Who’s Hot In Modern Dance

Kidd Pivot dancers in Dark Matters. Photo by Dean Buscher

In Crystal Pite’s Lost Action, a crouching dancer extends his left leg and suddenly explodes into a split leap. In Pite’s Dark Matters, a dancer dives onto the stage, her long leg windmilling her body around, then suddenly is still. These moments of opposition are a hallmark of Pite’s choreography, as most frequently danced by her company, Kidd Pivot. Her movement is both fluid and sharp, melodic and percussive. A dancer can be undulating one minute and popping and locking the next. “I like things that stop and things that flow,” Pite says. “I like conflict in the body and love the look of ease. I like precision, but I also like freedom.” Her blend of jazz, hip hop and modern asks the audience to question its understanding of dance and puts Kidd Pivot at the forefront of what’s hot in modern dance today.

Created in 2002, Kidd Pivot was born out of Pite’s desire to make her own work. “I wanted a structure in which I could create and perform and bring other artists together who inspired and challenged me,” she says. The result is a pickup company of six to seven members who come together for a few months out of the year to create and tour new pieces.

Kidd Pivot mixes cool intellect with sensuality and muscularity. Pite, who hails from Canada, is a former Ballet British Columbia and Ballett Frankfurt dancer who spends most of her time traveling between Sweden, to set work on the Cullberg Ballet; Montreal, to work with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal; and NYC, to create pieces for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. But when she’s home in Vancouver, she plays around with new works for Kidd Pivot.

Pite doesn’t just direct—she also dances, performing alongside the other Kidd Pivot members. By gathering the world’s top modern dancers—like Cindy Salgado, an NYC-based dancer who performs with Aszure and Artists, and Jermaine Spivey, a Maryland native dancing with Hofesh Shechter Company in England—Pite has formed a group with vast and varied experience. “The dancers and I are all composites of the countless influences and inspirations we’ve had in our careers,” Pite says. “We all have involvement with other companies, so we come together carrying things we’ve learned.”

Salgado, a Juilliard graduate, says of being in Kidd Pivot, “I’m constantly learning from Crystal. She’s challenging and fun, and she draws from the creativity of all of her dancers, but she’s still in control of the process.”

A collection of witty, collage-style pieces danced by world-class performers—what’s not to love? If you aren’t already convinced that dancing for Crystal Pite would be awesome, Spivey says each day working with Pite is like seeing dance for the first time. “Crystal’s choreography is like watching TV and always finding the programs you want to see. It’s perfect channel surfing,” he says. “She knows when to change the images she’s putting forth, so it’s constantly engaging and it feels young and fresh and new.”

Four more hot modern dance companies you should know

Rubberbandance Group in Punto Ciego. Photo by Karli Cadel/Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

Rubberbandance Group

Location: Montreal

Year formed: 2002

Number of dancers: 5, although Victor Quijada and Anne Plamondon are the company’s only permanent members

Choreographer: Victor Quijada

Known for: Its fusion of ballet and hip hop. Quijada formed Rubberbandance Group out of his desire to combine his ballet training with his hip-hop lifestyle.

Fun fact: Victor studied with Judson Church Dance Theater pioneer Rudy Perez as well as ballet giant Eliot Feld.

Why Rubberbandance Group is hot: The company’s multimedia-infused work is entrancing. For videos that are darkly adventurous and feature balletic hip hop, check out rubberbandance.com.

 

ODC/Dance's Elizabeth Farotte and Aaron Perlstein in Origins of Flight. Photo by Steve Dibartolomeo

ODC/Dance

Location: San Francisco

Year formed: 1971

Number of dancers: 10

Choreographers: Brenda Way, KT Nelson and Kimi Okada

Known for: Athletic dancing, interdisciplinary collaborations and fresh musical commissions.

Upcoming performance: March 12–28, ODC’s Downtown

Fun fact: Not only is ODC/Dance a full-time dance company, it also has its own theater space, a school and a healthy dancers’ clinic!

Why ODC/Dance is hot: Even President Obama recognizes how cool ODC/Dance is! The company was selected to be part of the presidential DanceMotion USA initiative and tour to Thailand, Burma and Indonesia to connect with local audiences.

 

LAFA & Artists in Summer Fantasia Part 1—Summer at Jacob's Pillow. Photo by Karli Cadel/Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

LAFA & Artists

Location: Taiwan

Year formed: 2007

Number of dancers: 2 full-time dancers, others vary by event

Choreographer: Bulareyaung Pagarlava

Known for: Intensely athletic dancing merged with funky mime-style acting. The group performs work that is about “the human touch,” according to Pagarlava.

Upcoming performances: Rumor has it the company will be performing at the Vancouver Winter Olympics this month!

Fun fact: The founders, both from Taiwan, have danced with major companies—Fang-Yi Sheu is a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company and Pagarlava is a former member of the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.

Why LAFA & Artists is hot: The company has the Baryshnikov seal of approval—Sheu was given an artist-in-residency grant at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in 2007. The young troupe packs a punch with its aggressive-meets-farcical style, unlike anything else out there.

 

Keigwin + Company dancers Ashely Browne, Ryoji Sasamoto and Matthew Baker. Photo by Tom Caravaglia

Keigwin + Company

Location: NYC

Year formed: 2003

Number of dancers: 6

Choreographer: Larry Keigwin

Known for: Making audiences laugh with pieces such as Mattress Suite and Elements, and wowing crowds with more serious works like Natural Selection (where the dancers literally run up the walls!).

Upcoming performances: March 16–21 at The Joyce Theater in NYC

Fun fact: It’s not just a modern dance company! The Keigwin Kabaret is a contemporary variety show featuring burlesque, comedy and dance that the company performs in addition to its modern concert works.

Why Keigwin + Company is hot: The über-athletic Keigwin dancers are fun, young and have a sense of humor. They’re making modern more exciting and lively than ever before!

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