Happy birthday to Richard K. Rein, who turned the Big Seven Oh yesterday and ruminated on the milestone in his column today, here.
Seventy’s good, from my point of view. Seven years ago I ruminated on the same number, here. The wisdom that still works today is from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” is set in 1813 Regency England, where passions smolder under the veneer of a determinedly genteel society. As choreographer/librettist Douglas Martin and his team translate that novel, they hit ballet’s sweet spot. Gentility is, after all, basic to classical ballet.
This ground-breaking American Repertory Ballet production, premiered to a packed McCarter Theater on April 21, is a Douglas Martin triumph. No longer do I want to see the movie. Each character portrayed by the dancers is etched in my mind.
Every element of dance theater — character-based movement, mime, juxtapositions, props, exquisitely beautiful designs by A. Christina Gianinni, music played by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, even a surround-sound score of horses’ hooves and birds singing — helps to tell the story.
With no program synopsis, it helps to know the novel that chronicles the unfolding romance involving the witty and judgmental Elizabeth Bennet and the rich and aloof Fitzwilliam Darcy, though some characters are easy to pick out on stage.
Ballet mistress Mary Barton, wonderful as Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Bennet, points to the ring finger of any single man in sight and inserts her dithery head-shaking everywhere she shouldn’t.
Kathleen Moore Tovar, formerly a principal with American Ballet Theater, also shows the young’uns how. As Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine, she cuts a skirt-swishing officious swathe, punctuating her snobbish opinions by up-jerking her knee.
Aldeir Montero, new to the company, is obviously Bingley, Darcy’s genial friend. With his every lunge and leap, opening himself to the audience, he exudes friendliness, in contrast to Mattia Pallozzi, who plays Darcy.
At the ball, contemptuously looking over his shoulder, Darcy clings to himself, with one Napoleonic arm in front, the other in back.
Austap Kymko, as the black-clad unctuous clergyman Collins, oozes himself from one hilarious misstep to another
but smooths out some of the clumsiness after he marries Elizabeth’s dear friend Charlotte (Shaye Firer).
Gentility does not always prevail. When giddy youngest sister Lydia Bennet (Nanako Yamamoto) runs off with handsome seducer Wickham (Jacopo Jannelli) their bawdy sex scene rips off the veil of decorum and suddenly we seem to be looking at contemporary dance.
When Elizabeth (evocatively danced by Monica Giragosian) refuses Collins, the pragmatic Charlotte literally jumps on his back to claim him.
Mime? Throughout, and often extended into dance. When Elizabeth questions Charlotte about marrying Collins, the friends circle and touch their hands to the brows, then extend their arms out straight, question, answer, question, answer.
Juxtapositions enable insights.
Charlotte, in a not-so-good marriage, parallels the movement of the eldest Bennet sister, Jane (Lily Saito), who has been moping in a house on the other side of the stage, waiting for a suitor who does not arrive.
And an incident with a prop, a teapot, shrinks a storyline when Elizabeth outwits Lady Catherine, who has determined that Elizabeth will not be the one to pour her tea.
Scenic projections and costumes were beyond splendid. One that helped the story line was the headpiece of Caroline Bingley, which made a tall dancer (newcomer Erikka Reenstierna-Cates) an even taller and more formidable opponent to the success of the Bennet women.
There is much excellent dancing in this 140-minute ballet — lots of women on stage at one time, and many chances for men to do double turns and land on one knee.
Music was by composers that were Austen’s favorites (U.S. 1, April 19). Each worked well for that particular dance and was vibrantly played by the PSO, directed by John Devlin. They did not build to the kind of climax that comes with Tchaikovsky ballets, but at moments of high emotion Martin inserted duets by Schubert or Mendelssohn, played by pianist Jonathan Benjamin with either cellist Michael Katz or violinist Grace Park.
The dramatic climax comes, of course, when Jane and Elizabeth get their men. Jane’s longed-for pas de deux with Bingley is simple joy — quick quivering beats with gentle lifts and expansive arabesques.
Elizabeth, in contrast, has spent most of the evening rejecting Darcy. Conflicted, he rarely offers open gestures and his first proposal is, literally, backhanded. With his back to the audience he twists himself into saying, in tightly gripped movement, that he loves her in spite of himself. She flounces off. Then, when she is devastated by the Wickham scandal, Darcy signals his desire to help with an expressive leg movement — an open rond de jambe — and sets out to fix the situation.
Upon his return, as she stretches arms-wide in longing, he catches her in mid air, and she curls her head on his shoulder in delight. Again, she stretches to the nth, and curls around him.
The once haughty Darcy lies down behind her, his head by her knee, in an act of obeisance, and the audience erupts in applause.
(Addendum: In this video of a rehearsal, the first bit is Elizabeth dancing with the dastardly but charming Wickham. In the second, she dances with Darcy after she loves him. In the fourth scene Caroline obnoxiously separates Elizabeth from Darcy.)
Techies play in a high stakes intramural tournament every February at one of the state’s best – free — networking opportunities. On February 15. at Princeton Innovation Forum (PrincetonIF) the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, they gave away $30,000 in one afternoon. All the teams were from Princeton University with Princeton profs as advisors or main participants. Sponsored by the Keller Center, PrincetonIF focuses on commercializing technology developed at Princeton University.
Diccon Hyatt made it the cover story in this week’s issue of U.S. 1.It reads best in hard copy, so grab one today from a newsbox before it gets replaced tomorrow. Or read it here.
With angels, venture capitalists, lawyers, and supporters watching, each team made a three-minute pitch. Then that power crowd emptied out into the crowded lobby, mobbed the wine bar, and the noise level rose as those-in-the-know and those-with-money interviewed the presenters and each other.
My favorite moment was introducing Chris Owens of Oppenheimer Nexus to Lou Wagman and Joe Montemarano (photo top right). More on that in another post. Also (apparently I can’t control random order) are photos of second prize winner Niraj Jha, professor of electrical engineering, who is working on Internet security; first prize winner Robert Pagels presenting his technology for manufacturing microparticles for delivering biologic drugs; Pagels and his team get their pictures taken, and U.S. 1’s Diccon Hyatt interviews Joe Montemarano.
Read the story here to learn about exciting technology and get on the Keller Center’s mailing list here. Always something exciting going on at the Equad.
“A young man on Wall Street became interested in the work of a mathematician who had developed a system for beating blackjack and was using that system to pick stocks that would outperform the market average. . . . Princeton Newport Partners became the first quantitative hedge fund.”
You can march, you can write letters to the editor, you can call your legislators, but you can also help protect our democracy by bolstering the budgets of the investigative reporters trying to combat fraud and lies.
Poignant detail #1: The print version of Chen’s article showed two lonely news boxes in downtown Trenton. One was for the Star Ledger, which has coopted the Trenton Times state coverage. The other was for U.S. 1 Newspaper. What?? U.S. 1 covers state politics once in a while, as in this investigative piece,. We cover important issues and the boss sometimes opines in his column, but statehouse reporting — that’s not our mission.
ABC Prime Time (tonight, 1/5 at 9 pm) will air a two hour special about Princeton’s celebrity murder case — Lyle and Erik Menendez’s murder of their parents in Beverly Hills.
The Mendendez brothers grew up in Princeton. Lyle went to Princeton University but was suspended for cheating on a paper.They owned what is now Chuck’s Spring Street Cafe. The brothers later testified they were motivated by abuse by their father.
Larry Tabak, who had been the brothers’ tennis coach, wrote a long article for U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 13, 1990. Though referenced in this story, it preceded our publishing everything online and is not now available on line. Later our images were used in a book and a cable TV special.
Tonight ABC has words from Lyle, from prison. I will be eager to see what new material has been revealed.
“The rich fragrance of steaming beet borscht wafted into my apartment from Alexandra’s kitchen, awakening memories of my mother’s incomparable version of the famous Russian soup.”
Libby Zinman wrote this evocative account of living in the Harriet Bryan house for U.S. 1 Newspaper’s cover story this week. Describing her apartment there: “It had been designed by architects whose esthetic sensibility had brought the outdoors into the apartment’s living quarters, allowing the woods, luxuriantly clothed in the red and golden leaves of autumn under a brilliant blue sky, to become part of my everyday life.”
Zinman had traveled widely and spent much of her professional life in Vietnam. She found wide diversity in her new home. “A milieu like this offered rich opportunities to understand other worlds and foreign cultures, a reality that also gently nudged us all to practice, more thoughtfully, the gentle art of tolerance every single day.”
She also covered how senior housing works in Princeton. In this sidebar, she testifies that “the Harriet Bryan House is one of the outstanding successes of Princeton Community Housing, which offers different programs for seniors unable to afford the increased cost of purchasing homes or renting apartments.”
“We were there first,” says Bennett Baryln. “Bridgegate has been fascinating because it lifts the veil of what we saw in Hunterdon, the taking over of agencies to serve only political ends.”
Barlyn finally got his just due — a $1.5 million payment from New Jersey settling the case against, as the U.S. 1 article states, a “Bridgegate-like web — that includes small town shenanigans connecting to statehouse leaders, respected legal professionals getting fired, and a lone lawyer’s quest to find the truth.”
Dan Aubrey wrote the investigative article in this week’s U.S. 1 here. Aubrey’s first person similar investigation from 2014 is here. If you are a fan of Governor Chris Christie, either article will make you very uncomfortable. How could this happen? Bridgegate may have the answer.