New York Times: At City Ballet, Two Cheers for Pam Tanowitz
(And 2 more for Brian Seibert)
By Brian Seibert
3 May 2019
Lately, there’s been a lot of talk of a “new era” or “new chapter” at New York City Ballet. At the company’s spring gala at the David H. Koch Theater on Thursday, both phrases cropped up in preshow speeches by the new artistic director, Jonathan Stafford, and the new associate artistic director, Wendy Whelan. These speeches were far from lively, but fresh ideas have been emerging in other forms. The fruit of one was on the program: a commission for the choreographer Pam Tanowitz.
For many years, especially as ballet companies came under increasing pressure to identify and nurture female choreographers, City Ballet’s failure to call upon Ms. Tanowitz was puzzling. It’s true that she’s an outsider to ballet, but she knows her ballet history, and her proven talent in discovering drama and wit through formal invention puts her right in line with the company’s best traditions.
So it’s about time that she be given a shot. Yet, as it turns out, the commission is also a little ahead of schedule. Originally, the plan was for Ms. Tanowitz to make a work for the fall, but when another choreographer pulled out, Ms. Tanowitz — suddenly in-demand and busier than ever before in her career — stepped in.
Might that fast-forwarding account for why her new “Bartok Ballet” feels both overstuffed and undercooked? Its plentiful virtues are characteristic, starting with a wonderfully multidimensional use of stage space. In this ensemble piece, two dancers might oscillate in and out of a relationship intermittently identifiable as a duet, while someone else, way in the rear, lies on her back, raising a bent leg, and yet another dancer peeks out from a forward wing.
Read the full article in The New York Times.
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