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Drew

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Everything posted by Drew

  1. Drew

    Who rules today?

    Versatility is a wonderful quality in a ballerina, but I don't necessarily look for a ballerina to be great in every role or every repertory. If a ballerina gives a transcendent performance as Odette, then I don't think less of her because she isn't a great Kitri -- or doesn't even dance Kitri. In other words, I'd take Lopatkina in her chosen repertory over more versatile ballerinas, even those of the highest quality, any day. Other ballerinas I might indeed admire for versatility but for me versatility is one trait--an important trait--but not necessarily more important to me as an audience member than others, though it's admirable when a ballerina is truly exceptional across vast swathes of major repertory. But who exactly is this unicorn? Among American ballerinas Kirkland comes to mind with a few caveats as her career was cut short. But, say, was Plisetskaya a great Balanchine dancer? A great Ashton dancer? Does anyone care? I sure don't and I consider Balanchine and Ashton to have been the most important 20th-century ballet choreographers by far...But it would be absurd to claim she could do anything, even if it would have been very interesting to have watched her try anything. I think most of the world's top ballerinas show range of some kind, but delimited--it's range up to a point. I will concede that if a ballerina isn't at all versatile, then for me to admire her as one of my personal "greats" I would expect her to be genuinely exceptional within her own specialty repertory: Farrell in Balanchine, say, even if I wouldn't have raced to see her in a 19th-century classic...Well, actually I would have, because she was always fascinating whatever she did--and for example was very enjoyable in Bournonville Divertissements, even if she was no exemplar of the style--but I certainly wouldn't expect her to make the impact in those roles she made in her home repertory. No-one would say she was a great "Bournonville" ballerina. Having said all that....A wonderful ballerina from among today's dancers who (I think) does have a legitimate claim to a lot of versatility (though not infinitely so) across classical, 20th-century and 21st-century choreography --dancing memorably in classical and romantic roles AND in Ashton, Macmillan, Neumeier, & McGregor is Alina Cojocaru. I'm not sure what she would make of major Balanchine, but I certainly would seek her out in any and every role. I actually find Osipova very exciting across a fair swath of repertory, but I'm holding my breath a bit on what she will be like as Odette-Odile --which, as of now, I have plans to see in June. (Spitting over my shoulder as I type to ward off the evil eye.) I'll add that at American Ballet Theatre I think Murphy has proven her value many times over as someone who can be impressive in a very wide range of ballets. Does she "rule?" Probably not. But she is a very admirable ballerina.
  2. Drew

    Is Alyona Kovalyova "Zvezda" material ??

    Hmm...how odd. perhaps the moderators could break off discussion of this Coppelia and give it its own thread? You don't say anything about the production. I think it is fantastic--really makes the case for Coppelia as ballet's master comedy. I can easily picture Krysanova would make an excellent Swanilda, and I'm intrigued to read your account of Khokholova's performance. Nothing I have seen of her live or on video has made me want to see her in a major role, but I know dancers grow and she has long had the attention of the powers that be at the Bolshoi. It would be great if Swanilda were a breakthrough role for her. I'm hoping Shrainer has success in the role as well. (I'd be happy to hear your impressions of the Coppelius as well--that's a fantastic part for a great character dancer.)
  3. Drew

    2018 Spring Season

    As someone who travels to see the company (very expensive and, in other respects, rather physically and psychically stressful), this is my feeling as well and it influenced me last year when I opted to see NYCB in D.C. where I could see exactly such mixed programs rather than in New York where I couldn't. But this season has proven an exception. When I saw I could come up to NY at the end of April for just two nights and still see two entirely different all Balanchine programs -- seven different ballets, most of them major works -- I was ecstatic. The fact that I can catch a third performance with all new works including a Peck I've never seen and a Ratmansky I would like to see again the same weekend certainly made things still more appealing, but the wealth of Balanchine decided it. I am counting the minutes. Another appeal of this last-weekend-in-April programing, for a traveler at least, is that over Friday and Saturday one can see three different programs; usually it's just two programs with one of them danced twice. I had actually been going to take a pass on New York or D.C. this spring-summer season. This programming changed my mind. So, ballet gods willing nothing will interfere with my travel plans. But...uh...in principle, and indeed usually in practice, I completely agree that mixing things up is best--at least when there is new work on a program or lesser work returning to repertory, anchoring the program with substantive work (eg with Balanchine) is a very good thing.
  4. Drew

