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JACOB'S PILLOW

 
 

Exercising Maxwell's Demon!

   

 

  

 

The dance world has converged on the Berkshires again this summer for one of the world's premiere dance festivals, Jacob's Pillow, in Becket, MA, on through August 30th.  We recommend making it part of a lovely weekend getaway this summer -- that perfect fusion of nature and culture -- spectacular landscapes and contemporary dance....

 

The organizers have invited an eclectic mix of established and new talent, including Doug Varone and Dancers, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Ballet Maribor and Gallim Dance.  We are particularly excited about what promises to be an aesthetically riveting show: Pacific Northwest Ballet's performance of 3 works by the late American choreographer Ulysses Dove: Vespers, Red Angels, and Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven.  

 

The young Dove arrived in New York City from the South in 1970.  He danced for Merce Cunningham and later with Alvin Ailey where he quickly rose to become a principal dancer.  Dove passed away in 1996 at the age of 49, but his ballets live on, and are among the most mesmerizing works in the contemporary repertoire.  Time and speed play an important role in Dove's choreography.  His dancers' bent arm extensions and deep knee bends, as well as the sheer force with which they propel themselves across the stage are a legacy from Ailey; but also a nod to another modern master, Balanchine, in the emphasis on speed and what Dove himself called "legginess."  Dove added his own signature touches: the quick whiplash of the dancer's body, astoundingly difficult choreography executed with speed and precision, the almost frenetic pacing, the always palpable sensuality. 

 

Red Angels is a tornado of a performance, set to Michael Einhorn's mesmerizing electric violin piece Maxwell's Demon with its hints of rock, blues, and frenzied Cajun fiddling!  In Red Angels the dancers pirouette, bend, and fly across the stage.  In the fourth movement, a burning red spotlight descends on each dancer as they walk center stage and perform solos at breakneck speed.  They are demonic angels if anything, red-hot and intensely physical presences, all fire as they burn incandescent. Interestingly, Maxwell's Demon was a thought experiment by the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell featuring an imaginary demon that he devised to contradict the second law of thermodynamics - separating fast and slow moving molecules of gas in two adjacent compartments with a  trapdoor in between….but, to keep it simple, speed and heat are what the experiment, the music, and the dance are all about!

 

See: Jacob's Pillow


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