Posted 21 May 2003 - 12:20 PM
Posted 21 May 2003 - 04:26 PM
But in fact, there are some nice things I can say. I certainly agree that Herman Cornejo in Act One was very convincing. Julio Bocca in Act Two had the less interesting part. It's hard to fault any of the dancers in any case.
The music for Act 1 was good -- John Adams's (him again)
"Harmonium," brilliantly performed by the New York Choral Society and the orchestra under Charles Barker. They, along with vocal soloists Troy Cook, Chad Freeburg, and Mary Ellen Callahan, were also wonderful in the music for Act 2. But that music was "Carmina Burana," which ought to be declared off-limits for choreographers for the next couple of generations.
I thought Natalie Weir's choreography in Act 1 was marginally better than Stanton Welch's in Act 2, but I really disliked the entire ballet, starting with the pretentious title, "HereAfter." It didn't help that Act 1 is called "Heaven" and Act 2 "Earth," thereby reversing the title.
It should be noted that there were audience cheers at the end. Jennifer Dunning in the New York Times had the best comment on that. "How could something so big and serious-looking not be good?"
Posted 21 May 2003 - 07:18 PM
Posted 22 May 2003 - 12:00 PM
Posted 22 May 2003 - 08:15 PM
Posted 24 May 2003 - 05:48 PM
i am not registered at NY Times site (i was, but i forgot my name!) - so i haven't seen any of the reviews, which might set me straight. OK, i'll TRY to register AGAIN...
meanwhile, can anyone fill me in a bit, about how stanton's work has been recieved? (btw, i'm a natalie weir fan, and saw one of her works last night, here in australia.)
Posted 24 May 2003 - 06:15 PM
thanks to ari, i found a review by sylviane gold:
HEREAFTER. A ballet in two parts presented by American Ballet Theatre, artistic director, Kevin McKenzie. Act I, "Heaven," choreography by Natalie Weir, music by John Adams; Act II, "Earth," choreography by Stanton Welch, music by Carl Orff. Scenery and costumes by Santo Loquasto, lighting by Brian MacDevitt.
hmm...bit of a worry.
Welch and Weir have done good work in the past, but this project seems to have overwhelmed them. In both halves, the choreography reaches for grandeur but rarely gets beyond trite.
- - - The idea was to construct a unified ballet with two choreographers, Natalie Weir and Stanton Welch, and two disparate choral pieces, John Adams' "Harmonium" and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." Act I, titled "Heaven," pairs Weir with the Adams, which is a soaring setting for three poems, while Act II, "Earth," is Welch's choreographic vision of Orff's popular, pulsing cantata based on medieval poetry.
- - - Unenthusiastic audiences aren't necessarily right, of course. But this one was. Kevin McKenzie's commendable effort to diversify ABT's repertory is going to result in expensive mistakes, and "HereAfter," ponderous and glum, is one of them.
Posted 24 May 2003 - 07:18 PM
Posted 24 May 2003 - 07:52 PM
I hope others who can provide more detail...
Posted 25 May 2003 - 05:44 AM
so i MUST read the reviews!
Posted 25 May 2003 - 05:46 AM
Posted 25 May 2003 - 06:46 AM
Re the two choreographers: I had no prior familiarity with Natalie Weir, except for the bits of the Harrison ballet that she did. Previous Welch pieces that I had seen had not impressed me much.
Re the music: I'm no fan of Adams and don't care for anything that Martins has done to his music. I found the music in the first section of HereAfter to be very repetitive and not very interesting, although beautifully played and sung, as has been stated here. Carmina Burana: I know it is overchoreographed, but I searched in my memory and can only recall seeing one version: that by Michael Uthoff for the Hartford Ballet over 20 years ago. I have not seen PB's version, or even the one that our local Albany Berkshire Ballet has. I adore this music, even though it is also overplayed and oversung--and so I was eager to see another ballet version.
It is an interesting approach to choreography, isn't it? To have the AD choose music and then search out the choreographer to make the work. Frankly, even though Kevin McKenzie heard both choral pieces on the same program and therefore wanted the ballet to mimic that, I didn't find enough of a link between the two: only the reappearance of Ethan Stieffel at the end, a tenuous link, at best. So I don't think the ballet works as a whole.
I thought the hamster cage set in Part I was rather silly. Happy to see it disappear in Part II.
Part I was fine enough to sit through, but I loved Part II. I found it exciting, dramatic, and not at all derivative, but that is, I am sure, because I haven't seen umpteen dance versions of Carmina Burana. In fact I thought it was the best work that I have seen from Welch and I would be delighted to see it again. After those reviews, not likely.....
I tried not to focus on the costumes, because they were rather silly too. There were lots of "Welch-isms", as my daughter and I agreed, it wouldn't be Welch if there wasn't some falling and rolling going on--but there was also some beautiful lifting and jumping going on.
Both sections really focus on the men--well ABT has lots of men right now, with lots of bravura. As I watched Ethan Stieffel yet again, I thought about his all-too-brief stint across the plaza.... and it was a true pleasure to see Monique Meunier on a stage again, woefully under-utilized, but your eyes go right to her and they don't leave her.
As is my tendency, I didn't look for a story, I didn't look for deep meaning--I just enjoyed the juxtaposition of powerful music and powerful dancing.
Posted 25 May 2003 - 06:58 AM
Posted 25 May 2003 - 07:05 AM
odd indeed, if true... :confused:
It is an interesting approach to choreography, isn't it? To have the AD choose music and then search out the choreographer to make the work.
Posted 25 May 2003 - 09:07 AM
"'I was absolutely overwhelmed,' says Kevin McKenzie, the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, recalling his reaction to hearing the New York Choral Society perform John Adams's Harmonium and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana three years ago. 'I was so affected by the juxtaposition of the spritual with the carnal,' he says, 'I thought, what a wonderful evening of ballet it would make.'
"McKenzie set out to fulfill his dream by sending the music to likely choreographers. 'Unless a choreographer feels passionate about the music,' he says, 'you're not going to have a good ballet.' Although several submitted detailed proposals, nothing satisfied him until he heard from Stanton Welch, the new artistic director of Houston Ballet, and Natalie Weir, like Welch, also a well-known Australian choreographer.
"'They are enormously inventive,' McKenzie says from experience. 'In their ballets, they show a strong sense of theater and an inclination toward storytelling. They know how to develop an emotional narrative.' Both of them have worked with Ballet Theatre before: Welch choreographed Clear, both he and Weir created ballets for the George Harrison tribute, Within You Without You, and Weir also did Jabula for Ballet Theatre and created two pieces for the Studio Company, His Weeping and Bitter Moon.
"McKenzie couldn't believe that both their proposals revolved around a central figure who goes through the cycles of life. 'I felt it made their collaboration on HereAfter all the more natural,' he says. 'We will see Natalie's hero move on to Stanton's ballet. Their dances, like the two musical pieces, represent two ends of the spectrum -- heaven and earth. I named it HereAfter for that nebulous place between life and death. 'In the future, the works may be presented separately, but this season, they will be given eight performances together.'"
I'll refrain from commenting on the foregoing, but I'm glad rkoretzky was nudged to post. It makes me feel like Voltaire.
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