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Miami City Ballet All-Balanchine (Program III)

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I saw 3 of the performances at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach before it moves on to Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

The program became "all-Balanchine" at almost the last moment. According to Edward Villella, a number of injuries -- including several male principals and soloists -- forced the cancellation of the "Fox Trot" section of Villella's own Neighborhood Ballroom and its replacement by Serenade. I have enjoyed Neighborhood Ballroom in the past; it's a sleek, stylish and theatrically savvy work. But the new program allowed us to see a wider range of Balanchine -- and gave new opportunities to a couple of excellent younger dancers.

Serenade: MCB performs this as I remember from NYCB in the early days, as a dramatic ballet -- almost as far i the direction of a story ballet as Balanchine allows -- which takes place in a world whose inhabitants just happen to be beautifully trained classical ballet dancers. Miami takes this ballet very seriously and has more than enough resources to dance it at the highest level. The opening tableau was made even more stunning by John Hall's lighting and by Haydee Morales' version of the Karinska costumes (somehow softer and more ethereal than I remember from the past).

The first cast leads were Deanna Seay, Tricia Albertson, and Patricia Delgado, with Yan Zou as the first partner and Didier Bramaz in the role Villella has described as the "dark angel." This is Seay's kind of ballet -- she was also an exceptional Caroline in Lilac Garden and in one of the more introspective solos in Dances at a Gathering -- and she danced it beautifully and movingly. Albertson, the fast bravura role, seemed comfortable and confident. Patricia Delgado continued to surprise as the woman who brings in the dark angel and escorts him away when he is through. Her dancing this year has depth, suppleness, and confidence that have turned her, for me, one of the more interesting dancers in the company.

Yang Zou is a beautifully correct dancer, light in his jumps and, at this early stage of his career, somewhat light in the effect he makes on stage. Bramaz (the dark angel) is a dancer who captures the eye by the calm way he goes about creating clean and elegant classical movement. Without showing off, he's also an attentive and very helpful partner. His was a slightly aloof, and therefore rather mysterious, figure -- a slightly impersonal messenger from another realm. On the Sunday matinee he switched to the first male role, becoming a more ardent, more human and passionate partner.

The second cast -- Jennifer Kronenbrerg, Jeaneette Delgado, and a corps member, Amanda Weingarten -- were less dramatic. These were dancers first. The story element seemed to fade a bit. Kronenberg was almost too beautiful at the beginning, too obviously the most glamourous and talented woman in the class, showing none of Seay's nervousness and giving no anticipation of some of the more troubling events that occur later on. Her emotionalism -- a kind of emotional disintegration? -- was gradual and very compelling. More than almost any other dancer I've seen in this role, she built up to the conclusion and made it seem inevitable, deeply sad, and oddly promising.

This was a great opportunity for Weingarten who, I confess, I've never focused on her in the corps. In a big solo role she had beautiful line (I have a vision of a couple of arabeques with arched back). She was in command the space around her and had the stage presence to fit in well with the principals. I hope we'll get to see a lot more of her.

A quibble about the ending to this ballet: it takes quite a bit of time to set up the lift, which undercuts -- for me -- the final vision of the woman being carried off as she cambres back with arms outstretched. Apparently Balanchine, in the absence of male dancers, hired several strong men would could execute a lift and walk, and not much more. I wish he had rechoreographed that particular bit.

Pas de Dix At 19 minutes, this was a little short for a full act. The impact has to be big to carry that off. For me, only one of the casts made that kind of impact: the second cast of Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado. Delgado -- younger sister of Patricia, and now a "principal soloist" -- is one of those smaller firecracker ballerinas, bursting with technique, who can occasionally oversell -- and over-smile -- in her performances. Here she kept the salesmanship in control and let the technique speak for itself. The result was scintillating. Pentado -- injured for much of last season, but back to normal this year -- has a lot of the burden of filling in for injured male principals. He was dancing at his best this weekend.

Mary Carmen Catoya, dancing with Penteado, did a superb solo variation. She has amazing technique, and -- when she is aso projecting emotional energy, using her eyes, and relating to the audience -- she is a world-class dancer. If she can sustain this throughout a performance -- as she did dancing Sugarplum with Rolando Sarabia a few months ago -- she is a thrilling performer.

