Posted 12 March 2002 - 05:31 PM
Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times called Eliot Feld's Ballet Tech a post-classical ballet company. What's that mean? It's a rethinking of ballet that's uniquely American and very New York -- fast, sassy, multi-racial, and exuberant. This season is your chance to sample Feld's long and prolific career -- from 1967 'til now. This season's repertory will include a long-awaited revival of his second ballet, At Midnight, not seen in New York in a decade, and four premieres -- the most recent of which is his 112th ballet. The new ballets are: Skandia danced to the haunting Swedish Nyckelharpa Orchestra, Behold the Man starring Nickemil Concepcion to the music of David Lang and Brian Eno, Pianola danced by four independent 21st century women to Conlon Nancarrow's revolutionary Studies for Player Piano, and Lincoln Portrait, whose cast of 57 includes Speaker SAM WATERSTON (4/2 and 4/6), CARMEN DE LAVALLADE (4/9, 4/19, 4/24, 5/3), 13 dancers and, as the American populace, 43 performers of every description. Programs include the sexy, concupiscent new Pacific Dances for eleven long-legged unleied ladies, to luscious Hawaiian slack key guitar music, the dazzling male duet Yo Johann, and revivals of Feld Classics Theatre, Ah Scarlatti, and Jukebox to rock and roll classics by the Coasters. Swans? Sylphs? Princes? Forget about it. Ballet Tech is ballet for nowadays.
Any comments? Myself, I'm speechless.
[ March 12, 2002, 05:52 PM: Message edited by: Farrell Fan ]
Posted 12 March 2002 - 07:13 PM
Yikes! i've used a capital letter...
Posted 12 March 2002 - 07:20 PM
Be sure to go, Farrell Fan, and report. Feld has made some very interesting work in the past.
Posted 12 March 2002 - 10:37 PM
Posted 13 March 2002 - 04:59 PM
Posted 13 March 2002 - 08:16 PM
Posted 14 March 2002 - 02:30 AM
As far as the turnover goes, I don't have any inside knowledge, but what I recall is that a few years ago he basically disbanded Felds Ballet and created Ballet Tech with only his own students, with no outsiders in the company. It appears that in the past year or so he has decided to attract other dancers as well. I don't know why, but if I see him at the theater, I will ask him about it. He is very approachable.
Also, I am not sure if this group has talked about his school. I think he is possibly doing more for dance in NY than anyone with the possible exception of SAB. He has tryouts at hundreds (really hundreds) of elementary schools in NYC during the year. I think starting in the 3rd grade or so. He is very selective (my wife is a teacher and he has recruited in her school). The kids are then bused once or twice a week to his school for training. As the kids get older the frequency increases and eventually they go to his school full time. It is a part of the NYC Board of Ed and included both academic subjects as well as dance. All this is free for the students. I believe the school is at 890 Broadway in the "ballet" building along with ABT et.al. Many of the students graduate into the company and many are given substantial exposure in his kids dance. He also uses some of the kids in his ballets as does NYCB with SAB students.
I was tempted to include him in the greatest living choreographers... but since I have seen very little of Bejart and Petite I decided not to go that way. Personally he is a favorite and we usually catch Ballet Tech 5,6 or more times a year.
A note for anyone looking for tickets on the cheap, they will often (but not always) take TDF vouchers at the Joyce. You need to check on the day of performance. We have used them many times there. At $7 a pop its much cheaper than a movie. You can also save 40% by buying 4 different companies in the Joyce membership program.
Posted 14 March 2002 - 04:09 PM
After seeing Organon, I thought back on Mending as a prime example of "less is more." In Organon, Feld had Woetzel taking his pants off while negotiating the elevated jungle gym, which made it seem more of a stunt than anything else. And I didn't think all those other elements in Organon jelled into a satisfactory whole.
Posted 16 March 2002 - 05:41 PM
Posted 01 April 2002 - 12:03 AM
Feld's current "Ballet Tech" is composed entirely of teen-aged students at his school, which is indeed recognized and partly funded by the New York City Board of Education. His effort to attract and train kids from widely divergent social and ethnic backgrounds is admirable. Whether it produces a good dance company is another matter entirely. The Feld Ballet, which he disbanded, did not include "outsiders," only experienced and gifted professional dancers, whom he chose to dismiss.
As I noted elsewhere, some of Feld's best work depends on his dancers' ability to draw on life experience -- which is unavailable to a youngster of 15. "At Midnight" is set to songs of Mahler full of late-Romantic weltschmerz, a sensation as remote from hip-hop as palm trees are from snowmen.
At the same time, some dances, created for this technically gifted if emotionally shallow group, can be sensational. As for "Organon," if I want to see a hunk in a jock strap, I'll rent a porn tape. The "dance" is not worth the time or the money it took to produce.
Posted 01 April 2002 - 12:36 PM
I admire what he's done in education tremendously, even if I don't particularly care for his current repertory. He's had about three major changes in direction, though, so there may well be a fourth -- back to weltschmerz, perhaps
Posted 01 April 2002 - 05:02 PM
Re-reading the string, I suddenly remembered why Feld was once compared to Robbins: "Intermezzo," a "piano ballet" (to Brahms) clearly inspired by "Dances at a Gathering" and "In the Night" (and, of course, "Liebeslieder Waelzer.") I've always liked the piece, which I saw several times over the years, for its effortlessly witty charm, a choreographic Viennese pastry.
Then I encountered Peter Anastos' "Yes, Virginia, Another Piano Ballet," one of the funniest dance parodies ever. So now I see these pieces with a certain duality, a sensation that does not decrease my pleasure.
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