    Liam Scarlett's Queen of Spades for the RDB

    I am curious about this as well (have read it about it on Danceview Times and briefly elsewhere)....would love to read reports.
  5. I didn't see this interview posted ....it's with Peter Boal and addresses issues raised for audiences by Raku: https://crosscut.com/2018/04/should-ballet-dramatize-sexual-assault-stage
  6. Do you then believe that multiple principal dancers are still steaming about her final performance? I mean it as a real question not a rhetorical one...but I admit that while I can picture that they would still look back with irritation to her choice and must have felt slighted at the time....the idea that they would be so resentful as to let it poison their relations with her several years later and now that she is Director of the company or generally let it poison her directorship seems unexpected to me--unless they're twelve. That is, I can't help but think that would speak to problems that aren't really on Dupont but on their maturity and professionalism and general willingness to move forward under new leadership.
  7. Or the notoriety of the Bolshoi played a role? Or Kim’s being South Korean? Or, just as likely, perhaps that the cruel arbitrariness of the system is part of the point. That’s how power shows it is just that -power. Appalling decision in any case....
  8. Drew

    Swedish Academy in turmoil

    It's very hard to imagine there won't be some kind of intervention to keep the Academy afloat...I suppose that might come with some changes (?). Will look for your reports.
  9. I would have thought there were all kinds of people very attached to San Francisco indeed.
  10. Millepied built his career at a company (New York City Ballet) that was committed to the renewal of ballet--that is, classical tradition, and was quite explicit about that being part of his vision for POB. He wanted to bring in new work, of course, but new work based in the classical idiom. And that meant that he cared also about the classical idiom. His failings have been much discussed, but I could wish the POB would find a leader -- let it be Dupont -- who values ballet traditions and new work building on those traditions. (I thought the Ratmansky Psyche during Lefebvre's tenure was a step in that direction.)...Most ballet companies in the world do not have the resources to be great ballet companies (ie consistently offering major productions danced at the level classical ballet ideally requires)--their dancers don't have the training, their theaters don't have the financing etc. etc.--POB does. P.S. Mnacenani and I were posting at same time, so I hadn't read his latest post.
  11. For work on the "pre-romantic" ballet in Paris, I refer to the work of Marian Hannah Winter. I haven't looked at it in some time, but--on a side note--I met her when I was young and curious about research on ballet history (Pierre Gardel especially) and she was very nice to me despite my general clueless-ness about research and pretty much everything else. Gardel was interesting to me because he lasted through so many political regimes. Edited to add: it may seem a banality to mention, but for a wider cultural portrait (albeit in fragments) of mid-late-19th-century French culture, Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project seems crucial to me. Though perhaps not something I would recommend to someone just working on a Bachelor's thesis on the Ballets Russes.
  12. Drew

    "Tu Tu" program

    I also thought this was an enjoyable program. Tara Lee's Blink set to Brahms' Variations on a Theme of Paganini was having its premier and it was also the one ballet on the program with live music. It seemed to me a leap beyond the only one of her other works I have seen, not least musically. (The other work "the authors" was set to a recorded mix of music--several of the cuts quite familiar chestnuts.) Towards the beginning I worried the theme and variations structure would make Blink seem too episodic, but the more it progressed the more the choreography found ways to flow through the segmentation (without ignoring it) and connect its different parts. I note the company publicity referred to this ballet as neo-classical, but though the dancers were on pointe, to my eyes, Blink seemed to combine ballet technique with modern dance technique in a way I usually call "contemporary" or "eclectic." I did like it and if Lee's new company, which she co-founded, Terminus Modern Ballet Theater, starts performing in venues I can get to...well, I'll be there. The dancers looked ecstatic to be dancing in Naharin's Minus 16 again--and the audience responded in kind. All three ballets on the program (Welch's Tu Tu, Blink, and Minus 16) were rather showy pieces and I thought, on the whole, everyone rose to the occasion, though certainly, at the Sunday afternoon performance I attended, the dancing in the Naharin (ie the least classical) was the stand-out...In Tu Tu I was also glad finally to have a chance to see Sergio Masero-Olarte in a prominently featured role. He danced the "Gold Man" in Welch's Tu Tu and made a very good impression. Since I make no bones about the fact that I very much support Nedvigin's committment to drawing the balance of Atlanta Ballet's programming a little more towards classical/neo-classical work and I never so much as bought a ticket for Dracula, I should mention that I overheard the woman next to me respond to a question from someone by saying decisively "I like the short modern works best....[giving a slight laugh] except for Dracula."
  13. Is the suggestion that any generally educated reader can make their way through a technical disquisition on climate change or original research on string theory? 'Cause I suspect that is not the case . I've had trouble parsing research articles on medicines that I take --but I've very glad someone is doing research above my skill set that I do expect medical professionals prescribing the medications to read. We don't swallow our ballet history with a glass of water, but I don't think the humanities have an obligation to eschew all professional discourse either. In all fields, including humanities, of course there will be specialist work that requires effort and some specialized education to read which sometimes, nonetheless, reaches a wider audience immediately, sometimes reaches it through popularization, and sometimes not at all. I admire and enjoy Guest's achievements, but would hate to live in a world where there was no place for specialized scholarship written primarily for other scholars. And I disagree with the notion such scholarship does no-one any good. I allow that its "use" may be indirect -- but one generation's esoteric research can become another generation's public policy. I confess to a soft spot, too, for knowledge for it's own sake.
  14. Drew

