Choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and commissioned by New York City Center for the 10th anniversary of the Fall for Dance Festival, Sombrerísimo is an absorbing exploration of identity. The piece references the surrealist world of the Belgian painter René Magritte, famous for his paintings of men in bowler hats.
Hudson River Park, one of the nation’s longest waterfront parks and an urban oasis for New Yorkers and visitors from every corner of the world, will host the first-ever Hudson River Dance Festival, presented this summer on the Pier 63 lawn in Hudson River Park. This free celebration of NYC’s premier dance culture is a rare and unique opportunity for diverse audiences to experience some of the city’s most talented and acclaimed dancers and ground-breaking dance compositions and performances.
The same program will be featured each evening, with Ballet Hispanico, Paul Taylor Dance Company, and Parsons Dance sharing the bill. Each company has planned engaging and distinctive programs that spotlight the cultural wealth and stylistic innovation that makes New York the epicenter of the American dance scene. The repertoire is designed to delight a broad audience, from aficionados and dance enthusiasts, to families and new audiences alike. The Hudson River Dance Festival is sponsored and presented by SHS Foundation in association with The Joyce Theater, with funding from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Hudson River Park Trust.
Wendy Whelan is at an age when many dancers are retiring from the stage but at 47 she is just as active as ever. She retired from New York City Ballet after a most impressive 30 year career. She mastered Balanchine’s neo-classical repertory, danced classics such as Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake as well as working closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets. She also originated featured roles in 13 ballets for Christopher Wheeldon, as well as in the ballets of William Forsythe, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei and Twyla Tharp.
So to say Ms. Whelan career has been stellar would be a grand understatement. Since her departure from NYCB she has recently launched the Wendy Whelan New Works Initiative of which Restless Creature is the first work the Project has produced. Restless Creature had its New York Premier May 26-31, 2015 at the Joyce Theater.
Restless Creature is made up of four duets in which Ms. Whelan is performing in each duet.
Each dance is a duet in which Ms. Whelan is joined on stage by the the choreographer. The program includes Kyle Abraham’s The Serpent and the Smoke; Josh Beamish’s Conditional Sentences; Brian Brooks’s First Fall; and Alejandro Cerrudo’s Ego Et Tu.
The evening opened with Alejandro Cerrudo’s Ego Et Tu. Mr. Cerrudo is the resident choreographer for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Before this work I had only seen his Pacopepepluto, a rather fun trio for three men set to crooning of Dean Martin when Hubbard Street performed at the Joyce in 2013.
Unfortunately the choreography, for me felt, contrived, too thought out. The choreography was instilled with awkward transitions that made me want to ask why. It’s not a bad work but rather I felt if needs to be poked, prodded and polished which will occur as the work matures…or I least I hope….
Josh Beamish’s Conditional Sentences set to Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C Minor was akin to a flirtatious minuet that been updated for the age of information and instant gratification. Bach’s composition, performed live by Rachel Kudo on piano, lent such a delicious element/layer to the work. It was light and quick with the choreography airy. Both dancers were dressed in gray slacks and red sleeveless tops. The was something, perhaps the general air of the work, the light hearted tongue-in-cheek approach to not only the choreography but the statement being made that reminded me of some of the lighter works by Jiri Kylián. It was fun and I would enjoy seeing it again.
But, the pièce de résistance for the evening was the haunting duet created by Kyle Abraham, The Serpent and the Smoke. Now I have to be honest, I love Kyle Abraham, as a person I think he is wonderful…but with that said, I have to admit having a love/hate relationship with his choreography. I think he has shown moments in his career that can only be described as inspired genius. The Serpent and the Smoke is one of those moments, but, alas, I have also seen works of his where I just scratch my head and wonder what he was thinking. Now, in Mr. Abraham’s defense…we come from two distinct and different generations…& I acknowledge that my sometimes not getting Mr. Abraham’s work is that I am not a member of the hip-hop generation and honestly not that familiar with it…(…does that make me sound old or what…)…
For The Serpent and the Smoke, Mr. Abraham seems to unfold out of darkness, he moves into the light with his arms undulating in a manner as if arms had been replace with serpents. The back wall is exposed which solidifies the abstraction of thought found in the piece.
