I saw "Juilliard Dances Repertory 2016"

What I saw: “Juilliard Dances Repertory 2016” at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Juilliard, 155 W 65th St

What I wore: black Fluevog boots (the ones I used to teach in), tights, dark wash James Jeans denim skirt, wrinkled ATM blouse, Eileen Fisher long cardigan, woven scarf that my mother gave me in the 90s that might not be charmingly dated

What I did beforehand: ate half a bag of the wrong brand of Mexican Japanese peanuts and some slices of manchego, walked from 45th Street 

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider

How I got tickets: well, they were supposed to be comp’ed, but the night before at like 8:18 p.m. I got this text and he’s all, “I still haven’t gotten a chance to go find the box office—it may be a good idea to buy them instead so it doesn’t sell out! (sorry!),” and I was like, “OK.” So I bought them online, and paid full price.

Why I saw this show: The Graduate was a vocal performance major in college, and because he lives in Brooklyn, when he isn’t working one of two jobs or going to the climbing gym or making beer, he sometimes still sings, and usually tells me about it about a week beforehand.

Where I sat: way up in the balcony on the end, behind my husband. I had no idea if we were going to be able to see our child singing in the chorus of the Stravinsky piece. The only seats left were on the ends. I gambled.

Things that were sad: The second piece, Jerome Robbins’ “Moves,” which is performed without musical accompaniment, carried more tension and musicality than Paul Taylor’s “Roses,” which preceded it. 



Things that were funny: I liked the Stravinsky best.


Things that were not funny: it should not be noteworthy that a dance recital have a real orchestra to accompany them. Live music is better, and live music is a reason to go to the theater. Also, I should not have been distracted with grief at the thought that this talented crop of young dancers will graduate into a world where the organized efforts of certain political forces mean less and less funding for the arts.

What it is: a recital featuring dance students in Juilliard’s BFA program. Three numbers were presented. “Roses” was danced to Siegfried’s Idyll from Wagner and an adagio for clarinet and strings from Heinrich Baermann; I liked the parts where the dancers rolled around on the stage. “Moves” is a tense and muscular dance for men and women, accompanied only by the sounds of their feet, the slapping of their limbs, and one well-timed sneeze from an audience member. The gender norms of their costumes (women on pointe, men in ballet slippers) made me think about the absurdity of shaved armpits (on the women), and the strictness of the long-hair-in-a-bun-for-women/short-hair-for-men paradigm. 
After the second intermission came the piece we had come to see, “Symphony of Psalms,” choreographed by Jiří Kylián. When the chorus filed it, I found that we were in luck, and could see the Graduate standing with the other basses. He is easy to spot these days because he wears the “Männlich bun.”  (someone with a German accent shouted that at him in a NY crosswalk). The Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms and A la gloire de Dieu were performed, and were very beautiful. The richness of human voices added a glorious dimension to the final piece.

Who should see it: proud parents 

What I saw on the way home: a panicked field mouse running across the Saw Mill Parkway

I saw "Angel Reapers"

What I saw: “Angel Reapers” at the Signature Theater, on W 42nd, off-Broadway

What I wore: favorite dirty jeans, J. Crew men’s striped oxford shirt, tan cardigan, Chinese-made Australian-brand boots, black quilted jacket with Baker plaid trim, silk scarf I bought at the American Folk Art Museum that was made in India.  

“No photography allowed”

What I did beforehand: Tuesday things, Tuesday being the homeliest day of the week
Who went with me: The Graduate
How I got tickets: online, full-price

Why I saw this show: Because the United States of America has always been a home to people of unusual faiths. 


Where I sat: The stage is in the middle with the audience divided on the two sides, facing each other. I sat in the third row, left, behind the Graduate, between a quiet woman who was barely breathing and a man with a case of the sniffles. 

Things that were sad: The Shakers were celibate. 
Things that were funny: (spoilers)

Things that were not funny: There was a moment, after the last member of the audience took off their coat and sat and the stage manager closed the door and people began to get quiet in anticipation. Well, maybe some people weren’t quietening and some people were actually shushing each other (a scolding akin to some honking, which there is also too much of in New York) and the lights started to dim and I watched not for the beginning of the play but for the moment of  transformation: when the collection of unrelated individuals becomes a cohesive audience. I didn’t see it. But really the theater was just a room and I and all the people in it dutifully gave the eleven actors our focus despite being able to see the faces of other members of the audience. Because without this choice maybe there is no theater. So as a backdrop to the actors, there was an array of human faces, like indoor moons, also watching but meant to be ignored. And I was undisturbed by them but distracted by a single microphone wire subltly snaked from the bonnet of a performer into her dress. I wanted that wire not to be there; more than I wanted the faces of the other half of the audience to go away, more than I wished the sniffles from the guy sitting next to me would stop, I wanted that wire not to be running from her simple white bonnet to the collar of her 18th century dress.

What it is: a play? dance? musical? interpretative history? recital? pageant? About the Shakers. It answered 74 things about the Shakers, but asked 123 more. 

Who should see it: history buffs, utopians, cloggers, shape-note singers, re-enacters, students of religion, Quakers. 

What I saw on the way home: A pair of Con Ed trucks, fixing something under the street, because New York never stops being broken.

Because New York never stops being broken

I saw "Swan Lake"

What I saw: Dada Masilo’s “Swan Lake” at the Joyce Theater
What I wore: plaid wool skirt, tights, and boots
What I did beforehand: rode the E train downtown
Who went with me: My husband, who enjoyed it, saying, “In the wild, one swan looks almost exactly like another.”
How I got tickets: online, full price
Why I saw this show: I read a review in the New York Times and assumed I should see this since the last time I went to the ballet (ABT at the Met, June 2014), I saw Swan Lake.
Where I sat: Row J, orchestra; once again, I was next to a woman who laughed at the same things I did

What it is: a re-imagined Swan Lake, choreographed by South African dancer Dada Masilo, featuring Swan Men and Swan Women, with moments of balletic satire.  An amalgam of dance traditions including ballet, modern and African dance, performed by a troop of satisfyingly diverse dancers, this production seemed engaging and honest.  As I sat enjoying all the better, playful things the dancers did with their tutus (other than wear them while looking severe), I started thinking about the way people express their gender, and about dance as an art form, and about how the product of human movement and gesture embodies, at its best, an unspoken discourse. I haven’t yet stopped thinking about the (non-verbal) conversation between the dancers (as the expressive medium of the choreographer) and me. This Swan Lake was about more than Swan Lake.
Other reviews: here and here

Things that were sad: The ending
Things that were funny: The Mother’s opening monologue, the booty-shaking in tutus
Things that were not funny: the music levels were irritatingly inconsistent
Who should see it:  people who admit they don’t understand ballet, people who think they do understand ballet

What we did on the way home: argued over mostly passable tapas at a highly recommended spot nearby; it was uncomfortably noisy. Also, I sat in a draft.