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Paquita

NBS Spring Showcase

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Paquita, I thought your post might go better in Announcements or Anything Goes, inasmuch as the performances haven't quite happened yet. And that way, you're more likely to arrange to meet some BT'ers, too, I think, if that's on. But I'm not a moderator...

Enjoy the program! It looks like a good one.

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Actually, Jack, the program is running this week. I'm going to leave this here, and I'll look forward to replies. Okay, Paquita? (hint, hint)

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I went to the performance last night and enjoyed it. It is always exciting to experience a student showcase, and NBS's Betty Oliphant Theatre is a nice, intimate venue.

CHOPINIANA

This is one of my favourite ballets, and I think it showed the talents of the school's female dancers very well. The structure and choreography are so poetic. It's hard to do a "bad" Chopiniana. This version was staged by Sergiu Stefanschi and Elaine Fisher. The girls looked well-rehearsed and had a fine sense of the phrasing of the music. There were some zombie-like faces in the corps, but there were other dancers with very lovely expressions. Catherine Maitland danced the second mazurka with beautiful ease and delicacy. She is a tall, willowy dancer and at times her arms looked a little too limp. However, she was a pleasure to watch simply because of her sunny stage presence. She seemed to be more connected to the audience than anyone else on stage, and clearly expressed the joy of dancing. The valse was danced by Marissa Parzei. In the nocturne she appeared a bit nervous (understandably!) and tense, but for her solo she was much more relaxed and gave a clean performance. The poet was danced by Mathew Crockard-Villa, a slender young man with wonderful proportions. He has a very nice line and excellent, weightless jumps. His expression was a little flat, but will likely develop more with experience. His partner was Antonela Martinelli. She looks like a very powerful dancer, and at some points in the prelude her arms could have been gentler. She is a very expressive dancer though and definitely made the performance her own.

The corps did a good job- the formations looked perfect and the pointework was for the most part, soft and light.

BRAHMS WALTZES

This is a modern solo by Peggy Baker to a series of piano waltzes (op. 39). The dancer I saw was Anja Meierhofer, a mature and sensitive artist. She dances barefoot, with her shoulder-length blond hair let down, and wears a long dark velvet dress. It is quite a long piece for one person, but she managed impressively well, not showing any tiredness near the end. Her performance was very musical and she was able to be completely free in her movement while maintaining control of her body.

GAZEBO DANCES

This is a ballet that Kudelka created on Ballet Met in 2003. The programs tells us that the work makes "reference to the gazebos and bandstands found in town squares across rural America, where town bands played every summer." There seems to be some sort of narrative, but it is hard to make out. A group of young people gather in a square and engage in energetic dances. Light flash in the background, and I felt like they were perhaps at some sort of carnival. The boys are dressed in preppy khakis and red polo shirts, and the girls are in simple shift dresses.

The overture is a exuberant piece for five boys (they looked very young, I don't think they were part of the graduating class). Next comes a waltz, with 4 couples. The dance is playful, and at the end they are in a circle playing something like spin the bottle. The central pas de deux was elegantly danced by Catherine Maitland and Brent Parolin. It is a haunting duet where the woman covers one eye and the man covers his mouth throughout. Maitland, who we saw earlier in Chopiniana looked much more mature here. She has a very strong technique and a lyrical quality to her dancing. The final piece is a Tarantella with the complete ensemble. I wasn't crazy about the choreography, but the ballet was appropriately chosen, I thought. It suits a youthful cast of dancers well.

SCOTCH SYMPHONY

This was the high point of the evening for me. I thought the dancers gave a stylish and polished performance (except for a few dancers with broken wrists-one of my biggest pet peeves). The pas de deux was danced by Courtney Gibbs (currently an apprentice with the company) and David Prottas. They gave a neat performance that looked very professional. But I was most impressed by Isabella Gasparini who danced the soloist role in the first movement (wearing the red kilt). Her formidable technique and genuine and charming demeanor made her stand out from the rest. She is very petite and a lovely allegro dancer. Her diagonale of brises was stunning and the way she carried her upper-body was very refined. One thing that struck me in this ballet was one part in the pdd that reminded me of Swan Lake. I know that Balanchine was referencing La Sylphide, but the way the male corps would turn and prevent the man from reaching the ballerina also brought up images of the white acts of Swan Lake for me.

It was great to see that the theatre was sold-out and that all the students' (and staff's) work during the year went to creating a wonderful and successful spring showcase!

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Thank you so much for your review, Paquita. I waited too long to order tickets this year and missed out on seeing a young dancer I know in two of the pieces. :lol:

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Great, detailed report, Paquita! Thanks so much! Sounds like some fine, new talent is about to emerge into the grown-up ballet world! Always good news.

This is one of my favourite ballets . . . It's hard to do a "bad" Chopiniana.

Oh? You've been fortunate not to have seen some of the Chopinianas/LesSylphideses that I have. :lol:
SCOTCH SYMPHONY

This was the high point of the evening for me. I thought the dancers gave a stylish and polished performance (except for a few dancers with broken wrists-one of my biggest pet peeves).

The broken wrists (a Balanchine hallmark) may have been set by the stager, but not fully absorbed by some of the dancers with the more classical hands.

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I think the hardest part with Chopiniana is getting a sense of the romantic style and being able to evoke a certain mood. I can imagine a Chopiniana with swayed backs and heavy footwork- what a nightmare! But I have been lucky, and have never witnessed anything of the sort :lol: What I meant when I said it's hard to do a bad Chopiniana is that the ballet has such a harmonious form that as long as the dancers perform the steps correctly then they will probably give a satisfactory performance. In the case of some other ballets, the choreography may be bland on its own, requiring exceptional skills (technical or dramatic) from its performers to bring it to life. I'm not sure if that makes sense? I'm probably also biased because of the good experiences I've had with the ballet. Sometimes when I see it, I feel as though the ballet dances itself, as absurd as that may sound!

That's a good point about the wrists in Scotch Symphony. I wasn't sure if they were supposed to be breaking the line at their wrists or not, because only a few of the dancers were doing it.

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In the old, old days when Joffrey used to perform "Scotch Symphony" the wrists were unbroken, partially at Mr. Joffrey's insistence. Balanchine came to oversee the final product and pronounced it "good". It must have been the stager in this case.

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