Sea Spirits and Spirited Dancing

Prospero deals with Ariel. Miranda sleeps. The first-night cast of Alexei Ratmansky's The Tempest: Marcelo Gomes holding Danil Simkin, Sarah Lane at back. Photo: Marty Sohl

American Ballet Theatre premieres Alexei Ratmansky's The Tempest and revives Twyla Tharp's Bach Partita. Had Shakespeare happened upon American Ballet Theater’s production of Alexei Ratmansky’s The Tempest, he might have recognized the characters of his eponymous play, but been bewildered by the absence of words—wondering how on earth audiences in this vast Lincoln Center theater could … [Read more...]

Good News from San Francisco

San Francisco Ballet  dancers (L to R) Shane Wuerther, Luke Ingham, and Luke Willis court Sofiane Sylve in Alexei Ratmansky's From Foreign Lands. Photo: Erik Tomasson

The San Francisco Ballet comes to Lincoln Center with two mixed bills of ballets by seven choreographers. The artistic director of a large ballet company must have headaches rather different from those of a Wall Street trader. His (and such directors tend to be male) “stocks” are highly volatile. Helgi Tomasson, who leads the San Francisco Ballet, can make predictions about how ballets by … [Read more...]

Dmitri and Alexei, Heart to Heart

Cory Stearns and Diana Vishneva in Piano Concerto #1. Photo: Gene Schiavone

American Ballet Theatre presents a trilogy of ballets by Alexei Ratmansky to Shostkovich's music. When American Ballet Theatre premiered Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphony #9 last October, it was understood that this was to be the first in a trilogy of ballets set to music by Ratmansky’s fellow Russian, Dmitri Shostakovich. That trilogy made its debut with four performances during the company’s … [Read more...]

About That Nutcracker

A dream wedding: Clara and her Prince (Hee Seo and Cory Sterns). Photo: Gene Schiavone

The Nutcracker in its many manifestations is like an attic toy box into which generations of children have tossed the playthings they’ve grown too old for. Amid the dolls and stuffed animals and fairy tales and toy soldiers are folded longings, nightmares, pre-pubescent thoughts of sex, and fear of growing up. The ballet by Lev Ivanov that premiered in St. Petersburg in December of 1892 has … [Read more...]

In Season

The peerless Herman Cornejo in Ratmansky's Symphony #9. Photo: Gene Schiavone

Hello!  Goodbye! American Ballet Theatre’s City Center season came and went with dispiriting speed—seven performances in five days (October 16 through 20). The pleasures outweighed the disappointment. New Yorkers could rendezvous with revivals of three ballets in the company’s history: Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo (1942), Antony Tudor’s The Leaves Are Fading (1977), and Mark Morris’s Drink to Me Only … [Read more...]

Flaming Magic and Goofy Girls

Natalia Osipova in Alexei Ratmansky's new Firebird for ABT. Photo: Gene Schiavone

One of the most surprising things about American Ballet Theatre’s new Firebird is how Russian it isn’t. When Serge Diaghilev commissioned 27-year-old Igor Stravinsky to write his first ballet score, one of the impresario’s continuing aims was to acquaint Paris with Russian music and culture. L’Oiseau de Feu premiered in 1910 with a wandering Tsarevitch as its hero and a magic bird as its … [Read more...]

Korean Dancing: Ancient and Very New

Jinyuk Ryu (L.) and Insoo Lee in Lee’s Modern Feelings Photo: Christopher Duggan

Fifteen years ago, I decided that the Korean salpuri was one of the world’s great dances. For some time, smitten by a performance in an early black and white film, I had corralled graduate students from Korea to perform a salpurifor the dance history class I taught. They managed it with varying degrees of skill and spirituality. Then, in 1996, in Seoul, I saw a version of this solo (which derives … [Read more...]