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City Ballet of San Diego

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The All-Balanchine program scheduled for May 7-9 has been postponed to November 5-7. This was reported in the San Diego News Network April 29:

"The premature end to the season brings back concerns about the financial stability of the Pacific Beach-based company. Though it has dealt with shaky finances in the recent past, all seemed well until the surprise announcement, which came less than two weeks before the scheduled performances.

In a press release, City Ballet attributes the rescheduling to “insufficient funding.” Artistic director Steven Wistrich explained in the document that “we have decided to reschedule ‘Celebrate Balanchine’ in the fall simply because we were not able to secure the funding needed to put the ballets on stage… Tickets were sold for the show, and our dancers were fully prepared and excited to perform these amazing ballets, but ticket sales are not enough and without sufficient donations we could not continue.”"

http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2010-04-29/bl...ine-celebration

The Company's web site: http://www.cityballet.org/index.php

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Well it's a new year (2014), and City Ballet of San Diego has put on a 3 performance run of "Balanchine Masterworks". I saw the Sunday matinee, which I realized had followed an 8pm Saturday evening show (and with a daylight savings change factored in) - these must have been some tired dancers.

The program consisted of:

Apollo

Allegro Brillante

Sonatine

Serenade

Half my reason for going was to see Allegro Brillante and Sonatine live and complete. My hat's off to director Steven Wistrich for putting his little company through this ambitious program. My impression was that things generally got better as they went along. Though Apollo felt mostly stilted, and the Apollo dancer, Geoff Gonzalez, overly reliant on poses (which isn't really how it should be presented), the energy of the other three ballets was impressive for such a small, local company. Arianna Samuelsson danced the Terpsichore role, as well as Sonatine, and was a lead in Serenade. So a tremendous amount of dancing for her over the 3 days. I've since learned that she is the daughter of the director, and lead choreographer (Elizabeth Rowe-Wristrich). But there was little question in my mind that she was the strongest female dancer of the group, and deserved the attention. Except for some minor issues, Serenade came off quite well, and was much appreciated by the audience. Overall, I found them to be a dedicated and hard-working team of dancers. I wish them all the success in the world.

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City Ballet's Balanchine Spectacular is back: March 6 - 8, 2015

http://www.cityballet.org/performances/balanchine.php

City Ballet of San Diego presents three full-length masterworks choreographed by the 20th century genius, George Balanchine.
George Balanchine's ballets are presented by arrangement with The George Balanchine Trust. City Ballet of San Diego is honored to be recognized by The George Balanchine Trust as having the technical skills and artistic quality to present these George Balanchine ballets.
Live Music Performed by City Ballet Orchestra, John Nettles, Conductor

This year's program consists of:

Rubies from Jewels
Walpurgisnacht Ballet
The Four Temperaments

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Let us know if you see this -- it's a lovely program.

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Let us know if you see this -- it's a lovely program.

I will make every effort ot go (but it will be a busy week for me). They certainly need the support - and the support for these Balanchine programs.

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City Ballet Balanchine Spectacular

Ballet on this level reminds me very much of intercollegiate sports - many people in the audience are friends or family of the performers, or in some way connected to them, and there is a general feeling of good will toward the organization and its efforts. I don't think anyone is going into these performances blind: just showing up is an act of community support. There isn't the same level of demand that we see with large arts companies - "This better be good or I'm outta here! And I'll have some nasty things to say about it if they've wasted my money!"

Rubies

For me, the least convincing performance of the three, though still fun to watch the young dancers meet this difficult ballet head-on. Rubies requires speed (and attack), endurance (always), and musicality. There were plenty of moments when the dancers got behind the music or began to waiver from tiredness, but the enthusiasm was there - all the dancers seemed to love being part of this Balanchine showcase. It didn't matter if things weren't perfect - they were going to throw themselves into the fire.

The casting choices made sense: Ariana Gonzalez and Stephano Candreva as the principal duet, had enough energy and technique to carry things along. I did feel that the "Tall Girl", Megan Jacobs, was a little lifeless, rather than commanding, in the beginning - perhaps saving herself for the rest of the evening, but she did warm up by the end of the ballet. This being a small company, everyone pretty much dances everything. So the 3 day event has to be exhausting for the dancers. (And I'm not sure how the company would handle any injuries to the principals - I don't get the sense that there is really any backup.)

The Four Temperaments

I had my trepidations as this ballet began - one of my favorites, and something I don't want to see bad versions of - but it turned out to be a success (and the audience was very appreciative). Kudos to the company for putting on a convincing performance. I got the sense that it had been loving coached by company directors Steven and Elizabeth Wistrich, and Sandra Jennings from the Balanchine Trust. The clarity of the steps was there, and the enigmatic quality of the piece largely came through. They got many of the details right, and the dancers were up to challenge of the ballet's un-classical techniques. The many modernist stage exists of the duos were carefully done - the dancers were trying really hard to achieve the proper effect, and the finale even managed to reproduce that peculiar sense of exhilaration, as the women 'take flight' into the air, that is unique to the 4 T's. I think the company can be proud that they pulled this one off.

Walpurgisnacht

Last up, and essentially a light romp for the dancers, who at this point must have been pretty darn tired. The ballet doesn't have the depth of the previous two, but is feminine fun, and sent the audience home in a good mood. The standout for me was the dancing of Erica Alvarado, who strikes me as the most physically gifted of the female dancers in this company: she's quick, with lovely, light technique, and flexible (and it probably helps that she is quite petite and can be lifted by just about anyone).

Now for the sad part of the evening - no live orchestra! A big part of my enjoyment of the previous year's Balanchine program was the inclusion of a (largely) amateur orchestra.
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/mar/05/city-ballet-orchestra-san-diego-demise/

Not surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be money to meet orchestra expenses going forward. A bigger problem for me, is the general lack of interest or will in the community to make these things happen. Want arts and culture? Don't come to San Diego. I also wonder if ticket sales would have been even better if ABT was not performing in LA this same weekend...

If you want to read more about this event:
City Ballet Preserves Three Treasured Ballets in ‘Balanchine Spectacular’
http://www.sandiegostory.com/city-ballet-preserves-three-treasured-ballets-in-balanchine-spectacular/

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Thank you for your review of this!

I am sorry I missed it. (I will be in the area - but several weeks too late)

It is important for the community to try to support these smaller, local companies. I am glad that it ,looked like they got a lot of support for this programme, too.

Really too bad about the lack of a live orchestra!

That bothers me a lot about many (often more modern) programmes in smaller theatres here. (mainly electronic music - and not live)

I wonder how expensive it is for a company to put on something like Balanchine, when they probably have to pay rather large sums in "royalties" and of course the stagers and their living expenses, too.

-d-

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Thank you for your review of this!

I am sorry I missed it. (I will be in the area - but several weeks too late)

It is important for the community to try to support these smaller, local companies. I am glad that it ,looked like they got a lot of support for this programme, too.

Really too bad about the lack of a live orchestra!

That bothers me a lot about many (often more modern) programmes in smaller theatres here. (mainly electronic music - and not live)

I wonder how expensive it is for a company to put on something like Balanchine, when they probably have to pay rather large sums in "royalties" and of course the stagers and their living expenses, too.

-d-

The funny thing about Balanchine, at least when he was alive, he would often give free use of his ballets to schools and small organizations, even individuals - the deserving. It's an interesting question: what is the royalty cost, and is there some kind of sliding scale with the Balanchine Trust?

I also want to know more about the costs of the 'volunteer' orchestra, but haven't been able to find any details...

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I am glad to see Balanchine being done by smaller companies, though it seems odd programming to put the three ballets together comprising this program.

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I am glad to see Balanchine being done by smaller companies, though it seems odd programming to put the three ballets together comprising this program.

The directors are good about showing a range in the ballets - although I kept noticing little things in 4T's that reminded me of Rubies, or rather, it was evident that Balanchine revisited some steps/effects when he worked on Rubies. The order makes some sense given that the dancers (many appearing in all ballets) grow more exhausted as the night goes on.

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Oh, Balanchine borrowed from himself over and over again. When I was watching Miami City Ballet recently, in an all-Balanchine program (Ballo, Symphony in Three and Serenade) I was keeping an informal tally of references from other works, and ran out of fingers and toes before the evening was over.

If you think about it, it's very natural. He was constantly experimenting with the classical vocabulary, seeing what it could be made into -- if he'd been a carpenter, he'd be the guy that kept making little joints out of wood scraps until he got the effect he wanted.

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San Diego's City Ballet has announced their 2016 Balanchine Masterworks program:

Emeralds from Jewels

Concerto Barocco

Square Dance

Friday, March 4, 2016 at 8:00pm

Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 8:00pm

Sunday, March 6, 2016 at 2:00pm

Free Pre-performance Lecture – 1/2 hour prior to all performances

I like how this company enthusiastically takes on more than they can chew (one would think). Always trying to do a little bit more than what people expect can be done.

http://cityballet.org/performances/balanchine-masterworks-2016/

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Yes, thanks for the report, pherank.

