Wayne McGregor|Random Dance: FAR
Pontus Lidberg Dance: This Was Written on Water
Aakash Odedra Company: Nritta
The Sarasota Ballet: Les Patineurs
City Center; New York, NY; October 19, 2014 (m)
This is the eleventh season of Fall for Dance, a short season featuring different kinds of dance artist on the same program at City Center. With the cost of a ticket only $15 (originally it was only $10), peoples of all ages and income brackets can be introduced to new kinds of dance – or simply enjoy watching familiar companies and works.
‘FAR’ stands for “Flesh in the Age of Reason”, a book about the Enlightenment written by historian Roy Porter. The opening pas de deux of Wayne McGregor’s piece for his Random Dancer is set to music by Vivaldi. It is slight but pretty and the only part of ‘FAR’ that I like. The rest of the work is set to electronic music by Ben Frost that sounds like a lot of squealing and wailing. I’m not really sure whether the noise comes from humans or animals.
The dance consists of a lot of disjointed repetitive movements – like running or jogging or kicking out their leg while standing up or kicking out their leg while lying flat. There is a second pas de deux at the end of the piece but it was almost impossible to focus on the dancers due to the violently loud static of the electronic music. All I was thinking was ‘when will it end so I can get some aspirin for my splitting headache.’
Pontus Lidberg’s “This Was Written on Water” is a Fall for Dance commissioned pas de deux to music by Stefan Levin, inspired by a series of conversations with American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Isabella Boylston, and is part of ‘Written on Water’, a forthcoming film by the choreographer. On stage, Boylston is joined by fellow ABT Principal James Whiteside for a gorgeous pas de deux rich with innovative and inventive lifts. There is a meltingly yearning quality to the piece and the couple share wonderful chemistry. The music sets the mood for this painful goodbye between two lovers and is splendidly performed live by two violinists and a cellist. I look forward to seeing Lidberg’s film when it is released.
“Nritta” is a solo by fast-rising British dancer-choreographer Aakash Odera. Nritta is a kathak variation, kathak being one of the major classical dances of India. Odera impressed with his whirling speed and especially the percussive power of his bare feet.
The afternoon ended on the highest of notes with Frederick Ashton’s masterpiece “Les Patineurs”, performed by The Sarasota Ballet. It is a ballet about the delights and downfalls of ice skating. The scenery and costumes by William Chappell make me feel like I’ve stepped inside a Currier and Ives painting. The score by Giacomo Meyerbeer exactly fits Ashton’s brilliant choreography, which amazingly makes the dancers look like they are really skating.
I have always thought that New York is the ballet capital of the world but after seeing this, I wish I lived in Sarasota, Florida. I can’t think of the last time I saw a ballet so perfectly performed by the entire cast, all of whom seemed to be having the time of their lives. Some performers, however, do deserve special recognition. As the White Couple, Danielle Brown and Jamie Carter showed off Ashton’s innovative lifts. Katie Honea and Nicole Padilla were technical marvels as the Blue Girls, Honea throwing off fouettés with ease, while Padilla whirled across the stage at a breakneck pace.
Then there is the Blue Boy, Logan Learned, constantly tossing off leaps, flips and cartwheels. He made these displays of virtuosity look effortless. His happy go lucky nature and the joy he brought to his dancing put a big smile on my face. At the very end of the ballet he was spinning faster than the speed of light as the curtain came down. When it went up for the curtain call, he was still there, spinning even faster. Maybe I can convince my husband to spend our next vacation in Sarasota, so I can see more performances by this astounding ballet company.