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Everything posted by Drew

  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. She doesn't. That was an issue raised by Volcanohunter's post.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. I very much hope that is not what they have in mind.
  10. The Atlanta Ballet dancers have been very effective in character-based dramatic works. I have taken a pass on a lot of the story ballets they have been dancing in recent years (Great Gatsby, Dracula, etc.), because the choreography didn't interest me -- though I have acquaintances who have loved the company's performances in those works -- but they certainly have a lot of experience with character-driven work. When I HAVE seen the company in narrative works (eg the Maillot Romeo and Juliet or Tharp Princes and the Goblin) I thought they were terrific. Edited to add: "character" may be, perhaps, an equivocal term in this discussion. Atlanta Ballet dancers have, I think (and, according to the article, Nedvigin thinks) less experience with "character dancing" of the kind one finds in Act III of Swan Lake etc. But narrative, character-driven ballets they have done quite a lot.
  11. Thanks for this link. I'm very excited by the new direction the company is taking, but still have respect for McFall's accomplishments. I don't fully understand what goes into the decisions to make changes like this (unless sets and costumes are actually falling apart). I saw the McFall production of Nutcracker for the first time this year and, though I could only speculate on what brought McFall to replace Balanchine's, which Atlanta danced at one time, I found his production charming and--in broad strokes--quite traditional with the nice scenic touch of being set in Russia; it also had plenty of opportunities for soloists--eg a pas de deux for Snow Queen and King as well as the one Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. But when the new Possokhov production premiers I do hope to see it. (It may be it's simply easier to get a community to notice a new Nutcracker--perhaps even easier to raise funds for it...than other productions.) Re the season as a whole, I guess Nedvigin is working out what will be his distinctive balance of traditional classical ballet, standard neo-classical works seen elsewhere (Welch, Tomasson) while having enough in the way of commissions etc. that the company still has a creative and distinctive stamp. Was rather intrigued that next year's commissions include choreographers from Australia (Craig Davidson) and Russia (the Mariinsky's Max Petrov). Plus Atlanta Ballet's own senior ballerina and choreographer Tara Lee. Of all the contemporary or modern dance repertory to bring back from McFall's tenure, Naharin is probably the most exciting--so that strikes me as an excellent decision and I'm especially eager to see the company dance Who Cares? A Possokhov Don Quixote? I assume that's the same as the Joffrey Possokhov Don Q I found listed--but wasn't sure of it's relation to the SF ballet production credited to Tomasson and Possokhov. I will do searches to see what people said about these productions. I had thought the Atlanta Ballet considerably smaller than either of those companies. (Hmmm...I wonder if they will need supers...) And an Act III of Swan Lake? Nedvigin seems to mean to capitalize on Black Swan, and I wonder if he has in his mind's eye the possibility of a full-length production down the line. The article suggested in its comments on both Don Q and Act III of Swan Lake that Nedvigin alluded to the value of returning strong classical traditions of character dancing to Atlanta Ballet: that strikes me as itself something of a Quixotic venture. I've been a big champion of Atlanta ballet dancing substantive ballet-centric programs, but was really imagining more neo-classical works -- not quite such a leap into the deep- or, rather, '19th-century' end of the pool as a full length Don Quixote let alone a stab at any part of Swan Lake. The dancers will have their work cut out for them. And I'm looking forward to all of it...
  12. I'm having the same conversation with myself -- and if I decide to come up for it, then that will be the only ABT I see this year. However, I took a pass on Golden Cockerel, despite being a huge Ratmansky fan (I'm even glad I saw The Tempest) and I do like at least some of the dancers in pretty much every cast announced. . . so I think I'm leaning 'yes.' I also like the idea of major ballet companies periodically collaborating with major scenic artists. (My love for Balanchine notwithstanding.) The two-hour time didn't bother me really once I remembered there is only one intermission. Happy to read more reactions to the California performances though...
