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10 posts categorized "Dance | Ballet"

September 18, 2012

The Anderson Twins Play The Fabulous Dorseys, written and directed by Pete and Will Anderson, 59E59 Theaters

For a thoroughly enjoyable time, go see The Anderson Twins Play The Fabulous Dorseys at 59E59.

Here’s how it goes:  it’s not a theater, for the time being, but a nightclub from the 1920’s or ‘30’s, think speakeasy, draped in red with little round candle-lit tables instead of regular audience seating -- if you like you can bring a drink you’ve picked up at the Mezzanine bar down below.  Settle AndersonDorsey3webMA32484043-0003yourself in and listen to six wonderful musicians play jazz like Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, interspersed with hilarious clips from the 1947 film about the Dorsey brothers in which the Dorseys played themselves -- how fascinating -- and it gives you just enough of the story line of their lives for fun and interest without taking away from the great jazz the band is playing. 

There’s another marvelous film insert I’ll leave for you to discover -- but what a laugh!

Flanking the group the twins, Pete and Will -- two players both accomplished on the saxophone, clarinet and flute (a little amazing!) -- whip through their changes of instruments, solos, ensembles and improvisations.  They're more or less look-alikes though not identical and it's fun to watch their individuality -- musical as well as in personality.  Between them is Jon-Erik Kellso on the trumpet, Ehud Asherie’s on the piano at right, and behind are Dave Baron on bass and Kevin Dorn on drums -- what a feast! 

One wonderful jazz piece after another, from “Tangerine” to “Way Down Upon the Swanee River,” from ensemble to solo, the fast-paced jazz lifts the spirit.  Among favorites ... Kellso's thrilling solos ... Asherie dazzling picking up from where (filmed) Art Tatum  left off ... Will Anderson's virtuoso tour de force playing Rimsky-Korsakov’s “FlightAndersonDorsey2webMA32484043-0002 of the Bumblebee” -- what an enchanting piece of music.  And, yes, you hear the bee.  But these are six outstanding musicians in a jazz fest filled with favorites!

Go!  You’ll have a great time -- and come out of the theater with a big happy smile.

The Anderson Twins Play The Fabulous Dorseys plays at 59E59 Theaters in midtown Manhattan through October 7.  For information and tickets, click on live link of title.

 Yvonne Korshak

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June 04, 2012

2011-2012 Patrick Lee Theater Bloggers Awards -- Independent Theater Bloggers Association

The Independent Theater Bloggers Association (the “ITBA”) is proud to announce the 2012 recipients of the Fourth Annual Patrick Lee Theater Blogger Awards, (the “the Patricks”).   Patrick Lee was one of the ITBA's founding members. Patrick, who passed away suddenly in June 2010, was an erudite, passionate, and tireless advocate for theater in all its forms. Patrick was also the ITBA's first awards director, and was a regular contributor to Theatermania and TDF Stages.

 The 2011-2012 Patrick Lee Theater Blogger Award Winners:


"Peter and the Starcatcher"

CITATIONS FOR EXCELLENCE BY INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS (Across Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, and Broadway

Nina Arianda in "Venus in Fur"

Christian Borle in "Peter and the Starcatcher"

Philip Boynkin in "The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess"

Danny Burstein in "Follies"

James Corden in "One Man Two Guvnors"

Santino Fontana in "Sons of a Prophet"

Judy Kaye in "Nice Work If You Can Get It"

Judith Light in "Other Desert Cities"

Jan Maxwell in "Follies"

Lindsay Mendez in "Godspell"

Terri White in "Follies"




"Peter and the Starcatcher"




"Death of a Salesman"


"Sons of the Prophet"


"Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War" at The New Ohio Theatre


"She Kills Monsters" at the Flea Theatre


"The Tenant" by Woodshed Collective


The Flea Theatre

OUTSTANDING SOLO SHOW/PERFORMANCES (Across Broadway, Off- Broadway and Off-Off Broadway

Hugh Jackman, "Back on Broadway"

Denis O'Hare, "An Iliad," New YorkTheatre Workshop

Zoe Caldwell, "Elective Affinities," Soho Rep

Juan Francisco Villa,  "Empanada for a Dream," presented by Ballybeg at Barrow Group 

Stephen Spinella, "An Illiad," New York Theatre Workshop

Daniel Kitson, "It's Always Right Now Until It's Later"

Lorinda Lositza,  "Triumphant Baby"


"Now. Here. This."


