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Wizards of Oz

Chunky Move: Mortal Engine / BAM Howard Gilman Opera House / December 9-12, 2009 Chunky Move, founded in 1995 and still led by Gideon Obarzanek, comes to us from Down Under, or Oz, as some people call Australia. Chunky Move in Mortal Engine Photo: Julieta Cervantes The troupe's name indicates its original purpose--to invent dance productions that contrast with the rarefied artifice and elegance of ballet. (Originally trained in that classical genre, Obarzanek, who masterminds the group's works, is decidedly in recovery.) Of … [Read more...]

A Tale of Two Nutcrackers

By Christopher Caines, guest contributor Imagine that Sol Hurok had telephoned the director of a slightly down-at-heel, raggle-taggle, time-traveling vaudeville troupe one day and said, "Parker! Listen: I need a Christmas show! A Nutcracker! Pronto! My Russians canceled. I can get you a couple weeks of one-nights. If you deliver, maybe we can make it an annual thing. Can you do it?" Members of the Bang Group in Nut/Cracked Parker looks around the studio. The troupe has a ragbag assortment of old props--some beat-up top hats and … [Read more...]

You Are What You Wore: Personal Indulgences No.16

It isn't easy, trying to buy clothes now that the years have beset the body with flaws. You can't find garments that cover all of them except, of course, a shroud. But not yet. Sometimes I think I should wear one of those Asian or African or Indian outfits that simply swathe you in fabulous fabric. Then all I'd have to do is develop an undulating walk for allure. The clothes of my childhood were a different matter. Some of them were memorable for the pleasure they gave me, others because they--I really mean this--left permanent aesthetic … [Read more...]

Elsewhere

Dear Readers, I will be working in Copenhagen NOV 17 through NOV 30 and not posting on SEEING THINGS until my return. Meanwhile, please continue to send your Comments on the pieces already posted, especially recent reviews and all of the PERSONAL INDULGENCES essays; I will post your Comments as soon as I can. tt … [Read more...]

Morphoses Falters

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company / City Center, New York City / October 29 - November 1, 2009 Christopher Wheeldon's Rhapsody Fantaisie Photo: Erin Baiano Three years ago, when Christopher Wheeldon left the security of his position as Resident Choreographer at the New York City Ballet to form his own small company, Morphoses, his head was full of extravagant dreams about making classical ballet new for the 21st century. He even fulfilled some of them. But the economic downturn has thwarted his progress. Ballet companies, no matter how modest … [Read more...]

Wiseman’s Lens on Dance

Frederick Wiseman's La Danse: Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris / Film Forum, NYC / November 4-17, 2009 The Paris Opera, as seen in Frederick Wiseman's La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet Courtesy of Zipporah Films The ticket line at Greenwich Village's Film Forum November 4-17 for Frederick Wiseman's latest grand-scale documentary, La Danse: Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris, will surely contain as many dance fans as film buffs. And I suspect the local dance crowd will enjoy the movie more. It offers extensive, if necessarily fragmented, … [Read more...]

ABT’s Experiment

American Ballet Theatre / Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City / October 7-10, 2009 Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center's main concert venue, lacks an orchestra pit, wing space, and a floor suitable for dancing. Musicians performing there stay put once onstage, limiting their motion to decorous walks to and from their places. Not for them phenomenal steps requiring a floor that cushions sleights of foot or a safe landing spot for leaping exits at race-car speed. Nevertheless American Ballet Theatre was installed at Avery Fisher for … [Read more...]

Decreation Indeed

The Forsythe Company / BAM Howard Gilman Opera House / Brooklyn, NY / October 7-10, 2009 William Forsythe made his name creating ballets with an eye to pushing the art conspicuously forward, as Balanchine had done. Nowadays he makes concoctions that are so hard to appreciate, detractors find them empty, showy, foolish, inexplicable, or all of the above. It's not that I think he should retrace his early steps. Artists must not - cannot, actually--imitate their past. They need to move ahead to find their own future. I just wish I understood … [Read more...]

Dancing Without Motion

Often the visual arts will make a dance fan feel he or she is in the presence of dancing that doesn't move through space and time, but is dancing nonetheless, or at least its cousin. The actual dance pickings seemed slim this year, as summer slid into autumn. This is often the case, but never fear; we're already beginning to be bombarded with choices. Still I thought I'd grant myself a busman's holiday and see what the picture people were up to. The ambitious exhibitions at the grandest museums have long runs, so shows that I missed during this … [Read more...]

Dr. Bill: Personal Indulgences No. 15

My father was a doctor, a general practitioner--G.P.--as his type was called back then when it was very common. Regular patients called him "Dr. Bill," instinctively combining honorific with nickname to indicate their respect and affection. At the age of 12 he had emigrated from Russia to the States with his mother and siblings, his father having preceded them. His name is listed in the archives at the Ellis Island Museum: "William S. Bernstein, Russian (Jewish)." His first job in America was driving a laundry truck. Needless to say, he was … [Read more...]

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