Posted by: trailerpilot | 01:11::2009

NYT Weekend Roundup: Tutti-Frutti Hat Edition

It’s the weekend again already?  Yikes.  It may be because this was the first “regular” week of the new year, but it both flew by and nearly killed me.  Anyhow:  Off to the dance section!

The marquee story (and current most-emailed in Arts) is Gia Kourlas’ review of the Busby Berkeley festival-within-a-festival at Dance on Camera at Lincoln Center, which runs one more week.  It’s engaging and fun, and looks at the martial influence on Busby’s numbers, his dancerly approach to cinematography, and underlines the obvious connection between the tough-times escapism of his glory days with today’s, uh, unrelenting barrage of malaise.  Roslyn Sulcas elsewhere summarizes the festival as a whole.

My dear Ally McCall hits it out of the park with a terrific essay on Harold Pinter’s near-choreographic (and inarguably obsessive) approach to timing and stage direction.  As a piece of analysis, it’s great, and as a considered, slightly belated intellectual obituary, it’s fantastic–the only must-read this week.

David Parsons pops up in twin Kourlas reviews of his company’s Joyce season, the first of a mixed-bill whose inclusion of Caught (yet again) I probably should be less suprised by, and in a dismissive pan of his new Remember Me.  In Kourlas’ defense, I’ve never been a fan of Parsons dances–the few I actually did like, like The Envelope, are pimped out so often they simply start to resemble scaffolding on a house of cards, and the rest, like fellow good-ol’-boy Daniel Ezralow’s work, are aggressive stabs in the dark.  Kourlas’ lashing aside, Remember Me certainly sounds like a desperate Gong Show to me.  Skippable, unless you’re up for some lukewarm Schadenfreude.

Macaulay returns for the kill in a wrap-up of Ailey’s anniversary season at City Center.  While taking care to praise the company, Judith Jamison, and Ailey’s ouevre (or at least some of it), he pulls no punches in declaring that the company’s commissions, specifically Mauro Bigonzetti’s new Festa Barroca, and much of it’s repertoire aren’t worth the performances they’re given, closing with the crystal clear line, “the Ailey dancers make trash more appealing than any other troupe I can think of.”  I may be inclined to agree, but still:  Ouch.  Embedded in the column is a repost of the must-watch video from last month’s anniversary gala. (Oprah Winfrey gets mobbed, Desmond Richardson can’t sit still, and Jessye Norman meets Jesse Jackson, sparking the simultaneous realization that, not only are they both insanely wealthy, successful and famous, they also have the same name!  Hilarious.)

Meanwhile, downtown(ish), Claudia La Rocco generally enjoys Sugar Salon, a mini-fest of emerging female choreographers at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, and Roz digs how hip Cedar Lake’s Veggetti/Veldman/Pite program is.

Finally, Alistair has Balanchine on the brain this week:  Assessing an all-Mr. B triple bill (Chaconne, Vienna Waltzes, and The Four Temperaments) in the rotation at NYCB seems to have bled into his review of the same company’s Coppélia, which becomes a dissection of how the seminal story ballet’s tropes birthed some of Balanchine’s most tried-and-true motifs.  Both pieces ambushed me with a wave of nostalgia:  A traditional Coppélia was one of my first non-Nutcracker story ballets–I danced the Mazurka with Boulder Ballet in my early teens–and I was unfortunate enough to repeatedly grin and bear Kent Stowell’s horrendous PNB production in my early twenties.  However, possibly even the same season, I danced Chaconne in Seattle with Louise Nadeau in the lead, whose interpretation I still can’t imagine being bettered.  In similarly lyrical Balanchine pas de deux, such as the Act II Divertissement in Balanchine’s Midsummer [which you can see her (and me) in on Blu-ray disc for only $29.99 at Amazon], she was and is unparalleled.  That is my opinion.

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