Amy Seiwert’s Imagery

Amy Seiwert’s Imagery delivered the best show so far at this year’s Joyce Ballet Festival. Two more chances to see “Wandering” by Amy Seiwert’s Imagery. Get your tickets for tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday at the Joyce Theater!

“I won’t listen to the heart’s complaints.
I won’t listen to its fears.
I’m content to wander.
Through the wind and the snow.” – Wilhelm Müller

I love so many aspects of Amy’s work tonight: the story telling, the aesthetics, and the exquisite dancing delivered by Anthony Cannarella, Alysia Chang, James Gilmer, Tina Laforgia Morse, Jackie Nash, Ben Needham-Wood, Gabriel Smith, and Shania Rasmussen. Bravos!!!

I would totally go back and see them again, if I had not already committed myself to seeing Paul Taylor and Bolshoi over the next two evenings.

The evening-length work explores the stories of a lost wanderer. Dancers in the company took turns to represent the wanderer. The stories are rich and emotional. They are as relevant to a traveller on a physical road — as they are to young adults growing up, searching for their place in life.

Here’s how I interpreted some of the stories. A lost traveller sought to orientate himself and find friendly companions for his trip. Another was sent on her journey reluctantly, but nevertheless braved every challenge along the way. Others wandered emotionally. A lost soul, searching for just one person, one true friend, one love, who would accept him for who he was but never did. Another looked beyond herself, reached out to all those around her, brought everyone together, and became a pillar of the community. Yet, another ran from the harsh realities of the world, before his choices ran out and a path was forced on him.

Artistically, Amy kept the essence of the ballet, its beautiful lines, and extensions, but added her distinct vocabulary with the arms and torsos. The end result was stunningly coordinated movements among her eight dancers, a strong sense of emotional connection amongst the dancers and with the audience.

I love her use of space. Layering to create depth, and small details such the snowfall to create height, and a record player on the side to create a sense of time.

I love her minimalist set involving only a black backdrop, eight lanterns, and the aforementioned record player. Together with a simple (but lovely) costume design, the bulk of the wonderful storytelling was delivered through pure elegant ballet.

I love her use of tempo. Her dancers delivered many a wonderful leap but, more significantly, they also slowed down to emphasize key moments. So slow, in fact, sometimes it took them minutes to cross half a stage. The end result, however, was amazing dance theatre.

I love her use of foreground and background dancers. Every space on stage was always filled but nothing was ever too busy. Instead, the “background” activities subtly enhanced the “foreground.” As a beautiful pas de deux took place, six dancers, three in front of and three behind the couple, walked ever-so-slowly across the stage without any expression. Focussing on the “foreground” duet, I saw a couple finding each other, falling in love, and building a relationship. As I looked at the entire stage, however, I saw a two lovers lost in an ocean of people….

… Would ANYONE ever know of their story? Or, are they JUST another pair of lost wanderers in this world?

Gemma Bond Dance

Congrats to Gemma Bond Dance for two amazing performances and their debut at the Joyce Theater.

I had a lovely time watching the many talented ABT dancers up close at the intimate Joyce Theater. Gemma created some of the most physically intensive choreography at this ballet festival. Of course, her dancers stepped right up to the challenge and delivered two evenings of beautiful ballet. Bravo!!!

(More notes to come)

Cirio Collective

Don’t miss the Cirio Collective — performing again tomorrow night (Monday) as part of the Ballet Festival at the Joyce Theater!

Energy — If I could use only one word to describe tonight’s performance, I would say Jeffrey introduced an “energy” to all his pieces. Not energetic, though one certainly needs to be bold and powerful to execute Jeffrey’s choreographies. Energy as in the “vital force” that every living is said to possess in the martial arts. Or, energy as in the invisible force that Neo is able to channel at the end of The Matrix.

In Jeffrey’s works, dancers interact with one another as if they could pass along their emotions, their psyches, and their invisible energies onto each other. Partnering is no longer a physical push-and-pull but an exchange of psychological states.

