Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake was first staged at Sadler’s Wells theatre in London in 1995. The longest running ballet in London’s West End and on Broadway, it has been performed in the UK, Los Angeles, Europe, Australia, Japan, Israel and Singapore.
- Original premiere in 1995, performed in London’s West End and toured across UK, USA, Europe, Japan
- Revived for Sadler’s Wells 2004 and returned for extended seasons in 2006/7, 2009/10, 2013/14
- Won Astaire Award for best dance on Broadway, Tony Awards for Best Director of a Musical, Choreography and Costume Design, 5 Drama Desk Awards, Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, The South Bank Show Award, Evening Standard Ballet Award, Olivier Award and many more
- Film version of Billy Elliott concludes with Billy about to take the lead in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
- Filmed in 3D for Sky Arts 2011
- 38 dancers
Adapted from Petipa’s Swan Lake
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
When Troy Schumacher premiered the impulse wants company I realized that here was someone to watch. Mr. Schumacher has been a member of the New York City Ballet since 2008, so it should come as no surprise to find evidence of the influences of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins as well as Peter Martins in his work. It can be found in how he uses the body in space, in how he weaves music and his dancers into one voice but most of all it can been seen in his willingness to take chances, his willingness to push the envelope and challenge not just himself but his dancers as well.
Mr. Schumacher founded BalletCollective in 2010 with the goal of exploring the collaborative process. He gathers together poets, visual artists, photographers, composers and designers that together work with equal voices, equal input towards the creation of new works. So far BalletCollective has worked with over 30 artists in the creation of new works.
Mr. Schumacher is classically trained and studied at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet. So it comes as no surprise that his choreography is built upon the classical vocabulary. He also has studied with some of the greatest dancers of the 20th century, Patricia McBride, Violette Verdy and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.
Each of the two world premieres had commissioned scores, Invisible Divide’s score was by Ellis Ludwig-Leone while Mark Dancigers created the original music for The Last Time This Ended. The eight members of Hotel Elefant provided live music for BalletCollective’s two night run at the NYU Skirball Center.
The Last Time This Ended, a duet for David Prottas and Taylor Stanley, had been inspired by three photographs by Israeli photographer Dafy Hagai. One photo was of a couple playfully rolling in the grass, another was of trees in spring and the last was of a car’s front windshield with a collection of beads hanging from its rearview mirror. Each photograph had its own mystery and possessed each own secrets.
Mr. Schumacher’s choreography was a series of rapid-fire choreographic phrases that pushed both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Prottas. They would perform beautiful leaps and execute these wonderful turns, sometimes with their arms waving or the torso arched back. The two would come together then separate, but still, there was this unspoken connection, an energy shared between them. The piece, though emotional, also possessed playfulness.
For Invisible Divide, a work for seven dancers, Ellis Ludwig-Leone incorporated the voice of Vanessa Upson to provide a powerful score that was rich in tone. Harrison Coll, Taylor Stanley and David Prottas all performed admirable. Each had his own voice, each making his own statement. Mr. Coll dances with such passion and confidence that he pulled you eye whenever he was on stage.
The women, Lauren King, Claire Kretzschmar, Ashley Laracey and Megan Mann brought out the youthful energies of the piece. Brandon Stirling Baker’s lighting design created a place that bended light and shadow and was true to the subtle drama that flowed through the work.
The imagery of Mr. Coll’s duet with Ms. Kretzschmar has stayed with me. He seems to pull her to him as if seeking someone to help with the loneliness and the despair he is feeling. He repeatedly gathered her into his arms only to then push her away, at one point boldly dropping her to the floor. Mr. Baker’s stark lighting augmented the rawness of the moment.
Eventually Mr. Coll broke away from Ms. Kretzschmar and began a deeply moving solo. You witness a moment of deep realization and can feel the emotional aspects of his plight. He explodes into leaps and turns with seemingly super-human strength. I sat there amazed by his expressive performance. Bravo Mr. Coll, bravo indeed.
Nutcracker Rouge is a sparkling reimagining of the beloved Nutcracker tale told with erotic, sensual and opulent flair. From award-winning director/choreographer Austin McCormick comes a baroque-burlesque confection of theatre, dance, music, circus, opera, fashion and sumptuous design. Enjoy a libation as you immerse yourself in a hedonistic display of gorgeous and decadent winter entertainment in this thrillingly unique fusion of nightlife and theatre.
“It’s As If The Court Of Louis XIV Is Transplanted To A Nightclub.. Kinky…Sensual…Sexy…Triumphant.”
–The New York Times
Company XIV has been nominated for a Bessie Award, Innovative Theatrical Awards and Drama Desk Awards. Their shows have been critic’s picks in the NY Times, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, TimeOut NY, Paper Magazine and Marie-Claire Magazine. The Company has been featured on Fox 5 News, Live with Kelly and Michael, Perez Hilton and National Public Radio.
Running time: 2 hours (including One 15 minute drink breaks)
Show contains partial nudity: 16 and over admitted
As you walk into the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House you immediately become aware of the stark minimalist design of the stage’s set. There is a narrow walkway between two slightly elevated rectangular platforms. In the background is a thin column of sand that falls continuously from the rafters. The column of sand is framed by two large conical scales, also with thin trickles of sand that falls into an attached tray. These scales are lowered and raised during the performance. As the piece progress the dancers’ movements spread sand over the floor in sections, invoking the elements of fire, water, air, and earth, each delineated by ascribed colors of light.
This is the opening imagery of the legendary Butoh company from Japan, Sankai Juku, and the New York premiere of Ushio Amagatsu’s Umusuna: Memories Before History…umusuna translate to English as the place you were born or more simply earth and birth – umusuna primarily refers to a pin-pointed area, but can also infer a broader, universal, planet-wide perspective…
There is a slight opening in the black background behind the column of falling sand in which Ushio Amagatsu enters and walks slowly to the front of the stage….the column of falling sand represents the passing of time or life in a vertical line. Mr. Amagatsu is bald, bare-chested and wearing all white body paint, his eyes lined with black; he only clothing is a white wrap around his waist. From the moment he enters the stage you are aware of his powerful presence and as he continues towards the front of the stage that power only grows. His moves in a manner that is almost prehistoric, primal in nature, his arms slice through the air, his torso contorts in upon itself, his body language is one of inner pain, of torment. When he gets to the front of the stage, with a slight turn of his head he opens his mouth as if in a silent scream of primordial anguish.
This is Butoh, an art form that developed, some say as a form of protest, after the Second World War. After the Second World War, Japan was a country in transition. Because of Japan’s defeat and subsequent conquest its old world values and traditionalist views were being challenge by the western democratic ideology.
This period was a time of great social unrest in Japan, students protested in the streets and theater groups were presenting pieces that challenged societal norms. Butoh, also known as the Dance of Darkness, was born out of this and was the result of the extreme dissatisfaction found in how Japanese modern dance was developing. These artists sought a new form of expression that would be a reflection of the times, of the anger, the confusion and the trauma leftover from the war. They rejected both the ideas of western modern dance as well as the restraints found in Japanese traditional performing arts. That sought more than just the repetition of ideas that were already being done in the west. So began the drive for a form of expression that was fully Japanese and one that focused more inward thru unconscious improvised movement.
These artists sought to explore inwardly vistas that had previously not been tapped either within themselves or in their environment. Butoh became the expression of something primal, a raw energy, a mirrored image of the cosmic pain and suffering that could be found in the human condition.
Four men inter the stage, they are wearing long red skirts with white corsets, each is bald, bare-chested and also covered in white body paint. In their ears are small balls attached by three inches of cord that swing like pendulums with every move.
They lie on the floor in way that seems to express awareness as it first climbed out of the primordial ooze. There is a stated androgyny to the dancers as if sexual expression is beneath them.
Umusuna: Memories Before History is perhaps one of the most startling works I have experienced. It explores the themes of light, darkness, life, death and primal passions. There is realness to the dreaminess found in this work, a realness that speaks of the struggle within the darkness found within man’s soul.
