on the cover of Dance Magazine. Thanks to the Haglund'eeler who rocketed the picture to us this afternoon. Can't wait to see her on stage again when Miami City Ballet has its Joyce Season at the Koch Theater in April. Tickets are on sale right now.
We don't yet have casting info for the December 6Bolshoi in Cinema presentation of John Neumeier's incredible The Lady of the Camellias, but we have this teasing promo with Lantratov and Obraztsova, which will play over and over for about ten times if you don't click on it to stop it. To see the larger than life version, click here.
Twyla Tharp's 50th Anniversary Tourpulls into Lincoln Center on Tuesday night. This is our rare chance to sit in the Orchestra Pit for a performance. When has that ever happened before in this theater?!
Here is a fascinating recent interview of Twyla by Tavis Smiley in which she talks about the tour, her life and career, and the art form. Well worth investing a few minutes to hear what she has to say; worth more to get the old can in a seat next week.
Did somebody say Stelldette?? Three performances of the White Swan PdD in one week? Here's hoping that it is all in preparation for a full float at the Met this spring.
Haglund would love to see Stella Abrera's Odette (opposite Sterling Baca's Siggy along with Gillian Murphy and Thomas Forster - finally this guy is getting some respect - in the Black Swan PdD) tomorrow night at the benefit to raise research funds for the fight against Dystrophic Epidymolysis Bullosa (EB), but the $250 ticket price is out of his league. It seems Stella also performed the PdD at the DanceFAR benefit last week with Marcelo Gomes and last night at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center with Sterling. It all tempts us to be optimistic and hopeful.
New York City Ballet's casting for the first week of Nutcracker was posted earlier this week. How exciting to see Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar featured during the first week of the run - Saturday matinee and Sunday evening. Their performances last year were the highlight of NYCB's Nutcracker season. Haglund will be catching the Sunday evening performance as well as the opening night with Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette. He may be able to work in Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz as well. It's hard to believe that our little mother-to-be is going to squeeze in a couple of Dew Drop performances, but everyone stay calm. Lauren Lovette finally returns after a long injury layoff and will be testing her recovery with an opening night Marzipan. Great to see that!
During this brief ballet layoff, Haglund has been hanging out on Broadway.
What a terrific show The Gin Game is at The Golden Theatre on W. 45th with 91-year-old Cicely Tyson and 84-year-old James Earl Jones. It’s a limited engagement that will end in January.
The makeup crew really had to do a number on Ms. Tyson to get her ready for the Home for the Aged, which is the setting for the play. Off stage she looks half her age. The little, meek but mighty Tyson with her little Granny Clampett voice challenging and manipulating the huge James Earl Jones with his booming bass voice was – well – in perfect harmony. Tickets have been on TDF for $41 - money well spent.
On Tuesday night Michael Flatley was wound- up like no 57-year-old dancer should be. His new Broadway Lord of the Dance - dangerous games show at the Lyric Theatre on 42nd Street, which is also a limited run* into January, is a little like a two hour Super Bowl halftime show with a little circus mixed in and a whole lot of powerful step dancing which they should rename Bullet Dancing just for this –– a clip from the end of Tuesday night's show (you have to turn on the sound of the bullets).
Flatley didn’t come out until the very end to dance a very few steps before bows and then an extended encore. But it’s not like he was sitting around with his feet up for the rest of the show. He was the principal flautist in the orchestra, who as you know gets a very big workout in Irish music. In addition, he painted the artwork for a special souvenir poster that was being sold at the souvenir stand. He’s a dancer, a musician, and a painter. Oh, and a choreographer, of course.
A lot has changed in stage entertainment since Flately first starred in Riverdance over twenty years ago. That production was quaint in comparison to the current one which uses a story of the good Lord of the Dance versus the bad Dark Lord, both of whom have huge teams of fierce-tapping, handsome thugs. Massive video, massive filmed pyrotechnics, swarms of butterflies, and prancing unicorns overwhelm the outstanding dancing. There is a central Little Spirit character in a sparkly unitard who threads through most scenes - like the Jester in some Swan Lakes - who never dances but engages in some basic acrobatics.
The soloist singer, Sophie Evans, had a lovely voice, particularly in the more Irish song selection.
