writers on dancing

The DanceView Times, New York edition

Volume 1, Number 5   October 27 , 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

Letter from New York

20 October 2003
Mindy Aloff
Copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

Mindy Aloff's Letter will return next week. Read her review of ABT's Master Works Program, or catch up on past Letters you may have missed.

ABT City Center Season

Week One

(Reviews of the Fall Gala, Master Works Program and Innovative Works Program ran as daily reviews last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, respectively, and are republished here for those who may have missed them)

Fancy Free, and a Friendly Matinee

Family Friendly
American Ballet Theatre
City Center, NYC
October 25 matinee, 2003

by  Eric Taub
copyright ©2003 by Eric Taub

ABT's Family Friendly series is a nice mixture of old and (somewhat) newer ballets, and seemed to please the many voluble kiddies in the audience Saturday afternoon (as well as their parents). I did wonder a bit about the effect of some of the stories presented, as I overheard a mother reassuring her little girl that the noisy trips to Hell taken by the title women in Three Virgins and a Devil were just "pretend." Similarly, in this day and age one has to wonder how kids might react to the encounter between the three sailors and the first girl in Fancy Free, where it can sometimes seem less playful and more threatening. Certainly it's not Politically Correct. In any event, the children in the audience (at least the ones who surrounded me) seemed anything but bored.
read review

Innovative Works Program
by Gia Kourlas
copyright ©2003 by Gia Kourlas

It is far too easy to criticize the name of American Ballet Theatre's Friday-evening program: Innovative Works, but I can't resist. It's all marketing. Aesthetically, there was one such ballet—William Forsythe's wonderful workwithinwork. Framing it were two pieces so bereft of a creative spark that instead of pushing the form in a new direction, they only served to flatten it to choreographic mush. Nacho Duato¹s Without Words, a vapid dance created for the company in 1998, costumes four couples in unflattering nude bodysuits (Duato's design), boasting intricate partnering that rambles into mind-numbing mediocrity. It is not so much a piece as an exertion—mindless toil for the audience as well as the dancers. The closer, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison, wouldn¹t even cut it as choreography for a music video. The only thing Without Words and Within You have in common with Forsythe's mysterious gem is the word WITH in the title.
read review

Master Works Program
by  Mindy Aloff
copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

For its three-week City Center season this fall, ABT has divided its repertory into four categories, each represented by one program of three or four dances: “Master Works,” “Family Friendly Works,” “Innovative Works,” and “Contemporary Works.” Surely, the packaging is intended to appeal to audiences who don’t know much about ballet, would like to try it, and need some guidelines. What those audiences are going to make of the fact that a ballet entitled Three Virgins and a Devil is on the “Family Friendly” program would require a disquisition by Dr. Ruth; but let that pass. What matters is that the company is attempting to get people into the theater—perhaps with the hope that the dancing and the choreography will win them over to the point that they can begin to think independently, to question, for instance, why some dances by living choreographers are considered “innovative” while others are considered merely “contemporary,” or why innovation is so decisively separated from mastery, or why families with small children who have been exposed to countless acts of violence and mayhem in Saturday morning cartoons should require “friendliness” in their ballets. These questions touch on some core preconceptions about the art and culture of our time, of course, and it is to ABT’s credit that it is not only willing to raise them but also that it would do so indirectly, through its marketing, using what used to be called reverse psychology.
read review

Fall Gala
by  Eric Taub
copyright ©2003 by Eric Taub

It's always a happy occasion to welcome American Ballet Theatre back to NYC, in this case for its fall City Center season. The program showed the great range of ABT's repertory, focusing on works celebrating the upcoming centennials of Sir Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine in 2004. The evening promised well for the next three weeks—especially once the dancers start dancing as well as they've shown us they can. Unfortunately, last night, despite some fine moments, there were times when it looked as if everyone needed a good jolt of caffeine.
read review

Motion Tabled

Sleeping Beauty and Other Stories
Susan Marshall & Company
2003 Next Wave Festival
BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, N.Y.
October 24, 2003

By Nancy Dalva
Copyright ©2003 by Nancy Dalva

The pivotal prop in Susan Marshall’s Other Stories is a table. A table sets the scenes, a table, moved hither and yon, is the scenery. A real case of deja vu all over again: Just a few weeks ago, there was a whole raft of tables on stage in Brooklyn when the Frankfurt Ballet danced William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced. Tables! Tables are the new chairs. And plot is hot.

Or vestiges of plot. Marshall’s Sleeping Beauty, which precedes Other Stories, is a metaphor about a metaphor—an interpretation or meditation on the idea of a beauty, asleep (or locked away) and resistant to rescue. The narrative is vague, if full of clues. The fairy tale itself, of course, not only submits to all sorts of deep analysis (spindle, pricked finger; hello, Dr. Bettelheim! Hello, Dr. Freud!) but also provides superficial pleasures and satisfactions, among them romance and charm. Marshall strips away these latter qualities. The ideal response to her dance would be emotional, visceral, swoony; the least desirable would be to sit there thinking “It’s beautiful, and I’m asleep.” But the choreographer does have a predilection for beautiful, low lit torpor. If this dance and the audience were buddy breathing (perhaps on a deep sea dive for meaning), the dance would be taking more than its fair share of air.
read review

If you missed last week's issue, click here for Nancy  Dalva's review of Merce Cunningham Dance company at BAM:  Chances Are



What's On This Week

October 27
Gotta Dance! - A Dance Tribute to Hollywood

Career Transition for Dancers' 9th annual gala highlights dance on film. Highlights include Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking and Elizabeth Parkinson doing the "Big Spender" number from Sweet Charity, a tribute to Carmen Miranda, the Royal Ballet's Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg dancing the pas de deux from Swan Lake, and appearances by George Chakiris, Cynthia Gregory, Robert Osborne, Jane Powell, and dancers from Les Ballets Grandiva, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, National Dance Institute, New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre's Ashley Tuttle and Angel Corella.
City Center
55th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves.

October 27
Franklin on Film

Footage of ballets by Leonide Massine, George Balanchine and Frederick Ashton are shown as ballet legend Frederick Franklin discusses his career.
Barnard College - Julius S. Held Lecture Hall
304 Barnard Hall, Broadway at 116th St.

October 27
Movement Research at the Judson Church

This week's forum for experimentation and works-in-progress features the work of Melanie Maar, Luis Lara Malvacias, Renata Ferreira.
55 Washington Square South

October 27
Under Exposed

This series provides a venue for choreographers who are either at the beginning or evolving in their careers a chance to show their works while in development. Ivy Baldwin, Joshua Bisset, Catlin Cobb and Margo Grib, and Colleen Hooper take part in this month's showcase.
Dixon Place at University Settlement
184 Eldridge Street

October 28-November
Nikolais Dance Theatre
The collaboration between Nikolais/Louis Foundation and the Ririe- Woodbury Dance Company will showcase a vast aray of Nikolais' output - from Noumenon made in 1953 to Blank on Blank created in 1987. "Each of his works is their own complete multi-media theater of abstraction for which he designed projections, sound, lighting, choreography and costumes-making the dance a visual and kinetic art."
175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St.

October 28-November 1 (opened October 22)
Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group

Black Umfolosi, Noble Douglas Dance Company
Dance Theater Workshop, Bessie Schonberg Theater New York-based choreographer Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group joins forces with Trinidad's legendary Noble Douglas Dance Company and the a-cappella world music stars Black Umfolosi from Zimbabwe in the world premiere of "Black Burlesque (revisited)."
219 W 19th St.

October 28-November 9 (opened October 22)
American Ballet Theatre
ABT's three-week fall season showcases four programs that include classics such as George Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" and Jerome Robbins' "Fancy Free", the return of Frederick Ashton's "Symphonic Variations," Anthony Tudor's "Piller of Fire," and Agnes De Mille's " Three Virgins and a Devil," and company or world premieres by Jiri Kylian, Robert Hill, and William Forsythe. The company also previews its new production of "Raymonda." And Cuban superstar Carlos Acosta makes his second appearance with troupe.
City Center
55th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves.

