New School, Cheese, Juilliard, Twyla Tharp, Alastair Macaulay, Paulina Porizkova, and Blackpool Tickets!!

Could this post have a longer title?? I just had a crazy weekend… Friday night, my friend Alyssa’s roommate, who is getting her MFA in drama at the New School, appeared in a series of one act plays as part of the school’s student showcase. So we went for support. It was a lot of fun and reminded me of my college days when we would go to downtown Tucson to watch small, but brilliant, theater. My favorite one-act of the night was the one Alyssa’s roommate was in, called “Desire Desire Desire,” by Christopher Durang. It was a riff on Tennessee Williams’s “Streetcar” and made me burst out in laughter several times, which I needed since I’ve been kind of stressed lately about dance showcases and other stuff… That also reminded me of Tucson because I remember being introduced to Durang (as I was to so many other playwrights) by some miniscule hole in the wall’s terrific production of “Beyond Therapy” which a friend of a friend was in as well. Fun memories.

Anyway, perhaps the funniest part of the night happened after the performance, during the post-production party. They brought out this lovely display of food, which everyone got a little over-excited about. Apparently no one, including me, had eaten dinner, so the table became a bit overcrowded — particularly the cheese platter (cheese being more filing to an empty stomach than fruit and sweets perhaps…) Well, there was only one cheese tray and a bit of a non-verbal fight actually erupted over it, mainly between two little old ladies, but others, including me I have to confess, got a bit into it as well. This one lady just could not figure out how to work the tongs, which, being made of cheap plastic, ended up breaking, so she stood there frowning trying to figure out how to politely take some cheese. People tried to wait patiently in line while she just stood looking around helplessly, and I for one was getting hungry. Then this other little old lady came from nowhere and basically pushed first lady out of the way, I guess assuming she was done (?), then picked up the broken tongs and looked sadly at them. She tried to slice into the brie with one half of the tong but was taking forever and making a real mess. While we were all trying to be patient, out of nowhere came this guy who, apparently not realizing there was a long cheese line, walked right up behind the lady with the half tong, reached with his fork out right over her head, and began jabbing around at the gouda cubes. When the lady turned around to give him a dirty look, thereby taking more time out of her brie-slicing mission, first lady came pushing her way back through the crowd with another pair of tongs, which she promptly broke on her first attempt to get at a mozzarella ball. That’s when it got ugly. After much harrumphing, people just began reaching over heads, in front of faces, grabbing with their bare hands whatever they could get. Wine cups went flying. First lady, practically in tears over the tongs, picked up an entire goat cheese ball and plopped it onto her plate. “She’s going to get constipated,” Alyssa said shaking her head. Anyway, next time I’ll have to remember to eat before the play, especially if there is an after-party. Above pic is of Alyssa, who is smiling brightly because she ended up with a bit of cheese after all!

Last night I went to another student performance, this one by dancers in the MFA program at Juilliard. The first was a new modern piece by Susan Marshall, the second (and my favorite of the evening) was Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe — a combination of swingy jazz and traditional ballet set to Beach Boys music, and the third a beautifully haunting piece called Soldiers’ Mass by Jiri Kylian. It was my first time seeing the Tharp, which makes sense since this is the first time it’s been performed in NY since 1992 and I haven’t been here that long. I love her work the more I see of it, even with non-professional students performing, and I’d love to see Alvin Ailey do this one. She’s so fun, so funny, and I love how she is able to combine different dance styles to sometimes humorous, sometimes thought-provoking, but always entertaining effect. I know some see her as ‘poppy’ and roll their eyes at the mention of her name, but I stand by my thoughts that if anyone’s work can be used to take off from the current (and hopefully long-lasting!) ballroom craze to revive popular interest in ballet, it is hers.

At the end of Saturday night, I realized that, although I miss seeing all the theater I used to, as I get older I prefer dance. I guess I feel like I can relax and just let my senses take over — listen to the beautiful music and watch the beautiful movement and let it take me wherever it does; I don’t have to listen really intently for each spoken word fearing I may miss something crucial to understanding something else later on.

This is a picture of Lincoln Center, which is currently under construction. Normally, they have a walkway lined with benches passing over 66th Street and connecting Lincoln Center to Juilliard, which is on the side of the street where I’m standing to take the picture. Stupidly, I forgot they were doing construction until I was in the plaza at Lincoln Center, wondering where in the world that bridge went and how I was going to get over the Juilliard! I hate construction — especially since I really liked that bridge! I mean, I like the idea of revitalization, I just wish they could do it, like, overnight!

