With a Chinese Touch
By Anna Kisselgoff
March 1, 2003
More often than not, Jacqulyn Buglisi and Donlin Foreman have a wonderful
extravagance in their separately choreographed works. A fine example comes
in recent pieces on the program on Tuesday that opened the run of Buglisi/Foreman
Dance at the Joyce Theatre…
In the new “Sacred Currents Through Bamboo,” Ms. Buglisi assembles
rather than integrates disparate elements related to Chinese music, dance
and painting…The piece was… part of a collaborative project
in Shanghai. Dou Dou Huang, artistic director of the Shanghai Song and
Dance Ensemble,… a small, compact dancer, [who] skillfully executes
the standard leaps and positions… of Chinese dancers trained in
ballet and Chinese classical dance (which includes the acrobatics of Chinese
opera)…he acts as a messenger to introduce two pairs of lovers,
Miki Orihara and Stephen Pier, and Virginie Mecene and Kevin Predmore…
A chorus (Jennifer Emerson, Helen Hansen, I-Fang Huang and Mucuy Bolles)
has more intricate if decorative choreography. Debora Mache landscape
in Chinese style is scrolled on a screen in projections by Jan Hartley.
The best feature is the music, Tan Dun’s “Crouching Tiger
Concerto,” played by two magnificent musicians onstage. Glen Velez
gives his mastery of percussion exquisite nuance on a tambourine drum
and other instruments. Maya Beiser gives the warm tone of her cello an
The company was seen at its best in two stunning pieces. Ms. Orihara and
Mr. Pier were the passionate lovers in Mr. Foreman's ''From Pent-Up, Aching
Rivers,'' opened by Claire Bloom's reading from that poem by Walt Whitman.
Brian Zeger was at the piano, Mr. Adkins on the cello. Ms. Buglisi's ''Requiem''
remains as rich as ever as its five women mourn and rage en masse.
March 3, 2003
Drawing on their regal
standing as the standard-bearers of Martha Graham’s epic tradition,
Jacqulyn Buglisi and Donlin Foreman have lured a host of other accomplished
artists to their company – including the actress Claire Bloom and
the ballerina Martine van Hamel – to join them in two alternating
programs of new and repertory dances. Most remarkable is “Sacred
Currents Through Bamboo,” a dance set to the “Crouching Tiger
Concerto” (from the film score) in a new arrangement by the composer,
Tan Dun, performed here by the cellist Maya Beiser and the percussionist
Glen Velez. In one section, two duetting couples square off: Miki Orihara
and Stephen Pier, and Kevin Predmore and Virginie Mécène
(each pair is a married couple in real life, as are Buglisi and Foreman).
Standing on the shoulders of their mates, the women – petite, steely,
and ornately costumed – spring from taut handholds, flying weightlessly
around their redoubtable partners until the battle subsides and the men
lean gently against the women’s backs.
Week of March 12-18, 2003
Footnotes by Tobi Tobias
…Standouts were two earlier duets that capitalize on a male and
female body working in singular rapport. From Pent-Up, Aching Rivers,
all dulcet passion, expresses perfectly the state – so often talked
about, so rarely realized – of partners who are everything to each
other, while So I May Say traces a couple’s emotional history with
lush vigor. Jacqulyn Buglisi [is] also an important Graham alum…
Requiem, from 2002 – gorgeous, expressive, original. Its evocative
dim lighting, now glowing, now ashen, reveals five women draped in baroque
swaths of gleaming fabric tinted bronze, gold, cream, and dried-blood
burgundy. Their dance – nothing more than sculptural postures and
gestures, simple runs and collapses – turns them into anguished
victims, stricken corpses, souls rising to heaven, heroic monuments. Throughout,
cloth seems as sensuous and vulnerable as flesh. This is no small magic.
March 28, 2003
Reviewed by Phyllis Goldman
Presented by Threshold Dance Projects, Inc. at The Joyce Theater. 175
Eighth Ave., NYC, Feb. 25-March 2.
When a company has already presented the dignified (“Requiem”)
and the delicious (“Mean Ole World”) in last year’s
season, it would seem a tall hurdle to meet the self-imposed challenge
to top it. But Donlin Foreman and Jacqulyn Buglisi are no slouches in
the “making movement” department. Playing a “can-you-top-this”
game, they have come up with “Here on the Cliffs of the Heart,”
a Foreman homage to the art of ensemble choreography, and Buglisi’s
“Sacred Currents Through Bamboo,” a rich and elegant tapestry
of movement. Since both Foreman and Buglisi were principals in Martha
Graham’s company, and since Graham bestowed on both of them her
encouragement and direction, there are, and rightly so, some reverential
hints of her voice in their choreography. But these bits are melded flawlessly
into a new, and perhaps, even higher place of movement that is totally
distinctive of their own voice.
Program A included Foreman’s delicate and glowing duet for Miki
Orihara and Stephen Pier, “From Pent-Up, Aching Rivers,” a
personification of the word “love,” followed by the world
premiere of “Here on the Cliffs of the Heart…” Tracking
nine dancers – among them the exotic Nancy Turano and the powerful
Roger Bellamy – and structuring entrances and exits as flawlessly
as Foreman does clearly identifies his particular forte: He is at home
with handling group movement, and his company performs with an intense
commitment to get it right and deliver it with precision. The beauty of
taut, trained bodies in the thrill of togetherness, washed with stripes
of light from above, gives joy to an audience often subject to failed
Buglisi, herself the picture of style and taste at the curtain call, has
another winner in her new “Sacred Currents…” Admittedly,
the athletic prowess of Dou Dou Huang, a small gymnast with amazing elevation,
made a nifty start to the piece as he led in a splendid group of women
melting into beautiful attitudes in plié. However, Huang seemed
to be wowing the audience (applause in the middle) with his amazing agility.
The serenity and religious calm created by the two duets juxtaposed against
his feistiness, though a fine creative ploy, ultimately became more like
an inserted marathon of astonishing tricks.
THE WORLD OF DANCE WITH
1 March 2003
How great to see a mature man on stage moving with the dynamism of youth!
Donlin Foreman’s doing that as Ulysses at the Joyce Theater in a
dance about what Ulysses went through to get back home. A pleasure, too,
to see ballerina Martin van Hamel barefoot with a magnificent expressive
arch and to discover the sensational Chinese dancer Dou Dou Huang! What
you see at Buglisi/Foreman Dance, the ensemble headed by Foreman and Jacqulyn
Buglisi, is entertaining that makes you think: there are references to
what’s going on, to nature, literature and to art; you come away
knowing that you’ve got to be on the qui vive like these dance makers
or you’ll miss the boat.
I’ve never seen Magritte’s painting “Song of the Violet”
but after looking at Buglisi’s evocation of nature called “Blue
Cathedral” I sure want to. Dance can take us everywhere… And
that’s the story on THE WORLD OF DANCE. This is Francis Mason
Two Sides of the World Set in Pleasant Motion
By Sylviane Gold February 28, 2003
East meets West a lot in modern dance, but perhaps never quite so literally
as in Jacqulyn Buglisi's "Sacred Currents Through Bamboo," which
combines the fiery leaps of Chinese martial arts with the Grecian-urn
prettiness of Isadora Duncan.
Inspired by an exchange program that sent Buglisi to Shanghai to work
with the phenomenal dancer Dou Dou Huang, of that city's Song and Dance
Ensemble, "Bamboo" is one of several world premieres being presented
through Sunday by Buglisi/Foreman Dance at the Joyce Theater.
While Huang's acrobatic verve is reason enough for a visit to the Joyce
this weekend, it's not the only one. The finale of the first of Buglisi/Foreman's
two programs, "Sacred Currents" also has an arrangement of Tan
Dun's "Crouching Tiger Concerto," which is played onstage by
cellist Maya Beiser and percussionist Glen Velez, to recommend it. It
has elaborate costumes, which suggest both the terra-cotta soldiers guarding
Chinese burial mounds and the European aristocrats frolicking in Renaissance
tapestries, and an exquisite backdrop - close-up views of a Chinese landscape
painting projected behind a giant gong suspended from a red rope. And,
of course, it has Buglisi's choreography, which ranges from showy, athletic
solos for Huang to Indian-flavored moves for Virginie Mécène
and Kevin Predmore to some Turkish-looking passages for the four-woman
ensemble. (Miki Orihara and Stephen Pier are the other couple in the nine-person
The stylistic references may be all over the place, but it's no accident
- Buglisi's program note mentions that ancient cradle of multiculturalism,
the Silk Road. And "Sacred Currents" does feel like a pleasantly
meandering journey through space and time.
The other premiere on Program A is Donlin Foreman's "Here on the
Cliffs of the Heart," a two-part work that belongs to that not-always-inspired
genre, dance about the art of dance. The first part, to music by Gerald
Finzi, is a solo for Predmore; the second, titled "Love's Labor,"
is performed to music by Andrew Waggoner by an ensemble of eight.
…Foreman's "From Pent-Up, Aching Rivers," a 1998 duet
…introduced by Claire Bloom's reading of some passionate lines by
Walt Whitman, "Rivers" challenges the dancers with close, intricate
partnering, and Orihara and Pier pull it off with finesse. Buglisi's solemnly
beautiful 9/11 tribute, "Requiem," rounds out the program.