Rolando Sarabia made a kind of return from injury partnering Deanna Seay in yet another cast. In the December Nutcracker he brought out qualities of passion and grandeur in Seay that I'd never seen before. With him, she blossomed. For some reason, chemistry and even timing were quite off this time around. Both were tentative and seemed out of sorts. During the curtain call, she fell into a curtsy abruptly and he bumped into her from behind. Something was wrong, and it dampened the entire ballet.

Bourree Fantasque: Villella was moved to revive this after Susan Pilarre brought it back for the School of American Ballet a couple of years ago. At a pre-performance talk he mentioned that he hadn't seen it since 1958 at NYCB. That year was also my own first -- and last -- experience of this strange ballet -- actually a kind of stitching together of several different ballets that makes sense only when all the dancers join in a thrilling finale in the "we're all on stage dancing our hearts out" style of Stars and Stripes or Western Symphony.

The First Movement -- a spoof on ballet partnerships created for Tanaquil LeClerq and Jerome Robbins -- got a wonderful performance from both casts. Kronenberg and Jeremy Cox had a kind of chemistry that's based on the premise of an absurd lack of chemistry. It's hard to believe, as one watched them make this part of the ballet genuinely (though subtly) funny that they were also the finest Prodigal Son and Siren just a few years ago.

Second cast were the soloists Andrea Spiridonakos and Alex Wong. They were a bit more like kids, and the element of Tall Girl, Short Boy was more obvious. Wong's a natural in almost every role, and he has a stage sense that goes beyond that of most young ballet dancers. His reaction to being kicked in the head by Spiridonakos -- twice! -- got the biggest laugh of the weekend.

I love the flexed feet, the jumps and plies in wide second position, and all the neo-classical artillery that Balanchine brings to bear in this movement. It's fun, and the corps danced it with spirit, style, and -- as far as I could tell -- great technique. As in so many MCB corps performances, they created the illusion of spontaneiity, ease, and joy.

Second Movement: Here we switched to a kind of romanticism. Haiyan Wu -- supported by the impeccable partnering of Didier Bramaz -- was an obvious choice for the lead. She sailed through the part with great class and was a joy to watch. I also loved Patricia Delgado in the second cast.

One of the stars of the evening was the corps, performing movements like the tick-tock-tick-tock movement of the port de bras, with spirit, timing, and -- to me -- incredible synchonization. The Kravis opening night was only the third time they have performed this for a paying audience. Someone, they danced it like they had owned it for a long time and still loved it llike it was brand new.

My favorite soloists of the various casts were Jeanette Delgado and the very young corps member Daniel Baker. There were a few partnering bobbles, but both are natural dancers clearly in love with what they do.

The finale -- with each set of soloists leading a battery of corps forward in jetes, one after another, 8 times -- is thrilling and unforgettable. It makes you wonder: why isn't this ballet revived more often? Could it be the less-than-effervescent ho-humness of some of the Chabrier score?

I hope this productdion makes it to City Center when MCB visits NYC next season.

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(from Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Keeping in mind that angels enter our lives to bring us guidance, it's the girl who brings the boy in who's the angel. (Sorry to be blunt, but my time's up on a shared computer.)

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Keeping in mind that angels enter our lives to bring us guidance, it's the girl who brings the boy in who's the angel.
Maybe I misheard Villella. The context of his remark was a discussion of the role of the male dancers in the ballet. But I do see the point about the female character.

Hope you'll be at the Fort Lauderdale performances, Jack, and that we'll be hearing your reactions.

Will any others be there or at Miami the following week?

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Bart,

I attended Ft Lauderdale today and will do so again tomorrow. I also plan to see the performances in Miami next week. My brief impressions:

Seranade: This is only the second time that I have seen this ballet. I was very impressed by dancing of both principals and corps. I expected this to be my favorite of the evening. It came in third.

Pas de dix: I simply cannot take my eyes of Mary Carmen Catoya when she dances. She exhibits remarkable balance both in stationary positions and in turns. Tonight, she projected a strong personality and was a delight to watch. Callie Manning also caught my attention with fast, precise steps. I had hoped to see Haiyan Wu in the movement as I believe that this would have fit her style well. (Deanna Seay substituted in this performance)

Bourree Fantasque: Edward Villella, in his opening remarks mentioned that this ballet is rarely performed any more and that he could not understand that. I think that the audience agreed with him as the company turned in a very entertaining performance. So, there must be some reason that this ballet has fallen by the wayside, but for my simple tastes, it was fun and a great "closer." Perhaps there are technical reasons that more expert observers than I find objectionable.

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(from Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Whoops! bart, you must have reported Villella's remarks accurately, for he said on Friday night that "This guy became referred to as The Dark Angel", while Saturday afternoon he was more equivocal. But the brief post I put up is the way I've always thought of the role and how I've heard it spoken of. Ah, well, post in haste, regret at leisure, right?

Undeterred by that gaffe, I will try a few more remarks in haste on a shared computer. iwatchthecorps certainly saw what I saw Friday night; Catoya was really phenomenal in her variation in Pas de Dix, and I would expect her to do that again Friday night in Miami. Everybody, go! (I'll be elsewhere on previous a committment.) She even had the opening-night crowd, not the best, in her control; they applauded all over the place in the opener, Serenade, which is understandable, but when they started to break out again, loudly, in her variation, they stopped abruptly as she continued; they too couldn't break their attention away from her. A real triumph!

But I liked Serenade with Seay quite well; her dancing was dark in the first sequence of jetes, and loooked like a harbinger even if you didn't know the ballet from before. She was in fact The Woman Who Falls, but on her re-entrance as the Girl Who is Late and then again in Tema Russo she is bright like the others, even smiling a little in T R at first (Zou was a good partner for her). So I liked this difference for what her dance intelligence brought to it.

I was glad to see Bourree Fantasque again, having seen it a few times at SAB Workshop in June, and liking Chabrier's tricky, witty, frothy music. And I really liked seeing another of the dancers called Jennifer Kronenberg, with her sharp, quick wit. Saturday afternoon, in Serenade we got the light, soft, clear, clean Jennifer Kronenberg -- all those at once, not bad -- and so: Will the real Jennifer Kronenberg please stand up so we can tell who you are? No, no, I mean, will the real Jennifer Kronenberg please keep on dancing? We love all of you gals!

Friday night the Catoya phenom reappeared in the third movement of Bourree! Wow! Jeanette Delgado acqitted herself well Saturdayafternoon, but, well... Actually the delight of that performance was her sister Patricia, who made the quirky turns under her partner's arm flow into a lovely sequence and then, as the music subsided and he moved away, bourreed down front to us and let her smile subside too, unusually for her, and making her dance more complete in this way.

More when I have a chance.

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What a difference a day makes.... Perhaps it is the fact that I now have seen Seranade for the third time, but I must say, today's performance made a real impression on me. Maybe its that I knew what to look for, but the performance simply felt different from the performance yesterday. Today, I would say that this ballet, while still not my favorite, was a close second.

Pas de Dix: I was impressed with Rolando Sarabia. It is the first time that I have seen him dance. He has a look that is fundamentally different than the other men in MCB. His physique reminds me much more of a San Francisco Ballet Dancer. I liked his dancing but felt that the choreography was not as interesting as it could be.

Bourree Fantasque: Wow..I liked it again this afternoon...I am astonished that this ballet has fallen out of the rep. Maybe if/when Edward takes this to New York that will change.

I am really looking forward to next week in Miami.

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Well, Saturday night's (the 23rd) Serenade was a little different, I noticed; after all, even the same cast will come to something a little differently each time, if they're good, and the ballet is something alive to them, as they are to these dancers, this company. Seay's "darkness" was mostly gone, and the ways she got up from the floor were not routine moves anymore -- she knew she had to get up, and these moments, while hardly the whole ballet, were a little blank Friday I thought, but Saturday it looked as though she felt a calling or something, making it time to rise again. Little details like this will change a ballet for us, too.

Seay also subbed for the ailing Wu in Bourree Fantasque 2nd movement again, and Catoya appeared only in the third movement of this, with Penteado, her only partner this weekend; they're superb, together or separately!

There was news of Carlos Guerra: He is expected to dance the first installment of Program IV, in Miami, only, and then have his surgery.

Skipping back to Pas de Dix for a moment, this version does not have the male quartet number I've read about: It's ensemble with principals, female variation, female variation, variation with two women, princial male variation, principal female variation, ensemble-coda. Jeannette Delgado Saturday night gave a very creditable account (with Penteado; his large, shapely clarity, continuing the dance from beginning to end in his variation pleased me better than Rolando Serabia Saturday afternoon, with Seay, but Serabia showed flashes of briliance); but nobody but nobody dances like Catoya! And the audience likes it very well, every time.

Those waves of grand jetes toward the end of B. F. are almost too much, but not quite!

