A weekly, highly personal and subjective list of performances and artists we want you to know about:
I love watching dance and performance artists in the process of investigating new ideas. At the Center for Performance Research (CPR), a well-equipped rehearsal and performance space in Williamsburg, that’s always what is happening. In this week’s Performance Studio Open House, you’ll get to see three pieces in process, including work by one of my favorite pairs of performance artists, Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith, as well as the accomplished Abigail Levine, and an artist whose work I’ll look forward to seeing for the first time, Maritea Daehlin. If the creative process moves you, this will be a good evening of exploration. (Note: I am also an advisor to CPR’s Board of Directors, and think the space itself is really worth getting to know.) On Tuesday, April 25 at 8 pm, with a post-show discussion moderated by Jen McGinn.
Guggenheim’s Works & Process, a longstanding performance series, also has an intriguing program this week – highlights and discussion of American Ballet Theater’s newest production, Alexei Ratmansky’s “Whipped Cream,” created in collaboration with the lowbrow (pop surrealist) painter Mark Ryden. It’s based on a 1924 Viennese ballet with music by Richard Strauss, and now reinvented with 21st century artistic sensibilities. The performance excerpts will be accompanied by a moderated discussion with John Meehan. This should be the perfect preview to the New York premiere of the full work later this season. Opens Sunday April 30 at 7:30 pm.
Anyone who gets swept up into a conversation with Rajika Puri will be blessed by her vibrancy, her humor and her affection, which occasionally takes the form of a command. A gifted dancer who combines movement with spoken word in her velvety alto tone, she’s not just the Perle Mesta of Indian dance in New York City – the social lynchpin that holds the scene together – she’s the Lincoln Kirstein as well. Her mentoring and patronage has not only helped scores of Indian performers, she’s helped dance writers learn about Indian dance. If I sound besotted, I ought to be. Rajika advised, encouraged and occasionally badgered me into seeing more, learning more and becoming a more knowledgeable writer and viewer.
You have a chance not only to soak in her presence, but to get to know the Indian dance community at “From the Horse’s Mouth.” Developed by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham, the performance is has been done by several different communities and affinities of dancers as part oral history, part celebration. Wednesday, April 26 at 6:30 pm Rajika will offer a talk on “A Century of Indian Dance in America” and then on Thursday, April 27 at 8 pm through Sunday, “From The Horse’s Mouth” will involve over 25 performers. It should be enchanting.
New York City Ballet is planning about to launch a blockbuster: The Here/Now Festival starts tomorrow at 7:30 pm and showcases the company’s commissions in the post-Balanchine era and it’s going to stretch the company to the limit: 43 ballets by 22 choreographers over the next four weeks. And yet, you’re going to have to pick and choose to really get excited – a lot of the recent works may not prove to be durable.
Here are the ones I’d watch for. All the Ratmansky ballets are at least good, some far better than that. The All-Ratmansky program contains his masterwork “Russian Seasons,” “Concerto DSCH” on Program 9 is worth your time. There’s a new work by the same team (Ratmansky and composer Leonid Desyatnikov) getting its debut on May 4. The All-Wheeldon program has several excellent works – and “American Rhapsody,” so you might want to slip out at the last intermission. The All-Peck program seems oddly to contain his weaker or more formulaic works – I’d opt for the programs with “The Times are Racing” or “Year of the Rabbit.” The pas de deux from Herman Schmerman is the only Forsythe piece left in the repertory (will someone ever revive “Behind the China Dogs???”) Troy Schumacher’s “Common Ground” shows him as an NYCB choreographer whose process and priorities are refreshingly different from straight up music visualization. And of the Martins works dotting the repertory, “Ash” and “Fearful Symmetries” are actually good, solid pieces. The festival runs through May 21.
Cover: Rajika Puri. Photo © Andy Chang.
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