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About pherank

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan, balletgoer
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    San Francisco/San Diego
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  1. The 2017 SF Ballet Student Showcase will be May 31, June 1, and June 2, 2017 only Showcase Trailer: Le Corsaire Pas de Trois Des Odalisques Focus Choreographed by SFB soloist Wei Wang Symphonic Means to an End Choreographed by SFB soloist James Sofranko Yondering (Excerpts) Rehearsal Assistants include company dancers Sofiane Sylve, Sean Bennet, Esteban Hernandez and Ruben Martin Cintas. Natasha Sheehan appears in part of the footage, so presumably this is footage from the 2016 Showcase. San Francisco Ballet School Overview (more glimpses of Sheehan here too)
  2. Great short clip of Masha being coached by Irina Kolpakova for Don Quixote: And here's a short of her Giselle at the Mariinsky:
  3. Burke, Macaulay and Mearns each have their own relationship to the Odessa ballet, which was central to the Burke article. And so each person has their own viewpoint regarding that artwork. Burke used a scene in the ballet as a jumping off point to discuss what she feels are the many "images of violence against women" in contemporary ballet. Macaulay gets to defend himself in the NYT, so I won't say anything about him here, but I can make a good guess as to what Mearns was feeling: She had just spent weeks working in conjunction with Ratmansky on the Odessa ballet, and judging from her remarks on Twitter, felt that it was a strong piece that they all had high hopes for. And certainly, the creators may have hoped to hear some excited conversation regarding the ballet, but what they got after the first positive reviews was Burke's scathing piece with Odessa set firmly at the center of it all. It's pretty obvious that Mearns thinks that Burke got the piece all wrong, which is a valid issue of another kind, and the ballet creators/preformers no doubt feel that their artwork has been hijacked for someone else's agenda. They are going to feel hurt, and they are going to be pissed off. And it hardly matters if Burke was on a righteous crusade or not - the creators/performers of the art piece are going to feel they have been unfairly maligned even though they performed with only positive intent. As a boss of mine used to like to say, "feelings are facts too!" - I hated hearing that, but he wasn't wrong.
  4. Mearns is responding only to the issue raised with Odessa, that's true, but she is living with that ballet at present. Perhaps, she'll have an opinion about the broader issues later on, as people continue to talk about this. As you say, the broader issue will have to sink in.
  5. I think the conversation at least got Macaulay thinking - his latest piece deals with the "Frivolities of Ballet, the Contradictory Art": "It’s insensitive to issues of religion (some productions include parodies of Muslim worship) and race; its presentation of women is alarming. Apart from its famous pas de deux, the ballet used to be largely unknown in the West. In recent decades, however, productions have proliferated, a trend I find both bizarre and depressing. The central problem of “Le Corsaire” is how it halts the plot to present us with a spectacular — and happy — harem. The 18th century had made dramas out of harems (Mozart’s opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio” is the most famous); there the main issue was liberty: Western women had to be freed from imprisonment, while the Islamic characters showed differing degrees of clemency and cruelty."
  6. Assuming that the Odessa scene is actually meant to invoke an interior psychological state, (historically) what ballet scenes do people think are particularly effective at representing a psychological state or process?
  7. SFB's Principal Package solicitations shown that Program 3, "Distinctly SF Ballet", will indeed include Myles Thatcher's Ghost in the Machine (along with Tomasson's On a Theme of Paganini and Caniparoli's Ibsen's House). Thatcher is also creating a new piece for the season ending Unbound: A Festival of New Works. SFB 2018 Season
  8. And I mentioned Bugaku for that same reason - the creator was not actually Japanese and his impressions were going to be coming from an outside culture. I don't have problem with that because it's called the 'artistic process', and artists are pulling inspiration and learning techniques from all over the place and from all eras. But I tend to argue on the side of the artist - if someone wants to take a swing at working with themes/stories/techniques etc. that are identified with a particular culture, I say, have at it. But please make it work! And please do so in a responsible way to tell the audience something worthwhile about the human condition. The criticism is going to come, no matter what. Siobhan Burke was pointing out that she was seeing an awful lot of gratuitous references to something that was abhorrent to her. And that's fair for her to say. I just don't like to see a lot of censorship happening. Ballet seems to be under an unusual amount of pressure to conform to social norms and to always present a happy face. Other art forms don't always play under those same set of rules. It's just an interesting situation.
