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Alexandra

What will you remember from 2003?

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It's that time of year again. How will 2003 be remembered in Ballet History? Spot any trends? Any farewells or hellos of note? What are your fondest memories....or great moments to forget?

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Guess I'll be the first. My fondest ballet memory of 2003 involves my husband.

His experience with ballet watching has been relatively minor. He went with me to see our small local company once and whenever I have a ballet tape on the TV he'll look at it for about 2 seconds than excuse himself to go do woodworking or whatever. But knowing how much I love Balanchine he offered to go with me to Columbus to see BalletMet do Jewels.

When the curtain rose on the opening group of dancers in Emeralds and that haunting music starts I get a tightening in my chest as I always do and looked to my husband to observe. He breathes a soft "Ooohh" and watches the ballet unfold with rapt attention. After Emeralds is over I ask him what he thought of it. "It was beautiful" he says but remains strangely quiet thoughout the intermission as if lost in thought.

When the curtain rises on Rubies he exclaims "Wow! Cool Costumes!" He is silent throughout the ballet but I can see him moving his head back and forth to the music. After Rubies is over I asked him how did he like it. He sits still for so long I thought he didn't hear me. Just as I was about to ask him again he yells out "That Balanchine is a frigging (PG version) genius!" The next 5 or 6 rows turn around to look at us, but I don't care, I'm so happy that he has discovered Balanchine!

The upshot of all this is that we are now going to New York in May to see The New York City Ballet dance. All his idea. Seeing someone you love learn to love the same thing that you do is such a gratifying and wonderful thing! Happy New Year Everyone.

Susan

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Ooooh.

It doesn't get any better than that Susan!

Congratulations, and just select carefully, he's going to think all ballets should be that good.

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I'll most remember The Waltz of the Flowers ("Tempo di Valse') from The Nutcracker, danced by the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center. With the same company, Peter Boal's "Apollo," at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

During ABT's season at City Center, I most enjoyed the "Masterworks" program -- "Diversion of Angels," "Symphonic Variations," "Pillar of Fire," and "Grand Pas Classique" from "Raymonda." The same season provided my personal low point, the "Contemporary Works" program -- "Petite Mort," "Sechs Tanze," and, last and worst, "Dorian."

A highlight of the year was the triumphant return of Ashley Bouder to NYCB.

The trend to earlier curtain times continues. No matter how many people this makes happy (I'm not among them), more and more always rush out as the final curtain is still descending.

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My 2003 highlights in no particular order:

- NDT II dacing Johan Inger's Dream Play, Hans van Manen's Simple Things, and Jiri Kylian's Sechs Tanze. Fusion of great energy, technique, and eye-opening choreography.

- Stuttgart Ballet dancing Cranko's Romeo & Juliet, with Yseult Lendvai and Jason Reilly dancing the lead roles, and somehow making the drama transcend the dance.

- The Kirov Ballet, and in particular, Diana Vishneva, dancing in La Bayadere, and Rubies.

- George Piper Dances, AKA Ballet Boyz.

- Viengsay Valdes in the Cuban National Ballet's Don Quixote pulling off the most sustained exhibition of balancing virtuosity I have ever seen.

Non-dance related:

- The opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and in particular, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Mahler's 6th symphony in an emotionally devastating performance (as the work calls for). For me, after 3 previous concerts in less than stellar seats, this one finally fulfills the hall's much-hyped potential. I know what seat upgrade I'm going to try for next season. :unsure:

--Andre

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What I will remember of 2003 is Agnes Letestu's performance in Giselle, at Garnier Opera, Paris. She is the best Giselle I 've ever seen so far, and one that made me really believe in this story.

At the beginning, I was a little bit afraid of what I was going to see, because Agnes Letestu is tall with fair hair (unlike traditionnal Giselles !). But as soon as she came on stage, I had no doubt any more: She was made to be giselle, or maybe Giselle was made for her ! She really renew the role and is not to miss. (Paris Opera Ballet will play Giselle next february/march)

Happy New Year to everybody :clover: !

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Paquita at the Paris Opera, my first look at the company in their home theatre. Silly story, glorious sets and costunes and wonderful dancing.

The continuing growth in artistry of Whelan, Somoygi and Boal at NYCB. And Boal as Oberon.

