This week at the Joyce, the Van Cleef & Arpels Dance Reflections Festival presented its starriest program yet: “Dancing with Glass: The Piano Etudes.” The show brought together dance world luminaries in five different styles, united by the pensive etudes of Philip Glass and the silken costumes of Josie Natori. (The silk was a fabulous choice to bring out the wateriness of the piano pieces.) Eleven of Glass’s twenty etudes were used, and ten were played by the renowned Glass interpreter Maki Namekawa (Glass composed a piano sonata just for her in 2019). Five etudes were used to accompany dances, the other six spotlighted Namekawa’s solo playing in the front corner of the house. If it was often hard for the dancing to compete with Namekawa’s dazzling virtuosity, there was no harm done in the trying. And the overall conceit of the show was a good one. Etudes are quite literally studies, and Glass created his over two decades as practice tools to enhance and inform his own playing. Taken together, the five disparate dance works had the feel of exploratory sketches. I could see the project morphing and continuing with other dancers, choreographers, or pianists.
At 82, Twyla Tharp shows no signs of slowing down. She brought two world premieres and an all-star revival to the Joyce this week. The newest dances made it clear that although she’s still a dynamo, aging is very much on her mind. She is exploring wistful terrain these days, but she is doing it with her characteristic humor and high step count.Continue Reading