Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The End of the World as We Know It: Cedar Lake at the Joyce (Saturday, May 19, 2012 evening)

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is one of my favorite companies out there, with some of the most athletic-yet-graceful dancers I have ever seen and a multicultural ensemble that always strikes me as a microcosm of humanity. Usually boundary-pushing, neither of the two programs presented at the Joyce this May offered the same exceptional alternating savagery, solemnity and whimsy of the past programs I've seen from Cedar Lake, but the wonderful Cedar Lake dancers, and the always stellar Cedar Lake artistic design team, still managed to deliver some moments not soon to be forgotten.  Program A, which I saw the evening of Saturday, May 19th, skipped the whimsy entirely and went straight for the solemnity.  It seemed as though someone wanted to warn the audience of something - but I wasn't sure what.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bridesmaids (ABT La Bayadere, May 23, 2012)

Thanks to a stroke of luck and no will to resist the desire to see Stella Abrera's only Gamzatti this season (and Jeff Golladay's last soloist role on the Met stage), I impulsively raced up to Lincoln Center, hit the box office with 7 minutes to spare and settled myself into a fabulous center orchestra seat for American Ballet Theatre's La Bayadere.  Never one of my favorites, La Bayadere is lighter on plot than most and doesn't boast the richest of scores.  As a result, I've never seen a full principal cast bring it entirely to life, and this viewing was no exception.  It did, however, have its moments.  And most of those were delivered by Stella Abrera.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A little love letter to the ballet.

For those of use who love ballet, it can be so hard to understand why the rest of the world doesn't see what we see, can't feel what we feel.   How do most people not experience the same overpowering physical exhilaration we feel when merely sitting and watching, yes watching, a ballet dancer living their dream on stage?  The freedom when technique meets ability meets passion in just one human being on the stage ripples out into the audience and fills every muscle, every cell in my body with energy and implausible possibility.  

Perhaps this what other people feel when watching athletes like Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Nastia Liukin or Dara Torres.  But while I root for these athletes and love to watch them strive, the feeling I get as a spectator is so different than watching ballet.  I feel nerves and hopes for these athletes, I feel the stress of pretending my will as a spectator can help them win, but still I don't feel their work with them.  But when I watch Marcelo Gomes in an abstract contemporary piece (or almost anything really), or Alessandra Ferri as Manon, or Julie Kent's sheer strength during the endless, countless overhead lifts in Lady of the Camellias, or Ethan Stiefel as Albrecht in Giselle, or Simone Messmer in this November's Volpi pas de deux, or Stella Abrera in Meadow or as Emilia in Othello, or Ulyana Lopatkina as Giselle, or Michael Trusnovec from Paul Taylor Dance, or so many more....I can't explain how but I think I get just a little bit of what they must be feeling while flying or turning, while forcing extreme tension into their limbs to make the tiniest moves important, while living so inside the music that it appears to be emanating out of their bodies rather than the orchestra pit, while letting everything go, to make the biggest leaps soar.