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POB @ Harris Theater in Chicago


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#31 Cygnet

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:54 AM

I'm ITA with you Helene. I remember an old interview with Carla Fracci. She mentioned that when she first began
lobbying for "Giselle" to be presented at La Scala, she stated that not one conductor on the staff wanted to be
assigned to conduct the ballet. Why did they initially reject it? In their opinion the score had no merit and they
thought that the music was "...awful."

#32 Jack Reed

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:19 PM

Michael Tllson Thomas, no less, and speaking of completeness, took sufficient interest in the music to get Sony to record it under his direction, an exception to the rule I'm glad for; though, that said, if I had to choose between his recording that and The Sleeping Beauty, I would have chosen the latter, judging by his enlivening of the Nutcracker and Swan Lake scores. But in the theater last week it sounded to me sometimes along the way, that Giselle had indeed been put together in only two months, as is said. (Or maybe this is true initially of those other "full-length" classics that come to mind as well, though they may get tweaked for years after their premieres.)

And continuing to wonder whether I just didn't "get" Suite en blanc's musicality, I just looked in my few books for useful clues, and found the ballet mentioned in only one of them:

[Lifar's] own works at their best have a curious antimusical and desperate pound; apart from this personal quality - at its strongest in Suite en blanc - I can see no interest in them that lasts. With poor choreography, ballet loses for me its nerve; but usually I am happy anyway watching a good company dance.

So, Edwin Denby, writing to Richard Buckle's magazine Ballet, in 1950; from Dance Writings and Poetry/Edwin Denby; edited by Robert Cornfield. Yale, 1998.

As I said, I'm glad others got more. (Bolero, somewhat to my surprise, was well worth the expedition, not to mention how the high quality of the dancing pleased me too.)

#33 Helene

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:26 PM

I think "Giselle" needs a conductor who believes in the score. If the conductor doesn't, then this will impact what's on stage, almost as much as mucking with the tempi.

#34 mussel

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:27 PM

Which orchestra did POB use in Chicago? POB will partner with NYCO orchestra at Lincoln Center. I assume POB will use Kennedy Center in-house orchestra in DC?

#35 Jack Reed

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:03 PM

I couldn't agree more, Helene. If the conductor doesn't believe in the cause, you can hear it. I think Thomas has believed pretty keenly in everything I've heard him play. A certain retired cellist named Pablo Casals told his orchestra one day, "Every note is variety - this is what gives life - otherwise it's something dry." Without that belief, it can sound pretty dry.

mussel, it was the Grant Park Symphony, an orchestra put together each summer, as far as I know, from regional orchestras which do not have long contracts; thus its membership varies some from year to year.

(Grant Park is the downtown district's major park, analogous to Central Park in New York, and bordering Lake Michigan; it's the site of the Harris Theater, built in the north edge of the park. There's been an outdoor concert series there, formerly free, now only partly so, every summer since 1935.)

The roster in the program numbers 90; whether they were all on hand, I don 't know. (The upper strings, supposedly 27 violins, sounded a little weak Wednesday night, but I can't say for sure whether they adjusted or I did by Thursday. I meant to go down to the pit and count chairs.)

I would expect the Kennedy Center to use their Opera House Orchestra. (It also houses the National Symphony Orchestra, of course.)

#36 miliosr

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 03:12 PM

Moving on . . .

L'Arlesienne

I wouldn't say I hated this. Bored and perplexed would better describe my state of mind after seeing this twice. On a bill titled 'Epic French Masterpieces,' I didn't think this was 'epic' or a 'masterpiece'. (I didn't even think it was all that French given how much it owed to mid-century American modern dance (i.e. the mild Martha Graham-style contractions, the mild Jose Limon-style spins, etc.)

How dispiriting it was to see and hear this work getting ovations that were twice as long and twice as loud as those for Suite en blanc, which is by far the superior work. Witnessing the reaction of those around me, I felt like I was trapped in one of those Alastair Macaulay reviews where he dislikes a work but everyone around him is giving it an ovation.

In any event, my objections were two-fold. First, I think Roland Petit fell into the trap that makers of "literary dance" sometimes fall into when they adapt literary works into dance. As I've written in various threads across this board, choreographers of literary dance can cheat at times by relying on an audience's familiarity with a play or novel to fill in gaps that cannot be depicted in dance or even mime terms. The biggest offender I've ever seen in this regard was Graham's Clytaemnestra, which was incomprehensible as narrative despite a page-and-a-half of program notes. To a lesser degree, Graham's Cave Of the Heart, Limon's The Traitor and The Emperor Jones, and Kenneth Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet suffer from this same overreliance on audience knowledge of a particular work to make sense of various acts of stage business.

