Jump to content


New Ballet Choreographers: Gold, Liang & ReederNYCB and ABT Studio Co. at Miller Theater


  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 drb

drb

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,508 posts

Posted 13 September 2006 - 06:11 PM

BOUDER: Sheee's Back!

Ashley Bouder's return to dancing in New York was probably bound to be the Big News at the New Ballet Choreographers program at Columbia University's Miller Theater. But even if she'd not been away from dancing since February (save two appearances in Miami last weekend), her performance would have been the story anyway. America's Assoluta danced with glorious speed, amplitude and joy. Even though this was a first performance, she already inhabited her character to the level that sets her apart, beyond technique: swimming within the music with the ferociousness of a salmon fighting upstream, yet the grace and poetry of a trout pleasing, even inspiring, Shubert. The life and magic in her epaulement, the joy and love in her face... Since she's always so much better in second performance (I wonder how this time!) those going to the weekend performances are in for something momentous.

The splendid vehicle for this return was more than just a vehicle and more than just for her. Tom Gold's Masada to music by John Zorn (a fine score for dance) and played by the Masada String Trio was a well crafted dance, in fact with sufficient inspiration to enter the rep somewhere. Bouder's partner, Sean Suozzi has become a true classicist, combining beautiful line and virtuosity. The four soloists are all budding stars at NYCB and danced like their buds were opening into ravishing, very individual flowers. Mr. Gold gave each individual choreography in which to shine: Tiler Peck, Sterling Hyltin, Georgina Pazcoguin, Ana Sophia Scheller. The four sections of the ballet were titled Sippur, Hoddah, Ratzah, and Meholalot.

Three of the four dances were NYCB. Two were were PdD's by NYCB favorite Edwaard Liang. The first, Softly as I Speak, to the fifth movement of Glass's 5th String Quartet (played by the Chiara String Quartet), was for Maria Kowroski and Albert Evans. While there were momentary hints of Forsythe-like epaulement, on first look there didn't seem a choreographic context in which these two expressive dancers could relate. The second, Fur Alina, to a piano piece of Arvo Part of the same title, pianist Marilyn Nonken, was for Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall. This showed even more Forsytheness, with frequent blackouts. After each the position of one or both dancers had changed. The effect seemed artistically valid, rather than just a gimmick. However, the partners rarely looked directly at one another, so that their relationship was not intense (a particular aspect of this partnership that has been so appealing).

ABT's Studio Company completed the program in the ballet Them by Brian Reeder to Chiara's rendering of Jefferson Friedman's 2nd String Quartet. This ballet showed some promise, especially in the clever variety of groupings, although it did have the look of a work-in-progress. Joseph Gorak was the leading man, an outsider relative to a group of three pairs: Leann Underwood/Thomas Forster, Faye Hideko Warren/Eric Tamm, Devon Teuscher/Roddy Doble. Mr. Doble stood out in the quality with which he partnered Ms. Teuscher: it was in the eyes, he really saw her and made us want to look too. One wonders how much longer till Ms. Underwood joins the parent company. She really looks ready.

#2 Farrell Fan

Farrell Fan

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,930 posts

Posted 13 September 2006 - 06:29 PM

It has a great ring to it: "America's Assoluta." Thanks for the report, drb.

#3 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 13 September 2006 - 11:10 PM

I think it's a bit premature, at this point in her career, to dub Bouder anyone's Assoluta. She's tops on my list, but she's not yet a seasoned dancer.

That said, she took full advantage of the many opportunities Tom Gold gave her to shine, as did her castmates. The Gold ballet was the best part of the program. Its title, "Masada," led me to expect a some reference to the 74 AD battle which culminated in the mass suicide of the beseiged Jews. This did not seem to be the case. It was an upbeat ballet for the lead couple and four women (Tiler Peck the radiant first among very worthy equals), with perhaps a few too many "I Dream of Jeannie"-isms, interspersed with movements that could have fit into any Nutcracker Arabian dance. Other problems arose with a few awkward partnering transitions. This is probably due to the very few partnering roles Tom has had during the course of his own career. But the charm of this piece outweighed its shortcomings.

