Choreographer and director Kim Brandstrup’s short dance film Leda and the Swan, commissioned by The Royal Ballet for Deloitte Ignite 2014. Performed by dancers Zenaida Yanowsky and Tommy Franzen, and Yeats’s poetry read by actor Fiona Shaw.
Deloitte Ignite 2014 is the annual contemporary arts festival at the Royal Opera House and was curated by The Royal Ballet and The National Gallery’s Minna Moore Ede. This year’s festival is a feast of dance and visual art.
The month-long festival celebrated and explored the origin of myth and creation through dance, visual art, film, music and movement. The festival focused on two archetypal myths: Prometheus, the Titan who creates man from clay and steals fire from the Gods, and Leda and the Swan, the mysterious conjunction of a mortal woman and the god Zeus, disguised as a swan.
Music by Nico Muhly (Diacritical Marks 1, 2 & 6)
Poems by W.B. Yeats
Poems Read by Fiona Shaw
Cinematographer: Stephen Standen
Producer: Lucie Conrad
Choreography, directed & edited by Kim Brandstrup
Commissioned by The Royal Ballet for the Deloitte Ignite Festival 2014
Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/about/deloitte-…
I remember attending Complexions Contemporary Ballet very first performances at the Joyce Theater in the early to mid-90’s. I must admit, I was not impressed. The company was a hodge-podge of dancers with different ethnicities and body types. I found Dwight Rhoden’s choreography too busy, almost frantic as if he was trying way too hard. The only saving grace to the evening was the performances of Desmond Richardson.
Well, that was then and this is now. I now consider Complexions Contemporary Ballet one of my favorite small dance companies and I always make a point to attend their New York seasons . They practice what they preach, the company’s roster of the exquisitely 14 trained dancers come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and body types. My opinion of Mr. Rhoden’s choreography has changed as well.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s 20th Anniversary Gala at the Joyce Theater presented new works created just for this anniversary in addition to some of the company’s favorite pieces from the past 20 years.
With the World Premiere of Mr. Rhoden’s Head Space, we see the work of not just a choreographer but of an artist coming into his own. Head Space, with music by New Orleans Jazz musician Terrence Blanchard, is perhaps the most exciting work I have seen from Mr. Rhoden…and I can’t wait for the opportunity to see it again,
The work is ripe with Ms. Rhoden’s signature style of choreography. A divine mix of the chaotic laced with sublime lyricism. In Head Space the dancers use their bodies to emphasis his extreme style, a style that pushes the dancers technically. Leg extensions lift to the heavens, especially Terk Waters; he has perhaps the longest legs of any male dancing to day.
I have said it before and I will say it again, I believe “greatness” resides in Terk Waters. He is not just a really good dancer but a dancer rare for his generation. He possesses the ability to make even the most difficult choreography into a seamless blend of artistry and technique. There is a special quality to his dancing in that he dances not with his body but instead with his whole soul. His stage presence, his movement capabilities, both remind me of some of the great male dancers from the early 80’s such as Fernando Bujones, Ivan Nagy, even Baryshnikov in his early years.
The New York City premiere of Igual, choreographed by American Ballet Theatre principal dancer; Marcelo Gomes, was also given. The work is set to an original score for two violins by acclaimed composer Ian Ng and played live by Tessa Lark and Charles Yang. The work is inspired by marriage equality, “Igual” means “equal” in Portuguese.
Four dancers, Ashley Mayeux, Kelly Sneddon, Addison Ector and Terk Waters wearing Eric Wintering’s costumes of turquoise crop tops and leggings wove themselves into intricate knots of interconnecting limbs. The dancers would break apart and come back together again.
It’s a wonderful work and I feel I need to see it again to really say anything about. Mr. Rhoden’s Head Space I found so exciting that anything following it was just not going to be able to get the full appreciation I am sure it deserves.
With Igaul, Mr. Gomes shows his continued growth as a choreographer. If you ever get the opportunity to attend a performance of his Paganini, set to Paganini’s Caprice in A minor (Op. 1, No. 24), that premiered in 2011 or his work Toccare, set to an excerpt from Ian Ng’s Grand Jeté for a Violin, that premiered in 2012….do so, you will not regret it!
