Two New Ballets

Dm-winters-tale-bohemia-tree_1000Wendy Lesser at Threepenny Review:

Dance is the least predictable of art forms. Even when done by a choreographer you love, with superb music and excellent dancers, a new piece may disappoint—and, conversely, something about which you had low expectations may delight and move you. Last spring I saw, in quick succession, two relatively new evening-length ballets on either side of the Atlantic. Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale had been around since 2014, in performances by both the Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada, but I only caught up with it in May at Covent Garden. Alexei Ratmansky’s version of The Golden Cockerel (a work which has an old Russian history, going back to Fokine and earlier) opened in Copenhagen in 2012 but did not have its American premiere until this past June in New York. In each case, the performances I saw surprised me.

Wheeldon is not one of my favorite choreographers, and I’ve especially disliked the way he’s sometimes used women in his work, which did not bode well for Hermione, Paulina, and Perdita. Worse yet, thisWinter’s Tale had a newly commissioned score by an unknown-to-me Englishman, Joby Talbot—a worrisome fact, given my long history of attending British Shakespeare productions burdened by trashily new music. Moreover, the lead dancer in the May performance, Edward Watson, had recently been criticized by a major Anglo-American dance critic for, among other things, having red hair and pale skin: flaws that I forgive, since I have them both myself, but still… So I was nervous about the Covent Garden evening. I warned my non-ballet-fan companions (dragged along at great expense) that the only thing in the dance’s favor was that a San Francisco friend had raved about the Toronto performance she had seen, saying it was one of her favorite new ballets ever.

more here.