Going Dutch 

Dance from the Netherlands

3/24-3/28

The Dutch don't appear often on the dance radar, although they should. The septuagenarian Hans van Manen, whose Grosse Fugue recently received its local premiere at San Francisco Ballet, has been making brilliantly crafted dances for decades, although we rarely have the chance to view them. Dutchman Ton Simons helped give heft to the New York downtown dance scene for years until disbanding his troupe. Luckily we have a reliable window into what the Dutch, or the Dutch under Czech influence, are doing through the Nederlands Dans Theater I, returning to Berkeley this week. If you haven't seen NDT, now is the time. Few companies work at the pitch these dancers do, moving as total movers, not just as good classical or good modern dancers. They know how to dance theatrically, lyrically, classically, and expressively, and artistic director Jirí Kylián, in some of the lushest work going, shows them off like gems. The Dutch solidified their 20th-century dance tradition in the sway of their German Expressionist neighbors, with diva Mary Wigman and wizard Harald Kreutzberg at the helm. Dance in the Netherlands before World War II tended toward vaudeville skits and expressive movement or ballet divertissement for opera. Or it took a page from the radical influences of the theater, with director Kurt Jooss making antiwar dances, or lesser-known artists polemicizing against the very earliest concentration camps. The war put an end to most of it; the Jooss company fled to England before a Nazi roundup could take place. Followers of Wigman who stayed behind were sometimes pilloried. Other dancers, like Lucas Hoving, famed partner of José Limon, were trapped abroad, then chose to settle there permanently. When Dutch dance righted itself in the postwar period, it began to search for new links between the American modern dance revolution and European ballet. The Nederlands Dans Theater, founded in 1959 as a bridge between the idioms, put the Dutch among the leading hybridizers of the form. This was solidified in 1973 when Czech choreographer Kylián took over as artistic director. NDT's tour, which visits UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall Wednesday through Sunday, presents two programs that include Bay Area premieres. Dance lovers won't leave the theater unsatisfied. Info: CalPerfs.berkeley.edu -- Ann Murphy

3/25-3/28

Fight Fight

The 'ol up n down

In one scene of Crossing the Broken Bridge, Naomi Newman's recently defunct touring collaboration with John O'Neal of Junebug Productions, Newman plays an elderly black woman while O'Neal portrays a young Jewish boy. This much identity-swapping is sure to help the founding member of A Traveling Jewish Theater to shine in her new, one-woman show, Fall Down Get Up. In it, Newman illustrates the universal act of falling down -- and getting back up again -- by slipping into the skins of a flamboyant Yiddish theater actress, a German Bohemian poet, a smart-ass street crone, a lesbian coming out to her sisters, and others. It plays at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts this week. Call 415-285-8080 or visit Ticketweb.com for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

3/25-4/25

Slapstick Traces

Allen Boetz and John Murray's Depression-era farce Room Service, best known to old-movie fans as a vehicle for the Marx Brothers, is a comedy about freeloading and door-slamming at a fancy New York hotel, circa 1937. But now all that antique slapstick comes up against Randy Anger, Jeremy Koerner, and Jerry Motta -- aka "the Three Stooges of the East Bay" (right) -- in Town Hall Theatre's sparklingly retro production of the vintage stage play. Jonathan Gonzalez directs the revival, which plays in preview Thursday (8 p.m.), then opens Friday for a run through April 25 at Lafayette Town Hall, 3535 School St. (at Moraga Rd.). Tickets: 925-283-1557 or THTC.org -- Kelly Vance

THU 3/25

Ukrainian Stomp

Klezmer is like potato chips: One bite leads to another, and soon the joint is jumping and the clarinet is out of control and the whole Middle-European-Jewish-Gypsy-peasant-dance musical parade comes crashing down the street drunk in the middle of the night, and you're leading it. At least that's what acclaimed klezmer percussionist Elaine Hoffman Watts might wish for her performance and workshop Thursday night (7:30 p.m.). She is joined by her daughter, Susan Watts Hoffman, on trumpet, and Josh Dolgin, on accordion, at the Berkeley Richmond JCC, 1414 Walnut St. in Berkeley. $15. Info: 925-866-9599. -- Kelly Vance

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