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Enterprises that Require New Clothes

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New York City Ballet / David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / September 17 – October 13, 2013 On September 19, with considerable fanfare in the media, the New York City Ballet gave its Fall gala.  The orchestra was raised on a platform, liberated from the pit that is its usual home, to let the spectators ogle the musicians.  The downstairs portion of the audience, many of them clearly one-percenters, was outfitted in expensive-date-night costume.  Plenty to look at without a dancer yet in sight.  Then the musicians charged the air … [Read more...]

A Cheated Flight

New York City Ballet / David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / September 17 – October 13, 2013 The New York City Ballet opened its fall season at the David H. Koch Theater with a week of Swan Lakes—broken only by a trio of new works for the gala on September 19.  The version was Peter Martins’s, which, typically, illustrates the choreographer’s adamant conviction that “less is more.”  Needless to say, the stubbornly “clean” edition is likely to make a newbie viewer wonder what, indeed, this legendary piece is about.  In its more … [Read more...]

Youth in Bloom

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To call the School of American Ballet “selective” is an amusing understatement.  It’s the training ground in the U.S. for potential professional classical dancers (who must, of course, begin on the path as children) and the alma mater of a majority of the performers in the New York City Ballet. School of American Ballet Workshop Performances:  Jordan Miller and Alejandro Ocasio in George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 Photo:  Paul Kolnik The academy draws students who show basic potential for the trade to which they aspire in anatomy, … [Read more...]

On Balanchine’s “Ivesiana”

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“I don’t have to tell you that Mr. B is with Mozart and Tschaikovsky and Stravinsky,” Lincoln Kirstein announced to the New York City Ballet audience, exactly 30 years before the company’s April 30 opening night this season.  The program, which inaugurated City Ballet’s three-week American Music Festival attracted a good house and fervid audience enthusiasm for two big pieces easy on both eye and spirit:  Who Cares? to Gershwin songs (their lyrics unsung, but engraved in popular memory; Tiler Peck at her familiar finest) and Stars and Stripes … [Read more...]

Life Lessons

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Mark Morris Dance Group / James and Martha Duffy Performance Space, Mark Morris Dance Center, Brooklyn, NY / April 3-14, 2013 Jenn and Spencer, being given its world premiere on the opening night of the Mark Morris Dance Group’s run at the company’s studio/theater in Brooklyn, refers to two of the company’s splendid dancers, Jenn Weddel and Spencer Ramirez.  The duet named for and performed by them illustrates the magic a pair of dancers may be capable of and an extraordinary exploration of the duet form. Mark Morris Dance Group’s Jenn … [Read more...]

Ballet’s Sweetheart

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Pacific Northwest Ballet / City Center, NYC / February 13-16, 2013 The Pacific Northwest Ballet, whose home is in Seattle, has just made a rare visit to New York.  It offered two programs, one an acid-test rep of three top-of-the-line Balanchine classics; the other, Jean-Christophe Maillot’s take on Romeo and Juliet, to that Prokofiev score  ballet fans hear far too often.  Evolved by Francia Russell and her husband, Kent Stowell, in the course of the 1970s, the company is one of several groups whose roots lie in Balanchine territory.  Peter … [Read more...]

Bliss!

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New York City Ballet / David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / January 15 – February 24, 2013 The New York City Ballet’s two-week festival (January 15-27, 2013) of Balanchine’s choreography to music by Tschaikovsky came with a guarantee:  no duds, no Eurotrash or other Terpsichorean fads, no feeble imitations of the greats.  How wonderful it was to head for Lincoln Center night after night, knowing one was about to encounter dance that was sublime, to music by an ideal partner.  George Balanchine (1904 - 1983) Photo:  Tanaquil … [Read more...]

Diaghilev Smiles

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Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo / Joyce Theater, NYC / December 18, 2012 - January 5, 2013 The trouble with the Trocks—Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the men-only troupe that parodies classical ballet—is that their dancing gets better and better.  None of the dancers is qualified for a place in the higher echelons of the profession, but their technique continues to advance.  Placement, the backbone of ballet, is given reverent attention, although the performers clearly need to have had more rigorous training when they were … [Read more...]

Untitled

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American Ballet Theatre / City Center, NYC / October 16-20, 2012 American Ballet Theatre, financially afflicted like many a dance company in these stringent days, gave a Fall “season” consisting of just one “week”—October 16-20.  Did the brevity of the run ensure the excellence of the repertory?   Presented at the City Center, it consisted of seven ballets or stand-alone excerpts, none of which was filler or “novelty.”   Most were safe (and worthy) favorites—Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, for instance; Antony Tudor’s The Leaves Are Fading; Twyla … [Read more...]

Making It New

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New York City Ballet:  Premiere of Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit / David H. Koch Theater. NYC / October 5, 2012 Old-time followers of the New York City Ballet used to yearn for “another Balanchine”; today’s fans are more realistic.  They count themselves lucky to discover “another Christopher Wheeldon”—an astute practitioner of the classical craft even if he doesn’t regularly fire the imagination.  At 25, Justin Peck, a member of City Ballet’s corps, stands out in the crowd of aspirants to that status and has already achieved far more.  … [Read more...]

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