MCB Program II

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From the MCB website:

"Baker’s Dozen – Twyla Tharp, with her “prankster’s sense of humor” (The Times), flings a dozen dancers onto the stage – hustling, spinning, shimmying, yet romantically inclined – to the irresistible stride piano of the immortal Willie “The Lion” Smith.

Program II also includes La Sonnambula and Western Symphony"

Scheduled Dates

Adrienne Arsht Center: January 7-9, 2011

Broward Center: January 14-16, 2011

Kravis Center: January 28-30, 2011

Will be watching, of course. :thumbsup:

Edited to add Balanchine's "Diane & Actaeon PDD"...not officially being listed in the booklet/website, but included in the performances AND in the playbill-(which I guess makes it "official" enough to be posted here)

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An interesting program, which reflects Edward Villella's mantra nowadays: We Dance in So Many Styles. All, however, are good works of their type.

I'm looking forward to Baker's Dozen, a pleasant work with great spirit, casual elegance, and many great touches. I can think of a few company members -- despite the loss of so many stylish dancers -- who should excel in this, though not quite a Dozen.

Here's a description from the ABT website. Note that Elaine Kudo staged it for them. Since Ms. Kudo has worked with Miami before, perhaps she has done the same here.

Sections: I – Relaxin'; II – Echoes of Spring; III – Tango a la caprice; IV – Concentrating; V – Relaxin'.

In Tharp's career history, this dance for twelve individual dancers, initially presented as six mated couples, contrasts sharply, in its serenity and simplicity, with the extravagance and free-for-all form that distinguishes the dances she had then previously made for the 1978 film Hair. In fact, some of the movement motifs and inventions for this subsequent, serene work include "out-takes" from Hair itself. Baker's Dozen takes its audience, by way of its satiny smooth jazz music, to a "palm court" space where afternoon social dancing happens with utter ease and inevitability, touched throughout by gentle physical eccentricities, dancers clambering up on other dancers, dancers held upside-down or other "indecorous" positions.

Dressed in smoothly shaped, silky cream clothes – based on afternoon dresses for the women and semi-formals for the men – dancers slip into and out of view in an ever-evolving combination of numbers. Tharp has likened her chosen groupings to "an ancient game of jacks": four trios, three quartets, two sextets. Eventually a harmonious and communal twelevesome emerges, all by way of bringing into prominence, one after another, each of the twelve dancers soloing apart from the eleven-dancer fold. Its romantically inclined couplings, its wittily eccentric partnerings, and its finely calibrated unison work, the satiny smooth dance aims to conjure a world of living social graces and personal rapport. Since its beginnings, the dance has held the public's attention as a special Tharp classic, mixing nostalgic and contemporary emotions all together.

Baker's Dozen was given its American Ballet Theatre Company Premiere on October 30, 2007 at City Center in New York.

Baker's Dozen received its World Premiere by the Twyla Tharp Dance Company on February 15, 1979, danced by Twyla Tharp, Rose Marie Wright, Tom Rawe, Jennifer Way, Shelley Washington, Christine Uchida, Raymond Kurshals, Richard Colton, Anthony Ferro, William Whitener, France Mayotte and John Carrafa.

Re: Sonnambula. Our thread on this work is already getting posts. Cristian, I think that this ballet is the kind of work Alicia Alonso would have been quite familiar with, and possibly influenced by, from the Ballet Russe days. It also showed up at the Ballet Theater. I'd be interested to hear whether you find anything familiar with some of the work performed by Alonso's company in Cuba (I mean the non-classical ones)

Western Symphony, which we are discussing elsewhere, was one of the ballets filmed for the Dance in America PBS program that will be shown on public television around the U.S. in March. So Balletalertniks who can't make it to south Florida will be able to see it there.

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Re: Sonnambula. Our thread on this work is already getting posts. Cristian, I think that this ballet is the kind of work Alicia Alonso would have been quite familiar with, and possibly influenced by, from the Ballet Russe days. It also showed up at the Ballet Theater. I'd be interested to hear whether you find anything familiar with some of the work performed by Alonso's company in Cuba (I mean the non-classical ones)

From the top of my head it indeed reminded me of "Shakespeare and his masks"

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I will be back to watch again the program tonight. I want to gather more viewing time on this program before reviewing it. :thumbsup:

RED ALERT!!!: Something allegedly called "Diane&Acteon PDD" in the programme was added apparently at the last minute, for which it was in the little paper with the performance's casting, but not in the Playbill. I wonder who was responsible for this choreography. CERTAINLY not Vaganova...

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I believe that MCB's version of Diana and Actaeon was choreographed by Balanchine for Edward Villella and Patricia Mc Bride's television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1968.

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Aaah...I KNEW something was still right in my head-(not a lot but still some). I was about to ask this, since I remember this detail from Villella's book. I just wanted to localize it first not to sound too silly in case this was just a product of my imagination...THANKS, LEIBLING!

Still...I still recognize Acteon's variation as the standard choreography attributed to Vaganova. In any case, nor Balanchine or Vaganova were even mentioned in the playbill. What a disaster...

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So the curtain went up for La Sonnambula to reveal the vintage-looking setting of the ballet. One doesn’t really get to see such fancy sets in ballet any longer…it really looked as if opera instead of ballet was to be presented. Definitely a beautiful, promising sight.

I guess when talking about this ballet, the main focus would go in two directions. That of the portray of the main role and her interaction with her man/partner and and her surroundings and then the ballet’s own atmosphere, which I saw as important as the dancing itself, which is not that much.

I have more complaints than praising, I'm sad to report. The main thing I noticed was the absence of the sense of luxury/absurdity/mystery that I suspect characterized this garden fête when it was first choreographed. For what I’ve read and seen from those scans rg posted-(thanks!)-of the original designs-(like that of the “Fan and Fish” couple)- and atm711's always helpful,wonderful memories, this whole affair should suggest an intense feeling of non-reality or even some uncomfortable uneasiness…-(sort of like in La Valse, which somehow has been able to retain). The guests' masks were too simple, and the divertissements to pleasantly offered. I hope that atm711 is reading this, so she can add something that could maybe confirm my suspicions. I think the dancing segment of the party was at some point aimed to alter the general sense of comfort and pleasant view in the guests-(both those onstage and those of us in the audience). For some reason I thought about the infamous sequence of Anita Ekberg’s sensuous dancing and fountain dipping in La Dolce Vitta, in the way that it gives you that “prohibited” second thoughts about something that goes beyond logic and/or socially acceptance-(but pleasant at the same time).

The Pastorale had an interesting twist on Friday, when it was danced by twin sisters Leigh-Ann and Sara Esty. Watching this two identical dancers wearing identical costumes and doing identical steps really added a nice touch, for which at points it was very strange…almost bizarre to watch this replicated, mirror-dancing image up there. Loved it.

The Oriental Pas de deux had a lot of the Bayadere’s Golden Idol, with its broken wrists and lotus poses. It was interesting, although a low note came toward the end on Friday when the female lead-(Skyler Lubin)- came rushing onstage to witness the Poet’s final moments. Lubin-(along with the rest of the divertissements dancers)-had been stripped from her headpiece, and all the women, Lubin included, had their hair down. Well, somehow the fact that hers was a severely highlighted head of hair-(what we could call a “bleached blonde”)-wasn’t too appealing, at least to me. Renato Panteado was the male lead on Friday, and Nathalia Arja and Renan Cardeiro danced on Saturday night.

The Harlequin was phenomenal on Friday, less so on Saturday. On opening night we had Brazilian Corps guy Kleber Rebello, who gave us a WONDERFUL portray, very alive in the best tradition of this Commedia del’Arte character, and with amazing technical tricks, among them the super ample grand ecartes, and the fearless grand dipping into the left wing which, as I said earlier, looked as if a swimming pool had been placed for him over there to be safe. He had a lovely sense of humor too, like when he started limping and angrily mumbling to himself after an overly done effort to impress his audience. Very comical guy. On Saturday night we had Alexandre Ferreira.

The Poet was Carlos Miguel Guerra on Friday and Yann Trividic on Saturday. Guerra is the perfect guy for this kind of role. I believe every company ought to have a “princely” bailarin, one pretty boy that can handle all the romantic, suave roles-(sometimes something difficult to achieve). Well, MCB has Guerra, and he has demonstrated many times that this is his territory. He is a great looking-(in the boyish side)- guy with soft manners-(even in real life)-and beautiful smile. His Poet was very convincing…I really enjoyed it.

And then she came.…La Sonnambula all her full sleepiness glory and regalia. Jennifer Kronenberg-(just edited her last name, sorry about the misspelling)- danced the role both nights-(I didn’t go on Sunday). Now, we all had read that she was coached by Miss Kent herself in the role, back when MCB premiered the work, BUT I wasn’t convinced, and here is why:

Miss kronenberg is a lovely creature, and right after she came out of the tower she started doing her pointe running around the stage, but I didn’t see the daring moments that Kent says should happen like when the audience feels that she could fall down the orchestra pit, for which she should explore her territory right up to the end of the stage. Her circling was very fluid, yes, and the whole thing had many qualities, but “daring” wasn’t one of them. The PDD was very beautiful, and the climatic moment when the poet is trying to encircle the Sonnambula’s body while on the floor to just be left there by her in a beautiful cambre position was very effective.

The final moments of the ballet came, and here another moment narrated by Kent that I didn’t get was that of the “terror stricken” Sonnambula when she trips over the Poet’s dead body, and realizes what just happened. I didn’t see the terror on Kronenberg’s face. Her Sonnambula sort of reacted a bit more alerted, but certainly not with fear.

The Coquette was very well portrayed both days. On Friday by Callie Manning-(a great character dancer and beautiful ballerina)-and on Saturday by Patricia Delgado-(always sultry and appealing, just as in real life). The Baron was Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez both days...very well done too.

HAIRDRESSING ALERT!!!: Well,…I wanted to leave this issue for the end of my review, for which I really consider it to be of extreme importance in this ballet. La Sonnambula is all about atmosphere, and and sets, props, hair and makeup are here as important as the dancing itself. When Kronenberg came out of the tower I immediately noticed that her hair had been completely altered for the performance. This could be the hairdresser-(my old profession)- side of me, but I couldn’t help but notice that the overall effect of the character had been completely diminished by whoever's choice was to make Kronenberg’s hair as perfect as it could look for a photo shot. To start with, hers is a naturally beautiful wavy hair, almost curly. So here we were presented with a SEVERELY blow dried, AGGRESSIVELY flat ironed 'do. Her hair looked as if she was to do a magazine add for the Keratin Super Straightener Treatment, to the point that when she was burreing you could see the trembling flocks, which were as shiny as they could be. One of the things that I loved from Danilova’s picture with Franklin was her curly long hair down her back, which could easily convinced you that it was that of a person who just came out of bed. Kronenberg, on the other side, looked as if she just had came out of the hairdressing chair. Think of this. PLEASE, Jennifer, get rid of the flat iron and…show your hair as it is. You’ll win a 60 % of conviction in the role.

The final moments of the ballet, when the Poet is given to the Sonnambula’s open arms were amazing, and the very last seconds of her disappearance in the tower as an ascending light was to die for. I loved it.

Guerra was placed beautifully in Kronemberg’s accepting hands, his lifeless body truly looked as dead as it could be. Yann Trividic-(a bigger guy)-had to accommodate himself, somehow holding on to Kronemberg, as if deeply wounded. It was different, but also very pretty.

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Will be back for some notes on Western Symphony. :flowers:

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Oh my! I'm sorry to say that once again, I am terribly disturbed (annoyed actually), though not really shocked, by yet another one of Christian's "reviews" of an exceptional series of MCB performances. I hesitate to call any of our commentaries "reviews" as I really don't know that ANY of us are quite qualified to write a truly objective and completely educated review. (Though, my apologies Christian if you feel that you are).

Let me begin by saying that not only did I, the freinds that accompanied me, and most of the audience that I overheard during intermission LOVE Miss Kronenberg's (also Christian, please note the spelling of her name, as you seem to always get it wrong)interpretation of the role of the Sleepwalker, but we all also LOVED her hair (granted, I'm not a hairdresser)! As different as it may have been for her, I thought it suited the ballet PERFECTLY and was not at all as distracting as long wavy hair can sometimes be. I won't presume to know what her hair is like in "Real Life", but I know that for "Slaughter on 10th Ave" it was much wilder --- which suited THAT particular role. All "Hair-splitting" aside , let's call a spade a spade... Her dancing both nights was breathtaking, and if some were unable to appreciate her dancing because they were focused on other matters, I pity them. The fact that we are even discussing HAIR on this website is borderline ridiculous. :wallbash: On that note...

I did some research on Allegra Kent's perspective of "La Sonnambula" and found a particularly interesting article in a 2005 issue of DANCE Magazine called "Dreamweaver". The first part of the article is from Kent's point of view, and the sister article is from Kronenberg's (being coached by Kent). Hope some of you will look it up! As a former dancer and NYCB enthusiast, I can assure everyone that Kronenberg came as close to following Kent's notes as anyone I've seen (much more so than Darci Kistler of NYCB, though she is a beauty of a ballerina in her own right). While the Sleepwalker must run without hesitation, as if to run into the pit, there is the matter of fact that can not be ignored -- a large presenium between the end of the stage and the pit. Miss Kronenberg's foot was almost past that point TWICE (I especially noted this on Saturday night when my seats were closer to the stage). Further than that I don't think the lack of stage light and flooring would allow. Her bourees backward were seamless and it seemed as if her slumbering top were almost disconnected from her agitated lower half. Most impressive. I also noted in my closeness on Saturday that she simply DOES NOT BLINK! A trick I'd love to know how she pulls off! At the end when she discovers the poet's body, as Christian stated, she does not show any fear on her FACE at all. Rather, she shows DESPAIR, in her BODY that is, with a deep contraction and roll of her head. Again, quite effective.

I agree that Mr. Guerra is PERFECTLY suited to the role of the Poet, but I am biased, as I enjoy him in most pieces and have gone to performances specifically to see he and his wife dance. I did enjoy both Ms. Manning on Friday and Ms. Delgado on Saturday as the Coquette, as different as they were. After all, isn't that the beauty of going to more than one show, appreciating the indivdualities of each dancer?

Last note...though Tharp is not my cup of tea, I found "Baker's Dozen" enjoyable enough, and thought it was remarkable how the dancers all switch hats so quickly and completely in one evening. A BIG BRAVO to them ALL!!!!!

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I must make a CORRECTION!The part of the stage I referred to in my earlier post, between the stage itself and the pit, is called the APRON. It occurred to me late last night that I've confused my terms. Too many years since performing I guess; or just a rusty old brain!

