Swans at the Met, Fairies at the Koch

 

Misty Copeland (Odette) and James Whiteside (Prince Siegfried) in Swan Lake.  Photo: Gene Schiavone.
Misty Copeland (Odette) and James Whiteside (Prince Siegfried) in Swan Lake. Photo: Gene Schiavone.

Misty Copeland had her long-awaited New York début in Swan Lake on June 24, with ABT. How did she do? Here’s my review, for DanceTabs.

And here’s my review of the Royal Ballet—visiting New York for the first time in 11 years— in a double-bill at the Koch. The two works were Ashton’s The Dream and Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth.

Marianela Nuñez and Nehemiah Kish in Song of the Earth. Photo by Dave Morgan, courtesy the Royal Opera House
Marianela Nuñez and Nehemiah Kish in Song of the Earth. Photo by Dave Morgan, courtesy the Royal Opera House

 

 

Catching up

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:

Evgenia Obraztsova in <I>Romeo and Juliet</I>.<br />© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)
Evgenia Obraztsova in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.

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.

https://i0.wp.com/cvj1llwqcyay0evy.zippykid.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/gs-herman-cornejo-happy-jump_1000.jpg
Herman Cornejo at the same performance. Photo by Gene Schiavone.

 

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.

New York Theatre Ballet in Anthony Tudor's Dark Elegies.© Yi-Chun Wu. (Click image for larger version)
New York Theatre Ballet in Anthony Tudor’s Dark Elegies. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.

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 Country without her.

Julie Kent, the soul of simplicity, as always. Photo by me.
Julie Kent, the soul of simplicity, as always. Photo by yours truly.

 

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.”

 

A Year Ago…

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.

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Christopher Wheeldon’s New Cinderella, for San Francisco Ballet

Maria Kocketkova as Cinderella, and her four anonymous "helpers." Photo by Erik Tomasson.
Maria Kocketkova as Cinderella, and her four anonymous “helpers.” Photo by Erik Tomasson.

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.

The Splendid Men of San Francisco Ballet

Benjamin Stewart and Pascal Molat in Morris' Beaux. Photo by Erik Tomasson.
Benjamin Stewart and Pascal Molat in Morris’ Beaux. Photo by Erik Tomasson.

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.

Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

 

 

 

Susan Jones, or, the Art of the Ballet Mistress

Susan Jones cooaching "Paquita."
Susan Jones cooaching “Paquita.”

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.

Back to Basics–Balanchine “Black and White” at NYCB

Sterling Hyltin in "Symphony in Three Movements." Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Sterling Hyltin in “Symphony in Three Movements.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.

New York City Ballet went back to basics this week with its “Black and White” program. All Balanchine, all modernist ballets performed in pared-down leotards and tights: The Four Temperaments, Episodes, Duo Concertant, and Symphony in Three Movements. Here’s my review of the evening for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt: “The program, a compilation of modernist ballets set to music by Webern, Hindemith, and Stravinsky that span three decades (1946-1972), is a kind of compendium of the choreographer’s most radical, game-changing esthetic. Its distinctive mix of courtliness, mystery, and eroticism still surprises. Not to mention its musical intelligence, which can make sense of a work as impenetrable – and as seemingly undanceable – as Anton Webern’s pointillist Opus 21 symphony.”

The “Black and White” program repeats on Sept. 28, Oct. 1, Oct. 4, and Oct. 13.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Dances Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette

Carla Körbes and Seth Orza in Roméo et Juliette. Photo by Angela Sterling.
Carla Körbes and Seth Orza in Roméo et Juliette. Photo by Angela Sterling.

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.”