Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante in "Tigerlily and the Dragonfly". Photo: Julie Lemberger

2020 Calendar (still forming)

Tues., Feb. 11 - Baroque Masterclass. Hunter College
(Photo Credit: Andre Constatini)

Thurs., April 9 - Balinese dance masterclass. NYU Gallatin School of Individual Study (Photo Credit: Julie Lemberger)

Thurs., May 21, 1:15-2:00 pm FREE.
GEMS Midtown Concerts-Passage in a Baroque Labrynth
Chapel of St. Bartholomew’s Church, 325 Park Avenue at East 50th Street, New York, NY 
(Photo Credit: Paul Ross)

Sun., June 14. Baroque American Colonial Dance (details forthcoming). 

2019 Calendar of Events

Upcoming Event

Friday-Sunday, December 13-15. 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. $15-$45
The Christmas Show
St. George Theatre
35 Hyatt Street
Staten Island, NY 10301
Box Office: 718.442.2900

Calendar in Chronological Order

Thursday, January 10. 1:15-2:00 p.m. FREE
Period Works by and about Women presented by GEMS Midtown Concerts
The Chapel St. Bartholomews Church, 50th St and Park Avenue, NYC
Lisa Terry-viola da gamba,
Maureen Murchie-Baroque violin,
Adam Cockerham-theorbo,
Inma Heredia-actor, and
Carlos Fittante-Baroque choreographer/dancer

Friday and Saturday, January 18 and 19 at  8 p.m. Sunday, January 20 at 3 p.m. Tickets: $35-$68
Bach & Beyond presented by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra
Belding Theater at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT 06106
Lisa Rautenberg conductor and associate concertmaster, Leonid Sigal conductor and concertmaster
Enjoy an eclectic program of period and popular music featuring the Baroque choreography La Follia with Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante, guest Baroque dancers

Wednesday, February 6, 7:05-8:05 p.m. Baroque Dance Masterclass
EYEONTHEARTS, graduate students dance history course, Hunter College, taught by Celia Ipiotis

Sunday, February 17, 3 p.m. St Luke's in the Field Music Concert 
Directed by Leah Nelson, Carlos Fittante plays castanets

Thursday, February 21, 4-6 p.m. Balinese Dance Performance and Masterclass
World Dance, NYU's Gallatin School of Independent Study taught by Kathy Posin

Wednesday, February 27, 10:00-1:00 p.m. Baroque and Spanish Escuela Bolera Masterclass
Dance History course at Hunter College taught by Lori Brungard

Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31 at 7:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Sarabande. Presented at All Saints Church, Princeton, NJ and Trinity Episcopal Church, Solebury, PA, respectively, by La Fiocco. BALAM's Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante, guest Baroque dancers

Monday-Wednesday, April 22-24. Guest Teaching and a Lecture-Performance Oswego State University of New York.
BALAM conducts masterclasses in Somatics, Maskwork, Spanish Escuela Bolera, Baroque and Balinese dance, culminating with a lecture on Balinese culture and a performance of Terunajaya.

Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m. Dances of Love, East and West. FREE
Fort Lee Public Library, Fort Lee, NJ. 320 Main Street, Fort Lee, NJ 07024. (201)-592-3615

BEMF Chamber Opera Series: VERSAILLES: Portrait of a Royal Domain
Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 8 p.m. New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall Boston, MA. Friday, June 21, 2019, at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, 2019, at 3 p.m. Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA. 
Sunday, June 23, 2019 at 4pm, Venetian Theater, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
Carlos Fittante, Baroque choreographer and dancer

Shakespeare Downtown presents HamletThursdays-Sundays, June 13-16 and 20-23 at 6:30 p.m. FREE at the Castle Clinton National Monument located in The Battery in Lower Manhattan, NYC, featuring a pantomime choreographed by BALAM for The Dumb Show within the play.

Friday-Saturday, September 6-7 at 7:30. Temujin: The Silk Road. $20
A Luna Negra Production
WOW Cafe Theatre, 59-61 East 4th Street (between Bowery and 2nd Ave.), doorbell 6, 4th Floor. New York, NY 10003. 917-725-1482

Monday-Wednesday, October 7-9. BALAM offers a Baliense dance residency at the University of Vermont featuring lecture, masterclass, and performance in Balinese dance offered to the courses World Dance and Sex, Gender, and Social Dance.

