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Peter Boal & Company

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#1 E Johnson

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 08:55 AM

I saw the opening performance last night of Peter Boal & Company at the Joyce. Dancers, in addition to Boal, were (all NYCB) Sean Suozzi, Wendy Whelan, and Carla Korbes. If you are in New York I would strongly urge you to get to the Joyce this week because this, while not perfect, was a terrific evening of dance, well-performed and thought-provoking. My notes about each piece:

Pergolesi, danced by Boal, choreographed by Twyla Tharp, music by Pergolesi. Tharp choreographed this for Baryshnikov and it shows, and as such was not an ideal choice for Boal who is a wonderful but very different dancer. There was a preview piece in the NY Times on Sunday in which Boal explain that this was a challenging piece for him because Baryshnikov has a great natural rapport with audience and he is much more internal, and I completely agree. Boal wasnít bad; he was technically perfect and I had no doubt that I was seeing what the choreographer wanted. It just that a lot of the shtick was not a good fit for him, he does not generally play to the audience and while I have seen him be funny before (in Midsummer, certainly) its not playing to the audience funny but plot-driven funny. So when he tries the little moves that one can see Baryshnikov doing very comfortably Ė hitching up his pants, asking for applause, etc Ė they do not seem right, somehow. That said it was a terrific performances and portions of the choreography did let him show his strengths. I also liked two split second back to back quotes from Prodigal and Apollo that Boal tossed off perfectly.

Mopey, a solo by Suozzi, choreographed for him by Marco Goecke. Music by C.P.E. Bach and the Cramps, along with a lot of silence. This was very interesting to see. Suozzi gave a great and, to me, surprising performance -- hair combed forward and wearing black pants, I thought he looked like Joey Ramone if he had had a lot of dance training. The choreography was very much for the upper body, lots of fast controlled arm movements, and mainly with the dancerís back to the audience. More modern than ballet, it seemed to me to be about strength and control, and not at all mopey or depressed. One could choose to see the performer as alienated (he doesnít relate to the audience and not always to the music) but Suozzi didnít appear that way, more fiercely introverted and working on some problem he didnít need to share with anyone else.

Herman Schmerman pas de deux, performed by Boal and Whelan, choreography by William Forsythe, music by Thom Willems. I think this is the first Forsythe I have seen performed, although I have caught a bit on TV before, and it made me want to see more. It was also such a pleasure to see Whelan dancing again after she was out the whole winter NYCB season; she looked very strong and healthy. Again, no technical concerns, everything was performed almost perfectly. The choreography was musical in an interesting way, not in the Balanchinean way but still musical.

2nd Prologue, performed by Boal, Suozzi and Korbes, choreographed by John Alleyne, music by Timothy Sullivan. This was, I think, the weakest piece of the evening but still interesting and well-performed. The weakness, for me, was Korbesí role. Not her dancing, which was lovely as always, but the role was very repetitive and did not show her well. I got the feeling that the choreographer is much more interested in men dancing than women Ė there was a fascinating bit in the middle just for Boal and Suozzi that was could be read as erotic, or perhaps as a father and son relationship, or in a creepy way both. When Korbes was on stage you get some idea that there was supposed to be tension or rivalry between the men over her, but it was not ever spelled out well and the dancers didnít seem to know what they were supposed to be expressing either. The costumes were beautiful, especially a garnet velvet dress for Korbes

Bottom line, despite what may seem like complaints above, is that the evening was really a pleasure. Itís nice to see a performance that is both enjoyable and make me think. The dancers were totally committed to what they were doing and did it well.

#2 sandik


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Posted 17 March 2004 - 02:46 PM

I'm glad to hear that someone is performing the Tharp. I agree that it was certainly tailor-made for Baryshnikov, not just his skills and performing style, but his personae as well -- like the solo in Push Comes to Shove, it seems to comment on his public image. Despite that specificity, though, it's a wonderful tour de force piece, and is a good example of Tharp's ability to layer astonishing dancing with topical commentary.

