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Ángel Corella Bids Adieu; Isabella Boylston Dances her First Swan (DanceTabs)

On June 27, the loveable Ángel Corella took his last bow with American Ballet Theatre, after a final “Swan Lake,” with Paloma Herrera as his partner. The following day, the young soloist Isabella Boylston had her début in the same ballet. I reviewed both performances here.
A short excerpt:

“By the final scene, the man underneath was beginning to supplant the character. Corella’s final embrace of Odette was that of a loving brother and partner: “I’ll miss you so much!” he was telling Herrera, the woman. His parting leap was no spectacular swan dive, but a simple exit, over the cliff and into his new life. He knew it was time to go, and he did with the grace and modesty for which he is loved.”

Paris Opera Ballet Presents its Wares (DanceTabs)

In July, the Paris Opéra Ballet came to NY, where it offered three programs, including one in which it presented three works from the twentieth century: Serge Lifars’s Suite en Blanc, Roland Petit’s L’Arlesienne, and, most fun, Maurice Béjart’s Bolero. You can read my DanceTabs review here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“No-one knows how to whip an audience into a lather quite like Béjart. His Boléro is a triumph of erotic kitsch, a lap dance in the guise of high art. At the center of the stage stands a red table, upon which a shirtless man pulses his legs forward and back, while slowly raising his arms, hands like cobra heads, then rubs his chest and thighs, staring out at the audience suggestively all the while. He puts his hand under his chin, as if blowing kisses, frames his crotch with his palms, pulses his bare and increasingly sweaty chest. Who can resist?”

Paris Opera’s Giselle (DanceTabs)

In July, the Paris Opéra Ballet came to NY, where it presented three programs, including Giselle. You can link to my DanceTabs review here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“The costumes, realized by Claudie Gastine, are also beautiful, especially those for the wilis. Sumptuous, full, long skirts with layer upon layer of tulle so light it could fly off by itself; soft, ruched bodices with puffy sleeves and deep décolletés exposing miles of soft white flesh, tiny diaphanous wings and crowns of flowers for the hair. The arrival of the wilis takes one’s breath away.”

That Nureyev Style (The Nation)

A piece from 2007, on that special Nureyev touch. You can link to it here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“What was so special about Nureyev? Americans, especially younger Americans (like myself), are more acquainted with Baryshnikov and his altogether different gifts….His entire body was involved in every movement, whether small or large; more important, as Kavanagh writes, in his dancing “the virtuoso steps were only transitions in an overarching dance picture.” His feather-light jumps, pristine footwork and multiple turns made one gasp, and yet did not call attention to themselves; they simply seemed so easy, so obvious, the logical continuation or culmination of a phrase or an idea. There was an intrinsic purity to his movement that was the opposite of showiness. Understatement was in fact a crucial part of his brilliance….Nureyev was an altogether different kind of dancer. Not that he was not a virtuoso. His jumps were breathtaking, even on video, reaching both enormous elevation and breadth in space but also achieving a heart-stopping slowness. He appeared to hover in midair; he collapsed space. Watching his performances in Giselle and Le Corsaire on video makes me sad not to have been there to see him perform in his prime, when his exceptionally pliant and deep plié allowed him, as Kavanagh puts it, to “rebound in space and sit there, for several seconds.” (Kavanagh’s descriptions of dance reveal a deep affinity for the form–she trained in ballet and has been a dance critic for the Spectator as well as the London editor of both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. She has the knack for making you “see” what a step looked like.)”

Alexei Ratmansky Comes to NY (from The Nation)

A piece in The Nation from 2009, when Ratmansky announced he was joining  American Ballet Theatre. See the piece here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“But perhaps the biggest surprise of the ballet was Olga’s fiancé, danced on the first night by David Hallberg. If the other characters are one-dimensional, he is even more so, yet Ratmansky gives him two of the ballet’s most vivid moments….At the end of the party, the fiancé stands alone in the center of the stage and explodes with frustration: he turns on his own axis and jumps with one long leg out to the side, then does a series of small leaps in a circle, jumps from side to side and hops backward, kicking one leg forward over and over. He swings his arms uncontrollably. He stares at the ground, then at the audience. The stage fills with his disappointment. 
”Why is this happening to me?” he is saying, and we feel it in our bones. Ratmansky clearly saw a wildness in Hallberg–usually a gentle, noble dancer–that he wanted to set free, and did.”


Dear future readers. I have finally entered the digital age with the creation of this blog.  I ask for your indulgence, considering my slow learning curve. Mainly, I intend to gather together pieces written here and there, and perhaps to include some additional thoughts that seem to fit nowhere else.

Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Happy reading…

On the Bright Stream (Playbill)

From Playbill.

A short excerpt: “The Bright Stream, which is set during a harvest festival on a collective farm in the Caucasus and has a cast of characters that includes milkmaids, dancers in drag, a tractor driver, and a doddering “inspector of quality,” is not meant to be taken too seriously. The ostensible “message” of the ballet is the enthusiasm of “the people” for the birth of a productive new society in which decadent behavior is scorned. But…it is quite obvious from the beginning that such elevated ideals are merely the pretext for a funny story about romantic goings-on on a farm in late summer when a pair of attractive ballet dancers comes to perform at the harvest festival. The result is a romantic farce worthy of Marivaux, with secret rendezvous, mistaken identities, and a dancer who disguises himself as a dog in order to defend a virtuous young schoolgirl.”

The End: The Merce Cunningham Dance Company Takes its Final Bow (The Nation)

An older piece, on the closing of the Merce Cunningham Company and what it means for the future of the Cunningham rep, from The Nation.

Here’s a short excerpt:

“How had it come to this? The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which since 1953 has fundamentally altered some of the most basic precepts of dance…is not a victim of the crummy economy or of evolving tastes. Nor is it the casualty of a struggle over ownership of the repertory, which was nearly the case with Martha Graham’s troupe. Cunningham, the company’s founder and raison d’être, died in the summer of 2009 at 90, one month after the death of Pina Bausch, the director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal. But whereas Bausch’s dancers are soldiering on, Cunningham’s company has come to a calculated end, one formulated over several years by the company’s administration and board, approved by the choreographer and announced one month before his death.”

Pina Bausch Rethinks the Legend of Orpheus (DanceTabs)

Read it here, in DanceTabs.

An Excerpt:

“I had to re-read the libretto when I got home in order to make sense of what I had just seen. Bausch eliminates context, and subdivides the scenes into abstract thematic chunks: “mourning,” “violence,” “peace,” and “death.” The themes are relatively clear, but the underlying narrative and internal monologues of the characters are not….Without an understanding of the specifics of the text, one aria tends blends into the next….Many details were lost; it was not  clear at what point Orpheus entered the underworld, or how, exactly, he managed to wangle his way to Eurydice’s resting place in the first place. Other mysteries: why, in the Underworld, is there a woman clutching a giant loaf of bread and another who reaches, endlessly, for an apple on a string?”