Dance Archives

Lorena Feijoo and Swan Lake

Lorena feijoo is simply the greatest ballerina around and her extreme decency as a person coupled with her superior cuban training is unmatched on the world stage...well, ok, her sister lorna feijoo is on the same level. I guess that is why they are the only dynasty in ballet history. This comes around only once in a lifetime! The review is wonderful, insightful, truthful, and most of all, honest!

Danny Burchik

San Francisco Ballet-The New Season

This is the jewel that makes San Francisco the crown of jewels that it is. And Helgi Tomasson is the bright and glorious jeweler that makes it all shine. Thank you for a wonderfully written view of the glory that is to come. It should pack the house and deservedly so.
Alan Rudolph
read Catherine Conway Honig's article

Sacred Monsters

A very revealing and deep review of this very revealing and deep dance artist. There is no one else like Sylvie Guillem. I especially enjoy the way you layer your commentary and perceptions - this is one of the best dance reviews I've read in a long time. It ought to be reprinted in the New Yorker instead of the "old cow" prattle-prattle that passes for writing about dance in that premier journal. When are you going to do a one-on-one interview with Sylvie? You're just the writer to do that and finally capture her in words, which you just about did in this review. Thank you very much.
Phillip Goldsmith
read Renate Stendhal's article

San Francisco Ballet's "Blue Rose"

Just to wanted to let you know - Vilanoba didn't almost drop Feijoo, she actually had a mis-step and he caught her to keep her from completely falling and taking him down with her.
M. White
read Catherine Honig's article

Pina and Ten Chi Revealed

Once again you capture a choreographer and her dance in words the way few reviewers can. Wonderful. Wunderbar. Thank you. Here is more praise that Pina will live forever.

Peter Meyer

read Renate Stendhal's article

Tiny Dancer at SF Ballet

She's a wonderful Giselle, different from Feijoo but as commanding. Yes she's tiny but on stage she's colossal. I hope SF Ballet can keep her for a long time. Your interview is fine, thank you.
Martin Vistiz
read Catherine Conway Honig's article

Jigging and Reeling

Welcome to the world of heritage dancing. Why Irish dance, is this part of your heritage?
read Michael Bettencourt's article

Jigging and Reeling

As a writer, I have always found that parallel art activity provides a stimulating expansion to my work and offers much comfort and respect to what you call, "muses." I am especially fond of dance and even at my age (which I shall not reveal if only to say that it is advanced), I continue to explore ballet. I hope you will too.
Anee S. Waterson
read Michael Bettencourt's article

Jigging and Reeling

Michael Bettancourt's comments on his aches and pains learning to dance the Irish jig and reel, kicked off a wonderful memory for me. A few years ago at Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland, where my partner, Daystar, was the keynote speaker for the 23rd annual American Indian Workshop and Conference, we took a break from the conference to witness Irish dancing; the real thing not the Broadway pizzazz version. When I asked a security guard where we could find Irish dancing at its best, he pointed across the river to a pub. There, he said, we'd experience unadulterated Irish dancing - "come hell or high water". He was right on target. We experienced first class, full-fledged Irish dancing in a pub setting; turned upside down by an exhibition of splendid, young female dancers from the Irish School of Dancing, ranging in age from about 8 years old into their teens. Their unexpected arrival at the pub, along with their guardians and parents, turned the joint around. The transformation was immediate and complete. Beer drinkers slapped down their mugs. Hitting the tables was a signal to shut up and be quiet. Everyone's faces suddenly lifted with pride and joy. Even the rock band on stage sat silent and respectful, their hands on their laps, like choir boys on their best behavior - ready to break into the jig and reel. For they were about to turn their instruments into the great cause of Irish independence, at least that was the way I saw it; and they achieved their goal with inevitable discipline and dignity. Seated as we were, close to the stage, we were in the thick of it, amazed. The cultural dynamic of transcending the site of a beer hall into a highly respectful display of traditional Irish dancing was loaded with inherent drama. The young dancers were the real McCoy. When they arrived dressed in splendid green taffeta, lavish curls spilling and bouncing around their faces with abandon, they brought on the guardian spirits of lo and behold. The girls danced their hearts out, and, as the poet said, captured our hearts in their hands. Their youth, discipline, maturity of purpose, and, above all else, their joy in dancing, captivated the crowd. I asked a neighbor at our table why, in Irish dancing, the girl's hands are held so stiff at their sides, while their feet continuously move with incredible rhythm and bounce. He said that when the British occupied Ireland, they shut down Irish dancing, Bar maids behind the counter learned to keep their hands stiff at their sides, while their feet moved silently to the rhythm of the Irish jig and reel. Now that particular protest sounds like a tall story, but I'm willing to believe it. Here, in the great democracy of shared low down repressed experiences, the diehard representatives of the American government in the 19th and 20th centuries shut down Indian dancing. In their eyes, and with their weapons first hand, these iron hard defenders of cultural dominance thought of Indian dancing as a display of barbarism decisively to be dealt with. Well, the British failed, and so did the fistful of Americans. To everyone's surprise, what resulted from these viciously repressed indigenous dances turned out to be a blessing for all us - without disguise. Moral: If you are willing to dance under the table for a shared sense of humanity, do it with everything you've got. There may be no second chances.
Ned Bobkoff
read Michael
Bettencourt's article

Chalice Stream

I have enjoyed following Barry Lynn, Michael, and the evolution of Chalice Stream over the years. Passion, vision, and commitment have resulted in this jewel in Wisconsin. I hope I have some of my uncle's good genes! Thank you, Ned, for this article highlighting these artists extraordinaire.

Connee Carver-White

read Ned Bobkoff's article

Brava Lorena!

I cannot read nor hear too much about Lorena Feijoo. And apparently neither can Renate Stendhal. Lorena is a choreographer's gem and an audience's dream. I do hope that Ms Stendhal will never tire of experiencing Lorena's wondrous creations and will continue to share those experiences with her equally wondrous prose.

Hinton Faxman

read Renate Stendhal's article

Much Ado about the Diva Scale

Terrific review but white print/black background is much to difficult to read for an entire article. An occasional white on black "punch" field may be fine, an entire article too tedious to read. Too bad, it was a welcome review.

Barbara Witte

read Renate Stendhal's article

San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet is now one of the best, if not the best, dance company in the country and your review shows why. Great review, so well written and full of many insights. The photos are divine. Thanks for all that.

Pimi Bell

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

Excellence in fluidity

Catherine Conway Honig captures in words what Ms. Farrell captures in the elegance of movement. This is an excellent piece and a joy to read Thank you.

Sylvia Goodman

read Catherine Conway Honig's article

SF Ballet

Lovely review - as always - thanks Ms.Honig.

Carlos Lens

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

Alicia Alonso Triumphant

A remarkable occasion, this the 90th year of the great ballerina. I first saw her many years ago in New York. She was astonishing whether one knew she was nearly blind or not. She represents all that is great about dance and what perseveres in the greatness of Cuban culture. Thank you for the remembrance.

Louis Laird

read Andrea Kapsaski's article


As you predicted and as reported:
"Alicia Alonso accepted the sold-out audience's adoring ovation at the Metropolitan Opera House from a central box seat before Thursday night's American Ballet Theatre performance. But one sensed that this legendary ballerina, being saluted by the company with an evening to celebrate her 90th birthday, would find her way to center stage, and she did, culminating the boisterous, rousing event."

And what an event that was.

Louis Laird

read Andrea Kapsaski's article

Earth, Air, Fire, Water by Ned Bobkoff

Ned Bobkoff's deep humanity and theatrical intelligence illuminate the essential elements of this production. Although I have not seen the performance - and travel distance makes it impossible - I can almost taste it from Ned's passionate description and his inevitable kindness and understanding of theatrical performance art. Highly recommended!

Bill Bailey

read Ned Bobkoff's article

Earth, Water, Wind, Fire

A work of uplifting beauty! Kudos to Rosalie Jones for her spectacular vision and to Ned Bobkoff for transmitting the sensation to Scene4 readers.

Arthur Kanegis

read Ned Bobkoff's article

...and check the Archives for more of his articles!

Earth Wind Fire Water

Thank you Ned for writing another interesting and enlightening article. Highly recommended.

James Dimelow

read Ned Bobkoff's article


Can't wait to see the film. Excellent review. Teenage awkwardness and the idea of not wanting to act stupid in front of one's peers, wanting to belong and yet not be seen. Brings back images of when I was a teenager and us girls danced around our handbags and were afraid to raise our arms. Even today, I'm fascinated by the way people transfer from a sitting position to the dance floor - the awkwardness of it all.

Irene Hendrick

read Renate Stendhal's article

Tanz Traüme

Renate Stendhal's is a wonderful article that reads like a belated eulogy for Pina Bausch, linking 50s, 70s and today. At a time that researchers fear that present day youth -- who so readily make use of New Media -- are losing the ability to have face to face interaction and lack IRL communication skills, Stendhal suggests that the awkward gender division of the 50s is not just bound to return, but is back where it was or as a greater schism. Ironically,perhaps because of projects such as teens dancing a Bausch piece, this seems a breach easier to mend than the lack of mutual respect, seen in depiction of teens in TV shows and movies. Thank goodness for choreographers who use dance to bring young people together on and backstage and as audience in the auditorium. In Seattle, WA., DANCE This! organized by STG allows for similar positive experiences for young people, alternatives to what might be considered a modern day wasteland. Many thanks to Renate Stendhal and Scene4 for bringing this notion to the foreground! Can't wait to see the documentary.

Judith van Praag

read Renate Stendhal's article

Black Swan

I enjoyed the review by Renate Stendhal, though have a different take on Black Swan. I walked away also being reminded of Cronenberg, but more of Aronofsky's other films--he has a penchant for characters inclined toward self-mutilation. Overall I was disappointed in this film. I didn't think it was silly (like your colleague), but wanted it to be better, more complex. Portman was simply too wimpy the whole time to be interesting to me--no dancer without a spine gets to be a principal--and though I know this was a function of her "dark" side containing all her power, it still made the movie and the performance less psychologically intriguing than I wanted it to be. Everything was, for me, a little too black and white. And as a feminist, the voyeuristic aspect really began to pall after a while. The whole thing seemed to be tailor-made for the male gaze (cat fights, the lesbian scene, the masturbation scene, the spectacle of one battered female body after another).

M. Dressler

read Renate Stendhal's review

Hope in Havana

Thank you Catherine Conway Honig for an inspiring view of hope that is alive and well in Cuba.

Marta Mediz Siverman

read Catherine Conway Honig's article

Daystar's "Dancing In The Grass"

Although the Daystar performance of "Dancing in the Grass" was performed indoors at Nazareth College, because of the threat of rain, it was successful nonetheless. "Wolf", a Daystar transformational work highlighting the natural connection between the human and the animal world, was danced with exceptional dramatic effect by Daniel Fetecua of the Jose Limon company. The suggestive ambiance of haunting Native American music with a solid rhythmic ambiance, coupled with multifaceted changes from one state of being to another, captivated and held firm the metaphysical construct of Native American beliefs that we are all one under the sun.

Ned Bobkoff

read about it in Que Pasa

Oh Onegin

To have two views of one of my favorite ballets is a treat. I know it's an "old chestnut" but Onegin is where ballet came from and where, in one sense, it still is. I wish I were in San Francisco but many thanks to both Catherine Honig and Renate Stendhal for taking me with them.

Judy Moritz

read Catherine Conway Honig's review
read Renate Stendhal's review.


I saw Onegin at the Stuttgart. I wonder what Cranko would have thought about Wayne McGregor?

Ralph Wilson

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

Onegin review

"The effect is like going to an art gallery and discovering a Titian among the post-modern works plastered all over the walls." A well-turned phrase in another well-turned review by Ms Renate Stendhal. Always appreciated.

David Szersnic

read Renate Stendhal's review

Hope Mohr

Hope Mohr is a lovely and sometimes breathtaking dancer and so with Dusan Tynek's dancers but the Cunningham oeuvre has always left me flat, cold, uninvolved. I saw much of Merce in his early days and less when he danced less. He, as a dancer, was the inspiration. But the choreography? I never thought of it as choreography.

Judy Moritz

read Catherine Conway Honig's article

TransMigration: Dancing The Extreme Vision

A real pleasure to read this insightful and descriptive article by a choreographer and dancer of the stature of Ms Jones. I felt as if I had been with her at the performance. And I was excited to learn of Santee Smith's work, and of the art and life of Norval Morisseau.

Gordon Magill

read Daystar/Rosalie Jones' article

Dance and Scene4

This is such a beautiful issue and the dance reviews are just striking. Catherine's evisceration of Neumeier is no doubt warranted - I've seen his work before and I hope to suffer through "Nijinsky". Renate once again takes me to the theater for Joffrey and others and brings the performances alive and exciting in her articulate and wry style. Thank you, Scene4, for criticism as it should be written and published.

Robert Coane

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

read Renate Stendhal's review


The beauty of Martin Burke's libretto is that it reads like music. The words flow into the ears as well as the eyes. Beautiful. Is it an opera or ballet yet? It is a composer's dream.

Arian delGado

read Martin Burke's writing

Art and the City

Many thanks to Renate Stendhal for her colorful and picaresque writing about my beloved Barcelona. I question, however, some of her feminist allusions to flamenco music and dance. Flamenco is more than 'man versus woman'. It's roots are Gypsy and it's heart is both the King and the Bull, both of which are now under attack in Spain by the mindlessness of the younger generations.

Tomas Enzopeña

read Renate Stendhal's article

On Pairings

Thanks to Ms Honig for an outstanding review of the Paris coming together of these great artists' work. There's an overall "pairing" to be gleaned from her review -- the sculptor, the photographer, the choreographer, the dancer. Actually many "pairings" and many insights.

M. Madeiros

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

How Now Copyright?

I read, with interest, Arthur Meiselman's piece on copyright. My response to the writer, since I am cited by him as a spur to his article is this:

I am not against copyright, that is, not against having some form of protection for created work, for the "property" of the creator.  I would just dial back the protections to the original terms of the Copyright Act of 1790, which gave a creator 14 years of protection, with an additional term of 14 years if he or she was alive at the time of the renewal.  (The original law only protected books, maps, and charts; other items, like music and paintings, were added later.)

I also don't have a problem with copyrights being treated as commodities and passed along/sold to other parties, as long as the time limits don't reset during the exchange: If my father in his will passes along to me the copyright to his wildly successful book, and thus its profits, in the 27th year of its copyright (renewed after 14 years), I get the profits for one more year only, and that's it.  Then the book goes into the public domain.  (Whatever publishing rights companies have do not trump the copyright term limit -- once the property passed into the public domain, they no longer have exclusive access to it.)

I would also support a provision that doesn't make copyright automatic once a work is created.  Copyrights would have to registered, with a small fee to do this, in order to start the clock ticking on the first 14 years.  If a copyright is not registered, then that work does not have copyright protection and is automatically added to the public domain.  (We'd have to work out some window during which a creator can register so that the created work has a provisional or contingent protection, a "pre-copyright" protection, in case they're on walkabout in Australia when the inspiration comes.)  This would also allow people to forego copyright if they didn't want it (today known as "copyleft") without having to go through the hoops of the Creative Commons licensing procedures (but this would also mean that the creator would have no say in how the work gets used in the public domain).

The logistics of this are too complicated for this limited space, but they are mostly legalistic in nature once the umbrella concept of a time-limit for a registered copyright is established (e.g., can someone "own" something in the public domain, such as a Picasso painting hanging in the Metropolitan Museum, or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in its new Japanese manga version?).  This doesn't make them easy but it does make them doable and possible.

My desire is to get as much material, actual and virtual, into the public domain as possible as quickly as possible without too much interference from the dead hand of the past or the greed of corporations and creators -- as the original act said, in order "to encourage learning."  Twenty-eight years seems enough time for a creator to make his or her money.  My desire is to cut back all the kudzu that has smothered copyright to the point where, now, anything after 1923 is out of bounds, with absurd restrictions like a book not going into the public domain until 70 years after the death of its author.  To me, that's racketeering.

Of course I will not win this argument -- there is too much money at stake.  But it's an argument that still needs to be made.

Michael Bettencourt

I agree with most of Michael Bettencourt's arguments. But the implication of his strong desire toward "public domain" is what concerns me. I don't care about the financial provisos of copyright: protect the creator and the creator's heirs, all for a reasonable time, and then the hell with it... let the bucks be made by the buck-makers. What I do care about is the content, the creation as the creator conceived it. Within most current copyright protection, while the creator is alive, his/her permission is required to change one comma, one note, one choreographic movement, one anything. Once the creator has been de-created, my admonition is that the permission is no longer available. Nothing should be changed. If a creation is to be adapted, write a new version based on the original, but do not, do not use the original words or notes or strokes. If you want to do "Rome&Juliet" Mr. Luhrman (after you find actors who can speak English), write your own. I cite George Bernard Shaw who sent a sheriff with a cease&desist court order at the Broadway opening of one of his plays: do it the way he wrote it or don't do it. If you want to do a Balanchine ballet, do it as he conceived it, or choreograph your own. The argument against my argument is: hey, that's not the way show business works. My answer: Tough shite! Shaw understood the business of show better than almost anyone alive today. Of course, he's dead and his creations? Unprotected.

As I calm down here, I'm fully aware that it is the Internet which has unleashed an irrevocable shattering of copyright protection. The "mashup" is the worse thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball. And, as Rebecca Solnit noted in Harper's: The Internet will also "create elaborate justifications for never paying artists or writers." She also notes: "...2014 has turned out quite a bit like [Orwell's] 1984."

Arthur Meiselman

Michael Bettencourt's earlier column: "Dear Mr. Beckett"

Arthur Meiselman's current column: "On Copyright And Cats"

Rain Reigns

In her review of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's "Rain", Catherine Conway Honig manages to take the reader into the performance, its process and into its dance heart. Not a common result one gets from many dance reviews. Ms Honig beautifully captures the pain and joy of making dance and shows us why concert dance remains so alive and full of wonders.

Armin Remault

Catherine Conway Honig's review: "Rain in Paris"

How Now Copyright? - A Response To A Response

Response to Arthur's Response

Citing the "mashup" as "the worst thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball" is to forget that the "mashup" is how any art gets made.  No inventor creates something in the way that Athena burst forth from the head of Zeus when Hephaestus cracked open his skull, that is, something without antecedent, without an origin story, without some debt to (dare I say it?) to the "public domain."

This is precisely the point Nina Paley made in stripping her wonderful work, Sita Sings The Blues, of all copyright restrictions: "From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes."

For me, the more things there are to mash up into new forms, the better off everyone will be, not just in the arts but in all aspects of intellectual study -- "mashup" is just a synonym for "the free market of ideas," and the public domain, where everybody has a library card to borrow the materials, is where this market can play out the trading that results in new ideas, new practices, new directions.

This fertility -- its power to nourish and propel -- is why we can't follow my colleague's advice and do only "archival performances" (my term, not his) of past work.  Shaw had every right to issue his cease-and-desist then, but I don't think anyone can make a defensible aesthetic argument that his work is well-served by issuing one now on his behalf, and there's certainly no legal basis for it either.

Perhaps Shakespeare is more to the point here, since competing versions of some of his plays defy citing any one manuscript as definitive, Arthur's "the original words."  (Kenneth Branagh, for his film version of Hamlet, simply mashed together every version he could find into one script, which is why the film runs for four hours with an intermission.)  There is no ur-Shakespeare text, and certainly no ur-Shakespeare performance (we have no settled picture of what happened on an Elizabethan stage), and thus no ur-Shakespeare to which we must always remain faithful.  

And even if such a thing did exist, doing R&J in 2014, even following every jot and tittle, will not be the same as a production done in 1614: we can mimic the practice but we can't access the spirit and mind-set of that time.  We are different people living in a different world, and our R&J will be an automatic betrayal of the original.

Rebecca Solnit's point about "the Internet" is a good one in terms of its effects on artists' livelihoods.  However, it's not "the Internet's" fault but the way people use and abuse this vast infrastructure for sharing information -- a subject too large to parse here but one which touches upon the ethic of the public domain and a regulated commons.

But it certainly has thrown into disarray old notions of ownership and control and property and contract, which, to me, is a very good thing since many of these notions were restrictive, exploitative, and rent-seeking, and needed to be challenged.  Going back to a situation where "the permission [to change things] is no longer available" is to go back to the very practices that "the Internet" has up-ended.

The "mashup" is how stuff gets made.  The source material for the mashup is both the universe of all created artifacts and the cultural "air" we all breathe as citizens of some collective.  Given the capitalistic way we have chosen to arrange our current collective, it makes sense to define creation as "property" and afford it some of its protections.

The debate is over the extent and power of those protections, and my contention is to give them a statute of limitations that balances inventors' abilities to make some money off their efforts and the public domain's need for new stuff to mash up.  I believe this is a fair trade, given how the public domain seeds everything of value created by anyone who lives in its midst.

Michael Bettencourt

About Dance

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to RECENT LETTERS in the Dance category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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