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Cheating, Lying, Stealing by Scottish Ballet April 23, 2009

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet.
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37I was blown away by this new piece by Ashley Page of Scottish Ballet. Not having read the programme notes, here is what I assume it is about: a weekend trip to the scottish countryside by two young couples devolves into a treacherous visit to society’s seedy underbelly, with adultery being the main sin, here made to look devilish yet passionate and rebellious. the whole thing is like some kind of sexy modern noir thriller where you’re riveted to your seat to find out what happens next. costumes are indeed skimpy and worn by attractive dancers (well, duh), but its more than that: a couch bursts into flames, strobe lights pulse, and the music pulses with loud rock bass drum kicks and electric guitar riffs cutting in like jagged knives.

the set shows a misty mysterious countryside seen on a lost highway over the dashboard of a car. a giant red square signals the passion and excitement conveyed in the dancing. and the dancing is incredible. Ashley Page has set the lovers spinning around the stage in jazzy, syncopated, innovative riffs on the modern ballet canon. The men lift the women with gusto in difficult, twisted positions, allowing the women to spin and fly around the stage with fierce passion.

the music, by Icebreaker, is modernist, minimalist, math rock bliss. philip glass meets sigur ros. they deconstruct tempo in divinely perverse ways.

a show so good that i felt compelled to post it to the blog after a long hiatus! I would highly recommend this show! it comes with another ballet based on carmen that i heard was superbly average, but the ticket price is worth it for this show.

BUY TICKETS HERE I believe there is a student discount for last minute tix or something

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Management and the Arts November 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, English Department, Theatre Department.
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management-and-the-artsThis is essential reading for anyone who wants to be a modern arts producer. An easy-to-read, step-by-step guide to the business of producing art in America. The book offers a thorough foundation of business skills to shepherd any artist into the world of managing an organisation. At the same time, the author maintains a steady recognition of the art world’s glorious peculiarities. Art is not business, rather, business is the vehicle to deliver great art to great audiences. The book is splendidly interactive, with many real news clippings from exciting and relevant current events and a series of assignments for the reader to engage with the concepts.

As the American touchstone in this topic, the book espouses the American system of arts administration, which, like it or not, has pervaded large arts organisations around the world. There is little time spent on those peculiar arts companies from other countries that stray from the American model.

Batsheva performs Deca Dance 2008 September 27, 2008

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It was terrific to see Batsheva perform Deca Dance 2008 as part of the Edinburgh International Festival this August at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Deca Dance is a performance that the audience will not soon forget. The performers are breathtaking in their maneuvering of beautiful contemporary dance which takes all the casual, provocative attitude of post-modern dance performance while wrapping it into some of the most skillful dancing you are likely to see. They bring a unique and provocative Israeli perspective in both their physical movements and the intellectual themes at play. This is Dance with a capital D that even the most illiterate yokels will love. The only problem with the show is that it’s 10 years old.

Deca Dance is a “Best Of” compilation of Artistic Director Ohad Naharin’s most famous dances choreographed for Batsheva over the years. I first saw Deca Dance at the Kennedy Center 5 years ago, when all the dances were already quite old. I need to emphasize this: I saw this show twice. That’s how good it is. I would happily pay money to see it again. It is that good. But I also want to see them do something new.

Of course, it’s the safest financial strategy for them to tour their best hits, but eventually we will want to see new work from them.

You can see one of the pieces from Deca Dance in the video above. There is a tasty dynamic of toying with audience expectations (dancers standing still for extended periods) and rewarding the audience with bravura displays of rich, emotional, athletic dance. They often work with game structures (repetition with slight alterations, mathematical build-ups) which gives dancers opportunities to break out phenomenal solos.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream March 9, 2008

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home_image_amsnd.gifamazing, fabulous, affectionate, imaginative, fantastic production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Northern Ballet Theatre at Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Original Mendelssohn and Brahms music set to a smart, snazzy and virtuoso new choreography by David Nixon. Contemporary Ballet as it should be. Do not miss this show.

