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Impressions of Sylvia and Program 8


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#1 BalletNut

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 06:42 PM

Here is a thread where people can post what they thought of this year's performances of Sylvia and the ballets on Program 8. :wink:

#2 fandango

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 09:00 PM

I saw Sylvia last night, for the first time. Being a relative newcomer to ballet, I thought I should begin to expose myself to more than the "beginner" ballets. Sylvia seemed just right. I don't know a lot of Delibes's music, but what I know I liked already. Yuan-Yuan Ten was originally cast as Sylvia and I had loved her in Giselle and as Odette/Odile. But she was replaced by Vanessa Zahorian. No problem, sometimes substitute cast tries harder. I hope she is not hurt.

My reaction was disappointment in myself; the story was so complex; even though I have a great background in mythology I could not follow it. The dancing did not captivate me either, though there seemed to be some energy in the third act.

The complexity of the story seemed to divert from the human appeal. I could relate most with the third act, where Diana is scolding Sylvia for Sylvia's indiscretions, only to be reminded of her own by Eros (pirate). But exactly what Sylvia's indiscretions WERE was a bit of a mystery--couldn't get it from the program and the was not clever enough to pick it up from the mime.

And the choreography--well, I wished I had appreciated it more.

So I started wondering what makes a really great ballet? A wonderful composer; a story with lots of human appeal that is clear to the audience; dazzling choreography (whatever that means)--all danced with intensity and caring, full out.

I saw Giselle 4 times in 4 days not too long ago. I am unlikely to want to do that with Sylvia.

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 09:09 PM

Fandango, before you give up on Sylvia utterly, don't forget there's another version out there by Frederick Ashton. I think you might find it more to your taste.

#4 richard53dog

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 05:40 AM

Fandango, before you give up on Sylvia utterly, don't forget there's another version out there by Frederick Ashton. I think you might find it more to your taste.


Fandango,
There's also the Neumeier version the POB does. I haven't seen this but I'm guessing it is much less traditional than the Ashton one that Leigh mentions(and I saw last Summer). But the POB is available on DVD if you are interested in seeing it.

I love the score!

Richard

#5 fandango

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 03:24 PM

Thanks, Richard and Leigh. I will try and view the POB DVD--and also to catch the Ashton choreography somewhere. I did love "The Dream" that he did. Royal Ballet seems fond of Ashton; are US companies similarly enchanted?


Fandango, before you give up on Sylvia utterly, don't forget there's another version out there by Frederick Ashton. I think you might find it more to your taste.


Fandango,
There's also the Neumeier version the POB does. I haven't seen this but I'm guessing it is much less traditional than the Ashton one that Leigh mentions(and I saw last Summer). But the POB is available on DVD if you are interested in seeing it.

I love the score!

Richard



#6 tikititatata

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 09:53 PM

Mark Morris' Sylvia is refreshing in so many ways. I love the way he lays out the plot, his use of music, repetitive phrases that serve as a theme or parallel threads that recur throughout the ballet, his comical timing, and in general, those (choreographic) moments of pleasant surprises. His repetitions are inserted everywhere - nonchalantly and slightly tweaked - that I found myself picking up different things every time I saw Sylvia. His choreography is so distinct, more often technically demanding, and beautiful... The Act III pas de deux has some awkwardly difficult promenades, lifts, and positions to name a few and clearly distinguishes this work. And imbedded in these not-so-typical choreography are truly classical and gorgeously difficult combinations (e.g. Aminta's third act variation, whoa!) that bring out the best in some SFB dancers.

I apologize in advance for what I am about to do: I'll comment on Sylvia '06 by character, as opposed to by performance, which is sort of illegal by viewer standards, perhaps? :P

AMINTA - hands down, Guennadi Nedviguine is IT!  His attention to detail, his timing, his technique, his ACT THREE VARIATION!, his reliable partnering of 2 different Sylvias, his stage presence, his acting, ... ALL make him so perfectly Aminta. Everything about this role is challenging (though he makes it look easy) and Guennadi really exceeded any expectation I may have had. His training is immaculate, and unfortunately rare in American companies. I can't see too many other people being convincingly Aminta; but I was sad that I missed Joan Boada's interpretation (he danced in 2004 but not this season).

SYLVIA - I enjoyed both Vanessa Zahorian's and Yuan Yuan Tan's portrayals of the title role. They both had different but meaningful artistic touches to the character that made them convincing. Vanessa and Guennadi had a wonderful partnership, and I was in love with both of them :) And I think Sylvia suits Yuan Yuan great, from the poses to character development to the movements, etc. But I'm curious about how she would have danced this role next to Damian Smith as Aminta. I have seen several pieces this season - namely Quarternary and Artifact Suite - in which they had great chemistry :) Yuan Yuan and Gonzalo Garcia didn't strike me as lovers, unfortunately.

ORIONPierre-Francois Vilanoba was well-suited. His gestures in the Act 2 were perfect. And he and Liz Miner were really direct and humorous in this cave scene. Damian Smith was a gentler, hard-to-hate villain (as in I wouldn't mind if he captured me). But technically speaking, he had some beautiful attitude turns, chaines and contractions in Act 2. Yuri Possokhov had a good toughness, and a character suitability that was a mix of the aforementioned two. I enjoyed the match up of Yuan Yuan and Yuri though!

EROS - Jaime Garcia Castilla should be held hostage for this character FOREVER. This role is crazy (stylistically) in a hard to describe way. This ambiguous role seems to make some audience members uncomfortable but I thought it was brilliant. Jaime made this role very important to the production, and rightfully so (especially felt in Act 3 narrations). He is another rarity, a gorgeous specimen from another universe. Helgi should designate him in main soloist roles for many productions to come. Eros is difficult to pull off, choreographically and artistically. If you have any slight reservations, this character will not work. And Jaime, with his beautiful arms/lines and dancing, was remarkable even in the silly robe! Who can pull this off that good!?! He had great stage presence and good acting to compliment his dancing -- he is so captivatingly beautiful I forgot to watch the others when he was on stage. Garrett Anderson is another pretty corp dancer who I tend to keep an eye on. He's quite noticeable (like Jaime; and in a good way) as one of the Celebrants on his non Eros days, and his stature, dancing, and stage presence also made his Eros fun to watch.

Overall, I enjoyed Sylvia for the individual *sparks* of specific dancers, in addition to Morris’ creativity. Unlike other classical full production ballets, the story line also provided a more interesting main character who undergoes character development (finally a female lead who is independent, career-oriented, and doesn’t fall immediately in love upon meeting a man for the first time!). As reviewers and other friends have commented, SFB may have been more pumped in 2004 – as it was their premier and Morris’ directions were still fresh in memory – but as a first time viewer, I was excited to see this new production.

#7 BalletNut

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 07:00 PM

There's no wrong way to post about a performance, tikititatata. :) Your review was excellent. It's always fascinating to read comparisons of multiple casts, and probably even more fascinating to be able to compare them.

#8 Helene

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 08:37 PM

I'm really envious, tikititatata, but so happy that you posted. I really loved the ballet when I saw it in 2004.

#9 drb

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 08:48 PM

Thank you for this form of a review! It will be a wonderful resource to take along, as I will be attending all (I hope) the performances of Sylvia at Lincoln Center this summer, and most likely they won't post casts in advance.

#10 cargill

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 08:36 AM

Thanks, Richard and Leigh. I will try and view the POB DVD--and also to catch the Ashton choreography somewhere. I did love "The Dream" that he did. Royal Ballet seems fond of Ashton; are US companies similarly enchanted?


Ashton is the founding choreographer of the Royal Ballet, and there are some who wish they were more enchanted by him! The Joffrey for years had a great deal of Ashton, and recently ABT has done a very good job with La Fille, The Dream, and Sylvia. Both Boston Ballet and Pennsylvia have recenctly done Fille. Ashton's style is very hard, deceptively so, and the small steps and effortless execution, as well as the need for so many character dancers, I expect, may be one reason why we don't see enough. He and Balanchine are hands down the best 20th century choreographers, and the way things are going, maybe the best 21st century ones too!

#11 dirac

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 09:51 AM

SFB performs Ashton's "Symphonic Variations" and his two "Monotones" ballets, as well. (I wish they performed his "Sylvia," too, but we got this one instead.)


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