32 out 55 dancers new -- any comments?
Posted 10 August 2003 - 03:49 PM
Posted 10 August 2003 - 07:26 PM
I read that article about Houston as well--I think it was in a Houston based paper.
Posted 11 August 2003 - 06:50 AM
Posted 11 August 2003 - 07:01 AM
Posted 11 August 2003 - 09:10 AM
When Helgi Tomasson took over San Francisco Ballet, there was a huge turnover -- and the "new kids" he brought in had a completely different way of dancing from Michael Smuin’s -- it went from being a gesture-based aesthetic to a --how to put it -- musically-based aesthetic.... The phrasing was different, the new dancers had dance-flair. They could really do the mazurka step, they really cared about their action -- how, say, they finished their glissades, as a matter of dance style. Over the years he got them to enrich their phrasing potential -- Elizabeth Loscavio, who must have been born with it, her musicality was so spontaneous, like Ella Fitzgerald's, was in that crew, and she danced virtually every night, in the corps as a soloist, as the ballerina. Christopher Stowell also -- Tomasson wasn't afraid of hiring short dancers, and Martins had passed him over since there weren't enough short girls at City Ballet to put him with -- and WHAT a career Stowell had here. Like Loscavio, he started out as a bright, light dancer with feet that talked to you -- and danced all the time, in small and in large roles, and learned over the years to soften and deepen his phrasing, to land like a Russian, with more weight, and not be always about the arrival -- he became a remarkable artist here, with many many possible ways of phrasing a dance. I just use him as an instance, but it certainly HAS paid off for us in San Francisco for a director to select a kind of dancer he wants to work with, and then take them from there and develop them.
And of course, Tomasson hired Nissinen, who was a great asset to SFB….
This could be a very exciting period for Boston Ballet....
Posted 11 August 2003 - 09:20 AM
Or is it that AD's are afraid to give such dancers a chance, afraid they may have an allegiance to the former AD, so that cleaning house, so to speak, just seems like an easier alternative?
I don't know if these questions belong on this thread or if they should be moved, but the Boston changes may be a perfect example.
Posted 11 August 2003 - 10:38 AM
Edited by carbro, 11 August 2003 - 11:40 AM.
Posted 11 August 2003 - 10:45 AM
Posted 11 August 2003 - 01:10 PM
I guess my question is: Is an experienced dancer so unmoldable? I'd love to hear from the professionals on this one.
Posted 11 August 2003 - 02:26 PM
Paul, thank you for that wonderful description of Stowell -- if ever there was an example of a director cleaning house because he knew exactly what he wanted, and then making it happen, I think it was Helgi Tomasson in San Francisco. I remember, too, some dancers -- like Reyes -- that he kept and that he did change (for the better, IMO). And he also kept dancers like Cisneros (and, I think, Berman was there before he came) and worked with them.
Posted 11 August 2003 - 03:24 PM
Posted 11 August 2003 - 08:40 PM
I got carried away, perhaps. I take every possible opportunity to lament the loss of Loscavio, and i have to say, i didn't realize she was at SFB already... She IS local, like Shannon Lilly -- both were trained by Danny Simmons at Contra Costa Ballet (I think). TOmasson featured her immediately -- she MADE his COntradanses. His first year, we were VERY aware of Loscavio. Certainly Berman was here (she's local, trained by Maria Vegh at Marin Ballet), Berman was a VERY vivid creature as the "other girl" in Smuin's "Hearts," his last great ballet for SFB (a retelling of Les Enfants du Paradis, which I thought was a fantastic ballet).
In fact there was a tremendous dancer with your last name, or something almost the same, whom Smuin built "Hearts" around -- whom Helgi did NOT keep -- which is as good an example as I could come up with of the differences between SFB before and after. Meja -- or was it Mejia? -- was a THRILLING dancer, danced with his heart in his throat, with weight, power, momentum, he was over his edge all the time, he made it but you could not believe he wasn't going off the rails, it was enormously exciting -- there was a manege of double sauts de basques -- or something like that -- at the climax of the ballet (which was set, very cleverly, and sensitively, to Piaf songs). The role he was playing was that of Baptiste, so all that white satin costume was floating and flashing like a flag in a hurricane), and I think the house went so on a roar, the noise was unbelievable. We were all out of our minds. But his dancing was romantic, not classical -- and under that costume...?
Helgi put Stowell in that role -- when it was done the next year -- perhaps to challenge Stowell, perhaps to kill the ballet. Stowell did try, but he wasn't ready to smolder, bank his fires, and then turn up the heat like Mejia did -- it was very early in his career. I think he DID respect the role, I konw he danced an excerpt from it at benefits.
Some other dancers Tomasson kept were Christine Peary (who was not very turned-out but was a demon on pointe, she was thrilling in Forsythe's corkscrewing pirouettes), Jamie Zimmerman, Grace Madduell, and of course Cisneros -- and he has kept Anita Paciotti (who had been with Oakland Ballet before she came to Oakland), who finished her career as ballerina blazingly in Smuin's Medea -- a tremendously theatrical ballet, which Dance Theater of Harlem has in its rep (but since it's set for them by Cisneros, who danced Creusa, not Medea, the title role when I saw it last was not filled out to its largest possibilities). he also let Attila Ficzere have a grand finale in Don Juan (which had been made on him).
And Val Caniparoli has had MANY opportunities....
Smuin is a very clever man, and he has a great way with STEPS that he's not given credit for.... my reservations have to do with a laisser faire way he has with his dancers, who get away with murder. He's probably too nice a guy..... in his latest, Zorro, which had a LOT of fine invention, the effect was ruined by Claudia Alfieri's clueless, generic bunhead "interpretation" of the ingenue. He should have taken her and pasted some convent-girl style on her, but....
Reyes would do gargouillades at hip height, but he wouldn't do a decent glissade. TOmasson DID keep Reyes, and made him tidy up his glissades -- he had to do 8 of them in a circle, Bournonville-style, in Tomasson's Poulenc Concerto..... He didn't stay long.
Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:24 AM
After all these years!
Edited by pmeja, 13 August 2003 - 08:23 AM.
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