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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...]

Tracking Corella

Barcelona Ballet / New York City Center / April 17-20, 2012 Ángel Corella, artistic director of the Barcelona Ballet and the company’s star dancer Photo:  Erin Baiano For a long and happy time, we thought of Ángel Corella, a much-adored star with American Ballet Theatre, simply as a king of dance.  Now we’re coming to know him as a “native son.”  The classical company he founded in Spain, his birthplace, now called the Barcelona Ballet, owes its existence in large measure to his decision that such a troupe was needed.  Spain, celebrated for … [Read more...]

Glimpses #4: Re-inventing Tanny

Now that truth and privacy have been banished from our culture, it’s not astonishing (or, apparently, actionable) that Varley O’Connor should have co-opted a chunk of a singular artist’s life and “novelized” it.  Tanaquil LeClercq was not a heroine in a middle-brow tale.  She was a unique, fascinating, and—for those, like me, who saw her dance—unforgettable ballerina who was dealt the worst hand imaginable—paralysis.  She was, for the period O’Connor covers, the muse and wife of the New York City Ballet’s George Balanchine, the supreme … [Read more...]

To My Readers

Dear Readers, I want to share with you the honor and pleasure I feel in having been named a finalist in this year's Pulitzer Prize for criticism.  The citation reads:  “For work appearing on that reveals passion as well as deep historical knowledge of dance, her well-expressed arguments coming from the heart as well as the head.” This year's winner is Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe for film criticism; the other finalist is Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post for cultural criticism. I'm especially pleased about … [Read more...]

Glimpses #3: Paris in New York

Here in the States we all know Brigitte Lefèvre, head of the Paris Opera Ballet, thanks to Frederick Wiseman’s documentary on the venerable company, La Danse.  She’s a woman who knows how to take charge.  At a press conference hosted by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, she tells us about the company’s upcoming American tour, which will bring it to New York July 11-22. Encountering her live, your attention is seized by her exquisitely shaped hands, which move with a ballerina’s grace.  Turns out she was a petit rat at the POB’s … [Read more...]

Occupy Lincoln Center

Paul Taylor Dance Company / David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC /  March 13 – April 1, 2012 What dance company director could resist the opportunity of playing the grand-scale Lincoln Center house formerly known as the New York State Theater, even if his or her usual venue were the now handsomely refurbished City Center?  Not even Paul Taylor, who has firm, if sometimes oddball, principles. The Paul Taylor Dance Company seized the opportunity to perform there for three weeks and the people in charge of such things shrank the space and … [Read more...]

Glimpses #2: Susan Marshall

To the Reader:  This is the second in a projected series of brief pieces that I’ll be posting on SEEING THINGS along with my longer essays—and, of course, on Facebook. Susan Marshall—a thinking person’s choreographer for sure—gave a weekend of performances in 92 Y’s Stripped/Dressed series, curated by Doug Varone.  She transformed the dour, dance-history laden Buttenwieser Hall into a do-it-yourself Spiegeltent, a mobile cabaret-dance hall, in which she first talked about the origins of her Sawdust Palace, created for such a setting, and … [Read more...]


Martha Graham Dance Company / Joyce Theater, NYC, and City Center, NYC / March 13 – 18, 2012 Martha Graham, performing Lamentation (courtesy YouTube) Everything that lives must die, as a colleague explained gently to her very young daughter, when the child was wrestling for the first time with the idea of death.  The idea is also applicable to even the most glorious dance institutions, such as the Martha Graham Dance Company, on view for a week at the Joyce Theater. I saw the first of the two ordinary repertory programs offered.  It … [Read more...]

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