Sylviane Gold is a regular contributor to Newsday.
DANCE REVIEW Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.
by Pia Catton Nordlinger
March 3, 2003
The legacy of a great choreographer can hang on a dance company like an
albatross. But Buglisi/Foreman Dance is able to both embrace and move
forward with the Martha Graham legacy. The company, led by former Graham
principals Jacqulyn Buglisi and Donlin Foreman, is loaded with dancers
trained in the Graham technique. And in their choreography, Ms. Buglisi
and Mr. Foreman push that rich tradition into new territory.
One of the company’s four new works presented at the Joyce last
week was Ms. Buglisi’s “Sacred Currents Through Bamboo.”
Created in conjunction with a cultural exchanged program sponsored by
the Committee of 100, “Sacred Currents” brings together the
company’s dancers and the remarkable Dou Dou Huang, Artistic Director
of the Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble. The movement in this piece –
set to a concerto by Tan Dun, who won an Academy Award for the score of
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” – varies enormously.
There is a potent combination of dance and gymnastics for Mr. Huang. He
practically pauses in the air for his over-the-leg, cat-like jumps. His
feet are so flexible and strong that he can raise himself on the top portions
of his toes… The rest of the work contained dance more typical of
the Buglisi/Foreman style, all tinged with an Asian look. The couple in
gold – Virginie Mécène and Kevin Predmore –
had an aggressive duet. His hands grab her neck forcefully, yet with care.
Miki Orihara and Stephen Pier, the couple in red, projected a sort of
Sho-Gun and concubine relationship. Both couples danced the sweeping,
Graham poses with power and chemistry…
Images of pain and resistance dominate the intensely physical solo in
Mr. Foreman’s “Here on the Cliffs of the Heart.” Mr.
Predmore lies on his stomach, then curves his upper body up and back,
as if trying to escape an evil lurking below the floorboard… His
desperate reaches gave the piece an urgency… Mr. Foreman himself
danced his own new work “And Courage Has Grown So Weary.”
Based on the travels of Odysseus, this solo reveals the company’s
artistic closeness to Graham… He takes slow, tense steps and moves
deliberately into poses that speak anguish. The changing lights behind
him create the illusion that he is traveling through different terrains,
and his movement changes accordingly…Ms. Buglisi’s “Blue
Cathedral” rounds out the list of premiers. The program notes say
that the piece was inspired by Magritte’s painting “Song of
the Violet,” but there’s definitely a “world peace”
message in there, too. The six female dancers begin by speaking different
languages individually, then all at the same time… There is a beautiful
long, slow turn that is repeated in the piece; the dancers extend their
backs, then turn with just a slight bend of the knees and a twist of the
shoulders. It’s more like falling than turning, and it’s a
The piece that achieves greatness… is “Requiem,” created
last year and dedicated to the Sept. 11 victims. “Requiem”
has a purity and gravity that make it sublime. Five women stand on pedestals
looking like classical statues of goddesses. Their slow, sculptural movement
suggests immortals mourning the state of human affairs. The exquisite
costumes, designed by Ms. Buglisi and A. Christina Giannini, are seamlessly
integrated into the piece…
Years from now, when the World Trade Center site is rebuilt, works of
dance will surely be commissioned to mark the occasion. These will be
joyous crowd-pleasers that celebrate progress. But let me be the first
to vote for this piece to be performed, as well…
Spring Dance Season: The Orient in New York
By Suzanne K. Walther
Inspiration from the Far East is prominent in the dance season now beginning
in New York City. At their opening gala on February 25th, Buglisi/Foreman
Dance showcased two fascinatingly beautiful world premieres at the Joyce
Theater: Sacred Currents Through Bamboo, a new work by Jacqulyn Buglisi,
and Here on the Cliffs of the Heart by Donlin Foreman. On March 5th at the
Kaye Playhouse, Japanese/American choreographer Saeko Ichinohe presented
her important new work, Homage to Shiko Munataka.
Sacred Currents Through Bamboo is a stunningly gorgeous work on classic
Oriental themes and symbolism. It was inspired by a trip to China and reflections
on journeys along the ancient Silk Road. The bamboo is a symbol of strength
and aspiration, alluded to here by martial arts; the colors of jade and
gold symbolize grace and splendor. Dou Dou Huang appeared as a guest soloist
from China. At the age of twenty-five he is the Artistic Director and principal
dancer of the Shanghai Dance Ensemble. Trained in both dance and martial
arts, his athletic body combines dance expression with strength and extreme
flexibility. His stunning solo performance was full of bravura jumps, high
attack kicks and arm slashes; yet his approach to movement is based on an
artistry that transforms martial arts virtuosity into a poetry of movement
that is dance through and through.
