MARTHA WAINWRIGHT, MORPHOSES, AND MARCELO IN THE PARK

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Philip was really sweet and sent me some pictures taken by his friend, Kokyat, of the Morphoses / Martha Wainwright performance Saturday night in Central Park. Above are my three favorites from ABT and NYCB respectively: Marcelo Gomes, Gonzalo Garcia and Tiler Peck (seated). They’re dancing Christopher Wheeldon’s Fool’s Paradise.

It was a fun night. For people unfamiliar with Martha Wainwright’s music, she’s kind of a folksy, bluesy, country mix. So, the dances, mostly choreographed by Wheeldon, a couple by Edwaard Liang, complemented that with lots of wavy-armed, lyrical, softly jazzy, almost social-dance-like movement, with ruffly dresses for the women and open t-shirts, casual vests and buttoned Oxfords with ties for the men.

Here’s a photo by Andrea Mohin of the NYTimes, of Bleeding All Over You, chor by Liang and set to Wainwright’s song. Teresa Reichlen is in the middle, surrounded by Jason Fowler and Adrian Danchig-Waring of NYCB. See Mohin’s slide-show here.

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Here’s another favorite of mine by Mohin from the NYTimes slide show, of Gonzalo Garcia and Tiler Peck in Love is a Stranger (set to Wainwright’s re-interpretation of the Annie Lennox hit). This was one of my favorite dances of the evening because, well I love both these two, and it kind of reminded me of when they danced Other Dances together at NYCB this season.

And my other favorite from that slide show, of Rory Hohenstein dancing a solo in Far Away, the first piece of the night.

I don’t know if it was Craig Salstein and the wine or the promise of seeing Marcelo in the second act or what, but everyone seemed to have an extra glow or something; everyone seemed to dance so much better than I’ve ever seen them before — particularly Hohenstein. He was really fluid, really beautiful in this dance.

See more photos in the Times slide show here. And read the accompanying review by Sir Alastair in which he gets just a bit caught up in the spelling of the word “Whither.” I don’t see that anyone has blogged about the review, but it’s certainly making its way around via email because of that paragraph. It’s like the critics are becoming part of the performance…

Anyway, Marcelo danced in the last two ballets — Wheeldon’s well-regarded Fool’s Paradise, and Tears of St. Lawrence (a new collaboration between Wheeldon and Liang). Paradise was set to recorded music by Jody Talbot (the only non-Wainwright music of the night) and Tears to Wainwright’s song of the same name.

Marcelo danced the opening pas de deux in Paradise with Tiler Peck and I feel like I saw things anew and like I was more connected to and moved by some of the twisted, unique, two-body shapes just by seeing a dancer I connect with in the part — his covering her ears, his bowing down to her in arabesque… No one could make the arabesques Marcelo was making, and there were several parts where he and another male dancer — at the beginning Gonzalo — would frame the women with those arabesques and Marcelo’s raised leg was always significantly higher. I always love Gonzalo, and it could just have been my seeing him next to Marcelo, but he didn’t seem as stretched-out Saturday night. His extensions weren’t as heavenly as they usually are. Actually, there was nothing in any of the ballets that really brought out the qualities that make Gonzalo Gonzalo. No Mercurial Manoeuvers, no Hallelujah Junction, no MNS Oberon, no Other Dances, no Concerto DSCH where he could fly all over stage and charm you to death. He doesn’t excel as well at the slower, pretzel-shape pas de deux-heavy dances. Well, it’s not that he doesn’t excel, it’s just that his personality doesn’t have the chance to shine. I want Wheeldon to choreograph something high-flying for him and put it in the Morphoses program :)

Back to Paradise: I have to say, upset as I was over not being able to see the dancers up close, I was able to see the patterns better from sitting back in the sky box. Wheeldon and Liang both came back there and stood beside us to get a view of the overall, so I guess Susan and I ended up in the kind of ideal Balanchinian viewing area. From there I really could better appreciate the patterns and the look of the whole.

