Dallas — 2016 has been a year of artistic loss so far. We said goodbye too soon to many incredibly talented individuals: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and David Margulies. This coming on the heels of dealing with the loss of Natalie Cole, Lemmy Kilmister, and Scott Weiland in late 2015. Unfortunately, the year in dance was also one of loss. We have had to deal with numerous dance companies who have closed their doors or halted operations in the last few months. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet closed their doors in the summer of 2015. La La La Human Steps announced that they would end productions in September 2015. On Jan. 5, 2016, choreographer and dancer Mats Ek decided to retire at the age of 70, and withdraw all his works from active performance. DV8 recently released a statement saying that as “the company celebrates its 30th anniversary, artistic director Lloyd Newson has decided to take time out to reflect and think about the future” and “during this time, DV8 will put on hold the production of new work.”
As much as we’ll miss each and every one of these bright lights, luckily, we have their films, works, and their influence to guide us into the future—thank you, Internet. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of losing these creative powers, let’s enjoy what they have left for us to remember them by.
1 La La La Human Steps
La La La Human Steps was a Québécois contemporary dance group in Canada known for its energetic, acrobatic style that often involved fast-paced and athletic choreography. Created by Édouard Lock in 1980, he and his principal dancer Louise Lecavalier, took the world by storm with their electric chemistry and rock-star je ne sais quoi.
In 1988, La La La Human Steps teamed up with the great David Bowie for an incredible piece of performance art, Look Back in Anger. We’ve seen Bowie’s moves in many of his own videos and as the Goblin King in Labyrinth, but here we get to witness his great power alongside probably one of the strongest dancers to ever grace the stage, Louise Lecavalier.
2 DV8 Physical Theatre
DV8, a dance company based in London, was founded in 1986. Led by Lloyd Newson, to company set out to create a different way to approach contemporary dance. One was by filming their work and created a structure for all future dance for camera makers; another was by incorporating and hiring dancers with disabilities. Each work made by DV8 set out to break down the barriers between dance, theatre, and personal politics, while communicating ideas and feelings clearing and without pretention (or at least that is their hope).
DV8’s Strange Fish, created in 1992, put the company on the map. The work examined the age-old quest for love—whether it be someone to love, or something, or even someone to believe in. Mixing humor, religious iconography, and intense physicality, DV8 created a new definition of dance with this piece. Something they continued to do throughout their tenure, and even redefined with their most recent production, John.
3 Mats Ek
Mats Ek is famous Swedish choreographer, dancer, and director whose work is heavily influenced by Kurt Jooss and his mother, Birgit Cullberg, of the Cullberg Ballet. He combines classical and modern dance techniques to form his unique style of movement – one that is all about individual expression.
Most people are familiar with his 2005 Appartement, but one of his finest pieces of choreography came with his Bernardas Hus, an 1986 adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s La Casa de Bernarda Alba. And then there is Smoke/Wet Woman, danced by Sylvie Guillem.
4 Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Founded in 2003, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet quickly became the go-to company for avant-garde dance in America, and became an international known name. They even graced the silver screen in The Adjustment Bureau, starring Emily Blunt and Matt Damon.
In this rare behind the scenes look, we see choreographer Benoit-Swan Pouffer in rehearsals with the company he led for years.
» Danielle Georgiou is a dance educator, critic and writer. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of DGDG (Danielle Georgiou Dance Group) and is a working dancer and performance artist. Her column Sixth Position appears on the third Sunday of the month on TheaterJones.com.
Previous columns are:
- February 2014: Cash Choreography
- March 2014: Make the Fringe Your Future
- April 2014: Don't Freak Out, It's Just an Audition
- May 2014: You Love Dance. You're Not Alone
- June 2014: Persevering Through Movement
- July 2014: Sharing in Success
- August 2014: To the Barre
- September 2014: Method Act
- October 2014: Fear of Flying
- December 2014: The Editor Dance
- January 2015: Community Relations
- February 2015: The Fabric of Movement
- March 2015: State of the Dance
- April 2015: The Dance Mom Complex
- May 2015: Who Wants to Date a Dancer?
- June 2015: Figuring How Men Fit In
- August 2015: Creative Economy
- September 2015: Dancing to Learn
- October 2015: Whose Idea Is It Anyway?
- December 2015: '15 Going on '16