Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

The Color Purple proves a perfect holiday production

“Push Da Button” featuring Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery). Photo by Scott Suchman.

The Color Purple is an award winning book by Alice Walker, and an excellent and amazing read that I highly recommend (ditto the 1985 film).  But with much disturbing and depressing subject matter, I was not sure how successfully Broadway would manage to adapt this book into a musical — or if I wanted to start out the Holiday Season by watching it.  Even so, it was one of the shows I was looking forward to the most this season.

Dayna Jarae Dantzler (Celie) and Traci Allen (Nettie). Photo by Scott Suchman.

I definitely was not expecting to exit the Center for Performing Arts Tuesday with a smile on my face, but that is exactly what happened.   From the very beginning of the show the CPA was filled with bodies swaying to the music, toe tapping and jiving in the seats.  The show is emotional and moving, sexy, violent, sweet, heartbreaking and heartwarming.  The show does touch on the hardships that Celie must endure through much of her life, and the horrifying events that lead up to her losing her children and her sister at age 14 (yes, 14).  Most people who have read the book or seen the film will always remember the truly horrendous things that happened to her – but many people do not remember on what an uplifting note the story ends.  And this ending is only the exclamation at the end of a very uplifting story.  The unredeemable are redeemed in the story, the downtrodden are lifted up, and the meek rise to the top.  No one rides off into the sunset to live happily ever after here, but hope and faith are restored to Celie, and there was not a dry eye in the audience when it was over.  The last few minutes of the show were filled with sniffling and inconspicuous eye wiping – but they were all happy tears!  What better Thanksgiving story than this – if Celie has something to be thankful for, so do we all.

The production itself is the best of the season so far.  Every detail was top notch; it is hard to pick out any one thing to gush over.  Set design, lighting, costumes, it was all great…  but this is the first time I was really, really impressed with the choreography.  Donald Byrd was nominated for a 2006 Tony award for The Color Purple, and it is evident why.  He impressively draws the audience in to participate in a lively church service in the South, we work on the farm with the handsome, shirtless field workers, we join in with the joyful dances of the 20s to the 40s, and then we sit in awe as we watch the native African dancers perform their unfamiliar but breathtakingly beautiful moves.  Every dance was simply outstanding.

The cast performs “African Homeland”. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Every single actor is incredible in the show.  Everyone from stars Dayna Jarae Dantzler (Celie), Edward C. Smith (Mister), Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery) and the awesome Pam Trotter (Sofia), down to every single background actor – it was all played to perfection.  There were often anywhere between 17 – 22 people on stage at a time, but they were all set in smaller groups playing perfect individual characters so that you wanted to take in every individual little scene at once. The singing, dancing and acting talent on stage at any one time was just unbelievable.

The show is playing through November 28 and I definitely recommend you take a break from the holiday rush to see it.  It was a packed house on Tuesday and everyone had a great time.  Despite some disturbing content, it is really a joyous story about love and triumph over life’s obstacles and the restoration of faith; it is about forgiveness and redemption, and most of all, never ever ever giving up hope.

It is my favorite of Broadway San Jose’s shows so far this season. Go see it. You will leave the theater happy and ready for the Holidays.

The Color Purple
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
November 23-28
Tickets:  415 792-4111
Not recommended for young children. Fine for high school age at parent’s discretion. Some scenes depicting or insinuating sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

October show round-up

Metblogs has a very busy month of shows ahead and we hope you will join us!  These are some of the shows we are hoping to review for you this month.  If you’re looking for some fun nights out before the busy holidays arrive, or if Halloween parties just aren’t your thing, take a look at just four of the great shows headed our way this month:

Secret Order

San Jose Repertory Company
Secret Order
Corporate greed and the politics of science collide in this biomedical thriller.
When Dr. Shumway, a relatively obscure and naive cancer researcher, is thrust into the high stakes world of science, the notion of noble “truth-seeking” is dissected with a scalpel’s precision. Shumway is in over his head when he and a young student researcher get swept up in the dangerous world of political maneuvering, corporate loyalty and scientific ethics. But it’s Dr. Brock, the chief administrator at a famous research institute, who will stop at nothing in his pursuit to find a cure for cancer. Responsible science hangs in the balance in the race to be first to trial, first to publish and first to find a cure in this brilliant exploration of the business of science.
October 14 – November 7

