MCB Program IILa Sonnambula, West. Symp.,D&A PDD, Baker's Dozen
Posted 14 January 2011 - 06:45 PM
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. (The XIX Century guy has spoken, people... )
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:
Adagio: Carranza/Cerdeiro. Kuddos to Cerdeiro, a Corps member who did a great job partnering Principal Carranza.
Rondo: Delgado-( )/Trividic
DIANE & ACTAEON PAS DE DEUX
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-( )-, 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!
Posted 14 January 2011 - 09:30 PM
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.
Posted 15 January 2011 - 05:09 AM
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?
Posted 15 January 2011 - 12:59 PM
Posted 15 January 2011 - 02:27 PM
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.
Posted 15 January 2011 - 10:50 PM
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 piece...an 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 this...so 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.
Posted 16 January 2011 - 08:21 AM
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.
Posted 16 January 2011 - 08:24 PM
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.
Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:45 AM
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.
Posted 17 January 2011 - 11:01 AM
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.
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.
I might try and catch the Sunday matinee West Palm performance. See ya!!
Posted 17 January 2011 - 01:42 PM
We're in total agreement about Manning ("the best Coquette -- a super attractive woman who can defnitely turn heads at any party, on or off stage")
I definitely hope to see the Estys. And, following Jack's review, Haiyan Wu, a dancer I have have sometimes had trouble appreciating.
Posted 17 January 2011 - 08:40 PM
bart, that's Alonso's staging after Vaganova. (Mme introduces a little bit of mime in the opening sequence, when Diana asks Actaeon "What are you doing here...?" and he answers..."I'm here to hunt..." and then Diana sort of makes a gesture as if saying "Unacceptable. Stop right there...I've had enough of you" -(feeling that this is her personal domain, you know...? ). There's also the famous Cuban coda, where Diana comes center stage in a diagonal of 35 traveling fouettes-(counting the double pirouettes in between)-while throwing arrows which she takes from her back, to then change spots and face the audience to finish ON POINTE after a sequence of triple pirouettes. ( ). Talk about a complicated combination !. Not even Viengsay Valdes has done it as Lorna did, which such attack and cleanness.
In any case, here's the divine Lorna and her best Actaeon, the great Acosta.
Posted 18 January 2011 - 05:03 AM
I know it's unfair to do any comparisons between this and the efforts of other dancers, from American companies for example, who might spend relatively little time preparing for this kind of repertory. I wish, though, that AD's like Villella would apologize less for including "warhorses" on the program and, instead, help the audience understand that pdd's like this are a great way to learn to appreciate the multiple connections between great technique and great artistry. If you do it right.
Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:07 AM
What I find is that it is not good nor fair that dancers AND AUDIENCES are not having enough exposure to the very grounds of ballet-(like some rare to find in Miami classic/romantic works and the bravura PDD's). Seay retired and I feel sorry that some great roles were missing from her very last years onstage...roles that could have suited her experienced understanding of the phrasing, which made up for the absences that naturally come toward the end of an active career. Soon enough Catoya will probably follow, and on and on and on...
Meanwhile, Jeanette and Patricia are more than READY for the Odiles and Medoras and the real Dianas...for the endless spinning and pyrotechnics. Will they have the chance to show their technique...? Will Catoya ever be able to put on a romantic tutu and float to Glazunov' orchestration of Chopin and show that there's some beautiful stuff to show even when triples pirouettes can't be achieved any longer...? Will my client ever get the chance to READ that D&A is a Soviet reworked left over of a XIX Century Imperial Petipa...?
Posted 18 January 2011 - 02:16 PM
Edward, January 14: I know Twyla Tharp, though she's not very social. She's up at 6, works out for two hours - she has a studio in her home, choreographs all day, has dinner about 5:30. She's in bed by 8. "It's all about the work," she says. [This was in his prepared remarks, FWIW.]
How was it working with Balanchine? For Apollo, I learned it, and I showed it to him. He said, No, dear. Not Apollo. No poetry. Metaphors. Abstract. He - in his sixties! - showed me. Aha! For Prodigal Son, we had 1-1/2 hours together; never saw him again.
Crista, January 15: Edward Villella teaches company class every day at 10... The job of the ballet mistress is to run rehearsals. After a ballet mistress like me gets [the ballets] "on their feet," he comes in and coaches, especially if a role was made on him, then he coaches more.
I studied directing and Shakespeare, and I worked with Christopher Plummer.
I take class, but I don't perform.
It's important to my Dad that dancers come first as human beings.
We have a good relationship with a school in Brazil. The daughter [Nathalia Arja] of the woman who runs it is in Diana and Actaeon tonight.
"Black Swan" is a thriller, with ballet. It over-exaggerates, leaves you shook up. It's too extreme. Neuroses exist, but not so extreme.
Edward, January 16: [In his pre-performance remarks] We have a wonderful ballerina, Mary Carmen Catoya, who had a terrible, terrible injury last season. She needed a second surgery. She's a very determined lady. She did a few Nutcrackers, but I wouldn't program [Diana and Actaeon] unless I was sure she could do it, although we have three casts for it. [I think the lateness of his decision had something to do with the lack of program notes for this.]
Alex Wong requested a leave of absence to do a TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance?" I told him they may not know how to take care of you, you won't have daily class - and he tore his Achilles tendon. (Gasps and moans etc. in the audience) It'll take a year before he can see whether he will dance again.
"Black Swan" should not have been put in the world of classical ballet. It's distortion, complete distortion. It would have been better if it had another theme. It's ridiculous, it's not reality. The guy who made it said he studied George Balanchine. I said, I worked with George Balanchine. It wasn't like that.
0 user(s) are reading this topic
members, guests, anonymous users
Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases: