September 22, 2011
Paul McCartney in action. Courtesy of New York City Ballet.
If anyone deserves to be called a living legend, it's Paul McCartney. The Beatles veteran has accomplished more in a single lifetime than any other living musician, and is even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for his unprecedented success as a composer and musician. Now, at age 69, McCartney steps onto a new stage. Tonight, Thursday, September 22, his first original orchestral score for dance, Ocean's Kingdom, will debut at the annual gala for the New York City Ballet. Choreographed by Peter Martins and featuring 48 dancers, this sweeping underwater ballet follows King Ocean's daughter, Princess Honorata, as she takes on a terrestrial love triangle. McCartney's own daughter, Stella, designed the costumes for the ballet. Additional performances are slated for September, and the run picks up again post-Nutcracker in January. For those who simply can't wait, the score will also be released on disk October 3.
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March 29, 2012
The Joyce Theater Foundation, New York’s preeminent dance hub, will host its annual black-tie spring gala on April 4, featuring a rare stateside performance from Sylvie Guillem. Guillem, who began her career as the youngest-ever étoile (principal dancer) at the Paris Opera Ballet, is now widely regarded as one of the greatest ballerinas of her generation. She will perform the American première of 6000 Miles, a program of contemporary works by renowned dance makers Mats Ek and William Forsythe. Though Guillem became a star dancing classical ballets, it is in contemporary choreography that her blend of sensuality, near-flawless technique and quirkiness is best appreciated—and while the Forsythe portion of the evening is a pas de deux (with Massimo Murru from Teatro alla Scalla Ballet), the Mats Ek piece, created purely for her, is a solo. 6000 Miles will run April 4, 5 and 7; gala tickets, from $1,000; joyce.org.
May 03, 2012
The New York City Ballet Spring Gala at Lincoln Center—one of the most highly anticipated fetes of the year—celebrates the company’s storied history and evolution, with dinner, dancing and a performance featuring two new ballets on May 10. Natalie Portman, who won an Academy Award for her role in 2010’s ballet thriller Black Swan, chairs the event, but the centerpiece of the evening is the world debut of a new work choreographed by principal dancer Benjamin Millepied (Portman’s husband) to a newly commissioned score by Nico Muhly. Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, who designed the costumes for Black Swan, did the same honors for this piece.
The company will also debut a work by Peter Martins, and revive George Balanchine’s iconic Symphony in C, which French composer Georges Bizet created when he was a 17-year-old student at the Paris Conservatory. The Balanchine number will feature all-new costumes laden with Swarovski crystals. A cocktail reception and a black-tie supper ball—complete with dinner and dancing on the promenade—will bookend the ballets. Single tickets start at $5,000; tables start at $25,000; May 10; 212-870-5585; nycballet.com.
June 07, 2012
Jeff Busby / Courtesy The Australian Ballet
The Australian Ballet is paying a visit to Lincoln Center for six performances and two programs in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The first, Infinity (June 12–13), includes a collaboration with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s premier indigenous modern-dance company. The work, Warumuk – In the Dark Night, blends two dance traditions and pays homage to the night sky of northern Australia. The second program is Graeme Murphy’s brilliant and inventive Swan Lake (June 15–17), in which Siegfried isn’t a sorcerer but a man torn between his new bride, Odette, and his former lover. Murphy’s fresh take on the classical canon is not to be missed, and neither is the entire production. The Australian Ballet comes to the U.S. infrequently; a Bangarra visit is even rarer—and it’s a long trip to see them at home Down Under. $29–$149; 20 Lincoln Center (Columbus Ave. and 63rd St.); 212-496-0600; davidhkochtheater.com.
November 29, 2012
© Andrew Eccles
New York is no stranger to holiday traditions, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which kicked off its annual holiday residency at New York City Center yesterday and continues the run through December 30, is one of them. Bringing an amalgam of debuts and classics this go-around, the troupe has plenty to share.
“The diversity of our repertoire at Alvin Ailey presents a wonderful challenge,” says dancer Alicia Graf Mack. “In any given performance, I can perform movement from classical modern with ballet influences to hip-hop.”
Graf Mack, who performed with Ailey from 2005 to 2008 and rejoined last year, appears in a variety of pieces, including From Before, a blend of African dance and Caribbean accents by Garth Fagan, who choreographed Broadway’s The Lion King, and Petite Mort, the handiwork of European choreographer Jirí Kylián, which depicts a battle of the sexes carried out in ball gowns and done to Mozart. Perennial favorites include an anthology of seminal Ailey works (Love Songs, For Bird—With Love) and the show-stopping Revelations—a survey of African American spirituals as soul-stirring as they come. Graf Mack says she gets to know the troupe’s patriarch, who died in 1989, a little better every time she performs it—a feeling that informs everyone involved.
“I feel extremely blessed and honored to be a part of the legacy of Alvin Ailey,” she explains, “and to contribute to the cultural fabric of New York City during the holiday season. Through December 30; 131 W. 55th St.; 212-581-1212; alvinailey.org.
May 10, 2013
Dario Calmese for The Plaza
Opening today, Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby is perhaps the most highly anticipated movie of the summer, if a bit of a guilty pleasure. And in the wake of a swell of projects and promotions inspired by the film (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan), we’ve selected a few of the most note-worthy spin-offs.
A Suite Worthy of Fitzgerald
Slated to open today in conjunction with the movie’s release, the new 700-square-foot Fitzgerald Suite on the 18th floor of New York’s Plaza Hotel is an homage to the glamorous Art Deco decor that defined the Jazz Age. (See our slideshow of more Art Deco hotels here.) The Fitzgeralds, who were frequent Plaza patrons, would likely feel at home in this suite, designed by costume designer Catherine Martin complete with period-inspired pieces like 1920s Odeon glass-fringe chandeliers, a Mayfair steamer desk and cast-iron Brooklyn Bridge bookends. The walls fit the theme, too, with Douglas Kirkland portraits of the new film’s cast and 1920s photographs from Vogue and Vanity Fair. Should you need to brush up on your Gatsby knowledge, the bookshelves are stocked with the complete collection of Fitzgerald’s work. Rates start at $2,795; 768 Fifth Ave.; 212-546-5219; theplazany.com.
A Slice of Literary History
Amid a slew of Fitzgerald-themed publications debuting this spring, Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (St. Martin’s Press, April 2013) stands out. The fictionalized first-person narrative is told from the point of view of Zelda Fitzgerald and based on newspaper clippings, photos, diary entries and letters. Fowler chips away at the misconceived depiction of Zelda as a mentally insane wife who drove Fitzgerald to alcoholism, a portrayal perpetuated by her husband’s friend and literary contemporary, Ernest Hemingway. Z navigates the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous and oft-chronicled relationship, redefining our interpretations of Zelda, who set the stage for modern-day celebrity as one of history’s most notorious women. macmillan.com.
A Charleston Dance Lesson
Claridge’s, the ever-elegant hotel in the heart of London's Mayfair, honors the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age with high-energy, 90-minute dance classes ($195) in its historic ballroom. Taught by the Bee’s Knees—a London-based dance team that specializes in performing and teaching the Charleston—aspiring dancers will learn the toes-in, heels-out dance craze that swept the nation in the 1920s. For added flair, the hotel provides Gatsby-style accessories (pearls, elbow-length gloves, sequined headbands) and each lesson concludes with a flapper-style cocktail of crème de cassis, strawberries and Champagne, created in honor of the ballroom, which opened in 1929. 49 Brook St.; 44-20/7201-1618; claridges.co.uk.