The two fiddle players, Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Valerie Gleeson, were tall leggy blonds in blue sequined mini-dresses and spiked heels. They were fantastic — and when they started dancing and skipping all over the stage in perfect unison while playing their fiddles, Haglund thought how easy Maestri Delmoni and Nikkanen have it in the dark pit for Concerto Barocco. What if they had to actually get up and boogie to the Bach in six inch stilettos while playing it?
All of the dancers in the production were astonishing. The discipline and synchronization was such that at times on stage the 20 or 30 pairs of shoes sounded like one dancer’s. Every finger was identical. Every arm was placed at precisely the same angle. The Lord of the Dance, James Keegan, won most of the awards that can be won for Irish dancing early in his career and has a good deal of stage charisma that compliments his tornadic tapping. But there is only one Michael Flatley in Irish dancing, and it was his appearance late in the show that brought the Super Bowl atmosphere to a frenzy. Yeah, he can still do it all. He just needs a little rest every sixteen counts or so. He’s earned it.
* Michael Flatley only performs on stage on certain dates. You may have to get that info from the Lyric Theatre. Tickets on TDF.
The H.H. UIEX hits the proverbial bull's eye again.
Tickets for Alessandra Ferri/Herman Cornejo/Bruce Levingston performances at the Joyce Theater on March 2-6 go on sale to the general public on December 11th. It sounds like Preljocaj's Le Parc could well be part of the program.
Miami City Ballet is also coming to Lincoln Center as a Joyce Theater presentation April 13-17. Wouldn't that be fab-u-lous if we got to see our very own Simone Messmer in Balanchine's one-act Swan Lake? By the way, she is performing Odette again this Friday in West Palm Beach during MCB's rep program there.
Edited to add: AND according to NYT, Angel Corella is bringing Pennsylvania Ballet as part of the Joyce season. How lucky would we be if he brought his brand new Don Quixote!
Out west this evening, our very own Stella Abrera and Marcelo Gomes will be guest artists at the DanceFAR (dance for a reason) cancer research institute benefit. It is being organized by SF Ballet's James Sofranko. Do you remember Sofranko when he was still in short pants at The Juilliard? Haglund must have seen most of his performances during those years and especially enjoyed it when he was teamed up with an adorable frizzy-haired girl named Annie. Her last name escapes us, but it began with a Z. What a charismatic group of kids they were.
Then, over Thanksgiving weekend, our Stella along with Devon Teuscher and Hee Seo will perform with Roberto Bolle in Balanchine's Apollo while Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Phil at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This is a don't miss if you are within a thousand miles of it.
Our guest reviewer, Mr. S., has run out of vacation time in New York, but left us with some more impressions from his time here.
Thanks much, Mr. S. Hopefully, some day you will be able to join us for the spring ballet season in New York when it gets pretty crazy trying to whiz back and forth between the Met and the Koch Theater in order to see everything that one wants desperately to see. We could use your help.
Good morning, Haglund.
First things first. Thank you for having posted my earlier comments and for having done it so handsomely. I am grateful, too, for the kind comments made by others about what I wrote.
I hope not to wear out my welcome by sending you these further comments about the five performances that I saw in addition to those earlier reviewed. Because there was so great an overlap in the contents of the performances, it might be more useful to depart from the chronological diary format and to use a more generic and synoptic approach.
After three further performances of this piece I remain unmoved. Some of the particular dancing in all three performances was accomplished and satisfying, but the work itself remains, for me, an extended ballet class in jump-suits.
Monotones I and II
This work was new to me. Because the choreographer was the iconic Sir Frederick Ashton, whose ballets I have watched for years and always with the greatest enjoyment, I was expecting something really great. I have to say that, taken for all in all, I did not think that this was Ashton at his romantic best. It was, of course, interesting to see a choreographer like Sir Frederick, celebrated for producing beautiful classical ballets, producing instead an abstract work. And I daresay that, as I have remarked many times in previous posts, someone with a sure grasp of ballet technique would have seen and admired technical virtuosity of the kind that an amateur like me is not really equipped to assess. It does my aesthetics no credit to say that I kept thinking of the Star Wars films, an impression which was enhanced, as it seemed to me, by the cool, even icy, abstraction of the music of Eric Satie, and by the costumes, which would have been wholly at home in those films.
Center Stage: Dance Camp is currently in production with Sascha Radetsky, Ethan Stiefel, Peter Gallagher, and Kenny Wormald all reuniting for a third time for a gig on the Lifetime channel at a still to be announced date. Someone named Chloe Lukasiak from Dance Moms will join them.
The plot involves a directive for the academy to incorporate more contemporary and modern training into its program. Sounds like we can expect a lot of big hair tossing around, splits in second position, and rolling on the floor - and don't forget the dramatic penche arabesque in barefeet with hair dragging on the ground. Nothing makes contemporary dance accessible like a big head of messy hair blowing around on top of a pair of chunky splits.
It's doubtful that this Dance Camp will teach Brandenburgs, In the Upper Room, or Biped -- all damning examples of how American modern dance has become too elitist.
Our cynical attitude may change if it turns out that the shadowy blogger, whose filmed brilliance was apparently left on the cutting room floor by the editors of Flesh and Bone, turns up with a significant presence in this new Center Stage.
New Orleans is in for a treat this Nutcracker Season when Joe Phillips and Irina Sapozhnikova from the The State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater in Vladivostok, Russia join the Delta Festival Ballet for three performances at Tulane University. They will dance two roles in each performance: Prince & Nutcracker and the Snow PdD. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will also star. Performances will be held at Tulane Univerisity's Dixon Hall on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 19 and 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.deltafestivalballet.com.
The Bolshoi in Cinema rebroadcast of Balanchine's Jewels from January 2014 will be in theaters on November 15th and in some places again on November 17. This was a magnificent performance - one totally worth seeing again. Check the website for show details at your local cinema. Here in Manhattan, the screening will be at the Empire on 42nd Street, Kips Bay 15, and Union Square Stadium 14 on Sunday, November 15 at 12:55pm. It will show on Tuesday, 7:00pm at The Beekman Theater on the Upper East Side, and at BAM on Sunday, November 29 at 2:00pm.
Sunday morning, Haglund snagged the last available senior fare ticket on the Corella Express out of Penn Station bound for Philly. A little over an hour later the train's tailhooks caught the arresting cables while going about 150 mph as we accelerated into the 30 Street Station. You see, acceleration is the only thing that the Corella Express does. No brakes. No downshift. And certainly no drogue parachute on the back of the last car. The Corella Express is engineered to accelerate. Period.
There was enough time to wander around beautiful Philadelphia and have a bite of lunch before heading over to the majestic Academy of Music which is one of the grandest, oldest opera houses in the United States. Haglund was there to see Angel Corella’s Pennsylvania Ballet wind up its fall season with a program entitled Speed & Precision. On the bill was Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, and Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse – all of it danced to a huge live orchestra whose music was rich and vibrant.
McGregor is not Haglund’s cup of tea. So, he will lightly skip over Chroma and only say that the content was the same as most everything else McGregor has done: an amalgam of cabaret kicks and slithering, gymnastics, joint snapping and yanking – all carried by forceful lighting and fab music by White Stripes and Joby Talbot. The Pennsylvania Ballet dancers managed all of it with great spirit and energy. Chroma didn’t tax the artists' dance or theatrical skills, only their cartilage and ligaments.
The architecture of Concerto Barocco, led by Lillian Di Piazza, Marria Cosentino and James Ihde, revealed strong symmetries, vivid details, and even some new discoveries. The eight women in the corps de ballet incorporated the use of their heads and eyes into their epaulement with great clarity and uniformity. There was a striking moment early on when all of a sudden all of the women turned their heads toward the audience. Haglund had never noticed that before, possibly because he mostly sits in the cheap seats in his home theater where NYCB performs the ballet. Whatever the reason, that particular moment was a very pleasing, stylish detail that he’ll look for from now on. The Repetiteur for Concerto Barocco is Kyra Nichols. In her more than three decades at NYCB, she logged plenty of performances of each ballerina's role. How nice it was to see the ballet as she remembers it. There were some parts which seemed demure if compared to how NYCB dances it, but overall the performance was quite stunning.
The audience loved, loved, loved Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse. What’s not to love? It is set to Michael Nyman’s driving score MGV: Musique à Grande Vitesse (translation: high speed music) that was composed for the ceremonial opening of the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse - high speed train) corridor between Paris and Lille. It is one of the fastest trains in the world, streaming through the French countryside at 190 mph - even faster than the Corella Express.
