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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. In some cases "reimagine" seems to be used for efforts that don't aspire to be 'historical' or 'traditional' stagings at all but that try to take up the themes/imagery of an older work and recast them in entirely new terms with new choreography for a different era. That's at least how I have seen the term used quite recently--say, in coverage of the Akram Khan Giselle or Matthew Bourne Sleeping Beauty.
  2. This sounds right to me and returns us to the topic of this thread. But also to the problem that got this sidebar going, which is that it's not clear that the New York Times does consider it their responsibility to see and discuss the greater part of the season anymore. (I assume from everything already discussed that this is due to business decisions at the paper.) Perhaps it's wishful thinking on my part, but I also think ballet is having a 'moment' right now. More new choreography that critics and fans are genuinely intrigued by, a substantive debate on appropriate approaches to revivals/reconstructions of the classics on the one hand, but also fresh re-imaginings of them on the other (Bourne, Khan) -- plus institutional support for critical/historical study of ballet/dance, and, on the less esoteric side of things, celebrity ballerinas, a high profile 'ballet' movie, and at least one high profile (if admittedly horrific) ballet scandal. Even a frisson of politics here and there... I don't follow modern dance in the same way I follow ballet, but regularly read about premiers and choreographers I wish I could see...and think some of the issues pressing on ballet and its relation to its history have analogues in modern dance (eg Paul Taylor's partial transformation of his company into a modern dance repertory company). There is also a burgeoning development of disability/dance work. It's not a dance "boom" but ... not a dance whimper either. Anyway, more reviews in the Times would be very welcome--and . . . uh . . . more coverage in the New Yorker too.
  3. I somehow missed this when it was first posted--thank you. I did not know Balanchine's thoughts on the divertissement pas de deux. In the play (as you and others probably know) Bottom's speech alludes in a 'comic' way, that is, misquoting, to Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians--so there is a distant/indirect relation to the source material in Balanchine's way of thinking about it. Like Vipa I disagree that Balanchine simply lacked the narrative gene, though perhaps he wasn't as driven by an interest in direct story telling as other choreographers for whom that was central. (I think Ashton's Month in the Country is about as great a piece of ballet 'story telling' or drama as I have ever seen--or could ever imagine.)
  4. That's an idea. But I also think part of the point of getting the New Yorker outside of New York is, in some sense, feeling in touch with New York cultural life and whatever that is supposed to stand for in the larger cultural life of the world. I don't live in New York, but that is one reason I want to read in more detail about what's going on there in dance. (Same for theater and music, though -- in my case -- to a lesser extent.) But I may not be typical of their target audience. I recently re-subscribed after giving it up for a few years, but as it is haven't decided whether or not to renew. (Not exclusively because of lack of serious dance criticism, but that would make a difference to me.)
  5. The New Yorker's lack of interest in dance is depressing to me --I don't expect them to care exactly about what interests me or the sort of things that I may find myself arguing about on balletalert. But there is so little written about...Who believes that every new book reviewed in the New Yorker is a field changing masterpiece? That doesn't mean they are not serious occasions for critique, discussion, and debate. And some of the movies covered? They are covered as part of the cultural scene and to let readers know about them, not as inspiring works of art. Dance is more ephemeral. Two weeks later I can't buy tickets to what someone reviews. But New Yorker reviews were always something more than a heads up. In theory the critics themselves are writers people want to read. Acocella also writes on other topics, so why might she not share dance writing duties with someone else interested in things she does not want to write about? That's a rhetorical question ... and I agree Remnick is probably on the same page with her as far as what he wants as editor. I remember his piece on the Bolshoi, but I don't really see it as evidence of substantive interest in dance as an art form calling for critique, discussion, and debate. I take for granted that though the New Yorker cares about advertizing dollars and 'clicks', the day that is ALL they care about they are no longer the New Yorker. (To some extent that is also true of any major Newspaper such as the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, but with less wriggle room, since they have so much more competition as news organizations,)
  6. I didn't know that about the pas de deux (in 1966) though it makes sense. (I'm pretty sure my mother took me to see the ballet around that time, but have no memory of it.) It is wonderful . . .
  7. I wonder if Titania's cavalier may have some 19th-century precedent. I'm thinking of the cavalier in the Ratmansky/Burlaka Pas des Eventails in their reconstructed Corsaire. (At least when I saw it, he had no connection to the rest of the ballet.) But the episode is not 'tight' dramatically -- like the final act, it is perhaps more in the spirit of a 19th-century story ballet. I do feel with the right Titania in the Balanchine version, you can get a feeling for how she sees Bottom, for example when she tenderly leads him off the stage - which is not just a funny moment. Balanchine's Hermia also has that extraordinary solo when she has been abandoned which brings a different layer to the characterization. The moment when Bottom awakens in Ashton's version is one of the most moving. Bottom's speech on awakening from his 'dream' is also my favorite moment in the play, so I love the fact that Ashton found a way to portray something like that in the ballet.
  8. I find Balanchine's narrative entirely clear and there is nineteenth-century precedent for having the last act be (more or less) a celebratory divertissement rather than more story. (That's the main criticism I have heard of Balanchine's version--all the story over in Act I.) I suppose one might find it "odd" that the most glorious, moving pas de deux in Balanchine's ballet goes to the "divertissement" couple--though perhaps a little less odd if you do a careful reading of the play in which none of the loving couples exactly comes off as a representative idyllic pair and also perhaps less odd still if you think of the divertissement couple as a kind of symbol of what all the lovers supposedly desire. So, the entertainment for the wedding offers a serious tribute to love rather than the Mechanicals' goofy attempt at one with Pyramus and Thisbe. Still I can understand finding that pas de deux in particular unbalances the ballet as a narrative. Especially since those dancers don't appear elsewhere as part of the divertissement celebration. It may sort of feel as if it springs up out of nowhere. (It's not as if we see the lovers watching the pas de deux qua divertissement either: it just sort of "is.") But I wouldn't exactly prefer the ballet without it! I enjoy Balanchine's version and on the right night, with the right cast I find it entirely enchanting. I feel the same about Ashton's very different version -- though I've seen both of them on nights when the the comedy seemed too cutesy and the magic just a tad too thin -- which may have been a problem with the performances those nights or even just my own mood. I remember finding Neumeier's quite interesting when I saw it some decades ago but unfortunately remember very little else about it except the sort of "alien" quality of the music for the fairies (not Mendelssohn and also not nineteenth-century romantic) and of the choreography/costumes for them as well.
  9. She doesn't. That was an issue raised by Volcanohunter's post.
  10. Atlanta Ballet has already performed Nutcracker and a two weekend run of Carmina Burana this year. (I attended and enjoyed both very much)--but this weekend's program was publicized as introducing Nedvigin's vision for Atlanta Ballet's future--which, as I understand it, is grounded in classical tradition but aims to include twentieth-century classics and contemporary work building on classical tradition. I attended the Sat matinee and the house was very thin indeed, though I will say the audience responded warmly to the dancers What interests me at Atlanta Ballet and what's good for Atlanta Ballet are not necessarily the same thing, but certainly for my taste this was a substantive and entertaining program of exactly the kind I would be happy to see more of--a mixed bill that combined traditional nineteenth-century choreography (Excerpts from the Grand Pas from Pacquita), work by a newly prominent or if you will "hot" ballet choregrapher (Liam Scarlett's Vespertine), and a world premier by a relatively novice ballet choreographer (Gemma Bond). Adding additional interest to the program in terms of giving Atlanta a "distinctive" stamp would be the fact that Vespertine has not been seen in North America before. The Grand Pas from Pacquita is a work that has the happiest associations for me, though I haven't seen it often. It's a pure festival of classical dancing with just a whiff of Spanish flavoring. To my (amateur) eyes, the Atlanta Ballet corps looked as if they had been given good guidance on how to hold themselves and present the choreography. With the cast I saw--not the "opening night" cast--it was fairly obvious that many of the featured dancers were being stretched -- and a few of them had awkward moments or even got into real trouble. But there were some highlights too: I especially enjoyed Nadia Mara in the pas de trois; she danced a variation with bright petite allegro and looked charmingly at ease and confident. And I loved Alessa Rogers in the first of the supplemental variations (three in this production that are featured in addition to the pas de trois and the variations of the two leads). Rogers danced the variation that begins slowly, even luxuriantly and then builds. I can hear the music in my head but can't type it. Anyway, she was absolutely magical. She always seemed to be really in the moment of the dancing -- this may have been an illusion of course; but instead of a pasted on smile there was a gentle relaxed smile that seemed to change and vary with the different rhythms of the music as if she were really listening as she channeled the music through the choreography. She glows (like a ballerina) but doesn't "sell" anything, almost seems to be dancing for herself. Wonderful. Though he was a little more uneven I was also intrigued by Alexander Souza who danced in the pas de trois. I should, say, too, that at one point Jackie Nash in the ballerina role was pulling out all the stops by actually giving us close to 32 fouettes (I counted 29) with barely any traveling at all, but unfortunately she lost control at the very, very end and sort of fell backwards out of them. Still got a huge cheer and I suspect that when this same cast made a second pass at their roles the next day, a lot of the kinks would have been worked out. Here and there Scarlett's Vespertine reminded me a bit of his Acheron--the extremely dark lighting and some of the complex (and, to my eyes, slightly obscene looking) lifts. It is set to a collage of different baroque scores and though in the little video introduction he is seen emphasizing the role of the music in creating the "arc" of the ballet, I assume he must have played a role in deciding how to assemble the different snippets. That is, he wasn't just following the score; he played a role in putting it together. He created Vespertine for the Norwegian ballet and it was (he said) intended for an evening of baroque works, The dancers had costumes suggestive -- in a very simplified, stylized way -- of Baroque dress, that were then cast off to show them in pale near nudity or leotard simulated nudity. The