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Welcome to Ballet Alert, mcbfan. It's a pleasure to hear a new voice on this forum, and we hope you'll share your impressions and thoughts about future performances. (On a selfish note, don't get to see the program until it reaches the Kravis Center, so I enjoy hearing what viewers from Miami and Fort Lauderdale think.)

Ballet Alert can't survive without comments and reviews from a variety of points of view. Like you, a number of our MCB posters have NYCB viewer experience -- in come cases, for decades.. That is our aesthetic background. It is NOT, however, the background of everyone who enjoys MCB. So, we keep an open door.

I am someone who appreciates MCB's programs and dancers enormously. That means "adores" but also sometimes means "can be frustrated by." We all bring prior conceptions to what we see. Ballet Alert believes that we can discuss them in a collegial fashion, despite our personal preferences.

At this point I'd like to put my MODERATOR'S BEANIE ON:

As much as possible, we like to avoid personal cross-stalk among posters. Disagreement about the art is welcome. Disagreement with a personal overtone is less useful.

I loved Kent's article about coaching the Sleep Walker with Kronenberg. I was bowled over by Kronenberg in this role, at least as danced in 2005. But she was not at all like my memories of Kent in the role. I have to admit that I did not see the anxious risk-taking -- the uncanny almost bat-like sensitivity to space and even physical objects -- that Kent was trying to coach. Kronenberg learned the lesson but had to express it through her own stage personality and movement, which is less nervous, less "panicky," one might say, than Kent's. This is a theater piece that works best when a strong dance personality makes it her own.

The Kent coaching and performances date back to the 2004-05 season. Whether or not Kronenberg achieved Kent's ideal -- or even wanted to achieve it -- in 2011 is something we can discuss. So, I suppose, is her hair style. Kronenberg is, in my opinion, the MCB dancer with the most complex sense of ballet as a THEATER art. I suspect that every effect she presents on stage is one that she has chosen, based on a sense of style that is well thought-out. That includes hair as well as bourrees. :wink:

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I'm feeling very encouraged now to keep working on my review.

And welcome, mcbfan...! :flowers:

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Oh my! I'm sorry to say that once again, I am terribly disturbed (annoyed actually), though not really shocked, by yet another one of Christian's "reviews" of an exceptional series of MCB performances. I hesitate to call any of our commentaries "reviews" as I really don't know that ANY of us are quite qualified to write a truly objective and completely educated review. (Though, my apologies Christian if you feel that you are).

Let me begin by saying that not only did I, the freinds that accompanied me, and most of the audience that I overheard during intermission LOVE Miss Kronenberg's (also Christian, please note the spelling of her name, as you seem to always get it wrong)interpretation of the role of the Sleepwalker, but we all also LOVED her hair (granted, I'm not a hairdresser)! As different as it may have been for her, I thought it suited the ballet PERFECTLY and was not at all as distracting as long wavy hair can sometimes be. I won't presume to know what her hair is like in "Real Life", but I know that for "Slaughter on 10th Ave" it was much wilder --- which suited THAT particular role. All "Hair-splitting" aside , let's call a spade a spade... Her dancing both nights was breathtaking, and if some were unable to appreciate her dancing because they were focused on other matters, I pity them. The fact that we are even discussing HAIR on this website is borderline ridiculous. :wallbash:

[etc., etc.]

bart was kind but I will be blunt: we sometimes leave a post that violates many of our rules as an example of "What Not to Post". You already checked off that your read our "Rules and Policies" before you registered, and I have my doubts because you haven't completed your registration properly, but perhaps I should start with a review of our mission,

Ballet Alert! was founded to focus attention on ballet as an art form, to alert people to what is happening in ballet today, and to provide a place where people could discuss ballet. This is our mission.

We are here to discuss classical ballet. As noted many times on the site, in various stickies and documents, the company forums are here for discussion and reviews by our members. There are links to professional reviewers in the "Links" forum, and we remove them from the company forums unless they are a kick-off for discussion.

It is against Ballet Alert! policy to discuss the discussion. If you think a post violates our policies, click the report! button underneath each post. The Moderators will decide whether to take action. For example, we will decide whether hair is an appropriate topic for comment, which in this case it is, since it is onstage and the makeup and wig people are part of the production team.

We are also not a fan site. If you expect boosterism, you're on the wrong site. We encourage criticism.

No one else is wrong unless they've gotten their facts backwards. We have differences of opinion and see different things. If you have a problem with a review on the company forums, tell us what you think about the performance. We're not interested in what posters think of other posters, and, as a general rule, posts that express this are edited heavily or removed without notice. And we can hear very well, thank you. There's no need to SHOUT.

It's up to you whether you want to continue to be part of this community.

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A little something on Western Symphony, D&A PDD and Baker's Dozen tonight.

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Oh...what happened here...? I wrote something last night and double checked right after and it was fine and posted before closing my laptop. Now it is gone... :( I wonder if I hit something before turning off the computer and accidentally deleted the post. Oh well...I will rewrite it tonight.(didn't save it either... :( )

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So here I go again. Aaagh...I still can't believe I deleted my last night's long post... :wallbash:


Western Symphony was like a nice wave of fresh air after the middle section of the night’s program-(will talk about it later on…toward the very end of the review). I truly enjoyed the “Wild-Wild West”-like sets, and ditto for the costumes, with the saloon girls-like lovely fluffy tutus and gloves for the girls and the cowboy regalia for the boys.

Now, WS is obviously not a pretentious ballet-(at least not in the way of Balanchine’s “big guys”[symphony in C, Serenade, T&V, Jewels etc…)], but truly a very colorful, enjoyable one, somehow in the lines of Bourree Fantasque.

Among the four sections of the ballet the one that I enjoyed the most was the second one,…the Adagio, closely followed by the very last one...the Rondo. The Adagio was very interesting, and I would like to ask to the more knowledgeable “balanchinized” members of this board if my impression of this part of the choreography is somehow in the right track. This Adagio starts with the male dancer making his appearance onstage guiding a group of girls as if they are the horses of his carriage. Right after this a Pas de deux takes place, but one with an interesting twist. It looked to me as if Balanchine was trying to either mock a formal, traditional Pas de deux in the Imperial old fashion, or either as if he was paying some type of tribute to them...…or both. The whole choreography definitely had a pseudo-comical undertone, and at times it occurred to me that he was trying to make some fun-(in a respectful, but jokingly way)-of “Giselle”, judging from the ballerina's cossed arms position-(just like a willi)- when she appears onstage to the way that the whole PDD finishes-(which was almost as a carbon copy of the very last moments of the romantic ballet...arabesque penchee and everything)-, after which she goes away bearing, again, her crossed arms. Then there is also a grand, heroic variation for the bailarin-(just as in every old PDD)-, and even the position that the corps girls take on each side of the stage on parallel lines, suggests those of the Corps in Bayadere or Swan Lake. There’s even a moment when some of the girls pull the two dancers away from each other..again just like in Giselle. It was very interesting, and there was definitely a comical approach to it. I wonder, again, if this is some sort of parody. In any case, it was very cute. I approved. :P (The XIX Century guy has spoken, people... :P )

The Rondo was great, the highlight of it being the ballerina’s appearance with that huge, extravagant feathered hat-(LOVED it!), and in general the happy feeling of the whole thing.

My favorite dancers were Katia Carranza and Renan Cerdeiro on Friday during the Adagio and Patricia Delgado and Yann Trividic in the Rondo the same day. Carranza knew how to make the best out of the comical side of her section, pulling out some great faces and dropping the right accents here and there, and P. Delgado doesn’t need a lot of effort to light up the stage…she just goes and plays her own sultry, inhibited self, always making sure that we know she’s happy just by being up there.

The cast was as follows:


Allegro: Kronenberg/Guerra

Adagio: Carranza/Cerdeiro. Kuddos to Cerdeiro, a Corps member who did a great job partnering Principal Carranza.

Scherzo: Albertson/Panteado

Rondo: Delgado-( :clapping: )/Trividic


Allegro: Albertson/Cerdeiro

Adagio: Catoya/Reyes

Scherzo: Manning/Rebello

Rondo: Kronenberg/Guerra


This last minute addition to the program wasn’t too successful in my eyes. The thing is that, whoever staged this version of this tour de force-(Balanchine or Villella)-ended up with a blander version of Vaganova’s take on Petipa. To me the difference was probably more obvious, for which the version danced in Cuba-(one that I got to see countless times)-has been heavily amplified in the tricks department. So then when offered this simpler staging, it just left me cold. This is a soviet-style-(made from Imperial left overs)- PDD, made to display an ample, difficult range of pyrotechnics on shameless showy dancers, and I don’t think MCB has ever been too interested in those type of things...nor that they really know how to treat them. Curiously, the Entrance-(which shows the bailarin first unlike in Vaganova’s)-the Adagio, Diane's variation and Coda were different, but Actaeon’s variation was pretty much the standard one we all know. Here I want to clap to Corps Member Kleber Rebello, who danced the part BEAUTIFULLY on Friday. He was truly a revelation. People…let’s watch out for this guy.

The cast was as follows:

On Friday, Catoya and Rebello-( :clapping: )-, and on Saturday P. Delgado and Panteado.


This bored me to death.

I can’t wait to read Jack’s and bart’s impressions. Cheers!

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Briefly, as the hour is late, and I have only seen the Friday opener (14th January) here in the Broward CPA, I thought the program gathered some strength as it went along. According to Reynolds, IIRC, Balanchine himself had trouble realizing his conception of Sonnambula with the company he had developed; and she quotes Croce, writing about about Balanchine's achievement:

[Sonnambula] seems chilly and remote. The tone, apart from the melodramatic aura which invests the plot, is edgy and fitful, scraping along an emotional precipice, threatening always to disintegrate into unintentional comedy. But it never loses its balance and it never, even at the end, rewards an audience's curiosity with solid denial of its suspect nature. It just moves to another part of the precipice and hangs there with a frightened smile as the curtain falls.

For me, this rendition didn't get as close to the edge of the precipice, and so - to MCB's credit - neither did it disintegrate into comedy - really, although there were some faint waves of chuckles during the great pas de deux - and overall it seemed rather mild and soft, especially in the Sleepwalker's second appearance. We got the Kronenberg-Guerra cast, and I agree with the remark about her superior abilities in theatre in the company (now that Seay is gone), but this is a very unusual and difficult part to bring off, evidently. And not the only one in this ballet. And so I was most pleased with the performance of a small part, relatively "easy," requiring just classical dancing, MCB's strength, and a great strength it is, and Skyler Lubin gave the "Oriental Pas de Deux" plenty of large, clear dancing, and I want to see more of her!

I have some quibbles about the set and the staging: The Poet just walks on from the wing, rather than entering at the back, through the open arcade, as though from farther away; he can't do that here, because the arcade is mostly closed, and the open center arch is (partly) blocked by the bench for the Coquette's and the Poet's conversation. ("Partly" because the Harlequin enters by leaping over the bench! Rebello was light and easy in such spectacular stuff, but his character could be clearer - the "lumbago" business and so on. But the Poet cannot leap in, that's not in his character.)

On the other hand, the very end is powerful: TSFB's performances in November had an open arcade for a more effective entrance of the Poet, but above it a corridor with windows, so by seeing each window light up and then darken, in sequence, we could infer the Sleepwalker's approach and later, her withdrawal, presumably with the Poet in her arms, following what we saw at NYCB; but MCB, using ABT's set and costumes, as in the Ferri-Baryshnikov video, lacks that corridor, and at the end, her candle-light rises into the sky: She and the Poet are gone together now forever!

I had a lot of fun with Baker's Dozen, a lot more than one would expect from the sober ABT description of it, good as far as it goes: Tharp divides her cast up in a lot more interesting ways than is implied there, one against the rest, for instance. But I still found the piece, set on this company, made the dancers look interchangeable. But maybe it's too gaggy?

Diana and Actaeon seemed quite as much the old-fashioned war-horse bravura show piece Villella told us it was beforehand. His justification for programming it had my enthusiastic agreement: We have a wonderful ballerina, he said, just recovering from a major problem, who had only just done a few Nutcrackers since she had had to stop dancing last year. Yes! Catoya was back! I thought her very fine, completely finished performance, maybe just slightly subdued, was the best thing on view the whole evening. Just like she used to do, and I wasn't expecting her to appear yet. Rebello, her partner, is suited to this piece, and I want to see a little more refined phrasing from him - that's supposed to be a compliment, I want to see more of his dancing. And lots more of hers.

My thoughts about Western Symphony have already been expressed just above here by Cristian, who sees the parody in the "Adagio" movement - the crossed arms are the giveaway, and the boureeing entrance is Myrtha's, isn't it? Lots of fun is worked into this ballet, and lots and lots of clear, big classical dancing, showing MCB at its strength. A fine conclusion, I agree.

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Jack, it's great to read your report, following Cristian's. The return of Catoya from injury is happy news. (Now all we need is the return of Jeanette Delgado. Please!)

It's interesting that both you and Cristian focus on the second movement in Western Symphony. The MCB Facebook page has an interview with Jennifer Lauren -- newly promoted soloist -- who will be dancing both in one of the casts at the Broward. Perhaps you'll get to see her?

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I'll try my best to catch tonight's performance. Hope to see you there, Jack!! :thumbsup:

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Just in from Saturday matinee (January 15). The wonderful Catoya turned up in the Adagio of Western, completing it with her theatre imagination, devising a characterization appropriate at every instant, the finishing touch for her elegantly-stylized phrasing. Trivial example, easy to write: extending her hand, when her partner bends and reaches for it, as though to kiss it, she takes it away and lifts her head just a bit. She was the hit of the afternoon, for me. Never thought I'd say that. Western? Yup.

With Catoya in Western, Diana and Actaeon had Patricia Delgado and Renato Penteado; she made it all look easy and lovely, almost bland, but smiled too much this time, for me, and didn't disturb my memory of Catoya. But Penteado nicely replaced Rebello's unfinished-looking but spectacular rendition in my memory with his beautiful realization, no less spectacular but with every sequence one continuous motion, through air turns ending on one knee, etc., so we see the whole thing because we see the thing whole.

Rushing out for dinner now, but thinking that the pretty ABT set undercuts La Sonnambula in places because of the closed arcade at the back, and the Sleepwalker's light ascending the sky at the end is more explicit and less mysterious than the old NYCB and recent TSFB productions, which have sets superior not only for their openness for entrances and architectural expansiveness but also because they provide that windowed corridor for the light to progress through at the end, leaving us to try to imagine the final denouement.

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Just came home after tonight's performance in Broward. Great to see ol' friend Jack !! :thumbsup: . Jack and I tried to fix the world tonight...(the ballet world, that is...)-but to no avail, on the way coming to our own version of Miss Homan's infamous epilogue.

