“Honestly, I just can’t stand seeing productions of the classics any more, because I know how far it is from Petipa’s intentions,” Alexei Ratmansky told me a few months back, when we began discussing preparations for his new Sleeping Beauty, based largely on his interpretation of historical sources. He said many other things too. You’ll find them here, in this extensive q&a.
This time of year, it’s hard to keep up with the goings-on in the dance world (particularly ballet). Here is a round-up of recent performances and news:
1. Herman Cornejo and Evgenia Obraztsova performed a touching rendition of Romeo and Juliet at the Met. It was Obraztsova’s début with the company—here’s hoping this new partnership will blossom in coming seasons. Here is a link to my review, for DanceTabs.
2. New York Theatre Ballet, alias “the little company that could,” held its first season in the sanctuary at St. Mark’s Church, its new home. On the program were works by Frederick Ashton, Richard Alston, David Parker, Antony Tudor, and the young choreographer Gemma Bond. The space fits the company beautifully, and the inclusion of live music (piano and voice) made all the difference. Here’s a link to my review, for DanceTabs.
3. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater closed out the season with a Rennie Harris’s moving Exodus (new this season), Robert Battle’s No Longer Silent (a company première), and, of course Revelations. Here’s my review, for DanceTabs.
4. And finally, Julie Kent gave her final performance with ABT, a finely-etched portrait of Juliet in the well-loved Kenneth MacMillan production. As always with this thinking ballerina, every detail was beautifully distinct. It is difficult to imagine works like A Month in the Countrywithout her.
After a few performances of the Romantic classic Giselle, the Mikhailovsky Ballet moved on to far more original fare: the 1932 Flames of Paris, by Vasily Vainonen. Conceived as a thinly-veiled tribute to the October Revolution, the ballet is a celebration of group action, as represented by the company. The ensembles are as important as the soloists, if not more so. Ditto with “character” (i.e. non-classical) dance. The style ranges from Auvergnat clog-dances to 18th-century court dance to Soviet heroism. The story is rip-roaring, more Scarlet Pimpernel than fairy-tale or reverie. Simply put, it’s great fun, and fascinating to see a ballet in a style we never see nowadays. (Though, in its own way, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice is not far off.)
The Mikhailovsky Ballet had its New York début this week in Giselle. Opening night was led by a starry cast: Natalia Osipova and Leonid Sarafanov. Here’s my review of that performance, as well as the one at the following matinée, with Anastasia Soboleva and Victor Lebedev as Giselle and Albrecht. Soboleva is a find.
I think it’s safe to say that no-one dances Don Quixote like the Bolshoi. The ballet is shallow, it’s showy, but, particularly in the first act, its exuberance is a kind of paean to the art form itself, the joy of the stage, the stirring effect of dozens of bodies moving with the kind of amplitude and produced by years and years of training. Here’s my review of one of the Bolshoi casts, for DanceTabs.
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.”
Just saw “The Old Woman” at BAM, a folie-à-deux (Baryshnikov + Willem Dafoe) directed by that jolly old minimalist Bob Wilson. Here’s my review for DanceTabs. It’s showing at BAM through June 29.
A year ago I got to meet one of my childhood idols, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and interview him about his art collection. My heart stopped a little bit each time he opened his mouth to say something. It was, and still is, a highlight of my writing life. Here’s the piece that came out of that conversation.
And one of my favorite works from his collection, Nikolai Lapshin’s Novgorod.