Saturday, June 4, 2016

Day 1 at NYPL

Today was Soviet - Lopukhov - Ratmansky day at the NYPL dance division. I watched a fair amount of random stuff on video from the 1940s, viewed some clippings files, and photocopied an entire book in Russian. The usual oddness. Tomorrow: Lopukhov’s Ice Maiden, some Alla Osipenko (almost done with Joel Loebenthal’s book), and the Tanzsymphonie clips NYPL acquired some years ago. Good times. 
I watched Ratmansky’s On the Dnieper again today, after a day of Chabukiani, Ulanova, and USSR folk dance. This is the first ballet Ratmansky made for ABT, and one of his more narrative one-acts. One thing that occurred to me while watching (and which may not be valid): is Ratmansky a more versatile choreographer for men? The “monologues” or solos from the principal men in Dneiper (Gomes and Hallberg) had much more inventive movement vocabularies. 
This was also prompted by watching a clip of Ratmansky dancing a Bejart piece, where he’s supposed to be a “male fairy” bestowing a particular personal quality on a baby, a la Sleeping Beauty. [It’s on one of the “Works and Process” videos from the Guggenheim.) Grounded, almost sensual plies combine with the kind of plastique and cantilena you’d typically see in ballet from a woman. It’s Ulanova’s Odile (watched again today), except unpartnered and done by a dude. Astounding, really. Ratmansky had this very solid physique as a dancer, but he could move like quicksilver, and he has impeccable phrasing. You breathe with him as he moves. 
So now a thought is in the back of my mind - could we say that Ratmansky choreographs in both masculine and feminine languages for men, but is limited to the more feminine for women? Chamber Symphony might bear this out as well. At any rate, I’m going to keep asking myself this question the more I watch. 
PS. Marcel Gomes is a GOD. I could watch that man dance all day. 
(posted May 31, 2016)

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