A completely satisfying performance of Rubies is really rare for me - it was a performance of the original cast that hooked me on Balanchine-ballet - because I already knew the music (Stravinsky's Capriccio) intimately, and could experience it as dancers moving just as the music they were hearing told them to - but it sounds like this one was in the running. Plus, Sandra Jennings was on hand, and her stagings have looked pretty good to me, always depending of course on who she has to work with.

One particularly striking detail* that has disappeared from Rubies over the years is one I've written about

before, and because I've seen it start to come back, I'm curious whether any of it was visible this time, though I don't want to say it makes or breaks a performance of this ballet, which is pretty largely made of striking movement.

What does help a performance of Rubies is a sense of wit and play, though this may be a lot to ask of dancers just able to get most of the details right, in decent tempos. In other words, so they look pretty easy, unforced and clear; and expressing the musical thought. (Nobody since has looked like they were having as much fun with the moves and the situations in this as Patricia McBride and Edward Villella - and, IIRC, Karin von Aroldingen in the demi role, the "tall girl" - her fun being the cool, dry kind.)

*(Someone who wonders what I'm on about here and has the POB DVD of Jewels handy might cue it up to 42m 14s, where their soloist, holding herself upright and facing upstage, uncertainly inclines her her head downstage for an instant; originally, the soloist and her boys lowered her much farther toward us so she could put her head so far "up" as to look out at us - face upside down! - for just long enough an instant that it registered on us, and then to straighten up and go on.)

I think The Four Temperaments is hard to pull off successfully all the way through, because not all of the movement comes from what I think of as the classical, academic vocabulary - most famously (or notoriously) the "here is my foot" pose at the beginning of the "Phlegmatic" variation, for example - and pherank says

The clarity of the steps was there, and the enigmatic quality of the piece largely came through. They got many of the details right, and the dancers were up to challenge of the ballet's un-classical techniques. The many modernist stage exists of the duos were carefully done - the dancers were trying really hard to achieve the proper effect, and the finale even managed to reproduce that peculiar sense of exhilaration, as the women 'take flight' into the air, that is unique to the 4 T's.

so that was good to read (although I don't understand the phrase about "the many modernist stage exists of the duos" - maybe there's a word missing?), because it's not so long ago since I saw some SAB students look a little lost in this material on a Workshop weekend, though the "academic" moves were shown with dispatch. Workshop has long hours of preparation with some of the best Balanchine coaches, so I was dismayed there, but of course SDB - can I use those initials or are they in use already? - would have more mature dancers in the roles, though they could hardly have had the studio time.

The sense of exhilaration, of "lift off," at the end of The Four Temperaments, is essential - "Like rocket ships taking off!" was Jerry Robbins's phrase, back in the day - and it was not Balanchine's original ending. (Nancy Reynolds, in "Repertory in Review," says, "Balanchine made several versions of the ending before the premier.") Evidently he still didn't see what he wanted in what he called his "Radio City Music Hall" ending, where the dancers came together standing closely in a circular arrangement to conceal a few others who lifted a soloist abruptly into the air, in the center of the little group.

That looked to many of us like a volcano erupting from beneath the sea, when I saw it in a film clip at a Dance Critic's Association meeting in New York in Mr. B.'s day, when, unusually for the DCA, they devoted the whole meeting to one ballet. I don't remember when the ending was changed - whether it had been changed already when the ballet made such an impression on Edwin Denby it left him slumped in his seat, to the concern of the ushers - but the last ending - the one we see today - is much more effective in the openness of the formations - across the stage the two ranks of the moving dancers, moving, but with their feet remaining on the floor, between which we see the running lifts - Jerry's rocket ships - and in the formations' open-endedness - those lifts don't end anywhere, as far as we can tell, as far as we can see.

Ballet on this level reminds me very much of intercollegiate sports - many people in the audience are friends or family of the performers, or in some way connected to them, and there is a general feeling of good will toward the organization and its efforts. I don't think anyone is going into these performances blind: just showing up is an act of community support.

...

Not surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be money to meet orchestra expenses going forward. A bigger problem for me, is the general lack of interest or will in the community to make these things happen. Want arts and culture? Don't come to San Diego. I also wonder if ticket sales would have been even better if ABT was not performing in LA this same weekend...

This is a long post for someone who didn't even see the shows! But it looks like Balanchine may be getting good renditions in San Diego - if they can keep going. Money's another story: They need to expand their support beyond the dancers' families and their friends, and that's where I think of the inadequacies of typical ballet marketing. Does SDB's reach those who already enjoy other musical or theatrical arts? Or any other arts at all? Even the art of cinema - the movies take you out of your everyday world sometimes, and everybody goes to the movies. Ballet is musical and plotless (or maybe the "plot" is in the music); these are important differences, but I think a little "poaching" for audience on the territory of other, more similar arts might help.

