Posts Tagged ‘I heart ballet’

Spring Dance at the Coliseum – City Ballet’s “Four Voices: Wheeldon, Martins, Bigonzetti, Ratmansky” Program – London Coliseum

March 19, 2008

Last night’s performance of City Ballet was a great chance to sample the work of several newer choreographers. The first piece was by Christopher Wheeldon, formerly in residence at City Ballet and now working with his own company and the Ballet Boyz to keep ballet relevant for modern audiences. His “Carousel” was a homage to the great musical of the same name, but, when stripped down to a few themes and clumsily illustrated with dancers carrying poles and moving in circles, it just seemed … watery. The girl was lonely, the man was arrogant, there were overtones of can-can girls and seediness in some of the group scenes … but it was hard to care. It made me briefly think that a danced “Lear” would be nice, then I remembered his “Elsinore” and I thought, nah, Wheeldon just doesn’t seem to get emotional connection and the kind of stuff that makes you invest in a story. Oh well. Maybe Matthew Bourne will give it a try.

Next up was a little frippery of a Russian piece, Peter Martin’s “Zakousi,” a duet complete with big boots and sparkly “Ballet Imperiale” glitz (for the woman). But that was the end of the glittery and wow. Instead of stylish pyrotechnics on stage and the showy, over the top style I’ve come to love from the Bolshoi, this was watered down and whingy. It was like some horrible fusion cuisine that eliminated all of the spices “to better suit the locale palate.” Fortunately it was short.

The highlight of the evening was next; a piece by Mauro Bigonzetti, an Italian choreographer who counts Balanchine and Forsythe among his influences. “In Vento,” it was called, which while it might mean “in the wind” (I think), to me also seemed appropriately misheard as “inventive”. I could see it, too, in the harsh poses of the women (with arms over their heads, like birds of prey, and their costumes, very Forsythe) and the very complex and yet smooth twining of a pas de quatre a la Balanchine. But his four were men, and he had them rolling onto each others’ arms, then being picked up and carried backwards with the combined strength of their numbers; and both sexes posed, angular and angrily, in a way I somehow found very Italian. It was a great showcase for the athletic skills of the troupe, and even found time to be tender and vulnerable. I’ll be looking for his work again.

The final bit was “Russian Seasons” by Alexie Ratmansky. The funny turban hats made this look more ethnically Russian, but what was very cool was the singing (by Irina Rindzuner) – the kind of strange, rising up at the end female vocals I associate with the Hungarian women’s choirs. This dancing was much more … I don’t know, unselfconsciously Russian than the Martins piece. It really seemed to tell different stories, with the people (five couples?) taking care of each other, ignoring each other, falling apart … it was enjoyable to watch but I think somewhere around the last fifteen minutes or so I just got worn out and gave up the ghost. It was fine, it just wasn’t … energetic enough. And it was too long.

So for a balletomane like me, this was a good night out, as I’m always hoping to find a good new choreographer and they are few and far between. Seeing this backed right up against the Jerome Robbins night like I did really reminded me of how there’s really a special something that makes a choreographer great – and while a lot of people might spend time with dancers, very few of these people will ever really achieve greatness.

(This review was for a performance the night of Tuesday, March 18th, 2008. Casting was as follows: TUESDAY EVENING, MARCH 18, 7:30 P.M.
(Conductor: Karoui)
CAROUSEL (A DANCE): Peck, Woetzel
pause
ZAKOUSKI: Borree, Hübbe+
IN VENTO: *Reichlen, Millepied, Fowler
RUSSIAN SEASONS: Krohn, Whelan, Rutherford, Evans)

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Spring Dance at the Coliseum – City Ballet’s Jerome Robbins Program – London Coliseum

March 13, 2008

Tonight was an evening I’ve been anticipating since August (yes, I am that much of a geek), when I first heard that City Ballet was coming to London as a part of the Spring Dance at the Coliseum program (which is 85% City Ballet). It’s part of the reason I didn’t go to New York for Easter – I couldn’t see them while I was there, so why bother leaving town when I could just sit on my duff and see them here?

Anyway, tonight was the all Jerome Robbins program, and it was GREAT. The first piece was … oh man, it was like that first time you heard an album you’d been listening to on your grungy old boom box for years, and then suddenly you’re getting to experience it on a CD on a good stereo, and you’re all amazed because it’s ten times better and you’d never noticed there were strings and stuff in the background, and you can hear the singer breathing? Yeah, that was the first piece, “The Four Seasons,” with an utterly fantastic faun in the Autumn scene. I actually got caught up in the movement of fabric in the spring bit because it so vibrantly captured the energy of the dancer. And the winter scene was clever and funny! Who would think it would take Americans to bring wit to ballet? It sure seemed to shake up the night.

The second piece (Moves) was done without music, and I think it kind of freaked the audience out a bit (the woman behind me asked, “Where’s the conductor?”). It was basically a piece about performing, very self-reflexive in a kind of 1970s way, with moves I associated more with William Forsythe than something so much older. A scene in the couples section reminded me of Monet’s multiple studies of cathedrals and haystacks – showing how having different people interact changes the movement that is possible. The third piece, “The Concert,” was pure comedy of the “Look behind you!” variety and the audience laughed their heads off (ballet does lend itself to being made fun of, really) – a real crowd pleaser after the more strenuous piece that proceeded it.

Now I am so excited that I want to go see them again on Sunday even though I’m already going to see them on Tuesday. I just hope I can get someone to go with me (and that I can afford tickets). Sure, it’s Balanchine, and I’ve seen all those pieces again, but THIS time it will be perfect. Aaaaaaah. I love it.

(This was a review for a show on Thursday, March 13th, 2008. Casting was as follows: THURSDAY EVENING, MARCH 13, 7:30 P.M.
Conductor: Kaplow
THE FOUR SEASONS: JANUS: Fowler; WINTER: J. Peck, M. Fairchild, Hendrickson, Carmena; SPRING: Gilliland, Mearns, J. Angle;
SUMMER: Shepherd, Rutherford, Hanna; FALL: Seth, Bouder, Millepied, Ulbricht
MOVES: Krohn, J. Angle
THE CONCERT: Hyltin, Higgins, Piskin, Laracey, Pazcoguin, Veyette, Muller, Laurent, Peiffer, J. Peck )