Jane Simpson

NYCB in London

59 posts in this topic

Or perhaps, Leigh, it takes a rest -- and perhaps some palate-cleansing sorbet -- to see a company as it is.

What a great asset to be able to see a company through both a native's and a stranger's eyes.

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I'm assuming the majority of the songs were lip-synched?
Nope. The dancers do all their own singing live.

Apart from the dancer who was Tony? I saw this guy creeping around the front of the proscenium arch, and thought it was a rabid fan until he opened his mouth and started singing!

I found the singing quite confusing! They sounded like the dancers/singers were miked up, but I didn't see any microphone packs or tiny microphones on the dancers. I could see singers in the pit during "I love to come to America" but it was hard to tell whether they were just singing the chorus or all of it as they were in shadow.

I'm well impressed the dancers managed to both sing and dance tho. Ok, they do it all the time in musicals, but I hadn't expected dancers with no or little vocal training to do it so convincingly too. The dancer who took on Anita was incredible, and not the least bit out of breath!

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Besides Tony, Riff ("Cool") and Anita and Rosalia ("America") do their own singing. I've never noticed pit singers -- don't sit where I have an easy sightline to most of the orchestra pit. During its debut season WSSS included solo singers at the side of the stage, but the piece was restaged to eliminate them. Maybe they were brought back for this tour?

New mother Jenifer Ringer (not on this tour) told an audience at a book event of having to audition her singing skills for Robbins before cast her as Anita.

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Thanks Carbro - I'm surprised. Yes, there was a singer who sneaked around the arch for 'Something's Comin'. And at the end of the ballet, four singers (I'm guessing) were called onto stage to bow. I was near the back of the house though, so.... it seemed to me that there were interplays between the dancers singing and some mic-ed singers from off stage/the pit? Who knows!

By the way, thanks to everyone for their thought/responses/impressions/suggestions etc! :clapping:

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Besides Tony, Riff ("Cool") and Anita and Rosalia ("America") do their own singing. I've never noticed pit singers -- don't sit where I have an easy sightline to most of the orchestra pit. During its debut season WSSS included solo singers at the side of the stage, but the piece was restaged to eliminate them. Maybe they were brought back for this tour?

New mother Jenifer Ringer (not on this tour) told an audience at a book event of having to audition her singing skills for Robbins before cast her as Anita.

There are singers in the pit in NY, at least there were this past season. Aside from singing Somewhere, they also sing the background on America and several other songs, I guess it fills out the sound.

I’ve enjoyed reading these posts and have also been amused at the reactions to NYCB by ballet lovers who don't see them often. The messy lines, broken wrists etc. are things that I consider to be hallmarks of the Balanchine style. Not to say they're the same company as they were 30 years ago, or that they are not inconsistent but I remember all of these things from watching NYCB in the late 60s through the mid seventies. My ballet tastes were formed by early exposure to the Royal Ballet (Fonteyn/Nureyev visits), followed by ABT, so things like a corps that were never in unison and those ragged port de bras horrified me. Yet those were things that Balanchine obviously either didn’t care about or actively encouraged so it amuses me that people still complain about them. I guess my eyes adjusted to it a long time ago.

I go back and forth between watching NYCB and classical companies all the time now, and I’ve found that I like my Balanchine best when it’s fast, sharp & syncopated (as NYCB does it) and my classical best by companies like the Kirov and Royal. To my mind they’re just 2 very different styles of ballet.

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The messy lines, broken wrists etc. are things that I consider to be hallmarks of the Balanchine style. Not to say they're the same company as they were 30 years ago, or that they are not inconsistent but I remember all of these things from watching NYCB in the late 60s through the mid seventies. ... Yet those were things that Balanchine obviously either didn’t care about or actively encouraged so it amuses me that people still complain about them. I guess my eyes adjusted to it a long time ago.

I go back and forth between watching NYCB and classical companies all the time now, and I’ve found that I like my Balanchine best when it’s fast, sharp & syncopated (as NYCB does it) and my classical best by companies like the Kirov and Royal. To my mind they’re just 2 very different styles of ballet.

If anything, the lines are straighter and the wrists are less broken than they were 30 years ago! I've always assumed that if Balanchine had wanted straight lines, he would have gotten them.

NYCB was the company that I first started watching with any real attention and intensity, and its the one I've seen the most over the past 30 years. I thought that that was what ballet was supposed to look like until the mid 90s or something like that. Several years ago I got a DVD of the Royal Ballet doing Swan Lake (the one with Makarova and Dowell) and at first thought that the disk HAD to be defective because it appeared that the music track was (ever so slightly) out of sync with the video -- until Makarova started dancing -- and then I realized, AHA! it's a style difference. I'm still not used to it, really.

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Sorry for bringing this back up - besides the Villela/McBride Tarantella, are there any others on film (available outside NYC?). ?

I don't mind the wrists at all.... the thing that got me the most was the turned-in secondes in place of 'arabesques'. But this was not a trait that was uniform across the company whatsoever - it just seemed that some could keep up *and* get an arabesque, and some... well... couldn't.

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Ami, there is a complete video with Baryshnikov and McBride, part of a 1977 tv program called "Baryshnikov at the White House" (he also dances Harlequinade, Rubies, some Robbins/Chopin dances)

Apart from the aforementioned 1966 Villella/McBride video you can see Villella and McBride in the long excerpts from the Man who Dances documentary (which was issued on vhs if i'm not mistaken so it might come up on ebay someday) Also Tarantella was one of the German 1973 Balanchine films, again danced by Villella and McBride. Those films come up on sat tv now and then (the German channel ZDF in particular) so you may find someone who has recorded this.

There are also various recent videos with russian trained dancers. Some are good, some are not. The most unfortunate collision with Tarantella was that of Mukhamedov and Yoshida, dancing at a gala for the 400 years of the city of Warsow. A couple of films with Bolshoi dancers also proved rather disappointing. But there are others who are very good, like the lovely Natalia Domracheva in the televised gala of the 2005 Moscow competition who not only rose to the technical challenge but did this with delicious musicallity. Speaking of Kiev dancers there is also an older Kiev broadcast, where Tarantella is danced by Alexei Ratmansky (currently Bolshoi AD)

These are the videos I can remember now. I'm sure others will add more.

Except for the 1966 Villella/McBride video, all the above have been on tv in the era of the vcr so it's quite possible that you'll be able to find someone with a recording that you can watch.

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Mukhamedov and Yoshida? For reals? Wow.

Thanks chrisk217 - I'll have to get searching!

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