[font=Arial][size=4]Something of a disappointment was Sarah Van Patten’s Cigarette. I’ve been watching -- repeatedly, because it’s so wonderful -- the YouTube video of Agnes Letestu’s performance of this variation. Van Patten was good and she gave a nice emphasis to the toe taps, but she lacked Letestu’s gracefully wafting arms, pliant back, and general air of chic sophistication.[/size][/font]
I recall that Van Patten was subbing for Zahorian in "Cigarette" (not sure why, since Zahorian danced more than once that night, and then danced "Cigarette" the following night), but as I don't remember the performance standing out in any particular way, you are probably right. Letestu is a great French-school dancer - I don't think Americans appreciate her as much as she deserves to be.
[font=Arial][size=4]Borderlands I found to be interesting mainly for it’s almost Pilobolus-like use of bodies to create shapes or seemingly multi-limbed creatures; otherwise it evokes Chroma with its boxy set (gray this time), and nondescript top-and-trunks costumes (gray this time). Color was provided by the lighting design and the electronic score - or maybe soundscape would be a better word; huge, beautiful washes of sound that pretty much ran out of steam by the end, and that surely would be improved by losing the tinkly electronic piano mishmash in the middle.[/size][/font]
[font=Arial][size=4]During the Q&A, McGregor and the others spoke at length about the ballet being inspired by the work of artist Josef Albers. I make no pretensions of knowing anything about art in general or Albers in particular, but based on McGregor’s comments and some internet research, I can say that at least some of that inspiration was visible to my highly uneducated eye: particularly the dancers placed at the corners of the gray box, forming a box within the box. It would be interesting to hear how well others, with more knowledge about these things, felt the ‘inspiration’ was executed.[/size][/font]
[font=Arial][size=4]The choreography, aside from the multi-limbed creatures, tended to look much like other McGregor choreography: rippling bodies, much aimless running around, and extreme extensions (Sofiane Sylve executed what may have been ballet’s first 240 degree développé). It seems odd that a modern or contemporary choreographer working without the restrictions imposed by classical ballet technique can’t seem to come up with a more varied movement palette. I do predict, however, some stunning still photos, when they start showing up.[/size][/font]
[font=Arial][size=4]With the performers dressed alike, it was sometimes difficult to tell who was who, but if I matched the correct face to the correct body (not always easy with the various intertwinings going on), Frances Chung stood out. I think I like her in this kind of thing more than in strictly classical roles; she was terrific in Forsythe’s “...in the middle, somewhat elevated...”, among other contemporary ballets, and she seemed very at home in this. [/size][/font]
I'm with you here - I know the work of Joseph Albers - his writings on color theory and perception are classic, and I can't say that I was reminded of Albers while watching Borderlands
. Why wasn't the connection made more obvious? I don't think there would have been anything wrong with presenting a take-off on his iconic color blocks style in the set and costumes:
But McGregor went his own way, and that's fine, if you make it work. The "rippling bodies and extreme extensions" that you mention, and the sameness of costume, have gotten to be repetitious for me rather than a whole new novel in a new language. Interestingly, for all the quirkiness in the dancer's motions, McGregor's approach seems to strip the dancers of any individual personality in favor a mass of undulations.
I don't, however, think that it was a mistake for you to hear the choreographer speak on his work - that adds another dimension to the piece that it certainly needed. For me: one dimension was still missing.