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Fall Arts Preview: Dance

Companies adapt to economy, hold their feet to the fire

By Julie Mullins · September 2nd, 2009 · Dance

Even with President Obama’s “stimulus” plan and package, there’s still much to be desired in terms of arts funding. But there’s some good news: A Cincinnati dance organiztion has landed a respectable sum from the NEA Arts Recovery and Recruitment (R&R) grant program.

Contemporary Dance Theater (CDT) received official notice that it would receive $50,000 to help present performances this year. CDT had canceled a couple of shows due to funding concerns, but this grant has enabled CDT to reinstate its 2009-10 Guest Artist Series season.

Scheduling became tricky, according to CDT Founder and Artistic/Executive Director Jefferson James. The Aronoff Center had just one date available by the time CDT received notification of the grant in July, followed by an official letter in August, not leaving much time left to use the funds in 2009. So James requested an extended time frame. Fortunately, CDT’s request was granted.

“(The NEA) was trying hard to be adaptable and to help the organizations do what they need help to do,” James says. “So we were happy that we could extend the time frame.”

The result is the addition of the first area performances by New York City-based ZviDance (Jan. 29-30) at the Aronoff Center.

“Zvi was a company I’ve been interested in for a while and they happened to have the dates available, which is lucky and fortuitous,” James says.

Another portion of the funds will go toward CDT’s presentation of performances next season, beginning in the fall of 2010. This fall, look for the return of Dayton, Ohio-based Rhythm in Shoes (pictured) to kick off CDT’s Guest Artist Series (Nov. 20-21). The company — known for putting a fun, fresh spin on traditional American music and dance forms — is reportedly entering its final touring season.

Tickets and info on the rest of CDT’s season: 513-621-ARTS or www.cdt-dance.org.

Looking into upcoming activities of Cincinnati’s only locally-based modern dance company, MamLuft&Co. Dance, I received the following statement from Director Jeanne Mam-Luft: “The economy takes its toll (and it’s) particularly hard on modern dance companies without major sponsors … because such organizations struggle constantly as it is, even without a recession. Between recruiting sponsors and audiences, modern dance has its fight cut out for it. MamLuft&Co. Dance is responding by cutting back on performances this season and is offering instead regular open classes.” (Full disclosure: I was a performing member of the company during a prior season.)

Visit mamluftcodance.com for details and updates.

Cincinnati Ballet is gearing up for a stellar and highly diversified season, from Swan Lake, Cinderella and Mozart’s Requiem to The Sammy Project, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room and more.

This year, local talent forms the foundation of the Ballet’s popular annual New Works program — one that promises to be a hot season-starter. The contemporary-leaning lineup features world premier works from local choreographers (Andrew Hubbard and Missy Lay Zimmer of Exhale Dance Tribe, the Ballet’s Devon Carney, Heather Britt and Joy Jovet) set to the music of local artists, as well as the return of internationally recognized choreographer Luca Veggetti.

If you can spare the cash, I recommend springing for the Sept. 10 opening night celebration, the sole performance to offer live accompaniment to the onstage dancing: Over the Rhine, Jake Speed & the Freddies and Peter Adams will play.

New Works are the only performances that take place in the intimate Mickey Jarson Kaplan Studio space within the company’s rehearsal headquarters at 1555 Central Parkway. (The balance of the season’s shows are at the Aronoff Center.) New Works performances run over two long weekends (Sept. 10-20), but be aware that tickets routinely sell out for these engaging, up-close-and-personal shows. Get details on the Cincinnati Ballet season and tickets at 513-621-ARTS or cincinnatiballet.com.

Cincinnati Ballet has not only recently hired and promoted several dancers but has also brought some other top-notch talent on board: Director of Production Daniel Feith and the appointment of rising choreographic star Adam Hougland as Resident Choreographer. Hougland has created several contemporary world premiers for the Ballet, and Mozart’s Requiem will mark his first full-length creation for the company.

The Ballet’s new director of development is none other than Jay Kalagayan, former executive director and founder of Know Theatre of Cincinnati.



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