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This page was last revised on June 6, 2017.

The Tennis Dances

Photo by Alfred Desio

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"(The program) ended brilliantly, thanks to Reichlin's Tennis Dances, which dates back to 1979. In this

ten-part suite the tennis court becomes a metaphor, of course, for life's stage. And life, as Reichlin sees it, is indeed a stage, one crowded with a broad spectrum of attitudes. ...Here is a choreographer who arguably picks up the feminist point of view where Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis left off. To observe the universe as it is inhabited by women, she harks back to ancient times and mythic symbols."                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                                  Dance Magazine

The Tennis Dances

1979 for 4-12 dancers

28+ minutes

"Louise Reichlin created a sensation with The Tennis Dances."

                                    Dance News

The Tennis Dances remains Louise Reichlin's most acclaimed work, with countless performances at outdoor festivals and major theaters for audiences of thousands, to small galleries and elementary school stages.

The work provides an overview of modern society using tennis as a metaphor. The moods range from a lighthearted bluegrass section to a tennis match ritualized and fought to the death. The complete work is in eleven sections and uses music by Fanshawe, Ives, Stravinsky, Mihaud, Sarkisian and Orff, as well as medieval and electronic scores.

"Clever evocations of theatre dance styles...everything from Fokine and Graham to Bejart and beyond,

all unfied by rackets and nets and tennis balls." Los Angeles Times

"One of Louise Reichlin's most effective works is her signature piece, Tennis Dances, which is a unique dance that is almost cinematic in its effects. She creates on stage the illusion of long shots, montages, quick cuts, and individual close-ups that are usually seen only in the film or video media."

                 Dance Magazine

"Among the group pieces, Louise Reichlin's Tennis Dances, for a dozen members of Los Angeles Choreographers & Dancers, had to be the most provocative. A potpourri that vaguely satirizes pomposity, exoticism, period cutesiness and contrived elegance, that probes ancient mystery and indulges contemporary whimsy - all with the unlikely but clever metaphor of racquets and nets."

Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"Reichlin began her career on Broadway, and she brings a showmanship to her work that links her old life to the visually dazzling world of her new one: Los Angeles and Hollywood specifically. Waving and dipping their racquets in unison, the piece recalled a Busby Berkeley musical, all clean lines and synchronicity. Reichlin's strength lays in how she composes her pieces. In addition to being visually exciting - with a changing of levels that kept the eye sated - she also picks exceptional dancers; a diverse mix of body types and styles, from the voluptuous Tonya Vivian to the gamine Elizabeth Ann Poinsette. Racquets were more than just props. One minute they were used as instruments in a social mating dance and the next as axes or anvils, wielded as instruments of destruction.                                                                                                                           


Fortunately the dance was strong enough so as not to be upstaged by the costumes, which spanned various time periods and styles from floppy hats and calf-length dresses from the early part of the last century, to tight bell-bottoms and tank tops taking us back to the seventies. One section had the dancers in harem pants with Middle Eastern music. All were pristinely white, further enhancing the visual cleanliness of the piece.

With a strong sense of history, they connected us to many different eras while still, often from one minute to the next, adding a thoroughly modern element. And there we found ourselves, caught between nostalgia and surprise, with little time to think before we had to make the shift. Much like the game of tennis itself.