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Winter Solstice No. 1

Dancer unidentified Photo: Martha Swope (1964) Note: The photos of the young Prince reproduced here are from George Balanchine's celebrated version of The Nutcracker, inspired by the Russian production of his youth. Balanchine himself played the role as a student in the St. Petersburg academy that trained dancers for the celebrated company we now know as the Kirov or Maryinsky Ballet. Each photo shows the Prince in the mime monologue with which he tells the Sugar Plum Fairy about his earlier battle with the Mouse King and his retinue. … [Read more...]

La Plume de Ma Tante: Personal Indulgences No. 19

My mother must have had a decent command of French. Sometimes, as I was growing up, she'd refer to it, though always briefly and casually, as if the subject had little importance. All I ever found out was that she had taught elementary--perhaps even intermediate--French as well as English literature (using a textbook called From Beowulf to Thomas Hardy) at New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn in the 1930s. That was before my father and then I came into her life and changed her career to that of housewife and mother. But she had kept some of … [Read more...]

Gimme Shelter

Sasha Waltz & Guests: Gezeiten / BAM Howard Gilman Opera House / November 3-6, 2010 Three doors, phantasmagorically mismatched, open onto an empty room. The paint on its walls has peeled away in jagged fragments to reveal two previous colors. This derelict space could provide shelter only to the desperate. One of the doors has a thick brick frame that juts into the room. It's easily imagined as the entrance to a crematorium; instantly you think Holocaust. It turns out that Sasha Waltz, who choreographed this dance-theater … [Read more...]

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