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Pennsylvania Ballet at City Center

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So maybe I should have closed my eyes and listened to the music. The Pennsylvania Ballet orchestra is better than good: well conducted, good instrumentalists, excellent solo musicians.

Concerto Barocco is a ballet I find almost foolproof. Almost. Played as well as it was, it was still enjoyable but the women have stylistic quirks I do not enjoy: shoulders held rather high; heads held a bit forward; torsos unstretched. Arantxa Ochoa, whom I remember from her SAB days, danced the lead. Her turnout is less than ideal. which matters a lot in this piece. The company did all the steps, correctly and in the right order, phrasing and musicality evident. But that was all. A performance such as this would have been disappointing at an SAB graduation performance.

Then came As It's Going, to Shostakovich. The composer's ballets are eminently danceable but his orchestral works would seem as choreographable as Beethoven's symphonies. This was no exception.

There was a uniform blandness about these dancers, with the exception of Jermel Johnson, who has a unique movement quality that makes one watch him. And some brio - a quality pretty much lacking in the company as a whole.

We left before the last piece, Lambarena. I leave it to others to tell me what we missed.

If anyone would like a gift of two excellent seats to Saturday night's performance, PM me. I can highly recomment the soprano, Sarah Coburn, in the Carmina Burana.

And the orchestra.

It makes me sad to write this, especially considering the financial outlay on the part of the company. What with the orchestra transport, accomodations, per diems, etc., this has to be very costly. The money could have been put to better use on teaching/coaching salaries.

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We left before the last piece, Lambarena. I leave it to others to tell me what we missed.

You missed nothing - it was interminable. A mixture of ballet & Africanish dance to a mixture of Bach & African music. For me, the best of PA Ballet can be summed up in two words - Julie Diana. Wow, what a gorgeous dancer. I also would like to have seen Riolama Lorenzo, but it appears that she didn't make the trip.

I was a little more kindly disposed toward Concerto Barrocco - I enjoyed the allegro movements, thought the ensemble parts were very tight but the pas de deux seemed very deliberate - I was so aware of the mechanics of all the partnering. Not good, and yes, it was a very bland performance overall.

As it's Going was ok, but barely. I don't think I'd like to see it twice. I think I'm going to buy a ticket for the Sat matinee to see Julie Diana in CB, but if so I'll leave at the first intermission.

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Nobody here went to the opening night?

I thought Serenade was for the most part stiff, held back, dancers making sure not to slip or stand out, or jump too big, or dance too big, or be emotional. A totally bland performance, with the exception of a couple of dancers in the corps.

One female, in the corps -- I couldn't take my eyes off the entire night. She must have come from SAB, her training was cleaner and bolder than the others. Wish I knew her name.... A beautiful mover with a lush, lush upper body. Wow! Why oh why isn't she dancing at NYCB?!!

After a brief intermission, full of ballet regulars, PA Ballet gave it their best, selling their Carmina Burana. I too loved the soprano, Sarah Coburn, and my hat's off to the company for having a live chorus (however too small) and live orchestra. But Carmina's choreography and staging, with too many costumes, didn't really come to life until the last two or three minutes when the dancers were wearing nothing except flesh-colored unitards. Finally the power of the music was realized with a large group of strong dancers.

I wish PA Ballet had given its all to Serenade instead.

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One female, in the corps -- I couldn't take my eyes off the entire night. She must have come from SAB, her training was cleaner and bolder than the others. Wish I knew her name.... A beautiful mover with a lush, lush upper body. Wow! Why oh why isn't she dancing at NYCB?!!

Can you describe her, sz? Maybe we could figure out who it was.

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I attended last night performances of "Concerto Barocco", "As It's Going" and "Lambarena" and found them throughly enjoyable. I felt that Neenan's choreography was both innovative and exciting and the dancers who peformed in "As Its Going" did so with extreme technical expertise and prawess. The contrast between the quartet and the pas and the trio and the other pas exhibited Neenan's vesatitily and the ability to mix various styles in a cohesive manner

I have seen Concerto Barocco peformned by other companies in the past and I have to say that the corps work in last nights performance was one of the best I have seen. As technically and physically demading as this ballet is on the dancers, it was exceptional to see that most, if not all of, these dancers also had to perform other ballets that same evening.

I think it is of note and an indication of PABallet raising stature within the ballet community that last nights attendance was a veritable "Who's Who" of the dance industry. I was also happy to see that the audience appeared to agree with me on my assesement of the dancers peformances as noted by the audiences loud applause and mulitple "Bravo's" during and after each ballet.

I enjoyed these performances so much I will also be in attendance again this evening so I can see the other rep.

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>Can you describe her, sz? Maybe we could figure out who it was.

She wasn't one of the Russian girls... that might have helped.... I would have

four names to pick from.

Ok, she's a bit like Somogyi when Somogyi was younger. But this girl is much prettier.

Sorry...

She's perhaps a bit taller too, but not much. Pale, light brown- blonde-ish hair. Nothing spikey about her dancing. She has a juicy, lovely muscularity to her dancing. Strong but not tough.

Seems several dancers at NYCB know of her...

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I think it is of note and an indication of PABallet raising stature within the ballet community that last nights attendance was a veritable "Who's Who" of the dance industry. I was also happy to see that the audience appeared to agree with me on my assesement of the dancers peformances as noted by the audiences loud applause and mulitple "Bravo's" during and after each ballet.

I'm not surprised that dance professionals turn out to see visiting dance professionals. What surprises me is that Pennsylvania Ballet brought Serenade and Barocco to New York. That bespeaks a whole lot of confidence, or courage, or both.

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You missed nothing - it was interminable. A mixture of ballet & Africanish dance to a mixture of Bach & African music. For me, the best of PA Ballet can be summed up in two words - Julie Diana. Wow, what a gorgeous dancer.

Lambarena sucks. Fortunately, San Francisco Ballet will also schedule it as the last ballet on the program, so I can get out before the crowd.

I loved Diana when she was with SFB.

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You missed nothing - it was interminable. A mixture of ballet & Africanish dance to a mixture of Bach & African music. For me, the best of PA Ballet can be summed up in two words - Julie Diana. Wow, what a gorgeous dancer.

Lambarena sucks.

I find that it's a work in which many of the dancers discover a more pen and fluid way of using their upper bodies, which at least at PNB, pays dividends in classical and neo-classical works.

The dresses are really something, too. I get caught up in their sway.

I like Caniparoli's The Bridge much, much more.

I loved Diana when she was with SFB.

A jewel left the crown when she moved East. I saw her dance the Jilliana role in Liebeslieder Walzer with SFB almost ten years ago, and she was ravishing.

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Just wanted to at my two cents- attended program 1 tonight- Friday, and thought Serenade was well rehearsed, clean and beautiful as an ensemble, but I did miss the star quality that the dancers bring to it at NYCB. This is my favorite ballet though, and I could watch it over and over again.... I enjoyed it very much.

Unfortunately, I was sleep deprived, so I was nodding off during Carmina- despite being a singer and also loving the soprano... it just went on forever! When I could keep my eyes open, I was definitely compelled by what I was watching. I too thought the end section was very effective.

What most struck me though was that almost the entire company danced BOTH ballets- what a workout!!! My dancer friend and I were saying to to each other that we hoped they went straight to the bath and the bio freeze and to bed.

Very glad I attended.

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Those tickets for Saturday evening's performance (Serenade, Carmina B) that I mentioned in my first post are still available - and free. Grand Tier, Second Row Center.

I'd love to have someone use them who would enjoy the program. I feel guilty having them empty.

PM me.

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As much as I loved Thursday night’s rep and felt that it would be hard to top, I have to say last night did just that. Serenade is one of my all time favorite ballets and I felt that PABallet did it proud. It is obvious to see that many of the dancers in the company have had SAB training as their Balanchine technique was true to form in their performances last evening.

As for Carmena Burana all I have to say is WOW. If you want to see something powerful, with a variety of exciting and exhilarating dance move and novel costumes, this is a MUST SEE. Contrary to some of the previous comments, I felt that the costumes were amazing and their creative designs gave added visual acuity to the entire piece. Based on the strength of the dancers performance and the innovative and entertaining choreography, I think this piece could be hugely successful if toured internationally.

Once again I feel that recognition needs to be given to the dancers in this company and my hat goes off to the dancers that performed in both pieces. Not only were these pieces polar opposites showing the exceptional versatility and overall talent of the dancers but the stamina needed to perform in both of the ballets is praiseworthy.

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I saw program A last night and again came away with mixed feelings. Many of the dancers in this company are very unique & likable, a combination that you don’t find often. They dance with a warmth and honesty that is appealing - I can see why this company inspires such loyalty among it’s following. Serenade, like Concerto Barocco (on the other program) are two of my favorite ballets, they are both masterpieces and it’s pretty hard not to enjoy them. I did enjoy PA Ballet’s versions yet there were many aspects that detracted from my enjoyment. With Concerto Barocco I think my reservations were mostly due to the fact that I didn’t love the lead dancer. I liked her well enough, but I know how transcendent this ballet can be when given a great performance and I found too many flaws in hers - it was distracting.

I thought Serenade fared much better but still - it didn’t have the sweep or mysterious dreamscape that I find so magical about this this ballet. Aside from a slight “carefulness” about the dancing I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was that I missed - but my friend said that they were dancing just a little behind the beat, while we’re used to seeing it danced on or just a little ahead of the beat. Maybe. Also even though I liked all the performances this time, they all seemed a little small in scale. Another part may have been due to artistic/staging decisions. I thought the lighting was way too bright - where was the blue haze of that moonlit glade? I saw high noon. And I didn’t like the costumes either. Who would think that you could mess up a romantic tutu but I found the women’s costumes very unattractive - they couldn’t have been less ethereal.

I may be the only person in the ballet going world who hasn’t seen a hundred versions of Carmina Burana. I liked a lot of the choreography but there was just too much of it. My attention kept wandering but I liked what I saw every time I directed it back to the stage.

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I was there -- kinda -- on Thursday. Feeling lazy, I opted (I thought) to take the bus instead of walk. Big mistake. Long wait, no bus. At that point, I still had time to get near the theater by subway, but there was a major delay on the #1 line. I arrived at the entrance to the auditorium as the door was sealed, and I had to watch Barocco on the monitor. It was poetic justice, as during the ABT season I was one of several Mezzanine patrons who complained to house management and ABT Exec. Dir. Rachel Moore (who happened to be passing by) about intrusive late seating.

But even from the monitor, I could hear the fine balance of the orchestra and see a general sluggishness in the dancers' movement. Small fidgets, which might have negligible effect in other ballets, were disruptive. And the ensemble dancers took turns being out of sync.

Lambarena started out as minor fun, offered a terrific solo for Jermel Johnson (whose torso seemed to move in six directions at once) and then ran out of ideas. Great costumes for the ladies here!

As It's Going got a good boost from the Shostakovich score, but I can't recall a single enduring image.

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Yes! Fairly certain that's the one. But the program listed her as a Russian girl for opening night's Serenade...Wouldn't be the first time that a program didn't list actual corps dancers

in various ballets...

Anyway, a nice headshot... If there was a short video too...

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Concerto Barocco Sat matinee - a different cast brought a very different result. The ensemble again looked very good to me but this time the 3 principals were perfectly & completely in tune with the music, the choreography and each other. They were Julie Diana, James Ady and either Rachel Maher or Brooke Moore (a substitution was announced and I scribbled down Rachel Moore, which can't be right). I thnk it was Maher but whoever that seccond ballerina was, I was enchanted from her first entrance and the spell lasted until the curtain fell. I’m sure there were a few details that a Balanchine purist could take issue with, but this was a beautiful, magical performance. Both lead women, but Diana especially were by turns joyful, serene and soaring in their response to the music. It was the kind of Barocco where you really saw the music, and that’s the highest compliment I can give.

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Abi was in the Russian corps. She is the red head.

There were two redheads; one taller, one shorter. Also a very brightly blonde girl. Don't recall the fourth girl.

So if Abi is a redhead, then the girl in the corps whom I so admired was someone else.

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The second violin in the Saturday matinee performance was Brook Moore, formerly of San Francisco Ballet.

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The second violin in the Saturday matinee performance was Brook Moore, formerly of San Francisco Ballet.

Thanks for clarifying, she was wonderful!

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