Jonelle Seitz

Belle Redux

“Belle Redux,” choreographed by Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills and premiered by the company in 2015, is a dark reboot of the 18th-century French fairytale “La Belle et la Bête” (Beauty and the Beast). The two-act ballet was commissioned by the 3M corporation as part of a program to fund innovation in the arts (as part of his research, Mills met with 3M researchers and engineers), so it’s no surprise that it is unlike Mills’s other story ballets.

A Bowie Kaleidoscope

“The Bowie Project,” the brainchild of Austin-based choreographer Andrea Ariel, whose other credits include the choreography for the film Waiting for Guffman and a three-part dance-theatre series on the floating garbage patch in the North Pacific Gyre, was an exercise in personae, layering, fragmenting, and improvisation. The performance, which incorporated three dancers, the David Bowie tribute band the Super Creeps, and three members of New York’s Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble, utilized Soundpainting, a “composing sign language” invented by musician Walter Thompson.

Irreverence, in Coats

Where there is futility and restlessness, there can also be hope, depth, love, honor, and plenty of humor—this emerged as a thesis of “Loose Gravel,” a collection of more than thirty vignettes of dance, movement, theatre, and absurdity.

Quiet Landings

Grupo Corpo, the Brazilian contemporary company, gave one performance in Austin, sandwiched by stops in Minneapolis and New Orleans, and between engagements in New York City and Europe. I can imagine that these one-nighters blur together for the members of the group, distinguishable only by hotel and theater amenities and the receptiveness of the audience. But for Austin audiences, who have had the opportunity to see the company once every few years since 2008, thanks to programming by the University of Texas, each of these rare performances is distinct.

Corps Strength

Ballet Austin opened its season with a triple bill titled to announce the company’s upcoming monthlong, 150-city tour of China—its first performances in that country. Two works that the company will take on the tour, artistic director Stephen Mills’s “Wolftanzt” and Liminal Glam, sandwiched Lar Lubovitch’s “Dvořák Serenade.” Taken as a whole, the program was a study of ensemble: How does an ensemble hang together? In what ways is it threatened? Because Ballet Austin is an unranked company, such questions are especially intriguing.

The Example

What do gestures become when stripped of their in-the-moment communicative purposes? South American choreographer Luis Garay borrows the word “maneries” from Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, who, in his book The Coming Community, analyses the word’s etymology and comes to a conclusion that is mirrored by Garay’s program notes on the dance: “‘Maneries’ r­efers to neither a universal nor a particular; it embraces both, like an example.”
Jonelle Seitz

Jonelle Seitz

Jonelle Seitz is a writer and editor in Austin, Texas. She has contributed dance reviews and articles to the Austin Chronicle since 2007 and is a member of the Austin Critics Table. Her dance writing has also appeared in Dance Europe, dancemagazine.com, Ballet Review, and AdobeAirstream. Previously a ballet dancer, she aims to discover those who move, what moves them, and why they are so important to those of us who watch.