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Alexandra

Greatest in 1998

17 posts in this topic

Did anybody see anything really truly great in 1998? Dancer, performance, new ballet, old ballet, moment from a ballet? Live, preferably.

alexandra

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This was not a good year for ballet in Southern California. Very few touring companies, and some of those that did come were not the greatest. I used to go to New York City once a year for a visit with my daughter and a ballet glut. Daughter now lives in San Francisco thus cutting off that source. Therefore, the best ballet I saw (live) in 1998 was Wendy Whelan's performance at Orange County Performing Arts Center. She'd always top a list; unfortunately this year she didn't have much competition.

Giannina

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Here's my best and worst of 1998 (New York):

Disappointment: Ballet Frankfurt in Edios Telos. Interesting in spots but, to me, a lot of psudo-intellectual Euro trash.

Disappointment 1a: The Snow Maiden -- beautiful sets, costumes, and dancing but boring choreography from Stevens. Zzzzzz!

Also: Peter Martins' new ballets. Stabat Mater (see Snow Maiden) and River of Light (been there, done that!), Concerti Armonici (Brandenburg Part II).

Surprise: San Francisco Ballet. I really enjoyed this company. Very appealing. The gala night at the City Center was fun and a great way to sample visually the entire roster, especially Muriel Maffry, Yuri Possokhov, and Lucia Lacarra.

Ballet of the Year: Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude by Forsythe. Fun, fast and furious. Funky costumes too. Great dancing by San Francisco Ballet.

Known by Heart: Great vehicle by Tharp for Ethan Stiefel, Susan Jaffe, and ABT.

Best new production (evening length): Le Corsaire. I know that some consider it a hodge podge of past productions but I thought it was fun and a perfect showcase to display ABT's star principal dancers.

Best Performance: The first night of the rivival of Jewels at NYCB in January. Perfect cast -- Alexopolous and Weese in "Emeralds", Margaret Tracy, Nikolaj Hubbe, Monique Meunier in "Rubies", and Kyra Nichols and Philip Neal in "Diamonds".

Best Individual Performances (not mentioned above): Darci Kister in Diamonds and Meunier's debut as Siren in Prodigal Son.

Best costumes: Alain Vaes for

Variations on a Nursery Song by Richard Tanner. Beautiful velvet bodices over short puffy taffeta layered skirts.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a whole lot but there it is. -- Dale

[This message has been edited by Dale (edited 01-01-99).]

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Most enjoyable to me was ABT's Le Corsaire at the Lincoln Center this summer, in which I was able to see Carreno (awesome), Corella, Herrera (lovely), Malakhov and Tuttle all in the same production. I feel encouraged in my assessment since Dale mentioned this production as being his choice of best new production of the year.

Even more interesting to me was seeing Ethan Stiefel and other ABT dancers, including Gillian Murphy, as part of "An Evening of Pas de Deux" at a summer performance in a small theatre in Manchester VT. Front row and about 10 feet from the dancing. Stiefel & Murphy did a pas from Le Corsaire. Wow!!

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Encouraging to hear that Dale and Paul both liked "Le Corsaire". I'll be seeing it twice in 3 days this year; at present it's the only production ABT is bringing to Costa Mesa.

Giannina

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Hi Dale,

Reading your last post, I felt like I was at the Academy Awards of Ballet, and the "bad" events you mentionned could be the "lemon prizes"...

Loved it.

Margot

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I'm afraid I won't be able to post anything as detailed as Dale's post, but let's try...

Best performances (full evenings):

- the Paris Opera Ballet school performance in Nanterre (including some excerpts of works by Kylian, Balanchine's "Sonnambula" and Lichine's "Graduation Ball")

- the POB in Mats Ek's "Giselle" in Paris

- the Compagnie Temps Present in Thierry Malandain's "Sextet" and "Carmen" in Paris,

- the Lyon Opera Ballet in Lyon, in a Kylian

program ("Stamping ground", "Nuages", "Petite mort", "Six dances") and a Ek program ("Solo for two", "Carmen")

Worst choreography: Nacho Duato's "Self" (danced by his company in Grenoble in April).

Small disappointment (about a choreography): Mats Ek's "Sleeping beauty" (danced by the Ballet Cullberg in Lyon). That's not such a bad choreography, but I'd have expected better from Mats Ek.

Good surprises:

- Thierry Malandain's choreographies for "Sextet" and "Carmen". Talented young French neo-classical choreographers aren't exactly common...

- the revival of Doris Humphrey's

"Ritmo Jondo" by the Labkine Company

- Nacho Duato's "Por vos muero" (danced by his company in Grenoble).

Worst score: Sofia Gubaidulina's "String Quartet", used in the awfully boring "Les deux faces de Louis".

Ballets that I had already seen, and enjoyed much more when seeing it again: Richard Wherlock's "Stetl", Balanchine's "Who Cares?" and Jacques Garnier's "Aunis" (by the Ballet de Marseille), Jean-Christophe Maillot's "Dov'e la luna" (by the students of the Lyon Conservatoire), Martha Graham's "Errand into the maze" (by the Graham company in Lyon).

Estelle

[This message has been edited by Estelle (edited 01-04-99).]

[This message has been edited by Estelle (edited 01-04-99).]

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For my piece of perfection, I would have to vote for Ethan Steifel's Blue Bird. He was magic, way beyond technique, truly inhuman. And I was bowled over by Ashley Tuttle's Prayer in Coppelia. It is so rare that a piece like that is danced by a principal, and the quiteness and purity of the role suits her perfectly.

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1998 was not the fullest ballet year for me, and my best moments came back in January in New York City. The most thrilling performances then were at NYCB. One was Darci Kistler in "Diamonds." Darci was pure magic that night. The other was Nichol Hlinka and Damian Woetzel in "Stars and Stripes." They were both dazzling.

~Steve

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I haven't answered because I've seen so little. Not much comes to D.C. anymore, and I didn't travel this past year.

I enjoyed some of ABT's performances, and was glad to see Clark Tippett's "Bruch Violin Concerto" again, and I was also glad to have seen the Stanislavsky ballet's Swan Lake (Bournmeister production) and Nutcracker (Vainonen productoin), although only for historical reasons.

Otherwise, this is the first year since 1975, when I first fell down the rabbit hole into balletland, that I did not see one single thing that I need to see again.

alexandra, who writes this morosely

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Adventures in Motion Pictures' Swan Lake. It was superb.

Thinking about how many years I have been watching ballet is a sobering experience--!--but this was very unique and well-thought out. I've been familiar with the production from the video, but the actual performances were just superlative.

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Live performance--Giselle, ABT, Susan Jaffe in the title role. Have written about it already. One I may remember on my death bed. A performance for the ages by an artist (who I had not seen in years) at the height of her powers. Entrancing, one of the very high points of the year, even though it was very early--January, 1998.

Almost a tie for first: "Romeo and Juliet," Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. Bernice Coppieters in the matinee as Lady Capulet. I thought the ballet should have been called "Lady Capulet and Tybalt," at the way she dominated the stage whenever she was on it. But in the evening--she was Juliet. And I mean she WAS Juliet, in that way that an atist takes over a character, inhabits the creation of the choreographer in a seemless melding of technique, interpretation and grace. I could not take my eyes away from her. The epitome of talent at the service of music and art. A superbly gorgeous woman, her incomparable back would make an athiest believe in God or a saint denounce salvation.

Tape--Mayerling--Royal Ballet. Viviana Durante has the most expressive and beautiful eyes since Garbo. People rave about Mukhamedov in this(as well they should) but Durante was just astonishing.

Comeback of the year--Toledo Ballet (not kidding, provincial ballet may have a place in the scheme of things). As the pagan priestesses in Saint-Saens' SAMSON AND DELIAH produced by the Toledo Opera the dancers were laughably inept, due mainly to choreography. As the dancers at Lilas Pastia's inn they added significantly to both the atmosphere and the drama in Bizet's Carmen. Same dancers in each case.

In looking back through a stack of programs I realize it hasn't been quite that much of a dance desert here in Motown. Not a bad year for the hinterlands.

ed waffle

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In 1998 I saw in NY two wonderful ABT performances: Le Corsaire , with Herrera , Corella and Carreño, and an other , symphonie in Concertante , with Tuttle and Kent , Grand Pas Classique , with Jaffe and Malakhov , Don Quixote Pas de Deux , with Carreño and Herrera , and at the end Etudes , with Picone , Stiefel and McKerrow.

A very interesting new production was The Heart Beat-mb ,that Baryshnikov danced in Brazil.

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In my resident city of Hong Kong, which is impoverished in terms of dance programmes, the greatest performances of 1998 came from the Kirov Ballet's 5 performances of Swan Lake in early December. In particular, the opening and closing performances led by Uliana Lopatkina and Evgeny Ivanchenko were the best. I am glad to have seen the Kirov, which has now cancelled its London season this summer.

I have done a fair bit of travelling abroad. In Europe, the greatest performance that I saw was Pacific Northwest Ballet in Balanchine's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in the Edinburg Festival in August, especially with Patricia Barker as Titania. It was a real Balanchine experience, and most life-enhancing.

In New York, the greatest Balanchine performances in the Spring Season that I saw were N.Y.C.B in "Union Jack" and "Divertimento No. 15". The greatest individual performaces were Kyra Nichols in "Serenade", and Vladimir Malakhov as an impassioned Albrecht in A.B.T.'s "Giselle".

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Great performances in 1998?

At first I would single out some Kirov Ballet performances (thanks for reminding us, Kevin!).

Altynai Asylmuratova and Farukh Ruzimatov were absolutely fantastic in Fokine's "Sheherazade" last Summer during the Kirov summer season in the Austrian Graz.

Irina Zhelonkina, also from the Kirov, was nothing less than sublime in "Chopiniana." Zhelonkina is hardly known outside the Kirov company and it's easy to see why. She's not one of those long-limbed, towering girls who now rule the company, and many will probably consider her to be an 'old-fashioned' dancer because she doesn't indulge in those stylistical aberrations which now abound and are being sold for classical ballet. Her identification with especially the romantic characters is remarkably complete, while her evocative power is absolutely magnificent.

In Paris a nice surprise came from Isabelle Guérin, who was unforgettable in her debut as Manon in Kenneth MacMillan's "L'Histoire de Manon." Partnered by an equally inspired Manuel Legris and surrounded by a brilliant company, this Manon was gripping from start to end.

I also enjoyed enormously a great Elisabeth Platel in Nureyev's "Raymonda", which was shown in Opéra-Bastille in the beginning of the year. Platel is moreover a 'tragédienne' of the highest order, as was pretty obvious by her "Giselle" and by her Nikiya in "La Bayadère" (but this last one was already in 1999).

Finally, I would like to mention Larissa Lezhnina (former Kirov) from the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, who was a great Cinderella in Ashton's ballet.

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With no douths , all Kirov performances are wonderful. Last year , when Kirov came to Brazil I saw La Bayadère with Altynai Asylmuratova and Yevgeny Ivanchenko. It was amazing!

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Over the summer of 98, I saw an ABT mixed performance that was soooo gorgeous. Julie Kent, and maybe Ashley Tuttle? did a piece with corps members which I forget the name of, Paloma and Jose Carreno did the Don Q pas de deux and Susan Jaffe and Valdamir Malakohov did Grande Pas Classique (sp). All my favorite dancers and all wonderful. They also did Etudes, which was a good idea but I think I would have liked it shorter...

P.S. This sounds like the same cast and show Larissa described...maybe we were there on the same night!

I would also like to say that I thought Snow Maiden was good. It wasn't as powerful as, like when I saw Susan Jaffe and Jose Carreno do Romeo and Juliet (nearly brought me to tears!), but it was still good. Besides, I saw Julie Kent do it and I think she is great.

[This message has been edited by Lauren (edited 03-02-99).]

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