It's hard to warm up to a ballet if the music doesn't grab you, isn't it? This was the problem with Ed Liang's "Fur Alina." This piece also suffered from Wendy Whelan's loose-fitting dress, which covered the line of the middle of her body. The ballet would have benefited greatly from some tailoring or a sheerer fabric.

Brian Reeder's ballet, "Them," also suffered from a less than compelling score (Jefferfson Freidmans's String Quartet No. 2). There were striking images, and the young dancers of ABT Studio Company showed maturity and aplomb. Among the three couples, a lone man tries to break through his isolation. Of this genre, it reminded me most of Robbins' Opus 19: The Dreamer.

Opening the program was another pdd by Ed Liang ("Softly, As I Speak" to Philip Glass), this one led by Maria Kowroski and Albert Evans. I wouldn't call it Forsythe-like -- not densely packed enough. But it allowed Maria's wit to glimmer through, and Albert was never more gallant a partner.

Ashley's back! :clapping:

#4 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 997 posts

Posted 14 September 2006 - 04:10 AM

Bouder was wonderful - her dancing was so fast and authoritative yet flavored with exoticism and sensuality. But for me the star of the show was Tom Gold - was this really his first try at choreography? He hit one out of the park. To me, Masada was what Friandises wanted to be. Thrillingly fast & challenging but with it’s own quirky flavor. The orientalism in the piece took me by surprise, and may have gone a little too far but it seemed like such a perfect expression of the music. His use of the soloists to frame the principals was seamless, he certainly knows how to move dancers and create patterns. Not perfect, perhaps -but a great hit!

I also loved both of Liang’s pas de deux, but I would call them more Wheeldon-like than Forsythe-like, especialy the one for Whelan & Hall. I agree with Carbro that the music was weak and Whelan’s costume wasn’t optimal but can anyone be more pliant and evocative than Wendy Whelan? And it was great to see Craig Hall, one of my favorites (in fact most of my NYCB favorites were on stage tonight & they all looked great). After Masada, Liang’s piece for Kowroski and Evans was my favorite. He made stunning use of Kowroski ‘s long legs and huge extensions, and Evans partnering skills. Obviously he’s mastered the art of the pas de deux and now I’d love to see him create something on a larger scale.

The Reeder piece gave us a look at some of ABT studio company’s new members including the talented Joseph Gorak, but choreographically I thought it was the weakest piece in the program.

#5 Kathleen O'Connell

Kathleen O'Connell

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 738 posts

Posted 14 September 2006 - 09:37 AM

I also loved both of Liang’s pas de deux, but I would call them more Wheeldon-like than Forsythe-like, especialy the one for Whelan & Hall.


I believe Wheeldon has actually used "Alina" in one of the movements in the ballet he choreographed for the San Fransico Ballet that shown during the Lincoln Center Festival -- the third movement, if I recall correctly, danced by Maffre and Possokhov at the performance I saw.

#6 drb

drb

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,508 posts

Posted 14 September 2006 - 11:08 AM

I believe Wheeldon has actually used "Alina" in ... the third movement, if I recall correctly, danced by Maffre and Possokhov at the performance I saw.

That's right, it was used in Summer of Wheeldon's Quaternary. In the performance I saw it was danced by Maffre and Helimets. For me it was the high point of San Francisco Ballet's final program. Wheeldon really connects with Arvo Part, and his choreography really found the great beauty and emotion in Fur Alina. It was perhaps risky for Mr. Liang to tackle a piece that has recently been so successfully choreographed.

#7 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 14 September 2006 - 01:08 PM

I believe Wheeldon has actually used "Alina" in ... the third movement, if I recall correctly, danced by Maffre and Possokhov at the performance I saw.

That's right, it was used in Summer of Wheeldon's Quaternary. In the performance I saw it was danced by Maffre and Helimets. For me it was the high point of San Francisco Ballet's final program.

I agree that that pas was the program's -- perhaps the entire run's -- highlight. I confess I didn't recognize the music.

I remember how differently I responded to the pdd that Liang created for Wendy and Peter Boal for Peter's mini-company's Joyce engagement, and how much better it looked when danced a few months later at NYCB. I'm not sure whether the choreorapher made changes in the interim, or the dancers just had a better hold on their roles, but I am happy to reconsider if I ever see the piece again.

The evening was the first of this season's Works and Process series -- not works in process, necessarily, but that is the implication.

Usually, at the Guggenheim, there is a discussion accompanying the dancing (or in some cases, the balance shifts towards dancing accompanying the discussion). I missed the opportunity of hearing the choreographers and/or dancers discussing their work on these dances.

#8 drb

drb

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,508 posts

Posted 15 September 2006 - 01:38 PM

Apollinaire Scherr's non-review (today's links), aside from a couple of adjectives and an indirect suggestion that the program might have been better enjoyed eyes-closed, was a summary of post-performance statements. The following might well explain why "Fur Alina" didn't push a memory button:

For Liang's lugubrious "Fur Alina" - "I think the dancers are supposed to be dead," offered Steel - pianist Marilyn Nonken worked intensively with the choreographer and dramatic yet unmannered dancers Craig Hall and Wendy Whelan to stretch and shrink the elastic Pärt score. "It doesn't have rhythmic values," Nonken explained. She could play a note as long or short as the movement required.


Does anyone know if that was the composer's intent, and, if so, whether Wheeldon also took such liberties? (bold type added for emphasis)

#9 Klavier

Klavier

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 233 posts

Posted 17 September 2006 - 08:07 PM

Does anyone know if that was the composer's intent, and, if so, whether Wheeldon also took such liberties? (bold type added for emphasis)


I have a friend who knows Marilyn Nonken quite well and I could find out for you if this is of interest; however, it's not unknown for 20th-century composers to indicate exact pitches where durations are free. The American composer Morton Feldman, associated with John Cage, wrote some music where the pitches are specified but all notes are written as filled-in noteheads without stems; only the basic tempo is given and some notes have fermatas to indicate they are held particularly long. Benjamin Britten does something similar in some of the unaccompanied recitatives for Aschenbach in his final opera, Death in Venice. So I have no hesitation in thinking that Nonken was following the composer's intent.

As for the dancing, my reactions were similar to the other posters here, drb especially. I found the two pdd less interesting than the other works, in part because of the Arvo Part music, though any opportunity to see Wendy Whelan from only 20 feet away was worth more than the price of admissions. The opening pdd was I thought the more compelling of the two. The ending was especially evocative where Albert Evans stepped backward into darkness carrying Maria Kowrowski, who beat her lower leg two or three times while in his arms in a very affectionate way. The Brian Reeder piece confused me somewhat because I wasn't sure what Joseph Gorak's character was intended to represent: at times he seemed simply isolated from the three couples, hugging himself in his loneliness; at other times he seemed to be directing the other characters' movements. So is he a respected friend and mentor longing to break in? you tell me.

At my performance Wendy and Craig drew the most applause of the first three pieces, but I don't mind saying I found Tom Gold's piece the hit of the evening. The score - part klezmer, part bluegrass, part jazz, part classical - was just right for dancing, and after two viewings of Friandises I can appreciate the comment above that this is what that frustrating ballet should have been. The girls all seemed to be enjoying themselves, Ashley Bouder was charismatic, and a special bravo from me for one of my favorites among the younger NYCB men, Sean Suozzi. Good looking without being pretty, technically solid without overselling his virtuosity, and conveying always a sense of expressivity which makes me feel he has potentially great emotional range, I think at this point he dances at least as well as some NYCB principals I've seen of late, and I can't think of a male corps member who more deserves promotion. And I really hope Masada is picked up by NYCB as a repertory piece.

