Posted in Alexei Ratmansky, American Ballet Theatre, ballet, balletic, dance, dance making, dancing, modern American dance, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Uncategorized

Modern ballet

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.

All of the action described here- ABT, NYCB, PTAMD– takes its place at Lincoln Center.
Paul Taylor American Modern Dance is in the midst of their spring season through the end of March. The New York City Ballet returns to the David H. Koch stage in April for their spring season. American Ballet Theatre begins its Metropolitan Opera House season in mid May.

Posted in dance, dance making, modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet

Jerome Robbins at 100

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’s NY 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.

This spring, the NYCB will dance in tribute to Jerome Robbins on his centennial for three weeks beginning on May 3rd.

Posted in dance, modern American dance, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Put dance on your schedule

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 There are no facility fees or convenience charges for these tickets.

Posted in ballet, dance, dance making, favorites, modern American dance, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company


By Robinson, W. Heath (William Heath), 1872-1944 (illustrator) – Copy at New York Public Library, scanned by nicole deyo, obtained from, little or no corrections, needs it., Public Domain,

Playing favorites gets a bad rep. In fact, it’s a parental rule that moms love all their children equally. Every mother knows that this is hooey; there is always one who stands a little closer to the heart.

My connection to New York City Ballet (@nycballet) goes back many years to the company’s residency at City Center. Over the half-century plus that I have been partial to NYCB, I have had many favorite dancers.

Among the current crop of primas, Sara Mearns is a stand-out favorite. This in no way diminishes the rest of the NYCB troupe who all delight and dazzle. I often find myself loving best the one who is near, as Ado Annie might; I like the NYCballet.

Nonetheless, on my Mearns watch, I find myself fortunate enough to have tickets for one of her performances of the new Bourne (music by Bernard Hermann) ballet, The Red Shoes at City Center starting October 26th. (This time, we will not be sitting in that very last row from which I saw so many of Balanchine’s dancers dance his dances long ago.)

Matthew Bourne has come out of his career catnap to produce his first dance in four years. The Red Shoes, based on the movie that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, is the ultimate dancers’ story. It is also a caveat against overreaching. I can’t wait to see La Mearns in the title role of Victoria Page.

In March, as has been mentioned in these pages, Sara Mearns channels Isadora Duncan for the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance company. There’s something else to look forward to seeing.

George Balanchine, like Paul Taylor, was a catholic balletmaker, finding the arcane in the ordinary. An “All Balanchine” program at NYCB can range over a wide field, landing here in an utterly classical mode, there in the folkloric.

The one we just witnessed included La Valse, in which Sara Mearns was seduced by death (Amar Ramasar, another beloved NYCB Principal) while her original partner, Tyler Angle, is dejected and dismayed.

Robert Fairchild, in his penultimate performance with NYCB, danced Duo Concertant with Sterling Hyltin. The dance is one of Balanchine’s so-called black and white ballets, set to music for piano and violin written by his friend Igor Stravinsky. It is a sad and luxurious work.

Two of the pieces on the program blended classical with the quotidienne. Square Dance is elegant, and forthright, a very striking and simple ballet, with a hint of the folk dance of its title. Cortege Hongrois, on the other hand, is elaborate. It uses a populist vernacular, blending the czardas with processionals.

La Valse and Duo Concertant are over for now, as is of course the opportunity to catch Robert Fairchild as a New York City Ballet Principal Dancer.

You will be able to catch Cortege Hongrois again on a program this winter. Square Dance will be on another one as well.

New and upcoming favorites in the NYCBallet Company appear with each new season. Peter Walker and Lauren Lovette are dancer-choreographers who are classically trained with next gen sensibilities. We are the witnesses to a company that is full of life, and movement, and is always moving forward. Lucky us.

