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Ballet and dance reviews from New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.


 Volume 1, Number 13   December 22, 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

"Twas the Night Before Christmas..."

By Nancy Dalva
copyright © 2003 by Nancy Dalva

"Why," a dance publication asked recently, "is The Nutcracker so popular?" The answer is that it is so popular because so many people love it. The reason for this lies, I think—leaving aside the fan club factor, to wit, the many thousands of relatives who have bought and continue to buy tickets to see young family members perform in it—that many of us first see The Nutcracker as children. Then, we see ourselves in the characters, and we see the kinds of things we imagine when we play wrought large. Toys come to life in the night! As children, we project ourselves into the ballet.
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Letter from New York

22 December 2003.
Copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

Aszure Barton, a choreographer born in Canada who has performed widely in Europe and who is a winner of the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s National Choreographic Competition, made an absolutely sensational New York debut at the Joyce SoHo last weekend with a Manhattan première of a suite entitled, with an overload of ingenuity, "Mais We," in 22 soles. Don’t let her ill-advised titles stop you from taking her seriously: this is the Arshile Gorky of choreographers.
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past Letters from New York

New Dances: An Experiment

New Dances at Juilliard Edition 2003
Juilliard Theater
New York, NY
December 11, 2003

By Susan Reiter
Copyright © 2003 by Susan Reiter

As the program's title implies, this is the start of an intriguing new annual project of Juilliard's Dance Division. Four choreographers were invited to create new pieces, each working with one of the four classes. Unlike the annual February performances by the Dance Division, the cast of each work was not selected by audition. The choreographers were asked to use all the students in their class, either as the full cast or by double-casting the work.
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Matters of Choice

Eugene Onegin, Mazeppa
The Kirov Opera and Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater
Opera House
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
December 16, 18, 2003

By Alexandra Tomalonis
copyright © 2003 by Alexandra Tomalonis

For those holding their breath, wondering if the Kennedy Center Opera House would be ready for the start of the ballet season, it’s safe to exhale. The planners did a splendid job. There was a test show a few weeks ago (which George Jackson reviewed in these pages) to spot possible problems; then the Kennedy Center Honors; and this week, the really truly grand [opera] opening: the Kirov Opera, presenting Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Mazeppa as part of a Festival in that composer’s honor. Congratulations to all involved in the renovation. There were no visible last minute glitches; no dangling wires, no “pardon our dust!” signs. The new carpet is in place, those masking tape repairs to the wall covering are gone. Whether my sense of scale has been skewed by several months in the intimate Eisenhower Theater or whether the house really is about 20 percent larger, I can’t say, but it certainly SEEMS bigger. The aisles are twice as wide, the orchestra center section has more seats. The pit is huge, swallowing up the Rows Formerly Known As E and F (this may be adjustable for occasions that require fewer musicians). One quibble is that the seats seem less suited to a theater than a restaurant whose management wants to insure quick turnover. It’s not that they’re hard as Victorian horsehair; that’s rather bracing. It’s that that they seem cut and angled to fit a different species, with low backs and an odd slant that make it difficult for the lower spine and seat back to find each other. But overall, I think patrons will be happy to have their house back.
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A Lively Nutcracker

The Nutcracker
Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
December 12, 2003

By Alison Garcia
Copyright ©2003 by Alison Garcia

If you are living in the Bay Area and committing to only one Nutcracker this year, you could do far worse than Dennis Nahat's production for Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, which opened last Friday and runs through December 28. This version, first presented in Cleveland in 1979, is not as elaborate as some—there's no gigantic Christmas tree looming over the set—but plenty to see in the way of lively dancing, good storytelling, smooth choreography, and some impressively combative mice courtesy of the Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley School.
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Mixed Bag

Pilot 42
ODC Theater
December 18, 2003

by Rita Felciano
Copyright ©2003 by Rita Felciano

The Pilot series at ODC Theater is one of ongoing initiatives which attempt to provide solutions to the eternal question of affordable rehearsal space. By now ODC has developed a hierarchy of gthese programs designed to meet needs of choreographers at various tages in their development. Pilot is for those just learning how to structure a public presentation, Migrations features choreographers who have some experience and finally there is the House Special for fully professional dance makers with a specific project in mind.

Pilot has been going on for fifteen years and, not surprisingly, the quality has been a real toss up. Some programs have let you see a whole evening of budding talents that just needed time to develop, others have made you wonder why these people were invited to join the first place. Usually, these evenings are mix of self-conscious trying-to-be different at all costs, sparks of imagination and a fair amount of pedestrian plodding along.
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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
Alison Garcia
Marc Haegeman
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

Leigh Witchel


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).

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last updated on December 8, 2003 -->