#3 charlieloki


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Posted 19 March 2004 - 06:43 AM

i was disappointed in the march 17 performance.

first off, peter boal is my favorite dancer.

i felt that the essential peter boal was not there on that evening.

however well he performed in the tharp and forsythe pieces, his persona is not that of a baryshnikov or an evans -- not even close -- and these pieces aren't really effective when cast against type.

a piece should also have been included which showed how masterly a dancer he is, but not just in the technical sense.

leigh witchel has provided mr. boal with choreography that allowed him to carry us away, beautifully and mystically.

probably the key word is: beautiful.

mr. boal is a beautiful dancer.

#4 nysusan


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Posted 19 March 2004 - 08:47 PM

I just returned from the Friday 3/19 performance and I have to say that with the exception of the second piece of the evening (Mopey) E Johnson perefctly summed up my reaction to the program. Having taken a long hiatis from NYCB viewing I wasn't familiar with Boal and even though this program may not have played to his strengths I really feel that I got to know him a little better as a dancer.

I didn't care at all for Mopey. No problem with Sean Suozzi's dancing, I just didn't get it.

Herman Schmerman was my favorite part of the evening. This is the 3rd piece I've seen by Forsythe & I just love his work. I'd only seen Wendy Whelan once before - last year in Martins' Swan Lake. I detested everything about the production but I loved Whelan. Here, again, I just couldn't take my eyes off of her.

#5 oberon


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Posted 21 March 2004 - 06:15 AM

We went on Saturday and had a great time. PERGOLESI is too Broadway in style to show what I think of as Peter Boal's essential spirit as a dancer but he seemed to be having fun dancing it. Sean Suozzi's charisma and boundless energy went into MOPEY, a dark piece with a nervous edge...Sean was impressive. Wendy Whelan seemed to be having a grand time being back onstage after her injury; she & Peter danced HERMAN SCHMERMAN pas de deux which I had never seen before. It is hard to take your eyes off Wendy, even when she is standing still. The final piece, 2nd PROLOGUE, danced to a beautiful score by Timothy Sullivan, was wonderful...Carla Korbes, one of the great beauties of the dance world, has a luminous quality. Boal & Suozzi danced superbly in this romantic yet enigmatic piece.

I wish that all four dancers had appeared together in something! It was great to see Wendy dancing again; and spotting Ellen Bar, Ask laCour, Faye Arthurs and Megan LeCrone among the audience. The evening was a nice taste of NYCB during their break.

#6 flipsy



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Posted 21 March 2004 - 07:11 PM

I saw Peter Boal & company today (Sunday matinee) and had a lot to say but found that most of it had already been said by E Johnson. I agree that Wendy Whelan was the highlight of the show -- I don't think I've ever seen her dance so freely and easily, even though she was bending every line in her body like a disappearing pretzel. She looked happy to be dancing, which may be just how she felt or may be another example of her consummate professionalism -- the dance called for a a free and easy, happy rapport between the two partners, and Boal supplied the other side with his usual geniality and grace. He got a great laugh when he made his second entrace in a miniskirt by Versace, but then proceeded to make that skirt flip and fly almost as freely as Wendy's.
Suozzi's dancing was an eye-opener; he's much more than a corps de ballet guy. I especially liked one moment in "Mopey" when he did a double tour, then fell down and bumped off stage on his butt.

As noted by others, the Twyla Tharp piece was pure Baryshnikov and though PB danced it well you couild see that it wasn't his style. A note on the choreography: by interspersing classical movements with bumps & grinds, mugging, etc, Tharp seems intent on competing with or drawing attention AWAY from Pergolesi's music, which contained no such rerferences, at least to these ears. What a difference from Balanchine!

#7 Alexandra


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Posted 21 March 2004 - 08:21 PM

Thanks for all these comments -- welcome charlieloki! And thank you, flipsy, for posting even though you thought you "most of it had already been said by E Johnson" It's wonderful to have different takes on things.

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