Friday, March 13, 2015

It Was a Weekend of Dance in Boise

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 3:45 PM

  • Ballet Idaho

For fans of dance, last weekend was like being a kid in a candy store.

At the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy, Ballet Idaho presented the spring offering of its NewDance, Up Close series, featuring new works by Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti, Lydia Sakolsky-Basquill, Lauren Edson, Daniel Ojeda, Nathan Powell and Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin. Across the alley at Boise Contemporary Theater, Balance Dance Company presented Alchemy, new works by Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Leah Stephens Clark, Christine Chang Gillespie, Molly Heller, Johanna Kirk, Amanda Micheletty, Sadi Mosko, Helene Peterson and Ciera Shaver.

Ballet Idaho's NewDance, Up Close series has been a treat for dance enthusiasts of all stripes with its innovative choreography by company dancers and freelance choreographers. The spring performances (which continue Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14) opened strong with Ojeda's "With All Disrespect," a work he said he hopes will be part of a larger ballet featuring music by LCD Soundsystem. "Disrespect" showcased Ojeda's growing dance vocabulary, but where the piece excelled was in Ojeda's restraint. While several of his other works have radiated pathos and relied on physical humor, this dance—described as a story about the kinds of relationships that might play out on a train ride—was defined by its focus and clarity. 

Scattered amid charming, if benign, dances by Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin and Nathan Powell were moving works by Affrunti and Edson. Affrunti's "Ringkiri" drew inspiration from rings and circles and featured dancers interacting with each other while balanced on Lazy Susans, illustrating motion and stasis as aspects of romance. "Fear. Unveiled." by Lydia Sakolsky-Basquill featured remixed audio of Benedict Cumberbatch reading a book on tape and dancers performing an anxiety-ridden stress test on the relationships between sound and music, and motion and dance. A special nod goes to <strike>Ballet Idaho principal dancer</strike> Adrienne Kerr, whose performance in "Fear. Unveiled." was elegant and graceful without undermining choreography that directly challenged conventional notions of elegance and grace.

The highlight of the evening, however, was Edson's much-anticipated "Missed Migration," an intense emotional experience that packed the energy and scale of a full ballet into a black-box theater stage. 

While NewDance, Up Close was an exhibition of short works, works in progress and teasers of larger ballets, Balance Dance's Balance Alchemy was a fully polished production months in the making. 

Heller teased "Outside the Lines," during Balance's winter 2014 showcase. The piece, inspired by mirror dancing and featuring music by Neil Diamond and Credence Clear Water Revival, had been much refined and served as an appetizer for a problem-solving and science-themed main course of moving new works. 

In Mosko's "Wherever There Is," dancers explored fission and cohesion, while Micheletty's "On Memory" tackled orbital motion and chaos. Members of Balance II—Balance's company of younger dancers—performed Shaver's geometrical-themed "125." While Alchemy comprised several thoughtful thematic works, its soul was Kirk's "Tough Love," which drew from the nervous energy of failed relationships and flawed reconciliations in a way that left the audience stunned. 

"Time:space," an original piece by Clark, Balance Dance's artistic director, and Gillespie was Alchemy's most explicit treatment of problem solving. Gillespie is a former NASA engineer, and her background surely informed the dance's meditations on chaos, resolution and order. Like a series of chemical reactions or a high-school physics problem, the mass of frenetic dancers that opened the dance broke into units of duos and trios, established orbits and settled into synchronicity and order.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Need Something to Do This Weekend? Try Dance

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 4:31 PM

  • Anne Cirillo
This is a big weekend for dance connoisseurs, with two performances scheduled from two of Boise's hottest companies. While Ballet Idaho's New Dance: Up Close  performance on Saturday is sold out, there's more than enough kinetic excellence to go around at Balance Dance Company's production of Alchemy, going down Thursday-Sunday, March 8 at Boise Contemporary Theater.

