Category Archives: Dancers Group

Big Dreams, Small Screen: Tuning In to Dance Reality Shows

In Dance, January 2011

IT’S BROUGHT US SCHEMING Survivors, sadistic restaurateurs and women intent on marrying millionaires they’ve never met. And reality TV is now dance’s biggest venue, with shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Superstars of Dance, America’s Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars consistently at the top of the ratings. If there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then reality TV is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to dance: millions of people see ballroom, contemporary, Bollywood, hip hop and more on So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) alone, and after seven seasons it’s still going strong.

The shows usually start with open calls in cities across the country, and the young hopefuls, usually no older than 30, include goofballs who show up on a lark and professionals raising their profiles. Over a roughly three-month season, the judges narrow several thousand contestants to ten or twenty finalists, who perform work by noted choreographers (on SYTYCD) or produce their own material (on Superstars of Dance and America’s Got Talent). The TV audience votes for their favorites, and the eventual winner receives anything from SYTYCD’s $250,000 cash to the $1,000,000 and headlining Las Vegas show awarded by America’s Got Talent (AGT).

Money, fame, connections…it’s all good, right? Well, the essence of these shows isn’t dance, it’s drama, which is what keeps viewers (like me) tuning in. That means promoting conflict over craft—judges dish out often-humiliating criticism; the fast-moving format pushes dancers hard enough to weaken their defenses along with their bodies; and crafty editing fabricates arguments out of unrelated lengths of footage. So what’s to be gained from these shows, and what’s the cost?

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Sailing Away: Joanna Haigood choreographs San Francisco history

In Dance, October 2010

Flooded with Gold Rush lucre and teeming with the adventurers who hunted for it, San Francisco in the 1850s was a rootin’-tootin’, quick-shootin’, prostitutin’ Wild West boomtown. Halloween in the Castro has nothing on the Barbary Coast.

As choreographer Joanna Haigood describes it, “The energy was very chaotic, wild, violent, excessive. The city was being burned down on a regular basis, people were shooting each other in the street, there was a tremendous amount of crime and mayhem. There was so much money, it was absurd; rents were comparable to today.” That kind of drama holds obvious appeal to an artist whose métier is performance, and it provides the inspiration for Haigood’s latest site-specific contemporary piece, Sailing Away, which her company, Zaccho Dance Theatre, will premiere October 7-10 on Market St.

Read the entire article here.

Bridging Borders: Nina Haft & Co. in the Middle East

In Dance, July 2010

Nina Haft visited the Middle East in 2007 to experience the culture and see firsthand how people there use dance to address the immense challenges in their lives, from restricted travel to conflicts that last for generations (In Dance, September 2009). Choreographing her latest work, SKIN: One Becomes Two, was Nina’s way of processing the experience and exploring “what happens when boundaries are crossed during times of love and conflict.” This May, she and dancers Lisa Bush, Becky Chun, Rebecca Johnson, Edmer Lazaro, Mo Miner and Frances Sedayao, accompanied by Frank Shawl, performed the piece at the Ramallah Dance Festival and at a refugee camp in Bethlehem, a dance school in Jerusalem and in Amman, Jordan. Claudia Bauer sat down with Nina and Rebecca before and after their trip.

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