A late June Walpurgisnacht by Kyra Nichols that was the best performance of the ballet I've seen since Farrell's day. Witty, musical and strongly danced.

The return of Ashley Bouder and Miranda Weese to full strength, especially as Dew Drop this winter.

Opening night of the winter season at NYCB with a fabulous Symphony in C and a wonderful performance by Soto in Bugaku.

Van Kipnis and Rutherford as tortoises and Redpath as the Swan in Wheeldon's Carnival of the Animals.

McKerrow as Juliet last spring at the Met. Her ability to convey emotion through her dancing brought this war horse of a ballet to life.

Dovorvenko (sp?) as Gamzetti and Cornejo as the Golden Idol. Part as Queen of the Dryads in Don Q (my only glimpse of her this season).

The ABT revival of Symphonic Variations. I've always wanted to see this ballet, now I just hope it stays around long enough for ABT to master it.

Alex Ritter and Peter Boal with Suzanne Farrell Ballet at NJPAC.

Living in NYC where we are lucky enough to have all this and more at our disposal.

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Peter Boal's 'Apollo' with the Farrell Ballet. I don't know when, if ever, I have seen a more nuanced interpretation of Apollo. He started as a sweet-tempered lovable youth and matured into a deity before my eyes.

Alicia Alonso's curtain call with the Cuban Ballet.

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Alvin Ailey II's performance of Revelations. I love the piece so much and it was nice to see it again.

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The dancing highlight 2003 was the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Joyce Theatre. I had my first look at STEPS IN THE STREET, which was incredible...so different from her "Greek" dance-dramas. Very exciting stuff. I hope the whole piece can be revived instead of the tantalizing fragment that left the audience cheering for more.

Two dancers, one familiar and one new, gave memorable performances. Megan Fairchild gracefully glided her way through TARANTELLA and PIANO PIECES. Amanda McKerrow gave what - I think - was the performance of her career as Hagar. She was "something." I'd like to see her in the Stravinsky Triple Bill at the Met later this winter.

Another "discovery" was the Performing Arts Library branch of the NY Public Library. I used the invaluable resources of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division for 2 of my NYU papers. The staff, which is at a bare minimum because of budget cuts, was incredibly kind and helpful.

The non-dancing "best" was the Berlin Philharmonic with Sir Simon Rattle. They gave a solid, wildly exciting performance of Bartok's MUSIC FOR PERCUSSION, STRINGS, AND CELESTIA. Berlin is a young orchestra (average age=30) and they sound enthralled with their new music director - the coolest guy in classical music! :cool2:

I wish a healthy, happy New Year for all.

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My fondest memories are of Amanda McKerrow’s exquisite “Leaves are Fading” pas de deux with John Gardner at the Met, and her impassioned Hagar.

Ferri & Bocca in Romeo & Juliet- they were truly heartbreaking.

Dvorovenko’s Kitri - the perfect role for her. Also Beloserkovsky in Symphonic Variations. I thought he caught just the right tone of elegance, joyfulness and golden serenity for this work.

I know this is a ballet site but I have to include Ailey’s “Revelations”. I see it every few years and last year it seemed very low energy to me,I thought it had lost a lot of it’s impact. This year it was back to it’s usual glory.

I also loved Fang Yi Sheu in Graham’s “Chronicle”. I thought the company as a whole looked rather weak (understandable considering what they’ve been through recently) but she was as powerful & moving as any Graham heroine I can remember...

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The ballet high point for me this year was seeing the Kirov Ballet dance Balanchine's "Jewels" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. It was the first time I have seen this company dance anything American, muchless Balanchine. What a thrill. The Fokine program they danced was also wonderful. For me, these performances were an historical event filled with excitement. As for the future of this great company and with their doors opened to the West now, I surely hope that the Kirov continues to forge new work and yet continue to maintain the their high level of classical style from their historic past. Let's hope that they can continue touring here in the states more frequently!

And a "hats off" to OCPAC for bringing in a world class dance season to So. Calif. :flowers::flowers::flowers:

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Ballet:

- Lorena Feijoo and Joan Boada in SFB's Don Quixote (esp. Feijoo)

- Daria Pavlenko in the Kirov's Diamonds

- SFB's Tina LeBlanc as the Butterfly in the Waltz of the Flowers in SFB's Nutcracker. She could have done any role, really; it was just great to see her again since she was out on maternity leave for the whole 2003 spring season.

