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MCB Program IFanfare, Bugaku, Theme&Variations


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#61 canbelto

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 07:45 AM

cristian, about Bugaku, it's one of those ballets that only made sense to me after I knew its history. It was designed for Allegra Kent, who was known for two things:

1. her small, child-like, appearance which with the right direction could almost seem Lolita-ish
2. her extremely flexible body line (she was ear-whacking before it was cool to earwhack)

I don't think she was ever known for her technique (the way Melissa Hayden or Merrill Ashley were, for example), so Balanchine designed ballets for her that showed off her Lolita-like appearance and extreme flexibility. Bugaku is about the wedding ritual between a Japanese child bride and her groom, and the contortions are supposed to be ... uh, erotic. :angel_not:

I suspect it;s one of those ballets that lost its perfume without the original cast.

#62 Jack Reed

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 08:08 AM

(from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)

[...]

I was intrigued to read your comparison of Garcia-Rodriguez/Wu and Guerra/Kronenberg, and your preference for the latter. I would have expected quite a lot of force (even menace) from Garcia-Rodriguez, unless he toned is stage personality down to fit more smoothly with the ethereal Wu. I can't wait to have a look at both couples for myself.

[...]

The absence of Catoya in this Program is definitely a loss.

What about Reyneris Reyes? Haven't heard whether or not he is dancing.

P.S. This is Posted Image, but I just noticed the new head shots on the MCB website. Very stylish and attractive. MCB has entered the 21st century on this, after years of what looked like high school yearbook mug shots.

Albertson and Zoe (mentioned in your review) look like entirely different people from those old shots. As does Jeanette Delgado. Much closer to the youthful beauty all these dancers have in real life.


Garcia-Rodriguez and Wu were a well-matched pair, in the way they performed this as a ballet, period, as were Kronenberg and Guerra, in the way they also caught some of the drama, in addition to rendering the ballet.

The absence of Catoya in any program is definitely a loss!

"ReyRey"? Stay tuned.

Having seen the Kent-Villella Bugaku myself several times, I'd say canbelto is on the right track, but another factor is the tendency today bemoaned by old-timers for dancers to be fine dance-technicians only now, so that "what you see is what you get," while some dancers, differently prepared to be sure, may find more within themselves to realize in the role. I think this accounts for the differences in the two pairs (so far) I've seen at MCB, both of whom have had Kent and Villella (and Sosenko) on hand but have utilized them to different degrees, I suppose, and the Pickard-Redick Bugaku at TSFB a few years ago, where presumably Farrell coached them. Sometimes some of the "perfume" comes back, I'd say, although I don't expect ever to get the effect of the original cast again.

#63 kfw

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 10:26 AM

Having seen the Kent-Villella Bugaku myself several times, I'd say canbelto is on the right track, but another factor is the tendency today bemoaned by old-timers for dancers to be fine dance-technicians only now, so that "what you see is what you get," while some dancers, differently prepared to be sure, may find more within themselves to realize in the role. I think this accounts for the differences in the two pairs (so far) I've seen at MCB, both of whom have had Kent and Villella (and Sosenko) on hand but have utilized them to different degrees, I suppose, and the Pickard-Redick Bugaku at TSFB a few years ago, where presumable Farrell coached them. Sometimes some of the "perfume" comes back, I'd say, although I don't expect ever to get the effect of the original cast again.

I never saw Kent and Villella, but I thought both Pickard and Magnicaballi looked properly and movingly anxious and vulnerable. And it didn't hurt that Magnicaballi is so small.

#64 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 10:28 AM

"ReyRey"? Stay tuned.


I liked Reyneris in the role better than Garcia-Rodriguez. He looked VERY serious onstage...almost frightening! :speechless-smiley-003:

#65 Jack Reed

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 02:24 PM

(from Washington, DC) The hit of Sunday afternoon's performance for me was Theme and Variations. It's easily the best ballet of the three, I think, and Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra bettered their Friday-night performance, which means that it was at a pretty high level. Kronenberg looks pretty tall on stage, deploying as she does here some regal grandeur as coloring to the most classical movement on the program and among the most classical in the repertory. Whatever cloud was over her sun seemed largely to have passed. And Guerra was everything she needed, as far as I could tell, as usual, and his own dancing met the energy requirements of this big "Russian" role. Zoe Zien, in the group of four corps girls, and stationed toward the center, continued to show her part with a kind of contained enthusiasm for it.

This is now the third set of costumes for the corps I can recall; first I saw the red (for the four women) and the yellow (for the eight), which pointed up the ballet's hierarchical similarities to The Sleeping Beauty; then Balanchine decided to subdue that, or something, and had medium-blue for the four and pale blue on the eight. One of the things I savor is structure, I suppose, and his ballets give us a lot of that to savor (At NYCB in June, it was his Scotch Symphony that had real architecture, architecture organic to the ballet, not "architecture" pasted onto it by Calatrava for a PR stunt, as Barack's Call Me Ben had.) and so I had some regret for this change; and now with blue on the four and white (or nearly) on the eight, I think the distinction between the two ranks is better kept, again; and if the costumes in themselves don't quite reach the distinction of the ones we saw in the old days, these realizations of this great ballet leave little to complain about overall.

And seeing Kronenberg's more vitalized rendition, I'm reminded of how she has rendered different roles in their appropriately different ways - Saturday afternoon's Bugaku being the most recent example! - and I was led to wonder whether Tricia Albertson's very considerable way with this, which is also her way with "Clarinets" or "Violas" in Fanfare, is her only way with things just now, lovely delight though it is.

Bugaku was led by Patricia Delgado and Reyneris Reyes, and though they were also perfectly secure in it as ballet, I persist in my feeling that it has something else going on, and I still think the Kronenberg-Guerra cast is the one which gets it best in this troupe. And I agree with Cristian about Reyes. Serious, okay, but menacing? I always associate that with the role, thanks to the original cast, and some stagings since, as I've noted. To me, Reyes looks a little young and, frankly, slight to menace much, though he seems a really reliable partner in what looks like very unconventional choreography.

Last but not least, there was some sign of Mary Carmen Catoya. Not on stage yet, but she walked about the theatre quite normally - dancer-normally, I mean, dancers don't even walk like us mere mortals - and looked very happy talking with friends. It's just another of my interpretations, of course, but this looks to me like she has resumed what she loves to do. (This is the same dancer who always cracks a smile near the end of In the Upper Room when two or three boys pick her up and toss her about.)

#66 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 03:37 PM

Thanks for your report, Jack. As I told you, I was trying to make to Broward at least for T&V, but couldn't make it, thanks to some paperwork that needed to be done...precisely by Sunday... :mad: I'll see if I can catch Albertson-(the only one I didn't see in the role)- in West Palm. I'm glad you liked Kronemberg on Sunday. When I got to see her, she wasn't really up to the role, IMHO. Guerra, even not being a super-technician, is always pleasant to watch, although the main course, of course, was to me the fired up duo Delgado/Panteado. :clapping:

#67 jsmu

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 02:54 PM

cristian, about Bugaku, it's one of those ballets that only made sense to me after I knew its history. It was designed for Allegra Kent, who was known for two things:

1. her small, child-like, appearance which with the right direction could almost seem Lolita-ish
2. her extremely flexible body line (she was ear-whacking before it was cool to earwhack)

I don't think she was ever known for her technique (the way Melissa Hayden or Merrill Ashley were, for example), so Balanchine designed ballets for her that showed off her Lolita-like appearance and extreme flexibility. Bugaku is about the wedding ritual between a Japanese child bride and her groom, and the contortions are supposed to be ... uh, erotic. :angel_not:

I suspect it;s one of those ballets that lost its perfume without the original cast.


Actually, Allegra Kent at her best (which was erratic) had a very fine and even an excellent technique, from all reviews and eyewitness accounts of anyone who saw her. It is unfair to compare anyone to Ashley or even Hayden in terms of 'technique' as far as cleanliness, exactitude, and strength; there are many reviews of Kent from the fifties and sixties which put her on a par with Tallchief (in the Minkus Pas de Trois, no less), Wilde (Glinka Pas de Trois, which is even more arduous), and other whiz-bang ballerinas. I think 'Lolita-ish' and 'child-like' are incorrect and very misleading in describing her presence, which was in fact delicate, mysterious, ethereal, sexual yet asexual. Kent was anything but a nymphet or a child; no child has that sort of felt life, inner existence, or persona on stage (almost no adults ever do, which made her extraordinary), and there was no immaturity about her in any way. it was the remoteness and inward aspect of her dancing which Balanchine captured so perfectly in many roles including Bugaku. Kent in fact coached these casts at MCB, and while no one, I'm sure, can possibly equal Kent and Villella, it is encouraging.

#68 bart

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 03:18 PM

I have to agree with jsmu about Kent's dancing in her prime.

The "erratic" label has stuck in people's memories, especially those who never saw her actually performing a wide variety of principal roles all through the late 50s and 60s.

As I recall, all Balanchine's ballerinas in those days were expected to dance a varied rep. Was she a knock out in lyurical and/or flexible roles like Faun, Ivesiana, Swan Lake (Odette), and roles like that? Yes. But she also had all the technique (characterized by jsmu as "cleanliness, exactitude, and strength") that one could hope for in Agon pdd, Stars and Stripes (First Campaign), Symphony in C, The Cage, Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy),.... I could go on.

On the other hand, I do acknowledge that there's a difference between being "known for technique" and having more than enough technique to dance a large and various repertoire brilliantly. It is the second category that is true of Kent.

#69 Jack Reed

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 01:53 PM

Having only recently seen Kent in Symphony in C (second movement) (in a good video, shot in Germany around 1972), in addition to some Bugakus on stage, with Villella, I heartily endorse bart's and jsmu's descriptions and praise of Kent's dancing.


from Edward Villella's pre-performance talks

Fanfare includes mass action contrasting with small detail; it's on the program because we like variety.

At the premiere of Bugaku, the audience giggled at the long "overture" without action. It has sumo wrestlers and samurai. [maybe he meant some of the movement qualities of these types, not necessarily the "build" of sumo wrestlers] It's a good novelty after Fanfare. It took some time to figure out who we were onstage. [Allegra Kent told Nancy Reynolds "it took about ten years before it really evolved into something. It's the same now, but better."]

Theme and Variations was the only ballet Balanchine did for ABT. From the 19th Century; he used a set like the one for Swan Lake Act III to set you up for the ballet.

Talking about Theme and Variations, Villella thought that Balanchine hints at things, he's not overt; he wants you to be engaged. He quoted Arlene Croce, who said (in "The New Yorker" for 8th December 1975, reprinted on pp. 147-8 of "Writing in the Dark", for example) that, "... The dancing grows from simple to complex structures, and eery stage of growth is conspicuously related to eery other. It is partly of their structural logic hat his ballets make such great sense - or such vivid nonsense - to us years after they were completed, but it's also because such logic isn't the featured attraction; it's only the means by which a particular kind of entertainment is elucidated. What is featured is human variety." We are someone up there, it's about how we relate. It's the grand Russian imperial style.

Q: Go to Jacob's Pillow? A: Our repertory is too large for their stage. We danced there years ago.

Q: How many dancers are there now? A: Over fifty; some students, about 4 or 5, 4 or 5 apprentices, and then those with on-going positions.

Q: Are we on DVDs? A: We can't pay the stagehands [and others], it's just impractical.

Q: Reasons for choosing ballets? A: [For instance], we pay $800 a night to Philip Glass if we do Glass Pieces.

Q: Who were your favorite partners? A: ... I danced Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux five times one week with five very different partners. Patty McBride was like, "Eddie, take care of me;" Melissa Hayden was, "Here I come!"


Anyone else who caught something from these talks, please add to this!

#70 mira

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 07:20 PM

I also saw Bugaku at the Saturday matinee at the Broward Center. Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra gave a deep and detailed telling of this complicated/fragile enigma of a ballet. I want to say "raw" but not - honest seems to simple a word. They lived through each moment of it and left me without words to describe it to friends. If any BTers have a chance to see it this weekend, I hope you'll take the opportunity.

#71 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 10:14 AM

Theme and Variations was the only ballet Balanchine did for ABT.


What about "Waltz Academy"...?

From the Trust site...

[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"]"Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Vittorio Rieti (1898-1994) was educated in Milan and Rome. He composed the music for the ballets Barabau and Le Bal for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, both choreographed by Balanchine. He also composed operas and orchestral and other instrumental works in the neoclassical style. He came to the United States in 1940 and collaborated with Balanchine on a number of ballets, including Waltz Academy for Ballet Theatre".[/size][/font]

http://balanchine.co...site/ballets/59

#72 richard53dog

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 01:33 PM



Theme and Variations was the only ballet Balanchine did for ABT.


What about "Waltz Academy"...?

From the Trust site...

[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"]"Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Vittorio Rieti (1898-1994) was educated in Milan and Rome. He composed the music for the ballets Barabau and Le Bal for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, both choreographed by Balanchine. He also composed operas and orchestral and other instrumental works in the neoclassical style. He came to the United States in 1940 and collaborated with Balanchine on a number of ballets, including Waltz Academy for Ballet Theatre".[/size][/font]

http://balanchine.co...site/ballets/59


True.

And from ABT's Repertory Archives:

WALTZ ACADEMY

Music by Vittorio Rieti
Choreography by George Balanchine
Scenery by Oliver Smith
Costumes by Alvin Colt

World Premiere: Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts, 10/5/44
Original Cast: Margaret Banks, Mildred Ferguson, Barbara Fallis, Roszika Sabo, June Morris, Fern Whitney (Pas de Six), Janet Reed, Albia Kavan, Harold Lang, Fernando Alonso (Pas de Quatre), Miriam Golden, Diana Adams, John Kriza (Pas de Trois), Nora Kaye, John Taras, Rex Cooper (Pas de Trois), Nana Gollner, Paul Petroff (Pas de Deux), entire ensemble (Finale)

Copyright 2003-2007 Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc.
All rights reserved.


It's understandable though that Waltz Academy isn't thought of much as it is very rarely, if ever seen in the US and T&V is part of the active rep.

#73 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 08:57 PM




Theme and Variations was the only ballet Balanchine did for ABT.


What about "Waltz Academy"...?

From the Trust site...

[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"]"Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Vittorio Rieti (1898-1994) was educated in Milan and Rome. He composed the music for the ballets Barabau and Le Bal for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, both choreographed by Balanchine. He also composed operas and orchestral and other instrumental works in the neoclassical style. He came to the United States in 1940 and collaborated with Balanchine on a number of ballets, including Waltz Academy for Ballet Theatre".[/size][/font]

http://balanchine.co...site/ballets/59


True.

And from ABT's Repertory Archives:

WALTZ ACADEMY

Music by Vittorio Rieti
Choreography by George Balanchine
Scenery by Oliver Smith
Costumes by Alvin Colt

World Premiere: Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts, 10/5/44
Original Cast: Margaret Banks, Mildred Ferguson, Barbara Fallis, Roszika Sabo, June Morris, Fern Whitney (Pas de Six), Janet Reed, Albia Kavan, Harold Lang, Fernando Alonso (Pas de Quatre), Miriam Golden, Diana Adams, John Kriza (Pas de Trois), Nora Kaye, John Taras, Rex Cooper (Pas de Trois), Nana Gollner, Paul Petroff (Pas de Deux), entire ensemble (Finale)

© Copyright 2003-2007 Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc.
All rights reserved.


It's understandable though that Waltz Academy isn't thought of much as it is very rarely, if ever seen in the US and T&V is part of the active rep.


Thanks, Richard, for the info. Interesting to note that Fernando Alonso-(part of the original cast for the Pas de Quatre and Alicia's ex husband)- is still very much active and keeps staging ballets and rehearsing ballerinas in Cuba.

Here's a pic of Alicia in the ballet.

http://www.ballerina...ic/alonso03.jpg

#74 bart

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 06:08 AM

A question I never thought I'd hear myself ask: is it possible that having a live orchestra is NOT a good idea if the budgetary trade-off is filling the stage with lovely but unexperienced young apprentices and students, as happened in all three ballets last night at the Kravis Center?

In reverse order of performance:

Theme and Variations: the opening night leads were principal Patricia Delgado and Renan Cedeiero a young, gangling, and very talented dancer who was a student apprentice only last year. Neither, at this point in their careers, is entirely up to this choreography. The performance was at times insecure and always sketchy in its effect. This is not a partnership made in heaven, which seems to have had an effect on Delgado. The solo work turned into a succession of unrelated moves and combinations. No one on stage was helped by the orchestra's sluggish and dull performance of the score.

Remember the thrilling, even gasp-inducing moment towards the end when 12 men make their first appearance on stage, partnering the ladies? They all rush in and hurtling towards the audience, heralded by a dramatic role on the tympani? Last night tympani was muted, almost apologetic This is supposed to be a BIG Balanchine moment, a wonderful dramatic effect. Not last night.

Bugaku: Leads were Haiyan Wu, returning after a year's maternity leave, and Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez, returning after an absence of several years. Garcia-Rodriquez was magnetic: giving every move and gesture significance, and very much in the style I remember from performances long ago. Wu seemed to be inhabiting another world and going through the motions. One small thing: the eyes. Garcia-Rodriquez fixed his gaze on his partner with an almost frightening intensity. Wu resorted to her generic wide-eyed look. She had the part's arm gestures down pat, but her use of head and shoulders could have come from any 19th century classical work. Among her attendants, at least two had greater command of the subtle and distinct dance language Balanchine has created: Sara Esty and Zoe Zien. The male attendants had a more difficult time of it. On too many occasions, several of them could not find the proper foot placement and had to adjust. Balance, flow and pose were lost.

The orchestra redeemed itself here, from the soft atonal sounds of the opening to the intense and (to me) quite wonderful intensity of the pas de deux. A fine job in what must be a difficult score to play effectively.

I'm looking forward to seeing this again.

Fanfare: I thought this was truly delightful when i last saw it decades ago. No longer. Those who did not like it at the time called it a trifle, an entertainment. Alas, something is an "entertainment" only if it entertains you. The score, divided into little educational snippets, does not allow for much in the way of sustained dance flow, except in the final fugue. When the fugue came, with the entire cast on stage, the ballet came to life for a few moments.

Edward Villella, a lovely man, is no Major Domo. His reading of the text created a vacume of energy that had an effect on the entire performance. Then there was that old problem with students and apprentices, who swarmed all over the stage, This was especially noticeable in the all-apprentice Brass section (a corps of 6 young men in yellow).

Stars of the performance: Jennifer Kronenberg's warm, plushly danced Harp and the wonderful Percussion trio of Garcia-Rodriquez, Renato Penteado, and Carlos Guerra. Quite lovely: Amanda Weingarten's Oboe, Tricia Albertson's Clarinet, all the Violins, and Sara Esty and Leigh-Ann Esty as Piccolo and Flutes. They occupied their roles -- and their space on stage -- with confidence, flair, and joie de danser.

My favorite comment about the 1953 production of Fanfare, quoted in Repertory in Review, is that it comes across as a cross between The Card Game and Peter and the Wolf. I can see the writer's point. is this one of those works that needs an all-star ensemble to get across?

Among those NOT dancing at this performance: Jeanette Delgado, Mary Carmen Catoya, Callie Manning, Yann Trividic, and Reyneris Reyes. That's a lot of absent talent ... including 4 principals. Let's see what happens as the weekend progresses.

#75 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 12:10 PM

bart, I also felt that the choreography has been somewhat wattered down during some segments. For example, there's the moment when the corps couples are rushing toward center stage to meet in pairs. Now, this is a part where the dancers ought to be very energetic, and right at the moment when they meet , arms raised up, women on pointe, they should do it as if they are THROWING themselves, after RUNNING, to finally JUMP to meet the other couple face to face before backing up to keep running. Well, here I didn't see any jumping...they just kinda rushed toward the center and made the pose, sans the very effective jump. Definitely a miss...


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