Dial M for Murder

Hillbarn Theatre
Dial M for Murder
Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason.  He arranges the perfect murder; he blackmails a scoundrel he used to know into strangling her for a fee of one thousand pounds, and arranges a brilliant alibi for himself.  But who murders whom and does the real villain come to justice?
October 21 – November 7

Giselle protects Albrecht

Ballet San Jose
The tale of a peasant girl named Giselle who falls in love with Albrecht, a nobleman from a neighboring land who disguises himself as a villager to win her heart – and the betrayal that leads to her death.  Driven by his own guilt to mourn at Giselle’s graveside, Albrecht encounters the Wilis – beautiful, but deadly spirits who force men to dance to their deaths.  Only Giselle can protect him… if she can find it in her heart to forgive him.
October 22 – October 24

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Broadway San Jose
Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles
FROM ED SULLIVAN TO ABBEY ROAD! – They look like them and they sound just like them! All the music and vocals are performed totally live! RAIN covers the Fab Four from the earliest beginnings through the psychedelic late 60s and their long-haired hippie, hard-rocking rooftop days. A multi-media, multi-dimensional experience…a fusion of historical footage and hilarious television commercials from the 1960s lights up video screens and live cameras zoom in for close-ups.
October 26 – October 31

Burn the Floor sets the stage and our souls on fire

Before you start reading this review, before you pass Go, before you collect $200, go here to buy tickets for Burn the Floor before it is sold out.  It is only playing through this Sunday, September 26 and (SPOILER!) you do NOT want to miss this show.  Go ahead, I’ll wait…

The original Broadway cast in "Club la Narcisse" Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Now, on to the review!  Well, it was okay.  HAH! Totally kidding!  I hope all the Bay Area establishments that offer salsa and ballroom dancing had their telephones manned today because I am sure there was an overload of calls from people wanting lessons.

The original Broadway cast in "Ballroom Beat." Photo credit: Joan Marcus

This show is exciting, infectious, sexy, fun and mesmerizing.  From the intense opening percussion beats you can’t help but have a smile on your face as the stage is filled with gorgeous male and female dancers shakin’ what their mama gave ‘em.  Cast with many familiar (and extremely talented) dancers from “So You Think You Can Dance”, the men and women you will see on stage have won more than 100 Championship Dance Titles between them.  You don’t need to know Anya and Pasha or Ryan and Ashleigh from SYTYCD to enjoy Burn the Floor.  This show has been around for over a decade and most of the dancers started with it on Broadway, long before SYTYCD ever aired.  You don’t need to know the difference between the Foxtrot and the Paso Doble, or the Rumba and the Samba, but you’ll see all of those plus the Cha Cha, Swing, Lindy, Jive, Quickstep, Salsa, Tango and the Viennese Waltz.  You’ll enjoy music ranging from Irving Berlin to Duke Ellington to Brian Setzer to Steve Perry to Louis Prima, and many, many more.  You’ll see costumes ranging from the skimpiest fringed bikinis to the loveliest pink feathered gowns – but mostly you’ll see sexy, sexy, sexy.

On the other hand, if you are a fan of SYTYCD, you will get to see Ryan and Ashleigh, and Anya and Pasha, plus Karen Hauer and Janette Manrara, live on stage and dancing better than ever.  Other dancers come from SYTYCD seasons from around the world.  Even more exciting is the special guest appearance by Mary Murphy!  She stars in at least three of the dances, and you can see the joy and love for dance on her face as she glides and shimmies across the stage.

If you have never seen SYTYCD or DWTS, rest assured that this is not your ordinary ballroom dance.  In fact, rest quite a bit before the show, because you’ll be clapping, stomping, and dancing around in your seat through the entire two hours.  This is ballroom dancing at its best and most exciting, the sexiest dancing done by the sexiest dancers.  There is drama, romance, comedy and just plain fun, but there is never, ever, boring. (Click through! Keep reading!) (more…)

Dance in Transit – What a Trip!

Dance in Transit is an outdoor dance festival conceived by two San Jose State graduates Natalie Quilici and Claire Alexander, and performed at 5 downtown, outdoor venues by emerging dancers from dance companies from all over the bay area. The event begins at the Convention Center light rail station with a performance on the steps of the San Jose Civic Center. After the performance everyone got on light rail headed over to the St. James station where we watched a wonderful performance entitled “Call to Arms.”

