The April issue of The New Criterion includes Laura Jacobs' Season of the Witch, a fascinating, in-depth review of Angelin Preljocaj's Spectral Evidence performed by New York City Ballet. You may recall that Preljocaj found his inspiration for the dance in the mass hysteria and religious extremism that led to the Salem Witch Trials during which innocent women were accused of being witches and were dealt brutal sentences by the men who feared them.
Contrary to the metro area's male newspaper critics who gave it the brush-off (five males dissed it with similar rhetoric while the lone independent-thinking female critic, Apollinaire Scherr, found significant artistic merit in it and worthy of four stars), Jacobs found it dazzling:
Spectral Evidence, Angelin Preljocaj’s new dance for the New York City Ballet, is as strange and beautiful as its title. It’s the kind of title Martha Graham often put on her work—a title like a hardwood floor in Emily Dickinson’s house. And it’s the kind of subject Graham was attracted to—a legend or event knotted with violence and desire. Spectral Evidence is about the seventeenth-century Salem witch trials, a shameful yet fascinating piece of America’s past. Preljocaj sees the story through a prism, a Swarovski crystal. Working a refined synthesis of ballet history, modern dance, and postmodern tropes, he slides content into dazzling form.
Jacobs explores the role that hysteria has played over the centuries in dance from Giselle to Swan Lake to Fall River Legend to La Valse to Dybbuk and concludes that "Spectral Evidence looks right at home at NYCB."
You can read Jacobs' review in its entirety here.
More of Preljocaj's work will be on display soon when he brings his own company to Lincoln Center in April to perform his dark interpretation of Snow White with costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier.