Sylvie Guillem's Final Bow
Legendary ballerina and contemporary dancer Sylvie Guillem will give the only U.S. run of her farewell tour, Life in Progress, November 12–14 at New York City Center. The extensive tour has already hit Italy, Poland, the UK, Greece, Russia, France, Spain, Australia and Taiwan. It will continue on to Austria before the final performances in Japan, in December.
Guillem will dance in three of the four works on the program. Akram Khan’s new technê and Mats Ek’s Bye are both solos for Guillem. La Scala soloist Emanuela Montanari will join her onstage in Russell Maliphant’s Here & After (also a new work), while Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts will perform William Forsythe’s Duo—a testament to Guillem’s appreciation of the choreographer’s influence.
Guillem, who has made it clear that she will stop dancing while she still has pride in her artistry, has had a remarkable career spanning nearly 35 years. She will be 50 years old when she retires. She rocketed through the ranks at the Paris Opéra Ballet, and in 1984 Rudolf Nureyev appointed her, at age 19, to étoile. She went on to join The Royal Ballet as a principal guest artist and later transitioned into contemporary dance, developing collaborative partnerships with all of the choreographers featured in her farewell tour. —Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone
New York City Ballet’s Forward-Thinking Fall Season
New York City Ballet’s fall season is packed with world premieres, including three by choreographers who have never made work for the company.
NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck and corps member Troy Schumacher will each create a new ballet. Schumacher’s second piece for NYCB will feature a commissioned score from Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the music director for Schumacher’s Ballet Collective and the frontman of the band San Fermin. Peck’s new work will feature Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings.
Audiences can also expect first-time work from Canadian Robert Binet, San Francisco Ballet corps member Myles Thatcher and UK-based artist Kim Brandstrup.
Binet and Thatcher are both early-career artists who’ve had huge opportunities to choreograph on major companies. Binet has made work on the National Ballet of Canada and for Wayne McGregor | RandomDance, while Thatcher has choreographed for SFB and recently participated in the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative. For their NYCB debuts, Binet will use two movements of Maurice Ravel’s Miroirs: “Oiseaux Tristes” and “Une Barque sur l’Océan,” while Thatcher has chosen the first movement of William Walton’s piano quartet in D minor.
Brandstrup’s premiere at NYCB will be his first work ever for an American company. He has received two Olivier Awards and has choreographed works for multiple companies, including The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. He will create a ballet to Jeux, by Claude Debussy. —NLG
Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto Reunite in Hagoromo
This November, recently retired New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan will return to the stage alongside her longtime NYCB partner Jock Soto. The Brooklyn Academy of Music will present Hagoromo, a production directed by Whelan’s husband, the artist David Michalek.
Hagoromo is a classic story of Japanese Noh theater, which dates to the 14th century and combines music, storytelling and dance. The story tells of a humble fisherman who finds an angel’s robe and must return it to her so that she doesn’t die. The show will feature contemporary choreography by David Neumann and three silicone puppets, cast from Whelan’s own body, by Chris Green. Pointe spoke with Whelan before the premiere.
Why were you drawn to this project?
Both David and I have long shared a love of Japanese aesthetic. David always has a million ideas and I hear about them since we share a life together. But this one was special because it was about the chemistry between Jock and I, our maturity and experience, and how there are things we can do better now than ever. I knew he was attracted to Jock’s stage presence and how it resonates similarly with the aesthetic of Noh theater. There is still something rich and deep that can be performed, and I think it is a rare thing to be showing.
How are you using your ballet background in this show?
So far it is totally different than ballet. The only similarity is the emotional intensity it requires. Both the body and the design are not balletic in nature, but I can’t help but bring ballet to anything I do. However, I am not thinking of arabesques, but rather more about following a line of intention with discipline.
Have you ever danced David Neumann’s choreography or worked with puppets before?
No, the puppets and Neumann are an unknown to me. Neumann is known for being an awesome break dancer, and I am yet to be seen as renowned in that genre of dance. However, that’s the fascinating and challenging part, and I look forward to accentuating the movement of the joints and exploring more sliding movements on the floor. Though we have played and improvised a bit, working on a few of the Noh motifs and ideas, I think a lot of the movement will be putting pieces together to forge links: between the ancient and the modern, between the Neumann and the Whelan, between the puppets and the performer. —Candice Thompson
An Historic Moment for Alicia Alonso’s Giselle
After a financially rocky 2014–15 season, Ballet San Jose has successfully transformed itself into Silicon Valley Ballet. To celebrate, the company will open its 2015–16 season on October 16 with the first U.S. production of iconic Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso’s version of Giselle.
SVB artistic director José Manuel Carreño is acutely aware of the significance of renewed relations between Cuba and the U.S. “We are living in an historic moment,” he says, “and, since it’s from Cuba, this version of Giselle will invite engagement across the cultural spectrum of Silicon Valley.” —NLG
Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema
The Bolshoi Ballet’s North American cinema season begins October 11, with screenings of Giselle. The season continues through April 2016, with Jewels, The Lady of the Camellias, The Nutcracker, The Taming of the Shrew, Spartacus and Don Quixote. For more information visit bolshoiballetincinema.com. —NLG