On April 22, the Mark Morris Dance Group returns to BAM with two programs of new works, including Morris’s take on The Rite of Spring, which he calls Spring, Spring, Spring. If you want to know why, check out my preview feature for the Times:
Christopher Wheeldon’s new musical An American in Paris opens on Broadway on April 12. I spoke with him about the challenges of adapting the movie for the stage for this piece, and also to Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope. Curious?
And finally, a review of two flamenco shows, Soledad Barrio and Olga Pericet, at Joe’s Pub and the Repertorio Español. About as different as two flamenco shows can be.
Here’s my review of the Jan. 20 and Jan. 22 programs at New York City Ballet, which included six works by Balanchine: Serenade, Agon, Symphony in C, Donizetti Variations, La Valse, and Chaconne. Not bad for two nights at the ballet.
A little excerpt:
“These Balanchine evenings quickly establish the company’s core values: musicality, speed, lightness of touch, spaciousness, style. They also impress upon the audience the vast range of balletic modes in which the choreographer worked…. The ballets are not only worlds in themselves but, taken as a group, they seem to encompass most of ballet.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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. ”
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.”
“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.”
I interviewed the members of the old-time string-band Carolina Chocolate Drops as well as Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild for this piece on Twyla Tharp’s new dance suite set to five of the Drops’ songs.The dance premièred at BAM last week (unfortunately I was out of town). The band has a wonderfully down-home, and yet modern sound, and they’re excellent musicians. Each of them plays several instruments, from fiddle to banjo to various kinds of percussion and jug. Rhiannon Giddens, the informal leader of the group, has a strong, intelligent singing style (she trained as an opera singer). And of course their kind of music is right up Twyla Tharp’s alley.
My first review of New York City Ballet’s winter season is out today on DanceTabs. It’s never a bad idea to start of a season with an all-Balanchine program, especially if it includes “Concerto Barocco,” a microcosm of musicality and modernity. The company seems to be in good form. Here’s a short excerpt from the review:
“We see and hear each of its moving parts, understand the transitions, and notice the way certain phrases, like a repeated hop on pointe followed by a small bow, or a courtly Baroque dance step, return from one movement to the next, leading to a logical, almost inevitable conclusion….And yet, for all its concern with structure, the ballet reads as pure, sublimated meaning and emotion.”
Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement, is back at New York City Ballet. And what a ballet it is: witty, intelligent, sophisticated, joyous, bubbling over with steps. If you haven’t seen it, you should. (It will be performed again on the evening of Oct. 10, and Oct. 12 at 2.)
I review it here, for DanceTabs. And here is a short excerpt from that review: “Some ballets improve with age, or, to be more accurate, our eye evolves and we learn to see them better. I remember being befudled at the New York City Ballet première of Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement in 2010. By the second viewing, I had started to warm to its oddball charm. And by the end of that season, I was smitten. Tonight, revisting this ballet for the first time in three years, it was clear that it is the best new work the company has commissioned since, well, Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH (2008).”