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 Post subject: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2003 3:59 pm 
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There's more dance left in Baryshnikov
The pace slows, but his muscular legs still deliver

By Mary Carole McCauley
Sun Arts Writer
Originally published June 28, 2003
Quote:
WILMINGTON, Del. - The sun in its descent splashes light all along the front of the Grand Opera House, a marvel of Victorian design and gleaming white marble. The Opera House, which went up in 1871, was built to last. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the human body.

Not that any of Mikhail Baryshnikov's parts are in obvious disrepair. Quite the opposite.

From the balcony of the Opera House, at least, he seems to still have his trademark mane of abundant butterscotch hair. If he is shorter and more compact than one remembers, Baryshnikov still gives the impression that every muscle has been honed with a precise understanding of its overall function in relation to the rest of his remarkable body. More than anything, he radiates power
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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2003 4:03 pm 
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I saw this program last night at the Columbia Festival of the Arts. I will try to put together a review and post it in a day or two, but I need time to digest what I saw. It was perhaps one of the most amazing dance experiences I have ever had. And yes, I did see Misha in his prime, several times. If you get a chance to see this program make every effort to go.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 7:59 am 
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Baryshnikov Unbowed
At 55, He's Pioneering the Role of Midlife Ex-Virtuoso

By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 30, 2003; Page C01
Quote:
It has come to this. Mikhail Baryshnikov, who once packed in the glitterati at the greatest performance halls in the world's cultural capitals, danced this weekend at a high school auditorium deep in suburbia before an audience in capri pants and tank tops.

One couldn't help but contemplate this and other ironies in his performance -- at times tedious, at times sensational -- Saturday night at the Columbia Festival of the Arts. There was the former ballet superstar, treading the boards at Wilde Lake High School. The dancer who interpreted leading roles in the works of the greatest choreographers now jogging around the stage to Beatles music. The man who could make a thousand jaws drop with his inhumanly lofty jumps now bringing 739 equally enthusiastic onlookers to their feet by scooting across the stage on an office chair.
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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 11:31 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
The article picks up as it goes along and ends by reaffirming Baryshnikov's unique qualities, but the early paragraphs, with their "Oh my gosh, it isn't the Met" attitude, are hard to bear. Actually, at 739 it could be argued that this venue is too large for a solo programme.

<small>[ 30 June 2003, 03:29 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 2:32 pm 
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Location: New York
I agree with you Stuart. “It has come to this.” That’s pretty strong language to begin a review with.

Baryshnikov is touring to raise money for an arts center? And presenting works by relatively unknown choreographers? Sounds like some worthwhile ventures to me.

Seems like every article I read about Baryshnikov’s work is written by framing a review around his age. 55 isn’t exactly geriatric. Misha is still so closely associated with the ballet. And ballet=youth. How many critics focus solely on Merce Cunningham’s age when evaluating his contributions to dance?

I know this review wasn’t completely negative. And I haven’t seen the program. It’s entirely possible that the choreography isn’t quite up to par. A critic has to be, well, critical. I’d just like to read some articles which frame Misha’s work around something other than his age.

Our society has equated dance with youth and athletic prowess. Perhaps Baryshnikov could begin to touch upon dance forms outside of the Western lexicon in his choreographic choices. Maybe he already has—I’m not familiar enough with what he’s been doing.

I’m happy to hear that he’s still performing. I’d pay to see Baryshnikov eating an ice cream cone. I’m sure it would be imbued with artistic value. And he can sit in a chair if he wants…

<small>[ 30 June 2003, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: lampwick ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 3:15 pm 
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I agree with both of you, Stuart and lampwick. Baryshnikov is still an amazing dancer and now that he no longer knocks everyone's socks off by his jumps, he now shows just how good he really is at the other aspects of dance and performance.
He still knocks my socks off. I did see the program and yes two of the pieces were a bit weak choreographically, but the other pieces more than made up for them.
I am working on my review...I am finding it is very hard to write a review about a living legend! I am also very impressed with his choice of small, more intimate venues. I can tell sitting in the 10th row of the Rouse Theatre I relly felt as if he was making eye contact with me and me alone! Amazing.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 10:54 pm 
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Well said lampwick and corrival!

Really looking forward to your review corrival.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 12:06 pm 
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Baryshnikov: Solos with Piano or Not - An Evening of Music and Dance.

