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MCB Program IFanfare, Bugaku, Theme&Variations


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#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 08:29 PM

Cristian, I was interested in your very different responses to Jeanette Delgado and Jennifer Kronenberg in T&V. I've seen Kronenberg and Guerra dance this, both in full performance and in a closer-up workshop performance. I can certainly imagine that her approach -- large-scale and grand-imperial -- would be shocking after growing up with the Alonso approach, which is probably a version of what Balanchine originally intended. I like Kronenberg, but have found something lacking in her T&V. I think you have put your finger on what that is.



bart...but I wish I could describe Kronemberg's approach just as "large-scale" or "grand-imperial", but that was sadly not the case. I like her too, don't get me wrong, but her rendition of T&V was just...bland. There were segments in which she was just relying too much in the posing fact, minimizing speed, attack and sharpness, which at the end are the very basis of T&V's female variations. I notice that this is a phenomenon that's getting more and more extended within the ballet world, in which the dancers- (females AND males)-are dancing variations and pieces in a much more slower tempo than their predecessors. This could be a good thing, let's say, in the White Swan PDD or all the warhorses PDD adagios- (Nut, Black Swan, Bayadere, etc...)-but please, don't bring T&V into it...that's a crime. As I said, one just have to look at those clips from the past, where dancers like Dudinskaya- (Black Swan/Bayadere), Fonteyn- (Corsaire), Alonso- (Coppelia), Markova- (Giselle), Baronova- (Le Cock d'Or) or Chabukiani- (Flames...)-leave you jaw dropping, even at some point wondering..."is that video being sped up...?"-(like some thread I read a while ago about it)-with their magnificent offerings of devilish chainee turns, pique turns, pirouettes, fouettes and everything in between. Well...the result of this obsession to achieve the famous Russian/Soviet Kirov ballerinas perfect épaulement or "royal carriage"-(or as many refer to, the "perfect line" or to execute the step to a 150 % of perfection)-is a sad travesty, and many times a boring execution, to which the dancer becomes just another faceless one. Sometimes while looking at certain ballets and dancers I really believe that the ultimate goal of bailarines and bailarinas nowadays has changed, and giving an exciting performance has given way to given a perfect- (and many times ultra generic)- execution. I see T&V as probably the ultimate example of an EXCITING ballet...more than beautiful, grand or any other adjectives we could fairly add.


Guerra is an appealing dancer in many roles, but it probably takes a Youskevitch 1947), Villella (1960 and 1971) or Baryshnikov to do real justice to the T&V cavalier.



Yes...he wasn't really up to the role, IMO.

One advantage (or disadvantage??) of a live orchestra is that the conductor can alter tempo to suit the dancer. You seemed to have witnessed an extreme version of tempo variation in those two contrasting performances. I wonder which performance the demi-soloists and corps dancers preferred?



Probably the slow one. I noticed some of them struggling with the super fast final tableaux

Like you, I prefer speed and momentum, providing the dancer can keep the details clear and avoid blurring the details. Delgado is very good at that. (Gelsey Kirkland and Merrill Ashley were, too.)



Definitely, bart, and would I had been the stager, I would had sped the tempo even more...! :) (Believe me...she can take it)

Since this ballet was created for the strengths of Alonso (and, equally important, for the strengths of Youskevitch), I thought you might be interested in what B.H. Haggin wrote back at the time of the Ballet Theatre premiere in 1947.... "What Balanchine did for her in Theme and Variations was not merely to use everything she does best as a dancer -- her sharp attacks, her secure feats of point-balance, for example -- but to use them in a style that made her glamours and radiant".


Because she-(just as Kirkland, I assume by her brief clips)-had the formula to combine the two. Something that we're certainly loosing...sadly.

Delgado's Sugar Plum Fairy at Arsht last season shows she is starting to develop real ballerina "glamour and radiance." She's not just a technician or a can-do girl any more.



Oh, DEFINITELY. She has it...which is why I would LOVE to see her developing the other side of the ballet repertoire. At this point of her career it would be great if she could start working on her Giselles, Sylphs, Filles and the like, with their ample range of accents and characterization details.

I can't wait to see both Delgado and Kronenberg when MCB comes to the Kravis. (Assuming that the Gods of Casting are in a favorable mood, of course.)



I think they will repeat the same cast as here bart. Delgado/Panteado and Kronemberg/Guerra

By the way, if you have a copy of Arlene Croce's Going to the Dance, have a look at "From a Far Country," a 1978 piece that includes a long comparison of T&V and Sleeping Beauty (esp. the prologue and vision scene). Apparently Ballet Theatre asked Balanchine specifically for a work that would "fill the same function in the repertory as did Princess Aurora" (a suite of Sleeping Beauty excerpts). The essay is not included in Writing in the Dark. P.M. me if you would like me to send you a photocopy.


Oh yes...I want it!

#17 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 04:27 AM

I just returned from London, and as I mentioned in my discussion of going to the exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum (about Diaghilev), I also got to see the Royal Ballet perform, and they closed the program with 'Theme and Variations." It was performed at a slightly slower tempo than the one(s) I am used to at New York City Ballet.

Miss Alonzo attended, and great tribute was paid to her both before the performance (of the whole program) began, and after T&V, when she was led onstage by Serge Polunin (who did the male lead, partnering Tamar Rojo, she of the exquisite feet) and Carlos Acosta. It was exciting and an honor to be present at this tribute

In the program notes by Zoe Anderson (which are quite good), they talk about its association with "Sleeping Beauty" at length. I thought I'd add a bit to this discussion by quoting from Ms. Anderson's notes:

"...Theme and Variations evokes Petipa's Sleeping Beauty. That link was planned from the beginning when the ballet was first commissioned by American Ballet Theatre. In 1947, complete performances of The Sleeping Beauty were still rare in the West. Petipa's ballet would not have its American premiere until 1949 when The Royal Ballet (still then called Sadler's Wells Ballet) brought its celebrated production to New York. American audiences knew the work through excerpts and suites, such as American Ballet Theatre's Princess Aurora. Following the suggestion of their music director, Max Goberman, Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith asked Balanchine if he could make a new work to this music, something like Princess Aurora with a starring role for Igor Youskevitch. Having looked at the score, Balanchine replied 'But of course.'"


Ms. Anderson then discusses several other ballets by Balanchine, including Mozartiana, 1933, and The Four Temperaments (1946) which are based on themes/variations. She continues,

"Balanchine's dances, like Tchaikovsky's music, suggest a similar emotional and dramatic range to that of the complete Sleeping Beauty. It also has more specific echos. The critic Arlene Croce summed up the ballerina's fast solo as "Aurora rewritten in lightning," full of dazzling references to Petipa solos."


Ms. Anderson also discusses the extreme technical demands on the man, and mentions that Balanchine's use of the line of women in the 7th variation, with no "cavaliers" supporting them may refer to versions that Balanchine may have seen in Russia, of the fairies in the prologue (who have no cavaliers in Soviet versions -- she is guessing that this was carried over from the Imperial days).

It is a long essay, and I'll also offer to scan and email it if anyone wants to see the complete piece.

The performance, by the way, was lovely (of course). I loved this tiny couple, thought she had the most beautiful instep in the world, but she had some difficulties executing the little egg-beater steps that I cannot spell any more than she could do them. Not many can.

#18 jsmu

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 08:32 AM

Cristian, I was interested in your very different responses to Jeanette Delgado and Jennifer Kronenberg in T&V. I've seen Kronenberg and Guerra dance this, both in full performance and in a closer-up workshop performance. I can certainly imagine that her approach -- large-scale and grand-imperial -- would be shocking after growing up with the Alonso approach, which is probably a version of what Balanchine originally intended. I

Like you, I prefer speed and momentum, providing the dancer can keep the details clear and avoid blurring the details. Delgado is very good at that. (Gelsey Kirkland and Merrill Ashley were, too.)

Since this ballet was created for the strengths of Alonso (and, equally important, for the strengths of Youskevitch), I thought you might be interested in what B.H. Haggin wrote back at the time of the Ballet Theatre premiere in 1947.

... [W]hat Balanchine did for her in Theme and Variations was not merely to use everything she does best as a dancer -- her sharp attacks, her secure feats of point-balance, for exmple -- but to use them in a style that made her glamours and radiant.

Delgado's Sugar Plum Fairy at Arsht last season shows she is starting to develop real ballerina "glamour and radiance." She's not just a technician or a can-do girl any more.


Ashley and Nichols were THE T&V ballerinas of their period (after Kirkland), as Ashley once (correctly) implied in an interview. (Cynthia Gregory was also great, I'm sure, though I never saw her dance it, alas) Croce also discusses the fact (in another book) that the T&V adagio is in fact a 'supported allegro'--perfect not only for Alonso but for Ashley. I imagine Delgado would be fab in this ballet--she has indeed become far more radiant with time--and hope to see her gargouillades in person (I assume, being the jumper she is, she does them? They were added for Kirkland, btw--not in Alonso's choreography) I like Kronenberg tremendously, but find her MUCH more convincing in parts other than Big Tutu Ballerina Roles; T&V and Bizet don't suit her well.

