Dancing on the Cutting Edge
At CINCINNATI BALLET it's not every day you hear a choreographer exclaim, "I'm out here hustlin'!" when he speaks of his work. But the Ballet's annual New Works production showcases fresh choreography that departs from the Ballet's more expected classical demeanor. This time, look forward to five high-caliber world premieres -- that's the whole program, so it doesn't get much newer than that -- from five forward-thinking choreographers who dare to break the ballet mold.
Harlem-born and -based choreographer/performer Darrell Moutrie uttered the above words at a recent open rehearsal. The Julliard grad is a 30-year-old veteran performer with Hairspray and Aida on Broadway who has been hustling: He has also choreographed works for Colorado Ballet and the second Alvin Ailey company, Ailey II.
The Princess Grace Foundation-USA granted a fellowship to Moultrie to choreograph "Three for g," his second work created for Cincinnati Ballet. Unconfined by specific styles, he says the piece presents "movement for movement's sake." The title references a trio of women close to Moultrie's heart, all of whom have names starting with 'G': his third grade teacher and longtime mentor Gwendolyn; her close friend Grace; and Princess Grace (of said Foundation).
If you saw last year's program you probably remember Kirk Peterson's powerhouse all-male Olympics-inspired Javelin. This year, he follows up with another Greek-mythology-themed movement, Leda and Zeus, a duet scored once again by celebrated composer Michael Torke.
Artistic Director Victoria Morgan has conceived Entwined and Falling; she says it's different than anything she's choreographed before. Set to the moody sounds of the popular Estonian composer Arvo P#228rt, a man supports the weight of the pair of women.
The program also includes "Convergent Sight" from Ballet-Master-in-Chief Devon Carney, where couples explore the boundaries and shifts of various moods. Guest choreographer Adam Hougland brings the futuristically titled "K281," danced to Mozart (talk about contrasts!).
With New Works, the Ballet steps farthest outside the box in a contemporary direction. It's also the season's only opportunity to catch the dancers in an intimate setting: the Ballet's in-house Mickey Jarson-Kaplan Performance Studio. Up close, you can really see them hustle, breathe and sweat -- or rather, glow.
$30-$35. 513-621-5282. (See Onstage.) -- JULIE MULLINS
WEDNESDAY 19 -- FRIDAY 21
A humble, disposable piece of plastic made in a factory by the thousands carries with it the same amount of design history as any other object. Just ask the CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM; its new exhibition, Caution: Contents Hot!, features the collection of Phil Patton -- prominent design historian and author -- of more than 30 plastic coffee cup lids. The lids were piled up on the floor of his car before he began to notice their innovations and beauty. Some have Braille. Some have special spots for commuters' noses. Each, if you give them a chance, is smartly designed. It seems ingenious to pair this more modest design show with the Ferrari parked in the CAM lobby. Aaron Betsky and his curators seem to have picked up on a logical thread: design in the mechanical age. And while at the CAM, be sure to see the Saul Steinberg exhibition, which closes on Friday. Caution: Contents Hot! is on view through Dec. 1. 513-721-ARTS. (See Art.) -- LAURA JAMES
THA BLAST KICKOFF celebrates the local production company's fifth anniversary Thursday at Fountain Square with the free Tha Blast Urban Arts & Cultural Festival.
What better way is there to get your "free" on than with a visit from URSULA RUCKER, whose spoken poetry continues to inspire scores of scribes to inscribe words onto listener's consciousnesses? Her latest CD, Ma'at Mama, is a sensual effort that marries the ancient Egyptian kemetic principle of universal order and balance with her criticism of the New World, melding Hip Hop and Funk so people can take it to the lab and "overstand." Before the show on Fountain Square at 8 p.m., teens and their families can catch her Q&A at the Contemporary Arts Center. Also performing at the concert is Abiyah (backed up by Dana Hamblen, Kristen Kreft, DJ Apryl Reign and beat boxer Marty Spitfly; see Spill It, page 60 for more info) and other local MCs, poets and musicians. Rain location is Mr. Pitful's (1323 Main St., Over the Rhine). For more information about this event and the entire weekend, visit www.hipnoticconcepts.com. (See Music.) -- MILDRED FALLEN
MIKE BIRBIGLIA is embarrassed to tell people that he has a blog. "People blog about anything, like 'Today I went to JC Penney.' I'm like, 'JC Penney, eh?' That's not a blog, that's a text message." The popular stand-up comic has turned his weekly e-mail updates to fans into a blog. Some of the entries have become part of the "Secret Public Journal," which he shares with listeners of The Bob & Tom Radio Show. That has subsequently become a CD, which Birbiglia sees as sort of a sequel to his first release, Two Drink Mike. It actually expands on one particular joke from that CD. "(It's) the awkward situation's more awkward joke, where what I should have said was nothing, what I did say was, 'You'd be surprised.' " He gives an example. "I was moving a bed into my apartment, and this woman from the building opened the door for me with her key and she said, 'I'm not worried, a rapist wouldn't have bed like that.' And what I should have said was nothing. What I did say was, 'You'd be surprised.' This album ... is the cream of the crop of the funniest, most awkward things that have occurred to me over the years." Birbiglia performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bogart's in Clifton. $25. www.bogarts.com. (See Onstage.) -- P.F. WILSON