Non-Ballet:

- Akram Khan's Kaash

- Ririe-Woodbury Company's Alwin Nikolais: A Celebration Tour

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Oh - and one more thing: SFB's "blackout" Nutcracker performance -- sans makeup, wigs and special effects -- at which Ms. LeBlanc danced the Butterfly.

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I'm right with ATM in singling out Boal's Apollo with Suzanne Farrell Ballet as the one great standout performance of my year. Other wonderful performances of Balanchine in his precentennial year included Agon, led by Whelan and Soto at NYCB; and twice, The Four Temperaments -- Miami City Ballet's and Dance Theater of Harlem's. Honorable mention to Ansanelli and especially Boal dancing the Third Movement of Brahms-Schoenberg.

The Works & Process lecture-demonstration with Maria Tallchief and Frederic Franklin coaching new dancers in almost-forgotten Balanchine roles was way up near the top of this year's best moments.

ABT's best performances included Wiles' debut as Gamzatti opposite Herrera's uncharacteristically sensitive Nikiya. Also in Bayadere, the visit by Alina Cojocaru. Their new Ashton pieces (Fille and Dream) improved as the company gained experience in them.

The International Ballet Festival at the Kennedy Center (I attended two performances of the first program -- ABT's Fancy Free, Bolshoi bits and pieces, Royal Danes in Napoli pas de six and Tarantella) may have been artistically negligible, but it was great fun.

Monique Meunier brought star quality to every role she danced -- especially in making Mercedes' Act III dance riveting. Yes, riveting. I desperately hope we see much more of her this year and well into the future.

David Hallberg grew almost visibly from one performance to the next.

Among ABT's newest dancers, Zhong-Jing Fang's prominent debut in Symphonic Variations was more than promising, and Danny Tidwell consistently displayed elegance and elan.

I was glad to see Ballet Nacional de Cuba, although theirs is not an aesthetic I would choose as a steady diet. Yolanda Correa showed how gorgeous a pair of arms can be in her Queen of the Dryads.

And of course, throughout the year, I have been grateful to be able to learn so much from the people on this board. My perspective has broadened as posters have brought their own viewpoints and value systems to the discussion. I've enjoyed a number of face-to-face meetings. I have also been grateful for the opportunity to share my joys, sorrows and frustrations with you. Thanks, gang!

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Susan: My best ballet experience of 2003 (and in fact of all time) was with my husband too! This was seeing the rehearsal of "Mesmerics" by George Piper Dances at a Sadlers Wells rehearsal studio in London. Just my husband, me and a friend sitting in the corner watching the five dancers work with Christopher Wheeldon for 3 hours. About 1/2 way through my friend had to leave, she had to go to an interview with Matthew Bourne. I asked my husband if he wanted to leave also, thinking he would be completely "done" But he said no, wanted to stay to the end. He usually hates ballet.

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:yes: What will I remember fr. 2003?!!!!!!?

1. A great performance of "Fancy Free" with Carreno, Cornejo, and Radevsky.

The whole cast was just totally into their characters. :yes:

2. Kudos to a performance of "Fancy Free", at the State Theater, by the Dance

Theatre of Harlem. Thanks to both casts and companies for giving this work new life!!!!!!!!! :yes: :

3. Carlos Acosta at the APEX of his Cabriole in his 2nd Coda in Raymonda, at City

Center. What elevation, balon and form!!!!!!!!!! : :D :

4. Herman Cornejo in just about anything I saw. Esp. in Ashton's Dream and La Fille Mal Gardee. :yes:

5. La Fille Mal Gardee: With Nina Aniashvilli and Maxim Beleterkowski.

:yes: :

6. Alina Coceacu in Bayadere with Corella. A great match. Alina is soooooo tiny..

but sooooo strong. She has the least displacement in her hips during arabeques, &

"high leg lifts to the sides", I have seen in years. Amazing. ( sorry about spelling &

terminology) :yes:

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My 2003 highlight: Multiplicité by Nacho Duato. Kept us (my wife and I) on the edge of our seat. Beautyfull.

Dick

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