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Martins Balanchine programNew programme


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#1 Effy

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 06:36 AM

On Friday the mixed Balancjine/Martins programme will premiere with the following cast:
Serenade: Rose Gad/Marie Pierre Greve Christina Olsson/Diana Cuni Gitte Lindström/Tina Højlund Jean Lucien Massot/Julien Ringdahl Peter Bo Bendixen/Byron Mildvater

Thaikovsky Piono Concert: Caroline Cavallo/Gudrun Bojesen Mads Blangstrup/Jean Lucien Massot Claire Still/Amy Vatson

Oktot (Peter Martins) has not been published yet but it was stated as the introduction that it mainly will be a piece for a male ensable and that Silja Schandorff and Andrew Bowman will dance a pas de deux. The music is Mendelsohns oktet for strings.

The pas de deux for the second movement was presented and it look like Martins n in the conservative, romantic mode as opposed to his brazzy modern chic. I do not recall that he has other colours on his palet.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 07:23 AM

Thank you for this, Effy -- and we'll look forward to hearing from your report. I'm sure your description struck a responsive chord in many who read this board :wink:

#3 KayDenmark

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 04:23 PM

Largely a good evening, highlighted by a nearly flawless Serenade, staged by Victoria Simon. Apart from occasional arm placement problems by one of the demis, it was exceptional, and I daresay City Ballet couldn't have done it better.

Octet was Martins-as-usual, and included several instances of that annoying effeminate question-mark posture he likes to put his men into - it pops up a lot in "Symphonic Dances", too. There's also a lot of dashing across the stage at angles, a la "Fearful Symmetries", some couples who can't quite get it together ("Them Twos") and some costumes, designed by Martins, that look at lot like the green leotards used in "Ash."

All Martins ballets seem to include at least one role for someone who looks like Martins and dances a bit like Martins once did. Nilas gets this job a lot, and so did Nikolaj Hubbe before he wisely started to fill up his date book with other things. In Octet the honors go to Andrew Bowman, whom I believe is from New Zealand, but looks Danish - tall, blond, and muscular. He is graceful and certainly watchable, if not particularly compelling. He partnered Silja Schandorff competently in one of those standard crawling-all-over-each-other Martins pas de deux. Schandorff didn't have much else to do, and lacked her usual luminosiity.

What really turned me off about Octet, however, is Martins' casting of the other lead couple - Yao Wei and Kristoffer Sakurai. Both have potential - Sakurai more than Yao - but they are radically different dancers. Yao is a chirpy classical sprite, while Sakuri is modern and severe - he broods even when he smiles. They not only look unlikely to fall in love, but unlikely to sit at the same cafeteria table. Given Martins' weirdo racial profiling at City Ballet, I can't help but assume that the reason they were paired was because they were the Royal Danish Ballet's only Asian dancers. Unfortunately, that's the only thing they have in common. Chemistry = 0.

The ballet was raptuously receieved anyway, with Martins coming out to make several dramatic bows before the Danish queen, as well as Darci and Talisa Martins, who were in the audience wearing matching pink coats.

The evening ended with Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto. RDB head Frank Anderson recently said he thinks this ballet is unjustly neglected as a Balanchine classic, which shows how much he knows - it's as hackneyed as Serenade is sublime. All those tiaras!

Tonight, it also had to suffer from Caroline Cavallo and Claire Still in the lead roles. Perhaps these ladies are wonderful and kind human beings, but I simply cannot stand to watch either one of them dance. I find them clumsy and cloddish - so much that they sometimes remind me of my own talent-free ballet career, which is really saying something. And Claire Still looks like Mayor McCheese from the old McDonaldland TV commercials. Basically, I spent most of the ballet watching the corps and hoping one of the leading ladies would break a fingernail and be replaced by one of the vastly superior girls dancing behind them.

The corps did look good, I must say, with special notice to NYCB alumnus Julian Ringdahl, a very relaxed-looking, but still technically strong dancer.

Patricia Neary did a great job of staging the ballet, given what she had to work with, and looked absolutely sensational when she came out for bows. A sequinned black minidress, black stockings, and long, loose salt-and-pepper hair - I only hope I look half as good at her age!

