July 22, 2019
Maria Kochetkova’s Catch Her if You Can shows the ballet world taking on a
downtown model of working. Essentially speaking, this consists of dancers freely
bouncing between multiple choreographers, making non-traditional work in
collaborative relationships. The unfortunate reality is an oversaturated, factional
community, bound together by a rarely realized aspiration for recognition and
Kochetkova demonstrates someone at the rare intersection of excitement and boredom of prematurely peaking. This 35-year-old, Bolshoi-trained ballerina managed to hold simultaneous principal roles with the San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre while guesting all over the world. What does one do with so much accomplished, yet, even by ballet standards, so much still to physically offer? A split-bill show!
The evening runs such a qualitative gamut that the curation can be only explained as “cliquey.” These dancers and choreographers have worked together, are friends, or, at the very least, are aware of each other as contemporaries. Forsythe’s preexisting Bach Duet and David Dawson’s At the End of the Day feature Kochetkova and Sebastian Kloborg in the same collection of simultaneous windy movements that confuse the moments in largely acrobatic partnering that decide to be tender.
Marco Goecke’s Tué and Marcos Morau’s Degunino feature Drew Jacoby and Kochetkova, respectively, in intense physical involvement – Jacoby rolling off sharp gestures from her liquid spine to Monique Serf’s quivering voice, and Kotchetkova sharply folding like a pipe cleaner in the hands of an aggressive toddler.
Jacoby has a piece of her own in which she and Kochetkova, dressed like Jetsons, dance before a large hypnotic display of 3D black and white illusions. Preoccupied with being quirky, primary focus is upstaged by the secondary. The multimedia, however, reminds us of the show’s contemporary interests.
Then there’s Masha Machine, which projects Kochetkova and “non-dance” choreographer Jérôme Bel’s Facebook chat history of humorous dance commentary, footage of a young Kochetkova, and some cathartically awkward exchanges between a choreographer and a dancer who wants to try something new. She eventually takes the stage, in sweats, walking perhaps the spatial pattern of some variation, port de bras floating as she speaks of her tendency to avert her gaze in performance. That Kochetkova put herself through this is a profound example for those similarly looking to truly phase from the traditional to the experimental.
Bel is an avant garde choreographer the ballet world respects. There are others, who all have in common an already generally agreed upon greatness. Part of Kochetkova’s mission is to assist in contemporary choreographers eventually becoming the greats of their time. Bel (and Forsythe) doesn’t need to worry about that. For the rest, the work just needs to be better.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews