Thursday, June 13, 2013

American Ballet Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet: Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?

Hee Seo stars in American Ballet Theater’s Romeo and Juliet. Photo by John Grigiatis. 

Kenneth Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet, beloved for nearly fifty years, encourages performers to layer psychological insights over tricky, vigorous movements. While Prokofiev’s score edges to the literal and histrionic, MacMillan’s flexible choreography facilitates multi-faceted interpretations.  Astute dancers breathe new life into this well trod narrative.

Recently minted principal Hee Seo's Juliet abounds with girlish enthusiasm and caprice. Temperamentally suited to the character, she laces together fluent port de bras and singing arabesques to poignantly capitulate to Romeo’s ardor. During the balcony scene, she flutters like a butterfly in a mad circle, leading with her heart, not her head. Her Juliet is an impulsive spirit, unclouded by malice or deceit, willing to defy her parents and society for love.

If only Roberto Bolle's Romeo was worth it.

Bolle is a fine dancer with unfettered technique and a suave handsomeness, yet his Romeo lacks fervor and conviction. Less a man enraptured and more an actor concerned with creating a great myth starring himself, Bolle slights Seo. He buries his face in her chest and throws his head heavenward, but when she gently strokes his chest while strolling around him, his eyes don't follow. Instead, he cloaks himself in personal hubris. During the last moments of the balcony scene as Seo almost jackknives herself off the ledge, he halfheartedly extends one arm, and then another, before dropping them limply to his side. His feet stay firmly planted on the ground.  

Romeo and Juliet is a welcome opportunity for the men of American Ballet Theatre to exhibit their prodigious gifts. Romeo’s bros, Joseph Phillips as Mercutio and Blaine Hoven playing Benvoli, display occasional bouts of ragged technique. Pirouettes lurch and they grapple with the thorny jumps that litter the choreography, but they ultimately charm with irrepressible gusto. Roman Zhurbin's Tybalt is fiery; arrogantly parading around in scarlet tights, he acts like a rooster spoiling for a fight. When Juliet cedes to her parents' demands, Paris (Sascha Radetsky) tenderly partners her. Aware of her resentment, he aspires to win her over with kind caresses.

Romeo and Juliet reveals the fallout when infatuation trumps common sense and prudence. While some interpret this story as the ultimate romance, the death count of five—all teenagers who perish needlessly—demonstrates that Romeo and Juliet is, at its heart, a cautionary tale.  The dancers must ignite a blazing passion for us to ignore their dismal, star-crossed fate.  Seo succeeds, but Bolle forgoes the precarious thrill of ecstatic emotion for the dependable exactitude of competency.

This review refers to the performance seen on Wednesday, June 12th at 2pm

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pam Tanowitz's The Spectators

Pam Tanowitz’s The Spectators at New York Love Arts. Photo by Ian Douglas. 

Pam Tanowitz treats each physical action as a prized jewel, carving and polishing it to a high gloss. Embracing a formalist approach, The Spectators, a new work commissioned by New York Live Arts, features three men and three women performing steps from the classical ballet syllabus grounded in a contemporary sensibility. All sharp angles and crisp edges — knees jut, hips hinge, torsos tilt, and arms trace perfectly calibrated shapes — the dancers appear like impeccably resolved mathematical equations. The stage markings of quarter and center, taped here with brightly hued, glow-in-the-dark strips, accentuate the spatial pathways the performers shear across the floor. Merce Cunningham’s influence is unmistakable.

The work, while firmly rooted in tradition, also revels in a postmodern experimentalism. Tanowitz disregards…….

To read the rest, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.

Katy Pyle's The Firebird, A Ballez

The cast of Princes in Katy Pyle’s The Firebird, A Ballez at Danspace. Photo by Christy Pessagno. 

Katy Pyle re-imagines classical ballet and disputes its stereotypical notions of gender in The Firebird, A Ballez. Using Stravinsky’s full score played live and with loving attention by the Queer Urban Orchestra, she transforms Saint Mark’s Church into an enchanted wonderland, featuring a cast of fifteen queer and transgender performers.

Pyle — sporting lavender locks, a sparkly frock, and two bright circles of blush on her cheeks — is a Lesbian Princess on a journey of self-discovery. In a magical forest, depicted by Hedia Maron’s delightful video, she chances upon a Tranimal, half boy/half animal. The Tranimal, a sloe-eyed Jules Skloot, and the Princess awkwardly pursue…..

To read the rest, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.