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Miami City Ballet: Program 1Balanchivadze's "Swan Lake", "4 T's"..and...


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#31 nysusan

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 06:12 AM

I was there on Saturday night and while I missed Natalia, it was great to meet Jack & Cristian.

vrs, they did announce a substitution in the pas de neuf and while I know the last name I heard was Delgado I'm not sure which one it was. I think it was Patricia but would love verification from someone who really knows the dancers.

I hadn't seen the Balanchine Swan Lake in 30 years and it was great to see it again. I can see where words like expressionless and aloof come into play here. It was not in the dancer's individual performances, at least not with Seay & Sarabita – they danced it in full story mode. I think the choreography & staging themselves – the distillation of an abstraction to it's essence made it even more abstract than the original, like you were looking at it from a distance, or over time. I found it beautiful, but not moving except at the very end. I loved the mechanical swans (like the Kirov's) and the hunters (like the old Fonteyn/Somes RB version) and I liked the ending of the pas de deux much better than the one the Martins full length uses. I like the traditional version of the pdd best, but at least this one makes sense and is interesting. The corps tutus looked very familiar to me, I think the ones ABT used in their first production of SL (the Blair staging) used a similar design. By the way – I vote for calling it Balanchine's Swan Lake – it's most certainly not Swan Lake Act 2 since it incorporates music from act 3 and almost all of act 4, nor is it the full length SL.

I loved, loved, LOVED their 4Ts. Having seen NYCB do it recently, and the SFB do it 2-3 weeks ago I really enjoyed the way MCB danced it – I wish they were bringing it to NY. I've never seen a 4Ts I didn't like, but this one was special. I actually agree 100% with Macaulay's description of it as compared to SFB's – much faster, more sharply accented with very strong attack but with the same beautiful, fully engaged arms & upper bodies that we saw from SFB. I do not consider this elegant use of the arms Balanchinian – it's certainly not what I remember from his company in the 70s (which is when I saw them on a regular basis) but I really like it. I recall the look of 1970 -75 NYCB so clearly because the ugly, nonchalant dangling arms and ragged corps work of NYCB really annoyed me back in the day. This 4Ts was so good that I can't even single out a dancer or two – I loved all the themes, Wong's Melancholic, Cox's Phlegmatic, J Delgado & Penteado in Sanguinic and Spiridonakos as Choleric – they were all great.

I am a huge fan of In the Upper Room – I find it exhilarating. MCB did a great job with it but that smoke alarm going off was too weird. I was in the balcony and did see a bunch of people rush out but I assured my friends that they just hadn't accounted for the smoke effects. We stayed, and it did stop, but not nearly soon enough. How can this happen at the same venue more than once? It was very distracting…

#32 vrsfanatic

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 06:44 AM

Thank you for the clarification of the substitution. :( I know the name was Patricia Delgado, I just heard incorrectly the pas. This was my first seeing a Delgado sister as an adult.

Thank you also for letting me know about the security/fire/alarm lights. Our students were emmensely disappointed in having to leave, but when I realized I was responsible for this group and they were spread through out the balcony, my mother's voice popped into my head as if I myself were a child hearing her say, "Exit quietly, do not run. Take a head count!" I could see from the front row of the balcony that the lights were flashing in the orchestra, mezzanine and also in the lobby when we exited. No one seemed to know what was happening in the lobby, but no one was doing anything or telling us there was not fire. Sirens were heard outside as we walked to the parking lot. Kind of scary actually. I would have hoped there would be some plan of action in a theatre when something like that occurs. I know I for one, will most likely be one of the first ones out if I experience anything like that again. :(

#33 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 07:17 AM

I'm sorry for not responding more quikcly to your inquire, VRsfanatic, but NYSusan got you in the right track. The substitution was on the Pas de Neuf.
The alarms went off both on Friday night and Saturday night performances, and i'm telling you, there was a point in which i thought that this was a Tharp's last minute crazy addition to enhance the ballet effects, seriously. :(

#34 vrsfanatic

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 07:48 AM

nysusan, my last memories of seeing NYCB in 4 T's was with Arthur Mitchell which had to be in the 1960's. When I refer to having seen 4 T's 30 years ago was Pennsylvania Ballet from 1974-1983. They did it beautifully. :(

Edited by vrsfanatic, 10 November 2008 - 07:48 AM.


#35 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 09:42 PM

Aren't the costumes credited in the program? "Haydee Morales after Karinska" maybe?

Well, i was just looking at the book "In Performance: A Companion to the classics of the dance", with many pics and descriptions of ballets and their main styles and choreographers-( There's even a pic of Panova in Cinderella...i'd never seen her before). Anyway, the hardcover book dates from 1980, and was written by Nancy Reynolds and Susan Reimer-Torn. My point is that in the front cover there's a pic by photographer Costas of Nina Fedorova, NYCB-(doesn't give the exact year)-with the exact pose i saw here of Odette at one point standing on pointe in attitude derrière sustained by two maidens by her wrists. Most important of all, in this pic the Corps are wearing this strange looking types of shortened version of the romantic tutu, although slightly longer on the back, but essentially the same ones used by Villella in his production, so i guess the switching from the winged long romantic original Balanchine's could have been occurred during the 70's...?

#36 Helene

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 01:00 AM

Just to go back to the detour about the name for a second, I just looked up "Swan Lake" on the online Balanchine Catalog (based on "Choreography by Balanchine") on the Balanchine Foundation site.

Catalogue search results

Found 6 Results
75. SWAN LAKE

Choreography: By George Balanchine.

Note: At some time in the mid-1920s (1927?), Balanchine made minor alterations in Diaghilev's one-act Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky, choreographed by Ivanov and Petipa), deleting part of the Swan Queen's mime and rearranging ensemble movements for a decreased corps de ballet. Olga Spessivtseva was probably the first ballerina to dance the Swan Queen in this revised version

http://balanchine.or...rchMethod=exact
There was precedence for a one act version, produced by Diaghilev.

191. I WAS AN ADVENTURESS Film

Note: An extremely abbreviated, rechoreographed version of Swan Lake, Act II...

http://balanchine.or...rchMethod=exact

262. DON QUIXOTE and SWAN LAKE (BLACK SWAN) PAS DE DEUX

Balanchine "staged and to some degree altered" these two excerpts

http://balanchine.or...rchMethod=exact

285. SWAN LAKE

This is the first version (produced for Tallchief) of Act II for New York City Ballet. There are extensive notes on the site referencing the original pieces in it -- ex: it included the dance for the four little swans -- and some of the changes made over the years.

http://balanchine.or...rchMethod=exact

331. PAS DE DEUX (also called TSCHAIKOVSKY PAS DE DEUX)
http://balanchine.or...rchMethod=exact

367. LE LAC DES CYGNES Ballet in Four Acts


Choreography: Staged by George Balanchine after Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa, and Nicholas Beriozoff. Choreography for the WALTZ (Act I) and for the MAZURKA, CZARDAS, and DANCE OF THE PRINCESSES (Act III) by George Balanchine.

Premiere: September 11, 1969, Ballet du Grand Théâtre, Geneva.

http://balanchine.or...rchMethod=exact

#37 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:57 AM

Ok, there should be a Poll about all this. There seems to be a lot of mixed feelings and countless ideas and titles.
I'll go for "Swan Lake Act II. Staging by so and so-(Diaguilev, Balanchine,Maria Perez...you name it)-...after ch. by Lev Ivanov"

#38 papeetepatrick

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 10:30 AM

Ok, there should be a Poll about all this. There seems to be a lot of mixed feelings and countless ideas and titles.
I'll go for "Swan Lake Act II. Staging by so and so-(Diaguilev, Balanchine,Maria Perez...you name it)-...after ch. by Lev Ivanov"


Despite what I said above (where I'm not exactly clear that I mean those other titles you liked are my second choice), I think 'Swan Lake Act II' is quite sufficient. It's not nearly as well-known as it was in Balanchine's day, and I basically agree with Helene that the audience needs to know that it's a one-act-er. Things like 'staging by' could go in program notes, but I don't think they belong in the title. It's not the same as the Bach piece being attributed to Webern which he only orchestrated (in the Balanchine part of 'Episodes'). This IS Balanchine's 'Swan Lake', whatever else it was derived from, just as it IS Balanchine's 'Nutcracker.' I don't know if I feel this way because, somehow, this version of 'Swan Lake' means more to me than all the old full-length ones, maybe because seeing Melissa Hayden do it when I was 20 years old and she was just about to retire is one of the most unforgettable memories of ballet performance I've ever seen; and it even slightly outclasses Makarova's utter embodiment of Odette. Macaulay thinks it should just be called 'Swan Lake', but I think Helene is right--the audience does need to know it's not a full-length without being expected to look at the rest of the program. I think Macaulay's protest of the title is of little or no importance. It's not even done at NYCB anymore, since Peter Martins's notorious version appears occasionally, and I am threatened with it upon its next impingement :pinch:

#39 kfw

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 10:46 AM

Despite what I said above (where I'm not exactly clear that I mean those other titles you liked are my second choice), I think 'Swan Lake Act II' is quite sufficient. It's not nearly as well-known as it was in Balanchine's day, and I basically agree with Helene that the audience needs to know that it's a one-act-er.

I think if they buy a ticket for a program with three ballets, they'll know "Swan Lake" is a one-acter. I like your first suggestion, "Balanchine's Swan Lake," although I'd prefer "George Balanchine's Swan Lake," because I think that flows better.

#40 Quiggin

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 11:16 AM

The Maria Tallchief in Montreal CBC telecast characterizes its excepted version as Swan Lake: Act II and Swan Lake: Scenes from Act II.

"Balanchine's 'Swan Lake'" makes it a sort of a brand, like "Bram Stoker's Dracula" a bit of a slippery slope. Every artist could become part of her or his titles. And where would that leave Ivanov--or Tschaikovsky?

Also the context of two or three other ballets (in this case In the Upper Room and the Four Temperaments) would imply that this is not that whole work.

#41 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 12:02 PM

Ok, there should be a Poll about all this. There seems to be a lot of mixed feelings and countless ideas and titles.
I'll go for "Swan Lake Act II. Staging by so and so-(Diaguilev, Balanchine,Maria Perez...you name it)-...after ch. by Lev Ivanov"


Despite what I said above (where I'm not exactly clear that I mean those other titles you liked are my second choice), I think 'Swan Lake Act II' is quite sufficient. It's not nearly as well-known as it was in Balanchine's day, and I basically agree with Helene that the audience needs to know that it's a one-act-er. Things like 'staging by' could go in program notes, but I don't think they belong in the title.

Yes, Patrick, I should rephrase myself , cause I agree 100 % with you on how long would it be to put all that. I was thinking more about the ballet 's program, or the Playbill. Now, rethinking about it, as per a universal title I would still shortened it down to "Swan Lake:Act II". Now, I must agree that adding Balanchine's name was probably meant to be some sort of a catch device programed by Villella when he first thought about bringing it back. I can see from all of you guys who knew the work from back then that the bait worked...it got everybody talking, and even some flying down to see it.

#42 Natalia

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 05:21 AM

I had promised additional thoughts on the program earlier. Whatever it is called -- Swan Lake, Balanchine-trademark Swans, etc. -- it is a beautiful poem on the theme of Swan Lake, particularly in Mr B's craftsmanship of the corps de ballet. The opportunity to see and soak-in those ever-changing patterns of the corps de ballet -- 20 corps swans in Ft Lauderdale...fewer than NYCB's 26 or 28 swans back in '97 -- was well worth a cramped 2-hr no-frills flight on Spirit Air.

Thoughts on the Swans

Tellingly, this ballet seems to have inspired MCB Artistic Director Edward Villella the least, judging by his pre-performance talk comments at 1pm on Sunday. He talked ten times longer about Fout Ts than about SL , and about four times as long about Tharp's Upper Room. EV simply said about SL: "In his version, Balanchine presents the entire story of Swan Lake in 40 minutes."

I believe that EV should have spent a bit of time talking about what, to me, is the leitmotif of the work -- the vigorous dancing of the swans, their exquisite patterns, their ever-changing kaleidoscope of movements. Everybody seems to focus on Balanchine's movements for soloist and demisoloist dancers and seem to forget that he was equally masterful in moving the masses. This is one of those Balanchine ballets that can best be appreciated from the balcony, due to the patterns of the corps. A couple of visions of better-known Balanchine works came to mind last Sunday, as I watched Swan Lake. One was the non-stop masterful Polonaise that begins Act II of Harlequinade...simple walking...but in a never-ending series of swirls and curliques. A lot of those arcs, swirls, little circles, etc were apparent in the final little runs by the swans. A second image that came to mind, while watching the swans, was -- of all things -- Symphony in Three Movements, when the corps ladies, in white leotards, form a long diagonal and 'flap' their outstretched arms from up and down. Years earlier, in Swan Lake, Balanchine presented a very similar long diagonal of corps girls, performing the same movement. Now I am truly looking forward to once again seeing Symphony in Three Movements to pick-out more swan-like movements from those ladies.

EV's Thoughts on Four Ts

During the pre-performance chat, EV went-to-town on his analysis of Four Ts. First, he explained that the three initial 'theme couples' present the movements that we will later see in the main body of the ballet, culminating in the finale.

Melancholic - I am guessing that this was EV's favorite role in this ballet, when he was dancing, he so carefully analyzed it here. Melancholic's male soloist is "drowning in a sea of depression." The initial two female demisoloists are like Nazi harpies. The female corps arrives to Nazi goose-stepping. EV said that this is what Mr B explained to him, so the Nazi analogy comes straight form the choreographer. Interesting - this was news to me but makes sense in that this ballet was created right after WWII.

Sanguinic - EV terms this a lighthearted balance to Melancholic. The pdd is gay, flirtatious. 'Nuf said.

Phlegmatic is termed the 'heart of the ballet' in which the 'main message of Balanchine comes through: 19th C classicism is dead and we must look forward to the future." This is due to the male soloist's initial classical moves, eventually breaking down (like a broken-down machine) to become a freer, jazzier dancer.

Choleric is 'the anger of women.' The solo tall girl in Choleric is the ultimate fury, similar to the angry Nazi-women in the corps of Melancholic.

My Thoughts on Four T's dancing -

MCB did a great job, no doubt. I loved their zesty attack, on the whole, even while coming to the conclusion that (gulp) San Francisco Ballet gave an altogether better performance due to the balance of better soloists (on the whole) and sharp corps (if not as zippy as Miami's...Miami was a bit sloppy in uniformity of movement). One big plus was the 'boneless' movement of Jeremy Cox in Melancholic. It was also a delight to see Rolando Sarabia and Patricia Delgado as the Sanguinic couple. Neil Marshall was fine as Phlegmatic. My main concerns were with the relatively weak attack -- and feeble chaine turns -- of tall Alynne Noelle as Choleric. I was weaned on -- and spoiled -- years ago by Coleen Neary's ultimate chainees...and they are almost-impossible to top.

EV on In the Upper Room -


EV prefaced this section of his chat by letting all in the audience know, "This ballet has always garnered a standing ovation after every performance, since we premiered it last year. It better happen again today!" [It did.] For EV, this ballet is "...about the buzz that a dancer gets at the end of his long day of class, rehearsals, then performance. You are on an adrenaline high for about two hours after the evening's performance and it is very difficult to come down from that high. That is what this ballet is all about for me." EV also talked about the two main 'stomper girls' who are the initial Gate-Keepers presenting the rest of the ballet. At the end, they literally turn-off the lights of the studio with the pull-down the light motion.

