Christopher Wheeldon’s New Cinderella, for San Francisco Ballet

Maria Kocketkova as Cinderella, and her four anonymous "helpers." Photo by Erik Tomasson.
Maria Kocketkova as Cinderella, and her four anonymous “helpers.” Photo by Erik Tomasson.

The San Francisco Ballet ended its run with a week of performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s new Cinderella. As I write in this review for DanceTabs, it’s a handsome work, but not completely satisfying dramatically. The designs, by  Julian Crouch, are supremely elegant, as is Wheeldon’s choreography. But Prokoviev’s score is tricky and episodic, and the ballet doesn’t manage to transcend these difficulties or really touch the heart. Still, it’s a great showcase for the company’s strong, polished dancers.

Houston Ballet comes to NYC

Houston Ballet in Mark Morris's Pacific. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.
Houston Ballet in Mark Morris’s Pacific. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.

Houston Ballet made paid the Joyce Theatre a visit this week, with a mixed bill that included works by Mark Morris (Pacific), Ben Stevenson (Twilight, a pas de deux), Hans van Manen (Solo), and Stanton Welch, the company’s artistic director, (Play).

The company looks great, but the rep peaked with Mark Morris’s Pacific and went downhill from there. Here’s my review, for DanceTabs.

Matthew Bourne and Sleeping Beauty, a Match Made in …Transylvania?

Dominic North (Leo, the gardener) and Liam Mower (as Count Lilac). Photo by Simon Annand.
Dominic North (Leo, the gardener) and Liam Mower (as Count Lilac). Photo by Simon Annand.

With Sleeping Beauty, Bourne completes his Tchaikovsky Trilogy. Not satisfied to delve into its plot, he has reconstructed the story and added some rather surprising supernatural elements. Does it work? Not really. Sleeping Beauty is not an easy work to stage–even ballet companies, following Petipa’s libretto, often fail. But by going hors-piste, Bourne is forced to make increasingly outlandish choices to keep the story on-track. The first act more or less works, but the second goes off the rails. Meanwhil, Tchaikovsky’s music (played in an overloud recording) is more or less trampled. Here’s my review, for DanceTabs.

Dancing in the Dark

Members of Rosas and Graindelavoix in "Cesena." Photo by Stephanie Berger.
Members of Rosas and Graindelavoix in “Cesena.” Photo by Stephanie Berger.

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s Rosas company performed her diptych, En Atendant and Cesena, over the weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The works are a collaboration with the early music ensemble Graindelavoix. In them, De Keersmaeker explores connection between breath and singing and movement. The results are stirring, even spiritual. Here’s my review for DanceTabs. And a short excerpt:

“For all that, the experience of watching En Atendant and Cesena was not an arid one. Instead, the two works managed to build an ascetic aura, like witnessing (or even taking part in) a kind of monastic ritual….The Howard Gilman Opera House was filled with the thrilling polyphonies of a fourteenth-century musical style known as ars subtilior, “the subtle art”….In ars subtilior the voices interweave, creating exciting patterns that never quite settle into a single tonality. With their repetitions, feints, and rhythmic shifts, these pre-Renaissance songs seem to have no beginning, no end. And De Keersmaeker’s dance feels the same.”

The Splendid Men of San Francisco Ballet

Benjamin Stewart and Pascal Molat in Morris' Beaux. Photo by Erik Tomasson.
Benjamin Stewart and Pascal Molat in Morris’ Beaux. Photo by Erik Tomasson.

Program two included works by Mark Morris (Beaux), Alexei Ratmansky (From Foreign Lands), Edwaard Liang (Symphonic Dances) and Yuri Possokhov (Classical Symphony). Thinking about it, I realize that both Beaux and From Foreign Lands represent the un-Wayne McGregor: subtle, quiet, deceptively laid back. They invite you into their world and encourage you to lean in rather than overwhelm you with virtuosity and visual stimulation. Perhaps for this very reason, they did not elicit much response from the audience. Applause was polite at best. But they were the heart of the evening.

Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

 

 

 

San Francisco Ballet Comes to Town

And here’s my review of the first night.

Sofiane Sylve in Christopher Wheeldon's "Ghosts."
Sofiane Sylve in Christopher Wheeldon’s “Ghosts.” Photo by Erik Tomasson.

A little excerpt:

“The company looks to be in top form. Throughout the evening, the dancers moved with real power and drive, plunging into the steps, taking no prisoners. The company style seems to combine the speed and attack of City Ballet with the three-dimensionality and grandeur of American Ballet.”

Not so taken with the last ballet of the evening, Wayne McGregor’s Borderlands: “McGregor seems obsessed with the dancers’ butts and ribcages, both of which are prominently displayed. There is a certain fascination to watching bodies being contorted in awkward, self-consciously ugly, wide-open poses, but, at least for me, the fascination passes quickly, leaving a kind of glazed shellshock.”