The Serpent and the Smoke is not a lineal work, but must be seen as it is without any preconceived notions. There is a surrealism of statement that can only be expressed via the archetypes found within the human condition and Mr. Abraham, much as did Martha Graham, has pulled them to forefront our consciousness, laying them bare before us.
There is a rareness to the choreography and that is way Mr. Abraham has melded the cerebral and the emotional elements. Time and space is nonentity. At times the choreography is introverted; as if Ms. Whelan and Mr. Abraham have crawled so deeply into their own psyche they now struggle to find a way back to their physical and conscious realities. There are moments of intense passion but still you find startling moments of stillness and quiet.
Ms. Whelan meets Mr. Abraham, her posture at times more insect like than human. Her focus is often inward/meditative/reflective those allowing Mr. Abraham to the weave the dance around her like a web. She is both participating and confined, working with in a predefined set of variables that strangely both inhibit and frees her at the same time.
Kyle Abraham’s The Serpent and The Smoke is the one of the most genius works I have seen in a while. . .I say BRAVO to all involved!
I am not really familiar with Brian Brooks’ work, why I have no excuse except that I have not been exposed to it before. I must say that after seeing his duet with Ms. Whelan First Fall I will make a concerted effort to see more of his work.
He began the dance in a slow stately manner, I at first failed to see where if anywhere he was going. That changed quickly. Mr. Brooks first actions, which I had failed to grasp was the defining of his dialogue with Ms. Whelan. His work, First Fall, is just that, attempting to protect or soften Ms. Whelan’s falls in life.
Brian Brooks’ First Fall is a very interesting work and that is about all I shall say about it for the moment because it is a work of such depth I would be doing an injustice to any attempt to discuss the work till I have seen it again….and I hope I do…
I commend Wendy Whelan on her new venture and am greatly looking forward to her second project, which will be a full program of new works, choreographed for her and Edward Watson, principal dancer for The Royal Ballet of London. The program will be performed in the UK and the US.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
6:30PM – 7:30PM
Taylor Studios: 551 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
STUDIO PERFORMANCE SOLD OUT…
June 17-18, 2015
July 9-12, 2015
Great Barrington, MA
July 31-Aug. 1, 2015
July 14, 2015
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
No-one gives drama better than a Russian…so it came as no surprise to find Boris Eifman’s newest work UP & Down drama filled and a breaming with passion. This new ballet by Mr. Eifman, which premiered in Saint Petersburg in January of this year, plunges the audience into an atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties. The work was given its New York premiere as part of a nine-week North American tour at the New York City Center on May 22-24, 2015.
Using the music by George Gershwin, Franz Schubert and Alban Berg, Mr. Eifman recently speaking on his new production: ‘The ballet ‘Up & Down’ is a tragic and bright chronicle of a person’s spiritual death. The story about how a dream of happiness turns into a disaster, and an externally beautiful and carefree life flowing to the rhythms of jazz – into a nightmare.
The two-act ballet is a tale of a stern Psychiatrist (Sergey Volobuev) who falls in love and marries his beautiful but troubled patient (Anastasia Sitnikova). As the patient is pulled out of her madness the Psychiatrist finds himself pulled into madness. The Patient’s millionaire father, who forced his daughter into an incestuous relationship and is the cause of her madness, believes any problem can resolved it you throw enough money at it.
The work is ripe with the Mr. Eifman’s signature style of choreography, long lyrical phrases of movement with each movement acting as a catalyst for the next. With his choreographic choices he is able to accurately portray the soul of the characters he has created. He shows the pain and turmoil, the brief moments of joy and the languishing absence when love is replaced by longing…
The dancers in the Eifman Ballet are exceptional, each and every one. All are tall and lean with ridiculously long legs. Sergey Volobuev, in the role of the Psychiatrist was wonderful. Mr. Volobuev has an intrinsic lyricism that seems to be as natural to him as breathing. If you have not seen him perform, do so, it will be a treat….
Anastasia Sitnikova danced the fragile and damaged patient with finesse. Her scenes in the asylum pulls on your heartstrings as you witness her recede deeper into her psychosis; you feel the nightmares that haunt her. When dancing with Mr. Volobuev, Ms. Sitnikova gave the audience glimpses of the all to brief joy she found when with him, either as patient or bride.
But as the ballet progresses we see Ms. Sitnikova darker side emerge. The side that is so like her abusive father, manipulative and wealth obsessed. As this side becomes more evident, the more Mr. Volobuev seems to slide away from her.
Oleg Markov, as the patient’s father is a brilliant technician who displays great emotion in his dancing. He was wonderful to watch but my only complaint is he looked far too young to be the patient’s father. So youthful did he look he could have easily been the patient’s younger brother.
When vacationing on a beach in a very upscale resort Mr. Volobuev comes in contact with a beautiful and very seductive actress danced by the exquisite Maria Abashova. Ms. Abashova led Mr. Volobuev around by his nose…and honestly, Ms. Abashova is so remarkably beautiful she could probably lead men around by their noses in real life if she were so inclined.
Now did I find Mr. Eifman’s Up and Down as brilliant a work as I did his Rodin seen in 2012? Sadly no, Rodin is a rare work; a work of unquestionable genius where Up and Down, which has its own merits and I enjoyed every minute, lacked the depth of statement found in Rodin.
But I still stand by my conviction that Boris Eifman is one of the great choreographers working today…..
SBDNY 2015 New York City Season
World Premiere of Unidentifiable; Bodies
June 4-7, 2015
Presented by Baruch Performing Arts Center
Directed by Sidra Bell
Jonathan Campbell, Austin Diaz, Alexandra Johnson, Rebecca Margolick
Production, Lighting, & Décor:
Sidra Bell and her company are at the forefront of innovative contemporary dance. SBDNY is asking for your pledge for its 2015 NYC Season.
Our challenges have made us a stronger entity that grows with each passing year. As a self starting company we are committed to taking risks and raising the stakes on live art and creation. We hope you will consider taking this journey with us once again to bring “Unidentifiable; Bodies” to fruition as a fully realized work.
Concept, Direction & Choreography: Wayne McGregor
Music: Joby Talbot, Deru
Set & Costume Design: Vicki Mortimer
Lighting Design: Lucy Carter
Video Design: Ravi Deepres
Commissioned by: Opera National de Paris
Premiere: 26 October 2007, Palais Garnier, Paris
The second of two film installations commissioned by The Opera Garnier, Paris, as part of the performance GENUS, choreographed by Wayne McGregor The video installations are made from material relating to a conceptual re-interpretation of the inquiries of Charles Darwin. This work is both filmic and choreographic in it’s making and presentation and relates to creation and evolution. This is used as a platform to express ideas and remind us of our own evolutionary process and thinking, and of our instictive connection and reaction to the natural
The Victory Dance Project Dancers:
Christopher Jackson, William Penelope Briscoe, Saleem Abdullahi, Florient Cador, DeAndre Cousely, Jessica Israel, Alicia Lundgren, Erin Moore, Karen Niceley, Major Nesby, Ryan Rankine & Danielle Schlauderaff, Maggie Segale, Sharron Lynn Williams & Kara Zacconi
Tickets to the performance only are $ 40
Tickets to the performance & reception are $ 65
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Choreography: Mauro Astolfi
Lighting Design: Marco Policastro
“Defeated by an invasion of empty words… Initially, the body tries to resist, but eventually gives in even though it sees that many others merely pretend to understand and agree. Dialectic projects and various slogans invade the language and hinder the mind and its work… At this point, the body must find the strength and power to free itself from these empty words, movement becomes something mixed with people and finds out that behind most of them… there is nothing…
Maria Cossu, Marianna Ombrosi, Sofia Barbiero, Alessandra Chirulli, Giacomo Todeschi, Mario Laterza , Michelangelo Puglisi, Giuliana Mele, Gaia Mattioli
“Lost for Words” was the only European production awarded a National Dance Project subsidy in the USA for the 2012/2013 season.
Established between 1994 and 1995 by Director Mauro Astolfi, Spellbound is now one of the most interesting identities among the Made in Italy….
Lyon Opera Ballet is not a traditional ballet company for missing from the company’s repertoire are the great White Ballets such as Swan Lake or Giselle. Instead this exceptional company it is committed to showcasing the work of significant contemporary choreographers by superbly trained and gift dancers.
The Lyon Opera Ballet’s program at the Joyce Theater, April 19-May 3, 2015 presented three works and all created within the last thirty years, Benjamin Millepied’s Sarabande (premiering in 2009), William Forsythe’s StepText (premiering in 1985) and the New York premiere of the Israeli-born, French-based choreographer Emanuel Gat’s Sunshine from 2014.
Benjamin Millepied’s Sarabande is a work for four male dancers wearing casual street attire. Paul Cox had the men in tan pants with each dancer wearing a plaid shirt but each shirt in a same but yet slightly altered color scheme.
Julian Nicosia began the piece by dancing solo to two extracts from Bach’s Partitas for Solo Flute while being accompanied on stage by flutist Stefan Ragnar Hoskuldsson. Mr. Nicosia is a most gifted dancer; he possesses a natural lyricism mixed with a wonderful sense of athleticism.
Mr. Millepied’s chorography is attentive to the music for it flows intrinsically from shape to phrase. There is a freedom to the work making it seemed improvised, of the moment. Quick transitions of weight are followed by rapid changes of direction and focus with astounding leaps and jumps. It is a delicious work that allows you, the viewer, to sit back and enjoy the beautiful simplicity of the piece.
Emanuel Gat’s Sunshine, for me and a few others in the audience (I know because I asked) was a bit of a head scratcher. After the serenity of Sarabande, Sunshine seemed chaotic with dancers running, jumping, sliding in various directions, sometimes to music, sometimes not.
The score, which did not help the choreography in the least, is a recording of rehearsals of Handel’s Water Music. Mr. Gat did not incorporate the music in either the creation of the work or the rehearsal process but added it just days before the premiere. Sadly this showed….
The pièce de résistance for the evening was William Forsythe’s 1985 work Steptext. It is quartet for three males and one female dancer to Bach’s Chaconne for the Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin in D Minor.
Mr. Forsythe once famously said “The [classical] vocabulary is not and will never be old; it is the writing that can be dated.” So it is that with StepText he applies the classical vocabulary in ways that he is known for by the altering phrasing with unexpected combination of steps and body positioning.
Two men, in all black with their arms uncovered begin to move in almost darkness. It is the play of shadow and light of the dancers’ bare arms that draws your eye and first brings them to your notice.
They leave the stage as we hear a violin, but only briefly. Dorothée Delabie, wearing a red sleeveless body suit, walks on stage. She too starts to move just her arms in silence. Again the violins are heard but only for an instant.
A man walks up behinds and so begins the dance. Steptext was choreographed in 1985 just two years before Mr. Forsythe’s groundbreaking work In the Middle Somewhat Elevated. You can see the same use of extended limbs with balance off kilter.
Ms. Delabie was tossed and turned then tossed and turned again. Her every move was magical. If you have not seen William Forsythe’s StepText or the Lyon Opera Ballet in performance you are doing yourself a grave injustice.