Best of 2008

December 28, 2008

These picks are highly subjective and totally dependent on where I have travelled.




Most haunting, beautiful, and beguiling: Christopher Wheeldon’s
In the Golden Hour,
part of San Francisco Ballet’s New Works Festival


Best new vision of global interchange:
by Akram Khan with members of his company as well as members of National Ballet of China, casually finding the humor and grace in personal stories of crossing cultures


Most exciting portrayal of immigrant experience:
by Mauro Bigonzetti for New York City Ballet


Most ferocioius rampage with glints of humor: Hofesh Shechter’s
for seven men, at City Center’s Fall for Dance


Most mesmerizing:
by Maguy Marin, wind-blown figures in a hypnotic surreal dream, at the Joyce


Best Fusion: Pichet Klunchun’s
Chui Chai
in Fall for Dance, for its shimmering processional of traditional Cambodian regalia alongside the T-shirted version


Best dance with words: Annie-B Parson’s madcap
The Snow Falls in the Winter
for the new company OtherShore, at Baryshnikov Arts Center


Most voluptuously full of pleasure: Pina Bausch’s
Bamboo Blues
at BAM


Most delicately balanced domestic (inner) world of women:
208 East Broadway, Part II,
by Susan Rethorst at Danspace


Darkest solo that ends with an enlightened flourish: Richard Siegal’s
As If Strange
at Danspace




Martha Clarke’s powerful vision of heaven and hell,
Garden of Earthly Delights
(1984) at the Minetta Lane Theatre


Anna Sokolow’s austere, angst-ridden, and well-crafted
(1955), performed by the Limón company at the Joyce


Lar Lubovitch’s undulating, trippy, North Star (1978) during the company’s 40th-anniversary tour



NYCB’s Robbins celebration, mounting 32 (or was it 33?) of his ballets, including great works like
Moves, Dances at a Gathering, Les Noces
, and—way better than all reports would have you believe—his collaboration with Tharp, Brahms/Handel. This was a thorough reminder of how deeply Robbins ballets can touch you.



Sara Lane’s radiant Aurora in
Sleeping Beauty
at ABT

Trey McIntyre Project, now as a full-time company, at Jacob’s Pillow, immersing the viewer in pleasure and craft



TWENTY-TWO BEST DANCERS (please excuse the splurge, but I just don’t’ have the discipline to cut it to 10)


Jodi Melnick’s fascinating solo in Susan Rethorst’s
208 East Broadway:
shards of thoughts intersecting


NYCB’s Janie Taylor and Damian Woetzel in Robbins’
Afternoon of a Faun:
totally intuitive with the feel of an underwater dream


Rosalynde LeBlanc, whose strong presence as narrator lent drama to
The Snow Falls in the Winter
with OtherShore


Andrew Veyette of NYCB, for his furiously pent up energy in


Pascale Molat in Jorma Elo’s new
Double Evil
in SFB’s New Works Festival, for his exhilarating physicality and sheer momentum


Misty Copeland in Paul Taylor’s
Company B,
for her juicy sexiness in the song “Rum and Coca-Cola” and for her tomboy bravura in Tharp’s Brief Fling


Ekaterina Kondaurova of the Kirov, a wild woman of daring and precision, in Forsythe’s
In the Middle Somewhat Elevated


Diana Vishneva, for making ballerinadom sexy in everything she danced with the Kirov and ABT, but
in her own program, “Beauty in Motion”


Craig Salstein of ABT for his hilarious “Oh Johnny” in
Company B
and for boogying on his knees in Tharp’s Baker’s Dozen


Shantala Shivalingappa, for melting and melding Kuchipudi and Bauschisms in
Bamboo Blues


The Kirov’s Ekaterina Osmolkina, for being light as a feather and dancing with the proper style of dreamy subtlety in Fokine’s
Chopiniana (Les Sylphides)


Yayoi Kambara of ODC/San Francisco in Brenda Way’s
Book of Hours,
warm and joyful


Shani Collins, embodying the earthy spirituality of Ronald K. Brown’s work at the Joyce


Karla Cörbes of Pacific Northwest Ballet, for carrying the musicality of Tharp’s new
Opus 111
with a fluid, ballerina grandeur


Charlie Neshyba-Hodges, as a guest artist with PNB, for capturing Twyla’s manic alter-ego (my interpretation) in her new
Afternoon Ball


Randy Herrera, for having a rooted kind of grit, last seen in Kudelka’s new Little Dancer with Houston Ballet.


Liz Riga, for her over-the-top raunchy/funny femme fatale in Larry Keigwin’s
Love Songs
in Orange County Performing Arts Center’s Fall for Dance


Sarah Van Patten, totally mesmerizing in the slow duet of Wheeldon’s new
In the Golden Hour


ABT’s Gillian Murphy, for her gorgeous tenderness and vulnerability in Tudor’s
Romeo and Juliet
(farewell scene)


David Halberg in Lauri Stallings’
striding onstage in a corset and dancing like a bat outa hell


Josette Wiggan in her own tap solo
sensual, subtle, and surprising




Damian Woetzel, who lit up the NY State Theater in every work he danced with NYCB for 23 years. But we will continue to hear about his activities as artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival.