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 ballet, New York City Ballet

The red and the black

Ballet, and I guess, all forms of dance, has always had the effect of transporting me.

In one piece on the program the other day at the New York City Ballet, Peter Martins’ choreography to Stravinsky’s propellant Jeu De Cartes took me away in a most pleasing riot of jumps and jetés. Diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs were displayed in spirited combinations; there were knaves and face-cards acting in harmony. The Queen and her cavalier dresses in kitschy abandon by costume designer Ian Falconer pranced happily to the stirring melody.

This was just the first of five transportive moments that afternoon. And one of the most original and electrifying was Peter Walker’s ten in seven. This is a dancework we had seen before, and were looking forward to with delight. It was even more splendid on a second watching. ten in seven, with a guitar-led band on an on-stage bandstand, and 5 coupled dancers is electrifying. That guitarist leading the band is Thomas Kitka, who also wrote the commissioned score.

Equally intoxicating is Alexei Ratmansky’s new Odessa. Ratmansky reponds to the eclectic styles in the score with fire. The costumes by Keso Dekker are splendid. In the dance, when passion meets brutality, I wanted to be the one to alert the police. In fact every aspect of Odessa, which premiered on May 4th, feels as if it is energized by Leonid Desyatnikov’s music, Sketches to Sunset from 2006.

Lauren Lovette’s For Clara left us with wanting more when last we saw it. This viewing was no different except that the lovely piece, set to music by Robert Schumann, was even more admirable.  Ms. Lovette has succumbed to romantic impulses with great subtlety, and in the most charming of ways.

New York City Ballet’s resident choreographers are always a talented and innovative bunch. When Christopher Wheeldon filled that role, he quickly became our favorite. Fashions come and go, but we still thrill to his works, like Carousel: A Dance, which we never see often enough. After the Rain is another such, and it gets better with repeated exposure. On this occassion, it was danced by Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour both of whom execute the piece with elegance and style.

Justin Peck, currently the Choreographer in Residence, got his first-ever all-Peck program recently. Two of the pieces, The Dreamers (a duet, danced by Sarah Mearns and Amar Ramasar on this occasion) and Everywhere You Go (for what looks like an entire company), both familiar, are welcome additions to the permanent repertoire. Peck has an interesting way of partnering male dancers, and lots of energy even in his sometimes dystopic moods. New Blood is an interesting new work, that will take a few viewings to absorb and analyze.

The dancers– from corps to principal–earn my unbridled admiration with ever step they take.

The spring season of NYC Ballet’s Here/Now Festival runs through May 21st and   finishing the season on May 28th with Ballanchine’s  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at their Lincoln Center home. Visit the website for information and tickets.

Posted in ballet, New York City Ballet

Zen fancies: Stay in the present

It sounds like there is some sort of Zen maxim in the name of the
New York City Ballet’s spring season. It features a festival entitled
“Here/Now.” It promotes a whooping 43 works by its extensive roster
of post-Balanchine choreographers. These include Christopher
Wheeldon, Alexis Ratmansky and young Justin Peck. Members of
the troupe, like Justin Peck, Lauren Lovette and Peter Walker, also
contribute dancepieces to the season’s repertory. We’ve witnessed
these imaginativre works each has created before this at there September
20, 2016 premieres and were very impressed.

The Spring programming begins on April 18th with a dash of Balanchine
and Robbins. Then it moves on to the Here/Now festivities and ends with
a touch of the perennial favorite, Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For more information, and to get tickets, please visit www.nycballet.com/