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Desert Island Dance List

Recently, I mentioned somewhat felicitously that if I were stuck on a desert island, Mark Morris’ L’Allegro would be one of the dances I’d want with me. I received an enthusiastic response to the (admittedly absurd) idea, so I figured I’d post the first installment of my list and ask people to post theirs as well. The timing is particularly ripe as I happen to be on vacation in Montana, which – while not a desert island by any stretch, although geographically, desert/mountains – is at least far enough away from the constant stream of culture to foster a truer perspective. So let the front porch be the stage, and the mountains the backdrop, a Aston the black lab the stage manager.

MontanaNo rules here, just the first dances that come to mind. No surprise that most are classics by established choreographers in larger venues – tried and true, and also having had the benefit of repeated viewings.

Paul Taylor – Esplanade, Sunset
Pina Bausch – Palermo, Palermo; Carnations
Mark Morris – L’Allegro, Grand Duo
Lucinda Childs – Dance II
Merce Cunningham – Ocean, 2009 Event at Battery Park City
Martha Graham – Sketches from Chronicle
Trisha Brown – Opal Loop
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker – Rain
Bill T. Jones – Chapel/Chapter
Alexei Ratmansky – Concerto DSCH
Ohad Naharin – Kamuyot, Mamootot
George Balanchine – Serenade, Union Jack
Twyla Tharp – Golden Section
Petipa/Ivanov/McKenzie – ABT’s Swan Lake (yes, really)
Maguy Marin – Les applaudissements ne se mangent pas

I realize there are very few choreographers here under 50 – one? – but perhaps that is a list for another day.

Add yours in comments. Happy dreaming of dance!

Image: The stage for the desert island/mountain dance festival, courtesy Livingston, Montana. Lights, places, action! Photo: Susan Yung.

  • Jane Jansen Seymour

    Great idea to have a desert island DANCE list! With happy memories of watching old movies growing up with Channel 13 I’ve included my fave musical dances as well… thanks for the idea, it was fun to relive these moments even if just in my head.

    1. Band Wagon — “Dancing in the Dark,” “Girl Hunt” & “Shine on Your Shoes” (Fred Astaire/Cyd Charisse)
    2. Audrey Hepburn — Funny Face jazz club scene (honorable mention to “Bonjour Paris” & “Think Pink” dances in the movie)
    3. West Side Story — opening scene/gym dance “Mambo!”
    4. Kiss Me Kate — “Fly Me to the Moon”
    5. “Get Happy” Judy Garland
    6. “Singing In the Rain” Gene Kelly
    7. On the Town — Opening “New York New York”
    8. Bye Bye Birdie — “A Lot of Living to Do”
    9. Doris Humphrey “Air on a G String”
    10. Martha Graham “Appalachian Spring”
    11. Paul Taylor “Aureole”
    12. Merce — the one at BAM with Radio Head & Sigur Ros (I didn’t even see this one but would love to over and over!)
    13. Alvin Ailey “Revelations”
    14. NYCB “Nutcracker Ballet”
    15. ABT “Swan Lake” with GMurphy ESteifel
    16. MMorris “L’Allegro…”
    17. Jose Limon “There is a Time”
    18. Lucinda Childs “Dance 1 – 5”
    19. Trisha Brown “Set and Reset”
    20. Doug Varone “Lux”

  • Elizabeth

    “Swan Lake” (especially ABT’s )
    MacMillan’s “Romeo & Juliet”
    De Kersmaaker’s “Rain”
    Varone’s “Bottomland”
    Mark Morris “V”
    Inbal Pinto’s “Oyster”
    Ailey’s “Revelation”
    Graham’s all-female anti-war piece (can’t remember the name)
    … can we bring Marcelo Gomes?
    … I leave it to my friend Susan to choose the Paul Taylor piece for me
    Cunningham’s MinEvent from Evening Stars

  • Peggy Kaplan

    1. All Pina including hand dance by Lutz Forster “The Man I love”
    2. John Kelly – “Pass the Blutwurt, Bitte”
    3. Mark Dendy – “Dream Analysis”
    4. Bill T. Jones – “D-man in the Waters”
    5. Deborah Hay – “Exit”
    6. Steve Paxton – “Ash”
    7. Sarah Michelson – “Dover Beach”
    8. William Forsythe – “Quintet”
    9. Dana Reitz & Lucinda Childs in original “Einstein on the Beach”
    10. Need Company, director: Jan Lauwers – “Morning Song”

  • Susan Yung

    Jane – love the musical theater items. KMK – Fly Me to the Moon? Hmm. And probably some Astaire is in order.

    Thanks for the comprehensive list!

  • Susan Yung

    Elizabeth – Pinto’s Oyster an interesting choice. And Varone’s Bottomland. And the fact that I have overlooked Revelations makes me think I’ve seen that one just one tooo many times, but it is right up there.

  • Susan Yung

    Peggy – The Man I Love – that is among the most beautiful dances ever. Good one. And the Faun duet in Dream Analysis… ditto. And I’d meant to include Forsythe’s Quintet in my list! I forgot. Your contemporary take is great to read. thanks.

  • nancy Wozny

    Glen Tetley Voluntaries
    Christopher Bruce Hush
    Mark Morror L’Allegro
    Paul Taylor Promethean Fire
    Pina Bauch 1980
    Ohad Naharin Tabula Rasa
    Monica Bill Barnes Another Parade
    Anna Halprin Parades and Changes
    Kurt Joss The Greet Table
    Lar Lubavitch North star

  • susan yung

    Nancy, yes, the Monica Bill Barnes is incredible. And Green Table. In fact all worthy additions (well the ones I’m familiar with)! thanks.

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