What a difference a cast can make. When Houston Ballet brought Ben Stevenson's Peer Gynt to Fort Worth years ago, it struck me as dark and dreary, and my assessment didn't change much eight years later when Texas Ballet Theater revived it.
Friday evening, however, just casting a different Peer turned things around, and while still dark and troubling, it was no longer dreary. Peer is hardly a likable character—headstrong, irresponsible and selfish—but as portrayed by Lucas Priolo he becomes more complex, more human, and worthy of redemption.
Monday, October 22
Posted 22 October 2012 - 06:51 AM
Posted 22 October 2012 - 06:57 AM
Assisted by partnerships with the San Francisco Ballet and the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation, this show sparkles with pieces from the dancer's personal collection and intimate, San Francisco photos loaned by Tosca Cafe owner and foundation board member Jeannette Etheredge. Among her mementos is Nureyev's signature beret, which Etheredge originally purchased for her friend from Wilkes Bashford.
Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:25 PM
King has arranged "Constellation" as a suite of 19 numbers, ranging from solos to full company ensembles. The latter, with their energetic unisons, have never captured King's imagination, so he has mostly directed his forces elsewhere. One grouping, assembling five dancers in playful combat, goes for a mixed mood, something not attempted previously.
The choreographer's fractured classical style has never seem more assured; his dancers' striving to realize that vision never more heroic in the attempt or more sensual in the appeal.
Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:27 PM
Alexei Ratmansky’s latest work for American Ballet Theatre (“Symphony #9”) is jammed with dance excitement but keeps its distance emotionally. Full of surface motion, like much of Ratmansky’s work it’s strongly inflected with his favorite genre of character dance. Yet the ballet’s dramatis personae evade personal contact by engaging in bluff gestures of humor whenever the viewer gets close to them. The Antony Tudor and Agnes de Mille works that opened and closed the evening demonstrated the human feelings missing from Ratmansky’s work.
Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:30 PM
Nevada Ballet Theatre is the youngest and greenest of the companies, also the smallest with fewer textbook bodies. Despite good work by Mary Lacroix in the female lead of "Rubies," the pas de deux didn’t have a lot of heat; it looked foreign to Grigori Arakelyan. Some details that are familiar in New York weren’t there; a curling turn didn’t end with the man trapping the woman in his embrace – she stayed at his side and free. Some tempos in the first movement felt slowed and both dancers had trouble with the finale. He threw himself around in jumps and wasn’t comfortable with his steps; she lost her spot in her final pique turns. But “Rubies” was a challenge and for the most part they met it.
Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:25 AM
No matter what you think of that calculus, it’s worth noting that had she attended Wednesday night’s season opening at the Joffrey—a three-act ballet called Human Landscapes, running through October 28—she would have added one more thing: You get a chance to see some exquisite examples of the costumer’s art. They include drapey Martha Graham-esque gowns in the first of the three ballets on the program, Forgotten Land (choreographed by Jiří Kylián; music by Benjamin Britten; costumes by John F. MacFarlane) and an explosion of tulle juxtaposed with scarlet toe shoes in James Kudelka’s Pretty Ballet (costumes by Denis Lavoie). The 10-year-old girl sitting behind me was loving it.
The Chicago Reader is sponsoring a rare (free) peek inside the rehearsal tower this Wednesday as the company performs excerpts of their current running program, Human Landscapes, in the Black Box Theater. Human Landscapes features four pieces, all exploring human impact themes from romance to war, death and everything in between. Just in time for Day of the Dead celebrations, there’s an obvious spooky element to the show (evident even in the official poster above), including a skeleton, “blood” red pointe shoes and a piece inspired by and Edvard Munch painting.
Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:28 AM
Kicking off its 19th year at the Lesher Center for the Arts on Nov. 16-17, the Walnut Creek company presents the world premiere of Broadway choreographer Sean Kelly's "A Swingin' Holiday."
A San Rafael native who spent 15 years as principal dancer and ballet master with the Houston Ballet, Kelly went on to work on several hit Broadway productions. "A Swingin' Holiday" draws on his extensive experience as resident choreographer for the Tony Award-winning shows "Billy Elliot," "Movin' Out," and, most importantly, "Swing!"
Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:30 AM
What made Alice’s experience especially tangible—and put the production on par with anything American Ballet Theatre might bring—were the video projections, three-dimensional props, and live orchestra accompaniment. Each worked together to transport the viewer from the 19th century to the modern digital age. When Alice vanished down a Victorian jelly mold on her way to Wonderland, we were treated to a computer-generated simulation of a tunnel with cascading letters of the alphabet (a clever nod to the story being told). When the Cheshire cat materialized, its body parts spinning and merging and then breaking apart, it was a masterful feat of puppetry. When the percussion section executed composer Joby Talbot’s fantastical score, the chimes and incessant tick-tock made you shiver.
Dancers of the National Ballet of Canada returned Monday from their debut appearance at the Los Angeles Music Center with the cheers of enthusiastic audiences still ringing in their ears.
Though critical response was divided, Karen Kain, the company’s artistic director, says audiences at the five performances of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were “ecstatic. After the intermissions they were chomping at the bit for more.”
Posted 24 October 2012 - 02:08 PM
To celebrate the end of the second world war, in which the Soviet dead exceeded 25m, Stalin "wanted . . . a majestic fanfare from me", Shostakovich later noted. Instead, the tyrant got a work whose central motif sounds as rat-a-tat and rinky-dink as "Yankee Doodle Dandy". Played first on the piping piccolo, this imp of misplaced optimism pops out of frozen landscapes (where the dead are likely buried) and waves the flag of shiny happiness from the peak of frenzied crescendos. In an atmosphere of death and lurking danger, inane cheer has triumphed.
Posted 25 October 2012 - 02:44 PM
It’s no surprise that the challenging choreography does much for its leading dancers. Marcelo Gomes looks more than ever like the Big Man on Campus, only one whose personality includes a devilish sense of humor. Polina Semionova discards her usual type-casting as the girl who can do every damn step perfectly and becomes a real (and way sexy) woman. Simone Messmer, hair cropped short like that of the feisty heroines of yesteryear’s books for girls (think Jo March, after she sheds her tresses), proves herself, once again, to be an original. Craig Salstein is the boy who dares—part Rookie of the Year, part class clown—with a serious under layer that should free him forever from roles that conceive of him as “the hero’s best friend.” Ratmansky takes all these talents in hand and makes them more wonderful than they or we could ever have imagined on our own.
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