Bill T. Jones and Co. Take on the Canon (for DanceTabs)


The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in "Ravel: Landscape or Portrait?" Photo by Paul B. Goode.
The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in “Ravel: Landscape or Portrait?” Photo by Paul B. Goode.

Here is my review of  the program of new works by Bill T Jones at the Joyce, in the company’s thirtieth anniversary season. Both works are set to “important” chamber music (Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major and Schubert’s Death and the Maiden),  performed here by the excellent Orion String Quartet.

And here is a short excerpt: “Mr. Jones holds his own, in part by not attempting to follow the music in any literal way. The choreography, which is described in the program as being made in collaboration with Janet Wong (Associate Artistic Director) and the dancers, has a pleasingly free, earthy, all-over-the-place quality. Each dancer has a story to tell and is allowed to do so; the stories, in turn, are artfully subdivided into smaller units (phrases) and re-distributed across the stage, thereby becoming themes, patterns, motifs…. The repeated phrases act as signposts, giving a sense of structure, much as the repeats do in a piece of music.”

I’m eager to hear what other people thought of the program…

A Little Find

As I was doing a bit of research online, I came upon this video of the opening of Balanchine’s Apollo, with Jacques d’Amboise. Ruth Sobotka is Apollo’s mother, Leto.

I can’t resist sharing!

If only

One of the lots in Doyle’s April 8 auction of photographs is this image by Alfred Eisenstaedt of ballerinas at rest in one of the studios at the Paris Opéra, in1936. How I wish it were mine!940914


Thoughts on Yasuko Yokoshi’s “Bell” (for DanceTabs)

Kuniya Sawamura and Yasuko Yokoshi. Phoot by Ian Douglas.
Kuniya Sawamura and Yasuko Yokoshi. Phoot by Ian Douglas.

Here‘s my review of Yasuko Yokoshi’s “Bell,” a deconstruction of the Kabuki drama The Maiden at the Dojoji Temple through the lens of Giselle. I’ve been a big fan of Yokoshi’s previous experiments with the pared-down Kabuki style known as Su-odori, but this one just didn’t work. The bits from Dojoji and Giselle never cohered, nor did they inform each other in any meaningful way. The “balletic” elements were woefully inadequate. The Japanese elements, beautifully executed, were given little context. Here’s a short excerpt from DanceTabs:

“Both Kayo Seyama, an older female dancer who performs a lengthy, delicate solo (called Kane no Misaki) toward the end of Bell, and Kuniya Sawamura, a young male dancer/actor who may just be one of the finest character dicers I have seen, are fascinating to watch. The utter control of every millimeter of their bodies and face, the refinement of their movements, the total clarity of the placement of each limb and adjustment of weight within the body, are astounding. To this, Sawamura adds an extraordinarily expressive face that suggests flickers of wit, sadness, irony, fear, pleasure, even naughtiness.”


Taylor’s Tales

Laura Halzack and Michael Trusnovec in Paul Taylor's "Beloved Renegade," from 2009. Photo by Paul B Goode.
Laura Halzack and Michael Trusnovec in Paul Taylor’s “Beloved Renegade,” from 2009. Photo by Paul B Goode.

On March 13, I saw a Paul Taylor program consisting of: Cascade, To Make Crops Grow, and Beloved Renegade. Here is my review for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt:

“This year’s premières are like a negative image of what came before. Perpetual Dawn, which opened last week, is a happy couples dance, set to generically upbeat music by the German baroque composer, Johann David Heinichen. Lovers frolic, embrace, chase after each another in a bucolic setting. Even the lone single girl (Michelle Fleet) eventually finds a man. Then there is To Make Crops Grow, which I saw for the first time last night. It turns out to be a rather creepy fable about society’s willingness to sacrifice one of its own to satisfy some sort of higher law – order, convention?”

Paul Taylor, Modern Master

Paul Taylor's "Beloved Renegade," from 2009.
Paul Taylor’s “Beloved Renegade,” from 2009.

Last year I wrote a profile of Paul Taylor for The Nation. I was trying to get at what exactly is so special about his work, and found that, in fact, he is a very difficult choreographer to categorize, mainly because he has so many different “modes.” He’s always changing, and yet, when you see a Taylor piece, you always know it’s his. What fascinates me most is the perversity of his imagination. How many times I’ve sat in a theatre and thought, “what is this?” Taylor’s mind is endlessly perplexing. And then there is the absolute simplicity and “rightness” of a work like Esplanade. For which there is no need for explanation.

Here’s a link to that profile.

And a short excerpt:

“Another feature of Aureole (and of many of Taylor’s best-known works) is its easygoing, quirky musicality. Taylor listens to music constantly—the radio is always on in his house, says his biographer, Suzanne Carbonneau—but he doesn’t read musical scores or treat them with particular reverence. It is a frequent practice of his to splice together movements from different pieces (as in Aureole and Esplanade) or even to layer sounds on top of one another (as in Cloven Kingdom). And he uses all kinds of music, from popular songs to Muzak to Beethoven quartets, barrel organs, Bach and noisy electronic compositions by Donald York (a onetime musical adviser to the company). The music and movement enter into a kind of dialogue, though Taylor isn’t interested either in fitting steps to music in the traditional sense, or in matching the internal structure of the music with his dance phrases—an approach he calls “Mickey Mousing” the music, with Balanchine having been a particular offender. As he writes of one of his early works, Junction, he wants the music and the dance to be “like chums whose compatibility is so strong that they even have the right to ignore each other.”


Paul Taylor, Back at Lincoln Center

Aileen Roehl and Amy Young in Paul Taylor's "Junction." Photo by Paul B Goode.
Aileen Roehl and Amy Young in Paul Taylor’s “Junction.” Photo by Paul B Goode.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company opened its second season at Lincoln Center with a gala performance. For once it wasn’t the usual “best-of” compilation, but a typically eccentric Paul Taylor quadruple bill. You can read my review here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“The surprise of the evening (for me) was the closer, Offenbach Overtures (1995). The last time I saw this dance, several years back, it struck me as forced and cartoonish. This time it won me over completely. Has it changed or have I? Set to appealing Offenbach polkas and waltzes and costumed (by Loquasto) in simplified versions of soldier uniforms (including mustaches) and chorine outfits straight out of Toulouse Lautrec (all red), the piece pokes fun at ballet, at puffed-up nineteenth-century European conventions, at operetta, at heterosexual coupling.”