6 March Performance Picks From Our Editors
A feast of Forsythe, a surfeit of Dorrance Dance, a challenge to how we perceive refugees. Our editors' performance picks this month run the gamut.
Boston's Mixtape Master
BOSTON Halfway into his five-year partnership with Boston Ballet, William Forsythe is gifting East Coast audiences with his first new work for an American company since 1992. Playlist (EP) expands on ideas from Playlist (Track 1, 2), a short work he created for English National Ballet last spring. Also on Boston Ballet's Full on Forsythe program: the U.S. premiere of Blake Works I, the 2016 debut of which was hailed by The New York Times as "a moment as important as the premiere of Mr. Forsythe's 'In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated,' " and a reprisal of his Pas/Parts 2018. March 7–17. bostonballet.org. —Courtney Escoyne
Fleeing Made Visible
Zahra Saleki, Courtesy Jaberi Dance Theatre
PETERBOROUGH AND TORONTO We hear about the growing number of refugees, but most of us do not see them or the lives they lead. Iranian-Canadian choreographer Roshanak Jaberi and her Toronto-based interdisciplinary group Jaberi Dance Theatre delve into refugee women's lives in No Woman's Land, showing us their hardships and their strengths. March 9–10, Market Hall Theatre in Peterborough; March 14–16, Harbourfront Centre Theatre in Toronto. jaberidt.com. —Wendy Perron
Two By Eight
Regina Brocke, Courtesy Freie PR
STUTTGART What's a company to do if it wants to commission eight new works, but the choreographers are too busy to come to the company? Gauthier Dance's answer: Send the dancers to the dancemakers. Nacho Duato, Marco Goecke, Mauro Bigonzetti, Richard Siegal, Rui Horta, Ed Wubbe, Roni Haver and Guy Weizman, and Barak Marshall all contributed new pas de deux to Deuces. After being created all over Europe, the program comes together at Gauthier Dance's home, Theaterhaus Stuttgart, March 16–24. theaterhaus.com. —CE
Queering the Kingdom
The NWA Project in Oba Qween Baba King Baba, Excerpt #1
Ian Douglas, Courtesy Danspace Project
NEW YORK CITY Gender nonconforming dancemaker Ni'Ja Whitson's Oba Qween Baba King Baba interrogates masculinity and how it impacts our perception of religion. This interdisciplinary work takes inspiration from the stories of queer and transgender children of preachers. On March 23, Danspace Project will host a free preview of the work for self-identified queer and transgender people of color. March 28–30. danspaceproject.org. —CE
A Match Made in Heaven
Mearns in a Bergasse-choreographed piece at Fire Island Dance Festival
Whitney Browne, Courtesy KPM Associates
NEW YORK CITY When Vera Zorina starred in the original 1938 production of I Married an Angel—Rodgers and Hart's musical comedy about a wealthy banker who weds a guileless angel—the choreography was handled by none other than her then-husband George Balanchine. Who better, then, to headline and choreograph New York City Center's revival than newlywed super couple Sara Mearns and Joshua Bergasse? March 20–24. nycitycenter.org. —CE
A Heaping Dose of Dorrance Dance
Dorrance Dance in Michelle Dorrance's Jungle Blues
Dana Lynn Pleasant, Courtesy New York City Center
NEW YORK CITY A surfeit of Dorrance Dance is coming our way, with three programs at New York City Center. Michelle Dorrance's innovative works, old and new, will be interspersed with contributions from guest artists. Master tap dancer Brenda Bufalino brings her jazzy Jump Monk. A premiere by America's greatest tapping clown, Bill Irwin, is bound to be the most fun Harlequin & Pantalone you've ever seen. March 28–30. nycitycenter.org. —WP
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For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"
At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.
Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.