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Fall for Dance: Ballet West, Dendy DanceTheater, New York City Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group
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Fall for Dance: Ballet West, Dendy DanceTheater, New York City Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program IV

Ballet West
www.balletwest.org

Dendy DanceTheater
www.markdendycompany.com

New York City Ballet
www.nycb.org

Mark Morris Dance Group
www.markmorrisdancegroup.org

At New York City Center
www.nycitycenter.org

Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Mark Litvin, Sr. VP & Managing Director
Ellen Dennis, Producer
Wendy Perron, Artistic Director
Clifton Taylor, Festival Lighting Director
Leon Rothenberg, Festival Sound Director
Press: Helene Davis Public Relations


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 30, 2009


Ballet West
Les Biches (1924): Choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, Music by Francis Poulenc, Staged by Howard L. Sayette, Coached by Georgina Parkinson, Costumes and Scenery by Sandra Woodall, Original Designs by Marie Laurencin, Lighting by Michael Andrew Currey, Production and Stage Manager: Michael Andrew Currey, Performed by Kate Crews, Rex Tilton, Thomas Mattingly, Owen Gaj, Romi Beppu, Arolyn Williams, Victoria Lock, and an Ensemble of Women.


This was my first experience with Nijinska’s Les Biches, and what a delicious delight. This was a ballet I did not want to end. In contrast to so many full-length and one-act ballets in which men pursue and seduce women, only to leave them at the lake or peasant square, when a new, edgier vision enters, Les Biches is about The Hostess (Kate Crews), an edgy female predator who seduces and abandons pretty young males. Nowadays they might call her a “cougar”. Diaghilev asked Nijinska to choreograph this ballet in the early 1920’s as a mood setter, rather than an unfolding story, and Nijinska sets it at an elegant, upscale beach house.

Three athletes (Rex Tilton, Thomas Mattingly, Owen Gaj) catch the hostess’ eye, along with the eyes of Two Girls and The Women. The couch takes on new meaning, as characters slouch, gaze, and create psychic, erotically charged mating rituals, dressed in retro, sumptuous clothing by Sandra Woodall, who also created the Dufy-like, beach house scenery (costumes and sets originally conceived in the 20’s by Marie Laurencin). Romi Beppu, as The Page Boy, danced with bisexual flair, a pretty boy who knows he’s stunning. Two Girls, Arolyn Williams and Victoria Lock, could not have been more charming and coy, and their predatory prowess did not reduce their technical prowess, as they danced with rapidly mesmerizing footwork and haughty, taut torsos. The Women, an ensemble of twelve, danced fully in character with sassy sophistication. Monte Carlo, here I come.


Dendy DanceTheater
Afternoon of the Faunes (from “Dream Analysis”) (1996): Choreography by Mark Dendy, Music by Claude Debussy, Costumes by Liz Prince, Lighting by David Ferri, Performed by Lonnie Poupard, Jr. and Alex Dean Speedie.


In contrast to the first work, Dendy DanceTheater’s Afternoon of the Faunes, a quasi-camp take on Nijinsky’s 1912 Afternoon of a Faun, was uninspired and wearisome. Two men, Lonnie Poupard, Jr. and Alex Dean Speedie, perform bare-chested and barefoot in gold knee-high tights, trying to destroy all that is beautiful in Debussy’s rapturous score. They jog incessantly, rapidly, and meaninglessly in place, going nowhere, literally and figuratively. This work had no place on such an esteemed program, and for such an esteemed festival.


New York City Ballet
Four Bagatelles (1974): Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Costumes by Florence Klotz, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia.


Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia, of New York City Ballet, were glowing in their exceptional performance of Robbins’ Four Bagatelles. Both dancers took solos amidst the lyrical pas de deux, and Nancy McDill accompanied on the onstage piano. Live music always makes a difference, and one piano can bring an event closer to the audience, which it and these three artists did with aplomb. Robbins’ choreographic interpretation of Beethoven’s Four Bagatelles is quintessential class, and Ms. Peck and Mr. Garcia met the challenge with studied virtuosity. Beethoven’s inventions were realized with verve and vivacity, as both dancers were light on foot, balanced, and poised. New York City Ballet holds high standards for its company, and Ms. Peck and Mr. Garcia, both soloists, are artists to watch.


Mark Morris Dance Group
Grand Duo (1993): Choreography by Mark Morris, Music: Lou Harrison’s Grand Duo for Violin and Piano, Staged by Matthew Rose, Costumes by Susan Ruddie, Wardrobe Supervisor: Katherine M. Patterson, Lighting by Michael Chybowski, Lighting Supervisor: Keri Thibodeau, Technical Director: Johan Henckens, Sound Supervisor: Jim Abdou, Musicians: Jesse Mills on Violin, Colin Fowler on Piano, Performed by the Company.


With piano and violin accompaniment, the Mark Morris Dance Group seized City Center with vitality and panache. With tight fists, one arm up-stretched, most of the dancers run in circles in silky, unisex costumes, like sleeveless, short dresses, Roman-like in their folds. Dancers are barefoot, focused, and tense, with an occasional male dancer bare-chested in briefs, leaping mid-air in visual muscularity, arms forward and backward, reaching with every sinew. His female partner stretches mid-air in the opposite direction, like two helicopters rising. Mr. Morris’ works are always riveting and zealous, and Grand Duo did not disappoint.



Ballet West
in "Les Biches"
Courtesy of Ryan Galbraith




Ballet West
in "Les Biches"
Courtesy of Ryan Galbraith




Dendy DanceTheater
in "Afternoon of the Faunes"
Courtesy of Michael Wakefield




Dendy DanceTheater
in "Afternoon of the Faunes"
Courtesy of Michael Wakefield




Mark Morris Dance Group
in "Grand Duo"
Courtesy of Marc Royce




Mark Morris Dance Group
in "Grand Duo"
Courtesy of Marc Royce




For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net