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.