Jump to content


NYCB in London


  • Please log in to reply
58 replies to this topic

#16 ami1436

ami1436

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 325 posts

Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:15 PM

Okay, some more coherent thoughts, as promised to some of you.

Let me preface this by saying this is my first time seeing the entire company - I saw Danses Concertantes at the Wells a few years ago, but previously all of my knowledge of NYCB has been based on old books and videos that I could access in my small-town's public library. I've wanted to see NYCB since I was about 10. Thus last night's all-Balanchine programme was a special treat for me.... I thus put forth my thoughts very timidly, as most of you know the company very well.

It was also my first time seeing Serenade, led by Janie Taylor, Ashley Bouder, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Philip Neal, and Ask le Cour. I knew there was 'long hair coming' - but I must say I am impressed by the ability to make beautiful, big, ballet buns with just a few pins, and remove those pins so quickly! Here, I thought the musicality of the corps in general was fabulous - they were very together. However, as would also be evident in the later ballets, I noticed that some of them looked especially frantic in faster tempos - particularly their arms. Taylor is a wisp of a dancer, in the best possible sense, and the ending tableau emphasised this quality. Bouder was impressive - am pleased to have seen her live - although wish there was more of her dancing last night!

Agon. As I stated above, Wendy Whelan owned the night. What a marvelous technician, brilliant and exacting, accurate in her placement, use of space, and sense of purpose. Yes, you can dance that fast (or that slow) and be just so fabulously ON and perfect - no frantic arms here, but rather a magnificent commanding of the music and of the space. It was a majestic performance... I might get shot for saying this, but I think a great display of the clean, classical training that helps shapes a dancer's ability to move in non-classical ways. Albert Evans was her solid and reliable partner, but perhaps lacking the purpose of movement that Whelan displayed.

I last saw Amar Ramasar in London with Danses Concertantes. He's grown a lot as a performer, and in his flexiblity. At one brief moment at the beginning of Agon, I felt that he was dancing as if he had just rehearsed West Side Story - but thankfully that moment passed!

The first pas de trois was danced by Veyette, Krohn, and Tinsley-Williams. Unfortunately our programmes only had photos of principals, so I'm unsure who was who of the girls. Whomever the blonde was - stage right - was astounding in her command of the music, and again clear and accurate in presentation. Reichlen was equally as watchable in the second pas de trois with Ramasar and T. Angle - overall I feel that last night we really saw the strength of the NYCB women.

The evening ended with Symphony in C. As Mashinka noted - the costumes are not what we're used to seeing here with the Royal and the Russian companies. I was actually shocked by the women's costumes. What is the history of the different productions/what is used where? The S in C costumes were so lacking in grandeur that I felt it actually took away from the dancing to some extent... the first movement was led by the Stafford siblings, the second by Mearns and Askegard. While they were beautifully danced, to me, there was something rather bland about the presentations. The second movement was quicker than the Royal does it for sure, but somehow lacking dynamism of any sort. I do think it ends in a slightly different tableau than the Royal does - can anyone confirm? For me, the ballet really started in the third movement with a suitably perky performance by Megan Fairchild. Unlike Mashinka, I thought Fairchild wiped the floor with him! (ETA: I mean wiped the floor with Garcia!) She is so alive and radiant on stage, and he didn't seem to match her presence by a longshot. Tiler Peck's beginning of the fourth movement was the fastest I've seen - and again brilliantly executed - with no sense of franticness.

Overall, I'm glad I finally have seen NYCB dance live, and especially dancing Balanchine. While I was excited and provoked by some outstanding female dancers, none came close to Whelan - and the men, to me, were far behind most of the ladies. But then, these ballets don't really show off the men as much as the women! I do think there was a great distinction between most of the women who were dancing soloist/principal roles, and the rest of the corps - perhaps a worrying one. This isn't necessarily a clean distiction - I think some dancers who were in the corps last night fabulous, and vice versa... but with the few signs of franticness, and some signs of affected dancing (dancing in what you may think the style is/it should look like as opposed to dancing the style - if that makes sense) may be a bit worrying. But who am I to judge - I'm sure other NYCB watchers/knowers out there have many thoughts on that.... (or may want to take me apart for saying it as well...!)

That said.... I only have tickets for one more programme - the Broadway one (without Bouder in Tarantella, unfortunately). I might try to sneak in another one or two - but they are expensive and I don't live in London... but still... am tempted. Any suggestions if I could only go to one more?

#17 ami1436

ami1436

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 325 posts

Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:16 PM

Leigh - I was typing as you were demanding! ;)

I've got a good coconut chutney recipe for your sambhar and dosa, bhaiya.

#18 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:30 PM

Thank you Ami! More comments soon (I'm at work and need to pretend to do something for a few hours. . .)

#19 liebs

liebs

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 495 posts

Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:50 PM

Several people here and over at ballet.co.uk have commented unfavorably on the Symphony in C tutus. I always thought they were quite beautiful and am very fond of that softer Karinska style. But to each his or her own - I'll look again next time with a fresher eye.

Here in NYC, I have not been that impressed with Garcia. Usually he seems sloppy to me but it does take a few years to work into the NYCB style and schedule. So, let's give him time.

#20 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:59 PM

The first pas de trois was danced by Veyette, Krohn, and Tinsley-Williams. Unfortunately our programmes only had photos of principals, so I'm unsure who was who of the girls. Whomever the blonde was - stage right - was astounding in her command of the music, and again clear and accurate in presentation.

Blonde would be Tinsley-Williams. Glad to hear she did so well, as she's recently returned to the stage after an extended absence. I noticed a new authority and joy in her dancing this past season.

If you need to identify any more sub-principals, you can find (sometimes misleading) headshots -->here. But you have to search by name, so identifying an eye-catching corps dancer just might take a little time. :)

I wish I could recommend another date for you. If I did, it would be March 19, to see Bouder in a role that is truly her element, but I don't know if you'd think the program as a whole, especially at high prices, would be worth it.

Thanks so much for your review, ami, and I'm sure Leigh will keep his word on the recipe. :)

#21 Klavier

Klavier

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 233 posts

Posted 13 March 2008 - 07:26 PM

That said.... I only have tickets for one more programme - the Broadway one (without Bouder in Tarantella, unfortunately). I might try to sneak in another one or two - but they are expensive and I don't live in London... but still... am tempted. Any suggestions if I could only go to one more?


I would prefer for you to see Bouder/Ulbricht in Tarantella over Hyltin/Garcia if you can manage it. I'd say any chance to see, in addition to those two firecrackers, dancers like Woetzel, Taylor, Whelan, Reichlin, and Hubbe is worth taking. I would have added Kowroski, but I don't see her name announced anywhere.

Like several others here, I'm somewhat disappointed in the choice of repertoire you've been given. Of all the great things we could have sent you - Prodigal Son, Fancy Free, Four Temperaments, Firebird, any or all of Jewels - you're getting some less than stellar ballets. But it's great that you're getting Agon, Serenade, Bizet Symphony - some of my favorite ballets of all time.

#22 ami1436

ami1436

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 325 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 02:21 AM

Thanks carbro and klavier, for your suggestions. I am going to London on the 19th, but to see the Royal! I might see if I can convince my friend to switch times for the 22nd (we have matinee tickets, I wonder if we could now get evening ones?). It might be tough (she has a sweet little baby at home, so matinees are best....). I might even stay in the evening just through Tarantella if I can find a ticket.... A shame, as the evening casting is the same except for Tarantella. Overall I do think I prefer the casting of the 19th... I would try to run between the Coliseum and ROH, but I don't think it woudl work!

I am very glad about the programming for the first bill - Serenade, Agon, S. in C. - I heard some moans about it, as these are not new ballets to the London audience, but I think it was fabulous to be able to compare and contrast. RB is doing Serenade next month, and having done Jewels last year, I would love to see NYCB in Jewels... Considering NYCB's over-all quickness, I also wouldn't mind seeing Theme and Variations, or Ballo.... along with the other recommendations above! I guess I should move to NYC for a while!

#23 Mashinka

Mashinka

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,184 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 02:49 AM

Fascinating. "Most people of my generation" ?? And this remarkable figure comes from where? Does it include only the UK, or all of Europe, or everyone everywhere? If it's true, one can only wonder at "positively loathing" this particular "business" in such exceptional numbers and for just one generation. Why exactly? Because it's messy? cliched? romantic? anti-feminist? indecorous? low-class? an insult to hair-dressers? what?


To answer your question I'd like to say that I first saw Serenade either in 1964 or 65, roughly 45 years ago and hair was always pinned up as a matter of course back then, in fact the only dancer with loose hair was Giselle when mad. Modern dance of course was another matter. As Serenade was created back in the 1930's and is in the repertoire of most of the major companies I'm inclined to regard it as a classic and it is therefore the only ballet of its kind that makes a feature of hair hanging loose. Of those that remember Serenade without hair whipping around, sweeping the floor and so on, I've not yet spoken to anyone that likes it. Most share my view that it is seriously distracting.

Of the fast tempi, I'd suggest that too many companies slow them down for Balanchine ballets and possibly, seeing one danced at the speed Balanchine intended can be something of a shock.


Not a shock, but a delightful surprise. Balanchine has always been the choreographer most faithful to a composer's intentions and as Serenade can sound incredibly dreary when slowed down, Wednesday's performance was a real listening pleasure.

#24 Ray

Ray

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 997 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 08:24 AM

Of the fast tempi, I'd suggest that too many companies slow them down for Balanchine ballets and possibly, seeing one danced at the speed Balanchine intended can be something of a shock.

Not a shock, but a delightful surprise. Balanchine has always been the choreographer most faithful to a composer's intentions and as Serenade can sound incredibly dreary when slowed down, Wednesday's performance was a real listening pleasure.


