writers on dancing


Bach to Bach

Danses Concertantes
Florence Gould Hall
New York City
April 6, 2005

by Mary Cargill
copyright ©2005 by Mary Cargill

Benjamin Millepied is an intelligent, versatile, and interesting dancer at the New York City Ballet. He is also an aspiring choreographer, and gave a concert of his work (plus one Jerome Robbins) with his small, pick-up company. Since the dancers were all current or former NYCB dancers, this was not your typical multi-styled little group. However, the evening was a disappointment; Millepied’s choreography is limited, one-dimensional (all the dancers—including the two women—moved like he does), and not terribly musical.

The evening opened with a film of Millepied dancing his "Chaconne," to music by Bach. This was dedicated to the memory of Jerome Robbins, and featured Millepied dancing in "West Side Story" surroundings, leaping and turning through various New York landscapes. It was an interesting idea (though it went on too long), but the camera wouldn’t stay still, whirling and spinning and jiggling around, inducing, in me at least, a profound feeling of nausea.

It was followed by Jerome Robbins "A Suite of Dances," also to Bach, where Millepied essentially repeated many of the steps he had used in his own choreography. The Bach to Bach solos were not ideal programming.

After the intermission, it turned out to be Bach to Bach to Bach, as Tyler Angle and Ashley Bouder danced a pas de deux to flute music by Bach (played live by Sylvain Millepied). Angle is a young dancer with a romantic and mature stage presence and it was a treat to see him featured, though the choreography gave him little chance to develop, since it basically went from pose to pose, with many quick little changes of direction. Ashley Bouder, a phenomenal dancer, seemed constrained by the choreography, which didn’t exploit her glorious ability to move. She was grabbed, turned upside down, and swirled around, while the music went its own merry way.

"Circular Motion," for four men (Jared Angle, Craig Hall, Amar Ramasar, and Alexander Ritter) to piano music by Daniel Ott and Steve Reich, again played live, was like an atonal "Interplay." The men pumped through the athletic choreography, pausing every so often to look alienated. The music, which ended with what seemed like twenty minutes of the same three notes repeated incessantly, was not pleasant. The dancers, though they had little change to show any individuality, kept up manfully; Amar Ramasar showed off his razor sharp legs, and even the choreography could not hide Craig Hall’s smoldering nobility.

Hall was also featured in the final pas de deux (with Alexandra Ansanelli), "We Were Two," to music by Philip Glass. This, again, had little invention or individuality; there were the same jerky steps, the same occasional strained looks (when in doubt, apparently, look soulfully at the musician or stare meaningfully off into space). This was an admirable attempt to get some very fine dancers to perform in an intimate space with live music, but without interesting choreography, it is just more sweat.

Volume 3, No. 14
April 11, 2005

copyright ©2005 Mary Cargill


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last updated on April 11, 2005