"The Music of Elliott Carter Interpreted"
Works & Process
Peter B. Lewis Theater
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
New York, NY
October 2, 2011
by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2011 by Mary Cargill
The Guggenheim's intriguing Works & Process series featured Elliott Carter, very much alive at almost 103, and two young choreographers, Emery LeCrone and Avichai Scher. They were given the same short five pieces of Carter's to choreograph, and the evening featured the two works, interspersed with interesting interviews of the process. Mr. Carter also added his comments, saying that he had always been fascinated by dance and especially by Balanchine, ever since he saw Les Ballets 1933 while studying in Paris--what a memory to have! He explained that it was watching Balanchine ballets that made him think about connections, that the way Balanchine brought on dancers made him realize that he didn't need to use silence to connect different movements, that silence could be part of the movements. This tied in with Emery LeCrone's comments about her use of silence in her piece, titled "With Thoughtful Lightness".
Leigh Witchel, the moderator, mentioned the influence of "Agon" in LeCrone's work, and there were echoes, especially in the opening pas de trois (danced by DaVon Doane, Russell Janzen, and Megan LeCrone), but LeCrone's work has its own individuality. Her choreography had an underlying tension that was gripping. In her opening interview, she spoke about the music, and the variety she found in the five different pieces, and talked about the process of using this variety while at the same time keeping the work unified. The most interesting, for me, piece was the penultimate piece, a pas de trois danced by DaVone Doane, Gabreille Lamb, and Megan LeCrone. The women's movements were crisp and sharp, while Doane seemed to let the notes ripple through his body; his arms were particularly fluid.
Avi Scher's piece "It Makes Me Nervous", referred, he explained, to his feelings about the music, since there was so much going on, and he didn't feel like he was on solid ground. Eventually, he said, he just broke it down note by note, and started choreographing the most (comparatively) lyrical movement, a pas de deux for Lia Cirio and James Whiteside. His work was more architectural than LeCrone's--she seemed to be working from inside the music, while he was outside observing it, and this made for an interesting contrast.
Scher's dancers were more formally dressed in black and white leotards, the men with white leggings and black tops, and the women reversed. This, and the more structural choreography, made for dynamic stage pictures. Scher also showed a wry wit, with the dancers edging out of the wings showing a hand or a foot, almost playing peek-a-boo with the audience; it was funny without being coy.
An extra, and very important, bonus was the live music, performed by Fred Sherry, cello, Charles Neidich, clarinet, and Rolf Schulte, violin, who have worked for years with Elliott Carter. They deservedly got a huge round of applause, as did the very fine dancers--the choreographers didn't get a curtain call, but they deserved applause too. As did the anonymous person who came up with the very interesting evening.
copyright © 2011 by Mary Cargill