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Alexandra

Season Opener

42 posts in this topic

We saw Don Quixote last night, and had the pleasure of seeing many of the new dancers in the company. Lorna Feijoo danced Kitri/Dulcinea. WOW! She has the fasted feet I’ve seen in a long time, and was rock steady on pointe. Yury Yanowsky as Basilio was more relaxed and in character than I’ve noticed in the past. I think she brought out the best in him. He made some wonderful leaps and turns. We enjoyed many of the other dancers – Sarah Lamb as the Street Dancer, Nelson Madrigal as Espada, and Barbora Kohoutkova as the Queen of the Dryads. But Feijoo was the best. Overall I thought the company looked really good, the corps in tune, and while we may miss some of our old favorites I’m looking forward to getting to know the new dancers and their talents.

I’m not a big fan of most story ballets. I haven’t really liked Don Q in the past and wasn’t especially looking forward to another one, but aside from the snoozer first scene found it really enjoyable. It’s the first time I’ve really been caught up in it - a happy surprise. In addition to the fine dancing and music, I found the sets and costumes appealing. The gypsy blacks and reds and oranges are fitting for a New England autumn….

Next weekend is the rep program, will be interesting to see that too. Then more Don Q.

I'm not sure of the casting for the second round of Don Q - Gelfand has her farewell appearances on the Thursday and Saturday nights. But if you have a chance to see Feijoo - go for it!

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I had the chance to see two more shows this weekend after the opener. I really loved Polly Ribiero and Jose together. She is a spitfire. I also saw Larissa Ponomarenko and Nelson Madrigal. I loved them all, but I have to say I fell in love with both Larissa and Nelson. I am a new member of the Boston Ballet audience, so all of those Boston Ballet goers will think it trite. But she(Larissa) is gorgeous and she is probably at the top of my list of favorite ballerinas. Nelson was adorable and his feet are "to die for." I think the company has a lot of depth - lots of really wonderful dancers. I was pleasantly surprised.

As for BBII, they danced the parts of gypsies, market women, driads, fandango, and women of Barcelona. I believe there were two girls in BBII who got to dance Bridesmaids. The boys did gypsies, fishermen, fandango and some of the acting parts.

I felt the company danced well together. My daughter said that it was a wonderful first experience dancing with a professional company. Everyone was supportive and caring.

So, I say congratulations to all of them. I am looking forward to the rest of the year.

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Swanilda, BBII dancers are doing everything. Wherever they need a body.

I attended performances all weekend.

I dislike Don Q to begin with, dislike this choreography even more, but had a great time!!!!

Why? Is this Salsa in Beantown? No, it was the dancers.

By Saturday night, everyone was energised (magically, since they'd just done a matinee) and it maded for a rousing evening.

The choreography is cluttered, very difficult to dance (as in, it kills you) and yet somehow this company of dancers with disparate backgrounds showed that they could deliver a performance of first rank: character dancing, classical dancing, acting and above all: vigor and demonstrated commitment to an art form that could use a shot in the arm right now.

The theatre was nearly full on Friday night, houses were very good for the rest of the weekend as well and---surprise!!--it was not just old people, ballet students, or women. I was astounded. And they were enthusiastic!!

This is a refurbished production and not as cloyingly baroque as much of Georgiadis' work. The colours were the rich sunset tones (hurrrah! no more brown-kerchiefed peasants) of Barcelona, deep and vibrant. No one looked poor, despite the gypsy wagons lining the marketplace, and the fandango costumes of black and red were spectacular. (The men had the most dashing cavalier-type hats I have ever seen, with red bandannas on underneath and the women had black lace dresses withj red underlayers and flounces which will rank up there with everyones' Favourite Costume.) Lighting was superb, by Pierre Lavoie, a Canadian who has gotten it right. He knows how to light for dance, and this show should be seen for that alone----it was very, very good...atmospheric, dramatic (stunning skies) and a wonderful surrounding for all the activity on stage. It was not just backdrops--one could feel the coldness in the night air, the heat of the day dissipating in the sunsets---and with this choreography there is a lot of heat!

Pollyanna Ribiero is new to me--I have only seen her a couple of times--and she was quite surprising. I don't know why I expected her to be feisty and a spitfire (unless it was because she was dancing Kitri), but I found myself constantly admiring her line and thinking that I would like to see her dance Odette. She was a no-nonsense, take no prisoners sort of character, but the fact that she was dancing with Jose Manuel Carreno should soften anyone up.....

They are both very expansive dancers, well-matched in the way they carve out airspace for themselves. Carreno carved out some extra spaces for himself in the choreography, but it was not noticeable for the most part and he is such an elegant and engaging dancer that much is forgiven. Alright, I admit that I loved the kiss on the neck during the wedding pdd --(and he did it so well, you know!)...--but the credit for that goes to Nureyev, not Carreno.

He definitely wins the 'mas macho' contest for the weekend, although Yury Yanovsky wins the most-gorgeous-man-on-stage award.

I am again reminded of emploi .....Barbara Kohoutkova (whom I had seen before and like very much) was a very lackluster Mercedes but a STUNNING Queen of the Dryads. Ponomarenko (with newly and very attractive red hair) is beautiful in anything, but excelled in her Dryad role, and Sarah Lamb surprised me with the vibrancy of her Mercedes. Mercedes is much less a role in this production, but she did a very, very good job--especially with her carriage--shoulders and head are so important and I am happy to see that there is good coaching in Boston.

Speaking of coaching, the Dryads were superb. Every night. This was never a part of this ballet which I enjoyed (but you know it's Russian and so we have to have a vision scene of some ilk) but it was my favourite bit. The women were together, the variations were lovely (and Misa Kuranaga will go down in my personal history as the best Amour I have ever see. She was not coy, or arch, or cutiepie--how rare is that?) I thought Ribiero was superb in her Dryad guise, although she certainly did not disappoint as Kitri.

Lorna Feijoo did not disappoint anyone in anything. All the hype is deserved. The woman balances for days, acts up a storm, knows how to use those castanets and fan, can fouette enough even for you die-hards (we are talking triples and doubles, folks, all perfectly placed and strongly executed, thank you very much.) She is lovely. She is interesting to me because she's a little bit edgy: her lunges are a little stressful, her acting is not

predictable, she knows how to interact with a man onstage, and she projects a very strong persona. An interesting woman, rather than a caricature of a daughter fighting for her happiness.

Yury Yanowsky was not as bravura as Carreno, but he was beautiful in that killer choreography and that is a significant achievement in this ballet. I see him as Alfredo Germont or Siegfried---think Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights and you have it--with his lovely line and romantic mien.

I still don't like this ballet particularly, Nureyev over-embellished the choreography, John Lanchbery gummed up the musical order, and yet it was a wonderful vehicle to show off a company that is still finding its sea legs. The dancers were all very good--none of the unevenness one sees in several "major" American companies and I look forward to seeing future work which will show off individuals, rather than just massed dancing.

The company is doing Mozartiana, Stars & Stripes, and a new piece by David Dawson for 5 dancers, next weekend. It should prove an interesting counterpoint to Don Q, to say the least. I look forward to hearing other's opinions.......

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I went Sat night (Feijoo/Yanovsky) and Sun afternoon (Ribiero/Carreno). Sat night I was in the center/rear orchestra and Sun I was in my preferred front-row seat.

In my opinion, Feijoo has nothing on Ribiero. They both looked great technically, but I thought Ribiero had more "spark" or energy. Even at the coda at the very end, she looked as if she was ready to start all over again. But it could've been my superior (for my taste) seat on Sunday or the fact that I've been a huge Ribiero fan since her first year in the corps at BB.

Other: I thought the mens and women's corps were both beautifully coached. It brought back memories of the then-pathbreaking Kirov-Boston Swan Lake of about 10 years ago.

Costumes: I liked the costumes and sets, though at times I felt like maybe it would've been nice to see a bit more strong, clear reds and blacks rather than more muted oranges and browns.

Minor notes:

I thought the music was too fast at times, but perhaps I am just accustomed to the slightly different tempo on my CD.

The front person on the horse was quite a ham--the horse did quite a bit of amusing pawing of the ground and wagging of the head.

I found Ponomarenko's new red hair distracting, but it is always a delight to see her perform in any color hair.

By contrast, it was refreshing to see few or no shaggy-haired men. It is kind of gross and unkempt when the men have long hair swinging and sweaty.

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Nureyev was addicted to rond de jambe. Why was this man allowed to choreograph, and re-choreograph classic texts? The Soviets emendations were as nothing to Nureyev's in the West.

