Dialogue of dance

Running the Reservoir. 7:20 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Fair weather on the last day of Summer 2016, a summer we’ll all remember for the intense heat. Yesterday was fair and mild although by midnight more humidity had moved in.  The weatherman tells us we’ll have that “like summer” until the weekend.

It’s UN week here in New York and it’s very inconvenient for New Yorkers or anybody else not involved with the UN. All over town there are cavalcade of official car usually recognizable as big black SUVs with blackened windows traveling in threes, fours and fives, often along with a NYPD escort. The police force is working overtime protecting these people from any incursion or whatever. Lanes are closed-off for Only Official vehicles, and some times whole blocks are closed so that these boys and girls can move around without a problem. Or trouble. 

A friend of mine who lives near Central Park in the 60s, sent me the following yesterday afternoon, writing about it to me she said: “I have been more than irritated this week at all the UN Cadillac Escalades and huge black cars with diplo licenses.  Today one almost ran over me when he went through a red light.  They are partying and living it up these two weeks on our taxpayer’s money while thousands of children and people are being slaughtered in Syria.” The unofficial sentiment.

Meanwhile, last night I was a guest of Bonnie Strauss at the New York City Ballet’s 2016 Fall Gala and "Celebrating Five Years of Ballet & Fashion." This was the brainchild of one of NYCB’s most famous balletomanes, Sarah Jessica Parker, and it has added  a new energy to the evening.

This year’s gala marked the fifth anniversary of the world of fashion working directly with the world of ballet. This year’s program featured four world premiere ballets, each with costumes by distinguished designers. Principal Dancer Lauren Lovette was paired with Narciso Rodriguez; Resident Choreographer Justin Peck partnered with Dries Van Noten; Corps de Ballet Member Peter Walker in collaboration with Jason Wu, and acclaimed choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa who was paired with Rosie Assoulin. The program also concluded with an excerpt of Bal de Couture which was choreographed by Peter Martins for the inaugural  2012 fall fashion gala with costumes by Valentino.

Each ballet this year was prefaced by a video of the designer working with Marc Happel, the unassuming yet congenial Costume Director for the NYCB, showing the viewer how it all comes about, drawing us closer to the production about to take place before our eyes.
The red carpet which appears to lead to the Metropolitan Opera House diverges left at the fountain to the David Koch Theater for last night's NYCB fall gala. There was a lot of security at the entrance and all over the Josie Robertson Plaza. 6:30 p.m.
It was a very glamorous black tie affair. The women give it that glamour and we’ll have the photos of many of them to show you later this week.  The Gala Chairs were Ricki Lander, Noriko “Daisy Lin” Maeda, and Sarah Jessica Parker.  There was also a huge Honorary Committee which including Matthew Broderick, Hugh Dancy and Clare Danes, Jenna Lyons, Julianna Margulies (who looked like a movie star) and Keith Lieberthal, Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld and a host of famous fashion designers.  The benefactors’ list was vast and with many prominent New Yorkers, famous and not. At the beginning of the dinner after the performances, it was announced that they’d raised a record-breaking $2.5 million from last night’s show.
The guests at dniner on the Promenade after the performances. 9:45 p.m.
Unfortunately I don’t have the language to describe the great pleasure in watching the ballets for although I am not a balletomane, over the years of having the opportunity to attend, I’ve come to love the ballet. The work of the dancers, musicians, the choreographers, the costume and set designers, not to mention the music of the great composers, makes a show that carries you out of the day-to-day reality into the realms of your imagination.

It’s pure brilliant solace for this day-to-day New Yorker, and we are so lucky to have it available to us. Furthermore it’s good for the children and very exciting to see the intense dedication and discipline and wonder that goes into the dancers’ astounding work. It is a celebration and in direct contrast to all the humdrum of intense daily of New York at this time of year (or any other, for that matter).
This photo was taken during intermission on the Promenade with Dori Cooperman's iPhone of me and Dana Auslander, Elana Nathan and Dori (in the yellow) and Alexandra Lind Rose.
The premieres last night were For Clara, music by Robert Schumann, choreography by Lauren Lovette, costumes by Narciso Rodriguez; The Dreamers, music by Bohuslav Martinu; choreography by Justin Peck, costumes by Dries;  ten in seven with music by Thomas Kikta, choreography by Peter Walker, costumes by Jason Wu; Unframed, music by Luigi Boccherini, Edward Elgar, Peteris Vasks and Antonio Vivaldi. The finale was the Bal de Couture with music by Tschaikovsky, choreography by Peter Martins, and costumes by Valentino. And all designers supervised by Marc Happel. Bravo to all!
Olivia Flatto and Fe Fendi. Barbara and Donald Tober.
A fan and admirer complimenting Sarah Jessica Parker on her devotion to the NYCB.
Dori Cooperman with Gillian and Sylvester Miniter. Nazee Moinian.
More on dance. On September 1st-3rd, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet, their members and supporters of American Ballet Theatre  traveled to Paris to applaud the exceptional presentation of Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” after its acclaimed runs in New York this past season. This was ABT’s first appearance at the Paris Opera in 25 years.
The performance was followed by a cast party not only with all the dancers, but also the technicians, costume designers, lighting designers, and ballet masters, giving artists and patrons an exceptional chance to meet.
In addition to the premiere at the Opera Bastille, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet were invited to a seated luncheon at the American Embassy hosted by the American Ambassador Jane Hartley. Dior also opened for them the historical hotel particulier of Monsieur Christian Dior, which they visited before tasting an Alain Ducasse specially designed menu across the street at the Plaza Athenee. They also toured the new Louis Vuitton Foundation, attended a rehearsal at the Palais Garnier, and had a very private lunch with the Opera de Paris’ new Director of Dance Aurelie Dupont. This musical and dancing journey to Paris ended with an outstanding performance by the Staatskapelle Berlin at the Philharmonie de Paris  led by Maestro Daniel Barenboim.

Among the Americans in attendance in Paris were: Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhem, Andrea and Ken Brodlieb, Elaine and Dan Brownstein, Olivia Flatto (Chairman of the American Friends of the Paris Opera Ballet), Harrison and Diana Goldin, Nancy and Dozier Hasty, Sana Sabbagh, Patricia and Charles Selden, Blanca Cecilia Picon, Laure Vienot-Tronche (Executive director of the American Friends of the Paris Opera Ballet), Ali and Monica Wambold.
Last Thursday, September 15th, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) presented their latest exhibition, Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS, on view from through January 22, 2017. This exhibition is part of MAD Transformations, the Museum's fall exhibition series showcasing artists who have rethought and continue to reshape perceptions of traditional craft media.

Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS celebrates the 10th anniversary of the "Crochet Coral Reef." This is an ongoing project by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and their Los Angeles–based organization, the Institute For Figuring (IFF), which addresses environmental threats to marine life through an ever-evolving handcrafted artificial ecology.
Institute For Figuring's Crochet Coral Reef project, 2005–ongoing. Photos courtesy of the Institute For Figuring
Theirs is a non-profit dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic aspects of science and mathematics. The IFF was founded in 2003 by science writer and curator Margaret Wertheim and her twin sister, poet and writer Christine Wertheim. Their objective is to employ craft practice in the service of activism.

In 2005, for example, in response to the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef in their native Australia, the Wertheim sisters began to crochet a simulation of healthy and ailing reefs mixing yarn with plastic trash. Using the algorithmic codes of crochet, the sisters produce crenellated forms representing hyperbolic geometry, which is also manifest in the undulating structures of corals, kelps, and other reef organisms.
The sisters, aided by the international grouip of "Core Reef Contributors," have grown and evolved the "Crochet Coral Reef" project. It's been exhibited nationally and internationally, which has resulted in large-scale collaborative works of coralline landscapes, fusing mathematics, marine biology, feminist art practices,, and craft. MAD's Assistant Curator, Samantha De Tillio curated the Toxic Seas exhibition is a unique presentation of the project that is focusing on climate change and ocean health.

It's a community-based project that builds on the feminist tradition of using craft in the service of activism. Knitting and crocheting is often central to this practice because it's generally been considered a woman's talent (and work).
It's an extraordinary exhibition just to view, let alone the immense, thousands of concealed hours that went into making them. There are three main "habitants": A giant coral forest and a collection of miniature Pod Words. This section demonstrates how crocheted yarn can mimic the hyperbolic geometry of living reef organisms; The "Bleached Reef" and a brand new "Toxic Reef" demonstrate the dying corals. Acidification and warming of ocean waters lead to a phenomenon known as reef "bleaching"; and suspended from the Museum's ceiling is a fishing net, "The Midden" and considers the impact of plastic waste on the oceans' ecosystems. From 2007 to 2011, the Wertheims collected all of their domestic plastic trash including bottles, takeout constainers, and disposable shopping bags, inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area near Hawaii in the northern Pacific where millions of TONS of plastic trash has accumulated into a giant ocean gyre.

It's an amazing show and one which that will interest your children as well as providing food for thought about the world they are growing up in.