The ITBA, is comprised of bloggers who regularly see live performances in all forms in New York City and beyond.   Members are in New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and London.  For further information and a list of our members, see our website at  If you are interested in learning more about the ITBA, email  To invite the members of the ITBA to your show or event, please send an email to


August 31, 2011

Fringe Festival NYC 2011 -- Overall Excellence Awards -- Here Are the Winners!

FringeNYC 2011 Overall Excellence Award Winners

Overall Production/Play:
PigPen Presents The Mountain Song
The More Loving One

Overall Production/Musical:
Yeast Nation
Pearl's Gone Blue
Jennifer Barnhart (The Legend of Julie Taymor,or The Musical That Killed Everybody!)

Ryan Barry (In the Summer Pavilion)

Miles Cooper (Elysian Fields)

Patrick Byas (Sammy Gets Mugged)
Casey McClellan (My Name Is Billy)

Brian Charles Rooney (Winner Takes All)
Lauren Hennessy (Ampersand: A R&J Love Story)
Nicholas Billon (Greenland)
A.D. Penedo  (The Three Times She Knocked)
Bella and the Pool Boy (Dennis Flanagan)

Music Composition:
Chris Rael (Araby)
Dusty Brown (The Ballad of  Rusty and Roy)
Jersey Shoresical

The Bardy Bunch: The War of the Families Partridge and Brady
Crawling with Monsters

Costume Design:

Stephanie Alexander (Le Gourmand, or Gluttony!)
Mark Richard Caswell (Parker and Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey to the End of the Rainbow)

Tara DeVincenzo (Technodulia Dot Com)


Greg Foro (Hamlet)

Joshua Kahan Brody (Fourteen Flights)

Alaska Reece Vance (The Disorientation of Butterflies)

Solo Performance:

The Day the Sky Turned Black

Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!

Paper Cut
Heroes and Other Strangers

When the Sky Breaks 3D

Video Design:
Cinty Ionescu (Nils' Fucked Up Day)

TheaterMania Audience Favorite Award:
COBU - Dance like Drumming, Drum like Dancing.

Applications for the 2012 festival will be available online in November 2011 and completed applications will be due February 14, 2012. For more information,

In 1997, New York City became the seventh US city to host a fringe festival, joining Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston, Orlando and San Francisco.  In its first 15 years FringeNYC has presented over 2500 performing groups from the U.K., Canada, Poland, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Germany, the Czech Republic and across the U.S., prompting Switzerland’s national daily, The New Zurich Zeitung, to declare, “FringeNYC has become the premiere meeting ground for alternative artists.” The festival has also been the launching pad for numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Matt & Ben, Never Swim Alone, Debbie Does Dallas, Dog Sees God, 21 Dog Years, Krapp 39, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, Silence! The Musical,  The Irish Curse, 666, Tales from the Tunnel and Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party and as well as movies (WTC View) and even a TV show (‘da Kink in My Hair). FringeNYC is a production of The Present Company, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy.

Press Contact: Ron Lasko @ 212-505-1700 x. 11,

August 05, 2011

FRINGE NYC -- 15th Annual New York International Fringe Festival: August 12 - 28


Yeast Nation, photo Jay Sullivan

                           First Sold Out Performances Announced
                       ** 15th Annual Festival runs August 12 - 28 **

note:  to help you decide,  Ken Davenport, a producer of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, sorts out his 10 to see in in his blog, date August 11, click on live link. For the official site of FringeNY with information and tickets, click on live link.   Theatermania's outline guide is also useful, click on live link. 

