Dancing Chicken, Crying Tiger, Swimming Duck. I bet you thought I’d spent the day at the Bronx Zoo. Instead, I spent an air conditioned hour in Topaz, a Thai restaurant, across 56th St. from City Center’s Studio 5. The first session of Studio 5 concentrated on ABT – Coaching Principal Roles. It was moderated by Kevin McKenzie, the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre. He coached Alban Lendorf and Devon Teuscher in roles they’ll be performing for the first time. McKenzie concentrated on Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Watching a master teaching new dancers is a thrilling, backstage experience and one of the reasons Studio 5 sells out quickly.
Russian champagne was served at my hairdresser’s to celebrate a birthday. It’s near Coney Island and run by Russians. There’s a small, noisy Italian contingent. Great fun slurping Russian champagne and trying not to eat cheese cake on the first day of fall weather.
Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man in the school kitchen, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine-year-old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.
Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie.
Graphic Lessons: Something’s eating at NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case? It doesn’t matter because he’s relentless.
Sunday evening was spent for a few hours in The Frick Collection’s Music Room. The Carducci Quartet, two violins, one viola and one cello, played a lively selection of Mendelssohn, Shostakovich and Beethoven.The Anglo-Irish quartet plays across a gamut of classical and modern. The concert began at five p.m., ended around seven and then it was on to dinner at Le Charlot, a very snazzy, local French bistro.
Part of the City Center sprawl is the Studio 5 series that is presented in a 56th Street studio. It began with Damian Woetzel and Wendy Whalen, sitting on high chairs like life guards, talking to the 200 member audience sitting around the perimeter of the large, bare space. Whalen and Woetzel met in 1986 when both were fledgling dancers at New York City Ballet. Woetzel is now the Artistic Director of the Vail Dance Festival. The evening’s program focused on Remixing A Festival From Vail to New York. The workshop is the first of four about dance. The dancing began with Robert Fairchild preforming a solo dance that Woetzel critiqued. This was followed by Unity Phelan and Cameron Dieck, young NYCB dancers, demonstrating how to interpret various dance movements. Heather Watts joined in the discussion and led Phelan through a few suggestive steps. Cameron Grant was the pianist who tripped merrily along with the dancers.
It’s an immediate, behind-the-scenes experience. I can’t wait for the next three sessions.
I like to walk up the Guggenheim’s spiral rotunda, turn around and walk down. The current Moholy-Nagy: Future Present exhibit is a stunner. Moholy-Nagy was born in Hungary at the end of the nineteenth century. He embraced the new technical developments of his times. Aluminum and plexiglass shimmer in his later, American works. Moholy-Nagy sculpted, painted and experimented with photography and film. The Guggenheim is a perfect venue for his work. The sky was the limit for him. Half way up or down the ramp is a charming key hole shaped door. It’s the entrance to a small, beautiful library with Frank Lloyd Wright like chairs and free standing book stands, a cozy nook packed with books and tech equipment about Moholy-Nagy.
On Thursday I ventured to Morristown, N. J. to attend a Johnny Mathis concert. Isn’t he dead? several friends asked. Not at all. At eighty, the elegant, gentlemanly Mathis is still belting out Henry Mancini’s standards: “Moon River”, “The Days of Wine and Roses”, but the songs I savor are “Wonderful, Wonderful”, “It’s not for Me to Say” and “99 Miles to L. A.”. One of our party mentioned that Mathis had received operatic training. It certainly shows. And another thing. Mr. Mathis practices the old fashioned virtue of punctuality. The concert was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Guess what – It did.
City Center is like a beehive. Entrance to the main site is on 55th Street but studios associated with the theatre are found within a two block radius. Mac Twining was performancing in Walkaround Time by Merce Cunningham. The Cunningham Foundation studio is on 56th Street. You take the ornate elevator to the fifth floor, enter a vast and empty studio and are engulfed by the NYC thrill of the new and the young venerating the old and venerable. In NYC terms, 1968, the year Cunningham created Walkaround Time is venerable. It was a delightful three quarters of an hour.