Is it true that youth is wasted on the young? Perhaps not, at least this group of youngsters is making the most of their time and talents. And yes, I am a little jealous.
There is a good deal to be said for getting an early start. Youth is lithe and agile. It is a great season for dancing, Movement can be the lingua franca for the young; it is their body language as it were.
Ellen Robbins’ Dances By Very Young Choreographers at Live Arts, on January 26th and 27th, will be showcasing works by children as young as 8. The dance-makers, ranging in age from 8 to 18, study modern dance and choreography with Ms. Robbins.
The program ranges across the many styles of dance performance, from the humorous, narrative, to the lyrical. The music selections, chosen by the choreographers, include folk, jazz, classical, contemporary.
Ellen Robbins has been teaching dance sine 1966 and has received honors for her work with children. She has taught dance education at Sarah Lawrence and been on the faculties of Bennington College, the 92nd Street Y, and other distinguished institutions. In 2001, Dances By Very Young Choreographers was on the program at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
After the matinee on January 26th, there will be an evening concert by the Alumni of Dances by Very Young Choreographers, which presents work by dancers who studied with Robbins from 1982 to 2016.
Dance evolves with the times as do all things, artistic or run-of-the-mill. It is what we need to keep in perspective as we watch young choreographers take on the creation of the next new ballet. They will be influenced by what has been termed modern dance, a genre dating back to Isadora Duncan’s day and represented prominently today by, among others, Paul Taylor (and his) American Modern Dance.
Modern dance is meant to be less formal, to eschew the stodgy. Not that Jerome Robbins, or George Balanchine, for that matter, can be thought of as stodgy. The ballets that are stepping, best foot forward, these days, tend to –not exactly relax, since many are as frenetic as they are innovative– be freer in mixing the metaphors of dance forms.
Lauren Lovett and Peter Walker, two of the more recently minted NYCB dance-makers, have emerged as rising stars of ballet. Lovett tends towards a romantic view of the classical. Walker is a bit of a renegade, although his second work, the 2018 dance odyssey, moves to a more traditional line.
The older guard is equally willng to mix things up. At 40, and after many years dancing as a principal with New York City Ballet, and working with his own troupe and as head of the Paris Opera Ballet, Benjamin Millepied is an elder statesman in the world of choreography. Millepied, whose Neverwhere was a lovely revelation at a recent NYCB performance, is a case in point. His work uses classical style married to contemporary scores–Neverwhere is set to music by Nico Muhly– and refreshing ideas about movement. Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence at the American Ballet Theatre since 2008, has given NYCB some delightful novelties, as well. His Odessa and Songs of Bukovina are works that join diverse styles of folk and ballet in beautiful complexity.
Jerome Robbins was a man who knew how to put on a show. His ballets has as much pomp and circumstance, flair and flavor as any of his Broadway show.
At 30-40 minutes, they constitute something like a one-act on every program on which they are featured. Like many another dance-maker, Robbins covered a range of styles and subjects. There’sNY Export: Opus Jazz, the West Side Story Suite, and I’m Old Fashioned with their modern and pop culture motifs.
The Four Seasons, set to ballet interludes by Verdi from a number of his operas, is an exhilirating and very classical entertainment. In it he creates not just a mise en scène that takes us from winter through spring to summer and fall but also hearkens to Shakespeare. A Puck-like figure (puckishly danced by Preston Chamblee at the performance we attended) gambols through the final chapter of the ballet.
The Four Seasons with its processions representing the times and temperatures that progress through the year is at once majestic and light-hearted. Robbins, a much lauded stage choreographer contributed greatly to the NYCB repertoire in his long association with the company. He joined George Balanchine as Associate Artistic Director of the New York City Ballet in 1949.
Going to theaters to see drama, comedy or dance is one of the ways in which New Yorkers get to spend their free time. New entertainments abound. Here is a short and very incomplete list of suggestions for you:
You’ve heard a good deal from us about the New York City Ballet, a company which enjoys many seasons at its New York Lincoln Center hq. It will continue its present winter presentations with classics and new works from the repertory and Peter Martins’ Romeo and Juliet starting the week of February 13th. Balanchine, Ratmansky, Peck, Peter Walker etal return from February 24th through March 4th, at which point the Paul Taylor troupe takes the David H. Koch stage.
A special performance on Tuesday, March 6 at 7pm – Dance for All generously underwritten by Taylor Foundation Trustee Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown – has been added to the 2018 Season of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance (PTAMD) at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. All seats to this performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, with music performed live by Orchestra of St. Luke’s, featuring Paul Taylor’s classics Arden Court, Banquet of Vultures and Promethean Fire, will cost just $5. Tickets to the performance,, will go on sale, Wednesday, February 7 at 10:00 a.m. at the Koch Box Office at 20 Lincoln Center Plaza or at www.boxoffice.dance. There are no facility fees or convenience charges for these tickets.
It’s George Balanchine’s birthday and the NYCB is celebrating it. The season continues amidst a backdrop of allegations of physical and sexual misconduct against Peter Martins, who has stepped down as Ballet Master in Chief. The company is under the collective management of an interim artistic team and a group of Ballet Masters. The backdrop is one I would like to ignore, as it seems likely NYCB boards may have been these many years. The scandal persists, and an email in which NYCB’s board thanks Martins for his service and leadership, and says they are independently investigating seems more problem than solution.
At any rate, New York City Ballet was only under his stewardship; the NYCB always belonged to Mr. B.
Even the dancers who never had a chance to work with Balanchine honor him when they dance. This Saturday was all Balanchine, including Apollo (from 1928) and Cortège Hongrois (1973) as well as Mozartiana from 1981.
As Jared Angle and Megan Fairchild said in introducing the January 27th 2pm program, it covered over 50 years of Balanchine’s interpretations of music. The choreography was brilliant, of course.