  9. "perhaps not out of misogyny as out of a lack of imagination" - That's what I tend to think. In the case of RAkU, the ballet involves a very traditional Japanese story approach and I think it is effective and believable. The ballet is true to its narrative roots. Audiences are not "loving" the rape (which is not all that explicit btw) - they are loving the artistry that goes into the storytelling/dancing. Is Balanchine's Bugaku pornographic because it references the sex act? When is the distinction important to make and when is it obtrusive and hampering worthwhile human expression?
  10. It's an interesting take on the ballet, to be sure. I've not seen Ratmansky's Odessa myself, but have read various people's impressions of the piece, and knew that it may be referring to gangster culture in Odessa. It's interesting that MacCaulay didn't mention any explicit 'rape' sequence, and I have to wonder if that's because many people see that section of the ballet as purely psychological, or metaphorical. Burke's ending comment is something I'll always agree with (no matter what the subject matter is): "Mr. Ratmansky’s work often rewards multiple viewings, and if I see “Odessa” again, it’s possible I’ll understand it differently. What my first viewing inspired is a hope that if choreographers are going to engage with the all-too-present issue of violence against women, they do so in a responsible way that tries to shift the paradigm of what we face out in the world — that proposes some alternative, or at least offers a substantive critique — instead of replicating what we’ve seen enough of."
  11. An interesting, and perhaps inevitable, collision - Cannes Is Changing Rules After Outcry Over Netflix Streaming "But French cinema owners had criticized Netflix for not fully participating in France’s unique system, in which a percentage of box office revenues go toward financing new films." From what I can tell, the Cannes Festival is ruling in favor (naturally) of the French theaters, but they barely mention the crazy stipulation: "Netflix has bristled at a French rule requiring a 36-month delay between a film’s release in theaters and on streaming platforms." Netflix IS a streaming platform - clearly they are not going to set up a special release of their films in French theaters and then wait 3 years to show them online. All just so they can participate in the Cannes Festival. Definitely an out-of-sync policy: 3 years in our media age would be equivalent to 10 years in the Hollywood heyday of the 1930s.
  12. SFB has released an end-of-season video: Emphasis on the younger generation. ;)
  13. Looks like Sarasota Ballet has similar personnel issues: "Multiple sources — dancers who requested anonymity because, as one put it, “ballet is a small world” — said 20 to 23 of 51 company members would not be back; 16 to 18 have not been offered contracts, while four or five have chosen to leave." Yikes.
  14. End of season sentiment from Tiit Helimets: (Sarah Van Patten with her son, and Tiit with his daughter)
  15. I think this is what she really wanted, and was willing to make great sacrifice for. I hope it's a great experience for Kristina. She could do worse for a city to have to live in. ;) A couple of other mentions: According to this Zarely website interview (no date on the article), Pascal Molat is now teaching at SFB school, and he has been a YAGP jurist for the first time. "Though I have to confess that my way of teaching is very different from what I got back then [at POB]. My teachers gave me the fundamentals with the principle of repetitions. We were going through routines over and over again which is in many ways the very nature of being a dancer. But what I do as a teacher is trying to develop critical thinking in my students so they evolve faster and in a smarter way. I try to give them keys on artistry, musicality, physicality and technique – something to rely on in their future career." I'm very happy to hear that Pacal, along with Sofiane Sylve, will be teaching the next generation(s) of dancers at SFB. Joan Boada is now teaching at the Laguna Dance Theater, as well as guesting at galas.