Post image for Dance Review: DANCING WITH GLASS: THE PIANO ETUDES (Joyce Theatre)

by Tony Frankel on December 2, 2023

in Dance,Theater-New York


It was a packed house at The Joyce last Friday for a new program, Dancing with Glass: The Piano Etudes. What’s the buzz? Well, surely it was that both Justin Peck and Lucinda Childs were each offering their own dance interpretations of a Philip Glass etude. The other featured choreographers are Chanon Judson, Leonardo Sandoval, and Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber. It’s a terrific idea: Get choreographers to create five works based on the minimalist exercise-like pieces of Glass, and have them accompanied live by the foremost interpreter of his music.

Orlando Hernandez, Leonardo Sandoval, Lucas Santana, Ana Tomioshi

But good grief, what a misleading title, as the program was more piano than dance. Which I suppose would have been fine had the dancemakers been more inspired by the music, which, except for one etude played by Noé Kains for the fun tap dancing by Brazilian Leonardo Sandoval, was played magnificently by pianist Maki Namekawa. In her hands, Glass’s music, which may seem simple and repetitive, suddenly bursts alive with hidden melodies and nuggets of gold. The 11 etudes selected out of 20 are very meditative and reflective, a lovely and perfect accompaniment for our rainy night, but not for this 82-minute dance concert. Cultured sophisticates will feel blanketed by it all; I was more blasé about the event.

Chanon Judson

L.A. Dance Project choreographic Artists-in-Residence Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber created their own piece for Etude No. 8. This was my favorite as their was a story of an argumentative couple that has great make-up sex. Peck’s solo flailing for the beautiful tall Haley Winegarden (on the night I attended) was very disappointing as the dance and music simply didn’t compliment each other. And Chanon Judson’s solo could have been danced to no music at all, as it was so disconnected to the music — but there is no doubting she’s a goddess. At least Childs, who choreographed Glass’s amazing Einstein on the Beach, seemed to understand the music with repetitive flowing strains from Caitlin Scranton and Kyle Gerry.

Caitlin Scranton and Kyle Gerry

photos by Steven Pisano

Maki Namekawa

Dancing with Glass: The Piano Etudes
The Joyce Theater in Chelsea, 175 Eighth Avenue at West 19th Street
remaining performances:
Saturday, December 2, 2023 – 8:00pm
Sunday, December 3, 2023 – 2:00pm
Tuesday, December 5, 2023 – 7:30pm
Wednesday, December 6, 2023 – 7:30pm
Thursday, December 7, 2023 – 8:00pm
Friday, December 8, 2023 – 8:00pm
Saturday, December 9, 2023 – 8:00pm
Sunday, December 10, 2023 – 2:00pm
ends on December 10, 2023
for tickets, call 212-242-0800 or visit Joyce

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