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Archives for May 2012

Books Remembered: Noel Streatfeild’s “Ballet Shoes”

  This essay, commissioned by the Children’s Book Council, first appeared in CBC Features, Vol. 46, No. 1, Winter-Spring 1993. Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes was published in 1936.  It is still in print.   We were in London, my daughter and I, walking down the Cromwell Road.  Anne was an exquisitely ingenuous fourteen-year-old, a pupil in George Balanchine’s revered School of American Ballet, and the one of my two offspring who’d given me the magical gift of reading and loving the books that had been my own childhood … [Read more...]

Armchair Travel

American Ballet Theatre / Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NYC / through July 7, 2012 We are in India, a long and mythical time ago.  A Brahmin priest lusts after Nikiya,  the loveliest of the temple dancers, a situation acceptable neither to his gods nor to the young woman.  She loves the warrior Solor, who returns her feelings.  Solor, however, has been promised to the rajah’s daughter, Gamzatti, who, in desperation (or an access of evil), finishes off her rival with a poisonous viper embedded in a basket of flowers.  Nikiya has a … [Read more...]

Glimpses #7: Ashton’s Pastoral

Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée, being shown about town in the Ballet in Cinema series, creates a world of delight.  The beloved 1960 ballet is set in a peaceable countryside, back when wheat was harvested with scythes.  Yet even this bucolic wonderland is threatened—by greed.  A farm owner intends to marry off her delicious daughter to the simpleminded son (pathetically fond of his red umbrella) of a wealthy neighbor.  After many amusing and touching tangles and resolutions, the spunky young woman sees to it that she weds the … [Read more...]

Starry Night

American Ballet Theatre:  Gala / Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NYC / May 14, 2012 The 15 items presented in American Ballet Theatre’s gala opening night program proceeded, one after another, like items on a To Do list.  The individual numbers, most of them familiar (at least half of them overfamiliar), provided many an occasion for multiple fouettés for the ladies, kamikaze feats both old and startlingly new for the gentlemen, and crises of passion for the couples.  The show fulfilled its ostensible purpose of presenting every … [Read more...]

What’s New?

New York City Ballet :  Spring Gala, Á La Française / David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / May 10, 2012 New York City Ballet’s spring gala treated its extravagantly dressed audience to two new ballets—one by Peter Martins, who heads the company, the other by the dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who recently retired from performing with the company and will be pursuing an ambitious project in Los Angeles.  The evening was called Á La Française (in the French manner) and was duly decked out in French references—in the … [Read more...]

Glimpses #6: Sara Mearns

Dancing to the spiky Hindemith score for Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2, Sara Mearns—a favorite of connoisseurs as well as New York City Ballet’s general public, is like a coiled spring unfurling and rewinding in bursts of energy tempered by minute doses of calm.  She’s like a wild creature, acquired by auction, probing her new environment.  No one in the piece, not even her striking co-star, Teresa Reichlen, is as alive as she is.  Three times her partner, Amar Ramasar, holds out his hand to her; three times she extends her hand as if to … [Read more...]

Glimpses #5: Vuillard

  Edouard Vuillard, Misia and Vallotton at Villeneuve, 1899, oil on cardboard. Collection of William Kelly Simpson.   As you can see from the Jewish Museum’s rich retrospective of his pictures, Edouard Vuillard (1868 – 1940) was obsessed by fractured patterns.  Clothing in figured fabric and décor vie for attention with the people represented.   Dresses, wallpaper, exuberant plants refusing to confirm that they’re indoors or out, and secondary human figures appearing as half-visible ghosts charge the viewer’s retinae and … [Read more...]

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