Tag Archives: New York City Ballet

JEROME ROBBINS AND NEW YORK

“My beautiful city is set on rock between two flowing paths of water that run to the sea. My city is tall and jagged—with gold-slated towers… My city chokes on its breath, and sparkles with its false lights—and sleeps restlessly at night. My city is a lone man walking at night down an empty street watching his shadow grow longer as he passes the last lamp post, seeing no comfort in the blank, dark windows, and hearing his footsteps echo against the building and fade away.” — Jerome Robbins

Admired, disparaged, beloved, feared, Jerome Robbins (1918–1998) was one of the great choreographers of the twentieth century. Arthur Laurents told Robbins he was “a shit” for naming names as a “friendly witness” for HUAC. (Robbins feared being exposed as bisexual.) Yet Laurents continued to collaborate with him, most notably on West Side Story. (Stephen Sondheim, the show’s lyricist, said that Robbins was one of the only geniuses he’d ever worked with.)

Through his work with the American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, and on Broadway—On the Town, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof, to name just three shows among dozens—Robbins was indelibly associated with his home base and muse: Manhattan.

A new exhibition curated by Julia Foulkes marks Robbins’ centenary and his lifelong celebration of the city, and includes dance films and videos, diaries, paintings, story scenarios, press clippings, and extensive photographic documentation.

VOICE OF MY CITY—JEROME ROBBINS AND NEW YORK

Through March 30.

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City.

From top: Sharks and Jets dance in West Side Story, on tour in Europe in the early 2000s; the original Fancy Free cast—Muriel Bentley, Janet Reed, Harold Lang, John Kriza, and Jerome Robbins—in Times Square in 1958, with photographer Gordon Parks leaning over his tripod, courtesy the Jerome Robbins Dance Division/The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Mikhail Baryshnikov in the New York City Ballet production of The Four Seasons (1979), choreographed by Robbins; Antoinette Sibley rehearses Afternoon of a Faun with the choreographer, photograph by Michael Childers, courtesy Dance Magazine; Damian Woetzel and Tiler Peck dance Robbins at Kennedy Center, 2017; Carmen de Lavallade, Robbins, and Yves Saint Laurent—photograph by Whiteside—and Robbins in 1944, both courtesy Dance Magazine.

KYLE ABRAHAM — THE RUNAWAY

There are four more chances to catch THE RUNAWAY, the 30-minute dance Kyle Abraham choreographed for City Ballet’s fashion gala last year.

Set to music by Nico Muhly, Jay-Z, James Blake, and Kanye West, THE RUNAWAY is part of the company’s winter season New Combinations program, and will be preceded by William Forsythe ’s Herman Schmerman, and a new dance by Justin Peck, Principia (music by Sufjan Stevens).

Scheduled dancers for THE RUNAWAY are Ashley Bouder, Sara Mearns, Georgina Pazcoguin, Peter Walker, Roman Mejia, Spartak Hoxha, Christopher Grant, and—a particular standout—Taylor Stanley.

NEW YORK CITY BALLET

THE RUNAWAY

Saturday, February 9, at 2 pm.

Sunday, February 10, at 3 pm.

Wednesday, February 27, at 7:30 pm.

Saturday, March 2, at 8 pm.

David H. Koch Theater

20 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City.

From top: Taylor Stanley in Kyle Abraham’s The Runaway; Abraham, courtesy the choreographer; The Runaway. Dance photographs © Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet.

ARTHUR MITCHELL

“I am a political activist through dance. I believe that dance, and the arts more broadly, can be used as a catalyst for social change—this is why I started the Dance Theatre of Harlem. With my archive at Columbia, artifacts of American dance history and African-American history are accessible to young scholars, academics and the general public.” —Arthur Mitchell

ARTHUR MITCHELL—HARLEM’S BALLET TRAILBLAZER—curated by Lynn Garafola at the Wallach Art Gallery—features an extensive selection from Mitchell’s archive, as well as performance films from throughout his career as a dancer with the New York City Ballet through the founding and directorship of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

 

ARTHUR MITCHELL—HARLEM’S BALLET TRAILBLAZER, through March 11.

