Christopher Wheeldon

Dance

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at Lincoln Center, June 14, 2015

The evening's first piece, “Toccata,” is part of a longer work, Come and Get the Beauty of it Hot, created by Talley Beatty in the 1960s. The dance is  described as “set in the streets of New York” and has a jazzy feel that reminded me of West Side Story although with a more classic look and feel. Set to music by Grammy Award-winning Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, the piece incorporates ensembles, duets and trios with a "big" finish when the girls leap—almost sail—into the men's arms with their own arms outstretched. The whole is fun but not very arresting, almost like a series of class exercises.
Musical Theater

A new Golden Age Broadway musical — An American in Paris at the Palace Theatre

It could have been created during the Golden Age of Broadway, so seamlessly integrated is the extraordinary, ballet-driven musical An American in Paris. The George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin score would have been enough by itself. Add to that the dancing, singing, acting, lighting, costumes and scenery (which seems to dance as well) all built on the vision of the newest brilliant choreographer-director, and the effect is overwhelmingly thrilling. Welcome to the age of Christopher Wheeldon on Broadway.
Dance

British Liaisons: The Australian Ballet Flowers From Its British Roots

Australia and Britain have particularly close artistic ties, cooperatively sharing artists, as is well documented in the British Liaisons program, along with fascinating pictures. For example, the Irish Briton Ninette de Valois, who helped found the Royal Ballet, sent expertise to many countries in the form of dancers and teachers from her company, Peggy van Praagh in Australia's case, and she also traveled much herself, for example to Turkey and the Yugoslav nations to help set up their national ballet companies. De Valois also gave Robert Helpmann opportunities to use his acting and dancing talent after he came to England from Australia as a young man. Not mentioned in the program, de Valois in 1928 commissioned a score from the avant garde Australian composer Elsie Hamilton for her ballet The Scorpions of Ysit, though the original failed at the time, it would be interesting to restore it. A good 21st Century example is Peter Wright and John MacFarlane's (an Englishman and Scot respectively) Nutcracker, which is also now in the Australian Ballet's repetoire. In any case, the three ballets in this program, all from British choreographers, give a much more articulate description of modern artistic collaboration with Britain and show off its diversity. In addition, this program offers an opportunity to hear well played 20th century music that is not often heard.

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