His pieces felt as much (abstract) dance theatre as they were contemporary ballet. Starting in “Fremd” and through “Minim” in Act I, the intensity of the exchanges rose, and the emotional states on stage darkened. Lia Cirio‘s facial expressions, enraged and almost villainous, were unforgettable. Jeffrey Cirio himself joined the dancers in “Minim.” Though the dancing has been great up to this point, Jeffrey took his own choreographies to a whole different level. He was more powerful, faster, and stronger. Whitney Jensen who partnered him was perhaps the only one who matched him in speed and energy.

Theatricality aside, my favorite part was seeing this whole new side of Jeffrey, completely different from his classical ballet roles with ABT, and seeing just how much he loved it.

Whitney opened Act II with “In the Mind: The Other Room” and the most sinister scene yet. Performing a solo on a chair, she evoked simultaneously the images of a prisoner in a psychological ward and a lone heroine in a futuristic sci-fi movie fighting for her survival. She was later joined by Lia as the antagonist, and two other dancers who intervened and accentuated the vicious encounters.

Emotional states turned much warmer and brotherly-like in “Tactility” choreographed by Gregory Dolbashian, and performed by Jeffrey and Blaine Hoven.

Finally, to close the show and featuring live violinists on stage, “Efil Ym Fo Flah (Half of My Life)” showcased yet another creative side of Jeffrey. I love the movements as much as the interactions between the dancers and the musicians.

Many of the works tonight included spoken words in other foreign languages (written words, in the case of his video). I was told by a native speaker that his movements did not match the meaning of the words, which was confusing if not jarring.

Overall, Jeffrey showed both his signature and his versatility as a choreographer tonight. Even though I generally enjoy the more graceful presentation of ballet (such as Emery from last week), I was taken through an emotional journey by his works, and look forward to seeing more!

Claudia Schreier and Company

I get to see 12 ballet companies at four shows and one studio rehearsal this weekend. I’m super excited!

Only in New York, can you find such a high concentration of dance talents… where budding choreographers (under 25 years old), rising stars (Claudia Schreier, Jeffery Cirio, Gemma Bond), and world-class ballet companies (Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, and New York City Ballet) are all presenting in the same city at the same time.

The first of the twelve…

Claudia Schreier showcased six works at the Joyce Theater tonight featuring ballerina extraordinaire, Wendy Whelan. Her company also included Unity Phelan (one of my favorite NYCB dancers), Amber Neff (who stepped into and danced beautifully in Emery LeCrone’s shows earlier this week), and other amazing dancers.

In extensive collaboration with composers and musicians, Claudia’s pieces featured live piano, string instruments, and chamber choir. There’s great depths in the music throughout the night. If anything, judging by the number of audience members who looked left during the show (towards the area where the musicians sat), the music might have even overpowered the dance. The movements on stage, though beautiful, felt slow in comparison to the tempo and rich development of the music.

Everyone views dance differently; music lovers may respond more strongly to this performance. Her second and final show is tomorrow (Saturday) at the Joyce Theater Ballet Festival.

ABT Met Opera Season

Congrats to American Ballet Theatre for a wonderful Met Opera season.

You can still see many of your favorite ABT dancers on stage again on July 25-26. ABT’s very own Gemma Bond is presenting her works at the Joyce Theater Ballet Festival in collaboration with 16 incredible ABT dancers. Help support her project and the dancers!

Now, back to the closing night and my third visit this week with Tchaikovsky Spectacular.

I can’t decide which I like more: “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” or “Souvenir d’un lieu cher”.

Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside were stunning in “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux”. The fast-paced duet is a treat filled with gorgeous aerials, and Isabella and James owned every one of them. ❤️❤️

Seeing “Souvenir d’un lieu cher” a second time allowed me to reinterpret this ballet, take in all its details, and appreciate the story even more. In a few short minutes, this ballet brings you inside the mind and soul of the lead character, her memories past, and her torn heart. It makes you feel nostalgia. It reminds you of first loves. It touches your raw emotions. The different cast tonight, newly promoted Devon Teuscher (congrats!), Cassandra Trenary, David Hallberg, and Tyler Maloney, beautifully danced the four roles. Bravos! 🤗🤗

Also, shoutouts to Jeffrey Cirio and Gabe Stone Shayer You were amazing in Mozartiana and Aurora’s Wedding!