Dance: 2016 Review

This is a post to look back at all the dance I saw this year and also to look forward a bit to next year. Below the fold is a full list of the dance performances I saw in 2016, including a few musicals with significant dancing. (I’m behind on reviews right now, but I’ll update this post with links as I get reviews for November and December posted.)

  • John Cranko’s Onegin by Boston Ballet
  • Kaleidoscope by Boston Ballet – Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2, Leonid Yakobson’s Pas de Quatre, Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, and Leonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne.
  • Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet by National Ballet of Canada.
  • Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake by Boston Ballet.
  • Guillaume Cote’s Le Petit Prince by National Ballet of Canada.
  • Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival.
  • National Tour of 42nd Street.
  • Broadway production of Chicago.
  • Mark Morris’s Mozart Dances by Mark Morris Dance Group (three strongly connected pieces).
  • Broadway production of An American in Paris.
  • Balanchine Black and White: All Stravinsky by New York City Ballet – Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Duo Concertante, Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, and Symphony in Three Movements all by Balanchine.
  • Classic NYCB by New York City Ballet – Balanchine’s SerenadeTchaikovsky Pas de Deux, and Western Symphony, Wheeldon’s American Rhapsody.
  • NY Quadrille 3 by Tere O’Connor Dance – Undersweet and Transcendental Daughter by Tere O’Connor.
  • NY Quadrille 4 by Loni Landon Dance Project – Rebuilding Sandcastles and Fast Love by Loni Landon.
  • 21st Century Choreographers by New York City Ballet – Lauren Lovette’s For Clara, Justin Peck’s The Dreamers and Everywhere We Go, Wheeldon’s After the Rain Pas, and Peter Walker’s ten in seven.
  • Black Diamond by Danish Dance Theatre.
  • American Ballet Theatre’s Fall Season, first performance – Ratmansky’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, Ashton’s Symphonic Variations, and Tharp’s The Brahms-Haydn Variations.
  • American Ballet Theatre’s Fall Season, second performance – Tharp’s The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Jessica Lang’s Her Notes, and Millepied’s Daphnis and Chloe.
  • American Ballet Theatre’s Fall Season, third performance – Ashton’s Monotones I and II, Ratmansky’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, and Balanchine’s The Prodigal Son.
  • Natalia Osipova – Run Mary Run by Arthur Pita, Qutb by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Silent Echo by Russell Maliphant.
  • Kate Weare’s Marksmen by Kate Weare Company.
  • The Blues Project by Dorrance Dance.
  • Balanchine’s The Nutcracker by New York City Ballet.
  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, first performance – Ailey’s Memoria and Revelations, Robert Battle’s Awakening.
  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, second performance -Rennie Harris’s Exodus, Robert Battle’s No Longer SilentThe Winter in Lisbon.
  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, third performance – Four Corners, Hope Boykin’s r-Evolution Dream, Ailey’s Revelations.
  • Joffrey Ballet School’s The Nutcracker.
  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, fourth performance – Johan Inger’s Walking Mad, Kyle Abraham’s Untitled America, and Mauro Bigonzetti’s Deep.
  • Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Swan Lake Act II, Patterns in Space, Napoli DivertissementsThe Dying SwanRaymonda’s Wedding (Act III).
  • Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut by Mark Morris Dance Group.
  • Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Giselle Act II, Paquita.

That’s thirty-one performances, twenty-four of which were in New York and so fell in four month period between mid-August and mid-December. My count next year will  likely be much higher, given the list of what I’m likely to see in the spring and summer.

Of those thirty-one performances, fifteen were by ballet companies or schools. That surprised me; I knew I’d seen a decent amount of modern/contemporary, but it didn’t feel like that much compared to the ballet. The three musicals and Dorrance Dance are in that other sixteen as well, though, and some of the modern/contemporary was rather balletic (Osipova, some of what the Ailey performed).

In total, I saw eighteen groups or companies perform in eleven locations.

Not including the Contemporary Dance Festival and counting Mozart Dances as a single piece, this comes out to sixty-two works. A top ten from that list, in no particular order: Onegin, Ratmansky’s R&JSerenade after Plato’s SymposiumDuo Concertant, Dorrance Dance’s The Blues Project, RevelationsThe Winter in LisbonFour CornersSerenade, and Untitled America.

Only five of those were choreographed this decade. It’s pretty cool to be living in a place where I get to see lots of new and old dance. Also, while no individual piece by Trocks made that list, the Trocks as a whole were an utter delight and gave two of the best full performances I saw all year.

Normally I’d complain if someone asked me to choose a single best from a year-long list like this, but Serenade after Plato’s Symposium is good enough that this year the choice is easy. It’s a ballet with seven men who get to fly and turn and act and all be different and in conversation with each other, and that’s a concept that appeals to me in a way that few others can. Ratmansky executed that concept extraordinarily well, and then you add in the amazing ABT men dancing it? Good luck beating that for me.

One of my friends and I have an ongoing “NYCB or ABT?” conversation. After seeing the fall seasons for both, I was on the ABT side. I like the greater variety, and I’d rather watch an amazing group of principal men than an amazing group of principal women. (My friend’s response: “But Balanchine.”) But then there was the Ailey season, and as is probably evident from the number of pieces that made it into the list above, I fell in love a little. Maybe my answer to NYCB vs ABT is actually the Ailey?

I have tickets for winter 2017 and plans for spring and summer, so here are a few of the things I’m most looking forward to over the next eight months:

  • The Joffrey dancing Pastor’s Romeo and Juliet. (I cannot overstate how excited I am about this. I love R&J as a ballet, and I first heard about this choreography more than two years ago and have wanted to see it ever since.)
  • Martha Graham’s Clytemnestra Act II.
  • The Parsons season generally.
  • NYCB’s Balanchine Short Stories, the Here/Now Ratmansky performance, and Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • ABT’s Golden Cockerel and Whipped Cream. (In the case of Whipped Cream, I’m very wary in my excitement. The aforementioned friend and I had the same reaction to the synopsis: “So it’s Nutcracker but weirder? No wait, Nut is definitely weirder.”)
  • The Eifman at the City Center.
  • Hamburg Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and the Cirio Collective at the Joyce.
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