the danceview times
Volume 4, Number 4 January 30, 2006 The weekly online supplement to DanceView magazine
The Opening Gala
by Ann Murphy
Every year, like some kind of distillation device, the well-heeled San Francisco Ballet gala reveals something essential about the state of the country, the city, and the ballet itself, all in only a few hours. Five years ago, the SF gala was a sedate, beautifully mournful affair. That January, a hall of black gowns tasteful enough for an aristocratic funeral reflected how frightened the country was but how prepared, too, for introspection. Then, within a year or two, as national fear was replaced by national swagger, exaggerated 18th century hoops, yards of tuille, and a fairy tale approach to grandeur took the place of careful black.
Uneven "Swan Lake" in San Francisco
by Paul Parish
"Swan Lake" opened on a rainy Saturday night to a full house, with standees several rows deep. When the final curtain came down, half the audience stood to applaud Gonzalo Garcia's debut in the role of the Prince and Tina LeBlanc's fascinating and deeply moving performance as the Swan Queen. The corps of swans had moved beautifully, and if the national dances hadn't been so unfocussed and the would-be brides so dull and the new lift in the Black Swan so unnecessary, there would have been little to quarrel with aside from some terrible mistakes amongst the trumpets. But had it been at its best, ours is not a great "Swan Lake" it is pretty, rather than beautiful, elegant rather than noble, sad, rather than tragic.
New Combinations, Old Hats
“Monumentum Por Gesualdo/Movements for Piano and Orchestra”, “Klavier”, “Symphony in C”
by Mary Cargill
New York City Ballet has for the past few years called January 24, Balanchine’s birthday, “New Combinations”, based on Balanchine’s quotation “There are no new steps, only new combinations”, and has used the occasion for one of the season’s premiers. This birthday present was a new work by Christopher Wheeldon, and unfortunately, it was something of an empty package. Wheeldon used the adagio from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, another in the long list, it seems, of music not to be choreographed. There was little variety in the introspective, haunting music, and the steps seemed to float on the topthey could have been set to any old piece.
"Episodes," "N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz," "Firebird"
by Lisa Rinehart
Dances can capture the tenor of a time, but only a few manage timelessness. Balanchine's 1959 work "Episodes," (trimmed of the Graham contributions), is as slick and tight as greased hair and black Capri pants, but nonetheless relevant to 2006 anxieties. Jerome Robbins' "N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz," on the other hand, is inextricable from the on-the-edge-of-exploding sensibilities of 1958, and what was hip and disaffected then is quaint by today's standards.
No Moment Wasted
Protégés: The International Ballet Academy Festival
Youth isn't always wasted on the young! 104 students from six of the world's important academies for classical ballet were invited to Kennedy Center this past week to perform, take class together and talk. Talk came first. Ten pupils from five of the schoolsthe Paris Opera's, the Royal Danish Ballet's, Britain's Royal Ballet's, Dance Theater of Harlem's and that of Japan's New National Theatermet the public in the rooftop Atrium room on the evening of January 25 for a question and answer session about their training and themselves. These were advanced students, one female and one male from each of the institutions except Japan's which was represented by two young women. The group's members had much in common besides youth. All understood and spoke at least a little English although the Japanese and French sometimes relied on the help of translators. The young women were dressed up more than the guys, There only male students, wearing suits and ties, weere from Japan and sat in the audience. Julia Ward, interlocutor, first asked the panelists to identify themselves by name, age and school, and then tell us how they spent a typical day.
“Anytown: Stories of America”
The title of “Anytown,” an ambitious and intermittently moving full-evening work choreographed by Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith, suggests a generic, ”this is your life, America” approach. Over the course of 19 songs by Bruce Springsteen, Soozie Tyrell and Patti Scialfa, we are invited into a community its family conflicts, moral quandaries, loves and losses without any of the specificity of the Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel collaboration “Movin’ Out,” which so clearly charted a course from early 1960s upbeat innocence through the churning morass of Vietnam and the counterculture complete with appropriate hairstyles (big afros!) and costumes (bell bottoms, loud print shirts).
Amadeus in Action:
“Divertimento No. 15”, “Firebird”, “Symphony in C”
by Tom Phillips
George Balanchine has often been compared to W.A. Mozart, and these two prolific geniuses do have a quality in common: both were able to build works of great density and complexity, yet retain an illusion of almost effortless lightness. Last Friday, on Mozart’s 250th birthday, New York City Ballet opened its program with Balanchine’s only surviving work to Mozart’s music, with a debut in it by a young dancer who matches them both in that incredible lightness.
Copyright © 2006 by DanceView