Daniil Simkin’s Intensio at Joyce

I’ve always enjoyed ABT’s Danill Simkin, with his gravity defying leaps and endless turns. My video dictionary features a number of clips of Daniil. During my work putting together the dictionary and examining many videos, I came to realize just how special of a dancer Daniil is. His great abilities are on display in the following videos: jeté passé en tournant which shows off Daniil’s powerful jumps and great extension, pirouette à la seconde demonstrates his great control on turns, pirouette en dehors, which presents his trademark wide arm carriage during the pirouettes, tour de reins (barrel turns) in which he is almost horizontal at the peak of his jump, and my favorite, 540, an acrobatic demonstration, ballet bravura at its best.

I eagerly anticipated the Joyce Theater’s run of Daniil’s Intensio last week. Intensio is an art project and series of performances created and curated by Daniil and his family. He has assembled great talent, with ABT friends Isabella Boylston, Alexandre Hammoudi, Blaine Hoven, Calvin Royal III, Hee Seo, Cassandra Trenary, and James Whiteside, along with Céline Cassone of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. Unfortunately the substandard material presented by Intensio, all 2015 works, does not match the high level of dancers.

Nocturne/Etude/Prelude by Boston Ballet Resident Choreographer Jorma Elo set to music by Bach and Chopin is tedious and not memorable. Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside engaged in a struggling duet with Daniil’s rapid and athletic turns the only highlight. Gregory Dolbashian’s Welcome a Stranger was no improvement, with four dancers posing and slinking across the stage for most of the work.

The second part was an improvement, starting with the whimsical YouTube film Simkin in the City by Alexander Ekman and T.M. Rives, which shows Daniil pirouetting and leaping in the streets and subways of Manhattan while onlookers wonder what is going on. Simkin and the Stage is a biographical sketch with home movies of young Daniil in the background along with current footage of him. In an interview of Daniil during the work, we learn that he is the son of ballet dancers, who started at age six with private training from his mother for 10 years-although he really wanted to be a dentist.

The last work, Islands of Memories by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa set to Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was the most interesting work of the evening. Daniil’s father, Dmitrij designed the set and visual design, which consisted of suspended, slanted mirrors and a floor that tracked the heat of the dancer’s bodies. Isabelle Boylston and Céline Cassone stood out among the women. James Whiteside, with oddly colored white/blond/blue hair, had a nice turn segment with Daniil having plenty of air time on his double assemblés. The only work of the evening that I have an interest in seeing again.

More reviews of Intensio, the last two from Jacob’s Pillow last July:

Brian Seibert of the New York Times
Apollinaire Scherr of The Financial Times
Janine Parker of The Boston Globe
Larry Murray of Berkshire on Stage