Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hello Again: A Return and Candle-Scenty

That didn't last long, did it?

Everything was fine until about a month ago. I attended a baby shower. A guest said vowelly. I kept my hands in my lap.

Then, at MoMA, a friend, describing his friend who writes Internet poetry, said internetty. Naturally this conjured a filigree of netting.

There were at least two other words after that. I tried to keep the pressure from mounting.

Now I'm reading Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, and y-words are everywhere. It's a little obscene.

Last night I took myself to ABT at the Met to see the premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's ballet Thirteen Diversions. I first saw a Wheeldon piece several years ago, and I was determined to make sure yet another year didn't pass without seeing his work again.

It happened to be in a program with a Millepied. Now: I saw a Millepied some months ago, when we were still wearing furry boots and the sky was dark by 5 p.m. To my surprise, I thought it was quite good. It was different, strikingly so. I'm not a dance critic, so I can't say what was appealing.

Last night's Millepied piece, Troika, was, again, striking. A narrative featuring three male dancers and a cellist, it told a little story about relationships. One of the dark-haired dancers was particularly crisp.

A revival of a piece called Shadowplay came after the Millepied. Nobody seemed to be much impressed. Maybe they thought the dancers were miscast? I liked it (and happen to like The Jungle Book), and I had never seen it.

The program concluded with the Wheeldon. Here's what happened during the watching of it: candle-scenty, a y-word from the Lethem kept popping into my head (candle-scenty emitting precisely the right connotations for the scene in which it appeared); the phrase "hair-acting" came to mind, because I kept thinking that what was playing before me could be termed "arm-dancing"; and I wondered if perhaps Benjamin Millepied wasn't my preferred new choreographer.

I lost count of the movements--probably while wandering between a rigorous dance sequence from Fred Wiseman's "Paris Opera Ballet" and the Maria Tallchief scene in "Million Dollar Mermaid"--but am guessing that my favorites were the two Toccatas and possibly the Ritmico.

The lighting was superb, at once a nod to sun play on the horizon, computer screens, and the corner of a lone page of a blank book.

Philistine though it is to say, the stars of the show were the women's costumes, gossamer gorgeousnesses created by a man named Bob Crowley. What they were made of I don't know. A plunged V-neckline (with skin tone fabric stretched across the gap) blossoming to full three-quarter (?) length sleeves, coming back in to a cinched waist, then out into a bell-shaped skirt to the knees (slitted so as to fan at the hip line), with a little apron flap (surely there's a name for this) fluttering from the small of the back.

Where was the lagniappe? In the hem line.

The soloists's dresses were silver hemmed with pink and bright pink or .... something along those lines, in the reds, pinks, and purples. The others wore black hemmed with something approaching a cadmium yellow, although (because I took no notes) perhaps their hems were red and yellow. (Now I wish I had taken notes.)

I wondered if the dancers loved the costumes or not. I wondered how Bob Crowley created them. Did he test-dance them to see how they wore, how they moved, how they held up under the grip of the men's hands? Did he have people sit in the Family Circle (where I was originally) to see if the colors made it up that far? Were the hems hand-sewn? What were the ribbons made of? What is the function, if any, of the little flap?

After the program, I walked over to the fountain and lay back with my head toward the water plumes. Sometimes New York seems like just another big city, but last night wasn't one of those nights.

::UPDATE:: Looking at the photo in the Times this morning, I see that the sleeves on the silver (apparently grey, but such a luminous grey....) dresses were sleek sleeves, leotard-like. The corps wore black with yellow hems. The principals wore silver (grey) with pink hems.

::ADDITION:: Haglund's Heel characterizes the choreography of the first ballet of the evening, Dumbarton Oaks, as "very steppy and peppy, which seems to be Ratmansky's preference. It had a Great Galloping Gottschalk feel to it without the dynamics that Lynne Taylor-Corbett designed in her piece."

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