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UMS’s Arts Roundup: October 8

Many members of the UMS staff keep a watchful eye on local and national media for news about artists on our season, pressing arts issues, and more. Each week, we pull together a list of interesting stories  and share them with you.  Welcome to UMS’s Arts Round-up, a weekly collection of arts news, including national issues, artist updates, local shout-outs, and a link or two just for fun. If you come across something interesting in your own reading, please feel free to share!

Arts Issues

  • The DSO isn’t the only performing arts organization in financial trouble. The Dutch government has proposed closing the Netherlands Broadcasting Music Center, dismantling the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, Metrople Orchestra, and the Netherlands Radio Choir.

Artist Updates

  • Time has run out at 3711 Woodward Ave, and the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are on strike.
  • The Metropolitan Opera opens fifth season of live high-def broadcasts this weekend with Wagner’s Das Rheingold.
  • Riccardo Muti cancels his fall Chicago Symphony appearances due to illness, but violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter was up to the task, directing the season-opening Symphony Ball.

UMS News

  • Barbara Hoover of The Detroit News and Susan Nisbett of Ann offer a glimpse at this weekend’s Paul Taylor performances
  • And the review of Thursday night’s opening performance appeared this morning.
  • Valergy Gergiev and the orchestra formerly known as the Kirov (now the Mariinsky) visit Ann Arbor on Sunday with a program of Rachmaninoff and Mahler.
  • Japanese butoh troupe Sankai Juku, appearing as part of the UMS dance season in late October, opened their residency at New York City’s Joyce Theater this week.
  • Murray Perahia cancels fall tour (including Nov 10 UMS concert) due to hand problems; Vladimir Feltsman takes his place with program of Mozart, Schubert and Chopin
  • Takacs Quartet Schubert Concert: preview, Kahane out, Feltsman in (again!) for Schubert’s last piano sonata.

Local Shout-Outs

  • This is the last weekend to head west to see Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize finalists. The winner of the $250,000 top prize was announced yesterday!

Just For Fun

  • Think dance is just for the world’s clubs and stages? Check out this choreographed in-flight safety demonstration by Cebu Pacific. Look out Southwest, somebody’s trying to up the fun quotient!

Happy 80th Birthday Paul Taylor!

“I make dances because it briefly frees me from coping with the real world, because it’s possible to build a whole new universe with steps, because I want people to know about themselves, and even because it’s a thrilling relief to see how fast each of my risk-taking dancers can recover after a pratfall.” –Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor at 80

Today marks the 80th birthday of Paul Taylor, artistic director of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.  Mr. Taylor has been dancing and choreographing for over 60 years, enjoying a career that has fundamentally shaped the development of modern dance in America.  In honor of Mr. Taylor’s extensive contributions to both modern dance and dance education, and in celebration of such a landmark birthday, we’ve compiled a history of the previous appearances of the Paul Taylor Dance Company at UMS.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company has made 14 appearances on UMS stages since its debut performance in 1964.  But if you bought tickets to Mr. Taylor’s performance in the 1964 or the 1965 UMS seasons, when Mr. Taylor was still dancing with his own company, you wouldn’t have watched his work from a seat in the Power Center.  Although the idea of building a proscenium stage in Ann Arbor to accommodate performers like the Paul Taylor Dance Company was conceived in 1963, the Power Center wasn’t completed until 1971.  Prior to its completion, UMS actually built a makeshift, portable proscenium arch for use in Rackham and Hill Auditoriums when normal stage orientations in those venues weren’t suitable for certain artists.

Hill Auditorium, as it would have been for Paul Taylor Dance Co. (year unknown)

Mr. Taylor’s first appearances in Ann Arbor were actually a part of the Third and Fourth Annual Chamber Dance Festival, performed in Rackham Auditorium.  As described in the program for the 1966 festival, “In 1962 the University Musical Society inaugurated a ‘Chamber Dance Festival’ with three presentations within three consecutive days, of special dance programs in Rackham Auditorium.  An extended stage, constructed by the University, together with special curtains and lighting provided by the Tobins Lake Studios, made this possible. […] The audiences this year are the largest to attend the annual Dance Festival.  With this kind of encouragement and support the University Musical Society will continue its endeavors in the presentation of the finest dance groups available.”

The top ticket price for the entire series in 1964?  $6.00.  If you were only interested in the Paul Taylor performance, single tickets could be purchased for a top price of $3.50.  Just prior to Mr. Taylor’s debut performance, Igor Stravinsky guest conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra performing his piece “Perséphone” at the 71st May Festival.  1964 was also the year the School of Music moved to facilities on North Campus.

