Mikhailovsky Triple

Angelina Vorontsova and Ivan Vasiliev in Le Halte de Cavalerie. Photo courtesy of the Mikhailovsky Theatre.
Angelina Vorontsova and Ivan Vasiliev in Le Halte de Cavalerie. Photo courtesy of the Mikhailovsky Theatre.

On Nov. 18-19, the Mikhailovsky performed a triple bill, consisting of Petipa’s 1896 one-act La Halte de Cavalerie, Asaf Messerer’s Class Concert, and Nacho Duato’s Prelude. I reviewed the program for DanceTabs. Here’s a short excerpt:

“The idea behind the triptych is to show three aspects of the company’s style: the classicism and character dance of Petipa; the technical pizzazz of mid-twentieth-century Soviet dance, the eccentricities and atmospherics of contemporary movement. None of the pieces is a masterpiece. However, Petipa’s Halte de Cavalerie, made in 1896, is certainly a charmer, a brainless little farce set to forgettable but lively music by the specialist composer Ivan Ivanovich Armsheimer, with lots of pretty dancing and even more clowning around.”

Ashton in Sarasota

Sarasota Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations. © Frank Atura.
Sarasota Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations.
© Frank Atura.

I’m just back from the Ashton festival at Sarasota Ballet, a four-day tribute to the choreographer. Under the directorship of Iain Webb, the company has been undergoing a major expansion over the past few years. By any measure, the festival was a big success, with strong performances, expressive dancing, and a powerful sense of style and common purpose.

You can read my review for DanceTabs here.

And a short excerpt: “The advantage of putting all these ballets on the stage in quick succession is that the audience begins to see all sorts of interconnections and motifs running through the works. Thus, in Monotones II (1965), there is an echo of the slow trio near the beginning of Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, in which a woman is slowly revolved by two men and shown from all angles, the center of a slow-moving planetary system.”

O Heave!

Michael Grandage's "Billy Budd." Photo by Alastair Muir from "The Telegraph."
Michael Grandage’s “Billy Budd.” Photo by Alastair Muir from “The Telegraph.”


For the Benjamin Britten lovers among you, I wrote this little introduction to the Glyndebourne production of Billy Budd, by Michael Grandage coming to BAM Feb. 7:

Jan 2014 BAMbill Billy Budd Article.

It’s one of Britten’s most stirring works—the music stays with you long after you hear it— and it looks quite a moving production.

A Chat with Ormsby Wilkins

I had a brief chat with ABT’s music director, Ormsby Wilkins, about the recently rediscovered Benjamin Britten orchestration of Les Sylphides that the company is using this season. How is it different from the one they were using before, by Roy Douglas? On first hearing I found it lighter, more classical, with more detailed voices. But I wondered whether the differences went deeper. You can link to the conversation here.

Ballets about Ballet: Les Sylphides and Theme and Variations at ABT

The opening tableau in Les Sylphides. Photo by Gene Schiavone
The opening tableau in Les Sylphides. Photo by Gene Schiavone

At the Saturday matinee, ABT presented a program consisting of Fokine’s Les Sylphides, Stanton Welch’s Clear, and Balanchine’s Theme and Variations. The most interesting aspect was seeing the contrast between Sylphides and Theme. Two sumptuous works about the nature of ballet itself. I reviewed the show here.

A short excerpt: “In many ways these two works illustrate what we think about when we think about ballet. The first is a vaporous homage to the aura of mid-nineteenth century works like La Sylphide and Giselle. The latter, a luminous affirmation of the classical style, specifically the high classicism of the Russian Silver Age and its exemplary ballet, Sleeping Beauty.”

An Island of Order: Richard Alston at Montclair (for Dance Tabs)

On Sunday, I took the bus out to Montclair (New Jersey) to see the Richard Alston Dance company perform Roughcut, Unfinished Business, and A Ceremony of Carols. In this heartbreaking week in which chaos and violence seem to have taken over our world, Alston’s dances were like a tonic, cool and crisp, overflowing with lucidity. Though I find Alston’s work less compelling, than, say, Mark Morris’s or Paul Taylor’s (to mention two choreographers working in a related vein), I admire its construction and intelligence greatly. Here is my review, for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt:

“It’s remarkable how satisfying the old-fashioned virtues of structure and form can be. Richard Alston…is a master builder; he creates islands of order in a chaotic world. (He’s not alone in this, of course, but it is an increasingly rare breed.) Alston is not reinventing the wheel or re-shaping our idea of what the body can do. Even more than Mark Morris or Paul Taylor, he uses and re-uses recognizable steps, many of which can be traced back to a simplified, de-historicized balletic vocabulary.”