Posted in dance, dance making, modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet

Fire and passion

The passion in the Tango exucdes a sexual energy fuelled by an undercurrent of violence. That is inherent to the dance, and as interpreted by Alexei Ratmasky in “Odessa” (part of the @nycballet repertory) the culturally condoned thuggishness has a distinct and distinguishing beauty.

The slaps exchanged, the hair dragged in Ratmansky’s ballet is par for the Tango’s course. The preening posture of the men in the dance and the domestic disturbances on stage in no way undermines the elegance of the piece.

Costumed by Keso Dekker, the male dancers exhibit a kind of gangster chic, while the women bear an haute peasant look.  Leonid Desyatnikov;s score evokes a Russian moment in which the underworld is exotic.

Justin Peck, NYCB principal and Choreographer in Residence, exhibits the youthful exuberance appropriate to his generation. This exuberance is brilliantly on display in “The Times Are Racing.”

Am I reading a political statement into the piece? Do the dancers wear T-shirts that say
DEFY, SHOUT, PROTEST, ACT? The music by Dan Deacon, not familiar to my years, is energizing. Standing out among the 20 brilliant dancers is Indiana Woodward, but the entire cast are wonderful.


Posted in modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sara Mearns

Meant to be

By Arnold Genthe (1869–1942) – Library of Congress, Public Domain,

Any true fan can see the possibility, but it took Paul Taylor and Lori Bellilove to realize it.

Sara Mearns, the New York City Ballet prima, and a favorite dancer of mine, will embody Isadora Duncan in the PTAMD spring season this coming March at Lincoln Center.  Her performance as Isadora Duncan had a sold out run in June at the Joyce.

What Taylor has envisioned is a reconstruction of works that Isadora Duncan performed, with the choreography reimagined by  by The Isadora Duncan Dance Company Artistic Director, Lori Bellilove. The program will be performed  during the 2018 Season of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance.

Duncan is being celebrated for her role as a pioneer of modern dance, a mission Taylor has taken very much to heart. Her influence was vast, with ballet makers like Sergei Diaghilev saying she was a “kindred spirit,” and artists across various disciplines seeing her as a visionary. John Dos Passos wrote that “Art was whatever Isadora d

Ms. Mearns is tall, elegant, and as befits a ballerina, graceful. More than all of that she is a skilled actress.She has always taken on roles, acting out the impulses of her art. Her role in the Peter Martins ballet-meets-modern Barber Violin Concerto may have been preparation. Or perhaps she needed no prior reference– just her natural talents– to become Isadora.

For more information on PTAMD, please visit their site. Tickets for the 2018 season are not yet available.


Posted in dance, modern American dance, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

The magic that is a Paul Taylor Dance


Each year, Paul Taylor brings us two new works he has created. Now, with his newish company mandate that Paul Taylor American Modern Dance celebrate and archive the modern dance medium, his company also dances new works by contemporary choreographers and also presents and preserves pieces from the historical repertory.

Paul Taylor’s The Word is a piece we have only caught once before. On the penultimate matinee of this season, it was presented along with Book of Beasts, as well as the elegant and dancerly Cascade, a work that Taylor created in 1999.

Book of Beasts (1971) is full of fantastical creatures. It is scored in 9 parts, to the music of Schubert, Weber, Saint-Saëns, Beethoven, Mozart, as well as Boccherini, Falla and Tchikovsky, all played with zest on a pedal harpsichord (recorded by E. Power Biggs.) John Rawlings raucous costumes conspire the Taylor’s mood of happy-go-lucky menace in this piece. The Word shares this mood of cheerful malevolence.

Do I look for too much meaning in the amusing patterns of the dance? Perhaps, but this is what I find: In The Word, there appears to be some zealotry with a bracing chaser in the form of a woman, who may or may not be Eve. The religious scholars are not in a garden like Eden, but they worship and genuflect.

On the matinee on Sunday, March 25th, is Taylor’s Brandenburgs, a dance that adds depth to the Bach score it inhabit. It will also feature the delicious Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal) and his new The Open Door.