A few thoughts on the Mariinsky’s Cinderella, created for the company by Alexei Ratmansky in 2002.
The Yale departments of drama and music and “Yale in New York” teamed up for a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat at Zankel Hall, a bitter story that perfectly captures the hopelessness felt in Europe after the end of the First World War. Stravinsky was eking out a meager existence at the time (1918), separated from his former life and his bank accounts by war and revolution. He turned to a format he know from his childhood, the fairground theatrical, creating a lean, acidic little story. What’s surprising is how timely it still feels. The Yale players performed it well; the new choreography, by Emily Coates, was well-suited to the tale, and the young actors flung themselves into the tricky, folk-inflected steps. You can read my review for DanceTabs here.
Once again, Works and Process is putting on Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. This year’s show is more elaborate than previous incarnations, with a full staging by Isaac Mizrahi, and choreography by John Heginbotham (formerly of the Mark Morris Dance Group). Mizrahi has put together quite a cast, including his friends Maira Kalman as the duck, and Gus Solomons, Jr. as the Grandfather.
Here’s my review, for DaneTabs.
And a short excerpt:
“But – and here lies its lasting power – it doesn’t talk down to its audience, musically or dramatically. The harsh realities of life are not papered over with saccharine melodies or unrealistically happy endings. The duck dies as a result of her foolishness. Near the end, we are reminded of her plight as we hear her unhappy quacking in the wolf’s belly. And Peter is told, rightly, that he, too, could have died.”
The San Francisco Ballet ended its run with a week of performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s new Cinderella. As I write in this review for DanceTabs, it’s a handsome work, but not completely satisfying dramatically. The designs, by Julian Crouch, are supremely elegant, as is Wheeldon’s choreography. But Prokoviev’s score is tricky and episodic, and the ballet doesn’t manage to transcend these difficulties or really touch the heart. Still, it’s a great showcase for the company’s strong, polished dancers.
Program two included works by Mark Morris (Beaux), Alexei Ratmansky (From Foreign Lands), Edwaard Liang (Symphonic Dances) and Yuri Possokhov (Classical Symphony). Thinking about it, I realize that both Beaux and From Foreign Lands represent the un-Wayne McGregor: subtle, quiet, deceptively laid back. They invite you into their world and encourage you to lean in rather than overwhelm you with virtuosity and visual stimulation. Perhaps for this very reason, they did not elicit much response from the audience. Applause was polite at best. But they were the heart of the evening.
As part of the Season of Cambodia festival in New York, the Khmer Arts Ensemble performed Sophiline Cheam Shapiro’s “A Bend in the River” at the Joyce. Shapiro’s dance-drama draws upon the traditions of Cambodian Classical Dance—elegant shapes, refined hand gestures, codified positions—and combines them with a story drawn from folklore and an original score that extends the range of the pin peat orchestra. Like Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, it is a story told on many levels: through narration, music, and movement. You can read my review for DanceTabs here.
And here’s a short excerpt: “Once in a while, a real modernizer comes along and shakes things up more radically. In the realm of Cambodian dance, it is Sophiline Cheam Shapiro….In past works she has combined the vocabulary of classical Cambodian dance…to stories like The Magic Flute and music by Western composers, including the New York experimentalist, John Zorn….With A Bend in the River…she has come up with a hybrid form that needs no justification.”
The final performances of the company’s New York run were devoted to Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette. Here‘s my review, for DanceTabs.
And a short excerpt:
“The ballet is laced with repetitive motifs that do nothing to advance the plot or provide insight into the interior lives of the characters. Do we really need not one but two foreshadowings of Romeo’s death? And two scenes in which Juliet’s nurse is squeezed and prodded by Romeo’s friends? All this is hammered home with great emphasis; no emotion is left un-amplified.”