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Danses Concertantes in London


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 12:45 AM

For the interest of NYCB followers, this is the programme the group performed at Sadler's Wells last night:

Variations pour une porte et un soupir (Balanchine) - Kowrowski, Gold

Circular Motion (Millepied, world premiere) - Angle, Hall, Ramasar, Ritter

Liturgy (Wheeldon) - Whelan, Soto

Hallelujah Junction (Martins) - Taylor, Marcovici, Millepied

with Bouder, Dronova, Fairchild, Ricard, Carmena, Hall, Ramasar, Stafford


(Any clues on sorting out who was who amongst the men in the Millepied piece, and the women in the Martins? I though I could guess which was Fairchild, but what does Bouder look like?)

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 05:32 AM

They opened with "Door and a Sigh"!!! Jane, how was the audience? What did you think of the program?

Head shots don't always help, but here's Bouder's on the company's web site:

Ashley Bouder

and here's one of her as Aurora:

Bouder in the Rose Adagio

#3 sylvia

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 09:02 AM

I went to see Dances Concertantes Tuesday night too! I don't think anything has stumped me quite as much as Variations pour une porte et un soupir, yet it was completely absorbing. The nightmarish allusions to predator and prey, the jarring choreography, the electronic score made this one of the creepiest experiences I've ever sat through in a theatre and it was, on reflection, extremely cool! The audience received them quite warmly I thought, though I imagine there were a few as mystified as I. :) After the ballets this troupe brought to London last time (In the Night, Polyphonia, Duo Concertant...and something else?), it wasn't what I expected at all. I think it's something I'd like to bring friends to see, just to freak them out and completely turn on head whatever preconceptions they might have on ballet. ;)

I have to confess I've become less and less a fan of Wheeldon the more I've seen of his work. Liturgy is something else though, and Whelan & Soto are themselves worth the price of admission. The other two ballets were disappointing - little to love in the new Millepied, Circular Motion, and Martin's Hallelujah Junction unfortunately. So a bit of a mixed bag on Tuesday.

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 11:54 AM

it was, on reflection, extremely cool!

Sylvia, I loved your reaction to Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir. My wife and I enjoyed this ballet from its first performance, and I'm still crazy about it. (No pychoanalyzing, please.) Balanchine frequently turned audience expectations about ballet on their head. That was one reason why going to NYCB when he was alive was such a great experience.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 12:08 PM

Thank you, Sylvia -- it's so good to read you again! I hope you'll be going a lot this season; it's a season, especially at the Royal, that many of us will be interested in reading about.

It's funny; when Door and a Sigh first came out, there were some reviews that said it was Balanchine making fun of a Bejart ballet. And others said that he was trying to make a Bejart ballet (for real). So it's always been controversial. I've never seen it. I thought it an interesting choice to bring to London, and have been interested in reading what people think of it.

#6 Jane Simpson

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 04:15 AM

I thought it was a brave choice to open with Door and a Sigh - one in the eye for those who think Balanchine's ballets are all the same! I'm interested to hear that early reviews related it to Bejart, as it's with him I associate this score - he did a solo called Forme et Ligne to some of the music, which Maina Gielgud danced in her Steps, Notes and Squeaks show in the late 1970s. I enjoyed the Balanchine though I don't think I'd want to see it very often. Is Kowrowski the current NYCB cast?

The rest of the show was a bit of a disappointment after the last Danses Concertantes programme here. Most people raved over the Wheeldon Liturgy but I didn't think it compared with the Whelan/Soto duet in Polyphonia, and the new Millepied piece didn't have the life and originality of the pas de deux he did for the previous show. Hallelujah Junction looked like a piece of diligent craftmanship. Great to see these dancers, but a rather downbeat evening overall.

#7 sylvia

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Posted 23 October 2004 - 03:00 AM

I thought it was a brave choice to open with Door and a Sigh - one in the eye for those who think Balanchine's ballets are all the same!


<Rubbing said eye> Did Balanchine himself offer any insights into Door and a Sigh? At the first interval I rushed out to look at the programme notes which, in it's brevity, turned out to be extremely unhelpful!

Thanks Alexandra. Yes I'll be seeing everything this season, several times too! :P I went to a masterclass for Sylvia a couple weeks ago and the act 3 pdd rehearsed by Marianela Nunez and Rupert Pennefather was one of the loveliest things I've ever seen, so I'm more than excited about the reconstrution.