Sunday, November 3. 3-4 p.m. $20, $15 (students and seniors)
Fiesta: A Celebration of Dance and Music 
Marblehead School of Ballet
115 Pleasant Street, Marblehead, MA 01945
Featuring: Inma Heredia, Robin Gilbert, Ryan Closs, and Carlos Fittante

• Toccata Arpegiata (1604) by Johann Kaspberger with Ryan Closs on theorbo,
• Eden’s Mandala, a fusion masked duet of Balinese, Baroque, and ballet dance, 
• Que Viva España, a popular traditional Spanish song sung in English and Spanish, and
• Codex Martinez Compañon Trujillo, Peru (1785) / Peruvian Colonial Dances

Saturday, November 9, 10-12:30. FREE
Baroque Dance Masterclass
Princeton University

Friday, November 22, 7:30 p.m., FREE
Early Music Princeton with Carlos Fittante and Caitlin Klinger, guest Baroque dancers
Corelli Sonata 10 in F  Major: Preludio, Alemanda, Sarabanda, Gavotta, Giga
Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall. Princeton University

Friday-Sunday, December 13-15. 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. $15-$45
The Christmas Show
St. George Theatre
35 Hyatt Street
Staten Island, NY 10301
Box Office: 718.442.2900

Salem Native and Boston Early Music Festival Performer to Bring Dazzling Magic of Balinese Theatre Woven With World Dance, Music and Song to Boston Metro Area

(New York, New York; October 23, 2019) –-BALAM Dance Theatre (BALAM), a New York City based ensemble contemporary world dance company inspired by Balinese theatre, debuts in the Boston metropolitan area with the new creative, magical program, Fiesta: A Celebration of Dance and Music.  Carlos Fittante, a Salem native and Artistic Director of BALAM, brings the professional company to Marblehead, Massachusetts to present the company's eclectic dances of Ballet, Balinese, Baroque, and Peruvian Colonial with live Italian theorbo music and Spanish song. 

            The multicultural program spotlights a range of dance forms and movements from different time periods on Sunday, November 3 at the Marblehead of School of Ballet from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 115 Pleasant Street in Marblehead, Massachusetts.  An audience participation segment concludes the program, followed by a reception.

            Fittante is no stranger to the region.  He has taught master classes at the Marblehead School of Ballet for several years and performed as a principal dancer and co-choreographer with the Boston Early Music Festival.  BALAM Dance Theatre is known for joining diverse dances and historical time periods from around the world with the dazzling opulence and magical aura of Balinese theatre.

            "As a native of Salem, Massachusetts, BALAM Dance Theatre's debut of Fiesta: A Celebration of Dance and Music on the North Shore is a joyful occasion for me to express an important aspect of BALAM's mission: bringing high quality, affordable, culturally diverse programming to local communities at the grassroots level.  BALAM's artful blend of world dance traditions and historical time periods, with eclectic aesthetics, theatrical costumes, striking masks, and outstanding music, inspires audiences of all ages and backgrounds to attain a deeper sense of shared humanity and community," said Fittante.

            The program features Fittante and Robin Gilbert, BALAM's principal ballerina, performing Eden's Mandala, a Balinese and Baroque masked duet danced on point to Vivaldi's Largo in C with live theorbo as musical accompaniment.  Ryan Closs debuts with BALAM and plays Toccata Arpegiata (1604) for the therobo by Johann Kaspberger.  Codex Martinez Compañon Trujillo, Peru (1785), illustrates Peruvian Baroque Dances of the Village:‎ Chimo, Huicho, Lanchas, and‎ Serranita with audience participation.

            Entertainer and mistress of ceremonies Inma Heredia, hails from Seville, Spain.  As the world's only Flamenco stand-up comedian, Heredia brings her salsero (charm) and performs Que Viva España in English and Spanish.

            BALAM has been featured at numerous festivals and venues, including First Night New York, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and Downtown Dance Festival and appeared throughout the United States and internationally.  For further information about BALAM Dance Theatre, call 646-361-9183 or contact

            Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors over age 65.  Student identification is required.  Tickets may be purchased on the Marblehead School of Ballet's website at and by cash or check at the school's front desk.  For additional ticket information, contact 781-631-6262.

 About BALAM Dance Theatre       
            Founded by choreographer and movement researcher, Islene Pinder, BALAM Dance Theatre offers a new vision of contemporary dance that is rooted in the dazzling opulence and magical aura of Balinese theatre. 

            The New York City-based dance/theatre company creates a unique entertainment experience that has universal appeal.  Audiences of all ages and backgrounds enjoy BALAM’s innovative movement alchemy where dynamic athleticism, detailed skills, and movement techniques from around world are fused and enhanced by eclectic music, striking masks, vibrant costumes and fantasy stories.

            The company educates the community about dances and cultures throughout the world.  Through its Out & About Series, free and affordable performances, workshops and creative events at the grassroots level are made available for families, children, students and community residents.
            BALAM has been featured at numerous festivals and venues including First Night New York; Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors; Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival; Downtown Dance Festival; and has also appeared throughout the United States and internationally.  The company has received praise from the New York Times and Village Voice, the Governor and people of Bali and the Indonesian Consulate of New York, as well as others. 

           For further information, call 646-361-9183 or visit BALAM Dance Theatre on its blog,, follow the company on Facebook,, and check for updates on Twitter @BALAMDance.

Photo Credits: David Bazemore, Howard Wechsler

Meet the Artists of "Dances of Love, East and West"

BALAM Dance Theatre attracts a diverse roster of artists to perform in its dazzling blend of dance, music, and cultural programs.  As BALAM debuts its new Out & About community program, Dances of Love: East and West, Artistic Director Carlos Fittante (CF) discussed with each artist their inspiration to perform.

Nani Devi (ND), Balinese Artist

CF: As BALAM's Balinese Artist, your presence brings an air of authenticity to the company’s Balinese inspired work.  How do you feel about this?

ND: BALAM’s repertoire has a nice blend of movement styles that includes martial arts, ballet, modern, and Baroque dance.  The addition of my classic Balinese dances enhances the beauty and uniqueness experienced by audiences in a BALAM event.

Toshinori Hamada (TH), Principal Dancer

CF: You have added Japanese Noh theatre dance and singing to BALAM’s repertoire, as well as works from your distinctive east/west fusion aesthetics, such as Sunda Upasunda, the role of Rahwana from Ramayana: Abduction of Sita, and the music-drama Wind Chime.  How do you create eastern inspired work in a contemporary western locale like New York City?

TH: I just use the skills and ideas living in me to make a work.  Sometimes the result is good, and sometimes it falls short of my vision.  The hardest aspect of creating new cross-cultural work is there are no models.  But this is also freeing and inspiring. 

Robin Gilbert (RG), Principal Ballerina

CF: As BALAM’s long-standing principal ballerina, you worked directly with our Founding Director Islene Pinder to help define the company’s fusion of point work and Balinese dance seen in works like Eden and Tigerlily and the Dragonfly.  How does the fusion technique inform your work as a performer?

RG: When I joined BALAM, I was very much a classical ballet dancer, and I confess the sort of 'bending of the rules' to create the fusion made me uncomfortable.  Trying to understand how to dance on point, while my body was being asked to be in positions that were not conducive to point work was quite a challenge.

Yet, this challenge was exciting.  With Founding Director Islene Pinder's enthusiasm and encouragement, I experienced movement discoveries and accomplishments, which were thrilling!  Without BALAM's fusion work, I may not have gone outside of the boundaries of the classical ballet world.  Because I did, my mind and my body opened to moving in so many ways, which has made me the versatile dancer I am.  In today’s dance world, diversity and versatility are essential.

My approach to dance and my dancing was forever changed by the fusion of the ballet technique and the Balinese dance.  I am forever grateful!  It opened up endless possibilities that I am still discovering today.

Yumiko Niimi (YN), Dancer

CF: As BALAM’s newest company member, you have already performed in a variety of pieces from the repertoire, including the Act 2 Pas de Deux from Giselle, the roles of Sita and the Golden Deer in Ramayana: Abduction of Sita, and now in a new salsa duet, Fantasia de Amor, commissioned for Dances of Love: East and West.  What about you as a dancer makes this possible?

 YN: Dancing is the love, joy, and beauty of my life’s journey.  Each character or style I perform reveals a new dimension about the art of dance.  Because I am passionate about dance, I always have patience, interest, and commitment to go deeper.

Lisa Terry (LT), Guest Artist

CF: Johann Sebastian Bach is the go-to composer, when people think of period music.  His cello suites define, in part, the instrument's voice.  Is there a quality you like to embody when playing these works?

(LT) I try to imagine what Bach was enjoying about the music: the sound of the cello, the mood of each dance.  It’s like playing a role - I want to play each movement in a stylish and danceable way, delivering as best as I can what I imagine was in Bach’s mind.

Photo Credits (top to bottom): Julie Lemberger, Dave Tierney, Neil Sapienza, (a selfie), William Wegman

Celebrate Spring and Love at BALAM Dance Theatre's Dances of Love: East and West

Summary:  BALAM Dance Theatre presents a rendezvous with love in a new program featuring global dances and movements from Bali, Japan, Spain, and the United States.  The company debuts the new Salsa duet, Fantasia de Amor, choreographed by master Salsa dance expert, Carlos Konig, known for his Salsa performances at Lincoln Center and Central Park in New York City.
BALAM Dance Theatre (BALAM) premieres its new Out & About series program, Dances of Love: East and West, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  This entertaining, family friendly program will be presented at the Fort Lee Public Library, located at 320 Main Street, on Sunday, April 28 from 2:00-3:00 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.
            The library is wheelchair accessible.  Parking is available on the street and in the lot behind the library building on Hoym Street.  For directions and further information, contact the Fort Lee Public Library at 201-592-3615. 

            "These magical works, with their sumptuous costuming, reflective of their courtly and culturally celebratory heritages, will enchant audiences of all ages.  They will experience a vibrant array of culturally diverse dance gems presented by the romantic eloquence of BALAM Dance Theatre's performers," said Carlos Fittante, Artistic Director, BALAM Dance Theatre.
Global Performance
            BALAM, a New York City-based company, offers a new vision of contemporary dance by combining diverse cultural dance styles from around the world and time periods with Balinese theatre.  This latest cross-cultural program features these artists from Indonesia, Japan and the United States:  Nani Devi, Toshinori Hamada, Yumiko Niimi, Carlos Fittante, Robin Gilbert and guest cellist Lisa Terry, Artistic Director of Parthenia, A Consort of Viols.  Performers will dance in beautiful vibrantly colored traditional and fusion costumes. 

          The program spotlights a range of dance forms and movements from around the world.  These include Oleg Tambulilingan (Love Dance of the Bumblebees), a scintillating Balinese courtship dance, and Hagoromo (Angel Dance), a Japanese Noh theatre masked solo dance.  The Gran Chacona, a whimsical duet, transports the audience to 19th century Andalusia in Spain utilizing the Chacona, a wildly popular music and dance from the 18th century, with original choreography using the Spanish Escuela Bolera technique and castanets.  A live music segment of excerpts from Sebastian Bach’s acclaimed Cello Suite No. 3: Prelude, Sarabande, Bourree in C Major.  During the Prelude, dancers will perform a duet from The Diary of Anna Karenina.
BALAM Dance Theatre debuts the newly commissioned salsa duet, Fantasia de Amor, choreographed by master salsero (salsa dance expert) Carlos Konig.  This piece is performed with music by Venezuelan salsa singer Eric Franchesky.  The audience will also be invited to learn and try some movements.

Out & About Series
            The company educates the community about dances and cultures throughout the world.  Through its Out & About Series, free and affordable performances, workshops and creative events at the grassroots level are made available for families, children, students and community residents.    

            For further information, call 646-361-9183, follow the company on Facebook,, and check for updates on Twitter @BALAMDance. 

Photo #1. Robin Gilbert. Photo Credit: Eric Bandiero
Photo #2. Carlos Fittante and Nani Devi in Oleg Tambulilingan.  Photo Credit: First Night New Jersey.
Photo #2.  Toshinori Hamada performs a Japanese Noh Theatre movement.  Photo Credit: BALAM 
Photo #3.  Lisa Terry.  Photo Credit: William Wegman
Photo #4.  Photo Credit: centreballmallorca

A Reflection on Islene Pinder's Fascination with Neutral Tension Flow by Ling Ong. March 13, 2019

BALAM is in the Merriam-Webster; it is our company name, but the dictionary says it is the Mayan deity of agriculture who has a long head, a nocturnal supernatural who whistles as he walks on air.  For us though, BALAM is the Balinese American Dance Theatre and represents a blend of Balinese and American aesthetics.  We are also inspired by the European Baroque, Spanish, Japanese Noh, and those dance traditions are very likely to appear in our performances.  We are drawn to diverse movement-techniques, and we do not recoil from the European thought-patterns so deeply ingrained in our bodies such that an easy walk across the floor turns into a long and winding assessment of Effort-Shape, positioning in space-near and far; the Balinese taksu that is a spiritual stage-presence; the problem of reconciling the energy of balletic, athletic partnering with the Balinese dancing face of discreet smiles and flickering eyes.

The work of movement analysts and therapists, who were actively promoting the principles of Rudolf Laban and embellishing upon his methods of analysis and notation, profoundly influenced BALAM’s founder, Islene Pinder.   She truly enjoyed their pointillist reduction as a method of self-comprehension, whether in the everyday or theatrical context.  Converting their weighty analysis into her own appreciation of each dancer’s Effort-Shape patterns and idiosyncratic style, Islene practiced “on the body” choreography as the pathway for Balinese movements to come to the professional modern-dancer. 

