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Guardian Angel

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater / Masazumi Chaya 35th Anniversary Celebration / New York City Center, NYC / December 18, 2007 Masazumi Chaya, Associate Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Photo by Andrew Eccles. I recall him vividly as a dancer. He was a powerhouse, but a deeply self-contained one, such as one sees in traditional Asian martial arts. This force never got in the way of lyricism when it was required--or sheer hi-jinks for that matter. He always seemed intent about something, be it the joy or anger or grief … [Read more...]

Slaves to Books: Personal Indulgences No. 5

Bookwormish-ness runs in our family. Over the generations it has seized the soul of my mother, me, my daughter, and my daughter's elder daughter, to name just the female victims. For example, whenever I take the subway with my young granddaughters--which is often, and often from one end of Manhattan to the other--I read aloud to them. Nearby passengers listen, smiling. Occasionally one of them says, "I remember that book from when I was a child." There is nothing like a book. Nothing. People complain about standing in that endless line at … [Read more...]

Two’s Company

NOTE: This essay was written some five years ago--intended for posting on The Dance Insider in the "Vignettes" series I was writing there. My editor advised against going public with it, since it made me sound ungrateful toward the companies who issue press seats in pairs and might alienate readers who did not enjoy press-ticket privileges. I took his advice. This week, the twinned postings of my friend and colleague Eva Yaa Asantewaa and my ArtsJournal colleague Apollinaire Scherr persuaded me to offer it belatedly. Since the rewards of … [Read more...]

Thierree’s Magic Tricks Charm at BAM; Alvin Ailey

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on December 7, 2007. Satchie Noro swings from ropes while performing in "Au Revoir Parapluie," directed by James Thierree, at the BAM Harvey Theater in New York on Dec. 4, 2007. Performances will continue through Dec. 16. Photographer: Julieta Cervantes/BAM via Bloomberg News Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A woman in crimson hangs upside down in a tangle of thick ropes, later soaring through the air in a white nightgown, like Peter Pan's Wendy. An acrobatically inclined man is … [Read more...]

Bejart’s Spandex `Firebird’ Gets Demure With Ailey

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on December 4, 2007. Clifton Brown from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater rehearses for Maurice Bejart's "Firebird" in New York on Aug. 21, 2007. Performances of the show will continue at the New York City Center through Dec. 31. Photographer: Eduardo Patino/Alvin Ailey Dance Theater via Bloomberg News Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Seeing the late Maurice Bejart's ``Firebird,'' the centerpiece of the gala that opened the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's five-week … [Read more...]

Thinking About “The Nutcracker”

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker / New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / November 23 - December 30, 2007. Marie and the tree from New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker by George Balanchine. Photo by Paul Kolnik. The Nutcracker--in George Balanchine's version for the New York City Ballet, the most skillful, intuitive, and moving that I've ever seen--is an essay in contrasts, both physical and social. The full article appeared in Voice of Dance (http://www.voiceofdance.org) on November 28, 2007. To read it, … [Read more...]

City Ballet’s Annual `Nutcracker’ Defies Gravity

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on November 29, 2007. Robert La Fosse, standing second from the right, as Herr Drosselmeier, performs in the New York City Ballet production "The Nutcracker" in New York in this undated photo. Photographer: Paul Kolnik/NYCB via Bloomberg News Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- A bracing tonic for the Scrooges among us is ``The Nutcracker,'' choreographed to Tchaikovsky's captivating score by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet. In the course of its annual five-week run … [Read more...]

Family & Friends: Personal Indulgences No. 4

When I was growing up, my mother pointed out to me that, among my aunts, uncles, and myriad cousins (along with any spouses and offspring that had accreted to them), the ones that I liked best invariably had the "worst" personalities, moral characters, and behavioral track records. At least according to the standards of our petit-bourgeois world. This was true, but not entirely true. My absolute all-time favorite family member, my mom's elder sister, Ann, was a saint--all self-effacing and genuine sweetness and tenderness. I adored her and … [Read more...]

Tel Aviv’s `Gaga’ Dancers Dance to Eno and Bach

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on November 16, 2007. Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Nine casually dressed women move as a unit to Brian Eno's ``Neroli,'' which hovers on the edge of silence. Their dance is called ``Humus'' (Latin for ``earth''). They're introspective and sensuous, hunkering down to sway torso and pelvis as if they were so many waves in the sea, or recumbent, stretching and folding their legs like languid odalisques. This is the most congenial section of ``Shalosh'' (``Three''), choreographed … [Read more...]

Saarinen’s Shakers Dance, Sing; Garth Fagan’s Peripheral Vision

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on November 9, 2007. Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Swathed in black, not an inch of flesh visible but for their faces, hands and an opening at the spine or chest, eight dancers cover the stage with a heavy, awkward gait. Outstretched arms angled, torsos canted forward, they strike the floor with their sturdy shoes, their long inky skirts flapping like the wings of wounded birds. Tero Saarinen dances with member of his company while performing "Borrowed Light" at the Brooklyn … [Read more...]

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