Readers first learned about Alchemy following Balance's "Works in Progress" performance in mid-January. That's when Artistic Director Leah Stephens Clark discussed preparing her mostly teenage dancers for a professional-level dance show, telling the audience that Balance has the "luxury of process that maybe many dance companies don't."

Boise can see the fruits of many months of labor and preparation on groundbreaking choreography by artistic associate Helene Peterson, Johanna Kirk, Amanda Micheletty, Sadi Mosko and others. The performance also includes a collaboration between Clark and former NASA engineer Christine Chang Gillespie.

As always, the dancers are front and center, and enthusiasts won't want to miss virtuoso performances by William Bowers, Maya Garabedian, Moyo Tian and rising stars from the Balance 2 company.
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ballet Idaho's 'Rubies' Glitters

Posted By on Sat, Feb 14, 2015 at 12:39 PM

Paul Boos rehearsing with Ballet Idaho company dancers. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Paul Boos rehearsing with Ballet Idaho company dancers.

Paul Boos came to Boise from New York to oversee Ballet Idaho's production of George Balanchine's "Rubies," the middle act of his 1967 ballet, Jewels. Boos was onstage Feb. 13 at the Morrison Center, basking in a standing ovation from the crowd for his efforts. "Rubies" was one of the most challenging dances Ballet Idaho has ever attempted, and it gave Boise audiences a new sense of what heights the dance company can reach.

"Rubies" is a work of art in a bottle. Narrative- and character-free, traditional ballet movements have been overlaid with the raw sexuality of the Jazz Age: The ballet opens with thrusting hips and high kicks. At times it looks like the dancers, with their glittering red costumes, are performing in a burlesque show. But unlike burlesque, "Rubies" has no punchline—just virtuoso performances by Andrew Taft and Elizabeth Keller and clockwork movements from the company dancers.

Ballet Idaho regulars rarely see Taft in this form. His performances are consistent and precise, but Friday night, he was inspired: His limb extensions were more fluid and he was lighter on his feet. It was one of the most energetic ballets of his career but by its end, he seemed effortlessly composed, as though he hadn't just spent the last half hour sprinting and leaping across the Morrison Center stage.

The evening began with a work by an undisputed master, but the middle ballet of the evening, "This Mortal's Mosaic," was choreographed by Daniel Ojeda, a gifted student. “Mosaic” was an accessible, witty and fun collage of short cuts and vignettes about traditional (and some non-traditional) ballet themes like spurned love and relationships gone awry. Ojeda has already demonstrated his broad dance vocabulary, but here, he showed his mastery of it by expressing an array of feelings in a short amount of time without confusing or burning out the audience.

Rounding out the evening was the garrulous "Aaaaargh! Pirates!" by Peter Anastos. After the immense energy of "Rubies" and the substantial "Mosaic," "Pirates" was a sorbet of sight gags, stage fighting and sexual innuendo. It closed out with an exhilarating pas de deux between Angela Napier Gibson and Nathan Powell, but Taft, who performed in both "Rubies" and "This Mortal's Mosaic," again stole the show in the fourth variation of “Pirates.”

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Video: Idaho's Esthetic Evolution Releases Mini-Doc Trailer

Posted By on Sun, Jan 25, 2015 at 11:32 AM

For a decade, Esthetic Evolution was one of the Mountain West's biggest electronic dance music parties—a long weekend of music, dancing, costumes, performances and art in the Idaho mountains at Twin Springs Resort. June 2014 marked the "final evolution" Esthetic as an EDM festival after its organizers went on to do other things, but fans of the annual retreat will soon be able to relive the glory days through a mini-documentary made by EE attendee Cameron Jessup from extensive footage he shot during the festival's final two years. 

A trailer for the documentary is now available and according to an EE newsletter, the full version should be online in the next few months, with viewing parties expected to take place in Boise and possibly in Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well. 

The release of the film coincides with a revamp of the Esthetic website, featuring fan videos, slideshows and additional content contributed by organizers and attendees (submissions welcome via EE's Facebook page), though there's no indication Esthetic will return as a festival. 

