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New Houston "Swan Lake" -- thoughts and comments?


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#1 bart

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 01:54 PM

After reading this article on the new Stanton Welch Swan Lake

http://www.chron.com...ce/3667480.html

I was wondering what Houston fans (and others) think about it -- before and after the premiere.

Casting and coaching issues sound interesting:
____________

QUOTE: "With eight performances scheduled, he's cast five different Odette-Odiles and wants each to discover her own interpretation. "Every shade of characterization you put into the ballet is based on the people you have doing it," Welch says. (Petipa, for instance, gave the Black Swan 32 fouetts because his star, Pierina Legnani, excelled at them. Since then, they've daunted generations of ballerinas.)

To help his ballerinas with characterization, Welch brought in stylistically different coaches: [former Royal Ballet ballerina Merle] Park, as well as Georgina Parkinson and Olga Evreinoff. "You can't force-feed them one interpretation," Welch says. "Dancers are smart."
___________________

There are equally intriguing changes in score, plot, characters, and "psychology."

What do you think? Is this something to look forward to with joy? confusion? trepidation? dread? wait-and-see? or what?

#2 amitava

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 11:33 AM

After reading this article on the new Stanton Welch Swan Lake

http://www.chron.com...ce/3667480.html

I was wondering what Houston fans (and others) think about it -- before and after the premiere.

What do you think?  Is this something to look forward to with joy?  confusion?  trepidation?  dread?  wait-and-see?  or what?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hello Bart.

I experienced one of the cast yesterday. Sorry I am terrible with names...HB has such a HUGE number of dancers (by Texas Ballet standards). I just know them from the faces. The principal male was a principle from ABT..is all I remember. I think it was Marcelo Gomez and Sara Webb. http://www.houstonba...n_Lake_Casting/ has the cast list.

I made it a point to review the Bolshoi, Kirov, and ABT versions in the preceding weeks to see how different things were in terms of the choreography. I have seen Ballet Austin's and TBT (Ben Stevenson's) version last year. Please note that (a) I am not a dancer (b) I am very new to ballet c) I am by no means a critic. These are purely my personal impressions. Nothing more.

Costumes: Superb. Both long skirts (to symbolize the swans as maidens) and tutus are used. Act II's costumes impressed me a great deal. Black swan's was a large tutu, but quite not black. It has a layer of white underneath. A very nice design, variation..and symbolization.

Set: Act I...standard feel...
Act II...Very intriguing and visually stimulating. Nice design. But very strange blend (not in a bad way) of costumes (medieval/classical) and Art Deco set. Very Rusian look overall
Act III...There is a dragon involved...is all I can say

Lighting: I was not taken by it, but it looked like the designers were still working out the quirks. I have not seen Lisa Pinkerton's classical works before. I liked her work in the modern pieces of Mr. Welch.

Music: I like the extended version. The orchestra sounded great.

Choreography/story/interpretation:
Note that I am not used to seeing such huge companies perform. My aesthetic preferences may not match others
I do not want to give away too much for those who have not seen the production....so....
- There is a prelude of the first swan transformation like the ABT production
- Bad guy has gang - not just solo.. to do his evil deeds. There are 4 black swans also
- More human-swan transformations than I have seen in other productions
- Men are pushed harder . However, it was a tad too layered at times and the groups were very large, so the coordination was not as tight as I like. There were certain pieces that did not grab me. When fewer dancers danced, the formations/choreography looked good.
- Huge number of swans...looked great for certain formations and quite messy at other times
- End is a little different (yes the lovers still die)..and in some ways more tragic...I was photographing so could not see all details, but there are images that seem to imply as much.
- Some of the vocabulary/movements reminded me of Cranko (especially Onegin). Very organic - rather than stylized. This is neither a bad or a good thing. Just a personal illusionary observation.
- I did not find the dances between the main couple to be as lyrical as many other choreographers. It was different is all I can say. This is not a judgment, just a feel.
- The work seems well paced. Not a boring moment. One could almost argue that it does not give a break. I did not mind it.
- I think overall it was an interesting interpretation (dance) and staying within traditional boundaries.


Yes I would go and see it again. And you should too in my opinion.

Yep... I am going to duck now... no pun...

#3 amitava

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 04:57 PM

FYI... Nancy Wozny, a dance writer based out of Houston, has some details on the production as well at...

http://dancehunter.blogspot.com/

There is a photo of the Black Swan in the blog.

#4 amitava

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 02:55 PM

The latest issue (May 2006) of Dance Magazine has a review by Wendy Peron.

#5 sparklesocks

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 02:17 PM

Anyone want to post the plot details of this ballet for me? Being in Ontario, it wasn't possible to see this production, but the human/swan transformations sounded interesting to me. I've always thought the story would be a bit more "real" and less fairy talish if the audience were to have a chance to see Odette as a woman.

#6 richard53dog

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 03:39 PM

Anyone want to post the plot details of this ballet for me? Being in Ontario, it wasn't possible to see this production, but the human/swan transformations sounded interesting to me. I've always thought the story would be a bit more "real" and less fairy talish if the audience were to have a chance to see Odette as a woman.



Sparklesocks, there are a couple of versions of the prologue that I know of.

ABT's has one, Odette is wandering along (at night in a secluded place....hmmmm) and she comes across the handsome Rothbart who dances with her a bit and then drags her into his lair. In the theater, you then see the ugly Rothbart (SwampThing) holding up a swan. On the DVD version, which I dislike for a number of reasons,ugly Rothbart isn't holding a swan, you see Odette in her Act 2 costume

Going back a little further, the Kirov film from 1968 or so has a similar version(I'm hoping I'm remembering this correctly) Odette is a young maiden and is abducted by Rothbert(only one of them here)

Back further, in time the Bourmeister version (newly released on DVD with Zakharova and Bolle)
has something similar. Odette the maiden is wandering along in the dark collecting flowers and runs into
Rothbart who once more abducts her.

There may also be other variations that I'm not aware of, but you do see Odette before she has been put under a spell

Richard

#7 sparklesocks

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 03:55 PM

Thanks - good to know.

I was actually wondering more specifically about Houston Ballet's "new" production and the plot details specific to it. Anyone who has seen it, please fill me in. Let me know what you liked/didn't like. That sort of thing. No need to worry about "spoilers" at this point.


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