumes in "The Rite of Spring"

You have until March 1 to make it to Joffrey Ballet’s Winter Program.  Totaling four works in all, the cornerstone of this season’s program is Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), originally danced by the famed Bellets Russes. The work reenacts a sacrificial fertility rite in which a young woman dances herself to death.  Tribal and raw, Nijinsky’s dance is set to Stravinsky’s iconic score with scenery and authentic Himalayan costumes by Nikolai Roerich.  When the work premiered in 1913, audiences were so outraged they rioted and stormed the streets.  When was the last time you experienced that in a theater?  The Rite of Spring disappeared after its debut and was only revived by Robert Joffrey in 1987 with the meticulous research of husband and wife dance historian team Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer.  Presented as part of the centennial celebration of the Ballets Russes, if you are into dance you have to see this.  It changed ballet forever and paved the road for modern approaches to a classical form.  If you are just into history that’s another great reason to go.  Visit the Joffrey Ballet website to watch a short video on the history of the work.

While we are on the topic of The Rite of Spring, I would be remissed if I didn’t include a link to a piece done on the riot it caused by my friends at WNYC’s Radiolab.  What could be better than learning more on The Rite of Spring from one of the most exciting shows on the radio (or iTunes)?  Well stop asking questions so I can tell you.  Not only will you hear about the dance, but you will also hear one of my favorite Radiolab degments, “Sound as Touch”.  Click here and enjoy!

Ricky Ian Gordon has three first names and he’s wonderful!

Ricky Ian Gordon

Ricky Ian Gordon

For my feature on Eric Reda and Chicago Opera Vanguard in this week’s NewCity I had the pleasure of speaking with Ricky Ian Gordon, the composer and lyricist of Orpheus and Euridice.  He was so nice and gracious. Because of space restrictions I couldn’t use much of our talk, so I thought I would share more of what he had to say about opera and  Orpheus, and Project Runway.

Ricky Ian Gordon on…

the inspiration for “Orpheus and Euridice”, written as a tribute to his lover, who died of AIDS in 1996.
At around  four in the morning I woke up and had a vision, literally.   It is sort of an important, seminal moment in my life.  I don’t think I ever completely understood how we study things like myths and we wonder where they go.”

“I immediately saw Todd as a kind of Orpheus playing a pipe. I saw him dressed as a French apache dancer  and Euridice was in a yellow dress. I ran to the dining room table. In about an hour I had written the entire libretto. It flew out of me”

Eric Reda and companies like Chicago Opera Vanguard
“I just heard form Eric one day and he said, “I’ve fallen in love with your piece and I want to do it.  And I said, “Okay, do it.”

“The idea that any new company has come along and has the balls to begin in this (economic) climate. I support anyone that wants to do new work and smaller pieces in any environment beyond the big opera houses.  How courageous and how wonderful. I think every city in the world needs more smaller companies doing small operas.”

Project Runway’s Steven Rosengard costuming his show
“I’m an out-and-out, full-fledged, total Project Runway addict. When I saw this piece was  announced on the Project Runway blog I almost fainted.”

opera and writing
“To me the operatic repertoire has to grow.  It think we are in a complete renaissance  for American composers. There is such a freedom of style and enormous pluralism. A lot of critics are still holding on to various traditions but it doesn’t necessarily stop the productivity.”

“These are hard times and greater expressiveness happens when times are difficult. I have a greater need to write right now because the world is in so much pain.”

Ricky Ian Gordon will be at the opening of the Chicago premiere of his Orpheus and Euridice, Thursday, Jan. 29.  If you want to know more about the production or the composer here are some links that might be interested in:

Chicago Opera Vanguard Website: Production information and tickets
Ricky Ian Gordon on Wikipedia
Ricky’s official website
Ghostlight Records (Sh-K-Boom): Buy the Orpheus and Euridice recording or download it from iTunes