Ryutaro Mishima and Darla Villani in Nami Yamamotoï¿½s the last word was PAPIREPOSE. Photo by Nicholas Goldberg.
BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Brooklyn, NY
March 4–5, 2005
Reviewed by Jim Dowling
Nami Yamamoto’s the last word was PAPIREPOSE defies attempted explanations. The stark, uncompromising product of a two-year BAX residency takes form as a procession of scenes with evocative names like “a visitor in my window” and “a pair of steep eyes.”
Kiyoko Kashiwagi and Johanna S. Meyer set the striking tone with an opening image of harpies howling as they shrink together to the floor. A film clip by Toki Ozaki zooms toward an enigmatic squiggle that might be no more than a kinked bit of hair. Impossibly skinny Ryutaro Mishima stares through us like the anti-hero of yakuza films, the stylish equivalent of gangster B movies. When he beats his hands to within an inch of his chest, we find ourselves laughing uncomfortably at his rapt concentration.
Three tortured solos introduce the body of the work. Long-limbed Darla Villani skips in place to an Italian folk song, driving herself past exhaustion. Yamamoto, eschewing her facility for flowing movement, performs a series of reined-in half turns. Jean Vitrano pulls herself, with flailing arms and legs, across the floor.
Human interactions prove darkly entertaining. Mishima arrives with Villani, decked out in black-and-white fake fur. Her face forms a pained mask as she attempts to walk straight through him. He responds with a courtly English country dance, before they mime a romantic ballad from a recording by the Japanese-Italian duo Hide and Rosanna.
After Arturo Vidich negotiates a solo of 360-degree leaps and fractured Japanese phrases, Mishima returns with Takemi Kitamura, her porcelain features crowned by curlers. They perform pratfalls by leaping straight into each other’s arms, then use their knees to brutally steer one another along the floor. Only after Mishima finally catches and holds her in midair does Kitamura’s face reveal, with defiance and regret, the extent of her need.
The women from the opening scene return to reinforce our sense of this moment. Their tense tea ceremony soon escalates to swordplay, yet when Meyer pins Kashiwagi against a wall, aggression flags. Kashiwagi tries different paths to gain an embrace from the sitting Meyer till she slides, face turned upward, under Meyer’s arm. Meyer accepts this overture, holding Kashiwagi and her thrashing legs in the failing light.
For more information: www.bax.org
Back in July, the Bolshoi Ballet grabbed international headlines after canceling the scheduled premiere of a new full-length ballet just three days before opening night. The ballet was Nureyev, and, as it was centered on the life of an openly gay male dancer who defected from the Soviet Union, it was widely speculated that the decision was an act of censorship.
Further theories of political motivations arose as Kirill Serebrennikov, the project's already-controversial director, was being questioned in connection with an embezzlement investigation. But according to the Bolshoi, the ballet was pulled due to it simply not being ready, and was not canceled but postponed; a tentative premiere was set for May 2018.
But it looks like Russian audiences will be getting to see the new ballet far sooner than they might have hoped.
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
By itself, a competition trophy won't really prepare you for professional life. Sometimes it is not even a plus. "Some directors are afraid that a kid who wins a lot of medals will come to their company with too many expectations," says Youth America Grand Prix artistic director Larissa Saveliev. "Directors want to mold young dancers to fit their company."
More valuable than taking home a title from a competition is the exposure you can get and the connections you can make while you're there. But how can you take advantage of the opportunity?
New York Live Arts opens its 2017-18 season with A Love Supreme, a revised work by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and collaborator Salva Sanchis. Known as a choreographer of pure form, pattern and musicality, De Keersmaeker can bring a visceral power to the stage without the use of narrative. She has taken this 2005 work to John Coltrane's famous jazz score of the same title and recast it for four young men of her company Rosas, giving it an infusion of new energy.
Photo by Anne Van Aerschot
Before too long, dancers and choreographers will get to create on the luxurious 170-acre property in rural Connecticut that is currently home to legendary visual artist Jasper Johns.
If you think that sounds far more glamorous than your average choreographic retreat, you're right. Though there are some seriously generous opportunities out there, this one seems particularly lavish.
Every dancer has learned—probably the hard way—that healthy feet are the foundation of a productive and happy day in the studio. As dancers, our most important asset has to carry the weight (literally) of everything we do. So it's not surprising that most professional dancers have foot care down to an art.
Three dancers shared their foot-care products they can't live without.
Dancers trying their hand at designing is nothing new. But they do tend to stick with studio or performance-wear (think Miami City Ballet's Ella Titus and her line of knit warm-ups or former NYCB dancer Janie Taylor and her ballet costumes). But several dancers at American Ballet Theatre—corps members Jamie Kopit, Erica Lall, Katie Boren, Katie Williams, Lauren Post, Zhong-Jing Fang and soloist Cassandra Trenary—are about to launch a fashion line that's built around designs that can be worn outside of the studio. Titled Company Cooperative, the luxe line of women's wear is handmade in New York City's garment district and designed by the dancers themselves.
Royal Ballet dancers Yasmine Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell recently got together for a different kind of performance: no decadent costumes, sets, stage makeup or lighting. Instead, the principal and first soloist danced choreography by principal character artist Kristen McNally in a stark studio.
The movement is crystal clear, and at the beginning, Naghdi and Stix-Brunell duck and weave around each other with near vacant stares. Do they even know they have a partner? And how should they interact? The situation raises a much larger question: How often do we see a female duet in ballet?