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 Volume 1, Number 14   December 29, 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

Letter from New York

29 December 2003.
Copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

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.
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past Letters from New York

The Paris Opera Completes Its Balanchine Tribute

Programme Balanchine/Robbins
Programme Kelemenis/Brown/Preljocaj/Balanchine (Liebeslieder Walzer)
Paris Opera Ballet
Palais Garnier
Paris, France
18-20 December 2003

By Marc Haegeman
Copyright © 2003 Marc Haegeman

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.

Unlike the 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.
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The Kirov's Gargoyle Nutcracker

The Nutcracker
The Kirov Ballet
Opera House, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Washington, DC
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

by George Jackson
copyright © 2003 by George Jackson

The 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.
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Sheer Delight

Savion Glover
Joyce Theater
New York, NY
December 19, and December 28, 2003

By Susan Reiter
copyright © 2003 by Susan Reiter

Savion 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 jazz ensemble.
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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 -->