It was disappointing that the choreographers were not called out for bows, though I think I spotted Tom Gold at intermission and the string trio acknowledged John Zorn at the end.

#10 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 17 September 2006 - 08:55 PM

I put up an informal review of the evening on my blog.

I wasn't impressed with Gold's piece. He doesn't think like a choreographer (he thinks like a dancer playing around with movement) and his dancers are too good for the choreography - a dangerous thing because they make bad ideas look acceptable so the choreographer never fixes them. To me, Reeder's piece was the most interesting. Also, I think Suozzi was exposed in Gold's dance. He was having stamina trouble and next to five girls with lethal legs, not pointing your feet and stretching your legs is not good.

On the night I was there, Steel called the evening New Ballets to New-ish Music, and I don't think that's a compliment. Zillions of struggling composers out there and Liang picks Glass and Pärt? Surely he can dig a little farther down the CD rack.

#11 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 17 September 2006 - 09:38 PM

It was disappointing that the choreographers were not called out for bows

On opening night they were, and a euphoric Ashley Bouder planted a big one on her choreographer.

#12 SingerWhoMoves

SingerWhoMoves

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 78 posts

Posted 17 September 2006 - 09:52 PM

I enjoyed the opportunity to see such amazing dancers in so intimate a setting- a rare treat. Even though I try to sit close at the NYS theatre, it's not THAT close!
I was there Friday night and while I liked both PDD's, I feel like I would have liked them better had I not seen them on the same bill. They had too many similarities.
I was impressed with the ABT studio company members, but it was extremely interesting to compare their stage presence and commitment to what they were doing to the NYCB girls in Tom Gold's piece. They danced together but each had such presence and character on their own. Of course this is about age and experience, and I'm sure it was a thrill for the younger girls to watch from the wings.
Speaking of watching from the wings- I was sitting on the side of the balcony, and was amused to watch Maria Kowroski warming down, toweling off, bundling up, removing her pointe shoes and having a snack as she watched the next piece.
I have to say I was a sucker for Masada- what fun! Perhaps it was just the wonderful joy that the dancers brought, but I just could not stop smiling. This was also my first opportunity to really SEE Tiler, Georgina, Ana Sophia and Sterling up close- and I loved them all. It was especially hard to take my eyes off of Sterling- even when Ashley Bouder was also on stage!! That's a feat.

Also, the choreographers did bow on Friday night and it was a delight to see Tom Gold and the love his dancers seemed to be sharing with him.

A big thanks to Kristin Sloan at the Winger for posting the info about this event- I would never have known about it at all.

back to lurking...
Sandi

#13 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 17 September 2006 - 11:14 PM

A big thanks to Kristin Sloan at the Winger for posting the info about this event- I would never have known about it at all.

Whoops! I guess you missed the posts by Farrell Fan on July 26 and Klavier on August 15!

#14 SingerWhoMoves

SingerWhoMoves

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 78 posts

Posted 18 September 2006 - 12:32 PM

A big thanks to Kristin Sloan at the Winger for posting the info about this event- I would never have known about it at all.

Whoops! I guess you missed the posts by Farrell Fan on July 26 and Klavier on August 15!



LOL! D'oh! Guess I did. I tend to only read the NYCB folder on this board! My bad.

Sandi

#15 drb

drb

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,508 posts

Posted 19 September 2006 - 03:37 AM

...It was disappointing that the choreographers were not called out for bows, though I think I spotted Tom Gold at intermission and the string trio acknowledged John Zorn at the end.


Tom Gold's musical collaborator John Zorn has just received a MacArthur Genius Award, so here's a belated extra BRAVO!

http://www.nytimes.c...i.html?ref=arts


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):