Monday, October 14, 2013

October Culture Notebook

Here, culture highlights of the first part of a (good) crazy October in NYC.

From the last couple of Fall For Dance programs:
Dorrance Dance
  • Dorrance Dance is an alpine gust of fresh air, not just in tap, but in the dance world. Choreographer/performer Michelle Dorrance pulls out individuals for solos, but in a diminution of the ego (the dominance of which can be alternately very appealing and a bore in many tap shows) can selectively highlight just the lower legs and feet a whole line of dancers. She places tap in more of a concert dance framework than the typical jam session throwdown. Women take the lead, rather than being marginalized. She has the potential to appeal to entire new segments of audience members.
Kyle Marshall in Mo(or)town/Redux
  • Doug Elkins' adapted Mo(or)town/Redux, on the same program, made for an interesting contrast with the previous FFD's inclusion of ABT dancing The Moor's Pavane, by Jose Limon. Both have strong appeal: Limon's highly geometric, repeating quadrants underscore the rigidity of the court and the drastic consequences of broaching those constraints. Elkins lures us deeper from the outset with the music, Motown inspired tunes that immediately push emotional buttons. His Othello and Iago are far closer to guys we might know, and the movement is plush, powerful, dotted with hip-hop jargon, dynamic moves and lifts, and everyday noodling. The sheer pleasure and invention were reminders of Elkins' singular gifts in a city full of talent.
  • Not entirely unrelated style-wise, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Faun, performed by the Royal Ballet's Rupert Pennefather and Zenaida Yanowsky, features the Belgian choreographer's snaky, rubbery, sometimes street-dancey vocabulary. But once the novelty of his unique movement wears off, it feels repetitive and somewhat limited. Perhaps it was the narrow emotional spectrum of this familiar romance. I wanted to  feel a bit more from these impressive dancers.   
The Rite of Spring by Martha Graham
  • Just when you thought all the centenary-celebrating Rites of Spring were over, yet another one re-emerges: Martha Graham's, from 1984. Graham's vocabulary and theatrical emphasis are as appropriate to this Stravinsky score as you could hope for. The company members, in excellent fettle (10 women and nine men, whose challenging ensemble section showed their collective technical prowess), strode, jumped, and contracted their way through the iconic music. Xiaochuan Xie danced the Chosen One, achieving great pathos, youthful vulnerability, and strength, in contrast to the oak-solid shaman, played by Ben Schultz. The womens' wonderful costumes, by Pilar Limosner after Graham and Halston's originals, flattered as always. 
Suzanne McClelland, Internal Sensations (Rub), 2013 dry pigment, gesso, polymer and oil paint on linen, 49" x 59" 

And elsewhere:
  • Suzanne McClelland at Team Gallery. Hurrah for Team Gallery, now representing Suzanne McClelland. The paintings in this show, titled Every Inch of My Love and up through Nov 17, may begin with words or stated concepts—symbols or representations of sensations, or objects (such as "ideal" men's measurements), or math. These letters or numbers can also detach from meaning to become marks on a canvas, interlopers in an abstract world of fascinating discrepancies, in which paint can drip sideways, down, or up. In a way, the works can sum up being human—with the gifts of cognition and speech—and the ability to abandon those brain activities in favor of a sumptuous visual experience.
  • New York City Ballet's Contemporary Choreographers program. Alex Ratmansky's Namouna has memorable moments abound: smoking ballerinas, unfortunate bathing caps that render the dancers anonymous, the sprightly petite trio, Robert Fairchild's lost boy-becomes-man, and most of all, Sara Mearns' thunderous, daredevil solo. Rebecca Krohn danced the woman in white who captures Fairchild's heart. The slender Krohn is all line; with her cool demeanor, she sometimes coming across as an abstraction, even in Ratmansky's witty, often humorous ballet. Perhaps with time, this new principal will find the confidence to open her heart.

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