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Spring season continued


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#31 allegromezzo18

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 04:38 PM

The costumes and design reminded very much of "The Green Table" a very old ballet which has
been done by ABT as well as Joffrey. I am surprised that no one commented on how the
designs and costumes were copies from The Green Table.
Any others out there have the same thoughts?

#32 carbro

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 10:29 PM

While I agree with everyone who felt that Melissa Barak's new ballet failed, I can't be completely negative about it. As she told TimeOut New York, she didn't like the score, and when she asked Peter Martins if she could use other music, he told her that since it was a commissioned score, he'd have to use a different choreographer. Apparently, even with uninspiring music as her raw material, she felt that this was too good an opportunity to walk away from.

Her solution: expand her options, get creative. I think she was admirably gutsy in going the route she chose. Basically, she made a mini-musical comedy without the songs. I kept expecting someone to break out singing. The script and spoken acting were, for the most part amateurish. My biggest disappointment -- that she created the character George Raft, cast him with the talented and appealing Tyler Angle and didn't exploit the character or the dancer.

As noted elsewhere, Interplay got a fine performance by a terrific ensemble led by Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar and Joaquin de Luz. Ashley Bouder was perfect in tone and execution in her debut in Scotch Symphony's ballerina role partnered by Benjamin Millepied. Special mention to standout demi-soloist Devin Alberda.

#33 carbro

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 10:42 PM

I attended the June 5 evening, too, and while I agree with everyone who felt that Melissa Barak's new ballet failed, I can't be completely negative about it. As she told TimeOut New York, she didn't like the score, and when she asked Peter Martins if she could use other music, he told her that since it was a commissioned score, he'd have to use a different choreographer. Apparently, even with uninspiring music as her raw material, she felt that this was too good an opportunity to walk away from.

Her solution: get creative, expand her options. I think she was admirably gutsy in going the route she chose. Basically, she made a mini-musical comedy without the songs. I kept expecting someone to break out singing. The script and spoken acting were, for the most part amateurish. Not much memorable dancing. The pas de deux for Jenifer Ringer and Robert Fairchild was pleasant and left the dancers to speak their next lines while still out of breath. My biggest disappointment -- that she created the character George Raft, cast him with wonderful Tyler Angle and didn't exploit the character or the dancer. Both set and -- especially -- costume designs were fabulous. These were not the same costumes as Green Table, allegromezzo, although they both evoke real fashions from roughly the same era.

As noted elsewhere, Interplay got a fine performance by a terrific ensemble led by Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar and Joaquin de Luz. Ashley Bouder was perfect in tone and execution in her debut in Scotch Symphony's ballerina role partnered by Benjamin Millepied. Special mention to standout demi-soloist Devin Alberda.

Before each festival premiere I've seen this season, they've played the film with the Calatrava profile and the reference back to the Tchaikovsky Festival with its famous Philip Johnson set that was a unifying theme throughout that earlier festival. Every time they show the old set, I can smell the plasticky scent that pervaded the theater for that season. I don't miss the smell this time around, but it seems Mr. Calatrava is being used very differently than Johnson was. The Johnson set could be configured to take on different shapes for each ballet, but it was there -- the same long, clear tubes -- throughout. For this festival, the star architect has to construct something different for each ballet, including painted drops.

#34 abatt

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 05:01 AM

Her solution: expand her options, get creative. I think she was admirably gutsy in going the route she chose.


I respectfully disagree, carbro. I don't regard it as gutsy, but as arrogant. Writing a script requires craft and skill, just like choreography. She was attempting to be a jack of all trades, and script writing happens to be a difficult trade. He who attempts to be a jack of all trades is master of none. Being gutsy in a discipline in which you have no clue what you're doing might have a place in a workshop performance or in a small downtown theater. It doesn't have a place on the stage of a 2,800 seat theater in the rep of one of the most renown dance companies in the world. As an audience member, I felt like my intelligence was being insulted, my money was wasted, and my time was wasted by NYCB. Even if we had Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer delivering the lines, it still would have been a disaster because the "script" was not stage worthy.

Edited to add: I also find it interesting that Barak is giving interviews to explain that she never wanted to work with this music, but was forced to. Apparently, she is attempting to mitigate potentially negative reviews by offering this as an excuse. If she felt so ill equipped to work with this music, she should have passed on the assignment. If you are offered a job that you think you cannot handle, you should pass on the job, especially when the results of your work will be on display to thousands of paying customers.

#35 papeetepatrick

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 09:02 AM

Edited to add: I also find it interesting that Barak is giving interviews to explain that she never wanted to work with this music, but was forced to. Apparently, she is attempting to mitigate potentially negative reviews by offering this as an excuse. If she felt so ill equipped to work with this music, she should have passed on the assignment. If you are offered a job that you think you cannot handle, you should pass on the job, especially when the results of your work will be on display to thousands of paying customers.


Yeah, I agree. But especially after she DID go ahead and, clearly out of desire for an opportunity for herself, do the piece, it's tacky to keep talking about how she didn't like the music. That should have been left behind. The way she handled it afterward is even worse than that it apparently failed. Once she worked with the music, she should have shown it respect. Frankly a bit revolting, you know.

