CRAIG SALSTEIN TO THE RESCUE

Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, for ABT, of Craig Salstein acting as angel between a warring Ethan Stiefel (airborne) and Herman Cornejo (crouching) in Tharp’s Rabbit and Rogue.

So last night I went to Christopher Wheeldon’s Morphoses at Central Park’s SummerStage, who were performing to live music by Martha Wainwright. Of course I would have gone no matter, but hearing that my favorite, Marcelo Gomes, was guest-performing with the company, made it all the more urgent.

Anyway, Morphoses events are often very well-attended and there was a bit of a mix-up with my tickets — they’d issued me a guest, rather than press pass and so my friend and I got ousted from the section up front. I understand these things happen, especially with very popular dance companies and it wouldn’t have been a big deal if I could see well at long distances at night (and if I hadn’t helped others get in whose tickets weren’t mixed up….) But whatever, I could deal I thought, even though I felt like a total loser.

So, my friend and I walked to the back dejectedly. But, then, when we got all the way to the back, it ended up our tickets weren’t for the reserved risers but for the skybox, a tent-covered, elevated section that put us far above the standing crowd. And in that elevated section, sat (among others) ABT soloist and one of my favorite dancers, Craig Salstein! He was sitting next to a really cute dancer-looking guy who turned out to be Marcelo’s bf 😀 Then a waitress came by serving us free wine and I knew this was THE place to be, not down there on the ground with those earthlings! I still couldn’t see tremendously well, but I can always see Marcelo from wherever I am and I kind of felt better being with the ABT peeps anyway.

So my friend Susan and I ended up chatting with Craig and Marcelo’s friend throughout the show and they are the sweetest guys! Craig seemed so different than he is onstage! For people who don’t know him, he’s the type of dancer who always gets the bravura roles that require a big personality, and very good acting (not to mention dance) skills, like Mercutio in R&J and the bespectacled nerdy guy who can nevertheless dance up a storm in Taylor’s Company B, and the poor guy who gets girls tossed at him from every which way in Tharp’s Baker’s Dozen, etc. etc. So because he has such a way with comedy I expected him to be cracking jokes every five seconds and acting all clownish and all. But he wasn’t like that at all – -he was really serious and calm, albeit gregarious and easy to talk to. I told my friends, who I went out with afterward, the same and one said, “well, he can’t be Mercutio ALL the time; he’d go crazy.” True.

He’d just got back from vacation (in Italy, where he saw “Roberto Bolle and Friends” — hmmm, didn’t know there was a “Roberto Bolle and Friends”!), and was sporting a serious tan. We talked about ABT’s upcoming season at Avery Fisher Hall and Italy and his choreography and how much I liked it and how great Marcelo is and what I tweet about (you, tossing your mandolin into the wings instead of Jared Matthews’s hands during R&J I said; he seemed bemused) and other chit-chat. Fun fun fun to meet a favorite dancer and another favorite’s boyfriend :)

Okay, I’m running off to another Morphoses performance today and have to get going but will write about the actual show tonight or tomorrow morning. Obviously Marcelo was god, Martha Wainwright was good but to me it was too much about her — too much music, almost a music performance with some dancing thrown in — highlights were Edwaard Liang’s premiere and Wheeldon’s Fools’ Paradise (which I saw anew thanks to Marcelo), Tiler Peck, Gonzalo Garcia, a duet between Maria Kowroski and Jared Angle, Wendy Whelan, Rory Hohenstein, a funny joke by Wainwright about lying down and having people do things to her and Wheeldon’s somewhat embarrassed response, and did I mention Marcelo Gomes…

14 Comments

  1. Well, I can confirm that Saturday was amazing even without star neighbors and complimentary wine :) (Except for the guy next to us who was carted off in an ambulance. Heatstroke, we think. Hope he's OK. And maybe the girl in front of us who was tiny and sitting on her dance class towels to see a bit better. She lent them to the cause and got them back ready for the trash!)

    Anyway, I hear what you're saying about the music, but I enjoyed it and think it was a good as a way to expose dance to a new crowd. Most of the crowd was clearly there for Morphoses, but some people definitely came for Wainwright, and others might have been curious about the combination. So they show up and see ballet at its best. I mean, how many jaws were on the ground at the end of Fool's Paradise? Or more like, how many weren't? Astounding.

    And most of those numbers worked really well. The one with Teresa Reichlen and los dudes was tremendously fun, and what is not to like about Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia dancing to a Eurythmics cover? I suspect that was a huge hit with the non-dance portion of the crowd. And Tears of St. Andrews provided a great ending to the evening. The little lights reminded me of the ending of NYCB's A Midsummer's Night Dream!

  2. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    Tanya!, thanks so much for writing about your night – of seeing stars, under the stars, sitting NEXT TO stars! 😉 I just LOVE Mr. Salstein, and am so utterly jealous of you right now… [-oh, and of course he was all tan and sweet and charming and thoughtful … ooooh, you are so lucky! (jealous jealous jealous) ;)]
    What a fantastic night, all-'round!

  3. I meant Tears of St. Lawrence. Sorry. I don't know where I got Tears of St. Andrews or why I am making random saints cry….

  4. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    …well, this Anne has been crying tears of envy since last night now – you guys are insanely lucky! It's killing me to have missed all this!

  5. Hi Tonya! I had lots of fun last night, always love Morphoses and chatting with Craig and Alex was such a nice bonus. Agree with you that there was too much Martha, but also agree with Michael's comments that it was a good way to expose a new crowd to ballet. And I'll bet it gave the dancers a couple of much needed breaks, Wheeldon's choreography is probably very taxing and it isn't a very big company!

    And trust me, the music sounded much better from our “Sky Box” than it did from way up front near the stage. I was sitting there on Friday night and it was very unbalanced.

    Hope that guy who was taken out in a strecher is ok, we were all wondering what happened to him…

  6. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    Oh God – I am so, so sorry to have misspelled your name! :( — my apologies, sincerely. (I personally hate it when people leave off the 'e' in my name. … again, my apologies; I am so sorry.)

    – and *many thanks* for all the time and effort you put into your blog – I can't begin to tell you how great it is to be able to come here and read these wonderful reports, and your thoughtful, insightful and lively writing and musings! :)
    Anne

  7. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Oh it's okay, Anne! Haha, SO many people do that, I honestly don't mind at all! Actually, at one point when I was younger so many people were calling me Tone-ya that I changed the spelling for a while to see if they'd say it right. But then they started pronouncing it Tan (as in a tan) – ya, which I hated worse than Tone-ya, so I went back to the original spelling!

    Thank you again for the wonderful compliment :) I'm so thankful for readers like you all!

  8. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks you guys — yeah, I agree with you all about exposing new people to dance (I still plan to write another post; I'm just kind of in the throes of hysteria right now over my book cover). I do think there were a lot of Wainwright fans there who hadn't seen a lot of dance before. And I really did enjoy the evening. It was actually one of my favorite Morphoses performances; there was a lot of variety. Yes, I liked Tears of St. Lawrence (I didn't even notice the title was wrong, Michael!) and the Edwaard Liang piece too and of course Wheeldon's Fools' Paradise.

    Thanks for reminding me of Alex's name, Susan — hehe, I think I got a little caught up on the words Marcelo and boyfriend 😉

  9. tonya— how great you got the VIP treatment and got to meet salstein and and marcelos bf !! you're so lucky! still i had a great time in just the regular bleachers— good music, great choreography and incredible dancing! ok is it just me or is everyone else's eye drawn to marcelo gomes any time he is onstage? he has as SUCH beautiful line and just makes everything look so easy. also such wonderful musicality, prescence and… really beautiful hands :) well okay, incredibly beautiful EVERYTHING.

  10. Hey,

    Just thought I'd post the link to an interview by Anneheim Ballet feat. guest artist and ABTsoloist Gennadi Saveliev re: his hobby of mixed martial arts.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df7LTuUbwak

  11. Hey,

    Just thought I'd post the link to an interview by Anneheim Ballet feat. guest artist and ABTsoloist Gennadi Saveliev re: his hobby of mixed martial arts.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df7LTuUbwak

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