DX’s favorite local performances of 2011

As the year wraps up, Dance Exchange’s staff looks back to their favorite performances of 2011. The list ranges from post-modern dance from touring companies to local initiatives from area dancers. Enjoy–and share with us your favorite performance events of 2011 in the comments section. Can’t wait to see more great shows in 2012!

Ouida Maedel, Partnerships Coodinator: 

"iKilL" at Capitol Fringe Festival, 2011

iKilL by Izumi Ashizawa Performance   I saw iKilL at the 2011 Capital Fringe Festival, where it won the Director’s Award, and piece was later reprised at fallFRINGE in November. A theatre piece based in the Butoh and Noh physical acting traditions of Japan, iKilL looks at the impact of war on communities and the resiliency of the human spirit, and simultaneously deconstructs the entomology of the Japanese word ikill, which means “to live,” and the English “to kill.”  I found it such an unexpected joy to see Butoh and Noh inspired work, both of which are very rarely produced or presented in the D.C. area, and seeing iKilL allowed me to reconnect to my personal experience working with Butoh methods.  The sound, lighting, and costume designs were brilliant, and amplified the technical proficiency and raw talent of the performers.  iKilL lives in that weird space between dance and physical theatre, and is a perfect example of how magnificent it can be when those worlds collide to complement each other.


Ellen Chenoweth, Managing Director (and #1 Fan of the Arts in DC): 

February 19, 2011, Dance Place, Helanius Wilkins, premiere of Trigger Helanius’ work is still sitting within me 10 months after seeing it.  Thought it was a really powerful piece of work and all of the different elements were pulled together in one cohesive performance.

Doug Elkins & Friends in "Fraulein Maria"

May 21, 2011, American Dance Institute, Doug ElkinsFraulein Maria I love it when a dance can tickle your funny bone and your brain at the same time.  I’m also so happy that American Dance Institute is bringing in people like Doug Elkins now!  This production was exceptionally clever and fun.

April 22, 2011, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Lucinda ChildsDANCE  If I had to pick only one performance to bring with me to an island and watch over and over again for the rest of my life, it could be this one.  Gorgeous and precise dancing that led me into a sort of tranquilizing, beautiful trance.

April 2011, Kennedy Center, New York City Ballet, Black and White Balanchine  No costumes, no set, no silly storyline to get in the way… only pure and gorgeous dancing to watch, done by the amazing professionals that make up the New York City Ballet.  Heaven!


Emily Macel Theys, Communications and Development Director 

Tzveta Kassabova in "Drama". Photo by Zachary Handler

Drama by PearsonWidrig DanceTheater  Watching Tzveta Kassabova dance is thrilling. Her movements are so intense and space-filling, her hair is so wild, and she is undoubtedly fearless. When we went to see PearsonWidrig DanceTheater’s Drama in March (which was part of a rowdy Dance Exchange outing to the Clarice Smith Center complete with burgers and beers at Franklin’s before hand) I had to cover my eyes at times when Tzveta was hurling herself into a pile of gravel, grinding knees and feet and legs and arms into the anything-but-soft surface. I wrote about this performance for Dance Magazine, which you can read here. Looking forward to seeing more of Tzveta’s wild dancing and Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig’s choreography in 2012!


A homemade pin for sale at Dan$e & Drink$

And my favorite? I saw a lot of great work this year, but what has me most excited is a series that took place this fall at Jackie’s Sidebar in Silver Spring called Dan$e & Drink$. Started by dancers Katie Harris Banks and Keira Hart-Mendoza, the series featured a different dance company each Thursday evening in October. Choreographers were invited to use the back room (a great space with a red floor) at Sidebar to perform, talk about their work, mingle, and fundraise. At Keira’s evening with her company Uprooted Dance, the company performed excerpts of her work, showed video, and held a raffle. On top of that, Sidebar donated 10% of that evening’s proceeds to the participating dance company. This fall, Uprooted Dance, Dance Exchange, and Daniel Burkholder/The Playground all participated. I hope this series continues, and I’d love to see more events like this happening at alternative spaces in the area.


About Sarah Levitt

Sarah Levitt (Resident Artist/Communications Coordinator) is a dancer, choreographer and teacher based in Maryland.