Monday, April 13, 2015

The New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center

This past weekend I took a friend to the Kennedy Center to see the ballet. She had never been to the ballet before, so I thought I would give her the chance to get some culture. We saw The New York City Ballet perform several different dances from 21st century choreographers. While I do prefer classic ballets like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, I was willing to try something new. There were four different pieces during this performance (with two intermissions, leading to a three hour show!), so I'll review them in order.

1. Symphonic Dances

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This was the most similar to a classical ballet out of all the pieces. I enjoyed the Rachmaninoff music, and the costumes were just what you'd expect at the ballet (well, other than tutus). Teresa Reichlen and Zachary Catazaro played the lead roles, and they were phenomenal. Of course the other dancers were very good, but as soon as these two were on stage (especially her), their talent was obviously far above the rest. They danced beautifully together, and when he carried her offstage in as she was standing on his chest (don't ask me how they do that!) it took my breath away!

2. Pictures at an Exhibition

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This piece opened up with a background of colorful circles like those of Wassily Kandinsky. This was the newest piece (it premiered last October), and was the most modern. It was modern ballet as opposed to modern dance (I think there's a difference...?), so I did enjoy it more than I did, say, Pilobolus. There were bits of modern dance that I didn't care for, like stomping, rolling on the floor, and flailing their arms (modern dances seems inherently not graceful), but in general I liked the piece, especially the choreography that went with the music that was soothing and pleasant (as opposed to when the pianist was slamming on the bass keys making noise as opposed to music). I didn't really care for the costumes, I will say. Ballet dancers have incredible bodies, and they should have the chance to show them off! But the female dancers wore mostly nude-colored shift dresses with absolutely no shape (with matching grannie-panties underneath), and the men's outfits weren't much better. Ballet is a visual art form, so I need to like what I see! Throw on some bejeweled tutus!

But I do think it is an interesting idea to pair dance with art in this way. I think this could have even been better if, for each movement, there had been a different artist's work in the background, like Monet, Andy Warhol, etc. Maybe that sort of thing already exists and I just haven't seen it yet!

3. This Bitter Earth

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This was the shortest piece, which is unfortunate because it was so beautiful! There were only the two dancers on stage, which made this dance very sensual. The music was incredibly sad (click the video below to hear the song), but the choreography matched perfectly with the song, and I didn't want the dance to end! Tiler Peck and Craig Hall were amazing!

4. Everywhere We Go

Image found here:
Image found here:
This piece had so much going on! There was so much to look at! There was a cool geometric pattern in the background that would change for each musical movement, and that in itself was mesmerizing! There were some homoerotic parts in the first movement for sure, when only male dancers were on stage, but then the ballerinas joined in soon afterward. The costumes made me think of the military (the ballerinas certainly looked like sailors!), and the snare drum added to the effect. I was wondering why some of the female dancers wore scoop neck shirts (like in the photos above), while others wore V-neck, racerback tanks; I couldn't determine if there was a real reason for this. I thought they all did a fantastic job, but since there were so many details and so many musical movements, I would love to see this dance again and really take it all in (and maybe not at 10 o'clock at night...).

I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this performance. I thought all of the dances portrayed feats of strength: the male dancers did so much with their partners, like throwing, catching, carrying, etc.! I was very impressed by that. And I liked that all the dances put an emphasis on dancers of both sexes; the classic ballets I mentioned before really do put more attention on the prima ballerina, and the male dancer is mainly there to show her off. That was not the case here! Bravo!

My one complaint would be the number of curtain calls during this performance (and not just because there were four pieces). After every single piece, we could 1. clap when the stage went dark and the curtain went down 2. clap as the curtain rose 3. clap as the curtain went down and rose again 4. clap when the dancers slipped through the curtain to take a bow in front of it and 5. clap when the dancers came out AGAIN in front of the curtain for the last time. So multiply that routine four times; I don't know how many total minutes of clapping that is, but it was A LOT. We get it: you're talented people. But I can't think of any dancers or performances that deserve THAT much applause. Eat some [low-calorie] humble pie, and just dance!

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