For all the “whither wather” goofiness, one of Macaulay’s lines in the afore-linked-to review really resonated with me: “I like the control with which Mr. Wheeldon keeps making you pay attention, but I can’t get interested in these dances as thought or drama.” I think that’s what prevents me from getting entirely into a Wheeldon ballet (at least his ballets for Morphoses; some of his ballets for NYCB have been far more dramatic or expressionistic); I feel like I need to come away from a work of art with something other than just a beautiful image. I need more in order to keep thinking about the piece over and over again, which is the effect I want a work of art to have on me.

But I’ll keep trying with Wheeldon — I’m sure if I liked Mercurial Manoevers and the After the Rain pdd, other dances of his will eventually grow on me. Especially if he uses my favorite dancers more often :)

Here are some more Kokyat photos of Fool’s Paradise:

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And here are some of Tears of St. Lawrence:

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Cast taking a bow, with Wainwright and Wheeldon in center. Look how cute they are :)

As I said earlier, there was a lot of music and it almost felt like a music concert with some dance thrown in, but, like others have mentioned, I’m glad the program exposed Wainwright fans to dance. Toward the end, Wheeldon came up onstage and introduced the dancers the way Wainwright introduced her band. He called his dancers “his band” and jokingly noted this wasn’t often done in the dance world. At one point, he remarked to Wainwright that he thought she might dance some and she responded, “Oh … no … oh, I don’t know… I could lie down and let people do things to me?” Everyone laughed. “Maybe it could be you,” she tacked on. “Ah, I don’t think it would be me,” he said after a long pause. He seemed a bit embarrassed. It was cute.

Anyway, thank you again to Philip for letting me use some of Kokyat’s photos. Definitely visit Philip’s blog where he has several posts filled with more gorgeous photos. The photos begin with this post (keep clicking on previous posts titled “Starry Night” to see more).

5 Comments

  1. So I was about to start listing names, like I always do: What about this person and this one and that? But it occurred to me halfway through just what a seamless ensemble it was. You could make a case for half a dozen different dancers as the star of the night. I know who gets your vote :) but Wheeldon definitely didn't just run the biggest stars out there over and over. I think the busiest guy might have been Rory Hohenstein, actually, which allowed people to really see what he brought to the stage. Finding the right chemistry and balance is probably key in a company like Morphoses that has access to so. much. talent.

    Anyway, just another thing that Wheeldon did well, along with, you know, an evening's worth of amazing choreography. And also, making shorts and a tie work somehow :)

  2. I think the issue with Wheeldon's choreography you're describing is similar to the one I often have as well, Tonya. I watch it and think it's perfectly nice and pleasant and very neatly done, but at the same time I feel a bit disengaged and it doesn't stick with me.

    I have to admit, I got a kick out of Macaulay complaining about the program notes–they were just so poorly written! Whether or not they needed that much space in a review I don't know, but I do think that presentation matters and just having the thing copyedited would be an improvement. It doesn't seem like so much to ask. right?

  3. Thanks, SwanLake! Very insightful (particularly agree viz. choreography and the great García). You never disappoint! xo, Vaness

  4. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks you guys — I'm glad people don't think I'm totally off-base with my thoughts on Wheeldon's choreography and Gonzalo's strengths :)

    Meg, yeah, I was a bit annoyed with the program too. I couldn't always understand who'd choreographed what. At one point I asked Craig thinking for some reason that all dancers and choreographers would have the inside scoop on another company, but of course I was wrong and he didn't know either.

    Michael, yes, there were so many dancers I didn't mention. I really thought everyone was good. In particular, I forgot to mention Maria Kowroski, but I thought she danced a very stunning duet with Jason Fowler and then with Jared Angle in Tears of St. Lawrence. She has a very compelling presence and of course her lines are gorgeous.

  5. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks you guys — I'm glad people don't think I'm totally off-base with my thoughts on Wheeldon's choreography and Gonzalo's strengths :)

    Meg, yeah, I was a bit annoyed with the program too. I couldn't always understand who'd choreographed what. At one point I asked Craig thinking for some reason that all dancers and choreographers would have the inside scoop on another company, but of course I was wrong and he didn't know either.

    Michael, yes, there were so many dancers I didn't mention. I really thought everyone was good. In particular, I forgot to mention Maria Kowroski, but I thought she danced a very stunning duet with Jason Fowler and then with Jared Angle in Tears of St. Lawrence. She has a very compelling presence and of course her lines are gorgeous.

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