DeborahB

NYCB Winter Season: So Many Story Ballets

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Although I am not a true fan of story ballets, I am anxious for the winter season to start. I will miss the first week (will be in London. Will see The English National Ballet and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake this time. ), but will catch the last "A Midsummer's Night Dream."

That said, I had to exchange nearly all of my tickets (4 subscriptions) to get around the story ballets that I'd like to avoid. I understand, of course, that the story ballets bring in money, and younger audience members (a good thing), but I do wish that the programming

was more diverse. I certainly hope that the spring season doesn't follow this pattern. Thoughts Ballet Talkers?

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I do think it's interesting how ABT is now doing all Balanchine evenings and NYCB is now moving heavily into multi-act story ballets. Maybe they should merge into one mega-company! :dunno:

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I certainly hope that the spring season doesn't follow this pattern. Thoughts Ballet Talkers?

From a press release last August on the NYCB 2010 season:

"The spring season, which will feature performances of 40 different ballets, will open on Tuesday, May 4, and be highlighted by an extraordinary celebration of New York City Ballet’s unparalleled commitment to new choreography featuring world premiere ballets by Melissa Barak, Mauro Bigonzetti, Peter Martins, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon. During the course of the eight-week spring season, seven of the weeks will feature a world premiere.

"Four original scores have also been commissioned for the new ballets from: Bruno Moretti, who will work with Bigonzetti, his long-time collaborator; French composer Thierry Escaich, who will work with Millepied; young American composer Jay Greenberg, who will create the score for the Barak ballet; and Esa-Pekka Salonen, who composed a violin concerto for Martins’ spring season world premiere which has been co-commissioned by NYCB, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where the score premiered in April.

"In addition, the acclaimed architect Santiago Calatrava will also collaborate with NYCB during the 2010 spring season festival of new choreography."

I infer from this that the spring season will be much different than the winter season.

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I certainly hope that the spring season doesn't follow this pattern. Thoughts Ballet Talkers?

From a press release last August on the NYCB 2010 season:

"The spring season, which will feature performances of 40 different ballets, will open on Tuesday, May 4, and be highlighted by an extraordinary celebration of New York City Ballet’s unparalleled commitment to new choreography featuring world premiere ballets by Melissa Barak, Mauro Bigonzetti, Peter Martins, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon. During the course of the eight-week spring season, seven of the weeks will feature a world premiere.

"Four original scores have also been commissioned for the new ballets from: Bruno Moretti, who will work with Bigonzetti, his long-time collaborator; French composer Thierry Escaich, who will work with Millepied; young American composer Jay Greenberg, who will create the score for the Barak ballet; and Esa-Pekka Salonen, who composed a violin concerto for Martins’ spring season world premiere which has been co-commissioned by NYCB, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where the score premiered in April.

"In addition, the acclaimed architect Santiago Calatrava will also collaborate with NYCB during the 2010 spring season festival of new choreography."

I infer from this that the spring season will be much different than the winter season.

Good news! Thanks for the info RUKen!

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Deborah, I totally agree- I don't have a subsciption, but I am not really interested in seeing the story ballets- and after seeing the new Martins at the Gala, I don't want to sit through that again... leaving not much for me to see this winter. I guess casting might draw me to certain performances- we'll see.

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Although I am not a true fan of story ballets, I am anxious for the winter season to start. I will miss the first week (will be in London. Will see The English National Ballet and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake this time. ), but will catch the last "A Midsummer's Night Dream."

That said, I had to exchange nearly all of my tickets (4 subscriptions) to get around the story ballets that I'd like to avoid. I understand, of course, that the story ballets bring in money, and younger audience members (a good thing), but I do wish that the programming

was more diverse. I certainly hope that the spring season doesn't follow this pattern. Thoughts Ballet Talkers?

Deborah, I couldn't agree more. Worst NYCB season I've ever seen advertised, by light-years. So many

things NYCB doesn't (and probably can't, given the current regime) do well, and so few of the things it

could shine in...and, yet one more time, audiences suffering through Kistler as Titania and who knows what

else...

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I think the key to whether this will become a trend at NYCB will depend on ticket sales. The full length ballets are not what I go to NYCB to see, but I don't fault them for trying something new in these difficult economic times.

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My mother received a postcard offering a 30% discount on tickets to Midsummer, Romeo & Juliet, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake if purchased before Jan 5. All you have to do is use code FLW10 when you order, apparently. I don't know, maybe this suggests the programming of so many story ballets was not a succès fou? But I thought I would pass the offer along...

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Sales are definitely down for NYCB in general -- I'm not sure it has so much to do with story ballets. It's the economy. Indeed, I think management might have scheduled so many story ballets because of the economy. These usually sell well, if not out, even at NYCB.

This year, my husband is out of work and my business has been down. So I really was determined not to renew my subscription -- not that I wouldn't go, but I just thought a subscription was a luxury I couldn't afford. I don't mind giving up my seats because I usually change them in any case. So I thought "let's just go two or three times this season and resubscribe in the spring." (Also, the number of story ballets didn't appeal to me.) But NYCB offered me a "create your own subscription option" whereby I chose two nights this season and they counted it as a subscription. They've never done that before for me. So I still am counted as a 20+ year subscriber with whatever perks that go with that and I only had to pay for the two subs. I'm not sure they would have done that in years past.

Actually, I congratulate management for being so flexible and thoughtful.

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For me, this is a terribly programmed season, especially after last spring when they finally broke out of those silly blocks somewhat. For my family it is good, though; i swapped almost every ticket in my subscription so i can take my 3d grader to Dream and my 5 y.o. to Beauty. So maybe its a good move from the perspective of winning over families/children -- it just seems so much a slap in the face to devoted fans that value what makes NYCB special -- and Beauty and R&J aren't that (putting aside that R&J and the Martins Swan Lake are, in my view, painfully bad ballets).

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It would appear that the story ballets (and the way they are being danced) are not much to Mr. Macaulay's taste either:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/arts/dan...t.html?ref=arts

I saw "Fancy Free," "The Prodigal Son," and "Firebird" last night. There's no question that it was too much of a good thing (i.e. too many stories ballets. Even one act ballets). However, since I'm a fan of all three ballets I really can't complain.

Robert Fairchild (in Damian Woetzel's role. Yes, I know it wasn't just Damian's, but he owned it for so long) was delightful.

We know that Daniel Ulbricht can fly around the stage, but he didn't showboat (a good thing); I really enjoyed his performance.

Tyler Angle brought a particular sense of fun, whimsy and even a bit of melancholy to his sailor -- it was just right.

Unlike Macaulay -- whom I usually agree with -- I thought Joaquin De Luz was terrific as The Prodigal Son. Recently I watched a DVD of Baryshnikov performing the role and -- dare I say it? - Joaquin reminded me of Misha! Maria Kowroski's Siren was particularly strong. I always love her in this role, but she brought extra ice -- and a touch of fire-- to the stage last night. It was totally appropriate.

Here's all I have to say about "Firebird" -- Ashley Bouder! If you haven't seen her in this role RUN to the theatre and get a ticket the next time she performs it. I mean it, too! You'll remember her performance for days (weeks, months, years...)

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I thought this article in the Star Ledger was an interesting commentary on the programming changes this season. Spoiler: it's quite the indictment of Martins.

OUCH! Absolutely true on the subjects of Martins, mangling, programming, Martins ballets, etc, but was he so outraged by the latest Martins premiere, Kowroski as Titania (he should be counting his blessings that it wasn't Kistler!), etc, that he

couldn't even give a good word to the brilliant Scheller and the wildly kinesthetic Hyltin in roles as dazzling as those they danced in 'Who Cares?' Wish someone would inform the reviewer that the turning role in 'Who Cares' is usually neither as clean nor as candid as Ms. Scheller makes it.

