Sunday, September 06, 2009

Baryshnikov!

This is definitely a Baryshnikov weekend. The bliss!

Something of a miracle happened and I landed a ticket to attend an unforgettable, and most sold-out event, at Santa Monica's tiny Broad Stage - Three Solos And A Duet, with supreme dancer Baryshnikov as the star.
It was my first time ever seeing this legendary performer, and though he is now 61, I wasn't disappointed. The clarity, the grace and the strength of his every movement were just dazzling. He is famously short, yet on stage he appeared as tall as can be, and when the choreography froze him in a basic classical ballet step, such as an attitude or merely standing in cinquième, it was the most intense perfection.
A witty piece by Alexei Ratmansky, set to Glinka's most famous waltz, introduced the themes of the evening's works: intimacy, love and how we relate to our own image. The two duos by my dear Mats Ek were true to the choreographer's haunting language; Ana Laguna incarnated the experience of unmediated, raw emotions, reminding me of Ek's Giselle, a masterpiece. With Baryshnikov, she took us through the vagaries of a relationship or a dance stage partnership - its communication failures, its playfulness, physicality, loneliness (Watch passages from the duo here).
As for Benjamin Millepied's Years Later (which he discusses in this must-see video), it confronts footage of a young Baryshnikov, the dancer himself and his shadow; with amusement or frustration, Baryshnikov watches and reacts to his spectacular younger self, to saxophone solos by Phil Glass. Rarely is a piece so brutally honest and personal, yet elegant, infused with the abstract order of ballet; and while intimately focused on Baryshnikov, it is also, more universally, a tribute to dance.

As it was a gala performance, the show was followed by a lavish party where Los Angeles's upper crust nibbled on exquisite treats...

Then, on Saturday morning, a Baryshnikov with a weary but kind smile signed copies of his first publication as a photographer, Merce My Way. This colorful volume pays tribute to the works of Merce Cunningham, a great master of modern dance.
Of course, I got my copy autographed - my heart pounding, my eyes wide open.

Also see this interview from the Los Angeles Times, as well as their own review of the show.

35 comments:

Joyful said...

Wow! How nice you got to see the legend *smile.

Clare said...

This post made me giddy. I adore that man and am supremely jealous. He is a master at his art. So graceful. My english Nan would take me as a young girl to local ballet productions. I also took ballet from 4-11 years of age.

Abbie L. said...

When I was about 14, I got to see Baryshnikov with my ballet company. It was such an amazing experience.

Sam said...

WOW! Still a superb dancer at 61 - that really is something, isn't it? Lucky you ri see one of your idols - and hasn't he got a lovely signature!

Beth said...

What an amazing, unforgettable experience for you – to have seen such a legend.
I checked out the links. A fascinating, so very talented man.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Wow, he stills has a magnificent smile, doesn't he? Ana Laguna continues to be so graceful, too. What an evening of dance you experienced! Thank you for sharing the photos and the links. Love his autograph - as elegant as his dance is.

tangobaby said...

OMG! I think I would have fainted to get his autograph! How exciting for you.

You must have been thrilled! Wonderful!

Rina said...

Increible!!! me imagino tu sensacion y lo que significa esta experiencia!El es increible tambien, no se puede creer la vitalidad que tiene. Me encanto este post. Un abrazo!

Simply Mel said...

You lucky, lucky girl! The enthusiasm of your weekend was evident in your words - I'm so thrilled for you, but a bit envious too! :)

Marci said...

Que delicia poder disfrutar de cosas así!
Vaya suerte y vaya día, se te nota muy feliz.
Salu2

Debra said...

How absolutely lovely for you. A dream come true. You must have been over-the-moon. Have wonderful rest of the weekend.

Mia Sophia said...

What a beautiful, once in a life time moment. Congratulations!

If Jane said...

oh i am soooooo happy that you managed to go!!! and i can hear the excitement through yoru post. i think i wold have started crying infront of him..;)) what an amazing experience...!!!! wow!

Mary-Laure said...

CLARE - oh how wonderful, to go to the ballet as a child... Memories to cherish for ever.

ABBIE - wow, that's so great... I suppose that was a few years ago so he must have been younger and even more spectacular.
You mention "your ballet company" - are you a dancer?

SAM - yes, his signature is lovely indeed, very elegant.

BETH - I'm so happy you checked out the links - I hope you enjoyed them!

BRENDA - it was also my first time seeing Ana Laguna and yes, she is amazingly graceful and expressive.
And his autograph... so beautiful, yes.

RINA - si, tiene una energia y una vitalidad increibles. No se como hace!

IF JANE - my heart was pounding hard and everything, but I wanted to seem respectful and collected, you know, so I tried not to jump up and down with joy - or faint.

girlichef said...

How awesome! I can remember being a little girl and just being mesmerized by Baryshnikov! Very amazing :D

Gabbi said...

I've had a crush on him since I was a little girl and when he was on 'Sex in the City' as Carrie's love interest a few years back it sort of solidified the crush a little more. Such a sexy man. Amazing to have met him, thank you for sharing.

marie said...

wow i never knew he was a dancer. thank you for educating me :)

Mary-Laure said...

GABBI - ah yes, I never liked "Sex and the city" but he was on it, I did watch it!
He's just so sexy. Sigh.

donna baker said...

He is still so handsome isn't he? I actually think moreso now.

A World in a PAN said...

Baryshnikov has indeed inspired you! Your post is informative and so well written; it is a pelasure to read it. The shots are real and lively. I loved the video you recommend. You sound happy, as Marci says.

Mary-Laure said...

DONNA - I agree. He has aged so gracefully. It seems he is more handsome every year!

WORLD IN A PAN - dance makes me happy.

muralimanohar said...

Daaaammmnnnn...that would have been one hell of a show. How amazing.

Arlene said...

How wonderful to have seen this performance. I clicked on the Times story and read it, and I also watched the video clip from the performance. It was just as you described. I'm so amazed that at 61 he does this. What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. I'd also like to get a copy of his book. Bet the pics are interesting.

Spangler Cummings said...

Their review of the show pales in comparison to yours. Bravo!

Mary-Laure said...

ARLENE - I'm glad you enjoyed the links.
Check out the book, it features beautiful pics indeed.

SPANGLER - oh, you always have such kind words...

Fifi Flowers said...

WOW!!!! FABULOUS!!!!
Anddddd... you also WON my GIVEAWAY!!! http://www.fififlowers.com/2009/09/painting-labor-of-love.html
Come see!
ENJOY!
Fifi
PS... I don't think I ever told you... but I loved Misha when I was young and of course I joined ballet classes because I knew I would someday dance with him... LOL... silly girl... when I realized that was not going to happen... I switched to jazz dancing... LOL!!!

d. moll, l.ac. said...

How utterly exciting! I am swooning just reading about your experience, I would have been a basket case.......and what a signature, it truly reflects his Qi.

giulia said...

Ah, Marie-Laure. My hopes for your meeting the other Mr. B were surpassed. Excellent. Very happy for your experience. His signature has not changed a bit. Someone mentioned how elegant it is...yes. He does get better, you are right.

Well done!

xoxo

Susan

Mary-Laure said...

FIFI - oh THANK YOU, I am so thrilled!!!!!!!!!!
And I love it that you love Misha...

D. MOLL - his Qi is great.

GIULIA - yes, he is indeed the other Mr B - it had never occurred to me!

Taocito said...

Oh! The original petit pas!
I remember one new year's eve, my beloved sister took me to see a ballet. Then we went home and had some champagne... I believe this was pre-Oracle. It was such a wonderful experience.
Did Benjy enjoy the show? Did Baryshnikov seek him out when in LA?
Also could the Oracle share the secret to his shiny fur?

mansuetude said...

gives me goosebumps... so much grace... beautifully written, too.

Esti said...

menuda experiencia más formidable!

Mary-Laure said...

TAOCITO - unfortunately, Benjy did not make it to the theater as I only had 1 ticket. I am sure he would have loved it.
Did you know Baryshnikov loved dogs? I have many pictures of him playing with his dog, Tim, or working at the barre in a dance studio with his dog lying by his side. Really!
I'm sure he would have adored Benjy.
The Oracle will think about your question about being shiny and will get back to you I promise.

MANSUETUDE - I had goosebumps too, the entire time!
Thanks about your sweet words about my writing. I means SO MUCH to me!

marie-louise said...

Lucky lucky lucky you!!!!!!!!!!!

Annie said...

I love him so much! Lucky girl!