Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ballez: La MaMa Moves presents ballet on the wild side

Khadija Griffith (left) and Deborah Lohse in
Sleeping Beauty & The Beast,
a Ballez world premiere
(photo: Theo Coté)

Ballez is performance, company, class and community, that invites everyone to witness and celebrate the history and performances of lesbian, queer, and transgender people.
Ballez dancers claim our inherent nobility and belonging within, around, and on top of a form that has historically excluded us. 
Ballez celebrates the virtuosity of complexly gendered embodiment, energetic eloquence, queer coding, and the magical adaptability of expression that Ballez dancers have cultivated through their lives as a way to survive and thrive.
--some statements from www.ballez.org

Sleeping Beauty & the Beast--the latest project of Katy Pyle (with Jules Skloot and members of Pyle's Ballez troupe) is big.

How big, you ask?

So big, it requires more than two hours and two--not one--theater at La MaMa to tell its story.

So big, it's really telling multiple stories, mashing up classical ballets and fairy tale archetypes with Lower East Side labor organizing history and with L.E.S. queer culture--resulting in a hot mess that is and isn't.

So big, Pyle needs two dozen versatile, well-trained and coached dancers (most playing multiple roles) and eighteen classical musicians (New York's Queer Urban Orchestra playing straight-up Tchaikovsky for Act 1) plus a DJ JD Samson's house music (Act 2) and even that's not enough.

So big, it Occupies the Ballet Canon; big enough for a look-in from Graham and Loie Fuller; too big for the gender binary; too big to behave.

So big, it can embrace sweetness, humor, revolutionary fervor, sexual heat of diverse and ever-shifting varieties, and the pain of loss.

So big that--well, you know those old timers who regale you with stories about being there when so-and-so made her stunning debut or first danced with Nureyev and knocked their socks off in that difficult role? One day, if you're lucky, you will be that old timer, unable to shut up about how you saw Ballez premiere Sleeping Beauty & The Beast at La MaMa Moves.

That big. Historic. Meaningful. Moving.

Pyle and company get so much joyfully right, starting with the complex precision work of Act 1's opening yarn weaving dance. But I'm going to let you discover the best of Sleeping Beauty & The Beast for yourself, because you're going, right?  You're going.

Sleeping Beauty & the Beast continues tonight and through May 8--Wednesday to Saturday at 7pm; Sunday at 4pm. For information and tickets, click here.

La MaMa
at Ellen Stewart Theatre and The Downstairs
66 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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