    "Tu Tu" program

    Sounds great...I'm looking forward to seeing this program tomorrow. I imagine I'll see somewhat different dancers but I'm hoping it's still an enjoyable performance.
  15. This program at Miami City Ballet sounds great. Preparing to see Apollo live in a couple of weeks, I've been watching older black and white films/video of the ballet, and I agree that the whole ballet seems more coherent with the earlier scenes ... The ballet as great as it is (and as decisive for Balanchine as it is), always feels a little "historical artefact-ish" to me, but I found watching records of older performances in which the story is intact-and the dancers dance as if the story infuses the steps-helped me make sense of the ballet as a ballet. I first saw Apollo before the cuts were made, but my first strong memories of it are the cut version Baryshnikov danced at NYCB. I suppose it's likely that, in making the cuts he did, the 'story-ness' is just what Balanchine was trying to discard...
  16. Drew

    2018-19 season: Washington Ballet

    I haven't seen them recently, but I would think that should be a very good--and definitely drama! Wish I could see it.
  17. Drew

    2018-19 season: Washington Ballet

    I’m sorry KenCen doesn’t have more classical ballet offerings and I certainly can’t argue with someone about what makes them want to sleep —say, as if pricked with a poisoned kneedle. But Sleeping Beauty a popcorn ballet? To me, Sleeping Beauty is a popcorn ballet as much as Twelfth Night is a popcorn play. There is a world of Draculas and other choreographically thin though often well-crafted and popular balletic entertainment out there that one might more convincingly call ‘popcorn’, since Sleeping Beauty is one of the most choreographically rich, not to say transcendent, ballets ever created and has a wonderful score as well. I allow that Tchaikovsky is easy on the ear...but even so, I’d be reluctant to call his music for the ballet ‘popcorn’ especially compared to some other nineteenth-century ballet music.
  18. Drew

    Sarasota Ballet 2018-2019

    Enigma Variations. Not easy...and wow! Rest of that program sounds wonderful too (Patineurs and Diamonds). Well, the whole season sounds full of quality works...
  19. Drew

    Fouettes - Discussion, Examples

    Absolutely!
  20. Drew

    Royal Ballet 2017-18 season

    I will look out for this. I enjoyed the McFarlane Frankenstein designs (at least as they appeared on video).
  21. Obituary in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/obituaries/ivor-guest-97-dies-transformed-study-of-dance-history.html
  22. Drew

    Royal Ballet 2017-18 season

    I will be looking out for reports on the new Swan Lake with eagerness. (If plans work out, then I will also see for myself in June...)
  23. Drew

    Royal Ballet 2017-18 season

    Is Swan Lake in the UK, as it is in the US, a 'sure-fire' ticket seller for companies? That is, no matter what the production -- as long as it's at least loosely traditional (tutus etc.)? (I must admit that I would take the Dowell production danced in pretty much any costumes and with any sets over most of what passes for Swan Lake nowadays.)
  24. The clips are fantastic. It would be great if the Mariinsky were take this up and I'm wondering it it would be possible and make sense to restore original designs as well. (I think Shakirova also might make a great Lise.) On the title: I think the idea when translating the title of a ballet or theater piece is that it has to "sound" catchy enough in the target language to draw in audiences. "The Poorly Guarded Daughter" was probably judged a rather ineffective title in English. I'm not crazy about "Vain Precautions" either, but it does sound more like a stage title in English than "The Poorly Guarded Daughter."
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