When the Paul Taylor Dance Company returned to Ann Arbor in 1975, one year after Mr. Taylor retired as a performer, the company performed as part of the Fifth Annual Choice Series – this time in the new Power Center.  Started in 1970, the Choice Series included jazz, international music, soloists, and dance performances throughout the UMS season each year.  The Paul Taylor Dance Company performance on March 12, 1975 was just under one year after the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Ann Arbor, celebrated at the previous year’s May Festival.

Mr. Taylor returned to Ann Arbor for two performances in 1979, another important year for both UMS and the city of Ann Arbor.   In 1979 the city of Ann Arbor purchased the Michigan Theater to keep the struggling venue from being converted into a shopping mall, and the 1978/1979 season was the 100th Concert Season at UMS.  The Paul Taylor Dance Company gave two performances in January of 1979, each with completely different repertoire.  The January 27th performance included his work Polaris; the program note for the performance reads, “The choreography for Part II is an exact repeat of Part I.  The only difference is the change of cast, music, and lighting.  An opportunity is offered to observe the multiple effects that music, lighting, and individual interpretations by the performers have on a single dance.”  Mr. Taylor also led two master classes in the U-M Dance Department that year, and returned for additional residencies in 1982, 1984, 1989, and 2004.

UMS is thrilled to bring the Paul Taylor Dance Company back to Ann Arbor this fall and continue to showcase Mr. Taylor’s expertise, artistic achievement, and contributions to modern American dance.  Many friends and colleagues of Paul Taylor have left their birthday greetings on his website.

Happy Birthday, Paul Taylor!

UMS’s Arts Round-Up: July 23, 2010

arts roundupMany members of the UMS staff keep a watchful eye on local and national media for news about artists on our season, pressing arts issues, and more. We thought we’d pull together a list of interesting stories each week and share them with you. Welcome to UMS’s Arts Round-Up, a weekly collection of arts news, including national issues, artist updates, local shout-outs, and a link or two just for fun. If you come across something interesting in your own reading, please feel free to share!

National Issues

  • You’ve come a long way, baby. NPR asked hundreds of women working in the music business what it’s like to be working as a female musician today. Hear from Deborah Voigt, Janis Ian, Sarah McLaughlin, Jennifer Higdon, and more.
  • The New York Times asks why it’s called incidental music if it’s not so incidental.

Artist Updates

  • The Washington Post offers a delightful profile of Paul Taylor on the eve of his 80th birthday.
  • Philip Glass’s The American Four Seasons received its US premiere at the Aspen Music Festival. Check out the trailer for a sneak peak!
  • Wondering what’s coming to Ann Arbor next year as part of NT Live’s high-definition broadcast theater series? Check out this review of the new hit musical, FELA!

Local Shout-Outs

  • Looking for some outdoor fun after the Art Fairs? Check out the new Land of Nod music and camping festival in Jackson, featuring plenty of local acts including The Ragbirds, Macpodz, and The Satin Peaches.

Just For Fun

  • Curious about just what goes into those elaborate costumes at the Met? The New York Times has the inside scoop.

UMS Summers “Up North”

Northern Michigan Sunset, courtesy of Marnie Reid

Northern Michigan Sunset, courtesy of Marnie Reid

Ah, summer. For many Michiganders, that means packing up the car and heading to a place we lovingly call “Up North,” the land of fresh air, blue skies, and sandy shores that stretch on for miles. Head north of Cadillac and west of Houghton Lake this summer, and you’ll find a myriad of arts opportunities and UMS connections.

Paul Taylor Dance Company: Piazzolla Caldera. Photo courtesy of Paul Goode.

Twenty minutes southeast of Traverse City, Interlochen Center for the Arts is nestled between tall timbers and two inland lakes. Catch an encore performance of the Punch Brothers and Chris Thile on July 17 (they performed to a sizable crowd at the Power Center this past fall) or get a sneak peak of the Paul Taylor Dance Company on July 23 before their week-long residency in Ann Arbor this fall.

Interlochen is also home to a world-famous summer arts camp that draws young musicians, dancers, writers, visual artists, and more from around the globe for two to six weeks of intensive study, and a high school arts academy. Its list of high-performing alumni is astonishingly long, and includes musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra; dancers and directors of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Company, and José Limón Dance Company; jazz musicians Regina Carter and Chris and Daniel Brubeck, and many more. In any given year, you’re bound to find at least a few alumni on the UMS schedule. In fact, UMS also used the Interlochen Academy Orchestra in the past for performances of Handel’s Messiah.

But that’s not the only place Interlochen alums appear. Several members of the UMS staff are also alumni. I myself have wonderful memories of six summers in the All-State piano, band, and orchestra programs and one summer on faculty as a flute instructor. UMS Choral Union conductor Jerry Blackstone led the University of Michigan All-State Choirs for 17 summers in addition to serving as Director of the All-State Program for several years. And UMS President Ken Fischer met his wife Penny there during summer camp in 1961 and now serves on the Board of Trustees.

Speaking of Ken, if you’re traveling to the Petoskey or Charlevoix areas, you may bump into him around town, as he often spends a few days each summer meeting with members of the UMS National Council, donors, and new friends of UMS who call this region home for part or all of the year.  For members of the U-M Alumni Associations who travel to Camp Michigania, he also gives annual talks at the Education Center.

Whatever your summer plans, we’d love to hear how you are making the arts a part of them, whether in northern Michigan, here in Ann Arbor, or by traveling to Stratford, Aspen, Tanglewood or one of dozens of other summer festivals.

UMS Announces 10/11 Family Series

UMS announces its 10/11 Family Series, featuring two one-hour performances especially for families. In addition, families may purchase advanced tickets to a special daytime performance by Kodo, scheduled during the Ann Arbor Public Schools winter break.  Complete details below!

Paul Taylor Dance Company in "Also Playing"Paul Taylor Dance Company

Saturday, October 9 | 1 pm
Power Center

Quite simply, Paul Taylor makes dances that people love. He has made some of the most astonishingly athletic and downright funniest dances ever put on a stage. This performance features his new work, Also Playing, a Vaudeville revue with acts ranging from an Apache dance to a tap-dancing horse and a toreador whose sissy bulls are frightened of her. The afternoon will also include a “chance to dance,” where children learn some of the company’s dance moves in a pre-concert hands-on — or shall we say feet-on? — workshop.

Baby Loves Salsa

Sunday, January 30 | 1 pm & 4 pm
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre

Baby Loves Salsa features some of the biggest and brightest stars in contemporary salsa music, including band leader and singer José Conde, who regularly appears with his New York-bsaed band Ola Fresca. Just as Dan Zanes has revolutionized kids’ music, José Conde takes the Afro-Cuban form of salsa and turns it into something that kids and parents both love. Don’t be misled by the band’s name — kids who have outgrown their diapers are sure to enjoy this band’s dizzying range of Afro-Latin styles.

Kodo Drummers of JapanKodo Drummers of Japan

Wednesday, February 23 | 11 am
Hill Auditorium

This exuberant, yet highly disciplined, group lives on an island in Japan, where they submit to a rigorous training program along with an aggressive touring schedule. Their performances feature amazing rhythmic synchronicity, with the 1,000-pound o-daiko drum — carved from the trunk of a single tree — taking center stage for an amazing powerhouse of sound. This special performance has been scheduled during the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ Winter Break, providing a mid-week outlet to release some pent-up energy. An unforgettable experience!

Tickets for the Family Series are $30 for adults and $15 for children (includes Paul Taylor Dance Company and Baby Loves Salsa). Kodo tickets may be purchased for $16 adults and $8 children. Subscription renewal packets and brochures will be mailed in early May.

Tickets to individual events on the series go on sale on Monday, August 23 (via and Wednesday, August 25 (in person and by phone).

Tell us what you like about UMS’s Family Programming — and what you wish we would do differently.  How old are the children you bring to UMS Family Performances?

20th Annual Dance Series Announced

The University Musical Society is pleased to announce its 20th Annual Dance Series, with five companies performing in the Power Center and the Detroit Opera House. The series includes:

"Also Playing"Paul Taylor Dance Company

Paul Taylor, artistic director

Thursday, October 7 | 8 pm
Friday, October 8 | 8 pm
Saturday, October 9 | 8 pm
Power Center

More than a half-century ago, after performing in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine, Paul Taylor became the youngest member of the pantheon that created American modern dance. Now approaching 80 — an age when most artists’ best work is behind them — Taylor is acclaimed for the vibrancy, relevance, and power of his dances. As prolific as ever, he continues to offer cogent observations on life’s complexities while tackling some of society’s thorniest issues. While his work has largely been iconoclastic, since the very start of his career Taylor has also made some of the most purely romantic, most astonishingly athletic, and downright funniest dances ever put on a stage. UMS, in collaboration with the U-M Department of Dance, shines a light on Paul Taylor, with a day-long residency and three performances highlighting just a fraction of the more than 130 dances he has created. “What other artist today makes poetic drama of such variety and eloquence? A Taylor season is a journey through one of the most singular and searching imaginations of our time.” (The New York Times, 2/17/10)

