Category Archives: dance

NYC Ballet at Iowa City’s new Hancher

What a treat to see the NYC Ballet for the first time in ages – and the first time in Iowa. Apparently, this was the company’s first visit to Iowa City, so I’m guessing it’s the first visit to Iowa since Iowa City hosts the state’s best dance performances (although Des Moines is improving!). The company was superb, as always, and it was a particular treat to see Iowa City native Miriam Miller dance – including in a sensational, sensual duet choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon (who choreographed The Joffrey’s new nutcracker, which we saw last year during our first visit to the new Hancher.) Speaking of which, the new Hancher is stunning —  I like it better than the old one. It feels smaller, more intimate, more vertical than horizontal, more peaceful with calming colors (seafoam green, grey, tan wood) and plush upholstered seats. Having sat in the balcony and on the floor, close to the stage, I’m not sure there is a seat with a bad view. (Our floor seats were way off to the side but we saw the vast majority of the stage.).
Dinner was a Takanami– for sushi and tempura, which was a nice change from all the heavy food we ate in the Deep South. We couldn’t deal with more burgers, ribs or fried chicken. We were tempted to try the new (or new to us) Szechuan Chinese restaurant, Bashu, that opened where the Linn Street Cafe used to be but it looked a little too authentic for a before-theater/meal. Didn’t want to get an upset stomach.  Locals seem to be loyal to Szechuan House.

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Kinky Boots and Paul Taylor Dance coming to Des Moines

Kinky Boots (musical poster).jpg

Always look forward this time of year to finding out what shows will be coming to Des Moines during the 2014-2015 season – and as usual there are a few I’m excited about! Paul Taylor Dance comes on Nov. 8 to the Civic Center – following on the heels of the wildly successful visit by Alvin Ailey Dance in March, this is a good sign of more topnotch dance to come, which has been sorely missing in Des Moines and in Iowa City since the demise of Hancher Auditorium (soon to rise again on higher ground!). Also excited to see “Kinky Boots” – the Tony award-winning best musical. Saw the movie – look forward to seeing the show. Feel the same about “Once” which I’ll see next week on my birthday. What a treat!

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Taking the el from midway/Kendall college dinner/joes stone crab/Joffrey ballet…Chicago!

Whirlwind trip to Chicago but well worth it. got to see some of my favorite people, my aunt, my son, my sister and niece. Got a dose of big city culture and crowds– a fantastic contemporary program danced by the Joffrey Ballet, a stroll along Michigan avenue! shopping in Eataly? some good food too including dinner at Kendall college, where the food was prepared and served by the students who go to hospitality and culinary school there. (Pretty good food, okay service but the kids are trying their best!). We also had a nice lunch at Joes stone crab which I haven’t been to since I was in ninth grade and in Miami beach(not south beach back then) with my grandma Betty. had a fabulous crab Louis salad that was even better than the one I make (must remember deviled eggs using the sauce Louis, hearts of palm, avocado, greens) and yes, sublime key lime pie. Onto Milwaukee tomorrow on the train, hoping to beat a snowstorm here also,there will probably be one in Milwaukee. Ahhh winter in the Midwest.
Ps flew into midway on southwest and took the el to my aunt’s. Piece of cake. Orange line to Roosevelt then red line north to Clark/division.

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Hubbard street dance, Andy’s Thai kitchen, eataly, Chicago

We are unexpectedly encountering snow on our return home from Chicago but it didn’t start until we were west of Davenport and so far it hasn’t been as bad as our outbound trip Friday night. Right now, at 6:43 pm about 10 miles east of Iowa city the flurries have stopped. But we don’t know what lies ahead.

Before this I was going to write that our Chicago trip had been worth the sometimes harrowing drive. Easy for me to say since I am not the driver. Still, we had a really good albeit brief visit to Chicago. Hubbard street’s Saturday night performance of “One thousand pieces” was among the best I have seen during decades as a Hubbard street fan. The dancing, choreography, staging was superb and there were some “firsts” for this dance fan, notably the dancers performing on the equivalent of a giant slip n’ slide, with the water adding all kinds of interesting effects, from the sound of the water splashing to the sight of the water on the darkish stage with white clouds of drifting white smoke/dry ice, to the added challenge for the dancers of executing challenging moves on a slippery surface. The second act of the piece began with a solemn line of 20 some dancers staring out into the dark theater, then executing one twitchy move after another in unison. that gave us in the audience a lot to watch and ponder. I was also pleasantly surprised be the Phillip Glass score which was less monotonously repetitive and more stirringly melodic than expected. I do think they could have turned the lights on just a little – I’m not the only viewer who got a bit sleepy…

      Earlier in the day we had yet another excellent meal at Andy’s Thai kitchen in Lakeview. The crispy basil pork belly, yum. We tried a few different dishes and they were well done. The panang had excellent quality chicken and eggplant well cooked and a not too heavy, well seasoned sauce.