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Sunday afternoon, 24th February, was another strong performance, almost like Friday evening: Catoya was in Serenade, in a secondary role -- as "Tema Russo" begins, she's in the middle of the five -- and although any role with her in it might no longer be secondary, she has too much good sense, too much good taste, to grab attention in what she does; so she gave us an outstanding but properly modest rendition, and, as you may be ble to tell, my admiration for her continues to grow.

Wu still being out, she was subbed for by Jennifer Kronenberg -- I'll make it Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, like it is on the cast sheet -- as the Girl Who Falls, etc, etc, etc. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not complaining how this role winds on through the ballet; it gives whoever is in it -- and Villella has some nice women -- a big opportunity to unfurl some fine dancing and some characterisation too, if they so choose. Kronenberg is an interesting contrast to Seay, shorter, apparently, but larger, apparently, in motion. Longer arms and legs, especially advantgeous in Serenade, where she danced brightly and expansively early on and also fully realizing the unearthly drama at the end -- I mean, she has her mortal side, but the three also seem to me pawns of the supernatural, the boy the most clearly, of course, and the girl who brings him in, whatever her character-name might be, most clearly an agent of the supernatural.

In Pas de Dix, I got an actual response to my rhetorical request for the various Kronenbergs to dance on -- she came back on and, in due course, began her variation here with head well up to announce this would now be very much in The Grand Manner, and having introduced it that way, she proceeded to perform it grandly. Were we suddenly back in Old Russia? Had she been listening to Villell'a introductory remarks about how this ballet shows where Serenade came from?

Whatever her method, which I suspect is more physical than intellectual, and power to her, it was yet a different Kronenberg before us now, and a superbly different rendition of a different part from just minutes or hours ago. Her partner was Rolando Serabia, who had danced the previous matinee with Seay, and this time I thought his variation was better organizeed at no cost in brilliance. I'm sorry to differ a little with his fans here, but I still prefer Penteado in this for the way he fits clear small gesture into clear large phrases fitted into sequences clearly placed about the stage.

The first movement of Bourree Fantasque featured Andrea Spiridakos and Alexandre Dufaur, and this pair seemed to me to have an edge over Allynne Noelle and Alex Wong at Saturday's matinee by more deftly and easily participating in the subtle and not so subtle ballet humor in this movement. If you can't have Kronenberg and Cox in this, that is, who the evening audiences got: This star pair may have been a tad less good as a comedy ensemble, though, and seeing Spiridanakos and Dufaur combine was a different treat in its own right.

Wu had been cast in the "searching" 2nd movement; and although Villella seems to think of Bourree Fantasque as a rousing finale, which the third movement certainly is, building and building with those eight waves of massed grand jetes diagonally across the stage, and beyond, there's -- well, there's always "more" to a Balanchine ballet, isn't there? -- more in this case being the searching-finding-losing kind of pas de deux in this 2nd movement, which resonated for me with the events of the last movement of Serenade, only here the whole business is "lighter", and instead of an apotheosis, there's that bang-up finale.

So, a wonderful program, as one person remarked to me as it ended Friday evening.

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Bourree Fantasque: Wow..I liked it again this afternoon...I am astonished that this ballet has fallen out of the rep. Maybe if/when Edward takes this to New York that will change.

This surprises me, too. Arlene Croce actually suggested that -- now that Tanaquil LeClerq and Jerome Robbins are no longer available to dance the first part -- NYCB should never have revived it in the 90s.

I guess some New Yorkers just get to see too much ballet. :angel_not:

As for me, I found that it grew on me. It's Balanchine tossing out one idea after another. Possibly it doesn't cohere. But it's a huge opportunity for a good companyto show off what it can do -- which may explain Villella's proliferation of casts.

Those waves of grand jetes toward the end of B. F. are almost too much, but not quite!
I agree! :clapping:
The first movement of Bourree Fantasque featured Andrea Spiridakos and Alexandre Dufaur, and this pair seemed to me to have an edge over Allynne Noelle and Alex Wong at Saturday's matinee by more deftly and easily participating in the subtle and not so subtle ballet humor in this movement. If you can't have Kronenberg and Cox in this, that is, who the evening audiences got: This star pair may have been a tad less good as a comedy ensemble, though, and seeing Spiridanakos and Dufaur combine was a different treat in its own right.
One of my performances had Spiridonakos substituting for Noelle, with Wong as partner. (So many possibilities!). Assuming that Spiridonakos learned the part with Durfaur, I would imagine that their partnership would be effective. Dufaur, French-trained, has grown tremendously as a stage performer in the past 2 seaons. I really like seeing him -- and her -- in the right roles.

Did anyone else attend? We'd love to hear what you thought or anything that crosses your mind about the ballets or performances.

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As a Karinska fan I have to ask if the Bouree Fantasque costumes for this revival were based on her original designs?

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As a Karinska fan I have to ask if the Bouree Fantasque costumes for this revival were based on her original designs?
The program says: "Costume design by Barbara Matera after Karinsky. Costumes courtesy of American Ballet Theater." They certainly looked like the costumes I've seen in photos from the first NYCB run, though most of those are in black-and-white. The strange headdress that LeClerq wears in early photos from Part I has been simplified and made smaller.

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(from Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Whoops! bart, you must have reported Villella's remarks accurately, for he said on Friday night that "This guy became referred to as The Dark Angel", while Saturday afternoon he was more equivocal.

In Suzanne Farrell's notes on some of the ballets NYCB is bringing to the Kennedy Center this week, she writes that

I have fond memories of dancing the Dark Angel, one of three ballerinas in the final movement.
.

Thanks for all the great, detailed reports, folks.

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Yes, kfw, there does seem to be a contradiction here.

Maybe Villella was thinking of the (male) Dark Angel in Orpheus, which he must have seen often while a member of NYCB. That Dark Angel, like the ballerina in the earlier Serenade, also escorts someone whose eyes are covered.

It's possible that the company's dancers, when they first saw Orpheus (1948), saw a similarity to the earlier Serenade (1935) and began using the label, informally, for that ballet as well.

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Bourree Fantasque: Wow..I liked it again this afternoon...I am astonished that this ballet has fallen out of the rep. Maybe if/when Edward takes this to New York that will change.

This surprises me, too. Arlene Croce actually suggested that -- now that Tanaquil LeClerq and Jerome Robbins are no longer available to dance the first part -- NYCB should never have revived it in the 90s.

I guess some New Yorkers just get to see too much ballet. :tomato:

Thanks for all the interesting reports on MCB -- I do hope to see them in NYC if possible. However, I do not think that NYCB revived it in the 90's -- was it perhaps ABT?

And, I think the old saying goes something like: "you can never be too rich, too thin or see too much ballet."

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I do not think that NYCB revived it in the 90's -- was it perhaps ABT?

In the context of a review of the Balanchine Celebration, Croce writes about NYCB in 1993:

Curating does not mean worshippping relics; it often means the opposite. Was a new production of Bourree Fantasque (1949) needed to prove yet again that the first movement just doesn't work anymore? Created for two great comedians, Le Clercq and Robbins, on the intimate scale of the City Center stage, it cannot begin to explain why audiences of the time were left, in the words of one reviewer, 'limp with laughter.' I am sorry for whatever inhibition has kept Martins or, better, Robbins from replacing it, for the other two movements are worth saving. Legat and Beck would not have hesitated.
(from: Writing in the Dark, Dancing in The New Yorier)

I Googled and found the following, from a 1993 review by Anna Kisselgoff:

A more genuine revival on Thursday was "Bourree Fantasque," a whirlwind of kinetic wit that Balanchine choreographed to Chabrier's music in 1949. American Ballet Theater staged this effervescent plotless work in 1981-82 with Balanchine's consent. His own company had performed it through the 1950's, but a 1967 revival was short lived.

When "Bourree Fantasque" was being revived by Ballet Theater, Balanchine felt his jokes about inverting conventional ballet style would look dated. But Ballet Theater succeeded because it caught the humor of the first movement, with its tall girl-short boy duet. The dancers, experienced in the Romantic ballets, gave the second section the right perfume of elusive love.

Both companies have the same energetic platoons of cumulative ensembles to work up circling dancers into the third section's exhilarating finale, led frantically here by Nichol Hlinka and Nikolaj Hubbe. Kyra Nichols and Erlends Zieminch were more straightforward than necessary in the second movement. Only Darci Kistler and Damian Woetzel, in the first movement, seemed right, relinquishing Ballet Theater's broad humor for a sparkling elegance and chic.

I don't know about leaving the audience "limp with laughter" -- it would possibly take a pie in the Odette's face to do that nowadays. But I would definitely say that Jennifer Kronenberg and Jeremy Cox were in the school of Darci Kistler and Damian Woetzel: "elegant and chic."

The ABT production dates from 1981. I don't know its history after that.

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Going this weekend to the Arsht Center. (Miami goes last this time ah...? :tomato: . ) Will be reporting back...

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It may have been a one or two time performance just for the festival, but I don't recall seeing at that time. I just can't imagine......

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It may have been a one or two time performance just for the festival, but I don't recall seeing at that time. I just can't imagine......
I saw it and remember it as very inferior to the ABT staging. One reason, most likely, was the volume of "new" works the company was performing the season of that first, spectacular Balanchine Celebration. You can see a pic of Darci and Damian in NYCBallet.com's Repertory Index.
I don't know about leaving the audience "limp with laughter" -- it would possibly take a pie in the Odette's face to do that nowadays. But I would definitely say that Jennifer Kronenberg and Jeremy Cox were in the school of Darci Kistler and Damian Woetzel: "elegant and chic."
I don't think the relative heights of Darci and Damian create the short guy-tall gal contrast at all. On pointe, she was merely a bit too tall for him; she did not tower over him. The whole point of the movement was lost due to inappropriate casting, which, as I recall, was rampant in those days.
The ABT production dates from 1981. I don't know its history after that.
There is none. I don't think it lasted more than a single season. Perhaps two. :tomato:

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It may have been a one or two time performance just for the festival, but I don't recall seeing at that time. I just can't imagine......
I saw it and remember it as very inferior to the ABT staging. One reason, most likely, was the volume of "new" works the company was performing the season of that first, spectacular Balanchine Celebration. You can see a pic of Darci and Damian in NYCBallet.com's Repertory Index.
I don't know about leaving the audience "limp with laughter" -- it would possibly take a pie in the Odette's face to do that nowadays. But I would definitely say that Jennifer Kronenberg and Jeremy Cox were in the school of Darci Kistler and Damian Woetzel: "elegant and chic."
I don't think the relative heights of Darci and Damian create the short guy-tall gal contrast at all. On pointe, she was merely a bit too tall for him; she did not tower over him. The whole point of the movement was lost due to inappropriate casting, which, as I recall, was rampant in those days.
The ABT production dates from 1981. I don't know its history after that.
There is none. I don't think it lasted more than a single season. Perhaps two. :thumbsup:

Thanks, Carbro,

And now we see that the Repertory Index sorely lacks a performance history.

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Does the effectiveness of the first part depend on the tall/short contrast?

This difference was more noticeable in MCB's second cast -- Spiridonakos and Wong -- who also suggested the tensions between a sophisiticated coed and a pesty younger boy. I actually preferred the more experienced pair of Kronenbereg and Cox, where height was not the major difference (though she is taller on pointe). The contrast there was one of movement style.

Although the tall-short contrast was part of Balanchine's original choreographic intent, is it necessary to retain it. Old jokes die fast. The choreography iteself is witty, though of the appreciative chuckle variety, not the belly laugh.

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Miami Performances:

OK, so this was a great week end. I went to see the Saturday 2nd. and Sunday 3th performances. I will subdivide my posts on the two days due to a lack of time. I’m sorry for this but I’m sure you’ll be all benevolent with this ballet amateur. Here... my two cents.

Saturday 2.

Serenade:

Considering myself a total novice (in progress, if IMO) on Balanchine, i went to the Arsht Center with great expectations and full of hope. For some reasons, i was particularly almost begging to the dance muse to get me a pleasant ballet night. Oh, she certainly sent my prayers to the miamian troupe and they took good care of things. So, i need to say it out loud and right away. They were marvelous!!!.

There was a full house last night, and i had a great orchestra seat. When the curtain rose, i couldn't help but gasp...The blueish ethereal vision of the female dancers in formation, perfectly symmetric arms dramatically raised against a bare backdrop was more than evocative. The ghostly images started moving to the First Movement of Tchaikovsky's score, "Piece in a Form of a Sonatina: Andante non Troppo" and then "Serenade" officially took over all of myself. I've always been a strong advocate of plots in ballet, so it's still challenging to watch something like this without trying to give the dancers and the choreography a story, a context. I know...this is Balanchine, and it's plotless, but while watching this first piece, i kept remembering how Mme. Alonso always remarked that that was something that Balanchine respected when Youskevitch and her interpreted "Theme and Variations" ...their choice to dance it with a love story quality feeling, and Balanchine himself being curious about it and finally approving it, although it wasn't his primary idea. So here i did the same and took the liberty to "see" things here and there. I guess that this is a personal choice, which i fully took advantage of, while getting immersed in the magnificent displays of lyricism of the female corps (sylphs, willis...?) under the moody ethereal light of the moon...(I think I'm going too poetic...let's keep this more "factual")

Something that i appreciate in "Serenade" was the opportunity to see a variety in the hierarchy of the dancers, dancing all together with no distiction (a challenging thing also for me, being an follower of the ballet star system tradition). So here, some Principals, some Soloists, and some Corps dancers impressed me with the extremely high level of their endurance, technical skills, focus, and versatility. It is imperative, i think, in a ballet such as Serenade, to be ever-so-airy and ever-so-dreamlike. Wow, these dancers had to switch tempo, mood, and physical and dramatic tension all the time. The girls constantly were breaking and re-forming into elaborated patterns, emulating the turns and leaps of one another, eventually forming a dynamic circle by the end of the first movement. The cast of choice here were beautiful Jennifer Kronenberg, Amanda Weihgarten and Mary Carmen Catoya, which was substituting Jeanette Delgado. The male leads were Principal Jeremy Cox (taking the place of the originally casted Soloist Yang Zou) and Corps dancer Neil Marshall as the “dark angel”

Mary Carmen Catoya was, as usual, all bravura and pure technique. She has always impressed me with her high jetes ,(and she gave us some of those here), secure turns and clean landings. She has a dramatic projection that contrast with her tiny little body. I’ve been following her dancing for a while now, and without a doubt she is nowadays one of the most prominent figures of MCB. If only there was a star system…(again with the same thing...? :cool: I know, time to shut up Cristian…) Anyways, she certainly stood up among the other four when “Temma Russo” started. Then there is Jennifer Kronenberg , who s getting more physically attractive every time I see her onstage. Somebody mentioned it before, and I couldn't help but smile at her offering of beauty. Her face is something that makes you feel distracted from her dancing. This is usually even more accentuated when she dances with her husband, Principal Carlos Guerra, which was a no show during the whole program. Still, she possess, as Catoya, a strong technique, although being a bit colder on her dancing. She was the girl that falls onstage, and her falling was carefully done , not to much risks taken…Then there was Jeremy Cox. He is one of my favorites , having the rare quality of looking very attractive onstage even being surpassed in height the most of the times by his female partners. He always attacks the choreography with defying attitude, and that really shows, specially on bravura segments. I remember that he did an excellent job in “Rubies” along with Tricia Albertson as the leading couple in the past. The fine lead casts also included on the second movement Jennifer Lauren, Sara Esty, Ashley Knox and kyra Homeres. Neil Marshal is kind of unknown to me…maybe some others here have seen him dancing before…? Finally, I was moved by the beautifully projected finale to “Elegy”. The image of the dramatic grand procession of the fallen Kronenberg being carried off was of incredible simplicity and beauty. A must to mention is the Orchestra. The Magnificent Tchaikovsky score was interpreted with excellence by Conductor Juan Francisco La Manna and his Opus One Orchestra. There were extremely lovely and sensual string solos and they received a well deserved part of the final ovation.”Serenade” was all that I expected and more…I would really like to see it again, (too bad they don’t do more than one weekend), as it has many layers and nurtures the soul with a quiet, but resonant quality. Haydee Morales recreation of the original Karinska's were very effective in conjunction with John Hall's elaborated lighting design.

Well done, Eddie...!!! :bow:

“Pas de Dix” and “Bouree Fantasque” coming next…

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Thanks for that wonderful remembrance of the Serenade performance, cristian. Looking forward to your thoughts (and feelings) about the rest of the program.

I've always been a strong advocate of plots in ballet, so it's still challenging to watch something like this without trying to give the dancers and the choreography a story, a context. I know...this is Balanchine, and it's plotless, but while watching this first piece, i kept remembering how Mme. Alonso always remarked that that was something that Balanchine respected when Youskevitch and her interpreted "Theme and Variations" ...their choice to dance it with a love story quality feeling, and Balanchine himself being curious about it and finally approving it, although it wasn't his primary idea. So here i did the same and took the liberty to "see" things here and there. I guess that this is a personal choice, which i fully took advantage of, while getting immersed in the magnificent displays of lyricism of the female corps (sylphs, willis...?) under the moody ethereal light of the moon...(I think I'm going too poetic...let's keep this more "factual")
I confess that I also like to imagine story elements to certain Balanchine ballets. Not plot so much as an emotional context for situations.