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Michael Popkin just posted the following on his danceviewtimes blog:

Classics at City Ballet.

It is far too rich and covers too many points for me to be able to summarize, but I think it a great starting point to discuss this programming, now that the classics part of the season is over.

Edited to add: I couldn't resist this appetizer:

but it was a performance that needed to be prodigious in those qualities to compensate for its very existence.

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Michael Popkin just posted the following on his danceviewtimes blog:

Classics at City Ballet.

It is far too rich and covers too many points for me to be able to summarize, but I think it a great starting point to discuss this programming, now that the classics part of the season is over.

Edited to add: I couldn't resist this appetizer:

but it was a performance that needed to be prodigious in those qualities to compensate for its very existence.

This is a particularly well-detailed review of the season. Thanks for posting it Helene! I find it fascinating that so many reviewers disagree about individual dancers and their performances. I saw all the BEAUTY casts, and two of the three (I think it was three) SWAN casts. I agree and disagree (in parts) with what Mr. Popkin has written, but I very much enjoyed reading this piece. And again, I just want to add that I am so glad that this is the end of story ballets at NYCB (way too many for me. I'm usually good for one or two a year max) for the year.

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What interested me was Michael's descriptiion of Kowrowski's Feb. 13th performance, as well as her long history in the role, which does seem to indicate that her earlier performance (Feb. 10? anyway, aurora had written about numerous difficulties she'd had in that first performance) may have indeed been a bad night. I liked that he also just says that 'City Ballet doesn't do these ballets especially well'. Well, they don't most of the time, but that's the choreography and the orchestra. Having finally seen these works finally after all these years (and R PLUS J this year, although only on TV), I fine there is something individual about Martins's style, and that once in a while (as in Sleeping Beauty) it shows itself to mostly good advantage. But even from the very beginning, with his shorter works, there is a compactness and tightness that sometimes seems sleek and glinting (as in many parts of Beauty), and sometimes just claustrophobic (R PLUS J is the worst, I even thought 'Swan Lake' a better Martins work, although almost everybody else hates it, and I can't say I was impressed at all either). But I don't know that it is not good that NYCB has embarked, however weirdly, and I do find something a bit weird about all of PMartins's 'Classics', they may eventually be able to do them. Michael doesn't think they should, but as time goes by, I don't see why not, especially since they do have the ballerina-stars, although their men don't hold a candle to ABT, there is no comparison. It wouldn't hurt NYCB to stop pretending there's stlll a Balanchine 'no-star system', since some exceptions were always even made when Balanchine was still working, but it doesn't mean a thing now. Bouder is a great dancer, but it's not like in the old days when we waited till casting was announced to buy our individual tickets--well, maybe for Bouder to some degree, but nobody is getting all anxious about how they might miss something once-in-a-lifetime as when you just had to see Farell do 'Mozartiana', or any number of other delectable treats that were always held out tantalizingly, but only at the last minute.

I definitely agree once for 'Swan Lake' will be enough for my lifetime like Classic Ballet, altough I didn't dislike it quite as much, although I'll see Sleeping Beauty again if I ever hear they've got the orchestra to function properly. R PLUS J I am determined to never see again, I definitely agree with that girl who told me that was the 'true badness'.

Very nice article from Michael.

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Apollinaire Scherr also takes on the question of classics programming for her blog "Foot in Mouth":

Happy Valentine's Day -- ballet Style

I am in the minority--among ballet aficionados and critics, too, I think (though I haven't read all of the reviews)--in preferring Martins's Swan Lake to his Sleeping Beauty, which played earlier this season. This isn't to say there aren't big problems with the Swan Lake, only that it seems less dully docile, and has sublimity and tragedy where you need it: in the promise-making and parting scenes by the lake. That is, whatever problems with coherence this Swan Lake has, The Sleeping Beauty's are more egregious.

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