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Balanchine Triple BillFebruary 1-5, Merriam Theater


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#1 Dale

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 03:29 PM

The official release:

December 9, 2005

Pennsylvania Ballet Honors George Balanchine with a Triple-Bill Tribute
Program features Western Symphony, Prodigal Son and Theme and Variations
February 1 – 5 at the Merriam Theater

Pennsylvania Ballet presents a triple-bill program in honor of the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and celebrates the return of three beloved programs to the Company’s repertoire from February 1 to 5 at the Merriam Theater. The program gives audiences a taste of the Wild West with Western Symphony, presents an emotional look at a well-known story with Prodigal Son, and gives audiences a look at the classic world of ballet with Theme and Variations.

Single tickets, priced $10 to $74, are available beginning January 2 by calling 215-336-2000 or by visiting www.paballet.org. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling 215-551-7000, ext. 1212.

Performed to traditional American melodies orchestrated by Hershy Kay, and with ornate and playful costumes by Frenkie Fehr after Karinska, Western Symphony brings the frontier into the city. Filled with swaggering cowboys and dance hall girls, the piece is set in the Old West and is a classic work inspired by the popularized cowboy entertainment of the 1950s. This is the first time that Pennsylvania Ballet has performed Western Symphony since February 1999.

Prodigal Son premiered in May 1929 with libretto by Boris Kochno, derived from the Biblical parable and from a description of it in a story by Pushkin. The ballet is deeply religious and Russian in feeling; however, there are extreme changes from the original tale: the elder brother has been eliminated from the story and a Siren is added for spice and dramatic value. Set to a moving score by Sergei Prokofiev, Prodigal Son features scenic and costume design by George Roualt. Pennsylvania Ballet last performed Prodigal Son in February 1998.

Lastly, Theme and Variations is a tribute to the Imperial Russian Ballet of Balanchine’s youth. Created for American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancers Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch, the work premiered in November 1947 at the City Center in New York City. Set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 in G, Theme and Variations is an obvious homage to The Sleeping Beauty, replicating the classical pas de deux. Another aspect Balanchine explored in this ballet is the classic ballet training, focusing on preparatory movements that were developed to train and warm-up the dancer’s body. This is the first time the Company has performed Theme and Variations since November 1986.

Founded in 1963 by Balanchine student Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the nation’s leading ballet companies. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Company’s annual local season features six productions of classic favorites and new works, including the Philadelphia holiday tradition, The Nutcracker. For more information, call 215-551-7000 or visit www.paballet.org.

2005-2006 Season
Western Symphony
With Prodigal Son and Theme and Variations
Merriam Theater
Wednesday, February 1 at 8 p.m.
Thursday, February 2 at 8 p.m.
Friday, February 3 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 4 at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 5 at 2 p.m.

#2 Dale

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 07:30 AM

Casting is up. It can be viewed in its complete form here:

http://www.paballet....erncasting1.pdf

Or the short form here:

Wednesday, February 1, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS:

JULIE DIANA JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON:

The Prodigal Son PHILIP COLUCCI
The Siren RIOLAMA LORENZO
Father ALEXEI CHAROV
Servants to the Prodigal Son MATTHEW NEENAN and
JONATHAN STILES

WESTERN SYMPHONY:
First Movement: Allegro
AMY ALDRIDGE ALEXEI BOROVIK

Second Movement: Adagio
JULIE DIANA MEREDITH RAINEY

Forth Movement
ARANTXA OCHOA ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Thursday, February 2, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS:

ARANTXA OCHOA FRANCIS VEYETTE

PRODIGAL SON:

The Prodigal Son PHILIP COLUCCI
The Siren RIOLAMA LORENZO
Father ALEXEI CHAROV
Servants to the Prodigal Son MATTHEW NEENAN and
JONATHAN STILES

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro
HEIDI CRUZ JAMES IHDE

Second Movement: Adagio
VALERIE AMISS ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Forth Movement
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

Friday, February 3, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

AMY ALDRIDGE JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son ALEXANDER IZILIAEV
The Siren ARANTXA OCHOA
Father ALEXEI CHAROV
Servants to the Prodigal Son MAXIMILIEN BAUD and
ANDRÉ VYTOPTOV

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro
RIOLAMA LORENZO FRANCIS VEYETTE

Second Movement: Adagio
JULIE DIANA MEREDITH RAINEY

Forth Movement
TARA KEATING PHILIP COLUCCI

Saturday, February 4, 2005 at 2:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

JULIE DIANA JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son ALEXANDER IZILIAEV
The Siren ARANTXA OCHOA
Father ALEXEI CHAROV
Servants to the Prodigal Son MAXIMILIEN BAUD and
ANDRÉ VYTOPTOV

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro
HEIDI CRUZ JAMES IHDE

Second Movement: Adagio
VALERIE AMISS ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Forth Movement
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

Saturday, February 4, 2005 at 8:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

ARANTXA OCHOA FRANCIS VEYETTE

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son PHILIP COLUCCI
The Siren RIOLAMA LORENZO
Father ALEXEI CHAROV
Servants to the Prodigal Son MATTHEW NEENAN and
JONATHAN STILES

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro
AMY ALDRIDGE ALEXEI BOROVIK

Second Movement: Adagio
JULIE DIANA MEREDITH RAINEY

Forth Movement
ARANTXA OCHOA ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Sunday, February 5, 2005 at 2:00 p.m.

THEME AND VARIATIONS

AMY ALDRIDGE JAMES ADY

PRODIGAL SON

The Prodigal Son ALEXANDER IZILIAEV
The Siren ARANTXA OCHOA
Father ALEXEI CHAROV
Servants to the Prodigal Son MAXIMILIEN BAUD and
ANDRÉ VYTOPTOV

WESTERN SYMPHONY

First Movement: Allegro
RIOLAMA LORENZO FRANCIS VEYETTE

Second Movement: Adagio
VALERIE AMISS ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Forth Movement
TARA KEATING PHILIP COLUCCI

#3 Dale

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 07:32 AM

Note: The company refers to the sections of Western Symphony in movement form, not about temp. So, the third movement is excluded as has become custom in performance. It's not missing for the list.

#4 GWTW

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 01:42 PM

After being rather disappointed with Wheeldon's Swan Lake and missing Nutcracker this year, I'm really looking forward to this programme.
I'll be seeing the Thursday performance and I'm especially excited about Philip Colucci as the Prodigal Son - he was terrific in Tharps' Nine Sinatra Songs last season (I can't remember the name of his number off the top of my head, but I think it was the 'prom' dance). Also excited to see Ochoa in Theme and Variations - she never seems to be cast in the performances I go to.

#5 lillianna

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 04:14 PM

I have seen a number of the company productions the last few years but have never seen one at the Merriam theatre before. Will the theater affect a number as large as Theme and Variations?

#6 Justdoit

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 04:45 PM

Can anyone tell me why the third movement is typically excluded from performances? NYCB does this as well. However, MCB is doing Western right now and includes it.

#7 bart

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 04:59 PM

The note in the MCB program says: "The third movement scherzo is a particularly difficult section of bravura dancing for the man and woman. Unique for its sequence of entrechats 6, it demands a pair of dancers with an exceptional ability for the small jumps called batterie. (Edward Villella was one with that ability.) Miami City Ballet was pleased to premiere Western symphony complete with this section [in 1994 at the Edinburgh Festival], which was cut from the ballet for many years for want of dancers able to tackle its demands." (note by Anita Finkel)

Also, MCB dances a LOT of Balanchine rep, and Villella really emphasizes training for its requirements. But I can't imagine that this explanation would be relevant to NYCB, where there are many such dancers. So why there?

#8 Dale

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 06:08 PM

(For more detailed thoghts on this, I think we've discussed this on some other threads, but...) The prevailing opinion is, as Bart shows in the MCB note, that Balanchine thought the movement was more trouble than it was worth. I only mentioned above the the third movement wasn't there because NYCB lists the casting like this: Allegro, Adagio, Rondo. From that, one might not know anything was missing, but PA Ballet listed the movements as 1st, 2nd and 4th, which might make someone think the casting for the "3rd movement" was missing. Anyway, SAB, last year, revived the 3rd movement and NYCB, in 1993 for the Balanchine Celebration, had performed Western Symphony with the 3rd movement, but dropped it again after a few seasons.

#9 carbro

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 07:30 PM

Unlike La Source, Western Symphony holds together just fine without its missing section. I was glad to see the Scherzo (two or three times) as a historical curiosity, but Western does not suffer significantly from its absence.

#10 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 09:12 PM

The thing that doesn't work in Western without the Scherzo is the Finale, but other than that it holds up.

Lilianna - Theme isn't that big until the finale when the twelve men enter.

#11 bart

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 05:28 AM

Unlike La Source, Western Symphony holds together just fine without its missing section.

True. You would not feel that anything was missing if you did not know about it. And, since the Rondo and Finale is also a fast movement, you aren't eliminating every particle of speed by cutting the Scherzo.

However, without the Scherzo, the audience is deprived of quite a lot of exceptional dancing. :)

I can see cutting a quarter of a ballet if it seems extraneous, redundant or over-long, but none of these is the case with Western Symphony. And it seems to me that it's best to follow Balanchine's original preference if the dancers meet the technical demands.

#12 Helene

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 09:00 AM

The Scherzo was choreographed for Patricia Wilde and Andre Eglevsky, and dates from right after The Nutcracker. It wouldn't have been the first time a piece was dropped or rechoreographed, because no one else had Wilde's technical ability.

I saw Katrina Killian and Gen Horiuchi perform the movement on 19 February 1989. For some reason, I though this was a special performance -- at least at that time, the last night of the Winter Season was a benefit for the Dancers' Emergency Fund -- but 19 February sounds a like a week too soon to have been the final performance of the season. By this time, at least half of the women were technically able to perform the choreography. Perhaps that's why it was put aside; it was no longer a unique technical feat.

#13 32tendu

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 01:40 PM

I am confused and suprosed that Amy Aldridge isn't being featured more with PA Ballet. Especially during a series featuring the work of Balanchine.

#14 Amy Reusch

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 08:42 PM

I have seen a number of the company productions the last few years but have never seen one at the Merriam theatre before. Will the theater affect a number as large as Theme and Variations?


The width of the Merriam stage is about 45 feet, I think the Academy of Music is about 44 feet wide... I could be off by a foot or so, but the stage size is comparable between the two houses... there is, however, a difference in the number of seats in the audience.

#15 lillianna

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 07:13 AM

I count myself fortunate indeed to have been able to see 4 of the PA Ballet Balanchine series shows. What a beautiful company!! Theme and Variations was breathtaking. I become more and more impressed with the performances of James Ady each time that I see him. He was masterful in Theme and Variations. He is a wonderful turner and has such clean technique. A joy to watch. My favorite ballerina in the role was Amy Aldridge. Her turns were spot on , no bobbles and positions were clear. I also enjoyed Julie Diana in the role, she is one of my very favorite dancers.
I had never seen Prodigal Son performed before. While it will never be one of my favorites, it was interesting. Phil Colucchi was wonderful on Saturday night and Riolama Lorenzo was the perfect siren, all legs and feet. I did have a wee small tear in my eye as the father gathered Phil in his arms, protected him and walked towards home.
Now Western Symphony is one of my all time favorites and the company did not disappoint me. I love the energy and fun of this ballet. There were a few spills in the performances. I think that the short depth of the stage crowded the dancers a bit and made all of the quick passing of each other difficult. And there were some last minute substitutions due to injuries and illnesses. But that didn't detract from the performances. It is even hard to say who the standouts were, everyone did such a wonderful job. Phil Colucchi was again a standout. I also loved Valerie Amiss in the second movement and Riolama in the 4th movement. Western Symphony is a great crowd pleaser and perfect ending to the ballet performance.


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