Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ping Chong

Ping Chong, Asian-American theatre director, choreographer, video and installation artist, was born in Toronto Canada in 1946 and grew up in New York's Chinatown. He attended Pratt Institute, School of the Visual Arts and after film school Chong's focus changed. Instead of concentrating on the specialized world of film making, he decided to merge several art forms. He began to study dance with Meredith Monk and collaborated with her often. Like Monk, Chong's work is not easily classifiable, he often has themes of loneliness and alienation driven by awkward erratic movements or sustained stillness.

Chong's first independent theatre work, Lazarus, opened with slides of a street and stairwell of a tenement building. There was a set consisting of a set table and a flower. Lazarus enters with his head wrapped up in medical bandaging and a letter from a woman is read while he eats. His work is often considered to be voyeuristic, somehow eerie and unnerving to watch.

He formed Ping Chong and Company in 1972, Chong is thought to be able to locate the darkness in Western culture with theatrical clarity without criticizing the West itself. His introduction to Nuit Blanches read, "As a young I felt like I was sitting on a fence staring at two cultures. You go out into the bigger world and start looking at it with the kind of objectivity and anthropologist has." Chong is successful in his art because he has the gift of storytelling, a precious and rare gift.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Joe Goode

Joe Goode, american dancer,choeographer, actor, director, writer, and company director was born in Presque Island, Maine in 1950, dancing with a local civic ballet company in Virginia by high school. Early on he wanted to express his love of language and moved toward the theatre, earning a degree in drama in 1973. He then went to New York city, working on/ off Broadway regularly. Goode moved to San Francisico in the late seventies joining the Margaret Jenkins' dance company and in the early eighties began to makes dances for himself.

Many of his dances concern social and political issues and explore cultural fears and taboos. His work deals with events that are puzzling, accidental, unexpected, and often out of control. He is specifically open about his sexuality in pieces like 29 Effeminate Gestures, structurally a classical theme and variation, which concerns tolerance. He says his work I'm Sorry was a litergical lament "for being a homo sexual man in a culture that wants macho heroes, for being an artist in a society that wants steady wage-earners, and for being a dancer who, instead of offering complacent viewing, puts these issues before audiences."

The Joe Goode Performimg Dance Company was formed in 1986 and his dancers were expected to be strong actors as well as trained movers. They had the ability to speak text while executing difficult movement sequences. Goode's danceworks are now in the repertoires of modern and ballet companies in the United States. He continues to remain focused on the mystery of the human condition.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nacho Duato

Nacho Duato, Spanish dancer, choreographer, and company director was born in Valencia in 1957. Duato was very young when he left Spain to be trained in several schools as diverse as Rambert School in London, Mudra School in Brussels, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York. He joined the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm in 1980 and the next year was brought to Nederlands Dans Theatre by Jiri Kylian with whom he worked closely as well as the painter and designer Walter Nobbe. Duato became resident choreographer and then director, and in 1988 he was appointed director of Compania Nacional de Danza by the Ministry of Culture of Spain. He has been a free lance choreographer since 1996 and has continued to earn medals and awards for his work.

Nacho Duato is considered to have played a significant role in building up choreographic modernity in Spain. He has frequently broken the limits of musical Eurocentrism with large spectacles using non-European music as in Cor Pedut, Rassemblement or Mediterrania and is thought to be a universal choreographer. He is quoted to have said "I like the audience to recieve energy through the body of the dancer. I try to abstain from using any kind of superficial adorments in the costumes and the sets. I feel the need to express sensations with movements, without the help of ostentatious set designs. When the company comes out on stage, I like the audience to recieve a considerable charge of energy and sensitivity through the dancer's body. Dance must incorporate a bit of joint celebration and participation; it's not something that leaves the audience out, but permits it to take part in what is happening."

Duato frequently incorporates political statements into his dances, and as a member of culture where values require a solid presentation and defense, his commitment to entertainment has been a key to his success. The plunge of Spain into modernity through its transition into democracy after the death of the Dictator Franco, was mirrored in milestones in almost every social field. In dance it was Nacho Duato that played a large role by cooperating firmly and decisively move dance forward.