Midsummer Dance Card: Tradition Defined

  A delightful part of ballet history was at the Joyce July 7-14. The Dance is an art because it demands vocation, knowledge, and ability. It is a fine art because it strives for an ideal, not only in plastic but also in lyrical respect. The beauty to which the Dance ought to aspire is not dependent upon taste or pleasure, but is founded on the immutable laws of nature. Dancer/Choreographer August Bournonville (1805-1879) Let's start with the finale.  Ida Praetorius and Ulrik Birkkjaer, who danced so beautifully earlier in the evening, rejoin their colleagues.  They are the first of several couples performing tarantellas with stunning degrees

Final Performances of Megan Monaghan Rivas’s ‘Three Musketeers: 1941’ This Weekend!

All for One (left to right): Christina Liang, Ashley Bufkin, Essence Stiggers, Kate Margalite, & Ella Dershowitz. © ClintonBPhotography

    Even if King Arthur didn't return to the aid of Great Britain during World War II, other heroes like Wonder Woman, Captain America, Sherlock Holmes and The Scarlet Pimpernel aided the Allies.  Now they are joined by Megan Monaghan Rivas's Three Musketeers: 1941 at the Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres.  June  27-30 are Rivas's likable re-imagination's final performances.  Hopefully her smart update will find audiences beyond NYC. Commissioned for the Women in Theatre (WIT) Festival, the four loyal guards are now dedicated female Resistance fighters.  The time transition is so smooth that there's no need to be familiar with the 1844

Celebrations Two Legends Remembered During PRIDE Month

Lisa Lyon by Robert Mapplethorpe. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

It's been 30 years since photographer  Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) and choreographer Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) died from AIDS.  The June-long celebration of civil rights and respect is also a reminder that while there are now ways of controlling the disease, there remains no cure. Two recent performances were timely reminders that both left indelible marks on art and society.   Triptych (Eyes of One on Another).  New York premiere. BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, June 6-8, 2019. In 1989 when the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. caved to pressure from politicians and the Religious Right and cancelled the travelling Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment exhibit, protesters aimed a high-power scenic projector and

NY Philharmonic Ends Its Season with David Lang’s ‘prisoner of the state’

Composer David Lang. Photo: Peter Serling

    The New York Philharmonic  began the 2018-2019 season in light and ended in darkness with the world premiere of David Lang's opera prisoner of the state. The NYP commission, conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden, performed June 6-8 as part of the orchestra's Music of Conscience series, explored the long tendrils of totalitarianism - and an opera born out of hate is brilliant. prisoner of the state is a meditation on Beethoven's only opera Fidelio (1805), whose titled character infiltrates where her wrongfully incarcerated husband is held and saves him from execution.  Written during the Napoleonic wars, Beethoven never hid his passion for freedom.  Lang removes

A Positive Russian Influence: Ballet

Scene from Harlequinade. Photo: Erin Baiano.

As the Romanovs's bewilderingly indifference to the political and socioeconomic upheavals leading to the Russian Revolution worsened, ballet at home and abroad flourished.  French-born Marius Petipa (1818–1910) was Chief Choreographer of Saint Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater where he set the premieres of Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker among others.  Artists dissatisfied with his autocratic yet groundbreaking vision joined impresario Serge Diaghilev in his Paris-based Ballets Russes.  The two aesthetics share a legacy of brilliant choreographers (Ballets Russes had Michael Fokine, Nijinsky, his sister Bronislava,  Leonid Massine and George Balanchine) and enduring influence.  New York had pleasing reminders of this lofty dance heritage when American Ballet Theatre opened their

Remembrance: New York City Opera and The Museum of Jewish Heritage

Apologies for the delayed review of New York City Opera's world premiere of Ted Rosenthal's Dear Erich. The sold-out performances were January 9-13, 2019 at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.  Before finally reporting on Rosenthal's loving tribute to his father and the grandmother he never met, I wanted to visit the Museum.  An opportunity presented itself with the exhibit Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away, on view now through January 3, 2020.  Displayed are 700 artifacts and materials on loan from over 20 institutions and private collections, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The Museum'

New York Opera Fest: LOTNY’s ‘Owen Wingrave’ by Benjamin Britten

Photo: Tina Buckman

The Metropolitan Opera season is over and summer festivals featuring opera (Bard, Caramoor, Mostly Mozart, not to mention Saratoga Springs and Tanglewood for long weekends) are months away, the New York Opera Fest takes place all over town through June 30.  The schedule features operas from its Baroque origins through the present.   On May 9-11 at the GK ArtsCenter , little opera theatre of NY (LOTNY) presented the NY premiere of Benjamin Britten's Owen Wingrave, written for television in 1971.  Yes, opera was part of pre-cable television, and Britten wasn't the hard sell the Met now treats his as. Based on a short short by

‘Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie’ at Ars Nova Greenwich House

Courtesy of Ben Arons Photography

  A show that's sold old since previews is pretty much reviewer-proof, but, if possible, try to catch Mrs. Murray's Menagerie  at Ars Nova at Greenwich House  (27 Barrow Street, NYC).  Created by The Mad Ones and Phillip James Brannon, Brad Heberlee, Carmen M. Herlihy and January LaVoy, the 90-minute send-up ends its run on May 11. Mrs. Murray's Menagerie is a fictitious 1970s children's television show - an idea already loaded with potential.  Rather than do the show, the script and director Lila Neugebauer bring it to life with songs and guest appearances by its heavily licensed and franchise puppet cast members.  (Not

Merce Cunningham Centennial Celebration

Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) April 16 marked the centennial of choreographer Merce Cunningham's birth.  His artistic legacy is that his modern dances, many set to music by his creative and life partner John Cage, will forever be modern. Following Cunningham's directive, his company disbanded after his death at 90 - but not the teaching, training, archiving and performing spanning 70+ years.  The Merce Cunningham Trust's world-wide celebration included a definitive program April 17-21 at the Joyce of three classics performed by three companies.   The Merce Cunningham Trust defines the Cunningham Technique as "a rigorous form of training designed to create strength and flexibility of both the body and

‘The Cradle Will Rock’ at Classic Stage Company

l-r: Sally Ann Triplett, Ian Lowe, Lara Pulver, Kara Mikula. Photo: Joan Marcus

And some of the best people in town. Now I know what the dirty foreigners feel like. What is this, Russia? We don’t have to listen to talk like that. You’ve only got to hint whatever’s fit to print; If something’s wrong with it, why then we’ll print to fit. For whichever side will pay the best. The above vitriol is not from the president's Twitter account, Fox News or sticky bitter corners of the Internet and AM radio.  They were written in 1937 by Marc Blitzstein for The Cradle Will Rock.  His 90-minutes of persuasive theatre in protest as musical wearing a big red heart on

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