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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v7n18 (05/01/2008) » Section: See You There

AV Pick: Configuration Dance (May 3 & May 4)

An inaugural performance by Configuration Dance Theater will take place this weekend to establish the company’s new home base in Buffalo. The dance company has roots in the area already in the form of co-founder Joseph Cipolla, who got his start at Williamsville’s American Academy of Ballet. He went on to join the Dance Theater of Harlem and then the Birmingham Royal Ballet in England, where he met his wife and co-founder of Configuration Dance, Catherine Batcheller. Together they have choreographed and produced for Configuration—which until now was a touring company based in Cape Cod, Mass.—as well as participating in numerous other national and international projects. The show this weekend includes premiere works by well known international choreographers Yuri Zhukov and Michael Shannon, as well as a piece by Susan Jaffe, former principal dancer with NYC’s American Ballet Theater and one of the leading prima ballerinas of her time. Configuration is known for combining classical traditions with modern innovations, blurring the lines between genres without compromising the integrity of traditional technique. This performance will premiere the first choreographed work by Jaffe; a new work by Zhukov called Levitation; and two pieces by Shannon—What’s the Pointe, a contemporary ballet piece based on Bach’s cello suites, and Tchaicotic, a celebration of the music of Tchaikovsky. The performance here is a preview for the one the company will present the following week at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre in NYC. Cipolla says he is excited about this because, although the company has performed at Alvin Ailey before, “this will be the first time we’re exporting work we made here in Buffalo. It’s like we’re cultural ambassadors of sorts. Which makes me feel really good.” Another thing to feel good about: Saturday’s performance supports AIDS Community Services of WNY, with prime seat tickets available for $25.

Slam Poet Carlos Andrés Gómez (May 2)

“Writing a poem is like having sex,” says slam poet Carlos Andrés Gómez. “If you’re not willing to get naked, it’s not going to happen.” There are plenty of spoken word talents right here in Buffalo who would agree with him. For that reason, they routinely meet at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and “get naked.” They bare their souls—and often their politics—at monthly Nickel City Poetry Slams in raw, uncompromising performances of verbal dexterity. The poets at these slams are, by nature of the event’s structure, indelibly linked to their audience, from whom five judges are picked. It is what poetry activist Bob Holman once called “the democratization of verse.” This Friday, eight poets—returning champ Nikki Germany, Jennifer Eling, Marina Blitshteyn, Lazyrus, MC Vendetta (a member of the first Buffalo team), 10,000, Sonchild, and Lovely—compete for positions on the third Nickel City Poetry Slam national team, which will travel to Madison for the August competition. Slam poet/actor Gómez will headline the night. Though the event is normally free, Friday night’s admission will go toward a worthy cause—sending Buffalo’s team to Madison.

The Gibson Brothers (May 6)

Not to be confused with late 1980s slop rock kings the Gibson Bros., led by Monsieur Jeffrey Evans of ’68 Comeback fame, the Gibson Brothers are a straight-up bluegrass outfit featuring the familial harmonies of Eric and Leigh Gibson. And although these siblings sound like they were raised in an isolated Kentucky holler, they grew up in good ol’ New York State, in Ellenburg Depot, on a dairy farm in an iron mining town within reasonable walking distance to the Canadian border below Montreal—proving once again that the South ain’t the only place kids can grow up steeped in country living. A year apart in age, the boys developed an affinity for country music’s other brother acts like the Louvins, the Delmores, the Stanleys, and the Everlys. After receiving an “Emerging Artist of the Year Award” from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 1998, the band—including Mike Barber on bass, Clayton Campbell on fiddle, and Rick Hayes on mandolin—has gone on to record three albums on the widely respected Sugar Hill label, most recently Iron & Diamonds. The title track is a nod to their hometown’s mining and baseball culture. Part of the Sportsmen’s Tavern’s Private Party Series, the show is a rare chance to come out and hear what that high lonesome sound is like when it comes echoing down from the shadows of the mighty Adirondacks.

Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival (May 8)

Although the Jewish Film Festival doesn’t really kick into gear until May 15, you can get a head start with a special opening celebration next Thursday, May 8, in the Benderson Family Building of the Amherst Jewish Community Center. Festivities begin with a wine sampling featuring New York State and Israeli wines, Mediterranean food, and a raffle. Music will be provided by the duo West of Odessa and by actor/archivist Bob Berkman, who will share his collection of Jewish music from rare piano rolls. At 9pm, the evening’s feature film will be The Land of Milk and Honey, a new documentary about Israeli folk culture and the history of the song “Eretz Zavat Chalav u’Dvash.” For more information on Buffalo’s longest-lived film festival (this will be its 23rd year), see next week’s Artvoice.

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