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC), the largest
multi-arts festival in North America, will present the 15th Annual Festival from August 12 - 28, 2011. This year, the festival will present programming by 192 of the world's best emerging theatre troupes and dance companies in 20 venues in Lower Manhattan. Dreamplay1w_VesethRSieu Attendance at last year’s festival topped 75,000 people, making it New York’s fifth largest cultural event (just behind New York International Auto Show, Tribeca Film Festival, New York City Marathon, and New York Comic Con). The festival presents works covering a wide range of disciplines including drama, comedy, dance, performance art, children's theater (FringeJr), outdoor theater (FringeAlFrecso), spoken word, puppetry, improv, and multimedia.

Dreamplay, photo Veseth R Sieu

Thus far, advance sales are on par with last year. “At only $15 per
ticket, FringeNYC is one of Manhattan’s few remaining bargains,” notes
festival Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy.

Yesterday afternoon, Yeast Nation (a new musical by the Tony Award-winning team behind the FringeNYC-to-Broadway hit Urinetown) became the first show to sell out a performance. This is the earliest  a show has sold out in the 15-year history of the festival. In 2005, Silence! The Musical (which was co-produced by much of the same team behind Yeast Nation) became the first show in FringeNYC history to sell out before the opening day of the festival.

Today, Bella and the Pool Boy sold out its opening performance and several other productions are on track to sell out individual performances including: The Legend of Julie Taymor, Facebook Me, Pearl’s Gone Blue, Smoking Section, Jersey Shoresical, and The Bardy Bunch: The War of the Families Partridge and Brady. Other top sellers thus far are: Parker & Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey to the End of the Rainbow, Whale Song, Sammy Gets Mugged, You’ve Ruined A Perfectly Good Mystery, Destinations, Pawn, and Hush The Musical.

In 1997, New York City became the seventh US city to host a fringe festival, joining Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston, Orlando and San Francisco. In its first 13 years FringeNYC has presented over 2100 performing groups from the U.K., Canada, Poland, Japan, China, Germany, the Czech Republic and across the U.S., prompting Switzerland's national daily, The New Zurich Zeitung, to declare FringeNYC as “the premiere meeting ground for alternative artists.” The festival has also been the launching pad for numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Never Swim Alone, Debbie Does Dallas, Dog Sees God, 21 Dog Years, Krapp 39, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, Silence! The Musical, Matt & Ben, The Irish Curse, 666 and the current Off-Broadway productions of Tales From The Tunnel and Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party and as well as movies (WTC View) and even a TV show (‘da Kink in My Hair). FringeNYC is a production of The Present Company, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy.

FringeNYC shows run 2pm - midnight weekdays and noon - midnight onWelcomeEternity2w_DixieSheridan
weekends. Tickets are: $15 in advance at or
866-468-7619; $18 at the door, subject to availability. Discount
passes for multiple shows ($70 for a Fiver Pass, $120 for a Flex Pass
good for 10 shows, and $500 for an all-you-can-see Lunatic Pass) are
also available. 

                                                                                Welcome Eternity, photo Dixie Sheridan

Press release contact:  Ron Lasko @ 212-505-1700 x. 11,

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December 28, 2010

Mummenschanz at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts of New York University

... Surrealism in motion ...  

Mummenschanz creates a world in which creatures take on forms different from our world but are governed by the same laws of physics as our world.  Performers dressed in fascinating and often beautiful materials create great shimmering shapes that roll, climb and cavort around the stage, as the properties of the materials and their construction drive original means of locomotion and unique negotiations with gravity. 

Mummenschanz looks much as if someone turned on the switch, setting the paintings of Joan Miro and the biomorphic surrealists into motion -- not that any one painting is "quoted," but in spirit, though Miro goes deeper.  This link has a naturalness to it because Miro and others sought to transcend the still boundaries of painting, yearning to express in their art the dimension of time and movement.

