Page 2 of 4

Exit Whelan

Wendy Whelan and Alexei Ratmansky in the studio. Photo by Craig Hall.
Wendy Whelan and Alexei Ratmansky in the studio. Photo by Craig Hall.

I wrote a little tribute to Wendy Whelan for the New Yorker’s Culture Blog. You can read it here. This picture is from one of the rehearsals for Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky’s new piece for her farewell performance, on Oct. 18. Wouldn’t miss it.

Ratmansky goes to the Pictures

An image from "Pictures at an Exhibition." Photo by Paul Kolnik.
An image from “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Last night was the première of Alexei Ratmansky’s new “Pictures at an Exhibition”—yes, set to that score—for New York City Ballet. And it’s a good one. You can read my review for DanceTabs here.

And here’s a short excerpt: “At the risk of sounding like a broken record, is there a ballet choreographer working today who is more imaginative, more wholly himself, than Alexei Ratmansky? The images that music awakens in him are often weirdly unexpected, and yet one is so thoroughly drawn into the worlds he creates onstage that surprise quickly turns into a kind of amazed fascination.”

Ratmansky, Amar Ramasar, and Sara Mearns in the studio. By Paul Kolnik
Ratmansky, Amar Ramasar, and Sara Mearns in the studio. By Paul Kolnik
Ratmansky and Gonzalo García. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Ratmansky and Gonzalo García. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

 

Bringing Balanchine Back

Teresa Reichlen in Movements for Piano and Orchestra. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Teresa Reichlen in
Movements for Piano and Orchestra. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

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.”

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.”

 

Two Young Choreographers on the Move: Justin Peck and Troy Schumacher

Last week I attended lecture-dems showcasing the work of two young choreographers, both of whom are also members of New York City Ballet. I wonder what they’re putting in the rosin over there at the StateTheatre, because there really seems to be an upsurge in creativity in the ranks. (But why, still, no women choreographers?) The notion that ballet is a languishing form flies out of the window when one sees their work and hears them talk.

jm-talk-barr-justin-peck-atkinson-stevens-jensen-smile_620
Works & Process talk at the Guggenheim: Ellen Barr, Justin Peck, Michael P. Atkinson, Sufjan Stevens and Karl Jensen. Photo by Jacklyn Meduga for Works & Process at the Guggenheim.

You’ll find a discussion of the two events here, for DanceTabs. And a short excerpt:

“It has now become clear that ballet is undergoing an important evolution, and I’m not referring to the overwrought, effect-laden mannerisms of much of what is referred to as “contemporary ballet.” This is a change that is blossoming within ballet’s own idiom, using the specific skill-set of ballet dancers: jumping, turning, balancing, sliding, skittering on pointe, flickering the legs at warp speed, tipping and extending hyper-articulate bodies.”

A New Sleeping Beauty for ABT

Costume design for a good fairy, by Léon Bakst for the Ballets Russes. See more here: http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/exhibits/diaghilev/iconic_designs/37_3.cfm
Costume design for a good fairy, by Léon Bakst for the Ballets Russes. See more here: http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/exhibits/diaghilev/iconic_designs/37_3.cfm

American Ballet Theatre announced today that for it’s seventy-fifth anniversary season (in 2015) the company will unveil a new staging of Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, with designs by Richard Hudson inspired by the Léon Bakst designs for the Ballets Russes. It will replace the recent Gelsey Kirlkand staging, which was marred by a frankly ghastly sorbet-colored palette and languid pacing. Hudson did the Beidermeier-inspired sets and costumes for Ratmansky’s  Nutcracker as well as those for the Royal Danish Ballet’s recent La Bayadère (set in colonial India).

 

A Fond Farewell—Jenifer Ringer

Final farewells. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Final farewells. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Jenifer Ringer danced her last dance yesterday at New York City Ballet, in a program that combined Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and Balanchine’s tribute to the British Isles, Union Jack. Unsurprisingly she seemed relaxed, dancing with her usual musicality and emotional transparency. Here’s my review of the show, for DanceTabs.

The cast of Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
The cast of Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

I’d love to hear people’s memories of her dancing. I’ll never forget a public coaching of Liebeslieder with Violette Verdy. Dressed in rehearsal clothes, under bright studio lights, Ringer and Jared Angle  conjured a completely enclosed world in which only they existed. After they finished Verdy said simply, “that was perfect, I have nothing to say.”

Jenifer Ringer in Union Jack. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Jenifer Ringer in Union Jack. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Memorable Performances of 2013

It’s that time of year. Looking back, here are fifteen particularly memorable performances from the last twelve months, in no particular order.What were the most memorable performances in your year? I’d love to hear about them.

Dmitry Krymov’s play Opus No. 7, at St. Ann’s Warehouse, a highly choreographed, very physical exploration of history and memory. The second half of the program, Shostakovich, was especially powerful. In it, Krymov (who wrote, designed, and directed) explored the historical role of the great Russian composer, depicting him as a kind of tragic clown, a whimpering, simpering tool of the Soviet state. A devastating portrait of the grotesque compromises history forces upon us. It was all I could do to drag myself out of the theatre at the end.

A link to my review.

Akasha, Shantala Shivalingappa’s latest solo kuchipudi evening, which I caught at the Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven over the summer. Shivalingappa is one of the foremost interpreters of the Southern Indian classical form kuchipudi, a light, fluid dance that brings together storytelling, rhythmic footwork, silvery jumps, and refined, stylized gestures. Throughout the evening Shivalingappa took on different identities: Krishna as a naughty but irresistible child; a young shepherdess, playing her flute; a betrayed lover. But most impressive was her transformation into Bhairava, god of destruction, at the end. This slight, crystalline dancer became a human tornado, with flashing eyes and slicing limbs vibrating in space.

A link to my recent interview with Shivalingappa.

Shivalingappa as Bhairava. Photo by Elian Bachini.
Shivalingappa as Bhairava. Photo by Elian Bachini.

Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy, for American Ballet Theatre: A project Ratmansky has been mulling for years, ever since composing his first ballet to Shostakovich as a ballet student. The pieces – the Ninth Symphony and the Chamber Symphony in C minor, plus the Concerto for Piano and Trumpet – span Shostakovich’s career and represent a cross-section of his musical and temperamental styles. What is most remarkable about the triptych is its range, and the interweaving of ideas from one ballet to the next. Here is a world, Shostakovich’s world as seen by Ratmansky.

Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

And here is a link to a longer piece about the making of the trilogy, and about Ratmansky’s affinity with Shostakovich’s music, for The Nation.

American Ballet Theatre in Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphony #9. © Gene Schiavon
American Ballet Theatre in Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphony #9, the first section of the Shostakovich Trilogy. Photo by Gene Schiavone.

–The return of Ratmansky’s Namouna: A Grand Divertissement, to New York City Ballet. A kind of deconstructed nineteenth-century adventure-story, Namouna is pure, goofy, effervescent pleasure. And the company looks splendid in it.

You can read more about it here.

Tyler Angle, Rebecca Krohn, Sterling Hyltin, and Sara Mearns in "Namouna." Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Tyler Angle, Rebecca Krohn, Sterling Hyltin, and Sara Mearns in “Namouna.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Petrushka, performed at the New York Philharmonic as part of A Dancer’s Dream. The full evening, a collaboration with the Giants Are Small production company, didn’t work (Baiser de la Fée was a mess), but Petrushka was a blast. There were puppets, projections, dancing onion domes, and even a dancing bear on a ball (thank you, Amar Ramasar). The musicians got up and danced as well, made musical jokes, and played Stravinsky’s score with real folk flair. Sara Mearns played the Ballerina Doll, but Ramasar stole the show.

Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

A Bend in the River, by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, performed by the Khmer Arts Ensemble as part of Season of Cambodia. Shapiro’s reinterpretation of classical Cambodian dance brought this ancient, but somewhat remote, art form crashing into the present. The musical score, by Him Sophy, is the first modern composition for traditional pin peat ensemble, a radical extension of its range of colors, dynamics, and rhythmic contrasts. The plot, drawn from folklore, functions both as pure storytelling, as a skeleton for elegant and lively dance sequences, and as an allegory of national reconciliation. A very moving piece of theatre.

Read more here.

Carla Körbes in George Balanchine’s Apollo, performing with Pacific Northwest Ballet at City Center. A luminous, quietly profound performance that made the ballet glow from within. Körbes was the best Terpsichore—the most natural and lyrical—I have seen in person.

Here is a review of that performance. And you’ll find an interview with Körbes here.

Seth Orza and Carla Körbes in Apollo. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.
Seth Orza and Carla Körbes in Apollo. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s En Atendant and Cesena, performed by her company Rosas at BAM. These pieces took me completely by surprise. De Keersmaeker is one of those artists whose work I respect but don’t always enjoy. Her tendency toward repetition and asceticism can be arduous. But in these two pieces, set to polyphonic fourteenth-century music performed by singers who walked onstage among the dancers, the asceticism had a higher, spiritual purpose. The works were like monastic exercises. But singers, and the shifting patterns of their voices, made the experience far from arid.

Here’s a review of the two pieces.

The singers and dancers in Cesena. Photo by Stephanie Berger.
The singers and dancers in Cesena. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

Frederick Ashton’s A Month in the Country, with Julie Kent and Guillaume Côté, at American Ballet Theatre. Based on Turgenev’s play, Ashton’s ballet is about love on a Russian country estate. Masterfully constructed, there is not a wasted moment or gesture. Its heroine, Natalya Petrovna, is a silly, shallow woman, but her suffering is all the more touching because it is so inevitable and trite. Côté, débuting in the role, perfectly embodies the young tutor Petrovna falls for: innocent, handsome, and mindlessly sensual. Kent shows remarkable intelligence and sensitivity—she understands Petrovna inside and out.

Read more here.

Julie Kent in A Month in the Country. Photo by Marty Sohl.
Julie Kent in A Month in the Country. Photo by Marty Sohl.

Sous leurs pieds, le paradis, by the Tunisian dancer/choreographer Radhouane El Meddeb: one of the most oddest, most compelling solo performances I’ve seen. It is set to a recording of an extremely long song, Al-Atlatl, perfumed on a recording by the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. El Meddeb interprets Kulthum’s variations in a his own secret language of the body, gliding around the darkened stage with tiny steps, flickering his hand like a hummingbird, ornamenting his path with mysterious gestures. His body exudes a kind of painful vulnerability.

You can watch a video of the piece here.

Justin Peck’s Paz de la Jolla, for NYCB. The promising young choreographer (who also dances with NYCB) had a break-through with this ballet, set to Martinu’s Sinfonietta La Jolla. I was most struck by the underwater ballet he created in the second movement, a completely unexpected feat of fantasy and craft. Peck has learned a lot from watching and dancing in Ratmansky’s ballets. But he also has a strong, athletic, fresh voice. And he’s not afraid to exploit pointe-work, or partnering, without looking the least bit old- fashioned. In the spring, he’s making a new work to a commissioned score by the indie songwriter Sufjan Stevens.

Here’s a review of Paz de la Jolla.

The finale of Justin Peck’s Paz de la Jolla. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
The finale of Justin Peck’s Paz de la Jolla. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Mark Morris’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato at the White Light Festival. Endless words have been written about this piece, so I won’t add more here. Along with his recent Socrates, it is Morris’s most profound, profoundly human work. The music is sublime. What else is there to say.

Well, I did try to say more here, in this review. And here is my recent profile of Mark Morris for The Nation.

A moment from "L'Allegro." Photo by Kevin Yatarola. Lauren Grant in the background, Maile Okamura in the foreground.
A moment from “L’Allegro.” Photo by Kevin Yatarola. Lauren Grant in the background, Maile Okamura in the foreground.

