Dallas Black Dance Theater – Jacob’s Pillow
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Dallas Black Dance Theatre was founded in 1976 by Ann M. Williams and is currently led by Artistic Director Melissa M. Young. This multi-ethnic company of dancers has captivated audiences of all ages and backgrounds in Dallas and throughout the US for more than 45 years with modern, ballet, jazz, and ethnic works by nationally and internationally known choreographers.
Here's a world premiere of a work commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow from highly acclaimed choreographer, Darrell Grand Moultrie. $15
Dan Cainer - The Folk Project, New Jersey
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Daniel Cainer is a multi award-winning songwriter, performer and broadcaster based in London but frequently touring in the US and other countries with his Jewish themed musical storytelling shows. His songs are a witty and insightful exploration of life, love, family and everything in between. Lately he has specialized in longer form storytelling songs with a unique blend of humor and pathos.
He has managed to carve out a solo presence on both sides of the Atlantic and he was nominated for a MAC (Manhattan Assc of Cabaret) Award this year. He performs in cabaret and folk venues and his songs are sung by major cabaret and folk singers from Dillie Keane to Maureen Lipman and the legendary folk singer Christine Lavin. The love that singers have for his unusual and unclassifiable songs has led to this exclusive invitation to present an online concert for the New Jersey Folk Project , coming from London, and available to watch all over the globe.
You can join him live online for this hour long concert on Tuesday, May 30 at 7pm Eastern Time, 5pm West Coast, Noon UK.
Ming Garden – Met Museum
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Regular readers of this Blog know how fascinated I am by process, by how things fit together, whether they are the individual steps that make a ballet, how an orchestrator can take a composer’s ideas and construct a musical score, the process by which an ancient tapestry can be cleaned using contemporary techniques, how a painting can be restored without losing the unique colour and artistry of a painter long dead. I love all this and I’m always delighted to find videos showing the process of making or displaying art of all kinds that I can share with you.
This week I was thrilled to watch a film, made by the Metropolitan Museum in 1983 of a unique collaboration between the US and China. In a space in the Museum in New York, using rare wood that had to be imported from China and techniques handed down for thousands of years, a group of Chinese and American craftsmen worked together to build a Ming Garden.
What is a Ming Garden? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
Like Water For Chocolate - Royal Ballet
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The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden has just released Like Water for Chocolate, Christopher Wheeldon’s latest full-length ballet for The Royal Ballet on the Royal Opera House Stream.
Like Water for Chocolate is inspired by Laura Esquivel’s novel and follows the story of Tita, whose emotions spill out through her cooking and influence those around her in startling and dramatic ways. The production reunited Wheeldon with the creative team who transformed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2011) and The Winter’s Tale (2014) into dance – composer Joby Talbot, designer Bob Crowley, and lighting designer Natasha Katz. Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra was musical consultant, and Laura Esquivel worked closely with the team to reshape her richly layered story into an entertaining and engrossing new ballet.
This performance was filmed during the first run of the production at Covent Garden in summer 2022, and features Principal dancers Francesca Hayward as Tita and Marcelino Sambé as Pedro, alongside Mexican musician Tomás Barreiro on guitar.
This video of Like Water for Chocolate is complimented by exclusive additional content, providing insights into the creative process behind staging this new work on the Royal Opera House stage for the first time.
You can subscribe to the Royal Opera House Stream for £9.99 a month or £99 annually. If you only want to watch this programme, join on the monthly subscription and be sure to cancel before 30 days is up. They are currently offering a Free Trial too.
Karl Lagerfeld Exhibition – Met Museum
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I’ve always thought the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, with his black glasses, black gloves and white cat looked rather creepy. But I never met him and, anyway, could never have afforded even copies of his designs so who am I to judge?
Wiser writers than I, and certainly those who have written about fashion in the 20th and 21st century, all seem to rate him and his work very highly. There are few fashion designers who rate an exhibition in a major museum – Alexander McQueen and Valentino are the only ones who come to mind – and the Met has just mounted a lavish exhibition which made me want to see what he designed and why.
Fortunately, the Met has also made a film which takes us on a tour of the exhibition Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty in the safe and knowledgeable hands of Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. Now it’s possible for those of us who could never have imagined ourselves in a Lagerfeld creation to see what we’ve been missing. It’s a revelation.
Aspects of Love – Lyric Theatre
The truth is, David Garnett’s 1955 novella was never a very good idea on which to base a multi-million dollar musical. An enormous amount of talent has been expended to prove this statement wrong.
This asymetrical love story about an aging actress, an 18-year old boy, an elderly roue, a mad Italian artist and a little girl, while a fun read, is too episodic to work on stage. It jumps from character to character, from crisis to crisis, from crush to infatuation, from incident to incident, in movie-like ‘jump cuts’. To help us get from person to person and from scene to too-short scene, there are screens lurching from one side of the stage to the other, with pictures to tell us where we are. The lyrics have to do a lot of work and almost every line in every song is overweighted with facts so that you don’t lose track of each character and what’s happened to them since we last saw them.
The music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart, the director is Jonathan Kent. Michael Ball sings the show's two best songs beautifully even though it’s hard to believe in him as an elderly roue adored by all the women in his life. He played the young man in the first production of this show, in 1989, now he’s the young man's uncle. Hmmm.
More an operetta than a musical, it has been correctly cast with fine singers. The opera singer Danielle de Niese has even deserted her home opera house of Glyndebourne for a chance to be in this show.
The show seems to want to say something serious about human interraction without sexual jealousy and how “Love Changes Everything”, in the words of the show’s signature song, but the plot has some unsavoury elements concerning the young girl and we end up not caring about any of these feckless people, living a life unfettered to anything in real life.
Aspects of Love has already had a West End run, a Broadway run, and here it is again, back in the West End as though to insist that it really is a good idea after all.
Ruth Leon is a writer and critic specialising in music and theatre.