Nadia and Solomon cannot use an orchestra because of the astronomical expense and organization that would require. Also, sometimes dancers have changed their choice of pas de deux in the last weeks before the gala. Where would you get an orchestra that would play this large variety of music, and in addition to rehearsing together, find time to rehearse with the dancers, many of whom fly into New York the day before the performance?
You are right, zerbinetta, Lucia has danced in every gala produced in New York AND in every single gala produced in Paris, Cannes and Toronto by the Tencers. Cyril, her husband, missed the Toronto gala last April because of injury and Lucia danced wonderfully with another principal from the Munich Ballet. Lacarra and Pierre are the signature couple for the galas and it is Lucia's gorgeous Swan Lake pose that graces every piece of advertising and every poster for this event.
Guillaume Cote filled in at the last minute for Gudanov and was not able to dance the Paganini because he doesn't know it. He and Lunkina have not danced together before. She is an extraordinarily expressive dancer with an extremely lyrical quality to her dancing. I'm surprised that didn't come across for some viewers. Cote was recently made principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada. He is still young and his star rose quickly. He is the best danseur the National has, in my opinion, yet still is developing his technique. What I like is that he actively seeks coaching for his principal roles, traveling to the Paris Opera, for example, in order to portray them as classically correctly as he can. He held up pretty well on Monday for a last-minute replacement. My only advice to him after his performance as James is to work on getting his heel front when he lands from big jumps and when he does a series of traveling beats along a diagonal.
The Martha Graham Ensemble was a disappointment to me, too. I would think that they would have advanced further by now in both quality of dancers and rendering of the choreography. The inspiration for the decades-old "Steps" was the breadlines of the depression and how people joined them reluctantly, but of necessity. So there was this dancer who depicted those persons who tried to resist joining the gloomy inevitability of the line, but knew they would have to succumb in order to survive. After seeing all the lovely shoulders-down, open-chested, long-necked elegance of the ballerinas that preceded the Graham piece, I had trouble shifting gears to accept the collapsed chested, shoulders up, chubby-by-comparison Ensemble dancers. In my days of studying Graham (a long, long time ago), I swear the dancers were more svelte! Whether or not the present Grahma dancers are chunkier than those of the past, up against the ballerinas on Monday night, they sure looked it. The legendary Yuriko prepared this piece, and Yuriko was my Graham teacher in the late 1960s. She was an exremely harsh taskmaster and I can't help thinking "what happened?" She was tough with her dancers in dress rehearsal -- the old Yuriko feist is still there and I was delighted to see her after 37 years -- but it seems to me that the Graham company would have better dancers in the first place and especially after so many years. Was Graham really better in the 1960s or has my perception changed? Anyone else have thoughts on this?
As far as Diana Vishneva's height, I'd say that she is around 5'6". Both Lunkina and Vishneva are about the same height. On Monday night, they were the tallest ballerinas! It was terrific to see the shorter dancers in predominance for a change!
In the New York Times accompanying photo you see Lucia Lacarra with black footless tights and a dangling pointe shoe ribbon -- and without makeup. This pic was taken during rehearsal. In the actual performance she wore pink footed tights with both ribbon ends nicely tucked in. The Times photographer was told it would be a full dress rehearsal, meaning costumes would be worn. She was very surprised when I told her that, except for one or two in partial costume, the dancers would all rehearse in practice clothes and warmups. She said that the Times needed photos of dancers in costume (of course!), so did her best with those in as close to performancewear as possible. Tip to dancers in future galas: If you want it to be your
picture that appears in the Times next to the review, wear full costume (and tell your partner to, too) during dress rehearsal!
Edited by carbro, 16 February 2005 - 08:59 PM.