“Bugaku”, “Ballade”, “Pithoprakta”, “Meditation”, “Brahms-Schoenberg” Finale
Suzanne Farrell Ballet
Opera House, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
November 23, 2007
by George Jackson
(copyright 2007 by George Jackson)
Loyalty and self-reliance are two of Suzanne Farrell’s traits that may be clues to explain her company’s state. Farrell is loyal to three choreographers -- Balanchine, Bejart and Robbins -- with whom she worked closely in her own dancing days. Depending on your viewpoint, this faithfulness either “focuses” or “restricts” the company’s repertory. Also, Farrell is loyal to dancers who have made sacrifices in order to appear with her part-time enterprise. Again, that either “helps” forge a cohesive group or “limits” her in recruiting fresh talent. On this first evening of the alternate bill -- Program B -- for the company’s 1-week season, Farrell loyally dedicated the occasion to Maurice Bejart who had died the previous day. Five ballets by George Balanchine, all staged by Farrell, were shown.
"Bugaku," "Pas Classique Espagnol," and "Chaconne" The Suzanne Farrell Ballet Opera House John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Washington, D.C. November 20, 2007
by Alexandra Tomalonis copyright 2007 by Alexandra Tomalonis
Watching George Balanchine's "Bugaku," created more than 40 years ago (1963), one sees not only an exquisite evocation of Toshiro Maysuzumi's spare, serene score, but, especially in the central pas de deux, every step and pose that today's young choreographers use — and overuse — and that are applauded as contemporary inventions. It's all there: the turned-in steps; the limp, squiggly twitches of the leg; the splayed crotch; the coital imagery; and — the most treasured and daring of all — a woman, on point, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s, planting her other leg on her partner's shoulder and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s some more. The difference, of course, is that Balanchine wasn't trying to be novel for the sake of being novel, but to adapt ballet's vocabulary in a way that matched the music.
Discovering the shadowy figures within the dim, strikingly beautiful lighting of "Borrowed Light" felt like reaching into distant past to attempt a connection with lost rituals and beliefs. Tero Saarinen's inspired evocation of the Shakers' fervor, terrors and communal strength is a finely honed, rigorously shaped work whose elements cohere into seamless, searing purity. Dancers and musicians, all clothes in softly draped black, share the stage and inhabit one world. The stamping, swaying and dipping of the dancing; the unsentimental purity and charged rhythmic force of the music; the subtle, insinuating lighting -- all this, and more, combine and transcend into a memorably disciplined and completely unsentimental work.
"Concerto Barocco," "As It's Going," "Lambarena"
New York, NY
November 15, 1007
by Susan Reiter
copyright 2007 by Susan Reiter
The twenty-two years it has taken for Pennsylvania Ballet to return to New York represent exactly one-half of the admirable company's lifetime. Clearly, plenty of positive developments have been taking place at the Philadelphia-based company in the period since New Yorkers last saw it as a resident company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where for a while it appeared twice a year. This self-presented City Center season, which thankfully includes substantial live musical forces, is clearly a risk in these financially perilous times for dance troupes. But it was a most welcome one, and on this wel-balanced second program, the troupe did itself proud.
Eva Kistrup has two new pieces in her Sunday Section blog (one on dancers Thomas Lund, who has a new book out, and Flemming Ryberg, who celebrated a big anniversary recently, as well as a review of Alexander Meinertz's book on Verva Volkova; the other on the news that Kenneth Greve will head the Finnish National Ballet.
“Serenade” and “Carmina Burana”
City Center, New York
November 14, 2007
by Tom Phillips copyright 2007 by Tom Phillips
Pennsylvania Ballet put its best foot forward for opening night of its first New York season in 22 years. With a corps liberally sprinkled with young graduates of the School of American Ballet, it began at the beginning: George Balanchine’s “Serenade,” his first ballet in America, created for his original SAB students nearly 75 years ago. The performance was unremarkable, but it’s the magic of this ballet that even an unremarkable performance can be memorable. “Serenade” is one of a kind: a moment in history, captured in movement. Why did Balanchine come to America? To do this, to recreate the art form in a state of innocence.
"Baker's Dozen," "Sinatra Suite," "Meadow," "Fall River Legend";
"Ballo della Regina," "From Here on Out," "Fall River Legend"
American Ballet Theatre
New York, NY
November 2 & 4(matinee), 2007
by Susan Reiter
copyright 2007 by Susan Reiter
While one cannot fault the worthy intention of honoring Agnes De Mille's choreographic legacy by keeping her works in the active repertory, the revival of her 1948 "Fall River Legend" had a clunky preciousness that brought both these programs, despite the high note on which they began, to a rather flat thud of a close. Perhaps it was because the work was presented as a closing, rather than a middle work, or possibly because ABT has been showcasing mostly streamlined, high-tech choreography, but the ballet -- DeMille's blend of fact and fiction that is her take on the Lizzie Borden story -- felt endless and awkwardly paced.
American Ballet Theater’s fall season was comparatively short at only two weeks, but it managed a decent run of acquisitions and revivals in that time and put three of them on view on a Saturday matinee. The company paired Twlya Tharp’s “Baker’s Dozen,” new to ABT with her “Sinatra Suite.” They make sense together; both are what Tharp does best – glosses on popular culture and dance forms. Made for her own company in 1979 with cream costumes by Santo Loquasto, “Baker’s Dozen” seems to take place in some imaginary dance salon, but one with wings – the whole dance flirts with entrances and exits. With dancers appearing and sometimes immediately disappearing, the dancing itself is tearoom tangos that melt into shimmies and head bobbles.