Before the ballet, we braved the crowds at the new Eataly that just opened on Ohio Street just west of Michigan Avenue (next to Room and Board, one of my favorite furniture stores. Eataly Chicago seemed brighter and less chaotic than its cousin in New York City. It was a perfect place to get a light bite before the ballet. We decided on a plate of well picked Italian cheeses served with some
Candied fruit, figs in balsamic, honey and olive oil. We were swiftly served and our plucky Midwestern server made sure we were on our way when need be to make our show on tome.

Now back to now-snowy interstate 80. (postscript: we made it home safely – and slowly…)


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Hubbard Street Dance at CHicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art

MCA Chicago 060930.jpgA treat to attend a performance of Hubbard Street Dance and in a new venue for me – the theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art (the MCA Stage, see photo), which is much smaller than the Harris Theater further south in Millennium Park. The production continues through June 16.

The price was very reasonable ($35) and the outing had a more casual feel. The dancing was superb, as always – I am amazed by the athleticism and grace of Hubbard’s young dancers. The choreography was more of a mixed bag and I guess that’s the point of the “danc(e)volve: New Works Festival.” The first half before the intermission was my favorite! Some of the new works were a little too odd and avant-garde for me – I especially prefer when dancers do NOT talk and when they dance to music that is NOT primarily noise, which a few selections were (in one case, the discordant sound was so loud I discretely plugged one of my ears, like New Yorkers do in the subway when a train is screeching by). It was fun though to watch a film by Hubbard Street dancers that shared highlights from their US State Department sponsored trip as cultural ambassadors to Morocco, Spain and Algeria.

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Dance(e)volve: new works festival – a Hubbard Street Dance offshoot?

Looks like I’ll be in Chicago in early June so searching around, as usual, to see if there’s any dance performances and I’ve found one possibility – Hubbard Street Dance’s New Works program at the contemporary art museum. It’s not part of the official Hubbard season but could be interesting! From what I can gather, the show features new choreography largely by unknown choreographers, aka Hubbard Street dancers and staff.


Jun 6–Jun 9 2013 (and also June 13-16)

Hubbard hoping to strike some gold with ‘danc(e)volve’

January 17, 2012|By Sid Smith, Special to the Tribune

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is about to unveil a new venture in original choreography, two separate programs of premieres, most of them created by its own dancers and staff.

The “danc(e)volve: New Works Festival,” playing Thursday through Jan. 29, alters the troupe’s typical winter engagement in several ways. The choreographers are largely local and unknown, while the venue, the Museum of Contemporary Art, is a departure from the company’s usual home at the Harris Theater.

danc(e)volve: New Works Festival

The eclectic contemporary program danc(e)volve returns to the intimate Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago where every seat is close to the stage.  You’ll witness never-before-seen works by and for dancers.


danc(e)volve: New Works Festival by Hubbard Street Dancers and Artistic Staff

This intimate look inside the company features the creative, raw energy of Hubbard Street, with an evening of World Premieres in the intimate space of the Edlis Neeson Theater.

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“Once” “Alvin Ailey” coming to Des Moines in 2014!! And more good stuff!

The Civic Center of Greater Des Moines has done it again – it’s bringing some great shows to the city starting in fall 2013 and into 2014. This year, in February, we got  the national traveling tour of  the “Book of Mormon.” In 2014 we’re getting the one musical I REALLY wanted to see – “Once” – which comes April 22-27, 2014 (maybe I’ll go for my birthday on the 26th…I took my husband for his Feb. birthday to Book of Mormon). “Once” is the stage adaptation of the 2006 movie, which had such great songs by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová – Thank you thank you! Friends who saw it on Broadway raved!

Other great shows:

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – March 18, 2014 (photo below)

– Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – sept. 27-28, 2013

– Porgy and Bess – april 1-6, 2014

– American Idiot (the Green Day -inspired rock opera) Jan. 24-25, 2014

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Joffrey dances to Frank in Chicago!

Pleased to see that my next trip to chicago coincides with performances by the Joffrey Ballet – a program called American Legends that includes “Nine Sinatra Songs” sung by Frank Sinatra and choreographed by Twyla Tharp. The other three pieces looks promising too! (one choreographed by Jerome Robbins)…a little less happy about how expensive the tickets are. I think I’ve lived in Des Moines too long – getting used to the cheaper prices here. The performances are Feb. 13-24 (with a few gaps)…

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Hubbard Street Dance in Chicago!!

In a stroke of good timing/luck, my visit to Chicago this weekend to move my son out of his college dorm coincides with the last performance of Hubbard Street Dance Company’s summer series which begins today (Thursday May 31) and ends on Sunday (June 3 at 3 p.m.). The program, as always, looks enticing, including a piece danced to the music from a French film I saw a few years ago.

The HSDC Ticket Office is at 312-850-9744

Here’s the line up:

  • Quintett by William Forsythe
  • Malditos by Alejandro Cerrudo

    Featuring music from the french film “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”

  • THREE TO MAX by Ohad Naharin

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great way to find dance performances in chicago!

Whenever I’m contemplating a trip to Chicago, I always look ahead to see if  my two favorite dance companies there – Hubbard Street and the Joffrey – are performing. Short of that, I look to see if any visiting troupes will be in town the same time I’m there. Now I’ve founda  handy website that lists all the dance happenings in one spot!

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