Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New York Notebook—Vail: ReMix & Minter/Iggy Pop

Lil Buck, Michelle Dorrance, Robert Fairchild, Melissa Toogood. Photo: Erin Baiano
Last week, the Vail Dance Festival manifested itself at City Center in ReMix NYC, put together by renowned long-time NYCB principal Damian Woetzel. We New Yorkers who haven't made the pilgrimage to Vail for this festival were given a glimpse at what all the chatter's about, though I'd imagine the experience is far more energizing in an outdoor setting, far from the dance world's American locus (and from where many of the performers are based). That's not to say that City Center wasn't abuzz—it was, particularly with Woetzel as the most enthusiastic viewer, tapping his foot to the music and running around at intermission. His ardor is felt in the varied programming.

ReMix featured stars of NYCB and ABT, plus Carla Korbes (late of Pacific Northwest Ballet, and now associate artistic director of LA Dance Project), Lil Buck, Fang-Yi Sheu, Matthew Rushing, and others. Wendy Whelan showcased her recent collaboration with modern tinkerer Brian Brooks. Gabriel Missé and Carla Espinoza performed a charged tango with bandoneonist JP Jofre and band. And BalletX and Keigwin + Company bookended Saturday's performance, representing some of the foremost American contemporary/ballet troupes.

L-R: Eric Jacobsen, Yo-Yo Ma, Lil Buck, Kate Davis, Sandeep Das. Photo: Erin Baiano
The programs were stuffed full; both I attended were more than 2-1/2 hours. Live music was paramount. Kurt Crowley (music director of Hamilton) led a pit orchestra when musicians were not seated onstage. Lil Buck and Ron Myles had an extended suite which featured Sandeep Das on tabla and later, Yo-Yo Ma playing Saint-Saens' The Dying Swan—one of Lil Buck's famous, and surprisingly moving, solos (although truth be told, his even more riveting lead-up to it involved bonelessly gliding up and down a staircase and slinking from one platform to another). The work that was on both programs I saw, and which received the strongest ovation, was Christopher Wheeldon's The Bitter Earth, done by Isabella Boylston and Calvin Royal III, both coming off of a fantastic ABT season.

Carla Korbes. Photo: Erin Baiano
Part of the point of ReMix, it seems, is to allow these outstanding dancers to experiment outside of their normal genres. In that respect, Robert Fairchild shone brightly, displaying his double threat skills in ballet and tap, lending a relaxed virtuosity to the former, and a taut verve to the latter. He shifted from filling in for an injured Herman Cornejo as Apollo to hoofing alongside tap wiz Michelle Dorrance as Lil Buck jooked, and Cunningham star Melissa Toogood performed some modern phrases, around them, to mixed effect. 

Sara Mearns performed Ratmansky's Fandango, in which she was inspired to do some flamenco-ish phrases in response to the musicians' rendering of Boccherini. Sheu's duet with Ron Myles was somewhere in-between modern and jooking, with the its signature "tossing" of energy between dancers. (I missed Korbes in Martha Graham's Lamentation, Sheu being one of Graham's fullest interpreters.) Tiler Peck and Jared Angle were reliably superb in various ballet duets, and it's always heartwarming to see her dance with her husband, Fairchild; they were sublime in Jose Limon's joyous Suite from Mazurkas. Korbes performed a moving rendition of Balanchine's Elégie, recreated from a videotape and last done in the city in 1982, the year of its creation. Utlimately, Vail: ReMix was a great deal of fun, even if in the wake of Fall for Dance it felt like an embarrassment of riches.

Marilyn Minter, Smash (still), 2014. HD digital video. Courtesy of the artist, Salon 94, New York, and Regen Projects, Los Angeles 

Marilyn Minter and Iggy Pop

The Brooklyn Museum opened Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty last week. The artist is known for her outsized close-up paintings of body parts—often tongues, eyes, and grotty feet clad in heels—dripping with metallic liquids in states of splattering and coating. She paints on metal with enamel, giving the work a candy-coated hardness. Early works include 1970's "boudoir" shots of her mother, which exude Minter's penchant for providing more intimacy than is comfortable. A series of kitchen paintings show her fascination with the depiction of metal surfaces, even as banal as a stainless sink or a sheet of aluminum foil. A later series of food porn, and then porn, lead to her best-known paintings that both fascinate and repulse.

Also on view is Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, a fascinating exhibition of life drawings by New York Academy of Art students. Deller invited rock star Iggy Pop to model without informing the class of his identity. The results are shown juxtaposed with artworks of male nudes from the BMA's collection. It's an exhibition idea that is both rewarding on a conceptual level, while providing access to some of the museum's stellar collection, such as an Egon Schiele drawing.      

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