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Jack Reed

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  1. Final Kennedy Center Performance

    George Jackson's enthusiastic response to Thursday's and Friday's shows is on Danceviewtimes: http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2017/12/for-the-future.html#more I'm confident there will be more, probably an interview, even.
  2. Final Kennedy Center Performance

    Agree with YouOverThere that TSFB deserved more money and Farrell deserves better recognition. As time goes by, the Kennedy Center seems more and more like a provincial operation where some great performers pass through. Tonight's performances seemed to me and some friends pretty strong for the run so far: Most considered Allyn Noelle, who led the opening Gounod Symphony to be becoming "a real ballerina"; I don't disagree, though I think Natalia Magnicaballi, who danced this last night, already is one. Her Tzigane tonight was not a copy of last night's, but also involved and involving, and the ballet also benefitted from the right degree of flamboyance Kirk Henning brought her partner's role. Even better was Meditation, with Heather Ogden's poignancy, Michael Cook again in the man's role. And then Serenade, which an experienced and acute ballet-watcher thought the best performance of it he'd ever seen. (This was the cast I was so taken with - stunned, really - in Purchase, which he had not seen.) Many long-time ballet-watchers, whom i sometimes call the published and unpublished critics I pay attention to, were well pleased with this program.
  3. Final Kennedy Center Performance

    Kennedy Center Opera House, December 7, 2017, Thursday, 7:30 PM In the context of having seen this troupe last Sunday (December 3rd) in the Purchase College Performing Arts Center, Purchase, New York (see above), more astonishments - watching this Chaconne I felt that I could more clearly see what I heard in this ballet - always for me a source a great pleasure in watching dance - than I had for some time. "See the music, hear the dance" a friend said, but I object to slogans because of the danger they will stop or take the place of actual engagement in the present - but beyond this great pleasure there was more - the delicacy of performance of this loosely-knit suite of numbers, to essentially opera-ballet music, led this way by Heather Ogden and Thomas Garrett and danced this way by everyone there. My friend also thought that Chaconne, a loose suite of numbers (and made essentially to opera-ballet music at that), was a lesser ballet than Gounod Symphony to one of that opera composer's two symphonies; but I'm not so sure, given the greater firmness of tonight's performance of Gounod at the end, that the delicious delicacy of this one makes it less valuable at the beginning - different in substance, to be sure, but that different in value? Maybe for Mr. B. it was reason enough to have that famous flute melody in our ears, when it finally comes. (He was quoted, I think, about the pleasure of hearing it in the studio every day when he was making the ballet.) Natalia Magnicaballi's performance of Tzigane was huge tonight - compared to the one in Purchase, all the blood had flowed back into it. And Elisabeth Holowchuk's performance in Meditation was stronger, larger in geometric shapes and so on, than in Purchase; and Kirk Henning again gave the man's character much vital presence. Then, Gounod Symphony, more seasoned tonight, not to say mellow, rather than the glistening one we saw at Purchase; deeper, wonderfully realized now in another of Magnicaballi's performances Farrell told us about from the stage at Purchase last Sunday: By the end of this run, Magnicaballi will have danced in all six ballets on the schedule. Watching Noelle and the others in the large cast at Purchase, I heard more Gounod's luminous spirit, animated in recreation (after the failure of one of his operas) with music of other composers he enjoyed; watching Magnicaballi explore, listening, how her moves fit her music tonight, I heard through Gounod to the rhetorical force and classical wit in that other music, the music of Beethoven and Haydn. With the bright freshness of Noelle's dancing highlighting the newness of it, Gounod Symphony was the right opener in Purchase; with a little more Germanic weight, if you will, though no loss of luminosity, Gounod Symphony was the right finale tonight in the Kennedy Center. (Among the many pleasures of watching this troupe is the quality of the program arrangements, the sequence of repertory and the placement of cast in that sequence.)
  4. Final Kennedy Center Performance

    Purchase College Performing Arts Center, Sunday, December 3, 2017, at 3::00 PM (This is going here after some of the other events we're posting about. Sorry for any confusion.) The program opened with a beautifully clear rendition of Gounod Symphony - or three movements of it, the third, Scherzo, movement of Balanchine's original being lost by now (although back in the day Peter Martins made a replacement that Arlene Croce thought was passable). But the involved slow movement, with its beginning fugue, flanked by flowing fast ones, made a fine presentation, made even better by the crystal-clear dancing. "A band-box performance," a friend who writes on dance called it, referring to its freshness, like something you just brought home from the store, but I was reminded of another critic's phrase I'd run across years and years ago: "As fresh and glistening as creation itself." (She thought my phrase was even more apt! Out of our common experience, that's for sure.) There are a lot of dancers in this one, 32 counting the principals - Allynne Noelle and Thomas Garrett, the two in the publicity shot - and in the big shot, with all of them, which hints - just hints - at the clarity of the patterns. I say, hints, because these patterns whirl and change, lines and geometric figures appearing and disappearing, when the fast movements are under way, but never blurring. You always have a sense that you see everything. And not only the dancing - the mostly black-and-white costumes Farrell has introduced this time (by her frequent designer, Holly Hynes), versus the pink and yellow from the SAB production years ago, we're told in the post-performance discussion, as well as J. Russell Sandifer's lighting, for the most part, etch the effect. Their care with the details is wonderful: Just one instance to illustrate, early in the slow movement, Noelle stands upstage center with Garrett in half-light - there is a darker lane across the back of the bright space - and her measured changes of head and feet (if you see them - she doesn't draw attention) look for all the world as though she is not just waiting there, outside the action, but watching the fugue lines weave together and apart - participating in her mind, and perfectly naturally, not as though danced. (This is"careful" in the best sense, large, clear, focused, sharp, vital - not "careful" in the lesser sense of held in, subdued.) After intermission, Tzigane, led by Natalia Magnicaballi (with Michael Cook), who, this time, gave a rather more danced performance, rather than as genuine realization of the role as I was anticipating - in Phoenix, last May, for example, she had given us two Terpsichores in subsequent performances (in Balanchine's Apollo), each different, both true. And one of us faulted her penche's in this; but Cook was fine, and enjoying his gypsy romp. Then, after a pause, Elisabeth Holowchuk, whom we haven't been seeing for few years, with Kirk Henning, in Meditation; her effect was a little weak, compared, say, to Magnicaballi's in the same role in Chicago on the 12th, but it had the right tone; and Henning was very good. After second intermission, Serenade. At NYU's Skirball Center, Ms. Farrell had remarked, "It's not, we come down to you. We want you to come up into our world." World? The world of Serenade her dancers set before us was a universe, flowing and swirling, energy rising and subsiding, light and dark and light again. This time the cast was led, to the extent one ballerina leads Serenade, by Heather Ogden, with modest clarity and just a little vulnerability. (Not inappropriate here.) We haven't seen her in too long a time, either. Natalia Magnicaballi's supple richness looked native to this rich ballet, and Violeta Angelova, someone else we've missed - she wasn't on view last year - brought warmth and point in comparison and some contrast to the girl she was paired with (a blonde whose name I haven't learned) and we benefited from watching these two show symmetrical moves in their individual ways. Individuals, hearing their music, not optical reflections, not copies. (What wonderful creatures inhabit Farrell's universe!) After the performance, there was a short panel: Toward the end, Farrell was asked something about how final these performances were, and she replied, "I've retired three times and I'm looking forward to the fourth… I'm always with Mr. B."
  5. Final Kennedy Center Performance

    The video is saved (for the time being, I suppose) here:
  6. "This Thursday" - December 7? If I'm really in luck, I'll be in the Kennedy Center Opera House, watching TSFB. (Their show in Purchase last Sunday included a radiant Gounod Symphony and an even better Serenade I don't have an adequate single word for - this is not the thread for that anyway, but I can't contain myself!) I'll get back to Pite in due course - heck, I can see that and sleep in my own bed.
  7. I went to the "Golden Celebration of Dance" in the Auditorium Theater in Chicago on November 12th, which turned out to be more of a Golden Celebration of the re-opening of the Auditorium fifty years ago, and some of the historical content presented between the dance numbers by projection and spoken word was a little different from what I remembered, including references (from the stage) by Edward Villella to opening with "A Midsummer Night's Dream," so I went to the archives of the Chicago Tribune and filled in what I never knew or had forgotten. (I only remembered seeing "Jewels.") Along with performance reviews confirming that NYCB had performed "Midsummer" and "Jewels" about three times each and a few mixed-repertory programs as well, I found an interview with a Cincinnati Reds fan, 22-year-old-Suzanne Farrell (who spoke to us by recording before the show) from November 5, 1967. Here's a little of it: But on November 12, 2017 there was a baker's dozen of dance numbers, danced by members of as many companies, from solos up to small ensembles, including three by Balanchine, whose rich perceptions of his music was the most rewarding to see even in the cool, remote, analytically virtuoso performances we got of most of the program, like the opening Tarantella, danced as bravura demonstration of technique but with little personality and fun by Megan Fairchild and Daniel Ulbricht of NYCB. This predictable disappointment was followed by the reason I was there, Meditation, danced by the Suzanne Farrell Ballet's Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook. They didn't analyze, they didn't demonstrate, they made this short dance, with its concealed technique, about life and change, though springing from Tchaikovsky's music, live and breathe. The "top act" of the evening, for me, looking back. Though I must say the excerpt from Solo Echo (not unlike Paul Taylor), by a choreographer I hadn't seen before, Crystal Pite, performed by a small ensemble from Hubbard Street Dance, was something I wanted to see more of, and the pas de deux and variations from Chaconne was creditably-enough danced by Emily Adams and Adrian Fry from Ballet West that it would also have made me want to see more of it, too, were it not already on my list of good dance I need a good dose of once in a while. But otherwise I was dismayed to see things like the traditional "Don Quixote" pas de deux shorn of traditional panache by Maria Kochetlova of the San Francisco Ballet and Daniil Simkin of ABT, which made it an more impoverished conclusion than the opening Tarantella. I think panache is the main point of this show-off piece.
  8. Earlier I posted some comments about this performance of dancers from many companies marking the 50th anniversary of the re-opening of the Auditorium Theater in Chicago in a more appropriate forum, but most of the most satisfying aspects of the event and its surrounding history for me were provided by Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook of TSFB dancing Meditation and an interview with the then-22-year-old Suzanne Farrell: http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/43190-golden-celebration-of-dance-november-12-2017/?tab=comments#comment-390385
  9. Final Kennedy Center Performance

