Extravagence, 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 astonishing expressiveness.

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

Buglisi/Foreman Dance
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 experiments.

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.


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 piece.)

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 wonderful morsel…

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…


Winter-Spring 2003
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.

May 2003
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 group.

This season, 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 his solos…

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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