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DARK DAYS




Summer used to be the season of doldrums in the dance world. Not so anymore on the New York dance scene, though this is clearly contrary to nature. We need a rest before the jam-packed fall season. We need a laid back stretch of time in which we watch dancing, if at all, in the country, where—at Jacob’s Pillow, for instance—its intensity is relieved by greenery, picnics, desultory antiquing, indolence. But no. This summer, as in several summers past, there was unremitting action in town. And this year some of it came from choreographers ranking among the field’s hardest hitters, Mark Morris and Twyla Tharp. The city rebelled. What, after all, did you think caused the Big Darkness? Folks just didn’t want to see things for a while.




My own body rebelled, too, and I succumbed to what the doc called “a little summer flu.” Consulted after I’d spent two days in a semi-conscious state, unable even—oh horror of horrors—to read, let alone get myself up, dressed, downtown, and inside a theater, he prescribed the regulation antibiotic. The drug did its job, as drugs tend to do. I then had to recover from the drug. More than a week has gone by without my really noticing it.




Meanwhile, however, I’ve managed to do two things. Thing One: I’ve stocked the two databases (those items running down the right hand column of this page) under the rubric of TOBIAS ELSEWHERE. Now, should you be so inclined, you can catch up with the ESSAYS and REVIEWS I’ve been writing in that lovely land called “elsewhere” that are electronically accessible. Since the future of dance writing, increasingly shunned at print venues, clearly lies in the realm of electronic publication, I’ve been directing my writing life accordingly.




Thing Two: I’ve sorted out the mountains of press releases luring me (and perhaps you) to dance action that will take place locally between Labor Day and the winter solstice. My chief Go Sees through Hallowe’en: Ballett Frankfurt (choreography by William Forsythe), Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Opera House, Sept 30-Oct 4; U Theatre: “The Sound of Ocean,” BAM Harvey, Oct 7-11; Suzanne Farrell Ballet, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Oct 11, Brooklyn College, Oct 12 mat.; Merce Cunningham Dance Company, BAM Opera House, Oct 14-18; Ballet Nacional de Cuba, City Center, Oct 15-19; Susan Marshall & Company, BAM Harvey, Oct 21-25; Ronald K Brown/Evidence, Joyce, Oct 21-26; American Ballet Theatre, City Center, Oct 22-Nov 9; Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group, Joyce, Oct 22-Nov 1; Curt Haworth, Danspace, Oct 23-26; Ririe Woodbury Dance Company performing works by Alwin Nikolais, Joyce, Oct 28-Nov 2; Noche Flamenca, Lucille Lortel Theater, Nov 1-30 (previews Oct 29 & 30). More—much more—later.




For the middle two weeks in September, I’ll be in Copenhagen, where I plan to report on the Royal Danish Ballet, which will, conveniently, be offering a pair of programs during my stay that epitomize its split personality. The first is a “heritage” program featuring a new production of the incomparable Romantic-era choreographer August Bournonville’s La Sylphide. The staging has been entrusted to Nikolaj Hübbe, who, like many of Denmark’s spectacular male dancers, eagerly left his native land and company as soon as he could (he’s spent the major part of his performing career as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet), but has, blessedly, never really severed his bond with the homeland. The second program will showcase the work of three balletic postmodernists. The Danes, who, despite the smallness of their numbers, have made uncanny achievements in several fields—dancing, literature, science, fine art, and, spectacularly, design—nourish a chronic inferiority complex. In dance, they’ve been yearning to get “with it” for the past seven decades, even if the illusion of contemporaneity required rejecting or despoiling the unique heritage that defines them. The company, looking ahead to 2005, when it will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Bournonville’s birth, is polishing up the master’s extant works, learning to love the old while forging ahead with the new.




After Copenhagen, I’ll begin reporting on the busy New York scene, where it looks as if the lights will be on full force.




© 2003 Tobi Tobias


an ArtsJournal blog