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March 21, 2007

Latest Dance Articles - Major Catchup Edition

I have four articles in the current issue (available only in print) of Ballet Review, which is too many, but two were bumped inadvertently from the previous issue.

West Coast, West Side on San Francisco Ballet's week at Lincoln Center:

It’s hard to watch Artifact without regret for what might have been. Back in 1988, when it seemed that every major company was scrambling to get a Forsythe commission and Frankfurt Ballet came to New York’s City Center for its own planned invasion, we thought that we were looking at the future of ballet post-Balanchine. As dark and churning as the works were, there was a genuine attempt to assimilate and develop classical ballet. This was supposed to be our generation’s contribution, and Part 2 of Artifact Suite eloquently shows why. What happened?

Revival and Repertory at Covent Garden - Sleeping Beauty and the Mixed Rep and Gala programs at the Royal Ballet.

Alina Cojocaru and Marienela Nuñez were both dancing Aurora at the top of their games. Cojocaru’s delicacy and modesty is naturally attractive in the role, but she is not a consistent performer. She has bad days when her feet start flopping, but traditional repertory with marginally slower footwork shows her at her best. It was glorious to see her in a performance that justified all the fuss as she sailed through the balances in the Rose Adagio without even needing to show off. Cojocaru balanced through placement; she was on her leg the moment her shoe touched the floor. Nuñez balanced no less successfully, but from muscular strength; one could sense her driving her thigh forward to recalibrate her equilibrium.

In the front of the magazine, two short pieces, one reporting on both Akram Khan and (quoted below) Nrityagram Dance Ensemble:

As with their performances at the Joyce Theater a year previously, one marveled at the skill and stagecraft of the dancers and also at the taste and craft of Sen in her compositions. With their impeccable suspension and control the dancers make the style look deceptively easy (it takes seeing lesser Odissi dancers to know just how good Sen’s are). Here the company was almost too good. It has been performing the same program for month. Rather than looking fatigued, their work in unison was amazing. But it looked too drilled, with a high gloss that was difficult to penetrate.

The second on the Sourcing Stravinsky at Dance Theater Workshop with Yvonne Rainer's anatomization of Agon.

Seeing the steps of the opening men’s quartet danced by women, one realizes that everything will be the same, but completely different. Rainer’s fascination with changing the text by changing the situation – substituting women for men; fracturing and switching the order of sections and substituting music – are interesting, although the better one knows the original, the more wry it becomes. A monitor showed a video of Balanchine’s male solo from the first pas de trois; Catterson turned the screen away from the audience and attempted to reproduce it as she watched but we could not.

And available online at Danceview Times:

Paul Taylor at City Center

“Troilus and Cressida (Reduced)” is one of those goofball pieces that Taylor makes every now and again. . .Rob Kleinendorst is the stalwart but incompetent Troilus. He wears a pair of purple velvet pants designed by Santo Loquasto that keep falling down in what might be a backhanded tribute to Kevin MacKenzie’s ill-fated Romeo on television with Natalia Makarova. With three red-caped Greek invaders skulking about in pursuit, “Troilus” is brief, silly and harmless, but the result wasn’t worth the resources. Disney did better with the music using dancing ostriches and hippos.

New (Old) Balanchine in DC Suzanne Farrell Ballet dancing Balanchine rarities.

The performance wasn’t given full-dress treatment; Farrell herself dubbed it a “working rehearsal.” She spoke briefly in front of the curtain, saying that she felt very aware of the line between ‘preserve’ and ‘preservation’. To her, “preserve” was passive and “preservation” is active, which gave her license to adapt and rework. As she went on, it was clear she wasn’t talking about wholesale changes, but tailoring each work to the current dancer as Balanchine himself might have.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at March 21, 2007 6:15 PM

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