Today’s New York Times’ Arts and Leisure section contains the first real article I’ve seen by the new chief dance critic, Alastair Macauley. There was a bit of controversy caused by his appointment because of his sex and the fact that he’s from London, not New York (thus arguably bypassing several female critics far more familiar with the New York dance scene). So, since there will probably be a lot of scrutiny of his first few writings, let’s join in and make him feel REALLY welcome, ha ha! Just kidding :) Anyway, this article is on the current Romeo and Juliet trend: the ballet is being performed by both ABT and the New York City Ballet this upcoming season; ABT is doing the 1965 version by Sir Kenneth MacMillan (my favorite!!!), and NYCB will be doing a new version choreographed by their artistic director Peter Martins. Kristin Sloan of the Winger (and a NYCB dancer of course!) has helped put together a behind-the-scenes video of the upcoming production, which can be viewed on the NYCB website, here. I also linked to it in my blogroll, on the right, under Dance: Ballet, etc. It’s a lot of fun to watch and see how the dancers learn to sword-fight and all that great stuff, so do check it out! Click here to read her post where she talks about it.

So, I guess that’s my biggest complaint about the Macaulay piece — he neglected to mention Sloan’s new exciting project, but then I am partial to her :) The piece centered on placing the ballet within it’s historical context and comparing the different versions over the years both to each other and to some theatrical, non-dance, versions. He says it’s appropriate for him to write about this ballet as his first piece for the paper because this was the ballet that originally made him fall in love with the art form. I definitely hear him on that! Same with me :)

He starts off saying he thinks the ballet has been so oft re-choreographed because of the “popular idea . . . that in any case dance is all about sex.” I didn’t know that was a popular idea, and I’d thought of that ballet as being more about romance and doomed love and all that, but maybe that’s just me… But overall, a good article and I learned several new things — one being that the Nureyev version had Mercutio come back to life as a ghost to haunt Juliet and talk her into her final actions! He also talks about different dancers’ interpretations of the roles: Lynn Seymour, MacMillan’s original Juliet from the sixties, for example, danced a rather ‘naughty’ balcony scene fraught with sexual tension. When he’d asked the ballerina why she’d made that artistic choice, she said that she was emulating Judy Densch in the Zefferelli film version! The thing that most struck me though was, when describing Margot Fonteyn’s take on the part, he mentioned she was 56 when he saw her perform. I know she danced all the way up until she was in her mid-sixties, and I wonder why ballet dancers today retire SO young? If she could dance for so long, why not everyone?

I also saw in the Times a full-page ad for ABT!

Under each principal photo, they put a little blurb by a critic praising the dancer :) Awesome advertising!

Finally in the Times, Style section this time, was a little story on Paulina Porizkova going to get a pedicure in a SoHo salon.

I thought it was funny because I’m pretty sure it was written before she got booted off DWTS (there was only a small parenthetical blurb mentioning it and most of the piece dealt with her new status as dancer and novelist — she has her first novel due out soon, apparently). It was cute, and I’m really glad they still decided to run it after she, unfairly dammit!!! :) got kicked off.

Finally (and then I’m almost done for the night, I swear), I booked my plane ticket for Blackpool! I’m so excited! But it was a little too stressful, I hate to admit. Ever since 9/11 I have this crazy stupid nervousness of flying, and I say crazy and stupid both because it has been so long since everything happened and I just feel like I should be so over it by now, and because I really do love to travel and this obviously hinders that. For the first couple of years afterward, I wouldn’t even fly — I just kept taking trains and going on cruises — the latter of which can get ridiculously expensive, especially if you’re just using the ship as a mode of transportation and not appreciating all of the amenities like the entertainment and food and all. I started flying a few years ago when, believe it or not, I had to go to a dance competition in Florida and couldn’t take off all the time from work needed to take the 30-hour-each-way Amtrak. So, I guess dance got me flying again :) I’ve since taken many flights, and I guess I’m okay once we’re in the air, but it’s just sitting on that runway thinking… ugh! It actually has been good for me to read the Winger and Matt’s blog and see all the fearless ABT people flying all over creation — makes me feel like if they can do it, everyone can do it, I can do it, ‘there’s nothing to fear but fear itself’…

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