Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Citizen, ABT at City Center, Sunday matinée, October 26, 2008

Why I liked Citizen (to continue my report of the October 26th 1:30 PM performance):

Waiting for it to begin, I was mentally prepared to dislike the piece, given all the negative criticism it had received on Ballet Talk and newspaper reviews. When the curtain came up, I first noticed Sarah Lane, trying not to wobble as she held fourth position plié en pointe, her opening pose. I need not describe the set, for others have done so, but I'd like to add that the women were not wearing short shorts as others have said (at least not the kinds of short shorts I remember), but even briefer panties that were cut to skim the buttocks above the legs, a costume that might make some uncomfortable to move in for the amount of flesh it reveals.

Sean Stewart, wearing the girly, gauzy top was in stark physical contrast to Cory Stearns in the green corset and silver/mesh capri-length tights, so much shorter and smaller than the tall, larger-bodied Stearns. Lane, attired in the aforementioned underwear, also wore a bra with a corset-laced back, and long-sleeved fingerless gloves that covered most of her hands. Both Melissa Thomas and Devon Teuscher were in the brief briefs but had different tops, one which covered and one which left the midriff bare.

So.... nonchalantly sexy, skin-exposing costuming for the ladies, and both men wearing women's clothing. AHA! It was the beginning of Halloween week! Therefore, in the spirit of Halloween, this brief modern dance, with its witches' brew of strange happenings and weird flavor, worked out very well. It was clearly ABT's homage to the holiday. I loved it when the "other people" came on stage. Sunday afternoon these folks included some Baker's Dozen dancers (who had just performed) still in costume, a few stagehands, and a man carrying a two-year-old little boy in his arms. How very Don Redlich, I thought.

Next, I really loved the tiny gold glitter, especially at first, when the stage was dark, the falling flecks rendering a magical, mystical effect. Really beautiful. I don't remember too much about the dancing. Sarah Lane had many leg-turned-in pirouettes, there was off kilter balancing, sharply angled arm movements, and the neat ending where Lane, stepping slightly in front of the other dancers was finally separated from them by the descending curtain skimming her back as it lowered until she was standing alone in front of it, and, with inches of descent left, was yanked in a split second by unseen arms back behind it and out of view.

I'm sure the effect was even better for those seated farther away than I was.With my background being in modern dance as well as ballet, I had no expectations that Stallings' piece would be much of a ballet. Taken as a contemporary modern dance, I think it was not bad at all. Taken also as the effort of a youngish choreographer, I give Lauri credit for her audacity in exploration and fearlessness in working with well-known classical ballerinas and ballerinos and giving them such an utterly unballetic series of movements to do. I'd have been much too humbled at her age to attempt this on dancers of such caliber. With this kind of chutzpah, I'm eager to see what will be coming from Stallings in the future.

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