ADF in CLE — American Dance Festival in Cleveland — is back for the second year with its plethora of dance performances, classes, and activities in and around Playhouse Square. We talked with DanceCleveland’s Pam Young and Sarah Hricko to get a feeling for what’s coming and how to connect with it.
Victor Lucas: Last year you said the first ADF in CLE was like jumping off a cliff. Would people buy tickets to the concerts? Would the classes fill up? Would the many free activities draw crowds? So, how did it go?
Pam Young: We were really, really pleased with how it went last year. When you’re starting something new it’s difficult to predict how many people will come. They might come to something in November but not in July. Last year we were the only thing going on in Playhouse Square -– everything was dark except for us — but even so, last year Dancing in the Street was jammed. The mega-barre was jammed – we’re going to bring more barres this year. And the performances went well; they did not hit where we thought they might but we were pleased with how well they did do.
So we made some adjustments this year in terms of timing the workshops, embedding them in the middle of things rather than waiting until after the National Day of Dance to launch like we did last year. Already the workshops have twice as many people as we had last year.
VL: Is there still room in the workshops? We assumed that they’d be full.
Sarah Hricko: What happened was we were hitting numbers early in the season so we added a track — which doubled the number of spaces – and we extended the registration deadline.
PY: I think we may have 3 or 4 spaces left in each of the workshop classes. But the masterclass for Hubbard Street is filled with a waiting list.
SH: We do have one more class that’s not listed in the festival guide. It’s the Caleb Teicher master class and we do have lots of spots open in that one. It’s Intro to Swing, ages 13 and above. It’s on the morning of the Caleb Teicher performance, 11am to noon Saturday 8/4. It’s free but you must register. (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-intro-to-swing-with-caleb-teicher-tickets-47821604707)
VL: (More about Caleb Teicher later.) Which brings us to the first of the dance performances, something called Body of Work: Dialogues on Dance featuring Pam Tanowitz Dance. We understand that this is not exactly a dance concert.
PY: When our patrons come to see a dance concert, some of them might not understand much about the creative process behind that concert — the hours in the dance studio, for instance. So we asked ourselves how we could make that creative process more accessible to our patrons so that when they look at a performance they see it through new eyes. An opportunity presented itself when Tanowitz, who was coming here as a faculty member in the ADF workshop, called me and said, “When I come to Cleveland, would it be possible to get a dance studio where my dancers and I can work on a new piece when we’re not teaching?” I said “Yes,” and that was the beginning of Body of Work: Dialogues on Dance. It’s going to be very different from a concert performance. You’ll see Tanowitz onstage working with her dancers; she’s going to have a head mike; she may engage the audience in conversation; she’s going to talk about what she’s doing; then we’ll take a break from that for a moderated talk about her work.
VL: Her work has been quite the hot commodity lately. Our readers may have seen Alastair Macaulay’s very positive New York Times review of her recent dance, Four Quartets. (www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/arts/dance/four-quartets-review-pam-tanowitz.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=sectionfront) Too bad Cleveland doesn’t get a look at this new masterwork.
PY: That review was strong praise because Macaulay almost never says anything nice about anybody. Tanowitz’ previous piece set to the Goldberg Variations also got enormously positive reviews. So there is something there. Her work gets to the heart of something. It will be fascinating to get a look at her creative process.
Then, after a pause, I do believe her dancers will perform something, perhaps from the new work that they’re creating. Then instead of a Q&A in the theater we’re going to adjourn to the lobby where the cash bar will be open and there will be a brownie tray or some kind of desert and people can actually talk to her and her dancers, raise their own questions, and engage in conversations. Some people who are shy about asking a question in an auditorium are more comfortable one-on-one. We’ll see how it goes. We hope that people will find it interesting.
VL: Sounds different but definitely interesting. And we like the fact that it’s all in the Allen Theatre where we can see the dancers up close.
What about Hubbard Street Dance Chicago? They’ll be performing on Saturday that same week.
PY: Oh, we have a very interesting evening with Hubbard Street. They were really great about working with us and they have a lot of active rep to choose from. So, when we looked at what they had in their rep, we looked for opportunities to feature or at least include female choreographers. That’s something we’ve been very strong about over the last two or three years. As you know, there’s a big national conversation about how under represented women choreographers are.
So, Hubbard Street will be performing two pieces by their choreographer in residence, Alejandro Cerrudo, — Out of Your Mind, which is a brand new piece that we like a lot, and Lickety Split (2007), which is lovely and cute – and two works by women choreographers.
Cloudline (2017), choreographed by Robin Mineko Williams, is a really lovely, beautifully danced work and we liked it a lot. She’s been a dancer for Hubbard Street and has created some artistic work for them. She was also here in June of last year setting some work on Malpaso.
VL: (Williams is a choreographer in demand. Local dance audiences may also remember Part Way, the result of Mineko Williams’ creative residency with GroundWorks DanceTheatre in 2016.)
PY: Then they have a piece by Crystal Pite. I’m a huge fan of hers. She has her own company, Kid Pivot. I think I was new to DanceCleveland when we presented Les Ballet Jazz De Montreal with a full evening of Pite’s work. Her piece that Hubbard Street is dancing Saturday is called Grace Engine. It’s a really interesting work and I like it a lot. A little darker so we have some light work and some dark work.
VL: We’re big fans of Crystal Pite, too. We haven’t seen Grace Engine but she’s been cutting a swath through contemporary ballet since 1970. In some of her work we feel we get a glimpse of what’s next for ballet. This is definitely not a matter of checking a diversity box.
PY: Then we’re closing – so fun – with a piece called The 40’s created for them by Lou Conte, their founder and longtime director. It was their closer for years and years and they’re bringing it back as part of their 40th anniversary.
(VL: When you’re buying your tickets to Hubbard Street, keep your eye out for the preshow and post show talks. They’re free with admission and well worth your time.)
VL: Ok. That brings us to the final concert of the festival, Caleb Teicher & Company at Cain Park Evans Amphitheater. We had never heard of him before but suddenly this summer his name keeps coming up, with him and his company performing in high profile venues. They were at the Joyce Theater and Gibney Dance. Soon they’ll be at Fire Island Dance Festival and Jacobs Pillow. Who is he?
PY: We all saw him in January at the Joyce, all the people who do the bookings at all those places you just mentioned. We were all in the audience and we were all wowed. He’s very cool. He has this black hair with this white streak in the front. His tap number to the Goldberg Variations is full of nuance – a sliding foot as opposed to a tapping foot. We were mesmerized. And the swing numbers with great old music are perfect for Cain Park.
VL: We gather that, as interested as Teicher is in tap, this is not exclusively a tap concert.
SH: It’s swing and modern dance combined. One of the pieces is more tap oriented with tap shoes. Some of his company members are more swing experts than tappers so he casts them depending on the piece.
PY: Last year we had a reception after the final concert so this year we said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a swing party in the colonnade at Cain Park.” There will be a DJ, cash bar, and golf carts to take people up the hill. And we’re going to have a swing party.
VL: Sounds like a lot of fun.
ADF in CLE 7/24 – 8/4/2018 featuring dance concerts and a student showcase, a new speaker series, free outdoor activities, and a dance workshop series lead by ADF Faculty. Tickets and information at DanceCleveland.org (Consider the Festival Pass, which includes tickets to all 3 shows at a discount, VIP perks, and freebies.), PlayhouseSquare.org, and CainPark.com. Presented by DanceCleveland in partnership with the renowned American Dance Festival.