Bard Summerscape 2014
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Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

Thumbnail : A Shakespeare Double-Bill at the American Ballet Theater: Ashton’s The Dream and Ratmansky’s The Tempest

A Shakespeare Double-Bill at the American Ballet Theater: Ashton’s The Dream and Ratmansky’s The Tempest

ABT’s The Dream is highly poetic, romantic and vaguely Victorian. It differs from the version presented by the New York City Ballet in that it is only one act and has a somewhat different story line as well as highly contrasting choreography. (I confess to a preference for the NYCB version, but so be it.) Herman Cornejo was unquestionably the star of the performance, a magical, energetic Puck whose leaps are astounding. He spins so brilliantly I couldn’t tell how many rounds he made; took to the air as though truly born an elfin sprite and displayed a keen a sense of humor. Oberon was danced by Cory Sterns in place of the injured David Hallberg. In one charming moment, Oberon partnered Puck; when the sprite leapt into his master’s arms, the audience let loose a collective chuckle. This Oberon, regal and compelling, does some of his own dirty work, sprinkling the love charm into Titania’s eyes so that when she awakens she is entranced by Bottom, complete with ass’s head, and danced with panache by Blaine Hoven.

Thumbnail : Savion Glover’s OM, at the Joyce Theater

Savion Glover’s OM, at the Joyce Theater

Savion Glover’s newest production, OM, is as much a mystical experience as a dancing one. The performance, which spans about seventy minutes with no intermission, begins with a lengthy jazz recording of what I think is Calling by Kenny Garrett, very improvy -sounding and full of saxophone. During this pre-performance period, the audience views the front of the stage lined with small bulbs that seem to flicker in the half-light with a head of Buddha on one side. Finally the curtain is raised, revealing the stage set with hundreds of candles of all sizes, and photos of Glover’s spiritual mentors, some dance figures like Gregory Hines and others more spiritual like Gandhi. I’m not sure where Michael Jackson fits in. Glover, minus his trademark dreads, stood on a small platform in the center where he remained for the entire performance.

Thumbnail : Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Balanchine’s choreography at the New York City Ballet with Karinska’s Costumes Restored

Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Balanchine’s choreography at the New York City Ballet with Karinska’s Costumes Restored

A Midsummer Night’s Dream deals with totally unrealistic events including crossed lovers, magic spells, and meaningless arguments. The performance by the New York City Ballet with Balanchine’s original choreography integrates broad comedy with magnificent dance for a hugely satisfying evening.

 

Thumbnail : Steps Beyond Performance Lab Series for Emerging Choreographers, Steps Studio Theater, May 17, 2014

Steps Beyond Performance Lab Series for Emerging Choreographers, Steps Studio Theater, May 17, 2014

Steps Beyond Performance Lab Series for Emerging Choreographers.

At first, the evening felt a little like an exam, as there was a sheaf of paper and a pencil on each seat, and the audience was told to mark each performance with an eye to musicality, originality, costumes and other information. Afterwards, each sheet would be given to the choreographer, presumably as a guide to fine-tuning his or her work.

 

Thumbnail : Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York 10th Anniversary Celebration

Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York 10th Anniversary Celebration

Valentina Kozlova was born in Moscow and trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School where she danced all the major classical roles. In 1979, on tour in the U.S with the Bolshoi, she defected and began her career anew, performing leading roles at the New York City Ballet; appearing at Spoleto, La Scala, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and also on video. In 2003, she opened her ballet school, a pre-professional training program that has been a launching pad for many students.

Thumbnail : The New York City Ballet Opens the New Ballet Season with an All-Balanchine Mixed Bill, and Some More Comic Programming

The New York City Ballet Opens the New Ballet Season with an All-Balanchine Mixed Bill, and Some More Comic Programming

When do you ever see a bill outside Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center with no other names but “Hindemith,” “Webern” and “Stravinsky?” And at that with an extremely well played concert behind it with energy and seriousness and intelligence? Only at the ballet it seems.

Thumbnail : Le Corsaire at the American Ballet Theatre

Le Corsaire at the American Ballet Theatre

What is le Corsaire? Is it a ballet? Is it entertainment — mere divertissement? Is there any difference? I believe intuitively that there is. Ballet defines itself on telling a story (even if there are exceptions) rather than presenting divertissements in vignettes, it is not a sort of artistic form of gymnastics. One more often encounters le Corsaire nowadays, at least in the west, as the extraordinary virtuoso pas de deux on its own, with its impossible leaps and lifts and turns for the man and the ballerina, and so this is what the ballet is known for, now associated especially with male virtuosity, thanks to Baryshnikov’s dancing, but the ballet presented as a whole is still a working piece of theatre.

Thumbnail : Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante and Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Robbins’ Cage and Andantino at the New York City Ballet

Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante and Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Robbins’ Cage and Andantino at the New York City Ballet

The style of the New York City Ballet is almost tree-like, branching and spreading in a floral rather than faunal manner, achieving a harmonious whole that is not purely rational or classical or athletic or anything covered by a single label. Their pure and natural variety of grace certainly suits Balanchine’s choreography, bringing out its best qualities. Allegro Brilliante, as the title might suggest, opens with style and grace, there is a certain abstraction with this stylish dancing before a plain blue screen and following no definite plot or action. We have Tchaikovsky’s music speaking to us very eloquently through Clotilde Otranto’s baton and Elaine Chelton’s fingers, music with fairly strong and definite, but not heavy, emotions. The costumes, the women’s light dresses in gentle hues and secondary colors and the men’s loose sleeves and waistcoats, do not place them absolutely as characters, but are enough to complement simply the movements. Yet there is a sense of a social entity, of mute social forces at work, drowned out by the music perhaps, and even a suggestion of court in the group scenes in their almost 17th Century style of abstraction, as they blur the lines slightly between social and theatrical dancing; the interactions of the dancers on stage are absorbing and interesting, brought across by their dramatic sense, their sense of theatre. The dancing doesn’t borrow openly from any real historical form but somehow the push and pull of social dancing is suggested. The piece at least gives the feeling of being indoors. Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette dancing the leads give a particularly strong sense of conversation in their dancing together in the pas de deux and also amongst the larger group. Nothing happens, the ballet remains abstract, yet it develops in an arc into something very moving and ineffable beyond the music, as if the entire piece, developed into a whole wishes to give something to you, and the performance succeeded in this and the lack of downrightness was very refreshing.

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