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Franklin Court/Firebird programMarch 3-11, 2006


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#1 Dale

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 01:26 PM

Pennsylvania Ballet Celebrates the 300th Birthday of Benjamin Franklin with Franklin Court

THE PROGRAM ALSO FEATURES JAMES KUDELKA'S THE FIREBIRD

March 3 – 11 at the Academy of Music

Pennsylvania Ballet joins Philadelphia in celebrating the 300th birthday of renowned Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin with the return of Christopher d’Amboise’s Franklin-inspired ballet, Franklin Court, performed from March 3 to 11 at the Academy of Music with James Kudelka’s mesmerizing The Firebird.

Single tickets, priced $10 to $111, are available beginning February 6 by calling TicketPhiladelphia at 215-893-1999, or by visiting www.paballet.org. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling 215-551-7000, ext. 1212.

Former Artistic Director Christopher d’Amboise’s beloved production of Franklin Court returns to Pennsylvania Ballet’s repertoire for the first time since 1994 in honor of our Founding Father’s birthday. The title refers to the Philadelphia landmark that bears the same name — the steel-framed structure, nicknamed the “ghost house,” that rises from the ground, outlining the shape and dimensions of Franklin’s last house. The structure was designed by world-famous architect Robert Venturi, who collaborated on Franklin Court’s set design, and was built in 1976 for the bicentennial. Franklin Court’s complicated set features a highly technological display of beams hanging in abstract designs, that come together as the ballet concludes to form an outline resembling the “actual” house structure at Franklin Court.

The choreography conveys an abstract reflection of a number of Franklin’s inventions through four movements titled “Bifocals,” a dance in which one couple shadows another; “Swim Fins,” a dancer is tossed through the air in an illusion similar to the motion of a school of dolphins; “Spark” and “Electricity,” two duets described best by Brad Rosenstein of the City Paper as “18th-century precision shot through with the restless energy of an omnivorous mind and a uniquely American sense of quest.”

This program also features James Kudelka’s The Firebird, which was created for National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in 2000 – 2001. Pennsylvania Ballet acquired the production in 2003.

The Firebird was first presented by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris in 1910, with choreography by Michel Fokine. It was Igor Stravinsky’s first commissioned ballet score and undoubtedly what would become his most famous. It was regarded as groundbreaking and became and instant success. Based on several Russian fairytales and folklore including “The Tale of Ivan Tsarevich,” “The Legend of Kastchei, the Deathless” and “The Bird of Light and the Grey Wolf,” the ballet tells the story of a demon ruler of an enchanted forest, a prince in love and a magical firebird who comes to the rescue.

As a tribute to the spectacle of the original, Kudelka chose famed designer Santo Loquasto to create the opulent costumes and scenery. Loquasto’s designs are in the theme of pre-Columbian America with additional Pacific Rim influence.

This presentation of Franklin Court was made possible in part by a grant from Dance Advance, a program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. The Pew Charitable Trusts serves the public interest by providing information, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with an office in Washington, D.C., the Trusts will invest $177 million in fiscal year 2005 to provide organizations and citizens with fact-based research and practical solutions for challenging issues.

The acquisition of The Firebird was made possible through the generosity of Penny and Bob Fox, Louise and Alan Reed, and Iliana and Ben Strauss.

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.

The Firebird (Choreography: James Kudelka; Music: Igor Stravinsky)
Franklin Court (Choreography: Christopher d’Amboise; Music: Johann Sebastian Bach)
Academy of Music
- Friday, March 3 at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, March 4 at noon and 8 p.m.
- Sunday, March 5 at 2 p.m.
- Thursday, March 9 at 8 p.m.
- Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, March 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Single tickets, priced $10 to $111, are available beginning February 6 by calling 215-893-1999 or by visiting www.paballet.org. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling 215-551-7000, ext. 1212.

#2 Dale

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 01:26 PM

Here's the casting:


Friday,March 3,2006 at 8:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT
INTRODUCTION
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
Hawley Rowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
JermelJohnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov
BIFOCALS
AMY ALDRIDGE PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
SPARK
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY
SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov
ELECTRICITY
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

FINALE
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI
FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Arantxa Ochoa
Prince Ivan Alexander Iziliaev
Princess Vasilisa Martha Chamberlain
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
AshleyFlood,Victoria Gates,Rachel Maher,
Abigail Mentzer,Alyson Pray,Barette Vance,
Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastcheithe Deathless AlexeiBorovik
His Wife TaraKeating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an Older Beast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Jermel Johnson,
MichaelPatterson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Megan Dickinson,Emily Hayden,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

Saturday,March 4,2006 at 12:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT
INTRODUCTION
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
Hawley Rowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov

BIFOCALS
VALERIE AMISS MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES

SPARK
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov

ELECTRICITY
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

FINALE
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN
FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Riolama Lorenzo
Prince Ivan James Ihde
Princess Vasilisa AmyAldridge
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
Ashley Flood,Victoria Gates,Courtney Hellebuyck,
Rachel Maher,Alyson Pray,Barette Vance,
EmilyWaters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastchei the Deathless MatthewNeenan
His Wife Tara Keating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an OlderBeast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Jermel Johnson,
Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Megan Dickinson,Emily Hayden,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

Saturday,March 4,2006 at 8:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT

INTRODUCTION
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
Hawley Rowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov

BIFOCALS
AMY ALDRIDGE PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES

SPARK
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov

ELECTRICITY
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

FINALE
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI

FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Arantxa Ochoa
Prince Ivan Alexander Iziliaev
Princess Vasilisa Martha Chamberlain
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
Ashley Flood,Victoria Gates,Rachel Maher,
Abigail Mentzer,Alyson Pray,Barette Vance,
EmilyWaters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastchei the Deathless Alexei Borovik
His Wife Tara Keating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an OlderBeast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Jermel Johnson,
Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Megan Dickinson,Emily Hayden,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

Sunday,March 5,2006 at 2:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT

INTRODUCTION
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
HawleyRowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov

BIFOCALS
VALERIE AMISS MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES

SPARK
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov

ELECTRICITY
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

FINALE
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN

FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Riolama Lorenzo
Prince Ivan James Ihde
Princess Vasilisa AmyAldridge
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
Megan Dickinson,Ashley Flood,Victoria Gates,
Rachel Maher,Abigail Mentzer,Alyson Pray,
EmilyWaters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastchei the Deathless MatthewNeenan
His Wife Tara Keating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an OlderBeast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Jermel Johnson,
Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Emily Hayden,Courtney Hellebuyck,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

Thursday,March 9,2006 at 8:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT

INTRODUCTION
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
Hawley Rowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov

BIFOCALS
AMY ALDRIDGE PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES

SPARK
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov

ELECTRICITY
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

FINALE
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI

FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Arantxa Ochoa
Prince Ivan Alexander Iziliaev
Princess Vasilisa Martha Chamberlain
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
Ashley Flood,Victoria Gates,Courtney Hellebuyck,
Rachel Maher,Alyson Pray,Barette Vance,
EmilyWaters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastchei the Deathless Alexei Borovik
His Wife Tara Keating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an OlderBeast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Jermel Johnson,
Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Megan Dickinson,Emily Hayden,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

Friday,March 10,2006 at 8:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT

INTRODUCTION
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
Hawley Rowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov

BIFOCALS
VALERIE AMISS MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES

SPARK
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov

ELECTRICITY
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

FINALE
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN

FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Riolama Lorenzo
Prince Ivan James Ihde
Princess Vasilisa AmyAldridge
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
Megan Dickinson,Ashley Flood,Victoria Gates,
Rachel Maher,Abigail Mentzer,Alyson Pray,
EmilyWaters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastchei the Deathless MatthewNeenan
His Wife Tara Keating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an OlderBeast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Jermel Johnson,
Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Emily Hayden,Courtney Hellebuyck,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

Saturday,March 11,2006 at 2:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT

INTRODUCTION
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
Hawley Rowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov

BIFOCALS
AMY ALDRIDGE PHILIP COLUCCI
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES

SPARK
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY
SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov

ELECTRICITY
RIOLAMA LORENZO JAMES ADY

FINALE
AMY ALDRIDGE LAURA BOWMAN RIOLAMA LORENZO
JAMES ADY PHILIP COLUCCI

FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Arantxa Ochoa
Prince Ivan Alexander Iziliaev
Princess Vasilisa Martha Chamberlain
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
Ashley Flood,Victoria Gates,Rachel Maher,
Abigail Mentzer,Alyson Pray,Barette Vance,
EmilyWaters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastchei the Deathless Alexei Borovik
His Wife Tara Keating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an OlderBeast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Michel Antoine Braun,
Jermel Johnson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Megan Dickinson,Emily Hayden,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

Saturday,March 11,2006 at 8:00 p.m.

FRANKLIN COURT

INTRODUCTION
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES
Rebecca Azenberg,Ashley Flood,Alyson Pray,Meredith Reffner,
Hawley Rowe,Emily Waters,Gabriella Yudenich
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov

BIFOCALS
VALERIE AMISS MATTHEW NEENAN
ABIGAIL MENTZER JONATHAN STILES

SPARK
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

SWIM FINS
LAURA BOWMAN
Thomas Baltrushunas,Maximilien Baud,Alexei Charov,Yosbel Delgado,
Jermel Johnson,Michael Patterson,Jonathan Stiles,André Vytoptov

ELECTRICITY
JULIE DIANA JAMES IHDE

FINALE
VALERIE AMISS LAURA BOWMAN JULIE DIANA
JAMES IHDE MATTHEW NEENAN

FUGUE
Entire Cast

THE FIREBIRD

The Firebird Riolama Lorenzo
Prince Ivan James Ihde
Princess Vasilisa AmyAldridge
Princesses Rebecca Azenberg,Laura Bowman,Natia Bunturi,
Ashley Flood,Victoria Gates,Rachel Maher,
Abigail Mentzer,Alyson Pray,Barette Vance,
EmilyWaters,Gabriella Yudenich
Kastchei the Deathless MatthewNeenan
His Wife Tara Keating
The Priestess Meredith Reffner
An Old Reptile and Ian Hussey
an OlderBeast Keith Mearns
Jaguar Philip Colucci
General Yosbel Delgado
Warthogs Jonathan Stiles
Francis Veyette
Knights Thomas Baltrushunas,Alexei Charov,
Meredith Rainey
Guards Maximilien Baud,Jermel Johnson,
Michael Patterson,André Vytoptov
Snake Hawley Rowe
Lizards Megan Dickinson,Emily Hayden,
Catherine Rinko-Gay

#3 GWTW

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 08:03 PM

I saw the Sat matinee. This program is very uneven - one half is wonderful and the other half is a complete dud (IMO, of course).
I loved Franklin Court. Christopher D'Amboise's starting point was to abstract some of Ben Franklin's inventions/discoveries (Bifocals, Spark, Swim Fins and Electricity), just as the present-day Franklin Court is an abstraction of Franklin's house. For those who haven't been bludgeoned by Philadelphia's propaganda machine celebrating the 300th year of Franklin's birth, the present-day Franklin Court has a "ghost" construction of steel girders over the location of Franklin's house. The decor for the ballet is a number of steel girders which hang above the stage and are moved (designed by Robert Venturi, who designed the "real" Franklin Court). At the end of the ballet, they form the shape of the "real" Franklin Court. The choreography is lovely and very fluent. Parts of it - mainly the ensembles and the Spark and Electricity - evoke an 18th century feel, as they combine formality with wit. I loved that the concepts of Spark and Electricty were illustrated by a couple falling in love (but I'm a sucker for those kind of literary conceits). The dancers were delightful - they danced with the abandon that I looked for and didn't find last month with the Balanchine program. Especially impressive were Matthew Neenan (he danced the Bifocals male lead and had a very difficult and lengthy solo. Up to now, I've known him mainly as a choreographer) and Abigail Mentzer (as the lead demi-soloist :) . She has a ton of charisma) Julie Diana was beautiful as the woman in Spark and Electricity - she manages to be both serene and witty at the same time. It helps that she looks like a Jane Austen heroine, of course.
James Kudelka's The Firebird, on the other hand, was dreadful. I rarely write bad reviews here but this time I just can't help it. I saw the original on DVD two weeks ago and the difference between the two versions is unbelievable. First of all, there is very little dancing in Kudelka's version. Even the Firebird doesn't seem to do much. The only ones who get more dancing in this version are those bizarre girls with Chinese straw hats, corn rows, crinoline skirts, pantaloons and pointe shoes :dunno: Oh yes, those are the princesses :dunno: Also, either the story doesn't make sense or it is told very poorly. For instance, Prince Ivan doesn't seem to have caught the Firebird because she keeps on dancing away from him, so why does she give him the feather and why does the Firebird dance with the other creatures who inhabit the forest. Isn't she supposed to be a kind of "untouchable"?The main reason I wa asking myself all these questions is because the ballet itself is boring, boring, boring. The lavish decor and costumes did nothing to distract me; in fact, I found them very irritating becuase I wish someone had taken the money invested in this production and put it somewhere else. Riolama Lorenzo, James Ihde and Amy Aldridge danced the leads, but the choreography did not allow them to shine.

#4 bart

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Posted 05 March 2006 - 08:42 AM

Thanks for two vivid and interesting reviews, GWTW. Franklin Court sounds well worth a few viewings. I'm sorry to hear about the Firebird, though your comments tend to confirm what several National Ballet of Canada posters have said about Kudelka's revisions of the classics in general.

Two more questions: given the superb music, fascinating story, and grand choreographic tradition (Fokine and Balanchine 1 and 2), why on earth would a new guy do so many wrong-headed things? Pursuit of novelty for its own sake? An attraction to challenge "because it's there," even if you don't have anything significant to add to what's been done before?

#5 GWTW

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 07:57 PM

bart, I honestly don't know how Kudelka, who I'm assuming is an accomplished choreographer, managed to mess things up so much. However, I don't think it's an easy ballet to remake or choreograph - the music is glorious but rigorous and the story is not that straightforward. Who and what is the Firebird and what is her relationship to Ivan and to Kastchei are complex questions in the Fokine version and, according to recent discussions on the NYCB threads, in the Balanchine version. Based on my single viewing, the Kudelka version doesn't even pose these questions.

#6 Amy Reusch

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 08:19 PM

“Bifocals,” a dance in which one couple shadows another; “Swim Fins,” a dancer is tossed through the air in an illusion similar to the motion of a school of dolphins;


I had the pleasurable responsibility of shooting the premiere of this piece... With all due respect, "shadows" does not quite give the concept clearly. In Bifocals, there are two couples, while one couple minimally almost marks the movement, the other couple magnifies the movement dancing full out... it's a rather clever interpretation of the invention and fascinating to watch. In Swim Fins, a ballerina floats and cavorts among waves of men... again, it's playing with an invention of Franklin's... not much related to dolphins really.... (It's also my favorite choreography of the evening). I hope Riomlama Lorenzo/James Ady and Julie Diana/James Ihde are as sumptuous as Lisa Sundstrom & Roy Kaiser were in Spark and Electricity. I also hope they have someone as petite and spritely as Roseanne Germer was being tossed about by men as tall as the premiere cast were.

Tell me, did they still open with the glass armonica player in a procenium box? Did the ghost house descend? (The last time the piece was revived, the flying mechanism had to be abandoned last minute before opening night.... the choreography held up beautifully but for those of us who knew the set, the climaxing moment at the end was bittersweet).

#7 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 08:38 PM

I'm so glad to hear that Chris d'Amboise has created something that's so very appreciated by audience and dancers. He has an unusual capacity for bringing highly abstract concepts vividly to life. He has created several pieces for NYCB that Peter Martins has let gather dust, and an original ballet for SAB last year that many people felt should have been performed by the Company.

One such ballet is CIRCLE OF FIFTHS (to Phillip Glass' Violin Concerto). If you ever have the opportunity to see it, I think you will be richly rewarded.

#8 GWTW

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 07:17 AM

Amy, that must have been an amazing experience. To answer your questions: yes, they retained the armonica solo at the beginning and and the ghost house came together at the end - those are very magical and mysterious moments.
Regarding the dancers you asked about, Laura Bowman who led the Swim Fins section is very petite and bubbly. She always looks like she is having a great time on stage. I saw Julie Diana and James Ihde in Spark/Electricity. I'm not sure if you understand my meaning, but I would call them regal rather than sumptuous. My son (aged 4 this week) said they looked like they were from "the olden days". :clapping:

#9 Amy Reusch

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 08:14 AM

No, GTWT, "sumptuous" merely referred to fond memories of Sundstrom & Kaiser dancing (rather than concern about your post) and hope that the current dancers might provide as satisfying an interpretation. I would love to have seen the production through your 4-year-old's eyes... I hadn't thought of it as a children's ballet, but I think he must have enjoyed the swim fins section?

#10 Tessa2

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 11:56 AM

I saw Franklin Court on opening night and loved it! For me, Swimfins was by far the highlight - I thought Laura Bowman was darling and was amazed at her capacity to stand upright after being flipped through the air so many times. I have to say I didn't really "get" Bifocals at the time, but it makes sense now that someone else has explained it! Of the other leads, I particularly enjoyed Amy Aldridge and James Ady, who has beautiful hands (as my friend pointed out to me.)

The glass armonica and the skeleton house frame were also really neat. This is a very Philadelphia ballet, I think!

I have to confess that I skipped the Firebird entirely. I saw Kudelka's version the last time PA Ballet performed it and had no desire to repeat the experience. It wasn't completely dreadful as I recall, just not worth a second viewing. My generall recollection was one of a lot of glitz and spectacle and that the stage looked way too crowded.

#11 GWTW

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 12:24 PM

Amy, this program is part of PA Ballet's Family Matinee series this year, and it was my son's first non-Nutcracker ballet. (Next month, we'll see Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream.) He loved the swim fins, the armonica and the decor. He danced to the music a little bit - there was no one directly behind us, so I think that was ok, but he did lose concentration during the Spark and Electricity sections.
He enjoyed the Firebird more. Interestingly, he was a bit scared by the Fokine version we saw on video, but not by the Kudelka version. I suppose you could say that Kudelka's Firebird is Disney-fied.

#12 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:35 AM

GWTW, that's exactly what I would have predicted for a child. I'm not sure that young children "get" adagio, although I suppose if it involved hyper flexibility that might connect in some sort of circus freak show way.... Flying through the air, on the other hand seems universal for kids ! Is it their love of swings?


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