July 2019

Dance group

An intensely joyful performance by Mark Morris Dance Group at Jacob’s Pillow

The short “Prélude et Prélude” is, as its title suggests, a kind of paired dance. Accompanied by Fowler and Valtchev performing Henry Cowell’s heartwarming but melancholy “Set of Two for Violin and Harpsichord”, the nine actors find themselves on stage diagonally, each holding a folded fan. In the first of the two sections, one, Dallas McMurray, is thrown off the diagonal while the others remain, performing a looping series of stylized but hesitant poses like friezes come to life. The fans become arm extensions, or masks for the faces, or a deceptively modest blanket for the crotch. McMurray, meanwhile, his mask now folded and squeezed into that mouth, rolls gently across the floor, stomach first, as if floating in a pool, or balancing on one leg, his opposite arm slowly drawing a circle. in the air. In the second part, McMurray is the only placeholder in the row, while the others dissipate, now spread across the stage. It’s an evocative, slightly fun dance, like a private joke that doesn’t quite get the punchline.

There’s no shy cover-up in “Sport”: Morris’s new frolic wears his silly infectious heart on his sleeve. For Erik Satie’s “Sports and Entertainment” – a series of often witty, some quite short, vignettes for solo piano, with various titles indicating athletic or leisurely play – the 12 dancers perform a continuous cascade of dance skits. / mime with a liveliness that is both cartoonish and impassive. Dressed in Elizabeth Kurtzman’s playful two-tone jumpsuits, sets of three dancers become playground swings; a short tennis match is played with comic pain; a hunting party is formed in a flash, and several beloved rabbits descend, halfway up. It’s almost too cute, all of it, but the unmistakable artistry – of Morris’s directing, of performing the dancers, of Fowler’s acting – elevates the work. It’s easy fun.

Valtchev joins Fowler again for a piano / violin arrangement of “Songs Without Words” by Felix Mendelssohn, the score for Morris’ exquisite “Words 2014”. While the company is only showing snippets of the work this week, there is a clear sense of integrity connected to the pieces. A series of duets anchor the dance, with Laurel Lynch and Brandon Randolph arching and vanishing deeply against each other, their passion lavishly expressed, while Brandon Cournay and Noah Vinson’s desire is continually thwarted, their anguish. visceral as they bend inward, their hands clench and claw their own faces or bellies.

The closest, Morris’s 1993 “Grand Duo” is a masterpiece. Named after Lou Harrison’s composition for violin and piano, the work for 14 dancers begins strangely, the performers stoic in wide positions, their hands framing their basins. A breath of apprehension is complemented by the ceremonial quality of most groups and dance phrases, but those stormy skies hold up. While the last section might be a yardage polka, there is nothing light and prancing about it. It is a gloriously anchored composition, with an implacable rhythm which is built with a sort of ritual fervor. Oh, how the musicians play and how the dancers go on, relentlessly. We feel their breath, their effort; how our hearts beat, beat and beat with theirs.


At the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Becket, until Sunday. Tickets $ 35- $ 78. 413-243-0745,

Janine Parker can be reached at [email protected]

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Dance group

Local Indonesian dance group featured on live TV

South Philly-based Modero & Company rehearse for their performance with the summer series Live Culture from PhillyCAM, Philadelphia’s public access television station. The showcase featured an evening of movement, music, cooking and conversation that aired on prime-time television last Friday night. (Grace Maiorano / SPR)

The flavors and flairs of local Indonesian communities were presented to a live TV studio audience on Friday evening.

Thanks to the summer series Live Culture from PhillyCAM, South Philly-based Philadelphia public broadcaster Modero & Company, a traditional Indonesian dance ensemble, presented an evening of movement, music, cooking and conversation that aired on prime-time television.

Founded in 2011, Modero was established as a community dance group in South Philadelphia by an artist born in Indonesia. Sinta Penyami Storms, who started learning dance as a child in the country’s capital, Jakarta.

“(Modero) creates space for indonesian people and for those who love Indonesian culture to get together and discover the culture and learn the dances of Indonesia which are traditional dances but which are also newly created, ”said Katherine Antarikso, member of Modero.

After establishing the Indonesian Cultural Club of Delaware in 2008, Storms founded Modero in response to the growing population of Southeast Asian communities in South Philadelphia.

Unlike most religious-focused immigrant entities, Modero is not tied to any particular denomination.

“We use our platform as dancers and also as food to bring everyone together,” Storms said. “… People feel like there is no connection with religion, and we say to everyone, ‘Come and experience the culture.’ “

Featuring dancers of all ages, the growing 25-member company, which even performed for the World Festival of Families during the papal visit in September 2015, not only aims to celebrate Indonesian culture with the performing arts. , but also through social advocacy.

“We’re playing, but we’re also discussing how we want to provide a safe space for everyone – not just the Indonesian community but anyone in Philly City… We are community organizers,” said Storms. “We are community activists. We promote Indonesian culture not only through dance.

With the company rooted in awareness, the PhillyCAM opportunity aligned well with Modero’s mission.

The one-hour program, which ran from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Xfinity and Verizon channels, consisted of three dance performances, including solo numbers for youth, adolescents and adults, which were woven together by Indonesian cooking demonstrations and discussions regarding immigrant rights, particularly in response to ongoing crackdowns by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We also want this to be useful for the community,” Storms said. “It’s not just about having fun, but here we are – we want to be responsible to our community as well. “

Dressed in a headdress and full costumes, the dances featured traditional choreography from Bali and Java, as Modero aspires to represent a very diverse country made up of over 300 ethnic groups, over 700 languages ​​and thousands of islands. in Southeast Asia.

“We just want to celebrate our great cultural diversity,” Antarikso said. “The motto of Indonesian culture is ‘unity in diversity’, and you also want to promote it here.”

As the show aspires to educate audiences in the studio, online and in front of television, the company hopes its dancers, especially young performers, will continue to foster appreciation for their heritage.

“To see the next generation of Indonesians really embrace the country – it’s really heartwarming, ”Antarikso said.

The cooking demonstration is centered on Gado-gado, a traditional Indonesian potato salad, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tofu, bean sprouts and glazed cucumber with a peanut vinaigrette.

The easy-to-prepare recipe, which satisfies most dietary restrictions, requires ingredients and simple instructions.

“Sinta told me that we must make the voices of our Indonesian community, our culture, so they know Indonesian on the other hand, ”said Chef Irza Hagati, who led the cooking demonstration. “… We have to introduce culture from dance and food. It’s easier for people to recognize. Love comes from dancing and food.

The whole program comes down to a The Indonesian saying “Tak kenal make tak sayang”, which translates to “to know is to love”.

“So get to know us, because you might also fall in love with the community, because we’re good people here,” Storms said. “We have a great culture that we want to share.

[email protected]

Twitter: @gracemaiorano

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