It's always interesting to notice how differently folks see the same work of art. There is no "right" and "wrong" to it, just differences. I'm struck by how differently Jayne and I see this program. I too was there last night (I just couldn't stay away.....this was the 4th performance I saw).
If 10 seconds were to be cut from Polyphonia, I'd probably lead a protest demonstration
. For me, Polyphonia is
a masterpiece -- sheer genius I'd say. In the past 10 days, I've seen Polyphonia 4 times, and I swear I could see it 30 more times over the next 2 months before I might have my fill. Each time I see it, I love it more (in the interest of full disclosure Agon is my favorite ballet of all time). Some of the Ligeti music is tough at first (especially the first of the ten segments), but like Wheeldon described his experience with this music, each time I hear it, I understand it better, and I am increasing fascinated by it (not to mention some segments that are just flat out gorgeous in anyone's book).
Yes, there is a moment in After the Rain where the audience laughs.....but it is not an awkward moment, it is simply a bit funny when you first see it. It is the moment when the woman does a back bend with her hands over her head on the ground and she is like an arch (belly side up); the man picks her up in this unusual position and rotates her in the horizontal plane. I can't totally explain it, but there is something humorous about this move. I think the audience's laughing reaction is quite appropriate....altho some are no doubt laughing nervously since they are probably not quite sure if it's OK to laugh. One thing is certain, like Balanchine, there is a great deal of humor in all of Wheeldon's choreography....sometimes in the most unexpected places, and sometimes with great subtlety (Polyphonia abounds with humor...sometimes clearly, sometimes more subtly).
Indeed one's eyeballs may burn from the "pepto bismol pink" costumes in Variations Serieuses, but this was quite clearly by design. The entire ballet is obviously a spoof of every imaginable ballet stereotype....and that includes the costuming. The men wear these totally ridiculous breast plates and gaudy tights (yes, in that awful color). The women have ridiculous little "bug wings" pasted on their back as if they just stepped out of Mr B's Midsummer's Night Dream. Every thing was over the top including this ghastly orange color.
At the risk of offending, I must take issue with characterizing Laura Gilbraith's acting as "perhaps....growing". From where I sit, one of Laura greatest strengths has always
been her acting ability. She certainly was superb in the role of the "over the hill" prima ballerina last night (altho she is no match for the magnificent Carrie Imler in this part), but this is nothing new for Laura, she is always a suberb actor ....especially in comedic roles (who could forget her in West Side Story Suite a couple of years ago??).