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Fall for Dance: Basil Twist, Monica Bill Barnes & Co., Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, DanceBrazil
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Fall for Dance: Basil Twist, Monica Bill Barnes & Co., Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, DanceBrazil

- Onstage with the Dancers


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New York City Center
Fall for Dance – Program III

Basil Twist
www.basiltwist.com

Monica Bill Barnes & Company
www.monicabillbarnes.com

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
www.trockadero.org

DanceBrazil
www.dancebrazil.org


At New York City Center
www.nycitycenter.org

Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Mark Litvin, Sr. VP & Managing Director
Ellen Dennis, Producer
Wendy Perron, Artistic Director
Clifton Taylor, Festival Lighting Director
Leon Rothenberg, Festival Sound Director
Press: Helene Davis Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 26, 2009


Basil Twist
Petrushka Suite (2001): Created by Basil Twist, Music by Igor Stravinsky, Special Piano Arrangement by The Elkina Sisters, Puppet Couture by Mr. David, Lighting by Andrew Hill, Production Manager: Bradley Thompson, Production Stage Manager: Neelam Vaswani, Technical Director: Michael Kerns, Production Assistant: Shady Patterson, Performed by the Company.


This was my first experience with Basil Twist and his life-size, ballet puppets, and it certainly won’t be the last. In fact, this was one of the most poignant and powerful puppet performances I’ve ever seen, with preciously detailed costumes for all the characters in the Ballets Russes’ and Michel Fokine’s 1911 Petrushka. Basil Twist has an ensemble of 11 humans, in black camouflage clothing and big gloves, who manipulate the marionettes, all of whom have tiny joints, cushiony muscles, and visible attitudes. There’s of course Petrushka, the tragic clown, who adores the ballerina in their show, the Blackamoor, who is obsessed with the Ballerina and jealous of Petrushka, and the Ballerina, who is self-possessed and elusive to both. The puppeteers together evoke the Charlatan, who was so cruel to his characters. To every percussive beat or atonal note, the puppets dance in rhythmic imitation of the actual ballet, but more extended than human limbs could realize. I’d love to know more about the fabrication and rehearsal techniques of these exceptionally designed, life-size marionettes.


Monica Bill Barnes & Company
I feel like (2008): Choreography by Monica Bill Barnes, Music by JS Bach, James Brown, Bobby Byrd, Ronald R. Lenhoff, Costumes by Kelly Hanson, Lighting by Jane Cox, Stage Manager: Emily Park Smith, Performed by Anna Bass, Monica Bill Barnes, and Deborah Lohse.


Like my earlier review of Batsheva Dance Company, the presentation from Monica Bill Barnes & Company seemed not worthy of this event. To a score by five composers, including JS Bach, three women dance in long-sleeved sweaters and retro-woolen skirts, barefoot, showing their stomachs to the audience, gesturing to offstage nonentities, and prancing about with silly grins. They dance with punching motions, like kindergartners in the playground, although that’s even beneath most kids.


Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Go for Barocco (1974): Choreography by Peter Anastos, Music by JS Bach, Costumes by Mike Gonzales, Lighting Design by Kip Marsh, Performed by Vanya Verikosa (Brock Hayhoe), Katerina Bychkova (Joshua Grant), and an ensemble of four.


In contrast to the previous work, Go for Barocco, choreographed by Peter Anastos for Les Ballets Trockadero, was riveting, charming, astonishingly airy, very balletic, and all danced by muscular men in tutus and en pointe. They were short or tall, athletic or fluttering, confident or quivering. They were not just ballet dancers in drag; they were men with excellent pointe and posture training. This was a take-off on Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, to Bach’s Double Violin Concerto. As dancers pretended, with humor, to fall, fight over stage positions, bump into one another, they also leaped, pranced, spun, and lifted one another with over-the-top joy. Each moment captivated the viewer. There were a couple of dancers who almost passed for women, with eyelashes and eye-shadow in theatrical proportions. I have never understood how men dance en pointe, especially with robust limbs, and Les Ballets Trockadero managed to steal the show.


DanceBrazil
Culture in Motion (World Premiere): Choreography by Jelon Vieira, Music by Nanny Assis, Costumes by Jelon Vieira, Lighting by Burke Wilmore, Lighting Supervisor: Philip Trevino, Stage Manager: Anna Fragos, Musicians’ Ensemble Led by Nanny Assis, Performed by the Company.


Once I got over the fact that Samba would not be heard, DanceBrazil’s Culture in Motion swept me with its pulsating intensity, vibrant animation, and zesty rhythms and tones. Five musicians fill the hall, enhanced through throbbing percussion, and the 11 male dancers/gymnasts propel themselves about like Olympic contestants, tumbling, jumping, and taking each other on, like a gang of friends. Jelon Vieira’s loose white, pant costumes become part of the image, as the dancers do scissors-kicks, frog jumps, and stand on one hand, as well. They are bare-chested, barefoot, and brawny. The program notes this dance as illustrative of Brazilian “Capoeira”, a martial arts circular man-game. The youthful audience, filled with contemporary dance enthusiasts, loved the energy and excitement.




Monica Bill Barnes & Company
in "I feel like"
Courtesy of Steve Schreiber




Basil Twist
in "Petrushka Suite"
Courtesy of Richard Termine




Basil Twist
in "Petrushka Suite"
Courtesy of Richard Termine




Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
in "Go for Barocco"
Courtesy of Sascha Vaughn




Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
in "Go for Barocco"
Courtesy of Sascha Vaughn




DanceBrazil
in "Culture in Motion"
Courtesy of Tom Pitch




DanceBrazil
in "Culture in Motion"
Courtesy of Nan Melville




For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net