Miami's Program Four: In the Night, Concerto Barocco,Symphony in C
Posted 15 March 2009 - 08:11 PM
But I also found the Delgado sisters inexpressive. I felt that this cast made Barocco "too beautiful", and the other one, led by Seay, was a major event because of her.
Following are my notes on Edward Villella's introductions to Program IV. As usual, the insights and wisdom are his, the mistakes and broken sentences are mine.
We have a well-balanced program for your entertainment and edification. Wow! Have you ever been edified?...
Concerto Barocco: Ladies on their toes mirror each other. Is there a story? No. Are there elements we should know about? Yes... Balanchine's is a mindful art form, not just steps to music.
Out come two more women. The first one represents the first violin, the second one, the second violin. The ballet has structural then sculptural elements: There's an ecclestiastical aspect; the corps raise their arms making a little cathedral, during the pas de deux, built on regard and respect, which is reverent, not romantic... The man lifts and serves the lady. The second movement is a choreographic homage to woman and how she can inspire men.
I remember in the studio one day -- women pick up choreography faster than men -- (applause) You're applauding, I'm crying. (laughter) -- Balanchine told us we're useful: You men, you carry ladies. There are personal relations here, but no plot.
In the Night is made to four Nocturnes. Balanchine likened Dances [at a Gathering], which preceded In the Night, to peanuts and salt: Don't stop.
Three couples portray three aspects of romance, then a fourth movement with them all together. In the first one, heavy romanticism; in the second, a more mature relationship; the third is combative, a little bombastic. They're separate, or maybe each a slice of one relationship.
Symphony in C: Four couples in this one. With so many good dancers, how to get them all on stage? It's classical clarity, crystalline, originally Palais de Cristal, made in two weeks! Astounding!
The first movement is pure, classical, French, contained; bravura, requires solid techniques. The second is a Romantic adagio, pure beauty, hold your breath. What is the meaning of it? What is the meaning of a rose? It's just beautiful. The third movement is energized, people fly around; pyrotechnical. The fourth introduces the finale and recapitulation.
After his remarks, Villella takes questions, and on the 15th, someone asked how the Balanchine Trust determines who can do a ballet? Villella replied that the Trust was a series of people, they tell who they want to do [to set?] the ballet the first time. In some cases there are relationships with different members; I have an established relationship with the Balanchine Trust.
Instead of a question, a man said, "Maestro Villella, congratulations on having such a great company and thank you for bringing your great company here."
Posted 16 March 2009 - 01:50 PM
Posted 30 March 2009 - 08:24 AM
First of all, the program was a kind of Heaven for me. Along with MCB's Program I this season, I've had the chance to watch a company at the top of its form perform what strikes me as some of the greatest rep in all ballet. I'm still overwhelmed, so here are a few random thoughts:
1) The corps.
In both Balanchine pieces, the corps -- women dressed entirely in white -- stand out against a blue background. Every movement of arm or wrist, every pointing of the foot, every facial expression, is completely visible. No one can hide, dither, or goof off.
I've never seen the MCB corps -- and have rarely seen the NYCB corps -- dance to such a level of near-to-perfection, with so much accuracy, style, and musicality. They were amazing, individually as well as a unit. In the absence of a live orchestra in these performances, it was the corps who provided the most important contact with the music, as well as the visual deisgn. Especially in Barocco, where the principals interact so subtley with the corps, and n so many ways..
I enjoy Villella's practice of integrating soloists with the corps -- as well as allowing certain more experienced corps members to dance solo and even principal roles. It creates a kind of seamlessness of style. I assume it encourages all to dance to the level of the best and most experienced.
Among the corps members I saw in major roles: Kristen D'Addario as one of the leads in Concerto Barocco (with Seay and Rolando Sarabia) -- Jennifer Lauren, dancing with a newly confident Daniel Sarabia as the first couple in In the Night -- Ashley Knox, with Didier Bramaz, as the 4th couple in Symphony in C. Each fit in perfectly -- as to technique, style, and the way they presented themselves on stage. Someone at MCB -- Roma Sosenko? Joan Latham? -- is doing their job with the corps very, very well.
