2 Philadelphia Companies Shine at APAP 2016

KYL Photo cregit Maggie Zhao
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers photo credit: Maggie Zhao

by Gregory King, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College for The Dance Journal

In 1957, the Organization of College and University Managers (OCUM) was formed to address the educational roles of the arts on College campuses. As the membership expanded to a variety of other organization, there was an inevitable name change to the Association of College and University and Community Arts Administrators (ACUCAA) in 1973. By the mid 80s, colleges and universities no longer had dominant memberships, prompting another name change to Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) in 1988.

Today, APAP continues to provide a wide range of services to industry professionals by offering resources and presenting individual artists and professionals in the field, at national venues.

On Friday January 15th, members of Koresh Dance Company and Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL), performed in a APAP showing, demonstrating the on going jostle for dance to be sponsored, supported and presented – even if the company is 25years old.

Vanessa and Bob_Photo credit Frank Bicking
photo credit: Frank Bicking

The dancers of Koresh performed excerpts from the company’s repertoire but also whet the appetite of potential presenters with a preview of their new work 23:Deconstructing Mozart set to premiere on March 10th, at The Suzanne Roberts Theatre. The company showed why they are one of Philadelphia’s best by giving life to the pulsating rhythms of the music, allowing that earthiness to seamlessly combine with the ballet based vocabulary of Koresh’s choreography. The seasoned dancers energized the space and new member Vanessa Guinto, held her own next to company veterans Melissa Rector and Robert Tyler.

While Koresh’s choreography was intensely physical, Lin’s works were deeply inspired by the traditions and aesthetic of Eastern Asia and had a more tranquil appeal. As an ensemble, the dancers of KYL were hyper aware as they moved with ease and precision, working as a unit to maintain the integrity of the work. They too also previewed a new work Dreamscape, one of a trilogy of new works commissioned by Grand Valley State University and set to premiere in Philadelphia at The Prince Theater on April 14th.

What struck me as I watched these two companies, was how their cultural identities (Koresh from Israel and Lin from Taiwan) shaped the content of their work. This reinforced my belief that dance is a language that connects by breaking down barriers.

Although aesthetically contrasting and stylistically different, the two companies had things in common; gifted dancers, engaging repertory, and choreographers who continue to strengthen the field by offering relevant, attention-grabbing, and sometimes controversial work that should be seen nationally.

While a respected platform, I’ve often wondered if APAP serves its purpose of providing support and exposure– especially to companies that refuse to adhere to popular aesthetics and lack commercial appeal. I continue to wrestle with the possibility that presenters may be seduced by companies that align themselves with the mainstream and in so doing overlook those that encourage ingenuity and fuel discourse that promotes dance as a vehicle that can be used to tackle issues of race, class, and gender.

About Gregory King

Gregory King received his MFA in Choreographic Practice and Theory from Southern Methodist University. In addition, he is certified in Elementary Labanotation. His dance training began in Washington DC at the Washington Ballet and later at American University. He went on to participate in the Horton Project in conjunction with the Library of Congress. His training continued at the prestigious institutions such as The Dance Theatre of Harlem and The Alvin Ailey School. Gregory has performed with The Washington Ballet, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Erick Hawkins Dance Company, New York Theatre Ballet, Donald Byrd /The Group, The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, New York City Opera, and Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway.

His desire to integrate social activism into his choreography began with his graduate thesis, where he used the platform to push the conversation about homophobia and heterosexism. He is a lover of movement exploration and describes his aesthetic as a classical base with a theatrical flair.

He has taught at Boston Ballet, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Bowdoin College, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Texas Ballet Theatre. Additionally, he has served as a teaching artist in public schools in and around Dallas, as Resident Guest artist at Temple University and Assistant Professor of Dance at Dean College. Recently, Gregory received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Dance and Consortium on Faculty Diversity Fellow at Swarthmore College where he teaches Modern and continues to use his choreography as a means for social change.

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1 Comment

  1. I enjoyed your writing very much.I am a fan of Koresh Dance and Roni and I were in a company together decades ago.
    I agree that dance can, should and does tackle issues that seem difficult to discuss. I appreciate you bringing to light how important it is to recognize those artists who are. Thank you.

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