New York City Ballet. June 2nd at the Koch Theater.

Tonight’s Coppelia is my favorite program of this year’s NYCB season!!! Ashley Boulder is absolutely gorgeous as Swanilda.

Classic NYCB

New York City Ballet. May 29th at the Koch Theater.

My favorite of the night goes to “Not Our Fate” by Lauren Lovette. The piece showing the relationships between five couples (including same-sex couples) was emotional and moving. I love Lauren’s distinctive movement vocabulary: the way the dancers jumped, the way they turned and twirled, and the curved paths in the air that the dancers went through during assisted lifts. The piece feels dynamic. Everything is evolving. Nothing is ever straight. Altogether, the dancers filled the stage with tangled stories and their innermost desires for love.

NYCB: Tribute to Robbins

New York City Ballet. May 10th at the Koch Theater.

This evening’s tribute to Jerome Robbins closed with “Something to Dance About” featuring a stunning showcase of 12 choreographic excerpts from Broadway shows…

Never Never Land (Peter Pan, 1954)
New York, New York (On the Town, 1944)
All I Need is the Girl (Gypsy, 1959)
Something’s Coming/Dance at the Gym/Cha Cha (West Side Stories, 1957)
Shall We Dance (The King and I, 1951)
Small House of Uncle Thomas (The King and I, 1951)
Charleston (Billion Dollar Baby, 1945)
The Music that Makes Me Dance (Funny Girl, 1964)
America (West Side Stories, 1957)
Wedding Dance (Fiddler on the Roof, 1964)
Times Square Ballet (On the Town, 1944)
Something Wonderful (The King and I, 1951)

NYCB: All Balanchine

New York City Ballet. April 25th at the Koch Theater.

The highlight of the night goes to Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz‘s Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux. I can’t even begin to describe how absolutely incredible Tiler and Joaquin were. So, here are screenshots of Tiler’s own words about their partnering. When Tiler says they went for [the leaps], you know it’s going to be out-of-this-world stunning. Yes, we had as much fun watching you as you did on stage!

The rest of the “All Balanchine” program featured Apollo, Le Tombeau de Couperin, and Symphony in Three Movements.

Piazzolla Caldera

Completely in love with “Piazzolla Caldera” by @paultaylordancecompany tonight!!! 😍😍😍

A gorgeous tango (and waltz!) that blends beautifully with modern movements, this choreography is going right up there with my other all-time favorites!

On Sunday, I wrote about Esplanade, a stunning piece of work about the joy of dance. Paul Taylor dancers moved with so much spirit, so much heart, and so much energy. Even from the audience’s seats, we could feel the dancers’ passion, welcoming us onto the stage, inviting us to join the celebration. I didn’t think another choreography could possibly live up to the expectations of Esplanade. Yet, Piazzolla Caldera did tonight.

I’ve always enjoyed how Paul Taylor seamlessly merges concert dance with vernacular dance forms — bringing out not just the best of both worlds, but creating something unique, remarkable, and extraordinary in the process.

His group movements often remind me of contra dance patterns (on crack!). There are the polka mazurka steps in Eventide, lindy hop and polka in Company B, swing in Black Tuesday, disco in Changes, and so on.

Piazzolla Caldera is the most exquisite of such a fusion that I’ve seen so far.

The tango was absolutely beautiful, including the 12-person movements in the opening scene, the subsequent solos and duets. I never imagined that tango could be danced in such a manner. The piece retained the intensity, attitude, and connection traditionally associated with tango. Staying true to the dance form’s roots, two men even had chest-to-chest lead-follows!

Yet, the work inserted even more energy, dynamic, and theatricality into tango (as if tango needed any, but apparently it could!!!) with leaps, turns, upper body gestures, and more.

My favorite part, you ask?

Back in 1913 and 1914, when Argentine tango was first introduced to the US, New Yorkers used to dance tango to triple-time waltz music, creating a tango-waltz fusion known as “Hesitation Waltz.” Midway through Piazzolla Caldera, the music transitioned from 4/4 tango music to 3/4 waltz music. Replacing the hesitation step with by modern movements, Paul Taylor created a new modern-tango-waltz fusion. Mind blown! WOW!!!

Icons Night

“Icons Night” presented by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance featuring Trisha Brown and Isadora Duncan. What a wonderful evening!!!

“Esplanade” by the Paul Taylor Dance Company was absolutely stunning.

I’ve seen the piece before, but watching it from first row orchestra was a completely different experience. It was incredible to see the facial expressions on the dancers, and to be only feet away from the the amazing actions.

In the opening scene, with much energy and spirit, eight dancers ran in circles, skipped, rolled, flew across the stage, and weaved in and out of intricate patterns. I love not just the exuberance of the individual dancers but also the connection between them, as they created the most happy and uplifting experience on stage… a celebration… a festival… devoted to the joy of dance.

Michelle Fleet opened (and later closed) the choreography. Overflowing with positive energy, her body language said to the audience: Don’t you blink and miss a single moment!!! With a big smile and much warmth, Eran Bugge welcomed the audience, invited us to join the celebration, and experience the joy of dance together with the dancers. The mood on stage eventually changed, and Heather McGinley brought intense emotions into the piece.

Saving the best for the last, the final scene of Esplanade was a non-stop sequence of stunning movements, aerials, runs followed by slides across half of the stage, spectacular leaps and sensational mid-air catches.

The most incredible thing about the closing sequence (and why I looooove this company) is that all the movements were initiated from the center of the body. The dancers fell into the movements as if pulled by gravity. Unlike ballet, where dancers fight gravity in order to stay balanced, stand tall, and take off from the ground, here the Paul Taylor dancers “simply” let gravity take over. Their movements looked remarkably natural. Yet, as they were pulled off balanced, they gained so much momentum that they were able to zoom across the stage, propel themselves into the air, throw themselves onto the ground, into each other, and bounce right back… and not hurt themselves!

As I watched “Set and Reset” by Trisha Brown for a second time tonight, the choreography grew on me. I still loved the overall feel of the piece: fluid, dynamic, organic. Being able to see the dancers’ expressions, how they relate to one another, made me appreciate the piece so much more. The beauty of the piece, much of it in the subtle details of how the dancers interacted rather than the overall patterns, came pouring out tonight. Bravos to the Trisha Brown Dance Company for a lovely performance!!


A fabulous Sunday afternoon with Paul Taylor American Modern Dance and the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Lincoln Center.

I loved “Roses” and enjoyed seeing “Mercuric Tidings” again. The program also featured a new contemporary work, much darker in theme, titled “Half Life.”

Roses is so gooooorgeous! Thanks, Madelyn, for the recommendation. The piece featured six couples playfully dancing with each other, and was filled unique moments that were equally fun to watch as they were (as I imagine in my mind) equally fun to dance.

I love the duet between Madelyn Ho and Michael Novak and the short duet between Kristin Draucker and Michael Apuzzo that followed, especially when the couples leaped through and flipped around each other.

I love how Madelyn and Eran Bugge flew around their respective Michaels.

I also love how Heather McGinley and Eran connected with Sean Mahoney and Michael Trusnovec including (this may sound completely crazy) the brief moments when Heather and Eran created a bubble with their two arms and Sean and Michael popped the bubbles. Such small gestures could say so much when beautifully executed.

Throughout the choreography, the five couples, dressed in grey and black, took turns to dance. As they finally came to a stop, I remembered saying to myself: Oh, this piece is so lovely. Please don’t let it end!!!

Right at that moment, as if on cue, Eran and Michael, dressed in all white, came dashing onto stage and put on a grand finale. Well done. What a way to build up and finish the piece.

Looking forward to tonight’s American Modern Icons program featuring Trisha Brown, Isadora Duncan, and Paul Taylor’s own “Esplanade”!

TaylorNext Night

TaylorNext night with Paul Taylor American Modern Dance at the Lincoln Center on Saturday. Catch the Paul Taylor Dance Company next week, for the final week of their New York season!!!

This evening’s program included Musical Offering, The Beauty in Gray, and Arden Court.

My favorite goes to “Arden Court” in which dancers travelled, leaped, and flew to uplifting music. I enjoyed the distinct movement quality in “Musical Offering” that was part mannequin and part two-dimensional. We saw excerpts from “the Beauty in Gray” at the season preview. I felt the duets at the end were still the highlight of the piece.

Cloven Kingdom

Paul Taylor American Modern Dance: Another wondeful night at the Lincoln Center, plus a backstage tour with Michael Novak.

Tonight’s program opened with the 1960s-themed “Changes” featuring dancers all dressed in hippies fashion. Memorable moments included…

Christina Lynch Markham‘s solo to California Earthquake.

The unusual but fascinating movement quality that combined modern dance, 60s dancing, and the “relaxed feel” that came from having a little too much grass. Modern dance is no cake walk, but I suspect the “relaxed look” is even harder to dance… especially while sober and under the Lincoln Center’s stage lighting???

And, of course, the dancing bear by James Samson and Michael Apuzzo. The father-son moment in the dancing bear was wonderful, but I’m too young to get the reference. Why is there a dancing bear? How is the bear connected to the 1960s?

“Continuum” is full of contrasts… Between the uplifting Madelyn Ho in red, Heather McGinley in pink, and the rest of the company fading quickly into grey. Between the graceful goddess-like Laura Halzack and the tormented Lee Duveneck who picked himself up only to fall, drop, crash into the ground over and over again.

In “Cloven Kingdom,” the dancers portrayed the dual roles of being members of the high society while clinging onto the inner animals inside each one of them. It was great to see this choreography in its full glory (with the full set of costumes, stage lightning, and live music) tonight vs. the earlier studio preview.

This choreography had the dance historian in me thinking…

Back in the 1910s, Vernon and Irene Castle brought couple dancing to upper middle class Americans. Elegent and fashionable, the Castles made social dancing such as the Tango, Foxtrot, Hesitation Waltz, Maxixe not only acceptable but respectable by the high society.

However, it’s also during the 1910s, that animal dances such as the Grizzly Bear, Turkey Trot, Crab Walk, Duck Waddle, Kangaroo Hop swept across America in one of the biggest dance craze in US history.

Could “Cloven Kingdom” have any relation to the defining years in American social dance leading up to 1914? (Vernon Castle was killed in WWI.)