The leotard costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant revealed the dancers' sleek power as they tore through the fast curves of Wheeldon’s high speed choreography. The imaginative scenery included ribbons of gray metal road that ran toward the back of the stage and suddenly stopped in twisted, uprooted fashion like wreckage. The lighting was shadowy, sometimes originating from the back of the stage.
Elizabeth Wallace & Lorin Mathis Edward Barnes, Amy Aldridge & Alexander Peters, Lauren Fadeley & James Ihde, and Mayara Pineiro & Arian Molina Soca led the outstanding cast on Sunday that included a corps of 16 who were simply phenomenal. The opening corps movement with stationary bodies sharply shifting left and right to the rumbling rhythms of Nyman’s musical train barreling down the tracks was riveting. All of the PdD were in very capable hands. Lorin Mathis Edward Barnes had the benefit of dancing his role at every one of the five performances; so, maybe that’s why he had a little edge on the others who had to share their roles with another cast. For those who have not seen this ballet danced by NYCB or the Royal Ballet, let’s just say that it has a lot of arm signals in it, especially toward the end, which we wish Wheeldon would edit down or add steps to the section. That little complaint aside, DGV is one of his major abstract works.
The H.H. Pump Bump Award, metal wreckage by Bryan Oknyansky, is bestowed upon the cast of DGV who brought the audience to its feet. One can only imagine what is going to happen in Philly next March when Angel Corella unleashes his dancers in his new Don Quixote. Can. Not. Wait.
H.H. has a frequent reader in Sydney, Australia who makes an annual trip to New York City each fall to enjoy the cultural offerings of our wonderful city. "Mr. S" always generously contributes to our conversation when he is here (and sometimes there). He is currently in town and has attended several ABT performances with several more still on his calendar. Following are his most recent observations which are, as usual, articulate and enlightening:
Good evening Haglund. Another year already; another ABT Fall Season; another chance to be in New York for that fortnight.
This year I have a total of eight performances. They are broken by performances at the Metropolitan Opera on 26th and 31st October, and it seems a good idea to write to you now in connection with the first three ABT programmes in my schedule.
The announced order of the programme was altered on the night and so that the new ballet After You was danced first. It was, to me, another of those long and abstract ballets which are no doubt fascinating to anyone who has been a ballet dancer or who has some developed knowledge of ballet technique. I could not dance if my life depended upon it and I have no particular knowledge of ballet technique. That meant that, notwithstanding the cachet of Mark Morris's name and fame, it all looked to me like imaginative gymnastics. Interesting? Yes, of course. Beautiful? Not to my eye. Thrilling? Not at all. The music, by Hummel, was unfamiliar to me, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and I thought that it was markedly well played.
And then, after an intermission, things were transformed and for the better.
First up, Mr Cornejo partnered Miss Lane in Le Spectre de la Rose. Now this is what I call real ballet. A simple episode of coherent narrative fantasy, beautifully staged, with a wonderful score by Weber. And the dancing. Mr Cornejo was simply dazzling. No gimmicks. No pretentiousness. He was the very incarnation of beauty in movement. The piece is famous for the male dancer's exit: Nijinsky, who created the role, caused a sensation when he sailed off the stage and through an open set window. I once read somewhere or other that people who saw Nijinsky thought, so great was his art, that he actually hung suspended in the air for a moment or two as he made his exit. Well, I can't say anything about Nijinsky, but I can say that Mr Cornejo, as he made the exit leap, bent his leg and gave the impression, just for a split second or two, that he, also, had managed to suspend flight. I myself thought that the way he made his entry, poised momentarily on the window sill and looking like an ancient Greek sculpture, was every bit as exciting as his final leap.His entire performance was instinct with great art : elegant, distinctive, crackling with stage electricity. This performance alone was worth the (considerable) price of the ticket.
None of the foregoing is to denigrate from the performance of Miss Lane. I wrote at length last year about how greatly I admired her style and grace. She was every bit as good this year as I remembered from last year.
Can somebody please persuade the Artistic Director and his associates to programme more, much more, of this type of ballet danced with this level of superb artistry?
