Walking past rows of conspicuous hood ornaments at the Chelsea Piers, The Observer could smell the party well before we could see it. A heady mixture of curry and truffles filled the parking lot as we trekked to Manhattan’s western extremity, the Lighthouse at Pier 61.
At the entrance to the American Ballet Theatre’s Culinary Pas de Deux, we were greeted by several young dancers in Renaissance peasant costumes. With deep curtsies, the ballerinas directed us inside.
The space had been converted into a veritable smorgasbord for the grand alimentary fete, with chefs from the city’s top restaurants churning out hundreds of mini dishes for the guests to enjoy. Serving stations, interspersed with well-stocked bars, became the sites of swirling feeding frenzies as attendees strove to get their fill.
It’s been a week of Nutcrackers—Nutcrackers to the left of us, Nutcrackers to the right of us, Nutcrackers wherever you look. And it’s been a mixed bag of nuts. Now it’s time to roll over, Tchaikovsky, and tell Beethoven the news.
But first, a dash through the four Nutcrackers I recently saw within two long days.
Ballet in September used to be dead as a dodo. Now, with City Ballet’s ingenious decision to give us four weeks of repertory in the early fall, having cut down on the relentlessly long spring season when dancers, critics and audiences droop on the vine, we wake up after the dog days of August with something to look at. It’s unfortunate that this became possible only when the financially floundering City Opera was forced to decamp from the David H. Koch Theater. (To be fair, this is one thing we can’t blame on David H. Koch and his politics.) But at least the opera’s loss is dance’s gain.
A few years ago, the Bolshoi turned up in town with a program of four ballets, including the Stalin-approved (and ghastly) Spartacus, and something called The Bright Stream, which Stalin had banned in 1935, even punishing some of those responsible for it. Its entrancing Shostakovich score was buried in the Bolshoi archives until, in 2003, Read More
Whatever crimes ABT may have committed through the years–however many Cinderellas, Ladies of the Camellias, Snow Maidens, Pied Pipers, gimcrack Swan Lakes and Sleeping Beauties–they’ve made up for it this season by giving us another brief taste of the Royal Ballet’s supremely gifted Alina Cojocaru in her greatest role, Giselle. Her one performance of it Read More
City Ballet is having a schizophrenic season. The opening black-and-white Balanchine week was a triumph, and the further rush of Balanchine in the following weeks has given us the most satisfying programming in many years. Equally, the overall level of performance compared to what we’ve been experiencing for 20 years has been dazzling: not only Read More
After a dance week of occasional ups and all too many downs, Mark Morris came to the rescue with a program of three works previously unseen in New York, one a world premiere. The venue was his own elegant and spacious building practically opposite BAM, his habitual stomping ground, and the three new works were Read More
Okay, dance people, buckle up–March is going to be a bumpy month. It’s a modern-dance invasion. (Paul Taylor’s come and gone; everyone else is on his/her way.) Start figuring out your priorities now … next week will be too late.
To begin with: You’re going to be spending a lot of time at the Joyce. Read More
Benjamin Millepied is the guy who knocked up Natalie Portman. He’s also one of the most celebrated ballet dancers and choreographers on the planet, and the fact that his new found celebrity obscures his talent merits a nice long profile in The New York Times called, appropriately, “Leaping Into the Spotlight.”
The Times doesn’t Read More
The all-Balanchine opening night at City Ballet this season was a discouraging affair. To begin with, it was ridiculously short–less than an hour and three-quarters. And then it was ridiculously slight. And ridiculously programmed. A satisfactory ballet program is more than four ballets flung serially onto the stage.
Walpurgisnacht Ballet is one of Balanchine’s lesser Read More