Mr. Rhoden’s 1995 work, Ava Maria, was brilliantly performed by American Ballet Theater’s Soloist Misty Copeland and Complexions’ Artist-in Residence, Clifford Williams. Both Ms. Copeland and Mr. Williams energies blended perfectly and created an electrically charged performance. Bravo, bravo indeed.
The only disappointment I found in the evening’s performance was Mr. Rhoden’s excerpt from his work The Groove that was created in 2012 for the North Carolina Dance Theater and set to music of the Pet Shop boys. The audience loved it, but for me it was lacking something somewhere.
On Nov 18 and 19, 2014, the Mikhailovsky Ballet, accompanied by the full Mikhailovsky Orchestra, offered a program entitled Three Centuries of Russian Ballet. Located in St. Petersburg, the company has become a shining jewel in Russian ballet and has attracted such international stars as Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev and Angelina Vorontsova (all formerly of the Bolshoi Ballet) plus Leonid Sarafanov (former with the Kirov (Mariinsky) Ballet) and the Spanish born Nacho Duato became its resident choreographer in 2011
Ballet has been a part of the tapestry of Russian history since the 17th Century. Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich (1645–1676), the second Russian tsar of the house of Romanov introduced ballet to Russia as part of his wedding festivities. Peter the Great (1672-1725) took a personal interest in ballet at his court, bringing in Western dances and taking part in them himself. While the Mikhailovsky Theatre, home to the Mikhailovsky Ballet, was founded by Czar Nicholas I in 1833.
So when one of the major ballet companies of Russia offers a program entitled Three Centuries of Russian Ballet…a lot is to be expected and unfortunately it did not quite live up to its title. Offered were three one act ballets, Petipa from the 19th century, Asaf Messerer from the 20th century and Nacho Duato’s Prelude from the 21st Century.
Premiering at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in 1975, Le Halte de Cavalerie (The Cavalry Halt), with music by Ivan Armsheimer, is one of Marius Petipa’s short ballets. Originally created between his Swan Lake (1877) and Raymonda (1898), Le Halte de Cavalerie premiered in 1896 and was revived by Pyotr Gusev in 1968. This is a fun ballet, witty, humorous with nothing heavy or overly dramatic.
From the beginning antics in sue, in a local village two girls are in love with the Peter (Ivan Vasiliev). A tug of war is seen between Maria (Angelina Vorontsova) and Teresa (Olga Semyonova) but Peter (Mr. Vasiliev) already has given his heart to Maria.
A Hussar regiment arrives in the village and the Colonel in charge demands his soldiers are billeted. Alexey Malakhov portrayed a Colonel that just could not get his act together. He is ever amorous and turns his attention to Teresa (Ms. Semyonova) who hopes it will make Peter take notice. The village girls flirt with the men in uniforms to the outrage of their boyfriends…and it ends with a fairy tale like wedding in a castle between Peter and Maria.
The choreography is what it is, plenty of pantomime mixed with some excellent Russian character dancing. But it had more fluff than substance but when created that was its goal…to entertain. Well, entertain it did, every thing about it was charming and I am richer for having seen if…it’s Petipa after all….
Asaf Messerer’s Class Concert, created during the Soviet era, was a head-scratcher…it’s not that I disliked the work it’s just that I did not find it memorable. The work was commissioned during the Soviet era (1963) as a performance exercise for graduates of the Bolshoi Academy. The score is a compilation of music by several Russian composers including Anatoly Lyadov, Anton Rubinstein, Alexander Glazunov and Dmitri Shostakovich.
The works is set as if we are spectators watching a ballet class or a year-end recital. We see three young girls standing at a ballet barre ready to begin class. (The work utilized children and young adults from local ballet academies.) Similar scenes were seen as the girls and also boys increased in age and as the ages increased so did the difficulty of the exercises at the barre.
It is presented in a ballet class format, barre work, then center of the floor work with adagio, turns, petit allégro (small jumps) and then grand allégro (big jumps). The dancers of the Mikhailovsky Ballet are excellent trained and their technique crisp and precise, turns impressive and their jumps amazing.
The question is was Asaf Messerer’s Class Concert the best work that could be shown from Russia’s soviet era? Russian ballet during the Soviet era is somewhat of a mystery to many westerners, besides the Bolshoi Ballet’s 1968 production of Spartacus, choreographed by Yury Grigorovich, little from that era has been seen outside Russia. Thus it was sadly a missed opportunity to really show stronger works from that era.
Nacho Duato’s Prelude is an interpretation of the emotions and impressions which Mr. Duato experienced at the start of a new period of his life – in Russia. It is not about one particular subject but a meeting of the classically trained dancers with Mr. Duato’s contemporary style of choreography. Does Prelude rank alongside some of his classis works such as his 1983 work Jardi Tuncat or Without Words created in 1988? Does it match the brilliance of Mr. Duato’s Duende from 1991 or Depak Ine, commissioned by the Martha Graham Dance Company and premiered at New York City Center earlier this year? For me it did not…
The score is a mixture of Handel, Beethoven and Britten. Prelude is broken into segments, for lack of a better word, with each segment announced or preceded with a change of scenery. It was somewhat surreal and not in a good way.
This work was created for the Mikhailovsky Ballet on the Mikhailovsky’s dancers but still it lacked a depth, a statement that I have always seen in Mr. Duato’s works. Prelude has a cast of 34 including a large corps de ballet.
Not getting word till the last minute about the 2014 Peridance Presents at The Salvatore Capezio Theater (I really need to check my email more often…) I grabbed my coat, my hat and I was off… arriving a short while later, somewhat breathless, but on time. I grabbed a seat, eager to see just what was to be presented, but sadly the first half of the program was not as successful as the second.
Calen J. Kurka, from :pushing progress, presented Collecting Dust. The work was broken in to segments and the movement for the work was quite athletic. Mr. Kurka likes to take chances in the way he molds the body in space. His choreography is musical and at times even lyrical in its phrasing. He marries odd shapes with energetic movement that is includes difficult turns with leaps in the air to acrobatic floor work.
The dance is constructed in seven segments/sections, three in silence and three with music and ending with silence. The first section was performed in silence, while in the second and with music Alexander Olivieri and Gildas Lemonnier performed a wonderful duet. It was somewhat intriguing and had a very dramatic as well as memorable start, as the lights came up Mr. Olivieri swipes his arm up in an arc. When his arm reaches the top of his arch the music began. A great beginning…
The pièce de résistance for Mr. Kurka’s Collecting Dust was the duet between Jackie Nowicki and Alexander Olivieri. There was an intrinsic chemistry that was palatable between the two dancers. Ms. Nowicki, with her torso arched to the side, executed some amazing turns. Mr. Kurka could have presented this duet alone for it’s a strong work and more than able to stand on its own.
Athleticism is the very definition of Mr. Olivieri’s dancing. He performs with such passion and precision he is one to watch. He leaped into the air, somehow he flipped around and when he lands, throws his body into a roll that began at the chest and continued to the toes. The only fault I found with this duet was in the spacing; the dancers were too far apart in relation to one another…I had to choose to watch on or the other.
Calen Kurka’s Collecting Dust, with just a little dusting up could be a very good work. The only thing that stops it from being superb is those sections danced in silence. No matter how hard I tried, and I tried hard, I could not find a purpose. I found them distracting, robbing the work of a certain musicality as well as weakening the dramatic statements that were made by the sections danced with music.
SynthesisDANCE performed Tracie Stanfield’s She: For where she has been has led us here was just as bewildering as the title. Four women would clasp there skirts and then raise them teasingly and quickly pull them down. I have seen the dance so many times in so many variations. The women express rejection, then moments of acceptance but yet still contain angst and moments of unsuredness. I can say that all the women danced wonderfully….so it was not the dancing that was at fault…it was the content. I don’t know, perhaps it’s because I am a guy…but I just did not get this piece at all…
When Igal Perry gets it right, he gets it right. Mr. Perry’s presented the 1st Movement for his new work Thundering Silence. The piece brought to mind the architectural approach to movement that can be found in Balanchine’s leotard ballets. It is in the manner Mr. Perry’s places emphasis on the movement, his focus on the choreography as opposed to a storyline with elaborate costumes and clever lighting.
The work was plotless, just movement that flowed like silk through Vladimir Martynov’s score. Mr. Perry uses the dancers’ bodies in manner that seems almost cubist in approach. The way a leg in the air is bent at ninety degrees , a torso that arches back, forward and/or the side, in how he applies to arms to the overall geometric forms of movement.
Pas de deux flowed into pas de quatres that flowed into pas de six and all masterfully colored with a beautiful lyricism. Igal Perry is a master at his craft; he is an artist unafraid to explore, to stretch himself in how he approaches and uses the body in space. Bravo Mr. Perry, bravo indeed…
My first introduction to Sarah Mettin’s choreography was a performance of In a Roofless Room by the Purchase Dance Company. Since then whenever I see Sarah Mettin and/or Mettin Movement performing I try to be there.
Allegory: Aeon has sense of mystery, a since of the unknown, the sense that something is being sought but no-one knows what. In Ms. Mettin’s choreography the dancers move in a way that I describe as saccadic lyricism. It is a style that I have found unique to Mr. Mettin, it is her saccadic signature of movement, the way the body stops and starts, but oddly never loses its lyricism.
Allegory: Aeon is a mix of the physical and the cerebral. There is a hint of street dance that colors the work, not obvious, but there. The dancers are attired in muted earth tones, never allowing anything to distract the eye from the dance itself.
Isaies Santamaria Perez executes a double pirouette with his arms in fifth position that was flawless. If you have not seen Sarah Mettin and Mettin Movement….do yourself a favor and do so….
Timeless Fables Set to a Unique Classical Score
with Dance & Visual
Four Seasons: A Spinning Planet
Conductor: James Judd
Original Concept, Direction & Choreography: Karole Armitage
Book: Craig Shemin
Lighting Design: Clifton Taylor
With Armitage Gone! Dance
The Little Orchestra Society, in association with New York City Center, presents a new program based on stories about our planet inspired by ancient and timeless animal fables from around the globe. Choreographer Karole Armitage’s work fuses ballet and modern dance with the stunning theatricality of Cirque du Soleil.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
at 11:00 AM & 1:00 PM
New York City Center
131 West 55th St.
New York NY
For single tickets, which start at $18, call New York City Center at 212-581-1212
For three concert subscriptions, which include, Four Seasons: A Spinning Planet, Cinderella and the Prince who Slays the Magic Dragon, and Peter and the Wolf please call The Little Orchestra Society at 212-971-9500
Passage to Dawn
The Story of Daphnis & Chloé
Directed & Choreographed by Benjamin Millepied
Featuring an original score by London Grammar
Passage to Dawn is a series of choreographed video tableaux created in partnership with renowned choreographer and dancer Benjamin Millepied. Maiyet commissioned the films, along with an exclusive track, “Where I Belong,” by London Grammar, as a complement to its Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
Millepied’s resulting creation, a modern “symphonie choreographique,” is based on Daphnis and Chloé, a Greek pastoral love story that is the only known work of the 2nd century AD Greek novelist and romancer Longus. The project was shot using a super slow motion video camera and filmed on location in Los Angeles with the participation of dancers from L.A. Dance Project. Costumes for the cast were specially created by Maiyet, based on pieces from the Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
The tale of Daphnis and Chloe deals with the simple and peaceful lives of shepherds in the country. A young boy named Daphnis and a girl named Chloe are abandoned by their parents and raised by shepherds on the Greek island of Lesbos. The two meet and gradually fall in love as they grow up. After various trials, including Daphnis’s capture by pirates, Daphnis and Chloe are reunited with their families and married to each other.
The popular story spread to Europe in the 1500s. It was the main source for The Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare and inspired various musical compositions, including the 1910 ballet Daphnis et Chloé by the French composer Maurice Ravel.
