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Dance: REQUIEM from John-Mark Owen and Dance Events for Autumn

By Francine L. Trevens
ART TIMES online Oct 2012

Scene from REQUIEM where Josh Christopher is supporting John-Mark Owen (in the air). With ensemble behind them.   Photo by Brian Krontz
Scene from REQUIEM where Josh Christopher is supporting John-Mark Owen (in the air). With ensemble behind them.   Photo by Brian Krontz

There is something about Autumn that makes one feel alive again.  Is it memories of the start of the school year, the nip in the air, or the bright colored leaves distracting the eye? It has brought a vast and divergent number of dance-related events to my attention, and I will share many of them with you later in this article. Whatever it is, the get up and go seems to get us all in Fall.

I got up and went to see the premiere season of John-Mark Owen presents Requiem to the incredible music by Mozart. It’s a daring piece of dance theater to attempt to choreograph a work to this score, but Mr. Owen succeeded in many ways.

He called it a one act cinematic ballet at its world premiere production at the Movement and Arts Center in New York in early September. Besides choreographing the work, he danced in it as well.

Josh Christopher with the ensemble from REQUIEM.   Photo by Brian Krontz
Josh Christopher with the ensemble from REQUIEM. 
Photo by Brian Krontz

Mr. Owen’s choreographic works have been seen at Gotham Arts in 2010 and at City Center, Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, The grand Opera House in Macon, Ga and at Jacob’s Pillow, among other venues.

Now he has this new company, premiering this ambitious new work. In addition to the fine dancing, I was particularly struck with the marvelous lighting by David Grill. From cinematic blackouts to remarkable shadow and light effects, it was almost a dance in itself.

The most impressive part of Requiem was the ensemble dancing and the unforgettable visual pictures as they achieved some extraordinarily exciting group poses. The other startling moments were when slightly built and smaller Joseph Christopher lifted, carried, twirled the heftier and heavier John-Mark Owen.

The friend who accompanied me and I came away with different interpretations of the piece - although both of us were struck with the same moments and movements. He saw it as hatred for all types of love and the cruelty that such hatred engenders. I saw it as a wicked, strong evil presence inflicting rape and torture on a group of helpless naked (body suited) people and thought of it as a Nazi prison camp – and I suppose that is my concept of hell. Mr. Owen wrote in the program that it was inspired by Carl Jung’s theories of Archetypes and used a painting of "Dante and Virgil in Hell" by W.A. Bonguereau as part of his inspiration.

I don’t know when the piece will be presented again or where, but if you are a dance aficionado - and why else would you read this article? - I suggest you try to catch a performance if you can. Some of the images are so stunning they are as alive and vivid to me weeks later as when I first viewed them. Particularly the heartbreaking confrontation of the helpless throng against the representative of evil.

Now, as promised, some highlights of dance events around New York. If you live elsewhere, they may be performed in your vicinity as well so you can keep an eye out for them.

Kaatsbaan International Dance Center 120 Broadway Tivoli. NY announced balletNext would offer on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.  and Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. an independent ballet company founded in 2011 by renowned dancers, Michele Wiles of American Ballet Theater and Charles Askegard of New York City Ballet.

Korhan Basaran on October 27 at 7:30 PM will appear at Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 West 55 Street The wry Turkish dancer/choreographer previews  "This Is Not A Hamburger," inspired by his observations of life in New York and featuring 8 dancers, 1 actor, 1 musician and video.   Performance of October 27th will feature the repertory to be performed by the Company on their November tour of Turkey.

BalaSole DANCE COMPANY on November 3 & 4 at 8 PM at Ailey Citigroup Theater, Roberto Villanueva picks 10 different dancer/choreographers for each BalaSole presentation to present new works, showing a variety of styles, themes, and music choices. The company's goal is to give performance and mentoring opportunities to all, including those under-represented in the field.

Polly Ferman's GLAMOURTANGO, Friday November 9 at 7:30 PM, NY Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64 Street. The opening event of Latin American Cultural Week, sponsored by PAMAR, Inc., will be the all-woman cast of musicians and dancers celebrating those women who, until now, have been unrecognized for their contributions to the art of Tango. Cast is led by pianist Polly Ferman, choreographer Mariana Parma, and guest tango singer Roxana Fontan.

BUGLISI DANCE THEATRE, Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. at Kaatsbaan. 120 Broadway Tivoli. NY. "No New York choreographer has such a sharp eye for beauty as Jacquelyn Buglisi founder of Buglisi Dance Theatre" Michael J. Fressola, Staten Island Advance

Kitty Lunn, founder/director of Infinity Dance, a company for disabled and able-bodied dancers   photo by Ray Block
Kitty Lunn, founder/director of Infinity Dance, a company for disabled and able-bodied dancers   photo by Ray Block

INFINITY DANCE THEATRE November 15-18 (Thurs/Fri at 8 PM; Saturday at 4 PM & 8 PM; Sunday at 5 PM) Judson Church, 55 Washington Square South. Kitty Lunn presents her Infinity Dance Theatre, a non-traditional dance company of 10 dancers with and without disabilities, in collaboration with Pi Dance Theatre, in a program called "Elements," featuring choreography by Toni Taylor (director of Pi Dance Theatre), Kitty Lunn, and Roxana Lewis (to an original score by Glen Velez).    The November 18th matinee will show a different program - "Women's Project Series" - featuring women who talk and/or dance about their life-altering experiences.

MARGARET BEALS PRESENTATIONS, November 29, 30 and December 1, Tribeca Cinema, 54 Varick Street. Margaret Beals, longtime bright light on the NY dance scene and specialist in dance improvisation, will present "Three Evenings - Arts and Producers Talk Backs," featuring panels of well-known artists discussing:
    November 29: Movement in Dance and Theater - Structured and in the Moment
    November 30: Performing "In the Moment" Dance, Theater, Music and Comedy
    December 1:  Margaret Beals dances with renowned sitar player Niladri Kumar 

NOTE: We are pleased to announce that this summer, David Parsons was awarded a Master of Fine Arts from Jacksonville University.  Mr. Parsons was the first recipient of the Howard Gilman Fellowship to attend the MFA program at the university.