Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dancing Machines at Arts & Ideas

If you're planning on attending the 12th annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas (June 9-23), be ready to see dance, whether it's modern or classic or interpretive. There's a whole lot of dancing going down.

I had the chance to attend to the festival's press luncheon this afternoon, and here are some of the highlights. I won't go into too much of the scheduling since you can read Arts Editor Donna Doherty's piece in the Register tomorrow.

When discussing why there's so much dance and not as much theater, Executive Director Mary Lou Aleskie said, "We have to take into consideration our landscape" and "go beyond the norm in our community. ... We have to move away from the national (like New Orleans from last year) and more toward the international."

Basically, Aleskie believes that with such quality theater happening daily in New Haven, there's really no point in offering more at A&I.

About bringing in new Program Director Kathy Edwards, Aleskie said, "With Kathy, we have an opportunity to (bring in dance) in an international way." Edwards' background is in dance, having worked with different festivals and groups bringing in high-end performances. Aleskie said that having Edwards on board brings A&I an instant credibility, which helped the festival earn a Mellon Foundation grant this year.

An opening-night performance of music from Spike Lee films, performed by Terence Blanchard, will be hosted by the filmmaker himself. This will be one of the major highlights of the festival, said the executive director.

Another major event will the State Ballet of Georgia's presentation of "Giselle."

Martha Graham Dance Company's performance of "Ardent Song Redux" will not only be a big event, says Edwards, but the festival also "participated as a significant partner in (creating the work)." Basically, the Yale School of Music will perform the score of the performance, and then it will record it at Sprague Hall. The Company will then take that recorded score on the road for performances all over the world.

This will be the first year one of the Saturday headlining spots on the Green will feature dance. Same goes for some of the free-lunch shows on the Green.

The Headlong Dance Theater will host performances of "Cell," which is a unique and interactive event that only about 200 eventgoers will get to experience.

About free events, Aleskie said, "I don't think we've counted it out, but it feels like there's more and more free events this year."

This year will feature a more extensive Ideas program. She said, "We don't communicate enough how unique this festival is internationally. We're looking to start exploring what it means and (some of the issues) in a more demonstrative way."

The brochure of events will be around the city soon, and you can download it on the fest's Web site tomorrow, I'm told.

In the morning, I'll give you my opinion on this year's lineup. I'm not a dance fan. Talk to you then.

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