Ardani Artists Management Presents:
And Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre
Valery Gergiev, Artistic & General Director
Mikhail Agrest, Conductor
Media: Helene Davis Public Relations
Steptext, Approximate Sonata
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude
In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 16, 2008
Steptext: Music by J.S. Bach (“Partita No. 2 BWV1004 in D minor, Chaconne”, Performed by Nathan Milstein), Choreography by William Forsythe, Stage, lighting, and costumes by William Forsythe, Assistant Choreographer: Aaron Sean Watkin, Coaches: Yuri Fateyev, Alexei Miroshnichenko.
Approximate Sonata: Music by Thom Willems, tricky: Pumpkin, Choreography by William Forsythe, Staging and lighting by William Forsythe, Costumes by Stephen Galloway, Assistant Choreographer: Noah D. Gelber, Coaches: Elvira Tarasova, Sergey Berezhnoy.
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude: Music by Franz Schubert (“Symphony No. 9 in C major”, Final), Choreography by William Forsythe, Staging and lighting by William Forsythe, Costumes by Stephen Galloway, Assistant Choreographer: Noah D. Gelber, Coaches: Elvira Tarasova, Sergey Berezhnoy.
In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated: Music by Thom Willems in collaboration with Leslie Stuck, Staging, lighting and costumes by William Forsythe, Assistant Choreographer: Kathryn Bennets, Coaches: Yuri Fatayev, Alexei Miroshnichenko.
William Forsythe was the featured choreographer in this program, represented by four works. I did not especially like any of them. They were grossly atonal, stiff, and, I felt, wasted a valuable opportunity to showcase a contemporary choreographer with more popular appeal, such as Christopher Wheeldon, Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, or any of a dozen that come to mind. Fortunately the score was the Bach “Chaconne” from Partita No. 2, but used with dizzying effect. The 1985 Steptext opened with Ekaterina Kondaurova in a sleeveless red unitard, with her male partners, Anton Pimonov, Mikhail Lobukhin, and Alexander Sergeev, in black. The music and lighting are turned on and off intermittently in a most annoying and frustrating fashion.
The 1996 Approximate Sonata used an electronic score by Thom Willems, tricky: “Pumpkin”, whatever that means. It was dreadfully loud and lacked balletic relevance, it seemed to this viewer. The dancers seemed forced into choreography quite unlike their classical training. One male dancer makes a face and slowly walks to what seemed a “prepared” piano. Four couples are featured, with men in purple shirts and blue pants, and the mood is like a casual rehearsal. Couples take turns and a few solos emerge, with forgettable results. Forsythe’s 1996 work, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, uses the Finale of Schubert’s Ninth Symphony to incongruously stiff, edgy effect. Two males and three females, with men in Stephen Galloway’s backless red unitards, seem to invoke the genre of ballet without actually dancing ballet.
The 1987 In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated brought Thoms Willems’ music back, to my horror, and I noticed scores of Russian attendees rushing for the doors. Apparently they suffered from the same cognitive dissonance that afflicted me throughout the evening. For the record, nine dancers seemed to be rehearsing again, and I am sure Forsythe had a story theme in mind, although it was no apparent. Various forms of choreography were excerpted to boring exhaustion. However, the Kirov dancers were exemplary throughout the evening, as always. After tonight’s performances, I would probably avoid future renditions of Forsythe’s works. I look forward to the Balanchine evening with eager excitement.
Ksenia Dubrovina and Maxim Zyuzin in "Approximate Sonata"
Courtesy of Mariinsky Theatre
Irina Golub and Maxim Zyuzin
in "The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude"
Courtesy of Mariinsky Theatre
Diana Vishneva and Maxim Khrebtov
in "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated"
Courtesy of Vladimir Lupovsky and Mariinsky Theatre