Chutzpah fest builds world-class web of dance

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      The impressive roster of international dance programming you see at the Chutzpah Festival this year is the result of an intricate web of relationships carefully built over the event’s 16 years. And relationships aren’t one-offs.

      “I feel it really does stem from my years as a dancer and dance teacher,” artistic general director Mary-Louise Albert, who danced for the likes of Judith Marcuse and Karen Jamieson, tells the Straight over the phone. “It’s a process that’s ongoing and you bond with the artists. It’s been good to support that talent and drive out there.”

      Case in point: this year sees the return of Maria Kong, the brazenly theatrical, genre-defying Tel Aviv troupe that Chutzpah-goers caught at a downtown club with a live rock band last year. For 2016, Albert has invited it back with a work that shows a different side of the company: Open Source, a multimedia, high-tech fantasy about a virtual game of love and memory. “This time it’s in a proscenium theatre, there’s no live music, and there’s this technology they’ve invented,” she says, referring to wireless digital gloves a dancer wears to control the show’s real-time sound.

      Maria Kong.

      Elsewhere, audiences can check out the development of other companies they’ve been introduced to at Chutzpah. New York City’s Gallim Dance, run by Batsheva Dance alumna Andrea Miller, marks the third return of its strange and fearlessly edgy work—this time, the wolf-pack-inspired Wonderland.

      “To understand the depth of some companies, you can’t show them one time,” Albert explains. “Live dance is such a living, breathing, at-the-moment form.”

      Albert likes to help get work out there, but she also likes to develop it. In the case of Shay Kuebler, this means the debut of Telemetry Volume 1, a riff on radio science that he’s worked on as artist in residence at the Norman Rothstein Theatre. And MADBOOTS DANCE, run by two young dancers who have appeared at the fest in the past as part of Sidra Bell Dance New York, makes its West Coast debut. 

      Chutzpah is also launching a new relationship for 2016, introducing local audiences to Spellbound Contemporary Ballet—an Italian company known for its intricate, virtuosically gorgeous contemporary dance. “We’re getting to see three of his [artistic director Mauro Astolfi’s] works, so it’s been a couple of years of getting to know each other,” Albert says.

      And, of course, we can probably expect Spellbound, like others, to come back again another year.

      Spellbound Contemporary Ballet.
      Marco Bravi