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Washington Ballet Celebrates Balanchine


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#1 corrival

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 11:30 AM

The Washington Ballet celebrates Balanchine's 100th Birthday

Never before was romance so utterly zany! In honor of George Balanchine's 100th birthday, The Washington Ballet brings his fluttering first act of A Midsummer Night's Dream to the Kennedy Center. With a single drop of potent flower nectar delivered by the impish Puck, immortals and mortals fall under a hypnotic spell that launches them into complete confusion and chaos. The forest is dewy with a frenzy of fairies led by Titania and Oberon, the King and Queen of fairies, all buzzing to Mendelssohn's twinkling score. This greatest of romantic comedies is coupled with Balanchine's Sonatine and The Four Temperaments, a tour de force from his famous black and white period.


Kennedy Center

Anyone going to the Sunday matinee? I'll be there. Can't wait to see Jason Hartley as Puck (I sure hope he's dancing on Sunday!)

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 09:59 PM

I'll see this program, but I don't yet know which performance. I'm looking forward to "Sonatine," and the company has done some really fine "Four Ts" in the past.

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 05:18 AM

Zany? A Midsummer Night's Dream is ZANY?

Oy. I wonder who's writing copy here.

That's what you get when you only do half the ballet.

#4 corrival

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 01:57 PM

Actually, having just come home from a rehearsal of Midsummer by the Washington Ballet, I kind of agree with zany. It was lots of fun and many the dancers were laughing and looked like they were having a grand time.

Also watching the rehearsal were the OutreachProgram kids, they were quiet and attentive and laughed in all the right spots. And they all said a poem to the dancers once the rehearsal was through. Absolutely adorable, and the dancers cheered the kids for their poem. :)

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 02:08 PM

Corrival, I'm going to sound awful here, but I'm just dead against doing only Act I of Midsummer. It completely distorts the ballet. If you're going to do a one-act version, then do the Dream. The artistry of the Balanchine lies in the juxtaposition of the narrative first act with the classical distillation of the second act. It isn't a zany work. That's like looking at the Shakespeare and only seeing the rustics.

Sorry to go off like this, this one is just a pet peeve. I think Webre is making a real artistic error here, and one I don't want to see become common practice.

#6 BW

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 03:16 PM

:) Didn't realize it was only Act I.

That said, I'm still looking forward to seeng this ballet company often this season. I'll bear what you've said in mind Leigh, though I'm sure my point of view will not be as well honed as yours.

Any chance you'll be seeing any of Washington Ballet's season?

#7 Mike Gunther

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 03:31 PM

They rehearsed Sonatine (loved it!) and Four Temperaments (ditto!) on the 14th. Wish I could see the whole program, but I'll be in Cambodia then. Am looking forward to reading comments on the board when I get back. Guess this is a Ballanchine tribute year, as there was a special on PBS last night... lots of archival footage, including a conversation between GB and Stravinsky. There was an interesting comment from GB to the effect that "I work in the present, not the future... when I'm gone, somebody else will rehearse the dances and they will look different." He seemed ok with that.

#8 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 07:56 PM

That's definitely true Mike, every ballet changes every time you do it. It's like a running stream, it can't remain the same.

But you know, the time that someone announces that they've rescored Agon for a consort of viols to bring it closer to its Baroque roots, I'm going to go up to the person responsible and scream at them. Change is change, and some change is just dead wrong. And I understand that Midsummer can be presented in the first act on occasion without harming the ballet but first PNB did it once, and now the trust is letting Washington Ballet do it and it's like scoring Agon for a consort of viols. And I went up to Mr. Webre when he was in NYC and (politely) told him so.

#9 kitrisomeday

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 09:01 PM

sorry for bringing this up again, Leigh Witchel, but maybe we are misinterpreting the word "zany". having just returned from a Washington Ballet Midsummer rehearsal, i'm pretty sure that this one-act version is not distorted. before you decide that this is a mutation of Balanchine, please buy tickets and watch it.

#10 MYBkid

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 09:35 PM

I understand what you mean Mr. Witchel. I wish it was not a one-act version. I am bias though because I am a huge fan of Mr. Webre, and the company so I probably will give the benifit of the doubt, and love it no matter what!!! I always love everything the company does. I am always impressed, and entertained by each of their programs. I am seeing it Wednesday night and I am really looking forward to The Four T's I saw the comnpany do it a few years and still have not gotten over how wonderful it was. Also I heard there is another work....is it new? This program is the highlight of my week. :)

#11 tempusfugit

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 09:49 PM

Kitrisomeday, I don't believe that Leigh meant that the Washington Ballet's PERFORMANCE of Act I Midsummer is or will be "distorted." Good as their show may be, unfortunately the ballet is seriously deformed and not seen as it was intended if only Act I is given. While it is true that Act II of Balanchine's Nutcracker is sometimes given alone, including by NYCB, this is the divertissement act, virtually all dancing and little story; imagine if you were to see only Act I of his Nutcracker without Sugar Plum, Dewdrop, or any of the other Sweets! The Act II Divertissement of Midsummer is the perfect balance to the hilarious and rustic Act I-- in Leigh's phrase, its "classical distillation" evokes the court of Shakespeare's play, and it is essential to the view of both high and low society which is so brilliant in both play and ballet. Aside from the necessary counterweight which Act II provides, and from the fact that no Balanchine full-length ballets are without passages of pure dancing, I feel sorry for any audience which is deprived of the Act II pas de deux. This masterpiece has been danced by one great ballerina after another-- among others, Verdy, Kent, Farrell, Kistler, and Nichols-- and its radiance cannot be put into words.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 10:21 PM

Yes, tempusfugit, I think that's it exactly (and it's great to read you again!!!)

#13 kitrisomeday

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 06:03 AM

thanks, tempusfugit, for making your and Leigh Witchel's point a bit clearer. Now i understand the reason why you might be upset. :) but, you should still buy tickets and see it...its gonna be great

#14 corrival

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 09:13 AM

I agree with kitrisomeday, get your tickets it will be a great show, imagine Jason Hartley as Puck!. Even if you don't like to see just Act I of Midsummer, "Sonatine" and "Four temperments" should make up for it.

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 10:41 PM

I don't think anyone is suggesting one not see the show! But it's not unreasonable to point out that Balanchine's ballet is a two-acter and that there's a tie between the two acts.


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