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Marc Haegeman

Dutch National Season 2003-2004

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Het Nationale Ballet/The Dutch National Ballet presented its new season for 2003-2004. There are two great classics "Swan Lake" (Van Dantzig) and "Sleeping Beauty" (Wright); an homage to Balanchine (for his 100th birthday in 2004) with "Theme and Variations", "Agon" and a (yet unknown) addition to the company's repertory; a triple bill with Van Manens "Four Schumann Pieces", Brandsen's "Pulcinella" and a world premiere by David Dawson; and finally a new creation by Brandsen and Pastor centred round the theme "Body/Voice" for the Holland Festival.

More details on the company's homepage:

http://www.het-nationale-ballet.nl/new/htm...k/index_uk.html

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Hi,

as it happens this is my first post on this forum, and I'd like to supply the previously unknown third piece for the Balanchine Centenary come March: it's Who Cares?. It's going to have a specially designed set.

Agon hasn't been done for ages either. I'm looking forward to it.

Herman

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Welcome, Herman!! I hope we'll read much more of you in the future.

Thanks very much for the information -- as you can see, we have some posters who see the company occasionally (or at least write about it occasionally) but no regulars. We'd love to read more about it, and hope you'll keep us posted.

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Thank you, Alexandra. You're very kind.

Tomorrow, btw, I'll be sitting in on rehearsals for Van Manen's Four Schumann Pieces. Can't wait.

Herman

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Ah, the one Van Manen made for Anthony Dowell. I saw that with Dowell, and with Nureyev, and liked it very much. I've liked a lot of Van Manen choreography, actually, and wish we saw more of it. He's one of the last classicists!

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Great to hear someone, based in Amsterdam !

Herman, please let's know all about what you're seeing at DNB :P

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That's very kind of you, Viviane. I'll do what I can...

Alexandra - do you know what's so funny? The way I heard it Van Manen made Four Schumann Pieces for Dowell to make a point that he wasn't too hot about Nurejev's style wanting the Royal Ballet to focus more on Dowell. And then Nurejev got to dance the part anyway...

This time around however Gaël Lambiotte is the first cast, 4SP being revived especially for him. Perhaps you've seen him; he danced in Boston for a couple of seasons, with his lovely wife Sabine Chaland.

Herman

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I hadn't heard that story, Herman -- thank you. I first saw the ballet danced by Nureyev. It was early in my ballet-dancing days, and I knew nohting about it, but I'd seen Dowell (I loved both dancers) and it LOOKED like Dowell. I was very proud when I read afterwards that it had been made for him! He did exemplify the British style.

In its day, it was considered minor. I think today it might be taken more seriously!

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Gail Lambiotte and Sabine Chaland are gorgeous dancers. :wub:

I worked with them at Boston Ballet and I'm glad to hear that Van Manen's FOUR SCHUMANN PIECES is being revived especially for Lambiotte.

I have a video of Royal Ballet performing this ballet with Dowell in the lead and I love it.

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Hi Glebb,

Thanks for your response. I did get to see a lot of Gaël and Sabine this December, when Sleeping Beauty (Peter Wright version) was on fourteen times - out of which Gaël had to dance Desiree five times. (I saw four of 'em.) He was first cast, partnered with Sofiane Sylve who has now left the DNB for good for the NYCB, but also took on two other Auroras.

Sabine was a lovely Breadcrumb and a Florine with the kind of filigree point work dreams are made of.

So forgive me for being ignorant and curious at the same time, but did they achieve any popularity in the short time they were in Boston? What kind of stuff did they do?

I'm also asking because I am preparing a piece on Gaël.

Herman

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Sorry to not be of much help in this Herman. I was only with the company for a total of three weeks in all. I co-staged a ballet for BB, teaching and then putting it on the stage (two separate trips).

The dancers and artistic staff seemed quite supportive of each other but as far dancer popularity with audience I cannot say. I only saw the two performances of the ballet before I left.

I can tell you that Lambiotte and Chaland were cast in leading roles, first cast in the Arpino ballet and leading roles in Bruce Well's A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM.