Of all the Laban-influenced concepts Islene loved discussing, Neutral Flow seemed the most important to her.  It is best understood as existing in between Free and Bound Flow on the Tension Flow Scale.  She saw how slight moments of Neutral Tension Flow in the Balinese dancer’s movements were contrasting and thus accentuating the movements gravitating between Bound Tension Flow and Free Tension Flow.  She associated Tension Flows with elasticity and the regulation of continuity and discontinuity in movement.  So she was fascinated by how the child, learning to master his/her small body in the world, inevitably is resolving “the great internal affair of the temperament and feelings, matters of safety versus danger, feeling tones and needs”; and the child’s personal patterns of resolution would come forth as “rhythms of Tension Flow (which) would become appropriate to specific tasks and become functional” such that we shall see “rhythms of excitation, gratification, and relaxation” as the “child achieves mastery over initiation, continuity and stoppage.”  For Islene, Laban’s Effort was clearly impossible without the underlying rhythms of Tension Flow which “reflect our bodily needs and…are guided by our wishes”, and once those rhythms become “preferred patterns of tension-flow”, they become “the substrate of a person’s temperament”.  In her personal notes, Islene kept a yellowed, typed cribsheet of these important statements; these pearls of wisdom influenced the way she interacted with students and professional dancers.

Neutral Tension Flow was a concept originally developed by Dr. Judith Kestenberg (  Dr. Kestenberg formulated the Kestenberg Movement Profile as a method for analyzing and notating the interactions of mother and child, those non-verbal expressions beginning in the womb.  Muscle lacking tension and being in a state of de- animation was an essential factor for describing the inter-personal dynamics of the unborn child’s and the mother’s physicalities.
I like to think that Islene may have associated Neutral Flow with floating in water or the fact that once upon a time, in the 1960s or 1970s, she was in a New York University workshop that involved standing still on demi-pointe for long periods of time, say up to 45 minutes or so.  Islene laughed over the memory of her reflex reaction—hopping around like a kangaroo—when the instructor told the students to let go.  Was he the legendary Alan Wayne attempting to induce the sensation of Neutral Flow through prolonged static posture?  There is the Alan Wayne Technique that trains the body to move with subtle expressions by totally exhausting the larger muscular parts; but having never experienced this technique, I wonder how it recruits all the soft tissues—muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia—whether in tandem or altogether in unison.

There is the biomechanical fact that a kangaroo can bounce with minimal muscular effort in its lower legs when the soft tissues are acting like springs receiving/releasing kinetic energy.   We can relish the divine playfulness as we follow that kangaroo bouncing down a laboratory treadmill; it is needing less and less oxygen as it gains speed, rebounding into longer hops.  We can only wonder if the kangaroo’s lower legs ever have moments of Neutral Flow and if such moments drag upon velocity because the scientists recorded a higher rate of oxygen consumption when the kangaroo was ambling along upon 4 limbs and a tail.  [Dawson, T.J., and Taylor, C.R. (1973) Energetic cost of locomotion in kangaroos. Nature, Lond. 246:313-314.]
Carlos Fittante has had tinier releases of Neutral Flow performing European Baroque dance.  In his opinion, aristocratic courtiers would have resorted to Neutral Flow as they stood for hours (chairs were the privilege of the royal family), backs against the wall and supported by stiff corsets (worn by women and elderly men), dozing off as they waited for an audience with the king.  His picture of subliminal, fatigued anticipation is actually based upon historical documentation of court protocol, so we may reasonably suppose a great deal of genteel de-animation, tempered by courtly self-control, transformed into moments of stillness as self-preparation.

I saw the white-gloved hands of Carlos, who danced a Baroque chaconne to music composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully--a favorite of France’s Sun King, Louis XIV.  His white-gloved hands were larger than life as they vividly put into motion the Baroque sentiments eloquently interpreted by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.  I saw momentary points of Neutral Flow contrasting and thus emphasizing whorls, flicks, commands and rhetorical flourishes of hands and wrists, all necessary to offset the heaviness of the court costume and tall, plumed headdress.

Another way to apprehend Neutral Flow would be the ending of an Iyengar Yoga class--Ṥavasᾱsana, the corpse pose, which according to B.K.S. Iyengar, is the most difficult pose to master but can be the most refreshing of all.  In his book, Light on Prᾱnᾱyᾱma, Mr. Iyengar provided immensely detailed instructions, with photographs of himself, so that we have landmarks and signposts to practice Ṥavasᾱsana as the culmination of vigorous asanas.  Because it involves so little Effort, and replicates Neutral Flow, Ṥavasᾱsana has allowed me to experience the ebb and flow of tension and where it is concentrated; it seems similar to the aristocratic, resting composure that Carlos engages in during his moments of stillness, anticipating an audience with the Sun King.

