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Spring 2007 Kennedy Center seasonJune 6-10


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#1 Farrell Fan

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 01:26 PM

This sounds like a familiar refrain, but as of now, according to Michael Kaiser, "The Suzanne Farrell Ballet will perform a mixed repertory program featuring works by Balanchine and Béjart, including Béjart's Rite of Spring, on June 6-10, 2007."

#2 koshka

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 12:52 PM

There will be some performances at next Saturdsay's (Sept 16) KC open house.
Also there will be 2 Performance Plus events, for which tickets are now for sale--an open rehearsal and another class for adult "nondancers".

Tickets for the KC open house events are free, first-come, first-served, available 30 min before each of the 2 performances.

#3 TutuMaker

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 10:35 AM

Anyone watching this run?
Round trip airfare on American Airlines from Los Angeles is $220!
I finally get to see a live SFB performance! :pinch:

#4 Helene

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 12:53 PM

That was dangerous, TutuMaker -- now we'll want to hear all about it :clapping:

#5 koshka

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 10:02 AM

I have tickets for the Thursday and Sunday night performances and the Saturday afternoon class/seminar/thingy.

#6 Farrell Fan

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 10:32 AM

I had planned to be there, today through Sunday, but had to cancel. So I look forward to your posts, TutuMaker, Koshka, et. al. Jack Reed? Love to Suzanne.

#7 TutuMaker

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 10:39 AM

I have tickets for both Sunday performances. I won't be able to post until the 11th though, after I return home.

#8 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 08:19 PM

(from Washington, DC) The idea expressed last fall and appearing just above about gaining admission to Suzanne's events on a half-hour's notice seem a little optomistic now, after I was told weeks ago they were sold out; she's a big draw, around here at least, and at a contributors' dinner before the performance this evening I met some more people who came from other parts of the country for this.

Anyway, I've just returned from the opening performance and seeing the semi-dress rehearsal (some dancers were in costume, some weren't; sometimes they danced full, sometimes they marked) this afternoon. It's the latest stop in a kind of ballet Odyssey I'm on, having seen the wonderful Vishneva for the first time, in Ashton's The Dream with ABT, Nichols's lovely last (sniff) Mozartiana with NYCB, a bunch of satisfying youngsters at the SAB Workshops, including some amazing 10- to 14-year-olds dancing Sean Lavery's charming little Twinkliana and a vibrant Gounod Symphony (or 3/4 of it) by slightly older teens.

And you know what? At the rehearsal already, Bonnie Pickard and Runqiao Du blew it all away for me with a variably luminous, present, vital performance of Scotch Symphony, that was a lot like the old days in Balanchine's theatre, except maybe Farrell's orchestra was better and the demi (Shannon Parsley) was not quite the equal of Marnie Morris or Roma Sosenko (or maybe it's her brilliant red costume, formerly dark green, that makes it a little hard to apppreciate her fully because of its glare). And then in the evening, the marvelous rehearsal turned out to have been a wonderful harbinger for the steadily, miraculously achieved realization of this beautiful, dramatic, plotless ballet.

And then we had the Concierto de Mozart Adagio you can make out pretty well in the webcast, except of course this one was much more effective partly by being easier to see; Elisabeth Holowchuk and Momchil Mladenov continued pretty much at the same high level. Then after I had seen Bejart's love scene from Romeo and Juliet, which seems fully to flesh out Berlioz's wonderful score, some of the best music ever written for any purpose, I felt even more strongly that the corresponding scene from Martins's new setting of the difficult Prokofiev music, which had turned up on the Workshop program, was like little more than clear water thrown on warm rocks to evaporate into nothing, having nearly no effect to remember. By contrast, Bejart and Berlioz conjure up a great deal in a quarter hour; Ashley Hubbard and Matthew Prescott realized the whole stream of shifting modes and moods in this as a continuous flow, a journey through a microcosm, the world writ small.

The trouble with Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, some of us thought, is that the much-repeated theme threatened to repeat itself in our heads for days, but thinking back over the rest of the program to write about it may have saved me! It's a good time, and plainly ingenious; the show-within-a-show aspect being only one way the master keeps this bubbling along, and the cast's verve and Ron Matson's tempos supply much energy. Momchil Mladenov is perfectly cast as Morrosine, and Lisa Reneau makes the Strip Tease Girl live (even after she "dies"). (This program has five murders in it, including a couple of Capulets and Montagues.) But in my recent experience, the Thug* to beat is still Edward Villella.

Farrell speaks sometimes of Balanchine's ballets as "worlds". In her theatre, as in his, we experience them vividly, as though walking their ground and breathing their air, not as though looking out through a tour-bus window. (I'm thinking of the ABT Symphonie Concertante I saw with The Dream, for example of a world seen distantly.) We feel different from when we began our trip, refreshed, we've had some re-creation, we are restored to ourselves and better for it. Better than a vacation! And no jet lag!

*Gangster is the correct character title; Thug is a different character in this, who gets bumped off early. You'd think a Chicagoan like me would know the difference.

Edited by Jack Reed, 10 June 2007 - 07:08 PM.


#9 Jack Reed

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 07:26 PM

(from Washington, DC) koshka, I'll be very interested to read what happens in the Saturday afternoon movement class. I'd find out first-hand but I've been in much better shape, and that's the way I'd rather be for it.

TutuMaker, will internet access in Foggy Bottom be a problem? There is some public access around 24th Street. At L Street, the West Side Neighborhood Library is open Sunday from 1 to 5 and Monday from 9:30 to 9; and at 2400-D M Street, there's a FedEx-Kinko's, but that's $15/hr. (Okay, technically this is West End, not Foggy Bottom.) What's this about? With a screen name like TutuMaker, you could have an eye more like a dancer's than I do, and write better posts, and I'd like to read them.

That said, I thought Thursday's casting was a little against type, or something. The story keeps coming up: Dancer: "Mr. B, I don't think I'm ready for this role." Balanchine: "That's why you have to do it, dear, that's how you get ready for it." In Scotch, Pickard's partner was Mladenov, and his hand-to-hand supporting often shook; she seemed maybe a little unsettled compared to Wednesday night with Du. Otherwise their dancing together was excellent, smooth ascents and soft landings in lifts, and so on. Among the nuances of her performance, her looking into her partner's face in changing ways, now coolly with head slightly up, now challenging with head lightly lowered, etc., while not made much of, helped make her performance complete, as Patricia McBride's had been, although I didn't see any imitation (and don't particularly want to). I think both ballerinas found what they showed us in the part themselves. Mladenov's dancing was very fine, with some nice mime touches here and there.

Matthew Prescott came into Mozart, and there were some more shaky hand-to-hand grips. Elisabeth Holowchuk looked less happy this time in this unusual pas de deux: The choreographer who famously said, "Put a boy and girl on stage, it's already a story" here shows us more "story" than that. At one point, they even walk along hand in hand, smiling at each other. And I'll record here one of my reservations about the lighting in this ballet, which still has maybe the best of the program: It's simple, open and clear, uniform across the stage, and that's good; but toward the end, two measures into the violin cadenza on which Holowchuk has a long, interesting solo which we want to be able to see better, the lighting designer, Jeff Bruckerhoff, chooses to dim the lighting slightly, making it harder to see her instead. This fussing is all too common today.

Then in Romeo and Juliet, Runqiao Du, a very strong classicist in general and Pickard's superb partner last night, didn't have much of the extra something - characterization? - this needs, compared to Prescott last night.

But Katelyn Prominski, an announced sub for Lisa Reneau as the Strip Tease Girl in Slaughter, gave us a large and lush performance of this role. So if it was not quite up to the high standard of opening night, the program ended strong.

#10 koshka

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 09:56 AM

I'll report on tomorrow's "movement" class later. The information indicates that no experience is necessary, but then specifies "leotard, tights, ballet slippers" as the attire, which suggests that it's likely to attract adults with at least some ballet experience.

I really liked the program as a whole. There were a few wobbly parts, but then Balanchine's choreography and partnering are often quite challenging. It's amazing to see very difficult choreography made to look easy, but I don't mind the occasional reminder that it's hard. There was indeed probably a bit more than the usual amount of wobbliness because of the cast substitutions and varied partnering casts.

but toward the end, two measures into the violin cadenza on which Holowchuk has a long, interesting solo which we want to be able to see better, the lighting designer, Jeff Bruckerhoff, chooses to dim the lighting slightly, making it harder to see her instead. This fussing is all too common today.

I have to disagree with Jack on this one--I thought this change in the light was quite beautiful. I was in the front row--maybe it was easier to see or appreciate from there.

I had never seen the Bejart Romeo and Juliet Scene d'Amour, and I thought it was beautifully done, though, as Jack said, perhaps the character was a bit underdeveloped on Du's side.

I haven't seen Slaughter on 10th Avenue enough times to remember that the danseur who appears at the very beginning never reappears, so I'm always a little disappointed when he doesn't. The piece is really fun and it was played to the hilt all around.

All in all, a great evening, and I'm looking forward to Sunday's program.

#11 Farrell Fan

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 10:39 AM

Thanks for the reports, Jack and Koshka. Either of you go to today's "rehearsal ballet tea?" One of the "additional events" I'd been looking forward to in this engagement (before I had to cancel my trip) was the "Post-Performance Book Discussion" scheduled for tonight, with Suzanne and Martin Duberman discussing his recent biography of Kirstein. Although NYCB held two seminars devoted to Kirstein in May, Duberman was not a participant, which I thought rather odd.

#12 TutuMaker

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 10:58 AM

Oh I will post, just after I return home on Monday!
I am flying in on Saturday evening and out very early Monday. I am travelling light and do not want to bring my laptop. Nor do I want to spend time on-line while vistiting in DC. :FIREdevil:
I am so happy with all of the wonderful reviews and am very anxious to see both programs. I will take notes, so I do not forget the highlights.
I was unaware that the rehearsal today was open. I hope someone will report on this too!

A HUGE thank you to Jack and koshka!

#13 kfw

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 11:07 AM

A HUGE thank you to Jack and koshka!

Yes, thanks a lot folks!

Koshka, when I took Farrell's class a few years ago many of the participants had clearly had some ballet training. I had had very little, but we all had fun.

#14 Bill

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 01:50 PM

Wonderful reviews...Ms. Farrell's company is such a treasure for D.C. and it's great that the company is attracting national interest.

#15 Jack Reed

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:59 PM

(from Washington, DC) No fair, koshka! From the first row you can see with the stage lights practically out!

Program B began its run tonight (Friday 8th June) with a fine cast. Inevitably I compared Mozartiana with the one I saw Saturday afternoon in New York. Bonnie Pickard was more expansive than Kyra Nichols had been, although Nichols had other virtues, like greater serenity, and I'm glad to have seen both. (Pickard's later variations, numbers 5 and 7 in the last movement, I think, were a little slow though beautifully spun out.) Jared Redick made his first appearance this season, I think, as Pickard's partner, and suffered some by comparison with Philip Neal's clarity, although the matter of conscientiousness was not out of the picture with Neal as it was with the two ballerinas, who simply made the ballet their own, but both men appeared to be all their partners needed. But Kirk Henning gave a more satisfying performance of the Gigue than NYCB's Tom Gold, approaching a full realization of it in contrast to Gold's conscientiousness and frequent heaviness.

Romeo and Juliet got another superb realization by Ashley Hubbard and Matthew Prescott, and then after the pause the company premiere of Divertimento Brilliante from Glinkiana; I think Mr. B once refered to Glinka as "our [Russian] Mozart" and the relative, Mozartean simple, direct clarity of this little pas de deux, danced exactly this way by Shannon Parsley and Momchil Mladenov, was refreshing after the richness of the Bejart excerpt.

The program ended with Slaughter, in which Kirk Henning turned out to be a much better tapper than Kurt Froman had been, and projected some of the mime details more clearly too; Elisabeth Holowchuk as the Strip Tease Girl was less effective up on the runway than on the floor, but I believe this was her debut, and she may fill in her part later on.

The hour is late, so after reporting that I thought the orchestra was generally even better than in previous programs, with the conspicuous exception of the end of the violin cadenza in the fourth movement of Mozartiana, which went out of tune, I'll let the words of a woman in the row behind me, spoken as she prepared to leave, sum matters up: "I liked them all. Usually there's one I specially like or don't like, but I liked 'em all."


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