Yet some marketers say, "Don't think of people like you. We want newbies." (I think of course of the people who I run into in the theater who are unlikely to stay or to return because they're not oriented to enjoy the show. About as unlike me as possible. And exactly new to what they don't say, but I think Michael Kaiser's term, the Marginal Buyer, is pretty clear, and names a better concept:

Marginal buyers are those who are as likely to buy a ticket as they are to go out to dinner or go to a performance of an alternative art form.

A few years ago he described how to find them in his blog on the Huffington Post, and why scarce marketing resources might well be concentrated on them. They may be new to ballet, or to that presenter, and they sound already oriented to enjoy art. It may be that the powers-that-be behind SDB already know of Kaiser and his ideas, but it looks like they need to learn more or to do more.)

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DanielBenton, can you say why you have reservations about the content or the arrangement of the program? I'm curious how other people see things. Too much of one choreographer? (I have an anecdote about Balanchine's versatility.)

I think Rubies is a little odd as an opener myself; it's nearly always been in the middle, if not always between Emeralds and Diamonds; but it's a brilliant start. And while Walpurgisnacht Ballet is okay as a closer, I think it's a better opening, though pherank makes a good practical point. With its "infinite" ending, The Four Temperaments seems to me like a great closer, not ending, going on forever. I think that was part of what left Denby so wiped out.

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Yet some marketers say, "Don't think of people like you. We want newbies." (I think of course of the people who I run into in the theater who are unlikely to stay or to return because they're not oriented to enjoy the show. About as unlike me as possible. And exactly new to what they don't say, but I think Michael Kaiser's term, the Marginal Buyer, is pretty clear, and names a better concept:

A few years ago he described how to find them in his blog on the Huffington Post, and why scarce marketing resources might well be concentrated on them. They may be new to ballet, or to that presenter, and they sound already oriented to enjoy art. It may be that the powers-that-be behind SDB already know of Kaiser and his ideas, but it looks like they need to learn more or to do more.)

Thanks for the comments, Jack. Yes, the SD City Ballet is definitely casting about for ways to create the necessary income and raise their comapny to a higher level, but aren't they all? ;)

It all seems so fragile at this level. At least City Ballet has been able to retain their live (mostly amateur) orchestra, but it's all dependant on getting the necessary donations, and they need a more consistant monetary source (and plan).

About the company Artistic Directors, Steven and Elizabeth Wistrich -

Steven Wistrich has garnered international acclaim as a dancer, artistic director and teacher. He began his training at the Boston School of Ballet with E. Virginia Williams and, at the age of 16, was honored with a Ford Foundation Scholarship to the School of American Ballet in New York. He became Boston Ballet’s youngest principal male dancer and went on to dance in Europe with the Netherlands Dance Theatre, Royal Norwegian Ballet (Oslo), Stuttgart Ballet, under the direction of John Cranko, and the Grand Theatre of Geneva (Switzerland), where he was personally coached by the late George Balanchine in principal roles.

Steven has served as artistic director of the Arizona Ballet Theatre and was principal dancers and artistic director of the American Festival Ballet company. He has directed the dance program at the world-famous Interlochen Arts Academy and the ballet program and company at USIU in San Diego. Steven has directed City Ballet School and Company since 1993.

Elizabeth Wistrich, the co-Director of City Ballet School, is a nationally respected teacher and choreographer. She was trained at the Boston Conservatory of Music and first danced professionally as a member of the Boston Ballet Company. She has performed with the Netherlands Dance Theatre and the world renowned Stuttgart Ballet.

Elizabeth has toured throughout Western Europe, Australia, and Japan, has taken part in a command performance at England’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. She has served as choreographer and company teacher for both the Arizona Ballet Theatre and American Festival Ballet Company.

Her ballets have been performed throughout the United States. In the summers of 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1998, Elizabeth was the featured teacher and choreographer for the National Ballet Forum of Chicago. She is the principle choreographer of City Ballet, creating a vigorous repertoire of dances for the company. Elizabeth has been awarded the San Diego Dance Alliance’s Tommy Award for “Best Choreography” for Aubade in 1999 and Enigma in 2000.

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San Diego City Ballet's Balanchine Masterworks 2016 is coming soon:

Friday, March 4 at 8:00pm

Saturday, March 5 at 8:00pm

Sunday, March 6 at 2:00pm

Emeralds from Jewels

Concerto Barocco

Square Dance

> The webpage has some related videos with Else Borne and Nilas Martins.

I never understand how they manage to perform these Balanchine programs 3 days in a row with virtually the same cast. That must be like running a marathon.

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Maybe they train like marathoners.

Emeralds!

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