#36 abatt

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 09:09 AM

Yeah, I agree. But especially after she DID go ahead and, clearly out of desire for an opportunity for herself, do the piece, it's tacky to keep talking about how she didn't like the music. That should have been left behind. The way she handled it afterward is even worse than that it apparently failed. Once she worked with the music, she should have shown in respect. Frankly a bit revolting, you know.


What I find most amazing about her approach is that she is playing both ends against the middle. In one breath, she is complaining that it's not her fault if the ballet is awful because Martins forced her to use the music. IN the next breath, she makes sure to stroke Martins' ego by explaining what a wonderful guy he is for giving her this opportunity and having confidence in her. She is not a starving artist who needed to take this job because she wouldn't be able to eat or pay her rent. She chose to accept the job, and she should also now accept the responsibility for the reviews. That's what professioinals do.

#37 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 06:42 PM

Lots of good points here. (Okay, this is BT.) But a couple ideas I don't see yet. In trying to have it both ways, maybe Barak is also trying to play the PR game? As I watched the "ballet dramedy" drag on and on, knowing what was in the program about the circumstances of its making, I thought -- and this was about the best, most positive thought I had at the time -- I thought well of her to take the chance and try to make something, and maybe learn from the experience of making it, whether the product made was good or bad. And so she's done that, and now she -- or they? -- are trying to do some damage control. (And not succeeding very well with that either.) This is all too common, and lamentable. A distraction, a diversion of resources, a reminder of a brittle environment, a display of nervous insecurity at NYCB? Time was, when people complained that the title of the new ballet, Robert Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze, was too hard to pronounce, the choreographer could shrug: "If you can't pronounce it, don't come."

While professionals might turn down dubious propositions -- I certainly think it's better if people stick to what they're good at -- are Barak and Martins on anything like even footing? She may have thought not only was this dubious proposition an opportunity of sorts to be explored nonetheless, mightn't she also have thought it was even more dubious to cross her boss by refusing? (I see that can also be read as "making her boss cross", so I'l leave it.) So she strokes his ego too. (There's some fast footwork for you, and nice going, girl, you look like a survivor.) So I'm not so amazed.

But I'm disgusted. That's about the worst thought that came at the time (the evening of the 9th). How much did they spend on this? I wondered. What could Suzanne Farrell, who gets enough money to hire twenty dancers for twelve weeks a year, have done with that money?

#38 abatt

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 08:26 AM

Lots of good points here. (Okay, this is BT.) But a couple ideas I don't see yet. In trying to have it both ways, maybe Barak is also trying to play the PR game?


She is definitely playing the PR game.

#39 vipa

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 07:39 PM

I just want to make a brief comment about the Thursday night performance. Ashley Bouder. Her performance in Donizetti had me smiling the entire time. Andrew Veyette was terrific too, but seeing Bouder in this ballet was an amazing experience.

I'd love to hear comments from others that attended. My husband & I had a discussion about the problem with Interplay (not the performance tonight, but the piece), so I'd love to read other impressions.

#40 Michael

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 06:28 AM

I'd love to hear comments from others that attended. My husband & I had a discussion about the problem with Interplay (not the performance tonight, but the piece), so I'd love to read other impressions.


Lovely evening for everyone: Katherine Morgan and Robert Fairchild were beautiful in Scotch Symphony, I can't think of this show without mentioning them - very lyrical and compelling performance.

#41 dirac

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 10:38 AM

Edited to add: I also find it interesting that Barak is giving interviews to explain that she never wanted to work with this music, but was forced to. Apparently, she is attempting to mitigate potentially negative reviews by offering this as an excuse. If she felt so ill equipped to work with this music, she should have passed on the assignment. If you are offered a job that you think you cannot handle, you should pass on the job, especially when the results of your work will be on display to thousands of paying customers.


Yeah, I agree. But especially after she DID go ahead and, clearly out of desire for an opportunity for herself, do the piece, it's tacky to keep talking about how she didn't like the music. That should have been left behind. The way she handled it afterward is even worse than that it apparently failed. Once she worked with the music, she should have shown it respect. Frankly a bit revolting, you know.


I would never hold it against a choreographer that she tried to meet a challenge and fulfill a high profile commission even if the end result was poor. I do agree with this:

Once she worked with the music, she should have shown it respect.


Definitely. I'm sure she doesn't intend to shift responsibility to her composer but every effort should be made to avoid even the appearance of doing so. Someone else might have taken the same score and made something of it.

Devising stageworthy dialogue is not as easy as it looks, as abatt notes.

#42 chiapuris

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 07:07 PM

NYCB performance Thur., June 17 8 pm

A great evening of choreography and dancing with two Balanchines, and a Robbins and a Wheeldon sandwiched in between.

The first, Donizetti Variations, showed us Ashley Bouder with all her special qualities, with Andrew Veyette and a buoyant ensemble.
It was hard not to keep on a smile at the end of the ballet.

Robbins' Interplay with a stellar cast (Laracey, Peck, Scheller, Zungre,
Fairchild, Schumacher,Suozzi, and Ulbricht) followed; a total delight.

Wheeldon's After the Rain was a first view for me.
An exemplary cast (Whelan/Hall, Gilliland/Danchig-Waring, Reichlen/Ramasar).
Whelan received the greatest applause of the evening.

Then, for a perfect ending, Scotch Symphony, with the incandescent dancing of
Kathryn Morgan, partnered by Robert Fairchild.
I really liked Karin von Aroldingen's new set design.

All this and seats in the front row (bought the day before). Serendipity.

#43 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 06:12 AM

At the Friday night performance I was pleased to see that the house was more than 3/4 full. I was also really happy that they added "La Source" to the program. Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz were the principal couple. They did honor to the choreography and were very delightful as well. Ditto Ana Sophia Scheller, who dazzled my husband with her sharpness, verve and projected charm. The real treat for me was the corps of women, not one of whom I had ever seen before, and I was told were all (or nearly all) new apprentices. The stand-out for me was Lana Tong, whose long neck and beautifully distinctive epaulment reminded me of Helene Alexopolos -- and that ain't bad.

Darci Kistler was the lead in both parts of "Monumentum/Movements" - which she performed with great dignity and grace. It was very special to see her, especially since I won't see her farewell. Yes, it's naturally true that she doesn't have the flexibility and speed she had at 18, but we get the benefit of her intelligence, commitment understanding and love.

I didn't like the Bigonzetti one single solitary bit. Everyone else has commented about the poor lighting and bizarre, unflattering costumes. I found the choreography repetitive, unimaginative, cliched and unattractive. The mood and music veered radically from pleasant to morose with no reason, and stuck too long to morose. The choreographer commented in the Playbill interview that he choreographs closely to the personalities of the dancers, which has has come to know after working with them for so long. I can't imagine that he is perceiving their characters accurately -- I feel he has painted them all over with his own inner misery. Please don't!!

I was very disappointed in the performance of Amar Ramasar and Sara Mearns and many of the demi soloists in "Who Cares?" that evening. I love that ballet, and the arrangement (I have heard other criticizing the Hershy Kay arrangement, but it's embedded in my soul), but I felt that this cast (other than Teresa Reichlin, and Jenifer Ringer who really GOT it!) just haven't connected to the jazziness, the feeling, the Gershwin.... They'll hopefully grow into it.

#44 abatt

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 07:58 AM

I attended Friday's performance. I haven't seen La Source in a number of years. Megan started out a little stiff, but she got better as the ballet progressed. She was good, if not thrilling. DeLuz was wonderful, with light, airy jumps. Scheller did a wonderful job, too. I like the Bigonzetti more than most, but I feel it is too long. Darci was regal and commanding in Monumentum. However, I think her declining technique showed the most in Movements, where she could merely sketch the steps. Ringer has been doing Who Cares for a number of years, and she is marvelous in the role. However, having seen Tiler Peck's outstanding performance last week, Ringer's paled by comparison. Ramasar, in my opinion, doesn't have the jazzy brio for the role, at this point. Robby Fairchild was a revelation last week. Also, Ramasar's partnering of Ringer was rough in places. I thought Reichlin and Mearns were both wonderful in Who Cares. Reichlin towered over Ramasar. It looked bizarre.

#45 chiapuris

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 10:44 AM

NYCB perf. 6-20-10 3pm
La Source
Herman Schmerman pdd
The Lady with the Little Dog
The Four Temperaments

Sunday was the only chance to see 4Ts during our short
1-week trip to NY to attend a wedding.

Sunday matinee was also the Albert Evans Farewell Performance celebration.

Evans appeared in the Forsythe pdd with Wendy Whelan and in
the Phlegmatic variation of the 4Ts.

La Source, which we also saw in rehearsal on Thur., had both times the same leads:
Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz.
Fairchild gave, in my view, a very authoritative reading of the role and
De Luz was elegantly buoyant in all his aerial work.
Lauren King led convincingly the ebullient womens' ensemble.
An enjoyable performance.

The Lady with the Little Dog as a ballet in the repertory of the NYCB
seems an enigma to me.

Choreographically it has almost no redeeming features; the musical score is second-rate at best;
and the libretto and conception of claiming to 'tell' the story of Chekhov in dance is preposterous.
And this is a short story that Vladimir Nabokov considered to be the best
that has ever been written.

I had admired a pas de deux that Miroshnichenko had choreographed a few years ago
for the Mariinsky Ballet to music of the contemporary Russian composer Desiatnikov.

But his introduction of a chorus line of eight male 'angels'
in the story of The Lady with the Little Dog seems simply absurd.
If the urge to choreograph angels is strong,
then best remove the name of Chekhov from the enterprise. Can't have it both ways.

The Four Temperaments is a 20th c. masterpiece.
Seeing it with top-rate dancers like Marcovici, Somogui, J Angle,
Evans and Reichlen was a thrill.

The Evans Farewell sendoff was a flower-filled and very touching
tribute by what seemed to be the entire company joining him on stage.


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