Monday, October 5, 2009

Fun at Fall for Dance

This weekend was the end of City Center's knockout Fall for Dance season. With $10 tickets to wonderfully varied programs of dance, it's no wonder people stand in line for hours on end the day these tickets go on sale. Of course I didn't have the time or energy to go wait (or plan ahead for that matter), and my little hope that tickets would be available online or later was naive. When the programs started it didn't look like I'd make to any of them this year, sadly.

But I got lucky! Two very generous friends (and bloggers) invited me to two different programs - first Eric (from and demicontretemps) to the Graham/Tango/Morphoses/Les Noces evening, and then this weekend I got to accompany Tonya to the Australia Ballet/Diana Vishneva/Ailey night. How wonderful!

What I love about Fall for Dance is the extent and variety of dancing. As I noticed with Eric, previous years seemed to have more smaller, unknown companies while now the big names are all a part of it. It's fantastic to have the opportunity to see companies from afar dancing onstage with some of the New York regulars.

The first program I saw opened with The Martha Graham company, who I've shamefully seen very little of live. I enjoyed their "Diversion of Angels" and could see through it how clearly defined the Graham vocabulary is, having learned some here and there throughout my own training. After that was a tango piece called "Romper el Piso," which was fun. Some parts were better than others in my opinion, but the fast footwork was impressive. They had some overly choreographed curtain calls though, which I giggled at, admittedly. But with the popularity of ballroom dance right now on television and "Burn the Floor" on Broadway and such, it was nice to hear the audience so into the performance.

Before the program ended with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal's hyper-physical "Noces", the fabulous Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk stole the show. On behalf of "Morphoses" they performed "Softly as I Leave You," which I really loved. Drew began in a tall lit box, barely containing her wondrous height, with an otherwise dark stage. Writhing and trying to break free of her containment, she is soon joined by the lithe, intense Rubinold. The two, together and apart, keep you mesmerized from beginning to end. Part of the piece was set to Arvo Part's soft, sensual music that a few other choreographers have used lately. It was beautiful.

Be sure to read Eric's review of the night here. The Times review (which I partly disagree with) is here.

The second program I saw was lovely also. The Australian Ballet brought two really strong, beautiful dancers: Gina Brescianini and Tzu-Chao Chou. "Le Spectre de la rose" is a sweet pas de deux and was a nice nod to the Ballets Russes, which was supposed to be the theme of the whole festival. Following that was "Snow" by Sang Jijia, a long but interesting modern piece with real "snow" falling steadily throughout. Parts of it reminded me of TAKE Dance Company's recent "Footsteps in the Snow." But I kept getting distracted - almost hypnotized - by the snow falling heavier and slower and heavier again. It was a nice effect but I'm afraid the dancing didn't pull me in as much as the shifty backdrop. (Read a better critical interpretation of this piece here. Somehow I found it difficult to look too deeply at this one, but this writer drew much more from it.)

The second half featured ABT and Kirov star ballerina Diana Vishneva in the "Dying Swan" variation. This familiar music by Camille Saint-Saens always gives me the chills, and as the only live music on the program it was even more gorgeous. Vishneva is a born swan, but she seemed to be dying exceptionally violently at some points. There are so many interpretations and versions of this variation, and while I admire Vishneva's beauty I can't say I really cared for this particular performance of hers. (Times review here.)

Ailey's classic "Revelations" finished off the night. I saw this piece last year at the company's main City Center season and only enjoyed parts of it, but this time the energy of the entire thing got to me. Like the first time I saw it though, the "Sinner Man" section for three men (here Jamar Roberts, Clifton Brown, and Michael Francis McBride) was my favorite. Those guys are shot out of a cannon and on fire in this section. Those extensions! Those jumps! Those bodies! They won deserved applause and even a screaming fan (who would NOT shut up during the entire piece, screaming at entirely inappropriate moments. Audience etiquette could be a mini-course they should offer before every Fall for Dance program I think...)

After the performance Tonya and I went to the Fall for Dance lounge, which I totally should have been going to every night it was open! What a fun scene, with dancers and dance aficionados and new audiences all coming together to chat and chill. I got to meet another fellow blogger and writer, the very fun Michael, and we also talked to one of the Trocks! (Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo were on another program earlier in the week that I missed)

It really was a fun night, as was the first night I went. A huge thanks to Eric and Tonya for inviting me last minute! Next year for sure I'm getting tickets early!

No comments: