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New production of Firebird by RatmanskyPremiere on March 29, 2012


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#46 abatt

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:43 AM

ABT has put on much worse in the past. Does anyone recall the Pied Piper or HereAfter? How about MacMillan's Anastasia? How about Citizen, in which David Hallberg had to wear a bustier? Ratmansky's best works are where he is creating a ballet from scratch, without a prior history associated between the score and a ballet. I still think Russian Seasons and Concerto DSCH are his best work. In Firebird and Nutcracker, he seems to try hard to avoid making his work look like the work of others who have previously choreographed the same ballet. This objective can easily backfire.

#47 Helene

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:57 AM

The problem with this: Who the heck has the money nowadays to give this ballet 'a second chance'? It's easy for critics who get 'comp tickets' to write this sort of thing. Rarely have I experienced a ballet so ugly that I wouldn't give it a second chance. There has to be a redeeming value for a normal paying spectator (even if he/she has the money) to even want to set foot a 2nd time in the theater if the 1st viewing was klunker. Balanchine knew this and ensured that audiences 'got it' the first time.


Not all of Balanchine's work was understood on first viewing during his lifetime, and even his masterworks were changed along the way, for better or worse. Ratmansky's works are dense, often need more rehearsal than they get, and aren't in their final shape when they first get to the stage. They need time to settle on the dancers' bodies, and, unlike Balanchine's work, aren't always created with one specific dancer in mind (In that sense, he's more like Robbins.) I wouldn't see his work without that in mind, but, I agree, most people would expect a more finished product and aren't interested in the living organism aspect.

The upside of mixed bills is that they often have at least one thing to see twice, and I've seen many works a second, or third, or fourth time that I wouldn't have bothered to see on their own. Sometimes I change my mind (in both directions), sometimes I don't, and, once in a while I skip it altogether, and if it's the middle work, I'll sit in the lobby and read a book.

If a work is so aesthetically displeasing to be offensive, I would never suggest repeat viewings, but one person's "Never again" is another's "What sets?", is another's "I really liked the sets," as we've seen in this and many other threads.

#48 kfw

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:08 AM

The upside of mixed bills is that they often have at least one thing to see twice, and I've seen many works a second, or third, or fourth time that I wouldn't have bothered to see on their own. Sometimes I change my mind (in both directions), sometimes I don't, and, once in a while I skip it altogether, and if it's the middle work, I'll sit in the lobby and read a book.


Practicing your Edward Gorey imitation? Posted Image

#49 Helene

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:11 AM

Did he drink while reading? ;)

#50 California

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 05:04 AM

ABT sent out a Tweet Monday afternoon from IB:

Recovering from firebird run-through this afternoon-- Alexei ADDED a manège for the firebird, keeping me on my toes! #IB


I haven't seen this production, but I wonder if those who have and who are seeing it again this weekend might watch for what he changed.

#51 Natalia

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 05:09 PM

I'd also love to know what has changed. I agree with Abatt that Russian Seasons and Concerto DSCH are among AR's best. I like it best when he 'takes things straight' and doesn't sink into silly comedy, especially within ballets that aren't supposed to be comedies. Bright Stream is supposed to be a comedy, so it works (even though I much prefer the fancier Bolshoi designs to the threadbare ABT edition).

#52 carbro

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 05:26 PM

I saw it now. I can definitively state: El Cheapo has struck again! Posted Image

In her review for Dancetabs.com, Marina Harss writes:
The designs, by Simon Pastukh (who also worked on “On the Dnieper”) are haunting, weird, almost post-apocalyptic. One could call them ugly.

Damn right there!

I feel sorry for people who paid more than I did to see this. Mr. Pastukh, you're no Benois!

"Ugly" is not necessarily an insult. I read it here as "forbidding," consistent with the other descriptions Ms. Harss uses. I saw the premiere, and I thought the set had a cold kind of beauty. I much preferred it to the costumes, especially of the maidens -- so unflattering! And I mean "unflattering" as an unambiguous insult. Posted Image


Critic Marina Harss made a similar observation, which, like her, I find true of every Ratmansky I've seen: "Sometimes the second time is the charm." There's always so much going on, ....


The problem with this: Who the heck has the money nowadays to give this ballet 'a second chance'? It's easy for critics who get 'comp tickets' to write this sort of thing. Rarely have I experienced a ballet so ugly that I wouldn't give it a second chance. There has to be a redeeming value for a normal paying spectator (even if he/she has the money) to even want to set foot a 2nd time in the theater if the 1st viewing was klunker. Balanchine knew this and ensured that audiences 'got it' the first time.

I've been going for $20 per shot ($25 on Saturdays). I don't mind standing on those rare occasions when I actually have to for the whole evening. Posted Image

It's hard to go to a performance of a ballet with a familiar title and familiar music and put aside all of our associations with the familiar version/s. I found myself resisting Ratmansky's choreography both here and in Nutcracker. For all my efforts to keep up, I'm still essentially a 20th Century gal, and Ratmansky is clearly making ballets for the 21st. It takes a concerted effort to be open to him. I'm giving myself at least two more opportunities with Firebird this season.

I think that if you'd been around in 1957, you would have heard a LOT of grumbling at the premiere of Agon, people swearing they'd never return to it. It's 45 years old now, old enough to be considered a small-c classic, but it looks like it was made yesterday. What Balanchine did in 1957 prepared his audience to be ready to embrace, at their premieres in 1972, ballets like Duo Concertant and Symphony in Three Movements. My grandmother, born in the 1880s, took me to New York City Ballet a few times in the late '60s and very early '70s. She never did develop a taste for the leotard ballets. Posted Image

#53 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 05:04 AM

My grandmother, born in the 1880s...never did develop a taste for the leotard ballets.


Neither have I, born a little later...

#54 RUKen

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 06:25 AM

Natalia Osipova replaces Misty Copeland in the Saturday matinee of The Firebird (and is still also scheduled for that evening's performance).

Abatt reported this a couple of minutes ago in the Copeland Injury thread (based on the update of the ABT performance calendar), but I thought it would be best to include this information on this thread as well.


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