Archive for the ‘The Torn Tutu’ Category

In The Megalopolis with Mark Morris’ “The Forest”

The premiere of Mark Morris’s “A Forest” (seen May 21) took place at his home, the Mark Morris Dance Center in downtown Brooklyn, which is now in a construction zone where multiple glass skyscrapers are dwarfing the once prominent, white dance building. As if in response, Morris’s choreography for “Forest” to Haydn’s elegant rhythms and sonorities, from Piano Trio No. 44 n E Major, is often treated with small dance responses. For example, when MMDG Music Ensemble pianist Colin Fowler, violinist Georgy Valtchev, and cellist Wolfram Koessel introduced Hayden’s primary theme, and later repeated it, the nine dancers became Pavlovians, dutifully repeating the same dance phrase. Part of their dance phrase involved hopping three times in three clumps, and in time with the musicians’ strident triple bowing and fingering. They brought to mind excited kids at a candy store.

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90 Years and Counting: The Martha Graham Dance Company

The Martha Graham Dance Company’s 90th anniversary season (April 14-18) at New York City Center opened with Graham’s Night Journey (1947) and closed with her Cave of the Heart (1946). In between these masterworks, about Greek tragedy heroines, was a world premiere by the experimentalist Marie Chouinard and the last proscenium work that the venerable Swedish choreographer Mats Ek said that he would ever make. Considering that Chouinard’s Inner Resources reads like an uninspired group of teenage competition dancers trying to look avant-garde and Ek’s Axe was both terrifying and beautiful, it is a tragedy that Ek will not be making more dances for the stage and that Chouinard will.

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Celebrating Alwin Nikolais: The Futuristic Choreographer

Which came first, the arcade game Pac-Man or Mechanical Organ by Alwin Nikolais? Both came into being in 1980. With a child-like glee, both present an abstracted technicolor figure, fearsomely navigating every which way. Moreover, after watching the Alwin Nikolais Celebration at The Joyce Theater (Feb. 9), it became clear that the late choreographer (1910-1983) influenced more than the world of dance. In Nikolais’ productions, technology drove his visions. Like a Steve Jobs of the theater, Nikolais was a master mind. He conceived the concept and aesthetic of each work by controlling all the elements: composition of the electronic score, costuming of his dancers, décor creation, and choreography (albeit in collaboration with his zealous performers, who worked with him at the Henry Street Playhouse).

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Mark Morris’s Pleasant Ballet for ABT

Mark Morris’s After You, a new commission from American Ballet Theatre, is textbook pleasant and thus a convenient opener for a company wishing to present a thirty-minute ensemble work. Performed by 12 dancers and set to a composition by Johann Hummel (Septet in C-major, Op.114 “The Military”), the ballet’s title, After You, refers to what is said when two people nearly collide. One person gives permission for the other to take the lead. Thus the ballet, seen October 27 at the former New York State Theater, evokes an abnormally civilized world of dance—especially for Morris, who has been celebrated for making ballets to classical music that dabble in physicalized human faux pas

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Basil Twist Camps History in Sisters Follies

Basil Twist’s “Sister’s Follies: Between Two Worlds,” commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Abrons Playhouse, is a testament to how camp can save performance history from oblivion. Dance and theater works of yore are notoriously difficult to stage because they often look hopelessly old fashioned. But in “Sisters’ Follies,” Twist—a newly minted MacArthur Genius and a third generation puppeteer—casts Joey Arias, the celebrated drag queen chanteuse, and Julie Atlas Muz, the burlesque performance artist, to play the titular sisters: Alice and Irene Lewisohn, who founded the Playhouse in 1915. Muz and Arias are stars of satire, but they aren’t real-life divas (like the Lewisohn sister were). Under Twist’s direction, Muz and Arias often flip and dangle from wires, which divas don’t do. They prance and preen, belt and belittle each other in the jewel-box size theater, which is made spectacular through the efforts of 11 behind the scenes performers, who manipulate large and small puppets in costumes that range from camels to biblical figures. The Lewisohn’s Playhouse becomes Twist’s camp marionette theater.

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Lion Hearts: Batsheva’s Young Ensemble

When the dancers took their bows at the end of the 85-minute work on opening night (September 27), they received a standing ovation. In “Decadance”, the performers are the main event; their individuality is the subject, and the audience championed them.

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Wanted: Artistic Director of a Ballet Company

Two mid-size ballet companies in North America are in search of artistic directors. Gradimir Pankov is leaving his post at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens of Montreal after 15 years. John McFall is departing Atlanta Ballet after 20 years. In comparison to the majority of the 140-odd ballet troupes across the North American continent, which have minimal seasons and only a handful of dancers, Les Grands and Atlanta employ between 20 and 30 dancers and commission in-demand choreographers for their seasons and tours. So, what is required to helm a ballet company?

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All in the Family: Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance Company

The dance company founded by Paul Taylor in 1954 returned for their annual season (March 10-29) to the former New York State Theater, but it returned under a different name: Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance Company. This is significant. New to the company’s title are the words American and Modern. Taylor, now 84 years old and considered the surviving grand master of American modern dance, appears to be concerned about the health of his chosen genre. With his company’s new title comes a new mission: to present works by other choreographers, both young and old, who are perceived to be part of the American modern dance family tree.

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The Solo Dance Act: Nederlands Dance Theater 2

Perhaps we are returning to the era of dance as a solo act. That’s what I was thinking while watching the 16-member Nederlands Dans Theater 2. In three of the four works presented at the Joyce Theater on February 7, the ensemble dances devolved into a series of solos. This trend occurred for no apparent reason. Insiders know, however, that it’s a lot easier to make solos than group choreography

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Justin Peck’s New Graffiti Ballet

Peck’s Heatscape video promo doesn’t express bohemian culture as much as it reveals the corporatization of culture, marketed to young people in spaces owned by real estate titans. Let’s hope Peck’s actual ballet doesn’t fumble so drastically into contested urban spaces, where art and big business are meeting. Let’s hope Heatscape is just a hot dance.

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