choreography often pointed to a kind of low (and not so low) boil of emotions/conflict underneath the formal encounters--so I took it the idea was indeed to show all the emotions being at once contained and let loose in the knot of baroque or pseudo baroque forms. Almost all the pas de deux were male/female but right towards the middle of the ballet came a pas de deux for two men in semi-undress that was at times ambivalent to the point of violence but also full of tenderness. I almost suspected that the real "nakedness" Scarlett wanted to express beneath the formal dress was that moment of same-sex desire--it certainly was one of the ballet's more emotionally charged episodes. The choreography itself seemed to blend ballet and modern dance techniques in the manner of "contemporary" or "eclectic" dance--in fact it occasionally made me think of Glen Tetley. (That's a distant memory so I won't swear by it, but it is what I thought of...) Like almost every other Scarlett ballet I have seen the stage was extremely shadowy. The sets included about 10 great rounded, modernist "chandeliers" and in different dance episodes different numbers of them were "lit" or darkened, though of course they were not the source for the actual lighting of the stage. But even when every single one was "lit" the lighting scheme remained very dark and shadowy. This is my least favorite trend in ballet and it could be seen in the lighting for Gemma Bond's premier as well. (Balanchine can "darken" the mood of a ballet with a STEP.) Complaints about lighting notwithstanding, I was very impressed with Gemma Bond's Denouement which came second on the program. Choreographed to a (not obviously "dance-friendly") Benjamin Britten sonata for cello and piano, it was the one work on the program performed to live music. (I believe every other Atlanta Ballet program this season will have live music.) Bond, as people reading this probably know, dances at ABT; By way of another ABT connection to this work, James Whiteside designed the costumes which are loosely suggestive of street clothes. In the little introductory video that preceded the ballet Bond spoke of being inspired by Adam Phillips' Missing Out, a book exploring the ways our lives are shadowed by lives we might have lived. I was impressed by her musical and intellectual sophistication, but if I hadn't heard her speak I'm not sure I would have gotten the whole point from just the choreography. Though I might have inferred that this was a ballet about choices and, maybe, memory--and that does seem close enough. Three couples open the ballet in what I at first thought was a little generically angsty choreography--fluent enough but not quite grabbing my interest. But once Bond was underway, and especially when she started differentiating the different soloists and finding the "dance" possibilities in the somewhat stark music, well, it was quite gripping. Somehow at once physically exciting, but also having an at times introspective feel. A lot of contemporary choreography comes across to me like a strangely depersonalized perpetual motion machine. THIS did not--everything felt motivated. I am very interested in seeing how Bond develops. And I think her home company could do a lot worst than give her some opportunities. I thought the dancers in Denouement were terrific--the women especially tore up the stage (Nadia Mara, Kiara Felder, and also Laura Morton who, according to the program, is still an apprentice). All in all, a very satisfying program with some great dancing.
  11. At some point I am hoping to manage a Baden Baden trip, but I agree this is not the most tempting combination of ballets. And especially with Bayadere at Kennedy Center in the fall... Edited to add: If I lived in Baden Baden or had the wherewithal to go all the time, then I might appreciate the variety and change up of repertory from year to year. Just for a special, one-time trip it's not the most tempting.
  12. Complaining younger people have better heating etc. seems silly. If Vishneva's generation didn't have good infrastrucure (so to speak) ... well, I'm glad that has been fixed. But I don't count on this kind of documentary to show me really all that the students were going through.
  13. The generational lament can start sounding like self parody. I take the idea that there are ( or have been) real differences between the Kirov/Mariinsky and the Bolshoi ways of dancing -- and that Tsiskaridze and Vaziev are not disinterested in what they have to say on the subject -- more seriously. Change is inevitable and some homogenization of styles between the two companies may be inevitable. But I can't say I don't think something may be lost along with wharever gains may accrue.
  14. Wasn't sure if this should go under Vishneva or News and Issues--but it seems to me to speak more to the latter. Vishneva's complaints about dance students going soft in today's Vaganova academy were less interesting to me than what she says about the differences between the Bolshoi and Mariinsky: “There are different nuances in the schools, between the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky. He [Tsiskaridze] claims it is the same, but the style, the movements, the breathing, the manner is different. “Now Tsiskaridze is in St Petersburg, while Makhar Vaziev [who was trained in St Petersburg] is at the Bolshoi. And both claim it is the same style because it is convenient for them to say that. But what I hear is upsetting to me.” http://www.thetimes.co.uk/magazine/culture/diana-vishneva-ballet-dance-mariinsky-ballet-dcpv6gs33 and a featurette on the interview: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/19/russian-prima-ballerina-lashes-spoiled-internet-obsessed-younger/ (My attention was drawn to this interview by Carla Escoda on Twitter)
  15. Honestly, I don't have much in the way of thoughts about what I hope to see (and I suppose I'm not the target audience as I've only been to see Nutcracker once in the past decade). I just prefer to avoid any and all Gone with the Wind vibes whatever era the production is actually set in.