the danceview times
Volume 3, Number 44 November 28, 2005 The weekly online supplement to DanceView magazine
Mad About the Boy
The Outsider Chronicles:
Ovid said his project was to "bring back old things in a new way" (referre idem aliter)i.e., to mask the old values in new appearances, and gain a kind of delighted shock of recognition when you recognized some familiar virtue in some outlandish unheard-of hero. He'd himself been exiled from Rome into the deepest sticks and was busy unsettling the new Augustan pieties by smuggling in the REAL good-old family values.
Collaboration, co-operation, intuitive responsiveness, a modest and direct presentation of the selfthese are but some of the personal virtues espoused by Terry Creach in his work. The dance values all have to do with the basics, those blessed basics: as the choreographers states it, "weight, strength, timing and momentum unique to the moving male body." Indeed, Creach/Company began as the all-guy company called Creach/Koester, in 1983, when it was easy to ascribe social motivation to the work. But while it has remained a company of all men, the intrinsic politics of that format seem incidental, at this point, to the aesthetics. In other words, Creach/Company is, and Creach himself probably always was, about the movement.
Digging for Fun
It was only with hindsight that a comparison occurred to me which would put Jasmin Vardimon’s “Park” into context. "Park" all takes place in the public open space of the title; it brings a collection of disparate characters into varied confrontations; it is set to a potpourri of popular music and songs; and the action mingles speech and singing with movement incorporating natural acting, acrobatics, comic or dramatic exaggeration and straight dancing. Sound familiar? Not so long ago commentators would surely have evoked the name of Pina Bausch as Vardimon’s inspiration, but today that hasn’t happened. Now that I’ve thought of it, however, let me say that of course this isn’t up there at Bausch’s level, yet I can add that there’s no reason to write it off as hopelessly inferior, as would have been the case with earlier choreographers who, doubtless more consciously, emulated the genius of Wupperthal.
Bill T. Jones: Raising the Curtain
What's old is new again. It's late, late night, the lights are low and the sax's first mournful wail takes us to Club America where blowzy women spill from cocktail dresses, men with slicked back hair lounge in wrinkle-free jackets, everybody smokes and the height of urbane chic is to go out for some hot dancing and cool jazz. At least, given the elegance and subtlety of the Jazz Tap Ensemble's program at the Joyce, that's the world conjured up by the group's seasoned jazz quartet, its four gifted tap dancers, a director/choreographer with a refined sense of pace and a guest jazz singer who floats atop everyone else's energy wave. In short, it's intimate, live performance intended to pull us forward in our seats, and indeed, with these performers one doesn't want to miss a second.
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet
Dead at fifteen! loved, lovely, happy, gay,
These lines (along with a passage in Henreich Heine’s “De l’Allemagne” about the legend of the Wilis) inspired Théophile Gautier to imagine “Giselle.” The first act would be about a young girl who danced so fiercely at a ball that, at the end, Death claims her. The management of the Paris Opera thought this too insubstantial a book for a ballet in 1841, and Giselle had to find another path to Wilidom, but the poetic image of a young girl about whom Hugo could write, “Dancing caused her death: with eager, boundless love/Ballsdazzling ballsfilled her with ecstasies,” would be perfect for a ballet a century later. All in good time. Balanchine’s “La Valse,” set to Maurice Ravel’s “Valse nobles et sentimentales,” centers on just such a girl and just such a meeting, and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet brought the ballet to life last week.
City Ballet Opens Winter Season
Three days later, the snowflakes would fall and the sled would sail through the air, but first New York City Ballet presented a bracing opening-night program that was as far from “The Nutcracker”’s sugary fantasy as is possible. There were no tutus, no allusions to the 19th centuryand also no Balanchine. (There were also, thankfully, no speeches.) Under the rubric of “An American Music Celebration,” the company offered works by Peter Martins and Jerome Robbins, as well as a riveting, impressive premiere by principal dancer Albert Evans.
Trial by Jury
Ever since its founding 40 years ago, Dance Theater Workshop has been presenting an annual showcase of new choreographers. This year, a jury of eight arts professionals auditioned some 60 artists to come up with a program of six new works. The results indicate either (A.) young choreographic talent is in short supply, or (B.) Dance Theater Workshop’s aesthetic is getting old. My hunch is that the answer is (B.) based on the recurring sense during this evening that we’ve been here and seen this done better some time ago. Not everything was painful to watch, and the evening’s finale was by far its most inviting piece. But up to then, it was mostly reruns.
They frequently sit amongst the audience; they are not the beneficiaries of any special theatrical lighting effects; and for a while they stroll around looking intently into the audience's faces and reaching out for the occasional dignified handshake. But however intimate the setting, with no footlights for them to reach across, these nine distinctly non-glamorous dancers remain special, otherworldly beings. There is nothing about Ohad Naharin's hour-long "Mamootot" that suggests they are everyday pedestrian folks like the rest of us. Their fierce concentration and primal alertness endow them with a heightened sense of timing that has them constantly surprising us mere mortals with their sudden risings from their seats.
Oakland Ballet’s rebirth in October, at the age of forty, presented a company invigorated by a fresh crop of dancers in a program that embraced both the company’s history (Eugene Loring, Bronislava Nijinska) and a stab at things to come (Michael Lowe, Donald McKayle). More than anything, Artistic Director Karen Brown appears determined to reach out to new audiences, to make going to the ballet an inviting affair for a much broader cross section of people than has traditionally been the case.
With Scott Rink’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, Ronn Guidi’s “Peter and the Wolf” and “A Short Solo,” one of Dudley Brooks’ puppet ballets, the second program’s moniker as designed for the “whole family” rang true. Thankfully, none of the works were “kiddy-friendly,” in the sense of being dumbed down. They offered, instead, well chosen examples of story-telling in ballet on a more modest scale than the big full-length ones audiences seem to crave.
Copyright © 2005 by DanceView