Friends of Li Chiao-Ping would describe her, first and foremost, as a dancer and choreographer extraordinaire. Other words that come to mind include athlete, educator and, most certainly, fighter.
Romeo and Juliet live happily ever after? Fortunately, that’s not how Michael Pink sees it.
Dance is often considered the ultimate art form, one that uses the original instrument — the human body — as the medium for its message. When that artistic message also involves social commentary, dance can have a profound impact on its audience.
Think of humanity’s earliest forms of art, and the average expert may point to the Paleolithic painting of a dun horse in the Lascaux Caves in southwestern France as a prominent example. Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, suggests we look elsewhere.
For aficionados of ballet, nothing is more evocative of its possibilities than narrative-free, abstract dance pieces like those showcased in the Milwaukee Ballet’s upcoming Spring Series.
The work of three guest choreographers is to be featured during the April 3–6 performance at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts’ Uihlein Hall. Two of the three half-hour works are world premieres.
Take Romeo and Juliet, imagine them traveling in a time machine set for three distinctly different stops in the 20th century, and you’ll have some idea how Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet will bring the star-crossed lovers to the stage next spring.
Call it coincidence, or credit dark forces dancing in the human psyche. Either way, Wisconsin’s two premier ballet companies are opening their seasons with productions of a story that ballet fans will really be able to sink their teeth into: Dracula.
In 1841, composer Adolphe Adam wrote the music for Giselle, the consummate ballet of mid-19th-century Romanticism. The story of heartbreak, loss and forgiveness is timeless. A young peasant girl falls in love with a nobleman who encourages her affections but is betrothed to another. When she discovers this, she dies of heart failure, only to be resurrected by the Wilis, supernatural beings that dance men to death for betraying women. But in the end, Giselle forgives the nobleman, forcing him to live with his sins.
In spring, the young dancer’s fancy turns to repertory performances, at least at the Madison Ballet. The company, now in the midst of its 30th season, will explore new themes and showcase its skills during Spring Repertory, a two-part program of choreographic talent to be presented at Madison’s Bartell Theatre.
Summer in Milwaukee means few performance opportunities for dancers. The absence of activity perfectly suits out dancer and choreographer Thom Dancy, whose NomadicLIMBS troupe is again filling the void, and the dancers have been busier than ever.