Wednesday, May 20, 2009

easy, with reason to picasso

-jeffery mcnary

arriving single-edged in satin shoes and all her forms, walking amid the swirling mist, un-veiled, gentle, treasured and high minded like the rain-goddess, with her un-swept hair as something from a fairy tale, deliberate and dressed for the occasion, tipped sideward she smiled…and waved. she behaved in that way.

those paintings are not mine to keep yet, still just canvas reminders of a bad storm system back talking, still impalpable, though our eyes sharpened together for a while on their surfaces. something else enlisted her, her good strange form of clarity best held for reinforcement.

i remember her standing brilliant among contrasting colors and depictions, among monsters turned to flora and recognizable things. i said ‘i love you’ aloud then, beneath the sylvette david and waved my arms toward the flicks of gray, soft, confounding brush strokes.

i’d requested a motto, a message, a thing stitched together i could fix if need be. there was the faint noise of her kiss as i traced her shoulders. there, delicate and convincing, was the shaking of her head and the tone of a bell long ago rusted which now breaks inside of me.

‘i love you’, i said to our silence darker than i recall, on the street side, between the lions, as she and chicago wrapped around me. i did not look back,
nor gird,
nor feel the release.

i will continue for a time, like the foam and waves cast out… and drawn back in.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

great wall

-jeffery mcnary

i felt ill
then i did not hear from you, again.

thank you,
this is what it will be without you.

here is the sadly ‘so right’,
where is the curse i want to design.

you would not recognize me today,
you would not understand,
you would wilt in the confusion of my name
which does not mean that much to you.

the tightly drawn dock lines snapped
as our sadly mixed vessel slipped,
then jerked, from its harbor
for the sea.

there are shadows now, upon the water,
remnant of my penchant for ship building.

there is ash and glow from the flame
which consumed them,
and pieces of the complex wall from the east

upon which you cling
and float along the current line
for the voyage home.


-jeffery mcnary

saturday's octave holds long notes, wearing its tasteful
simple boa and brocade to market place and square
alarmless and crisply fashionable…

and lunch as well it suggest

its chimes are playful as if not to hesitate nor stay
its glances freshly painted, its new smiles launched
by seamed legged scented women with aria eyes
come to charm and sue for lead singers with beauty with bounce

darting and teasing the diverse tribes
there sparkling and eager to begin with
like sketched images reaching for the tasteful
exploring the vogue of it all

the undaunted down in the village wear jeans today
while sipping coffee like ghosts searching for the psychic,
highlighting typos while looking for luck
or some muse or the other in whose wake to swim

saturday, a sweetness of things not yet invented
a sweetheart gently tugging secrets and whispers from babel
aloud, with store bought goods and glimpses of the festive
shades of the day have a way of pardoning both
careless and remarkable
soul-quenching and straightening out feelings

we’ll hear it’s song again
with its jingling dreams held in our arms like our own
and its promise of what that means

Sunday, May 10, 2009

it's a good thing

Dance Review New York City Ballet
Balanchine Sandwich, Electronica Filling
Thematic or not, there is a certain art to designing mixed repertory programs. Some sort of arc, or juxtaposition, should be present to indicate that intelligent life is guiding the choices. Or give us such crashingly good ballets that it doesn’t matter if there is any rhyme or reason to their being lumped together. We viewers aren’t difficult. All we want, to riff on a Frank O’Hara line, is boundless art.
Tuesday night’s New York City Ballet program at the David H. Koch Theater did not quite achieve boundlessness. The middle work, Angelin Preljocaj’s “Stravaganza,” was the chief culprit here, though the ratio of dance (95 minutes) to intermission (40 minutes) didn’t help matters. Vivaldi meets electronica, classical phrases vie with sharply angled gestures, and dancers from two worlds confront one another.
Mark Stanley’s lighting is dark without being dramatic, Herve-Pierre’s old-world costumes make the men look like Pilgrims, and Mr. Preljocaj’s ideas aren’t nearly so strange as they should be. It’s the ballet equivalent of an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and not one of his good ones.
What interest there was came primarily from the dancers’ strong performances. Benjamin Millepied and Tiler Peck elevated an earthy, violence-tinged duet through their shared intensity. Tyler Angle’s clarity and intelligence of intent made phrases seem more legible than they were.
“La Stravaganza” (1997) is a product of the Diamond Project, City Ballet’s continuing effort to add new blood to its repertory. On Tuesday it was sandwiched between two Balanchine classics, “The Four Temperaments” (1946) and “Chaconne” (1976). It is unkind to compare Mr. Preljocaj’s ballet to either of these works. Yet both, despite showing him up, prove why new commissions are vital: a company cannot live on museum pieces alone, no matter their quality.
With their grand finales, like ornate frames, and their sweeping sense of order — although wonderfully complicated and undermined in “The Four Temperaments,” a modernist tour de force set to a terrifically severe Hindemith score — both works feel of another age.
The ideas in them still captivate: the female dancers slinking about “Temperaments” like a minimalist Greek chorus not particularly interested in commenting on anything other than their own angular designs; the kaleidoscopic ripples of movement to start “Chaconne,” on a stage full of women with wild, unbound hair. And there are performances of heft and authority in both: Jared Angle’s calm ownership of the Sanguinic variation anchors “Temperaments,” while the sensual play of wits between Wendy Whelan and Philip Neal, and their nuanced attention to the crystalline Gluck score, illuminate their central duet in “Chaconne.”
But neither of these works feels rooted in the particulars of life in the early 21st century, the life lived by these dancers and their audiences. For all their mysteries and great value, they are known entities, and the dancers treat them as such, only fitfully taking full ownership.
One could say, with good reason, that this is a fault of the company, not the ballets — but it’s not entirely. Time plays a role too. To end with an actual quotation, this one by Clement Greenberg: “Where there is novelty there is hope.” All indications are that Balanchine, a man who created more than 400 works, knew this well.
New York City Ballet performs through June 21 at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center; (212) 870-5570,