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La Grande Bellezza

Vladimir Shishov and Jurgita Dronina as Prince Florimund and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Francesco Squeglia.
Vladimir Shishov and Jurgita Dronina as Prince Florimund and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Francesco Squeglia.

I’m in Rome for a few weeks with my husband, who is singing at the opera here. (This explains why I haven’t been reviewing the ballet season in NYC!) I was lucky enough to have the chance to see Sleeping Beauty at the Rome Opera Ballet, with Jurgita Dronina of the Het National in the role of Aurora. It was a solid performance; not mind-blowing, but well-danced throughout. I had some doubts about Paul Chalmer’s production. It’s a bit vague, short on mime, and rather lacking in characterization. You can read my review, for DanceTabs, here.

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.”

A New Sleeping Beauty for ABT

Costume design for a good fairy, by Léon Bakst for the Ballets Russes. See more here: http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/exhibits/diaghilev/iconic_designs/37_3.cfm
Costume design for a good fairy, by Léon Bakst for the Ballets Russes. See more here: http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/exhibits/diaghilev/iconic_designs/37_3.cfm

American Ballet Theatre announced today that for it’s seventy-fifth anniversary season (in 2015) the company will unveil a new staging of Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, with designs by Richard Hudson inspired by the Léon Bakst designs for the Ballets Russes. It will replace the recent Gelsey Kirlkand staging, which was marred by a frankly ghastly sorbet-colored palette and languid pacing. Hudson did the Beidermeier-inspired sets and costumes for Ratmansky’s  Nutcracker as well as those for the Royal Danish Ballet’s recent La Bayadère (set in colonial India).

 

In the French Manner

Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici in "La Valse." Both will retire at the end of the season. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici in “La Valse.” Both will retire at the end of the season. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

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 New Tempest for ABT

Marcelo Gomes and Daniil Simkin in "The Tempest." Photo by Andrea Mohin.
Marcelo Gomes and Daniil Simkin in “The Tempest.” Photo by Andrea Mohin.

Alexei Ratmansky’s new Tempest premièred at American Ballet Theatre’s fall gala, held at the old State Theatre. Because of the departure (and now closure) of New York City Opera, the theatre is now becoming a magnet for dance companies. ABT is appearing there for the first time since the seventies, and it looks quite at home on its stage. It’s a great space for dance, with excellent site lines.

Anyway, the program consisted of of three works: Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, The Tempest, and a trifle by Marcelo Gomes. Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt: “As the note in the program points out, ‘the ballet is at once a fragmented narrative as well as a meditation on some of the themes of Shakespeare’s play.’ It is both those things, but even more, it is a series of psychological portraits of its central characters. Each (Miranda, Ariel, Caliban, Ferdinand) dances a kind of aria. Most also have a duet with Prospero; he is the hub of the play’s network of relationships.”

Edward Villella, Unplugged

Edward Villella at a café in his new 'hood, Hamilton Heights. Photo by yours truly.
Edward Villella at a café in his new ‘hood, Hamilton Heights. Photo by yours truly.

Edward Villella is back in town, unbowed by his Miami City Ballet experience and ready to begin the next chapter of his life. I sat down with him recently at a café around the corner from his Hamilton Heights brownstone to talk about his life in dance, Balanchine, his experiences in Miami, and his plans for the future. You can read the interview here, in DanceTabs.