the danceview times
Volume 1, Number 14 December 29, 2003 An online supplement to DanceView magazine
Letter from New York
I first saw
Donald McKayle’s 1959 Rainbow Round My Shoulder, a staple
of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, very close to its early-1970s
Ailey première. Although I always admired it and have watched several
generations of powerful dancers in it, I’ve never seen a performance
to rival the one at the matinee on December 21st, during the company’s
annual New York season at City Center. The seven men in the Chain Gang,
their arms braided by the choreography into a taut line of linked woe,
erupted in fury and crumpled in grief with such precision of timing, kinetic
discipline, and variety of emotional texture that an onlooker was simultaneously
pulverized by the misery of the work songs and plaints that impelled them
and delighted by the brilliance of the dance action that prompted the
feeling. I’ve been at performances of Rainbow where the
Chain Gang didn’t seem very far removed from a chorus line; this
was quite something else—a messianic embodiment of historical imagination.
The Paris Opera Completes Its Balanchine Tribute
The Paris Opera Ballet is, as we've come to expect, hard at it for the end of the year. No Nutcrackers or other seasonal favourites, in fact no trace of any easy moneymaking. Working at times simultaneously in two theatres, the company is currently offering three different programmes. At the Opéra Bastille Yuri Grigorovich’s epic Ivan the Terrible has been revived with a fourteen-performances run, while at the Palais Garnier two alternating bills complete the company’s elaborate tribute to Balanchine.
well-judged programme which opened the season last October, neither of
the two new Balanchine bills is all-Balanchine. Neither did they go down
as well as the previous one, and with hindsight, one better prepared programme
could have done it instead of the two that were offered now. For some
mysterious reason Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun was
added to Concerto Barocco, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Serenade.
The rapport between the two choreographers is an obvious one of course,
but if a Balanchine-Robbins encounter was the actual purpose of this evening,
why wasn’t a more substantial piece than Afternoon of a Faun
or indeed a second Robbins creation included? Now it merely looked like
a misprint in the programme. On the other hand the Paris Opera has twenty-seven
Balanchine works in its repertory, some of which haven’t been shown
for some time. A revival of another Balanchine work would have been welcome.
And preferably in a different setup—Concerto Barocco and
Serenade on one programme is far too much of the same good, and
Serenade is not the best work with which to close an evening.
The Kirov's Gargoyle Nutcracker
Kirov's Nutcracker is rebel, and for Russia that is novel (Fedor
Lopukhov's version having been forgotten) even though it isn't for us.
It starts, however, with Tchaikovsky's familiar music which was as finely
etched as frostflowers on the windowpane and as clear as sleighbells drawing
near. The entire score sounded glorious under Mikhail Argrest's baton
in the crisp yet never harsh acoustics of the re-engineered KC Opera House.
When the curtain rose to show painter Mihail Chemiakin's sets and costumes,
and reveal his concept, there was much food for thought. Kirill Simonov's
choreography seldom strayed far from Chemiakin's idea that Nutcracker
is really a danse macabre.
Glover crooning songs associated with Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra?
Tapping to Christmas melodies? In some ways, it is a mellower, more engaging
Glover holding forth, in great style, at the Joyce Theater for three weeks.
His Bring in Da Noise baggy hip outfits have been replaced by
casually elegant apparel credited to Armani, DKNY and Phat Farm. He sports
a beard, but his hair is pulled back, and we can see more of his face
than in the days when his intense, hunched-over posture and dreadlocks
obscured it much of the time. During most of his thrilling two-part program,
that face is beaming with pure delight, as he takes evident pleasure in
the exquisitely sophisticated exchanges he performs with a terrific five-piece
©2003 by DanceView