A “Russian” Program of Stravinsky/Balanchine works, at NYCB (DanceTabs)

Here’s my review of the program, which included the charming “Scherzo à la Russe,” “Divertimento from ‘Le Baiser de la Fée,'” “Danses Concertantes,” and “Firebird.” Divertimento is a curious, work, deceptively dark, like a deconstructed fairy tale. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

“Even though Balanchine eliminated the story, the themes of the fairy-tale remain; magic forces, longing, fear, separation. It is a surprisingly bitter ending for a ballet that at first seems so anodyne. Both casts of soloists performed eloquently; Tiler Peck was especially adept at switching the texture of her dancing from the cheerful sweetness of the pas de deux to the ghostly tones of the ending. The ensemble, however, looked ragged and under-rehearsed.”


An Interview with Justin Peck (DanceTabs)

I spoke with Justin in August, before he began working with the company on “In the Year of the Rabbit,” which will première on Oct. 5. Here is a link to the interview.

And here is a short excerpt:
“Usually the corps supports the principals, but in Glass Pieces it’s the principals who support the corps. The corps is the real heart of that work. It’s something I want to incorporate into Year of the Rabbit. I want to create a sense of equality between the corps and the principal dancers. I’m interested in breaking up that fragmented way of presenting dance. I want to create a more seamless environment. And I want to play with transitions a lot.”

Experiencing Einstein On The Beach

And living to tell the tale. Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt:

In other words, one was primed for an intense theatrical experience. So much has been said and written about Einstein on the Beach – that it is like “space travel,” or like watching clouds, or “mystica,l” and dreamlike. In the BAM program Robert Wilson tells the story of sitting next to Arthur Miller at a performance and having the playwright turn to him and say, “you know, I don’t get it.” To which Wilson replies, in typical Wilsonian fashion, “you know, I don’t get it either.”

A Gala Affair (Faster Times)

On the joy of ballet galas. Here’s a link.

And a short excerpt:

“A  gala, is a gala, is a gala, as they say. Which is to say that the ballet portion of the evening is a mere amuse-gueule leading up to the main event, the dinner and (non-professional) dancing, for which guests have paid a pretty penny, a large portion of which (one hopes) will be recycled into useful things like salaries, pointe shoes, piano tuners and the electricity bill. Galas are intrinsically light, glittering affairs, so it’s pointless to complain if what one sees onstage is not really on a par with the rest of the season. So I won’t.”

Thoughts on NYCB’s “Greek Trilogy” Program (DanceTabs)

City Ballet opened its fall season with a trilogy of Balanchine/Stravinsky ballets on Greek themes. Here is my review for DanceTabs.

And here’s a short excerpt:

“The famous pas de deux in Agon is a kind of erotic combat that begins with infinite politesse, in a formal pose worthy of Sleeping Beauty, and ends with the man’s surrender, on his knees. It was danced, on both nights, by Maria Kowroski, with two different partners. (On Sept. 18 her adversary was Sébastien Marcovici, a worthy if slightly subservient opponent, while on Sept. 19 it was the more cheeky, gleeful Amar Ramasar. On the latter evening, Kowroski was stepping in for an injured Wendy Whelan.) She is an introspective, somewhat remote dancer, but here – as in Apollo – she looked more engaged than she has in a good long while. Especially with Amar Ramasar – a fine dancer with long lines, clean feet, and nice timing, if only he could tamp down his impulse to mug – she really let go.”

Two Photos from the Exhibit…

…on the walls of the Koch Theatre, at Orchestra Level, as part of the Stravinsky Balanchine focus this fall.

I was particularly struck by both (both are by Paul Kolnik). In the first, an impossibly young Tiler Peck is the embodiment of joy in Balanchine’s Scherzo à la Russe, a bijou of a ballet created for the 1972 Stravinsky Festival.

The second is an image from Rubies, danced by Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo García. I’ve always admired Hyltin’s femininity and her ability to give herself to her partners with a kind of voluptuous abandon. In this photo, Kolnik captures that perfectly.

Thoughts on a Modern Dance Master: Paul Taylor (The Nation)

I recently wrote an essay for The Nation on Paul Taylor and his place in the modern-dance canon. Here is a link.
And a short excerpt:

“‘I can sometimes sense certain things…it’s hard to explain. It started very early, when I was a child—I moved schools a lot and lived in a lot of places and learned very quickly how to sense who was the class bully.’ So says Paul Taylor in a soft, languorous voice, after a pause. Any conversation with the 82-year-old choreographer—who lives in splendid isolation in an old house on the North Fork of Long Island for all but a few months of the year, when he is making new dances at the studios of the Paul Taylor Dance Company on Manhattan’s Lower East Side—is a bit like a game of hide-and-seek. He is gentlemanly and friendly, but not easy to draw out.”

Pacific Northwest Ballet Deconstructs Balanchine (Faster Times)

Peter Boal and six dancers came to Works and Process, as they have a few times over the last year or so, bringing an illuminating lecture-demonstration on Balanchine’s tweaks to his own ballets. Here’s a link to my piece for The Faster Times.

And a short excerpt:

“One of the most effective devices used by Boal at the lect-dem was that of having two dancers, side by side, performing the same phrases of music, in two slightly different versions. That way, one could truly see—in the starkest terms—the shifts in emphasis, nuance, or in overall feel. The most striking transformation, at least to my eye, was in the “Melancholic” male solo from The Four Temperaments, danced here by Benjamin Griffiths (old version) and Matthew Renko (newer version).”