The audience sat on the steps of the courthouse while the dancers danced on the sidewalk. The dancers seemed unruffled by occasional cyclists and pedestrians who passed through their dance. One spectator even tried to join the dance. From the courthouse we walked to the playground at St. James park where we were treated to a graceful performance by four dancers who used the swing set as park of the dance. I noticed that seconds after the dance was over, the swings were back in use by the children in the park.

We piled back onto light rail and headed over to San Jose Rep where some really upbeat dancers danced hip-hop and jazz. I couldn’t stop smiling.

For the last performance we walked to Caesar Chavez Park where the Necrocosm dancers performed a spectacular dance right in the fountain.

When it was all over, it seemed most of us in the audience felt like we had just been treated to something really special. The dance tours repeat tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 19) with tours at 11, 1, 2, 3 and 4 starting at the Convention Center light rail station. All you need to purchase for the 1 1/2 hour tour is a $2 light rail ticket (available at the station kiosk).

Participate in the Nutcracker ballet, no dance experience required!

Ballet San Jose is looking for men ages 21 and up to be Supernumeraries (non-dancing positions) in this season’s winter story ballet, The Nutcracker.  No previous dance experience required.  If you can count music, are able to run to a beat and jump on cue, then you would be perfect for the ranks of the Super Men.

Ballet San Jose

Interested men should meet the following physical requirements:

Chest Size: no larger than 44″
Height: no taller than 6’3″
Shoe Size: no larger than size 13
Must be physically able to run and jump

Audition Information
Date: Saturday, October 2, 2010
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Location: Ballet San Jose Studios
40 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95113
What to Wear: Sneakers or Running Shoes, Clothing that is comfortable to move in

Questions: Contact Les Reinhardt (408) 288-2820 ext 235 or email
Please RSVP to Les Reinhardt no later than Friday, October 1st at 5pm if you plan to attend.

You will be taught the movement for Red Russian Guards, White Russian Guards and Spanish Guards. You will be notified no later than Tuesday, October 5, if you have been chosen as a Supernumerary for The Nutcracker. The first rehearsal will be Saturday, October 9, 2010 from 2pm to 4pm at the Ballet SJ studios.

Everyone who auditions will have an opportunity to participate in the production. If you are not chosen to perform a Guard Role, you can be a part of the “Banner” during the performance.  Also you may have other opportunities to be a part of the “Nutcracker Experience” at the San Jose CPA.  Provided you fit the costume requirements, you can be Nutty the Nutcracker, the Mouse King, or a character wrangler before performances.

There are also openings for special appearances in the San Jose Holiday Parade which will be carried by NBC Channel 11 TV.

Ladies can also play a part in the “Nutcracker Experience” by dressing up as Mama Tannenbaum (who gives free toys to children) or as a character wrangler. Also, anyone can help decorate the San Jose CPA lobby for the holiday season during our technical rehearsal period.

If you are only interested in being part of the “Nutcracker Experience,” please contact Les Reinhardt at
Don’t miss out on this super fun holiday experience!!!

Genghis Khan (the exhibition) Conquers San Jose

"Genghis Khan the Exhibition" Contortionist

Peter Friess (The Tech Museum) and Daniel N. Fenton (Team San Jose) announced that “Genghis Khan” will be the next blockbuster exhibition coming to San Jose.

“Genghis Khan’s brutality is well known, but less visible is the man whose natural leadership formed the first united Mongol nation – no small feat,” said Peter Friess, president of The Tech Museum. “Inasmuch as we carry the dark images of Genghis Khan the warlord, there is also the man who brought us passports, the pony express, printed money, hamburgers* and even pants.”

Much can be discovered about Genghis Khan (1167-1227) the ’emperor of all emperors’ who united nomadic tribes of northeast Asia and founded the Mongol Empire and Mongolia with a visit to The Tech Museum.

More than 200 13th century artifacts from Genghis’ reign will be on display including:

Live Cultural Performers: Mongolian singers, contortionists and musicians.

Live weaponry demonstrations are featured in the exhibition.

