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Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, 4/25


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#1 kfw

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 07:45 PM

I have just a few quick comments on the performance tonight -- Donizetti Variations, Sonatine, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Pas de Dix, in that order. On paper the program looked uniformly light and unbalanced to me, but that's because I'd never seen Sonatine. As it was, while the dancing was at a high level throughout, I found the program unbalanced in that the second half didn't have the same impact as the first.

Katia Carranza and Mikhail Ilyin were the lively lead couple in Donizetti. Except for one unsettled moment together and a spot of tentativeness on her part, both early in the ballet, they danced cleanly and with contagious joy. She in particular seemed to delight in carrying the ballet; she didn't give an entirely finished performance, but that only that made her confidence all the more delightful and touching. I don't know who danced the jokey solo -- if you're reading, Jack, Charlene Cohen was in the corps -- but she didn't overdo it.

After watching Deanna Seay and Kenta Shimuzu in Sonatine I don't understand why this ballet isn't more frequently performed. Perhaps not many dancers can make something interesting of choreography so small-scaled and subtle, but this couple seemed completely at ease and for me the ballet was a quiet stunner, the emotional heart of the evening. The dancers managed to be both casual and elegant, and when it was called for he, along with Ilyin in Donizetti, had the most powerful technique of the evening.

In Repertory in Review I see that Verdy wore white for this, and on Dance ViewTimes online I see it's still costumed that way at NYCB. Seay wore blue instead, darker on top than on the skirt, and matching her partner that way, and I thought this was very effective. The onstage pianist for the Ravel score provided the only live music of the evening.

After Sonatine, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux looked hammier than ever, but Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado made the most of it and brought the gala audience to their feet. Finally, Pas de Dix didn't much engage me except when Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra were onstage, but while looking appropriately regal she also seemed to be having great fun, not just glowing but grinning, and a couple of times I was sure she was about to burst out laughing.

Not only the principals but the whole company had great presence, and I hope that before too long they'll be back again.

#2 carbro

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 08:15 PM

Thanks for schlepping up to Charlottesville for us, kfw, and filling such a good report.

Yes, the program does appear rather frothy-heavy, if that image works. But I can see how this setting can set Sonatine off to great advantage. It does require dancers with subtlety, conviction and projection. Good for MCB for, apparently, finding two such!

#3 piter

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 10:14 PM

Thanks for schlepping up to Charlottesville for us, kfw, and filling such a good report.

Yes, the program does appear rather frothy-heavy, if that image works. But I can see how this setting can set Sonatine off to great advantage. It does require dancers with subtlety, conviction and projection. Good for MCB for, apparently, finding two such!


Thank you very much. We'll wait your report from Tilles Center.

#4 kfw

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 05:16 AM

Folks, my schlepp last night was a five minute drive and a five minute walk to Charlottesville's cobblestoned Downtown Mall. :) I wish I could schlepp to New York State and New Jersey!

#5 Ginny Kanter

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 07:04 AM

As always, kfw's review has added to the pleasure of savoring a performance. It was just wonderful to have the Miami City Ballet back in Charlottesville (after almost 30 years if memory serves). And in an all-Balanchine program to boot! The newly renovated Paramount Theater now seems consecrated.

The theater has been beautifully restored, and the sight lines are excellent. As kfw said, it is situated on a cobblestoned, tree-lined pedestrian mall full of sidewalk cafes, bookstores, and boutiques of all kinds. As if that weren't enough, it is more or less within walking distance for us. Perhaps the gods are counterbalancing the travel usually required for us to see ballet!

However (isn't there often a however?), the stage is very, very small for dance, perhaps the smallest in town. The program was probably one tailored to such locations. Even so, every one of the ballets filled the stage. How the Russian National Ballet managed to squeeze Swan Lake onto it remains a mystery to me. (Because many people were led to think that this was *the* major Russian company, the performance was sold out before tickets went on sale to the general public, so I'll never know. Take-a-number swans, perhaps?)

Given the long absence of the NYCB from the Kennedy Center, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux was the only ballet on the program that I've seen multiple times. It was a pleasure to see it again, to see Donizetti and Pas de Dix for the first time in many years, and to see Sonatine for the first time, all admirably danced. Sonatine was a revelation. The subtle dark blue of the costumes seemed entirely suited to the subtle gravity of the ballet. Seay and Shimuzu danced beautifully. The ballet seemed entirely sufficient counterbalance to the three fizzier ballets.

I was pleased to see Roma Sosenko listed on the program as ballet mistress. When she was a member of the NYCB corps many years ago, my eye was always drawn to her. I expected to see her rise through the ranks. With the death of Balanchine and the damnable NYCB-Kennedy Center orchestra impasse, I was unable to follow her career in those pre-Ballet Talk days, but she is a dancer I've thought of often over the years. It's good to know that she now has an important role with a fine Balanchine-oriented company.

What a fine evening! I hope the Miami City Ballet will return soon.

#6 carbro

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 10:40 AM

Thanks to you, too, Ginny, for the added ambient details. I'll guess that the evening offered balmy spring breezes to coax your walk along!

Thank you very much. We'll wait your report from Tilles Center.

And thank you, piter, for joining us and joining in! I Hope you'll introduce yourself on our Welcome Page.

#7 bart

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 11:20 AM

It's wonderful to read these reports, and thanks to you both.

kfw, the program balance is not typical of those which MCB includes in its subscription season down here. The small size of the stage may indeed be, as Ginny Kanter suggests, a factor. I have read that the touring Russian companies (National and Perm) just cut down on the number of people on stage, including the corps, when the stage size is small.

Sonatine and Donizetti were performed as part of the regular subscription series this year. The Adagio from Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux was done by Catoya (with Ilyin) at a Gala performance, but otherwise not for the past 5 years, if my records are correct.

I've never seen them do Pas de Dix and wonder why it was chosen. There is, or course, that great ballerina role in a company with a lot of fine women dancers. I'd love to see Kronenberg in this, though she's incredibly different from Melissa Hayden, whom I remember long, long, long ago at NYCB. :)

How did the Charlotteville audience respond to the program and to the dancers?

#8 kfw

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 01:40 PM

Yes, thanks for those "ambient details," Ginny (I like that). I wondered too if the size of the stage was a factor in the repertoire. I would have liked something atringent in the mix, but Bart, the audience reaction was quite positive. That was the case not just in the theater, but in the lobby, where I saw a lot more happy faces and heard a lot more more enthusiasm than I usually observe at the Kennedy Center. Give us a treat out here in the provinces, and when we say "thank you," you'll know we mean it. :) For some reason, it was only for the last two ballets that the lead couples came out in front of the curtain to take final bows.

#9 Jack Reed

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 08:07 PM

Thanks for your "few quick comments", kfw! I read them with a smile and a tear. It read like you saw My Gang all right, maybe except for your remarks about Kronenberg, but I wasn't there (*sniff*). (Well, at 68, I don't have the bones of a real groupie.) I think you got a real treat seeing Seay and Shimizu in Sonatine, or in anything, for that matter.

carbro, so far from finding just two dancers for Sonatine, I saw MCB's second and third casts in that when they premiered it a year or two ago, and much of the time there was just a little lump in my throat, partly because except for a couple of blank spots it looked more like the Golden Age (when I was watching NYCB under Balanchine's supervision) than anything I had seen in years, and also because it is, as kfw says, a quiet stunner. Leave it to the old magician! It doesn't have to hit you in the eye or on the chin to take your breath away! Anyway, I'm not surprised by the idea that they have four or more casts for it. (It would be interesting to know whether Verdy and Bonnefous came back this time to coach it. Maybe leibling can tell us. But Seay, especially, can take a role that's been handed down a few times and make it look like it was made on her last week.) I assume the pianist was the very able company pianist, Francisco Renno.

Following Sonatine with "Tchai Pas" looks like good programming, too, and I'm sure Catoya and Penteado ate it up. *sigh* I wish I'd been there.

As for Kronenberg, kfw, you read as though she were not entirely within her role but maybe mocking it, not taking it entirely seriously. Was that it? I've never seen her or anyone at MCB do that, and I'm surprised. Part of her knowingness and power in realizing a role is to work entirely from within it. (Another memory of Balanchine's company is that there were several women in it who were prone to the giggles, especially if anything went wrong, but sometimes for no reason we had noticed. Maybe something had just happened that she carried on stage with her.) But presence, yes, MCB has that. They're not just doing a job, oh, no! And they do deserve more applause! Yes, at least in Fort Lauderdale, also, curtain calls are rare.

#10 kfw

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 03:48 PM

Good to read your comments, Jack. Yes, Renno was the pianist. And I probably overinterpreted Kronenburg's facial expression. I haven't seen her very often, and now looking at her photo in costume for Western Symphony in the latest Dance View Times, her expression is only a little less broad than what I remember from Pas De Dix. Ginny, if you read this, did you share my perception at all, or did nothing seem unusual?


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