New York Notebook

Astral Traveling

The opening image of Trisha Brown’s Astral Converted is one of the most stunning of any postmodern piece. Are the silvery figures on the floor fish? Are they mechanics? Are they angels lined up in a row? In any case, each move they make is detected by motion sensors on Robert Rauschenberg’s industrial towers, thereby affecting John Cage’s music. Astral Converted (originally Astral Convertible) is now being revived, thanks to a residency on Governors Island through River to River that includes workshops and talks. Performances are July 10–14 at the Park Avenue Armory.   www.trishabrowncompany.org

 

Diane Madden and Greg Lara in Astral Converted. Photo by Lois Greenfield, Courtesy TBDC.

 

 

More from River to River

The River to River festival produces the kind of event that makes the Big Apple fun in the summer months. This year it gives young choreographers a chance to retool finished works to fit into an outdoor site in the city. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which organizes the festival, is great at finding street corners, alleyways, and parks that you never thought were danceable. Watch for performances by Maria Hassabi, Juliana May, and Beth Gill. Also keep an eye out for River to River’s Tap It Out day at the World Financial Center and JoAnna Mendl Shaw’s installation on Governors Island.  www.lmcc.net

 

STREB at last year’s River to River festival. Photo by Godlis, Courtesy LMCC.

 

 

Back to Where He’s Never Been

Sweet, silly, and sly, Al Blackstone’s infectious girl-meets-boy romp, Brown Eyed Girl, swept the Capezio A.C.E. Awards last summer at the Dance Teacher Summit. He returns this month with Happy We’ll Be, a new 75-minute show in the style of musical theater with a cast of 15. The story is told through movement, he says, “almost like a silent film.” For Blackstone the venue has special significance: His parents used to dance the night away at Roseland before he was born. Happy We’ll Be heads the series of A.C.E. Awards shows that includes 2011 runners-up Nathan Makolandra and Billy Bell. July 26–30 at Roseland Ballroom.  www.roselandballroom.com or www.alblackstone.net

 

Al Blackstone. Photo by Jeremy Davis, Courtesy Blackstone.

Latest Posts


Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS