Saturday, June 24, 2006

An Appreciation

If you aren't interested in ballet, skip this from the NYTs.
Ah to bring as much skill, passion and commitment to my poetry as...

June 21, 2006
An Appreciation
As Julio Bocca Moves On, His Passion for Form and Expression Is Undimmed

There will be no forgetting the way Julio Bocca has danced at American Ballet Theater for 20 years. It has always been about passion and form: heightened passion filling out classical form.

On the eve of his farewell performance with the company tomorrow night at the Metropolitan Opera House, it is easy to remember that Mr. Bocca was a winner from the start. As a 20-year-old in his New York debut, he looked like Boris Becker, then a tennis star at his peak, and danced like a champion. Not everyone today has an image of Mr. Becker. But at 39, Mr. Bocca remains consistent and leaves a legacy for all dancers: bravura in the service of art.

As a virtuoso, he is one of the best. His superstar status, especially in his native Argentina, where his performances fill huge stadiums, derives partly from a technique that can seem superhuman, with its ultrafast spins and explosive turns in the air. Yet Mr. Bocca is a deeply emotional dancer, and his performances are never about just the physical thrill that drives audiences into a frenzy. Technique becomes a springboard for interpretation.

When he soars into his solos in "La Bayadère," their terse, fierce power is a metaphor for his antihero's grief-stricken ardor, especially when he lands on one knee from an air turn and arches so far back that his head touches the floor.

When he and Nina Ananiashvili pull out all the stops in the Black Swan coda of "Swan Lake," and Mr. Bocca revolves beyond the norm in multiple spins at an accelerated tempo, there is something more than a circus showpiece on display. Virtuosity that most mortals cannot execute is exciting, but here it also transmits the exhilaration of Mr. Bocca's character onstage: the duped prince who thinks he has found true love.

In contrast to his noble-prince persona, there is also Julio Bocca the fabulous comic (Petruchio in "The Taming of the Shrew," the Peruvian in "Gaîté Parisienne" and, recently, the Joker in "Jeu de Cartes"). In "The Merry Widow" his bravura again becomes expressive. As he explodes onstage with cannonball force, his "drunken" solo transforms a cliché into side-splitting hilarity.

Making sense of any role, even those that make little sense, Mr. Bocca performs with generosity and commits to a complete performance. When he caused a sensation with his pure line and surprising sensuality in his New York debut in 1987 in "The Sleeping Beauty," it was astounding that a young dancer understood a 19th-century classic so well.

Willing to experiment (George Balanchine's ballets were not his strong suit), Mr. Bocca has changed in those classics over the years, and he is different with different partners. Yet details with a human touch matter to him. In 1988, asked to appear as Albrecht in "Giselle" at short notice, he partnered Amanda McKerrow with no rehearsal. During her adagio in Act II, he caressed her hand, as others do not. This month he did the same with Xiomara Reyes.

Nowadays he is often seen as part of a team. His Ballet Theater farewell tomorrow is in Kenneth MacMillan's "Manon," with Alessandra Ferri. They had danced together in 1988, but their rapport was more strongly forged in 1991. Jerome Robbins gave them amazing freedom in his Chopin duet, "Other Dances," that year, and their idiosyncratic phrasing triumphed through a fusion of musicality and drama.

By 1995, their "Giselle" could also startle in its verismo. In Act I, Ms. Ferri's hussy threatened the dubious virtue of Mr. Bocca's Albrecht. Typically, they have been more than passionate in MacMillan's "Romeo and Juliet."

Mr. Bocca's other major partnership has been with Ms. Ananiashvili, especially in the 19th-century classics in which their star projection and eloquent dancing galvanize the entire cast.

Yet from 1986, when Mr. Bocca joined Ballet Theater on tour before his New York debut, he also danced often with Cheryl Yeager and Ms. McKerrow, as well as with Marianna Tcherkassky, Cynthia Harvey, Susan Jaffe and others, including Christine Dunham. He is a good sport, ready to dance with new partners when other male dancers drop out. A 1991 Ballet Theater gala had him partnering Carla Fracci in "Giselle." She was 54; he was 24.

It may be too soon to write in the past tense. As Mr. Bocca explained recently, he will continue dancing with Ballet Argentino, the company he formed in Buenos Aires in 1990. There, in a free stadium performance on Dec. 21, 2007, he plans what he calls "my last day" as a dancer.

Sleeping late is on his agenda. So is directing Ballet Argentino, with which he appears in the United States and abroad in a repertory that has shifted somewhat from 19th-century excerpts to tango programs and contemporary ballet and modern dance. Along the way, Mr. Bocca started a musical-theater school.

"We have many musicals in Argentina," he said, noting that he has alumni in the Argentine production of "The Producers." He also plans to set up a larger arts school within San Martín University in Buenos Aires, one of the projects he finances through his foundation.

His own first teacher was his mother, Nancy, before he studied at the ballet school of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. As a teenager, he danced in Caracas and Rio de Janeiro, and with the Colón before winning a gold medal at the 1985 Moscow International Ballet Competition. Howard Gilman, the American arts patron, showed a tape of the event to Mikhail Baryshnikov, then Ballet Theater's artistic director, who invited Mr. Bocca to join the company.

But he has also been visible elsewhere: in the Broadway musical "Fosse," with Ballet Argentino; with the New York City Ballet in Peter Martins's "Todo Buenos Aires"; in Boris Eifman's company with "Russian Hamlet"; and in lederhosen in "William Tell" in the Royal Danish Ballet's 1992 tribute to its 19th-century choreographer August Bournonville.

"I would love to work with A.B.T. as a coach and teach what I have learned — how to partner, to explain a character," Mr. Bocca said. But first, he added, "I want to buy a sailboat and travel around the world."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mailing Chaps

For those of you who have ordered chapbooks we'll be doing a mailing this Friday. Thanks! And for for those of you who haven't, here is the view from the water taxi leaving Seattle, which is where I have been and why I haven't been writing.
More soon

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

One Big Link Loop-A-Rama

For two independent (and wonderfully written) reviews of our latest chapbook Disenchantment you can go here to the Velveteen Rabbi and mole here .

Monday, June 12, 2006

Purchasing Our Chapbooks

If you are so inclined, and would like to purchase a copy of:

Disenchantment by Elizabeth Domike

Sixteen Poems by Andrew MacArthur

Or a back issue of Ephemeris: (Powell’s appears to be out of stock), go ahead and send us an email at with your snail mail address and we will respond presently. Or just leave us a comment and we’ll link back to you and email you.

All the chaps and journals are $5.00 US and we pay shipping. If you are in Canada or overseas I am sure we can come to some arrangement.

Don’t be fooled by the modest price. This is excellent work and we are committed (or should be) to sell to people who want to read it.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Beach Birds Quiz

I spent a chunk of time growing up on Southern California beaches and when I was really small I loved the sandpipers. I’d watch them for hours and hours. They were better than any toy.

Maybe that is why I so much loved Merce Cunningham’s Beach Birds. We saw it at Zellerbach Hall at Berkeley in the early 90’s. I’ve seen a great deal of live dance since but this piece still remains one of my Merce favorites (favourites).

Last month my brother-in-law and sister spent the weekend at the Oregon coast with his still relatively new Nikon. There is a group of shots of shore birds here.

You get a hundred bonus points and a free copy of my chapbook if you can properly identify the birds.