Recent articles on Edward Villella and Miami City Ballet
Posted 05 March 2006 - 03:07 PM
Dance View also has an interview of Jennifer Kronenberg by Dale Brauner. Kronenberg is a big admirer of Julie Kent (I can see the similarities).
Brauner expresses the following opinion about MCB: "What I enjoy about the company is the sheer pleasure the dancers exude and that they perform the Balanchine ballets in the spirit he seemed to want, very fresh." In her response, Kronenberg agrees and says, "I think Edward is careful about hiring people that really love what they're doing, want to be here, want to be working, wanting to be in this company. He instills a great joy in us ..."
This ties in with another wonderful piece, this one an discussion between Allegra Kent and Edward Villella himself. Answering the question "What qualities do you look for in a dancer?", Villella responds: "I look for compatible, willling human beings who are dedicated and can visualize music with their bodies. You can teach technique, but you can't teach talent."
The interview also gives insights into the development of MCB from its start-up 20 years ago, the challenges of fund-raising and audience-building, and Villella's vision for the future.
Posted 21 March 2006 - 03:03 PM
Posted 21 March 2006 - 09:04 PM
I didn't have a lump in my throat at the end, like Pardo, but I do remember the thought I had when it came time to applaud. It was in that moment that I knew I had just been lucky enough to see one great performance of Prodigal Son. You know, the kind of performance you wish you could watch again and right now!
Posted 22 March 2006 - 05:06 AM
They just have an address: P.O. Box 34435 / Martin Luther King Station / Washington D.C. 20043. I dug into my files and found that I paid them on Payh Pal last April, but this year I sent a a check, so maybe they don't have a web presence any more. I know that the editor visits Ballet Talk regularly, so perhaps you'll get a response from there.
We agree on Cox/Manning, wihch was the most engaging of the 3 casts I saw. I also did not feel that Serrano was a natural for the part, though liked Kronenberg a lot. Her performance was excactly as she discussed it in the article.
Your memory of Lopez and Gamero is interesting. I started attending MCB only 5 years ago, when Lopez was reducing her performances and Gamero seemed to function merely as her partner. Neither performed much in West Palm Beach performances I saw. I did see them in Diamonds, which I enjoyed more as a chance to see the ballet again than as a performance for its own sake. It was workmanlike.
Based on the recurring question "Where is Iliana Lopez?" at Villella's pre-curtain talks, I realize that there is a lot of loyalty and a huge pool of good memories about her dancing. I did not get the chance to see her at the right time. Villella's current dancers are wonderful, but, with a few exceptions, the deeper, darker feelings don't come naturally to them. I felt this in their otherwise beautifully danced Giselles a few years ago. Joy, exhuberance, and panache are more in their line.
Speaking of which, any thoughts about the next season? -- especially the Don Quijote. I would think this is right up the dancers' alley.
Posted 23 March 2006 - 03:37 PM
I hugely enjoyed Pardo's review - or, actually, enjoyed what she brought back of what I saw of Programs I and II, which says a lot about her powers of evocation, which sometimes need very few words: "Seay occupies a phrase fully and musically." She's writing about Seay in Source, but her phrase applies more widely, I think. Yes, yes, she does, she does! And when I read something liike that, I put down the magazine until all the fragmentary flash-backs have subsided, and I can read on without being deprived of them. So, unlike Pardo, I'm never surprised when I see Deay's name on the cast sheet, but I certainly do perk up.
On the other hand, some gremlin saw fit to repeat the caption for the picture on p. 19 under the one on p. 21, which is not of Catoya and Penteado in La Source, obviously, but of Catoya - and who else? - in The Quick-Step. Can we fill in the names of the other four dancers clearly seen here?
Edited by Jack Reed, 23 March 2006 - 03:43 PM.
Posted 23 March 2006 - 05:10 PM
bart, I had really never thought about the lack of dramatic depth of the MCB dancers which you spoke of in your last post. With a few exceptions, as you said and Seay would certainly be one of them. Reflecting on that statement I think you might be right. I too have always enjoyed the exhuberance of the Miami City Ballet dancers and their performances. However, I have to add that I am turned off by that danceschool face, i.e., the fixed smile, which I see too many MCB dancers use. Or, the "now I'll raise my eyebrows or purse my lips to show the emotion of this character." Perhaps the "depth" that you spoke of is what makes a truly great dancer. The ability to not just dance technically beautifully, but to also posess the ability to convey the character clearly and memorably to the audience as well.
What comes to mind here is that very old black and white Soviet film, early 60's, I believe. It's of Maya Pliestenskya (sorry about the spelling) where, while sitting in a chair, she demonstrates the range of emotion needed for Odette, Odile, Juliet, etc., with only the use of her upper body. I remember watching her and getting chills as I saw each characterization so fully realized while she sat there in a sweater, in the middle of an interview.
As for the upcoming season, I have never seen Don Q, (but would like to) so I really can't comment. However, the Christopher Wheeldon ballet Liturgy looks exciting. As well as another Tharp piece, In The Upper Room with music by Glass also peaks my interest.
Edited by Justdoit, 23 March 2006 - 05:11 PM.
Posted 23 March 2006 - 08:03 PM
Justdoit, thanks for your comments. The Plistetskaya film sounds wonderful. Do you -- or any other BT readers -- have information about whether this is still available?
Ballet movement (especially arms, head and shoulders) makes it possible to project so many kinds of feeling. Any well trained dancer can do it to some extent. But it takes an artist to do it in a way that makes you weep.
Incidentally, yours is a great name. Seems I've heard that phrase from my teacher when I was paralyzed by trying too hard to analyse a combination.
Posted 24 March 2006 - 12:43 AM
Posted 24 March 2006 - 01:36 PM
(What I REALLY want to do is order both.)
Posted 24 March 2006 - 01:38 PM
Hope you find the video and like it. It's rather rough in spots.
Edited by Justdoit, 24 March 2006 - 01:39 PM.
Posted 24 March 2006 - 04:17 PM
(What I REALLY want to do is order both.)
Posted 26 March 2006 - 03:28 PM
And thanks for the correction, Justdoit. I don't think I'd fail to recognise Cohen straight on, but I obviously haven't learned her profile. Speaking of dancers' faces straight on, I wonder if you dance yourself? I have a theory that we have all been learning to "read" people's faces since we could focus our eyes but dancers have learned in addition to see dancing so much better than mere mortals like myself that people like me are more distracted by expressions far from neutral. At any rate, I've sometimes thought a dancer actually undermines her effect on me when she makes too much with the face, rather than giving me more as she may think. Seay is one of the ones who are faultless in this regard though, in my book, FWIW.
Edited by Jack Reed, 26 March 2006 - 03:30 PM.
Posted 26 March 2006 - 05:43 PM
bart, I am sorry to send you on a hunt for this video. I borrowed it from our local library, probably 10 or 12 years ago, and do not remember the name of it. I would think there can't be too many different titles out there about Plistetskaya. It is either from the 50's or 60's and it is in black and white. There are excerpts from several of her favorite ballets and footage of her in class demonstrating her always doing more work ethic.
Posted 26 March 2006 - 07:34 PM
I am deeply impressed when a dancer is immersed in his or her "role," even in an abstract ballet -- When they are committed that they seem to BE their dance, and not just doing choreography designed by someone else and practiced for long periods of time in a studio.
Conversely, I'm turned off when dancers show in their faces the physical effort required to dance their parts. So I look for those whose faces project joy -- or concentration -- or passion -- or whatever is called for. The negative side of this is that I probably am taken in sometimes by the great big smile, perhaps mistakenly.
Farrell's comment about the audience not noticing feet is interesting. The world of dancer's feet, line, port de bras, etc., seems difficult and specialized to many viewers. I include myself in this, though Ballet Talk and exposure to good dance writing has helped me to understand better what I see.
Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:49 PM
(Hmm. I'm just imagining now the sort of talker I just refered to using hands strapped into mitts, with wood blocks in the ends, no less! It puts me the more in awe of what dancers do: But the gesticulators generally have no line to speak of. There's much of the difference...)
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