All Robbins at New York City Ballet

New York City Ballet in Jerome Robbins' "The Concert", photo by Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet in Jerome Robbins’ “The Concert”, photo by Paul Kolnik

Though I had seen all three works on New York City Ballet’s Jerome Robbins program – Glass Pieces, Opus 19/The Dreamer, and The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody) – several times in the past, I was eager to see them side by side. Each is from a different decade – the 1950s to the 1980s – and depicts strikingly different moods. All three ballets remain timeless, and with a debut from principal dancer Sterling Hyltin last Saturday afternoon, the performance did not disappoint.

Glass Pieces (1983), with repetitive, propulsive music by Philip Glass, captures the energy of a metropolis. A large ensemble walks briskly in myriad directions against a backdrop that looks like graph paper. Three couples – in green, yellow, and red, like traffic lights – emerge from the hustle in commanding jumps that often end with their arms lifting overhead. In the second section, a line of women in silhouette bobs gracefully to the sound of slow, hypnotic strings. Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar soar across the stage as a powerful presence. Krohn’s waif-like grace contrasts with Ramasar’s strength, and together they were a mesmerizing duo as they shifted through geometric shapes and extensions.

New York City Ballet in Jerome Robbins' "Glass Pieces", photo by Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet in Jerome Robbins’ “Glass Pieces”, photo by Paul Kolnik

Krohn’s role is one that Wendy Whelan (who is retiring this fall, sadly) has performed marvelously for years. Whelan is also striking in Opus 19/The Dreamer (1979), in which Sterling Hyltin made her debut at this performance. Alongside Gonzalo Garcia in the title role, she looked relaxed and mature. Set to Prokofiev’s frenetic Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, the dreamer floats through an ephemeral landscape of dreams and nightmares, interacting with an ethereal creature who always seems just beyond his grasp. Hyltin is at once mysterious and commanding, emerging out of a sea of dancers (who perhaps portray other fleeting thoughts of the dreamer) with the wildness of a dream that cannot be controlled.

Maria Kowroski and New York City Ballet in "The Concert", photo by Paul Kolnik

Maria Kowroski and New York City Ballet in “The Concert”, photo by Paul Kolnik

The Concert (1956) takes a more comical approach to the subject of dreaming. Specifically, it focuses on the quirky personalities that attend a live concert (featuring music by Chopin) and the ways in which they get swept up in the music. Maria Kowroski takes a seat right next to the live pianist (the hilarious Elaine Chelton) and proceeds to hug the piano in appreciation. Two women are hushed after whispering and noisily opening a candy wrapper, while another is desperate to get her annoyed husband to pay attention. An ensemble performs a hilariously bad waltz. And later, everyone seems to momentarily bond as they lift their umbrellas and walk briskly through the rain.

This image is reminiscent of the opening one in Glass Pieces, and yet the two have such distinct moods and energy. All three works highlight Robbins’ knack for portraying human experiences in varied, powerful, and accessible ways. Whether it’s a bustling street, an elusive dream, or a lively concert, it’s easy to imagine yourself right there.

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Dance/NYC Town Hall: Meet the Choreographers

On May 12th at 6pm, Dance/NYC will be hosting a free Town Hall discussion with three emerging NYC choreographers: Kyle Abraham, Brian Brooks, and Andrea Miller. They’ll discuss the challenges of pursuing a career in choreography, along with the artistic and financial obstacles of building a dance company. The event will be held at Gallim’s studio – 520 Clinton Ave in Brooklyn. RSVP here.

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Dancing is Talking, Talking is Dancing

On Sunday, May 4 at 2pm, MoMA PS1 will present Dancing is Talking, Talking is Dancing: Conversations on Contemporary Choreography. The event will take place at MoMA PS1 at 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City. Click here for details and to purchase $10 tickets.

Image: Douglas Dunn, 1975, courtesy of Douglas Dunn

Image: Douglas Dunn, 1975, courtesy of Douglas Dunn


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Twyla Tharp Appointed Distinguished Guest Artist at Barnard College

Beginning this fall, choreographer Twyla Tharp (pictured at left) will be the distinguished guest artist at Barnard College, her alma mater. Tharp will be teaching master classes and leading workshops, as well as lecturing and working on projects between dance and other disciplines. 

In the press release, Barnard Dance Department co-chair Katie Glasner said, “Twyla’s work motivated my move to New York City as a young dancer, and I have no doubt that she will similarly motivate the next generation of developing artists through her work as we move into the 21st century.” 

Barnard students are incredibly lucky that Tharp will be sharing her talents with them through spring of 2015. She said, “I am pleased to return to campus, and I look forward to a year of exploration and collaboration with Barnard’s bright and talented students and faculty.”

Before arriving on campus this fall, Tharp will be at Barnard this Saturday at 4:30pm, leading a lecture-demonstration of her work Treefrog in Stonehenge. RSVP here. Barnard and Columbia students will be performing in the NY premiere of the work, along with pieces by Robert La Fosse and Andrea Miller, in this weekend’s Barnard/Columbia Dances at Miller Theatre.

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Seoul Counterpoint

I’m bummed that I missed the US premiere of Seoul Counterpoint at La MaMa a few weeks ago, but it’s still worth checking out the trailer below.

Seoul Counterpoint, by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid) was presented by La MaMa in association with CultureHub, its groundbreaking art-and-technology studio. The multimedia concert, which DJ Spooky developed while in residence at longtime La MaMa partner the Seoul Institute of the Arts, juxtaposes the diverse landscapes, histories and sonic cultures of Seoul and New York, and features artists in both cities performing together in real time. 


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