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Something Old, Something New

Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette with the company in Justin Peck's <I>Everywhere We Go</I>.<br />© Paul Kolnik. (Click image for larger version)

Here’s my review of the Saturday matinee at New York City Ballet, including débuts by Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen  in Balanchine’s Chaconne and my second look at Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go, from last season.

And a short excerpt: “[Everywhere We Go] begins well, with a striking duet for two men, or rather for a man and his shadow. This shadowing theme suffuses the rest of the ballet, particularly the complicated relationship between principals and corps. Peck constantly subverts the hierarchies of lead dancers and ensemble. Dancers melt in and out of larger formations; at times the shadow figures become the main event. Peck’s configurations for the ensemble are often asymmetrical, non-frontal, kaleidoscopic, but never less than clear.”

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.”

So many ballets, so many dresses…

New York City Ballet put on its fall gala on Tuesday, with three new works by Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, and Troy Schumacher (this was Schumacher’s first for the company.) I reviewed the program for DanceTabs, here.

Here’s a short excerpt:

“It’s as pointless to complain about ballet galas as it is to grumble about the weather. They serve a purpose – replenishing the cash drawer – and they keep the plutocrats happy. For the rest of us, there are the new works to look forward to, often unveiled en masse at the opening of the season….As in previous seasons, fashion was the [gala’s] subtext. Each choreographer was paired with a designer whose eye, at least in principle, was called upon to enhance the work. That these designs also create buzz in fashionable circles just adds to their appeal.

A few shots of those dresses:

Justin Peck's Belles-Lettres with designs by Mary Katrantzou. Photo credit Paul Kolnik
Justin Peck’s Belles-Lettres with designs by Mary Katrantzou. Photo credit Paul Kolnik

 

ler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Liam Scarlett's Funérailles, with designs by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Photo credit Paul Kolnik
Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Liam Scarlett’s Funérailles, with designs by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Photo credit Paul Kolnik

 

Sara Mearns and Ask la Cour in Peter Martins' Morgen, with designs by Carolina Herrera. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Sara Mearns and Ask la Cour in Peter Martins’ Morgen, with designs by Carolina Herrera. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Movin’ on Up

Next week, at the New York City Ballet gala (Sept. 23), the young choreographer Troy Schumacher will see his work performed by his home company for the first time. (Schumacher dances in the corps.) I’ve been following his work for a while; he’s an interesting and thoughtful guy, and determined as hell. I wrote this feature on him for the Times’ Arts and Leisure (officially out on Sunday). There’s some background on him—his approach to choreography and collaboration, his fascination with dancers and the way they move, and his commitment to contemporary music.

And if you’re hungry for more, here’s a long interview with Schumacher from last year.

Dancers at rest, by Troy Schumacher
Dancers at rest, by Troy Schumacher

 

 

At the Delacorte, Dancing in the Mist

Ron Prime Tyme Myles in Bend in the Road, by Tammy Shell
Ron Prime Tyme Myles in Bend in the Road, by Tammy Shell

 

The fall season begins. As a preview to its October run, Fall for Dance held two performances at the Delacorte this weekend. Saturday’s show had to be postponed for a day because of rain—a hazard—but the weather on the rain date, Sunday, was glorious: crisp, crystalline. Planes flew overhead, blinking their lights in salute. The program, consisting of Hubbard Street, two dancers from City Ballet, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance company, and a group gathered by Damian Woetzel, had its highs and lows. Here’s my review of the evening, for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt:

“The most heart-felt, and probably the finest, piece of the evening was Bill T. Jones’s D-Man in the Waters (Part I), danced by his marvelously eclectic company. These dancers look like a cross-section of humanity, and they move that way as well. The piece, set to Mendelssohn’s propulsive Octet – played by the Orion String Quartet plus four – is an anthem, a cry of defiance against death; it was made in 1989, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, as a member of Jones’s company was dying of the disease. ”

A moment from D-Man in the Waters, by Bill T. Jones. Photo by Tammy Shell.
A moment from D-Man in the Waters, by Bill T. Jones. Photo by Tammy Shell.

 

NYCB dancers Amar Ramasar and Maria Kowroski in Forsythe's Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux. By Tammy Shell. NYCB, FFD2014, by Tammy Shell
NYCB dancers Amar Ramasar and Maria Kowroski in Forsythe’s Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux. By Tammy Shell.

 

 

Conductors Make the World Go ‘Round

Ever wonder what goes on in the pit while ballerinas leap and spin upon the stage? Well, now you’ll know. I wrote an article about conducting for dance, a subject that has always fascinated me, for the Times. It will appear on Sunday, Aug. 3, in the Arts and Leisure section. (If you receive the weekend paper, you’ll get in on Saturday). Meanwhile, it’s already online.

 

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.”

 

Everywhere He Goes

On May 8, New York City Ballet  held its spring gala, marking fifty years since the opening of the State Theatre. Along with a toast, a short film, and a song from “Carousel,” the evening included two ballets: Balanchine’s whirling “Allegro Brillante” and the première of Justin Peck’s new “Everywhere We Go.”

Here‘s my review, for DanceTabs:

And a short excerpt:

“Peck has the mind of a mathematician; he finds ways to subdivide the stage and keep the eye continually guessing. Shapes appear momentarily and dissolve, only to reappear again somewhere else. Soloists weave in and out of the ensemble. The body is also subdivided in surprising ways: sometimes only the arms move, in complex phrases combining staccato and stretched combinations; other times, just the torso, or just legs.”

 

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.”