Sunday, June 17, 2007

Anyway, yesterday went to Kingsborough Community College (a lovely campus at the end fo Brooklyn) to see the Covenant Dance Theater, a local (Brooklyn) ballet troupe. This was for the New York State Council on the Arts. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there, longer to get back. But it prompted a lot of thoughts. In terms of the work that was shown: certainly very competent, even skillful. The dancers ranged from students to highly trained professionals. I certainly can't complain about what i saw....

But the thoughts follow on Ben Brantley's comments on Lee Nagrin. I knew Lee Nagrin from her work with Meredith Monk. And i have seen... well, i have seen some ballet (i admit i am not that well-versed in ballet, but i did see the New York City Ballet during the Balanchine era, i have seen Baryshnikov, i have seen the American Ballet Theater, i have seen the Joffrey Ballet, etc.) but i have also seen so much dance which was possessed of... genius isn't too strong a word in some cases. I can't even count the brilliant work i've seen. But (of course) Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, Lucinda Childs, Trisha Brown, Meredith Monk, Kenneth King, Phoebe Neville, William Dunas, Deborah Hay, Twyla Tharp, Gus Solomons... i could go on and on. I have such vivid memories of many of those performances, and i know i've seen some of the greatest works i'll ever see....

And yet the Covenant Dance Theater was like a very good regional dance company, except that it's based in New York City. Brooklyn, but New York City.

One of the films i saw this week was the new Australian "Macbeth", directed by Geoffrey Wright, who directed "Romper Stomper". He updates the material to the present-day, and it becomes a violent gang war movie, but he keeps the Shakespearean dialogue. I think it's a fascinating movie, but what it also shows is that the "classical" tradition of English theater continues in Australia. It reminded me that the kind of training that all those Australian actors (cf. Cate Blanchette, Geoffrey Rush, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Rachel Griffiths, Judy Davis, Guy Pearce, et al) have had is that classical British conservatory training. It's a place where that tradition has continued.


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