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MCB films PBS Great Performances specialCorps member blogs about the experience


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#16 kfw

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 05:27 PM

According to Edward Villella, in a pre-performance talk, this will run on PBS stations in the fall.

Fantastic! I can't wait.

#17 lmspear

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 05:30 PM

According to Edward Villella, in a pre-performance talk, this will run on PBS stations in the fall.


Thanks, Bart.

#18 iwatchthecorps

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 06:17 AM

PBS Arts from Miami: GREAT PERFORMANCES "Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine & Tharp"

Broadcast date: Friday, October 28, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET


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#19 bart

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 12:12 PM

Thanks for posting that, iwatchthecorps. I've also posted on "Head's Up!" where I hope we'll get even bigger readership.

#20 Justdoit

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 01:56 PM

So it did, bart. T.Y. Been waiting for this announcement. Can't wait to see the production after hearing what the dancers had to say about the process. Plus, I love the Tharp and Western!

#21 abatt

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 01:30 PM

Just a reminder. The Great Performers show featuring MCB will be on tonight in New York City, on Channel 13, with a rebroadcast on that channel on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 30. Check you listings and set your DVR.

#22 jsmu

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 07:42 PM

To answer a couple of questions--the Scherzo, originally for Patricia Wilde, was dropped because at the time Balanchine felt he had no woman with a strong enough jump for this role. Carolyn George, Allegra Kent, etc., used to dance it... Sadly, most companies do Western without it to this day, including NYCB. NYCB did the Scherzo for a while in the late 80s and early 90s with Nichols in the Scherzo (she used to do not only turning roles but jumping ones as well), and I saw a performance once with Katrina Killian/David McNaughton there.
The freeze at the end , hats thrown in the air and pose, doesn't work at all, nor did the way the end of Golden Section was handled. I had to explain to my partner what the respective endings are in fact; he was quite surprised and disappointed.
How is it possible that the union is not all over MCB and Great Performances like flies on excrement for the APPALLING omission of any principal casting in the entire broadcast, either verbal or visual? This is beyond inexcusable. I recognized, of course, Jeanette Delgado in Square Dance, Jennifer Kronenberg and I believe Carlos Guerra? in Western I, and Callie Manning in Western III-- but otherwise, who knows? With corps parts as demanding as those in Square Dance, we should have known the names of ALL the dancers. I have yet to find the info, by the way, anywhere online. Perhaps MCB's website has it buried somewhere?

#23 Natalia

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 07:57 PM

Who on earth were the principals? Anybody know? This must be the day of not identifying dancers -- first the Bolshoi Reopening, now this. The Miami dancers seemed mighty fine, so this faux pas stinks.

Great to finally have a full telecast Square Dance & very nice to have the 3rd movement (Scherzo) of Western, which is omitted by most companies. I could have done without the Tharp but, hey, another ballet on DVD. The back projections were funky, including the ever-changing clouds for Square Dance. (Did anbody on the production team even think about plain pale blue?) And the Western dancers now perform in a cactus field...not to mention wear derivatives of the original NYCB costumes that can best be described as "Karinska on Acid."

#24 4mrdncr

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 09:45 PM

While watching MCB on PBS, (of course), and appreciating the dancers/dancing (of course), I was actually even more interested in the camera angles/editing choices (of course) and the couple times I saw what appeared to be a high-angle cam on a wire--or maybe it was just a dolly/truck--but either way, still interesting to see in an arts video production and not a football telecast. I didn't catch all the credits, so didn't see if a robotic cam used. It was also interesting to notice the cuts to certain angles, and when they occurred...Sometimes the jump from a high to low angle in a single cut was slightly jarring, but eventually I got used to it, and some of the other angle choices started to remind me of a lot of my own work. (Did anyone notice what I wrote many years ago about diagonals adding depth to tv's 2-D image?)

This isn't my favorite Tharp work but watching Twyla Tharp's "Golden Hour" made me realize how many choreographers have since copied the blocking and moves used by her in this work and others. Can't contemporary choreographers come up with their own moves anymore? A borrowed move, or even series of steps maybe, but the blocking of whole sequences? Come on! Where is the originality? Or do newer choreographers believe they are just rehashing a 'classic' a la a new version of SL that still retains the requisite set pieces? But if they copy Tharp, she should get the credit. Personally, I preferred "Square Dance" -- but then again, there are a lot of standard 'Balanchine' moves in that, too, which get repetitive when seen in many many other works by him.

I've never seen "Western Symphony" before and agree that in this case dancing in a cactus field may not have been the best choice for a 'translight' projection. I did appreciate the choreography (of course) and the MCB dancers seemed to enjoy dancing it, which given the constraints of filming, was probably asking more than the norm.

Thanks again to PBS for remembering to include ballet in its arts fest, and finally showing another company than 'the usual suspects' in NYC.

#25 Jack Reed

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 10:38 PM

(Did anyone notice what I wrote many years ago about diagonals adding depth to tv's 2-D image?)
...
I've never seen "Western Symphony" before and agree that in this case dancing in a cactus field may not have been the best choice for a 'translight' projection.


Would you like to post a link to what you wrote about putting dance on screen, 4mrdncr? I thought the excellent company deserved better than what it got - a choppy, sometimes distorting treatment, with a number of good moments showing that that could be done.

For instance - writing from memory at a late hour after the broadcast, without reviewing my recording of it, there are moments in the fourth movement of Western where two lines of dancers arranged on a diagonal dance toward and through each other which are shot along the other diagonal, so that their "diagonality" is destroyed - we see them square on as though they were across the stage. Whatever sense of variety Balanchine had for us at that point was erased.

In the first movement of Western, Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra get an uninterrupted, undistorted stretch of time and space to dance in (and to dance beautifully, too; she especially was in fine form). So this was well shown. But then, at the end of the second movement, we see a closeup of - whoever he is - turning his head this way and that, and then his partner, also in a tight shot, waving; we have to figure out they're across the stage from each other, and finding each other. (Did you get that, 4mrdncr? I was expecting it, because I know the ballet well enough.) I think the relation of dancers to one another in the stage space should have been clearer, as it is on stage.

Another dancer I'm sure I recognize in this is Renato Penteado, in the third movement. His easy, clear dancing identifies him before I get a good look at his face.

As to that cactus field, it doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? Originally, and when MCB dances it in the theater, Western takes place in a street in a western town, in front of painted and weathered store fronts. You can understand that people would gather there.

#26 kfw

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 03:47 AM

The dancers are listed at the very end of the dance portion of the broadcast, but only in small type while the host is shown speaking. They're listed by rank, even down to the apprentice level, but not by ballet.

I'm very happy to have this recording, but I thought the backdrops for both Square Dance and Western Symphony, by their colors and their busyness, made the dancers hard to distinguish clearly. And I hated all the jarring above-the-waist shots in Square Dance. I also wish the director had taken a look at NYCB's 1991 (?) recording of Western Symphony, where close shots - but not head shots - of the principals at key moments give us a lot more personality than we saw last night.

Overall I was thrilled by the performances, especially that of Delgado in Square Dance. I wanted my emphasis, more stretch in the male solo in that ballet, more of what I remembered from Manuel Legris in the Balanchine Celebration. But that may be my problem. I've only seen that ballet a couple of times live, and his interpretation may grow on me.

#27 leibling

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 03:53 AM

I saw Western- the casting was:
1st movement: Jennifer Knonenberg and Carlos Guerra
2nd movement: Katia Carranza and Renan Cerdeiro
3rd movement: Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado
4th movement: Patricia Delgado and Yann Trividic

#28 Natalia

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 04:55 AM

I saw Western- the casting was:
1st movement: Jennifer Knonenberg and Carlos Guerra
2nd movement: Katia Carranza and Renan Cerdeiro
3rd movement: Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado
4th movement: Patricia Delgado and Yann Trividic


Thanks, liebling. JSMU, above, mentioned that he recognized Callie Manning as Western's 3rd movement lead & Bart had reported Callie for this movement in his Sept 24th post, above...so is it Jeannette or Callie?

From the responses, I'm assuming it is indeed Jeannette Delgado leading Square Dance...but who is the elegant leading man?

Kfw, yes, we noticed the entire company listed at the end of the rolling credits...which doesn't help one iota. Instead of 7 minutes of 'intro chat' from Andy Garcia, then more useful comments from Edward Villella, couldn't the producers have added 5 seconds to the very start of each ballet to show the names of the leading dancers? Or are we now 'going socialist' and only caring about the team and not individuals? Gee, even in Soviet times, the USSR at least gave the INITIALS of principals, if not full names.

re. the crazy editing - Has anyone thought that perhaps this is mandated by the Balanchine trust whenever they grant permission for commercial filming of a "full" Balanchine ballet...to edit in a way that makes it tough for renegades to use the DVD to do their own stagings? Some key bits of movement in Square Dance were omitted due to editing decisions.

re. the 'SkyCam' on wires above the stage - At least it was judiciously employed, unlike the obnoxious zoom-ins and zig-zags around the stage in the Mariinsky's recent Jewels DVD.