Lil Buck’s evening at the Le Poisson Rouge was one of the most rollicking evenings of the year. This Memphis Jooker, who became famous via a viral video in which he half-improvised to Saint Saëns’ “dying swan,” danced his heart out to jazz, Stravinsky, Galician bagpipe music, Philip Glass (played by Yo Yo Ma), and Klezmer, along with his cousin Ron “Prime Tyme” Myles. He’s deeply musical and totally willing–even hungry–to try anything. He has said that he considers Yo Yo Ma to be a kindred spirit, and he may be right.

Here’s a review of the evening, and a profile in Dance Magazine.

Lil Buck and Yo Yo Ma. Photo by Erin Baiano.
Lil Buck and Yo Yo Ma. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Paco Peña and Ángel Muñoz, performing with the Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company in Flamenco Vivo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Peña’s guitar-playing is simultaneously epic and intimate; with each solo, he embarks on a voyage of the imagination. Muñoz is a force of nature, and a master of suspense. He looks like he’s improvising, picking up the trail of the music and molding it to his mood, taking the musicians and the audience along for the ride. The combination of these two makes for a great evening of music and dance.

More here.

Shostakovich‘s opera The Nose, at the Metropolitan Opera. Composed when Shostakovich was only twenty-five, this opera is dynamic, wildly original, funny, surreal, full of folk elements and surprises. (I especially loved the folk aria set to balalaika.) It has all the energy and sense of discovery that, for me, Nico Muhly’s Two Boys lacked. A real doozie to sing–my greatest admiration goes to the cast. And the William Kentridge production is pure constructivist eye-candy. The best production I’ve seen at the Met since, well, Khovanshchina.

Tiler Peck’s Dewdrop in The Nutcracker. One of the most exciting performances of the year, and reason enough to revisit this ballet. In fact, this is true of everything Peck dances. With her phenomenal musicality, she makes ballet look like the easiest, most natural thing in the world.

Tiler Peck as Dewdrop in the Waltz of the Flowers. (photo by Paul Kolnik.)
Tiler Peck as Dewdrop in the Waltz of the Flowers. (photo by Paul Kolnik.)

The Inevitable Best-Of List for 2013

It’s that time of year. Looking back, here are fifteen particularly memorable performances from the last twelve months, in no particular order.What were the most memorable performances in your year? I’d love to hear about them.

Dmitry Krymov’s play Opus No. 7, at St. Ann’s Warehouse, a highly choreographed, very physical exploration of history and memory. The second half of the program, Shostakovich, was especially powerful. In it, Krymov (who wrote, designed, and directed) explored the historical role of the great Russian composer, depicting him as a kind of tragic clown, a whimpering, simpering tool of the Soviet state. A devastating portrait of the grotesque compromises history forces upon us. It was all I could do to drag myself out of the theatre at the end.

A link to my review.

Akasha, Shantala Shivalingappa’s latest solo kuchipudi evening, which I caught at the Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven over the summer. Shivalingappa is one of the foremost interpreters of the Southern Indian classical form kuchipudi, a light, fluid dance that brings together storytelling, rhythmic footwork, silvery jumps, and refined, stylized gestures. Throughout the evening Shivalingappa took on different identities: Krishna as a naughty but irresistible child; a young shepherdess, playing her flute; a betrayed lover. But most impressive was her transformation into Bhairava, god of destruction, at the end. This slight, crystalline dancer became a human tornado, with flashing eyes and slicing limbs vibrating in space.

A link to my recent interview with Shivalingappa.

Shivalingappa as Bhairava. Photo by Elian Bachini.
Shivalingappa as Bhairava. Photo by Elian Bachini.

Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy, for American Ballet Theatre: A project Ratmansky has been mulling for years, ever since composing his first ballet to Shostakovich as a ballet student. The pieces – the Ninth Symphony and the Chamber Symphony in C minor, plus the Concerto for Piano and Trumpet – span Shostakovich’s career and represent a cross-section of his musical and temperamental styles. What is most remarkable about the triptych is its range, and the interweaving of ideas from one ballet to the next. Here is a world, Shostakovich’s world as seen by Ratmansky.

Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

And here is a link to a longer piece about the making of the trilogy, and about Ratmansky’s affinity with Shostakovich’s music, for The Nation.

American Ballet Theatre in Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphony #9. © Gene Schiavon
American Ballet Theatre in Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphony #9, the first section of the Shostakovich Trilogy. Photo by Gene Schiavone.

–The return of Ratmansky’s Namouna: A Grand Divertissement, to New York City Ballet. A kind of deconstructed nineteenth-century adventure-story, Namouna is pure, goofy, effervescent pleasure. And the company looks splendid in it.

You can read more about it here.

Tyler Angle, Rebecca Krohn, Sterling Hyltin, and Sara Mearns in "Namouna." Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Tyler Angle, Rebecca Krohn, Sterling Hyltin, and Sara Mearns in “Namouna.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Petrushka, performed at the New York Philharmonic as part of A Dancer’s Dream. The full evening, a collaboration with the Giants Are Small production company, didn’t work (Baiser de la Fée was a mess), but Petrushka was a blast. There were puppets, projections, dancing onion domes, and even a dancing bear on a ball (thank you, Amar Ramasar). The musicians got up and danced as well, made musical jokes, and played Stravinsky’s score with real folk flair. Sara Mearns played the Ballerina Doll, but Ramasar stole the show.

Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

A Bend in the River, by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, performed by the Khmer Arts Ensemble as part of Season of Cambodia. Shapiro’s reinterpretation of classical Cambodian dance brought this ancient, but somewhat remote, art form crashing into the present. The musical score, by Him Sophy, is the first modern composition for traditional pin peat ensemble, a radical extension of its range of colors, dynamics, and rhythmic contrasts. The plot, drawn from folklore, functions both as pure storytelling, as a skeleton for elegant and lively dance sequences, and as an allegory of national reconciliation. A very moving piece of theatre.

Read more here.

Carla Körbes in George Balanchine’s Apollo, performing with Pacific Northwest Ballet at City Center. A luminous, quietly profound performance that made the ballet glow from within. Körbes was the best Terpsichore—the most natural and lyrical—I have seen in person.

Here is a review of that performance. And you’ll find an interview with Körbes here.

Seth Orza and Carla Körbes in Apollo. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.
Seth Orza and Carla Körbes in Apollo. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s En Atendant and Cesena, performed by her company Rosas at BAM. These pieces took me completely by surprise. De Keersmaeker is one of those artists whose work I respect but don’t always enjoy. Her tendency toward repetition and asceticism can be arduous. But in these two pieces, set to polyphonic fourteenth-century music performed by singers who walked onstage among the dancers, the asceticism had a higher, spiritual purpose. The works were like monastic exercises. But singers, and the shifting patterns of their voices, made the experience far from arid.

Here’s a review of the two pieces.

The singers and dancers in Cesena. Photo by Stephanie Berger.
The singers and dancers in Cesena. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

Frederick Ashton’s A Month in the Country, with Julie Kent and Guillaume Côté, at American Ballet Theatre. Based on Turgenev’s play, Ashton’s ballet is about love on a Russian country estate. Masterfully constructed, there is not a wasted moment or gesture. Its heroine, Natalya Petrovna, is a silly, shallow woman, but her suffering is all the more touching because it is so inevitable and trite. Côté, débuting in the role, perfectly embodies the young tutor Petrovna falls for: innocent, handsome, and mindlessly sensual. Kent shows remarkable intelligence and sensitivity—she understands Petrovna inside and out.

Read more here.

Julie Kent in A Month in the Country. Photo by Marty Sohl.
Julie Kent in A Month in the Country. Photo by Marty Sohl.

