Lots and lots has happened since last we met, some of it in New York and some of it elsewhere.
– I’ll start by bragging. Harcourt e-mailed me the layout for All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, my next book, and I’m still bedazzled. The design and typography couldn’t be more handsome. Having already seen the dust jacket, my guess is that the finished product is going to be at least as good-looking as the Teachout Reader, if I do say so myself.
– On Wednesday and Thursday I was in Washington, D.C., where I saw Mark Lamos’ revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Kennedy Center. (That’s for The Wall Street Journal, so I’ll keep my opinions on ice for the present.)
– In addition, I watched a performance by William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt, also at the Kennedy Center. Somewhat to my surprise, I very much liked the last piece on the bill, a dance called One Flat Thing, reproduced in which the members of the company dragged twenty metal tables downstage, lined them up in five rows, and danced on top of, underneath, and in between them, accompanied by the electronic music of Thom Willems. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but a brilliant one, rather like the strobe lights in David Parsons’ Caught, and Dana Caspersen’s program note summed up the results aptly, if a bit breathlessly:
Twenty tables, like jagged rafts of ice, fly forward and become the surface, the underground and the sky inhabited byh a ferocious flight of dancers. A pack of bodies raging with alacrity, whipping razor-like in perilous weaves, in a hurtling intelligence. The music of Thom Willems begins quietly and then blows up into a gale, hurling the dancers toward the end, their bodies howling in a voracious, detailed storm.
As you probably know, Ballett Frankfurt is disbanding any moment now, but Forsythe is starting up a new company, and I trust that One Flat Thing, reproduced will figure prominently in its repertory. I’ve never been a great fan of Forsythe’s work, but this dance was terrific, and I want to see it again.
– Earlier that same day I paid a quick visit to the National Gallery. I looked at American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection, which contains two exquisite “minute” sketches by John Marin and a wonderful trompe l’oeil still life by John Peto, one of my favorite nineteenth-century American painters, and Drawings of Jim Dine, which contains, among other things, a profile drawing of a woman smoking a cigarette that I would have been more than happy to hang in the Teachout Museum.
– I took the train back to New York on Friday to hear Jo