Tag Archives: Ballet

Juggling Prodigies and other Excitement

If you haven’t made plans yet for tonight I have a last minute tip- the next generation of variety performers are showing off on the seashore, at Coney Island that is! Sideshows on the Seashore and the Bindlestiff Circus are presenting Cavalcade of Youth:

A special showcase for young variety performers, ranging from amateurs to world-class professionals. Juvenile jugglers, diminutive dancers, adolescent acrobats and a host of other moppets and mummers present a full show of vernal vaudeville. Acts range from debuting amateurs to world-class champion performers — all under the age of 21.

On Tuesday at the Joyce Theater a new season of dance is opening with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s new production Orbo Novo. Check out this preview video:

Orbo Novo (excerpts) from Caleb Custer on Vimeo.

This week is also Rioja Restaurant Week:

You already know how well Rioja wines sync with traditional Spanish food, and now you can see how effortlessly they pair with all types of cuisines, including Asian fare (Kittichai and Indochine), seafood (Mermaid Inn and Flex Mussels) and new world Latin (Yerba Buena Perry and Toloache), to name a few. Dozens of top NYC restaurants will flaunt Rioja’s food-friendliness with prix-fixe menus crafted especially for its wines ($25 or $50, including a glass of Rioja wine; click here to see what each restaurant is offering).

Finally, if you’ve been considering seeing Jude Law play a whimpy Hamlet, I have a deal for you. Click HERE and use the code HMTC1014 for tickets as low as $79.

Have a good start to the week, stay dry, and follow me on twitter for the latest updates!

Falling in Love with Dance

As a somewhat clumsy individual with very little sense of rhythm I am totally in awe of dancers; the grace and expressiveness of their movements never cease to dazzle me.

In-I at BAM was especially interesting as Juliette Binoche is not a professional dancer and described this piece as ‘acting through movement.’ She and Akram Khan created a new sort of dance together; it is brilliantly evocative. What I liked most about the style was that while it was much less acrobatic than most dance it seemed to be more physical; the interaction between the two bodies seemed more emotionally charged than the more technical movements I’m used to seeing (especially in ballet). The weakest portions of the piece were the spoken narratives; they lacked the emotion and drama of the movement. Juliette Binoche has said that she does not intend to dance again but if she does be sure to snag those tickets early!

Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan in In-I at BAM

Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan in In-I at BAM

I also attended two of the Fall for Dance performances at City Center (remember when I waited in line all morning for tickets? It was worth it!). Each of the programs consisted of four pieces, each performed by a different dance company. I will just tell you a bit about my favorites.

Les Biches, a rarely seen work from the Ballets Russes, was an adorable depiction of the 1920s flapper scene. I particularly loved seeing the ballerinas hiding behind a big blue couch to spy on the men. This ballet was considered very provocative when it was first performed and while it’s hardly scandalous the mood it evokes is no less enjoyable.

Snow, choreographed and performed by Sang Jijia, was hypnotic and intensely beautiful. The “snow” drifting down on the stage made the scene ethereal and Jijia’s repetitive movements pulled the viewer into a trance. I couldn’t tell you how long the piece went on, only that afterwards I felt lonely and expectant. The program reads

When snow begins to fall,

The world is silent

And the mind begins to speak aloud…

I believe that is a perfect description of the piece.

Diana Vishneva’s performance of The Dying Swan was truly exquisite. The piece was originally danced by Anna Pavlova and I felt as though her elegance was inhabiting the stage. Vishneva is a prima ballerina at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, so we can only hope her company visits The Big Apple again soon!

Diana Vishneva as The Dying Swan

Diana Vishneva as The Dying Swan

Many of the companies who participate in Fall for Dance perform here throughout the year; I will certainly be alerting you to exciting events but keep your eyes open for news of those dancers in particular and be sure to let me know if you find something before I do!


I just got home, having called it a night a bit early given my growing sleep deficit. Friday night was fantastic! K and I  had a reservation at Satsko but when we got there we discovered (through some surreptitious glancing around the streamers/curtains) that it was frighteningly empty. No decent place should be that empty on a Friday night so we wandered down to Spitzers instead. Of course we had to wait for 45 minutes but we munched on truffle mac and cheese and drank Tanqueray and tonic and all was well. K and I both have a real thing for truffles. I kind of want them on everything… they’re actually a good reason to sell your soul to corporate America- more money means more truffles (and shoes). After a vastly satisfying meal we walked down the street to The Slipper Room to enjoy the aforementioned Hot Box Burlesque. We were pleased to partake of acts featuring Bunny Love, Bambi, Peekaboo Pointe, Queen Laquifa and Tigger.  This was an excellent representation of burlesque. I was very pleased because K and I had three burlesque virgins with us. There was comedy, there were absurd costumes, there were dollar bills all over and there was a drag queen. Perhaps the most exciting performer ‘sang’ the national anthem with her thighs. Yes. She put the microphone between her thighs and scrunched them to play the national anthem.

Singing with her thighs

Singing with her thighs

It was  pretty incredible and I will admit to being jealous of this talent. In fact by the end of most burlesque shows I tend to  feel compelled to perform burlesque. It’s not that I would feel uncomfortable with the nudity, what holds me back is really my lack of dancing skills and comic timing. Sigh…

Friday night finished up with my first bar brawl. This must have been in the wee hours of Saturday morning, there had been a good deal of drinking, dancing and burlesque and some short dweeby looking guy pushed K and she pushed back and then he really pushed her hard, almost knocking her off her pretty little heels. Then I was trying to beat him up and his tall, comparatively sober, friend was holding me back and it all could have gotten quite ugly (trust you me I would have won) but luckily the sober friend dragged the dweeb outside and K and I were able to feel triumphant.

This morning I had to be up at an ungodly hour to meet my grandmother for brunch at Petite Abeille. It’s a marvelous little Belgian place near Union Sq. but I’ll admit brioche french toast was not quite what I wanted first thing this morning. My grandmother is a fantastic woman and a true New Yorker. We go to the opera and the ballet together and visit all the museums and do a great deal of shopping and brunching. She spoils me dreadfully. This morning she bought me lots of pretty things. She has stellar taste and I would be at a loss without her. We trooped up to Lincoln Center in time for our matinée at The New York City Ballet. This afternoon they did a program of three short ballets:

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Choreography by Balanchine

Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Choreography by Balanchine

La Valse; my grandmother paticularly enjoyed this one because she’s been watching Philip Neal perform since the start of his career and she still thinks he’s “very handsome.”

La Valse/Ravel and Balanchine

La Valse/Ravel and Balanchine

And finally, West Side Story, which was interesting in this context because only some scenes were performed and the singing wasn’t always coming from the dancer playing the character, and the dancing is a bit different because the dancers are trained in ballet. On the whole it was not my favorite rendition of West Side Story but I did love their version of the dance where Tony and Maria meet. I was just bummed that they didn’t have the ‘I just met a girl named Maria’ song; I used to sing that in the shower all the time when I was about 12.

West Side Story/Bernstein and Robbins

West Side Story/Bernstein and Robbins

According to Playbill the revival of West Side Story will be opening on Broadway quite soon. Apparently the Puerto Rican characters will be speaking/singing in Spanish.

The production “will introduce the unprecedented element of selectively weaving Spanish throughout both the book and songs,” according to a July 16 announcement.

Laurents, who earned solid reviews (and a 2008 Tony nomination) for staging the current Broadway run of Gypsy, stated, “This show will be radically different from any other production of West Side Story ever done. The musical theatre and cultural conventions of 1957 made it next to impossible for the characters to have authenticity. Every member of both gangs was always a potential killer even then. Now they actually will be. Only Tony and Maria try to live in a different world…”

West Side Story has music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Laurents. The staging will retain the original choreography of late director Jerome Robbins, who conceived the project by using Romeo and Juliet as inspiration. As previously announced, the Robbins choreography will be restaged by Tony Award nominee Joey McKneely (The Boy from Oz, The Life).

I’m not sure how I feel about this innovation but I’m curious enough that I will probably try to find cheap tickets, or at the very least monitor the reviews. We really haven’t had much beyond revivals and Disney shows on Bway lately, which seems really unfortunate since I’m sure there are a lot of creative new projects that just aren’t getting funding. If ‘Cars’ becomes a Broadway musical I may have to set up a picket line.

Tonight I went with a few friends to see all the Oscar nominated short films at the IFC Center. First were the live action shorts:

  • Auf Der Strecke (On The Line): A bit disturbing, rather unsatisfactory ending, very little smiling.
  • Manon on the Asphalt: I am too much of a francophile to not have LOVED this. It’s tragic but so sensuous; I love the close-ups of her hair, the leaves above her, the dreamy way her thoughts travel amongst the people who are important to her. It’s a splendid death scene.
  • New Boy: There are Irish accents and a very charming teacher and a whole group of bright eyed children who learn to be friends with the new boy; I hope this one wins simply because it’s optimistic.
  • The Pig: This is sort of a comedy about two men who are in the hospital and a painting of a pig.
  • Spielzeugland (Toyland): I cried hysterically through most of this. It’s about the Holocaust. There are too many movies out right now about the Holocaust.

After a brief interlude, and the purchasing of popcorn, we sat through the animated shorts:

  • La Maison en Petits Cubes: We travel through the past by going further down in a house that has been built up over time as water levels have risen (environmental msg? not sure).
  • Lavatory/Love story: Too cute. Way too cute.
  • Oktopodi: Two octopuses are in love and rescue one another from various dangerous situations.
  • Presto: If you’ve seen WallE you’ve seen this one- magician vs. his rabbit.
  • This Way Up: Hard to describe, involves undertakers, clowns in hell and some other trippy trippy stuff.

There were definitely others that we saw today that weren’t actually nominated but I’ll admit that they’ve all blended a bit in my mind at this point. I have been told that all of the nominated shorts can be seen through iTunes and I highly recommend that you check them out at some point before the Oscars; it’s very fun to know what’s happening in those categories.

Tomorrow I am going to try to make myself get some work done but I will post about any particularly exciting events happening this week!