cahill

MCB Program II

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Opens tonight, January 11 in Miami with additional performances in Naples, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm in the next several weeks. Please post your comments and reviews if you are lucky enough to attend any of these performances!

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Thanks, cahill, for opening this thread. I won't see this until next weekend in West Palm. But I hope that some of our Miami people will report. La Valse was performed only a few years ago (2004-05 season). Nine Sinatra Songs was the previous season. Their version of the Petipa Aurora's Wedding has "never before seen during MCB's repertory season," according to the company press release.

Cristian? Others? Will you have a chance to see it at the Carnival Center?

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Cristian? Others? Will you have a chance to see it at the Carnival Center?

My original plan was to attend to all of the performances, but...last minute changes due to -(what else :blush: )- classes made me cancel tonight, but i'm going for sure tomorrow night. I'll report back.

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Here is what the Miami Herald had to say:

City Ballet: 2 hits, a miss

And what a review it is - I clicked to find out which one was the miss (have to entertain my pneumonia somehow) and....

Last up was Aurora's Wedding, the third act finale of Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty, which should be put to sleep.

MCB did this famed classic set piece for the gala opening of the Carnival Center in 2006, and presumably the company felt it needed to make use of the elaborate, borrowed American Ballet Theater set and costumes again. They're stunning, a gorgeous, glittering set piece, but they still can't give life to what's essentially static and sometimes silly choreography and some of Tchaikovsky's least charming music.

:)

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We had a site-wide announcement about this not long ago, but this is a reminder.

Please do not post links to reviews published in the established press in the "Recent Performances" forum. These will be published in Links. If after a day's Links are complete, we've missed one, please send the link to "Question" (link at top of the page), and if the Link is new to us, we will add it to the publication day.

This forum is to hear what you think about performances you've seen.

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Just came back from the performance tonight, and:

LA VALSE

This was certainly the highlight of the night, which, otherwise, would have been a total failure. Le Valse was perfect. I don't know if is Villela's knowledge of Balanchine's style or what, but he certainly put MCB's dancers at their best tonight with this ballet. Maybe it's just the fact that I'd never seen it before, and the more Mr. B i get, the more i can't describe all the emotions that i feel after watching his ballets Wow, what a powerful piece. The leads were Haiyan Wu, which was magnificent, and a last minute change got another dancer to substitute Renato Panteado partnering Wu. I hate to say that i can't remember his name, and i know it wasn't either Cox or Guerra. I'll find out later, and will post his name, because he did a terrific job. Wu looked so vulnerable on her dancing, and at the same time, she had a total control over technique and choreography. I really loved her. The corps were also great. They all delivered a high dose of elegance in their dancing while certainly creating a disturbing atmosphere , particularly toward the end, when the Death (Jeremy Cox) shows up to seduce the girl. It was really effective and somehow strangely beautiful. The neo-romantic costumes and the elegant set gave the performance the right support. Bravo!

NINE SINATRA SONGS

Sorry to Tharp's fans, but...by song # 2, i was wondering what kind of ballroom competition was she watching that inspired her . By song # 5 i was almost asleep...by song # 8 i was counting the light bulbs on the theater balconies...(didn't realize before, but there are a lot!). By song # 9...better not tell. Note: No pointe shoes.

AURORA'S WEDDING:

What happened here....? I couldn't tell. The whole thing was the most disconnected and non convincing performance that I've seen in a long time. There were substitutions at the last minute :wallbash: . Rolando Sarabia, again, didn't perform as announced as Desire, and instead we had Renato Panteado , which i like but seemed to be under rehearsed for the role. Also, he and Mary Carmen Catoya (Aurora) seemed to be totally strangers to one another. They looked uncomfortable , and i could NEVER believe that these two were happily dancing to one another, let along getting married. Catoya was a total non-smile act during the whole performance, and looked as she was forced to be there. Technically, there were OK. His variation was fine (nice 5 th landings ), her variation too (great balances) and the fish dives were beautiful , but overall, their partnership was a disaster. I won't even talk about the rest of the production. I just want to mention Jeanette Delgado :) as Princess Florine. She was the only one that looked interested in bringing some life to this embarrassing death corpse. Alex Wong as Bluebird is also worth to mention. He delivered clean high jumps and lightness as the role requires...but...i don't know, i still don't get his characterization. Also the music seemed to be played in a veeeeeery slooooow tempo. Oh well, i guess that watching the Sizova/Soloviev DVD just before going to the theater didn't help a lot either...

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Cristian? Others? Will you have a chance to see it at the Carnival Center?

Oh, BTW bart :thumbsup: , the Center was recently renamed as Arsht Center, right after one Adrienne Arsht dropped a nice $30 million to relieve its imminent bankruptcy. Carnival Cruise Line, with its former $10 million donation (which they took back immediately after they knew of the new deal) is out. Ms. Arsht, with her fresh bigger/yummier contribution, is in. Bienvenido a Miami!

but back to the MCB Program II...

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Oh, BTW bart :off topic: , the Center was recently renamed as Arsht Center, right after one Adrienne Arsht dropped a nice $30 million to relieve its imminent bankruptcy. Carnival Cruise Line, with its former $10 million donation (which they took back immediately after they knew of the new deal) is out. Ms. Arsht, with her fresh bigger/yummier contribution, is in.
No doubt they will be celebrating Arshtival in Rio this year. :blush:

I was at Friday's West Palm opener last night and will also be attending tonight and tomorrow. Will post after seeing the various casts.

But I just wanted to say that what I saw tends to confirm the doubts about Aurora's Wedding. A friend who has seen just about every major Sleeping Beauty in New York City since Danilova made a comment that I thought I'd never hear from her --- and certainly never thought I'd agree with. "I wish they had used a recording."

The orchestra -- which had just played Ravel's music for La Valse in a rich, sophisticated manner, with pulsing rhythms and beautiful tone, could not handle the Tchaikovsky score. The dancers, too, had difficulty adjusting to a style of movement and projection which is a foreign language to them. I had forgotten just how difficult Petipa is to dance accurately, and with the correct accents and feeling.

One more thing: La Valse. :P What an extraordinary theater piece -- eerie, coldly sensual, full of beautiful movement, especially the bewitching port de bras, all uncannnily aligned to the music. The entire company made this piece their own, even the youngest and newest dancers. Balanchine's technique and spirit still reign at MCB. Onward ... in time ... to Petipa?

More about the rest later.

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I enjoy reading all the reviews on these performances. Does anyone know if the orchestra is the same for the different venues?

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Does anyone know if the orchestra is the same for the different venues?
Yes for Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm. I don't know about Naples, where the Naples Philharmonic did Nutcracker.

I should add that up to this point I was enormously impressed by the orchestra -- the Opus One Orchestra -- and especially its very dance-attentive conductor Juan Francisco La Manna. They really did a spectacular job with the three very different scores for Jewels, including the Tchaikovsky Diamonds section. Thus the surprise about Sleleping Beauty.

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bart, while watching Aurora's Wedding, i was actually remembering an interview with Alicia Alonso in which Madame, when asked about her view on Sleeping Beauty and the Aurora/Desire roles, said something like how careful the choreographer and dancers have to be when staging this ballet , due to the "very difficult interpretation of the characters, which because of being part of the surreal world of a fairy tale, don't posses the same human essence of those from Giselle or even Swan Lake and hence harder to identify with ". Makes sense, right...?

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During his pre-performance comments, which lasted about 25 minutes, Edward Villella devoted ...

-- 20 minutes to La Valse,

-- 2 minutes to Sinatra Songs, and

-- 3 minutes to the company's first production of Aurora's Wedding.

If that is an indicator of the level of his involvement in each of the 3 pieces, it may explain why La Valse was by far the most successful of the 3 works performed during this program -- why Sinatra Songs, charming and lovely to look at, came across as a work in progress that is "almost there" -- and why Aurora's Wedding was, despite all the talent on the stage, was in the end a disappointment.

Villella -- who can be a master-story teller and word-spinner when he wants to be -- was particularly eloquent on La Valse. His theme was that Balanchine wanted his dancers to be "poets of gesture" and that Balanchine was always taking the dancer and the audience "away from the literal" (i.e., away from "just the steps").

He spoke of "the fallacy that Balanchine never told stories"and repeated a story he's told before: about the time when Villella was struggling to get the look and the feeling that he knew was required for the role of Prodigal Son. Balanchine finally took pity on him and told him: "Byzantine icons, dear. Byzantine icons." That was all. But it was enough to send Villella to the museum where he got what he needed to make the role his.

Villella told the audience the "story" of La Valse. He described in detail the Death-and-the-Maiden plot and also the cultrual context -- mid 19th century allusions to work llike Poe's "Mask of the Red Death"; "contemporary" allusions (late 1940s and 50's) such as Dior's "New Look" and its influence on the elaborate,d eerie port de bras of the 3 women who open the ballet. It was fascinating.

During the Q and A, a woman asked him if he had ever thought of writing a book of ballet "stories." He said he would rather leave that to professional writers, but that IF he ever did such a book, he would call it "What I Tell My Dancers."

Villella, I gather, was very involved in the staging the revival of La Valse. He told these "stories" to his dancers -- each of whom can do the steps quite well, but all of whom have been born in a world that is far from that of this strange, powerful ballet. American kids nowadays don't go to balls -- nor have they for a long time. They don't waltz (nor can they see the waltz as a metaphor for anything); they've been warned not to surrender passionately to dark strangers who give them black jewelry and gloves. And when they do something self-destructive, it's more likely to involve drugs, speeding cars, or guns than dancing. Young dancers need assistance to enter into the emotions, code of behavior, and layers of meaning contained in a work like La Valse. They have to discover and enter into the poetry of the gestures. Villella clearly considers that helpling them do this was a priority.

In response, the company has made La Valse their own. Every dancer on the stage had the style. Some of the most exciting dancing came from the corps, a number of whom were company and school apprentices in their teens. It was quite wonderful to see the energy, conviction and execution.

Of the casts I saw, Haiyian Wu and Jennifer Kronenberg were outstanding Women in White. Wu, a lyrical dancer who can sometimes err on the side of blandness, was mesmerised even more than attracted by Death (an elegant but effectively understated Jeremy Cox). Sweet, innocent and slightly passive at the beginning of the ballet, she now rushed heedlessly towards him. She became beautifully frenzied, delighted by his gifts, thrusting her arms into the black gloves and dancing with what I can only call abandon. It was an astonishing transformation, but completely convincing.

Jennifer Kronenberg came to the ball more confidently that Wu. She was looking for a good time but also slightly bored. She had been to balls like this before. She toyed a bit with the man who wished to be her partner. She did not so much reject him as use him up and leave him in her dust. When Death (Cox again) appeared, Kronenberg herself seemed surprised at the suddenness and power of her attraction. Everything was more sexual. She seized the black necklace greedily but eased her arms into the black gloves more deliberately and erotically than it is usually done.

Standouts for me as the team of "3 Fates" performed by Callie Manning, Andrea Spiridonakos, and Tiffany Hedman. Jeannette Delgado and Coryphee Michael Breedon were a fleet and graceful first couple, anxious to get to the ball. Katia Carranza was haunting as the the woman in the 3rd couple -- the one who keeps retreating from her partner until she is eventually drawn away from him. Her escort, Yang Zou, looked puzzled by it all but partnered the 3 Fates elegantly.

The corps seemed to have no problem with the speed and coordination. They appeared to be driven by the changing pulses of the waltz but everything -- hands, feet, carriage of head and chest -- always remained in the required style no matter how complicated the patterns got. I was especially impessed by the the way six lines of dancers passed back and forth while Guerra carried the dead girl upstage, and by the tkhey cicled, jumping, around the body of the girl, accelarating into a crouching run that seemed to become faster and faster, continuing even as the curtain fell. What an ending!

You might compare the three performances on this program by thinking of different ways that people go about acquiring a second language.

MCB gave the dancers of La Valse a total-immersion course in the language. Edward Villella, with his long experience and veneration of Balanchine, is with them every day. As a result, even though they're not native-speakers, they sure sound like the real thing.

The Miami dancers are well on their way to speaking the language Tharp and Sinatra Songs as well. But they're not fluent, and speaking colloquially comes and goes. You know that they will get it in time, but they're not there yet.

What about Sleeping Beauty? To extend the metaphor, it seemed that they'd learned this language from tapes produced by non-native speakers. (Indeed, this most difficult and complex of all ballets was staged for them by a teacher at their own ballet school.) Most of the words and almost all the grammar were there. But the tone and accent for the most part were off. Despite the beautiful costumes and impessive set, those on stage were still, clearly, contemporary Americans one step removed Petipa and the mythological world of fairies and princesses.

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Nine Sinatra Songs, Tharp. The company last performed this 4 years ago. There have been changes in personnel since then, especially the addition of a new group of young dancers. But it's surprising how the most satisfying performances tended to come from dancers who had performed the piece earlier. But there was room for young dancers too. (Some say that the 7 couples are actually the same couple seen at different stages of their relationship.)

Haiyan Wu and Jeremy Cox were once again a fine first couple in "Softly as I Leave You." From their entrance they make you aware of just how beautiful classic ballroom dancing can be. Wu's grace and willowy flexibility fit the music perfectly. Wu projecte happiness and even a soft kind of rapture. Cox -- with a couple of beautifully modulated multiple pirouettes -- was a fine, attentive partner.

Jennifer Kronenberg was back in "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)," this time with Carlos Guerra. Tipsy and gently humorous in their first appeareance, the couple sobered up for the reprise and for the finale -- both of which showed Kronenberg's sweeping legwork and Guerra's partnering very well.

The older, deeper couple -- in "All the Way" -- were Deanna Seay on Mikhail Nikitine. In some ways this was my favorite partnership of the evening. Nothing flashy, nothing grand, nothing funny: just the closeness and hand-in-glove quality of a couple who had lived and learned to be together.

I also delighted in Patricia Delgado in "Domani" (with Alexadre Dufaur and Daniel Baker in different performances) and Katia Carranza in the apache dance, "That's Life." Delgado continues to grow and surprise: she was a fireball in ruffled red dress. Carranza, small but sexy and also dressed in red, was as good as I can imagine anyone being being tossed around by gum-chewing Renato Penteado. She gave as good as she got. I don't know how, but even though this couple had probably gone through the same routine a hundred times, the love buried deep at the heart of their world-weary, combative relationship came through.

I much preferred Tharp's 1980s ballet, which I've seen several times over the years, to her earlier Deuce Coupe or her shortened Sinatra Suite. The structure is simpler: 3 couples dance in turn, and then together; then 4 more couples dance. In the end, all the couples come together for a reprise of "My Way."

Tharp fills the stage with movement even when there are only two people. It's movement that makes sense and actually builds to something, not the random doodling of Deuce Coupe. Each couple's dance is complete, self-contained, a little world for two. Each dance is faithful to the feeling of the song, but much more subtley and indirectly than in the earlier work. When the couples begin to dance all together at the end , their individual styles and stories are merged into an shared experience of lifts, turns, gliding. Very beautiful ... and somehow hopeful.

Aurora's Wedding, Petipa.

I've complained enough about this production. :dunno: :blush:

But I haven't mentioned one big thing: the way the Lilac Fairy gets lost in all the action. A big problem with doing Act III as a free-standing ballet is that the larger plot is lost -- this is "Sleeping Beaty" without a context. Deanna Seay and Jennifer Kronenberg were lovely, and eached danced very well, but they were defeated by several things:

(1) turgid, slow and uneven tempi from the orchestra, very notable in the Lilac Fairy's big first variation;

(2) blocking which distracted from the Lilac Fairy's central role in the entire ballet;

(3) the need for coaching by someone who had extensive experience with, and who understood, the signficance and potential of this role.

I wish we had the chance to see these two fine dancers under more favorable conditions.

Most Promising Bluebird/ Florine: Alex Wong and Jeanette Delgado were a winning combination. They were fast, sharp, full of energy, and thrilled by their own -- and each other movements. Unlike the other cast, the story line of learning to fly was clear. With time and lots of performance expereince they could be truly world-class in these roles.

Something New in Fish Dives: One Aurora/Desire couple executed a series of three fish dives as a graceful, slightly tentative slide down towards the floor. Tchaikowsky's music goes "boom"; they performed "swo-o-osh." Mary Carmen Catoya and Penteado did it right.

The Concept of Monarchy Is Dead in Miami: The casting of the King and Queen seemed to be based on the principle: "Who's not doing anything tonight? Preferably someone under 20." This was part of a pattern of ignoring the regal, hierarchical assumptions that are at the heart of the ballet. I know that Act III all about Aurora, but it didn't make sense that almost every ignored the King and Queen, turning their backs on them literally for most of the Act. Even Aurora didn't seem to know who they were.

Is Aurora's Wedding a Tragedy? So you might think based on the facial expressions -- and the complete absence of smiles -- of one of the Auroras. Think Camille or Mimi at the end of their lives. Or possibly Marie Antoinette or Suor Angelica ascending the steps to the guillotine. Romantic agony. Not appropriate and very counter-productive, I would say.

Please Work-a on the Mazurka: This dance -- cut into two -- was a mess. Considering how wonderfully the same dancers performed mazurka in Diamonds only a month ago, I can only blame this on the people who who staged it this time around.

Just because you're a Good Fairy Doesn't Mean You Can Forget About Attack: Sara Esty as the Fairy of the Golden Vine was the only member of the fairy contingent to execute her hand and arm movements with the thrust, extension and precision calleld for by the choreography and demanded by the music. She was delightful and very musical. Others for the most part waved their hands or pointed their fingers as part of a blur of motion. They can do better, and they HAVE done better in numerous other ballets.

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I'm still pondering the choices made in Aurora's Wedding.

A post by Dale -- on the Ballet Videos forum -- led me to a video of Bluebird/Princess Florine's variation performed at a reacent New Year's Gala at the Maryinsky.

I definitely preferred Alex Wong's strong, light, Bluebird over the clunkier and duller version by Anton Korsakov. Watching this Kirov video makes me admire Wong's work even more than I have before -- especially considering his youth and inexperience in this kind of repertoire.

Yulia Bolshakova's section -- especially praised by Dale -- was a reminder of just why this pas de deux is loved and admired so much. Bolshakova (and the conductor) make it important.

You know from the Kirov that Florine is a princess, gracious and regal. There is time, for instance, to watch Bolshakova's beautiful port de bras. You see her listening to the singing of the Bluebird. She is always extending, reaching out. During these six and a half minutes you are entranced by the visualization of something very beautiful, told by brilliant story-tellers.

It was precisely this kind of artistic depth that was missing from the Miami. One of the artistic highlights in all ballet became, simply, an occasion for fast dancing. On that level it worked. But it went no farther, despite the potential of the young dancers Wong and Jeanette Delgado.

Did these young dancers, new to the ballet and to the style, get the chance to watch and discuss performances like this while preparing roles, I wonder? What about those who staged, coached, and conducted the ballet?

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Thank you all for the informative and detailed posts. I will not get to see this performance and of the three pieces I have only seen the Sinatra songs when the Company was on tour. Regarding, Aurora's Wedding, how much of your overall assessment was the choreography as compared to the technique?

I am hoping to see the next program. According to the website Program III has been changed and they will now be performing Seranade! Looking forward to that!

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The Concept of Monarchy Is Dead in Miami: The casting of the King and Queen seemed to be based on the principle: "Who's not doing anything tonight? Preferably someone under 20." This was part of a pattern of ignoring the regal, hierarchical assumptions that are at the heart of the ballet. I know that Act III all about Aurora, but it didn't make sense that almost every ignored the King and Queen, turning their backs on them literally for most of the Act. Even Aurora didn't seem to know who they were.

bart, it seems like we were at the same performance, only that you were in West Palm Beach and me in Miami. That's exactly what happened when i went. The Queen seemed to me more like the 16 y.o Queen's maid-in-training wearing the Queen's dress for the night, and Aurora looked more like her older sister...I also saw some strange mannerisms on the Queen's hands movements..(something defininterly borrowed from Swan Lake's territory, and not particulary from Siegfried's mom.)

Is Aurora's Wedding a Tragedy? So you might think based on the facial expressions -- and the complete absence of smiles -- of one of the Auroras. Think Camille or Mimi at the end of their lives. Or possibly Marie Antoinette or Suor Angelica ascending the steps to the guillotine.

:P that's sooooooooo true, bart.

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Regarding, Aurora's Wedding, how much of your overall assessment was the choreography as compared to the technique?
To be honest, I don't have enough viewing experience or knowledge to answer that. My friend was under the impression that some of the solo choreography had been changed. (Certainly there was some kind of cut-and-paste with the score, but I can't tell you what specifically.) I will ask her and report back.
I am hoping to see the next program. According to the website Program III has been changed and they will now be performing Seranade! Looking forward to that!
I didn't know about the change. Thanks, cahill, for telling us. After I read your post I went to the website: they still have Villella's "Fox Trot" ballet on the program listing, but have changed the floating-headline on the home page to reflect the new program. Now it's All-Balanchine :clapping::D : Bourree Fantasque, Pas de Dix, and Serenade.

Marketing has come up with "French Glamour, Russian Elegance, An American Classic" umbrella slogan -- not too different from the way Jewels was marketed, but in a different order. Serenade is identified as "Balanchine's first American ballet."

("Fox Trot" was part of Villella's Neighborhood Ballroom -- consisting of 4 short ballets evoking the Waltz, Quick-Step, Fox-Trot, and Mambo. It's actually a very entertaining and beautifully danced full-evening piece and quite popular with the audience. MCB last did it in down here in the spring of 2003) The unity is provided by a male Poet and his female Muse, who appear in all four ballets, each set in a different period. It's an audience pleaser in the good sense of that phrase.).

The Queen seemed to me more like the 16 y.o Queen's maid-in-training wearing the Queen's dress for the night, and Aurora looked more like her older sister...I also saw some strange mannerisms on the Queen's hands movements..(something defininterly borrowed from Swan Lake's territory, and not particulary from Siegfried's mom.)
Chasing away flies? :P

Cristian, possibly you and I were among the few actually watching the royal parents, what with the great set, the rich costumes, and so many people on the stage.

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Now it's All-Balanchine Bourree Fantasque, Pas de Dix, and Serenade.

:D Lovely. I've enjoyed tremendously all the Balanchine fest that MCB brings every season. They're all first timers to me, and it's such a thrill every time a "new one" comes out..."Serenade" is one of the pieces that i've always wanted to see, since it seems to fit in my so called "old fashioned" taste, because yes, i SO love the visual impact of a white romantic tutu in a ballerina's body :wub: .. What do you think?

"Fox Trot" was part of Villella's Neighborhood Ballroom -- consisting of 4 short ballets evoking the Waltz, Quick-Step, Fox-Trot, and Mambo. It's actually a very entertaining and beautifully danced full-evening piece and quite popular with the audience. MCB last did it in down here in the spring of 2003) The unity is provided by a male Poet and his female Muse, who appear in all four ballets, each set in a different period. It's an audience pleaser in the good sense of that phrase.

You know..?, yesterday i saw part of a rehearsal, (again, thru the MCB studio glass windows while biking around the beach), and there were Catoya and Panteado doing what i suppose is part of "Fox Trot". Let me tell you, all i wrote about their non-chemistry performance in "AW", i saw the total opposite there. They were having the time of their life while rehearsing, laughing all the way thru and having so much fun...! They looked a totally different couple from that one on the stage. Originally i even though that maybe there were not used to each other or...you know, not too much mutual empathy, but yesterday i could tell that they actually enjoy each other a lot!.....so why did they looked so awkward together in the infamous "AW" disaster...?...it's beyond my comprehension...

The Queen seemed to me more like the 16 y.o Queen's maid-in-training wearing the Queen's dress for the night, and Aurora looked more like her older sister...I also saw some strange mannerisms on the Queen's hands movements..(something defininterly borrowed from Swan Lake's territory, and not particulary from Siegfried's mom.)
Chasing away flies? :P

That poor girl/Queen looked so awkward... :clapping:

Cristian, possibly you and I were among the few actually watching the royal parents, what with the great set, the rich costumes, and so many people on the stage.

Well, it was hard not to look at the royal father, since half of his mustache was unglued and hanging during the whole thing, bart!!!! :blink:

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You know..?, yesterday i saw part of a rehearsal, (again, thru the MCB studio glass windows while biking around the beach), and there were Catoya and Panteado doing what i suppose is part of "Fox Trot". Let me tell you, all i wrote about their non-chemistry performance in "AW", i saw the total opposite there. They were having the time of their life while rehearsing, laughing all the way thru and having so much fun...! They looked a totally different couple from that one on the stage.
That was probably a rehearsal of a jazz performance -- Lounge 2200, using jazz of the 1950s-60s -- scheduled for MCB's Open Barre series at the studio, 3 performances, Fri., Feb. 8, 7pm; Sat. Feb. 9, 5pm and 8pm. The promotional material has a very sultry photo of both of them (head and shoulder shot). The choreography is by Rafi Maldonado, head of the MCB School jazz department, and I'm told it is very "hot."

I can't get down there that weekend, but call the box office. They still had tickets last time I checked. It's bleacher seating in their studio. All the seats are great, and it's a very friendly event, with lots of dancers in attendance.

It really is a miracle, the kind of freedom and joy that Sarabia seems to bring out in his ballerinas. I really hope Catoya/Sarabia become a regular partnership, and that MCB is clever enough to promote their skill and chemistry for all it's worth.

About the King's moustache (and Louis XIV wig). I think that look was intentional, because the same thing happened in the performances I saw in West Palm. It reminded me instantly of a book from my childhood, Nursery Friends from France. (We've disscussed this elsewhere; it's part of the Book House for Children series that several of us grew up with long ago.) A very silly King Dagobert gets everything wrong: rabbits chase HIM when he goes hunting!. One illustration has him with exactly the same wig, at exactly the same angle, as the King in MCB's production:

King Dagobert, I hear,

Put his wig on over one ear.

Said Eloi, the friar:

"Oh, my King and Sire,"

Now your wig looks queer --

'Twas made wrong, I fear!"

The King said: "So I see!

What but a new wig can help me?"

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You know..?, yesterday i saw part of a rehearsal, (again, thru the MCB studio glass windows while biking around the beach), and there were Catoya and Panteado doing what i suppose is part of "Fox Trot". Let me tell you, all i wrote about their non-chemistry performance in "AW", i saw the total opposite there. They were having the time of their life while rehearsing, laughing all the way thru and having so much fun...! They looked a totally different couple from that one on the stage.
That was probably a rehearsal of a jazz performance -- Lounge 2200, using jazz of the 1950s-60s -- scheduled for MCB's Open Barre series at the studio, 3 performances, Fri., Feb. 8, 7pm; Sat. Feb. 9, 5pm and 8pm. The promotional material has a very sultry photo of both of them (head and shoulder shot). The choreography is by Rafi Maldonado, head of the MCB School jazz department, and I'm told it is very "hot."

Well, yes...there was a lot of pelvic movements...very hot indeed..(being Catoya and Panteado colombian and brazilian indistinctly, you can imagine... :flowers: )

I can't get down there that weekend, but call the box office. They still had tickets last time I checked. It's bleacher seating in their studio. All the seats are great, and it's a very friendly event, with lots of dancers in attendance.

I missed it last time for lack of information. :angry2: (I was also attending the Roland Petit Gala at the Carnival that same night), but i'll go this time for sure.

It really is a miracle, the kind of freedom and joy that Sarabia seems to bring out in his ballerinas. I really hope Catoya/Sarabia become a regular partnership, and that MCB is clever enough to promote their skill and chemistry for all it's worth.

Let me tell you..i must confess i miss the cuban "star system". I would only pray that they realize the bennefits of getting a little bit of it at MCB and start selling some names (even knowing that Villela comes from the total opposite Balanchine-oriented vision.

About the King's moustache (and Louis XIV wig). I think that look was intentional, because the same thing happened in the performances I saw in West Palm. It reminded me instantly of a book from my childhood, Nursery Friends from France. (We've disscussed this elsewhere; it's part of the Book House for Children series that several of us grew up with long ago.) A very silly King Dagobert gets everything wrong: rabbits chase HIM when he goes hunting!. One illustration has him with exactly the same wig, at exactly the same angle, as the King in MCB's production:
King Dagobert, I hear,

Put his wig on over one ear.

Said Eloi, the friar:

"Oh, my King and Sire,"

Now your wig looks queer --

'Twas made wrong, I fear!"

The King said: "So I see!

What but a new wig can help me?"

Do you think it was intentional...? :yahoo: Well, now i'm even more confused with the mix of some dancers "guillotin faces" vs. the "comic-silly" feeling.

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I wrote the following comments Saturday, 26th January, but I haven't been able to post them before, so they read a little out of sequence with where the discussion has gone in the meantime:

Friday evening, 25th January 2008, in the AuRene Theatre of the Broward County Center for the Performing Arts, Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Seay's performance of Lilac Fairy made the whole staging of Aurora's Wedding worthwhile for me; and of course we got with it Catoya's and Penteado's Blue Bird, although much of this suffered from the slowish tempos remarked on here already. The second theme in the adagio (which the girl dances) was in pretty good tempo, though, and I have on good authority that the variation was quite fast enough from her point of view; throughout, her dancing was superbly clear and shapely phrased, if maybe a tad routine, so that if I had never seen her dance before I would have been left eager to see her again in something where nothing seemed held back in tempo.

But Seay's grandeur and fullness, her supple, nuanced and detailed phrasing, and her depth of implication, made her the ruler of this scene in both the classic and contemporary uses of the term. It was as though the other roles were clearly and sharply drawn and colored on paper but hers had also been artfully and realistically shaded so that it stood out three-dimensionally from the plane of the material it was drawn on. Like Sugar Plum in The Land of Sweets, Seay's dancing showed us that this was her realm, so that her elevation at the end made sense this way even without, this time, the context of the narrative which normally preceeds it in the full-length production.

Wu's Aurora was aptly bright and clear and very well received. (By "apt" I have in mind that her Aurora is a young newlywed, simple and naive, in contrast to Lilac, who is ageless and wise.)

Concerning the quality of the music, I'm not totally in agreement with others' comments above. Some numbers are pretty generic but Bluebird is something of a hit for me. (Part of the reason may be that I first encountered it not in the theatre but in a recording of just that pas de deux, arranged for a war-time reduced orchestra and conducted with characteristic vigor by the arranger, the well-known Tchaikovsky enthusiast, Igor Stravinsky.) Having referred to Nutcracker, though, I'll add that I think that's the real masterpiece among the three well-known Tchaikovsky ballet scores, not least in the specific "directions" for the choreographer the composer supplies in the Party scene. (I think no other choreographer hears these directions as well as Balanchine does, but that's another story.)

Concerning MCB's mounting this act at all, although I also see, as others here have, that it doesn't look like these dancers' native language (except for Seay, who can and usually does put something on and wear it as though it were custom-made for her, whether the result is "authentic" or not -- example: Diamonds, on Program I), I think it's justified on several grounds.

For one, recalling the story that keeps coming up of one dancer or another saying to Balanchine, "Oh, Mr. B., I don't think I'm ready for this," and Balanchine replying, "That's why you must do it, dear! That's how you get ready!", isn't it worth the attempt for what the dancers can get out of it? Granted, I think I've seen greater successes, like Ballet Imperial, which, Villella told us, he was told by "one of the New York critics" the company was not ready for, but which, with Catoya, was spectacular. We can, and really should, still make valid comments about the results, of course, but the choice of repertory is not exclusively about us; it's about the dancers' development, too.

And then there's the audience's development. At the end of his pre-performance talk, Villella asked for questions and got a statement from the from of the balcony, where a man who said he'd been watching the company for 23 years wanted to thank Villella for taking the repertory away from Balanchine toward other choreographers. It used to be nearly all Balanchine, he said. *sigh* I'm sorry if this sounds condescending, but some people just don't seem to know what they're missing. But south Florida doesn't get to see -- who would you pick for Sleeping Beauty? The Kirov? Okay. Or Tharp's dancers doing some of her dances? Or Taylor's showing his? So, even if not so successful from dancers apparently born and bred to other dancing, this kind of programming serves yet another cause, IMO.

I had come to Florida in the hope I might get to see Seay reprise her Girl in White in La Valse, and she was scheduled to do that, but owing to injury to Guerra, her partner, they were replaced by Tricia Albertson with Didier Bramaz. The ballet went well enough, indeed Croce calls it "indestructible" and "dancer-proof", although the implications Seay showed us in the past were not so large with Albertson this time. I gather that Guerra's injury, a ligament associated with a rotator cuff, as we were told over the public address system, may even heal without surgical intervention; how long before he's back dancing remains to be seen.

With Guerra out, Nine Sinatra Songs became Seven; the last four of the duets were pretty effective, with Albertson and Daniel Sarabia's sharply pointed-up "Somethin' Stupid" not only effective in itself but a good set-up for "All the Way" with Seay and -- after a long absence -- Mikhail Nikitine. These two were far and away the most elegant couple of the evening up to that point, I thought. Patricia Delgado and Alexandre Dufaur also gave an energized performance of "Forget Domani", leading aptly to a performance of "That's Life" with Katia Carranza and Renato Penteado which, however didn't always realize the reckless abandon it's sometimes had, and the usually heart-stopping bit, with the girl hurling herself across the stage at her partner, who puts on his jacket after she's launched, like a missile, on her way, then to catch her on his hip in the nick of time, IIRC, didn't quite come off that way, Penteado's jacket not cooperating with the maneuver, which leaves no margin for error, and he discarded the garment by the wing when he could. Otherwise, the two danced with much of the requisite crisp snap. (The jacket trick went more smoothly in later performances.)

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Concerning the quality of the music, I'm not totally in agreement with others' comments above. Some numbers are pretty generic but Bluebird is something of a hit for me. (Part of the reason may be that I first encountered it not in the theatre but in a recording of just that pas de deux, arranged for a war-time reduced orchestra and conducted with characteristic vigor by the arranger, the well-known Tchaikovsky enthusiast, Igor Stravinsky.) Having referred to Nutcracker, though, I'll add that I think that's the real masterpiece among the three well-known Tchaikovsky ballet scores, not least in the specific "directions" for the choreographer the composer supplies in the Party secene.

Enjoyed this report as well as the others, but disagree on the 3 great Tchaikovsky scores. I love all 3, but think 'Sleeping Beauty' is the greatest, followed probably by 'Swan Lake'. I was startled at the Miami Herald reviewer calling this 'some of Tchaikowsky's 'least charming music'. I wonder what he thinks charm is, if this isn't it. Also love the Black Swan Music as it begins in that Champagne-like Waltz in most versions (I remember Nureyev in one that used only other music), as well as many other parts of 'Swan Lake'. Love 'Nutcracker' too, but it doesn't have any 'adult entertainment' music in it. No fairy in it is like the Lilac Fairy because that probably would be going toward some aspects of the celestial that children don't dwell on in their contemplation of these ethereal beings, at least Christmasy ones. I've looked at Russian scores from 1950 for both 'Swan Lake' and 'Sleeping Beauty', and used them while watching productions on tape--there are all sorts of re-arranging and re-ordering, of course, but only the Snowflake music do I find really transporting in 'Nutcracker', and that's mostly a simple tune repeated over and over (fortunately, it's lovely enough to get away with this without becoming boring.) Last night I watched 'Pique Dame' with the Kirov/Gergiev. After watching some more of his DVD's with the Kirov, I'll do a post on some of the operas and perhaps some of the recordings, because the sound was simply sumptuous, and Tchaikovsky's genius seems only to enthrall more with each new piece gotten under one's belt (I am only now getting to know Tchaikovsky's operas.) Hearing Gergiev's miracles with the Kirov Orchestra will make it all the more wonderful to hear them in April when Kirov comes to City Center. Hardly the Mariinsky, I daresay, yet I am sure it's going to be the best ballet conducting I will have ever heard. There are DVD's of Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmila, and also Mazeppa, I believe, probably Eugene Onegin as well, I'm going to get hold of some of all of these.

Some of the courtier and crowd and gaming table scenes in 'Pique Dame' actually reminded me of some of the pomp scenes in the 3rd Act of Sleeping Beauty, and some of the dancing with Cupid and Hymen (that gilded ballet dancer is there in this production) was light and lilting, echoing the Garland Waltz a bit.

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Jack, thanks for that report. (I knew you'd be there.) Sorry to hear about Guerra's injury; he has become an extremely reliable partner in all sorts of ballets and for many of the principal women, and one I now enjoy watching very much.

I'm glad to read your thoughts on Seay's performance as Lilac Fairy. She certainly is a dancer of grace and impressive technique, and her phrasing and nuance (as you say) are exceptional.

This is just my own personal feeling, but I keep waiting for Seay to break through the reserve, the holding back, that I feel in the way she approaches her roles. I recall seeing her actually do that a few times over the past fewyears: in the "All the Way" pdd from this program's Nine Sinatra Songs, partnered by Nikitine; in Diamonds at the start of this season, with Sarabia. She was also very expressive in in two roles which making "holdling back emotionally" part of the role: Caroline in Lilac Garden and Myrtha in Giselle.

When Seay breaks through her emotional reserve, she is marvellous to behold.

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Edward Villella maintained the same proportions in the time he spent discussing the three ballets of Program II in Fort Lauderdale as bart noted above:

A critic in West Palm Beach asked, by way of objection, Why three different ballets? Because we have the ability and because we give you a choice. Ravel, Sinatra, and Tchaikovsky make a spectrum. Critics? There are stupid critics and informed critics.

[Maybe Villella would have been happier with the review by Guillermo Perez in the 16th January Sun-Sentinel. Perez found the program united by a ballroom-glamour theme. Glamour, three ways.]

In La Valse, Villella found reference to Poe's Masque of the Red Death and remarked that abstract ballets make you think.

La Valse. Do these two disagree, then? No, I don't think so.]

[When the curtain rises, there are three women on stage.] Who are these three women we see in their 1940's Dior look? They kneel and read their hands [like books]. They know more than we do, and, knowing, they will guide us through the ballet. They are harbingers. Couples arrive, content with their situation. [The first two waltz couples.] Balanchine introduces another woman, not so frivolous; undulating: She goes away and comes back. Trying to leave, she's pulled back by her man. Romantic? Or something else? As she looks at her man with curiosity, the three harbingers return one by one and inform him, beyond what he got from his partner. [Prophecy. I seem to recall the three on the right, inclining their bodies toward him, with their working foot back. Anybody else remember this bit? I don't know whether this is exactly what Villella meant, though.] This man does a double air tour, puts the back of his hand to his forehead and exits, as though he's got the idea.

The Lady in White arrives -- goes forward, and is pulled back. She tells the man [raised forearm and hands, head turned away], No, you are not the man I seek. But they dance a beautiful pas de deux, ending back to back, arms linked, suggesting a less positive resolution than he might have wished.

In Part Two, a frenzied beginning... A grand ball, or a darkness within a grand ball; the corps suggest both frivolity and darkness. Frenzy builds and suddenly stops. The figure seen before [at the end of Part I] appears again, with an assistant. [The figure and The Lady in White] dance together. He gives her [black gifts]. He dances her to death.

Balanchine told his story as poetry, so we can enter, looking, and participate. Every gesture has three or four meanings, from three or four points of view.

Is Death the man she came to dance with? Is this the death of an era? One level of Dante's Hell. "There's a story here, guys, if you want to participate."

[During the question period after Villella's remarks on Saturday evening, I put my hand up.] Q: You speak of three harbingers, not two, not four. V: Maybe the three fates? Or, one knows the past, one the present, one the future.

[There's something about three-ness. Two could be buddies, a pair; four, two pair. With three there's an odd one out, more tension, they're not, as we say, paired off, each matched with another, a more settled arrangement.]

Regarding Nine Sinatra Songs: Are these different couples? Or the same one at different stages of life, slices of a single life? [One of the performers said afterward, It's like Lincoln Road. there's a bunch of separate parties in different restaurants and then at the end they all come outside. Like montage in film? I asked. Like montage. (Lincoln road, BTW, is a pedestrians-only strip a few blocks from MCB's studios in Miami Beach with lots of restaurants, shops, bars, and a small theatre.)] At the end, they all dance in a similar style and relationship. [Hmm. I also saw reprises of their earlier dances. It's like Tharp to put together the apparently unrelated.]

As bart said, Villella didn't spend much time on "Sinatra" and "Aurora", but he said that Aurora's Wedding was where La Valse came from. You have to respect and lean upon what has gone before.

Over the four performances, there were more questions and answers:

Q: Next season? V: A new work of about forty minutes length, and we'll close next year with a reprise of Don Quixote.

Q: Bring back Stravinsky's Firebird? V: I'd consider reviving that, but Jerome Robbins also contributed, and that makes the rights issue more complicated.

Q: Is the music for La Valse Ravel's reflection on World War I and the Austrian aspect? V: That's a good possibility.

Q: Will we get all nine Sinatra Songs today [sunday afternoon]? V: One less. We have nine injuries. Carlos Guerra tore his shoulder, and his cover has a foot injury. It's like the [Miami] Dolphins. You play with your first team when you can.

Q: Will there be an orchestra for The Nutcracker? V: Money! It's fifty-fifty, tickets and contributions.

That's about all the account of Villella's remarks my notes and memory will support at this point. Others who also heard his remarks in other venues feel free to add or correct.

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