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Free 19th and 20th September 2009 Kennedy Center programexcerpts from Balanchine and from Bejart's Romeo and Juliet


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#1 Jack Reed

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 08:04 PM

(from Washington, DC) Briefly, the program, which ran just under an hour, consisted of three movements from Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15, the first movement played as an overture before the curtain, then the Theme and Variations followed by the Andante; his Agon pas de deux; "Scene d'Amour" from Maurice Bejart's Romeo and Juliet; and as a light, rousing conclusion after the intensity of that scene, Balanchine's Stars and Stripes pas de deux. The free performance, although billed in the Millenium Stage series, actually took place in the Family Theatre of the Kennedy Center, which seats about 400-500. (It was packed.) Music was recorded, and there were three video cameras in the audience. Videos of Millenium Stage performances are usually available for streaming on the Kennedy Center website soon after they take place if not simultaneously.

All the performances seemed to me to manifest the qualities of musical awareness and spirit, finish and freshness, presence and completeness, for which fans of this troupe value it; but most of this repertory really needs more space for the dancers to "let themselves out" more, I think, and the small Family Theatre has a small stage. So, I guess for this reason the performances this evening tended to be a bit subdued and held in and more plainly careful than we sometimes see from them.

The two middle excerpts don't require so much space, though, and the "Scene d'Amour" was especially effective, right from the beginning, when Momchil Mladenov makes clear with empty embraces and so on his longing for his beloved (Sara Ivan), and continuing throughout: As a friend of considerable discernment who had seen some of their previous performances put it, "They got the plastique right this time!" I agree that this was the highlight of a generally rewarding evening:

Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook presented the Agon pas de deux with the virtues I've tried to summarize above but without most of the intensity leading to apparent exhaustion I've sometimes seen (nor was the music played so intensely as I've sometimes heard); but the "Theme and Variations" section from Divertimento No. 15 built impressively from variation to variation. These performers were Michael Cook and Ian Grosh; Kendra Mitchell; Lauren Stewart; Sara Ivan; Natalia Magnicaballi; Momchil Mladenov; and Violetta Angelova. (If memory serves, Grosh, Mitchell, Stewart, and Angelova are new to the company this season; in particular, Angelova seems to have replaced Bonnie Pickard.) Angelova and Cook delivered the concluding Stars pas with about the right satirical edge.

This program repeats once more in the same place tomorrow night at the same time (6PM) and at the same low price...

#2 Helene

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 08:09 PM

When I read that Kendra Mitchell had joined, I went immediately to the Ballet Arizona website to make sure she was still dancing in Phoenix as well, like Magnicaballi. (Whew!) I really love watching her dance.

(Of course that website visit did confirm that Ross Clarke did, indeed, retire, about which I've been in denial, even though I saw him accept the flowers at the final performance last season...)

Did Mitchell do Kent's role?

#3 Jack Reed

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 08:18 PM

(from Washington, DC) Mitchell danced First Variation; I listed the "Divert" cast in order of appearance. I've never seen Ballet Arizona itself. Hmm...

#4 Helene

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 08:25 PM

A plane ride to Phoenix would be in order for you, Mr. Reed :)

Thank you for the info! According to the Balanchine Catalogue, that would make:

Theme: Cook/Grosh (Bliss/Tobias)
First Variation: Mitchell (Kent)
Second Variation: Stewart (Hayden)
Third Variation: Ivan (Adams)
Fourth Variation: Magnicaballi (Le Clerq)
Fifth Variation: Mladenov (Magallanes)
Sixth Variation: Angelova (Wilde)

I always get the originators of First and Second mixed up, because I believe that in the pas de deux, Hayden went first, and Kent second.

#5 PeggyR

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 08:52 PM

Briefly, the program, which ran just under an hour, consisted of three movements from Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15, the first movement played as an overture before the curtain, then the Theme and Variations followed by the Andante; his Agon pas de deux; "Scene d'Amour" from Maurice Bejart's Romeo and Juliet; and as a light, rousing conclusion after the intensity of that scene, Balanchine's Stars and Stripes pas de deux.

