New York Theatre Ballet’s GOOSE!
Choreography by Keith Michael; Original Score by Vladimir Shinov; Performed at Florence Gould Hall
A theatre filled with small kids has a special resonance of snack packages, tiny cries, parent whispers, and constant squirming little bodies, we all expect that. What I didn’t expect was a full professional level ballet company performing a show meant for these young squirmers. The New York Theatre Ballet has been putting on children’s shows for more than 30 years, but they are not a children’s ballet company. They regularly perform classic, famous yet rarely performed ballets for small companies such as dances by Frederick Ashton, Merce Cunningham, Agnes de Mille, José Limón and Antony Tudor. It shows. Today’s performance of Goose! was real ballet and parents will appreciate that the dancers’ skills went well beyond the costumes and nursery rhyme premise.
During the “A Was an Apple Pie” dance, the dancers somehow create lighthearted and fun images of letters with their bodies, inspiring the audience to yell out the letters as they appear, but the appearance of Mother Goose near the end was my favorite part, an incredible performance by a somehow three-legged Elena Zahlmann. The original score (I kept trying to place it but could not) was written for and performed by four hands at the piano. Melody Fader and Michael Scales keep the high energy and playful tone going nonstop through the entire show.
At the end of the show, I was surprised to see that the audience was made up primarily of little girls and their moms, with a few dads and grandpas included. Not many boys other than some obvious siblings pretending they had to be there. That shouldn’t be the case, as the show was magically gender neutral with all some all male dance scenes, fun acrobatics, and surprises that should appeal to boys as much as girls. This was in no way a show for girls only.
The highlight for kids may have been the Three Blind Mice rendition complete with some comic tail action.
Goose! is playing again at the Schimmel Center on Sunday, March 25, 2018.