Whenever I feel the tension dissipating, nearly gone, I enter the subjunctive state of trailing away and returning elliptically inside a poem by the American poet and dance critic, Edwin Denby.  I glide into Denby’s impressions of New York City commotion and panoramas as the familiar timing of falling asleep, upstairs perhaps.  How pleasant to lie back and mentally snap my fingers at the great pronouncement--I think, I am—to Denby’s poem “Standing on the Streetcorner”, a very hushed and private paean by someone who just realized the connection between himself and humanity is only one more dynamic confluence of shifting, urban perspectives.

Any movement analysis includes that statement—I think, therefore I am—originally argued by the French Baroque mathematician and philosopher René Descartes in his eloquent essay “Of the Principles of Human Knowledge”.  Yet we must carefully consider Mr. Iyengar’s proposition in his book, The Tree of Yoga, that the dance is directed to the world outside one’s inner being while yoga’s “tremendous” implications lie within one’s inner being.  It is true that the asanas do not propel our bodies across the dance floor; they are a confluence of small movements by body parts fitted together into spiritually determined shapes which test our understanding of where we are in life.  It is almost the same thing every time we stand at the barre and go through our warm-up routines; we are asking ourselves if it is the mind controlling the body, if they are two distinct things, if it is the body shaping the mind.

Carlos reminds me that we can simply rely upon our dancing, our years of experiencing kinesthestic connectivity, then tap into the psychological effect it has wrought upon our bodies—serenity and connectivity; simply performing the movements tells us how much more delving into the physical sensations and analyzing is needed to attain the artistic quality we desire; performing the movements also reminds us of the goodly sum of lessons learned through observation, practice, and immersion in the dramatic role.  In other words, we should use our malleable minds to support our dancing bodies.  We should inhale acquiescence to exhale the performing art.  We should, as Carlos has learned in aristocratic fencing classes, find the proper mindset for the physical art.

As we enjoy the alchemy of combining different worlds, different heritages and civilizations, the convergence of the East and the West, we are calmed by the tempering effect of Neutral Flow upon the magnificently conscious drive to create.  BALAM likes Promethean power coming forth from our innermost being, but there is this other problem--dancing the role of Lord Hanuman who is the mischievous problem-solver in the Ramayana epic and the inspiration for the Balinese Kecak dance…He who is as swift as the wind and the human mind, He who subjugates Himself to Lord Rama…Geeta Iyengar reminds us to think of Lord Hanuman as one who has mastered perception and bodily senses, to remember how His name invokes the Protector Lord Vishnu (ha) and the Destroyer Lord Shiva (nu) and the Creator Lord Brahma (ma).  Prashant Iyengar cites Patanjali as he reminds us to aspire to perform the asana with decreasing prayatna (effort) and increasing saithilya (effortlessness), to fully sense ourselves going into the asana, staying within it, and coming out of the asana. [Yoga Rahasya, vol. 11, no. 2, 2004]

I would also think of it this way—sleep and inactivity allow for a blurring of movement boundaries.  The subliminal is our staging ground.   Then when we push off from the self-readying stillness, we start sharpening the boundary edges between the inner being and the world outside.  By dancing through whatever boundary edges--between ourselves and our present worlds or between our inner beings and our distant muses--we acquire a body-consciousness, a sensation of being different from that slight moment ago (or that one we just shed after an eternity of self-improvement).  For Carlos, Neutral Flow is the dancer’s gateway for emerging, coming into being.  Certainly, we will inhale stillness to exhale our movements whenever we rely on Neutral Flow to provide for resting, for self-composure, for letting the artistry come of itself and into its own. 

This photograph is part of Andreas Rentsch’s portfolio of subliminal motion captured on Polaroid film.  His stunning array of portfolios is best seen on where they are complemented by his life story.  Andreas has been exhibited or collected by Belgium’s Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi , Switzerland’s Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston TX, Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk VA, the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington NY.  A native of Switzerland, he now resides in the USA and has taught photography at Stony Brook University, St. John’s University, the International Center of Photography and Lycoming College.

In 2019 Boonyarith Pankamdech Returns to BALAM

Boonyarith Pankamdech or Teddy, will be featured in BALAM's repertoire in a new work featuring Teddy and Yumiko Niimi in a collaboration directed by artistic director Carlos Fittante. Together, the artists will explore the intersection of shadow puppets, dance,  Shakespeare, and music from a popular Spanish Zarzuela to create an entertaining and enchanting love story duet.

A Reflection by Ling Ong on Studying with Islene Pinder

Balam’s volunteer advisor, Ling Ong, who learned the Balinese Masked Dance of the King from Islene Pinder, on how Islene influenced her as a scholar of Hindu-Buddhist Art.

Islene Pinder was the least likely American mermaid (before modern dance, Islene had performed synchronized swimming) to go to Bali and delve into the marvelous shimmer and vigor she had absorbed from a village troupe of dancers and gamelan musicians who had performed in New York City.  She returned to the city and started presenting traditional Balinese dances and choreography of her own at her loft space.  What she brought to the downtown scene was a physicality and aesthetic utterly divergent from the downtown avant-garde scene of the 1970s.  But her audience routinely packed the 1600 sq. ft. loft on Franklin Street in Tribeca. 

I will never forget Islene breaking down, on my behalf, the subtle movements of the Topeng Raja character.  Her Masked Dance of the King was the direct result of studious, respectful field work in the village of Mas, where she learned the stately movements directly from Breset.  He was the one and only Pak Breset who could transmit majestic authority with a flick of his finger and command obeisance through an electrifying full stop of his turning head.  Over and over again, we watched the 35 mm film she had taken of Pak Breset.    

After studying the film, Islene would lecture-demo endlessly to me, about the perfect angle of the rotating head and why that matters to the arm-hand dynamics, why the head movements must be just so in timing and dynamics for a dramatic presence amplifying the speechless dictates conveyed by fingers gesturing and the restrained power of the feet walking in dorsi-flexion.   The smallest, treasured detail she had absorbed in Bali was being transmitted to me.

As a young dancer, I barely understood the analytical depth of Islene’s instructions, for I had yet to learn about the Islene Pinder who was deeply connected to and influenced by Laban Movement Analysis.  She had worked very closely with Irmgard Bartenieff and Warren Lamb.  In fact, she and Irmgard had been reviewing Islene’s visual records of Balinese physicality; they were particularly fascinated by the sharply angled toes of a Balinese man, bare-handed and unshod feet in dorsi-flexion, climbing a coconut tree.

The most important lesson I learned in Islene’s loft was that fine, small, seemingly relaxed gestures are as difficult as bravura athleticism.  Delicate princess hands derive from the same sophisticated willpower regulating steely ballerina legs (see this instantly from a Florida snapshot of mermaid Islene lifted by a handsome bodybuilder, Balam’s January blogpost).  When in Bali, Islene was commended for her interpretations of Balinese men’s dance; her hands and feet had the appropriately masculine verve and strong vibration.  Back in New York City, with glossy nail polish on, she would exclaim, “this is not easy!” as she demonstrated for me the Bharatnatyam dancer’s arm and hand lengthened into a soigne gesture along the side of the body; it was the iconic Dola Hasta seen over and over again in other classical dance traditions of India and in the statues of Standing Parvati, the goddess who is the consort of Siva the Destroyer, the god who can dance to a sweet drumming rhythm. 

Breset on film, Islene in person, the Mask of the Balinese King, they were with me, 3 decades later, when I encountered a small bronze figurine from East Java of the late 10th C.E.   It is part of the Samuel Eilenberg collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Hindu friends say that it is about Brahma, 4 faces.  The museum has tentatively identified it as an Esoteric Buddhist deity who also has 2 pairs of arms evoking the dance.  To my knowledge, it has no definitive linkage to a royal patron or any religious documents.   Yet I immediately recognized the placement of the feet in lotus pose high up towards the femoral joint was the kinaesthesia of Iyengar Yoga that I had practiced.  Unfazed by time and geography—

Esoteric Buddhist Figurine from the Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Metropolitan Museum, NYC

Pak Breset himself gave me a private lesson and was duly impressed by the fundamentals Islene had transmitted to me—I simply began a dancer-ly movement analysis.  Learning the Balinese Topeng Raja had prepared to leap over the mysterious origin and simply believe in the recorded movement.

My research is far from over.  This Eilenberg figurine is a little over 4 inches tall and presents a host of intricate details.  The headdress, the jewelry, the positon of the other body parts, the facial expressions, all must be respectfully considered as part of the ancient movement teaching that I immediately feel as a way of sustaining meditation in seated lotus position.  As my Totemic Buddha, it transmits to me the  meditative kinaesthesia of ancient practitioners.

The French Baroque Style and the German Court Featuring Suite en La Mineur by Robert Visee and La Lyre Enchantée by Ludwig Hesse

Join BALAM Dance Theatre for a FREE special holiday program!
Thursday, December 21, 1:15-2 p.m. 
Saint Bartholomew’s Church, 50th Street and Park Avenue, New York, NY

The French Baroque Style and the German Court presented through GEMS’ Midtown Concert Series features selections from Robert de Visée’s guitar Suite en La Mineur and La Lyre Enchantée, a playful opera-ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau arranged for two bass viols by 18th century viola da gamba virtuoso Ludwig Hesse.

Musicians of BALAM: Lisa Terry and Beverly Au-viols, Adam Cockerham-Baroque guitar
Choreography and dancer: Carlos Fittante
Actor: Inma Heredia
Plot synopsis: Cynthia Ahart Wood, reworked by Carols Fittante and Inma Heredia


Suite en La Mineur from Livre de Guitarre, Dédie au Roi (1682) by Robert de Viseé:

I. Prélude
II. Courante
III. Sarabande
IV. Gigue
V. Passacaille
La Lyre Enchantée:
Prélude. Gracieux (Charmes de mon vainqueur)
Ariette. Sans vitesse (Chantez la faveur éclatante)
Ariette et Choeur des Satyres et des Faunes. Gai (Venez tous écouter ma lyre)
Ariette. Con spirito (Dieu cruel)
Air en Rondeau. Sans Lenteur (La sagesse est de bien aimer)
Mouvement de Chaconne. Poco Lento. Allegro
Ariette. Gai (Vole Amour)

Music Program Note:

Ludwig Christian Hesse (1716-1772) was a famous viola da gamba virtuoso in the 18th-c. Berlin court. Hesse was keen on transcribing French operas, but did not exclude composers from Italy or his native Germany (such as J.C. Bach and Graun). The predilection for French opera might be viewed as a way for the German court to keep up with what was a la mode in Paris at the time. Hesse's transcriptions are remarkable in many ways, including his ingenious manner of adapting music originally for a large orchestra with choir to the bare minimum of two viols.

Photo: Mike Morris

The essence of the opera is preserved and miraculously falls naturally under the fingers, as if Rameau had conceived it as a viol duo in the first place! --Paris, March 2010 Jonathan Dunford

Lisa Terry is a member of Parthenia and the Dryden Ensemble, and is principal cellist and viol soloist with Tempesta di Mare (Philadelphia). She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, Juilliard Opera Orchestra, Opera Lafayette, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Concert Royal. Lisa serves the Viola da Gamba Society of America as President.

In addition to her extensive work with the viol consort Parthenia, Beverly Au has performed with many notable early music ensembles and series, including Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity, NY's Ensemble for Early Music, Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts, and The American Classical Orchestra. She has played on Broadway (The Tempest, starring Patrick Stewart), on television and in film (Al Pacino's Looking for Richard).

Early music artist Adam Cockerham specializes in theorbo, lute, and baroque guitar. He has performed with ensembles such as Trinity Baroque Orchestra, NOVUS NY, Philharmonia Chamber Players, New York Baroque Incorporated, El Mundo, and J415. He has been involved in modern world premiere performances of 17th-century operas with companies such as Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik (Le nozze in sogno), Ars Minerva (La Cleopatra, Le Amazzoni nelle isole fortunate), and world premiere performances of new operas with companies like the Prototype Festival (Pulitzer Prize-winning Angel’s Bone) and Opera Saratoga (A Long Walk). Partnering with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Danielle Sampson, he founded voice and guitar/lute duo Jarring Sounds, which released its first album in 2014.

Inma HerediaBALAM Dance Theatre’s resident actor, is a native of Seville, Spain and the world’s first and only Flamenco comedienne. Noted for her salero (special charm), she is a celebrated entertainer who performs as a master of ceremonies, actor, singer, dancer, and comedian. An award recipient from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors and the Association of Critics in Entertainment, her one woman show, Divas de España (Spanish Divas), has been critically acclaimed. Other performing credits include:  Dulcinea in The Adventures of Don Quixote, the Theatre for the New City´s street theater summer tour and the host in the New York hit, Latinas Don't P.M.S, which premiered at the world-famous Apollo Theatre. She has been a guest performer at the United Nations, Central Park, and numerous Off-Broadway theatres and events for humanitarian causes.

Carlos Fittante, Artistic Director of BALAM Dance Theatre, specializes in Baroque, Balinese, and Spanish escuela bolera dances and works as a choreographer, dancer, and teacher.  Known for spirited, elegant choreography and performances,

Photo: Julie Lemberger

he has received praise from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, and Dance MagazineHe has performed throughout the United Stated and internationally with the Boston Early Music Festival, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, 2nd Encuentro de Baile Contemporáneo in Mexico, and the International Arts Festival in Bali. A teacher and movement coach, his customized choreographies serve diverse communities at the grass-roots level. A graduate of the School of American Ballet, he holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Wisconsin, and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Queens College: City University of New York.