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October Highlights - dance performances to consider in NYC

by Marian Horosko
September 22, 2008
New York, NY

Featured Dance Companies:

American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre (office)
890 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
212-477-3030
www.abt.org

New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet (office)
New York State Theater
20 Lincoln Center
New York, NY 10023
212-870-5500
www.nycballet.com

With Alexei Ratmansky, currently artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet joining American Ballet Theatre as Artist in Residence beginning in January 2009, the promise of fresh works and guest artists is an exciting prospect.

Ratmansky, educated at the Bolshoi School in Moscow, was a principal dancer with the Ukrainian National Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg and Royal Danish Ballet. As artist in residence, he will have freedom to follow his own path with the support of ABT's Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie, and with his career as a performer and choreographer in his background, the future looks promising. His first work will be set to a score by Sergei Prokofiev for the 2009 season at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Ratmansky was offered a similar position in New York City Ballet, but he and Peter Martins, artistic director of NYCB, were unable to come to a mutual agreement. There are several factors upon which to speculate: did Ratmansky find the dancers less suited to his contemporary works? Was the schooling of the company, not rooted in Russian methodology (Balanchine created his own style diverting from his St. Petersburg background) found limiting by Ratmansky in his plans to restage some classical works? His work for NYCB in May was "Concerto DSCH," a success. Since his contract with the Bolshoi Ballet expires at the end of 2008, and he surely has had more offers in Europe and America, his five-year agreement with ABT makes us fortunate in his choice. He is still free to choreograph for other companies.

Hopefully, he will bring international ballerinas as guests for some of his works. ABT's female roster, with a few exceptions, is weak. It would be stimulating to see different interpretations.

The difference, generally speaking, between the Moscow Bolshoi and the St. Petersburg Kirov schooling is based upon their history and city of origin. The Bolshoi Ballet dates officially as 1776 with the first ballet class at the Moscow orphanage in 1773 providing dancers for the Petrovsky Theater. Its style and legacy of works, is more dramatic and its male dancers exemplary. The Kirov Ballet, established in 1738 in St. Petersburg for the children of the palace servants, is where Agrippina Vaganova, who codified the "Russian methodology" formed the basis for a style that is more lyrical. There are technical differences, but both schools and companies have produced world-renown dancers and timeless classical works.

The first work by Ratmansky will be to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, the musical basis used by Balanchine in "Prodigal Son," in 1929, but never again. Prokofiev evidently didn't think too much of choreographers and would not share royalties. It became Stravinsky's gain.

October 1-5 will find "Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company" at City Center. Two programs, A and B, using some dancers from NYCB, Norwegian National and Royal Ballets includes four works by Christopher Wheeldon as well as Sir Frederick Ashton's "Monotones II." Wheeldon, who, before founding his company, was briefly a resident choreographer at NYCB. He will create a new ballet to Stravinsky's "Pulcinella Suite," co-commissioned by New York City Center and Sadler's Wells in London.

From October 22-25, BAM, Brooklyn Academy of Music at Howard Gilman Opera House at 30 Lafayette Avenue, will present the U.S. premiere of "Steve Reich Evening," by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas, her company, as part of the 2008 Next Wave Festival. Educated at Mudra, Maurice Béjart's school in Brussels, Keersmaeker has had a relationship with the music of Reich since the 1980s. She brings Ictus, a Brussels-based contemporary music ensemble to accompany the evening of music by Steve Reich and Gyögy Ligeti.
Contact: BAM.org.

October 10-18 finds America's 75 year-old ballet company, San Francisco Ballet at NY City Center. SF Ballet staged the first full-length Coppélia, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Founded in 1933, the Christensen brothers, Willam, Harold and Lew were closely linked with New York City Ballet. Its current director, Helgi Tomasson, was once a member of NYCB.
Members of San Francisco Ballet perform 'Seven for Eights'

Members of San Francisco Ballet perform "Seven for Eights"

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Hardy

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