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Don Quixote, Kennedy Center, June 22-26th


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#31 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 12:11 PM

Natalia, that's a nice expressive fantasy about the announcement over the P. A., I hear where you're coming from, but as a practical matter, I sometimes just butt in with something like, "Not enough dancing for you, either?" or "Didn't go for the first part?" and let those gathering up their belongings to leave know that what's next is different and in what ways. It's often worked in spades for me - people are so happy for a good tip 'midst all the hype in our lives - and so far at least, even people who disagree at the end are polite about it, and appreciate the consideration they're shown. Doesn't our passion need all the adherents it can get?

#32 Natalia

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 12:48 PM

Jack - Unfortunately, I am out & about during intermissions & notice empty seats just before the house lights dim for the next act. It's not as if we can stay in our seats during intermissions, like vigilantes, trying to spot potential deserters. The sad thing is that the seats vacated by the couple sitting in front of us (front orchestra) were fabulous. In any other given night, people would have run from the back/upper levels of the house to grab those seats! My husband & I had absolutely unobstructed view in front of us during all of Acts II and III. Imagine that.

#33 Juliet

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 12:57 PM

I'm happy about the view, but sad...disgruntled...that the others left before things got rolling. It was a tedious first act, but the pacing and stage business may improve as the production gets more seasoned.

Re: the Capezio Award, this was not a secret--I knew it was going to occur and while I wished that it had taken much, much less time, I thought that Ms. Farrell's acceptance remarks were lovely. Much more memorable than the drivel one usually gets at these things. It is a very belated recognition of her gifts, but better late than never!

#34 BW

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 01:14 PM

Thank you to Juliet and others for your descriptions of the sets and the better part - the dancing - of this performance. I'll be interested to read how the rest of the performances progress and what changes you notice.

#35 kfw

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 01:43 PM

Oh, the music--it meanders.  Not like a burbling stream, not with a lovely, lazy summer aimlessness, but like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that occasionally are fitted together in the beginning of a pattern or direction, but then are thrown helterskelter back on the table.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Nice description. But I liked that about it! I'll have to listen more carefully Sunday, but what I heard last night was an intriguing change of pace from the grand -- at times verging on grandiose -- scores of some other story ballets. (Not that I don't love Tchaikovsky).

The Capezio guy only spoke for 15 minutes? :P "Advertisement" is exactly what I was thinking, and a very badly written one it was too -- overwrought and cliched at the same time. I didn't think Michael Kaiser's was much better-- certainly it lacked the imagination that characterized Farrell's dancing -- but he had the graciousness to be short.

With all the publicity this production received ahead of time, it's hard for me to believe that so many people came to the theater either unprepared for something unconventional, or unprepared to stick it out.

#36 Juliet

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 01:49 PM

Believe it or not, I think some people were expecting Kitri. I didn't leave my seat during intermissions, but heard many, many comments!

Yes, of course theere were program notes. One has to bother to read them, however......

:P

#37 Paul Parish

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 03:59 PM

I sure wish I had seen the show --

I've TREMENDOUSLY admired the clips of Dulcinea's dances that were shown in PBS's Farrell video.

But I have to say, I am very impressed by Rockwell's review. I have never seen him write better -- he's done his homework, but put that in the background, and gone with a mind open to a complex spectacle, the most expressive moments of which will be danced. If he's too generous, I couldn't say -- but he's certainly responded with a large imagination, and to the piece itself, not some idea of what it should have been..

#38 carbro

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 07:18 PM

Between the New York Times review and the reviews here, I don't quite know what to expect tonight!  I have been somewhat breathlessly anticipating this ever since I obtained my ticket and, while a night at the ballet never disappoints, I do hope this is all I expect it to be.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi, MichelleW! Slipping in between the post-throwers, I see. :smilie_mondieu: Forgive the delay in in welcoming you to BalletTalk. I hope you'll be back when you can see for yourself what our members and Rockwell have been describing. And please go to the Welcome Page and tell us a little about your life watching ballet. You can open a topic by clicking "New Topic" at the top of the page, towards the right.