  13. Well, Atlanta Ballet will dance its first Balanchine in some years next season--Allegro Brillante (hurrah!). The season also includes Possokhov (Firebird) and....Petipa!! The latter very sensibly not a full-length work but excerpts from Paquita that new director Gennadi Nedvigin will stage himself. Generally, programs will be a mix of things danced by the company under McFall and programs put together by Nedvigin. The latter will include, too, a premier by ABT's Gemma Bond. (The link below is to a different piece from Arts Atlanta than the one I found posted in links -- I was unable to post it there, so I'm putting it here:) http://www.artsatl.com/2016/04/news-atlanta-ballet-2016-17-season-introduces-taste-vision-artistic-director-gennadi-nedvigin/ Very intrigued by the new season and the future of the company. Of course, between the cup and the lip...but wishing Nedvigin and the company great success.
  14. Oh dear...but a mistake I assume, not a slight. Otherwise I'd have said that he hasn't been putting a foot wrong during this big publicity push.
  15. Another article (I didn't see it in Links). The quotes in this one -- from Ratmansky and Ryden -- seem to me even more interesting than the one above. There is also a little more information about the production itself. And...Ryden declares (more or less) that he has become something of a ballet fan now and talks about watching Ratmansky's Firebird from the Wings: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-mark-ryden-whipped-cream-20170303-story.html
  16. Big publicity push this week for upcoming "Gennadi's Choice" program that is being billed as a way to introduce him to Atlanta. I thought this interview was terrific: http://www.dance-enthusiast.com/features/view/TDE-Asks-Atlanta-Ballet-Artistic-Director-Gennadi-Nedvigin-Company-Prepares-Gennadi-Choice-Program#.WMmcsyzUwro.twitter He says, among many other things, that the commission for Gemma Bond is her first commission from a professional ballet company... and makes clear he wants to maintain a range of repertory -- with the classics as an important baseline (my word, not his--he expresses himself very well!).
  17. Sounds like a very fun evening. I didn't know McBride had danced Diamonds...
  18. An article with some quotes from Kevin Mckenzie as well Mark Ryden and Holly Hynes who worked with Ryden on making the costume designs into actual costumes: http://hyperallergic.com/364490/a-revived-1920s-ballet-will-be-a-surreal-confection-of-candy-and-kitsch/
  19. I thought the video of Alexandrova's Pas Des Eventails in the last Corsaire she danced with the Bolshoi (within the year if I remember correctly) looked far superior to video of the younger Krysanova in the same role during the same run. Not necessarily technically far superior--though Alexandrova was more than equal to the technical challenges--but in all the details that make a ballerina a ballerina. It's only video evidence, true...but I remain a little skeptical she isn't still capable of dancing a wonderful Medora. Especially since Corsaire benefits a great deal from leads who have big, extrovert personalities--as Alexandrova does. (I saw her dance it live at the London Coliseum when the production was new--fabulous performance that really brought the ballet to life as the opening night cast had not quite managed to do.) It's Vaziev's company (under Urin) and his tastes/choices will prevail. Presumably he has more than enough talent on his hands and It's no surprise he tilts to "his" dancers, especially those he is developing, or that many of those dancers are "Vaganova" products. But I can't pretend I'm happy about any disrespect or appearance of disrespect to a ballerina of Alexandrova's caliber. No matter how talented the up-and-comers are...and no doubt Kovaleva looks talented. Edited to add: I've noticed that in English the Bolshoi always calls its principals "Prima Ballerina" ...likewise the Mariinsky. (I mean in interviews etc.) Have I misunderstood?
  20. I don't think I can pretend to be learned, but she looks very lovely in several of those videos. (Though still young of course...)