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 04:34 AM

i totally disagree!! and i find KayDenmark's comment a little harsh.

first of all the coupling of Yao Wei and Kristoffer Sakurai wasn't ment to be, due to an injury Thomas Lund wasn't able to perform at the premiere, so Kristoffer Sakurai stepped in to his place.

and secondly they are both very energetic and they look great and dazzling together.

#5 aspirant

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 05:55 AM

Serenade was beautiful and also interesting to watch Rose Gad negotiate the role in the same way that Kistler has to--as both have, ahem, matured as dancers and are now caught in this piece that was made for students.

Martins ballet was a lot of moving without a lot of steps if that makes sense. It smacks of several of his others, but I also found myself catching glimpses of much of the Balanchine rep within it--perhaps he was being sentimental. Of the two trios of boys, the second group was decidedly stronger and less affected than the first group who often seemed to be struggling with coordination.

The pairing of Bowman and Schandorff was a solid one, they are technically gifted dancers. Schandorff for me, however, made the pas de deux sparkle--with very little return from her partner (who, admittedly was kept busy contorting her into sometimes lovely and sometimes horrendously akward shapes)

Wei and Sakurai again had this problem of the woman trying to inject a little life into the movement with her face and the man stuck concentrating on catching her off the turn or splay. I think they are more than well accomplished (both hover around the 20 year mark I believe) and perhaps suffered from a wee bit of "opening-worldpremiere-martins-whoa i'm in the corps still-queen is here" jitters.

PC2 was a tight ship from head to toe. I disagree with Kay, however, and feel that this was an exceptional role for Cavallo--she did not appear as flat as in many of the story ballets I have seen. Claire Still has a remarkable jump and near hairpin precision (though her pirouettes were a bit off) but she is not a 'ballerina' by any stretch of the imagination. I should also add that this is a difficult ballet, and I am remiss to think of more than one or two others who have the technical prowess to pull it off.

As for the bows, i second all comments and would add another "mini" to Neary's dress. It is amazing to me that she and Simon are cut from the same cloth, so to speak. They couldn't be further away from each other.

#6 Manhattnik

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 09:31 AM

PC No. 2 hackneyed?

(Spews coffee on keyboard.)

Hackneyed?

(Throws coffee mug in general direction of where the cat would have been.)

Hackneyed!?

Excuse me, Kaye, I sometimes deal with sudden shocks very poorly.

Let me put on my recording of Pletnev doing PC No. 2 (sadly, there aren't many recordings of this work at all) and try to calm down....

Perhaps in the world beyond the Hudson PC No. 2 is neglected, but as the offspring of Ballet Imperial (isn't ABT going to do this?) it's much admired, even adored, by many NYCB cognoscenti. It is one of the grandest of Balanchine's grand ballerina roles, and one of the most difficult, and I am drooling at the prospect of seeing Sofiane Sylve do the lead when City Ballet puts it on. There are many princess roles in the classical repertory; as the ballet's original name implies, this is a role for an Emperess.

I will admit it doesn't always reveal its gifts readily, and it's easy for the ballet's moments of sentimentality and even kitsch (all those chainé turns to the piano's glissandos seem a bit, er, obvious) to obscure, at a first viewing or so, its many glories. I can't, of course, speak to how it was danced by the RDB. I've never seen Cavullo, but here she certainly has some very large toe-shoes to fill.

I do hope you'll give this ballet a chance to work its magic on you. Leigh has written quite lovingly about this as one of Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky gut-busters," and perhaps one day you might find yourself at the edge of your seat anticipating the moment when the ballerina tackles those murderous pirouettes, and even find your heart beating a teeny bit faster when the moment arrives, as do many, many here in New York.

PS. One of the things I always admired about Balanchine is how he made it OK to like kitsch. It wasn't until I started going to NYCB many, many years ago that I realized that liking Tchaikovsky was nothing to be ashamed of.

#7 Effy

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 09:59 AM

I was going to write myreview, but I must admit that I to a large extend agree with Kay. Serenade was great, Oktet as expected and Piano Concert not really that suited to the company, allthough it remains one of the most repeated performance by Balanchine here.

