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NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company: Analogy Trilogy

September 29, 2018

Jones has become known for applying his wide-ranging choreography and sharp mind to storylines that take on chunks of history—including some shockingly modern history.  He displays his sharp observational abilities in Analogy Trilogy, each part luxuriating in the slow, detailed unraveling of the stories of three interesting people:  Dora Amelan, a Belgian Holocaust survivor; Lance, a seventies’ drug, sex and phony fame survivor; and the surreal Ambrose, the Emigrant who accompanies a rich, detached Jew on his odd journeys through America and Europe in the early twentieth century. [more]

Mette Ingvartsen: 7 Pleasures

October 7, 2017

Ingvartsen has a record of intellectualizing her work taking all the juice out of them in the process. "7 Pleasures"—a misnomer if there ever was one—takes her dry, over thinking to the extreme in a work that somehow made the nudity and sexual activities of her twenty-something cast members boring and ugly. (There’s something unappealing about a stage-full of performers jingling all their various body parts as they did in one extended section of 7 Pleasures, no matter how it related to “that other crucial element [of dance], the body,” or “political, sexual, desiring, linguistic, historical, racialized, gendered, and agential flesh matter.”) [more]

Faustin Linyekula: In Search of Dinozord

September 29, 2017

"In Search of Dinozord" is Linyekula’s futile, naive attempt to turn the devastating history of his homeland into art. There was choreography—simple, spasmodic, realistic, but ultimately falling short of expressing anything but physical tension. There was a wonderfully minimal stage setting—by Studios Kabako/Virginie Dupray—that turned the well-equipped NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts stage into a sleek black box, with colored lines intersecting, a large red vertical structure and a back wall consisting of joined sheets of wood that served as a screen. Costumes—not specifically credited—were worn-looking casual street wear in faded colors. Lighting was exquisitely expressive. [more]

Titicut Follies

May 3, 2017

The original film is brazen in its guerilla-style filmmaking, a good deal of which was surreptitiously produced right under the noses of the Institution’s officials.  To anyone who knows or watched the original 1967 film, James Sewell’s choreographic rendition would seem tame, certainly lacking the shocking visions of naked men abused and humiliated by sadistic guards, ridiculously backward psychologists and a nutritional staff intent on starving the patients.  (Images abound of skeletal men wandering aimlessly.)  The film begins with the eponymous follies, the men singing and dancing to a bizarre version of “Strike Up the Band” and showing off their other talents, only to quickly descend into a vision of hell on earth. [more]

Pilobolus Dance Theater (NYU Skirball Center)

December 1, 2016

[esc], staged by Penn & Teller, Mr. Barnett, Ms. Jaworski and Mr. Kent, is a Penn & Teller homage to Harry Houdini. To a musical background of pop songs, the performers—Messrs. Fitzgerald Ahern, Banks-Sullivan, Coalter & Loman and Mlles Krystal Butler & Jordon Kriston—were variously locked in an “escape-proof” box (assembled by two audience volunteers), squeezed into a carry-on bag, handcuffed to a 13-foot pole and duct-taped to a chair. Their escapes, accompanied by Penn’s humorous narration were exciting, energetically performed, but, in the last analysis, a bit long-winded. [more]

Princess Ida (2016)

May 28, 2016

Completing New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ 40th Season was a rare revival of 1884 "Princess Ida," the team’s eighth operetta and the only one in which the dialogue is in blank verse, it is presented in three acts, and it is based on a previous play by Gilbert. In the playwright/librettist’s second parody of Tennyson’s book-length poem "The Princess," the themes include feminism, education for women, Darwinism and the Battle of the Sexes. While the operetta still displays its relevance and timeliness, the NYG&SP production proved to be uneven in several categories. [more]

Beckett Trilogy: Not I /Footfalls/ Rockaby

April 15, 2016

Scholars, critics, actors and audiences have long been entranced and intrigued by these plays. They appear to reflect Beckett’s perpetual theme of despair and joy coexisting within the human condition. This mesmerizing production of "Beckett Trilogy: Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby" vividly captures that expression with Lisa Dwan’s titanic performance and its striking presentation. [more]

The Pirates of Penzance

December 30, 2015

The cast includes beloved NYGASP favorites as well as some less familiar faces. Coloratura soprano Sarah Caldwell Smith’s Mabel wins a justly earned ovation signing her aria, “Poor Wandering One!,” declaring her love for Frederic. He is played with cheerful restraint by tenor Carter Lynch (alternating with Daniel Greenwood). Bass-baritone David Wannen has a fine swashbuckling time as The Pirate King. Contralto Angela Christine-Smith as Ruth gives a memorable rendition of her aria, “When Frederic Was A Little Lad.” Bass David Auxier as the Sergeant of Police deals delightfully with his band of bumbling officers. [more]

Pilobolus’ Shadowland

November 26, 2015

"Shadowland" follows the young girl, played to perfection by Heather Jeane Favretto, on a surreal journey, exposing her fears and pleasures, leaving her forever changed. A true collaborative adventure, the show is the product of the inventive minds of Steven Banks, Robby Barnett, Renée Jaworski, Matt Kent, Itamar Kubovy and Michael Tracy along with input from the original cast members. This resulted in some inevitable unevenness of style and a few too sudden changes in mood, but the mind-boggling complexity of the choreography and stagecraft (including superb lighting by Neil Peter Jampolis, constantly morphing sets by Neil Patel and very sexy costumes by Liz Prince) plus the witty presentation of the wandering storyline, makes for an overwhelming theatrical experience. [more]

The Gondoliers

May 24, 2015

Founded by Albert Bergeret in 1974, he continues to this day as artistic director for the NYGASP, and on this occasion served as director and conductor, with an assist by choreographer David Auxier on the direction. A daunting and impressive achievement, this production also marked the conclusion of the first season in which the NYGASP performed in their new residence: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. A beautiful and state of the art theater, this is a space that can handle the grandeur and scale of a G&S piece. The theater provides remarkable production value, including a massive pit to house the almost thirty person orchestra. Thanks to the latest in acoustic engineering and innovation, the music of "The Gondoliers" was robust and invigorating. Led by Bergeret, the score filled every inch of the theater and truly transported the audience to another time and place. [more]