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Lincoln Center: Reviews & Impressions


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#31 drb

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 06:05 AM

Just out of curiosity, did Martin West conduct all three Sylvias?


He has been the listed conductor on all four programs, and is the only conductor included in the description of artists in the Playbills.

#32 rg

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 06:39 AM

CBYB = CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH BALLET

#33 Helene

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 07:13 AM

Based on primarily older works, I'm a huge Morris fan. But it seems I'm hearing more criticism of Mark Morris's work -- esepcially for unevennes and misjudgments -- than was once the case.

Is it possible that, with all his commitments involving his dance center, school, company, and extensive guest commissions, he has taken on more than he can handle? Maybe fewer projects, and getting back to some kind of central core, might be a good thing?

I don't know of any long-time choreographer who hasn't been criticized through various points of his or her career. "Balanchine's best days are behind him" was an often-expressed belief in his later years, sometimes expressed through wonder that his latest was so good. "Robbins is the future; he's so natural."

I think Morris' version of Sylvia is fantastic, and only other commitments kept me from returning to San Francisco and traveling to NYC to see it again. I don't expect anyone else to, and any day now I expect to hear a knock at my door to take back my New Yorker card :clapping:. But apart from the character of Eros, which was so clearly made for a young Morris, and the villagers dance at the end of Act I (which I thought was the weakest part of the whole ballet), I didn't see all that much "contemporary" Morris in vocabulary, although clearly the sensibility was 21st century, not 1950's. I thought he took ballet on its own terms.

#34 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 08:19 AM

Excuse me. . . Helene?

New York just called.

It said no, you can't finish your bagel and it wants its card back now.

My review will be in Danceview Times this week, but I'm afraid you'll have to count me with Michael among the naysayers. I found the choreography very thin.

#35 Helene

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 08:21 AM

Excuse me. . . Helene?

New York just called.

It said no, you can't finish your bagel and it wants its card back now.

:clapping:

But I forgot -- my card and bagel were taken away from me mid-bite the last time I visited and stood at the corner waiting for the traffic light to change...

I look forward to reading your review.

#36 nysusan

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 09:47 AM

I left the opening night gala with very mixed feelings about what Iíd seen and after 2 nights of Sylvia (the first 2) I still have mixed feelings.

The Gala-
Imagine my surprise when I read Rockwellís review in the NY Times and found myself agreeing with him about the opening & closing pieces. I love Vertiginous Thrill and I enjoyed the SFB dancers in it but having seen the Kirov perform it a month ago I have to say that this performance just wasnít on the same level. While I can believe that the SFBís off center and exaggeratedly flung movement was more in line with the choreographers intent than the Kirovís more classical approach the technical skill, speed & elan that the Kirov brought to it just wasnít apparent here. True, the Kirov dancers are among the best in the world and some may find the comparison unfair but when your advance publicity heralds you as the best ballet company in North America I think it not only invites comparison to the best in the world, it demands it.

I also love Robbinsí Glass Pieces and was really looking forward to seeing the 3rd movement - but I found it flat and was stunned at how a piece that I recall primarily for itís relentless pulsating energy could feel so low energy...

Interesting that Yuan Yaun Tan provided me with both highlights and lowlights of the evening - I really disliked her in the Swan Lake pas de deux. I donít know if what we saw was her interpretation or Tomassonís but one of them needs to write both ďOdette is not a birdĒ and ďSwan Lake is Petipa/Ivanov, not Balanchine/EifmanĒ at least 1000 times. The jutting elbows, angular arms and bird head shakes just didnít cut it for me.

Then, after deciding that she was not a dancer I was going to like very much she totally won me over in Fifth Season, I thought her line and phrasing were gorgeous here, and this was my favorite of the new choreography I saw at the gala, I found the rest fairly forgettable.

Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun was very impressive, I would love to see more of her. I also really enjoyed Tina LeBlanc in the Harlequinade pdd.

On opening night Pascal Molat was my favorite of the men who, again, I thought were a mixed bag. Helimets, Smith, Martin all looked like very elegant ďdancers nobleĒ and wonderful partners but I donít recall being impressed with their technical abilities. The virtuoso dancers like Boada and Garcia were impressive, but I found them a little sloppy and lacking in refinement. I know itís unfair to form such strong opinions on the basis of so little exposure (and my opinions of Garcia & Molat kind of reversed after seeing each of them in Sylvia), but thatís the only perspective the gala program offered.

Sylvia - Wednesday Tan/Garcia/Possokhov/Castilla & Thursday Miner/Molat/Vilanoba/Sofranko

Well, first things first. San Francisco Ballet does style itself as a ballet company, and as a ballet this just didnít cut it for me. The beautiful score is intact but IMO the costumes, scenery and most especially the choreography compares very unfavorably to the Ashton version. I see there have been lots of people, both in the audience and on this board who disagree with me but to my eye for most of evening it just looked like Morris took modern dance choreography and stuck point shoes on the women. And the women were far the worse for it. Much of what he created for the men looked ok but for most of the evening the women looked awkward and ugainly. I donít care if the steps are hard to master (they looked hard), I found it ugly. I had no problem with the gender bending, the overt sexual references or the near nudity but those dryads in the beginning just looked like pelicans on pointe, and anyone who objected to Wheeldonís ballerinas bending over in Evenfall should see the way Morris has these dancers sticking their butts out here.

That said, though I didnít really like this Sylvia I didnít hate it either and taken as a dance drama (or comedy) rather than a ballet the piece had itís pleasures. I liked the use of the swing in the first and second acts and thought the 3rd act pdd was very inventive in itís use of the veil to restate Sylviaís character transformations and her relation to Aminta. I liked itís subsequent change into a scarf and the reference to La Bayadere. I liked the ending to their pdd with the exuberant swings and high five symbolism and I loved (yes, loved) Amintaís 3rd act solo. This was a beautiful, musical, inventive variation - too bad the rest of the choreography wasnít at this level.

Having a generally negative reaction and then liking aspects of the 3rd act so much is what made me decide to see it a second time. While Tan is a far more technically accomplished dancer than Miner I didnít like her interpretation as much. She seemed very tomboyish and almost peevish ( I seem to recall a lot of head shaking & foot stomping) as opposed to Minerís more expansive, Amazonian take on the role. Yet Minerís line & technical skills didnít impress. Like drb, seeing Miner made me wonder what Mearns would look like in the role. Maybe itís just the blond beauty connection but somehow longing for Mearnís gorgeous line and musicality while watching Miner isnít exactly a ringing endorsement of her interpretation.

I hadnít been overly impressed with Garcia at the Gala but I liked him very much as Aminta (I had seen Rasta Thomas in the Brubeck solo recently so perhaps Garcia was the victim of another unfavorable comparison at the gala). His dancing in Sylvia was very elegant and his solos both virtuosic and refined. Molat, who I loved at the gala struck me as being a little more rustic in his characterization and also a bit less elegant in his dancing, though also enjoyable.

The houses have been very full, though not completely sold out. The curious thing is that the audience seems very different from the typical NYCB or ABT crowd. Morris devotees, perhaps?

#37 carbro

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 12:20 PM

I think one reason why the audience seems different is that so many of the people we're used to seeing on stage are now occupying the seats!

But seriously, the whole feel of the audience is very different, and almost everyone I've spoken to who's been there has mentioned it. Consistently, the ovations are brief but somehow very appreciative, and the crowd has shown better than usual theater manners in terms of chattering and candy unwrapping, etc.

#38 Dale

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 02:48 PM

This is a Lincoln Center Festival production. There's a core crowd that subscribes to the festival, whether it's music, drama or dance. I noticed the difference in 2002 during the Kirov's La Bayadere. Anyway, this might have something to do with it.

#39 tikititatata

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 03:12 PM

nysusan, huge fan of your post, as I have been wondering if Iím the only one who ponders this:

True, the Kirov dancers are among the best in the world and some may find the comparison unfair but when your advance publicity heralds you as the best ballet company in North America I think it not only invites comparison to the best in the world, it demands it.

Also agree in regards to Yuan Yuan Tan. Her performance/portrayal in Swan Lake this year in SF wasnít what I had hoped, but she has been outstanding in contemporary pieces. I hope you get to see her in Quarternary.

The virtuoso dancers like Boada and Garcia were impressive, but I found them a little sloppy and lacking in refinement. I know itís unfair to form such strong opinions on the basis of so little exposure ...

No, I think youíre right on. And I say this as an avid SFB goer. It depends on the piece obviously, but I find some (including principal) dancers consistently sloppyÖ :huh:

#40 tikititatata

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 03:37 PM

Michael, Iíd love to check out what Morris would create on his co., too. And sure Act I choreography isnít as exciting as III or comical as II, but I enjoy Morrisí Sylvia esp since Iíve been disappointed by some other full production ballets (Tomassonís Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake) SFB put on recently. Sylvia highlights a couple of beautiful, classically-trained dancers who should be shown more, so I ignore the rest.

In terms of choreography not fitting a company, this seasonís Spring Rounds by Paul Taylor was disastrous. The piece was clearly Paulís attempt to create a piece for ballerinas (more adagios, minimal crazy lifts); much of the choreography is uninteresting, if not just typical, recycled Taylor movements, and the SFB dancers looked messy. Iím glad they didnít bring it to NY!

#41 jps

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 04:06 PM

In terms of choreography not fitting a company, this seasonís Spring Rounds by Paul Taylor was disastrous. The piece was clearly Paulís attempt to create a piece for ballerinas (more adagios, minimal crazy lifts); much of the choreography is uninteresting, if not just typical, recycled Taylor movements, and the SFB dancers looked messy. Iím glad they didnít bring it to NY!


I'm enjoying your posts tikititatata, and am largely in agreement with you. Actually Paul Taylor brought Springs Rounds to San Francisco this spring and it looked great--on his company. I'm glad people are taking SFB at its word that it is a major league player, and is holding it to major league standards. (Im still crazy about it and its dancers, though). I hope Mark Morris will continue to make dances for SFB AND continue to bring his own company to Berkeley every year for a West Coast season. The net result has been incredibly positive for us in the Bay Area.

#42 Brioche

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 05:38 PM

But it seems I'm hearing more criticism of Mark Morris's work



IMHO this is par for the course. Extremely popular and successful initially, then time to bring him down a notch or ten.

Tiresome to say the least. :huh:

#43 sz

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 06:06 AM

I'm with Leigh and Michael here re Morris' Sylvia. Although it was fun and had many naughty Morris-isms, it is a ballet without a lot of meat on the bone. There was very little ballet choreography to fill/match the gorgeous music. Morris' Sylvia left you hungry but smiling at some of his charming, silly, nerve.

However last night, Forsythe again made this company look at its best in Artifact. A huge hit for SFB this NYC season. I wouldn't want to see this ballet every night, or every week, with its very contemporary, mechanical approach, but it worked, and worked very well as a large group piece. Forsythe knew how to use the females, made them look more uniformed, by putting them in black tights, colors on top, against a black backdrop. That sort of grouping gave the females a clean, tight power and uniformity that I don't think Forsythe would have gotten otherwise in lighter tights. There was a lot of black going on.... but it made the females function well together, and stand out where he wanted them to stand out. Among the two principal girls, Lorena was most outstanding. She's not a girly girl, but a rich, strongly feminine, fast, powerhouse when at her best, as she was last night.

The large groups of men were all in one solid color against the black backdrop in the second half of the ballet, and this gave the men a powerful, bright place in Forsythe's piece. The men were all at their highest energy and it was incredibly exciting to watch groups of spectacular men dance instead of one or two at a time.

Artifact went on a bit long for me.... started getting repititious, and I also didn't like the heavy thud of the black curtain falling to break the scenes three or four times in the first section of the ballet. Something slicker, a thinner black sliding door with stagehands running it from behind, hidden, might have worked better or perhaps just a thinner, lighter, black curtain dropped might have been less annoying. But the second half of the ballet had no such gimmicks and one could just get lost in the fantastic dancing of this well-oiled machine type of ballet.

#44 balletchic101

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 06:56 AM

I attended the repertory program last night. wow was all i can say, the company was much more in its element and certinaly impressed! artifact suite was powerful - the corps danced fantastically and lorena fejoo out of the principal couples was especially great.

i also liked quarterney very much. the central pas de deux for muriel maffre was beautiful. simple lines but with intricate partnering...a bit like 'after the rain' but visually stunning.

and even though i though 7 for 8 was the weakest piece on the program, it served its purpose at showing off several dancers. (I love Rachel Viselli. I think her perfromance quality and elegant carraige of the upper body are truly stunning.)

Kudos to all. I thought is was a wonderful performance.

#45 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 08:01 AM

I'm pretty much with the above on the rep program (interesting to see the beginnings of consensus on that - I think there was less on Sylvia).

Like a lot of Wheeldon, particularly for me his contemporary oeuvre, Quaternary looks a lot less glib on repeated viewing. Either I get used to it or the dancers find something personal in it - maybe both.

I agree with sz on the length of Artifact. Even though I enjoyed it, there was a point about 10 minutes from the end where I thought "If this goes on much longer I'm going to go nuts." It's also bittersweet to watch it because it shows to me the Forsythe that might have been. Though the choreography date is 2004, it's composed from materials from the 80s, when Forsythe was grappling with ballet head-on and making works that were churning and dark, yes, but also works that tried to assimilate and develop classical dance. There might have been so much more he could have given before he lost interest in that.

A fond farewell to Yuri Possokhov - the Saturday night performance was his last. I only got the see the end of his career (except for seeing him in Caniparoli's Aria several years ago.) I'm sorry I never saw his Othello. To quote him from an interview we did this week (it will be forthcoming in the print version of Dance View) he did it with ABT once and laughed that there was no way his body could produce what Desmond Richardson's could - New York saw his "small, intimate" version of the role.

I'm seeing the rep program again this afternoon. I think the company's pulled off a PR victory. The buzz and the scene here is enormous - le tout New York dance is here. I stood next to Mark Morris for Quaternary since we both arrived too late to take our seats. Every critic and his/her mother is here. It feels like the company is being taken even more seriously than it has been before.


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