“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.
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.
New York City Ballet is performing an all-French program this week, with ballets by Liam Scarlett (Acheron), Jerome Robbins (Aftenoon of a Faun), and Balanchine (Walpurgisnacht Ballet and La Valse). Here’s my review for DanceTabs.
And a short excerpt: “Two of the works on the program (Afternoon of a Faun and La Valse) were created for the ballerina Tanaquil LeClercq, Balanchine’s third wife, struck with Polio at the age of twenty-seven, and now the subject of a moving documentary, Afternoon of a Faun. LeClercq’s dramatic intelligence, sense of chic, and air of knowingness – she was half-French, born in Paris – hover over the evening.”
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.
I had a brief chat with ABT’s music director, Ormsby Wilkins, about the recently rediscovered Benjamin Britten orchestration of Les Sylphides that the company is using this season. How is it different from the one they were using before, by Roy Douglas? On first hearing I found it lighter, more classical, with more detailed voices. But I wondered whether the differences went deeper. You can link to the conversation here.
On June 27, I saw “A Dancer’s Dream,” at the new York Philharmonic. The program was a collaboration between the orchestra and the production company Giants Are Small and included two Stravinsky ballets (Baiser de la Fée and Petrushka) and a piece for piano four hands by Louis Durey. Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar, of New York City Ballet, performed, amid puppets, projections, and cameos by the orchestra players. And while the concept didn’t completely work (especially in Baiser), the rendition of Petrushka was so vibrant that the evening came alive. Here’s a link to my review, for DanceTabs.”Toy toboggans careened down miniature mountains, onion domes danced, a Russian toy chicken pecked its wooden platform…The musicians too got in on the action, performing little cameos for the camera (like drinking tea from a samovar). At one point, a violinist lay down her instrument and proceeded to juggle colored scarves, perfectly on the beat, and did a Russian dance to boot.”