The dance event of the season, understandably, happens to be a film. WHEN WE FELL—choreographed by Kyle Abraham and directed by Abraham and Ryan Marie Helfant—was commissioned by the New York City Ballet and was shot inside their Lincoln Center home.
The film is introduced by dancer-choreographer Wendy Whelan, Associate Artistic Director, New York City Ballet. See link below for free streaming details to the film as well as the short RETURN TO FORM: CREATING KYLE ABRAHAM’SWHEN WE FELL.
I came upon the word transmissions while thinking about how the ethereal, corporeal, and technical dimensions of ballet resonate in the artworks and souvenirs it produces. Transmissions are subject to interference and interruption. Ballets are conveyed to us through mediations, anecdotes, and bodies. And often when I’m watching ballet in its contemporary manifestations, I wonder how these transmissions have occurred.
I started looking into the history of ballet in the twentieth century… Through a web of genealogies, I eventually arrived at the flamboyant intersection of ballet and art in New York, beginning in the 1930s. There the avant-garde experiments of the previous decades in Europe incited a particularly intense cross-contamination, an overt articulation of homosexual erotics long before the emergence of a public language around queerness. Looking at modern American art of this period through the prism of ballet reveals a tangle of interrelationships, collaborations, derivations, and hybrid aesthetic programs that still feel surprisingly contemporary. — Nick Mauss*
Two years after the close of TRANSMISSIONS—Nick Mauss’ multimedia installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art—the museum and Dancing Foxes Press have published an exhibition catalog that beautifully extends the show, combining performance and exhibition images from the Whitney with an extensive selection of new illustrative and textual documentation.
I drew multiple webs of interrelationships, elective affinities, and echo waves of influence, focusing as much on the social, professional, sexual, and collaborative points of contact as on transhistorical resonances that were in some cases perhaps fantasy—eschewing standard mappings of modern art… [embracing] anachrony and distortion over apparent objectivity…
My decision to insist on ballet as the fulcrum in TRANSMISSIONS was also a response to the ubiquity of postmodern dance derivations within the contemporary museum environment and the reductive version of modernity that these prequalified dance idioms signify and cement. Contemporaneity is reduced to a “look” of modernity. Modernist ballets make for engaging historical documents precisely because their own relationship to history is a kind of suspension of disbelief; they are intrinsically modernist, even if they don’t “signal” modernity to contemporary eyes.— Nick Mauss*
The world of the spectator, the receiver, was a primary lens through which I constructed TRANSMISSIONS, and the flux of the exhibition’s daily audience over the course of two months took on a central role within it. This book is similarly directed at the wholly different—private, rather than social—negotiations of the reader. — Nick Mauss*
The paintings of Ben Shahn, Antonio Berni, Raquel Forner, Honoré Sharrer, and Pavel Tchelitchew, the photography of Walker Evans and George Platt Lynes, the sculpture of Elie Nadelman and Gaston Lachaise, the ballet costumes of Kurt Seligmann, Paul Cadmus, and Jared French, the music of Virgil Thomson, and the philosophy of George Gurdjieff …
… all come together in LINCOLN KIRSTEIN’S MODERN, the Museum of Modern Art exhibition devoted to the writer, critic, curator, patron, and impresario who set the aesthetic template for MOMA and brought George Balanchine to America to establish the New York City Ballet.
The show was organized by Jodi Hauptman and Samantha Friedman, who edited the exhibition catalog.
“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, JeromeRobbins (1918–1998) was one of the great choreographers of the twentieth century. ArthurLaurents 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. (StephenSondheim, the show’s lyricist, said that Robbins was one of the only geniuses he’d ever worked with.)
Through his work with the American BalletTheatre 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.
From top: Sharks and Jets dance in West Side Story, on tour in Europe in the early 2000s; the original Fancy Free cast—MurielBentley, 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 DanceDivision/The New York Public Libraryfor thePerforming Arts; Mikhail Baryshnikov in the NewYork City Ballet production of The Four Seasons (1979), choreographed by Robbins; AntoinetteSibley 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.
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.