Helene

Casting, News, Reviews for Balanchine Classics

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The Balanchine Classics program opens this coming Friday, 11 June through Sunday 13 June, and features the following ballets:

Prodigal Son (Prokofiev)

Divertimento No. 15 (Mozart)

Four Temperaments (Hindemith)

I've been checking the cast page impatiently, although as of today, nada, but in an article about the program on azcentral.com, there are quotes from Ib Andersen about "Prodigal Son" and the casting news that Roman Zavarov will dance the lead.

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Yes, I saw it and loved it -- agree with Mr. MacCaulay in every respect regarding the merits of the performances. The "Prodigal Son" was extraordinarily moving. The "Four Temperments" was a fresh discovery of movement. While I did not see Mr. Johnson as Phlegmatic, I did see Russell Clarke -- twice. Mr. Clarke appeared fully recovered from injury that sidelined him for a year. More than recovered, he has gained, presenting a more mature and developed dancer, with greater emotional commitment and stage presence, to boot. He is no longer just a young athlete, but an artist with great promise. Jillian Barrell, too, is fun to watch -- at every opportunity distiguishing herself with her technique, presence and personality. She has wonderful space-engulfing jumps, fast feet, and turns that are the expression of an exuberant soul.

On the minus side -- it looked as though the dancers as a whole could have used additional rehearsals, beyond the soloists. The Divertimento No. 15, in particular, is so devilishly difficult, with intense pointe work and nearly impossible changes of weight to be accomplished at warp speed, for instance -- they were fully capable, but needed a bit more time with it. The men's petite allegro and batterie suffered similarly.

Lacking Mr. MacCaulay's broad perspective, it was gratifying to see in print what we Ballet Arizona fans have suspected -- this is a wonderful company of terrific dancers, ranking with some of the best. It was particularly pleasing to see them described as "one of the most musically intelligent in the world."

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I saw two performances the matinee and the evening cast. I was thrilled with the show! I did not think the corps de ballet was lacking in divertimento. I however did not like the men in that piece they did look unprepared and a little sloppy in both casts (including ballet AZ principle Zejnati who was not mentioned at all in Macaulay’s piece). I agree with the article in saying that the Ballet AZ men for the most part are the weak links in the company (of course there are quite a few exceptions :wink: ). Barrell is slowly proving herself to be a prima ballerina, I am excited to see where her future takes her. Imayoshi was particularly stunning in this ballet the variation fit her to a tee. Magnicaballi is perfection, nothing more needs to be said. And Teel, with her fast feet was jaw dropping.

The highlight of the night was Zavarov in Prodigal son. It started out with high jumps and energy. He turned like a top. Then the drama. The sirens Huang and Magnicaballi were brazen and naughty. Maneuvering that long heavy cape was a challenge I wished that had been a little smoother, especially for Huang. Actually, I wish there was no cape, it was a big distraction for me, but that was Balanchine’s vision and I guess I can’t argue with that. The pas de deux was scandalous in a good way. The drinking buddies were so funny moving like strange insects. And Zavarov crawling back home, he is so intense and doesn’t look bad almost naked either :mad: . We are lucky to have Zavarov in AZ. When Perkovskii came out with open arms in the end that was when I started crying, it was so emotional. Also when he enveloped Zavarov with his robe that was a powerful moment. I also wanted to note that I loved the sets, scenery, and costumes–even though they were basic.

Four T’s was nice. I thought Zavarov in Melancholic was beautiful of course but Zejnati’s dancing looked tired. I can’t agree with Macaulay about Johnson. Clarke has come back and made a great recovery and looks better than ever, but even though he uses his feet to their fullest potential he does not have natural flexibility and it is distracting. Olson made a comeback, I am very happy he has returned to the stage. And last but not least Draxton. She was fabulous. I was enthralled by her performance. She is not one of my usually favorites and we don’t always get to see much of her except when it comes to Balanchine (probably due to her height), but she did not disappoint.

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Thanks, Arizona Native, for the link to Helene's thoughtful and informative review. One touch from Prodigal Son sounded particularly well thought-out.

Typically, when the Father enters at the end of the ballet, he is a distinctly Old Testament patriarch: that he is as all-knowing as he is blind is indicated by keeping the head stock still, conceding not an inch, and demanding contrition by his refusal to acknowledge or budge. Instead Sergei Perkovskii entered and moved his head and shoulders gently as if they had antennae to feel his son's presence. When he did feel it, he gave the Prodigal the time and space to come to approach him on his own, contrite terms, a decidedly New Testament father, and it was a true reconciliation.

The way the Father is depicted in most productions has always disappointed me, going back to my first NYCB performances. Miami goes for a look copied from the Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. It's rigid and cartoonishly iconic, and (for me) never moving. Arizona's small adjustment sounds like it would make a very big difference in the way the ballet concludes. Good for them.

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