the danceview times
Volume 3, Number 45 December 5, 2005 The weekly online supplement to DanceView magazine
Honors and Ratings
28th Annual Kennedy Center Honors
Complaining about the amount of pop music at this year's Honors, I was given a plausible explanation: anticipated television ratings. Two hours worth of this year's Honors will be telecast by CBS on Tuesday, December 27 and, according to some of my table mates at the post-performance supper dance, two of the five performing artists being honored aren't expected to draw the public at large. Industry wisdom has it that Suzanne Farrell is an unknown, except among balletomanes whose number is insignificant. Julie Harris, the actress, was popular once but her audience has aged and may be in bed by 9 PM EST. Tina Turner, who belts out rock songs, will be the big draw, along with her rock & roll colleagues. Second comes Tony Bennett, whose smooth-style singing has made a comeback. Robert Redford is still known, more as movie director and producer now than as movie star. I confessed to my mentors that I was a fan of the underdogs. Farrell and Harris are worthy representatives of classical traditions. Farrell actually of two, dance and music, because her company performed to Mozart amidst all the pop.
Three established British choreographers, David Bintley, Michael Corder and Christopher Wheeldon, will contribute to the new production of “Homage to the Queen” forming part of the Royal Ballet’s 75th anniversary celebration next June, but the company’s only complete new works this season are both by comparative newcomers, company member Alastair Marriott and the Canadian Matjash Mrozewski. Marriott’s “Tanglewood” is being given only five showings on a mixed bill; the new work deserves more but I wouldn’t say that of the two MacMillan ballets which end the evening. I remember liking “My Brother, My Sisters” at its creation with the Stuttgart Ballet in 1978 (in spite of its misuse of disparate scores by Schoenberg and Webern cobbled together), and it had some good early performers on entering the RB repertoire in 1980, but in this latest revival only Tamara Rojo as the second sister (the bespectacled one who seems to be killed) comes up to the proper standard. Are the others all miscast or badly taught? I do observe some errors in the staging of “Gloria”, the other MacMillan revival, but I always thought its strong point was Andy Klunder’s fine designs, so I can’t say I was actually disappointed this time. The programme also includes, as curtain-raiser, Ashton’s version of “La Valse”: not one of his best works, but useful for giving the male corps de ballet some prominence. It could, however, do with some more glamour in performance.
At the Top of Her Game
Janice Garrett & Dancers
It’s been four years since Janice Garrett returned from Europe to put down roots and focus her dancemaking in the Bay Area. While the thrill of discovery of a talented choreographer working at capacity has somewhat abated, her company can still thrill even longtime dance observers. My companion, a keen and at times rather cynical dance watcher, kept muttering “I can’t believe it” throughout Janice Garrett & Dancers fourth home season program.
"Reminiscin'," "Shining Star," "Caught," "Revelations"
The Scent of Change
"in this dream that dogs me"
by Lisa Rinehart
Karole Armitage, always struggling to be au courant, has sometimes failed to engage. Her leg-thwacking aggressive style, while rich in inventive geometry, sometimes leans toward a self-consciousness that's tedious. Even imaginative collaborations with top notch composers, designers and visual artists can't give substance to dances that boil down to sexy ballerinas (on and off pointe) strutting about with 'tude. That said, Armitage is a serious artist and unafraid of risk. Her newest work, "in this dream that dogs me," is a musing on the art of calligraphy and offers tantalizing glimpses of a heretofore unexposed emotional underbelly. With this piece, Armitage lets down her guard and gives us moments of aching sensuality and emotional nakedness, plunging beyond visual gymnastics to emerge, trembling, in a world perfumed with vulnerability.
"The Dream" in Chicago
The Joffrey Ballet
The Joffrey Ballet has a long history as the chief American repository of the ballets of Frederick Ashton: it was the first American company to dance “The Dream,” as long ago as 1973; the only company outside the Royal Ballet organization to present “A Wedding Bouquet.” On a recent visit to Chicago, I was able to see a performance of its latest revival of “The Dream,” in the superb Auditorium Theatre. I’m happy to report that the ballet was in fine shape, having been rehearsed under the direction of Anthony Dowell and Christopher Carr from the Royal Ballet. This is a lovely production with designs by David Walker, who redesigned the Royal’s own production in 1986.
No Place to Hide
"Retrospective Exhibitionist" and "Difficult Bodies"
After nearly an hour with Miguel Gutierrez, alone onstage (accompanied by a collection of props and technical equipment), how much has he revealed? He's nude at the very start, but doesn't begin to let us know who he is until he stops briskly striding across the wide-open DTW stage, setting up his equipment, slips on stretch pants and a T-shirt featuring a cartoon image, and actually faces us. Or is he revealing anything? Boyish, coy, slightly sarcastic, he holds a microphone and intones "I am Miguel Gutierrez" and asks the audience to repeat each word, and then the sentence, after him. More than a few comply. So it becomes a group exercise, but loses its meaning as a bunch of strangers casually appropriate his identity.
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