Tag Archives: Balanchine

New York City Blog — February 19 – February 25

What a busy week.
It began with John Houston’s Beat the Devil. Made in the 50’s, it’s still a hoot. Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Gina Lollabrigida, Peter Lorre, Jennifer Jones – what a mix.They are very evil and very funny crooks heading for African uranium mines on a leaky Italian boat with a drunk captain.
Sunday was a Frick concert by Cuarteto Casals, a Spanish quartet that romped through Mozart, Bartok, Brahms. It was a rousing two hours.
Studio 5 presents programs that explore different aspects of the dance. On Monday, Tyler Angle moderated a program about how each dancer reacts differently to the same music. Angle, Sara Means, Unity Phelan, Indiana Woodward and Daniel Applebaum demonstrated their interpretations of different Balanchine, Peck and Ratmansky’s pieces. Yummy.
We finally, finally, made it to the Barnes in Philadelphia. Not the original site, alas, but the new building. It’s a handsome structure in the northwest part of Philadelphia. The museum has been recreated almost exactly like the original building. Lots of hardware, lots of Renoirs, 180 to be exact. The Barnes has the largest Renoir collection in the world. We took a tour which was a great idea because the docent explained the Barnsian way. Each wall is an ensemble based on light, color, line and space.
We had lunch in the Reading Terminal Market, a bustling world with 800 hundred vendors, many more customers and, best of all, Bassett’s butterscotch ice cream. Dinner was at the Oyster House. The Barnes might have a lock on Renoirs but the Oyster House has, according to the Guiness World Record, the largest collection of oyster dishes in the world. It also has wonderful food. Shad is in season – and a friendly, efficient atmosphere.

Reading Terminal Market
It’s Philadelphia not Florence, folks.
Reading Terminal Market
A Barnes ensemble
Oyster House


New York City Blog – May 21 – May 28

Catering at the Frick spring party
Catering at the Frick spring party

Champagne? Tom Collins? White wine? Lemonade? Since red wine stains, the Frick serves only transparent liquids. The Frick Collection had its annual spring garden party. Sitting in the garden court, we waited for the few sprinkles of rain to stop and spent the time gobbling the caterer’s passing parade of lovely, tiny, bite size hors d’oeuvres, We then perched on a low wall in the garden that overlooks Fifth Avenue and studied the crowd’s finery.

On Saturday I went to 59th Street and 10th Avenue to the Left Forum. Isn’t there a sweet irony that a left organization would host a two day conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice? I was at the Gotham Greens table having volunteered to answer questions about our organization. Many times I had to turn to more knowledgeable colleagues for the answer. For instance, in how many states can Greens vote the Green ticket? Answer: twenty. What did Ralph Nader call the Democrats and Republicans? Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Good one, Ralph.

Judson Memorial Church sponsored a showing of Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll. It’s a documentary that explores Cambodia from its days as a French protectorate to modern times. Its history is shown through the evolving musical tastes of the Cambodians: from the 1950s the French influence of Charles Trenet and Edith Piaf, during the sixties the English invasion. Plus, American rock and roll. The Cambodians had a vivid music scene that came to a screeching halt when Pol Pot took over the government and decreed that all foreign influence was suspect. There were harrowing interviews with people who lied about being entertainers to save their lives and their families. The USA’s involvement in Vietnam and withdrawal from Cambodia was also shown. It’s a long, intense film. It took the director John Pirozzi and LinDa Saphan, the associate producer, ten years to make it.


LinDa Saphan, associate producer of CAMBODIA'S LOST ROCK AND ROLL
LinDa Saphan, associate producer of CAMBODIA’S LOST ROCK AND ROLL

An annual spring ritual is going to the New York City Ballet’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tuesday night’s performance was wonderful. Balanchine + Mendelssohn + Tiler Peck. Does it get any better? Ms. Peck seems a worthy successor to the great Wendy Whalen.

Feldenkrais and gesellschaft were the two words spelled correctly that resulted in a tie at the Scripps annual spelling bee. Feldenkrais has something to do with movement and gesellschaft has something to do with society.

New York City Blog – April 17 – April 23

I went to a lovely performance of NYCB George Balanchine’s Jewels. Leave it to Balanchine to be inspired by Van Clef and Arpels and choreograph a three act ballet with each distinct act having the music of a different composer. The music for Emeralds is by Gabriel Faure. Rubies’s music is by Igor Stravinsky and Diamonds’ music is by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky.What a glorious smorgasbord!
In two weeks I’ve seen two biopics about two brilliant, egotistical musicians who must have been hell to live with. Last week I saw Miles Ahead, the biopic about Miles Davis. This week I saw a companion piece, Born to Be Blue, the biopic of Chet Baker. Don Cheadle as Miles Davis and Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker were utterly convincing as obsessive musicians. I guess that’s what they call acting. Remember the equally convincing Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line? One tiny quibble: no one can sing My Funny Valentine, the song with a tender melody and mean lyrics, like Chet Baker not even Ethan Hawke. Wouldn’t it have been fun to have been at The All About Eve wrap party? Hanging with George Sanders and Bette Davis etc. while Chet Baker and Jerry Mulligan played.

As if you didn’t know, William Shakespeare’s birthday is tomorrow. Four hundred years since his death.

New York City Blog Feb. 21 – Feb. 27

Nicholas Alstaedt, the cellist, made his NY recital debut in the Frick Music Room on February 21. He and Alexander Lonquich, the pianist, have impeccable credentials. Their choice of music was perfect. I had never appreciated Nadia Boulanger until I heard her Three Pieces for Cello and Piano. The recital included works by Debussy, Britten, Beethoven and Webern.

Wonderful Saturday afternoon with an outstanding Symphony in C, music by Bizet and choreography by Balanchine. The dancers are like race horses, aren’t they? Powerful, agile animals with very strong legs. Dancing in close proximity, they could maim each other. The conductor, Clotilde Otranto, gave us a wonderful afternoon. She came on stage and was dwarfed by the tall dancers.

Blue polka dots are at the eastern end of the NYCB's vestibule
Blue polka dots are at the eastern end of the NYCB’s vestibule



A very Happy Year of the Monkey. Old friends celebrate the New Year annually, thanks to the hard work of one of our members. We’ve met at the Evergreen for years.

Begin the week with the Frick. End the week with the New York City Ballet. Only in NYC, folks.

Steve Kulchek and one of the members of his team, King, ate in ‘wichcraft. Both had one of the breakfast all day items on the menu.

New York City Blog June 1 — June 7

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the perfect vehicle for Balanchine’s choreography and Mendelssohn’s music. The NYCB’s current production is based on Balanchine’s production which premiered in 1962.The dancing is superb and the sets are magical. Most of the play takes place in an enchanted forest. Saturday afternoon’s audience was multigenerational and judging by the laughter and applause the performance was warmly appreciated.
Practically next door at the N. Y. Public Library for the Performing Arts, there’s a Frank Sinatra exhibit. Talk about strolling down memory lane. There are great photos of recording sessions and of some of the other celebrities who sang with Sinatra. His mentors were Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. It was Crosby who said: Frank Sinatra is a singer who comes along once in a life time but why did he have to come in mine? There’s even a closed booth where you can sing along with old blue eyes. The exhibit is at the library until September 4.
El Museo del Barrio has an exhibit honoring Gabriel Figueroa, the Mexican

Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Sinatra at the Paramount
Sinatra at the Paramount

cinematographer. Who needs technicolor? Figueroa’s black and white scenes evoke moody, intense passion. They remind me of Martha Graham’s dances. Figueroa’s films are being shown at the Film Forum this week.