Miki Orihara and Stephen Pier, in striking black and red oriental costumes,
performed a duet that was extraordinary in the strength of its partnering.
The lifts, close body contact and knife-sharp movement attack were riveting.
Virginie Mecene and Kevin Predmore were majestic in top-to-bottom gold ceremonial
dress, moving in stately fashion with their backs toward the audience. Four
women in sea-foam greens and blues glided with a grace and dignity somewhat
reminiscent of performers from the Peking Opera. All of these images, so
emblematic of Eastern culture, were presented in a context of thoroughly
contemporary Western choreography. The accompaniment was live music by Tan
Dun, performed by Maya Beiser on cello and Glen Velez, percussion.
Donlin Foreman’s piece, Here on the Cliffs of the Heart, is intended
to illuminate the dancer’s craft as a means of communication. Mr.
Foreman is a deeply meditative man who has often been inspired by poetry
and epic myth. The name of this dance comes from a poem by Rainer Maria
Rilke. It is an abstract piece for eight dancers, but recognizable themes
of love and compassion permeate the dance composition. The techniques explored
by the choreographer are a combination of lyrical and dramatic movement,
both of them distinctive in style. There is an off-balance quality to the
lyricism, as if an intake of breath might unbalance the dancers physically
as well as emotionally. The movement is yielding; dancers sink to the floor
in waves of unified falls. This fragility ultimately evolves into a strongly
assertive dramatic element. Then the steps and tempo accelerate as arms
slash the air like windmills, torsos bend backward in strong lines and leg
lifts arc through the air. Nancy Turano and Donlin Foreman were outstanding,
both alone and in partnership; she with her fiery temperament and musicality,
he with his look for the questing hero archetype. The musical accompaniment
for piano, cello and violin was composed by Andrew Waggoner, who also played
the violin part.
By Marian Horosko
Just when Broadway unions were arguing about the cost and importance of
live music at performances, Buglisi/Foreman Dance opened at the Joyce
Theater, February 25 to March 2, accompanied by cello, piano, violin percussion,
the Catfish Corner group: trombone, alto saxophone, guitar, bass, and
drums, all live additions to the excitement of the season.
Coming as dancers from the Martha Graham company, choreographers Jacqulyn
Buglisi and Donlin Foreman, husband and wife, dedicated their legacy eight
years ago to continuing in the tradition of Graham, by presenting meaningful
subjects contained in powerful and tight craftsmanship. Several former
and current MG performers add to the strength of the seventeen-member
guest artists Martine van Hamel, ballroom dancing with Foreman; Claire
Bloom, reciting on tape; and Dou Dou Huang, a Kung Fu-trained dancer from
Shanghai. Their contributions were minimal except for Mr. Huang who flitted
in and out of context in Buglisi’s “Sacred Currents through
Bamboo,” a combined and compromised work to music by Tan Dun.
Now, after a decade of repertory, each choreographer presents a different
approach that is clear and defined—Foreman is at his best romantic,
as seen in his “From Pent-up, Aching Rivers,” Lyrically danced
by Miki Orihara and Stephen Pier to Rachmaninoff cello work. His group
pieces are less impressive as in his world premiere, “Here on the
Cliffs of the Heart,” given with a nod to poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Foreman’s solo, “And Courage has Grown So Weary,” based
on Odysseus’s struggle by way of the sea to return home, suddenly
conjured up memories of Erik Hawkins, who depicted heroic figures for
Buglisi is the powerful observer of humanity and strongest with women
as her subject. The world premiere of “Blue Cathedral,” featuring
six women, was full of Buglisi surprises, this time, sudden falls, flexed
feet making heroic statements and her constant under-lying theme—the
struggle to understand and survive life’s tragedies. Her “Requiem,”
to Fauré’s poignant music, is becoming her signature piece.
It is mesmerizing to watch and painful to see as her dancers use their
long, long costumes in the colors of Italian Baroque painters, become
swirling capes of courage, shrouds, banners and weapons of protest.
But B/F can always sent the audience home with a chuckle with Foreman’s
“Mean Ole World,” accompanied by the Catfish Corner band.
This music is full of tunes you know but whose names you can’t remember.
Hopefully it will be kept in the repertory as a rousing finale that would
be hard to top.
BF will be at Jacob’s Pillow, July 24 to 27 and at Chautauqua Festival,
July 28 to August 3.
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