Friday, May 10, 2013

Renata Adler at The Center for Fiction, Darbar, New York City Ballet & "Hannah Arendt" at Montclair Film Festival - Part 2

In order to round out & fill in this follow-up (and 2nd) portion 
Jerome Robbins

of my most recent post - a synoptic view of a few Metro Area cultural events attended - I'll present and discuss just a few more memorable events ... dance performances (The New York City Ballet ... offering up an all Jerome Robbins program of upbeat, seemingly casual & sophisticated, relatively contemporary balletic theater pieces); more food (Brasilina, featuring a line-up of authentic Brazilian delicacies); and cinema (Margarethe von Trotta's feature film, Hannah Arendt). 

Here goes ...

Morton Gould
A part of Lincoln Center's American Music Festival, the May 4th, Saturday evening all-Robbins program (performed at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center Plaza) was assembled, according to the NYC Ballet "official" (Playbill) program, to honor the centennial of the birth of Morton Gould, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer who was a long time colleague of both George Balanchine & Jerome Robbins. Thus, two of three ballets performed (and choreographed by Robbins), featured two of Gould's better known musical works for the ballet: Interplay and I'm Old Fashioned.  

Interplay, which had its New York City Ballet Premiere in
December,1952, is a bouncy, colorful, upbeat, and playful sequence comprising four unified and unifying movements with titles like "free play" (showcasing the full cast, and the interplay between and among eight quirky but spunky dance personae, 4 male, 4 female); "horseplay" (a single male dancer rhythmically & emphatically just, well, horsing around the stage making his "solo" masculine case and fortified with an ego supported by very strong, sound movements); "byplay" (a light & lyrical, "bluesy" pas de deux); and "team play" involving the interplay, once again, of the full cast ... with lots of rhythmic movement, male-female (or, better, really, girl-boy) pairings, and the kind of quick & intense dancing you might find in a Broadway musical like Oklahoma, but reflecting a more refined, controlled & delicate moment in the "action")

Apparently, the ballet depicts the interplay of classical and more popular (i.e., "vernacular") choreography and Robbins is said to have "experimented with choreographic patterns and the interactions of [his] dancers in various formations." (Note the photo.) The 3rd section of the ballet, "byplay," the bluesy pas de deux mentioned above, and showcasing Lauren Lovette & Taylor Stanley, reflects a stark contrast - from within Robbins' plan & Gould's score - with the "joyfully competitive spirit of the [whole] ballet." During this performance of Interplay, kudos, it should be noted, must go to the orchestra's solo pianist, Ms. Susan Walters, whose work clearly complemented the production, while accentuating its lyricism. 
I'm Old Fashioned (with music, again, by Morton Gould, after a  Jerome Kern  song, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer) is Robbins' rich &  wonderful tribute to Fred Astaire. The central dance sequence - the glamorous waltzes - constitute the motif throughout the ballet & are reprised almost cinematically leading up toward the finale by the full dance troupe with dancers, male & female, in stunning, sophisticated black garb recalling Mr. Astair and Rita Hayworth who waltz crisply in a projected scene from the film - You Were Never Lovelier - toward the beginning of the ballet and another at the very end. 

The whole ballet, and certainly the last few minutes, is danced in a relatively smooth and slow waltz ... and the whole production takes on a semi-magical, fairy-tale (Hollywood!) aura contrasting the steps of the cast of the New York City Ballet - waltzing slowly - with the larger-than-life figures of Fred Astair & partner projected on the screen, just above center stage.

Fancy Free

Fancy Free is all Robbins & Bernstein - upbeat, lyrical, clever, full of emotional content (affect) ... percolating with lots of rhythm, pseudo-dramatic speech & body language, and balletic pyrotechnics from all three "sailor"-dancers looking for action in a we've-come-
Fancy Free
ashore-in-New-York-City narrative ... and an inspiration for the full-length musical you all know well, On the Town (with Gene Kelly & Frank Sinatra). Fancy Free is a great deal of fun, a fine ensemble piece, with moments of spectacular solo/individual dancing, funny, sad, competitive, naturalistic, whimsical! 

Note:  If seeing a ballet performance, or two (or three), at Lincoln Center kindles your taste buds, or, on the other hand, if you feel the need to eat before attending such an event, the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District has now published exactly what you need: its most recent (2012-2013) Restaurant & Bar Guide. Entitled "Where to Eat in Lincoln Square," the guide is free & available at Lincoln Center. It is a compact & rather comprehensive pamphlet listing establishments for food & drink of every kind & category in the immediate area, from "cheap" to "very expensive," even providing you with a street map of the locality & appropriate headings - "American (New & Traditional)," "Cafes, Bakeries & Sweets," "Bars & Lounges," "Quick Casual," "Mediterranean" - for easy reading/scanning and, perhaps, texting or tweeting your favorite dining companions about your final choice!
We selected Brasilina, at 55th & 9th Ave. (836 9th; 212/969-9970) a resto just outside the bounds of the Lincoln Square guide, but just a quick seven-block trot to the David H. Koch Theater & the NYC Ballet. This impressive medium-size quirky resto - producing & purveying a rich selection of Brazilian delicacies - might just hit the spot for you ... especially if you feel like concentrating on "belisquetes" (appetizers/small plates) such as the ceviche de vieiras (scallop ceviche, citrus pickled red onions, bloody Mary "dices" & a side of French baguette toasts, served in 3 individual shot glasses; @ $15); their spunky (somewhat fiery) take on traditional guacamole (@ $6); or the salgados (assorted Brazilian croquettes, including chicken "Cosinha," beef "kibe" & codfish "Bolinho de Bacalhau"; @ $9).
To this list of small plates noted above I must add one outstanding entree:  the galeto organico ... an organic free range Cornish hen, plated along with a cup of "creamy" corn & spring rice ... a crispy-skinned tender, juicy & flavorful bird simply grilled to perfection (@ $24). Brasilina offers beer & wines by the glass and they have a very diverse wine list, from which we chose a moderately priced French rose (2010; Estandon, Cotes de Provence, @ $30) ... and did that twice! 

From Haute Cuisine
And, finally, to cinema (as promised up above) and a brief mention of the 2013 Montclair Film Festival (2nd annual, April 29th-May 5th) - presenting more than 80 films in all kinds of categories & genres, with special events, seminars, talks, directorial & critical insights, post-film Q & A sessions, and much more ... with something for just about any taste, orientation or subject matter preference. They've even curated a new category, "Culinary Cinema," offering up, for example, such imports as Haute Cuisine (2012; directed by Christian Vincent; & sold out early!), a comic narrative film inspired by the modest actual "provincial chef who was summoned in the 1980s" to serve as "personal cook for French President Mitterand." Hopefully, the film will open shortly in The NY Metro Area (or, perhaps, already has by now) and we'll have a chance to view it. After all, the provincial chef, Daniele Delpeuch - and the politics & difficulties surrounding her situation in the Elysee Palace kitchens - had been profiled in some depth recently in a "Saturday People" column in The New York Times.

But, among the numerous top-notch films offered at this festival, the one we really wanted to see was Hannah Arendt, a film by Margarethe von Trotta (2012) that presents a fairly comprehensive portrait of Arendt - her ideas (e.g., the "banality of evil" that evolved out of her Eichmann coverage & analysis); her publications; her circle of "expat" friends, lovers, interlocuters & enemies ... in New York, Jerusalem & Germany. 

Arendt at Eichmann Trial
The film events take place primarily during the period of the Eichmann trial which Arendt covered eagerly & relentlessly, beginning in the Jerusalem District Court in April 1961, in a series of in-depth, severe, indiosyncratic, analytical articles for The New Yorker, under assignment by the then editor, William Shawn. She was, it turned out, praised in some quarters for her Eichmann trial articles (& her book-length compilation entitled Eichmann in Jerusalem) and savaged & pilloried in others for purporting to present Holocaust survivors & European Jewish leaders, in general, as not only victims but, in some sense, accessories to, complicit in & masters of, the insidious & horrendous "manufacture" of the death of European Jewry. An enlightening, multi-perspective Q & A took place following the film, featuring various responses by Roger Berkowitz, Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics & Humanities at Bard College in New York's lower Hudson Valley (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY). The film is engrossing throughout, the acting extremely fine & subtle all around ... with kudos, particularly, to Barbara Sukowa (as the brilliant German-Jewish emigree, Hannah Arendt) & to the director, Ms. von Trotta.

No comments:

Post a Comment