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


 Volume 2, Number 8  February 23,  2004            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

New! updated February 26, 2004

Nijinsky—Lost in the Chaos

Hamburg Ballet
Opera House
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
February 25, 2004

Clare Croft
copyright © 2004 by Clare Croft
published 26 February 2004

Vaslav Nijinsky is a ballet icon. His ballets and life story have cemented his place in dance history. But with iconic status sometimes comes a flattening of character, and John Neumeier’s depiction of the famous dancer in the evening length Nijinsky has fallen into this trap. Neumeier devotes most of his two-and-half-hour ballet to placing Nijinsky’s inner landscape onstage, creating a swirl of impossible-to-digest dance that presents Nijinsky as a one-dimensional figure, lost in the swirl. The man who created the first truly modern ballets and passed through two complicated relationships, first with impresario Serge Diaghilev, then later his wife Romola, appears the same throughout Neumeier’s ballet. Though the relationships were, in fact, very different, Neumeier's depictions are not. The lack of subtle character development was even more striking after having seen Norman Allen's "Nijsinky's Last Dance" at the Kennedy Center this past fall.
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Clichés of Madness

The Hamburg Ballet
City Center
New York, NY
February 20–2
2, 2004

by Gia Kourlas
copyright 2004 by Gia Kourlas
published 23 February 2004

After spending Friday night with John Neumeier’s latest full-evening catastrophe about Vaslaw Nijinsky (yes, another histrionic attempt to depict the famous dancer), I can’t help but imagine what went into his “Nijinsky File.” You know—points of inspiration for visual design and character development; I’m not referring to historical photographs or sketches of costumes or musical scores. This version of Nijinsky’s life falls into the category of trying to make insanity hot (as opposed to truly sad, which it was, or unintentionally funny, which is more often the unfortunate case. Apart from actual research—and he does reportedly have a vast collection of Nijinsky memorabilia—Neumeier seems to have had two things on his mind before he stepped into the studio with his dancers: homoerotic Calvin Klein advertisements (those featuring young men in underwear) and Adam Cooper in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake (that’s his Diaghilev).
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Letter from New York

23 February 2004.
Copyright © 2004 by Mindy Aloff

For the past 25 years, Theodora Skipitares has been making award-winning spectacles of puppetry, using techniques from around the world. The several productions of hers that I’ve seen tend to be optically spellbinding and aurally almost unendurable. Her scripts are disorganized and banal, the voices of her actors aren’t very interesting, and the minimalist electronic scores she uses, often for 70 minutes at a stretch, cancel out the delights that come in through the eye. What she really needs, from my perspective, is to present her puppetry in silence, with dialogue streaming electronically somewhere visible.

And yet, when she triumphs, one is knocked out with pleasure. There was one scene in Skipitares’s new production, Odyssey: The Homecoming, which I saw at La MaMa e.t.c. yesterday, that was worth the effort to go.
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read past Letters

Conjuring Loie Fuller

Dance of the Elements
Time Lapse Dance
Nitery Theater, Stanford University
Palo Alto, CA
February 17, 2004

by Rita Felciano
Copyright © 2004 by Rita Felciano
published 23 February 2004

Howling winds and slashing rains couldn’t keep me from traveling to Stanford the other evening despite the fact that my little car was telling me in no uncertain terms that it didn’t belong on a freeway during such a dark and stormy night. But then how many chances does one get to see something at least approximating what the mother of modern dance, one Loie Fuller, of Fullersburg, Ill and Paris, France, might have looked like?
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A Valiant Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty
New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
19, 2004

by Mindy Aloff
copyright 2004 by Mindy  Aloff

published 23 February 2004

The photograph you see here is of Jenifer Ringer (with Philip Neal), the first-cast Aurora in the New York City Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty. The last two weeks of NYCB’s winter season have been given over to Beauty, and, in that time, the company is fielding five sets of principals. Several critics from The Dance View Times will be writing about the other casts next week. This review considers the first cast I was able to see, with Yvonne Borree as Aurora, Nikolaj Hübbe as Prince Désiré, Kyra Nicholas as The Fairy Carabosse, and Maurice Kaplow conducting. Before I begin, I want to give my frame of reference for critiquing this ballet.
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New Casts in Jewels

New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
New York, NY
February 7 and February 12, 2004

by Mary Cargill
copyright 2004 by Mary Cargill

published 23 February 2004

The redesigned Jewels was the not-so-surprise hit of the season, with packed houses and cheering audiences. The earlier designs, with the chintzy parures in the background, were not a great loss, but they at least did not detract from the choreography in the way the news ones, to my mind, do.

“Emeralds” is now a mass of green nothingness, Clearly the designer wanted a nether world, either a bower or a sea bed, but the dancers, with their green costumes, fade into the background; even their skin seems to take on a greenish tinge. Despite the oppressive "Green Mansions" mood, the second cast, Rachel Rutherford with Robert Tewsley (in a welcome return from injury), and Pascale van Kipnis with James Fayette, caught the delicate lyricism of the music. Rutherford, in the Verdy role, danced with a delicate shading and a gentle urgency; those horns were calling her away to somewhere! The difficult mime-like movements, where the hands say nothing exactly and everything allusively, were lovely. I never saw Verdy dance the role, though, and people who did are always disappointed; and yes, it is inexplicable that Verdy does not coach her part. Though some of the partnering looked a bit tentative, Tewesley had a romantic authority and plushness to his dancing that gleams with an old fashioned courtesy, so perfect for “Emeralds”.
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Pushing It

Sydney Dance Company
Joyce Theater
New York, NY
February 19, 2004

by Susan Reiter
copyright © 2004 by Susan Reiter
published February 23, 2004

The gentle swaying of a glowing oblong red lantern, as it rose slowly through the darkness up to the flies, was the opening image of Graeme Murphy's Ellipse. The introductory section, for two women who shared a mysterious symbiotic connection, was a bravely reflective and somber one. But as it progressed through its 80 minutes, Ellipse evolved into a rough-and-tumble agglomeration of teasingly tasteless costumes, excessive gymnastic exploits, and attempts at humor that veered too close to silliness.
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A Powerful Depiction of Poverty and Despair

Les Sublimes
Compagnie Hendrik van der Zee
Festival of France, Kennedy Center
Eisenhower Theater
Washington, D.C.
Feb. 19-21, 2004

by Lisa Traiger
copyright 2004 by Lisa Traiger
published 23 February 2004

In 1904, when Pablo Picasso painted "Les Saltimbanques," he captured a world-weary sense of isolation. That evocation has become a hallmark of the malaise infiltrating contemporary society. Picasso's saltimbanques are circus people: a tall harlequin, a fat clown in a red suit, a young girl in a tutu, a bare-chested teenage boy, a younger boy and a seated woman in an oddly perched hat. (The large canvas hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.) They're not a family in the traditional sense, but they're bound together even in their despair, their isolation. They stare out at us from Picasso's barren no-man's-land landscape telling of the psychological separation of lives lived on the fringes of society.
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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 Winter issue of Danceview is out!

Nancy Dalva:
The Long Goodbye
NYCB’s Opening Night

Marc Haegeman:
A Conversation with Laurent Hilaire
Etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet

Mary Cargil:l
Old Stories/New Ballets
Ballet Nacional de Cuba and American Ballet Theatre at City Center

Leigh Witchel:
Interpreters Archive and
Works in Process, Part 6:
Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow Coaching; Maria Tallchief and Frederic Franklin

Mary Cargill:
New York Report
Dance Theatre of Harlem, ABT Studio
Company, New York Theatre Ballet,
SAB Workshop

Jane Simpson:
London Report
Jonathan Burrows, Martha Graham, National Ballet of China, Birmingham
Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet

Rita Felciano:
Bay Area Report
Hubbard Street, Alonzo King’s Lines, Oakland Ballet, Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company, AXIS Dance Company

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last updated on february 23, 2004 -->