I purposely didn't read the brief program note regarding the story in L'Arlesienne before the afternoon show and, when I did (after the performance), my reaction was: "Really? That's what it was about??" That the lead character Frederi (played by Benjamin Pech in the afternoon and Stephane Bullion in the evening) was undergoing a mental collapse was readily apparent. But I defy anyone to tell me that the cause of his collapse was apparent on stage. Anyone or anything (the green light?) could have caused his torment. You simply could not deduce the problem without having read the story (or the program note) in advance.

My second objection was the sheer length -- 37 minutes -- and corresponding tedium of this work. Petit could have lopped off 10-12 minutes of this with no damage done to the narrative (such as it is.) Every time I thought it was (mercifully) coming to an end, it kept right on going.

The shame of it all is that there is actually a decent man's solo buried beneath the endless goings-on of L'Arlesienne. If only Petit had heeded Doris Humphrey's maxim that, "All dances are too long," we might have a very fine solo for the male dancer in the 21st century. As it is, we are left with this long, problematic work which will never find a place in the international repertory.

As for the performances, I thought Bullion was better and more intense on the day than Pech. Pech tried hard but his technique appears to be in decline (he is 38), especially in comparison to the more technically-secure Bullion, who redeemed himself after his dull performance in Suite en blanc in the afternoon. The corps was fine with what little they had to do and were a sterling reminder that a rigorous schooling and a refined style can make even the most insignificant of works look significant (which is partly why I think L'Arlesienne got the reaction it did.)

Last but most pleasant of all, I was heartened to see an actual black or mixed race female dancer in the corps. I don't know her name but she was striking. 1/154th is progress, people!

Next up: Bolero

#37 kbarber

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:32 PM

27 people from Toronto?! Ho-ly Cow! Wait 'til the Mayor hears about that! I'm not inquiring on Hizzonner's behalf or anything, just curious, but, why Chicago and not DC, the city closer to Toronto, kbarber?

Hi Jack, why NOT Chicago? It's a great city. DC is further, actually, and they aren't getting the mixed program which for me was the highlight. NY is the same distance but more expensive...
Anyway, we all had a fabulous time, enjoying both the ballet and the city.

#38 cantdance

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 07:11 PM

I was selected to be one of four pages in act 1 for the Kennedy Center. We had a costume fitting and rehearsal with ballet master Laurent Hilaire. He mentioned there was a problem with the entrance of the royal entourage in Chicago and he might change it for us here in DC. I will be one of the pages who brings out the table and chairs for Bathilde. I am excited to be a part of this and will try to watch company class if they let me. Not bad for an old guy who saw his first professional ballet in 2004 Washington Ballets Giselle with Rasta Thomas.Posted Image

#39 Jack Reed

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 07:50 PM

Hi Jack, why NOT Chicago? It's a great city. DC is further, actually, and they aren't getting the mixed program which for me was the highlight. ...
Anyway, we all had a fabulous time, enjoying both the ballet and the city.


Hunh! My geography was really off! And of course you know what you want to see, while I didn't even realize the mixed bill was not on in DC. I understand now, thanks. And I'm glad you enjoyed your visit, as I always have enjoyed visiting DC (and Toronto, among cities less relevant). But it may be that Chicago is a greater city to visit than to live in full-time...

#40 Drew

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:16 PM


Hi Jack, why NOT Chicago? It's a great city. DC is further, actually, and they aren't getting the mixed program which for me was the highlight. ...
Anyway, we all had a fabulous time, enjoying both the ballet and the city.


Hunh! My geography was really off! And of course you know what you want to see, while I didn't even realize the mixed bill was not on in DC. I understand now, thanks. And I'm glad you enjoyed your visit, as I always have enjoyed visiting DC (and Toronto, among cities less relevant). But it may be that Chicago is a greater city to visit than to live in full-time...


I lived in Chicago (well, the Chicago area) for two years and loved it!

Thanks to everyone for reports re POB...very sad I will be missing them...

#41 Nanarina

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 04:05 AM

Just got home from the mixed rep matinee. It was my first time seeing the three pieces in their entirety. Suite en Blanc's standout for me was Aurelie Dupont in the adagio section, whose balances seemed impossibly long and secure without being forced, showish, or off the music. I kept holding my breath, everything she did was magical, and the rest of the audience seemed to agree. Alice Renavand was amazing too -- she has moxie and presence in abundance.

Nitpicking: I had hoped to be surprised by Emilie Cozette in La Cigarette and Dorothee Gilbert in La Flute, but I had issues with both. Emilie Cozette just doesn't seem as 'complete' as her fellow etoiles. Her hands went dead here and there during difficult passages. And for indiscernable reasons, I can't appreciate Dorothee Gilbert's amazing technique. I recognize her talent and artistry, of course, but for me there's something missing. Or maybe tension in her upper body that I find distracting, I'm not sure.

L'Arlesianne struck an odd note after a pure dance piece like Suite En Blanc, but Ciaravola and Belingard danced it beautifully. Her feet are some of the best, as strong as they are wonderfully supple and expressive. I have to stress expressive -- they move like hands. Aside from showing off good feet and legs, I wished it had been Jeune Homme, or another 'dancier' piece. The audience liked it better than I did, I think.

Then, Bolero with Marie-Agnes Gillot. I can't really enthuse enough about her. She's a rare modern example of a dancer who doesn't dance everything, but who is nonetheless extraordinary. Not dancing Giselle and being quite too tall and intense (I would say perhaps more than even Veronika Part or Kondaurova) for similar roles does nothing to diminish her contribution to dance. And outside of issues of type, she is versatile -- as stunning as Myrtha as she is in Bolero. I feel very fortunate to have seen her in both. She danced Bolero fiercely and fearlessly, visceral and spiritual at once. I see Bolero as a piece very illsuited any 'look at me!' attitude, and Gillot danced almost as if unobserved, in effortless command of the audience and the corps. She was very much at home in the music and choreography, and the audience loved it. I didn't count the curtain calls, but there were many.

Another 'moment', beforehand, occured just as my friend and I entered the lobby from the 'back' entrance connecting to the parking garage -- which also happens to be right next to the artist's exit. Who shound emerge but Gillot, dressed down but striking. Recognizing her, I stopped my friend, who then saw her as well, and we stood (likely making the same stupid starstruck face) as she passed not more than a few feet by us. I think we were the only ones to recognize her, making the moment even more serendipitous.

Those of you in New York have much to look forward to!




Why did you not speak to her, tney all speak very good English and are friendly and approachable, and welcome your interest.

#42 Nanarina

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 04:13 AM

She was Clairemarie Osta. (I didn't mean to slight anybody, but as I'm shortly rushing out for a second helping from this feast, I thought I'd better stop my growing essay somewhere, and I will try to return here when I can. Meanwhile, anybody else?) Anyway, she belonged! I mean this in the best way! (Versus the way Osipova did not, as her context, the remainder of her production, was really on a lower level.) Though the Act II lighting really reduced her effect in some of the most important moments in the ballet for me, up in row U.

I really hope you don't see anything in Washington that reminds you of my remarks about lighting, Natalia!



I do not know if your are aware of the fact, but Clairemarie Osta is married to Nicholas Le Riche, and they used to dance together quite a lot in the past, but only seem to be back as partners again recently.

#43 miliosr

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 06:32 AM

Moving on . . .

Bolero

The program described this as an "erotic rite" but I found it curiously unerotic in either its "heteroerotic" (Aurelie Dupont) or homoerotic (Nicolas Le Riche) versions. Didn't believe the eroticism for one second.

What I did believe about Bolero was how marvelously it showed off the skills and sheer charisma of the etoiles. I was awed at how Dupont and Le Riche sustained the central performance with no break or relief of any kind. The physical and mental stamina that this requires is just about beyond belief. Le Riche, in particular, had charisma and physicality to burn. Of all the fine etoiles I saw on Saturday, he seemed to be the etoile of etoiles -- a cut above the rest. What a scandal it is that he will be forced to retire in 2 years when he is still at the height of his performing powers. (He also did a lovely thing at the performance on Saturday night. During the endless ovations, he called to the front of the stage the "supernumeraries" -- the local dancers who filled out the ranks of the corps and stood at the back of the stage during the ovations. Unlike Dupont, he called them to the front so they could take an ovation. It was a lovely, unselfish gesture which showed he has more on his mind than his own glorification.)

The other thing that I loved about Bolero was the sheer precision of the corps. The unison was flawless. I've seen other works that had a similar level of unison (especially Martha Graham's Steps in the Street (from Chronicle) and Jose Limon's The Unsung) but even the performances I saw of those works didn't rival this. I couldn't spot a single stray gesture or movement at either performance -- the men were simply that unified. I would give the edge to the evening performance over the afternoon one as Le Riche seemed to bring a snarling intensity out of the men during the evening (with Vincent Chaillet being especially memorable.)

Next up: Last thoughts ("Apres nous, le Deluge")

#44 trieste

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 08:13 PM

It was probably a good thing that Dupont and LeRiche didn't slather on the eroticism. I don't think its inherent in the choreography, and it certainly shouldn't be forced, but Gillot gave it a good amount of very French heat. One lovely moment was during the curtain calls, she broke out in a very genuine smile and pulled the two nearest members of the corps up with her.

#45 silvermash

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:52 PM

well in Bolero, eroticm is especially among the corps...Posted Image


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