Friday, December 27, 2013

Ephemeralist's 2013 Highlights


The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Praised to the hilt already, but I'll keep recommending this funny, lighthearted, insightful novel about an abolitionist's ward until you read it. One book I'm looking forward to re-reading.

The Dog Star by Peter Heller

Another gem in a year of good books. Stands out for its humanity, and affection for dogs, in a people-less world.


Matt Harvey, New York Mets

Oh Matt, you bright, shining, fallen, but hopefully once more shining shooting star, you... at least Mets fans had a few weeks of joy and a taste of victory.

America's Cup

Technology arising from the desire to win may lead us to a better world. Imagine such leaps of imagination applied to energy conservation or humanitarian causes. Plus, catamarans flying over the water at 70 mph.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, winner of the 2013 Tour de France
Nothing against 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, but Froome's 2013 victory pushed the thought of Wiggins sitting waggishly in that throne out of mind for at least a bit.


James Turrell, Aten, Guggenheim

Transported viewers briefly to an alien morphing color-saturated, egg-shaped world. Slick, for sure, but worked for me.

Stanley Whitney, Team Gallery

Speaking of saturated colors and geometry, such a brilliant surprise from an underrated painter. At once firmly rooted in the history of abstraction, and completely fresh.


ABT, Koch Theater, Met Opera House
No denying it... a huge event in the world of ballet: Ratmansky' Shostakovich Trilogy. ABT's fall rep season at the Koch featured the company in choreography by major playas: Tharp, Ratmansky, Morris. Seeing fresh faces—Joseph Gorak, James Whiteside—gain confidence and roles is always rewarding, alongside company stalwarts Marcelo Gomes and Gillian Murphy. But I missed David Hallberg's presence immensely; at least he's slated for several Met season ballets this summer.

Dance Theater of Harlem, Rose Theater

Showing great talent and promise, far more than could reasonably be expected after a total reboot.

Rashaun Mitchell's Interface, with Silas Riener, Baryshnikov Arts Center

Another pair of artists who have great skills, a sense of adventure and curiosity, and the ability and resources to make things happen. The site-specific visual environment, by Davison Scandrett, made magic use of a difficult windowed corner theater. They also performed the overstuffed Way In at Danspace—less successful, but which raised yet more questions.

Paul Taylor's Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal), Koch Theater
So much invention and astonishing technical demands in this naif-style caper.

New York City Ballet, Koch Theater

Justin Peck's emergence as a choreographer. Anthony Huxley (and here) in Mozartiana. And, as always, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Robert Fairchild, and Tyler Angle in anything.

Troy Schumacher/Satellite Ballet, Joyce Theater

Among many chamber ballet troupes, Schumacher's stood out. The premise of a true collaboration between choreographer, visual artist, poet, and composer seems trite, but Schumacher did seem to infuse the dances, performed by an all-star cast, with some internal structure or narrative. 

San Francisco Ballet's season, Koch Theater
When a major ballet company from outside the Gotham comes a-knockin' with rep by Ratmansky, Morris and others, it's a rare treat.


A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theatre for a New Audience
What a way to inaugurate Theatre for a New Audience's Polonsky Center in Fort Greene. Julie Taymor thinks vividly in three dimensions. And sure the new theater has lots of technical merits, but most of her magic is done with simple devices. 

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