#8 Dance_Scholar_London

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Posted 23 October 2004 - 12:54 PM

I saw the performance on Thursday and I loved it. I was in the front row, surrounded by a rather mature audience (55+) and most of them did not enjoy it a lot. I think they were expecting something more classical - and not neoclassical. The older couple next to me did even no clap!! I love NYCB dancers, they have extraordinary bodies, especially the girls.

I did not enjoy "circular motion" so much. The choreography was rather simple and monotonous. "halleluja junction" was great. Very "speedy" :rolleyes:

#9 Kate B

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Posted 23 October 2004 - 02:13 PM

I've just come back from Sadlers Wells with my partner (not a ballet fan at all) and a good friend (who likes dance but doesn't know a lot about it.) We were all very much impressed by the whole programme, particularly the Balanchine, the Wheeldon and the Millepied, perhaps in that order.

As a person who has been injured for the best part of the year, this has been the programme that has made me want to get back into class more than anything else I have seen for months.

I saw this 'company' two years ago at Sadlers Wells and thanks to Alexandra, we got backstage to meet Millepied and the dancers. I was starstruck then and I am still starstruck now!

I am tempted to post a poll now, just for fun, to ask, 'Has Europe as much to offer in terms of exciting dance as the United States?'

#10 Dance_Scholar_London

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Posted 24 October 2004 - 08:46 AM

As a person who has been injured for the best part of the year, this has been the programme that has made me want to get back into class more than anything else I have seen for months.

So true. After seeing the high extensions of the dancers I will put some more effort in mine. They had sooooo beautiful legs :yes:

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 24 October 2004 - 09:07 AM

One thing that struck me, as an American reader, is how many reviews this program got -- there are at least ten, I think. If the group had appeared in New York, there would have been, at most, four or five. It's particularly striking in this case since there was such a wide range of opinions -- the more reviews you have, the more possibility of different views.

#12 Kate B

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Posted 24 October 2004 - 09:16 AM

Dance Scholar - too true!

Alexandra, I think there has been a lot of interest in this group because they are very different from a lot of the programmes and companies that come through London. It's probably one of the top cities in the world to see dance, and yet somehow, for me, a lot of what's on offer is nowhere near as exciting as dancers such as these.

I was thinking about what I wrote last night, and, while there are some big European dance 'personalities' and technicians around, I don't know if there is any single company or touring group that has quite the same collection of people as Danses Concertantes. They are just so good at their craft, but do not let being great technicians get in the way of also being, well, human. Each has a different kind of presence on stage, and it is this that I find so alluring and compelling.

I think also it helps that each part of the programme had interesting choreography, and beautiful, live music (or extremely interesting music in the case of 'porte & soupir'.) There was nothing in this programme that let it down in any way, in my opinion.

And something I forgot to mention before - I think it is a shame that the theatre was nowhere near full last night.

#13 oberon

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Posted 24 October 2004 - 04:37 PM

I seem to recall a story about the NY premiere of PORTE & SOUPIR..at the end of the performance there was some booing. The dancers behind the curtain were apparently concerned that they had failed Balanchine and were feeling anxious when Lincoln Kirstein came backstage, having watched from the auditorium. When they asked about the booing, Kirstein said: "That was me. We could use a controversy." Whether this was true, or whether he made up the story to appease the dancer's bruised feelings, we'll never know.

It is a bizarre piece...when I first saw it (with Karin & Victor Castelli) I didn't know quite what to think. But they were incredible. Later, the beauteous Helen Alexopoulos was a remarkable Door, and now the role belongs to Kowroski.

I would imagine it takes an awful lot of rehearsing to get the timing down as well as the manipulation of the enormous "cape" of black silk. It is a piece to see once in a while...there was a season when I saw it twice within a week and I admit on the second night my mind was wandering.

#14 ami1436

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Posted 25 October 2004 - 06:36 AM

I was there on Saturday night, and the audience seemed quite full but a bit unsure! I loved door and sigh - perhaps quirky, yes, but intriguing and lots of similarities of Door to the Siren (Prodigal Son) and Death (Le Chant du Rossignol). I was most disappointed by the Millipied piece, although it was danced beautifully, I found the choreography a bit bland. So far I've loved most Wheeldon I've seen, and this program was no exception although Wendy Wheelan really made it for me. Simply stunning. And as for Hallelujah Junction - well, a bit of a show piece in some ways, but interesting choreography that really showcased the agility of the dancers, especially Millipied. This was an interesting and somewhat unexpected program to bring here.


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