#19 jsmu

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 08:38 AM

The performance, by the way, was lovely (of course). I loved this tiny couple, thought she had the most beautiful instep in the world, but she had some difficulties executing the little egg-beater steps that I cannot spell any more than she could do them. Not many can.


ViolinConcerto, I'd very much like to read the full essay.
See the post that I just made about gargouillades (LOVE 'little eggbeater steps', lol). These were added for Kirkland, who of course could do anything, and were not in the original choreography; as such, they are optional (can't imagine the Trust or a repetiteur would force anyone to do them as they were added later--and since the sauts de basque almost NEVER appear in the Tschaikovsky Concerto finale any more....uggggghhh....)
and I'm surprised that a) Rojo had trouble with them and b) perfectionist that she usually is, that she didn't just omit them given that.

#20 bart

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 10:48 AM

Thanks, Viollin Concerto and jsmu, for your posts. I've always loved to know the background -- including performance background -- before attending a ballet. This has been a great thread.

Left behind, however, has been Fanfare, the third item on Program I.I first saw this when it was revived at NYCB in the 70s and remember enjoying it enormously, especially the score and the spirit of joie de vivre..

Critical response, however, has been tepid. For example, Jordan Levin of the Miami Herald:

As a way to welcome back live music, "Fanfare" seems better in concept than in reality. The 1953 ballet shows Robbins' Broadway side, rather uncomfortably mixed with ballet -- though not the subtle ballets of Robbins' later years. "Fanfare" looks a bit like '50s's movie musical, starting with the unfortunate Technicolor costumes in blue and orange and mustard, appliqu'd with different musical instruments, with big shiny crowns for the women and strange saucer-like hats for the men.

Edward Villella narrated Benjamin Britten's "Young People's Guide to the Orchestra", with the dancers as different instruments .... There's some fun comedy for the men -- Isanusi Garcia-Rodriquez, Renato Penteado and Carlos Guerra cavort entertainingly as the Percussion -- and a grand parade for the entire cast, but "Fanfare" is lightweight entertainment..

Sniff. Sniff. "Entertainment," yes. But "lightweight" is a relative term. We live in a culture of superficiality so superficial that much of it is instantly forgettable and disposable. Robbins and Britten did much better than that. (Edited to add: I just checked Rep in Review. One Mr. Porter is quoted as writing in the Financial Times, 1965, that this is a "coarse, musically insensitive piece with one or two good inventions that are not good enough to save it." If that is the great Andrew Porter, later to move to The New Yorker, I may have to reconsider my own memories. :speechless-smiley-003:)

I wonder how Villella will do as the Majordomo. A friend who has seen many performances of this in NYC recalls bigger performers, with bigger voices, in the role.

By the way, there's a blog video on the MCB website that includes clips of the current production. The context is another interview with the Delgado sisters. The actual performance clip is towards the end.

http://www.plumtv.co...ters/index.html

#21 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 11:25 AM

When I get home i will try and generate something about Fanfare...(haven't forgotten your request, cahill! :thumbsup: )...and also on Bugaku. Robbins piece will present a challenge for me to write about though... :dry:

#22 jsmu

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 03:23 PM

Did Ms. Delgado do the gargouillades?

#23 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 09:32 PM

FWIW, I'm with Andrew Porter and Jordan Levin - and B. H. Haggin - Fanfare is far from terrible, but the comic bits for the boys have been the best of it for me in the past - I haven't seen MCB in it yet, although I expect to in Ft. Lauderdale. An equally good "idea" that would have been better in reality? Just 'cause I can't think of one, doesn't mean there isn't any one in the repertory, and a virtue of that choice for MCB of course, is that it has lots of dancers in it - They like to dance! It shows! - and the ballet earns points from me for that, not to mention that Villella likes to get 'em out there on stage, too.

(Remember his immediate answer when someone asked him why he was taking Symphony in C to New York instead of "Ballet Imperial," which Catoya was performing sensationally at the time? "Because Ballet Imperial has one couple and Symphony in C has four!" I would have loved to have heard the New York audience's response to Catoya's dancing in Ballet Imperial, but I got plenty of satisfaction from their response to MCB as it was. Much more appropriate than the tepid reaction of the Florida audience.)

But it's Theme and Variations that's drawing me this time, and I wouldn't mind seeing Bugaku, weird though it is, come to something like the life it had when I saw Kent and Villella do it a few times years ago. She's coached it for MCB before (2005), and her return this time is interesting in the light of Villella's explanation at one of his pre-performance talks that normally they bring in some original-cast members for their company premier, which they tape, and then they use the tape for their revivals. This time Kent came back. (BTW, I think the woman in black with shoulder-length straight brown hair we see in the studio in the video clips is the company's main regisseur, Roma Sosenko.)

(That Kent coached La Sonnambula too inclines me more to see that. I'll be surprised if they've got somebody sailing onstage like gangbusters in that, like she used to do. I don't think I've ever seen it done like that since her time. The Sleepwalker is asleep, in a trance, but she's not a ghost or spirit or something. But this is getting ahead of the story...)

#24 Jack Reed

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 06:22 AM

While I'm rambling randomly, I'll add that I think "T&V" is a much stronger ballet than the previously-announced Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which disappeared from the schedule around the time "T& V" was announced, I think, and so that change makes the season stronger, but I still regret that there's not a single "leotard ballet" on the schedule now, unless one turns up as the so far unannounced "pas de deux" on Program II. Maybe we'll get one of those just-short-of-violent renditions of the Agon pas, a real "contest," or has someone caught a hint somewhere of what's actually in preparation? bart?

I seem to recall Villella complaining that the leotard ballets are "hard to sell," which makes me wonder all over again how they go about marketing MCB. Living in Chicago, I must be well out of range of much of it.

#25 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 03:04 PM

I still regret that there's not a single "leotard ballet" on the schedule now,...


...but neither a single Petipa , Jack...! :crying:

#26 Jack Reed

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 05:01 PM

That reminds me, we used to complain (among ourselves) that ABT dressed "T&V" as though it were Petipa, with big, floppy tutus, which looked wrong for the quick movement Balanchine had made for it. His own company looked much better to us in the short, stiffer ones (the red or yellow ones for the corps, later the light or dark blue ones MCB's are modeled after).

Anyway, that was a personal gripe...

#27 bart

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 05:44 AM

For those who want a glimpse of the Fanfare costumes, MCB's website has a brief video by dancer Rebecca King, shot backstage at the dress rehearsal and at opening night. (I assume this is at the Arsht Center in Miami.)

I'm probably too old to adjust to the constant, restless movement and quick-cutting of contemporary videography. But, if you look very intently, you can glimpse some beautifully made costumes and some lovely young dancers.

http://www.miamicity...e-the-premiere/

There's a backstage shot of Mary Carmen Catoya in an evening gown. Isn't she dancing in this program? I don't recall reading about her in the reviews or posts.

#28 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 08:58 AM

I've also been missing Catoya's name in the news, here and elsewhere, about this program. I haven't had a chance to tangle with that "contemporary videography" yet, but while the evening gown probably looks good, I think "T&V" would look even better on her!

#29 bart

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 09:08 AM

I haven't had a chance to tangle with that "contemporary videography" yet, but while the evening gown probably looks good on her, I think "T&V" would look even better on her!

YES, she looks great (all 1.5 seconds of her). And YES, a Catoya T&V would be marvelous. :flowers: (Alas, no one agrees with me that she would also be riveting in Bugaku, but I stand my ground on that.)

Incidentally, I've also heard nothing about Reyneris Reyes in any performance reviews or comments, even though he was featured in the rehearsal video as the first cast (with P. Delgado) in Bugaku. Has he been dancing this Program?

Unfortunately,, the West Palm Beach performances are almost a month later than Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, so I won't get to see the first night of Program I until Nov. 19. :angry2:

#30 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 10:44 AM

Watching Catoya dance a range of roles has taught me not to "type-cast" her, so I'm not going to take a stand one way or the other on her suitability for Bugaku, but we've seen that rehearsal clip with three boys and four women and Kent and Villella (and, I think, Sosenko), and I didn't notice Catoya anywhere, at least not on her feet, so it looks like she's not in their plans for that one. I would be glad to see her in most anything, though.

I can remember a time when I thought, Ah, she's the whiz kid, very clear in very fast tempos; and then I saw her in adagio, and that was wonderfully clear and flowing, and so, strong and effective in that different way. Later I remembered the time I didn't even know who she was, having arrived late at the Gleason Theatre in Miami Beach (because I had foolishly allowed for one of Miami's notorious traffic jams but had actually encountered two of them), and naturally I wanted to see the dance, not the program book. As I entered the auditorium, where I was told to stand at the back, someone was dancing the "Spinner" variation in Emeralds, and the name "Verdy" popped into my mind - I mean, it looked like Verdy was dancing, although I knew it couldn't be. I soon learned Verdy had coached the role which someone named Mary Carmen Catoya had then realized, better than anyone I could recall since Verdy herself.

So if Kent had coached her in Bugaku, who knows? But we haven't seen any sign she was present, right? Not that I want you to be let down, bart, but it doesn't look like it. So far. The up side of that long wait you have is that gives them time to put her in it, man, so keep your hopes up!


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