Foreign Correspondent
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About Natalia

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    writer; historian; ballet film collector
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    Washington, DC
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  1. The main problem (beside some casting & the decors/projections) are the bizarre narrative choices made by Ratmansky. In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned the odd tossing of the baby among the fairies entourage in sc 1. If the Fairy and her group love the baby so much, why do they endanger him by playing "catch"? (Such poor, insensitive taste, not to mention the snickering of some audience members!) The most bizarre directorial choice comes in the final tableau when the "three women" in the Hero's life (mother, fiancée and fairy) come forward to rest at the front-edge of the stage, their backs to the audience, watching the ascension of the Hero. So does this mean that the Fairy has become a mortal, on par with the mother and fiancée? Makes no sense. In past versions of the full ballet, the Fairy leads the Hero to the Other World *or* as in Balanchine, he climbs up to join the Fairy in heaven/other world. Ratmansky grounds the Fairy; she is just a viewer of what's happening.
  2. Additional quotations of famous ballets that I remembered this morning, after a good night's sleep, thinking about what I saw in FAIRY's KISS on Friday & Saturday: 1. SWAN LAKE - during the pdd of the Hero & the Fairy - "Black Swan pdd"...the Fairy drops down to the famous swan pose, with waving-arms port-de-bras; hero reaches out to her, she hops up on pointe to a back-attitude pose 2. SLEEPING BEAUTY - during the finale, the fairies form parallel diagonal lines as "Prince Desire" chases after "Aurora" zig-zagging in & out of the lines of Naiads 3. RAYMONDA - during the finale a number of "fairy couples" do the high lift-carry from RAYMONDA A3 Grand Pas Classique Hongroise. During this segment, other couples strike poses/carries from MANON (A1 "meeting pdd" of Des Grieux & Manon), and a couple of others that I couldn't pinpoint immediately 4. DIAMONDS pdd - the famous penchee pose appears somewhere in that finale...before the sequence of famous couples' lifts and carries 5. HARLEQUINADE - In the Soviet version of HARLEQUINADE, the final pose of the pdd adagio has Harlequin dropping to his knees and embracing Columbine's legs. The hero does this to the veiled Fairy, at the end of their adagio. Petipa did the same in the SATANELLA PDD, but I believe that Ratmansky was thinking of HARLEQUINADE to show the Hero's absolute enchantment with his veiled "Fiancee." 6. In tribute to Ashton (I think), the very last tableau features a circle of corps in the back-center (like Ashton's many large "corps circles" such as RENDEZVOUS, BIRTHDAY OFFERING, ONDINE, etc.), in the middle of which the Hero is slowly lifted by the corps, his arms outstretched like APOLLO. There also appears to be a quotation of a Massine ballet, LES PRESAGES (cluster of tilting corps). In Saturday's pre-perf talk, Ratmansky mentioned Massine as one of the choreographers honored but didn't state which ballet. I think it may be PRESAGES. Add this to all of the others cited above by Cristian or myself, e.g., the many quotations of NAPOLI and other Bournonvilles during the 2nd scene with the villages...those famous Bournonville jetes toward the audience, with back leg in attiture, for ex. For all of its foibles, FAIRY's KISS is required viewing for every balletomane...if anything, just for this "spotting" opportunity.
  3. Hardly, sandik. I just found out this morning that I've been promoted at my very large tech corporation. Let the good times roll...and more opportunities to patronize my beloved ballet, if less time to SEE it. Grrr.
  4. So nobody knew this last night, which made my statement about Cast 2 dancing on Sunday correct. I'm at the airport now but came close this morn to purchasing a tik for this final perf of the Miami run just to see Cast 2 w/ Arja as the Fairy. Had I done that, I would have had to pay a hefty fee to change my airline tic. Decided no...need to get home. WHEW! I would've seen the same cast three times + paid airline fee to have changed my flight. Thank you, Lord! This has been a past 6 months of good luck for me...husband says that I should buy a lottery ticket.
  5. The same cast doesn't dance tomorrow. We saw cast 1 on two consecutive nights (Fri & Sat). Cast 2 doesn't appear until the 3rd & final performance tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon.
  6. Likewise a pleasure seeing you & your lovely, vivacious mom, Cubanmiamiboy! Tonight's 2nd performance with same cast as last night went a bit smoother for Simone Messmer, who, though still not at total ease, completed the 32 fouettés at the end of the Forest scene. I still don't get the silly elements of the choreography, such as the tossing of the baby among the fairies entourage, as if he were a football. On the other hand, I gained a greater appreciation for the vigorous villagers' dances in sc 2 tonight, even finding references to Bournonville's Galop at the end of NAPOLI! Well done & so in synch by the precisely-drilled Miami corps. BRAVI! The 3 milk cartons remain BUT - big news! - most of the backdrop projections have been changed - now simpler and not distracting. The fussy cubism & general ugliness is now gone, thank goodness! On the other hand, the beige corps "bodysuit" costumes at the end now sport chiffon skirts...for both sexes. The guys appear bare chested with knee-length skirts; the ladies wear below-knee chiffon skirts. Not vintage Ratmansky - not remotely - but more palatable tonight. WALPURGISNACHT greater than ever. Tonight all three leads were terrific: Fadeley, Furlan & Arja. Emily Bromberg & Ashley Knox dazzled in the pdd for two demi girls. p.s. Also attended tonight's pre-performance chat with Robert Gottlieb interviewing Ratmansky...except that Gottlieb did most of the talking. The big revelation from Ratmansky was that Miami principal Patricia Delgado (sister of Jeannette) is the girlfriend of Justin Peck! Context: while explaining the end, he noted that he saw Patricia crying heavily backstage while watching the end...that she totally "got it" because of her involvement with Peck...the unconventional relationship.
  7. So sorry to now be seeing this, Christian. She was an incomparable Soledad (Tarde en la Siesta) in Puerto Rico on that fateful 1979 tour when I fell in love with ballet! Marta Garcia played a big role in my transformation. May she rest in peace!
  8. I totally agree, Buddy. I've appreciated Simone Messmer in expressive roles that show off her "plastique" more so than in pointe roles. Paul Taylor works such as Black Tuesday come to mind. The irony here is that she is cast in the main pointe-shoe role, yet a top classicist, Jeannette Delgado, dancer "character"!
  9. Thanks. The "None but the Lonely Heart" is part of the full Stravinsky score and we heard it last night but not as poetically rendered ever before & again, from what I've seen, as in the Balanchine '74 version of the DIVERTIMENTO. I honestly can't describe what went on last night to that music, except that it occurred during the pas de 3 mime between the protagonists in the tug-of-war for the lad's heart & soul. I remember playing in my head what Balanchine did with that music in '74...his couple running to each other from opposite ends, hugging, then running together towards the audience. What happened to that music, last night, was throw-away mime. The casting-away of a treasure to triviality.
  10. The aqua-blue fabric of the fairies ensemble outfits at the beginning of the work was pretty. The shades-of-beige outfits at the very end - the trip to artistic paradise, setting off the brief quotations from famous ballets - were effective only because the lighting was cranked up. The brightest part of the ballet was the hero's death! Overall, the lighting & projection designs are right "down there" with ABT's FIREBIRD. Dark. Same creepy trees. Very little to delight. I really came wanting to love this. I really did. I don't spend my hard-earned cash wanting to write a bad review. I wish that all of my trips would be as felicitous as Zurich 2016, for Ratmansky's SWAN LAKE.
  11. p.s. After last night, I have a sudden urging to see Balanchine's DIVERTIMENTO from BDLF to restore some order and beauty to my mind vis a vis (parts of) the exquisite Stravinsky score is concerned. Heck, even the Kasatkina-Vasiliov 1980s filmed version of the full ballet, starring Malakhov, would be welcomed relief right now. So is this beautiful beach outside my window. This trip was not in vain!
  12. Disappointing evening for sure, with the big exception of the opener, WALPURGISNACHT by Balanchine, featuring a spot-on corps and delightful brisk "2nd girl" solo by Nathalia Arja. Leads Lauren Fideley and Jovani Furlan also impressed. Then dullness began to set over the Arsht Center-Miami with the interminable POLYPHONIA, brightened with the quick male pdd, magnificently essayed by Kleber Rebello and, again, Jovani Furlan. But we all came for Ratmansky's FAIRY's KISS, right? The premiere came & went. Not sure that it lives up to the hype. The best steps echo iconic passages of great ballets, mostly in the finale in which the fairy leads the hero to a balletic paradise. The large, precise corps of women & men unwind sequences of GISELLE Wilis, BAYADERE "Shades entrance (for couples!), SYLPHIDES, LES NOCES, APOLLO, SERENADE, etc. A socko finale cataloguing the best of 19th & 20th-C ballet. Bravo! Alas, the rest of FAIRY's KISS is a boring mess, silly & trivial, Ratmansky retained much of his '90s Mariinsky version, incl 32 fouettés for the fairy, here barely eeked out by a shaky & dull Simone Messmer. Worst of all is the paltry decor, which leads me to... EL CHEAPO STRIKES AGAIN! Exhibit A: those 3 giant dirty milk cartons representing two huts and a church in the village. Even the dirty, dark cubistic projected backdrops and pounded-tin wings are exceedingly ugly. Costumes? Barely memorable. Most dancers saved the day. Best of all, no doubt: Renan Cerdeiro as the Hero/Village lad, whose playground is space. What a charismatic, high-flying star he is! Close 2nd: effervescent Jeannette Delgado as a perky fiancée in character shoes at start, then soft slippers in the boudoir. (Only the fairies wear pointe shoes.) The corps was beautiful, especially winding in & out of patterns of great ballets in the final 3-4 minutes. So this is a (mostly) very dull ballet performed by (mostly) excellent dancers. "Boring!" whispered a guy next to me, during an interminable & clunky pdd between the smallish Cerdeiro & tall/bulky Messmer. But that didn't keep a few patrons down in Orchestra from drinking the Kool-Aid and standing-cheering at the end, for a couple of minutes, when the creative team came on stage for a bow. It was all very fast...applause to all onstage, then sudden silence when curtain came down and people rushed for the door...absolutely NO curtain calls. Same cast repeats tonight, then a 2nd team (incl. Arja as the Fairy) on Sunday afternoon.
  13. Somewhat related, the Russian Orthodox Church (the main one in Russia, not the ROC outside of Russia) has condemned any "entertainment" (movie, staged work, television?) that depicts Tsar Nicholas II or his family, who are considered Saints...the "Holy Martyrs". In other words, no Macmillan ANASTASIA ballet or the Ingrid Bergman/Yul Brinner film can be shown in Russia without incurring the wrath of the ROC. I remember, ca 2010, the ROC protesting a play in St. Petersburg that included the character of Tsar Nicholas II. It was at the Fontanka Theatre, across the street from my hotel at the time. I saw about 100 protesters (some priests, monks, and "civilians") forming a human chain to keep audiences from entering the theater. I thought to myself, "They won't be dancing ANASTASIA at the Mariinsky anytime soon." [Not that there was any great urge to stage it.] Interestingly, I've purchased made-for-TV historical shows about the Romanov martyrs (documentaries and docudramas on DVD) in Russia, in "official" stores, without a problem. So I guess that moving historical images of the Holy Martyrs are OK.
  14. Also in keeping with the celebratory mood, perhaps how some folks felt on Calle Ocho a couple of nights ago? Well, at least the first couple of minutes remind me of Miami, until the jolly dancing soldiers appear...
  15. First casts of recent classics, being cinemacast or webstreamed. Swan Lake with Crandall & Lendorf in 2015 and R&J with Praetorius & Kaas this past spring. This Giselle is the latest such offering. KNA, sorry that you are confused. Syrene are others are aware of these cinemacasts.