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Project Flux Flexes its Muscles at Ming

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:09 PM

  • Nate McIntyre

The stage at Ming Studios was glaringly lit when Lydia Sakolsky-Basquill introduced the newest work from Project Flux, "You__not__," on Jan. 15. Rather than discussing the content of the upcoming dance, she talked about the people and institutions who'd made what the audience was about to see possible. Space had been provided by Ming, Idaho Dance Theatre had loaned some equipment. Photographer Nate McIntyre had taken hundreds of photos of Project Flux during rehearsals, and prints of his work were hanging on the walls.

Opening remarks couldn't have prepared those in attendance for what they were about to see. "You__not__" is painful to watch—an emotional bloodletting that brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience for its harrowing treatments of emotional connection, missed chances and unrequited love.

A dance of rare impact and quality, it's also one of the few performances that has so successfully sold the unity and emotional rapport of its dancers in its first movements—and so devastatingly presented their fission by its conclusion.

In its first section, dancers Hunter Brewer, Barry Gans, Selby Jenkins, Isabel Machado, Paige Russell and Sakolsky-Basquill stepped onto the stage one by one, executing elegant maneuvers and composing themselves for the second section, in which they paired off for "hug wars," warmly embracing, then scaling each other as if they were mountains. These pairs slipped on and off the stage, and in the blink of an eye, its cast could go from crowded to spare.

Their romances began to decay in the third section as the dancers sprinted at each other full tilt, only to awkwardly hold back at the last possible second, avoiding each others' gazes. This was when the action on the stage began to elicit responses from audience members, who wriggled in their seats. 

"You__not__" drew to a close as the dancers again paired off, leaving a lone performer, Jenkins, to wander the stage peering into the other dancers' motions, softly saying, "You. Not." The paired dancers gave her no response, however, and her plea became more fervent, building into a scream that rattled the audience.

Divulging what her plea ultimately became—what "You__not__" actually means—would spoil the performance, suffice it to say it's one of the more heartbreaking and pointed messages one person can convey to another.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Get Formal with the Wyakin Warrior Guardian Ball

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 9:25 AM

It's time to dig your Sunday best out of the closet—it's time for the third annual Wyakin Warrior Guardian Ball.

Wyakin Warrior is a nonprofit organization that provides "full-spectrum education and professional development for severely wounded, injured or ill post-9/11 veterans" through mentoring programs, professional development and networking, financial support and community service.

The program relies on fundraising throughout the year, but one of WW's biggest events is the Guardian Ball Saturday, Dec. 13, from 6-10 p.m. at the Boise Centre. That's where, for $75 per person (or $1,000 per table), you can dance the night away, participate in an auction, listen to big band music and sit in on the New Warrior Induction Ceremony.

This year's dinner menu includes petite beef medallions in a port wine reduction. For vegetarians, there's butternut squash ravioli with crimini mushrooms in an apple and brown butter sage sauce.

For more information or to purchase tickets, check out the Wyakin Warrior website.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ballet Idaho's 'NewDance, Up Close' Shows Off Company's Creative Depth

Posted By on Sat, Nov 22, 2014 at 9:00 AM

It was in the middle of What You Wanted for Me, a work of original choreography by Ballet Idaho dancer Nathan Powell, when one of the lights illuminating the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy stage broke loose from the ceiling and swung from a cord in a long arc. The audience held its breath: Was this an accident?

When the lone performer, Elizabeth Keller, began to dance with the bulb as it swayed on the otherwise blackened stage, it illuminated a woman whose dance was as tied to a point of light as the light was tied to its source. Without it, she and her dance would have been little more than the sounds of breathing and the pattering of feet on the stage. It was no accident.

Amid an evening of sometimes playful, sometimes intellectual dances by Lydia Sakolsky-Basquill, Daniel Ojeda, John Frazer and Angela Napier-Gibson, it was this moment that became point zero for NewDance, Up Close, the Nov. 15 fall season opener for Ballet Idaho.

It was the first time Ballet Idaho has kicked off its season with a presentation of short new works by dancers, but these intimate gatherings for original dances are a chance to see ballet’s breadth. Frazer’s Daae boiled down The Phantom of the Opera into a charming pas de deux with engrossing costumes and set pieces by B. Benjamin Weigel and Frazer, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum was Sakolsky-Basquill’s Finding Frequency, originally performed by her own local company, Project Flux, which eschewed traditional dance movements and storytelling in favor of exploring motion and synchronicity.

But the dancers themselves are at the core of any show, and in Ojeda’s This Mortal’s Mosaic “Spring 1” scene, Ballet Idaho principal dancer Phyllis Affrunti showed the audience why she’s at the top of the company’s playbills with her onstage gravity and seasoned movements. Her evident discipline and obvious grace have long made her a standout performer, and though her time onstage was brief, she brought out the best in her dance partner, Megan Hearn. It was a hint at the talent that’s in Ballet Idaho’s stable of dancers.

Shows of new works are raw and uneven; some dances—and dancers—are better than others, and it is refreshing to sit for an evening while accomplished choreographers and performers share the stage with comparative newcomers to the craft.
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Frim Fram 4 Lights Up the Sapphire Room Tonight

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Last time Frim Fram 4 planned to play at the Riverside Hotel's Sapphire Room (Oct. 10) things didn't quite turn out as expected. As the band writes on its Facebook page, "Acts of God and Chaos took out the electricity for the whole hotel."

That didn't stop the classic Jazz-age quartet, though.

"After much scrambling and MacGyvering, music was played, dancers danced, fun was had, but it was not the evening for which we had hoped."

So tonight, the band expects things to go better. Members are predicting "maximal Frim Fram Fun" with an expanded dance floor and two sets of "swinging mid-century masterpieces." 

The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the all-ages show are $10-$15 and are available here. Full food menu and bar will be available. 

"If you missed Frim Fram 4 last time," the Facebook page reads, "it turns out this will be the night to remember."
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Friday, July 4, 2014

Need Something To Do Friday?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 4, 2014 at 12:27 PM

  • The Crux

If you didn't get to go to your own prom this year, lament the fact you didn't go in high school, loved it so much you want to go again or just want to have a good time, there is a fireworks alternative/companion for you tonight.

The Crux welcomes you to their prom night, featuring all the glorious things mentioned on the flier and live music from Andy Rayborn and Co. Celebrate American's independence and your independence from awkward social gatherings; finally, you're cool. 

8 p.m. $5. The Crux, 1022 W. Main St., Boise, 
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

UPDATE: Trey McIntyre: Brother, Can You Spare 250,000 Dimes?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 1:50 PM


According to Trey McIntyre Project representative Caty Solace, response to Trey McIntyre's request for funds has been productive, and that since McIntyre released the request (it was received by Boise Weekly at 1 p.m. June 24), donors have given the nonprofit $5,000, reducing the debt from $25,000 to $20,000.

"People have responded well," Solace told Boise Weekly.

The January announcement that McIntyre would repurpose TMP from a full-time dance troupe to a nonprofit supporting his other artistic endeavors alienated some donors, Solace said.

"It was definitely in alignment with the announcement of the transition," she said. 

If TMP does not raise sufficient funds to pay the remainder of its budget deficit, it will roll over the deficit to the next fiscal year of fundraising. 


Trey McIntyre may have shelved the Trey McIntyre Project, but that doesn't mean TMP is done with McIntyre.

The nationally recognized dancer and choreographer closed much of the dance troupe in January to pursue video, photo and public speaking projects. But as the company is gearing up for its last performance at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, which takes place June 28-30, it's also facing $25,000 of debt at the end of its fiscal year: June 30.

"We are at risk of not being able to pay our bills in this final important season," McIntyre wrote in a press release.

"The worst ending to the TMP story that I can imagine would be to not finish with the fiscal integrity that has marked our entire history," he wrote.

McIntyre is asking for donations to offset the debt here.

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