Posted 07 July 2005 - 10:35 PM
I also agree with Paul that a set of Forsythe ballets will last. Even if there's no potential "master" that I can see now -- and I may be blind to some -- I could see individual or a handful of ballets by various people choreographing now staying in the rep. I loved Paul Gibson's new piece for PNB, The Piano Dance, and I have my hopes that he will emerge as one of those masters. I think Kent Stowell's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is well worth other companies performing; in my opinion, the score, which drives the dramatic arc of the ballet, is much more suited to the story than the Prokofiev score, and I'd much rather see his Seasons variations from Cinderella, which were performed by four dancers in the PNB school performance last month, than most gala fare. Like orchestral suites that provide excerpts of longer works, the entire Seasons section of Stowell's ballet would make a great one-acter, or part of a pair of shorter works.
I saw a performance of the triple bill "Red, Hot, and New" by The Australian Ballet last December, which put me in a bad mood for several months. There was much brilliant dancing, particularly by Lucinda Dunn, Marc Cassidy, and Madeleine Eastoe, but the program consisted of Wheeldon's Continuum, Nicolo Fonte's Almost Tango, and Adrian Burnett's Aesthetic Arrest. Wheeldon's ballet was the most accomplished. Fonte removed the emotional resonance of sex, violence, and desperation from tango and left only the bare-bones mechanics, which reminded me of the day I walked into a friend's living room in mid-afternoon and mistook a close-up in the porn film on TV for The Surgery Channel. The most interesting part of Aesthetic Arrest, another work to John Adams' Fearful Symmetries, was the set.
But it wasn't even the uneven quality of the choreography that had me in a deep funk; it was the sameness of the three: 8-14 dancers, lifting pas de deux, lifting pas de deux, corp members doing their own thing, lifting pas de deux... I didn't see steps. I didn't see development. I didn't see structure. The anti-hierarchical nature of the approach of all three choreographers didn't lead anywhere, in my opinion.
The last PNB choreographers workshop gave me hope. Even though by its very nature -- i.e., begging, borrowing, and stealing dancers from rehearsals for the next program -- the small groups of dancers numbered the same as the in the AB works, none of the ballets looked alike. Olivier Wevers choreographed the first part of a work in progress, called One's Symphony to music by Christopher Rouse for two couples, a featured woman, and eight corps women. Wevers has a voice, and a very strong one. Using inverted gestures and steps, he created an insect-like world that was very accomplished. Porretta choreographed a good-natured spoof of a classical ballet -- very Symphony in C, down to the costumes -- to music by Karl Perkins (the "Diamond commercial" music) and Bond's take on the same music, and it was clever, energetic, and engaging. Christophe Maraval's O to music by Satie was the most conventional, with lifting pas de deux -- quite Robbins-like -- but because it was a short ballet, there was enough movement to fill the music. And, it showcased beautifully two couples who rarely dance together -- Nakamura and Porretta, and Maraval's frequent partner Louise Nadeau and Batkhurel Bold, who's often cast with Carrie Imler. Kiyon Gaines' blitz...Fantasy, for a main couple, three men, and eight corps women, was one of the better responses to the music of Adams and Glass, and was far more interesting and developed than the Burnett piece, which was presented on the stage of the Sydney Opera House.
I have two hopes: the first is that the choreographic workshops that many companies sponsor give enough opportunities to classically trained dancers to develop into, if not master choreographers, choreographers who will feed and nurture ballet companies. The second is that the good, solid, to great classical ballets by these classical dancers who are dedicated to classical ballet are given exposure by multiple companies, so that like Lamberena, The Moor's Pavane, and in the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, they have a chance to be seen multiple times, by multiple companies and casts. It would be a great irony if a mini-masterpiece was lost in the modern age of video tape and the Internet.