WORKS & PROCESS WITH ABT
November 3, 2011
Over the years, the Guggenheim's Works & Process
series has grown from an Upper East Side neighborhood program to a
consistently sold- out occasion.
In the time-honored tradition of Works & Process, Mary Sharp Cronson
graciously welcomed the audience, assuring all that the program would
be well worth their time. Ms. Cronson, the petite, and elegant creator and producer of the popular series, closed with an invitation to mingle at the post performance reception.
Monday's program focused on American Ballet Theater's upcoming fall
season at City Center Season. As a preamble to the show,
John Meehan, now a professor at Sarah Lawrence College (formerly an
ABT dancer) interviewed Kevin McKenzie, ABT Artistic Director.
Elaborating on the difference between ABT's full-scale season at the Metropolitan Opera House and the more intimate repertory
featured during the fall season, McKenzie referenced the early days of
American Ballet Theater (founded in 1940). Emphasis fell squarely on dramatic works like Jerome Robbins' “Fancy Free,” Antony Tudor's “Pillar of Fire,” and
Agnes deMille's “Rodeo” – that was a time when dancers excelled at executing different dance styles and connecting with their audience. Naturally, residence at the Metropolitan Opera gave the company world-class status, but the heart of the organization remained—at least in the early days--with the contemporary ballet choreographers.
Intent on building a 2011 Fall season reflective of the times, McKenzie selected Paul Taylor's "Black Tuesday" built around a series of depression era
songs. Perfect for the current zeitgeist, McKenzie revealed that the company’s first performance of Black Tuesday occurred during a stint in Kansas City on September 11, 2001. In honor of Merce Cunningham Company's Legacy Tour, McKenzie selected "Duets" which will be performed along with a newly commissioned piece by Demis Volpi and the revival of one of
Tharp's most exhilarating works, "In The Upper Room."
Interweaving conversations with McKenzie, and snippets of “In The Upper Room,” “Duets,” and Volpi’s new news piece, Works & Process offers a peek into the process of putting together dances and clarifying steps through the rehearsal process. In Cunningham’s “Duets” Patricia Lent asked the dancers Isabella Boylston and Craig Salstein for simplicity of attack (Agnes deMille demanded the same). Clearly excited about his opportunity to work with ABT, Mr. Volpi was still unraveling steps for his new piece while Stacy Caddell dealt with on-stage traffic in Tharp’s “In The Upper Room.”
After the program, the audience obeyed Ms. Cronson’s hospitable invitation to enjoy refreshments and meet the artists.
American Ballet Theater drops into City Center Nov. 8 -13.
EYE ON THE ARST, NY -- Celia Ipiotis