Mindy Aloff’s Interview with Alexei Ratmansky (in the Wall Street Journal)

Mindy Aloff published this great interview with Ratmansky in today’s Wall Street Journal. You can read it here.

Here’s a short excerpt:

“For me, ballet-making is a process, with many people involved. I’ve also come to realize that if a ballet stays in the repertory, it changes so much. Dancers change ballets just by dancing them. Every minor dancer puts marks on the steps. The Russian classics of the 19th century are composite works of many generations. You see the clear marks of past times, styles and great personalities…Iwould love to sit in the archives and track which step is by whom.”


This Insubstantial Pageant: Crystal Pite’s “Tempest Replica” (DanceTabs)

I reviewed Pite’s “Tempest Replica” for DanceTabs. Pite is an intriguing choreographer, with a great stage sense. But her interepretatin of the play is cold, distant, over-simplified to my eye. You can read my review here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“The artist and his creation; it’s a theme Pite has treated before, in Dark Matters. In that production, one of the main characters was represented by a bunraku puppet. Does she see the stage as a kind of elaborate marionette show? Perhaps.”

A gallery of images of Herman Cornejo and Luciana Paris in “Sinatra Suite”

After my interview with Herman Cornejo appeared in DanceTabs, the photographer Lucas Chilczuk contacted me. Turns out he took a series of photographs of Cornejo and Luciana Paris during rehearsals of Twyla Tharp’s “Sinatra Suite,” for Fall For Dance. When I spoke to the dancer he told me: “I talked to…Twyla about it, and I told [her] that in order for it to work for me I had to make it my own, I had to express something about myself. With Baryshnikov, the ballet was really about him, but to me, it’s about the man and the woman, the relationship between them….That last pas de deux with Luciana [My Way], for me, it’s about having to part with someone you love, even though the passion is still there, and that’s something I can understand. When I do that final solo I have a lot of memories, not precise images, but moments and sensations of things I’ve experienced. It leaves me feeling very empty.” I think these photos by Lucas Chilczuk capture that feeling well. (You can see more of Chilczuk’s dance photographs at http://www.lucasch.com. )

Luciana Paris and Herman Cornejo in a rehearsal of Twyla Tharp’s “Sinatra Suite.” All photos by Lucas Chilczuk.

Cornejo and Paris are old friends, a fact which I think shines through their performance…

A tender moment from “My Way,” in “Sinatra Suite.”
Ironing out the details…

Chilczuk also took this nice cover shot of Luciana Paris, for the Argentine magazine Balletin:

Three Images from NYCB’s Nutcracker, Nov. 23

Lleyton Ho (Nutcracker prince), Robert La Fosse (Herr Drosselmeier), and Claire Abraham (Marie) in Balanchine’s “Nutcracker,” at New York City Ballet. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Tiler Peck as Dewdrop in the Waltz of the Flowers. (photo by Paul Kolnik.)
Rebecca Krohn as Arabian Coffee. (Photo by Paul Kolnik.)

An Interview with Herman Cornejo (for DanceTabs)

I recently sat down with Herman Cornejo at a café downtown. We discussed everything from the cruelty of the artform, to the excitement of working with Alexei Ratmansky, to his love of drawing. Here is a link to the interview.

And a short excerpt:

“Well you know, it took a long time for Kevin [McKenzie, artistic director of ABT] to give me the principal roles in the classical ballets, even when I was already a principal. And yes, sometimes it was frustrating, but you know, now that I think about it, I feel like things happen when they are supposed to happen. I’m ready, I feel different about them now. Also, coming back to the Met after having been injured for almost four months I felt very different. Maybe it was because I was so happy to be back there, but I had rested, I’d had time to think about things.”

Enter Dewdrop (DanceTabs)

The Nutcracker season has officially begun. At New York City Ballet, the ballet opened its month-long run on Nov. 23. Here is my review of that performance, with Tiler Peck as an exciting Dewdrop, carried by the music.

And here is a short excerpt:
“hen something is beautifully made it never gets old. So it is with Balanchine’s Nutcracker, first performed by New York City Ballet in 1954 and honed to near-perfection over the years. There are good performances, bad ones, and every so often a magical one, but even a middling one will do, because the structure is sound. First, there is Tchaikovsky’s score: imaginative, filled with whimsy, but also, without warning, steeped in drama. Balanchine’s interpolation of the yearning violin cadenza from The Sleeping Beauty into the scene in which Marie falls asleep with the Nutcracker in her arms is so seamless, and feels so appropriate, that one would never guess the music had been smuggled in from another ballet.”

Nutcrackers Galore (from Faster Times)

As Nutcracker season comes to NY, a meditation on two approaches (Balanchine’s and Ratmanskys’) from last year. You can see the article here.

And a short excerpt:

“People often roll their eyes at the “Nutcracker”—so conventional! So twee!—but I am amazed each year by the emotional fullness of this ballet. It must be hell to dance day in and day out for an entire month, as the New York City Ballet does each year, from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve. We have heard tales of slippery artificial snow in the Waltz of the Snowflakes, and, thanks to Sophie Flack’s new semi-autobiographical novel “Bunheads” (a fun read) we now know that the snow-flakes have a bitter taste when they inevitably flutter into the dancers’ mouths. I’m sure it’s a bore to feign delight, or to have Tchaikovsky’s melodies playing in a continuous loop in one’s brain. I feel for the dancers, really, I do, but even so, every year I am struck by how stirring and satisfying “The Nutcracker” can be, in the right hands.”

Malavika Sarukkai: Dancing with the Eyes (DanceTabs)

The bharata natyam dancer Malavika Sarukkai came to the Baryshnikov Arts Center this week to present her rescheduled performances, part of the White Light Festival. She presented a remarkable evening of dance, divided into four extremely long, varied solos. She is an extraordinary story teller, able to bring out details with great clarity. You can read my review here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“Like a master story-teller she is able to change registers and points of view in the course of a single solo, offering a variety of perspectives, from microscopic to sweepingly vast. She may not have the nimbleness or sheer pliancy of some younger dancers (judging from previous press accounts, she’s in her late forties or early fifties), but the sophistication of her dancing – and the complex structure of her choreographies – is awe-inspiring.”

Trey McIntyre Collaborates with Korea National Contemporary Dance Company, at BAM (DanceTabs)

As part of a cultural exchange program funded by government (DanceMotion USA), the Trey McIntyre Project joined up with the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company for a joint program at BAM. One of the works, The Unkindness of Ravens, involved dancers from both companies. Then each company performed work from its own repertoire. You can read my review here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“A choreographer’s voice is like a key – it’s not a guarantee of sublimity, of course, but it opens the door to his inner world. Trey McIntyre is a man who follows his own compass; how else can one explain his decision to base his fledgling company, Trey McIntyre Project, in Boise (Idaho), back in 2008? Boise was no hub of contemporary dance, but he found a receptive community there, and the space to think, far from the crowd, and to make the kind of work he wanted to make, rather than jump from project to project as many young choreographers do.”


The Martha Graham Dance Company, Underwater

As you may have read, the Martha Graham Dance Company’s storage areas at Westbeth were flooded during the storm. They are only now beginning to understand the full extent of the damage to the company’s treasure of sets, costumes, and paper archives. I wrote a piece about the situation for the New Yorker blog, which you can read here.

And here’s a short excerpt:

“As the waters receded, the amount of damage became shockingly apparent. A recent visit revealed a scene of chaos and incipient decay: Crates flung around every which way and cracked open, spilling out their muddy contents. Dissolving cardboard boxes on buckled shelves. Trunks and unidentifiable stuff piled high, like the detritus from a shipwreck. The stench—of filth and wet paper, swollen wood and soggy wool, and, especially, of mold—was worryingly pungent.”