Posted in #Tschaikovsky, dance, dance making, dancing with the stars, George Balanchine, Glazounov, Mr. B, New York City Ballet

George’s house of dance

Chase Finlay in Apollo with Sterling Hyltin as Terpsichore, Tiler Peck as Polyhymnia, and Ana Sophia Scheller as Calliope. Photo © Paul Kolnik

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.

Tyler Angle, Maria Kowroski, and Daniel Ulbricht with students from The School of American Ballet in Mozartiana, Tschaikovsky’s tribute to Mozart interpreted by Balanchine for the NYCB in 1981. Photo © Paul Kolnik. At the Saturday matinée, Sara Mearns was in the lead.

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!

In Mozartiana, 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.

The ensemble in Cortège Hongrois. Photo © Paul Kolnik.

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 for schedules and ticket information.

Posted in dance, dancing with the stars, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Luis Bravo, Maxsim Chermkovskiy, romance, tango

Sexy Sells: "Forever Tango"

Gilberto Santa Rosa and the cast and musicians of Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” in a photo by Walter McBride.

Tango is about desire and possession.

Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” returning from a world tour to The Walter Kerr Theatre through September 15th, is a showcase for the ritualized sexiness of this aggressively elegant dance.

Karina Smirnoff and Max Chmerkovskiy with the cast of “Forever Tango.” Photo by Walter McBride.

Guilty pleasure and fan favorite Maxsim Chmerkovskiy adds his “Dancing with the Stars” charisma as a Guest in “Forever Tango,” partnering with the lovely and talented Karina Smirnoff, herself a mirror ball trophy winner on the ABC show. The varied choreography — no small feat in such a familiar dance form– is attributed to The Dancers, each pair of whom is responsible for the acts they perform. The exception is “Comme I’ll Faut,” choreographed by Juan Paulo Horvath and Victoria Galoto for Max and Karina. 
Juan Paulo Horvath and Victoria Galoto in Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” at the Walter Kerr through September 15th. Photo by Walter McBride.

In a tribute to the signature instrument that gives the tango its distinctive sound, Juan emerges from a giant bandoneon in “Preludio del Bandoneon y la Noche” to be joined by Victoria coming from the wings. Juan has his own somewhat gangsterish charm and is very dapper in spats and fedora. 

The many and also varied costumes for “Forever Tango” are the design of Argemira Affonso, each costume change setting up the scene and the characters. Of course, the tuxedo or some variant is the staple for the men in many of the tangos. It’s the ladies who get to show off leg in black split skirts with red trim, or in slinky white sequined gowns. It’s also the ladies, who Ginger Rogers-like, do what the men do, just backwards and in stilettos. 

Erotic and dangerous, rugged and delicate, the tango requires precision and artistry, all of which the cast provide in abundance. Gilberto Santa Rosa, “El Caballeor de la Salsa,” with five Grammies to his name, sings bewitchingly of longing and love, sometimes in accompaniment of the dancers, sometimes on his own. 3-time Latin Grammy and Granmy Award winner, Luis Enrique takes over for him on July 30th.

Ariel Manzanares and Natalia Turelli are the comic relief in “Forever Tango,” and they take their role very seriously. For example, in the wry “La Tablada,” the couple fight over an elicit camera which they in turn flash at the orchestra and each other. Manzanares gives witty impersonations of a clown in his appearances, while Turelli plays the straight woman to perfection.

The large company of dancers, as well as the on-stage orchestra, has clearly been chosen from the best of the best.

“Forever Tango” is not a prescriptive or a rallying cry, but a promise. There is infinite variety in the ardor of its movements which promises lifetimes of pleasure.
For more information about Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” please visit