In Serenade you can learn everything you need to know about choreography, it is a splendid work. However, I continue to be displeased with Rose Gads bad habit of lifting her tulle instead of her legs. Otherwise I think she did an ok performance for a dancer no longerin top gear. I demonstrated how good she is at all the trimmings of a role. Christina Olsson, whose career has mirrorred Rose Gads is the opposite type of dancer, who focuses on the dance and less on the trimmings. The russian girl in Serenade has always been one of her best roles and one, which looks like Mr. B made it for her. Gitte Lindstrøm was a strong Angel, but could be as well placed in one of the other roles.

Re. Oktet allthough Silja Schandorff was effective in the role, there was very little role to be effective in as the mood changes was not accounted for by Martins and Andrew Bowman is not an equal partner for her like Greve or Blangstrup.

I must say it was the strongest performance I have seen by Christoffer Sakurai. I initally got the same idea as Kay re. the casting but realisted that Thomas was the intended casting.

Regarding Piona Concerto, I would have preferead Theme & Variation, Symphony in C or Who cares as the closing ballet. Piano Concerto needs not a good corps (we have that) but a uniform looking corps (which we can never provide). There is a lot of posing in the ballet which has never been a force of RDB. The dress/tiara combination is odd and Cavallo and Still both ended a bit on the scataco sites. Mads Blangstrup was impressive, but that was more a result of his princely look and elegant bearing than actually dancing, which there is too little off. It may be a masterpiece, but it does not really suit RDB. I am hopefull that Gudrun Bojesen may be able to make the ballet seem less dated.

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 01:03 PM

I think that this is one of the best night's the royal danish ballet, has had for a long time. The dancers shall not be yell't at they should rewarded for job well done!! I think that you are being unfair Kaydenmark! It was a good first time show for Sakurai and Wei...

#9 KayDenmark

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 01:57 AM

Chill out, folks. As I said in my original comment, Wei and Sakuri are both young dancers with potential. They’re too different to be dancing together, however. As a couple, they simply don’t generate any heat.

#10 jorgen

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 05:24 AM

I went to see the "second cast" last night the 19th, but the there were several changes. Serenade though was danced as announced. I liked Marie-Pierre Greve very much and wish we could see her more often. Diana Cuni was beautiful, moving with such grace and authority. In Octet Gitte Lindstrom / Blangstrup was replaced by Silja Schandorff / Bowman. I had looked forward to see Lindstrom in the part (not that I ever mind seeing Schandorff!). Yao Wei was on with Sakurai again replacing Izabella Sokolowska. There were also changes in the Piano Concerto. The awaited Gudrun Bojesen / Massot couple was replaced Caroline Cavallo / Blangstrup. I don't think Cavallo is so bad here, the role suits her pretty well. Again Diana Cuni was surprisingly good, a bit of a revelation for me. I like her more each time a see her, she is what I will remember most from this evening.

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 03:06 PM

I must say that the program was very well danced the other night it was a pleasure to watch , even though the corps de ballet girls does not look at their best at the moment , but wauw the soloist both Cuni and Watson looks absolutely amazing they dance like true ballerinas .

I will write more comments at a later point

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 03:19 PM

Welcome, cultulral! I hope you will come back and write more comments later.

I have to say I'm happy to hear all the positive reports on Diana Cuni. I think she's one of the most promising of the -- well, to me she's still one of the younger dancers :flowers: and I'm glad she's getting roles.

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 10:33 AM

I would love to hear more about the second cast if anyone has seen it? :flowers:

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 12:34 PM

A note:

We have four posters who have posted on this, or other Royal Danish threads -- or at least four individual user names -- who have registered with the exact same IP number. All four accounts have been temporarily suspended; you will not be able to post until we can ascertain that there really are four separate people. I've just emailed all four; please check your email(s). We'd be very happy to have you as member(s) but we need your real email address -- not one from a free service -- and we need to be sure that there is only one person per account, and one account per person.

I hope those who saw it will post about the second cast, as adagiocloud asked, above, if you saw those performances.

#15 jorgen

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:29 PM

I didn't see the second cast on the 15th, and then on the 19th it was more first than second cast (see above). There is only one perfomance left this year, which is with first cast. After that the Nutcracker plague takes over... The Balanchine programme is then back in early January with three performances before the US tour.


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