Boston Ballet: American Trilogy
Posted 18 March 2002 - 12:57 PM
In Slaughter we saw April Ball as the Strip Tease Girl and Michael Johnson (a member of the corps) as the Hoofer. As noted by the reviewers in Boston papers, the introductory dialog setting the scene was unintelligible so many in the audience were mystified by the plot. Nevertheless the dancers were having such fun and the music is so good (and familiar) that the performance was enjoyable. Ball did a find job but the most impressive performance was by Johnson. We already knew we liked him in ballet, but he showed great talent as a jazz dancer and tapper!
Corybantic was quite a change of pace. If I didn’t know better I would have pegged that as the Balanchine piece of the evening. The music is cerebral and the dancing well matched to it. Simon Ball was Eros; his dancing beautiful and seeming effortless. (We sit near the front of the orchestra and are often impressed by the sweat flying off the dancers.) Christopher Budzynski, one of my favorites, shadowed by Joel Prouty, was Narcissus and Tara Hench Echo. Theirs was a poignant section. Pollyana Ribeiro and Jose Martin performed the Hermes section; they are both strong and quick and well matched for this, flying around the stage. Larissa Ponomarenko was paired with Ball for the Eros and Psyque section. This was also a beautiful partnership. The last section is Dionysia, where Sarah Lamb and Gael Lambiotte had the leads. I assume this section gives the ballet its name, with a frenzied look reminiscent of the drunk scene in Prodigal Son or maybe parts of Carmina Burana. It seemed jarring after the beauty of the previous movements. While Lamb was credible in her role I felt that she was no match for Adriana Suarez, who we had seen in rehearsal. Suarez is so strong and agile and sinuous. Lamb is a young and beautiful dancer, but not yet the perfect choice for this role. (During the intermission several of my friends remarked that they enjoyed Corybantic but felt it was a bit too long; the contrast of the Dionysia with the rest of the ballet didn’t work for them.)
The final piece was Rodeo. During the rehearsal I’d felt disappointed; I remembered enjoying this ballet in the past but now it seemed dated. The performance was quite different, it was interesting to me how much the energy and enjoyment of the audience fed into my enjoyment of the ballet. We saw Frances Perez-Ball as the Cowgirl, Simon Ball as Head Wrangler, and Reagen Messer as the Champion Roper. Messer came through the strongest with his dancing and acting, marvelous jumps and impressive tap dancing. (It was interesting to realize how much tap dancing contributed to this evening.)
We are fortunate to have an excellent orchestra. Jonathan McPhee is very sensitive to the needs of the dancers.
We are going again next weekend, and hoping for a different cast. But if we were to see the same cast we’d still enjoy the evening.
Posted 18 March 2002 - 02:16 PM
It does sound like an unusual mix of ballets, yet it seemed to work well on stage.
Posted 18 March 2002 - 02:24 PM
Did anyone else see this program? Comments?
Posted 18 March 2002 - 03:07 PM
Posted 18 March 2002 - 07:23 PM
However my main reason for going was CORYBANTIC ECSTASIES. Christopher Wheeldon certainly belonged on this program. His career as a dance-maker is anchored in America, particularly in Boston and NYC. I was not disappointed. Each ballet of his that I've seen are certainly neoclassical - but all look different. He is certainly not afraid to try out new ideas. The choice of Bernstein's SERENADE for CORYBANTIC's score complimented the ballet to perfection. Its best moments were Eros (Paul Thrussell) pulling the male corps dancers into a whirling circle, his sensuous duet with Psyche (the stunningly lyrical Larissa Ponomarkeno), and the Dinoysia finale (led by Adriana Suarez and Yury Yanowsky, whose masks only made the dancing more thrilling).
Perhaps when Maestro Levine officially takes over the BSO I'll have another opportunity to see Boston Ballet again...unless they visit NYC first.
Posted 18 March 2002 - 07:30 PM
I couldn't find a review of this program in the Globe. If someone else does it, please post a link.
We now have TWO reviews -- any more out there? smile.gif
Posted 20 March 2002 - 03:22 PM
Am hoping the Phoenix comes through for us tomorrow with their usual thorough articles.
[ March 20, 2002, 03:23 PM: Message edited by: bbfan ]
Posted 20 March 2002 - 03:30 PM
Anyone else out there? 4Ts? Any of our out-of-town Boston fans go up to see it?
Posted 20 March 2002 - 07:00 PM
Posted 20 March 2002 - 09:44 PM
Posted 21 March 2002 - 01:44 AM
Here's a link to Marcia B. Siegel's review in the Boston Phoenix:
Given the sophistication and diverse origins of all ballet, the title for Boston Ballet’s current " American Trilogy " seems simplistic. The pieces have almost nothing in common, but the rubric does invite us to reflect on George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Corybantic Ecstasies as artifacts of, for, or about American culture.
Posted 21 March 2002 - 11:50 AM
The program notes are very interesting but too long to repeat here. They don't explicitly discuss how the ballet got its name, but do say the Leonard Bernstein was inspired by Plato's Symposium when writing the music (Serenade). Wheeldon was working on a ballet with Grecian images and theme when he asked Jonathan McPhee his opinion of using Bernstein's Serenade as the music for this new ballet.
McPhee wrote that years earlier he had talked to Bernstein about Martha Graham creating a ballet to Serenade but even though they'd discussed it (Bernstein, Graham,McPhee) the project never came together. So McPhee was pleased and surprised when Wheeldon suggested using Bernstein's Serenade. And interested in how some of Wheeldon's ballet "resonated strongly" with Graham's images in Medea, even though Wheeldon had not prior knowledge of a potential Graham connection to Serenade.
Posted 21 March 2002 - 01:11 PM
Daughter commented that Corybantic Ecstasies didn't fit with "American" theme as it was Greek mythology. But it was certainly different in flavour from the other two. I must agree that I thought "Dionysia" part was quite different from the rest of the piece--really I thought I was watching an entirely different ballet! Really enjoyed the other bits of that ballet though--interesting choreography with a beautiful classical line.
Also have to agree that I didn't quite understand the plot of "Slaughter..."--was enjoyable but didn't think it really worked as a separate piece. Saw Tara Hench as "girl"--didn't think she was quite voluptous enough (would've liked to have seen April Ball) and Zach Grubbs as "hoofer" who was likeable and I generally like but, well ballet dancers aren't all necessarily trained in "broadway" dancing--would be curious to know who was and wasn't previously trained to tap dance/soft shoe for both this and "Rodeo" (I vaguely remember reading Reagan Messer is--however I didn't get to see him in either)
In "Rodeo" Jennifer Gelfand was perfectly cast as the "cowgirl" and Viktor Plonikov was larger than life as the "Head Wrangler" Thought Christopher Budzynski did a great job as "Champion Roper" but would've like to have seen Reagan--particularly because I think he's one of the dancers whose contracts wasn't renewed and I'll miss him.
Daughter liked "Rodeo" best--certainly it's a happy little piece of old fashioned fun.
All in all wished they'd chosen a more Balanchine like piece of Balanchine choreography--particularly to compilment/contrast Wheeldon.
Did I mention those Citydance kids were great?
[ March 21, 2002, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: jbtlse ]
Posted 21 March 2002 - 03:39 PM
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