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Ballet Festival at The Joyce Theatre, NYC , Programme C

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Ballet Festival, The Joyce Theatre, New York City, August 2019


Programme C, curated by Jean-Marc Puissant, designer, watched on Weds 14th and Thurs 15th August


This was a mixed programme with dancers from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and The Royal Ballet.


The opening piece 'Then And Again' was choreographed by ex-RB Gemma Bond using the music '12 Caprices for Solo Cello' op 25 by Alfredo Piatti.

Although this is an abstract ballet there were themes of loneliness and isolation from the leading female dancer which the cello music highlighted, cello being such a soulful instrument.

The dancers , mostly from ABT , were Stephanie Williams ( in the lonely role), Zimmi Coker, Anabel Katsnelson, Betsy McBride, Courtney Shealy and Cassandra Trenary with Thomas Forster and Erez Milatin partnering the female dancers. Forster is a particularly strong partner. Milatin ( New York Theatre Ballet, ex NYC Ballet) also had a light and delightful solo. I felt this was a pleasant way to start the evening without making a very strong impression on me, over the two evenings that I watched this piece.


The most powerful work of this evening was certainly the next piece 'Song of a Wayfarer' choreographed by Maurice Bejart with staging by Maina Gielgud. The dancers were David Hallberg, principal dancer with ABT and Joseph Gordon , principal dancer with NYC Ballet. The music by Gustav Mahler 'Symphony No 1, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen' created the mood of travelers on a journey, a journey of their relationship as well as a physical journey. The emotions brought to this piece by these two supremely talented dancers were so strong that you felt each step and each moment with them. There are duets and solos within the work, allowing us to see just how special and talented these two principal dancers are. Having seen Hallberg recently guesting at the RB I knew he was an elegant and expressive dancer. Joseph Gordon was a revelation to me, his beautiful line and fluid dancing were exquisite. There were some lighthearted moments, some jolly camaraderie, which made the more poignant interludes even more heart wrenching. As the lights faded at the end of the piece, as Hallberg lead Gordon by the hand to take him toward the back curtain and onward on their journey, Gordon turned back to the audience with an out-stretched arm and an expression of intense yearning and loss on his face. Spellbinding. A few moments of utter quiet were broken by rapturous applause and numerous curtain calls with a standing ovation.


To close the evening and to add a little sweetness after the bitter 'Song' , we had Divertissements from Elite Syncopations with dancers from the Royal Ballet. Kenneth MacMillan's Ragtime ballet featured Sarah Lamb and Calvin Richardson as the top-hatted central pair, Marcelino Sambe and Cassandra Trenary ( ABT) , and Joseph Sissens and Romany Pajdak as the pink and green couple. The dancing is so witty that you forget how complicated it is. Sarah Lamb and Calvin Richardson, elegant in silver and black, opened the proceedings and later gave us the glorious Bethena Waltz. Sambe gave us a brilliant 'Friday Night' solo , jumping and changing posture in mid-air not once but four times...which brought the house down in a huge cheer and much applause. Trenary, in floral turban and red ,white and blue costume, gave a very sassy Hot House Rag, with excellent use of her knowing glances and flashing eyes. Sissens and Pajdak were lovely as the pink/green pair, whose duet requires rather unusual and very humorous partnering , ending with him carrying her off upside down while she executes the full splits.

Tremendous fun and a lovely end to Programme C.




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I’ve now read up some previous discussions on Song of a Wayfarer and realise that Hallberg’s character represents Destiny and he is leading the Young Man , Gordon, ever onwards to his ultimate fate... This makes sense to me but even though I didn’t know the synopsis when I wrote my review, my feelings of a relationship progressing to a sad despairing ending were from the heart . 

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Many here will not know Joseph Gordon, a relatively new principal at NYCB who was featured in this strand's referenced programme at The Joyce alongside the RB's new 'permanent guest artist'.  

NYCB has just issued a video piece fronted by Gorden on the first movement of SinC (here partnered with Ashley Bouder who many will remember from NYCB's tour to London in 2008) which I thought some might find of interest:-



Edited by Bruce Wall
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