Back from Vacation Mixed Rep

Back from vacation. Since I was away…

ABT Announces Fall Schedule

ABT announced its Fall Season casting, with performances from October 19-30 at Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Prodigal Son casting is interesting with casts of Hee Seo/Jeffrey Cirio and Veronika Part/Daniil Simkin.

ABT Fall 2016

Stella Abrera Profile

Forbes has a nice profile of Stella Abrera documenting her rise at ABT. Interesting info:

That night (her 20th Anniversary performance last June)—much like every other following a big performance—she couldn’t sleep. “Adrenaline is a wonderful drug when you’re on stage, but going to bed after a three-act ballet is always tough because of it,” she confesses. “Often I go to sleep at around 4 o’clock in the morning and wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed two hours later.” And the day after a big show is the worst: “Pain-wise, after you exert yourself for so many hours with so much gusto—there’s a lot of body maintenance that needs to be done, from stretching and exercising to seeing a physical therapist and scheduling massages,” she notes.

Vail Dance and Natalia Osipova at City Center

Former NYCB Principal Dancer Damian Woetzel and current Director of the Vail International Dance Festival will bring his show to City Center November 3-6 including ABTs Herman Cornejo dancing Apollo, Carla Körbes in Martha Graham’s Lamentation, and a duo for the Memphis jooker Lil Buck and the tabla master Sandeep Das.

Natalia Osipova will perform at City Center from November 10-12 in contemporary works created for her by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, and Arthur Pita. According to the City Center website, the program, which premiered in London in June, features Cherkaoui’s Qutb, a trio for Osipova and two male dancers; Maliphant’sSilent Echo, a duet for Osipova and ballet star Sergei Polunin; and Pita’s Run Mary Run, a thrilling comic duet for Osipova and Polunin that draws inspiration from 1960s girl-group music and the tragic life of Amy Winehouse.

Big Apple Circus Closing


Big Apple Circus, 2015. Click for more photos.

Sad news as the Big Apple Circus announced that it will not perform this year at Lincoln Center due to a lack of funds. The 35-year-old circus started an emergency fund-raising drive recently with a goal of raising $2 million. Ultimately, the circus raised only $900,000 according to The New York TImes. The not-for-profit circus, started 35 years ago, will continue its community programs for children in hospitals and nursing homes. The circus was hoping that a wealthy New Yorker or local firm would step up with the necessary funds, but no big donors materialized.

Our family started attending the circus about eight years ago when our daughter was old enough to enjoy the show. One of the unexpected benefits of parenthood is discovering fun events for the kids…that parents actually enjoy. Mom and dad looked forward to the show as much as our daughter. The circus was held every year in New York City at a tent at Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. The venue was cozy, with only 16 rows of seats surrounding the ring and no seat more than 50 feet from ringside. Big Apple Circus will be sorely missed and I hope the beloved  circus can get back on their feet soon.


Big Apple Circus, 2015. Click for more photos.

The Winter’s Tale Review, 7-28


Christopher Wheeldon, The Winter’s Tale. Click for more photos.

Shakespeare’s The WInter’s Tale has a complicated plot filled with twists as it switches back and forth from tragedy to lighter moments. Reading the program notes before the National Ballet of Canada performance at Koch Theater Thursday, I was skeptical about how this would play on a ballet stage. Shakespeare is hit or miss in ballet with classics Romeo and Juliet by MacMillan and Ashton’s The Dream but with misses including ABT’s The Tempest and Othello.

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon manages to pull off this daunting task with great storytelling prowess, capturing many nuances in the fast-moving 2 hour and 35 minute work. The ballet is a wonderful combination of choreography, original music by Joby Talbot, with sets and costumes by Bob Crowley. The trio created the 2011 Royal Ballet/National Ballet of Canada production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland-a commercial success with limited critical acclaim. In Winter’s Tale, Wheeldon’s timing and choreography works admirably, recounting the tragic and sometimes uplifting Shakespeare tale. Add this ballet to the list of successful, expressive full-lengths from The Royal Ballet (co-produced by National Ballet of Canada).

Act I is a depressing and dark tragedy. Leontes, King of Sicilia  (Piotr Stanczyk) is convinced that his pregnant wife Hermoine, Princess of Sicilia (Hannah Fischer) is having an affair with Polixenies, King of Bohemia. Leontes is enraged and he fights with Polixenes, causing Polixenes to flee. Leontes has Hermoine arrested for adultery and treason. She gives birth to a baby girl (Perdita) in prison, but Leontes rejects the child, banishing the child to a remote island. Leontes’ son Mamillius collapses and dies from the duress of seeing her mother in jeopardy at trial. Hermoine also collapses and dies from the heartbreak. Heavy stuff.

Stanczyk is effective as the dark, brooding Leontes as he flies off the handle in numerous fitful rages; his interaction with Hermoine is spellbinding as he towers over her as she shutters in fear. Although Hermoine is a strong woman, she can’t counter prolonged attacks from the King, on the losing end of a battle with the madman. Wheeldon captures the moods of the play with great clarity; it helps to read the program notes, but the action is clear-Leontes is hell-bent on self-destruction. Also illuminating are Leontes’ dream sequences, with brighter lighting to delineate dream and reality, in imagined passionate dances with Hermoine and Polixenes.

The lighting and sets capture the darkness of the events, with minimalist sets and stark, simple lighting in Act I. At the end of the act, the baby Perdita is on a ship to nowhere. The effects are dramatic, with a film on a curtain of a ship struggling mightily in a thunderstorm. At the end of the storm, the backdrop curtain falls, signifying the end of a disastrous journey, an innovative special effect that I have not seen before.


Jillian Vanstone, The Winter’s Tale. Click for more photos.

Act II introduces Perdita 16 years later, danced by Jillian Vanstone with great girlish charm and energy. She is in love with Florizel, Prince of Bohemia (Naoya Ebe), who dance a believable and touching pas de deux. Act II is bright and cheery with a giant magical tree as the centerpiece of the lush, bohemian paradise with dancers attired in colorful costumes. Wheeldon gives the corps much to work with in this act with energetic, joyful dances that were nicely done. Act II is Polixenes’ turn to be an insufferable jerk as he is enraged by the love affair and sentences Perdita to death. The two lovers flee to Sicilia. Again the ship effects are well done, with a video on a moving curtain.

In Act III, Leontes is the voice of reason after being tormented by the deaths in his family. He agrees to the union of Perdita and Florizel, and agrees help them. After the wedding of Perdita and Florizel, Leontes is remorseful, kneeling at a statue of Hermoine, when she comes back to life with the assistance of Paulina, head of the household (Xiao Nan Yu). At the end, the couple is alone, pondering past mistakes and hopeful of the future as the curtain falls on the tale of loss and redemption.

More reviews:

Gia Kourlas of the New York Times-2016
Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times-2016
Michael Crabb-The Star-2015
Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times-2014
Mark Monahan of The Telegraph-2016
Sarah Crompton of The Telegraph-2014
Luke Jennings of The Guardian-2014
Judity Mackrell of The Guardian-2014
Clement Crisp of The Financial Times-2014
Zoë Anderson of The Independent-2014
Jann Parry of DanceTabs-2014

The Winter’s Tale Photos, 7-28


Hannah Fischer and Piotr Stanczyk, National Ballet of Canada. Click for more photos.

I posted curtain call photos on my photography website of The National Ballet of Canada’s The Winter’s Tale at Lincoln Center Thursday. This is a great storytelling production of Shakespeare’s work, choreographed by Christoper Wheeldon. Wonderful sets and costumes by Bob Crowley. Check for my review this weekend.

New York City Ballet in Paris

It’s difficult to find New York City Ballet performance video. I’m not sure why the company makes it difficult for those outside of New York to see their product (more on that in a future post). Fortunately, NYCB streamed its July 16 Paris performance and several ballet fans captured the event. Above is video from Symphony in C posted on Matthew Clark’s channel. Also, mussel from Ballet Alert! captured Symphony, Walpurgisnacht, Sonatine, and La Valse and was kind enough to share. Enjoy!

DTH at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

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Robert Garland and DTH students at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

I love the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival, filled with interesting and thought-provoking programming. Dance Theatre of Harlem was featured Saturday afternoon in the sweltering mid-90s heat. Resident choreographer Robert Garland led the presentation, which consisted of a lecture demonstration from DTH students followed by short works from the company. Da’ Von Doane and Chyrstyn Fentroy were in fine form in a nice pas de deux. The event ended with segments from Garland’s Return, a fun funk and soul work to the music of James Brown. Sultry dancing from Ingrid Silva and Lindsay Croop got audience members off their seats in this rousing work.

In the evening, Darlene Love, celebrated her 75th birthday with a trip down music memory lane. Love is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, featured in the documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom.

The previous evening presented diversified entertainment with R&B great Barbara Lynn, with smooth vocals and rhythm guitar at the Hearst Plaza. Across the way at Damrosch Park was the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.

This is what summer is all about. Take advantage of the festival, which runs until August 13.

Dance Theatre of Harlem at Lincoln Center

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Chyrstyn Fentroy from April at City Center. Click for more DTH photos.

Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) will perform Saturday at 2 pm at the Hearst Plaza at Lincoln Center in the Out of Doors festival. From the Lincoln Center website: “Students from the famed company’s Summer Intensive program and professional dancers dazzle with demonstrations of classical ballet technique and then share bits of wisdom with audience members during a talkback.” I wonder how this will work given the very small stage at the Hearst Plaza, but it should be fun.

That evening, Darlene Love will perform at 7:30 pm. Should be a great day at Lincoln Center.