As it happened, the next piece in the second segment of the programme was another fine classical piece: Valse Fantasie. This was a company premiere and the two featured soloists were Miss Seo and Mr Whiteside. The piece made, I thought, an interesting contrast to the Mark Morris piece. Both are what I would call abstract ballets, but Valse Fantasie, which looked to me to be very well danced, was, quite simply, beautiful to look at and that made, for me, all the difference to my comparative enjoyment of the two pieces.
The final segment of this programme was The Green Table.
I wish that I could share your enthusiasm for this piece, but I have to say that it did not appeal at all to me. I can agree readily with you about the quality of the performance. It is the structure of the piece that leaves me unresponsive. It seems to me that the ballet is intended to be satirical, but like a good deal of contemporarily relevant satire, it confuses the provocation to think seriously about some serious issue with the making of a didactic political statement. I am unconvinced that such is the authentic role of the art of ballet. I appreciate that that is a conservative viewpoint, but if there is one thing that modern experience should be teaching us by the day, it is that to demonstrate that something is unfashionable is not at all to demonstrate that it is unsound.
Saturday, 24th (Matinee)
A second performance of After You. Different cast; same response by me.
A second Le Spectre de la Rose, this time with Mr Siimkin and Miss Trenary. You know from last year's posts that I generally like Mr Siimkin's work and, had it not been for a distinct and distracting fall, his performance, although not for me in the same class as Mr Cornejo's, would have been very acceptable. As it was, I greatly admired the way in which Mr Siimkin, as it were, picked himself up, dusted himself down and got on with the performance, as a true professional in any field can always manage to do. He and Miss Trenary danced well together. At the curtain calls, she received a handsome bouquet. She plucked out of it a yellow rose, and then offered the entire bouquet to Mr Siimkin. He refused it, of course, but accepted the single rose. I hugely admired Miss Trenary's gesture. She must have understood how Mr Siimkin would be smarting from his misadventure, and it seemed to me that her simple gesture of offering her bouquet to her partner was Generous and considerate, a genuine class act.
There followed a second performance of Valse Fantasie. The soloists were Miss Teuscher and Mr Gorak. I liked them much better than the Friday evening cast.
You might recall from last year's posts that I greatly admire Mr Gorak's dancing and had wondered more than once why he had not been promoted to Soloist. Well, now he has been, and in addition has received an Annenberg Fellowship which will open up to him all manner of exciting opportunities. I recently read somewhere or other that Mr Gorak had told an interviewer that his dream had always been to dance as a Principal with ABT. May I say how greatly I hope that his promotion and his Fellowship will not draw him away from that ambition. The days are coming when ABT is going to have to refresh its roster of Principals and it is, precisely, up and coming artists of Mr Gorak's evident promise to whom the Company will have to look for that renewal.
And then, for the first time this year for me, Company B. I have enjoyed this piece ever since I first saw the Company perform it a couple of years ago. To a man of my age, the Andrews Sisters are a living memory. The choreography seems to me to be snappy without being merely gimmicky and, in general, good fun. All of the dancing was good. If iI speak yet again of Mr Gorak it is because he performed the Boogie Woogie Bugel Boy solo, an episode which remains in my memory as the one in which I first became aware of what Mr Siimkin could do. I think that Mr Gorak's style is not that of Mr Siimkin, but it certainly worked for me.
Saturday, 24th (Evening)
Repeats of Company B, Le Spectre de la Rose and Valse Fantasie. There is no need to repeat things peviously said, but once again Mr Gorak shone in Company B, and once again Mr Cornejo simply took one's breath away as the Rose. What an artist! I could happily have watched him all evening.
This programme introduced a ballet new to me, The Brahms-Haydn Variations. I enjoyed it greatly, much more so than Miss Tharp's Bach Partita of last year. The music of Brahms, which I love, was a great musical setting but, the music itself apart, the stage action seemed to me to be more interesting overall. Last year, I was lukewarm about Miss Copeland's dancing, but I must say that, partnered by Mr Barca, and partnered very well to my eye, Miss Copeland danced her role with what I thought was much greater flair than she showed last year.
Overall, and at about the mid-point of my 2015 ABT schedule, I think that the programming, about which I complained last year, is very much improved; and the dancing has been uniformly good and, in the cases of Mr Cornejo and Mr Gorak, excellent. For me, Mr Cornejo has been, thus far, not so much a stand-out as a knock-out. To see that level or artistry is a privilege and an experience justifying the effort of getting to New York from the opposite side of the world.