MCB New York City CenterJanuary 2009
Posted 23 January 2009 - 09:56 AM
Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:09 AM
Thanks, Jack, and others, for making this alive to those of us who can't be there.
Dittos to that, I am enjoying every word here! Could someone address the size of the house? In New York are opening nights the big attendance performances or is it the weekend shows?
Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:17 AM
(I wonder why Ashley doesn't dance it over at NYCB? She would be amazing too, I think). Nikolaj Hubbe remains the best male lead I've seen in Square Dance.
After Delgado's fantastic performance last night, my husband and I also discussed that A. Bouder would be great in Square Dance. Unfortunately, I guess she can't do every role in the rep. (Too bad!) I don't recall ever seeing Janie Taylor in Square Dance. I agree that Hubbe was a great interpreter of the male solo, but I also think Boal did an outstanding job in that role too. Last night's male lead was nowhere near their level. I though the lead couple in Rubies was very good, but not outstanding. The weakest link for me in Rubies was the lady who performed the "Tall Girl" role. She needed to use her legs like darting daggers. She was too soft and introverted. Also, she didn't have the high level of flexibility that is needed to make this role the eye-popper that it can and should be. I liked all the leads in Symphony in C except the second adagio movement. The partnering was shaky and there were lots of little bobbles that destroyed the beauty of this section. I hope the company returns to NYC soon, but I have a feeling that probably won't happen due to economic reasons.
Posted 23 January 2009 - 03:48 PM
I've selected a mixed-message response to In the Upper Room, because it isn't Balanchine and because so many of us have seen it somewhere in the world:
The company ended with a pulverizing version of Twlya Tharp’s “In the Upper Room.” The stage technicians gave the dance a wee bit too much atmosphere; the opening dancers were almost invisible in a smoke-a-thon. Still, they were heroic. A few, including Cox, were in all three pieces with no sign of flagging. Close to the end, Jeanette Delgado busted out into crazy daredevil aerobics. As the piece ground on, they seemed more and more blissed-out – I don’t know whether that was artistic direction or an endorphin intoxication shared by the audience.
The audience went wild for the marathon endurance of the dancers, but I find “In the Upper Room” loud and incessant – One Damn Step after Another with extra added smoke. I also can’t be the only person for whom Norma Kamali’s black and white striped pajamas have unpleasant concentration camp associations.
And: Thomas Phillips, also in DVT, reviewing the program with Square Dance, Rubies, and Symphony in C.
Not far into Miami City Ballet’s curtain raiser, “Square Dance,” about the time when principal Jeanette Delgado tossed off her first set of perfectly etched garguoillades, this observer felt a familiar sensation from a long time ago, but that’s been absent in recent years: a sense that one had just put on a new pair of glasses with a better prescription, and was suddenly able to see more clearly and vividly. I’d call it the Balanchine effect, a product of his revolution in dance, in which he stripped dancers down to their elemental forms, turned them out to reveal every angle of the body, gave them steps that revealed the inner workings of the music, and taught them to do it as if it mattered – to mean what they danced. No dancer produced the effect better than Edward Villella, whose turning leaps could make you feel like you were being kicked back in your seat, even in the top balcony. Villella performed in the premiere of “Square Dance” at City Center, with New York City Ballet in 1957. More than a half-century later, with his own Miami City Ballet, he’s bringing it all back home.
This kind of reviewing, even when it's leavened with some doubts and/or suggestions, must be wonderful for Villella and for the MCB dancers. We have good enough dance writers in south Florida, but they don't get to see enough and they don't have the basis for comparing and evaluating that writers like Witchel and Phillips -- not to mention Macaulay !!! -- have. Close attention from the New York dance press, especially the top end, is a major honor all by itself.
Posted 23 January 2009 - 05:21 PM
I'm so happy to hear about Jeanette's success. She has become such a force in the Company, and is looking so alive and happy in her dancing!...As I said earlier, she is my first choice as Kitri...
I'll add my bravas too for Jeanette Delgado in Square Dance. Fantastic! Strong as heck technically, but also warmly womanly with a bright, big smile. She was the star of the evening for me, as she made everything look so easy and fun, while most of the (many) ballet dancers in the audience knew just how difficult her part was. Btw, Jeanette also danced the (jumper lead) third movement of Sym in C, just as fully. Wow!
PLEASE, EDDIE, GIVE US A DELGADO/SARABIA D.Q!!!
Posted 23 January 2009 - 09:42 PM
But a major part of the reason was that what may have been opening-night nerves had settled, and the dancers looked like they might have realized the audience likes them.
So Symphony in Three Movements was all happy, smiley? Hah! These dancers are too serious and too smart about what they do for that. Expressions were mildly serious, as the ballet seems to me to require, with some positive regard for each other emerging in the tenderest part of the pas de deux, toward the end. More important, the dancing, if anything, seemed stronger and more vivid than Wednesday, more focused and energized, if that was possible.
You know the diagonal line of white corps which opens (and closes) the first movement? They extend an arm upward, and then a progressive change in pose makes its way down the line, from the back toward the front. This change begins with a deliberate yet not exaggerated turning around of the raised hand that can typify the whole evening, right from the first move we see: Clarity within a natural, easy flow. It gives their dancing life and beauty.
I thought Jeremy Cox's sterness of attitude toward his partner in the pas de deux much softened and improved, but if anything I found it effective in La Valse, where it could be taken as Death's hypnotic dominance of the Girl in White, although this novel approach didn't produce the deep chill I got from Francisco Moncion decades ago.
It was the first role I saw Moncion in, and he moved like a stiff old man. I knew he was the oldest one in Balanchine's company, and I thought it was nice of Mr. B. to give him something he could still do. Of course, he was replaced in due course by a much younger dancer -- who moved like a stiff old man. Aha! So maybe something has ben omitted from Cox's coaching, and in time this role will acquire more of its former power. (Meanwhile the story is carried to its conclusion.)
From closer range, La Valse also seemed more vivid. I will report, though, that while an old friend from the Balanchine days thought "the ensemble was like what City Ballet used to be, but I'm less impressed with her [Seay]." "Small?" I asked, and my friend agreed. Personally, I have learned to pay closer attention to Seay because of the rewards I get when I do.
Houses Thursday and Friday I sat in the lower balcony, and Thursday the rear third had only some people in the first rows, with some more Friday, but I couldn't see downstairs. Wednesday I sat in the Orchestra, which was pretty full right to the back, but I couldn't see upstairs.
Posted 24 January 2009 - 08:51 AM
bart, thanks so much for citing these two articles. I particularly like Tom Phillips very interesting and complimentary review.
Since you are a very committed MCB observer, I would like to ask you a question. He makes one statement that I would like to get your or anybody's opinion on.
He says that the company, "....is clearly taking Balanchine in a new direction, Russian neo-classicism with a Latin flair."
I can kind of understand the "Latin Flair", but "New Direction"...."Russian Neo-Classicism" I don't visualize at the moment.
Posted 24 January 2009 - 09:16 AM
In any case--Congratulations and 'Rock On' !--Miami City Ballet !
Posted 24 January 2009 - 10:37 AM
Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:34 PM
As for NYCB and ABT dancers in the audience, there were also, as might be expected, retired NYCB dancers of Villella's generation also in attendance, although, having said that, I'm not sure our rules allow me to post their names, nor those of the critics I recognized in the theatre.
Update: Macaulay says, "orchestral accompaniment... is being threatened by the current slump..." We were told last weekend in Fort Lauderdale that that weekend was the last one with an orchestra, for now.
"You heard the scores more clearly for watching." And of course the other side of the truth he speaks is that, as I noticed anyway, we see the dance more vividly for listening, even with the loss of clarity in the recorded sound tracks he points out.
As to Upper Room, as I said previously on the thread discussing the Florida performances, I'm getting a little much of that, so I thought in advance I might be one of the early leavers from this program; but last night I had such a good view of two of my top favorites in the company, Mary Carmen Catoya and Deanna Seay,I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
Seay in particular, and not unusually, looks like her part was made on her, and Catoya's genuine grin coming and going quite naturally in different parts, especially where two boys practically throw her around, made it evident how much she enjoyed those bits; I thought I could see why, too, and that added some extrinsic enjoyment to seeing this ballet, about which I have reservations like those Macaulay gives.