Sous leurs pieds, le paradis, by the Tunisian dancer/choreographer Radhouane El Meddeb: one of the most oddest, most compelling solo performances I’ve seen. It is set to a recording of an extremely long song, Al-Atlatl, perfumed on a recording by the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. El Meddeb interprets Kulthum’s variations in a his own secret language of the body, gliding around the darkened stage with tiny steps, flickering his hand like a hummingbird, ornamenting his path with mysterious gestures. His body exudes a kind of painful vulnerability.

You can watch a video of the piece here.

Justin Peck’s Paz de la Jolla, for NYCB. The promising young choreographer (who also dances with NYCB) had a break-through with this ballet, set to Martinu’s Sinfonietta La Jolla. I was most struck by the underwater ballet he created in the second movement, a completely unexpected feat of fantasy and craft. Peck has learned a lot from watching and dancing in Ratmansky’s ballets. But he also has a strong, athletic, fresh voice. And he’s not afraid to exploit pointe-work, or partnering, without looking the least bit old- fashioned. In the spring, he’s making a new work to a commissioned score by the indie songwriter Sufjan Stevens.

Here’s a review of Paz de la Jolla.

The finale of Justin Peck’s Paz de la Jolla. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
The finale of Justin Peck’s Paz de la Jolla. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Mark Morris’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato at the White Light Festival. Endless words have been written about this piece, so I won’t add more here. Along with his recent Socrates, it is Morris’s most profound, profoundly human work. The music is sublime. What else is there to say.

Well, I did try to say more here, in this review. And here is my recent profile of Mark Morris for The Nation.

A moment from "L'Allegro." Photo by Kevin Yatarola. Lauren Grant in the background, Maile Okamura in the foreground.
A moment from “L’Allegro.” Photo by Kevin Yatarola. Lauren Grant in the background, Maile Okamura in the foreground.

Lil Buck’s evening at the Le Poisson Rouge was one of the most rollicking evenings of the year. This Memphis Jooker, who became famous via a viral video in which he half-improvised to Saint Saëns’ “dying swan,” danced his heart out to jazz, Stravinsky, Galician bagpipe music, Philip Glass (played by Yo Yo Ma), and Klezmer, along with his cousin Ron “Prime Tyme” Myles. He’s deeply musical and totally willing–even hungry–to try anything. He has said that he considers Yo Yo Ma to be a kindred spirit, and he may be right.

Here’s a review of the evening, and a profile in Dance Magazine.

Lil Buck and Yo Yo Ma. Photo by Erin Baiano.
Lil Buck and Yo Yo Ma. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Paco Peña and Ángel Muñoz, performing with the Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company in Flamenco Vivo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Peña’s guitar-playing is simultaneously epic and intimate; with each solo, he embarks on a voyage of the imagination. Muñoz is a force of nature, and a master of suspense. He looks like he’s improvising, picking up the trail of the music and molding it to his mood, taking the musicians and the audience along for the ride. The combination of these two makes for a great evening of music and dance.

More here.

Shostakovich‘s opera The Nose, at the Metropolitan Opera. Composed when Shostakovich was only twenty-five, this opera is dynamic, wildly original, funny, surreal, full of folk elements and surprises. (I especially loved the folk aria set to balalaika.) It has all the energy and sense of discovery that, for me, Nico Muhly’s Two Boys lacked. A real doozie to sing–my greatest admiration goes to the cast. And the William Kentridge production is pure constructivist eye-candy. The best production I’ve seen at the Met since, well, Khovanshchina.

 

Tiler Peck’s Dewdrop in The Nutcracker. One of the most exciting performances of the year, and reason enough to revisit this ballet. In fact, this is true of everything Peck dances. With her phenomenal musicality, she makes ballet look like the easiest, most natural thing in the world.

Tiler Peck as Dewdrop in the Waltz of the Flowers. (photo by Paul Kolnik.)
Tiler Peck as Dewdrop in the Waltz of the Flowers. (photo by Paul Kolnik.)