’Tis the season when they’re cracking nuts at City Ballet and dispensing Revelations at Alvin Ailey, but let’s take a look at some other stuff that’s been going on around town, all of it “modern,” or “postmodern,” or something. The liberating shake-up that the Judson Dance Theater administered in the 1960s in the wake of the Merce Cunningham revolution is still reverberating—in some cases, with the same people! The choreographer Deborah Hay, for instance, was on the first Judson program in 1962, and half a century later, she’s among us again with a work called As Holy Sites Go/duet at the holy site of St. Mark’s Church. Read More
Something Old, Something New: American Ballet Theatre Brings José Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane Surging Back to Life at City Center
A.B.T. just dropped into the City Center for a week—all the time it could get, and not nearly enough. The fall season is when the company is free to mix and match, focusing on one-act works and younger dancers who don’t get much of a chance during the Met’s spring marathon of full-evening classics (and bores) that demand Stars, however faded. Read More
It Was a Very Good Year: Justin Peck’s Banner Year of the Rabbit Restores One’s Faith in City Ballet
HAVING EMBARRASSED ITSELF (AND US) with its horrible Valentino gala, City Ballet pulled itself together later in the season and gave us many pleasures, as well as much hope for the future. Let us for once dwell solely on the positive. Read More
THE RULES FOR FALL FOR DANCE changed slightly this year—several more performances, spread out over three weeks, and a modest price hike—but the principle remains the same: a smorgasbord of wildly various disciplines and aesthetics, and equally various levels of interest and talent. You never know exactly what to expect, but you know there will be the good, the bad, and the well-intentioned boring.
Inevitably, there were four dance modes on view: classical ballet, “downtown,” ethnic/folk and novelties. It makes sense—the programs give audiences a chance to decide what they like, and give critics a chance to get a sense of companies and performers they might never be able to see otherwise—and to send up warning flares: If this bunch makes it back to town, STAY AWAY! Read More
FOR A FEW DAYS, you could let yourself believe that City Ballet was a serious organization. After all, who can quarrel with the austere Balanchine-Stravinsky triple-bill of Apollo, Orpheus and Agon—the “Greek trilogy,” as it’s being cannily labeled?
Then, last Thursday, the Gala struck, and there we were again, trapped in Gimmicksville. Read More
BAM HAS UNVEILED its new $50,000,000 performance space, configured for 250 viewers, with a commissioned work, Eclipse, by the ex-Cunningham dancer Jonah Bokaer and his collaborator, the visual artist Anthony McCall. For this event, the space is square, seats all around with some more on a second level, and highly intimate—at times, if you’re sitting in the front row, you’re practically brushing knees with the dancers. Daring—yet in a way, that very closeness pushes you back from them: As they dart toward you and past you, you can’t help bracing yourself. And there are no seatbelts. Read More
The Paris Opéra Ballet, which recently vacated the Koch theater, put its worst foot forward with its opening program. But what a pretty foot it was—so glamorously arched, so delicately pointed! That, indeed, is to a large extent the story of the company: exquisite technique for its own sake. Look, I go into arabesque! Behold, I balance on pointe! (Balancing is one of the dancers’ most cherished accomplishments: They get ready to get up there, they get up there, they stay up there. Applause!) Well, their training is immaculate, and since they have it, why not flaunt it? A few years ago I spent a day at their school, observing not only the perfect manners of the kids—they stop and bow or curtsy to grown-ups they pass in the halls—but the perfect manner in which they’re taught to produce steps. It’s beautiful to watch, but after a while I realized that something was missing: no one was connecting step production to musical impulse. Read More
Through the ABT season just ended, the company had 10 female principals. (It has just added an 11th, the Korean Hee Seo.) Of the 10, six are Russian—well, Alina Cojocaru is Romanian—and three of them, Cojocaru, Vishneva and Osipova, are the biggest ballerina drawing cards. In other words, we’re back in the good old Ballets Russes days, when “ballet” meant “Russian.” Is it this lingering Russophilia that explains the company’s loyalty to the artistically irrelevant Irina Dvorovenko, its partiality for the odd mixture that is Veronika Part, and its recent welcome of Polina Semionova? Read More
What Makes the Firebird Sing: At ABT, Alexei Ratmansky’s Action-Packed Version Has Energetic Bird, Engaging Maiden
This last week brought us, by coincidence, new versions—new concepts—of two of the canon’s most famous ballets: The Firebird and Swan Lake. One was wonderful, the other unwonderful. So it goes.
Alexei Ratmansky is generally considered today’s most talented classical choreographer. Within the last weeks we’ve seen his moving Russian Seasons at City Ballet and his entrancing The Bright Stream at ABT. His new work is everywhere—Paris, Toronto, Amsterdam, Miami, as well as New York. And what he does is extremely various. All you can be sure of with him is unremitting invention, garnished by respect and generosity to his dancers—they’re constantly being stretched but never being pushed. Read More
ABT has completed the first half of its spring season at the Met. We’ve had the Giselles (and their sister Wilis), Bayadére’s Nikiyas (and their sister Shades). We’ve been lucky enough to have the population of the Bright Stream collective farm and the visiting artists who come to cheer them up—though they’re pretty cheerful already. And we’ve had a brand new production of John Cranko’s Onegin. Did we need it? Did we need Onegin at all? No, but ABT needed it. How can the company fill the huge Met without the full-evening costume dramas that keep the tourists coming? Read More