Dale

Morphoses 2009 season

34 posts in this topic

Thanks for your review, DeborahB. I'd been really looking forward to reading reactions here. Unfortunately Gia Kourlas in the Times didn't think any better of the program the night before. I'm sad for Wheeldon's sake and sad for the art form's sake.

Share this post


Link to post
Thanks for your review, DeborahB. I'd been really looking forward to reading reactions here. Unfortunately Gia Kourlas in the Times didn't think any better of the program the night before. I'm sad for Wheeldon's sake and sad for the art form's sake.

It really is worth going kfw, if only to see these dancers (who truly are terrific). And again, I'm going to give "Continuum" another shot tomorrow (I bought tickets long ago). But at City Center prices, it's hard to justify this splurge.

Share this post


Link to post
Thanks for your review, DeborahB. I'd been really looking forward to reading reactions here. Unfortunately Gia Kourlas in the Times didn't think any better of the program the night before. I'm sad for Wheeldon's sake and sad for the art form's sake.

Don't feel too sad for Wheeldon (let alone the whole art form) - the house was packed for the first 2 nights with the orchestra, gt, mid mezz and rear mezz full both nights, gallery open on opening night. This was the fullest house I've seen at City Center in a couple of years (excluding Fall for Dance & Gala programs, including ABT, Taylor, Ailey, MCB etc). And the audience was very appreciative of all the works on both programs. Individual reactions may vary but I found it really interesting that the reaction of the critics has been pretty uniformly negative while the audience reaction has been mostly positive.

I loved the first program, and really liked the second one. Program A (Commedia, Leaving Songs, Softly and Bolero) was accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, led by the beautiful & charismatic young conductor Alondra de la Parra. I'm no music critic but to me they sounded wonderful, the Stravinsky in particular sounding very fresh and light. It was whimsical in some places and romantic in others. The second program was all set to piano scores, with Cameron Grant & Susan Walters sharing the musical duties. I'm not sure how great an idea it was to program an entire night of piano pieces (with the exception of Softly, which is performed to recorded music) but it may have been due to budgetary requirements. Anyway, kudos to Wheeldon for finding a way to afford first rate live music on a tight budget.

I loved Commedia last season, and loved it even more this time around. Danielle Rowe was absolutely beautiful in the Leanne Benjamin role - she is a beautiful dancer with a winning combination of steely technique, lyricism & emotional expressiveness. Matthew Prescott partnered her - I remember liking him with the Farrell Ballet and it was good to see him again here. Carrie Lee Riggins was also a standout in this.

Didn't love the Tim Harbour ballet but the critics had prepared me to hate it and I definitely didn't hate it. I found it interesting and am looking forward to seeing it again.

I saw "Softly as I leave You" for the 3rd time last night and I absolutely love it. Since it was roundly dissed by just about all the critics (and a couple of my good friends), let me add that it received huge audience ovations each time I've seen it. I think I can understand why many critics and die hard ballet fans dislike it - I generally dislike that type of choreography myself. I think of as it as a European hybrid of modern dance & ballet - no point shoes, angst ridden, overly dramatic. But in the hands of Jacoby & Pronk I thought it was a masterful examination of the dissolution of a "can't live without him, can't live with him" relationship and I thought the box that Jacoby fought to get out of (and Pronk wound up trapped in) was an appropriate visual metaphor.

I enjoyed Ratmansky's Bolero a great deal. It was very amusing, uptempo with an interesting dynamic of individual competitiveness played against group unison.

I didn't think that the second program (Continuum, Softly, Rhapsody Fantaisie) was as strong as the first. Continuum was new to me and I loved it, but I love Ligeti and love Wheeldon's "Balanchine mode". There were lots of references to Agon and the 4T's themes but of course with Wheeldon's personal spin and choreographic outlook. I was disappointed in the new Wheeldon piece, I guess I expected it to be more upbeat than it turned out to be. I think it was a bit too long and not really cohesive. I also found the men's costumes distracting. However those were my first impressions and it may grow on me after I see it again.

Share this post


Link to post

We can all agree that the dancers are good. But program A was dreary and long. The films add nothing to the evening and even seemed a little sophomoric to me and don't really add to your understanding of what you see on the stage.

I was amused to see the box in Softly - a device that Elizabeth Streb has used more interestingly for the last 20 years. And hearing the same Arvo Part music that Wheeldon uses in After the Rain made the evening seem really enclosed in some kind of dance world bubble.

I did enjoy some of Commedia and Bolero but that was not enough to make up for the disappointment of a very poorly constructed evening.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, everyone, for your responses so far. I detect some ... disagreements?

I loved the program, and rally liked the second one.
Program A was dreary and long.

This sounds like an excellent topic for discussion. What are the implications for the future of Morphoses? The response of an enthused, supportive opening night dance audience at City Center is one thing. Will programming like this have legs? Would things work better by jettisoning the film?

The Times being the Times, Kouras expands her own personal reaction to the program into something larger and more absolute.

In its opening-night appearance at City Center on Thursday, Morphoses — even with live music performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas — was full of flaws, the most major being that while Mr. Wheeldon is accomplished at creating dances, he doesn’t have a flair for programming them.

Share this post


Link to post
the most major {flaw} being that while Mr. Wheeldon is accomplished at creating dances, he doesn’t have a flair for programming them.

Didn't a lot of people say that after his first season?

Share this post


Link to post

I saw program B again today. Although I was underwhelmed with "Continuum" on Friday night, I loved it today. It seems like the type of ballet that gets better upon repeated viewings. Unfortunately, I did not like "Softly as I Leave You" any better today, despite the fact that I adore Jacoby & Pronk. That said, my very discerning friend absolutely loved this ballet. He said it was probably the most sensual ballet he had ever seen. And once again the audience went absolutely wild for this piece. I did enjoy "Rhapsody Fantaisie" much more this time as well. I still think it

could do with some tightening up, among other things, but it was very enjoyable, and the dancing was superb.

Cameron Grant (of NYCB) played the very difficult Ligeti in "Continuum" brilliantly, and both he and Susan Walters (also of NYCB) made every note of the various Rachmaninoff pieces in "Rhapsody Fantaisie" soar.

Share this post


Link to post

Favorite overheard comment at the 11/1 performance of Morphoses Program B, as the third film clip began: "What, again with the Vineyard?"

Share this post


Link to post

I saw Program A on Thurs and program B on Sunday. I thought the film clips were a waste of time. Moreover, I thought that the film of the conductor and orchestra (you know, where the orchestra was swaying to the beat) was insulting to my intelligence. We do not need visual distractions in order to appreciate classical music, thank you. Count me among the audience members who thought Softly as I Leave You was awful. Now for the good news. I really enjoyed Rhapsodie Fantasie, and I hope it returns in the future. Most of the choreography was excellent. I've seen Continuum before, and I was more than happy to see it again. Though it is not as good as Polyphonia, it is a well crafted, interesting ballet. I liked the opening night Ratmansky Bolero, although it is no masterpiece. I was not a big fan of Commedia last year; I enjoyed it slightly more this year. On balance, a very mixed season of highs and lows.

Share this post


Link to post