Save the Date
Margie Gillis & Sidra Bell Dance New York
Jan. 11, 2015
The Ailey Studios
405 West 55th St, NYC
SBDNY Photography by David Flores (2014)
Margie Gillis Photography by Julie Perreault
SBDNY 2014-2015 Season
CPR-Center for Performance Research Gala (Brooklyn, NY)
June 30-July 3
Tisch/NYU Summer Dance Festival- Company in Residence
Central Park SummerStage MainStage (New York, NY)
Fall Season @ CPR-Center for Performance Research (Brooklyn, NY)
APAP/2014 @ The Ailey Studios (New York, NY)
1st Annual SBDNY Benefit Gala
Spring Season @ Baruch Performing Arts Center (New York, NY)
Marking the 30th anniversary of its American debut at BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch returns to Brooklyn with Kontakthof: A piece by Pina Bausch, created in 1978, the same year as Café Muller.
Kontakthof (which translates as “courtyard of contact) is set in a dance hall; the stage is encased by three walls with moldings, a curtained stage, plain black chairs, a few microphones stand by the walls and an upright piano is in a corner. Twenty-three men and women are seen seated as if waiting for something to start. The women are attired in 1950’s silk and satin cocktail/evening attire while the men wear dark suits complete with white shirts and ties. This dance hall feel is enhanced by the score for Kontakthof, which is a compilation of popular songs from the 1930’s.
Both the sets and the costumes were created by Ms. Bausch’s longtime collaborator, the late Rolf Borzik. Mr. Borzik met Pina while studying design at the Folkwang School in Essen. The same school that Pina had joined at age fourteen to study dance with Kurt Joss. Mr. Borzik worked with Pina from 1973 till his untimely death in 1980.
Kontakthof ranges from moments of serenity to moments that amount to pure chaos. At times the dancers are seen running around the stage screaming like lunatics. Russian dancer Andrey Berezin antagonizes poor Cristiana Morganti (who’s Italian) by chasing her around the stage with a mouse he has hiding in his pocket. One man seems innately attached to a blow-up doll that he continues to bring on and off the stage. All the while he continues to let the air out of the doll and then turns right around and begins to blow her up again.
With parade ground precision the dancers walk together and preen before us like peacocks. They sooth back their hair; pick their teeth and circling their mouths with their fingers in a somewhat provocative manner and all with the most minimalist of gestures.
At one point they all pull chairs downstage and when seated everyone begins talking together. The company has always been international in its makeup, dancers hail from around the world, so it is a conglomerate of languages being spoken in unison.
Mr. Berezin, while holding a microphone, walks behind the dancers, stopping at each individually while they describe, in detail, their worst first date ever, well, that’s what I heard from those that spoke English…so I am assuming it was the same for those speaking in about half a dozen other languages.
One fellow who sounded Australian told of arriving a little early to his date’s house. When he walked through the front door and into the living room…to his astonishment it was filled with stuffed clowns, all in different kinds, shapes & sizes….there were white-faced clowns, hobo clowns, pierrots, marionettes, …he had to move four just sit on the sofa…he said he could feel them all watching him while he waited for his date to finish dressing. He had never been so uncomfortable in his life…
Spontaneously everyone starts merrily singing “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean” but it would seem Australian Julie Shanahan’s bonny really was somewhere over the ocean. She begins to sob uncontrollable and in a broken tearful voice she continues to sing. Everyone else stops singing then begins to move away from her either in ridicule or embarrassment leaving her alone one the stage. It is a haunting moment as she continues to softly sing, her voice filled with lament. It was a heart-wrenching moment!
Spanish-born dancer, Nazareth Panadero stands completely still, staring straight ahead seemingly without any emotion. Men start to gather around her, smelling her hair, lifting the hem of her dress to feel her shapely thigh, prodding and inspecting as if buying meat at a butcher’s shop. Ms. Panadero is manhandled and not gently while being passed man to man.