Apollo, Balanchine’s first internationally recognized triumph, created when he was just 24 years old, is a collaboration with his friend Igor Stravinsky. The latter provides the music for an idyllic god of prophecy and art and his hand-maidens to captivate. On Saturday, Adrian Danching-Waring was the jazzed-up god as Tiler Peck took on the role as his dancing muse, Terpsichore. Indiana Woodward carried Calliope’s pad and pen, while Ashly Isaacs was Polyhymnia. This dance has never before been a favorite of ours; at Saturday’s performance we had a decided change of heart. Looking forward to a reprise this afternoon!
InMozartiana, where Tschaikovsky pays homage to Mozart, we have the dual authorship of two outstanding composers, as it were. It is a soothing, elegant work, and the elegant Sara Mearns was joined by Chase Finlay as her leading man, and Troy Schumacher as well as an able corps, and students from the School of American Ballet.
Cortège Hongrois, on the other hand, mesmerized us when last we saw it. Yesterday. it was an agreeable dance-piece. Balanchine set it to Alexander Glazounov’s Raymonda, music that is varied and stirring. Cortège Hongrois opens with a grand processional, and has a rousing Finale. The frantic and gorgeous activity of the Czardas and its Variations is followed by the relatively restorative Pas de Deux, performed by Ashley Bouder and Russell Janzen on Saturday afternoon. One the dance regains its composure we witness a full cast frolic that is typical Balanchine, and therefore a perfect end.
Winter 2018 season the New York City Ballet is on now through March 4th. Visit http://www.nycballet.com/ for schedules and ticket information.
This is the season when grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, all look for entertainment that will please their youngsters. Lots of shows, like Balanchine’s Nutcracker at NYCB, are not just kid- but also adult-friendly. Here is a short list of some of the things you might want to do to occupy the holidays:
Bookish children will enjoy hearing their favorite authors read to them in Symphony Space’s interactive Thalia Kids Book Club series, produced in cooperation with Bank Street Bookstore. The series unites eager young readers with the creators of the books that inspire their imaginations. Each event includes a creative writing project, a discussion with the audience, and fun.
On December, 2 Newbery Award-winning author Katherine Paterson visits the series, and on Monday, December 4, Neil Patrick Harris will celebrate his middle-grade novel The Magic Misfits. More events, including a Judy Blume birthday celebration, are planned for winter and spring 2018.
Click on the link above for more information.
Christmas Past, Future and Present will make their appearance in a new site-specific parlor performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Caroltaking place in the Chelsea townhouse and theater space, Torn Page from Thursday November 30 to Friday December 15.
Produced by Origin Theatre Company, the one-man version of the story, uses an adaptation of Dickens’ own little-used original performance text. The Origin’s A Christmas Carolfeatures the distinguished African-American opera singer and actor Elmore James, and is directed by Erwin Maas and is set in the Chelsea home of the actors Rip Torn and Geraldine Page. The immersive staging transforms the Chelsea home, filling the 19th century townhouse with the sights, sounds and smells of both a large Victorian home, and a more modest dwelling circa 1853. Mince pie and mulled wine, prepared on the premises, will be served during the performance. A small, multi-racial chorus singing period carols, will also evoke the season.
More information can be found on the Origin Theatre’s website.
This December, Axis Theatre Company will present the 16th annual production of its beloved family holiday show, Seven in One Blow, or the Brave Little Kid. Written and directed by Axis Artistic Director Randy Sharp in an adaptation of the classic fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm, this festive, interactive winter play was created for kids, but resonates equally well for adults and features a Video Cameo from Debbie Harry.
Axis will stage Seven in One Blow, or the Brave Little Kid on Fridays at 7pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm, with an additional performance on Tuesday, December 19 at 7pm.
Click on the link to the Axis webpage above to find out more.
Puppetry that blends the avant-garde, pirates and Pinocchio at Just Kidding.
During the 2017-18 season at Symphony Space, families are invited to experience marionette shows with three acclaimed practitioners: November brings the antic Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers in Everybody Loves Pirates; December will see the expert National Marionette Theatre with the children’s classic Pinocchio, and the New Year brings the ingenious Milo the Magnificentto the stage.
Information and tickets is found on the links above.
This A Christmas Carol is playing more to the parents (and grands) than to the kiddies, but come see David Hyde Pierce as the iconic curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge in Crispin Whittell’s adaptation of the beloved Charles Dickens novella, directed by Joe Dowling. Joining David Hyde Pierce are John Glover, Harriet Harris, Edward Hibbert, Julie White, Matthew Amendt, Matt Bradford Sullivan, and Kaliswa Brewster, plus others to be announced. The occasion is The Acting Company’s one-night-only benefit reading on December 11 at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. Following the reading, the evening will continue with an exclusive cast dinner (jacket and tie required) at the nearby Union Club.
Partnering has developed a new look as the 21st century progresses. Partly, this is a reflection of a more liberal social milieu. Gender fluidity is the term of art for this LGBTQ-era. Same sex marriage, mixed use bathrooms, dorms which house both boys and girls on the same floor are part of our new-age maturity.
Equality has certainly not come full-circle. The workplace and the quotidian are still often off-kilter and exhibit the same kinds of inequities that have been with us forever. We are working on it, much as the dance makers are working on many more diverse ways to partner.
Many choreographers– Justin Peck, Christopher Wheeldon Benjamin Millipied etc.– experiment with male on male lifts, and Jessica Lang has a woman catch and release her male partner at one point in Her Notes.
Roles can be reversed for Mr. Mom and his executive wife. We’ve come to accept that and to expect to see it in our arts and entertainments. The glass ceiling– and other prejudices and biases– will be broken and taken down in tiny steps rather than with crowbars.