2005 Best Dance: Ralph Lemon
Share with others:
Move over, Chris Rawson -- more than half of this year's Top Ten in dance had an unmistakable theatrical flair. Does this mean dance is riding Broadway's coattails toward more dramatic productions? If that's the case, bring it on, for this year's performances had plenty of emotional baggage that provoked thoughtful discussion and touched an occasional nerve.
1. RALPH LEMON
African American Cultural Center, Byham Theater, March 19
It took Ralph Lemon 10 years to formulate "Come Home Charley Patton." Based on the true story of Patton's lynching in Minnesota near Lemon's home, it wove a web of political and sociological intrigue that incorporated video, cartoons, spoken text and social dancing. It was a performance that found truth and honesty in the complexity of racial issues.
2. ALONZO KING'S LINES BALLET
Pittsburgh Dance Council, Byham, Oct. 1
Alonzo King has always had cool moves, but he opened the Dance Council season with a program that imposed intergalactic undertones on a scintillating dance vocabulary -- abstract dance at its finest.
3. PITTSBURGH BALLET THEATRE, 'A TRIBUTE TO PAUL SIMON'
Benedum Center, March 10
Desmond Richardson and Derek Deane tapped both the rhythmic landscape and sophisticated lyrics of this rock legend, enhanced by Michael Korsch's lighting design. And PBT's dancers dug in their heels for a superb night of dance.
4. SAVION GLOVER, 'IMPROVOGRAPHY II'
PDC, Byham, April 15
Glover is an artist at the peak of his tap powers, the likes of which we have never seen. Perhaps he went on at length in a program primarily based on his considerable improvisational skills, but what a ride it was.
5. DANCE ALLOY THEATER, 'THE CIRCUS OF TIME'
Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Dec. 2
It was a seesaw of a performance, in which Claire Porter's multi-generational cast frolicked in "Time & Again" and Beth Corning put together a memorable piece in "Selective Memory." Porter's comic dancelogue, "Fund Raiser," served as the fulcrum.
6. ATTACK THEATRE, 'GAMES OF STEEL'
Dykema Rubber Band Co., Oct. 7
Michele de la Reza and Peter Kope capped a dynamite year with this multidimensional tour de force on reality shows. Sporting a metallic edge with designs by Red Star Ironworks and transmitted into sound by the terrific cellist Dave Eggar and vocalist Dina Fanai, this piece brought them a grant from the National Dance Project.
7. DANCE ALLOY THEATER, 'A LIMITED LIFETIME GUARANTEE'
Kelly Strayhorn Theater, April 17
This program featured the North American premiere of Per Jonsson's "Shakt," with dancers wielding hammers against gongs. It also signaled that Corning was bringing a whole new dance spectrum to Pittsburgh.
8. LABCO DANCE, 'UNRAVELING'
Kelly Strayhorn, Nov. 12
LABCO's Gwen Hunter Ritchie scored heavily with New York City choreographer Donna Uchizono, whose rapturous "Steel-Eyed Susans," with tiny fragmented dance phrases that drifted into heavenly swirls, anchored a program that also featured Mark Taylor's delicious text/movement piece, "Palaver."
9. JUNCTION DANCE THEATER, 'HOUSE PARTY'
7634 Westmoreland Ave. In Swissvale, May 7
Melanie Miller showed what went on behind her own closed doors for this eventful site-specific performance. Between bites of breakfast, lunch or dinner, viewers could munch on "The Living Room" dance or a kitchen duet, Vanessa German's bathroom poetry or Karl Mullen's
antique melodies and more. Nothing less than tasty.
10. ISRAEL CONTEMPORARY DANCE COMPANY
PDC, Byham, March 5
Dance often serves as an ambassador for culture. This company hailed from a kibbutz and brought the intensity of the Middle East into the middle of Pittsburgh for one night.
First Published December 29, 2005 12:00 am