If possible, please keep posting news of them and let us know how Jeanette Vondersaar is doing

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thanks anyway, Glebb.

So you know Jeannette Vondersaar? That's funny. I have never talked with her, but I can tell you that she's had a busy Fall at the DNB - first she was the Queen in Swan Lake (Van Dantzig's version) and then she was the Queen in Beauty.

It was a monster season, but I have to confess it was like I lived in a dream from October through Xmas.

Herman

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Yesterday was the opening night for the Dutch Nat B's Balanchine Centenary program.

Theme and Variations was beautifully danced by Larissa Lezhnina, who is obviously the best for this kind of material. She was partnered by Tamas Nagy, who seemed a little hampered by some kind of injury.

Agon should be getting better yet with tonight's and Sunday's performance. It was a thrill to see the lovely Igone de Jongh between Gael Lambiotte (wonderful jumps!) and Boris de Leeuw (Igone's partner in the pdd). De Jongh was replacing Anna Seidl at short notice ntw.

Who cares?. Great rôle for Altin Kaftira, who partnered Igone de Jongh in the The Man I Love pdd. Am I the only one who feels in this pdd the music just doesn't hold up the choreography?

Great party afterwards. The schedule had been pretty tight, I believe, and so there's that relief of having come through.

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Balanchine Centenary highlights for me after a couple of nights:

Larissa Lezhnina in Theme and Variations. This is the quintessence of the material she's made for.

Agon: Igone de Jongh and Boris de Leeuw in a breathtaking pdd. It was like watching Adam and Eve playing with each other in the dark.

The orchestra with Roy Goodman was great in this very tough piece of music.

Who Cares? 'The Man I Love' pdd wit Sabine Chaland and Gael Lambiotte. They are a real-life couple, too, and Gael had told me he was looking forward to doing this. I had to dry my eyes afterwards.

Marisa Lopez in the slinky steps solo (forget which song). Again she's just made for this; Larissa had this solo in the second cast, and her style is too step-defined for this juicy stuff.

Wonderful set by Paul Gallis with a slowly shifting Manhattan skyline, which got applauded every night the curtains opened.

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Thank you for your reports, Herman!

Can you tell us a little more? (I'm coming to Rotterdam at the end of April and seeing The Dream along with Duo Concertant and Theme). I'm curious especially how Marisa Lopez took her solo in Who Cares. I'm used to it being sharp rather than slinky, but in San Francisco, Lorena Feijoo did "Fascinatin' Rhythm" (the solo by the woman who dances "The Man I Love") very slinky. Sabine Chaland would have done that, so Lopez' would have been either the "Jumping" solo (Stairway to Paradise - von Aroldingen) or the "turning" (My One and Only - Marnee Morris)

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Thanks for your response, Leigh. I'm sorry I was a little vague and rushed, earlier.

Marisa Lopez did Stairway (and I saw her twice, plus Larissa once). The fouettée &c solo was done by Yumiko Takeshima in the first cast, Enrichetta Cavalotti in the second, and by French demi soloist Charlotte Chapellier in the dress rehearsal (I believe she's 3d cast). I liked Charlotte the best; she's kind of small and lightning fast, while the other two are rather big dancers.* (Also: I really like her as a person.)

Back to Marisa. With slinky I guess I mean that with Marisa 'Stairway' came in one long juicy flow from the hips. Both times she brought down the house. Perhaps you know Marisa from San Francisco? She's whippet thin and ultra-flexible and she's got this great big smile. It was fast, it was happy and it came completely natural (it didn’t with Larissa IMO), even though those steps are all over the place.

So you’re going to the first night in Rotterdam? My guess is Larissa will do Theme again on that night.

*BTW I'm probbly being completely inauthentic here. One and Only was originally by Patricia McBride, wasn't it - and she isn't smallish, is she?

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Herman, I'll see both performances in Rotterdam, and then NDT at Den Haag on May 1. This is my first time seeing DNB, so I am quite excited.

I don't know SFB well, this last visit (see www.danceviewtimes.com for my article this week) was my first time seeing them on their home turf.

Marnee Morris originated the solo to My One and Only. McBride's was Fascinatin' Rhythm and McBride was in fact small-ish (but was that a typo?). Morris was before my viewing, so I don't know more about her than that she was a natural turner. Nowadays at NYCB the McBride role is danced by either Jenifer Ringer, who does it sort of like a daffy cheerleader (it's wonderful) or Miranda Weese, who has razor sharp musical timing and wit and can stop or change direction on a dime. So it's been well cast here for a bit.

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Well, unintentionally you have persuaded me to get to know those Gershwin tunes a little better so I can identify them now. Or was it the fact that 's Wonderful got stuck in my head?

Leigh, I am hoping you will post extensively about the shows you're going to see in Holland (the NDT, too, obviously). Of course the Rotterdam Schouwburg is not the DNB's home theater. The good thing is it's a little more intimate. The bad thing is it's a plug ugly early eighties structure.

Interesting that McBride looks bigger in the pictures than she apparently is (maybe because Villella whom she's often pictured with is no giant either). IMO she is one of Balanchine's most photogenic dancers. She always looks like having tons of fun.

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Herman, I'll see both performances in Rotterdam, and then NDT at Den Haag on May 1.  This is my first time seeing DNB, so I am quite excited.

Hi, Leigh. Did you get to go to the shows you mentioned? I'd be interested to hear what you thought of them.

I went to the first DNB night, and enjoyed Theme & Vars immensily. Cedric Ygnace is my favorite DNB dancer for this piece. He gels with his partner (Yumiko Takeshima) in a way that pretty much blurs the he - she roles, particularly during the violin solo, with the his and hers pirouettes.

I recall Susan Hendl, who came over for the rehearsals, was very much taken with Ygnace, too.

I'll be going to another performance come Saturday - same couple.

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Herman, yes I did see them - just got home on Tuesday. I was on assignment so can't go on at length, but I liked DNB. They did a decent job.

I also liked Ygnace; he has an interesting body - a bit more sensual than the standard Balanchine look. The company tried fielding two casts in Theme for both corps and soloists. I thought that was a mistake - they didn't have them from what I saw.

Duo doesn't look like it does in NYC! Same steps, completely different feeling. And that was different from both casts. Igone de Jongh and Gael Lambiotte were more small-scale, almost cozy and Enrichetta Cavalotti was almost stereotypically Italian with Jahn Magnus Johansen (I loved her though).

The Dream looked in decent shape. I got Larissa Lezhnina with Boris de Leeuw. I liked him a lot - I wished I could have translated more clearly the interview posted about him in the theater - my Dutch is only what I can decode. I would have liked to see Lezhnina in Theme. In the second cast I found Ruta Jezerskyte very interesting - she's a "hot" Titania for a cooler Nagy - in the other pairing de Leeuw was warmer.

The Rotterdamse Schouwberg is a very dry house! All resonance gets sucked out of the music, the violinist in Duo practically had to saw her instrument in half to get sound from the stage.

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I'm glad you saw some things you liked, Leigh. Obviously I saw the same Lezhnina / De Leeuw Dream - I remember being a little suprised at seeing De Leeuw in the audience right up to the second interval. He has got to be a fast dresser. I'm hoping to see Jezerskyte in Ashton tomorrow night. She is a very interesting dancer indeed. She does a lot of contemporary stuff - she's regarded as one of Krystof Pastor's muses, and I like it when she takes that I'm-making-it-on-the-spot sensibility to a classical ballet. Her Dutch Sleeping Beauty debut was very impressive, a couple of months ago. I was told she was Lithunia's Woman of the Year in 2003 or 2002. Of course she's the girl on the cover of the program bookie.

Boris de Leeuw's story is he quit dancing for a couple of years, just like that. I believe this is his first season of his second life as a dancer, and it has been rather spotty. He is a very powerful stage personality, though. You just have to watch him. Even at the start of Agon, when you're looking at four identical guys' backs, you cannot help watching De Leeuw's back, and no one else's.

I'm not surprised the NYCB Duo C is quite different from the ones out here; it's after all a piece for two soloists, so it's bound to take on the shape of the particular dancers more than, say, Theme. IMO the first De Jongh / Lambiotte performance wasn't quite on - and I like both dancers a lot (I've written interviews with both). Sometimes it seems like De Jongh is developing panda-like partnering problems. She went from Lambiotte to De Leeuw and now she's back to Lambiotte, but the combo didn't really sparkle that night.

Obviously Duo C a convenient piece between two biggish pieces like Theme and Dream but Duo C does perhaps err a little on Balanchine's "see the music" side, to my taste. Perhaps, however, I should see a NYCB perfomance, to get a better sense of the piece?

Herman

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Re: Duo -

It's much, much more than music visualization. You don't put that last section into a ballet that's only the steps. My own prejudice, but the ballet needs to be cast with two very strong personalities; I'd say a muse and a poet, but were Mazzo and Martins those types? Not really, but I'm used to my generation's best in the part, and to me those were Boal and Kistler, though they rarely did it together (height mismatch).

You're kidding about De Leeuw! Please tell me you are. . . you've got to hate people who don't need to warm up. The interview in the theater lobby talked about his coaching with Anthony Dowell for the role (and a picture of him looking very handsome) - I wanted to know more about what he learned from Dowell and when and where he got the coaching.

I'm sorry we missed each other while I was there. It's always funny to realize you're in the same place with someone you know, but wouldn't know on sight!

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You're kidding about De Leeuw!  Please tell me you are. . . you've got to hate people who don't need to warm up.  The interview in the theater lobby talked about his coaching with Anthony Dowell for the role (and a picture of him looking very handsome) - I wanted to know more about what he learned from Dowell and when and where he got the coaching.

I'm not kidding. BdL was having a drink in that awful lobby during the second intermission. Brinkmanship?

I'm afraid I cannot tell you about the interview in the theatre. I believe Dowell was at the opening night, but I'm not sure, as I didn't go to the party afterwards.

We've been very busy lately after moving house. I would have tried to contact you before Rotterdam, to see if we could arrange something along the lines of "I'm the guy with the carnation in his fedora", but as it happened I was offline for a full four weeks because of the address change.

De Leeuw and Dowell have been swapping steps before. When Hans van Manen took his Four Schumann Pieces to the DNB, Boris took the man-in-the-middle role which was originally created for Dowell. Recently, though, Gael Lambiotte was first cast in this part.

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Duo doesn't look like it does in NYC!  Same steps, completely different feeling.  And that was different from both casts.  Igone de Jongh and Gael Lambiotte were more small-scale, almost cozy and Enrichetta Cavalotti was almost stereotypically Italian with Jahn Magnus Johansen (I loved her though).

The Dream looked in decent shape.  I got Larissa Lezhnina with Boris de Leeuw. [...] I would have liked to see Lezhnina in Theme.

Last night in The Hague I got to see Duo with Enrichetta Cavalotti and Jahn Johansen. It was indeed a totally different experience. The one I reported on earlier was dull, timid and didn't really make it across the lights (it took the scherzo before there was any applause). Cavalotti and Johansen were alive, wild and sizzling. Suddenly the steps were a real dialogue rather than steps. Those long limbs were flying.

The musicians were better too.

And I got Ruta in the Dream. I liked her just as fine as I did Larissa. The big difference was Boris de Leeuw, who brought a real smouldering bad mood to Oberon, which I thought was rather hilarious. Even his make-up was a lot blue-and-greener than Nagy's, last night.

Leigh, Larissa in Theme is obviously great. It's just her kind of material. However, in that case you would not have gotten Cedric, but Tamas Nagy, who was a rather impassive partner, the night I saw them. Besides, I think Yumiko Takeshima is really good, too, in Theme.

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I'm not kidding. BdL was having a drink in that awful lobby during the second intermission. Brinkmanship?

Maybe there's another explanation.

I reported this to a friend who responded that de Leeuw has a twin brother. Perhaps that is whom you saw?

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