Showing posts from April, 2023


New York, New York April 30, 2023 The Martha Graham Dance Company, celebrated its 97th year at the Joyce Theater with classic and newly commissioned works, showing off its devotion to Graham’s technique as well as its adaptability to new choreographers. In "Embattled Garden," (1958), the original Garden of Eden is portrayed by Noguchi’s colorful sculptured tree and spiked forest, as four characters: the Stranger, Lilith, Adam, and Eve, flirt, seduce, flail, tempt, and thrust in solos, duets and quartets, executing Graham’s distinctive technique with clarity and strength. Xin Ying (Eve) cantilevers backwards, suspended from Lloyd Knight’s (Adam) grounded position. Dramatic music by Carlos Surinach and lighting by Jean Rosenthal, adapted by Beverly Emmons, showcase the extremes of passion as Leslie Andrea Williams (Lilith) jumps and leaps onto Lorenzo Pagano’s (Stranger) shoulders in one count. Graham ends the piece quietly, as it began, with the characters back in their


You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise... — Maya Angelou Societal upheavals marked the late 1960’s — a time when political assassinations disoriented the public. Pivotal leaders like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, and Fred Hampton were murdered between 1963 and 1969 igniting anger and fires throughout America. From those ashes rose Arthur Mitchell’s vision: the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH). Mitchell, the refined and eloquent star of the New York City Ballet, planted a ballet company for Black dancers to excel and enthrall the world. Providentially, Virginia Johnson, a scholarship dance student newly enrolled at NYU, joined the fledgling DTH in 1969. Soon the remarkable ensemble of dancers drew countless accolades, especially Johnson, the tall, elegant principal dancer. Nearly 50 years after Johnson's achievement, Misty Copeland rose in the ranks to b


NATIONAL DANCE INSTITUTE GALA 2023 By Celia Ipiotis Jacques d'Amboise was most definitely a "force of nature." A popular Principal Dancer with NYC Ballet, in 1976 he turned his radar to the young people of the city who lacked access to the one thing he loved over and beyond anything else--dance. By the time he retired from NYC Ballet, the National Dance Institute was on its way to becoming a major supplier of dance rituals and exhilaration. Originating in NYC, it soon spread throughout the nation and beyond to China and now Lebanon. I remember sitting next to d'Amboise at Skirball --it was not unusual to spot Jacques at dance and theater performances-- and hearing about China's invitation to visit and discuss the establishment of an NDI program. Those early roots have since flourished as evidenced at the Gala April 17 at the Ziegfield Theater. OF course there was the usual dinner, chat, silent auction items and awards, but more unusual for city gala


NEW YORK NEW YORK April 15, 2023 -- "I'm leaving." The measured finality of that statement, uttered by Nora, reverberates throughout the Hudson Theater in the mesmerizing revival of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House set in 1879 and succinctly adapted by Amy Herzog. Stripped to the bones, this quiet but ravishing production directed by Jamie Lloyd, plays out like Japanese Noh theater or spare, ancient Greek drama. All the elements are distilled in the service of the language and slippery emotion built into each word. Straight backed, blond wood chairs on a turntable (by Soutra Gilmour) establish the time, place and ambiance. Lloyd moves individuals around the bare stage like chess pieces: Characters stand behind one another, in front, to the side, close by, or far away. In gradual increments, the stage choreography by Jennifer Rias frames individual's relationships to one another. Nora (Jessica Chastain) commands center stage. Her porcelain skin and delica


Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman New York, New York April 5, 2023 -- How can Stephen Sondheim's remarkable and ghoulish musical tragedy Sweeney Todd exhume such glee from audiences? Hugh Wheeler's book wryly comments on graft and unchecked political greed and power. It's a place where "truth" is suspended between obsession and evil in the misty and dank Dickensian streets. Helmed by Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, the revival sweeps into the dank London mist with superb singing, acting and lots of friskily questionable characters. Rescued from the sea by a young man, Anthony (Jordan Fisher), the haunted Sweeney Todd (Josh Groban) slinks around the once familiar myriad of backstreets to the foreboding mantra "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd." Barely making a living dishing out wretched meat pies, Mrs. Lovett (the delightful Annaleigh Ashford) spies Todd and recalls his true identity: Benjamin Barker (the barber accused of murder). Undaunte


New York, New York April 4, 2023 -- It’s the first true day of spring and a small troupe of people find themselves waiting for a walking tour to begin on an unassuming street corner near Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Two things that make this walking tour special: first, it’s led by a die-hard fan of the mother monster herself, Lady Gaga, and second, it isn’t a walking tour at all. Instead, A Gaga Guide to the Lower East Side The tour guide introduces himself as Phill—a role played by a rotating cast of Lynwood McLeod, Taylor Hillard, and Adam Lawrence—but as he leads the group through the streets of LES it soon becomes clear that he’s much more than an ambitious little monster. In fact, a scandalous Yelp review left the day before has spurred fifteen more minutes of fame for the former reality TV star. Between fielding calls from his agent, and explaining the historical significance of places such as Katz’s Deli, and CBGB, he finds the time to bring the group up to speed on his short s