PNB All Balanchine(casting up)
Posted 12 September 2007 - 09:50 PM
No big surprises. Lindsi Dec is doing Prodigal with Jonathan Poretta -- he partnered Patricia Barker the last time the company ran the ballet.
Posted 13 September 2007 - 05:12 AM
I'm particularly interested in seeing Dec's Siren. As the "tall girl" in Rubies at the end of last season, she danced with unusual vibrance and spark. There are a lot of stops and poses in the role, but she was always "live,"and the arc from plie to airborn was very clear. Among the other corps members, Benjamin Griffiths is being given a great opportunity and partner as the lead in Square Dance.
Orza is paired with Kerollis as Friends in Prodigal Son and Cruz in the quartet in Ballet Imperial, and new Principal Weese is cast with Herd in Ballet Imperial. In its less formal incarnation at NYCB, I saw Weese a few years ago, and she was brilliant in the role. I'm so glad to see Rausch cast in the quartet; she has such beautiful epaulement.
Posted 14 September 2007 - 02:02 PM
Posted 18 September 2007 - 07:15 PM
Benjamin Griffiths-Lead man
Carla Korbes, Lindsi Dec, Laura Gilbreath-Siren
Kaori Nakamura/Batkhurel Bold-Lead couple
Carrie Imler-Lead woman
Casey Herd-Lead man
Noelani Pantastico, Mara Vinson, Jodie Thomas-Second ballerina
Posted 21 September 2007 - 12:53 PM
I thought Square Dance was a masterful pick to start the new season. So crisp, so classical, but with American modernity, and so many Balachine inventive twists. Pantasico "nailed it" as I happened to overhear Peter Boal remark (and I couldn't agree more). Neolani is the epitome of sweetness, lightness of movement, and grace IMHO. Porretta was his usual superlative self. He has such drama in his dance. His poise and command of the stage makes me think of the greats I've seen on film.
Prodigal was the highlite of the evening in my estimation. I saw Lucien Postalwaite do it 3 years ago when he had to (at age 19) for an injured dancer. He has matured into a natural for this role. He projected drama and emotion powerfully in this piece that demands more of a dancer as an actor than perhaps as a dancer. In scene 2 after he is striped of his possessions and clothes and left essentially naked in a spotlight (almost like a Christ figure), the tears started down my cheeks and continued right up until his father encircles his returned son in his robe. Lucien is destined to make a name for himself in this role. As an aside, I thought one of the most impressive things he did was the way his showed fascination (utter) for the Siren (done by Arianna -- to perfection of course).
Ballet Imperial left me flat after the first 2 pieces. My reactions are suspect however since I don't particularly care for Tchaikovsky piano concertos. The Prokofiev in Prodigal carried me to all sort of wonderful places, but Tchaikovsky piano does not move me (don't worry I do love Swan Lake). Frankly, and in addition, I am looking forward to seeing Pantasico and Weese in this ballet tonite since they are more "my style" of dancers.
I am going again tonite (the only other nite I will be in town for this program). I am much looking forward to seeing Poretta and Postlewaite switch roles in the first 2 pieces, as well as droolling over Lindsi Dec as the Siren since she is my other favorite up and comer female (the other is Lesley Rausch). Imler will be in Square Dance which ought to be a thrill since she is incredibly fast with flawless technique which seems to me just what this ballet is all about.
Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:55 PM
Posted 21 September 2007 - 11:27 PM
In one of the last Q&A's last year, Peter Boal mentioned Carrie Imler, and said that judging from her work in class, "She's back!!!" Tonight was her first complete ballet since her injury last season, as the lead in Square Dance. There were too many moments in her performance for me to mention; a highlight was the series of arabesques in the adagio. Imler doesn't "do" arabesque: she creates each one as she unfolds and shapes it. She dances the hardest work with ease; she's never emphatically muscular or technical. On the sides of the prism were a series of perfect petit allegro back assembles, gorgeous beats, and the flying circular jump entrance. It is impossible to mistake her for another dancer; she would be recognizable from her shadow, from the unique sensibility she brings to her phrasing, and from her ability to shift momentum in the middle of a phrase. I wonder what Balanchine would have made of her.
She is definitely back.
One striking thing about the women's corps, who danced with energy and brio, was how much work they did with their upper bodies, particularly in their necks and shoulders. This was by no means one of the "all legs" Square Dances. It brought to the work a dimension I hadn't seen before, particularly in the mini-barn of the New York State Theater. This was wonderfully complementary to Lucien Postlewaite's performance of the great male solo that Balanchine choreographed for Bart Cook in the mid-70's. He doesn't have Cook's rubbery, supple back -- who does? -- but he keyed in on the solo's beauties through the elasticity of his shoulders and arms, always reaching from the center.
The men's ensemble was a bit sloppy as a unit, but individual performances were striking. Barry Kerollis' dancing had kick to it, and he is a generally sunny presence on stage. (He has a face like one of those 18th century male beauties in costume dramas, the ones you never quite believe could be murderous, something he showed as a Friend in Prodigal Son.) If you want to see what the steps are and what they're made of, though, you have to watch Anton Pankevitch. Without the slightest sense of over-correctness, and no loss of energy or speed in the process, he shows each step clearly within a phrase; with a little lift in the working knee before stepping into plie, he reveals the movement.
Square Dance is one of my "do-over" ballets: I immediately want it to start again when it's over.
As Sandy mentioned, Lindsi Dec made her debut today as Siren. From the moment she entered the stage, Jonathan Porretta's Prodigal might as well have had been wearing a sign, "Hors d'oeuvres" on it. She was not taking any prisoners. There was no coldness or coyness, and from the way she whipped that cape around, it was clear what was coming, and it was completely convincing. It did make me realize, maybe for the first time seeing the ballet, that the son is motherless.
I would sit through Spartacus to see her Aegina. I would love to see what she'd do with Gamzatti or Le Jeune Homme et la Mort. It was amazing when she said in the post-performance Q&A that while she started ballet at three, she hated it, and concetrated on tap and jazz, even taking a year off from ballet to fulfill her high school Phys Ed requirements, and that she only started ballet seriously at 16. Boal noted in the Q&A that her approache was direct and that she shows a confidence onstage.
Jonathan Porretta's Prodigal was so fully formed a few years ago, it was hard to imagine how he could grow it. But from the scene in which he crawls along the desert, there was a moment when he gathered water, and I can't help but think this was informed by his experience with State of Darkness. Many quiet moments were impressive, as the dancers made the most of mime and gesture; Porretta's journey home, Dec, who quietly gathered the loot, looked at in her hands, and slowly pocketed it. Karel Cruz, whose simple gesture oopening his hands, inviting his son to come to him, made the character.
I always do wonder what it was like to have been in the audience in Paris in 1929 when the troglodytes first made their appearance.
Then Dec, as a member of the corps, gave a sparkling performance in Ballet Imperial, where the same male sextet that danced in Square Dance was spot on. Miranda Weese was gorgeous in the adagio sections of the ballet. In the allegro, I'm not sold; I thought some of the steps were smudged and the arms occasionally frantic. I find this approach a bit casual, very common to my NYCB-going experience. Although the PNB dancers aren't as specifically trained as SAB dancers, they share a certain energy, and they show a fidelity to the steps. Noelani Pantastico exemplified this in the Second Ballerina role in a radiant performance, partnered by Anton Pankevitch and Lucien Postlewaite with matching energy.
I really don't like the costumes; generally I love Martin Pakeldinaz's work. My feeling about men's costumes is wear tights, or wear pants/breeches. Don't wear tights that end at the knee that pretend to be pants. And a baby blue sash over a grey vest? (No. Bad.) I also expect that someday, one of the men is going to be impaled by those spiky crowns the women wear.
At the very beginning of the Q&A, there was a big shout out for Doug Fullington, but I don't think he was there to hear it.
Lindsi Dec announced the opening of PNB Unleashed, a new website by PNB dancers Dec, Noelani Pantastico, and I missed the name of the third dancer. Casey Herd designed the logo.
In the Wings has quotes from dancers about the current program.
Bulletin has news about the dancers, links to dancers' websites, a link to a video interview with Peter Boal, and a list of outside appearances by Company members. I'd congratulate them all, but then you wouldn't have to read it yourself
Okay, except for Olivier Wevers choreographing a piece for Spectrum Dance Theatre, which plays November 9-11, 16-18.
Museum has photos, currently by Angela Sterling, former PNB soloist.
"Interviews" wants a username and password, so it's not ready for primetime.
A day in the life of... features Carla Korbes.
Ask a Dancer has an audio interview with Maria Chapman and still photos, as she explains how she prepares her pointe shoes.
Posted 22 September 2007 - 08:58 PM
Nakamura gave a delightful performance, and it was at its best in the solo -- the 'her feet go wickety-wack" solo that was featured in the PBS "Balanchine" bio -- and in the final movement. The wittier the choreography was, the more she matched it with her dancing.
Griffiths was very impressive in his debut, leading the corps men and partnering Nakamura. His interpretation of the solo was very individual, almost anti-legato. He moved to the end-gesture emphatically in each phrase, which took me by surprise. His open shoulders and arms were very effective throughout the ballet. Griffiths is always worth watching, whether in a featured role or in the corps.
I'd like to mention Kara Zimmerman and Brittany Reid in the corps; they are two of six who dance both Square Dance and Ballet Imperial, and are doing it again tonight as I write. (Lindsi Dec in last night's Q&A said that she and another dancer -- I missed the name -- had joked that BI third movement was so difficulty that they'd retire if it were ever staged again.) They are very different dancers, but both shone especially bright in these works. Zimmerman graces each ballet with her presence, and her dancing is consistently at the highest standard, regardless of style. Reid is a tall dancer in the corps who is occasionally cast in big roles; she danced a brilliant Flora a couple of years ago. At the end of last season she was cast with Batkhurel Bold as the third couple of Symphony in Three Movements, and the pairing was a mark of brilliance that Boal has showed so often in his casting: Bold's face tends to be frozen when he dances. Reid has a gleam in her eyes, like she's up for anything (and might be plotting a bit of mischief). Their relative heights and strong dancing made an immediate impression, but temperamentally, the constrast was fascinating, especially in a Balanchine Stravinsky ballet.
Posted 28 September 2007 - 09:57 AM
sandik -- if you did and are reviewing for publication, would you tell us when and where?
Posted 28 September 2007 - 08:56 PM
sandik -- if you did and are reviewing for publication, would you tell us when and where?
I'm seeing them tomorrow (Saturday) night -- last night I had to see the Spectrum preview at the Henry Gallery. (and yes, this means I'm missing the Graham company, and feeling very sorry for myself)
I'm writing for danceviewtimes, or at least that's the plan.
Posted 28 September 2007 - 10:38 PM
I saw tonight's performance, in which there was one announced debut and one unexpected one, as well as several performers I hadn't seen in this run. In the post-performance Q&A, Peter Boal told us that Stacy Lowenberg had jammed her foot in Square Dance, and while she thought she could dance Ballet Imperial, she was sent to PT, and a Professional Division student understudy, Taisha Burton-Rowledge was called to action. As Dick Button would say, "Good for her." (T B-R, I mean, and I hope Stacy Lowenberg is fine for tomorrow.)
The announced debut was Laura Gilbreath as Siren to Jonathan Porretta's Prodigal. She bourreed onstage like silk; she was slinky and luminous like mercury, until she needed to intimidate. (Her Siren preferred to play with her food a bit.) It was a beautifully drawn characterization through movement, and she managed the cape, the hat, and both slides down Porretta's legs like she had been doing the role for years. In the Q&A she had nothing but praise for Porretta as a partner and as a person.
Imler and Postlewaite once again danced the leads in Square Dance. Watching Imler, I couldn't stop thinking of Chaconne. She has a unique voice. The orchestra seemed to me to have taken the pace up a notch, especially in the last movement, which seemed to phase neither Imler nor the corps. There were some different dancers in this cast than I had seen last week. It was great to see Rebecca Johnston, with her wonderful beats, in the great corps role.
This was the first time I'd seen Kaori Nakamura and Batkhurel Bold in the leads of Ballet Imperial; the last time I saw the ballet before this season, in 1997, Nakamura danced the second lead. Nakamura danced the lead with her characteristic clarity and lightness and just enough sense of royalty. Jodie Thomas as the second lead was even lighter, almost transparent, but she didn't have the size and proportion to her movements to match Nakamura. She was flanked by the formidable pair of Maria Chapman and Lesley Rausch, both of whom danced with grace and more than a hint of imperial of their own, and partnered by Lucien Postlewaite and Benjamin Griffiths in an impressive performance of a supporting role.
Bold was very moving in the second movement as the Siegfried-like character; he imbued the role with the essence of story without every being specific or imposing acting on it. As a tall, muscular dancer, it always amazes how high he jumps, in this case hanging in the air during the series of beats, and landing with panther-like softness. I found the match of Nakamura and Bold to be very pleasing, and dancing with her, he doesn't recede as he tends to do with more emphatic ballerinas; it was very beautiful to see tonight.
Posted 29 September 2007 - 11:23 PM
In Square Dance Kaori Nakamura and Benjamin Griffiths were well on their way to giving a more relaxed and, understandably, fuller performance than the night of Griffiths' debut, when I was momentarily distracted by trying to figure out who had replaced Stacy Lowenberg in the corps -- Gilbreath? Brunson? -- and suddenly Nakamura had a fluke fall. She got right up and finished the movement, but when it was time for the "wickety-wack" solo, Carrie Imler had taken her place. In the post-performance Q&A, Peter Boal said that Nakamura was ready to finish the ballet despite the pain, but they held her back, and Imler, who was preparing for Ballet Imperial, had her crown pulled off -- according to Brittany Reid last week, holding the crowns on takes many, many bobby pins -- and she grabbed the first shoes she saw, which happened to be a pair that had broken down during last night's performance. Imler also noted that her (new) pair of shoes for Ballet Imperial broken down after the second movement. If there is any doubt that it is the strength of the feet and not the shoes that are doing the work, that Imler could perform two of the most technically demanding roles at the highest level on broken down shoes is proof of it.
My only worry -- apart from the hope that Nakamura is okay -- was the final shoulder lift. Nakamura and Imler are two different body types, and I wasn't sure if Griffiths, who has been with the company for just a few years, had ever partnered Imler before. It went very smoothly; perhaps they had a chance during the corps work at the opening of the last movement to try it.
The centerpiece of the program was James Moore's and Carla Korbes' second performance in Prodigal Son. Moore started out as a rather gentle Prodigal who was in quite over his head. What was most striking about his interpretation was the strength of his mime. Not traditional mime, although there are straightforwards gestures in the ballet, but his constant reactions to his surroundings, to the drinking companions, to his friends, and to the Siren. And his reactions were ever modulating, sometimes building, and other times showing an emotional chain reaction of extremes, with a wide palette of tone and timing.
An example of Moore's attention to detail was in the scene after the Prodigal is stripped of everything and finds himself bereft. When he dragged himself to the water, first he drank, slowly and deeply, then he quickly splashed water on his face, and then looking down at himself and registering the state he was in, washed his arms and shoulders before trying, and failing, to stand. This couldn't have taken more than eight to ten seconds of a thirty-plus minute ballet, but he created an entire scene in that time, as he went from basic physical need to an awakening awareness of his condition. When he saw his home gate in the distance, he chose to emphasize a final, adrenaline-driven push to reach it, before he collapsed. This isn't the only choice for the scene, but he made it believable.
Carla Korbes was amazing as the Siren: inscrutable, erotic, morally bankrupt, and utterly irresistible. She and Moore created a chemistry, with each reacting to the other and feeding off the other's reaction. I hadn't realized before that the bridge that the Prodigal does at the end of the Pas de Deux is his surrender: in animal world, he is exposing himself, open neck, to the Siren. When the PdD ended, the entire audience smoked a collective cigarette.
As Imler and Milov dance Ballet Imperial, the references in the first movement to Swan Lake are crystal clear. The second movement, though, does not have shades of Siegfried and Odette, but, instead, is a distillation of the Vision Scene. The final movement is pure Balanchine. It was like being able to see Imler in two full-lengths and a Balanchine in one ballet, and it doesn't get much better than that.
Posted 30 September 2007 - 04:44 PM
Very good news on the injury front: according to Peter Boal in the post-performance Q&A, Stacy Lowenberg will be fine; it was just a bit premature to come back today for two of the hardest corps roles. (Boal confirmed that it was Kari Brunson who replaced her in Square Dance, and again she danced beautifully. It's always wonderful to see a corps member dancing as full out to the back corner as in the front row.) And while I was looking forward to seeing Noelani Pantastico and Jonathan Porretta in the leads -- the male solo being my favorite, and the more interpretations the better -- Kaori Nakamura came right back, and she and Benjamin Griffiths danced in their place. Nakamura gave a splendid performance, with lyricism, fluidity, and wit when the role demanded it. Griffiths was again impressive and matched Nakamura's fluidity; he also has very beautiful feet, and like last night, in last his entrance in the middle movement, he hung in the air that extra second in back assemble with beats.
Three years ago, in Lucien Postlewaite's debut as Prodigal, he approached that character as a naif. although an imprisoned one. Three years later, in the first scene, he was bitter and rebellious; in his reaction to Ariana Lallone's Siren and his need for her, he was even more vividly taken. For the majority of her solo and the Pas de Deux he was single-mindedly hers; there was little hesitation or fear, which made his fall that much harder.
Kiyon Gaines and Jordan Pacitti, although temperamentally different than Orza and Kerollis, were equally strong as the Friends. Anton Pankevitch, who danced with Gaines last night, doesn't quite convince as a vulgarian. Otto Neubert did something subtle and remarkable: in his first entrance, he forward leaned slightly, adding just a tinge of the rod to his authority.
Mara Vinson replaced Pantastico as Second Ballerina last night in Ballet Imperial, and she danced the role again this afternoon. Both times she grew stronger and more radiant throughout the performance. It was the first time I saw Seth Orza in a formal, neoclassical role; he danced in the Pas de Trois with Vinson and Karel Cruz, who was typically elegant. He has everything: line, feet, juicy plie, proportion, strength, and stage presence; he's a full-bodied dancer.
Miranda Weese and Orza spoke in the post-performance Q&A. When asked why they came to Seattle, both spoke of the more humane schedule, having described typical in-season demands at NYCB. Orza also spoke about having watched Boal from the corps, taking his inspiration from him, and missed that after Boal retired. He said he was lucky to be in Seattle, but the luck is shared by us.
Someone asked whether Balanchine and Graham collaborated on Prodigal Son, and like in each Q&A I attended, there was interest in seeing the version with the caller. If that is enough to get the ballet back on schedule sooner rather than latter, I hope it happens, as much as I prefer to see the dancers have the entire stage.
Miranda Weese did cut her hair at the end of last season; I wasn't sure if she was wearing a wig in last year's Celebrate Seattle Festival, but it is definitely just above the shoulder and is ab fab. Speaking of haircuts, there was an article in today's Seattle Times "Living" section, reporting that Patricia Barker has cut off 29 inches of her hair:
Posted 02 October 2007 - 10:37 AM
Both Weese and Imler made the swivels on quarter point in the opening cadenza look relatively easy, which is admirable considering how annoying and difficult that particular trick is. Chapman and Rausch were lovely together as the demis. I too loathed the quasi-tights on the men, and did anyone else hate the backdrop/set for Imperial? Where was the Nevsky Prospect and COLUMN?!?!?! Bad ballroom is not the setting for this ballet. And--someday--could we ever have the double saut de basques back in the finale????
Posted 03 October 2007 - 01:38 PM
Yeah........since I had to catch an early plane, I skipped the Q&A (which I rarely miss).
Thanks much Helene for all your reviews. I would have given a lot to see another couple of performances of this program (especially to see Moore and Korbes), but it's hard to get to the theater when you are camping at 12,000 feet with a 2 day walk from the nearest road
Your reviews give me a sense of what I missed and I really appreciate it.
BTW, I'm still thinking about Carrie Imler. Long ago she became the #1 dancer at PNB for me (altho what's happening since Boal's arrival has my head turning in many new directions). I don't have the experience or knowledge to put my finger on it, but she never fails to excite me. Her quickness is part of it surely, but essentially, for me, she creates instead of simply doing. I was so glad to see her back......(and told her so when I saw her in street clothes standing in the back of the orchestra during the intermission).
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