Not to argue with you, Mashinka, and this may actually be a big enough topic for its own thread, but I think B was faithful to a "composer's intentions" as they were imagined at the time he choreographed. In other words, he was well-versed in the performance practices of his day, which had its own take on how music should be played. Today, much of that tradition has been questioned, especially on the earlier music side. Balanchine's Bach, for instance, is not the Bach most musicians would play today; same with Mozart. His listening tradition emerged from the era of the great post-Romantic players and conductors, and their protoges. (I think this is a fascinatingly under-studied area of Balanchine's practice.)

Also, I think sometimes tempos are slowed down because dancers today dance bigger, sacrificing speed. Probably something they need to examine!

#25 ami1436

ami1436

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 325 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 08:37 AM

Also, I think sometimes tempos are slowed down because dancers today dance bigger, sacrificing speed. Probably something they need to examine!


Agreed - to an extent. I think the best of what I saw on Weds were those dancers who danced big and accurate - Whelan especially. And although it's all from video, I never thought of the 'original' NYCB ballerinas as *not* dancing big - in fact what was so fabulous about them was their use of space regardless of tempo. To some extent, what I've liked about some Balanchine ballets (or shall I say, casting for Balanchine ballets), is a bit of the challenge to usual senses of dancer 'types' - here we see some tall, leggy dancers whipping through quick allegro. When done right, it can be absolutely brilliant.

But again, I don't know enough about NYCB or Balanchine performances writ-large!

Your comments on music, Ray, are fascinating! Thanks.

#26 perky

perky

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 653 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 09:10 AM

Leigh - I was typing as you were demanding! ;)

I've got a good coconut chutney recipe for your sambhar and dosa, bhaiya.



:smilie_mondieu: I've been cooking Indian food pretty much every day for over 10 years now so I know my way around a masala but I cooked idli for the first time yesterday and totally screwed it up. You could use the damn things for brick mortar!


Back on topic :wub: I'm pleased to read these reports from our London members. It gives a fresh perpective on my favorite topic. I am confused by the Brit repulsion for the Karinska Symphony In C tutus. You have to see these costumes close up to really appreciate how stunning and well constructed they are. I think they're gorqeous but to each her own.

#27 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 10:00 AM

To answer your question I'd like to say that I first saw Serenade either in 1964 or 65, roughly 45 years ago and hair was always pinned up as a matter of course back then, in fact the only dancer with loose hair was Giselle when mad. Modern dance of course was another matter. As Serenade was created back in the 1930's and is in the repertoire of most of the major companies I'm inclined to regard it as a classic and it is therefore the only ballet of its kind that makes a feature of hair hanging loose. Of those that remember Serenade without hair whipping around, sweeping the floor and so on, I've not yet spoken to anyone that likes it. Most share my view that it is seriously distracting.

A note from New York:

The hair-down business was a change Balanchine made in the late 1970s. A lot of us never quite got used to it, either. To me, it feels contrived.

#28 Ray

Ray

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 997 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 10:53 AM

Also, I think sometimes tempos are slowed down because dancers today dance bigger, sacrificing speed. Probably something they need to examine!


Agreed - to an extent. I think the best of what I saw on Weds were those dancers who danced big and accurate - Whelan especially. And although it's all from video, I never thought of the 'original' NYCB ballerinas as *not* dancing big - in fact what was so fabulous about them was their use of space regardless of tempo. To some extent, what I've liked about some Balanchine ballets (or shall I say, casting for Balanchine ballets), is a bit of the challenge to usual senses of dancer 'types' - here we see some tall, leggy dancers whipping through quick allegro. When done right, it can be absolutely brilliant.


As much as we like to think of favorite NYCB dancers of yore as dancing big, there is video evidence that, by today's standards, even the leggiest dancers danced "small." The dancers in an old video I saw once of Barocco looked positively demure.

#29 popularlibrary

popularlibrary

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 82 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 12:36 PM

The hair-down business was a change Balanchine made in the late 1970s. A lot of us never quite got used to it, either. To me, it feels contrived.


Yes, he did that in 1977. Balanchine did a lot of tinkering in the 70s, some of it very weird (anyone remember Karen von Aroldingen's batty white-winged Firebird with that long train?). However, I have to admit the loose hair in the last movement of Serenade never bothered me, though it certainly is a contrivance to emphasize the final section's internal, somewhat symbolic quality. What his motives were besides restlessness and boredom with old productions I don't know. Maybe he just wanted everyone to look like Farrell with her lion's mane down. Whatever, I don't mind it and sometimes I even find the intimacy and vulnerability of it rather moving. Does anyone remember if there was any critical comment at the time - say, from Arlene Croce or her colleagues?

#30 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 14 March 2008 - 01:31 PM

As much as we like to think of favorite NYCB dancers of yore as dancing big, there is video evidence that, by today's standards, even the leggiest dancers danced "small." The dancers in an old video I saw once of Barocco looked positively demure.


Where were they dancing? The films done specifically for TV were done on very cramped sound stages that could account for some of that. I also wonder if things didn't get far bigger out of a need to fill the stage at the State Theater.

:smilie_mondieu: perky, you're lucky your idlis only taste like bricks. The times I have made them (and from a mix - no rice pounding here) they tasted like packing material. Mmmmmm.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):