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Dalia Ratnikas

DALIA RATNIKAS is a sometimes-dancer sometimes-writer who enjoys playing with her toes and twisting her body like a pretzel. You can also find her at dahlhaus.

Garth Fagan’s Phone Tag, Thanks, and Things? No, Thanks.

Good dances are about bodies, what bodies can feel and do, “what,” as choreographer Joe Goode explains, “the body knows.” Garth Fagan’s dancers’ bodies know something different, which is why, when you watch them, you see insinuations of traditions—Graham, Horton, Limon, African and Afro-Caribbean dance—comprise something completely different.

Get Ready! For a Fake-Out

DD Dorvillier uses a rigorously programmatic scheme to create Choreography, A Prologue for the Apocalypse of Understanding, Get Ready! And yet, the generated movement is highly intentional, if only intellectually so. But let’s back up.

Wheeldon and Pärt at Works & Process

It starts in the dark, and a shear sheath of light brightens as a dancer moves her arms: first the muscular flutter of a crane, then the sharp extensions of a sundial’s shadow, then the romantic gesture of a nymph paying homage to the sunburst of her own face.

Sacred or Sensually Profane? Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet’s Dust and Light and Rasa at the Joyce, May 5-10

In a post-show interview on May 6th, Alonzo King made two short but definitive statements. The first was technical: his dancers focus on two goals: “more” and “better.”


Modern dance’s anything-goes nature is all-accepting, making it difficult for audiences to discern not only what is and isn’t good, but what is and isn’t dance. Stumbling upon SHOT at the New Island Festival on Governors Island last month, for example, I could not be certain whether I was early or late—the 20-plus minute piece was scheduled to be performed at intervals throughout the evening, and the four dancers onstage, dressed in disparate gear, were moving their bodies in separate, exploratory spheres.

HIGH CONCEPT; DEEP IMPACT: Balletto Teatro Di Torino's Primo Toccare

Brightly lit, the stage gives the chill of a museum or mausoleum, set center with a long, low vitrine showcasing a silver skull and two bunches of white lilies. Flanking it, farther upstage, are two empty, taller vitrines, even more chilling in their stature’s promise and refusal of a human offering.

BILL T. JONES: Serenade/The Proposition

The post-performance discussion of Serenade/The Proposition nervously circled around the question of how one can (and even whether one should) make dance about history.

Preview THE GOOD DANCE—DAKAR/BROOKLYN AT BAM, December 16th-19th

In mid-December, as part of the 2009 Next Wave Festival, BAM will showcase The Good Dance—dakar/brooklyn, a collaboration between American Reggie Wilson and African Andréya Ouamba.


I met my fiancé on a dance floor, at an open-air discotheque in Europe. The other people were standing around, in groups of two or three, but their stasis had no impact on us. Fixated upon each other, we danced intently.

Give Me Gaga

No art is automatically relevant. I’ve said before that good dances are about bodies, but never meant that all dances about bodies are good.


A mission statement is hardly the genesis of an organization’s intention, but these crystallized comments are often surprisingly revelatory—in their construction as much as their meaning. Take, for example, the mission statement of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, founded over 40 years ago by Jeraldyne Blunden in Dayton, Ohio, as compared with that of nathantrice/RITUALS dance theater, with one quarter of DCDC’s history, yet infinitely more artistic wealth.

Reviving the Grande Dame

There’s something grand about the New York City Ballet, but there’s also something musty, even though the twinkling ceiling is spotlessly clean.

Pomp’s Perils : World Premiere of Rioult’s The Great Mass at the Joyce, April 2009

Pascal Rioult once danced with Martha Graham, who thrust her heart to the heavens while tilting her pelvis to the Earth.

Considered and Constructed

In an interview, choreographers Rebecca Stenn and Ben Munisteri compare their “remixing” of each other’s choreography to digital audio remixing.

Keeping it Kamp: Keigwin Kabaret at Symphony Space’s Thalia Dance, April 2009

If you avoid dance because it’s stuffy, or serious, or tedious, but you dig nudity and dirty jokes, Keigwin + Company’s Keigwin Kabaret is a good way to get your feet wet.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues