Hamburg Ballet in DC
Posted 25 February 2004 - 07:57 PM
It got a lot of applause at the end -- standing ovation, very warm reception for the dancers and for Neumeier, who took a call. Yet it was a very mixed reaction, from remarks I overheard, both at intermission and as people were leaving. Several people near where I was sitting left after the first act, people around me were laughing at some parts (not because they were intentionally funny), and I heard several 'I hated it," "That's the worst thing I've ever seen," and one, "I was miserable!" BUT I also heard the absolute opposite -- "Wasn't that wonderful?" "I think that's the best thing I've ever seen."
So go. Go and report!
Posted 25 February 2004 - 08:31 PM
I absolutely LOVED the performance - while it may or may not be among the best ballets I have ever seen (I must sit down and analyze it a bit more before I can come to some sort of conclusion regarding that matter) it was certainly one of the ballets that have affected me the most. I cried several times and certain scenes (the brother's mad scene, especially) literally sent chills down my spine. I left the theater completely satisfied and enraptured by what I had seen.
I would like to go into more detail, but my mountain of homework beckons. I do hope to post a bit more once I've gathered my thoughts.
Posted 26 February 2004 - 05:46 AM
As for the ballet, I am still digesting a multiple course meal in a cuisine that I have not experienced in a while. All the cliches were there, slow walks across the back, coming forward backlit by a strong spot, multiple gestures used to mark a character and others. Music is used more for background emotion, similar to movies, than to drive or inspire the choreography. I find that this ballet comes out of the seventies American scene, which both Neumier and Forsythe went to Europe to expand. I am looking forward to Frankfurt coming here in June.
The choreography is well made and there are few times where you are left hoping for something to see. I was pulled and pushed, and would see it again. Dancers hold your attention and act extremely well.
Posted 26 February 2004 - 06:11 PM
Yes, the dancers were very good, which made me wish they had better works to dance.
Posted 26 February 2004 - 08:52 PM
Posted 27 February 2004 - 04:15 AM
I look at this as a wash of emotion and ideas - perhaps choreographea (a la logorhea) - and meant as an expressionistic painting versus a realistic portrait.
I gave up realism when Nijinsjy entered with the white Liberace covering....
But I still enjoyed it and hope to make time this weekend to see it again.
It will be fun to discuss this Milwaukee-German dance theater versus Mr. Balanchine's ability to create a story with a man, woman and music.
Posted 27 February 2004 - 06:44 AM
What I thought was good to see was something NEW danced by people obviously committed to what they were doing. It also shows what you can do with money. I kept thinking we won't have to worry about imiitations becuase no American company could afford something like this. Please, don't prove me wrong on that!
But, as a friend said to me last night, compared to the George Harrison ballet, it's quite good!
I'd still urge people to go -- see what this is about. The audience liked it very much last night. More enthusiasm than opening night (which is often the case here.)
Posted 27 February 2004 - 06:55 AM
Sarah Kaufman reviews John Neumeier's Nijinsky, given by the Hamburg Ballet at the Kennedy Center, in the Washington Post.
With its casual, unceasing shifts of time and place, a complicated cast of characters — and with Nijinsky himself split into half a dozen personalities — this two-act, evening-length ballet ought not to work. Yet imperfect as it is, it succeeds as dynamic, rich and gripping theater.
Posted 27 February 2004 - 07:17 AM
Incoherent to us, but perhaps not to Neumier? I think that choreographers need the equivalent of an editor, or at least a trusted colleague to say - "What do you mean to convey - I do not see it"? Or would this stifle creativity and the individual expression?
Or if we had seen more Neumier over time, would the ballet be clearer to us?
The company's dancers seem to believe, I wonder what their conversations about dancing the ballet hold. When I danced, we often only understood a little of the choreographer's intent, but had lengthy discussions as to what it all meant and how best to convey it. And the choreographer/stager often told us not to worry but to dance it as they asked.
Posted 27 February 2004 - 08:17 AM
The problem, well, one of them, I have with Nijinsky is that, once you get past the shiny surface, it's all based on received wisdom. Nijinsky looks like he's having a toothache, so he must be Suffering for his Art. Neumeier sends Nijinsky's characters crashing into each other, so it must be a Brilliant Juxtaposition. Soldiers are made to look like mental patients, or is it the other way around? Aha! Nijinsky was going insane within just as Europe itself was going mad in WWI! War is crazy? No, really? Neumeier presents cliche after cliche dressed up as profundity.
I'm not so sure the divide here is between formalism and theatricality, or whatever. I think it's between good theater, and bad theater, and Nijinsky is, for reasons many have noted, bad theater.
Here's one definition of received wisdom, culled from an intensive Google search:
Posted 02 March 2004 - 06:34 PM
Doesn't this describe basically a major form of choreographic device, and if so, I fail to see how this describes only shallow things. It's merely a tool for communicating ideas, and from what I've read here, it sounds like people don't like the message. That's fine, but to dismiss a work because it predominantly uses such tools seems to be missing the forest for the trees.
It also strikes me as particularly ironic that as ephemeral an art form as dance is often judged on literal, realistic terms.
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