Great transference of the action into 1920’s ballet troupe context. Our “Athens” here is a large professional ballet studio with the men and women of the company going through rehearsals as the action unfolds. Our four lovers are the ballerinas, Theseus is a Ballanchine-like director who fights with Hypollita, his prima ballerina, Puck is his assistant and the rude mechanicals are the crew.

At the end of Act One the whole company gets on a train to tour. Act Two takes place entirely in dreamland as the troupe slumbers on their overnight train. the set is a fantastic giant eyeball upstage which serves as an entrance with an upside-down train/spaceship floating in the air. Think Salvador Dali. The dancing in the lovers quarrels is some of the best ballet dancing i have ever seen. The choreography is hilarious, heart-lifting, and totally captivating, not to mention the fact that it captures the Shakespeare text almost line-for-line in tone and spirit.

Act Three opens with the cast taking their bows after performing their ballet, and as the curtain closes, the lovers and Theseus all get down on one knee and the whole crew cheers as they break into a 1920’s popular dance celebration. It’s a delightful backstage moment.

Episodios Cifrados de Tango October 4, 2007

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Come check out this amazing duo at Lisner next week and you will get the rare chance to see a truly creative, theatrical interpretation of tango performance. this is not that corny tango spectacular stuff you’ll see on broadway, this is a truly theatrical european performance that uses tango as the basic means of performance. i’m excited.

The New Season September 9, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, Film School, Theatre Department.
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The New York Times came out with their orgasm-enducing preview of the 07-08 season in film, theatre, dance, music, art, and other stuff today. For those of us obsessed with the world of ideas, this is a titilating annual event. Without further ado, I give you my own run down of what I am looking forward to this year in the world of high, high art.

Bruce Springsteen’s new album with the E Street Band. He’s been doing great solo stuff lately, so this return to form with the old crew should be decent, if nothing else. Bruce is hot right now.

American Ballet Theatre’s World Premiere ballet inspired by Philip Glass’ musical portrait of his buddy visual artist Chuck Close. Both guys have words for their last names, that’s how awesome they are. Choreography by Jorma Elo, who also has a cool name.

lear1450.jpgRoyal Shakespeare Company brings Ian McKellen to Brooklyn Academy of Music in Trevor Nunn’s productions of King Lear and The Seagull. Can someone say EVENT? Critics are saying that McKellen does not disappoint.

Debut season of Christopher Wheeldon’s Morphoses company at NY City Center. Hottest american ballet choreographer now starts his own company. audiences follow.

Herbie Hancock’s new tribute album to Joni Mitchell. Joni’s folk pop songs are so jazzy it hurts, and Herbie is just the guy to flesh out the jazz harmonies and embellish the rhythms.

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Mary Zimmerman’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera. Mary Zimmerman is funky fun, and I can’t wait to see what she does to this classic Italian opera.

Julie Taymor’s new Beatles musical movie, Across the Universe. What do I really need to say here? Eliot Goldenthal is doing kick ass re-interpretations of the songs using his favorite instrument, the glass harmonica. And based on the descriptions of the movie, it sounds like the new Hair, which is one of my favorite movies.

I’m not here, Todd Haynes’ filmic meditation on all things Bob Dylan. It sounds way far out, and way cool.

Indigo, a blues opera July 27, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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176575910-l.jpgWoah baby! This show has soul by the bushels. This show has a soul blacker than the night sky in Africa. This show has a soul deeper than the Indian ocean. This show has more soul than James Brown passing the peace pipe with Malcolm X. This is one cool show.

Karma Mayet Johnson has written some really groovy tunes and choreographed some truly funky and awesome dance. She is also great as Liza, the black slave woman who falls in love with Bell, another black slave woman in the Antebellum South. Ashley Brockington is terrific as Bell. You can really feel the chemistry between them and have no choice but to believe that their love runs deep.

Tomas Doncker is great as the guitarist who provides all the music. I am skeptical about his need for four different guitars sitting around him which he changes for every song, but they certainly do look cool!

Big props to The Painted Lady Performance Project who enact trees and water like none other.

