Alvin Ailey is dancing at the Koch Theatre in Lincoln Center this week, with its singular mix of exuberance, power, and finesse. Here’s my review of some of the new works (including Robert Moses’ The Pleasure of the Lesson and Wayne McGregor’s Chroma), for DanceTabs.
And a short excerpt: “As a secondary consequence, it has been fascinating to see how these choreographers’ works are in turn transformed by the Ailey dancers. They don’t just do the steps, they mold them to their style and personality.”
The New York Flamenco Festival, in town for its fourteenth edition, opened last night with a Gala Flamenca featuring Antonio Canales, Karime Amaya (grand-niece of Carmen Amaya), Carlos Rodríguez, and Jesús Carmona. It was a well-orchestrated, well-paced show, directed by Ángel Rojas of Nuevo Ballet Español, with a varied mix of solos, pas de deux, and ensembles. Each of the featured performers has a clearly-defined style: Canales’s is blustery and authoritative; Amaya’s austere and monumental; Rodríguez’s clean and showy. But Jesús Carmona, new to the festival, was the show-stopper, a dancer of endless invention and chispa. You’ll find my review for DanceTabs here.
Despite the star turns, though, there was also a lively air of inclusiveness, a sense of everyone being part of an extended family. In one number, the entire cast—musicians, singers, dancers—gathered onstage, around Antonio Canales, and held a kind of party. It was one of the highlights of the night.
My final review of the season is of three premières at Alvin Ailey (by Aszure Barton, Bill T. Jones, and Wayne McGregor). The company, under the still-new leadership of Robert Battle, is looking great. Here‘s my review.
And a short excerpt:
“But what is in a way even more striking is how the repertory [Battle] chooses – often, it must be said, by trendy choreographers – is transformed by the Ailey dancers, with their combination of individuality and collaborative spirit. Despite registering strongly as individual personalities, they are equally involved with each other onstage; like the members of a family, each dancer has his role to play. And one can feel the dancers’ hunger for new challenges – I have yet to see a less than full-throttle performance, even when a choreographer’s style does not quite fit the company’s technique, as with Paul Taylor’s Arden Court last year.”
As American Ballet Theatre’s fall season at the State Theatre comes to an end, I put together some thoughts for DanceTabs about some of the seasons’ high points, especially a dramatic performance of José Limon’s Moor’s Pavane (with Roman Zhurbin in the role of the Moor), a very touching Month in the Country, and the return of Piano Concerto #1 from last season.
Here’s a short excerpt: “The Nov. 7 cast of Month in the Country was particularly felicitous. Julie Kent’s portrayal of Natalia Petrovna is touching, unstinting in both her vulnerability – her heart seems to literally skip a beat as Guillaume Côté, the handsome tutor, takes her hands in his – and her histrionic, conniving nature….Gemma Bond, as young Vera, is equally multi-hued, if not quite so profound: sweet and eager in the opening scene, desperate and determined to get her way in her pas de deux with Beliaev, and furiously righteous – as only an adolescent wronged can be – when she discovers Petrovna’s dalliance with Beliaev. Côté, on loan from the National Ballet of Canada, was débuting in the role of the tutor, and yet he seemed to instinctually capture the character’s mix of innocence, heedless sensuality, and ardor.”
Here’s my interview with Susan Jones, a ballet mistress at American Ballet Theatre in charge of the corps de ballet. Jones joined ABT in 1970 and stayed for nine years. In that time, she danced every corps role in the rep, plus Lizzie in Fall River Legend, Cowgirl in Rodeo, and a few other choice parts that suited her dramatic side. She quickly showed a skill for remembering steps, which became handy when working with Twyla Tharp on Push Comes to Shove. Baryshnikov made her a ballet mistress, and she never left. This fall, she is re-staging Tharp’s Bach Partita, which hasn’t been done for almost thirty years.
This ambitious new tripartite ballet, set to two symphonies and a piano concerto, all by Shostakovich, had its première at ABT over the weekend. It’s a fine work, sprawling and intense, abstract and full of stories and vivid stage pictures. An huge gift to the company, which shows itself in superb form. Here’s my review for DanceTabs.
And a short excerpt:
“What is most remarkable about the Trilogy is its range, combined with the interweaving of elements from one ballet to the next. Here is a world, Shostakovich’s world as seen by Ratmansky. Each piece has a distinct character, and yet the three clearly come from the same mind, and echo each other in various ways.”
I spoke with Carla Körbes of Pacific Northwest Ballet as she prepared for the company’s New York visit, Feb. 13-16 (at City Center). She’ll be dancing the role of Terpsichore in Balanchine’s “Apollo” and Juliet in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s version of Prokofiev’s ballet. Körbes was just as I had imagined her: laid-back, quick to laugh, warm, completely unguarded. These are some of the qualities that make her such a compelling dancer.
A: As Peter Boal says, the Muses have trained a lot of gods. I think she’s very wise and cool and looks down at Apollo like, “oh, he’s a baby,” but they do have a special connection. You know sometimes you meet someone and it’s just different. A special connection. I love Suzanne’s interpretation; she looks so cool, sort of like “ok little boy, here we go.”