It's akin to dance, although in dance we recognize the movements as developments of what we can do, with the thrilling exaggerations training makes possible.  In Mummenschanz, the structure and capacities of the human body are masked in favor of bodies that, through their design, have other movements -- though behind the creative transformations are dark clad performers occasionally glimpsed, and their artistic imaginations.  With the help of sticks and struts and collaborations, the scale is generally larger than human.

In one scene, a huge biomorphic blob you have to love uses its eccentric physical properties to reach the top of a platform.  It gets there, not the way you would but its  way, that we've fast learned to understand.  Our relief in pleasure at its success shows that it's not form that engages our emotions, but valiant struggle.

In addition to these beautifully conceived and performed abstract dramas, there are also vignettes closer to classic mime, where the performers are fully visible but who maintain the theme of malleable transformations.  There's one, for instance, where through a dance of hands and putty, the faces of the two performers mold and remold in response to the give-and-take plays in their strutting rivalry.

Mummenschanz is dedicated to theater without words or music, but theater if fundamentally drama and there's plenty of drama, and laughter, and beauty.  Mummenschanz is a delightful adventure that leaves you smiling.  It expands the mind and imagination.

This Swiss company of performers performs at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in Greenwich Village through January 8th, with post-show talk-backs on some occasions.  For more information about Mummenschanz, and for tickets, click on live link.

Yvonne Korshak

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July 02, 2010

American Ballet Theatre, "All Classical Masters" program, conducted by David LaMarche, at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center

        ... a feast ...

      ... though hard on the male dancers ...

"All-Classical Masters," a program of five ballets and ballet excerpts, is a sheer orgy of loveliness.  The dancing, choreography, design, costumes, lighting bring in one sparkling jewel after another -- all in different tones and colors.

The choices are over-oriented toward the ballerinas, leaving the great male dancers of the American Ballet Theatre who accompany them with not much more to do than the heavy lifting, even in the selected pas de deux.  Nevertheless ... what an evening!

In Allegro Brillante, choreographed by George Balanchine to Tchaikovsky's Third Piano Concerto, starring Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stieffel, the choreography follows the music with concentrated literalness -- one can hear Balanchine drawing his cues from rises and falls, notes and rhythms inTchaikovsky, guiding the dance with a constraint that intensifies the feeling of a tour de force: when it ended, you had the sense that the entire audience had been holding its breath.  The colors are luscious and contrasting vibrant pastels.  The stage seems enveloped in a delicious sheen of lighting and dance.

Things turn darker in "Romeo's Farewell to Juliet"  from Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by Antony Tudor to music of Delius, starring Xiomara Reyes and Gennadi Saveliev.  The spotlit rectangular, rumpled bed on the dim stage anticipates the stone tomb in the crypt -- soft and hard, night an day, life and death are visually crushed together.  Joy and grief share a sharp edge in Juliet's frantic dancing as Romeo pulls away.  The ballet segment seemed too short to fully develop the emotions yet at the same time one didn't want it any different.

Thais Pas de Deux is an exotic fantasy clothed in orange and saffron and gold, choreographed by Frederick Ashton to Massenet's "Meditation," from Thais.  Hee Seo is picture-perfect as the dark and delicate Thais, partnered with exceptional harmony by Sascha Radetsky.  It's exquisite.

In the Pas de Deux from Act I of Manon, choreographed by Kenneth Macmillan to music of Massenet, the poet, while furiously engaged in writing, is seduced from his work by the passionate, impatient desire of his lover, the prostitute Manon.  Again, the segment is all about her --  and when we have Jose Manuel Carreno as the poet!  I really would have liked to see more from him.  But Diana Vishneva's Manon is astonishing.  She's tiny, flexible, liquid -- no bones, it seems, and yet powerful, how is it possible?  And she dances as if hectically possessed -- able to twist herself into knots but nothing is tight, flow is everywhere.

Just to watch a human body at the outer margin of strength and untrammeled limberness is in itself a thrill but Vishneva extracts meaning from her unique ability.  Her speed and flexibility convey all that is tragic in Manon -- socially marginal, non-conforming, and driven to fling herself all the way toward whatever tragedy may take her.

The Dream, choreographed by Frederick Ashton to Mendelssohn's's music, is a full one-act ballet after Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, with the wonderful interplay between the "real" human lovers and the fairy world of the woods, Titania's drugged passion for the donkey-headed Bottom, Puck's wicked playfulness, and Oberon's magisterial kingship of the fairy world.  Mist really rises in this totally as-you-like-it dream -- the dream as it looks, thanks to Shakespeare, in our communal imagination.

Here at last, in this evening, the men come into their own.  Marcelo Gomes as Oberon covers one end of the Metropolitan Opera's vast stage to the other -- and the whole of his magic realm -- with lean mastery.  Julie Kent is pretty as the ditsy -- but it's not really her fault, is it? -- Titania.  Craig Salstein is a vibrant, athletic Puck (though his legs didn't always reach the same positions on the second of his paired leaps).  Good we got to see more of the strength of Gennadi Savaliev (Romeo and Juliet) as the mortal Demetrius.  Isaac Stappas brought out the fascinating incongruity of the human dancer's body with the donkey's head -- shades of Equus -- or rather the other way around.

It's a joy and a privilege -- the best of the best -- to see the American Ballet Theatre's "All-Classical Masters."  For more information about performances and about the other great artists whose work went into this production, click on link. 

Yvonne Korshak

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December 29, 2009

Rasta Thomas' ROCK THE BALLET, starrring The Bad Boys of Dance, at the Joyce Theater

... or even badder? ...

Rock the Ballet  brings together rock music and ballet in a completely natural and satisfying combination -- as in, "so glad you did this!"  The ballet technique is superb, and incorporates movements from hip hop and other contemporary dance, and the music is the best of rock.

Interpreting both, and holding it all together are the outstanding lit backdrops by William Cusick, amalgams of computer design, video and photography that are stunningly beautiful works of art in themselves.  Since these evolve continuously, it's hard to pin them down in memory but the episode with large patches of oranges and yellow with thinning edges, like frayed linen -- sort of Mark Rothko sideways -- lingers. 

Rasta Thomas is a masterful ballet dancer and the most charismatic performer but all the dancers have wonderful -- even irresistible -- moments.  This is a great event to take young people to since the youngest in the audience know the music and love the athleticism of the dance -- along with the older ones!

In Act I:  BEAUTIFUL DAY, the accent is on joy.  It features dances composed to the music of the Black Eyed Peas, U2, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Mathews Band, Coldplay, Journey, as well as Bizet's Carmen sung by Maria Callas and "Ne Me Quitte Pas by Jacques Brel.  The partnering of Rasta Thomas and Adrienne Canterna-Thomas was particularly effective in "Ne Me Quitte Pas" -- the only music of the entire program the young people in my neighborhood didn't know but that didn't spoil their enjoyment of the dance.

ACT II:  ROCK YOU, lets out the stops on vibrant rhythms and big exciting noise -- with big exciting dance -- and the music of Clint Mansell, queen, Prince, and Michael Jackson.

Two small thoughts:  the choreography by Adrienne Canterna-Thomas is able but she could loosen up on her imagination.  More surprising, for a group that calls themselvesThe Bad Boys of Dance, they are on the well-behaved side.  Personally, I'd like to seem them even badder.  The fact is, though, Rock The Ballet left everyone with huge smiles, warm faces and heartbeats raised a pleasant notch.

Rock the Ballet  plays at the Joyce Theater in NYC's Chelsea through Jan 3.

   Yvonne Korshak

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June 25, 2009

Dance -- Keigwin + Company at the Joyce Theater

For their opening night at the Joyce Theater, Keigwin + Company presented four dances.  Natural Selection was the ins and outs of three pairs of dancers in muted colors suggestive of simplicity and nature that didn't add anything to similar modern pas de deux variations, and the dancers sometimes searched for their footing when set down from a lift.  One learned fast to keep ones eyes on Liz Riga, a tall, long legged, extremely flexible and vibrant dancer.

Love Songs, to music by Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, was more varied in terms of partnering and with more traces of street dancing, but tended to repeat its good "bits."  The program notes that Liz Riga "was named one of the top 20 dancers of 2008 by Dance Magazine for her 'over the top raunchy/funny femme fatal' performance of Larry Keigwin's Love Songs."  She's great, but that's an overstatement of the role.

Triptych was a world premier but brought nothing new.  The last, Bolero NYC, had an interesting possibility:  large numbers of people of all sizes, shapes and ages promenading dance-like in an open urban area -- like Washington Square Park, many of the dancers come from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts near there.  Once dancer -- yes, Liz Riga -- leads a dog.  There's a steady-ahead bicyclist.  Everybody wears black and red miscellaneous costumes from "Our Closets."  There are crowd pleasers:  an extremely tall ectomorphic male parading slowly in a tiny red bikini;  an overweight woman in a bright red satin dress wiggling to "Bolero," and in fact, the ballet panders to laughs and sentimentality. A tiny tot of a girl is left too long alone on the stage with an inflated balloon;  and, as if Ravel's "Bolero" wasn't enough, at the end there's a segue to "Celebration." 

The dancing ranged from competent to, in one case, tops -- the women were generally finer dancers than the men -- but all in all the choreography lacked imaginative vigor.

Keigwin + Company dances at the Joyce Theater -- usually a GREAT venue for dance -- in NYC's Chelsea district June 23-27.

                                                                            Yvonne Korshak

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May 24, 2009

American Ballet Theatre -- The Balanchine-Tchaikovsky Spectacular

                            ... George Balanchine and Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky ...

This was a magnificent evening of joyous music and consummate ballet, seen Friday, May 22.  The four ballets moved like four symphonic movements.

The uncluttered, glowing color behind the dancers is all the setting one wants or needs to enjoy the dazzling use of the human body -- and the ABT's glamorous, sensuous costumes that bring out its beauty.  Think jewels splashed against exotic tie-dyed silk. 

   Here they are:

  Allegro Brillante is like a classical pas de deux but with Balanchine's purity -- beyond narrative -- although eroticism is its own story.  From his first moment on stage, Ethan Stiefel was thrilling and charming, he just has it in him since Gillian Murphy, perfect in technique, seemed emotionally disengaged.  The choreography is interesting in the way it follows the music.  For example, if the music flutters, alternate lines of dancers alternately go up and down, fluttering with it.

  Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux:  Well -- there are those who dwell on a more rarefied plane but -- this above all is what most people come to the ballet for!  A classical pas de deux in the style of Petipa, it's loaded with the narrative of desire, and astonishingly danced by the big, strong Marcelo Gomes -- those leaps! -- and the delicate and poignant Paloma Herrera.  The music was originally written for Act III of Swan Lake, according to the program note, but wasn't used for reasons of history, was lost, and later discovered -- a good reason for Balanchine's choice of classical choreography.

  Mozartina is the andante -- the costumes are black, lacey and 18th Century.  Suspended chandeliers speak ancien regime and the sequence of dance styles, a prayer, a gig, a minuet, a pas de deux, and a finale are like a courtly entertainment.  Ballet students, little girls not yet on pointes, dance in the ensemble.  Principal Dancer Veronika Part was strong and precise but, as in Allegro Brillante, the male Principal Maxim Beloserkovsky had more fire, and his footwork in the air is breathtaking.

