New York City Ballet has been going from strength in a series of all-Balanchine programs. I review ballets with music by Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky here. A short excerpt:
“On the Stravinsky program (Sept. 25), Robert Fairchild returned to Apollo…He has relaxed into this challenging role and is now able to take risks, tilting dangerously (and excitingly) off-balance and pushing the tempo to create moments of surprise and wildness. Like the unruly young god he depicts, Fairchild tests his strengths and weaknesses before us on the stage.”
Race, love, history, Kyle Abraham takes them all head-on in his latest work, The Watershed. I review it here, for DanceTabs.
A short excerpt: “How does a choreographer and man of ideas like Kyle Abraham, an artist who identifies himself as a “Black Gay American Man” (and recent Macarthur Fellow) begin to pull apart the layers of his experience while allowing himself the freedom to think, not just about issues, but about form?”
New York City Ballet put on its fall gala on Tuesday, with three new works by Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, and Troy Schumacher (this was Schumacher’s first for the company.) I reviewed the program for DanceTabs, here.
Here’s a short excerpt:
“It’s as pointless to complain about ballet galas as it is to grumble about the weather. They serve a purpose – replenishing the cash drawer – and they keep the plutocrats happy. For the rest of us, there are the new works to look forward to, often unveiled en masse at the opening of the season….As in previous seasons, fashion was the [gala’s] subtext. Each choreographer was paired with a designer whose eye, at least in principle, was called upon to enhance the work. That these designs also create buzz in fashionable circles just adds to their appeal.
Next week, at the New York City Ballet gala (Sept. 23), the young choreographer Troy Schumacher will see his work performed by his home company for the first time. (Schumacher dances in the corps.) I’ve been following his work for a while; he’s an interesting and thoughtful guy, and determined as hell. I wrote this feature on him for the Times’ Arts and Leisure (officially out on Sunday). There’s some background on him—his approach to choreography and collaboration, his fascination with dancers and the way they move, and his commitment to contemporary music.
And if you’re hungry for more, here’s a long interview with Schumacher from last year.
Carla Körbes just announced her retirement at the end of the season. This is terrible news for ballet lovers, especially for those of us who live far from Seattle, her home these last ten years, ever since leaving New York City Ballet for Pacific Northwest. We haven’t seen nearly enough of her. She has such a radiant quality, and such an instinctual musicality, and her manner is so pure and unforced–all qualities that are incredibly rare. More troubling still are her apparent reasons for retiring: “I have done the company lifestyle for 16 years, and ballet has changed. It is evolving, and we’re being pushed in ways that just doesn’t feel like it’s working for me right now,” she told Gia Kourlas in the Times. Could this ever-evolving athleticism be shortening the careers of our great ballerinas? Let’s hope not. In any case, her departure will be a huge loss.
The fall season begins. As a preview to its October run, Fall for Dance held two performances at the Delacorte this weekend. Saturday’s show had to be postponed for a day because of rain—a hazard—but the weather on the rain date, Sunday, was glorious: crisp, crystalline. Planes flew overhead, blinking their lights in salute. The program, consisting of Hubbard Street, two dancers from City Ballet, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance company, and a group gathered by Damian Woetzel, had its highs and lows. Here’s my review of the evening, for DanceTabs.
And a short excerpt:
“The most heart-felt, and probably the finest, piece of the evening was Bill T. Jones’s D-Man in the Waters (Part I), danced by his marvelously eclectic company. These dancers look like a cross-section of humanity, and they move that way as well. The piece, set to Mendelssohn’s propulsive Octet – played by the Orion String Quartet plus four – is an anthem, a cry of defiance against death; it was made in 1989, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, as a member of Jones’s company was dying of the disease. ”
Since I’m not officially reviewing the National Ballet of Canada’s performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland I’ll just say this (after seeing it last night): I think it’s a great show. What I appreciate the most, I think, is the rare combination of lack of pretense and directness with a very very high level of craft and taste and execution. It’s something we don’t see nearly enough of: very high quality (and sophisticated) popular entertainment. That goes for the music (by Joby Talbot), the designs (by Bob Crowley), and the dance. Also, it works so well as a whole, with each element balanced against the others. It’s a little long, a little frenetic at times, and sure, it’s not Ashton’s Cinderella, but it’s very good, and that’s already a lot.