Program (Thurs 10/7)
Speaking in Tongues (Music by Matthew Patton) (1988)
Esplanade (J.S. Bach) (1975)

Program (Fri 10/8)
Orbs (Ludwig van Beethoven) (1966)
Also Playing (Gaetano Donizetti) (2009)

Program (Sat 10/9)
Black Tuesday (Songs of the Great Depression) (2001)
The Word (David Israel) (1998)
Piazzolla Caldera (Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky) (1997)

Sankai Juku: Hibiki

Ushio Amagatsu, director, choreographer, and designer

Saturday, October 23 | 8 pm
Sunday, October 24 | 2 pm
Power Center

Ushio Amagatsu, the founder and artistic director of Sankai Juku, trained in classical as well as modern dance before he devoted his life to butoh. Butoh first appeared in Japan after World War II and is often defined by its playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, and absurd environments. Traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow, hyper-controlled, mesmerizing motion, butoh represents to Amagatsu a “dialogue with gravity,” whereas most dance forms revel in the escape from gravity. It plays with the perception of time and space through slowing down the experience — the dance equivalent of haiku, only much longer. The company last appeared in Ann Arbor in 1999. In 2002, the work that they will perform, Hibiki – Resonance From Far Away, received an Olivier Award for “Best New Dance Production.” “[Ushio Amagatsu] conveys the infinitely minute yet spellbinding transformations of a world in constant metamorphosis.” (Dance Magazine)

Grupo Corpo

Rodrigo and Paulo Pederneiras, artistic director and choreographer

Friday, January 21 | 8 pm
Saturday, January 22 | 8 pm
Power Center

This electrifying Brazilian dance company captivates with stunning, sexy physicality, dynamic ability, and rich visual flair. Grupo Corpo (literally “Body Group”) creates a vibrant and seamless blend of ballet’s grace, modern dance’s verve, and the hip-swiveling exuberance of Carnival sambas and their Afro-Brazilian roots. Founded in 1975, Grupo Corpo returns to Ann Arbor — the company appeared in 2002 as part of UMS’s focus on Brazilian artists — with two performances featuring Ímã (2009) and another work to be announced. Don’t miss this chance to experience Grupo Corpo’s “searing sensuality elegantly under control.” (Le Monde, Paris)

Merce Cunningham Dance CompanyThe Legacy Tour

Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Friday, February 18 | 8 pm
Saturday, February 19 | 8 pm
Power Center

When the always forward-thinking Merce Cunningham passed away in July 2009 at the age of 90, he left behind a plan for the dissolution of his dance company and the preservation of his works: a two-year legacy tour that would end on December 31, 2011 with a performance in New York City. Cunningham was undeniably a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his 70-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. Through much of his life, he was also one of the greatest American dancers, performing with the Martha Dance Company for six years. With an artistic career distinguished by constant innovation, Cunningham expanded the frontiers of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art. These two different programs will be drawn from the more than 150 dances that Cunningham created over more than six decades of choreographic innovation. In Merce’s own words: “You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” Fleeting for the dancer, perhaps, but creating lasting impressions for the audiences that experience it.

Ailey "Revelations"

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Judith Jamison, artistic director

Thursday, March 3 | 7:30 pm [note start time!]
Detroit Opera House

UMS is partnering with the Detroit Opera House so that UMS dance subscribers can experience this quintessentially American dance company. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from the now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Young Men’s Hebrew Association in New York. Led by Alvin Ailey and group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance forever changed the perception of American dance. Now, some 52 years later, the company has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents. The company has earned a reputation as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage. When Alvin Ailey began creating dance, he drew upon his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically-acclaimed work, Revelations.

This performance is only available to dance subscribers; all other tickets will be sold through the Detroit Opera House. UMS will offer round-trip luxury coach service to Detroit for this performance for those who prefer not to drive (details to  be announced).

Tickets for the five-performance series range from $133-$206. Subscription renewal packets and brochures will be mailed in early May.

Tickets to individual events on the series go on sale on Monday, August 23 (via and Wednesday, August 25 (in person and by phone).

Which events in the season are you most anticipating? What are memorable dance performances of years past? Let us know in the comments area.