Spartacus!

Mikhail Lobukhin in Yuri Grigorovich's "Spartacus." Photo by Elena Fetisova.
Mikhail Lobukhin in Yuri Grigorovich’s “Spartacus.” Photo by Elena Fetisova.

 

To conclude its Lincoln Center run, the Bolshoi performed its indefatigable Yuri Grigorovich production of Spartacus, the ultimate man-fest. In one sailing trajectory after another, Mikhail Lobukhin, our leading man, was a paragon of Bolshoi manliness and virtue. By the end, you just wanted to kiss him and make it better. Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt: “It’s perfectly understandable why the company has continued to dance Spartacus over the years, especially on tour….In the absence of a compelling vision, the Bolshoi can always rely on Spartacus to whip the audience into a frenzy.”

 

Jewels, Jewels, Jewels

As the Pennsylvania Ballet performs Rubies from Balanchine’s evening-length Jewels at the Vail International Dance Festival, here’s a little essay I wrote for the Vail program:

Jewel Tones

George Balanchine, Mimi Paul, Violette Verdy, Patricia McBride, and Suzanne Farrell, circa 1967. Photo by Edward Pfizenmaier.
George Balanchine, Mimi Paul, Violette Verdy, Patricia McBride, and Suzanne Farrell, circa 1967. Photo by Edward Pfizenmaier.

 

 

Ballet as Pop Art

Maria Alexandrova in Bolshoi Ballet's production of Don Quixote. Photo by Damir Yusupov.
Maria Alexandrova in Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Don Quixote. Photo by Damir Yusupov.

I think it’s safe to say that no-one dances Don Quixote like the Bolshoi. The ballet is shallow, it’s showy, but, particularly in the first act, its exuberance is a kind of paean to the art form itself, the joy of the stage, the stirring effect of dozens of bodies moving with the kind of amplitude and produced by years and years of training. Here’s my review of one of the Bolshoi casts, for DanceTabs.

Swan Problems

Svetlana Zakharova and DAvid Hallberg in hte Bolshoi's "Swan Lake." Photo by Stephanie Berger.
Svetlana Zakharova and DAvid Hallberg in hte Bolshoi’s “Swan Lake.” Photo by Stephanie Berger.

What is it with Swan Lake? There don’t see to be any good ones around. The Bolshoi’s version, currently being performed as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, is no exception. Here’s my review, for DanceTabs. And a short excerpt:

“What the company hasn’t brought this time around is any new choreography. It’s rather a disappointment. Instead, we get three of its most well-worn ballets – Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Spartacus. It is even more disappointing that the troupe should open its run with a Swan Lake so lackluster that it fails to improve upon the two sub-par Swan Lakes we see here regularly, at ABT and at New York City Ballet.”

 

Anne Teresa de Keermaeker’s Mean Girls

The Lincoln Center Festival is presenting a retrospective of the Belgian choreographer’s early works. Last night, I saw her Rosas Danst Rosas, a dance that has been canonized as one of the milestones of contemporary choreography. The film version, by Thierry de Mey, has been viewed and imitated thousands of times, including, most recently, by  Beyoncé. To me, the dance has a distinctly “mean girls” vibe—four adolescents, stuck in a kind of  study-hall purgatory.  Here’s my review of the piece, for DanceTabs.

 

Photo by Herman Sorgeloos
Photo by Herman Sorgeloos

Serenade, 1957

This 1957 recording of Balanchine’s Serenade, filmed in Montreal, has come my way. The cast is really extraordinary: Diana Adams, Patricia Wilde, Yvonne Mounsey, Jacques d’Amboise, and Herbert Bliss. It’s a little cramped, but so exciting, and SO FAST! Adams’ performance is pure emotion; Wilde’s airy jump emanates joy and energy; Jacques d’Amboise is full of drama. The whole performance is very rich.

Screen shot of 1957 Montreal performance of Serenade, with Diana Adams
Screen shot of 1957 Montreal performance of Serenade, with Diana Adams