Just a note. During one of the performances in Miami, I happened to run into a client of my job place, who happens to be a big contributor to the company, but one that doesn't has a vast knowledge of the art form. This took place on my way out of the theater. She called me and very interested asked me: "Cristian...what was that piece danced by the couple wearing the Flinstones-type costumes...?" Aside from the "funny" side of it, the real, sad reality is that the information being requested was nowhere to be found either on the 44 pages long programme nor in the playbill. Rushed up I answer something along the lines of "this is Balanchine's-(she knows at least who Mr. B is)-own staging of a different older Russian choreography of the same title...the music is by an Italian composer ". I mean, I know this is a supremely raw description of the whole Petipa/Vaganova-Pugni/Drigo-Balanchine/Villella affair, but I didn't have the time for the explanation, nor was she interested I think. Also, I decided to drop Balanchine's name because the only official source for this piece I've found is that of Villella's autobiography. My point here is that it is definitely unfair and completely unacceptable that a paying audience gets to read in the night's playbill the scanty lines of "Diane and Actaeon" as the sole explanation.

I mean....we can't even clarify who really choreographed what about the non-connoisseur public...?

Will be back to talk a bit about tonight's cast for La Sonnambula, which was a little different at those of the Miami performances I saw.

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Just a few thoughts about this program, inspired (or not) by Saturday evening's performances (January 14 evening), especially concerning La Sonnambula and the source(s) for Diana and Actaeon.

Lauren did indeed make what was evidently her debut as The Sleepwalker, and an auspicious debut it was, but rather more lovely and sweet than Kronenberg's rendition had been. (I don't think lovely and sweet is right for this, and of course her rendition may develop into the deep and mysterious figure we've generally seen.) And with perfect hair again. Has this woman just got out of bed? Or has she been at the all-night hairdresser's? The sheen, the body, the evenness of the ends, of her hair seem to me to belong on a list of little details needing reconsideration, so that - readjusted - they would give more point and impact to the mysterious goings-on here.

For instance, we usually see the Baron brandish his dagger high over his head as he rushes out to "take care of" the Poet, but Didier Bramaz last night held it handily before him. Not a big deal, but held high overhead, it glints in the lights, easily visible throughout the theatre. And there were several other little details, besides the set and its effect on the some of the entrances, which would benefit from more coaching to clarify them, so as to make the performance more effective. In the theatre we sometimes help things along by filling in, in imagination; but a key moment early on - the Poet's failure to respond appropriately to the Baron's invitation, which marks him as an outsider, has been more or less clearly rendered through the run here in the Broward CPA, and so that is something essential we do get from the stage. As we have been saying

the otherness of the Poet is at the core of La Sonnambula. I'd add that the otherness of the Sleepwalker is, too, and the earlier pas de deux with the Coquette underlines by contrast what we get from the central one with the Sleepwalker.

So who are these two? Wondering about that seems to me to be what Balanchine wanted us to do, and so I find fault with glib assertions that the Sleepwalker is the Baron's wife. One place that's asserted is at the end of the account of the ballet printed in "Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets" by George Balanchine and Francis Mason, and how can I quibble about that? But as you read this book, you pick up two different "flavors", two different voices, among the entries, and I think the pedantic, wordy and flat style and absence of the first-person singular I identifies this entry as one of Francis Mason's, in contrast to the succinct and lively manner of those entries which make free use of the word I, which I take to be Balanchine's.

What's the evidence on stage that she's the Baron's wife? Last night, after Crista Villella read us her father's pre-performance talk notes in his absence "because he has too much to do" where this came up again, she took questions, and I put the question to her. She hadn't much of an answer, and I offered that it was one of the mysteries in Sonnambula, and she readily agreed. (If I had momentarily - and unintentionally! - put the company's ebullient Ballet Mistress on the spot, she didn't show it.) We don't know for sure; and Mason's remark, earlier in the entry, that the Poet is "renowned for his work," seems to me another instance where he reads into the ballet something not indicated in productions I've seen. (The guests just stop moving and look at the Poet when he first appears. I've never seen gestures of recognition or acknowledgement, much less of salutation or praise.)

As for Diana and Actaeon, I take at face value Villella's account, that he and McBride got it from Balanchine. This seems to me to leave plenty of room for the question whether Balanchine invented it all on the spot, or whether substantial portions - such as the male variation Cristian recognizes? - he himself got from elsewhere. I happen to like the old-fashioned heroics of that variation; and the female variation which follows was quite beautiful from Catoya before, less so from Nathalia Arja tonight, and my favorite dancer of the male variation remains Renato Penteado, though Renan Cerdeiro brought some continuity to the part this evening. Catoya herself was nowhere to be seen this evening.

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(Sunday matinee, January 16) Once again, it's late, and, worse, the weekend's performances are over, but I'm just not ready to let go of them: Catoya gave us another stunning performance in Diana and Actaeon, and Rebello pretty near gave the performance of his part I was hoping to see. Maybe I still prefer the easy, elegant mastery of Penteado I remember in this little show-piece, and maybe I enjoy Rebello's flashier, more dazzling rendition, now that he's brought it into more continuous control, which makes it more cumulative and powerful. It's getting to be a hard call, and that's nice! (Nice to have both.)

In La Sonnambula, Wu added welcome intensity to a certain coolness or remoteness she has tended toward in most roles I can remember, and these qualities combined into a very effective performance of the Sleepwalker. We've noted the "conversation" of the Poet and the Coquette behind the divertissements goes dead with some casts, but Guerra and Manning kept this going. (This business could use just a shade more light, still keeping it in the background.) Garcia-Rodriguez's Baron maintained appropriate dignity without stiffness, and Albertson's dancing in the Oriental Pas de Deux was again crystalline and rounded, if somehow smaller-scaled than Lubin's had been; but Lubin is bigger. As Harlequin, Rebello is either getting the "character" elements better phrased or I'm getting into his performance better.

But more important and more satisfying than the character and divertissement parts in Sonnambula, I feel, was the beautifully enlivening dancing of Zoe Zien in the Scherzo of Western Symphony this afternoon. The little solo in the center looks a bit thin, but, true dancer she seems to be, she didn't try to compensate with hamming or anything, just put it out there; there's plenty of other activity in the part, and her contained energy, sharp clarity, and thistle-light activity in it were a joy to watch.

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Can't wait to see this at the Kravis in 2 weeks. Catoya is back. And, wouldn't it be nice to see "Jeanette Delgado" included in the new cast lists that the MCB website will now be posting?

Kleber Rebello impressed me so much in the small role of the Soldier in Nutcracker, that I am looking forward to seeing him in the pdd. Same with Harlequin. After watching John Renvall in the ABT video, I have been reminded about just how difficult this solo is (in terms of sudden reversals of direction and balance, combining strength with lightness, maintaining surprise and humor without calling attention to them, etc. etc.) It's a Villella role. An Alex Wong role. The others I've seen have missed the complexities. Here's hoping.

And thanks for your evocation of Zoe Zien's solo. She is one of the young dancers I find myself watching closely when the corps is in action. I love the way you articulate qualities that I also enjoy about her dancing, especially in Balanchine.

[ ... ] the beautifully enlivening dancing of Zoe Zien in the Scherzo of Western Symphony this afternoon. The little solo in the center looks a bit thin, but, true dancer she seems to be, she didn't try to compensate with hamming or anything, just put it out there; there's plenty of other activity in the part, and her contained energy, sharp clarity, and thistle-light activity in it were a joy to watch.

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I keep thinking that "La Sonnambula" is one of those ballets that has suffered a diminishing of intensity with the changes it has been subjected to, from the title change-("Night Shadow" being a more mysterious, less specific than "La Sonnambula", which instantly drives your attention to this character, when in reality this is not really "her" story, but more of a romantic, evocative tale)-to the less elaborated costumes compared to those of the original. Also, looking at the time frame back when Balanchine choreographed this, it was probably very attractive for some sectors of the European audience to see such tribute to a pre-war less troubled, luxury life that had to be paused for a while. In general I think all this ballroom-type affair and Barons and the like was something also that the audience in the old continent would feel more identified with...and now more than sixty years later in America this is a vocabulary that many people-(me included)-don't see as real as it was, but more of an antique type of thing.

I liked Lauren in the role, ALTHOUGH I have to say that now, comparing her to Kronenberg, I can appreciate the more intense take of Jennifer. Kronenberg's steps were longer, more ample...really giving you the idea of running on pointe "looking for something". Lauren, on the other side, reminded me more of the pic. of Danilova...same down to the back wavy beautiful flocks floating all over when turning. Isanusi was the best Baron-(he's good at acting)-, and Manning the best Coquette-(a super attractive woman who can definitely turn heads at any party, on or offstage). Agree with Jack about Rebello's Harlequin-(watch for those Grand Ecartes, bart..perfects for the Chinese dance in the Nutcracker, and his fearless diving into the left wing). I also hope you also get to see the twin sisters Esty in the Pastorale, so you can appreciate their weird mirror-dancing-type effect.

From the three casts I saw in the D&A PDD, I also hope you get the chance to see Rebello in the part. His was the closer approach to the Soviet-type style so needed here-(Actaeon's variation not having been too changed by the choreographer from the standard one). The reworking of Vaganova for the female solo doesn't allow for a lot, and when the old choreography is flashing in your mind as this blander version goes on-(same with the coda)...well, not a good thing.

Western Symphony has one of the most exhilarating Grand Finales I've ever seen. This mass of dancers pirouetting at the same time as the curtain goes down is beautiful. bart, watch for Patricia Delgado and her big hat in the Rondo. Delicious. :wub:

I'm also curious to see if the person responsible for the Programme notes will consider informing the West Palm audiences about "the couple in the Flintstones costumes" piece-(I swear that's how it was referred to by my client when she asked me about it)

At the end, I must say I agree with mcbfan. Another great performance by MCB, which I'm thankful to have here. :clapping:

I might try and catch the Sunday matinee West Palm performance. See ya!! :flowers:

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