Photo by Andrea Mohin, from NY Times, of Paul Taylor Dance Co. in Offenbach Overtures, the comic relief of Program 1.

I’m on a tight schedule with my book rewrites, but here are some of the highlights of the Fall For Dance Festival (Program 1) thus far.

It’s always a delight to see Paul Taylor’s hilarious Offenbach Overtures with the would-be ballet dancers tripping all over each other, the muscly men first dueling then making up and swinging their way offstage in each others’ arms, the female cabaret dancers comically warring for attention. I was happy to see SLSG favorite Michael Apuzzo in my cast (he’s not in the photo above unfortunately, as he wasn’t in the first night’s cast) — he’s always very dramatic, full of character, and I noticed he had the highest, most straight-legged jetes as he and the other guys went sailing offstage at one point.

I was at this performance with my friend, Michael, and we hung out for a while in the lounge afterward (where they have $2 wine and beer and $4-$5 plates of food). I’m very shy, but I always seem to have really outgoing friends, and Michael went up to a woman with a bouquet and asked her what it was for — something along those lines. It turned out she was in Paul Taylor, and once I knew that, I recognized her as the striking Parisa Khobdeh, Michael’s partner (Michael Apuzzo that is, and partner in Offenbach that is). I then realized a bunch of the Paul Taylor dancers were hanging out in the lounge (except for that Apuzzo!) — so the FFD brochures  are not lying about the “come mingle with the dancers” parts of the adverts for the post-performance parties in the lounge.

Anyway, the other highlight of Program 1 was B/olero performed by the highly respected Israeli company, Batsheva, choreographed by their artistic director, Ohad Naharin, and set to the familiar Maurice Ravel music. Except this was a remix — at times the music would be slowed so that it would sound somewhat warped. The music would also veer from speaker to speaker, so it was like the sound was traveling around the auditorium.

Well, there are many Boleros around and Naharin’s was a more minimalist one in terms of the action, but not the emotion. It was a duet for two women dressed in black dresses. At times their movement was basic, at times still, at times spastic and chaotic, at times sexual and almost kinky, and at many times hypnotic. A common motif was the swinging back and forth of the arms, mechanically, like the arms of a clock, the rest of the body still. I always feel with his work that I have to see it several times to get the full effect, and I wished I could have seen this one again.

Photos above by Andrea Mohin.

In celebration of the centennial of Ballets Russes, every night at FFD one company performs a piece on honor of that legendary company. Program 1’s was the Boston Ballet’s rendition of Nijinksy’s original Afternoon of a Faun. This was a real treat for me, as I’d never seen the Nijinsky version live and in full before. I’d only ever seen it on tape or, if I remember correctly, only the faun version (without the nymphs) performed by Royal Ballet star Johan Kobborg with the Kings of Dance.

Anyway, Nijinsky’s version is from 1912 and you can really imagine how shocking it must have been in its day, with the faun so overtly sexual, so taken with the nymphs, he ends up masturbating with a cloth left by one, which he recovers, takes up to his little rock perch, places it on the ground and begins rubbing his groin into it. You still don’t see much of that today onstage (at least not in ballet), so I think it’s still somewhat risque. And yet the faun, at least as portrayed by Altankhuyag Dugaraa, is so sweet and so endearing, and you feel for him after those nymphs tease him and you’re happy for him when he retrieves that cloth. I would so love to see a clip of Nijinsky in this. I would also love to see his Rite of Spring some day; I don’t think it’s been performed for eons though, I think because the choreography hasn’t really been preserved, sadly.

(top photo of Boston Ballet by Rosalie O’Connor, second by Andrea Mohin; Nijinsky photo by Adolf de Meyer)

And completing Program 1 was Savion Glover, which I wrote about briefly in my previous post.

See the rest of Andrea Mohin’s NY Times slide show of Program 1 here.


  1. Haha! Now it seems like I was wandering around asking women random questions. For the record: if you see two bouquets at a table after a dance performance, there is a good chance there is a dancer at that table!

    And now I'm disqualified from talking about Ms. Khobdeh. (But wasn't she fantastic as the drunk girl? Admit it!) I will talk about Apuzzo and those high, straight-legged jetes, though. I noticed in his bio that he has a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do. It is just about the least practical martial art on the planet (proof: even I have a black belt in it!), but it is definitely great for high, straight legs.

  2. Ooooh – glad you guys got to go! … must've been a really nice night.
    Thanks for the re-cap!

    I danced in a “very ballet” version of BOLERO some years ago, and Ravel's music is amazing! (-*never* got tired of rehearsing that ballet.)

  3. P.S. Good luck with the rewrites … I am so excited for you!, and *can't wait* for your book!

  4. Thank you Anne!

  5. That's so cool you danced in a ballet! Did you perform in front of an audience? I LOVE that music… I love all of Ravel's music — or at least what I've heard from the ballets!

  6. Haha, you WERE wandering around asking women random questions! No, seriously, I know you were interested in finding out which dance piece they were in — I should be more outgoing too; part of why the dancers hang around is to talk to the audience anyway. Yes, Ms. Khobdeh was excellent as the drunk girl! Very interesting about the tae kwon do…

  7. Yup – we performed it quite a few times. (–back in high school, I was an apprentice in a regional ballet company.)
    Seems like eons ago…;) …though, happily, much is coming back, I'm finding, as I am taking classes again. (I cannot wait to get down to NYC and take a few drop-in classes in the city…there are so many great offerings/places/teachers to choose from!)

  8. The Joffrey does (did?) a recreation of the Nijinsky Rite of Spring. It was videotaped and can, I am sure, be viewed at the library, though it loses all its impact on film I think. In person it is wonderful

  9. Oh, thanks for letting me know. I'll check it out.

    And good to hear from you again — I figured you must be off in Italy or somewhere researching your dissertation!

  10. Oh, thanks for letting me know. I'll check it out.

    And good to hear from you again — I figured you must be off in Italy or somewhere researching your dissertation!

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