Lincoln Center Festival put together a big show this week: a multinational staging of George Balanchine’s 1967 ballet Jewels, with performances by the Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, and the Bolshoi. The contrasts were fascinating, and paradoxically, had the effect of focusing attention on the ballet itself, revealing more clearly than ever why Arlene Croce described it as an “unsurpassedbBalanchine primer, incorporating in a single evening every important article of faith to which the choreographer subscribed”. My review is at DanceTabs.
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.”
The continues through March 1.
I asked a few dancers and choreographers—Cory Stearns, Kate Weare, Glenn Allen Sims, Wendy Whelan—about the art of partnering, and here’s what they said:
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.
A few shots of those dresses:
On Friday, New York City Ballet unveiled its first ballet by the young Briton Liam Scarlett, who, at 27, is considered one of the most promising new voices in ballet. The work is entitled “Acheron”—the name of a river in Greek mythology— and set to Poulenc’s Concerto in G for Organ, Strings, and Tympani, the same piece Glen Tetley used for his1973 ballet Voluntaries. You can read my review for DanceTabs here.
And here’s a short excerpt:
“The première of Acheron…revealed a choreographer of prodigious imagination and compositional craft, adept at building an atmosphere and suffusing it with traces of meaning. Though the ballet is abstract, without characters or a plot, an underlying theme coalesces by the end. With this deeper understanding, everything that comes before is bathed in a different hue. I’m eager to see it again, armed with this knowledge.”
I’d love to hear comments and thoughts from others who saw the ballet.
Enjoy your sunday—I hear Renée Fleming will be singing somewhere in Jersey tonight…
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).”
For DanceTabs, I reviewed two programs at NYCB, “Just for Fun” (Carnival of the Animals, Jeu de Cartes, and The Four Seasons), and “Tradition and Innovation” (Vespro, Duo Concertant, and Dances at a Gathering). Yes, the company has taken to “naming” its programs, and also to grouping them by theme, which I often find to be problematic–too much of a good thing, not enough contrast. But still, serendipity happens. The seasons’ single performance of Jerome Robbins’ “Dances at a Gathering” turned out to be one of the freshest renditions I’ve seen in a long time. Tiler Peck, in particular, was ravishing as the “girl in pink” (see photo above).
Christopher Wheeldon’s “Carnival of the Animals,” which the company hasn’t done for a while, turned out to be a be a bit of a disappointment. It’s flat, and tries too hard to be funny (without succeeding). But there are some lovely images, like this one, of a mermaid, danced here by the beautiful Lauren Lovette.
New York City Ballet held its fall gala on Thursday (Sept. 19), at which it introduced three collaborations between choreographers (Justin Peck, Benjamin Millepied, and Angelin Preljocaj) and designers (Prabal Gurung, Iris Van Herpen, Olivier Theyskens). The focus of the past few galas has fallen—thanks to Sarah Jessica Parker, who’s on the board—mainly on the fashion side, and less on the side of intriguing choreography. The three works had their merits, but all the fuss seemed to be about the costumes. It’s clear that the tactic is meant to attract and entice the gala patrons, who get two thrills for the price of one: new choreography, big-name designers. But one wonders if they really feel they are getting a good deal? The applause at galas is always on the polite side, so it’s hard to tell. The evening looked sold out. So much the better. But will these ballets merit viewing and re-viewing?
Here’s my review of the evening for DanceTabs.