Thursday, June 8, 2017

New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center

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This was the third time that I have seen the New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center. I like that the show contains several different pieces, and the selection is quite varied (although there is always some homage to George Balanchine). Here's what they performed:

Square Dance

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This dance shows the similarities between ballet and square dancing. The dancers moved in circles and lines, just like at a country square dance. The program notes said that originally there was an actual caller, but that is no longer part of the dance. I liked the grace of this dance, and the simple costumes were very true to the art of ballet.

Here's a short video about it:


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Here's a (somewhat shoddy) video of the piece (~12 minutes long):

This was my least favorite piece of the performance. The music was written by Louis Moreau Gottschalk from New Orleans, but the entire work has an Italian feel about it. The costumes look dated; Erica Pereira had to wear a stupid doily on her head with pigtails, and Spartak Hoxha looked like a pirate. He really outshown her, with his fun facial expressions and his larger (and higher quality) tambourine (don't even get me started on my hate for props in ballet...). I felt bad that the male dancer was getting a greater applause than the ballerina! The whole dance was very silly and childish. NOT what I wanted to see at the ballet.

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There was almost nothing I liked about this piece. The program notes say the music is from a Russian film about Jewish gangsters in Odessa after the Russian Revolution, so I understand why the dance is so dark. But I like ballet (and actually most kinds of dance) to be happy!

My list of dislikes goes on. The music, written by Leonid Desyantnikov, was a little spastic, ranging from creepy violins to joyful brass sounds. I also did not enjoy the choreography by Alexei Ratmansky. Many parts seemed to be too similar to sexual assault: the male dancers would touch and grab female dancers, whose characters clearly did not want to be touched; one part almost reminded me of a gang-bang. On top of all this, the costumes were horrible! The women wore these ugly floral dresses that were completely pleated, and then men wore similar shirts with black pants (not even tights). The costume designer Keso Dekker has designed many outfits for many different ballet companies, but I just wasn't feeling this one.

Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

This piece is choreographed by Justin Peck, who is a dancer and choreographer for the New York City Ballet. This ballet actually won the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production in 2015, so that's cool. The piece is designed to be in four parts, but I'm not sure I really noticed the differences between each. They all seem very athletic, and feel more rugby than rodeo. The main thing that makes this piece unique is that there are 15 male dancers and only one ballerina; ballet is known for focusing on female dancers. I loved how everyone was smiling: the dancers looked like they were having fun and truly enjoying themselves! The performance I saw featured Peck and Tiler Peck as the soloists; it should be noted that they are NOT married and are NOT related, it's just a coincidence.

Here's a video for part of it:

Because this is such a varied program, another show could be completely different. I was disappointed to learn that I wasn't going to see American Rhapsody, which is choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, one of my favorite choreographers. I am tempted to see them perform again on Saturday just to see the rest of the program that I missed!

*Click here and here for my blog posts on their past performances in D.C.

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