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A good dancer is not necessarily a good choreographer. Nureyev had a great passion for the art and his own work was such that I would imagine he would not have found it difficult to work his way into a choreographic seat.

I don't particularly care for his choreography, but I will not go so far as to rank it against another's.....I certainly do not think he is remembered primarily for his choreography.

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Does any one have casting for this weekend? I'm going to try to go twice, because I'd like to see Jennifer Gelfland one last time, but I'd like to see Lorna Feijoo too, I've heard such good things about her here.

Any help much appreciated.

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Boston Ballet finally updated their website at http://www.bostonballet.org. Here's this weekend's casting info:

KITRI/ JENNIFER GELFAND (OCT 30, NOV 1e)

DULCINEA: LARISSA PONOMARENKO

(OCT 31e, NOV 2)

LORNA FEIJÓO (NOV 1m)

BASILIO: CHRISTOPHER BUDZYNSKI

(OCT 30, NOV 1e)

NELSON MADRIGAL (OCT 31, NOV 2)

YURY YANOWSKY (NOV 1m)

DON QUIXOTE: VIKTOR PLOTNIKOV (OCT 30, NOV 1)

ROBERT MOORE (OCT 31e, NOV 2)

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Some observations from my spouse who was at every Don Q performance (finally he's been converted into a fan!):

Lorna Feijoo danced with her husband, Nelson Madrigal (sub for Yury Yanowsky who was sick), for the Sat matinee--apparently her performance was spectacular.

Laura Young ( the dancer Jennifer Gelfand replaced mid performance in Don Q oh so many years ago) was on stage as a super for Jennifer Gelfand's final performance Saturday night.

Ms. Gelfand was given a Juliet costume--said to be her favorite role.

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Another thing that I am just remembering about my last trips to BB: there are soooooo many Russian speakers in the audience that I am just waiting for the first time a really good performance gets a Russian synchronized ovation.

Russian audiences clap in sync for good performances, with the speed ramping up for the most popular performers.

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That's an interesting point! Russians are good for the arts, if I may be permitted an ethnic stereotype :D Look at all the great Russian musicians and dancers from the early part of the 20th century! There's a lot of hope that the New Russian Wave will wash over ballet and revive it. I didn't realize that there was a large Russian community in Boston as well. Thanks!

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I know this is wandering off topic a bit, but ballet is just much more "mainstream" in Russia, and Russians who emigrate here seem to just continue that practice, though it's hard to know how it will be with the next generation.

In Moscow and St Peterburg, it seems that for educated people it is absolutely standard to be up on who the big names are even in the absence of any special interest in ballet. One of my friends _always_ knew who was in and who was out and always asked with great interest who I had seen dance, but never ever had any interest in actually attending a performance.

Kids are taken to children's theaters, then to matinees, then to evening performances. (Mariinsky tickets explicitly state that children under a certain age--11 I think--are not admitted to evening performances).

Anyway, there is much more "audience participation"--not just the synchronized ovations, but clapping expected at certain junctures where here the music simply continues.

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I have several friends who were first generation Russian emigres in the 1930s or 40s and, as you wrote, going to the theater -- ballet, plays, concerts, whatever -- and museums was what everyone did on Sunday afternoon, whether the family was that of a bus driver or a physicist. May this tradition continue!

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But not the clapping, please.

Yes, after the Preghiera of Mozartiana, we had a round of applause....eventually everyone Got The Point.

I know that everyone will clap in time for Odile and her fouettes, and I have no objection whatever to synchronized clapping, but I personally find constant breaks for applause a little irritating. I know, I know......

I do like it when the audience has a clue, though.

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but I personally find constant breaks for applause a little irritating

Ah, so true. And why does this bring to mind La Volochkova's performance in DC last spring?

All things in moderation...it is worth noting that a Kirov-in-Russia DonQ is a full hour longer than a Kirov-in-DC DonQ.

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I remember going with my sister (a professional musician) to see the 4 Seasons a few years ago, and she was horrified at the clapping, because so much of the transitional music gets lost. I was never one for clapping until the curtain came down anyway, but the more I go see Boston Ballet the more I feel myself becooming unhappy, instead of just puzzled.

I do understand wanting to show admiration and appreciation for a particularly beautiful pas of whatever kind, but it seems more and more distracting. BB has one of the most outstanding orchestras I've heard, and it seems a shame to drown them out every 15 minutes.

(And yes. Clapping during Mozartiana seems all, all wrong to me.)

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