WALLACH ART GALLERY, Columbia University, 615 West 129th Street, New York City.

wallach.columbia.edu/arthur-mitchell-harlems-ballet-trailblazer

See: dancetheatreofharlem.org/legacy

Arthur Mitchell and George Balanchine, New York City Ballet. Photographs by Martha Swope. Image credit: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

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MATTHEW BOURNE’S RED SHOES

For the last twenty years, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film THE RED SHOES has been on the mind of choreographer Matthew Bourne, and this year audiences in Los Angeles and New York have the opportunity to see this ideal match of creator, subject, and source. MATTHEW BOURNE’S THE RED SHOES—in its U.S. premiere, at the Ahmanson—is a dance about dance, brought to life with the primary-colored vividness and “stunning visual autonomy” that was a hallmark of the great Powell-Pressburger films.*

Shades of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes stalk the stage in this production of the Hans Christian Andersen story, a Faustian tale wherein a pair of red ballet slippers—functioning like Tolkien’s ring—drives the dancer who wears them (Victoria, played Ashley Shaw) to great heights, followed by exhaustion and death. Victoria is squeezed, artistically and emotionally, between her boss—ballet impressario Lermontov (Sam Archer), who believes a dancer’s one and only relationship should be with the dance—and her lover, the troupe’s composer and music director Julian Craster (Dominic North).

(For THE RED SHOES, Bourne rejected the music used in the film and has fashioned a new score with Terry Davies’ arrangements of Bernard Herrmann’s classic film scores. The “Ballon de Plage” number uses “Ragtime” from Citizen Kane, and several dances are set to music from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Hangover SquareThe Ballet of the Red Shoes—the production’s tour de force centerpiece, with projection design by DuncanMcLean—is set to Herrmann’s score for Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.)

What David Thomson, in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, wrote about Powell’s films could easily be said about the dances of Matthew Bourne:

“[They] never relinquish their wicked fun or that jaunty air of being poised on the brink. To put an arrow in our eye—to leave a nourishing wound—that was Michael’s eternal thrill… With a very personal mixture of wisdom and naïveté, he treated the artist or wizard as the last potent pagan deity.”*

MATTHEW BOURNE’S THE RED SHOES

Through October 1.

Ahmanson Theatre

135 North Grand Avenue, downtown Los Angeles.

Note: Nearly every role is triple cast, and during some performances at the Ahmanson, American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes will dance the part of Julian Craster.

 

MATTHEW BOURNE’S THE RED SHOES

October 26 through November 5.

New York City Center

131 West 55th Street, New York City.

In New York, Gomes will again dance Julian Craster in alternate performances, and New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns will alternate Victoria with Shaw.

*David Thomson, “Michael Powell,” The New Biographical Dictionary of Film (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2010).

Top: Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page and Dominic North as Julian Craster in Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes.

Above: Sam Archer as Boris Lermontov.

Below: Liam Mower as Ivan Boleslawsky, with Shaw.

All Shaw/North photographs by Tristram Kenton. Archer and Mower/Page photographs by Johan Persson.

KIRSTEIN ON VAN VECHTEN

Carl Van Vechten made Harlem real to me…. [He] found the natural flair, the talent for rhythm and expressiveness, the joy, the fire, the murder, and the verbal accuracy in the vernacular in the day-to-day life….To us, Harlem was far more an arrondissement of Paris than a battleground of Greater New York. It was the Harlem of Josephine Baker….open and welcoming to Miguel Covarrubias, to Muriel Draper, and to all writers and artists who recognized in its shadows the only true elegance in America….

“Carl was the first person who told me how Nijinsky danced, in such a manner and with such intensity that I often used his description later as a personal lie, pretending to have experienced this dancer, who, in real life, I had never seen. Yet, somehow, I never, at least to myself, felt myself a liar. I had merely used Carl’s eyes.”

— from: Lincoln Kirstein, “Carl Van Vechten: 1880–1964,” in By With To & From: A Lincoln Kirstein Reader, ed. Nicholas Jenkins (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991), 31–37.

Writer, editor, arts patron, and entrepreneur Lincoln Kirstein (1907–1996)—a neo-classical modernist—was the founder of the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art (a direct antecedent to the Museum of Modern Art), and co-founder—with George Balanchine—of the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet.

Carl Van Vechten—court photographer for the Harlem Renaissance and Manhattan’s literati and performing arts worlds throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s—was also a dance critic, novelist, and Gertrude Stein’s literary executor.

See Martin Duberman, The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007); and Edward White, The Tastemaker: Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014).

From top: Walker Evans, Lincoln Kirstein, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1928; Pavel Tchelitchew, Portrait of Lincoln Kirstein, 1937.