"Thank you for bringing your beautiful company and friends to 92Y. I really loved your dances and dancing. The work is full of soul and it fills the space with collective reflection. There is much craft and nuance throughout; and your work keeps evolving. I also am glad that we have a documentation of your Fridays at Noon performance and panel.
With my sincere respect and affection."
John-Mario Sevilla, Director
92Y Harkness Dance Center, October 2013
"Dear Janis, Helena, Kun-Yang, Lilja, Kyla, and Aaron,
A deeply appreciated Thank You for bringing your, by turns, heartfelt, intriguing, intelligent dances, and articulate responses to 92Y Fridays At Noon. We were lucky to have you all on this special, thought-provoking program. Even though your choreographic voices represent many geographic locales and points of view, they all shared a common sensibility filtered through Janis' deep river of expertise and discovery.
Thank you again."
Catherine Tharin, Director/Curator, Fridays At Noon 92Y Harkness Dance Center, October 2013
"Featured on the program was the official premiere of Brenner's Where-How-Why Trilogy, danced to the music of David Lang, Tosca, and Joni Mitchell, and danced by Brenner and her company members, Esme Boyce, and Sumaya Jackson. Brenner's piece is a series of solos that range from contemplative to relationships and loss -- and also compassion.This was the emotional high point of the program communicated effectively by the dancers."
Newsnotes Dance Blog, October 11, 2013, Mark Kappel, Editor
"In The Mind-Stuff Variations... Brenner used microphone commands to great advantage: besides invoking a manipulative deity, she and the dancers brought pantomime and physical humor, and pulled back a veil on the choreographic creative process. Brenner’s intellect and humor, her dancers’ discipline and the satisfyingly complex music made the evening a cultural pleasure." David St.-Lascaux, Interrupting Infinity, October 2013
"Choreographer Janis Brenner described her solo Contents May Have Shifted as a metaphor for changes that occur in one's body and one's journey through life. Created for herself in 2002, the stunning solo is exquisitely performed by Holley Farmer whose intense focus, clarity of line and seemingly effortless shifts in timing and energy keep us spellbound. The dance takes place in a vertical corridor of space center stage, bounded by blue runway light strips. Mitchell Bogard's lighting design is as evocative as the movement, subtly enhancing the emotional depth of the piece. Ms. Farmer's technique is flawless, yet never calls attention to itself. The deep blue velvet tunic, one sleeve long and one arm bare, creates the illusion that Farmer's arms are flying birds or pleated Origami fans, while the simple blue pants allow us to see the arc in space formed by her moving leg as it carves the air or expands sideways into deep plie." Cynthia J Williams Copyright World Dance Reviews 2013
"....Janis Brenner’s Contents May Have Shifted, from 2002, is danced by a new soloist, the glowing Holley Farmer. With her astonishing clarity, Ms. Farmer makes the most of a spare exercise on an aviation theme. When her arms straighten, they’re wings of steel; when they bend, they’re as supple as bird flesh."
Brian Seibert, New York Times
Dance Review, "'Working Women' by Female choreographers, at Joyce Theater
"I'm so glad I was able to get to your concert at East Street Dance Center. I enjoyed the humor throughout, so deftly knit between words, sounds and choreography; the performances, particularly yours and the company's; and the challenge and success of how you integrated the UMass and East Street students into the last work. Choreographically - it was delightful to perceive links to the Murray Louis/Holm/Wigman/Dalcroze lineage in the focus on the rhythms of the body itself, the way in which the rhythms create space, and the freedom that deep understanding of rhythm allows in movement. Loved hearing Meredith Monks' work."
Peggy Schwartz, Professor and Director Emerita
Dance Program, Department of Music and Dance UMASS September 2012
Co-author Peggy and Murray Schwartz, "The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus," Yale University Press, 2011
"What a visual and intellectual treat to watch Janis Brenner & Dancers perform works of ironic social commentary, honest emotion, and contradiction. At Kun-Yang Lin Dancers’ Chi Movement Arts Center on December 11th, joined by students from Temple and Drexel Universities (Lost, Found, Lost), Janis Brenner and Dancers illuminated the intimate space with evocative works that span Brenner’s choreographic evolution from 1991 to 2011. Together, the pieces walk the very line they comment on – the concrete versus the abstract."
Marissa Bottino for The Dance Journal December 14, 2011
"The performance by choreographer, dancer, singer, teacher, Janis Brenner & Dancers is the most captivating performance from all appearances on the opening night of this international dance festival. I've fallen in love with Brenner since the first appearance of her two dancers' very graceful dance piece, The Awkward Stage. The company's appearance proved one thing: dance is a universal language."
July 2, 2011 Dwi Andi Rohmatika, SIPA Festival Surakarta, Java; Indonesia
"Janis Brenner's 5 Decades II at Danspace Project not only bridges the gaps between generations of choreographers; it also makes a good case for bridging the divide between those who love dance and those who have yet to make that wonderful leap of faith. This evening continuously underscores the old and perennial values of graceful imagery, expressiveness and human connection but with inventive quirks that give a Brenner piece its magnetic pull and memorability." Eva Yaa Asantewaa, INFINITE BODY April 2011
"Brenner tops it all with The Mind-Stuff Variations. At the core, I find a complex portrait of an artist struggling to define herself, to buffer and hold her center against external and internalized flak, and that’s profoundly moving."
Eva Yaa Asantewaa, INFINITE BODY April 2011
"The world premiere of The Mind Stuff Variations is an experimental, fresh look at the choreographic process. Based on psychologist William James. 1890's "Mind-Stuff Theory", the piece explores the connection between the body in the mind as the dancers playfully speak and move simultaneously, exploring literal and figurative interpretation of words as well as the challenge to bridge thoughts and instructions into physical movement. It's a collage of "What if?" challenges, comedy, beauty and awkwardness, not to mention the eclectic music collaboration with Jerome Begin."
Jennifer Thompson EYE ON THE ARTS, NY April 2011
"Brenner's major contribution to the evening was the world premiere, The Mind-Stuff Variations, a collaborative work with her company members, choreographed to original music by Jerome Begin. Inspired by William James' "Mind-Stuff Theory", Brenner's piece was a synergy of dance movement and spoken word -- filled with humor and thoughtfulness." Mark Kappel NEWSNOTES DANCE BLOG April 2011
"The pure, human feeling that Janis Brenner & Dancers communicate is simply profound; a night of evocative, groundbreaking dance."
Joy Hanson, BeaconPass.com, April 2011
"The concert was a tour de force. It was great to see the phases of your life in this 'retrospective' (yet so much more to see) and realizing there's so much future. I admired the craft, the beautiful, gutsy dancing...the levity and gravitas of the new piece, Mind-Stuff Variations...the poetry, intelligence and evocation...the invention and soul. I really, really loved it. Please extend my deep appreciation to the fabulous dancers and production team. A special shout out to Mitchell Bogard (the lighting)."
John-Mario Sevilla, 92Y Director of Dance
"It’'s been a while since I witnessed a piece about AIDS that was really affecting. Now, Janis Brenner’'s new Dancing in Absentia at Joyce SoHo treats the ongoing tragedy with sensitivity and respect...The duet for the two men of the company was really moving. The soft extended lines, tender touching, and occasional sudden holds or grabs brought out the compassion in the two dancers, Aaron Selissen and Moo Kim. At certain times photos of male dancers who died of AIDS were projected onto the upstage screen and tumbled away or dissolved or broke up into a thousand little pieces. The two-dimensional photos became ghosts."
- Wendy Perron , DANCE MAGAZINE BLOG, New York, November
"Kyla Barkin is electrifying in Brenner’s Guilt (1985) where she appears inside a three-sided wooden box and contorts, twists, and flips around to Marianne Faithfull’s raspy, remorseful crooning. She alternates between looking alluring and resembling a wild animal caught in headlights as she navigates the small space with remarkable athleticism, at times reminiscent (I dare say) of Jennifer Beals in Flashdance!"
- Christopher Atamian, DANCE MAGAZINE, New York, November
"JB &D premiered Dancing in Absentia, a new piece dedicated to the many dancers lost to the AIDS epidemic. Everything about this dance is haunting, from the vocal styling of Brenner and Michelle Rosen, the sculpted movement, and the photographs of the artists the community has lost over the years to the deadly disease. Seeing the images of those beautiful dancers- among them Ulysses Dove, Robert Joffrey, Rudolf Nureyev, Michael Bennett, Arnie Zane and Alvin Ailey-so alive with the joy of being reminds all of us how devastating the losses were to this world. Janis Brenner once again succeeded in sharing her precision of artistry. Enjoying her work next to the earlier pioneers made it clear that Brenner is quite deserving of her place in modern dance history."
- Layla Macoran, THE EXAMINER, New York, November
"[Brenner's] fierce, liquid voice is commanding. She has long performed with Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, and on Thursday, to open the “5 Decades” program, she danced Ms. Monk’s Break (1964) ...the brief solo takes its silliness seriously, building a strange little world out of spoken phrases, an industrial sound collage, gesture and striking, briefly held poses. Ms. Brenner is a witty, winsome performer, adept at teasing out the ambiguities of any given moment."
- Claudia La Rocco, THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York, November
"Brenner danced in Murray Louis’' company from 1977 to 1984. Aaron Selissen and Sumaya Jackson (coached by Robert Small), admirably recreate two solos from Louis’ 1978 Figura. These are beautifully made little pieces—buoyant dancing shaped into phrases full of subtle dynamic contrasts. The man’s solo is vigorous, the woman’s more meditative; Jackson swings her hips from one side to the other as if just discovering the sensuous possibilities of the motion."
- Deborah Jowitt, THE VILLAGE VOICE, New York, November
"Watching A Matter of Time was somewhat reminiscent of the Harold Pinter play Betrayal- the many twists and turns of unfulfilled love damaging the rejected. All four dancers--Kyla Barkin, Moo Kim, Aaron Selissen and Pam Wagner--add pure angst, frustration and longing to the work."
- Layla Macoran, THE EXAMINER, New York, November
"Brenner's choreography not only possesses keen introspection but also spans a range of emotions injected with a tinge of satire and humor. However the most important aspect of Brenner's work is her artistic integrity...What's more Brenner's work tugs at the heartstrings -- touching every audience member, especially Brenner's world premiere, Dancing In Absentia."
- Mark Kappel, NEWS AND NOTES BLOG, New York, November
"The pinnacle of the evening was choreographer/dancer Janis Brenner's solo danced by Lin. Brenner originally created Uzu Maki - Japanese for "eye of the storm" - in 1994 for Eddie Taketa, drawing a haunting soundscape from music by Tan Dun and Ushio Torikai. The redoubtable Lin reinterpreted the forceful dance and gave it a Chinese name with the same meaning, Shun-Woa. In 60 yards of bronze silk skirting, Lin draped his body with origamilike precision, making organic images: a molten mire from which he emerges as a pillar of fire, a boulder that shape-shifts into an old beggar. Or were these images reversed? No matter. The magic was not just in the watching but in the mirage that lingers in shadowy light."
- Merilyn Jackson, THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Philadelphia, February
THE TRIBUTE AS OASIS
"There’'s something comforting, and at the same time inspiring, about tributes to elder choreographers. Janis Brenner had revived the second movement of Porcelain Dialogues, a Murray Louis classic from 1974, for her own 25th-anniversary concert last year. This past weekend, the American Dance Guild included it in their performance festival at DNA Dance. The piece was an oasis of shimmering calm, quiet craft, and echoing shapes. All six dancers have had long and fruitful careers: Michael Blake, Janis Brenner, Betsy Fisher, Peter Kyle, Sara Pearson, and Robert Small. There was such love and quiet joy in their faces, such breath in their bodies. Maybe because Murray Louis was in the house, they performed it with great devotion. Their heads turned toward each other to connect, or looked away to gaze at the world; their arms wafted down from a high fifth. As gentle as it was, the piece was never lulling because every new group shape was revealing in some way. At the end, they broke up into three pairs, and in long extended lines, descended to the floor. As the last notes of Tchaikovsky’s Quartet in D sounded, each woman, behind her partner, reached up to the sky and then encircled the man, clasping him close. The word that spread around the audience as “satisfying.”"
- Wendy Perron, DANCE MAGAZINE ONLINE, New York , September
"ARTS & CRAFT: For her 25th Anniversary Celebration, Janis Brenner did what most friends, but fewer choreographers, do. She invited them to her party. The evening was filled with the warmth of camaraderie, but also with the vision and craft of many wonderful artists."
- Marilyn Russo, ATTITUDE MAGAZINE, New York, April
"Solo For Janis brings the house down. Two solos challenge the dancers' concentration and dramatic intensity. Both are commanding, with Kun-Yang Lin (in Shun-Woa) manipulating swaths of material like a warrior and Katherine Fisher (in Contents May Have Shifted...) charging her movements with seductive power. In a bold move, Brenner offers a gorgeous reconstruction of Murray Louis' Porcelain Dialogues with former Louis/Nikolais company members...the unity and camaraderie of this ensemble was rare to behold."
- Celia Ipiotis, EYE ON DANCE/EYE ON THE ARTS, New York, February
"Janis Brenner's 25th anniversary season celebrates not only her talents and the longevity of her company, but her mentors and colleagues over the years. At the first performance we see and hear Monk, on film, deliver two of her magical Songs From The Hill; then Brenner, live, sings a third, "Wa-li-o-oh", with meticulous artistry... As a choreographer, Brenner has a sense of spatial design and visual imagery that may derive part from her training with that optical wizard Alwin Nikolais. But unlike Nikolais, she uses these skills to convery mysterious events and emotional states...in Brenner's rich A 'Peace' For Women, dancers lead one another in patterns that bespeak harmony and equality...to words by Wittgenstein that inform the music: "How small a thought it takes to make a world"...the many small thoughts Brenner has accumulated over 25 years of dancemaking amount to a very bright, well-tended world."
- Deborah Jowitt, THE VILLAGE VOICE, New York, February
"Janis Brenner threw a spiffy anniversary season bash at Danspace Project, marking 25 years of creativity as a dance and vocal artist...fastidiously choreographed...A proponent of decidedly theatrical, expressive modern dance, Brenner is a class act all the way and has the chops to back it up. The best treat was the handsome dancing by Brenner's peers and company members past and present."
- Eva Yaa Asantewaa, GAYCITYNEWS, New York, February
"...Solo For Janis, by Richard Siegal, who makes brilliant and poignant use of Ms. Brenner's physical wit, comic timing and vocal abilities...That piece deserves to be seen more widely, as does A 'Peace' For Women set to Steve Reich's choral "Proverb." ...moving through beautifully crafted, interwoven moments of fluid motion and stillness. Clad in white, dancing with fervor, they loooked like angels in the church."
- Roslyn Sulcas, THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York, February
YEAR IN REVIEW TOP 10 Dance Events in 2004:
"Janis Brenner, THE MEMORY PROJECT During a residence at Florida International University, New York-based choreographer Janis Brenner recruited students and community members to capture Miami's many languages in movement and words."
- Celeste Fraser Delgado, THE MIAMI HERALD, Miami, Florida, December
"New Dances at Juilliard 2004--At August Academy, Seasoned Pros Set Young Performers in Motion. All four choreographers--Janis Brenner, Susan Marshall, Ronald K. Brown and Robert Battle--made mood-tinged abstract pieces. Distinguished by clear, firm contruction, they displayed an astute understanding of the newcomers' formidable gifts and limited experience plus well-nigh palpable affection and respect for the rising generations."
- Tobi Tobias, THE VILLAGE VOICE, New York, December
"Veteran Choreographers, Young Dancers and a Program of Premieres. Ms. Brenner's heartSTRINGS for 18...is a visually striking piece, evoking a geometric abstraction in it's painterly use of spece...It is plotless with an emotional undercurrent. The idiom here was in broad, fluid strokes, initially for four dancers...in their brilliant red pants, the dancers were always part of a stunning spatial composition. But there were always images of human relationships."
- Anna Kisselgoff, THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York, November
"At “Grace”/40 Up Project... “Mary Wigman, the founder of German expressionist dance, was honored with Pastorale and Dance of Summer-- superbly performed by Janis Brenner. Her fluttering gestures beckoned forth the music, as if Hanns Hastings’ notes were the key to her ability to rise and fall. Throughout, the performer balanced an expressionist sense of drama with such touches of lightness. Singing Meredith Monk songs to open and close the program, Brenner demonstrated a vocal technique as spry and nimble as her hands were with Wigman’s choreography.”"
- Jody Sperling, DANCE MAGAZINE, USA, June
"Janis Brenner stood out in the opening program (of "Grace") in two dance solos from Mary Wigman's 1929 Shifting Landscapes...allowing the flow and precision of her phrasing to convey indolence and a somewhat livelier languor. That same impressive precision characterized Ms. Brenner's easy negotiation of the sudden darting shifts in register and texture in her vocalizations from Meredith Monk's Songs From the Hill."
- Jennifer Dunning, THE NEW YORK TIMES, NY, NY, February
"The theatrically savvy dancer-choreographer Janis Brenner crafts dance works that slyly snare our attention with entertaining movement that seems to contain subtle hints of deep meaning...thought-provoking and riveting from beginning to end...the highlight of (A "Peace" For Women) was a masterfully constructed duet danced by Brenner and Kun-Yang Lin."”
- Lisa Jo Sagolla, BACKSTAGE, NY, NY, January
“"The audience was made to feel astonished. There is no doubt that Janis Brenner has quite skillfully united two poles: traditional Indonesian dance with Western contemporary dance...elaborate complexities of movement...a unique nuance.”"
- Unknown Reviewer, KEDAULATAN RAKYAT, Java, Indonesia, March
"Solo for Janis...Brenner has the facial versatility of Dick Van Dyke and Harpo Marx combined, and she paced, flung her arms and did a variety of strides in silence. She mumbled, ‘I think I can,’ which slurred into ‘Thank you.’ Was she deinstitutionalized, or just brilliant? Wide-ranging sources anchored this tour de force, from Busby Berkeley to Marilyn Monroe. Brenner showed real style when she paused for crowd reaction, which went from perplexed to polite to enthusiastic laughter.”"
- Sally Cragin, RIVERFRONT TIMES, St.Louis, MO., October
“In Janis Brenner’'s The "“L"” Word, L stands for love and lyrical. I also recommend P for playful, H for humane, and A for affecting. heartSTRINGS is a tide of vitality and good feeling. For oh-so-cool New Yorkers, sentimentality may be an altered state, if not a guilty pleasure. Brenner risks it in ‘The Memory of All That’. We may be what we eat, but we are definitely what we remember. We savor her performers’ memories. They savor ours, too (printed on white cards), dancing as they are read--serendipitous poetry.”"
- Eva Yaa Asantewaa, THE VILLAGE VOICE, NY, NY, April
"Janis Brenner’'s lyrical, articulate movement vocabulary makes for a performance laden with humor, seductiveness and sentimentality, touching nearly every human emotion. The strength of her dancers shines within the eclectic mix of movement and performance styles that Brenner’s choreography demanded... the dancers true expressiveness came from their dancing in The “"L"” Word...the collage of music that shifted between the classical music of Bach to the modern pop music of Bjork created a continuously changing mood within the piece ranging from contentment to confusion to passion to loneliness...emotional complexity and polished performances.”"
- Victoria Yoffie, SHOW BUSINESS, NY, NY, April
"The Yard Premieres Dazzle with Creative Fire...heartSTRINGS (was) joyous and effervescent...the dancers showed what the music was all about in its most physical sense."”
- Wendy A. Brophy, VINEYARD GAZETTE, Chilmark, MA, September
"Janis Brenner wrings intense emotion from the smallest of gestures--a flick of the wrist or the extension of an arm. In On the Rim of Thought, she eases into each step with a serene sense of control. This is a passionately constructed solo that gently builds its momentum through repeated combinations.”"
- Nicole Peradotto, THE BUFFALO NEWS, NY, NY, July
"In the Taiwan of the ‘80’s, Janis Brenner lorded over Taiwan’s dance world...her dances and teaching had a deep influence on Taiwan’s improvisational dance...Nine years later, Janis Brenner & Dancers is still passionate and lively.”"
- Unknown Reviewer, DA-CHEN NEWS, Taipei, Taiwan, May
"Rarely has a choreographer invited an audience to identify so strongly with her dancers as Ms. Brenner did here with creative flair."
- Anna Kisselgoff, THE NEW YORK TIMES, NY, NY, March
LgNY’s “1998 IN REVIEW” MOST MEMORABLE PERFORMANCES: "In a solo... Janis Brenner in Richard Siegal’'s Solo for Janis"
- Brian McCormick, LGNY, NY, NY, January
"Janis Brenner’s work resonates with such a deep feeling of humanity that even those unfamiliar with concert dance and contemporary art can connect what’s onstage to their daily lives.”"
- Holly Bass, CITY PAPER, Washington, D.C., November
“This journeyman company boasts a well-rounded pedigree and a warm, confident chemistry. What About Bob, a crowd-pleaser...In A Matter of Time, Luis Tentindo and Sherri Hellman were particularly deft and charismatic as the emergent lovers. heartSTRINGS is a soaring, dancerly work (with) lush costumes and full-bodied score. Brenner’s solo performance of Meredith Monk’'s Songs from the Hill--uniquely powerful works of art and music, requiring a degree of vocal athleticism and sensitivity not found this side of Bobby McFerrin. To hear them sung with such precision and grace was quite moving.”"
- Jeff Hoodock, THE WASHINGTON POST, Washington, D.C., November
“Brenner’'s choreography (shows) delicate, accurate perception...fastidiously crafted. More remarkable these days is the fact that each dance has its own identity, its own vocabulary...a loving duet for Luis Tentindo and the glowing Kun-Yang Lin (in What About Bob). Absorbing...unique...gripping... and Mitchell Bogard’'s gorgeous lighting. Her choreography is excellent.”"
- Deborah Jowitt, THE VILLAGE VOICE, NY, NY, June
"Janis Brenner’'s choreography brings a refreshingly positive energy to today’s ‘Downtown’ dance scene...she builds dances upon a solid core of formal and emotional stability that affects viewers... innovative, tender partnering.”"
- Lisa Jo Sagolla, BACKSTAGE, NY, NY, June
"Solo for Janis...Exploits the performer’s dramatic and comedic gifts as well as her dancing and singing abilities...an investigation into the idea of performing...we exit the tour-de-force with the questions: why and for whom do we perform?”"
- Unknown Reviewer, KUNSTLERHAUS MOUSONTURM, Frankfurt, Germany, February
"Dancer, Choreographer, Singer--Brenner is that rare contemporary performer who can do it all."
- Unknown Reviewer, BUZZ Magazine, Los Angeles, CA., April
"Janis Brenner is a one-woman argument for the seasoned gifts of mature performers."”
- Jennifer Dunning, THE NEW YORK TIMES, NY, NY, September
"Lovers of modern dance will want to experience Janis Brenner & Dancers at DTW. It makes for one of the liveliest evenings, in terms of both technique and theme, currently on the boards in Manhattan. Brenner's dancing establishes a style that grips one's attention with its unforced passion."
- John M. Koroly, WRSU FM, New Jersey, June
Photo by Tom Caravaglia