Paiza – passports.
Large Siege Weaponry – Large crossbow and tools to conquer walled cities and castles.
Ancient Mongolian Artifacts.
Ger – A traditional nomadic dwelling – Note: One-third of the people in modern Mongolia live in a Ger.
Shaman’s Robe – Ritual dress used to channel spirits. Genghis Khan practiced shamanism and believed in supernatural powers.
Jewelry – Treasures from the ancient Mongolian capital of Karakorum.
Mongolian Noble Woman Mummy – Mummy and coffin treasures including silk and leather robes, jewelry, comb and bowl.
Mongol Weapons – Swords, leather and metal armor, mace-heads, bows and arrows, and an early firearm.
Buddhist Relics – books, statue, and artwork. Note: The Mongolian capital of Karakorum was religiously diverse.
Clothing and Adornments – Silk garments and jewelry from Karakorum and Kublai Khan’s palace.
Musical Instruments – Strings made of horse hair.

Genghis Khan The Exhibition” – Opens May 22 (Limited Engagement)

The Tech Museum – 201 South Market Street
San Jose, CA 95113-2008
(408) 294-8324

Special Exhibit Hours:
Monday – Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday – Sunday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Children ages 3 to 17 ~ $15
Adults ~ $25
Special prices for seniors and college students.
Admission includes access to all the regular museum galleries.

*It is amusing that hamburgers, the name coming from the German port of Hamburg, originated in the time of Khan. The fierce Mongol horsemen (the Golden Horde) were so busy conquering the world that having to stop to light fires and eat got in their way. Raw lamb or mutton was formed into flat patties and then placed under their saddles. The horsemen could easily grab some ‘hamburger’ at any time.

Modern day Mongolia (see U.S. Department of State) lies in central Asia between Siberia on the north and China on the south and is slightly larger than Alaska.

Ger/Yurt –  The burning of soft coal by some of the individual homes or “Ger” (yurt in Russian) adds to the polluted air.

Micky Rourke will star in a film about the Mongol ruler. He says: Genghis Khan Biopic ‘Not Your Stereotypical Blood and Swords’

Genghis Khan: at The Tech flickr set.

TeamSanJose on twitter

A time for new growth, love and dance at Ballet San Jose

Maykel Solas with Junna Ige in Salut d'Amour. Photo by Robert Shomler

Ballet San Jose was started in 1985 (known then as the San Jose Cleveland Ballet) and throughout 25 years of financial ups and downs it has not only survived, but is currently thriving.  Metblogs was invited by Ballet San Jose to attend the opening night of Spring Repertory 1, and we had a lovely time.  I usually attend their Holiday shows, but it has been many years since I last attended a non-Christmas ballet.  I was surprised and thrilled to see an almost full Center for Performing Arts when I arrived last night.  Although it was opening night, it was also a Thursday evening, so I was truly delighted to note that San Jose is supporting its renowned dance company.

Spring Repertory 1 is divided into three dances with intermission in between each.  The first is Moments, set to Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 49.  It is a joyful ballet choreographed by artistic director Dennis Nahat to showcase the talents of each dancer.   With the dancers grouped by color (green, blue, lavender, rose) I could not help but think I was watching a garden in Spring, with new growth, butterflies, birds, and one beautiful rose dancing on and off the stage.  Moments can be anything you like of course, but for me it was a happy welcome to Spring.

Karen Gabay and Maykel Solas in Dennis Nahat's MOMENTS. Photo by Robert Shomler.

The second section is Salut d’Amour.  Three couples dressed in white dance to piano and violin music by Sir Edward Elgar.  Spring is a time of love, and this ballet is beautiful and romantic, leaving the audience with a lovely and satisfied feeling when it is over.

The third section is George Balanchine’s Square Dance, and the strings and piano were on stage with a square dance caller chanting along with the colorfully dressed dancers.  This ballet not only injected a little bit of humor with the caller’s lyrics, but also had the most amazing and technically challenging footwork for the dancers.  The audience was both mesmerized by the dancers and chuckling along with the caller, but everyone left happy and ready for Spring when this ballet was over.

In short this is a perfect introduction to Spring for San Jose.  It encapsulates everything we have to look forward to in the coming months:  the beautiful Spring flowers and growth popping up everywhere we look, new love and awakenings, and the Summer barbecues and dances to come.

Square Dance, photo by Robert Shomler.

This show only runs through Sunday so rush to get your tickets now.  Performances are at the Center for Performing Arts downtown and tickets run from $35 – $85.  For this ballet any seat in the house will allow a perfect viewing experience.  Visit for more information and have a lovely time celebrating Spring and ballet this weekend!

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