Over the past 8 seasons, I've gotten to know every one of the corps members by name. (No trick to that: I look carefully at the photos in the program.) To me, they are individuals -- which makes their ability to serve the choreography as a community of dancers even more striking.
2) The Men:
The corps men had fewer opportunities: just some demi-solo work in Symphony in C. Everyone belonged on the stage, even in a masterwork like this. Among a few who have developed especially well this year: Michael Sean Breeden, Ezra Hurwitz, and Stephen Satterfield.
As for the leads, this was the program this year to make extensive use of MCB's newish complement of Cuban-trained men.
Rolando Sarabia, who has been missing in action for much of the season, danced in all three ballets. He has a magnetism that hasn't always been justified by his actual dancing. In this program I got a hint of what he can -- and I hope will -- be like as he adapts to the company style and to a very different kind of choreography, musical sensibilitiy, etc. With Deanna Seay, in the first movement of Symphony in C, he finally became a company member and not just a gorgeous exotic. He's now faster, more responsive, more able to stay alive on stage when not actually in the spotlight.
His brother Daniel Sarabia, a soloist, was very impressive dancing with Jennifer Lauren as the first couple in the Robbins piece. Daniel Sarabia has grown tremendously this season, especially in the area of sustaining fast, intricate, sometimes unconventional movement over long stretches of choreography, as demanded by Balanchine but perhaps not by his earlier Cuban training.
Carlos Quenedit, new to the company this season, He seemed to have had an early difficulty fitting in onstage with this company in the earlier programs, especially when asked to dance ensemble roles. This time, however, he performed the slow second movement of In the Night with both Deanne Seay and Partrica Delgado. He's a gifted porteur. As he danced, you could see the tension (possibly nerves?) disappearing from his face and the tighness disappearing from his shoulders. He became a sensitive, responsive, attendant. With Delgado, especially, this was marvellous to see. The P. Delgado/ C. Quenedit partnership is, clearly, a winner -- defintely worth developing.
Jeremy Cox, partnering Catoya in the second nocturne of the Robbins piece, was perhaps the most sensitive and physically rsonsive of the partners. Unlike the Cubans, he maintains a kind of emotional distance from his ballerina. This is unconventional, but the effect is striking. Catoya was supported but, somehow, also alone. I loved it. (And Catoya was marvellous.)
MCB has a plethora of talented partners, so I want to mention Didier Bramaz's elegance (with Ashley Knox in Symphony in C), Yang Zou's incrediblely beautiful lines (with Katia Carranza in part one of the Robbins), and Carlos Guerra, who seems to have found a new ease and pleasure in partnering, especially in the Largo of Symphony in C and also in Barocco, both with his regular partner, Jennifer Kronenberg.
I was looking forward especially to Alex Wong, a brilliant and effervescent mover, in Villella's role in Symphony in C (3rd movement, with the sensational Jeanette Delgado and with Tricia Albertson). Wong had all the spring, the elevation, and the speed. What he didn't have was what I can only call "weight." He's so incredibly light in the air that -- strangely -- had did not have the impact one would have expected. He almost disappeared. The audience, which has responded strongly to a number of his earlier pyrotechnical roles, seemed hardly to notice him. It's very strange.
Much more effective in the Villella role was Renato Penteado, another man who is having a sensational year. Working with Penteado, Albertson was transformed into an entirely different dancer from what she had been with Wong, more lively, more focused. It was astonishing. With Jeanette Delgado as the arguing couple in the Robbins, Penteado was even better.
On a related topic, the company's visit to the Vail Festival this summer should offer quite a lot of opportunities for the men:
Hosted by festival director Damian Woetzel, this evening will feature full performances and excerpts of Villella\\\'s roles in works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, including The Prodigal Son, Rubies, Tarantella, Afternoon of a Faun, Dances at a Gathering and more.
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