Best of 2009 (and a few Worsts)
As usual, I have no discipline when it comes to narrowing down my favorites to 10 best. There are way too many performances and people that I loved.
On another note, the deaths of two giants, Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch, cast a shadow over the whole year. But they also reminded us that great artists were and are in our midst.
Best dramatic dancing
â€¢ Karine Plantadit, a wild one in every way, in Tharpâ€™s
Come Fly With Me, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta.
â€¢ Marie-Agnes Gillot, ecstatic in
Blue, by Carolyn Carlson at Dance Salad in Houston
â€¢Stella Abrera, sweetly embodying the hint of story in Ratmanskyâ€™s
Seven Sonatas, at ABTâ€™s season at Avery Fisher Hall
â€¢ Samuel Lee Roberts, alarmingly extreme in his portrayal of suffering in
In/Side, Robert Battleâ€™s solo for the Ailey company, at NY City Center
Best new principal dancer
Tiler Peck of NYCB: so piquant, so real, so willing to play with the music
Most consistently gorgeous modern dancer
Linda Celeste Sims of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Most hilarious performances
â€¢Â Mugen Kazama of Tulsa Ballet in MacMillanâ€™s
Elite Syncopations at the Joyce
â€¢Â Parisa Khobdeh as a tipsy lady in Paul Taylorâ€™s
Offenbach Overtures at City Center
Most elegant contemporary duet passages
â€¢Â Hee Seo and Marcelo Gomes in section IV of Kudelkaâ€™s
DÃ©sir at ABT, at the Met
â€¢Â Megumi Eda and Zoko Zoko in Karole Armitageâ€™s
Itutu, at BAM
Most unusual stage presence
Eyar Elezra of Batsheva in Ohad Naharinâ€™s
Max, B/olero, and Hora
Most riveting performance by a nondancer
Actress Juliette Binoche in
In-I (2008), her collaboration with Akram Khan, at BAM.
â€¢ Paul Taylorâ€™s
Scudorama (1963), an oddball, anarchic view of society, City Center
â€¢Â The Joffreyâ€™s version of Nijinskyâ€™s
Rite of Spring (1913), as monumental as ever, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago
â€¢ Mark Dendyâ€™s
Afternoon of the Faunes (1996), a brilliant, autoerotic version, at Fall for Dance
Worst Broadway revival
West Side Story: How can anyone ruin such an all-time great musical?
Best new musicals
â€¢Â Billy Elliott
Most inexplicable dismissal
The Merce Cunningham Dance Company did not renew the contract of their best dancer, Holley Farmer.
Most transformed dancer
Holley Farmer in Tharpâ€™s
Come Fly With Me
Most amazing extended tantrum
Georg Reischl in Forsytheâ€™s
Decreation at BAM
Most electrifying new work
Hora for Batsheva Dance Company at Suzanne Dellal Centre, Tel Aviv
Best new ballets
Seven Sonatas for ABT, to Scarlatti: beautiful and witty
â€¢ Benjamin Millepiedâ€™s
Quasi Una Fantasia for NYCB: a daring choice of music, a command of shifting masses, at David H. Koch Theater
â€¢Â Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, Part of Thirteen/WNET’s American Masters series, directed and produced by Judy Kinberg and written by Amanda Vaill
â€¢Â Every Little Step, directed by James D. Stern, about auditioning for the remake of A Chorus Line
Least helpful documentary
La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet, by Frederick Wiseman. The hubris of not identifying the dancers and choreographers!
Best set design
â€¢ Line of real fire for Jorma Eloâ€™s
Rite of Spring for Boston Ballet, the Wang Center, Boston
â€¢ Revolving electric fans that threw fascinating shadows, by Burt Barr for Jodi Melnickâ€™s
Fanfare at The Kitchen
Best new trend
Flash mobs on YouTube
Best Ballets Russes dancing
Boston Balletâ€™s Larissa Ponomarenko in Fokineâ€™s
Le Spectre de la Roseâ€”this must be how Karsavina danced!
Most mesmerizing U.S. premiere
Trisha Brownâ€™s transporting
O zlozony/O composite (2004) with Laurie Andersonâ€™s whispering score, and three Ã©toiles from Paris Opera Ballet, at BAM.
Most dazzling U.S. premiere
â€¢ Wayne McGregorâ€™s confounding
Â Chroma, performed by eight astounding dancers of The Royal Ballet, the Kennedy Center
Best onstage lovers
Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes in MacMillanâ€™s
Romeo and Juliet on gala night at ABT. Bodies entwining and surrendering to each other, a really convincing kiss.Â She was super dramatic and he super ardent,at the Met.
Best battle of the sexes
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in
Noces by Stijn Celis at Fall for Dance: After you get past the whiteface, the choreography was superb.
Most rousing finale
The last section of Mark Morrisâ€™
Grand Duo at Fall for Dance
Most exuberant farewell
ABTâ€™s Nina Ananiashvili: She embraced each corps member, conducted the orchestra, and bourrÃ©ed like a dying swan in front of a line of dancersâ€”and, was spontaneously lifted by Angel Corella at the end of that line, at the Met.
Most low-visibility farewell
As the lead in Ashtonâ€™s
A Month in the Country, Alexandra Ansanelliâ€™s final performance in the U.S. with The Royal Ballet (unannounced), at the Kennedy Center, was lushly romantic.
Most heroic reconstruction
Frank Andersen and his colleagues spent months remaking the 133-year old Bournonville ballet,
From Siberia to Moscow, for Nina Ananiashviliâ€™s State Ballet of Georgia in Tblisi.
Most dance-packed tiny county
Israel. Finally, I was able to attend International Exposure, the annual 5-day festival at Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. About 28 choreographers and companies showed work and more than 100 presenters and journalists from around the world attended.
Â Ranging from unbearably intense to sweetly innocent, the work showed a raw honesty and willingness to experiment. I wanna go back.