I’ve long been preoccupied with the blurry boundary between arts and sports. To my mind, the Rose Adagio balances in “Sleeping Beauty” and Odile’s 32 fouettés in “Swan Lake” are akin to the triple axels in figure skating competitions. It was fitting, then, that Ailey II’s New York Season, which opened last week at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, fell during March Madness. As anyone with a busted bracket knows—and that’s most people this year—stats and seeds can amount to nothing in that wild window that is a live performance. Oddly enough, most young dancers get very little performance experience until they land professional contracts. And to score those contracts, many endure cattle-call auditions that tell prospective employers little about how they might behave under the lights, in costume, in front of an audience. Rather, they are essentially hired on the basis of their piano scales. It’s not an ideal way to assess artistry.
Ailey II in Robert Battle’s “Alleluia.” Photograph by Erin Baiano
The son of a painter and a set designer, director/choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot was, it seems, destined to have a life in the theater. Born and raised in Tours, in central France, in 1960, he studied dance and piano at the Conservatoire Nacional de Région de Tours before joining the Rosella Hightower International School of Dance in Cannes.Continue Reading
One would think that a dance inspired by the events of the January 6 insurrection—yes, a dance!—would not be the ideal stuff of theater, but the eight members of Laurie Sefton Creates (formerly Clairobscur Dance Company), succeeded in giving life to Sefton’s premiere “Herd. Person?”, while the dance, itself, was occasionally problematic.Continue Reading