The Music of Elliott Carter Interpreted at Works & Process at the Guggenheim

New Choreography by Emery LeCrone and Avichai Scher

In the Peter B. Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim Museum, the lovely Mary Sharp Cronson welcomed the audience and introduced the almost 103 year-old composer Elliott Carter who provided five pieces of music for new choreographic commissions by Emery LeCrone and Avichai Scher.

Both LeCrone and Scher are trained ballet dancers who used ballet dancers in their works. The vocabulary of the dance was mainly ballet but both had the occasional stray from that tradition, making for some not-so-fitting moments. The music was by no means easy to choreograph to. There was no distinct rhythm and no direct feeling that could have been distinguished from the pieces together as a whole.

The title of LeCrone’s piece, With Thoughtful Lightness, fit well with her work. It was pensive, the partnering was even-keeled yet engaging, and it used transitions well. Throughout the piece, however, I was hoping that there would be more energy and more attention to the music’s quirkiness. Dancer, Gabrielle Lamb, shined in her role, a seasoned technician with an elegant softness.

Scher’s piece, It Makes Me Nervous, was a different beast. It was action-packed with eight dancers coming on-and-off stage, utilizing the small stage well. There were leaps and turns and kicks and lunges. It was dynamic and conscious of the music. There was room for refinement with this work including the theme of the spyglass and the random eighties jazz moves that crept in. That said, I could not keep my eyes off of Lia Cirio.

It was interesting – and quite true – when moderator Leigh Witchel said that ballet dancers learn the steps and then internalize the movement and create meaning then whereas modern dancers won’t even take a step until you tell them why. I think for ballet choreographers, it can be difficult for them to find their voice within the ballet vocabulary if the music isn’t speaking to them.

All in all, I think the commissions by Works & Process program at the Guggenheim are always worth seeing, especially being able to hear the choreographers talk about their work.

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