October 29-November 2
Dance Anonymous
This modern dance company performs Harry Mavromichalis' In the Borders of Ignorance.
The Duke on 42nd Street
229 West 42nd Street

October 29-November 2
Isabel Gotzkowsky and Friends
Performances of Unframed Portraits, an evening of dance theater with Isabel Gotzkowsky, Sasha Soreff and Jon Zimmerman.
Williamsburg Art Nexus
205 North 7 Street

October 30
Noemie Lafrance
Noemie Lafrance's Bessie Award-winning Descent is a homage to New York created since the terrorist attacks of September 11. It is performed over 12 floors of stairway with a score by Brooks Williams.
City Court Building Clock Tower
108 Leonard St. between Broadway and Lafayette St.

October 30
Trisha Brown: Dance and Art in Dialogue,
This exhibit, which opened on October 10 and runs through January 25, 2004, features a performance called Trisha Brown Live on Broadway. The Trisha Brown Dance Company performs Spiral, Group Primary Accumulation, Accumulation, "Brooms" from Astral Converted, Spanish Dance, and Floor of the Forest.
6:30 to 8:00
New Museum of Contemporary Art
583 Broadway
(between Houston and Prince Streets)
New York, NY 10012

October 30, 31, November 1, 2
Regina Nejman & Co.
In Leave Yourself at the Door, Please! Ms. Nejman creates a bizarre dream world inhabited by five red-haired kinetic cyclones who clash with invisible forces. Original music by Mio Morales and Anders Nilsoon is interwoven to the music of Brazil."
Joyce Soho
155 Mercer St. between Houston and Prince Sts.

October 31, November 1
New York Theatre Ballet
Dance on a Shoestring
This chamber ballet company, known for its children's programs and revivals of Antony Tudor, holds its fifth annual in-house series Dance on a Shoestring. Works by Tudor, Sallie Wilson, Keith Michael, Nicolo Fonte, James Sutton will be performed.
The Dance Gallery
30 East 31st Street - 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016

November 1
An Evening of Premieres
New Jersey Ballet
This classical company, led by Carolyn Clark, performs an evening of new works.
The Community Theatre
Morristown, New Jersey

October 30-November 30
Noche Flamenca
One of Spain's most successful flamenco companies performs for five weeks. Soledad Barrio, winner of a Bessie Award in 2001,
Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher Street

November 2
The Dance Conservatory Performance Project
Former Bolshoi and New York City Ballet ballerina  Valentina Kozlova performs the title role in her own production of Medea, with Samuel Barber's music played by the Metro Chamber Orchestra. The program will also feature Kozlova's Lament for Phaedra by Tavener, the aria "Mi Tradi" from Don Giovanni, sung by soprano Therese Panicali, the Mozart Symphony no. 29 in A major, and the Shubert Symphony no. 5 in B flat major.
La Guardia Drama Theater
64th St and Amsterdam



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This weeks' articles


Mindy  Aloff's Letter from New York

The Balanchine Celebration
New York City Ballet:
A Veteran and a Raw Recruit
by Mindy Aloff

Heart and Soul
by Mary Cargill

Kid Stuff
Cas Public's If You Go Down To the Woods Today
by Susan Reiter

San Francisco Ballet:
New Wheeldon (Rush)
by Rita Felciano

New Tomasson (7 For Eight)
by Paul Parish

Possokhov's New Firebird for OBT
by Rita Felciano

Moscow Festival Ballet and Scott Wells
by Paul Parish

Hamburg Ballet's Nijinsky:
Nijinsky—Lost in the Chaos
by Clare Croft

NijinskyMadness and Metaphor
by Alexandra Tomalonis

Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes
by George Jackson

Batsheva: Breaking Down Walls
by Lisa Traiger

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence
by Clare Croft

Choreographers Showcase
by Tehreema Mitha

Zoltan Nagy
by George Jackson






Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
Mary Cargill
Nancy Dalva
Gia Kourlas
Gay Morris
Susan Reiter
Alexandra Tomalonis(Editor)
Meital Waibsnaider
Leigh Witchel
David Vaughan


The Autumn DanceView is out:

New York City Ballet's Spring 2003 season reviewed by Gia Kourlas

An interview with the Kirov Ballet's Daria Pavlenko by Marc Haegeman

Reviews of San Francisco Ballet (by Rita Felciano) and Paris Opera Ballet (by Carol Pardo)

The ballet tradition at the Metropolitan Opera (by Elaine Machleder)

Reports from London (Jane Simpson) and the Bay Area (Rita Felciano).

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last updated on October 20, 2003 -->