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MCB Program I: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm BeachAllegro Brillante, Tch. PDD, Symphony in 3 Movements, Comp. B


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#46 bart

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 12:17 PM

(For those who are unfamiliar with Allegro Brillante, the curtain rises well into the music, and we see the dancers not in an opening tableau, but dancing happily along. It's truly a brilliant moment.)

I actually found myself wondering, a propos our discussions of what happens to unauthorized video nowadays: is choreography performed BEFORE the curtain rises still protected by copyright?

If so, I report to the Balanchine people that the blog video contained a full 4 seconds of that lovely hand-in-hand skipping and jumping around the stage. :wink:

Have fun tonight in Fort Lauderdale, everyone.

#47 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 01:42 PM

Thanks to carbro for that bit of history and elaboration on my very thoughts. I'll certainly be staying for Company B, and not just because I enjoy hearing the Andrews sisters again! "Less" was my word, not "nothing"! But, speaking of history, this is not MCB's first season for Company B, FWIW; no premieres this season, as an economy measure. No problem for me; after 24 years, they have a rich repertory, IMO.

#48 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 09:04 PM

I've just returned from opening night of the Broward CPA run, and here are my impressions as I come down off the energy of the evening and head toward a crash in bed:

Allegro Brillante

Jeannette Delgado's dancing just gets stronger and stronger -- in the best sense, no hint of crudeness here -- so I'm hardly bothered by the family smile, which is not so out of place in this upbeat little ballet anyway. Rolando Serabia is a very fine partner for her but otherwise pretty much disappears, into the male ensemble especially: Does he even have a solo? Balanchine says (in Balanchine's Complete Stories) "her cavalier also has his important part" but it didn't stick in my mind this evening. Delgado has her part right though:

"There's a lot of strong, broad dancing spaced in very little time. The gestures have to be big, ample, spacious, and they have to look free... If the ballerina is afraid that it will not produce enough of an effect by itself, if she feels she has to compensate by telling the audience that it is hard, a false drama is created. It should be left alone, and it should be danced with passion but with happiness. It's quintessentially Russian in its best possible meaning -- a great, romantic, beautiful plastic piece."

Violette Verdy said that, quoted in Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review, and Delgado looked like she intuited all of it from somewhere. That made for a really superb performance.


Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux

Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado stirred a comparison in the back of my mind: Watching just these two in this gave me some of the same kind of satisfaction I get hearing the whole Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez. It wasn't just the easy clarity but the luxuriant mastery of what they did that gently and deeply delighted. Sure it's a virtuoso show piece. With this cast, it's a lovely, charming, beautiful little ballet.


Company B

I've been quibbling about this, and the apparently insuperable shortcomings of a performance of this by a ballet company, with its dancers' inherent lightness, resulting to some extent from their "more precise and formal placement" (quoting Edward Villella's introduction this evening), but there is for me an overriding reason for this company to perform it: The company looks good in it. Very good. The whole ensemble, right through, I think, although I needed a little adjustment to their flavor of Taylor early on. Some individuals stood out, earning their exposed roles: Alex Wong in "Tico Tico" (or maybe it was a 3D Pixar simulation we saw, seamlessly, impossibly changing ways of moving, but I doubt there is enough microprocessor power yet available to account for that element of inner understanding that contained these remarkable phenomena into a whole, continuous dance, and so it must have a real person, as credited); Deanna Seay in "I Can Dream, Can't I?", who especially seemed to me to have left behind so much of that precision and formality Villella spoke of for a more free-form way of moving, without leaving behind any legibility with it; Daniel Baker, for mostly just boogying his way through "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"; and Jeanette Delgado in "Rum and Coca-Cola".


Symphony in Three Movements, led by Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, more or less (this is a corps ballet; there are two corps, in fact) came at the end of a varied and full evening and swept all before it.

#49 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 11:32 PM

On my way out, but first, it was a pleasure to see you both Jack and Susan! :wink:
Jack, I'll see you tonight again...
Mira...I will look for you!
More comments at the end of the weekend...
:D

#50 bart

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 05:09 AM

Jack, your comment about Seay reminds me of the way she threw herself one of the Stomper roles in Upper Room. It was an amazing transformation and very effective. One virtue of programming a variety of dance styles is the often unexpected range you discover in certain dancers. :wink:

#51 nysusan

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 10:28 AM

It was great to see Cristian & Jack on Friday night, I'm so bummed that I won't be able to go to any other performances this weekend, but at least I saw a great one! I pretty much agree with eveything Jack wrote about the performance. Jeanette Delgago is a force of nature! What a generous, open, delightful dancer. Her technique is so strong and in some ways she reminds me of Sofiane Sylve: when she takes a balance, or starts a sequence of pirouettes she is so strong its as if she's planted (in the best way) so it never occurs to you, even for a minute that she might waver in her balance or fall off point. She's a strong, solid dancer with great allegro technique and a very Balanchinean musicality but she also has wonderful port de bras and a lovely lightness to her dancing. The beaming smile might bother me in certain roles, but not in the ones I've seen her in so far.

There were lots of outstanding performances, most notably Catoya in Tchai Pas and Wong in Company B but I also really enjoyed several dancers who have not been favorites of mine. I thought Deanna Seay, Patricia Delgado and Daniel Baker were wonderful in Company B (in fact I thought the whole company was wonderful in it. If they didn't quite reach the level of Taylor's dancers I thought they captured the context and modern dance vernacular much better than ABT did without sacrificing any of the virtuosity).

I also thought they did a great job with Sym 3. I saw Kronenberg and Cox do this several times in NY and wasn't crazy about their interpretation. There were times when they got very flirty and smiley which I found really weird for this piece. This time Kronenberg danced with Guerra and they had a less playful demeanor which I preferred. The other soloists were Wong & Albertson, Penteado & P. Delgado and I thought the whole cast was great.

The thing that I love about this company is that they dance with so much heart, and so many of their dancers manage to combine great technique with great interpretive skills. I remember in the Ballets Russes film one of their ex ballerinas was talking about her students and how their technique was vey strong, but they didn't know how to "be warm". I feel that way about a lot of dancers these days, particularly at ABT. They are my home company and I love them but it seems like at ABT you either get great technique or great interpretive powers, very few of their dancers combine both. Eddie's dancers seeem to have it all.

#52 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 09:32 PM

Just came from tonight's performance...Loved Jeannette EVERY SECOND!! :thanks:

#53 Jack Reed

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 07:37 AM

(Apologies if my posts suggest that I haven't digested others', but my internet time is restricted these days, so I'm having to write off-line and then post when I get a chance.)

Saturday matinee

Quite a matinee! First, Tricia Albertson gave us a richer Allegro Brillante than Jeannette Delgado last night -- scarcely any smile at all with her face, all with her body, unfailingly clearly detailed within the nuanced and modulated flow, while some of Jeannette D.'s turns seemed blurry, in her more forceful and buoyant performance. Albertson certainly passed the Verdy criterion (see above, Post #48). Her partner was Rolando Serabia, whose part puts him at the centerpiece -- and a fine centerpiece he is -- of one mixed ensemble after another, or the first among equals in the male ensemble, but no real solo, however brief; she gets long, lovely cadenza parts.

We then had a performance of "Tschai Pas" by Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra which was less cool and more sumptuous than Catoya and Penteado had done Friday night. If Catoya and Penteado put me in mind of the Cleveland Orchestra, Kronenberg and Guerra put me in mind of the Philadelphia Orchestra! Both first class, but distinctly different.

Company B saw some cast changes, conspicuously the merely superb, and, credibly dancer-like Ezra Hurwitz for the incredible Alex Wong, who, we gather and hope, suffered only a minor injury; Christie Sciturro, another corps member, whom I never saw in a solo role before, for Deanna Seay ("I Can Dream, Can't I?") and not so satisfying a replacement; and Rebecca King in "Rum and Coca-Cola", who gave a distinctly cooler rendition of it than Jeanette Delgado had. Sciturro remained very much the ballet dancer, I thought, even emphasizing the Tharp-like character of a section in the middle of her number.

Then, Symphony in Three Movements! This ballet always deserves an exclamation point when MCB dances it, but this afternoon, Patricia Delgado, who led it with Renato Pentado, earned one on her own, as she displayed a whole new persona for this ballet, one which very much becomes her. Penteado's dancing was large and clear as always and now also had some heat and intensity in the first movement which was well suited to it.

Saturday evening

Allegro Brillante was again danced by Jeanette Delgado with its resident male principal, Rolando Serabia (I'm not complaining about him!). Since tempos in Balanchine are sometimes matters for discussion today, I'll just add here that I checked this performance (to a recording) at 13 or 14 minutes, as Balanchine says in his "Complete Stories" book.

We then had another superb rendition of "Tschai Pas" from Catoya and Penteado which might have been even a little more assured on her part, though, as another of us noted also, there were a couple of the slightest hitches in the coda, where they run across upstage and she gets into the fish-dives. Villella called this a test of virtuosity; okay, but when these virtuosos dance it, it's a lot of fun for us to watch.

(More when I can.)

#54 Jack Reed

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 07:38 PM

Saturday evening, 7th November 2009, continued

Company B was performed by essentially the same cast as Friday evening, with the major absence of Alex Wong; Ezra Hurwitz was satisfying in "Tico Tico" to anyone who didn't know Wong's performance, and earned the good applause he got for it.

Symphony in Three Movements was again led by Kronenberg, wearing a grim expression at the start but dancing sumptuously, and Guerra; Wong was replaced by Baker again, and Allyne Noelle (orange leotard) and Stephen Satterfield substituted tonight for Patricia Delgado and Renato Penteado in last evening's performance.


Sunday matinee, 8th November 2009

Allegro Brillante was led this afternoon by Deanna Seay and Carlos Miguel Guerra (that'll teach me to think somebody has made a part theirs exclusively just because they do it with two partners). As we have pretty much come to expect, everything Seay did was elegantly finished, although still in the present moment (as against the remotely "perfected" rendition we sometimes see elsewhere). However some of her sequences were modified from the versions Jeanette Delgado and Tricia Albertson had shown us earlier this weekend. And Guerra seemed even more present in this way perhaps than Rolando Serabia had, and related more tenderly to his partner.

Alex Wong was cast in the ensemble of four couples in this but I don't believe he appeared. Maybe some one can clear this up. (Daniel Baker, who replaced him in some other roles, was already cast here.)

After the pause, Rolando Serabia was on hand to partner Jeanette Delgado in Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux; I thought he was very fine indeed in this. Delgado was very accomplished technically in this, and her -- really their -- fish dives went very smoothly, but I enjoyed the other two couples more.

Company B saw some more cast changes: Marc Spielberger reprised his role in "Pennsylvania Polka" to replace Michael Sean Breeden and partner Leigh-Ann Esty; Ezra Hurwitz continued to replace Alex Wong, and (soloist) Allyne Noelle replaced Deanna Seay in "I Can Dream, Can't I?" more satisfactorily than (corps member) Christie Sciturro had, though this remained a replacement, not a substitution, which is my way of saying that I doubt MCB has a substitute for Seay. But listed rank doesn't always tell much of the story: Corps member Bradley Dunlap was a very good substitute for Daniel Baker, mainly in "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", catching the Taylor style more consistently, I thought, not only in the large shapes but also in the small, vernacular gestures.

Yet another "Patricia Delgado" led Symphony in Three Movements, this one much more supple than the one we saw in the Saturday matinee, who I think has the more appropriate approach.

#55 bart

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 04:36 AM

Jack, I love reading your posts. How have the audiences been?

Some thoughts.

-- It's good to see so many corps members getting opportunities, something that Villella seems to be committed to. You name some of the best.

-- Conversely, you also get to see stellar soloists (Wong, Bramaz, Manning, etc.) in corps roles. This must help the younger corps member especially. If you watch (on the MCB Blog pre-performance video) those few seconds of the Allegro Brillante cast beginning the circular skipping before the curtain rises, you'll notice that it's Didier Bramaz who seems to call them to attention, who receaches first for his partner's hand, and who gets the choreography started.

-- Rebecca King is the dancer who shot and put together the MCB Blog video on the preprations leading up to the Miami opening of this program. I notice that other multi-talented younger dancers are also being given opportunities to write and film.

-- Regarding tempi for AB: I'm not surprised that the Allegro Brillante fit Balanchine's time standard so closely. Villella always seems to go for speed when called for. I guess he reckons: If you don't get the chance to dance fast in allegro, how can you ever learn to dance fast well? Also, MCB's speed always makes the adagio passages seem especially weighted and mysterious, by contrast.

#56 Jack Reed

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 05:20 AM

Regarding that last, bart, isn't it often those who have the hardest time with something the ones who best master it? In Prodigal Son (the book!), Villella recounts how hard it was for him in Balanchine's world of pain and magic, and I think his company shows how well he learned from his time there.

Regarding the audiences, they've been typical for Florida, nothing like as enthusiastic as the toughest audience in the country was last January! Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux got lots of applause, for a Broward audience, and Symphony in Three Movements sometimes got extra applause and sometimes had a reduced audience, as though people feared it and slipped away before it began. And as you might expect, many heads were bobbing along with the rhythm in Company B.

Saturday night, though, I think I had a couple of tourists next to me who spoke with a light accent, possibly German, who had an unusually good time: At the second intermission, after Company B, he turned to me and remarked with a smile, "The recession comes to the ballet. No scenery." "Yes", I said, "and they're just playing old records." They laughed, and he said, "Their clothes must have come from a second-hand shop." "Out of date," I agreed. Plainly, they were in a good mood, and I'm not sure whether hearing the Andrews Sisters or watching the dancers had done more for them. Then after Symphony in Three Movements he asked me who the choreographer was. (Interesting that he knew the word but not the name, I thought.) "George Balanchine." "It's a great ballet. It was a great performance." I agreed!

And as nearly always, people asked me as I was scribbling away, sometimes turning on the light in my pen if the lights had gone down before I recorded the cast changes, whether I was a critic, and that gave me a chance to say, "No, just a fan. This increases my concentration. I found out that the more you put into it the more you get out." (Many people don't even read their programs, or read them at the wrong time, like during the performance.)

Which reminds me of another exchange during another season. The little lady next to me, very dressed up, permed, bejeweled, wanted to tell me her likes and dislikes. She added to the latter list, "Stravinsky. No. Not at all." Knowing that the first ballet was Apollo, I wondered how this was going to go. Afterward, I asked, "How did you like that?" "Loved it!" "The music too?" "Loved everything about it!" (big smile) So, did I tell her, read your program, lady! Noo waay!

#57 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 08:54 PM

Here are my impressions on the Broward performances. I will divide the post in three, to connect them with the beginning of the Palm Beach performances

[size=3]Allegro Brillante[/size]

On Friday, the cast was the same as in Miami. Allegro Brillante was danced by Jeanette and Sarabita...and it was just that...BRILLANTE. Not the flawless/too-impeccable Sarabita from Havana 1999, but one with a stronger sense of what a true cavalier is supposed to do with his woman...support her, show her, be attentive to her...be THERE for her, which made Jeanette FLY with all the freedom she needed....fearless as she should be...the stage her kingdom. They also danced it on Saturday night. Now, on Sunday I was happy-(and surprised)- to get to see my first MCB favorite dancing the ballerina role: Miss Deanna Seay, which was paired-(not wisely, IMO)-with Carlos Guerra. What an interesting rendition did Miss Seay gave of AB!! This is a ballerina that has mastered to the limits that "beyond technique" area, pretty much as Sarabita. Like him, her movements and footwork are not that pyrotechnic...she is not as ballistic as, let's say, Delgado, but ooh...her UPPER BODY...is just a master work. Seay is a ballerina that pretty much just SPEAKS with her arms...showing an impeccable port de bras...as delicate and fluid as it can be. Her projection has become very grand, regal...with a marked princess-like presence. I have studied her line in detail , not only onstage, but backstage and even while teaching class, and she does posess-(or have aquired with her many years of experience I bet)-a particular "serene", effortless look..with an impressive epaulement that talks a lot about what a real ballerina should LOOK like. Her approach to the choreography was simplified, but very enjoyable . To me she is, if not the biggest company technician, the most beautiful, ladylike dancer that Villella has. Watching her as she looked stunningly elegant in her first pose of AB made me think of how wonderful would be, at this point of her career and with the new qualities that she has aquired, to be able to see her dancing something like "Chopiniana"...before she retires for good. As I said, Guerra was chosed to be her partner, which looked kind of awkward, since I'm pretty much used to see him partnering his wife. Guerra is a bailarin that does not take too many risks, basically offering what is expected from technique and interpretation...no more, no less. He is the reliable dancer...the boy that can dance everything, and looks good either as a Petipa prince, a Villella ballroom character or a Tharp running device...Actually, he is one of the VERY FEW top rank dancers of this company whom I would be satisfied to see as a Siegfried or an Albrecht...(something that can't be said of all of them). He did his best partnering Seay, but didn't look quite as comfortable as when he dances with his wife-(Kronemberg). Seay NEEDED to be paired with Sarabita, as it has been in the past with excellent results.

Kuddos to the other dancers during the three performances: On Friday Amanda Weingarten/Stephen Satterfiel, Cindy Huan/Didier Bramaz, Allynne Noelle with a substitution for Quenedit-(am I right Jack...?) and Nicole Stalker/Yang Zou. On Saturday Weingarten/Ezra Hurwitz, Callie Manning/Didier Bramaz, Noelle/Quenedit's substitution and Nicole Stalker/Neil Marshal. On Sunday Zoe Zien, Daniel Baker, Leigh-Ann Esty-(with a substitution for Alex Wong, which I can't recall)-, Sara Esty/Michael Breeden Ashley Knox/Daniel Sarabia.

Coming up...TCHAIKOVSKY PAS DE DEUX...

#58 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 07:49 PM

[size=3]Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux[/size]

I have my own standards for this piece, which includes a shameless display of pure, sweat driven technique-(ok to call it tasteless, vulgar, pyrotechnic, gymnastics/cirquish-related and so on...),particularly for the male variation and the coda. Right after the adagio is over, I don't want to see any more subtleness or anything that is not the total desire of the dancers to make the audience gasp . Was this the original Balanchine approach...? Maybe yes...maybe not, but that's how I got to know this PDD, and hence, anything different from that looks suspiciously bland on my eyes.
But, enough of my monologue, and on with the performances. Friday and Saturday there were Catoya and Panteado who took the challenge, which they both did very well during the adagio. Catoya looked very cute, precise, as clean as she could be...her movements picture perfect, with the right accents here and there...a very studied, MUSICAL approach...that's the word. Panteado knows her, and she never looks better that when he's her partner. Now, the great stuff started when Panteado came for his variation. What a GREAT variation!! His pirouettes are spotless, his fifth position landings breathless...beautiful tours en l'air. His final kneeling landing just down to the second along with last note of the score. He couldn't get that variation any better...on both nights. Great. Now, Catoya's approach was more careful...she did show more control over the choreography than in Miami-(like the final series of sautees), but I wish she could have sped up a little more her final sequence of pirouettes/piquees/chainees. She chose to be very careful about it, and that subtracted weight to the usually spectacular ending of the variation. Wrists are still not as broken as I like to see them here...but in general she did comply with all the steps, if not with the right pacing-(or at least right to me, IMO). Now, the biggest problem came during the coda, which started just great...Panteado's brisé volées were magnificent, and so on...and then...here they were: the fish dives. I think there's a mix of factors for which these famous dives didn't work here. Catoya didn't look all that confident in that that she wasn't going to brake her face on the floor, and then Panteado didn't separate himself enough from here so she could have plenty of room to run and throw herself with the proper amplitude. End of the story. In general, they were very well liked, and I enjoyed a lot their interpretation.
...but then, Sunday matinee came,and guess who's in the program to dance the PDD...Oooh yes...my two stars: Hurricane Delgado and Sarabita. That was a surprise, as they did not danced it in Miami. OMG...I won't go over and over about this two, which I've done several times on this board. Jeanette just can't contain herself-(and she shouldn't for God's sake!)-and Sarabita just went back ten years ago and was, once more and for some precious minutes-his old astonishing self. Long live this partnership!
And Jack...weren't this time the fish dives just AS DARING AS THEY SHOULD BE?...I mean...she reminded me that old Lepeshinskaya's clip on Youtube...or even the stories I've heard when Alonso used to just jump in the darkness of her blindness being completely sure that the clock precise Youskevitch was right there where she KNEW he would be...not a millimeter out of his place.
That's when one just realize what makes a GREAT PARTNER. Now, people...That was THE TPDD to see..

Coming up...Company B-(yes...I will review it a bit...let's see how bad I am... he,he :P )

#59 Paul Parish

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 11:27 AM

Thanks, Christian, for the review of Tchai pas.

I've seen a tape of the original version, at the NYPL collection, from the Bell Telephone Hour or some other old TV show, with Villella and Verdy, and many of these features you love were there then -- though in fact nobody does Verdy's series of en dedans turns in attitude any more, maybe some of your Cubans could -- they were just amazing, every time she came around the corner she smiled and it was like the sun coming out every time, just amazingly fresh like a force of nature. That's what ought to be there-- and the dives need to be fearless, and the accelerating pique turns need to take our heads off with the mounting exhilaration. I thin that's ALL supposed to be there.

I wish you'd seen Kyra Nichols do it -- the timing was thrilling, the ease amazing, the bravery just miraculous, and the sense of humor just this side of hilarity. Real allegria. She did the dives in her own way -- they were swimming-pool dives, with the legs together, feel pointed in palallel, like Esther Williams -- somehow they were much funnier that way, rather than going into the position with one knee bent like in Sleeping Beauty -- the lines expressed the energy so clearly, and he just stopped her in mid-air in that position. the picture of fearlessness and eagerness.

I think of all the people who're doing it now the one I'd most like to see is Lorna Feijoo. -- that video of her that used to be up on YT....

#60 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 01:38 PM

Well, Paul...I DID see Feijoo doing this PDD in Cuba, and with Rolandito Sarabia, BTW...she is the standard that I was mentioning earlier to which I compare every single performance of this piece. She was MAGNIFICENT.


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