  21. 'In the old days' -- I mean 40-50 years ago -- Australian ballet used to do long international tours that featured a major guest artist or artists often dancing almost every performance. I saw the company on tour both with Nureyev and with Fonteyn; the two were headlining different tours when I saw them, though I think they had appeared together on earlier ones. (Nureyev headlined other international tours with other companies and always dominated the casting and sometimes the choreography. I remember going to see him night after night with the Festival Ballet and every night was like having a different adventure--because you really never knew exactly what...uh..."mood" he would bring to the stage. Despite the adventure aspect, I was a bit of a Nureyev skeptic and then one night saw him dance an Albrecht of unbelievable dramatic and spiritual depth. It was worth sitting through--or, rather, worth standing through since I was usually standing--every crappy Nureyev performance I had experienced over the years to have seen that ONE Albrecht. Still have never seen it equaled.) Historians of the Australian ballet (or other companies) could do better than I in explaining the motivation for their tours--and whatever benefits they may have generated for the company in terms of reputation, revenue, and experience. But this La Scala tour seems to me a little different, and not only because La Scala regularly brings guest artists, including Copeland and Nunez, to dance with them at home (as Jayne mentioned), but also because Bolle is now their biggest homegrown "star," and this tour seems organized around him more than anything else. So perhaps they think of it as showing off their superstar before his career heads to its classical sunset. Hope he turns out not ONE but THREE great Albrecht performances.
  22. The Bolshoi may well be insular, but they may also reasonably feel it's easier to pre-record part of their World Ballet Day offerings when so much of what is being said has to be translated or else it will be completely opaque to the non-Russian-speaking part of the "world" audience. Though in this case that ends up meaning an Anglophone audience. At least pre-recordings allow for interviews to be subtitled -- and gives Novikova a chance to breathe. The other major companies that participate in World Ballet Day (though not all the subsidiary participants) have been English-speaking in rehearsal and I suppose the lion's share of the audience for World Ballet Day must be English speaking as well. One may think--well, why not just show more rehearsals etc. as they are conducted in Russian, and not worry about translation and guiding the audience--isn't that what World Ballet Day is about, a frank inside look etc.? But I don't think it would be wrong-headed of the company to think that they might lose a lot of the audience. I'm a pretty hard core ballet fan and even I get a little antsy watching Bolshoi rehearsals when I can't understand a word and don't really know what issues are being addressed by the repetiteurs etc. Maybe they could find a better solution...At least some of the pre-recorded material has been interesting to me as well as the class and the rehearsals they do include.
  23. We have tickets for the Saturday afternoon "Gennadi's Choice" program in a week, and also plan to see Firebird. Actually, this is the first season of Atlanta Ballet since I moved here over a decade ago where I am trying to see every program--have even been to see Nutcracker which I usually take a pass on. (Last month went to see the Bintley Carmina Burana which Atlanta Ballet first did a couple of years ago.) I did recently notice on my flier for the season that though the company mentions live music for almost every program--and there was live music for both Nutcracker and Carmina Burana--the flier doesn't say anything about live music for the "Gennadi's Choice" program which makes me suspect that that program will use recorded music.That's a bummer but I do understand the financial exigencies. When Nedvigin staged Possokhov's Classical Symphony for Atlanta Ballet (and very successfully I thought), the music was recorded. Here he is talking about the Pacquita staging:
  24. Thank you for this report--I have always wanted to see Two Pigeons. From the video I've seen the pas de deux at the end seems quite lovely. Scenes de Ballet (which I saw once many, many years ago and hardly remember) sounds wonderful. It's silly I guess, but it makes me sad to think of the pigeon failing its cue--though I suppose it's bound to occur. I wonder they don't get confused more often by all the theatrical fuss and muss. (All performing non-humans at the ballet make me a little uneasy.)
  25. Thank you--I notice he speaks to the problem (raised by Natalia) of portions of the score not being that dance-able: "Mr. Ryden’s fantastical designs, he added, had been a great help to him in creating the piece. 'The score is wonderful, and there are amazing waltzes, gallops, polkas and a beautiful violin adagio, but it’s challenging because not all of it is danceable,' he said. 'Parts are very symphonic, and when the music is saying something that I perhaps can’t translate into movement, we have these huge heads and amazing backdrops to balance things.'"