Who woulda thought? A lovely Bejart ballet

The European philosopher-choreographer-king Maurice Bejart died on Thanksgiving (in case you live in a cave), and a week later the Alvin Ailey troupe premiered his "Firebird" at their gala. Which meant even at Newsday, where reviews have come to be frowned upon, a piece was in order. What a hapless task! What was I going to do if I didn't like the dance--which seemed more than likely, given how … [Read more...]

Pennsylvania Ballet’s Romantic “Serenade”

The opening chords of Tchaikovsky's "Serenade in C" are a beginning and end in one. Like a prince descending the marble steps of the palace to be crowned king, the progression of chords moves with stately dignity--but not just downward. For every couple of steps down, there's one up, and even an abrupt pause to take in the full measure of the occasion. Tchaikovsky does not begin in medias res but … [Read more...]

She nails it: Jennifer Homans on the Nureyev bio

Not to beat a dead horse--okay, to beat it--here's Jennifer Homans' review for the New Republic of the Nureyev bio that Foot in Mouth loves to hate. It's not that Homans agrees with ME-- that Nureyev was one of the greatest dancers--because she doesn't. It's that she both identifies the many problems with Julie Kavanagh's humongous and silly book, and proposes her own fascinating reading of … [Read more...]

Go: Peter Martins’ “Grazioso” at New York City Ballet’s fall gala

Well, actually, you can't. It's one of the duties of the Ballet Master in Chief of big companies to create pieces d'occasion for the galas. (The French here is de rigueur, bien sur). Martins does his duty, but it seems to make him miserable. His classical "trifles" have often looked straitjacketed, the contemporary work dogged, and the popular pieces a sop to the narcissism of the wealthy … [Read more...]

Blame Canada

So remember how, starting back in May and continuing into June, then again in September (see the archives), we were lamenting that dance is not as popular as opera--and trying to figure out why and what to do about it? In late September, reader Griffin suggested that dance do like the Met Opera and provide the movie theaters with high-definition simulcasts of sumptuous live shows. And now they're … [Read more...]

What about a dramaturge? A yucky word but a fine idea

Among the many wonderful responses to Monday's post about what choreographers might do to clarify their vision, dance critic Lori Ortiz of the Gay City News, the Performance Art Journal, Attitude, and other publications reminds us of the European practice of dramaturgy: Hi everyone. I must pipe in to bring up one thing we are missing in our American dance, which is common in Europe: dramaturgy. … [Read more...]

Have choreographers forgotten their audience?

Blogger Jolene of Saturday Matinee: Thoughts on Theater in the Bay Area has ignited a small storm of response with her relief that someone could clarify why a couple of ballets were duds: she thought the problem was her. A whole lot of issues have come up, such as: What responsibility does a choreographer have to the audience? Do certain methods of composition lend themselves to obscurantism? Is … [Read more...]

Freaky unison

Ohad Naharin's "Three," performed by the Batsheva Dance Company at the BAM Opera House through Saturday, is what people like to call a "pure movement piece." It's an annoying expression in any case, as movement can never be wiped clean of history and metaphor (and why would you want it to be?), but it's especially off when applied to Naharin's gestural idiom. Still, other pieces by Israel's … [Read more...]

No one wants to play the rube

Blogger Jolene of Saturday Matinee: Thoughts on Theater in the Bay Area writes in about my post last week on the Elo and Millepied ballets at American Ballet Theatre: I completely agree with your interpretation of Elo's and Millepied's pieces. I just saw them this past Saturday at Berkeley and was a bit confused. Do the choreographers really think that their pieces are going to be memorable or … [Read more...]

Walking the line

Here is my Newsday review of the two world premieres at American Ballet Theatre this season, by Benjamin Millepied and Jorma Elo. I didn't like the ballets very much; neither did I hate them. Writing in short form with little time doesn't lend itself to that mezzo-mezzo state of mind, a brain stewing after it's been stewed. I've noticed that my colleagues and I tend to list to one side or the … [Read more...]