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.
As always, and as our standard preface for these listings, there’s a lot to do and see. New York City theater can keep a body very busy.
Listings for October-November and maybe even December 2017
How time flies? Is it almost the end of this year? Could Halloween be just a week away?
Women’s Project gave this a go in 2016, and it is being reprised at the Westside Theatre.
The cast in Stuffed, playing through February 18th, has changed, except for creator and star, Lisa Lampanelli, and under the same director, Jackson Gray, but it is still a very relateable comedy. You or someone you know has been on and off the diet wagon for a long time. Everyone of us has a relationship to food– love it or loathe it. Can this lead to funny circumstances? With Lisa Lampanelli giving voice to the issues, you bet it can.
Meanwhile, currently at Women’s Project Theatre, What We’re Up Against, a new dark comedy by Theresa Rebeck, playing from October 28th to November 26th, is directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, and features Skylar Astin, Marg Helgenberger, Jim Parrack, Krysta Rodriguez, and Damian Young.
John Patrick Shanley writes wry comedies based in realism with surreal twists. Examples include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, as well as Moonstruck, in which Cosmo’s moon overwhelmes the landscape and Cher’s Loretta tells Nicolas Cage’s Ronny Cammareri
that he’s a wolf who chewed off his own hand. His latest, The Portuguese Kid, at MTC at City Center Stage I through December 3rd, stars Jason Alexander as a lawyer beleaguered by family and clients.
Listings are only represent some of the presentations on NYC stages
Matthew Bourne has a new ballet, his first in many years, which is spending five days on the City Center mainstage, from October 26th through November 5th. There’s a rotating cast for The Red Shoes, and a suggestion that children over the age of 8 would enjoy it.
Speaking of the kiddies, take them to Symphony Space on the weekend with Just Kidding, a series of programs dedicated to events for children. This weekend, there is a Halloween fun day planned for Saturday, October 28th at 11am with Joanie Leeds who will lead the musical costume party. Check out the full schedule at the Just Kidding website.
On Saturday, November 4th, the Symphony Space program offers a new way to teach your little ones new languages. Future Hits, a Chicago rock group, brings their irrestible mix of song with learning to the Just Kidding series. One show only at 11a.m.
Zoe Kazan, actress, playwright, has written a new dystopian play, After the Blast, which is at LCT3 in the Claire Tow Theater through November 19th.
Tired of the dystopian world view? Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, about a girls’ soccer squad, is coming to L.C.’s Newhouse Theater beginning November 1st. The team are highly competitive but there is no end-world scenario here. The Wolves had its well-received premiere with Playwrights Realm last year.
John Leguizamo gives us lessons in Latin History for Morons, another Broadway transfer from the Public, to Studio 54 through February 4, 2018. (You may recall that Hamilton went this route….) Leguizamo was inspired by the ignorance of Latino history in his son’s school to create this primer. More information on Latin History for Morons can be found at its official webpage.
The New York City Ballet to me is uniquely our home-grown ballet company. I grew up with George Balanchine’s troupe, enjoying the dancing of Jacques d’Amboise and Suzanne Farrell from the cheap seats at City Center.
I always imagined d’Amboise, a son of Dedham, MA, to be a cosmopolitan Parisian until I saw him showcase his young students from the National Dance Institute he founded in a ceremony in Central Park a few years back. Wherever he came from, d’Amboise was a polished and elegant presence on stage. Balanchine created many works especially for him to dance.
Years later, the graceful and athletic Damien Woetzel came to represent for me the best male dancing of the NYCB. He had the power and fluidity of Baryshnikov (who also danced with the company) or Nureyev, but he was from around here. (Like Jacques d”Amboise, Woetzel hails from Massachusetts.)
I have witnessed too many grand performers and performances at NYCB, now at home at Lincoln Center, to even try to enumerate them. I missed a lot of them, too; for instance I never saw the Jerome Robbins-Mihail Baryshnikov “partnership” when Robbins created Opus 19: The Dreamer (1979) for him.
Today’s crop of NYCB dancers is marvellous, with Sara Mearns a personal favorite on the women’s side; I love the extension and the energy in her moves. Although the perky and talented Megan Fairchild is also wonderful to watch. Over time, more stars will emerge.
Balanchine’s dream company, started with Lincoln Kirstein, and aided by the choreographer Jerome Robbins, will evolve. Peter Martins is only the third Ballet Master In Chief at NYCB since its initial founding. New dancemakers, like young Justin Peck to name just one, will create more lovely steps for the company to dance.
The dance goes on, moving forward, and eliciting ever more enthusiastic “Bravos” from its enthralled audience.
“You were never lovelier”
Over coffee with my friend Carlos, I mentioned that Rita Hayworth was paired with Fred Astaire in a film (the name of which escaped me at the time) to which the New York City Ballet pays tribute. The dance, by Jerome Robbins, is “I’m Old-Fashioned” to a Morton Gould adaptation of Jerome Kern’s song.
The movie goes by the non-mnemonic You Were Never Lovelier.
If you’ve never seen Hayworth dance, you might wonder if she has the chops. Consult the men in Gilda, where the siren call of her curvy figure comes with lithe and dangerous moves. In You Were Never Lovelier, she is both funny and well-matched with Astaire.
Despite its sometimes forgettable title, it is a very effective and in, its own right, like most Fred Astaire vehicles, well-choreographed piece, highlights of which are incorporated into Robbins’ breathtaking ballet.
“I’m Old-Fashioned” is in the NYCB repertoire, just not this season. Keep an eye out for it, Carlos; it’s worth seeing whenever it comes up on the bill of fare.