#29 bart

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 06:08 AM

Thanks, liebling, for the Western Symphony casting. I agree with those who were appalled by the faiilure to identify ANY dancers -- or even to refer to them as a group. Villella's introduction -- well written; possibly by Robert Gottlieb? -- was fine, but focused on the works only, and his own vision for the company. The material with Andy Garcia, and the subsequent cultural promo for Miami, were "local tv" at their worst.

From the responses, I'm assuming it is indeed Jeannette Delgado leading Square Dance...but who is the elegant leading man?

Renan Cerdeiro, a Brazilian student who transferred to the MCB school and was -- only two years ago -- a student apprentice. Cerdeiro danced in all three of the works. He's made amazing progress in Balanchine especially, in a very short time.

As for Delgado, I'm glad that more Ballet Alertniks are now able to see the qualities -- the speed and accuracy of detail, the total concentration which comes across as, simultaneously, casual and joyful -- that Cristian and I have been talking about ad nauseum over the past few years. Jeanette Delgado is a star, in my book. It's been wonderful watching her develop. One of the best parts of this coming season will be the chance -- frequent, I hope -- to see what else she can do.

One of the ironies of the wonderful Square Dance cast was that a number of the dancers, especially the corps men, will are no longer with the company. Paris was their farewell. Economic problems, which remain serious despite the Paris triumph, are probably behind the decision to rely more and more on students and recent MCB school graduates.

I hope we get to talk more about the detailing of these works. I'm especially curious to see what Balanchine experts thought of Square Dance and Western Symphony. Sometimes, when you get to know a company and its dancer's too well, it's almost impossible to look at them objectively. That's why I rely on the eye and the judgment of those who don't know MCB or have seen it only rarely.

The camera work, as has been mentioned, did no favors to Western Symphony. It's among my least favorite Balanchine works, but it's tolerable on stage where your eye can wander. These cameras led us by the nose, including too many upper torso shots and a tendency to lose action at the sides. ALL the principals came across better on stage last season than the did in this filming. Kronenberg (luscious on stage in the first movement) and Carranza (quite funny, actually) were especially ill-served by the film. On the other hand, Patricia Delgado (in the bit-hat role) looked great, just as she did on stage. Her beau, Yann Trividic, was charismatic on-stage but seemed slightly tentative here.

Unlike many on BA, I really like the Tharp piece, especially as it comes across on stage. On film, you could see too much of the difficulty factor. For example, the set-ups for some of her more difficult acrobatic effects were exposed and obvious. The energy and spontaneity on stage was non-stop and exhilerating. Not so on film.

As for the dancers -- Daniel Baker was back as a guest. (He's the very blond young man whose compact body seems about to explode with drive and concentration. He also danced this in Paris.) Others I recognized were, in no particular order: Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez, Renato Penteado, Carlos Guerra, Renan Cerdeiro, Yang Zou Alexandre Ferreira, Patricia Delgado (the girl who dives off into the wings on several occasions), Jeanette Delgado, Jennifer Kronenberg, Tricia Albertson, Callie Manning, Sara Esty, and (I think) Christie Sciturro. This is the kind of work that let's dancers stretch their range. Penteado, Albertson, Manning, and Ms. Esty brought out aspects of their dance personalities in this that I had never seen before.

Like kfw, I was able to record this. I'll be looking at Square Dance again and again. Golden Section, occasionally, for the fond memories. Western Symphony, not at all.

#30 Natalia

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 07:41 AM

Thanks for finalizing/confirming casting details, bart. I just reviewed my recording of this and, yes, I now recognize "the smile that never ends" in 3rd mvmt of Western as the same Jeannette Delgado who stars in Square Dance. Yes, she has lovely technique & musicality, comparable to my 'benchmarks' in this work, Merrill Ashley and Ashley Bouder!

The corps in both Balanchines are FANTASTIC and spot on! THAT's what I noticed most upon 2nd viewing, especially when compared to recent NYCB performances. The Miami corps is (was? - they've changed a lot since filming) second to none, IMO.

It's amazing that the male lead in Square Dance was someone who, at the time of filming (Sept 2010?) was just out of the apprentice ranks. Kudos to him! I also see that liebling lists Renan Cerdeiro as the lead in the 2nd movement of Western (with Carranza). He looks taller & a bit 'larger' overall there. Must be the different style of costume.


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