    FWIW, the class was rather milder than the one I saw at the KC a few years ago. It wasn't company class anyway. Afterward, we met a dancer from NYCB in the 60's through the early 70's there, who pointed out how different it was from Balanchine's class - Suzanne got her dancers thinking, used a variety of music, and difficult counts; Balanchine's classes were generally without music, repetitive, and went for speed and elevation. Farrell's music was eclectic, to say the least. A fair amount of Tchaikovsky, but some syncopated jazzy numbers, and one familiar tune to whose rhythms I heard words, including "seid umshlungen, Millionen - Tochter aus Elysium!", although in a slightly different harmonization from Beethoven's use of them at the end of his choral symphony! There were about 60-80 dancers, including over a dozen of the NYCB dancer's students; during the barre, Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook were downstage center, she, in wine tights, finishing everything with her beautiful understated elegance, but during the center, she transformed herself into a more casually-styled, not to say abandoned, dancer, and changed into scarlet above a short royal blue skirt as well. (I was reminded of her two rather different Terpsichores in Phoenix last May - both were well heard, and both valid.)
  10. Final Kennedy Center Performance

    And at 12:00 PM today, there'll be an open class. No ticket required, AFAIK. Just show up. Same place, Concert Hall. Scheduled to run until 1:30. (Sorry I didn't post here earlier myself.)
  11. What are you looking for?

    The one with Farrell, Castelli and Andersen? The one to see, the one to see! The greatest ballet video a friend has ever seen, she says, and I have a hard time thinking of any I like as well. They still danced like Mr. B. was there on his stool in the wing, even though it was months after he had last seen his dancers. I have some difference with pherank, though. Whether a particular performance on stage or on screen does more for you depends on who's looking, and on their experience, though the immediacy and presence of the stage are real advantages. But comparisons do help to sensitize you - I found this out for myself when I watched alternate casts step into the repertory years ago - before we had PBS's Dance in America and other blessings, but when we still had the blessing of ticket prices within reach. ("Count your blessings" where you find them, right?)
  12. Jennifer Homans' planned biography of Balanchine

    What worries me is whether we have - or will have - the work(s), the steps and gestures, or most of them - I've seen some disappear and then reappear; or whether we have, or will have, the worlds of those ballets. It depends a lot on qualities of performance, and those who knew Mr. B. won't be around a lot longer - though there is film and video, not least the Interpreter's Archive of the Balanchine Foundation. Even the steps and gestures, performed just as show-off material, are something - some spectators will listen as they watch, and be rewarded by what the dancing shows them in the music, for example, but I'm not sanguine that we will still know the ballets - ballets as worlds of their own. But if we do know them, don't we know the things most intimate to their maker? The artist's interior life?
  13. Jennifer Homans' planned biography of Balanchine

    I'm also in agreement with canbelto and DanielBenton, just above. But I am especially struck by DanielBenton's earlier post, because it reminds me of a remark of Balanchine's, that which, whenever I think of it, makes me wonder whether it was part of his view of things that when we watch certain kinds of dance - his kind, in particular - listening as we watch - we may glimpse the "real world" he had in mind, or whether he meant something entirely different. Many of his recorded remarks were "in the moment", so that we would benefit from knowing their context, which I can't provide this time, having forgotten, but this one seems to be general in its very expression. And consistent in its mysterious content with his commonly "evasive" reply, when asked what something in one of his ballets means, "What did you see?" or words to that effect. I put evasive in quotes because I think Mr. B. was not being evasive at all, but coaxing his questioners to find their own way to their own answer.
  14. What are you looking for?

    I'm in the habit of listening closely as I watch, to see how the dancers' moves fit the sounds. I've learned that I enjoy watching dancing the most if I see what I hear. This way of watching has proved so fruitful, I will even try to get acquainted with the music , or at least some of it, ahead of time, if the music is unfamiliar. And I've even found that this way, the dancing may help me to hear things in the music I wouldn't have heard, or I don't hear, when I listen to the music alone, like from a recording. So I recommend it. Balanchine's choreography provides some of the richest possibilities for this experience. It might not hurt to have a look at some video, too, to "warm up" for the experience, or maybe to review it afterwards. Chances are, the video will be different in important ways from the theater experience, but they ought to be similar enough for some comparison - comparison and contrast is a good method to bring out the subtleties in things and help you to get more out of each of the things you're comparing.
  15. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    Saturday evening's cast, largely from opening night, I gather, seemed to me the best of this (second) weekend; Peter Boal, after the show, called it "A-list" himself, acknowledging the large turnout in the lecture hall. The "Emeralds" pas de trois (Biasucci, Generosa, Davis) had the continuous flow I had wanted, but it was Lindsi Dec, the tall girl in "Rubies" - the most interesting dancer I'd seen so far - who, energizing that part, really lifted the evening; and then, Lesley Rausch in "Diamonds" (with the towering Karel Cruz) brought us her mastery on that elevated plane. No, more: "Mastery" might imply it's finished, done, perfect, boring; with Rausch, it's fully inhabited but inherently unsettled. It's the quality we talked about above - she's cool and independent, yes, but her prince matters to her, too. This duality, this tension, shone forth from within this dancer.
  16. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    So this was Generosa's third "Rubies"? Okay, but I still think there are tentative moments to be seen across the stage, not just her, in this "Rubies" - as well as lots of moments which have come to themselves, so to speak, and are realized. Fast-paced and quirky that it is, any cast in this ballet has its work cut out for it to bring it off without fuss. Maybe three essays at a part are not experience enough in this. There wasn't much strain in Orza's pas to be seen; and listening to her little autobiography after loving what I saw her do, I too was glad that she got herself out of NYCB and found she could have a life in Seattle.
  17. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    My post just above Helene's applies to Thursday evening's performance (September 28th); here's what I thought after a return visit on the 29th: Much joy in watching Friday evening's performance. The "Emeralds" cast was the same, so I can't easily account for why it was so much better an experience than Thursday, not that there was anything wrong with that. They'd had a day for more studio time, or it might have been me or my seat - I was smack on the center line in Row N, and being smack in the center at "Emeralds" does a lot for me , but Merchant and her companions were - how shall I say? - populating a calm but vibrant world, inhabiting the space of Faure's steady, even sounds. An odd way to put it? Well, the man, Balanchine, himself remarks somewhere in the old 2-hour PBS documentary about him that, "The dancers are the fish! And the music is the a-quar-i-um!" I think it's a good metaphor in general for his kind of ballet, but especially for this one. Many people saw it originally as connoting "a world beneath the sea". However you put it, the visible movement ebbed and flowed within the audible last night, until the pas de trois, where there were a few of those minor instants of rest, stopping the flow, as though they had to give their music an instant to begin again. "Rubies" was led creditably by Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths, but "Rubies" continues to be something of a sometime thing here, though Cecilia Iliesiu was outstanding as "the tall girl" and well-liked by the audience. Friday's pianist was Christina Siemens, whom I thought gave her part more eloquent inflection than Allan Dameron had on Thursday (though not reaching the level of wit heard in the four or so recordings I've heard with the composer's participation). In "Diamonds" Sarah Ricard Orza made a fine debut, looking just a bit strained to hold her dance together by the slow tempos of the pas de deux and a little hard pressed by Emil de Cou's good, brisk tempo in the scherzo which follows it, as a kind of coda - but here, she seemed determined to show us clearly and fully, in the flow, everything we heard, no blurring or short cuts, and I loved her for it. (In the conversations in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall which followed, Orza said that dancing in slow tempo is more challenging because it's harder to maintain control.)
