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Wonder Women

This article originally appeared in Tutu Revue. Marie Taglioni as the Sylphide There's a subdivision of feminist thinking that condemns the beloved storybook ballets of the nineteenth century for their ostensible political incorrectness. All those sylphs and Wilis, it maintains, all those maidens suspended in states of enchantment represent women as frail, vulnerable creatures, deprived of power over their own destinies, the victims--often in the name of love--of dominant men. I think it's absurd to apply sociological convictions and agendas … [Read more...]

Taglioni’s Shoe: Memory & Memorabilia

I was standing before a glass case -- in a museum or library dedicated to theater memorabilia, I think. Or perhaps an exhibition space in an opera house. Where? New York? London? Paris? Can't recall. When? No idea. Perhaps decades ago. All I remember -- … [Read more...]

Young, Dressed Up, And Dancing

This article originally appeared in Tutu Revue. Years and years ago, I asked Bill Carter -- a demi-caractère dancer with American Ballet Theatre, a flamenco dancer manqué, and one of the most soulful artists I've ever known -- if his vocation had already been evident in his childhood. "Oh, yes," he reminisced, "I was always dressing up and waving scarves around." Since that conversation, having raised a dancing child, who now has a dance-mad little daughter of her own, I've met with much evidence that there's a profound connection, especially … [Read more...]

The Ballerina — A Swan Song?

This article originally appeared in Tutu Revue. Every spring, America's two grandest classical ballet companies play a long annual season -- most of May and June -- opposite each other at Lincoln Center. American Ballet Theatre holds forth at the Metropolitan Opera House, while the New York City Ballet dances at the New York State Theater. The repertories of the two troupes are dazzling, in terms of both quantity and quality. NYCB is the repository of the work of George Balanchine, the giant of twentieth-century choreographers. ABT features … [Read more...]

Walkaround Time: Basic Steps In Mark Morris’s “L’Allegro”

Walking lies at the heart of dancing. One step after another, the steps identical and uninflected, moving the body across the surface it stands on, through the space it dwells in--this fundamental material need only be given rhythm and pattern to become a dance that vies with the most intricate and elaborate choreography. Given a meaningful context as well, it can stir a viewer profoundly. Dance Insider, Vignettes 08/23/02 … [Read more...]

Crowning Glory: Hair & Hats Centerstage

Feminist doctrine, eager to dissuade us from giving over much attention to millinery and hairdos, cautions that what goes on inside a woman's head is far more significant than what's on it. A pair of feisty, engaging productions recently playing New York -- Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's "HairStories" and Regina Taylor's "Crowns," with choreography by Ronald K. Brown -- insist that the issue isn't so simple. Both works, generated by black artists, show that matters like hats and hair are far from being trivial or frivolous but, rather, harbor deep … [Read more...]

Flesh: “Talk to Her”– Almodovar’s Anatomy of Women

The gaudy, bizarre twists and turns of the film's plot, influenced perhaps by the magic realism of the Latin American novelists Borges and Garcia Marquez, are extravagant even for this film maker, who thrives on flamboyant, unlikely extremes. But there's a sober, well reasoned, and calmly paced subtext operating here too, and it has a special appeal for the dance observer. Using this trio of female figures representing three different generations, Almodovar examines an anatomical spectrum that runs from the peak of natural physical blossoming … [Read more...]

Home: Longing and Belonging in the Danish “Folk Tale”

According to Denmark's great Romantic choreographer August Bournonville (1805-1879), the idea of home is a splendid subject for a ballet because it raises the question of self-identity -- a profound and eternally fascinating theme that is a staple of art. The most affecting of Bournonville's works and a linchpin of the Royal Danish Ballet's repertoire, "A Folk Tale," created in 1854, explores the fate of a pair of infant girls who have been surreptitiously switched in their cradles. One is an heiress of genteel birth, the other a member of the … [Read more...]

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