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MCB Program IFanfare, Bugaku, Theme&Variations


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#31 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 11:11 AM

bart and jack...Catoya has been a no show in this program, at least so far. :dunno:

#32 jsmu

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 11:23 AM

I'm fairly sure Catoya knows Theme and Variations, because I think she danced it the last time MCB did the ballet.
I can't imagine that she wouldn't, as one of the two strongest technicians in the company.
Perhaps she is injured. Sadly, Mr. Villella, who has so many virtues, persists in his hideous practice of refusing to allow an audience ever to know who is dancing even a week in advance -- or to plan to see a specific dancer. This is invidious and very bad for box office besides. Even NYCB under Balanchine, who was extremely anti-'star', announced casting a week in advance!

#33 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 11:35 AM

Sadly, Mr. Villella, who has so many virtues, persists in his hideous practice of refusing
to allow an audience ever to know who is dancing even a week in advance--or to plan to see a specific dancer. This is invidious and very bad for box office besides. Even NYCB under Balanchine, who was extremely anti-'star', announced casting a week in advance!


I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates this frustrating, unnerving practice... :angry2:

#34 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 12:05 PM

I'll agree with the "virtues" point in these remarks - Villella has a lot to be proud of, and we have a lot to be thankful for - and there may be reasons not obvious to us why he doesn't announce casting - it may have something to do with company morale or interest or spirit. Running a company is also about developing and nurturing dancers as well as pleasing us.

As to Balanchine's practice, I think he experimented with that, along with everything else, even the way the company was listed in the program: For a time, there was one alphabetical list, which gave a corps girl I talked with a few times a feeling that she just couldn't win! (Her last name began with "Z.")

My memory is that for a time, NYCB casting was listed on sheets glued to the north wall of the theatre lobby, on both sides of the doors, but I don't think that was the case early in my days there, which began in 1973.

#35 bart

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 12:21 PM

Agree entirely about the strangeness of the refusal to issue cast lists ahead of time. I've wanted to ask a question about this for a long time at one of EV's pre-performance talks.

I suspect that the answer will have to do with the possibility of cast changes, though this doesn't seem to deter a company of similar size and rep, Pacific Northwest.

Another reason (which no one will admit) is that the audiences in south Florida, especially the subscription audiences, are probably perceived as not interested in casting. This may be true of the majority, who just go to "the ballet" or who follow brand names like Swan Lake, Jewels, Tharp, or Balanchine. But many audience members at the Kravis Center at least are or have been long-time NYCB subscribers, and I've had the chance to quite a number who go back with NYCB even longer than I do.

#36 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:02 PM

Except I don't really think it's strange that he doesn't announce casting - it's just his way, for reasons not clear to us. Interesting what you and jsmu say about box office - pardon my skepticism, I'm not saying either of you are wrong or anything, but I just wonder what your remarks are based on. I'm keen to understand what brings different people in, and I hesitate to speculate about this, but my little knowledge, based on what I hear (and overhear) when in the theatre, among other interesting but inadequate sources, doesn't go far.

For instance, the expensively-dressed older lady next to me one evening in Fort Lauderdale who was eager to tell me, without prompting, what she like and disliked - especially disliked - as we waited for the program to begin: "Oh, and Stravinsky. I don't like Stravinsky." Knowing Apollo was the first ballet on the program, I thought, This is going to be interesting. After Apollo, she was clapping enthusiastically, and I asked her, "How was it?" "Loved it!" she said. "And the music?" I asked. "Loved everything about it!" She went on clapping nearly as long as I did.

So while some of the old NYCB hands you know in West Palm Beach may actually know what they're talking about, bart, I frankly don't know what to make of it sometimes, and in this connection I don't think marketers' practice of "branding" is at all helpful, furthering as I think it does this kind of sloppy thinking.

#37 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:16 PM

I understand all of the above jack...but along with all those reasons, another immediate result of the practice is the inability to really develop a fan base on determined dancers...and hence the excitement that this type of artistic rivalries usually generates.

#38 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:18 PM

Aha! Yeah, I think you have a point there!

#39 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 08:49 PM

Christian, I am looking forward to hearing your review of the other pieces...


I hadn't forgotten your request, cahill, but as I said before...I was trying to generate something interesting that could add some real weight to this thread, but...I haven't really been too successful. On top of that, now that the performances are far away, I remember even less of them, at least from Fanfare. Yes, Robbins' piece was cute...but just that. I can't even remember the music ! :crying: -(which is a BIG plus in my ballet viewing). Plus, I've never been too devoted of parodies and comedies in general, and that seemed to be the key element of this ballet. If anything, it was a nice way to salute the orchestra...and period.

Bugaku was interesting, weird, perhaps somewhat exotic, but it didn't impress me either. Never been a fan of contortions, and at some point-(right after the tutu was gone for good)-it kind of indulged too much on it.

I'm sorry that this is all I can think of about this two ballets. To finish as honest as I started, if it wasn't because I was going with my friend, my mother and two coworkers on Sunday-(one ex-ballerina and a neophyte to which Bugaku was the best piece of the program)-I would had gone after the second intermezzo, just in time to catch T&V, for which I had seen the other two the night before-(remember that on Friday night I was only able to watch "Theme...").

:tiphat:

#40 cahill

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 06:16 PM

Thanks [size=4]Christian, i always enjoying reading your thoughts on these programs. I am looking forward to hearing what Jack says from Lauderdale and REALLY looking forward to seeing this program in West Palm![/size]

#41 jsmu

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 09:38 PM

Jack, actually, NYCB has ALWAYS listed casting at least a week in advance, sometimes more--Balanchine never , so far as I know from empirical experience and a great deal of reading, deprived audiences entirely of advance knowledge of who was dancing. (yes, he did toy with alphabetical listings, prompting the immortal Tallchief remark upon her resignation in 1965, lol) Too smart. People want to see Patty and Eddie, Suzanne, Allegra, Gelsey and Helgi, Mikhail, Erik, Maria, Wendy--yes, Wendy-- etc, and MCB would do well to attempt to cultivate more of this sort of awareness on the part of its audiences. Quite true that they get a LOT of NYCB stalwart/fanatics (Bart and yours truly, among others) and they should be making people want to see Deanna Seay (oh, wait, she's gone... :wallbash: ) or Catoya or J. Delgado, and getting the point across that these ballerinas' dancing is as brilliant and marvelous as that taking place anywhere in the country--indeed, more so in most cases.

#42 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 08:45 AM

I think this "star system" vs. "nameless" ballet deserves a thread of its own...

So I just opened it here...
http://ballettalk.in...000#entry277000

Enjoy! :thumbsup:

#43 Jack Reed

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 11:21 AM

Another reason (which no one will admit) is that the audiences in south Florida, especially the subscription audiences, are probably perceived as not interested in casting. This may be true of the majority, who just go to "the ballet" or who follow brand names like Swan Lake, Jewels, Tharp, or Balanchine.


I'm still better acquainted with Balanchine's subscription audience, who gave me a few memorable occasions of lack of familiarity with the repertory, even, not to mention the cast. For example, there's a bit in the early part of Who Cares? where one boy can't get a partner - for those who don't know this ballet, there's something of the air of a social scene, whether the street corner or a dance, where the "boys and girls," as they are called in the program, are pairing off - and then the boy who can't get a partner can't dance with the girl who takes pity and chooses him, because he doesn't know the steps and has to follow her, when I often heard people around me clucking and fretting: "Tsk! What's the matter with him?" Of course, once Balanchine has had his little joke - not that that's all that's happening here, as I've tried to show - the boy suddenly does know the steps and the two dance very well together.

Another evening, going down the steps in the lobby, after a three-ballet program, I heard a discussion going on behind me between two people apparently just reading their program: "If Balanchine made the last ballet, then who made the second one?" They'd all been his, of course.

So there was a superficial portion, maybe a majority, in the audience there too, for sure, but aficionados were accommodated as well.

What I'm sensitive to is the disdain marketers seem to have for that stubborn minority who appreciate the art, or who are learning to, and find barriers in their way, because of the kind of perception bart suspects, which doesn't apply to everyone. Distinguishing among dancers may be part of that growth in appreciation, but there are companies - ABT is the archetype for me - where it's mainly the dancers you go for, the repertory isn't much, it provides vehicles for the dancers, and some people will insist that's all ballet is. I'm glad they're satisfied, but they have my pity, because I think they don't know what they're missing. They may not look for more, and marketing the dancers more obviously may discourage them from looking for more, and Villella, like his mentor Balanchine, may be wary of people coming for the stars and missing the ballet. Trying to read both their minds now, I think they may have wanted (or may want) us to get it all. (I also happen to think Balanchine's naming his ballets by their musical scores after a time may have been a nudge to get his audiences to listen, so we would get more than if we just looked.)

#44 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 11:41 AM

there are companies - ABT is the archetype for me - where it's mainly the dancers you go for, the repertory isn't much,...


Couldn't it be the reason for which ABT-(and this is just a wild guess from an outsider)-
is nowadays probably a more exciting company than City Ballet...?

#45 bart

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 11:52 AM

Jack, I think we can agree that what the audience wants is complex, often inscrutable, and occasionally self-contradictory or even ... loony. (I will never be able to forget the performance at which my memory deserted me and I imagined Jerome Robbins to be the choreographer of Who Cares?. I even commented how much like Balanchine it appeared to be. :blushing::blushing::blushing::blushing:)

On the whole, MCB's audience development can only benefit from listing casts ahead of time. What do they have to lose by trying? Those who "don't care" (as many on't) won't pay attention. Those who do care may buy a few extra tickets.

However, listing casts in advance is not the same thing as featuring or focusing on casting, as ABT does. Neither MCB nor the south Florida ballet scene in general is large enough, or devoted enough, for that.

Villella almost never talks about individual dancers in his talks to audiences. If he does, it is usually in response to a question, which he answers in the most general terms. What counts for him is the work itself.

Cristian, I understand your position. There are many advantages to star system, especially when one performs a relatively limited repertoire of classics. But there are advantages to other kinds of programming and casting as well. For me, it's fun to have access to several different approaches.

As to the excitement generated by competition and "artistic rivalries." I can imagine that such rivalries exist at MCB as at any company. But I don't see that much is gained by defining a company around them or or by encouraging audiences to act them out in the auditorium.


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