Just to add my impressions of the same evening at the Columbia Arts Festival, but not as eloquently as my friend, Carol I fear.
The first piece (Upon a Whim) was very abstract and I had a hard time connecting to it. But gradually Baryshnikov's expressions, body and facial, made me think of a Charlie Chaplinesque character....the sad, confused little man always trapped in some bewildering situation, the constant bafflement and never quite getting where he needs to go or knowing where he wants to go; this is what dimension played out to me. And that made it a little bit more enjoyable and interesting. Granted, I'm probably the only person in the universe goofy enough to come up with this image, but it worked for me. It was, however, my least favorite of the choreography that evening.
The second piece (Indoor Man), right off the bat when he walks on the stage with this 'home depot' decorated box with working candelabra fixtures, and this grim and pasty look about his face; immediately it screamed to me 'Twilight Zone' episode! But one of the funny ones. I did quite enjoy this piece. It was, uh, off the wall, shall we say. It had a good pace, the music was great and the choreography fun. Mind you, he didn't wear the box the entire time. And I can still, as I am writing this review, see the expression on his face when he first turned the lights on and then off again, inside his box. Priceless!
The third and fourth pieces, I have to mimic the impressions already so nicely expressed by Carol. Both had such a luxurious, dreamy quality to them. In Opus, wearing little red shorts and a still very muscular physique, he just looked downright beautiful to me. And I found this the piece that I ended up just sitting back and drinking in everything about him. Every tiny nuance of body and emotion, effortless movement, moments of elongated pause...he still absolutely defies gravity. And how, though he physically takes up a tiny bit of stage, he seems to literally fill the entire space, a truly luminous presence. Again in Landscape such an incredible awareness of every bit of his body that he controlled as if, well, by magic, because what he does with his body sometimes appears as if an illusion; if not impossible. But then he's been doing such things all his life.
Carol mentioned the pianist, Pedja Muzijevcic, and I agree as well. Very impressive, classy and really made a big part of the performance so much more special. He performed all but these last two numbers which were taped.
A rousing rendition of the Beatle's 'Back in the USSR' quickly changed the tide of the night and there were lots of toes a'tapping. Baryshnikov came bouncing out looking like an Olympic gymnist and boogyed around the stage with quantum energy and not a care in the world, inviting us to join in on the partying. And we did.
Of course, the best was saved for last. With a variety of music by Leon Redbone, a hat, a cane, a mannequin on rollers and a chair on wheels, Baryshnikov pulled out every single possible stop and he did it with a flair, a panache that had your face aching from the smile that sat squarely on your face from minute one. This was a performance of pure and utter delight not to mention look up charisma and it is HIM! Charming, sexy, naughty and nice. You'd be amazed at the number of nuances a man, THIS man, can express with a chair clamped firmly between his thighs while 'walking' about the stage. And during the song 'I Want to be Seduced', you had better believe he cast those baby blues out on each one of us with a big naughty c'mon look and hands up - I was seduced. We all were. He was quite simply brilliant. And gracious. And timeless.
I've read that this might be a farewell for him. I just can't see that. He may not be leaping across the stage in Superman proportions, but he still has IT - what made him unique in his prime and makes him radiate even more at 55 years old. From what I saw last week, I think that he might still be saving some of his best for last...and let's hope that's still down the road a bit.