New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala featured excerpts by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and a new piece by Justin Peck—all filmed for the occasion by Sofia Coppola. Phillippe Le Sourd served as director of photography, Chad Sipkin edited, and Peck and Coppola were jointly credited for the concept—which placed snippets of dances all over the David H. Koch Theater as it reawakened from its long Covid slumber. The gala premiered on May 6th, but I sat down to watch it after I dropped my son off at preschool a few days later. This is the only upside to reviewing in the pandemic: unless the shows are broadcast live, they slot into my schedule. I was in work mode, with a notebook before me and a pen in my hand. I was curious about Coppola’s filmic approach, and I expected my review would revolve around an analysis of her camera work, cuts, framing, and editing. I am not a film critic, but how a dance is shot counts for a lot these days. Also, it is useless to judge dancing onscreen in the same way I would in person. Alas, this is what reviewing dance in the pandemic has become: essentially, film reviews by amateurs.
Gonzalo Garcia in Jerome Robbins’ “Dances at a Gathering,” directed by Sofia Coppola. Photograph by Philippe Le Sourd
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