  18. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    "Emeralds" seemed imbued with much life by everyone last night; it looked as native to these dancers as it looks alien to the POB dancers, in their well-shot video. (Even if the Parisians are arguably more accomplished in other ways.) But I missed the gravity and stillness, the trance-like mystery of that "walking" duet, originated by Paul and Moncion. Similarly "Diamonds." Yes: I like these Seattle dancers better than the Paris ones, in this. But "Rubies" is more - idiosyncratic? So some bits looked tentative, even led by an experienced cast, though most of it looked enlivened, as "Emeralds" had. A ballet constructed of startling moments, "Rubies" has often been shown in recent years with the most startling one replaced by a dead moment. A real lapse: It's at that point in the dance of "the tall girl" with her four boys when we hear the opening music again, and each boy rushes to her and grabs a wrist or an ankle. They manipulate her through a series of arabesques until the girl looks out at us from the group so that we see her face - originally, upside down! For years she has looked upstage, showing us the back of her head - for example, in that POB video - with no effect, but now here once again, the original startling effect of this moment is restored. Another of PNB's efforts pays off. As for the new settings, having seen them on stage, I agree more strongly with volcanohunter and jsmu. And then some: The huge picture frame doesn't just diminish some of the movement, it dwarfs the cast; and the touches of pink in the costumes softens the cold, hard dazzle of "Diamonds." The blank black backdrop for "Rubies" doesn't have this problem, though it doesn't set the ballet off, either, and the starry night-sky backdrop for "Emeralds" just seems odd, oddly prosaic: Stars, not jewels? Not settings for jewels?
  19. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    In the traditional SL, frightened though she is at first, doesn't she does eventually submit in confidence to his embrace? I remember him behind her but both face us at the end of the pas, the more for her expression to move us. He wins that confidence from her; in "Diamonds" she remains remote in tone, if not so much in her place on stage.
  20. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    The "Diamonds" pas in particular is more one of an independent being and her admirer than your typical romantic, win-her-over pas; see where she proceeds across, downstage, alone, while he runs across upstage with excited little jumps, swinging one raised hand in salutation or exclamation. And Farrell was usually her cool, expansive self in this, showing us how Mr. B. heard Tchaikovsky's cool, spacious sound. So, yes, a ballerina today can get this quality from the choreography, and it's a tribute to Rausch and an important thing to observe and to report that she found it and showed it, too. (The ending is played a little differently different times; I've seen the same dancers - Illeana Lopez and Franklin Gamero, in the MCB of old - show us how she lets him kiss her hand, or, another time, how she is surprised when, kneeling, he takes it - but the point is that neither way is it ever a warm embrace, never near. He may warm to her, but her? Very cool.)
  21. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    Based on the "Emeralds" and "Diamonds" clips from the current production linked here, I'm in agreement with both of you. (Not charmed by the tiaras, but encouraged by the comment about how the skirts flow. Costumes must move well.) Moreover, the movement in both clips keeps stopping in poses and then starts again. Not what I remember from the '70s (and prefer), either, especially in the "Diamonds" performances propelled by Robert Irving's rather stiff and fast tempos, or in Hugo Fiorato's still brisk but more wonderful rubato approach, as well as in some recent ones, notably Villella's MCB. (Haven't seen any of the PNB performances. Yet. Nothing quite like dancers on stage, and I'm looking forward to Rausch and Dec, especially.) What's taking in authentic Balanchine is how the poses flash by, vividly visible, in the flow, in what I think Alexandra called the "through-line".
  22. I just learned about this hours ago. Here's a link: http://www.artscenter.org/events/suzanne-farrell-ballet/ It's billed as the Farewell Tour, to be followed in a few days by the troupe's last season at the Kennedy Center. I notice the center of the main floor at Purchase is already pretty well sold.
  23. Suzane Farrell Ballet at Purchase December 3, 2017

    Let's remember that in the past the Kennedy Center has held preview performances of excerpts of TSFB's seasons in their Millennium Stage series in the foyer there a couple of weeks in advance, and these previews are livestreamed and most of them have been archived on the K. C. website. They are excerpts, they are previews, and the dancing continues to develop by the time of the performances in the theater, but, nevertheless ...
  24. Building New Ballet Audiences

    Even better, put the trailers on line when tickets go on sale, so potential "consumers" can sample the goods?
  25. NYCB in Paris

    On the other hand, the Rubies pas de deux, danced by Patricia McBride and Robert Weiss, which was included in Part 2 of the four Dance in America "Choroeography by Balanchine" programs, and broadcast in November 1978, has not been seen much since. Not commercially reissued nor on Youtube. (Some of the current Youtube posts of these performances have less-good image quality than we have seen over the years, but, my God! The dancing! In spite of the taxing conditions at Opryland in Nashville, the long hours, the hard floors.)