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writers on dancing

 Volume 4, Number 7  February 20, 2006    The weekly online supplement to DanceView magazine

O For a Muse of Fire!

Program 2: Mixed Bill
San Francisco Ballet
War memorial Opera House
San Francisco, Callifornia
February 15, 2006
by Paul Parish
copyright ©2006 by Paul Parish

The news of this show should have been the new ballets, but in fact they were both so overshadowed by "Apollo they'll have to take a back seat. Apollo as usual opened the show.

Helgi Tomasson's agreeable new ballet, "Blue Rose," a world premiere, is one of the slightest piano ballets he's ever made. He's set it to some ten charming rags and tangos of the Russian composer Elena Kats-Chernin, which alas slipped knotless through the mind. They were played onstage with beautiful tone and style by Natasha Feygina (assisted on some pieces by the violinist Roy Malan). Who give the effect of being the combo playing late at night on the patio of a night club in a warm climate, maybe like Napoleon House in old New Orleans. (Atmospheric lighting by Lisa J. Pinkham.) It's set for three couples, with some solos, opening and closing with everybody dancing.
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Letter from San Francisco

Program 3
San Francisco Ballet

Talking Dance

Malonga Casquelourd Arts Center

Noche Flamenca

 by Rita Felciano
copyright ©2006 by Rita Felciano

“Lovely” is the only way to describe Paul Taylor’s “Spring Round”, premiered by San Francisco Ballet last summer during its Paris engagement. Set to a gem of a piece, Divertimento for small orchestra, Op. 86 (after Couperin) by Richard Strauss, which beautifully served Taylor’s mood of elegant casualness, the piece also put a rare spotlight on a dozen corps dancers. They offerde a glimpse into the future. Two of them look particularly promising: Matthew Stewart, who leaps as if born to them, and Megan Low, whose quicksilvery effervescence oxygenates everything she tackles.
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Cool Valentine

Stars of the 21st Century - International Ballet Gala
New York State Theater at Lincoln Center
New York, NY, USA
February 13, 2006

by George Jackson
copyright ©2006 by George Jackson

A gala for Valentine's eve. Love, NY style. Non-natives paired on a bare stage functionally lit. Galas elsewhere are done with more ostentation and restraint. Think of Paris and the Defile, a display of the entire Opera Ballet filing past in such order that stepping seems like dancing. Here, male-female couples (plus a single) showed off. They, the performers, were the focus. That's as it is supposed to be, yet this gala also made an odd choreographic point. The formal, classical pas de deux was represented by the 20th Century, not the 19th, by Victor Gsovsky, George Balanchine, Pierre Lacotte and even Roland Petit. Choreographer names such as Bournonville, Petipa or Ivanov did not appear on the program. The international stars did their darnest to hide clues that these duos were made in the era of modernism. Gsovsky's art deco linearity, Balanchine's dancing-through and Lacotte's circumspect placement weren't as apparent as they might have been.
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A Man's World

Men’s Figure Skating Competition
Winter Olympics
Palavela at Torino, Italy
February 14 and 16
Televised by NBC

by Susan Reiter
copyright ©2006 by Susan Reiter

In the end, fortunately, it wasn’t only about the jumps. During telecasts of men’s figure skating competitions in recent years, the “commentary” often has consisted mainly of announcers enumerating the various jumps—a triple lutz here, a quad toe loop there—or noting if the skater’s intended jump was taken down a notch in degree of difficulty at the final split second.
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Three Couples Times Three

"After the Rain," "In the Night," "Western Symphony"
New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
New York, NY
February 18, 2006
Leigh Witchel
copyright ©2006 by Leigh Witchel

When the time comes to celebrate Wendy Whelan’s life and career, her biographers might just begin with “After the Rain”. Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet is now a year old and missing Whelan’s other half from a long partnership, Jock Soto. The first part of the dance, for three couples, is high-gloss contemporary ballet. Very soundly made, it doesn’t break new ground technically or emotionally. However Wheeldon, a gentler and more classically aligned choreographer than William Forsythe, shows us how Forsythe’s work may be assimilated into classical ballet. Balanchine’s distorted the classical line into a neo-classical one by pushing the pelvis forward; Forsythe exaggerated that further and distorted the upper body as well with wheeling and circling arms from contemporary and club dance. Wheeldon also incorporates this distorted arm and torso work. As with Paris Opera dancers who dance Forsythe, Sofiane Sylve is most interesting in these distortions because her dancing is so academic. It doesn’t matter what Wheeldon gives her to do, she still looks classical in it; she becomes a filter for the vocabulary and an anchor to classicism. Teresa Reichlen and Jason Fowler made their debuts in roles created by Maria Kowroski and Ask La Cour. Reichlen is more sharp and angular than Kowroski and she’s using it to her advantage to get flavor in her dancing.
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The School Comes First:
City Ballet Revives Wheeldon's "Scenes de Ballet"

Ballet, ” “Tala Gaisma.” and “Union Jack”
New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
New York, NY
February 17, 2006
by Michael Popkin
copyright ©2006 by Michael Popkin

The great ballet companies are great institutions, each with a unique history and tradition, and each also with a great academy attached. “But first a school” George Balanchine is reported to have said when Lincoln Kirstein proposed bringing him to America.  And on Friday night at the New York State Theater, the School of American Ballet—New York City Ballet’s academy—literally did come first on a program that commenced with the revival of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Scenes de Ballet” and ended with a performance of George Balanchine’s “Union Jack.” The middle work on the program was Peter Martins' 2005 ballet “Tala Gaisma.”
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Dancers: From Europe to New York

The Universal World of Ballet
New York City Ballet Seminar
New York State Theater
New York, NY
February 6, 2006 

by Dale Brauner
copyright ©2006 by Dale Brauner

New York has long been the destination for those wishing to make a mark on the world.  The ballet world is no different.  More top-flight dancing is happening elsewhere these days, but companies still find that a New York season is a benchmark.  An excellent season in New York for a dancer can lift them into the strata of galas and guest gigs. The New York City Ballet finds most of its dancers from within its own school, the School of American Ballet, but does have a few “outsiders” in its ranks.  This season’s seminar, “The Universal World of Ballet,” focused on three dancers born and trained in Europe.
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Flashy Tango

Concert Hall, The Music Center, Strathmore
North Bethesda, Maryland, USA
February 14, 2006

by Kate Mattingly
copyright ©2006 by Kate Mattingly

Sequins, tuxedos and gorgeous nearly-naked Argentine dancers. Could there be a more perfect show for Valentine's Day? Boccatango was not created for the holiday—it had its U.S. premiere at The Joyce in July of 2004—but the performance at the Strathmore on Tuesday night must have given the many couples in the audience new images for inspiration.
The tango itself is sexy: intertwining legs, lifted torsos, eyes that rarely meet. It's a standing seduction when performed well, and Boccatango is more in tune with this subtlety than the cheesier versions on shows like Dancing with the Stars. Plus, there's Julio Bocca, barely dressed, with his crystalline ballet technique, channeling his inner rock star. Moments of his performing conjured images of Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance" was it his split sole sneakers, black tank top, and jeans, or the dramatic finishes to the floor after his multiple pirouettes?
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Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
Mary Cargill
Nancy Dalva
Rita Felciano
Marc Haegeman
George Jackson
Eva Kistrup
Alan M. Kriegsman
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Alexander Meinertz
Kate Mattingly
Gay Morris
Ann Murphy
Paul Parish
John Percival
Tom Phillips
Michael Popkin
Naima Prevots
Susan Reiter
Lisa Rinehart
Charlotte Shoemaker
Jane Simpson
Alexandra Tomalonis (Editor)
Lisa Traiger
Kathrine Sorley Walker
Leigh Witchel
David Vaughan


The Autumn Issue of DanceView is OUT!
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Review of the Bolshoi Ballet's Met Season by Mary Cargill.

Robert Greskovic reviews several new DVD releases.

A chapter from Alexander Meinertz's forthcoming biography of Vera Volkova (dealing with Volkova at Sadler's Wells during the War)

Interviews with Sonja Rodriquez and Heather Ogden (National Ballet of Canada), by Denise Sum

Paul Taylor at the Guggenheim, by Nancy Dalva

Reports from London (Jane Simpson) and San Francisco (Rita Fellciano).

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last updated on February 20, 2006