It’s no accident that HIS Dance Ensemble’s production of The Toymaker: An Easter Story bears little resemblance to the traditional Easter fables.
The personal stories of trauma, illness and loss behind the seven portraits that Donna F. St. John painted for Moving Through the Unimaginable encompass a more painful past than the seemingly jovial faces let on.
Romeo and Juliet is undoubtedly the world’s most famous love story and has been performed and adapted countless times for more than 400 years. However, the current production is a first for Kalamazoo’s New Vic Theatre, and it’s been 34 years since the company has staged any Shakespeare play.
It’s a wonderful and rare thing in the theater when the exact right script, director, company, and moment come together. That wonderful, rare thing is even more remarkable when all of the aforementioned entities emerge from local talent.
Maine and its people are often the butt of New England jokes, much as the U.P. and Yoopers are often viewed in a stereotypical light by those of us downstate. And yet for outsiders, there’s something terribly appealing about places far north and the requisite ways of being amid interminable winter set apart from the rest of civilization — at least to peer in at from afar.
During Act I of “On Your Feet!” there's a moment where Gloria (Christie Prades) and Emilio (Mauricio Martínez) are talking with Phil (Devon Goffman), a record label executive who won’t back their new hit because it isn’t in Spanish. An argument ensues — for a variety of reasons — but leads to the audience finding out more about Emilio’s background and how he came to America, how he’s been there for 15 years, and how he’s worked his butt off to get where he is. Suddenly he shouts, “Look at my face. Whether you know it or not, this is what an American looks like.” Cue one of the audience’s many thunderous applauses.
There is no art form more embodied by or tethered to the human form than dance, and classical ballet historically capitalizes on romantic ideals of gender binaries. George Balanchine, arguably the most influential 20th Century choreographer of ballet, famously declared, “Ballet is woman.” Woman as femme, woman on the excruciating yet ethereal pedestal of the pointe shoe, and woman as lifted and held by man. As dance critic Alistair Macaulay points out, Balanchine’s “kind of ballet was always a man’s view of woman, and a solely heterosexual one.”
Sometimes the most compelling thing about a performance is the connection the performers build with the audience. On Friday night, this is exactly what happened at the end of Actors’ Theatre’s fine production (and Michigan premiere) of Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt’s mediocre “If/Then,” the 2015 musical remembered largely as a vehicle for “Wicked” and “Frozen” star Idina Menzel about a newly divorced 30-something urban planner who returns to New York City to start again only to question and double back on all the possible directions she might turn in terms of love and/or career.
It’s difficult to imagine where space-themed film soundtracks would be without “The Planets.” Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite has captivated audiences since its 1916 premiere, but also heavily inspired today’s masters of extraterrestrial music, John Williams and Hans Zimmer.
Western Michigan University Dance Department Chair Megan Slayter used pithy, yet powerful words to describe the 2018 Winter Dance Gala.
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