Wednesday September 22, 2010 - After watching a preview of the ballet MAA at the Guggenheim two days ago, I was anxious to see the entire work staged at Columbia's Miller Theatre. For his setting of Kaija Saariaho's 1991 score, choreographer Luca Veggetti has assembled a cast of seven dancers, all but one of them having associations with Juilliard Dance Division. Kokyat and I attended the dress rehearsal where he took these photographs. Click on the image above to enhance.
View a 'trailer' for MAA from the Guggenheim's Works and Process presentation here.
MAA will be repeated on Friday and Saturday September 24th and 25th; for more information contact the Miller Theater box office at 212-854-7799.
The Saariaho score was played tonight by the remarkable International Contemporary Ensemble, the same musicians who blew my mind with their brilliant rendering of Xenakis' ORESTEIA at the same venue in September 2008. Among those players with outstanding solo moments were harpist Bridget Kibbey, the perpetually brilliant Jacob Greenberg on keyboards...
...violinist Erik Carlson...
...and flautist Claire Chase.
MAA opens with a prelude (entitled Journey) in which the electronified sound of the composer's footsteps impart a sense of mystery and carry us away from the everyday world to the place where we watch the dancers moving to Luca Veggetti's seemlessly flowing, other-worldly style which attunes so perfectly to the ballet's score. Intense movement phrases are interspersed with moments of repose, and the dancers who are not dancing at a given moment might sit or lay down on the floor, or take a seat among the musicians. One especially beautful motif is a sliding movement as the dancers glide from place to place across the floor.
From the opening quartet entitled Gates, the dancers are Craig Black and Chen Zielinski...
...Viktor Usov and Min Young Lee. Such off-kilter balances recur as the ballet progresses.
In her long and marvelously expressive solo (entitled ...de la Terre), Frances Chiaverini (above) is accompanied by Erik Carlson's violin, the sound of which resonates, buzzes and warps electronically.
Above: dancer and violinist: Frances Chiaverini and Erik Carlson performing ...de la Terre.
One of the most captivating musical passages is Forest in which magical sound-textures are achieved by all the instruments playing same-note staccati while the timpani suggests a sexual undercurrent. Some choreographers might have gone in for bursts of allegro dancing here, but Mr. Veggetti instead gives us a stretchy, sexy-tension duet for Casia Vengeochea and Spencer Dickhaus (photo above).
The remaining three movements are danced by the ensemble; here are some individual photos of these young dancers:
Viktor Usov, Min Young Lee
Min Young Lee
Casia Vengoecheva with Spencer Dickhaus
Craig Black, Chen Zielinski
Craig Black, Frances Chiaverini and Viktor Usov
As the music shimmers to a hush, the dancers slowly move off (Min Young Lee, above)...
...leaving the stage to Ms. Chase as darkness falls. Click the image to enlarge.
Enhancing the stage picture were the lighting designs of Roderick Murray, sculptural pieces by Moe Yoshida and costumes designed by the choreographer with Deanna Berg MacLean. During the applause, Ms. Saariaho appeared onstage and kissed each dancer and musician in turn.
All photos by Kokyat; some of his black and white images from the dress rehearsal are here.