  Theme and Variations is a big piece with lots of dancers, just right for a finale.  It was beautifully danced and costumed but the choreography is distracting.  David Hallberg was superb in his solos but overworked in partnering Michele Wiles.  As in Allegro Brillante the choreography  often followed the music only here, the musical "ups" required Hallberg to lift Wiles again and again, to the point where the repetition seemed unimaginative and lacked balletic ease -- at her final leap into his arms he looked shocked, I had a close view from the second row and hoped he could hold on.  He did.  Whew!

An evening of ballets by a single composer and choreographer is a wonderful idea -- a free flowing unity in diversity.  This is a great season for The American Ballet Theatre.  Shortly they will be dancing their All-Prokofiev Celebration, including a world premier, On the Dnieper.  The American Ballet Theatre is performing at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NYC.

                                                                                                            Yvonne Korshak

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January 19, 2009

Lets Talk Off-Broadway -- Coppelia, The New York City Ballet, at Lincoln Center, Spring 2009

The great classical ballets are founded on great stories.  Coppelia is true to form, and enriched with comedy, and some of the most heart lifting music ever written for ballet by Leo Delibes -- the "oh here's where that comes from" kind of music! 

The setting is an idyllic central European village during festival time, rendered with a watercolor rich background, sketchy enough to give breath to imagination.  Frantz loves two "women, " Swanilda (swanny word play on Wagner and Swan Lake) who returns his love, and Coppelia, a full-sized animated doll who sits on a high porch in the home of Dr. Coppelius, her inventor-maker, reading a book (upside down as we find out). 

In Act II, Frantz, Swanilda and her friends find their way into Dr. Coppelius' workshop where Swanilda disguises herself as the automaton, the ruse revealing to Frantz (once he wakes up from Coppelius' potion) that Coppelia does not exist -- not as a real woman -- and the lovers are reconciled.  Dr. Coppelius, danced by  Adam Hendrickson, is left holding the limp form of a rag doll. 

Thus, with the lovers united, the story thins after Act II but Act III is so filled with gorgeous dancing, including the ecstatic pas de deux between Frantz and Swanilda, that one hardly notices.

The idyllic setting and implausible persuasiveness of the wind up doll might make Coppelia in outline seem a childish story but it isn't.  All major, and mature, emotions come into play, arrowing upward for Frantz and Swanilda, with Dr. Coppelius a tragic counterpoint.  Flirtation, desire, love, betrayal, jealousy, plans that succeed, plans that go awry, joy and despair:  the issues are fundamental, conveyed with the full depth and breadth of emotion through dance. 

Tiler Peck danced the tour de force role of Swanilda that calls on the ballerina to perform full classical ballet and, in Act II, to dance with the mechanical motions of the pretend wind up doll, and even semi-wind up as the ruse begins to deteriorate.  The victory of the real woman over the "doll" in her lover's affections is a satisfying moment (though we're never really worried about her) -- and a notably feminist theme and outcome for a ballet completed in 1884.  For perspective, Henrik Ibsens' A Doll's House was first performed in 1879.

Andrew Veyette was electrifying as Frantz:  he has the strength and big leaps of the great male dancers with an individualizing loose limbed flexibility.  The program notes call Frantz a "country bumpkin" but it's hard to connect the word "bumpkin" with that kind of dancing -- although it's true, he was taken in by that "doll" -- at first.

A classical ballet like Coppelia compells one to compare the physical characteristics of men and women that fuel the soaring culminations of desire.  Voyeurism, yes!  One contrasts constantly the shape of the female torso with the male, the legs, the arms, the neck, the faces as the dancers perform the full range of movements.  These ballets let us have our cake and eat it, too.  The piper is paid by the discipline of the forms and the years of hard work the dancers have invested in their skill.  These cast a permissive veil over sheer elemental eroticism. 

                                                                                                       Yvonne Korshak

next:  Ten Blocks on the Camino Real by Tennessee Williams, Target Margin Theatre

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