Soiree -- PNB Gala Opening
Posted 17 September 2005 - 10:29 PM
The opening piece, a taste of Jewels that will end the season in June 2006, was the Diamonds Pas de Deux, danced by Patricia Barker and Stanko Milov. One of the problems with an iconic film interpretation is that it is easy to become used to one way of phrasing, and Barker's was quite different than Farrell's in the Choreography by Balanchine excerpts. While I need more time to absorb the it, one thing about it was remarkable, which was how Barker managed to stop at the end of a phrase in a way that conveyed silence, not posing.
Ariana Lallone and Olivier Wevers were paired to strength as the first couple in Red Angels. Wevers is a vivid stage presence, and he radiates energy and spark. (If there was a ballet version of Ring of the Nibelungen, he would be typecast as Loge.) Lallone is a tall dancer with a tensile quality, and there aren't that many dancers who can stand up to the wattage of their presence. They make a very powerful pair. Jordan Pacitti and Lesley Rausch danced the second pair. They made a marked contrast: he had an earthy, pliant quality while she was a live electrical wire. Rausch's performance in Paul Gibson's Piano Dance last year was a break-through, but it was an appetizer compared to the star performance she gave in Red Angels. Kudos, too, to excellent violinist Mary Rowell, who played Richard Eichorn's Maxwell's Demon for electric violin.
Not only did Louise Nadeau lose Peter Boal as her partner in Duo Concertante, but his replacement, Olivier Wevers, is scheduled for the other cast (with Noelani Pantastico) in the regular season program that begins this Thursday. If this phased her at all, it didn't show. Matching Wevers' energy in the fast second and fourth movements, she set the pace in the beautiful third movement adagio, and when the spotlight came up on her in the last movement, and she was joined by Boal (in his "cameo"), she gave an impassioned performance. If there was any question about what kind of dancer Boal was during his career among those who had never seen him, it was answered in the two-three minutes of the finale, without a jump or a flashy step.
The diagonal of corps women in white that opens Symphony in Three Movements has lost none of its power in over thirty years, and it was a very disciplined performance by them. I can't think of a more complicated set of stage patterns, especially when they are joined by the five demi and three principal couples. Jonathan Porretta burst on the stage and was soon joined by Carrie Imler in the Tomasson/Yourth roles, with Imler matching each jump with seeming ease. The stage energy built as Kaori Nakamura and Jeff Stanton entered the picture, followed by Noelani Pantastico and Batkhurel Bold. Carla Korbes made her PNB debut as one of the five demisoloists, and she looked great paired with Lucien Postlewaite. There were many joys in the performance of this ballet; the high point of high points was the stupendous musical phrasing and plastique by Nakamura in the second movement pas de deux, by far the best and most inevitable performance I've seen in several decades of watching this work.
Posted 18 September 2005 - 12:26 PM
Posted 18 September 2005 - 03:00 PM
I look forward to your reports on the fascinating casting variations planned for Symphony in Three Movements. Thanks especially for mentioning Carla Korbes's debut! She'll really be missed by us NYCB fans...
Regarding the very different (from Farrell) phrasing by Patricia Barker in Diamonds; sounds like the hand of Balanchine, maximising the effect by considering the individual qualities of a ballerina: do you know whether Ms. Farrell was involved in setting Diamonds on PNB?
Posted 18 September 2005 - 03:05 PM
I go back to NYCB's performances in the 70s. It's Villella I remember best from the early days -- and the corps. Villella's Miami City Ballet did it in 2003-04, brilliantly.
I bet that PNB's is one of the best -- at least it sounds that way. I wish technology allowed me to say "Beam me out there, Scottie" so I could see.
Posted 18 September 2005 - 03:59 PM
drb, on Sep 18 2005, 04:00 PM, said:
The audience was a little calm after the Diamonds Pas de Deux, but on the whole, just loved, loved, loved Red Angels, and there was a lot of applause after one of Leslie Rausch's exits. When the spotlight shone on Boal in the last movement of Duo Concertante, the audience went crazy. And there was a very strong ovation after Symphony in Three Movements with all of the leads in the earlier ballets appearing on stage with Boal, all in party dress, for the final curtain calls. One thing about Seattle audiences, though, is we're very obedient. Once the curtain goes down, and the lights come up, that's it: everyone stops clapping and goes home. (Except, on occasion, for Mark Morris.)
You can never quite trust a commercial completely, but dancers aren't often trained as speakers or actors, and the enthusiasm they expressed in a new commercial aired on KING-FM, our local classical station, didn't sound in the least bit feigned. The words stressed how excited the dancers were to be working in this new era with him. Like in any other working situation, I assume there are some people who are spooked by change, at least at first, and some who will have reason to be disappointed as time goes on. When I look at the casting for the first program, though, I see many younger dancers who were first given opportunities by Russell and Stowell are being given featured roles: Chalnessa Eames, Leslie Rausch, and Maria Chapman in (Artifact II); Mara Vinson and Lucien Postlewaite in In the Night; and Brittany Reid, Kiyon Gaines, James Moore, and Rachel Foster in Symphony in Three Movements, with meaty roles for all of the Principal dancers. (And the tall, elegant Karel Cruz has been cast in Artifact II.) There are five soloists, but none are in Soloist Limbo, with the newly married Jodie Thomas and Casey Herd getting their share of roles. (In the program was a list of all of the PNB people who got married this summer, and there was a lovely photo of Thomas and Herd.)
drb, on Sep 18 2005, 04:00 PM, said:
drb, on Sep 18 2005, 04:00 PM, said:
Posted 19 September 2005 - 11:26 PM
BalletNut, on Sep 18 2005, 12:26 PM, said:
Posted 21 September 2005 - 08:51 AM
Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:01 AM
Posted 23 September 2005 - 11:19 AM
For the rest of it, I thought the performance looked like the first performance back after a summer off. They could be a bit tighter everywhere, and weren't dancing at the high level at the end of last season, especially for the going-away gala for Francia and Ken. I really enjoyed Lesley Rausch's dancing in Red Angels, but found the rest of it lacking attack and edge, which made it unmusical because it didn't match the music's character. Duo Concertant was wonderful, especially the chemistry between Olivier Wevers and Louise Nadeau, and I really liked Louise's dancing. But I wish Peter hadn't done the cameo, because Olivier came out worse in the comparison. I enjoyed Kaori Nakamura and Jonathan Porretta in Symphony in 3 movements because of their energy and bright attacks, and the corps did a commendable job on their complicated patterns, but again I thought they could be a bit tighter.
Except for a couple of clams in Diamonds, the musicians and orchestra were wonderful. I think they're still the best ballet orchestra I've heard so far.
Posted 23 September 2005 - 05:57 PM
Posted 23 September 2005 - 09:10 PM
Helene, on Sep 24 2005, 01:57 AM, said:
I've been thinking about her work last year with Milov, who did such an exuberant Apollo to her patrician Terpsichore, and wondering about the transition to this ballet. They did excellent work in that last year, but Diamonds did seem a bit forced here.
Posted 24 September 2005 - 08:34 AM
doug, on Sep 22 2005, 01:01 AM, said:
Was Barker cast in Brahms/Schoenberg when Russell first staged it for the Company?
Posted 24 September 2005 - 09:57 PM
I don't know -- that was in 85, and I didn't see that staging.
Posted 25 September 2005 - 07:04 AM
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