My Thoughts on the Upper Room performance -

One of the best Upper Rooms around. ABSOLUTELY THE BEST I've seen since ABT two years ago...also staged by Elaine Kudo, I think. MCB does this with energy-plus that was somewhat toned-down in the Bolshoi, Pennsylvania Ballet and Washington Ballet, the other three renditions against which I can compare. [But the Bolshoi has THE BEST stomper girl of all time - Osipova!] The bobble-headed movements of the Maimi stomper girls are excellent -- right up there with Stella Abrera at ABT. Haiyan Wu was frisky, delightful as the main pointe-shoe girl. But it was the main classical guy -- Rolando Sarabia -- who garnered my loudest 'bravo!' of the evening, with incredible jumps and lightning-fast corkscrew pirouettes. Alas, there was a nearly-fatal moment in which a stomper-girl is lying 'flat' in the arms of a classical guy and he is supposed to flip her completely around...here nearly dropping her. Other than that, there were no major problems. No alarms and sirens with the dry-ice smoke on Sunday. :off topic:

At the end of this show, I did not need "Spirit Airlines" for my spirit to leap!

#43 bart

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 12:46 PM

Thanks (so far) to Cristian, Jack, Susan, Vicky, and Natalia for your reports (here and on the other thread) about the performances -- and to all who have been posting on the matter of the best name for the Balanchine Swan Lake, etc.

Because of you, I will be be able to watch more closely things like the movements and patterning of the swans, which I admit I never focused on before. You've also helped tremendously to put this in the context of other productions, including other slightly different versions of the Balanchine.

You've given me so many things to look for -- and so much background information. Natalia, Villella does indeed seem to have gone "to town" on 4T's. He tends to repeat himself each performance on the basics but often adds or subtracts details, so I can't wait to compare what he says this weekend to what he said at Fort Lauderdale. Thanks very, very much for your account.

If anyone is going to be at the Kravis for opening night this Friday, at least two Ballet Talkers so far will be meeting at the foot of the grand staircase a bit before 7:00 so we can sit together for Villella's talk and plan a recap later. Please join us.

#44 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 03:19 PM

Glad to see your promised second post, Natalia. I also feel I have a lot more to say about what I saw this past weekend. If only I can find the words! But there's an other weekend left, and for those fortunate enough to be able to see this program, I'll just give the short version and say (IMO), Do whatever you can to see Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg's Odette! (Not to omit that Carlos Guerra's Siegfried is very fine.)

I wish I could help more, like by telling you which performances she'll be in, but I don't know. My method would be to see the whole run, but if you can only see one performance, maybe the last one would be the best bet, as she danced the Sunday matinee in Fort Lauderdale. On the other hand, as Deanna Seay was replaced Saturday night (by Patricia Delgado), she might have some priority by way of compensation.

But Kronenberg certainly looked to me like she's "far gone in swandom," to appropriate Paul's felicitous phrase. (I never saw Kistler in this, though.) That was the performance of the weekend for me. BTW, Seay is to be seen in SL in the Youtube clips, Swan Lake 02 and 03. (Our too-seldom-present colleague leibling has posted some other identifications in the corresponding thread.)

Meanwhile, this thread has certainly grown. I will try to dig up some comments and answers regarding the history of this ballet, but I can say now that the picture on Garis's book cover is reproduced less cropped inside, on p. 95, where someone resembling Patricia McBride is looking on from the right edge; she has on a lovely tutu, but Odette's was different from the cygnets'.

Anyway, bart, the partly obscured man is likely the character of von Rothbart, as his tights and footwear are dark and, most tellingly, on the actual dustjacket I can make out the light-colored tips of the "feathers" of his cape, which hangs open from his extended right arm and closed from his lowered left. Even if you can't see that, you can see the wide strap at his right wrist and the narrow one above his right elbow. (I think someone has made known even the identity of the woman in white pumps with the purse on the left!)

Would my outline of this ballet from the 70's be of interest?

#45 vrsfanatic

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:20 PM

... as Deanna Seay was replaced Saturday night (by Patricia Delgado), ...


Did you also hear that it was Patricia Delgado with Sarabia on Saturday evening? cubanmiamiboy seemed think I was incorrect in what I had heard. It did not look like Seay to me, but I do not attend every program so I thought I had just forgotten her port de bras and line from last year.

Thanks for the heads up bart about the staircase at the Kravis. I am not able to attend, but it would be fun to meet up another time in one of our venues in the tri-county area.


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