This seems a reoccurring theme throughout Kontakthof as well most or perhaps all of Ms. Bausch’s work. She explores the human condition with a surgeon’s precision, the objectifying of women, the eternal battle of the sexes, courtships and it’s rituals, the ecstasy of love as well as it’s agony and feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Jorn Weisbrodt, Artistic Director for the Luminato Festival, has stated that Pina Bausch is probably the most important choreographer for the second half of the twentieth century; she invented a complete new genre, dance-theater, and incorporating theatrical elements such as dialogue and text into dance…
Now there is this one tiny little thing that I thought could be approved on. Kontakthof is TWO HOURS & 50 MINUTES from start to finish with a twenty minute intermission one hour and 40 minutes in. Now I love me some Pina, always have, I even took class with the company a couple of times. I was hoping Pina would ask me to join, but alas it was not meant to be…but I digress…
Kontakthof is wonderful, just about an hour to long. All that screaming, running, dancers flirting and then rejecting each other, all the insight into the human condition, the statements of love, loss, abandonment, loneliness, the feelings of isolation, disappointment and unbridled joy….well, in my humble opinion it could have been down just as acutely at an hour and 50m minutes to two hours.
Over the 36 years in which Pina Bausch (1940—2009) shaped the work of Tanztheater Wuppertal, she created an oeuvre that casts an unerring gaze at reality, while simultaneously giving us the courage to be true to our own wishes and desires. Bausch was appointed director of dance for the Wuppertal theater in 1973. The form she developed in those early years was wholly unfamiliar. In her performances the players did not merely dance; they spoke, sang, laughed, and cried. Dance-theater evolved into a unique genre, inspiring choreographers across the globe.
A piece by Pina Bausch
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
Directed & Choreographed by Pina Bausch
Set & Costume Design by Rolf Borzik
Collaboration by Rolf Borzik, Marion Cito, & Hans Pop
Music by Charlie Chaplin, Anton Karas, Nino Rota, Jean Sibelius, & others
The Guardian has reported that Sylvie Guillem is ending her 39-year career after the end of her world tour. Ms. Guillem is recognized as one of the greatest Prima Ballerina’s of her generation. She was a Principal dancer with both Paris Opera Ballet and Royal Ballet will be retiring after her world tour. Ms. Guillem, who is 50, had supposedly gave a friend of hers a “license to kill” if she was to go on dance for too long. Ms. Guillem has stated she wanted to retire why she still had pride in her performance.
Friend Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet has tried to get the world renowned French Ballerina to change her mind. “She is such a gifted human being and it is a great loss for all of us,” she said. “Of course we don’t want her to stop; we want her to go on for ever. She said to me it had to happen at some point, why not now? To which I had many answers.”
Ms. Guillem, 42 at that time, told Julie Myerson in a 2008 interview “It would be nice to wake up and be able to walk to the bathroom,” referring to her extreme muscle stiffness each morning. But she says her stiffness isn’t much to do with age. Nearly every morning of her adult life has been like this, even when I was 20 and at the Paris Opera I had to crawl down the stairs; it is only when I start to work and stretch that my body begins to recover again.’
Alistair Spalding, chief executive and artistic director for Sadler’s Well, said: “She is the most significant ballerina of our time, no doubt about it. In the future, looking back, we’d say she was the one really. She is remarkable, a once-in-a-generation dancer.”
Recalling her training in Paris, where all the students were nicknamed “little rats” and obliged to bow to all teachers and dancers, Guillem said: “The dancers always seemed so solemn and aloof and whenever we were in a hurry they always seemed to appear out of nowhere, causing us to come to a skidding halt to take our bows. The very old floor, waxed and made slippery by skids from previous generations, made this task relatively dangerous.
“At full speed, we tried to hold, for at least half a second, the ‘bow’ – a genuflexion with arms stretched downwards in a V shape, palms down, back foot pointed behind the supporting leg. And, this done, off we went, trotting to the next class. These wobbling marks of respect were far from gracious, but for us it was a mission accomplished!”
Ms. Guillem’s world tour called Life in Progress will encapsulate her last performances. The tour begins in Modena, Italy, on 31 March, stopping at Sadler’s Wells in May and ending in Tokyo in December. It will include two new works by Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant as well as a solo piece written for her by Mats Ek, called Bye.