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, 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 www.boxoffice.dance. 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

Partiality

RedShoesPage_facing_218_of_Andersen's_fairy_tales_(Robinson)
By Robinson, W. Heath (William Heath), 1872-1944 (illustrator) – Copy at New York Public Library, scanned by nicole deyo, obtained from http://www.archive.org/details/hansandersensfai00andeCrop, little or no corrections, needs it., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16274672

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, 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.

 

Posted in modern American dance, modern dance, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Uncategorized

Jumping for Joy

The rites of spring tend to be worshipful of renewal, resumption and continuation. We are grateful to have as one of those rites, the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance spring at Lincoln Center.

1TrusanvoecGoodePrintempsLe Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal) was on the bill for the centenial of the Stravinsky-Nijinsky collaboration in February 2013 when we last saw it.

It is an homage in the Paul Taylor mode, created as an operatic rendering of a Keystone- Kops-and-Krooks silent film. Paul Taylor playfully references the Nijinsky production for Diaghiliev’s Ballets Russe which caused a near riot for the brutality it displayed.

Company B 1The Taylor version of Le Sacre… (The Rite of Spring) is for two pianos, and the dancers’ moves follow the urgency in the musical score with a very serious levity. 

Songs from an era, like the ones used in Taylor’s Company B, set a mood and place for a given dance number. (BTW You can catch our personal all time favorite Taylor piece on March 16th and 23rd at 7p.m.)

In Black TuesdayPaul Taylor kicks-off his dance piece about the Great Depression and its propellant great market crash with songs from the era. The Kennedy Center took a lead in commissioning this work from 2001, which is set to recorded versions of tunes like Irving Berlin’s “Slummin’ On Park Avenue,” and the better known Yip Harburg lyric “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”

The Weight of Smoke 1Paul Taylor renamed his dance enterprise as Paul Taylor American Modern Dance to fulfill dual objectives. On the one hand, the company aims to preserve and reincarnate classic pieces from the modern dance repertory and thus to keep them alive.

On the other, it commissions the creation of new works for that same repertory.

Doug Elkins received one such commission in 2016. The result is that he has choreographed The Weight of Smoke with and on the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Such collaboration is at the essence of what modern dance intends as a genre.

For a full schedule of the remaining performances in this 2017 Taylor Spring, please visit the Lincoln Center website.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in dance, modern dance

The all-American dance form

There are so many ways to celebrate. Paul Taylor’s tribute honoring Martha Graham Dance Company’s 90th anniversary is to stage one of her dances.

from MGDC website, Diversion of Angels
from MGDC website, Diversion of Angels

Given Taylor’s background– he was a Martha Graham Dance Company member for many years– it’s fitting that Paul Taylor Dance Company undertakes a dancework created by Martha Graham. Diversion of Angels, the Graham dance she made in 1948, and in which he danced from 1955 for eight seasons, will be part of this PTDC New York season. Taylor’s partner at MGDC, Linda Hodes is helping oversee the production, staged by Blakeley White-McGuire and Tadej Brdnik for PTDC.

For a full schedule and tickets, please visit the David H. Koch Theater website.

For other MGDC news, please visit this site here.

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

Spinning the human connection

Dance is music in motion which has “charms to soothe the savage breast.”

Photo © Paul B. Goode
Photo © Paul B. Goode
1.Images
Photo © Paul B. Goode
2.Images 1
Photo © Paul B. Goode
3.Spindrift 2
Photo © Paul b. Goode

Paul Taylor Dance Company with the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, at the David H. Koch Theater through April 3rd, manifests the catharsis of which Congreve spoke with every leap across the big stage.

A program of Spindrift (1993,) Images (1977) and Promethean Fire (2002) speaks to the human connection with a religious awe. The trio of Taylor pieces is devoid of humbug, of course, but each looks at man’s existence relative to community (Spindrift), idols (Images) and evolution (Promethean Fire.) At least this is a broad stroke explanation of the stories these dances tell.

Images is the most pleasing of the works, with lively costuming by Gene Moore and a soupçon of an exotic variety in the movement, set to a Debussy piano . Promethean Fire has the gravitas of a Bach score and handsome Santo Loquasto costumes. Spindrift, which sent me scrambling for a definition– it is waves of sea or sand spray–is a very serious work with a string quartet for background.

By Lonpicman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Lonpicman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Footnote: Larry Keigwin’s new work, Rush Hour, inspired by the George Segal sculpture of the same name, is on the bill again on Sunday March 27th and Friday April 1st.

Sullivania, one of Taylor’s two new works (along with Dilly Dilly), reappears later in the season as well. The final premiere is Doug Elkins’ The Weight of Smoke which also shows up on the bill of fare again in the next couple of weeks.

For more information and tickets for the New York season of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, please visit http://ptamd.org/LC2016/