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Dance

Italy By Way of Hungary at Carnegie Hall

Photo by Attila Nagy.
 
The marvelous American debut tour of the superb Hungarian State Opera continued with a memorable orchestral concert at Carnegie Hall on the evening of Monday, November 5th.
 
The first half of the program, excellently conducted by Balázs Kocsár, was devoted to music from Italy, beginning with three works by the lesser known composer Aldo Finzi whose work has recently received some performances in New York. The first piece was the tempestuousInterludio,followed by the more noteworthy L’Infinito—one wonders if the title is an allusion to the celebrated eponymous poem by Giacomo Leopardi. This opus features an extremely beautiful Impressionist soundscape for much of its length. After Numquam (Sinfonia romana),the impressive soloist Nagao Haruka took the stage to perform Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Fabio Vacchi who joined the artists for a final bow.
 
The adored tenor Placido Domingo led the musicians in the delightful Rákóczi Marchof Hector Berlioz after which soprano Andrea Rost then joined the ensemble to sing “Heia, in den Bergen . . .” from the classic operetta, Die Csárdásfürstin” by Emmerich Kálmán and the lovely “Vilja Song” from Franz Lehár’s extremely popular The Merry Widow. The final two works on the program were the most substantial: the rarely performed Symphonic Minutes of the underrated Ernő von Dohnányi and the extraordinary Suite from The Miraculous Mandarinby Béla Bartók. Enthusiastic applause was rewarded delightfully with an encore of the final movement fromSymphonic Minutes.
 
The debut tour continues this week with performances of the Hungarian National Ballet at the David Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.

Stunning Gala Performance of Hungarian Opera & Ballet

Photo by Attila Nagy.
 
The marvelous Hungarian State Opera and Hungarian National Ballet presented a wonderful gala performance at the David Koch Theater on the evening of Sunday, November 4th, as part of its American debut tour which thus far has been a revelation.
 
The audience stood with the chorus for Ferenc Erkel’s moving “Himnusz”, the national anthem of Hungary, after which the winsome mistress of ceremonies addressed the guests followed by the appearance of celebrated soprano and former star of the Metropolitan Opera, Éva Marton, who spoke about her career. Legendary Placido Domingo delivered a recorded greeting and then the Hungarian Secretary of State for Culture, Peter Fekete spoke as well.
 
The excellent Overture to Erkel’s famous opera, Hunyadi László, preceded two further excerpts from the same work: La Grange’s aria, sung by Orsolya Hajnalka Rőser, and the Act I Finale, “Meghalt a cselszövő”, sung by István Horváth. Two excerpts from the same composer’s magnificent Bánk Bán followed: Petur’s aria sung by Zoltán Kelemen and Bánk’s aria, “Hazám, hazám”, sung by Boldizsár László. Contemporary choreographer Hans Van Manen’s effective Trois Gnossiemes, set to glorious piano music by Erik Satie preceded the thrilling Whirling—choreographed by András Lukács and set to music by Philip Glass—which was reminiscent of the work of Twyla Tharp and exquisitely closed the first half of the program.
 
After intermission, the dancers were electrifying in the fabulous Pas de trois from the superb Marius Petipa ballet, Le Corsaire. Piano soloist József Balog then took the stage to play Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Fantasy and also played another work by the same composer while accompanying a lovely acrobat performing a remarkable aerial show.
 
The General Director of the company then recounted the impressive number of Hungarian conductors that have led major American orchestras after which the evening concluded with extraordinary music by the great Hungarian composer, Zoltán Kodály. First, there were two excerpts from the renowned opera, Háry János: “Szegény vagyok”, sung by Erika Gál, and the Intermezzo accompanying an astonishing quintet of folk dancers. Two numbers from The Spinning Room followed: “A csitári hegyek alatt” sung by Horváth and Zita Szemere, with more acrobatics; and the work’s memorable Finale which featured the company as a whole. The audience was invited to sing another of Hungary’s national anthems which it did with appropriate solemnity. This exceptional event was a fine tribute to the nation’s outsized contribution to world culture.

Cirque du Soleil ‘s "Volta" Strikes in Long Island May 17 - July 1

 

The new big top show from international entertainment behemoth Cirque du Soleil, Volta, with an energy-jolting focus on space-age extreme sports, plays Long Island May 17 – July 1. Its new eco-friendly white and grey “grand chapiteau” has risen adjacent to NYCB Live/Nassau Veterans Coliseum in Uniondale. The show is so colossal it took 16 creators to assemble it.

VCirqueSpecolta, written and directed by Bastien Alexandre (concept artist, Cirque’s Zumanity) under “director of creation” Jean Guibert, tells “a spellbinding story of transformation, about being true to oneself – fulfilling one’s true potential to be free to blaze your own trail.” Alexandre says it’s inspired, in part, “by the adventurous spirit that fuels action sports.”

The show stars a cast of international athletes who provide the adrenaline rush of jawdropping acrobatics against the visually striking production, driven in the tried-and-true Cirque tradition by a pulsating score. The band is under music director and international electronic composer Anthony Gonzalez, of the French band M83. Vocalists are Darius Harper and Camilla Bäckman. Julie Perron (Cirque’s Delirium, Viva Elvis, and Wintuk). is choreographer. Rob Bollinger and Philippe Aubertin are the acrobatic performance designers.

The story-line follows Waz, a game show contestant who’s lost touch with himself. He goes on the show in search of fame, thinking that will bring him love and acceptance, but finds fame isn’t the answer. Was begins a personal quest to find his true self. Along the way, he’s encouraged by an amazing group of free spirits to help him recognize the power to make it possible.

CirqueUnicycleDuoAmong those that make his journey extraordinary are unicyclists, roller skaters, precision tight rope walkers, military-style parkour [running, climbing, swinging, vaulting], BMX (bicycle motocross) daredevils, a woman swirling through the air suspended by her hair, Swiss ring and bungee artists, shape divers [sailing through gymnastic hoops and rings), and one of the most incredible acrobatic ensembles in Cirque’s history.

A highlight of every Cirque show is the costuming and the designs of acclaimed Emmy-winning Filipino-American fashion designer Zaldy (Goco) (Cirque’s Michael Jackson ONE, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball) may be the most colorful and daring of their 41 original productions [since 1984].

To learn more, go to: www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta

“The Next Generation of Dance” Continues the Ailey Legacy When Ailey II Takes the Stage at the Ailey Citigroup Theater

 AAADT in Alvin Ailey's Revelations. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Sometimes you just have to sit back, shake your head and absolutely thank the “God’s of the Arts” that you live in New York City.  To salute the legacy of dance that’s helped make Broadway—“Broadway”— Morgan Stanley presents “Lights on Broadway.” Taking place in Times Square this event will spotlight six decades of Ailey inspired dance moving from Times Square to the Ailey Citigroup Theater. 
 
In February to celebrate Black History Month Morgan Stanley “Lights on Broadway” salute made it easy for New Yorkers and tourists alike to express their support  #JoinTheDance along with a remember that #MSGivesBack. The campaign in the “Crosswords of the World” highlighted Ailey’s status as “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” and recognized the organization’s six decades of “celebrating the African-American heritage and the modern dance tradition,” and its offerings of “performances, training, and education programs that enlighten all.”
 
Alvin Ailey’s mission has always been clear and that’s to celebrate our common humanity and to showcase the spring to life as the talented young dancers of Ailey take the stage at the Ailey Citigroup Theater March 14-25.  Renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country's best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today's most outstanding emerging choreographers, the second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to New York for an exciting two-week season. Led by Artistic Director Troy Powell, these talented young dancers will prove why “there’s nothing like an evening spent with Ailey II” (The New York Times). Audiences will have the opportunity to see “the next generation of dance” in a diverse range of works, including three striking 2017-18 season premieres: Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Road To One, about embracing the journey; Juel D. Lane’s Touch & Agree, exploring love, commitment, and identity; and Renee I. McDonald’s Breaking Point, an intense work about being pushed to the limit. 
 
Heads up, New Yorkers of all ages and levels will have a rare opportunity to learn from Troy Powell, when he leads a one-night-only Ailey Extension Horton Workshop on Wednesday, March 7 at 6 pm, just a week before the second company’s New York season. Powell was selected by Mr. Ailey himself to receive a scholarship to The Ailey School, before joining Ailey II and later Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and eventually becoming only the second person to lead Ailey II. Participants will learn movement based on the technique created by Alvin Ailey’s mentor, Lester Horton, which is the foundation for many classic Ailey works – including his signature masterpiece, Revelations. Designed to expand Alvin Ailey’s life-long commitment to bringing dance to everyone, Ailey Extension classes and workshops impart the rich history of Ailey’s signature style, which changed the perception of modern American dance around the world. 
 
To learn more, go to: https://www.aileyextension.com/

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