Thank you so much for your review. I'm looking forward to the performances in Berkley next month -- can't wait to beef up my Balanchine 'credentials'! Interestingly, just today I discovered the webcast of the 2/23/07 free performance (which was discussed and linked in an earlier thread from a couple of years ago, but here it is again for anyone who missed it then; scroll down to the bottom of the page); some impressive dancers.

#6 Jack Reed

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 04:49 AM

(from Washington, DC) Here's a link to the thread about that 2007 free performance, with my guide to the video in Post #10 there:

http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=24253

#7 Pointe1432

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 11:30 AM

These performers were Michael Cook and Ian Grosh; Kendra Mitchell; Lauren Stewart; Sara Ivan; Natalia Magnicaballi; Momchil Mladenov; and Violetta Angelova. (If memory serves, Grosh, Mitchell, Stewart, and Angelova are new to the company this season; in particular, Angelova seems to have replaced Bonnie Pickard.) Angelova and Cook delivered the concluding Stars pas with about the right satirical edge.



Angelova is not new this season. She was on the roster last season, but perhaps not as featured?

But no Bonnie Pickard!? :) :innocent:

#8 kfw

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 12:01 PM

But no Bonnie Pickard!? :) :innocent:

She's no longer listed on the roster.

Thanks for the review, Jack.

#9 Helene

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 12:20 PM

Kenna Draxton is another wonderful dancer from Ballet Arizona; according to her bio on the list of SFB dancers, it's also her first year.

#10 Jack Reed

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 12:40 PM

(from Washington, DC) Maybe we'll see Draxton this evening.

As for Pickard, if she has retired, she's done it at a high point -- Alastair Macaulay, IIRC, had high praise for her in Liebeslieder, and if my memory continues to serve, she then put on another very different role or two and wore them like second skins. I don't for a moment mean to demean this high and most demanding art by recalling the old show-biz maxim, Leave 'em wanting more!, for if she may have made that move, it's a final credit to her intelligence. We'll see...

#11 Jack Reed

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 07:26 PM

(from Washington, DC) Draxton did not appear this evening; the listed cast was the same, not that the printed program matched the performances perfectly: Evidently, we were to get the trios in Agon, one one night, the other the next, but instead we got the central pas de deux both times, and you'll get no complaints from me about that! Although there were a couple of details in this huge role where Stravinsky might coach Magnicaballi, such as the downward cello glissando, this is already looking very good, even though I gather it's not been in rehearsal very long.

Also, the program had Mladenov opening Divertimento No. 15 with Grosh, but it was actually Michael Cook again.

This evening I happened to sit next to an opera fan, who had come to the Kennedy Center to see the matinee of The Barber of Seville and stayed for this show because it was free. Looking over the program, she said she liked Stravinsky. I wondered whether the "Scene d'Amour" would be drama enough for her, and it was, it was! She didn't go so far as to say she'll be back, but she was plainly very happily surprised by that excerpt, and right from the start, and she liked the Agon pas, too; in fact, the whole program, which, when you think about it, packs enormous range into an hour.

Not only do some of us miss Pickard, but the Dus, Erin Mahoney-Du and Runqiao Du, are also off the list and evidently retired.

#12 Jack Reed

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 06:23 AM

The hour was late when I posted just above, so I forgot my concluding thought about the personnel changes: Dancers come and go, but the virtues of the way this troupe dances remain.

#13 cantdance

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 06:49 AM

I got there late on Sat. and ended up watching on the video screen at the Millennium theater. On Sunday I waited in line 2 hours and got good seats. I sat behind company dancers Amy Brandt, Kenna Draxton and Kirk Henning. Runqiao and Erin are busy teaching and have started a company Chamber Ballet. They premiere Nov. 14 and 15 with guest artist Rui Huang and Jared Nelson at American Dance Institute.

#14 Jack Reed

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 06:01 AM

George Jackson's account of this on DVT is not to be missed, IMHO:

http://www.danceview...iliar-free.html

#15 Arizona Native

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 05:31 PM

Today I just happened to look at the roster and saw what you all have already learned -- that Kendra Mitchell and Kenna Draxton have joined the company. How wonderful! These are such deserving dancers. Ballet Arizona's performance opportunities are unfortunately limited ... it is great to see the dancers having additional opportunities. Congradulations, ladies ... and have fun!


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