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Miami City Ballet to perform at NYC City Center next season


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#1 bart

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 01:57 PM

On Saturday evening before the MCB performance at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Mike Eidson, the Chairman of MCB's Board, announced that the company will be performing for a week at City Center next year, "the theater where Villella started his career as a dancer." This will be MCB's first Manhattan performances ever.

There's nothing on the MCB website, and City Center's calendar does not go beyond June. I have to admit, also, that this announcement was made at the conclusion of a burst of other news, including next season's full-length Don Quixote and plans for a full-length Romeo and Juliet the season after that, so I'm not 100% sure that it will be next season and not the following year.

Nothing was said about the City Center program, but I would be willing to place a bet that it will linclude the newly commissioned Twyla Tharp-Elvis Costello piece Nightspot which has its world premiere in Miami on March 28.

Does anyone have any official news about either the City Center week? Or any thoughts for which ballets should be performed? The performances of Serenade I saw this weekend were brilliant and very moving, but I doubt that New York City is in need of another Serenade. Or a Diamonds, Agon, or Prodigal Son.

Possibly Bourree Fantasque, also on this week's program?

#2 carbro

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 02:23 PM

:yucky:
I hope that this is a full week- or (better!) two-week season and not just one entry in the Fall for Dance series. :pinch:

I don't expect anything about the 2008-09 season to appear on City Center's site until August at the earliest.

The NYCB audience loves to see how other companies do Balanchine, and Miami does B so well, I hope they bring plenty!

#3 bart

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 06:36 PM

I hope that this is a full week- or (better!) two-week season and not just one entry in the Fall for Dance series. :yucky:

He definitely said a "for a week."

I can understand that NYC audiences might like to compare other companies' Balanchine to their own home company's. But isn't that kind of head-to-head competition really an unnecessary risk for trhe outsider, given differences in expectations, company styles, etc., and factoring in local chauvinism? Think of the reviewers' puzzlement and even disdain when ABT brought the "Kingdom of the Shades" scene to Europe recently. There was definitely a sense that this was "coals to Newcastle."

Does anyone think there is an interest in -- and market for -- Bourree Fantasque in New York? I gather that ABT did it about 10 years ago and haven't revived it. (MCB is using the ABT Karinska-inspired costumes.)

#4 carbro

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 06:49 PM

ABT staged Bouree in -- you should probably sit down -- 1981 (one of Baryshnikov's acquisitions) and didn't keep it in active rep very long.

NYCB revived it for the 1993 Balanchine Festival but has not done it since, to the best of my recollection.

There's a generation of ballet lovers for whom this would be new Balanchine.

I think the risk in having MCB bring Balanchine to New York is not to the visitors but to the home team.

Ticket sales will probably depend on whether or not MCB comes while NYCB is performing.

I think one of the best ways to evaluate a company is to see it dancing familiar ballets. A Giselle or an Agon can give me a better feel for a company than some ballet I never saw before but is considered one of their hallmarks.


Lovely pic of Kistler & Woetzel from NYCB's Bouree revival. :yucky:

Edited by carbro, 17 February 2008 - 07:05 PM.
Add photo link


#5 Dale

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 09:46 PM

SAB did Bourree Fantasque in the workshop two years ago.

This is wonderful news. San Francisco Ballet also is performing at City Center in the fall of 2008, so it will be a very interesting season. As it is, Miami is coming to the New York area, performing at its usual venues of the McCarter Theater in Princeton and the Tilles Center on Long Island.

#6 bart

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:48 AM

Thanks, Dale and Carbro, for your insights on this.

The costuming and facial expression in the Woetzel/Kistler photo suggest that they are dancing the 1st movement -- the one with the jokes and a certain amount of mugging. Perfect casting! Alex Wong in Miami is something of an apprentice Woetzel, it seems to me.

Villella mentioned the School of American Ballet production, and that it was set on them by Susan Pilarre.

Based on their extraordinary Serenade last weekend -- in which both casts turned the work into a powerful emotional experience, not just an exercise in ballet history -- I have no fears about MCB in Manhattan. But Bourree Fantasque is such an odd compilation of things. I truly love the first movement, with all the flexed feet, mock calesthenics, in your face flitatiousness, youthful exuberance, etc., that you associate with with Balanchine the musical theater man. Part I definitely has a "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!" feel to it. Part II says: let's show you how well we can do a version of romantic ballet. And Part III is in the Grand Finale mode that Balanchine did so well, with a kind of grand pas de deux followed by just about everyone in the company on stage all at once.

But there also are elements of Bourree Fantasque -- unimpressive score, strangely "dated" (though richly made) costuming, and and a certain haminess in part 1 -- that make it hard to figure out. I loved it -- but am not entirely confident why I did so, or that I am right.

However, Villella seems genuinely thrilled to be able to bring it back. And he certainly communicated his own belief in the piece to his dancers, who performed it with impressive sinceerity and faith.

#7 Jack Reed

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 03:21 PM

a powerful emotional experience, not just an exercise in ballet history


IMHO, if Serenadeain't a powerful emotional experience, it ain't ballet history, either; it's a fizzle.

hard to figure out. I loved it -- but am not entirely confident why I did so, or that I am right.


Sounds like a superb staging and also that you got it, bart! Some ambiguity is usually essential in Balanchine-ballet. "Balanchine didn't push any of his messages, so we would get all of his messages." [Who said that? Any guesses? I'll reveal it later, especially if no one gets it, but the truth of it is more important than the source, or the "authority".] I saw SAB's staging, and had a very good time with it, so I'm looking forward to seeing MCB's next weekend.


I'm also encouraged by Sharon McDaniel's review in the Palm Beach Post, where she says Kronenberg's personality is out-front in the escapades in Bourree; sometimes the cool reserve she has, which worked so well as Siren in Prodigal Son is not necessarily the most effective approach to a role, and I hope I get to see her in it a couple times at least.

But New York needs to have a chance to see Balanchine, not the caricatures and travesties they've been getting (to judge from what little I've seen).

#8 bart

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:48 PM

Thanks for those points, Jack. And it's a pleasure to have you as a fellow member of the Jennifer Kronenberg Fan Club. Odd, though, that the same dancer can give us an unfeeling almost reptilian Siren and follow it up with the sexiest and most delightful of leads in Rubies. And those wonderful legs! No wonder Jeremy Cox looked almost delighted when she kicked him twice in the head in the first part of Bourree Fantasque. :clapping: (I should add, for those unfamiliar with the ballet, those two kicks are called for by the choreographer.)

I'm one who thinks that Balanchine can be done in a number of ways and that the work is so strong that it can overcome less than perfect technique and style, to an extent anyway. What impresses me is that MCB seems to me awfully close to the spirit of Mr. Balanchine's own company in the late 50s, the 60s and the 70s, the period I know best. It's unquestionably high-level dancing -- but it's also dancing that is "alive" and gives the impression of complete spontaneity. It's open, generous and very giving to the audience.

Now that I go to 3 or 4 performances of each program over a relatively short period -- as you do -- I know that each performance is a little different, that mistakes sometimes happen, that some dancers handle a given role better than others. But I also have the feeling that they have learned an essential show business lesson: treat every performance as if it's the only one the audience will ever see. Villella taught them that. Certainly, it's the way that he himself always performed.

#9 Figurante

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 09:47 AM

Something is wrong with my copy paste: But I would like to respond to Bart's comment:

"I can understand that NYC audiences might like to compare other companies' Balanchine to their own home company's. But isn't that kind of head-to-head competition really an unnecessary risk for trhe outsider, given differences in expectations, company styles, etc., and factoring in local chauvinism? Think of the reviewers' puzzlement and even disdain when ABT brought the "Kingdom of the Shades" scene to Europe recently. There was definitely a sense that this was "coals to Newcastle."


Miami City Ballet has had favorable success touring to Long Island, and SUNY Purchase. I believe their run in 2006 was reviewed in the NY Times by Gia Kourlas

"At Miami City Ballet the difference in performances is palpable. Dancers, with sparkling musicality, understand the intricacies of the ballets they are dancing, as opposed to just sometimes intermittently clicking with them."
and
"Under the direction of Peter Martins, City Ballet has fallen victim to the survival tactic that every busy New Yorker grapples with: get the job done, then on to the next thing."

Miami City Ballet's induction into NYC's City Center has been a long time coming. I have no doubts that the company and the dancers will shine in their own way up against "reknowned" City Ballet. This will be good for the New York audience as well. Perhaps they will see what integrity, time, effort, and countless rehearsal hours will do in favor for Balanchine's ballets, or any other choreographers for that matter. :FIREdevil:

#10 Jack Reed

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 02:27 PM

Odd, though, that the same dancer can give us an unfeeling almost reptilian Siren and follow it up with the sexiest and most delightful of leads in Rubies.


Odd? bart, did you say odd? With a straight face? I think it's great that she can and does do those both so well!

But I don't agree that the Siren is unfeeling; she's very cooly calculating, very much in charge; she's been here before, she's in it for the dominance, not to mention the spoils (she snaps up the Prodigal's gold medallion, an emblem of what else she and her goons have taken from him, and exits triumphantly! (Or so I saw it.) She triumphed again, and loved it. She loved; we don't exactly love her, although that's not beyond my furthest imaginings...

But, yeah, it's the spirit this company has that is too often lacking in Balanchine today. (Farrell's company has it too.) Kourlas saw that. (What's going on at the Times? Are they opening their eyes? Why? Not that I'm unhappy; I'm curious.)


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