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Watermill

Dance Talks with Bart Cook

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Just a reminder to ballet fans: this should be a fascinating evening: Bart Cook is one of the leading repetituers of George Balanchine's and Jerome Robbins' work. He was a principal during the golden 1980's at NYCB. He dances Drosselmeier in the NYCB Video of the Nutcracker. Truly rabid ballet fans will show up on the chance that wife Maria Calegari has accompanied him to our fair city.

And it's FREE!

Dance Talks with Christopher Stowell, James Buckhouse and répétiteur Bart Cook, 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, Winningstad Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway., (reservations recommended), 503-227-0977, ext. 213, free

Watermill

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Truly rabid ballet fans will show up on the chance that wife Maria Calegari has accompanied him to our fair city.

I'd walk a mile for that. And I wouldn't even bite her! :wink:

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It was a sad day for NYCB when Bart Cook and Maria Calegari disappeared from the company. (Or "were disappeared.") Last night I saw Glass Pieces, which was given a perfectly acceptable performance in the Facades pas de deux by Maria Kowroski and Philip Neal. But no couple I've seen in that piece since Calegari and Cook has been able to "levitate" as they did. I still miss them and hope someone will report on what Bart has to say.

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Giving this a "bump" in case any area ballet fans missed it. If my rehearsal gets out on time, I'll try to report on the discussion. Martha Ullman West's Oregonian article certainly whets the appetite for In the Night

Watermill

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Missed Chris Stowell's opening remarks (and a video clip of his upcoming work) but can report on the rest of the evening:

Bart Cook, equally elegant and articulate, spoke of a wide range of subjects, illustrated with some wonderful still photos and two utterly amazing film clips.

He began by talking about The Dybbuk, that much of the principal male choreography was shaped on him; how the fighting between Robbins and Bernstein "killed the life" of the piece... Mentioned a revival is in the works.

How he felt that Robbins used him so much because of his very "theatrical" training with the Christiansens in Utah gave him a more human, character based kind of dancing.

The rivalry between Robbins & Balanchine: how neither one understood what the audience saw in the other's work. That they were both jealous of each other and found the the other to be "an enigma". That Mr. B hired Robbins to provide variety and relief from his own ballets: "You can't eat steak every night". Mr. Cook speculated that a very different group of works would have come from Robbins had he not stayed at NYCB.

How autobiographical Watermill was. How Tanaquil le Clerq became furious because she felt it exposed their relationship (!)

Robbins' powers of observation: how they informed his dances with everyday drama and gesture.

Many photos: Robbins in Prodigal with Tallchief, as Ringmaster, Bart Cook in Glass Pieces lifting Maria Calegari, in the Concert, The Dybbuk.

The first film clip was Cook as the Happy Sailor from Fancy Free. Astonishing virtuostic performance with an ease, flow and joy of life I have never seen so strongly in that role. And I've seen some good dancers tackle it. Amusing anecdote about the spacing beween the stools and what happened when the bartender did not move them properly between solos.

The second clip was the pas from The Cage with Cook and the predatory Heather Watts. Amazing unity, tension...and again: virtuosity. When the life of the choreography leaps out of an ancient fuzzy videotape, you know the live dance must have been positively explosive.

The evening made me most nostalgic for my NYC ballet going years of the 70's and 80's. How inspiring to know that Mr. Cook is passing the torch. He was not just close to the fire: he was the fire.

Artist James Buckhouse was amusing and animated ...well, he is an animator. Some interesting insights into the working process of Chris Stowell's new Impending Hour. It sounds positively awful: cobbled together by a visual artist from a vague concept about how rain affects people; Buckhouse will "play" the computer keyboard during the performance; the last element chosen was the music... and yet I find myself excited to see it...come rain or shine.

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Thanks for this report, Watermill. Sounds like a fascinating lecture. I hope that other organizations will schedule Mr. Cook for similar talks.

Could you expand on what Cook said about Watermill's (the ballet!) autobiographical qualities? And how Robbins's relationship with Tanaquil le Clerq figures in it? I just can't imagine . . .

I'm reading Deborah Jowitt's biography right now, but haven't yet reached the moments you described.

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Re Dybbuk, San Francisco Ballet is performing the work from 5-16 April, in a program with Symphonic Variations and Lamberena, alternating each weekend with another program. It's a premiere for the Company.

Bart Cook is one of my two all-time favorite male dancers, and I wish I had been able to travel to Portland to hear him speak. I'm grateful for your report, Watermill.

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Certainly whets my appetite for a Cook memoir!

Many thanks, Watermill!

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:( from me too, Watermill. Was Maria Calegari in the audience?

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No Maria. Just as well...I probably would have burst into tears. And the day I meet Suzanne Farrell I don't even want to think about. Some memories are so perfect they grow crystalline with passing time.

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