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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 47.0° F  Fair
The Daily


Choreographer for hire

It's dark in Lathrop Hall's Margaret H'Doubler Performance Space. From the shadows, Maureen Janson counts "four, five - go deeper into that plié!" Two dancers, lit by a single spot, sweating, start to laugh. They've run through this sequence a half-dozen times, but there's humor in perfectionism. Janson laughs too. She jumps into the scene, demonstrating with lean, muscular arms the quality she's looking for in this knee-bend move. >More
 Peter Pan: Ready for takeoff

Some local arts organizations may get ground down in the recession, but for Madison Ballet, which added a professional component this season, the stars look well aligned. The premiere of its all-new Peter Pan this weekend at the Capitol Theater is the company's second production with the soloist-driven configuration. >More
 Complexions Contemporary Ballet: Soul + speed

Sunday night's Union Theater performance by Complexions Contemporary Ballet is a wakeup call for Madison dancers and dance patrons of all stripes. This is what dance performance oughta be in the 21st century, and we see precious little of it around here. This multiethnic company's got the strongest post-Balanchine ballet technique in New York, plus the funkiest moves. The Complexions experience can be relentless - critics often long for a little adagio, but for my money you can't beat the sheer guts and soul these dancers lay over their exquisite training. >More
 Ballet Folklorico México: Stepping up

You owe it to yourself to see the ticketed headliner for Overture's International Festival, Ballet Folklorico México de los Hermanos Avila. This world-class Mexican folk dance troupe is Madison-based, and its Feb. 16 debut on an Overture stage is long overdue. >More
 DecaDanceTheatre: Sister style

Jennifer Weber's all-grrrl DecaDanceTheatre brings an evening of vanguard Big Apple hip-hop dance to Overture's Capitol Theater on Valentine's night. Weber's here to demolish the perception that men have a lock on popping and locking, and she's gonna succeed. >More
 Nutcracker: Raising the barre

Madison Ballet's Nutcracker took a leap forward this year. At a time when many American companies are using canned music, or are on hiatus for lack of funds, Madison Ballet is buoyed by the Overture Center for the Arts. It's the company's great fortune to perform in posh Overture Hall with maestro Andrew Sewell and the vibrant Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. And the metamorphosis, from the once unwieldy pre-professional group to the sleek new studio company blended with 12 newly hired young professionals, is artistic director W. Earle Smith's gift to Madison - a pointe corps and soloists any rising midsize city should be delighted with. >More
 Nutcracker Fantasy: The alternative Nut

Dance Wisconsin's Nutcracker Fantasy - an alternative take on the ubiquitous holiday ballet, complete with a partly original score by Madison composer Taras Nahirniak - is a shoestring affair, compared to Madison Ballet's well-financed production. But artistic director Jo Jean Retrum, who's been presenting pre-professional ballet in Madison for 30 years, is adamant about offering her aspiring young dancers this important performance opportunity. >More
 A giant leap

For Overture Center's grand opening in September 2004, the three resident companies of its sparkling state-of-the-art concert hall -- Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Opera and Madison Ballet -- presented a night of "Overture Classics" that augured the arts' future in this former cow and college town. In that show, Madison Ballet appeared to be on a par with its sister organizations, but its program was stacked with guest artists from American Ballet Theater, Texas Ballet Theater and Oakland Ballet. The guest artists flew in, danced and left, leaving Madison Ballet with big pointe shoes to fill. >More
 Losing a step

Jin-Wen Yu Dance marked its 10th anniversary last weekend at Lathrop Hall's Margaret H'Doubler Performance Space. I've seen great Yu conerts, but this wasn't one of them. >More
 Flights of fancy

For Momix's silver anniversary, artistic director Moses Pendleton put together a repertory retrospective, "The Best of Momix." This company's somewhat collectively choreographed works are fun and fabulously inventive. The downside is that they veer dangerously close to glitzy dance-tainment -- personally, I prefer the shock and awe of pure dance, a la Balanchine's ballets or Alvin Ailey's gloriously funky, message-laden choreography. But I have high hopes for the set of Momix's greatest hits coming to the Overture Center on Oct. 13. >More
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