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Bill

SFB To Perform Don Quixote at Edinburgh Festival

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Thank you for this wonderful news, Bill! It's in the exact right place.

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Here's the latest information from the Festival website. Five performances, August 26-29.

http://www.edinburgh-festivals.com/international/

This is a very complicated and inconsistent website in general -- and NOT easy to use. You have to select an "artform" (dance), and the info on the Farrell company should appear.

Anyone planning to attend?

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Wish I could! Edinburgh is exceedingly crowded then....but would love to hear reports......

on this side of the Atlantic, a core group will be at Jacob's Pillow doing some wonderful pieces......

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I'd follow Suzanne anywhere, preferably to NJPAC or the Kennedy Center. But I can't make it to Edinburgh or to Jacob's Pillow for that matter. Like Juliet, I'd love to read some reports.

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I'll be there..DD in corps...will see last two performances...Hope to catch two different Dulcineas. Will report in Sept upon return.

Cheers,

Watermill

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'...everything man does he does for his ideal woman. You live only one life and you believe in something and I believe in a little thing like that.' George Balanchine

Navigating to that site was worth it, to find this quote!

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I'll not make it to Edinburgh, so I'm looking forward to that, Watermill!

But I expect to see most of the run at Jacob's Pillow and report what I see as best I can...

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Here's the latest information from the Festival website. Five performances, August 26-29.

http://www.edinburgh-festivals.com/international/

This is a very complicated and inconsistent website in general -- and NOT easy to use. You have to select an "artform" (dance), and the info on the Farrell company should appear.

Bart is right -- the Festival website is complicated. But if you persist and get to the Don Q page, there are a few photos, presumably from last summer's Kennedy Center performances.

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The site is complex, but I didn't find it so hard to use, although I got to it by a different address. If you use this link

http://www.eif.co.uk/

you get a page which looks the same but has a different slide show going in the middle of it. When I saw a slide of Don Quixote, I clicked on it and went to this page

http://www.eif.co.uk/E151_Balanchine_s_Don_Quixote.php

What's really nice is the seat-choice page you eventually get (it loads slowly) if you click one of the BUY links in the right column: You see exactly which seats are taken, which are available, and what their prices are, and you select the one(s) you want, like you do when you reserve airplane seats! I know of no American theatre using this technology.

But, where does one sit in this theatre? Where are the best seats? Is the main floor ("stalls") level, so you can be blocked? How far back is the "cicle"? Anyone here ever sat in the Edinburgh Playhouse? I suppose price is a good guide, but the top-price L40 (40-pound) seats are unavailable at the moment - sold, or never were? - so I'm wondering where to aim for.

Anyway, the bottom of the Don Quixote page has one of the nicest examples of "further information" I've run across:

Additional info:

'...everything man does he does for his ideal woman. You live only one life and you believe in something and I believe in a little thing like that.' George Balanchine

That's my kind of festival site!

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What's really nice is the seat-choice page you eventually get (it loads slowly) if you click one of the BUY links in the right column: You see exactly which seats are taken, which are available, and what their prices are, and you select the one(s) you want, like you do when you reserve airplane seats! I know of no American theatre using this technology.

The PAC center in Newark, NJ uses something like this. You select a tier and then the screen displays the section ; seat by seat , row by row with the row numbers visible. The seats already sold are shaded a different color.

You select the seat(s) you want from ones still available by clicking on them and they go into your basket.

I don't know how long they are using this, I bought last March for Perm Swan Lake using this software.

Richard

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Adding to Richard's description of NJPAC's on-line ticketing :flowers: , you can also click to get an idea of the view from that seat. Of course, it's hard to gauge distance, but you can get an idea of how far to the side you'll be, or if you're in an upper tier, how steep the angle downwards. It's a great model for other theaters. I can't think of a feature I'd like that it lacks. :clapping:

I love NJPAC!

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The new Harris Theatre here has one of those virtual-view things, but I find it inaccurate.

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Kennedy Center also uses it; I've found it helpful....

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The site is complex, but I didn't find it so hard to use, although I got to it by a different address. If you use this link

......

But, where does one sit in this theatre? Where are the best seats? Is the main floor ("stalls") level, so you can be blocked? How far back is the "cicle"? Anyone here ever sat in the Edinburgh Playhouse? I suppose price is a good guide, but the top-price L40 (40-pound) seats are unavailable at the moment - sold, or never were? - so I'm wondering where to aim for.

.....

That's my kind of festival site!

The Playhouse is (by UK standards) a very large venue, but not, I find, a very inviting one. I think it was a cinema at one point. The stage is wide but shallow. The public areas are very cramped and poorly lit.

The rear stalls can feel a very long way from the stage. Middle is best - the very front is a bit low for a good look at the feet. You might be better off in the circle. The audotorium is fairly wide, so if you are off to one side you may have a poor view.

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Many thanks, Lynette H! Just what I need to know, that confirms and adds to some of the bits I've been finding on the Web, and explains why most of the front of the Circle is so well sold.

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I have unexpectedly had to cancel my trip to Edinburgh. I am selling two single tickets for Don Q. They are both very good as I purchased them months ago. Mon Aug 28 front row Balcony a little to the side.

Tues Aug 29 Orch center row N. PM me if interested.

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Sorry you won't be going, Watermill. I was looking forward to your reports.

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(from Edinburgh, Scotland) The run got off to a slightly bumpy start last night, except of course for when the dancers themselves were in action, but before I get into that, let me tell you who the main ones were:

Don Quixote Momchil Mladenov

Dulcinea, Marcela Heather Ogden

Sancho Panza Eric Ragan

Juggler Jared Redick

Rigaudon Flamenco Erin Mahoney-Du and Runqiao Du

Danza alla Caccia Shannon Parsley, Benjamin Lester, Andrew Kaminski

Pas de Deux Mauresque Chan Hon Goh and Jared Redick

Courante Sicilienne Gina Artese, Melissa Barak, Elisabeth Holowchuk,

Alexei Agoudine, Radoslav Kokoszka, Neil Marshall

Ritournel Bonnie Pickard with Lauren Herfindahl

Knight of the Silver Moon Runqiao Du

Solo Maidens Shannon Parsley, Bonnie Pickard

Cavaliers Matthew Prescott, Jared Redick

Variation I Bonnie Pickard

Variation II Shannon Parsley

Variation III Jared Redick

VariationIV Heather Ogden

Merlin Benjamin Lester

Night Spirit Erin Mahoney-Du

The production was slightly reduced compared to Washington, owing to the smaller stage in the Edinburgh Playhouse, with fewer books in the Don's study; thus Marcela's Pieta (?) poses are done on the stairway, and Sancho Panza enters from the back instead of tottering charmingly down the stairway, and the red-eyed monster was absent entirely from III ii.

But the dancing! The dancing was present in every sense: When the villagers get into it in I ii, I start to think, "opera ballet", but it's better than that, it's better made and better danced than any opera ballet I ever saw. Easy, high extensions, large, clear, flowing, strong. And this part was another harbinger of the high level of the whole evening, the first being Mladenov's Don. In the first performances in Washington, I thought he grew into and filled out this huge role as the week rolled on, but here his first moves were a full realization of this energetic - driven, even - dignified yet naive old man; and Ogden as Marcela moved about his study fully in character from the start, too. (Robert Gottlieb, in his review of the premier, criticises Mladenov as sometimes "busy," but Nabokov's music is pretty busy too; what's Mladenov got to work from?)

Besides Ogden, whose phone number one gentleman I spoke to at the first interval already wanted, Mahoney-Du and Goh were the great standouts in this fine company, at least from my distance half-way back in the Circle (or First Balcony); Parsley and Pickard were excellent, too. (The generally attentive audience included a young woman behind me who said, just after the Mauresque "I liked that!") I was glad to see both again, especially after Mahoney-Du's (minor) injury at Jacob's Pillow and Goh's long absence, but even if I'd never seen them before I would have enjoyed their dancing hugely. That's the right word, I think, because the effect of their dancing was large across the distance, it seemed to eliminate distance, and yet it was contained and beautiful, especially Goh's. (I want to say more about Ogden's dancing of her large role, and I hope some language adequate to the job will occur to me soon.)

As to the (minor) problems, the start of the long evening was delayed a quarter of an hour while "a minor medical problem" was dealt with; the sight lines in this former cinema being a little marginal for the stage action, I couldn't tell what that was, and for the same reason I missed completely the period of several minutes when the very fine "Orchestra of Scottish Opera" played on just fine with one section in the dark (but I heard about it later).

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Thanks, Jack! I'd been looking forward eagerly to this first report, and you did not disappoint! It's great to have the complete list of dancers of this wonderful company -- including the newly returned Chan Hon Goh and the apparently just arrived Melissa Barak. I don't want to get carried away, but the phrase "All-Star Company" did cross my mind. A toast to you (single malt, of course), Edinburgh, Ballet Talk, the SFB, and Suzanne!

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(from Edinburgh, Scotland) Sunday's matinee (27 August) brought Natalia Magnicaballi into the Dulcinea/ Marcela role, Matthew Prescott into the Juggler role, and Bonnie Pickard and Erin Mahoney-Du exchanged Rigaudon Flamenco and Ritournel, with Andre Vytoptov partnering Pickard and Gillian Crighton accompanying Mahoney-Du. (The Ritournel role is a solo; a small child, behind the dancer, moves around to keep a half-umbrella of pink ostrich feathers over her head. Crighton, even smaller than Lauren Herfindahl in the first cast, was warmly received onstage by the matinee audience, which then promptly fell to attending the dance itself.)

I was delighted with Magnicaballi's dancing: Wonderfully clearly articulated in continuous flow to cumulative effect, her movement was deliciously phrased, in place and through space. "Breathtaking," I wrote in my program, and I remembered what my professional friend said at Jacob's Pillow after seeing Magnicaballi's Tzigane: "Magnicaballi was a beautiful dancer when I saw her a couple of years ago, and now she's better." In both roles, she makes characterization grow out of the moment in a competely natural-looking way.

I'm sorry to say that Matthew Prescott was not always in control of the sitation this time, in a short quick-moving role which requires a bit of catch with Sancho Panza, some juggling with three pieces of fruit, and some jumps; Prescott kept impressive line in turning leaps, but back on the ground the fruit tended to get away from him. Redick makes this little character bit exude flavor continuously, but Prescott needs to cook it some more.

Mahoney-Du is a taller, longer-limbed dancer than Pickard and makes the Ritournel more expansive rather than nuanced, within an envelope. There are some little jetes which seem to hang in the air in slow motion while she holds the hand of her partner, who stands at one side, and details like that which just blaze out to us repeatedly. We'd sure see a false move if she made one, but she doesn't.

In the evening, the first cast returned, although the printer had Magnicaballi in some middle scenes; somebody needs to remember to "search and replace." I warmed more to Ogden's dancing, or she warmed to the role; she brings a kind of cool, clear, young naivety to it while Magnicaballi feels it a little differently, gives it to us differently, not that I would ask for it either way, I'm happy again to have both, and Ogden's dancing later in the evening seemed to me better to connect phrases and so, to have more effect. With her, you see clear technique more; with Magnicaballi, it's there all right, but it's a little more subsumed; she's perhaps gone a little farther beyond it. (I'm still not satisfied with my description of Ogden's dancing, FWIW.)

Farrell Fan, that's far from a complete list! I'm such a poor typist, I just skimmed the huge cast, but as there is so much beautiful dancing before us, I keep feeling I must work at it some more, and let people know who deserves credit. At least, I can count up the sections and mention that next time. (I had imagined it would be pouring here, so I'd be online more; Rudolph Bing is said to have started the Festival to pump up the end of summer season business as the rain returns, but except for a light shower while I was on the upper deck of a tour bus, it's been pretty dry.)

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It seems fitting that, as a mainstay of the company, Magnicaballi got to do the lead role in this loving restoration. Thanks for the wonderful report, Jack. I was pleased that the audience turned its attention to the dance after applauding the little girl with the half-umbrella. I've always found that hard to do, being too concerned with whether the child would be able to keep up with the adult dancer. And as someone who can't describe dance except in cliches, I am closely following your quest to capture in words the movement of Heather Ogden. I know you can do it.

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(from Edinburgh, Scotland) Thanks for the encouragement, Farrell Fan; maybe while I'm seeing Ogden tonight - at least it's my assumption that she'll be cast - from a center stalls (orchestra) seat, more apt language will come. Meanwhile, speaking of language, I see I've given the wrong idea about the umbrella-bearer's reception - these audiences, like the residents of Edinburgh seem to be generally, are far too sophisticated about good, proper, modest, polite, civilized behavior to applaud something like that entrance: just a little subdued but warm vocalization ran round the theatre for a moment.

In the meantime, there were some more cast rotations and changes Monday night: Magnicaballi came back to her role and Redick to that of the Juggler, Lisa Reneau danced Rigaudon Flamenco with Du, and Pickard took over Danza della Caccia from Parsley, who nevertheless appeared as usual in Act III.

I was quite taken all over again with Magnicaballi, partly because I was watching from a closer seat in the stalls instead of in the circle, because she gives so much without seeming to, if that language makes sense; it's just there, so nicely modulated, too. At the end, just as the curtain comes down, she shows her real grief and love of the Don, not quite throwing herself on his body for a last embrace, and then sinking to the floor; not sobbing (too much!) but crushed. (I think this bit may be a change; I remember at some point, Marcela/Dulcinea, kneeling on the floor by the Don's bed, leaning her forearms against the side of it, clasps her hands and raises her gaze to the starry heavens in prayer.* (My often frustrating memory tends to collect images and words without their contexts sometimes.) But I don't mean to emphasise this detail: Her whole performance ebbed and flowed with life. No, several lives (read on).

Lisa Reneau was, if possible, even more effective in Flamenco than Mahoney-Du. This company goes from strength to strength, that is, when nothing is actually going wrong, as when Mahoney-Du herself, as it happened, couldn't continue at Jacob's Pillow several weeks ago, and a substitute had to be found, but part of me continues to believe this is all humanly impossible anyway. That's where, for me, some of the wonder comes from.

The Festival has been laying on some lectures apropos the performances, and while I missed Farrell's on Sunday afternoon, which began before the performance ended, some of what she said turned up second-hand on Monday in the animated and intelligent remarks of Dr. Giannandrea Poesio, a performer turned critic and dance historian. Certainly the revival of Balanchine's Don Quixote might bring up some questions additional to the usual ones about performance, and I gathered from Poesi that Farrell had said that once you notate a dance you leave no interpretive room. "I couldn't agree more," he said, but went on to add, so "my dance-notator friends won't kill me" that notation is okay, valuable, if it's not missused in the way Farrell warned about: No one should ever say, Poesi said, we don't have a record of that [move], so don't do it.

He gave his understanding of her claim that there's no pantomime in Don Quixote: The role is all pantomime, he said, but not [literal] pantomime, and he illustrated what that was by giving us some hilarious examples of literal pantomime, reciting the words as he indicated them. This way he made the point that this kind of thing can be ridiculous; but Balanchine's ballet is a tragedy.

Today, Poesio said, new choreographers take all sorts of odd bits, maybe even putting a curtain between the dancing and the audience, put them together, "and shake." The result is a pastiche. From an historian's point of view, Balanchine had already done it, in a less agressive way, in 1965 when Don Quixote premiered; it didn't look right at the time. Nutcracker was booed in 1893, likewise the first Swan Lake; Rite of Spring.

Don Quixote is a celebration of Balanchine's artistic passion for his new ballerina, he said; "[Marcela/Dulcinea], with its multiplicities of characters, is the hardest in the repertory." [Take some more bows, Heather and Natalia.]

* 30 th August 2006: Since I wrote this, I have become satisfied this prayerful version was never done! My memory and imagination were working overtime.

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I'm all in favor of polite, civilized behavior, Jack, but have the audiences there given any indication of whether they appreciate Balanchine's "Don Quixote?" The reviews I've read on Ballet Talk links have been uniformly dismal. Of course this ballet is not a crowd-pleaser, but to just dismiss it as old-fashioned and boring because the dancers aren't in leotards shows a narrow, stereotypical view of Balanchine. Thank goodness for your reports!

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I think it's interesting how Don Q seems to upset people because it doesn't conform with what people think of as Balanchine, but also because it touches upon some uncomfortable subjects (Ismene Brown did a good job going through them, although I disagree that Balanchine is not good at narrative). I think that people need to widen their perception of Balanchine's work. Yes, he's known for his neo-classical works such as Agon and Concerto Barocco AND takes on Petipa like Theme and Variations, but he's done so much more. What about Prodigal Son, with the long crawl home? Or the emotionalism of Meditation? I don't know, but DQ touched me. When I first saw it, as a young kid, it was the varations that amazed me. But in DC, as somebody with more experience, I recognized so many life moments in the ballet. And life is often uncomfortable and painful. It was obviously an important ballet for Mr. B, not just in his declaration of love for Farrell but as a way to express his feelings about God, love, sacrifice, growing old, disappointment, embarrassment, dreams...

I wish it could be danced at the same caliber it was when stage at NYCB, but Farrell has learned her lessons from Balanchine well. These are the dancers she has NOW and they are dancing for the NOW. And I liked many of the dancers in DC, in fact almost all but not the Dulcinea. She just didn't move in the Balanchine way.

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