Now 66 years of age Mr. Amagatsu founded Sankia Juku in 1975 and as an artist his vision has expanded the landscape of both theater and dance. He is of the second generation of Butoh artists, trained by Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo who established Butoh as an art in the end of the war.
With Umusuna: Memories Before History, which has its world premiered in France in 2012, this is the first time in almost ten years that Sankai Juku has appeared at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
New York City Center
Sylvie Guillem – Life in Progress
A Sadler’s Wells London Production
Nov 12 – 14, 2015
After an unparalleled career that has spanned nearly 35 years, the legendary ballerina Sylvie Guillem will perform in the United States for the last time in Life in Progress, a poignant and riveting evening of dance. Guillem became the Paris Opera Ballet’s youngest-ever star dancer in 1984, and she has since emerged as a major force in the contemporary dance world. In Life in Progress, she will be joined by live musicians, La Scala dancer Emanuela Montanari, Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts from The Forsythe Company.
Akram Khan‘s technê
William Forsythe’s DUO
Russell Maliphant’s Here & After
Mats Ek’s Bye
Co-produced by China Shanghai International Arts Festival, Les Nuits de Fourvière, & Sylvie Guillem
I was excited to hear that Ballet Memphis was to appear for the first time in eight years at the Joyce Theater, Oct 27 – Nov 1, 2015. Being from Mississippi and having dance with Thalia Mara’s Jackson Ballet I wanted to see how ballet was thriving in the Deep South. It was Thalia Mara who was so instrumental in securing Jackson as the host city for the USA International Ballet Competition…
Ballet Memphis was founded by Dorothy Gunther Pugh in 1986 with only two dancers and a budget of $75,000. Now in its 29th year the company employs 32 dancers and has a budget of more than $4.4 million. Ballet Memphis is also preparing to build a new multi-million administrative and studio space in the heart of Memphis’ arts and theater district.
Ballet Memphis commissioned and created all six works shown during its Joyce engagement. I was able to attend Program B which feature Matthew Neenan’s Water of the Flowery Mill (2011); Julia Adam’s Devil’s Fruit (2013); Politics created in 2014 by Ballet Memphis Company member Rafael Ferreras Jr; and Confluence created in 2012 by Ballet Memphis Artistic Associate and Company member Steven McMahon.
The evening opened with Steven McMahon’s Confluence whose score ranged from the Largo movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Mahalia Jackson singing In the Upper Room and Marvis Staples performing Roebuck Staples’ Don’t Knock.
Virginia Pilgrim Ramey is seen standing in silence. With the opening notes of Dvorak’s New World Symphony Ms. Ramey begins to move. First an arm is raised followed by a slight shift of weight in her body.
This is the first of what appears to be 3 sections to this piece. The dancers performed with exuberance and wide smiles which after a minute or two seemed rather forced. I found the work or least the first section of the work a tad bit too saccharine for my tastes.,
Ms. Ramey, who is a tall and lyrically gifted dancer, would quickly enter the stage to weave in and out of the nine dancers, but, just as quickly as she appeared she would exit. She is an exceptional dancer; there is a majesty to her dancing that cannot be denied. I kept hoping for an extended solo in which Mr. Ramey could truly wow us with her dancing…but sadly it was not to be…
Where the piece came alive and really thrived was when the gospel voices of Ms. Jackson and Ms. Staples were heard. The piece quickly lost the saccharine feel from the first section and developed a soul, a voice of its own.
Steven McMahon’s Confluence is not a bad work but it does feel as if it’s two different pieces that have been welded together in order to call it one work. The first section musically is not the least bit relatable to the other two sections. Even the way the dancers performed the first section, with forced smiles a little too no depth of feelings is a complete 180 to the heart-felt and emotional performances the dancers gave the two sections set to gospel music. In total the score is confusing and the sudden transition from Dvorak’s New World Symphony to the gospel vocals of Mahalia Jackson and Marvis Staples is overly harsh and makes evident just how un-related the two styles of music are to each other…
The inspiration behind Matthew Neenan’s Water of the Flowery Mill was the artwork of the émigré painter, Arshille Gorky. The work’s title comes from Mr. Gorky’s 1944 painting Water of the Flowery Mill, now hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC.
Mr. Gorky’s paintings are noted for his use of color and abstraction and Bruce Bul’s costumes beautifully reflected both. The score was three sentimental pieces by Tchaikovsky. Now when you tie all together, Mr. Neenan’s choreography, Bruce Bul’s colorful costumes with the score …well, the end result was a lovely work I would like to see again.
Julia Adam’s Devil Fruit was just odd but in a fascinating sort of way. Devil’s Fruit is Ms. Adam’s second piece for Ballet Memphis and is the product of the company’s River Project series. In this work Ms.Adam explores the flora and fauna found alongside the Mississippi River, specifically the vast and intricate underground network of mushrooms. Ms. Adam’s was inspired by botanical photos of the fungi and the sheltering quality they possess. Artist Stephanie Crosby created original botanical paintings that were projected throughout the piece.
Christine Darch must be commended on her costumes…At the very beginning of the work Hideko Karasawa is seen lying in awkward position on the floor… she slowly stands and steps into a freestanding but still wearable piece of art or sculpture…it a beautiful white gown with green fauna and foliage flowing down the back. Ms. Karasawa shows unquestionable grace as she glides across the stage.
According to the program notes, Ms. Adam approached this work as a tripartite positioning of the mushroom, the science, the pagan mythology and the mind altering power of the mushroom to initiate one into the mysteries of the divine.
As I stated previously Ms. Adam’s Devil’s Fruit was an odd little piece but it did have some beautiful imagery with the combination of Ms. Adam’s choreography, Ms. Darch’s costumes and Ms. Crosby’s visuals….
Rafael Ferreras’ Politics was a work that seemed insure of what it exactly its statement was! Eight women wearing black pant suits are seen on stage; four are wearing toe-shoes and proceed to dance en pointe where another four are wearing sneakers and are performing a style of hip-hop known as Memphis jookin’.
The score was a mix of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Major, the Brandenburg Concerto in C Major and Moses Hogan’s Elijah Rock beautifully performed by Memphis’ Hattiloo Theatre. The only saving grace from for the work was the exquisite voices of the Hattiloo Theatre.
It is unfortunate that even after sitting through Program B I still have no idea of what and/or who Ballet Memphis wants to be. The eclectic grouping of the four works did not help in the least….I still ask myself….is Ballet Memphis saying they are a contemporary ballet company ready to step out onto the world stage…or are they just a very good but still regional ballet company who, though artistically drawn to the contemporary voices of today’s young choreographers, fear giving up their classical identity…I sadly have to go with the latter…
Last year I was invited to the Baruch Performing Arts Center for the New York premiere of Gregory P. Dawson’s Fabricca Matterasso D’argento. I remember then being extremely impressed with how Mr. Dawson challenged the use of the body in space and the athletic grace in which his dancers responded to that challenge.
On Sept. 26, 2015 dawsondancesf returned to the Baruch Performing Arts Center for the unveiling of Gregory P. Dawson’s DENT-DROP-BEND, a triptych that wove dance and visuals into a fresh language of movement.
Even though Mr. Dawson uses the classical vocabulary as the basis for his work he does not allow it to define him. Instead he has rounded, curved, arced, straightened and/or lengthened the very barriers that hinder so many choreographers that come from a balletic background.
In Dent-Drop-Bend you become immediately aware of how Mr. Dawson utilizes the sculptural grace of his dancers. The torso is stretched; the spine is elongated thus allowing the dancers to fully utilize every ounce of kinetic energy.
From the beginning Mr. Dawson plays with the concepts of light and dark. He paints a landscape of shadow. In the dimness we are teased by two men as they move across the back of the stage. These two men push, pull, and encircle their bodies with two circular bands that are attached with small knots of luminance. These circular tubes are in essence the only light on the stage.
As a corner of the stage is encompassed by a soft amber light, the two men have formed into a helix of movement. The lighting is such that Mr. Dawson is allowing the dancers anonymity. He is hiding the individual characteristic of each dancer so the viewer is more attentive to the visceral as opposed to the visual.
Damacio Payomo has created a score that is an incongruous blend of nature, piano, percussion, rushing winds and industrial noise. None of it should work together but work together is does. The score colors the work with a deep undertone of suddenness, of caution, a hint of the serenity of the chaotic found in the divine.
Jordon Drew steps forth; she is en pointe, a tall vengeful angel for the righteous. She is so supple, she does not move in the same manner as we ordinary humans but instead each movement, an elongated leg, an out stretched arm is more akin to a breath, it is effortless, lyrical, magical…
When she is joined by Isiah Bendel time stops, everything becomes focused on this one singular point in space. The music is baroque, a merger of an aria surrounded by the deep resonance of an organ. It is sweeping, it is monumental. Together they become living sculpture. They seldom lose touch of one another and when they do is not for long. Together their energies blend into an emotional statement of solidarity. Their pairing is based on trust and the sacredness of that trust.
Frankie Lee III, Alexander Vargas and William Fowler explode onto the stage with primal emotion and pure energy. The score now has a percussive repetition that seems to command the dancers. It is not music, it is something more primal, the blood coursing through their veins, their heartbeats made visual.
As with the repetitive percussion there is repetition in the choreographic phrasing. The dancers move fast, sharp, angular. Motion is a constant; there is wildness to it, a level of chaos barely controlled.
The sensuality of the three men and their movement is undeniable. Nothing is sexual, nothing overt, but as the dancers continue to move you become aware of a raw passion. You see in them something primordial, something eternal, a reminder that the human condition is transient, a thing ever changing.
Alexander Vargas must be mentioned for his exquisite movement quality. He has a line to his body that most dancers can only dream of. His dancing is instinctual…organic…movement flows though his body in a way that can only be called silky.
Isiah Bindel is perhaps one the most gifted dancers I have seen in many a year. The facility with which he has to work with is as close to perfection for a male dancer as it comes. He is tall and lean with long legs and arms. His torso has an elasticity that is delicious to watch. Every move is guided by his impeccable technique, by his innate sense for movement. I believe there is unique quality in Mr. Bindel that he has not even fully tapped….with in him is an ember that seeks to grow in to a flame….properly nourished this ember can give birth to greatness…
Gregory P. Dawson is an artist to watch! If you have not seen dawsondancssf in performance….I cannot recommend strongly enough that you do so…
In some of Mat Ek’s former choreographies, the traditions of Kurt Jooss and of his mother, Birgit Cullberg may be apparent. He uses classical as well as modern dance techniques. Social engagement of psychological dilemmas combined with subtle humor, form the basis of his choreographies. For Ek, movement is a means of individual expression. Aesthetic value is not his first priority.
In 1983 Ms. Guillem won the gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition, which later in the year earned her her first solo role, dancing the Queen of the Dryads in Rudolf Nureyev‘s staging of Don Quixote. In December 1984, after her performance in Nureyev’s Swan Lake, she became the Paris Opera Ballet’s youngest-ever étoile, the company’s top-ranking female dancer. In 1987 she performed the lead role in William Forsythe‘s contemporary ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated with one of her favorite partners, Laurent Hilaire.
In 1988 she was given the title role in a production of Giselle staged by the Royal Ballet to celebrate Nureyev’s 50th birthday. Her performance was a success, and in the following year she left Paris for London, to become a freelance performer and one of the Royal Ballet’s principal guest artists. Her desire to work independently from a company gained her the nickname “Mademoiselle Non”. In 1995 Ms. Guillem created the dance television program, Evidentia, which won several international awards. In 1998 she staged her own version of Giselle for the Finnish National Ballet, and in 2001 restaged the ballet for La Scala Ballet in Milan.
In 2001 she became the first winner of the Nijinsky Prize for the world’s best ballerina, although in her acceptance speech she criticised the “supermarket culture” of such awards. In the same year, she controversially appeared nude and without make-up in a photo-shoot for French Vogue. In 2003 she directed the central section of a Nureyev tribute program, but was criticised for having the dancers perform in front of a giant projected backdrop of Nureyev, which the audience found distracting. By 2006 she had moved from ballet to contemporary dance, working with such performers as Akram Khan as an Associate Artist of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, England.