How deep is your soul? Come to Indigo, a blues opera and find out.
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7×7: Shakespeare May 12, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet.
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perf_7×7.jpg7 dances by 7 choreographers. each dance is 7 minutes long. that’s only 49 minutes! perfect! i love this concept. The Washington Ballet presented a fun program of shakespeare inspired dances at their studio on Wisconsin Avenue. i enjoyed the student, studio feeling of the piece–dancers warm up right there on “stage” before the show and between acts. you are literally in the dance studio, but it has been outfitted to look neater and has lights and wings. it’s fun, it feels real, alive, connected to the actual process of the art.

the show is great! standout piece was by trey mcintyre (duh, the guy is a star) and was based on Titus Andronicus. With 3 pieces from R&J and 2 from Hamlet, it was refreshing to see a lesser known. And it was poppy fun ala twyla, which is sort of trey’s thing, and is sort of my thing. i can only take so many dreary interprative gestures until i fall asleep. mcintyre used 2 awesome songs and he really rocked the fast-paced segment which closes his 7 minute scene. other pieces were excellent and interpreted famous shakespearean scenes with intelligence, creativity, insight and panache. performances were terrific throughout.

The DC Mayor’s Arts Awards March 20, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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untitled.JPGThis was a fun event at the Kennedy Center as part of their Millenium stage. Hats off to the crew at DC Gov who pulled this remarkable feat off (and who do it every year). Sure there were crying babies and folks meandering around looking for a seat (I was one–the event started promptly at 6 and lots of folks came straight from work) but in general the production was very polished and streamlined. Fun performances too. By far the best was Washington Reflections Dance Company who brought down the house with their stunning piece by new choreographer Camille A. Brown. I think the piece is called, “New Second Line,” but I’m not sure. Look out for Camille Brown. Awesome stuff.

Hats off to David Muse and Patrick Crowley, two excellent emerging artists who shared that award. Big funny hat off to Capital Fringe Festival!!! So happy for that one, and Julianne’s dress was naturally awesome. Airborne DC opened the show with a cool aerial performance which was very impressive and exciting. Mayor Fenty is a no-bullshit kind of speaker which I half love and half don’t love. It’s cool that he is down to Earth but it teetered on the edge of being too non-chalant. Non-chalant. What is chalant?

Edward Scissorhands February 16, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Theatre Department.
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_41021534_edward3_body.jpgMatthew Bourne’s New Adventures: Edward Scissorhands at the Kennedy Center. Yeah, I didn’t really care for this too much. Didn’t hate it but I was disappointed. I know that’s going to make me unpopular and many of my readers did enjoy this quite a lot, so I encourage you to comment with your thoughts. Here are mine:

The movie was better. I was not emotionally attached to this performance whereas the movie is a guaranteed tear-jerker. I would let the ballet speak for itself without comparison to the movie, but it is so clearly based entirely on the movie that comparison is inevitable.

The music here was a detriment to the movie’s Grammy-winning score by Danny Elfman. Terry Davies used Elfman’s masterful score in uninteresting ways, relying on the hallmark melodic themes to do their emotional work without giving them any sort of interesting orchestration or dramatic progression. He’s sprinkled the score with empty, postmodern renderings of genres like tango, rockabilly and saccharine 50’s pop. These genre-parodies were less than thoughtfully composed and so were forgettable.

The choreography was poor. The crux of the story is the love between Edward and Kim, and yet there was not a decent pas de deux to be found. Bourne was presented with a golden opportunity for a striking pas de deux theme: the man cannot use his hands, thus creating tension when he goes for the ubiquitous lifts of the girl. At first they would find unique and innovative alternatives to impress the audience, and when Edward finally manages to lift her it should be the MOMENT of the entire ballet: her allowing him to lift her with his deformed hands. Instead Bourne choregraphed a forgettable, typical pas de deux which didn’t work because one of the dancers had scissors for hands.

Another note about the choreogrpahy. Edward spreads his arms christ-like about 4 times in the show. We get it. Martyr.

Some of the group dancing was excellent. Sarah Kaufman was nicer than me.

Students, discuss?