PC Paul Kolnik

What Makes Robbins' Glass Pieces So Powerful

New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.



Glass Pieces has this clarity and purpose without a narrative. Or, rather it's a narrative of dynamics, not a narrative of plot. He worked with lighting designer Ronald Bates to give us a graph-paper grid on the backdrop that relates to the cumulative mathematics of Philip Glass' music. This 1983 ballet is divided into three parts: simple walking, an ethereal duet backed by a more stylized walking, and a striding low run that's gone way beyond walking. The mounting kinetic excitement pulls you in. It makes you feel the humanness of the dancers at the same time as you notice patterns, whether they look random, as in the first section, or shot from a cannon, as in the third section.

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Procopio Photography, courtesy The Washington Ballet

The Ultimate Dressing Room Playlist, Curated by Nardia Boodoo

When it's Nardia Boodoo's turn to play her music in her dressing room at The Washington Ballet, it's an event. "Everyone is like, 'That's such a cool song,' and wants me to send it to them," she says. "I feel like I have the better taste in my dressing room."

That's partially because she mostly stays away from trendy pop hits, opting instead for international music influenced by her Trinidadian heritage. "I could not even tell you the songs that are on the Top 40 list," she says. "If everyone else likes it, I want something different."

Boodoo made us a playlist—mostly "groovy international music"—and told us about how she finds her sought-after songs:

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