Tango, you say? My thoughts wander first to Piazolla and then to popular images such as the tango scene in Moulin Rouge (2001) – a woman is violently passed from one man to another, thrown into turns, and caught in a dip, suspended by the strength of her male partner. In her new book Tango Nuevo, Carolyn Merritt* conjures a completely different image of tango: a calm embrace where “like much of life, the dance is about improvisation within structure.” Examining the scope of Argentine tango from its birthplace (in early 1900s Buenos Aires) to its current global popularity, Merritt probes the emergence of a new trend: tango nuevo. A wonderfully engaging ethnography, Tango Nuevo guides us on a journey through identity investigation, physical frustration, and cultural confusion as we encounter the nostalgic world of tango.
The Peek-A-Boo Revue, Philadelphia’s premier 14-year-old neo-burlesque troupe, brought on the holiday spirit with their first ever musical, It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol Story Life. But doesn’t burlesque mean stripping? Yes, but neo-burlesque is all about the power of suggestion rather than simply taking off clothes. All is playfully removed save the g-strings and pasties, and the heels accentuate the lines of the dancers’ legs. With pointed toes, beveled feet, pelvic circles and bouncing shimmies, the dancing styles ranged from Fosse to Broadway to Las Vegas Showgirl. Accompanied by a fantastic ten-piece jazz band, The Peek-A-Boo Revue built up to high kicks and splits as the dancers stripped down to thongs and tassels.
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Even as I sit here thinking that I don't have anything to write about, apparently I do, and somebody finds it worthwhile! I just finished writing my first dance review and it's published on thINKingDANCE, an on the rise online dance publication based in Philadelphia. Check out my first article! Here's a preview:
SHARPening the Focus
By Kalila Kingsford Smith
The title of SHARP Dance Company’s Four Hot Men and an Old Lady hinted at the show’s range of choreographers: four guest artists and artistic director Diane Sharp-Nachsin, who is hardly “old.” Perhaps it alluded to her long performance career in various Pennsylvania dance companies. The “four hot men,” in contrast, presented new perspectives. All works expressed kernels of insight, but two of them fully captured my attention.
Kevin Ferguson’s Awakenings presented a series of vignettes. Dressed in black and bathed in a center spotlight, the full company encircled a figure, moving their arms in unison like a slow blooming flower. They were a community, mutually supportive as the dancer took the focus with large, fluid movements...
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Stay tuned for more of my reviews to come! This is going to be an awesome opportunity to get involved with the Philly dance scene from as many different angles as possible. Can't wait to see what it brings!
Up until recently I've felt like I wasn't a writer. As a dancer, I struggle with words, reaching for the right ones and inevitably giving up, making ambiguous sounds and flailing my hands around to gesture my meaning. Because of this, I hesitate to consider myself a writer; writers live in expansive clouds of prose and language; I live in my paradoxically graceful yet clumsy body. However, after I was accepted as a new writer for the online dance publication thINKingDANCE, I realize that I might actually have the potential to both live in my body and in the clouds. But then I began to wonder: What can I possibly write about? Who am I to be writing about anything?
I graduated from college some months ago, so my task recently has been to slowly find my professional legs and figure out how to walk like an adult. It has been difficult because at Michigan with two degrees in process, I had to work really hard and really fast for the majority of the time with little time to recuperate. Now I'm faced with the tricky task of adjusting to a self-structured life, filling random hours with rehearsals and dance classes and spending the rest of my time thinking about what else I can do...
Kalila Kingsford Smith
The purpose of choreography is to absorb obsession, transforming it into an experience that inspires obsession. This blog is my exploration of those obsessions that drive creativity as I search for my nook in the world of professional dance.