June 28th, 2003 at The Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts, Columbia Festival of the Arts.

How does one review a living legend?
The Rouse Theatre is a small venue, everyone felt very close to the stage, the better to see those ice-blue eyes and feel his incredible charisma.
The pianist, Pedja Muzijevcic, who opened the performance was marvelous, he played for four of the six dances and also played short interludes between the dances. My favorite was "Serenade" by R Strauss, so very sweet and emotional.

At 55, Baryshnikov is still a virtuoso, he just demonstrates his masterly skill and technique in ways that no longer include gravity-defying leaps.

The first dance Upon a Whim, choreographed by Ruth Davidson Hahn, was for me, the least attractive choreography. It seemed a little contrived, trying too hard to be something, it was also one of the longest pieces (or, perhaps, it just seemed long because I did not care for it much).

Indoor Man, choreographed by Tere O'Connor, music by David Jaggard "Elastic Tango", and Conlon Nancarrow "Tango?", was very interesting. Baryshnikov starts wearing a box, designed to look like a small room with wallpaper and sconces. At one point he flips a switch and on come the lights in the sconces! His acting and mime abilities are simply great. Once outside of the box, he became much more fearful and wild, he has discovered the world outside is not such a nice place.

But the two most beautiful dances were Opus One, choreographed by Lucinda Childs, music by Alban Berg, "Sonata, op. 1", and In a Landscape, choreographed by Cesc Gelabert, music by John Cage, "In a Landscape". In these two dances Baryshnikov danced with such fluidity and emotion, it was breathtaking. His technique is masterful, his extensions close to perfect. Opus One is full of contrasts sometimes soft and fluid other times hard and rigid. In a Landscape Baryshnikov does something that is very difficult to describe, parts of his body suddenly appear to not belong to him. His right arm is not his as his left hand uses it to wipe his brow. Or he looks at his leg as if wondering where it came from and how did it get there. Then his body becomes whole again and off he goes in to some wonderful turn or series of leaps across the stage.

The evening finished with two fun pieces to recorded music. Rattle Your Jewelry, choreographed by Michael Clark, music by the Beatles, "Back in the U.S.S.R". Although the choreography was not particularly inventive Baryshnikov made it fun and ironic.
The most entertaining dance was kept for last Mr XYZ, choreographed by Eliot Feld, music as performed by Leon Redbone. This dance was a series of short dances using different props. The first "Without my Walking Stick, I'd go Insane" caused a lot of laughter from the crowd. Then the chair, a simple office chair, it's amazing what a performer of this caliber can do with a simple chair.

Throughout all the dances Baryshnikov maintained eye contact with the audience and in that small venue it felt as if he were looking only at you and you were a part it. Overall an absolutely wonderful evening, by an incomparable dancer and performer.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 1:21 pm 
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Location: New York
Oh...I think I would MELT if I thought Misha looked at me.

I liked your review. Especially the part about his arms and legs looking disembodied. I can picture exactly what you mean.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2003 6:52 pm 
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Actually, if he had looked at me the way he his face looked when he first walked onto the stage I think I would have withered away to nothing. I guess he had his "game" face on, the face that says 'do not talk to me or bother me, I am busy.' Wow, I actually did not feel comfortable going to the stage door afterwards to try for an autograph. But then his face softened as he reached the piano and he smiled slightly. BTW, at the stage door he was very gracious and signed autographs for everyone there.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2003 7:13 pm 
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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.

~dani :)


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 11:45 am 
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Oh, wow! That's great, folks! I love the impressions and I can hardly wait to see Misha myself. Do you what the Leon Redbone piece was named?


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 12:58 pm 
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Azlan:
It was called Mr XYZ. choreographed by Eliot Feld, one of my favorites.
Is Misha coming out your way? I would love to read some more reviews of his current work.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 1:18 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Yes, I enjoyed the reviews too. I wonder if he will venture over to Europe to medium-sized halls like the Queen Elizabeth. It's a lot easier for a solo performance than with a Company and he'd sell out an 800 seater for a few nights no problem.

<small>[ 07 July 2003, 03:19 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov Solos with Piano or Not
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 1:43 pm 
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From what I have read I gather he is doing this tour in part to raise money for his Baryshnikov Dance Foundation.


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