"Born to Be Wild"
Posted 11 December 2002 - 11:14 AM
WILD THINGS: DANCE IN AMERICA
PROFILES ABT’S ALPHA MALES
ON THIRTEEN’S GREAT PERFORMANCES
Going Home With Carreño,
Corella, Malakhov & Stiefel
The depth of male dancing at American Ballet Theatre today is unprecedented in the history of American ballet, certainly as exemplified by the contingent gathered by artistic director Kevin McKenzie. Led by Cuba’s Jose Manuel Carreño, Spain’s Angel Corella, the Ukraine’s Vladimir Malakhov, and the U.S.’s Ethan Stiefel, this cadre of international artists challenge themselves and the choreographers who make new dances for them, to explore and stretch their amazing abilities.
A new Dance in America performance-documentary, Born to Be Wild: The Leading Men of American Ballet Theatre travels home with Carreño, Corella, Malakhov and Stiefel, Monday, February 3 at 10 p.m. (ET) on Thirteen/WNET New York’s GREAT PERFORMANCES (check local PBS listings). Produced and directed by five-time Emmy-winner Judy Kinberg, the 60-minute special visits Havana, Madrid, Moscow, and Madison, Wisconsin, respectively, to experience firsthand the worlds that nurtured these artists.
“Having had the privilege of getting to know each of the dancers from past projects with ABT, I realized that although they come from different countries, their stories are uniquely American,” says Kinberg. “The best way of communicating that, it seemed, was to get a sense of their backgrounds by going home with them, investigating how they came to ballet in the first place, and exploring why they came to New York to realize their highest potential as dancers.”
The telecast concludes with a rare, one-time-only occasion: the four dancing together in a specially commissioned work by Mark Morris, arguably the most prominent dancemaker of his generation. The rehearsal process of the seven-minute piece, set to the Fourth Movement of Schumann’s Piano Quintet, Op. 44, provides the spine of the documentary.
In addition to choreographer Morris, the special offers observations on the dancers by ABT’s Kevin McKenzie; Jacques d’Amboise, founder of the National Dance Institute and one of America’s foremost ballet stars of the 1950s-80s; Sofia Golovkina, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, and the legendary Alicia Alonso, director of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and star of ABT in the 40s and 50s. Also on hand are family members and (in a surprise silent cameo) Cuban premier, Fidel Castro.
Vanity Fair calls the program “a four-chambered work that culminates in a chamber ballet for four. The entire hour is beautifully choreographed.” Regarding the “Wild” in the title, the magazine notes, “It has nothing to do with highways or hot rods, but rather the lightning these alphas unleash up in the air.”
Among the homeland highlights:
o A visit to the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, where Jose Manuel Carreño’s uncles, younger brother, and cousin danced, and where he was trained. “Some people say it’s like a dynasty,” he remarks. Alicia Alonso talks eloquently about her charge, recalling him as a child coming to watch class. Very grown up now, he and cousin Alihaydée perform a truly astounding Coda from the Diana and Acteon Pas de Deux at the Havana International Dance Festival, but not before burning the floor at a favorite salsa club.
o Angel Corella’s tour of his parents’ ballet shop in Madrid, where Angel Body Wear is a top seller. The only son in a close family of three daughters, Corella explains the impact of his background and how it defines his work. “The Spanish character has a lot to do with how I dance,” he says, “very passionate and very extreme. We live every single moment one hundred percent. And that’s the way I dance.”
o A touching Moscow reunion with Vladimir Malakhov and his mentor, the distinguished former Bolshoi ballerina and teacher Sofia Golovkina, who auditioned him for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. He reveals how he was sent at age 10 across the Soviet Union to the school, and from then on was able to visit his family only during summers and for two weeks each winter. “I wanted to be a dancer. That is why I gave up everything,” he notes without regret.
o A motorcycle ride with Ethan Stiefel on his Harley, back to his roots in the American Midwest to visit his first teacher Jo Jean Retrum at the Monona Academy of Dance in Madison, Wisconsin. Laughs the star of Columbia Pictures’ Center Stage: “They were pretty excited because once I came into class, I guess I represented about 50 percent of the male dance population in Wisconsin.”
A production of Thirteen/WNET New York, Born to Be Wild: The Leading Men of American Ballet Theatre is produced by Judy Kinberg and Jodee Nimerichter, directed by Kinberg, and edited by Girish Bhargava. Kinberg produced last year’s From Broadway: Fosse; produced and directed the Emmy-winning Bob Fosse: Steam Heat; Who’s Dancin’ Now?; The World of Jim Henson, and co-produced the Academy Award-winning He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’. She has produced more than 40 programs for the GREAT PERFORMANCES/ Dance in America series.
GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, public television viewers, and PBS. Major corporate support is provided by Ernst & Young LLP, a global leader in professional services. Special funding for Born to Be Wild: The Leading Men of American Ballet Theatre was provided by the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust and the Morris S. and Florence H. Bender Foundation.
Visit GREAT PERFORMANCES ONLINE at thirteen.org and pbs.org for additional information about this and other GREAT PERFORMANCES programs.
Jac Venza is executive producer for GREAT PERFORMANCES.
Thirteen/WNET New York is one of the key program providers for public television, bringing such acclaimed series as GREAT PERFORMANCES, Nature, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Stage on Screen, EGG the arts show, and Cyberchase – as well as the work of Bill Moyers – to audiences nationwide. As the flagship public broadcaster in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut metro area, Thirteen reaches millions of viewers each week, airing the best of American public television along with its own local productions such as The Ethnic Heritage Specials, The New York Walking Tours, New York Voices, Reel New York, and its MetroArts/Thirteen cable arts programming. With educational and community outreach projects that extend the impact of its television productions, Thirteen takes television “out of the box.” And as broadcast and digital media converge, Thirteen is blazing trails in the creation of Web sites, enhanced television, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, educational software, and other cutting-edge media products. More information about Thirteen can be found at: www.thirteen.org.
Posted 08 January 2003 - 11:29 PM
I just got news of the program from the Morris company (whose splendid home is a few blocks down the street from my apartment) and rushed to post news here. I can add one useful detail: go to www.pbs.org to check the air time on your local station. In the largest markets, it will run Monday, February 3rd at 10:00 PM Eastern & Pacific and 9:00 PM Central time. But each station sets its own schedule.
A pedant at heart, I have trouble with the assertion that the current ABT corps of great male dancers is "unprecedented in the history of American ballet" -- hey, the company's own history includes the likes of Nureyev and Massine and only one of the featured stars is American by birth and training -- but press releases are notorious for hyperbole.
I would also like to point out that director Judy Kinburg won her Emmies for the legendary "Dance in America" and "Choreography by Balanchine" broadcasts; she is uniquely gifted in bringing dance to TV.
I will be watching what promises to be one of the best dance programs on national TV in a decade.
Posted 09 January 2003 - 03:55 AM
Posted 10 January 2003 - 10:56 AM
Posted 10 January 2003 - 07:21 PM
There's also going to be a "Web companion" of this program launched on Monday, January 27. Don't know exactly what that is, of course....;)
Posted 12 January 2003 - 11:47 AM
Posted 18 January 2003 - 07:14 PM
I cant wait to see this!! It will be great!! Has anyone, besides those in NY, been able to see what time it is on in their local area?? I went to PBS's website and I don't think they have the listings up for that far out.
If all else fails, you can phone your local PBS station (Look for it in the phone book under its call letters, like "WNET" and "KQED.") or check out its own web site (just type the call letters in a Google or Yahoo search). In addition, a tape is likely to be available after the airing, but that will depend on the various copyright restrictions.
Posted 19 January 2003 - 09:23 AM
"Mark Morris, arguably the most prominent dancemaker of his generation."
I'd argue that...unless prominent means most visible. And what the heck is a dancemaker? Oh, I know, it makes choreography cool: like filmaker.
Isn't PR writing fascinatingly slippery? By including "arguably" and "prominent" and "dancemaker" in the sentence, the writer has defused possible criticism of the content of the statement. (Although it hasn't stopped me, has it?)
Hey, I'll bet I'm arguably the most prominent something, too!
(Running for the exit before you guys "fill in the blank")
Personally my vote goes to Trey McIntyre
Posted 19 January 2003 - 02:35 PM
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