What happens when you give local war activists the opportunity to write about the Iraq War? You get a book being sold as a fund-raiser for disabled vets. COUNTRY AT WAR: REFLECTIONS ON THE WAR IN IRAQ is a compilation of the writings of 17 local anti-war-hard-hearted-anti-patriots. Included among them are editors Betsy Young and Chuck Byrd. "We've been able to bank 200 additional dollars for the charity above the $500 we've already donated to the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust," Young says. A book party hosted by InkTank on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. will increase that amount. The entire $8 book purchase price will be donated and many of the book's writers will be on hand to autograph the tome. Entry is free and readings from the book will be followed by music from Nathan Singer and Knife the Symphony. For more information or directions to 1311 Main St., call 513-542-0195 or visit www.inktank.org. (See Events or Literary.) -- MARGO PIERCE
FRIDAY 21 TUESDAY 25
Attention, teenage readers (or those of you who like your stories angst-ridden) -- this week offers two chances to catch acclaimed writers of young adult books at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Co-hosted by Women Writing for (a) Change and Young Women Writing for (a) Change, Friday features JERRY SPINELLI, who will discuss and sign his book, Love, Stargirl, a sequel to the aptly titled Stargirl, the story of a high school cheerleader grappling with the "perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love." CATHERINE GILBERT MURDOCK hits Joseph-Beth on Tuesday armed with The Off Season, her latest book to feature heroine D.J. Schwenk. Now in the 11th grade, D.J. apparently has a thing for Brian Nelson, "who's cute and popular and smart but seems to like her anyway." Ah, the innocence of youth. Both appear at 7 p.m. (See Literary.) 513-396-8960. -- JASON GARGANO
SATURDAY 22 SUNDAY 23
If you're not Pop singer Lance Bass and can't afford to pay $1 million in an effort to get a ride on a space shuttle, you might have to satisfy your urge to explore the void of outer space by making a trip this weekend to Blue Ash. This year's BLUE ASH AIRPORT DAYS will host NASA's "Journey to Tomorrow" exhibit. Contained in a 53-foot-long trailer, the attraction features a moon rock returned from Apollo 17's lunar mission, as well as digital learning stations, a lunar landing simulator, planetary gravity demonstrator and a solar system scale that allows visitors to figure out how much they would weigh on each of the planets. NASA employees will staff the exhibit and be available to answer questions. For those who prefer more earth-bound aviation, the event also will feature three hours of in-air performances on both Saturday and Sunday. Among those performing will be the Lima Lima Flight Team, Cliff Robinson Aerobatics, Paul McCowen Sky Divers and the Red Eagle Team. The festival will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Discount tickets are available online for $8 at www.airportdays.com. Tickets purchased at the show cost $10 each day; children 12 and younger are admitted free. 513-489-2022. (See Events.) -- KEVIN OSBORNE
The CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER will host a lecture by architect-turned-designer-turned-author LISA ROBERTS (pictured) that coincides with her book, Antiques of the Future. The book expounds upon a trove of objects designed in recent years that Roberts predicts will take prominent places in design history. Roberts' book features familiar products, like the colorful iMac G3s, Arizona Tea bottles and Swatches alongside the work of hot contemporary designers such as Philippe Starck, Michael Graves and Stefano Giovannoni. Roberts' research is a culmination of more than her own expertise; she has consulted curators, store owners, designers, exhibitions and industry-standard publications to offer a sharp, interesting presentation about design today. This lecture is one of many offered by the CAC -- free of charge -- that we would do well to take advantage of. Like the products to be discussed, it's the sort of thing that enriches lifestyles and sensitizes us to the carefully designed and marketed world we live in. Lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. 513-345-8400. (See Art or Lectures.) -- MATT MORRIS
Plays almost never spring forth fully written from the pen of a writer. More often they are the result of months of writing and occasional workshops in which writers get a feel for how their work sounds when actors bring it to life. You can attend such a reading on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. when Know Theatre presents a workshop of Frank J. Avella's VATICAN FALLS, a play that the Over-the-Rhine theater might eventually give a full staging. It's an edgy love story about an American cabaret singer who falls in love with a beautiful Italian woman working for the Vatican. Their affair reveals a plan for revenge and terror, because the singer is connected with sex abuse survivors bent on retaliating against the Church. Avella's Iris, another play drawing its inspiration from contemporary headlines (it was about artificial insemination and same-sex partners), was presented by Know back in April 2005. Jason Bruffy, Know's artistic director, directed that one -- and he's steering Vatican Falls through this outing. Seating is very limited, but some tickets might be available if you call right away. 513-300-5669. (See Onstage.) -- RICK PENDER