#39 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 07:56 PM

Yes, there are both a synopsis of the story and cast credits in the program, but even if you do read them, you won't have an outline of the ballet anything like some of the books we talk about here provide.

Anyway, Thursday night I had a much better time, and I had a much better seat, too, to be fair to Sonia Rodriguez, last night's Dulcinea; nevertheless, Heather Ogden's dancing seemed more supple, after being a little stiff and careful in the solo with the sheperd's crook. Indeed, at the end of Act II, in the Pas de Deux with Don Q, she was lovely, and she was even better in the dream early in Act III, although actually, both women opened this dance with the lovely port de bra Farrell had quoted Balanchine last night as evoking by telling some dancers, "It's like you're opening the windows in Monte Carlo and smelling the salt in the sea air," a simile I believeFarrell added she didn't get until sometime later but now uses herself. It sure gets results, from the looks of it. I'll be interested in others' comments as to whether they think Ogden projects better than Rodriguez.

But one of the problems with B's Don Q is that neither of these women have Farrell's power to carry it. Another old timer claimed, I think correctly, that while there have been several excellent Diamonds performers other than Farrell, none of whom looked like her, some other ballets haven't had the same success without her. Chaconne is one, and Don Quixote is another. So we have the other dances, like the Act II Court Dance and Divertissements and the Dream in Act III, where Dulcinea appears later. (For that matter, there were some ballets she couldn't do: Balanchine let her try anything, this person pointed out, even The Four Temperaments, which "didn't work.")

Bonnie Pickard's dancing is always on a large scale, beautifully nuanced, and very effective even from my somewhat distant locations, and her Rigaudon Flamenco tonight was like that. With her in that, Erin Mahoney took over the Ritournel, the last of the Divertissements, and I wrote "another wow!" in my program. She doesn't look like Pickard - why should she? - but she also made it a powerfully effective end to the suite.

Some of the audience where I sat tonight had a pretty good time with much of Act I, including the superbly imagined puppet drama, nearly all done by children (except for some magical lifts done through a slit in the backdrop of the puppet theatre) well within their abilities. Nevertheless, most of the two rows in front of me were empty by the start of Act III. *sigh*

And the music hardly ever bothers me now. Thank God for small favors, I guess.

#40 MichelleW

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 09:20 PM

I completely agree about the Rigaudon Flamenco. I noted that Pickard's technique was clean and her affect was infectious. Her dancing drew the audience in. I found this to be, frankly, a sharp contrast with Shannon Parsley's Danza della Caccia.

Parsley's pirouettes and fouettes were, of course, a crowd pleaser (and technically lovely!) but there was something lacking there -- a certain emotive quality. I didn't feel it. My mother, however, said that this was her favorite of the divertissements, so perhaps there was something that I didn't get.

My favorite of the divertissements in Act II, however, was the Pas de Deux Mauresque. Natalia Magnicaballi was able to nail that perfect mixture of acting and dancing. Nothing felt forced and it was utterly, completely charming. I was entranced.

I am still processing Dulcinea's variation in Act III/Scene I (I think). All of those off kilter/off balance arabesques and attitudes, piques and turns, looked devilishly difficult. The fact is, that variation looked fairly difficult if it wasn't off center. I'd love to see it again to gauge my reaction the second time through.

In general, I was quite taken with Heather Ogden, although I still had difficulty thinking of her as "Dulcinea" rather than "the dancer cast as Dulcinea." I think this gets back to Jack's point about neither dancer having the power to carry the role. I didn't know how to react after that shepherd's crook variation -- I didn't feel like I had much to go on -- but as the night wore on, she won me over.

A couple of other things I noticed: the corps' pointe shoes seemed unusually loud tonight. A couple of the sets of bourrees sounded like a herd of elephants setting out across the Opera House stage. One of the solo variations in Act III Scene I was terribly loud as well (I assume it's the brand of pointes, but can't they hammer them before performance?). I expect a certain level of noise, but when my mom comments on it, it's reached the point where it's a little too much.

The sets were, in a word, exquisite. It was worth going just for the sets and costumes.

Overall, I'd call it an uneven evening at the ballet, but I'd absolutely go back this weekend to see it again, just to take in all of the details.



(PS: Dear Kennedy Center, when are you going to replace that wretched curtain in the Opera House? It really is quite awful.)

#41 bart

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 04:26 AM

I am still processing Dulcinea's variation in Act III/Scene I (I think).  All of those off kilter/off balance arabesques and attitudes, piques and turns, looked devilishly difficult.  The fact is, that variation looked fairly difficult if it wasn't off center.  I'd love to see it again to gauge my reaction the second time through. 

Overall, I'd call it an uneven evening at the ballet, but I'd absolutely go back this weekend to see it again, just to take in all of the details.


Almost all ballet -- but especially Balanchine -- seems to demand re-visits. There's so much there that passes by so quickly that I sometimes feel I have to re-check: did I really see that? what WAS that and how did it go?

I'm one of those 1965 Don Q viewers who saw it twice, and, to be honest, came away with few impressions of Farrell's role. She was not yet the icon to the audience that she was to Balanchine. I was too young perhaps, but the memory of the evening (even as I left the theater) was overwhelmed by wonderful sets, contumes, action, the strange lack of dramatic impactd, and the overlay of music that I dislikedy.

I've often wondered :smilie_mondieu: about these "off kilter/off balance" postiions which are spoken of so often. What do dancers think of them? I know they must be difficult, but do they add to Dulcinea's characer or to the progress of Don Q's idealization of her? In other words: what do you all think of this part of the ballet?

#42 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 05:35 AM

Clare Croft has a good, accurate, detailed review of Wednesday's performance in this morning's Washington Post, but she makes a mistake on the history of the casting of this ballet where she says no one but Farrell danced Dulcinea: Had she looked in Nancy Reynolds's Forty Years of the New York City Ballet, she would have found that Sara Leland and Kay Mazzo danced Dulcinea, too. And looking there myself, I got to thinking: Some of the other Dons are still very much with us, Jacques d'Amboise, Richard Rapp, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefous. (I think Francisco Moncion is no longer among us; apologies if I'm wrong in this bit of history myself.) Maybe Mladenov could benefit from some coaching from one of them? (I saw both Bonnefous and Moncion, opposite Leland, in 1972, and preferred Moncion as a "prodigy of detail," according to my notes.)

"'The dancer cast as Dulcinea'" is right on, Michelle W; and my progression in the effect of her performance as that dancer was the same. But there was a similar progression, though less well projected and effective for me (sitting in an upstairs seat more to the side), in Rodriguez's performance Wednesday, so maybe we are also seeing something in the role as staged this time. We'll see. Or maybe not.

#43 dirac

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 08:49 AM

In defense of the confused ticketbuyers, I thought the preview coverage of “Don Quixote” focused largely on the Farrell-Balanchine relationship and the return of the ballet to the active reportory rather than on the problems that led to its being dropped in the first place. That’s understandable, but I wouldn’t blame the casual balletgoer for being puzzled or even for thinking of the wrong “Don Quixote.” I don't always go right for the program notes, myself, although it's probably wise to do so........

#44 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 07:34 PM

Friday evening, Cheryl Sladkin and Alexander Ritter took over the Pas De Deux Mauresque from Magnicaballi and Kish, and while Ritter was fine, it was a little inauspicious for Sladkin, whose dancing looked small-scale - except when she had his support. I got more out of Rodriguez's Dulcinea this evening than previously, beginning with her long dance late in Act I, which still looked incompletely realized; but her dancing in the dream scene beginning Act III did look clear, secure, and fully mastered, right out to her fingertips "but no farther," as a BTer I met who had seen Farrell and Leland aptly put it. And Magnicaballi's Variation in the dream ballet was beautiful, while Pickard's Ritournel in Act II was again large, beautifully shaped and nuanced, as it had been opening night, if not better.

#45 Juliet

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 08:27 PM

The entire evening was more tightly paced, more cohesive, more flow.....
quite enjoyable....
although I didn't feel that Rodriguez is an expansive, dramatic dancer......
technnically, she was fine.....but technique is not what I am primarily looking for in Dulcinea.


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