It seems a little contrived to me, although it's hard for me to imagine what would result if a choreographer were to try to apply the method of making what the composer tells them to, when the music ("or whatever it is", as Robert Gottlieb put it in a review of something danced to Glass, IIRC) is Philip Glass's mathematical score. But then, great choreography illuminates its music, as Macaulay says, and I don't think I am going far beyond him to complain that it doesn't happen in Upper Room.
Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:43 PM
In La Valse, I also saw some of the "stiff old man" in Cox's Death, especially when he's partnering Seay, but if there were more, earlier, it would be more effective.
And I love to see how Catoya loves what she does in Upper Room.
Posted 24 January 2009 - 09:44 PM
On the whole, I think Macaulay's comments are very much on target. Also -- and more important, to me at least -- Macaulay is giving me new ideas about a company whose dancers I've come to know fairly well (on stage) and feel about almost as though there were my own children.
Jeanette Delgado is the big "growth" story of the past 2 seasons. She was always a firecracker but has developed a much greater range than I would ever have imagined. Her technical control become more and more astonishing, though never at the price of losing emotional involvement and engagement with her fellow dancers the audience. She serves the choreography with passion. It's a real and rare thrill to have the chance to watch a talented dancer in the process of becoming a serious artist.
I'm delighted that Mary Carmen Catoya has gotten such good reviews. Macaulay is right on target in noticing a certain "guarded" quality in some of her dancing. When she lets that go -- as she did in Emeralds last year, and in Upper Room this year -- she can be as astonishing as anyone in American ballet. She, more than anyone, is now the company's "prima ballerina."
Macaulay's reservations about the wonderful Jennifer Kronenberg, whom he's praised highly in the past, made me think he may have been trying to tell her: "You're a beautiful dancer, but it's time to stop coasting and start growing again." The NY press's silence about Alex Wong, the companies best jumper, may be a way of saying the same thing. I'd love to see both of them back on an upward trajectory as artists once more.. It can happen.
His comment on Haiyan Wu's dancing is, unfortunately, quite true of her current dancing. She was a medalllist at Jackson not all that long ago but has not developed beyond that brilliant early start, for whatever reason. Her most satisfying dancing in several years has been in a short but fairly inconsequential pdd of Wheeldon's, Liturgy. I hope she's not forgotten as Villella and the rest of the MCB staff concentrate on developing the potential of so many other promising youngsters.
Jeremy Cox, I think, deserves more attention and understanding than he sometimes gets from audiences and critics. He's a versastile and fascinating dancer who can do anything, but not always the way you expect it. He's also the male dancer I most look forward to seeing on stage: he's so full of depth and surprises. Macaulay nails his unique value: "Mr. Cox -- dancing in five of six ballets, perhaps the hardest worker of a hard-working company -- is a true stylist in each." I wish NYC had had the chance to see him in Mercuric Tidings.
Macaulay goes out of his way to praise Patricia Delgado, Jeanette's older sister -- " ... she can catch the audience's heart from her first entry and hold it." I confess that I have not experienced this myself. Not yet anyway. But I really respect Macaulay. So I'll be looking at Patricia closely and with hope when MCB dances Don Quixote.
I'll also be looking with renewed interest at Yang Zou. Macaulay writes: "I am haunted by Yang Zou (who partnered Patricia Delgado) in the long-phrased solo [from "La Valse"] where, again and again, he turns, then kneels and swirls his upper body in a helpless continuum, giving us a first image of the ballroom's fatal vortex." Zou is a lovely and increasingly confident dancer. It's clear he deserves more attention.
These years watching MCB closely has shown me that dancers can grow in surprising ways. It's also showing me that audiences -- me in particular -- can grow, too. There's a collaboration that develops between "fan" and "company." When that process works well, both sides benefit.
Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:35 AM
As for Wong, not even knowing about the press silence bart refers to, I ran in to him at a reception last night and... Whoops! That was private conversation, I can't post that! Let's just say that when I saw his air turns and other tricks in Fox Trot last weekend I thought, Oh, the company whizz kid! But then I saw him here in Symphony in C and I thought, Miami City Ballet boy. Does everything!
And now I'm going to run to the theatre for the last performance, all too soon. But hey, it's ben six, instead of four, like in Broward!
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