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Mirage

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Was anyone able to go to the premiere last night?

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I know some considerable time has now passed, but since no one replied to this query, I thought I’d weigh in on the June 23rd performance.

The evening opened with Prodigal Son, in which Teresa Reichlen worked her usual magic as the siren. I had expected Mirage to be a letdown after Prodigal Son, but it was not. Composer (and conductor) Esa-Pekka Salonen's violin concerto was complex and gripping - particularly one passage for violin and oboe - and the solo violinist, Leila Josefowicz, who played without music, was singularly captivating. Only an out-of-place jazz/rock drum solo kept the piece for me an "A" rather than an "A+." The choreography was nicely thrown together, if not anything spectacular, and it lends itself to the music nicely. Jennie Somogyi and Jared Angle, Anthony Huxley and Erica Pereira, and Chase Finlay and Kathryn Morgan were the three chief duos and all were quite good. They were joined by eight corps members. Somogyi and Angle danced a nice extended adagio, while Huxley and Finlay were given the opportunity to make some huge jumps. The pas de deux were sufficiently intricate to be enjoyable. I should have written this out immediately afterward, but the impression I’m left with now is that the dancing was a bit repetitive, though not in an unpleasant way, and there was a lot of draping of the women over the shoulders of the men. The dancers were nearly always in the diagonal. One flourish I liked (but which my companion thought jivey) was when Finlay turned Morgan, who was standing in an arabesque facing the audience, completely over so that her upper body faced upward with her leg in the air. The piece ended with everyone performing this maneuver.

I suspect this is a minority view, but what I singularly disliked about the piece was the Calatrava set - a huge, malevolent, spoked oval that opened and closed, pincer-like, and that also turned on its side and changed color. It hung precariously above the stage, like some Gimmick of Damocles, threatening at any moment to squash the dancers scurrying about below it. In my view, it did what I think sets should never do; that is, distract from the viewing of the dancing. In Mirage, the dancing is interesting enough (just enough) to stand on its own and NYCB should get rid of the set.

On balance, I enjoyed the piece and would see it again (I would love to see Esa-Pekka Salonen and Leila Josefowicz perform the score alone as a concert piece).

I should explain why I said above that I expected to be let down by Mirage. The chief reason is because I find that much of Peter Martins' choreography prevents dancers from showing what they are capable of doing. In fact, I find it downright straitjacketing: the dismal Naïve and Sentimental Music was a series of pas de deux on Thorazine that dragged on for 50 interminable minutes, preventing dancers with naïve and sentimental impulses from expressing them, or indeed from expressing anything at all. I’ve thought about this somewhat after reading member Jack Reed’s posting that he came away from Balanchine’s PAMTGG convinced that there is little that dancers cannot do, but that the question in the case of that work was why they were doing it. Other members of this forum who saw PAMTGG have said that they thought it ridiculous, or perhaps even pointless, but I don’t recall anyone saying he or she was bored by it. This suggests to me that even when Balanchine was plumbing the depths, he nevertheless created steps that exemplify the world-class skill and artistry of NYCB's dancers. Martins often does not do this. Mirage and a few others notwithstanding, I find Martin's works blandly formulaic and plodding, and unlike Balanchine's works, as well as most of Robbins' and Wheeldon's works, they frequently bore me.

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Thank you for your report Mirage. It is greatly appreciated

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Melange, I just love your description of the set as the Gimmick of Damocles!

I have been disappointed by Martins' choreography so many times over the years that I just stopped going. However, he does have some real strengths that for some reason he persists in ignoring: his narrative works are often quite good, and he is terrific at comedy. I call to the witness stand the ending of "Calcium Light Night," "The Waltz Project," "Eight Easy Pieces," (first version), the "Little Red Riding Hood" section of "The Sleeping Beauty," and "The Magic Flute." I am sure there are others.

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Melange, I just love your description of the set as the Gimmick of Damocles!

Ditto. :clapping: When I saw some photos of the stage, I thought two contradictory things: "Beautiful (and beautifully executed)" and "What a distraction?"

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the "Little Red Riding Hood" section of "The Sleeping Beauty,"

That section is a stroke of genius.

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