Posts Tagged ‘Balanchine’

Royal Ballet Mixed Rep: Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun,” Balanchine’s “Zigane” and … something by Wheeldon

March 26, 2008

Last night I went to Covent Garden with Josela and Mabel_Morgan to see the mixed bill on offer. I hadn’t initially been too tempted, as I have yet to see a dance incorporating video that I’ve liked; but when I read that Carlos Acosta was going to be strutting his stuff AND there would be a Jerome Robbins piece, I was sold – especially when I realized I could get Ye Olde 5 quid day of show tickets. Color me shallow, not in the least because I decided I could leave without seeing the last performance (by Ashton, who’s still very “whatever” in my book) and then have some much needed time to pack. Oh well, I guess they wouldn’t have two intermissions if they didn’t want to let us leave without disturbing everyone else.

So, the Wheeldon – “Electric Counterpoint,” brand new and all, only on its fifth performance. Can I mention the night started extremely well, thanks to getting a free, bad-work-memory-erasing, second round of margaritas at Wahaca? Anyway, music credited to Bach and Reich – I was happy about that. But. Oh, the but. The dancers each came on stage for little solos, accompanied by some Bach and their own voices speaking about how they felt about dance and while dancing, while a video of him/her performed behind on a screen, sometimes mirroring them, sometimes illustrating what they were saying. It wasn’t bad, the dance and the video, but the movement was uninteresting (sadly on both parts) and the voiceovers were vapid. I mean, gosh, I’m sure the dancers are nice people, but all of it was a distraction from the dance, and the dance wasn’t good. Mabel said the whole thing reminded her of “Creature Comforts,” a TV show (I was told) in which normal people answer questions and their answers are then reproduced as claymation. Horribly, I think she was right.

The second half of the piece benefited from having nothing but the live Reich to listen to, and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t have a lot of energy or excitement – a quality sadly shared by the action on stage. I’ve seen Wheeldon do good couple work, and there were some moments when I got lost watching two people just dancing with each other, but mostly I just had no response to the performance at all. The videos weren’t always aggravating and I was mostly able to ignore them, but … it just seemed like a big failure to me, one of those pieces that will get revived one more time and then fall out of rep. So it goes.

Next up was Jerome Robbins “Afternoon of a Faun,” which, to my surprise, I realized I had seen before the one time we’d seen City Ballet in New York. It’s a clever play on the traditional story, with a sexy dancer lounging about in a studio, but to be honest what I really want to see is the original choreography. I aslo wanted it to be longer. And I wanted a pony.

Finally it was time for “Zigane,” a Balanchine piece I’d not seen before. It was kind of fun and certainly better than the Martins I’d seen the night before, but in no way mindblowing – fun, well-executed filler that he probably crapped out at a nickle for the dozen back in the day. We all left together; if I’m going to be convinced of the genius of Ashton, it’s far more likely to happen at Sylvia than during a short work.

(This review was for a performance that took place Wednesday, March 19th, 2007.)

Review – Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Past, Present, and Future” – Seattle Opera House

November 3, 2005

My sister made it into town safely at 5:30 today, and off we flew to Queen Anne for a quick trip to Tup Tim Thai and then a visit to Pacific Northwest Ballet, as had said she wanted to see “that dancer you were so excited about” and I was more than happy to oblige. Tonight’s show was a series of short pieces entitled “Past, Present, and Future.” “Concerto Barocco,” a Balanchine work set to Bach, was the first piece and a grand way to start off the evening. I know I’ve seen this at least twice before, and I’m convinced that every time I see more. Patricia and Carrie were the female leads, Carrie extra vivacious tonight, but I wound up being entranced by the corps and their endless interweavings and twinings of arms and legs and selves. It seemed to me that they were occasionally the least bit off, but basically I was completely sucked in and just sat their shining with the glorious beauty of it all.

Piece two was Nacho Duato’s Jardi Tancat (“Closed Garden”), which is an unusual piece for PNB insofar as it’s performed to recorded music (by Maria del Mar Bonet). I can’t really understand what she’s singing – it’s in Catalan, so I can only pick up a few words – but it all seems to be about sadness and struggle and loss. The three couples seem to be sowing, and carrying children, and grieving, and embodying the transient nature of existence. Arianna Lallone was in this piece, but oddly she was not in the “lead” role of the red dress (Carrie again, oddly enough, perhaps Peter Boal trying to challenge her with some non-traditional work) – she was wearing a grey dress and had less movement. But, oh, the movement! As the women fell and were barely caught (and still allowed to continue their falls) and swirled, and caught each other’s skirts and cried in them – I just sat there with the hair prickling on my head, amazed at how beautiful it was. I can’t believe how many times I have seen this and how much it just still blows me away. Mara Vinson (“who?”) and Batkhurel Bold (hawt!) were amazing together, just utterly unified. To me, it seemed like maybe it was a case of the less-“star” dancers performing better because they had less ego involved. It made me all excited to see some ballet in London, too.

As for the rest of the night – I liked that Geoke’s male solo “Mopey” used music by the Cramps, and afterwards I said of the dancer “he made an old lady’s heart feel warm tonight” (yummy!). “Hail to the Conquering Hero” had Carrie out for a third time in the evening for a very fleet-footed solo, but the pleasant Handel (er, except for the trumpet soloist, who was off-key more than once) made me quite relaxed and reminded me that it has been a long week and I have not been getting enough sleep. So off we went into the night, stopping by Larry’s for some failed gourmet shopping (raspberry sauce not to be found, cinnamon chips also a no-go, peanut butter Twix bars apparently being much easier to acquire than I expected) and Easy Street for some music (the new Ladytron, Blondie’s Parallel Lines, and the cast recording of Spamalot), then … home, ready for a quick shower and time to go to bed. I’ve got a rough day coming at the Korean spa in Tacoma and I need to make sure I’m ready for my hour long massage at noon.