Hee Seo rehearses "Cinderella." Photo by Gene Schiavone
If the Slipper Fits…
ABT takes on Ashton’s Cinderella
Given the number of Frederick Ashton works American Ballet Theatre has been dancing, and dancing beautifully, as of late—The Dream, A Month in the Country, Sylvia—it’s surprising that this spring marks the company’s first time tackling Ashton’s iconic Cinderella. ABT fans are already familiar with James Kudelka’s Art Deco Cinderella, which has been in the troupe’s repertoire since 2006. But Ashton’s more traditional version poses its own challenges for dancers.
“It requires extreme control,” says principal Hee Seo, who will dance the title role. “The arms and legs are low and must be perfectly placed—only your chest is lifted, filled with air. After a while, Cinderella actually gives you a better feeling for your body, because you’re not just throwing up your legs as high as they can go. When done well, that kind of precision can be very expressive.”
Seo, who gave a rapturous performance as the all-too-human Natalia Petrovna in Ashton’s A Month in the Country last season, has enjoyed immersing herself in Cinderella’s fairy-tale world. “There’s a moment when I’m in the carriage, heading to the ball,” Seo says, “and I’m wearing my beautiful tutu, and I have this long, dramatic cape—it’s like a little girl’s fantasy, and it gives me chills. You can feel Cinderella’s excitement in the air.”
Trey McIntyre Project’s Farewell
This summer marks the end of the Trey McIntyre Project as we know it, and the beginning of a new, multi-disciplinary chapter for McIntyre himself. TMP will give its final performances as a full-time dance company at Jacob’s Pillow in June, dancing Mercury Half-Life—a tribute to the classic rock band Queen—and a new work inspired by the pen-and-ink drawings of Edward Gorey. “I’ve always been fascinated by his illustrations,” says McIntyre of Gorey. “While you won’t actually see any of the drawings onstage, I’ve been working with Michael Curry, one of The Lion King’s designers, on puppetry and masks that look like they’re ripped right off Gorey’s pages.”
Afterward, TMP will begin a new phase: The dance company will disband, allowing McIntyre to take on projects in film and photography, as well as commissioned dance works. “We’re paring things way down and taking baby steps,” McIntyre says. “Once we find out what takes hold, where the audience is, we’ll see if we can expand from there.”
This is an artistic choice, he emphasizes, not a financial one. “Financial issues were a factor, but not in the way you’d think,” McIntyre says. “We’re in great shape financially, and it seemed like a healthy decision to make the transition now, while things are good.” McIntyre has been mulling the change for a few years, trying to figure out how to reconcile his interests in nondance art forms with the responsibilities that come with running a full-time dance company. “In the end, a dance company takes a leader who can give everything all the time, and it just wasn’t doable,” he says.
There are already two film projects in McIntyre’s pipeline: an artistic retelling of the creation of TMP’s Ma Maison, and a documentary about the company’s first 10 years.
Herman Cornejo Stars at Vail
American Ballet Theatre virtuoso Herman Cornejo has been a regular at the Vail International Dance Festival for several years now. This summer, however, he’ll be the festival’s official artist in residence, a title previously held by choreographer Larry Keigwin and New York City Ballet’s Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck, among others.
The artist-in-residence role, which entails involvement in multiple projects across the festival, is an imprimatur, signaling a dancer’s artistic maturity. “At Vail, I’ve been able to cast Herman in things that were totally new for him, and it’s clear that he thrives on those opportunities,” says Damian Woetzel, VIDF’s director. Woetzel was especially impressed by Cornejo’s collaboration with tango artists Gabriel Missé and Analía Centurión last summer, and Cornejo’s artist in residency will include more opportunities for cross-pollination. Cornejo will dance in a new staging of Martha Graham’s Letter to the World, one of his first encounters with Graham’s technique. He’ll also make his debut as the lead in Balanchine’s “Rubies,” after giving a blazing performance of its pas de deux at last year’s festival. “He’s a dancer of the 21st century—he’s always eager to absorb more, and that process is cumulative,” Woetzel says. “The things he learns in each new piece inform his later work.”
Osipova and Vasiliev Visit California
They may no longer be an offstage couple, but Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev still have an electric partnership onstage. This July, the globetrotting pair are scheduled to dance four performances at California’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts, with a program designed to show both at their best: the Kingdom of the Shades scene from La Bayadère and Roland Petit’s Le Jeune Homme et la Mort.
Cedar Lake Turns 10
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet celebrates its 10th birthday this June by making its debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The forward-thinking venue is a good fit for the perennially cutting-edge company, which enters its second decade led by a new creative team that includes Alexandra Damiani as artistic director and Crystal Pite as associate choreographer. At BAM, Cedar Lake will perform repertory favorites by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Pite, Hofesh Shechter, Alexander Ekman and Jo Strømgren.