It's great to hear that there was a full house. In West Palm my impression that a significant part of the audience is made up of people who know these ballets from New York City or other northern locations, many of them (us) recalling them from the time that Balanchine himself was alive and creating new work constantly. What about Miami? Were you able to get a feel about the audience -- what attracted them to this program? how knowledgeable they were? is there a cross-over from the large audience that grew up with and continues to follow the fortunes of Cuban style ballet?

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Thanks for that wonderful remembrance of the Serenade performance, cristian. Looking forward to your thoughts (and feelings) about the rest of the program.
I've always been a strong advocate of plots in ballet, so it's still challenging to watch something like this without trying to give the dancers and the choreography a story, a context. I know...this is Balanchine, and it's plotless, but while watching this first piece, i kept remembering how Mme. Alonso always remarked that that was something that Balanchine respected when Youskevitch and her interpreted "Theme and Variations" ...their choice to dance it with a love story quality feeling, and Balanchine himself being curious about it and finally approving it, although it wasn't his primary idea. So here i did the same and took the liberty to "see" things here and there. I guess that this is a personal choice, which i fully took advantage of, while getting immersed in the magnificent displays of lyricism of the female corps (sylphs, willis...?) under the moody ethereal light of the moon...(I think I'm going too poetic...let's keep this more "factual")
I confess that I also like to imagine story elements to certain Balanchine ballets. Not plot so much as an emotional context for situations.

It's great to hear that there was a full house. In West Palm my impression that a significant part of the audience is made up of people who know these ballets from New York City or other northern locations, many of them (us) recalling them from the time that Balanchine himself was alive and creating new work constantly. What about Miami? Were you able to get a feel about the audience -- what attracted them to this program? how knowledgeable they were? is there a cross-over from the large audience that grew up with and continues to follow the fortunes of Cuban style ballet?

Oh, you can tell there's two totally different type of audiences here in Miami, bart. When the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami perform, usually at the Jackie Gleason on the Beach, the house gets full packed mostly with cubans, the majority of them familiar with the technique, productions and choreographies from the Cuban National Ballet on the 60's and 70's. This people are generally baby boomers, and for what i can ovehear during intermezzos, they carry a powerful choreographic memory, and often compare the new defector stars with those from the past years, (Esquivel, Mendez, Pla, Araujo and so on....). It's also interesting that the most of these people don't live in South Beach, and they come basically from South Miami, where most of the cuban community lives, defying the horrible traffic and messy parking situation of South Beach. Now, i don't see this same people when the MCB performs at the Arsht Center. This is a totally different audience, the majority of them, in this case, wealthy americans and socialites from Bal Harbour and Coral Gables, along with a growing number of mixed younger people. During intermezzos i barely hear any ballet conversations around, and still, the house gets full...I also notice an increasing number of young couples and middle class families going this season to the MCB. At the Jackie Gleason you still hear the circus-like roaring and whistling when a great step is being done...at the Arsht Center, you hear polite but insistent round of applauses...

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I attended Friday, Sat, and Sunday at the Arscht Center in Miami. Friday's house was nearly full. Sat was packed (as Christian said). Sunday was nearly full. The audience on Friday and Sat were younger as Christian indicated. Saturday's audience was similar to the audiences that I have seen in West Palm and Ft. Lauderdale.

I must say that watching this program was an extraordinary experience. I am starting to stop looking for a story in the ballet and just "watch the music and listen to the dancing." I've already commented on the three selections in the program. This weekend reinforced all of my previous observations.

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Miami Performances:

Neil Marshal is kind of unknown to me…maybe some others here have seen him dancing before…?

I am assuming you saw Neil Marshall as "Elegie Boy" not Dark Angel (who is a woman) as you had referred to him. I understand there was a discrepancy earlier in this thread as to the correct name for this role.

Neil Marshall joined MCB this season from Pennsylvania Ballet. He also danced with Suzanne Farrell Ballet. I was excited to hear of his opportunity in Serenade this season after the programming was changed, though I was dismayed I could not see it in person. He has a lot of experience, and surely has a lot to offer to the company.

And what did you think of his performance?

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