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Posts Tagged ‘dance’

Tap It Out

August 17, 2016 | by

The nonlogic of Dorrance Dance’s ETM: Double Down.

Photo: Hayim Heron.

Dorrance Dance’s ETM: Double Down. Photo: Hayim Heron.

Remember Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia in the movie Big, jumping around a supersize electronic keyboard on the showroom floor in FAO Schwarz? There’s a moment in Dorrance Dance’s ETM: Double Down, just performed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance, that brings this to mind. Seven dancers line up on a keyboard comprising triggerboards all in a row. Triggerboards are, more or less, the uniting principle of ETM: Double Down. They’re musical tiles, perhaps a couple of feet square: both an instrument and a dance floor. Tapping on them with the foot produces notes, or other kinds of sounds, through a computer. During the course of the evening, the sounds and sequences produced by tap dancers on triggerboards are sometimes looped and played back, becoming canons or echoes, overlaying new, “live” sounds. Read More »

American Girl Night

August 3, 2016 | by

Photo: Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

No one could miss the magic. Cool alleys of giant pines wind through the park, the entrance by footbridge leads over a creek; far below, you can glimpse striated mounds accreted by live mineral springs. And then: the stately grounds. Even today, in its celebratory fiftieth-anniversary season, with a new plaza built around stadium-size latrines and concessions selling fried dough, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center maintains some of its Nelson-and-Happy Rockefeller–era allure. The center was built to offer New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra permanent summer residencies, and though attendance at dance events and the dance season itself have shrunk considerably over the past thirty years, coming to SPAC still feels eventful. The audience is filled with fans. They dress for the occasion. They know the performers. They roar with recognition when someone introduces the evening’s program. They cheer during curtain calls. They applaud, contrary to City Ballet’s urban custom, when dancers exit, and at the end of each musical section. They even clap for the scenery. Read More »

On Transcribing the Lyrics to Pop Songs

August 2, 2016 | by

A still from “Prisencolinensinainciusol”

Still from Adriano Celentano’s music video for “Prisencolinensinainciusol.”

You really can’t tell what a song is going to look like until you type it, and that fact itself is interesting to me. When you listen to a song, for instance, you don’t know whether its “stanzas” are in quatrains or tercets or what. The stanzas and line breaks you install when you type the lyrics simply were not there before you typed them. They were not in your head, and they were not really in the song either. 

You discover all kinds of things. For example, I recently typed up the words to Cream’s “White Room” (1968). Before doing that, I didn’t know that the song does not rhyme. If someone had asked me if it rhymed, I would’ve had to sing it to find out. It somehow seems like it rhymes? But how is that possible.

I go around telling people that 99 percent of songs rhyme. Is that true? It might not be. Maybe songs all seem like they rhyme, but when you actually check … ? Read More »

Even the Chickens Dance

June 28, 2016 | by

This summer we’re introducing a series of new columnists. Today, meet Jeff Seroy, who has written on ballet before for the Daily.

“It’s got everything, including a Maypole.”

I asked the choreographer Mark Morris—erstwhile bad boy of the dance scene, now about to turn sixty—as we were discussing a memoir he intends to write, to name a work by another choreographer he loved. His answer couldn’t have intrigued me more: Frederick Ashton’s La fille mal gardée.

Even aficionados of ballet may never have seen La fille mal gardée. It sounds antimodern and retrograde and frumpy and drearily clichéd. A comic ballet set in the countryside about a young girl in love with a shepherd whose bossy mother wants her to marry up? That reeks of mildew and lacks the authority of a canonical warhorse to excuse it. But trust Morris’s taste. La fille may turn out to be the best thing you’ve never seen—or you may wonder, as I now do, whether it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen. After many years out of repertory, American Ballet Theater has just revived their production of this masterpiece, and it’s perfection. Read More »

Where the Boyz Are

February 29, 2016 | by

The challenges of an all-male ballet troupe.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 2.47.16 PM

Like Oulipo fiction or gluten-free bakeries, an all-male ballet troupe draws its allure from what’s missing. You wonder: Can they really pull it off? How not bad can it be? After all, Balanchine, in oracular mode, once said that “Ballet is woman”; he later added, “You put a man and a woman on stage, already it’s a story.” So what happens when you put ten men on stage together? Last week’s Ballet Boyz run at the Joyce Theater in New York provided an answer of sorts. Read More »

The Resurrection of Joseph Brodsky

December 1, 2015 | by

Mikhail Baryshnikov’s new “anti-ballet.”

Image via New Riga Theatre

At the New Riga Theatre, before a recent performance of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s new one-man show, Brodsky / Baryshnikov, women combed their hair and adjusted their furs in the yellow lobby’s mirror-paneled walls. Some had camped out overnight for tickets when they first went on sale in September; seats sold out almost immediately and promptly began circulating on the black market for many hundreds of euros. Wealthy Russians jetted in from Moscow and Saint Petersburg for the event—the director Alvis Hermanis and Baryshnikov are both persona non-grata in Russia, so the entirely Russian-language performance will not stop in Russia during its upcoming international tour.

The well-heeled crowd greeted one another with “Ciao, ciao” before slipping into their native tongues, the theater a burble of Latvian, Russian, English, and French. They were all there to see the return of “their” prodigal son, but the performance they witnessed was something more akin to the return of the prodigal son as old man. Mikhail Baryshnikov is, after all, sixty-seven years old. He is no longer a prodigy, but emeritus.

“Those who expect the typical Baryshnikov pirouettes and splits … are likely to be disappointed,” Latvian critic Undine Adamaite wrote in Diena, a Latvian daily. Read More »