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Made in France

Paris Opera Ballet / David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / July 11-22, 2012 The Paris Opera Ballet, playing at the David H. Koch through July 22, gets the prize for vintage achievement.  Formed in 1669, it has the distinction of being the world’s oldest classical ballet troupe.  The academy that produces most of its dancers dates from 1713.  Naturally, this legendary institution, absent from New York for 16 years, had to re-introduce itself. The Paris Opera Ballet’s Aurélie Dupont  (center, held aloft) with fellow artists of the … [Read more...]


American Ballet Theatre / Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NYC / through July 7, 2012 In the past week American Ballet Theatre has been offering a handsome array of dancers to play Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried in Kevin McKenzie’s version of Swan Lake.  Steeling myself against the choreography—as mistaken and misshapen as Peter Martins’ Lake for the New York City Ballet—I chose to see three pairs:  Paloma Herrera and Ángel Corella (in his farewell performance with the company); Polina Semionova and David Hallberg (currently … [Read more...]


American Ballet Theatre:  Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, with Natalia Osipova, David Hallberg, and Herman Cornejo / Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NYC / June 18, 2012 The near-hysterical joy of the audience at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 18—in response to American Ballet Theatre’s pairing of Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg as the leads in Romeo and Juliet—was a theatrical phenomenon in itself.  The star-struck approach to ballet is hardly the only one to take; it may even be thought frivolous.  But it can … [Read more...]

Five-Alarm “Firebird”

American Ballet Theatre:  Alexei Ratmansky’s new Firebird / Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NYC / season runs through July 7, 2012 I can’t imagine what Alexei Ratmansky was thinking of in creating his New Look Firebird.  To begin with—and this is the first thing you notice--it‘s dressed for Las Vegas by Galina Solovyeva, with complementary décor (including a sci-fi forest with hints of porn) by Simon Pastukh.  It wrests the fairy-tale narrative that Michel Fokine created for his 1910 L’Oiseau de Feu (in which good, abetted by … [Read more...]

Glimpses #8: Tiler Peck

Like Patricia McBride’s, Tiler Peck’s stunning face registers intensely—once seen, never forgotten.  Her dancing alone makes a visit to the New York City Ballet heartening.  Her technical acumen never falters, only commands, having grown in confidence and in an athletic prowess that’s increasingly managed with subtlety. Yet even viewers who adore her—as well they might—may modify their praise by the worried observation that she seems to have no soul.  Peck entered the company as a performer in the show-biz style, vividly “selling” her … [Read more...]


The School of American Ballet’s Workshop Performances / Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / June 2 matinee and evening; June 5, 2012   School of American Ballet’s Workshop Performances:  Austin Bachman in Peter Martins’ Les Petits Riens Photo:  Paul Kolnik Students at the School of American Ballet and the in-group that cares about it call it, simply, The School, as if it had no equals.  So far it doesn’t, at least in the States.   It’s the training academy of the New York City Ballet, which skims off the cream—according … [Read more...]

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...]

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