the danceview times
writers on dancing


 Volume 1, Number 5   October 27 , 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

ABT City Center Season

Week One

(Reviews of the Fall Gala, Master Works Program and Innovative Works Program ran as daily reviews last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, respectively, and are republished here for those who may have missed them)

Fancy Free, and a Friendly Matinee

Family Friendly
American Ballet Theatre
City Center, NYC
October 25 matinee, 2003

by  Eric Taub
copyright ©2003 by Eric Taub

ABT's Family Friendly series is a nice mixture of old and (somewhat) newer ballets, and seemed to please the many voluble kiddies in the audience Saturday afternoon (as well as their parents). I did wonder a bit about the effect of some of the stories presented, as I overheard a mother reassuring her little girl that the noisy trips to Hell taken by the title women in Three Virgins and a Devil were just "pretend." Similarly, in this day and age one has to wonder how kids might react to the encounter between the three sailors and the first girl in Fancy Free, where it can sometimes seem less playful and more threatening. Certainly it's not Politically Correct. In any event, the children in the audience (at least the ones who surrounded me) seemed anything but bored.
read review

Innovative Works Program
by Gia Kourlas
copyright ©2003 by Gia Kourlas

It is far too easy to criticize the name of American Ballet Theatre's Friday-evening program: Innovative Works, but I can't resist. It's all marketing. Aesthetically, there was one such ballet—William Forsythe's wonderful workwithinwork. Framing it were two pieces so bereft of a creative spark that instead of pushing the form in a new direction, they only served to flatten it to choreographic mush. Nacho Duato¹s Without Words, a vapid dance created for the company in 1998, costumes four couples in unflattering nude bodysuits (Duato's design), boasting intricate partnering that rambles into mind-numbing mediocrity. It is not so much a piece as an exertion—mindless toil for the audience as well as the dancers. The closer, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison, wouldn¹t even cut it as choreography for a music video. The only thing Without Words and Within You have in common with Forsythe's mysterious gem is the word WITH in the title.
read review

Master Works Program
by  Mindy Aloff
copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

For its three-week City Center season this fall, ABT has divided its repertory into four categories, each represented by one program of three or four dances: “Master Works,” “Family Friendly Works,” “Innovative Works,” and “Contemporary Works.” Surely, the packaging is intended to appeal to audiences who don’t know much about ballet, would like to try it, and need some guidelines. What those audiences are going to make of the fact that a ballet entitled Three Virgins and a Devil is on the “Family Friendly” program would require a disquisition by Dr. Ruth; but let that pass. What matters is that the company is attempting to get people into the theater—perhaps with the hope that the dancing and the choreography will win them over to the point that they can begin to think independently, to question, for instance, why some dances by living choreographers are considered “innovative” while others are considered merely “contemporary,” or why innovation is so decisively separated from mastery, or why families with small children who have been exposed to countless acts of violence and mayhem in Saturday morning cartoons should require “friendliness” in their ballets. These questions touch on some core preconceptions about the art and culture of our time, of course, and it is to ABT’s credit that it is not only willing to raise them but also that it would do so indirectly, through its marketing, using what used to be called reverse psychology.
read review

Fall Gala
by  Eric Taub
copyright ©2003 by Eric Taub

It's always a happy occasion to welcome American Ballet Theatre back to NYC, in this case for its fall City Center season. The program showed the great range of ABT's repertory, focusing on works celebrating the upcoming centennials of Sir Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine in 2004. The evening promised well for the next three weeks—especially once the dancers start dancing as well as they've shown us they can. Unfortunately, last night, despite some fine moments, there were times when it looked as if everyone needed a good jolt of caffeine.
read review

Decoding Nikolais—
A Conversation

Nikolais Dance Theatre
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
Stanford University Memorial Auditorium

(Presented by Stanford Lively Arts)
October 24, 2003

By Rita Felciano and Rachel Howard
copyright @2003 by Rita Felciano and Rachel Howard

Rather than write a review, Rita Felciano and Rachel Howard decided to test the limits of dance writing on the internet and have a conversation following the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company's program of Alwin Nikolais works. The performance included Crucible (1985), "Lythic," from Prism (1956), Blank on Blank (1987), "Finale" from Liturgies, Noumenon Mobilus (1953), Mechanical Organ (1980), and Tensile Involvement (1955).
read article

Letter from New York

20 October 2003
Mindy Aloff
Copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

Mindy Aloff's Letter will return next week. Read her review of ABT's Master Works Program, or catch up on past Letters you may have missed.



Two Ways to Tango

Smuin Ballet
Tango Palace: Tangos, Fados, and other curios
Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center
October 25, 2003
The Tango Lesson
Written and directed by Sallie Potter
With Pablo Veron

by Ann Murphy
Copyright ©2003 by Ann Murphy

Tango is one of those rare dance terms that sounds like the dance. Minuet, waltz or polka—none of these words signal what to expect when the music starts. Tango is different. The sudden shot of the "t" is followed by the nasally aggressive "a." These sounds pick up the "n" and together sail like a well-feathered arrow into the stolid "g" of the word. Tango begins as two dancers carefully embrace then slip warily into an opening figure. This innocent start quickly becomes a series of contests and confrontations about power and longing. Feet feverishly slice through legs toward the vulnerable crotch, or a leg encircles the partner's hips, hungrily. Born in bordellos and poor men's cafes and fusing various immigrants' music and dance styles tango became a fevered code of entrapment between pimp and whore, man and woman, and man and man.
read article

Motion Tabled

Sleeping Beauty and Other Stories
Susan Marshall & Company
2003 Next Wave Festival
BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, N.Y.
October 24, 2003

By Nancy Dalva
Copyright ©2003 by Nancy Dalva

The pivotal prop in Susan Marshall’s Other Stories is a table. A table sets the scenes, a table, moved hither and yon, is the scenery. A real case of deja vu all over again: Just a few weeks ago, there was a whole raft of tables on stage in Brooklyn when the Frankfurt Ballet danced William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced. Tables! Tables are the new chairs. And plot is hot.

Or vestiges of plot. Marshall’s Sleeping Beauty, which precedes Other Stories, is a metaphor about a metaphor—an interpretation or meditation on the idea of a beauty, asleep (or locked away) and resistant to rescue. The narrative is vague, if full of clues. The fairy tale itself, of course, not only submits to all sorts of deep analysis (spindle, pricked finger; hello, Dr. Bettelheim! Hello, Dr. Freud!) but also provides superficial pleasures and satisfactions, among them romance and charm. Marshall strips away these latter qualities. The ideal response to her dance would be emotional, visceral, swoony; the least desirable would be to sit there thinking “It’s beautiful, and I’m asleep.” But the choreographer does have a predilection for beautiful, low lit torpor. If this dance and the audience were buddy breathing (perhaps on a deep sea dive for meaning), the dance would be taking more than its fair share of air.
read review

If you missed last week's issue, click here for Nancy  Dalva's review of Merce Cunningham Dance company at BAM:  Chances Are


CityDance Ensemble
Terrace Theater
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Washington, DC
Wednesday, October 22

Reviewed by George Jackson
copyright ©2003 by George Jackson

It isn't easy being a Rasta Thomas fan. He's elusive. Here today, there tomorrow: the transient artist, forever a guest and solitary, often appearing in tricky, tailor-made solos. Undeniably, though, Thomas leaves behind him fans as faithful as those of the stars who dance standard repertory and have regular orbits around big ballet companies. On his home ground, the Washington area, Thomas first attracted attention at age 11 on a school recital program. He danced with adult intensity and refined precision, standing out despite considerable competition from his fellow students, a top generation at the Universal/Kirov Academy of Ballet. For that debut he had choreographed his own vehicle, a Black Belt fight solo. It was a well made piece. Thomas's first fans date from that performance. In the years since, he's been globe trotting. Only with the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut and the Kirov in St. Petersburg, Russia did he dance sustained roles as a regular company member. Because his stays there were brief, it hasn't been possible to see his Prince or Prodigal grow. Fans, though, keep springing up regardless.

read review

A New Wind from Britain

Ballet Boyz
George Piper Dances
Lisner Auditorium
(presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society)
October 21, 2003

By Alexandra Tomalonis
copyright © 2003 by Alexandra Tomalonis

The Ballet Boyz are one of the best things to happen to ballet in years. They're young and trendy and on record as saying they want to bring dance to people not used to watching it (a noble endeavor), but former Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt make serious work accessible and fun to watch without dumbing it down.  The company's members and repertory shift as circumstances dictate. For the current U.S. tour, there are five dancers: Hubert Essakow, Oxana Panchenko and Monica Zamora, in addition to Nunn and Trevitt. What they present is as far from the typical "we're not doing anything much this month so let's put on a show" off-season gig as can be imagined: three serious works in styles that range from contemporary ballet to modern dance, interspersed with home movie-style videos that give the audience a glimpse of life on tour, a mini-introduction to each of the works and their choreographers, and time for both dancers and audience members to catch their breath.
read review



Sister Sites:
Ballet Alert! Online
Ballet Talk
Ballet Blogs

Back Issues
About Us
Contact Us


This weeks' articles


Mindy  Aloff's Letter from New York

The Balanchine Celebration
New York City Ballet:
A Veteran and a Raw Recruit
by Mindy Aloff

Heart and Soul
by Mary Cargill

Kid Stuff
Cas Public's If You Go Down To the Woods Today
by Susan Reiter

San Francisco Ballet:
New Wheeldon (Rush)
by Rita Felciano

New Tomasson (7 For Eight)
by Paul Parish

Possokhov's New Firebird for OBT
by Rita Felciano

Moscow Festival Ballet and Scott Wells
by Paul Parish

Hamburg Ballet's Nijinsky:
Nijinsky—Lost in the Chaos
by Clare Croft

NijinskyMadness and Metaphor
by Alexandra Tomalonis

Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes
by George Jackson

Batsheva: Breaking Down Walls
by Lisa Traiger

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence
by Clare Croft

Choreographers Showcase
by Tehreema Mitha

Zoltan Nagy
by George Jackson






Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
Mary Cargill
Clare Croft
Nancy Dalva
Rita Felciano
Lynn Garafola
Marc Haegeman
Rachel Howard
George Jackson
Gia Kourlas
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Jean Battey Lewis
Alexander Meinertz
Tehreema Mitha
Gay Morris
Ann Murphy
Paul Parish
Susan Reiter
Jane Simpson
Alexandra Tomalonis(Editor)
Lisa Traiger
Meital Waibsnaider


The Autumn DanceView is out:

New York City Ballet's Spring 2003 season reviewed by Gia Kourlas

An interview with the Kirov Ballet's Daria Pavlenko by Marc Haegeman

Reviews of San Francisco Ballet (by Rita Felciano) and Paris Opera Ballet (by Carol Pardo)

The ballet tradition at the Metropolitan Opera (by Elaine Machleder)

Reports from London (Jane Simpson) and the Bay Area (Rita Felciano).

DanceView is available by subscription ONLY. Don't miss it. It's a good read.  Black and white, 48 pages, no ads. Subscribe today!

DanceView is published quarterly (January, April, July and October) in Washington, D.C. Address all correspondence to:

P.O. Box 34435
Washington, D.C. 20043


Copyright ©2003 by DanceView
last updated on October 27, 2003 -->