By Martha Ullman West
According to Jennifer Homans, whose Apollo’s Angels the New York Times Book Review has anointed one of the 10 best books of 2010, ballet is dead, not only because Balanchine is dead, but also because the courts of Louis XIV, XV and XVI are long gone.
That conclusion is based on my reading of the first few chapters and the last two, all I’ve gotten through so far, though I hasten to add that despite the over-use of “indeed” and a rather girlish use of italics when she wants to emphasize a point, Homans’ book (she has a Ph.D. in modern European history from New York University) is a very well-written history of ballet. Based on what I’ve seen in the last six weeks in our neck of the woods, though, when it comes to the death of ballet you could have fooled me.
Item: Early in January I had a peek at an Oregon Ballet Theatre School rehearsal of Coppelia, Kent Stowell’s version, which the students will perform in their annual concert on April 29th and 30th. Stowell the Elder and Francia Russell were staging it, with just as much energy as the littlest kids in rehearsal, working together as a team as they’ve been doing for decades.
Continue reading Ballet is dead. Long live ballet.
By Bob Hicks
Scatterers have been sowing their wild oats elsewhere lately, and old topics are coming up new again. A quick update:
- Martha Ullman West, Art Scatter’s chief correspondent, has a guest column on Tobi Tobias’s Seeing Things dance blog at Arts Journal. In Doing Well in a Rainy Climate: Ballet in the Pacific Northwest, Martha notes that ballet is drawing an unusually big following in the Northwest, and gives a good rundown of what’s happening with the big three: Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet, Portland’s Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Eugene Ballet. It’s especially good to see her sharp take on the Eugene company, which often gets lost in the shuffle.
- Martha also reviewed the premiere of OBT’s scintillating new version of The Sleeping Beauty for The Oregonian. Here’s the Oregon Live link.
- Mr. Scatter, sometimes known by the nom de plume Bob Hicks, has a review in The Oregonian of Third Rail Rep‘s sweet and slightly bawdy American premiere production of Brit writer Chris Chibnall’s life-and-death comedy Kiss Me Like You Mean It. As usual with Third Rail, the directing and acting are topnotch. Here’s the Oregon Live link.
Meanwhile, some old friends are knocking on the door again.
- Susan Banyas‘s fascinating memory play The Hillsboro Story, about a little-known but extremely telling small-town skirmish in the 1950s vanguard of the war for civil rights, returns for a two-week run at Artists Rep beginning Wednesday. The play has been getting lots of attention since we first wrote about it in January of this year, when it debuted in Portland’s Fertile Ground new-works festival, and it looks to have a long life ahead of it — as well it should — in school tours.
- VOX, Eric Hull’s fascinating “spoken-word chorus” of poetry rearranged as a sort of spoken music, with the language conceived as if it were written as four-part sheet music, returns to Waterbrook Studio for shows October 15-24. Mr. and Mrs. Scatter plan to be there one of those nights. This version is called Achilles’ Alibi, and includes works by, among others, William Butler Yeats, Robert Burns, William Stafford, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michele Glazer, and Oregon poet laureate Paulann Petersen. We wrote about a night with the VOXites back in April, in the post Poetry off the page, or, the fat lady sings.
Gavin Larsen is the wicked Carabosse and Javier Ubell her chief toady in the premiere of Christopher Stowell’s “The Sleeping Beauty” at Oregon Ballet Theatre. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert