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Farrell Ballet at Joyce Theater This Fall


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#46 atm711

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 05:21 AM

It would be nice to join in all the accolades for Heather Ogden's 'Diamonds'- but I find I cannot. She was much too energetic--if anything, the ballerina should be calm and regal. The program stated that she would be replacing Angelova in all the performances. Since I am not familiar with either dancer. I am assuming I saw Ogden. Perhaps seeing Maria Korowski two weeks ago, and with images of Lopatkina in the recent Mariinsky release in my head---nothing short of seeing Farrell again would please me.

The Haieff Divertimento is a gem and was beautifully performed by the corps of dancers.

#47 Natalia

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 06:27 AM

The $2.50 total spent on a round-trip DC-NY-DC Megabus ticket yesterday more than paid off: the Oct 22 matinee at the Joyce was a total delight! I had originally planned this day trip as a chance to see the Balanchine rarity Haieff Divertimento, which I missed at its Kennedy Center outing last year due to overseas work commitments. Haieff, a delicious 14-minute gem of a ballet, harkening to descriptions of Balanchine's La Chatte from the Diaghilev era, was well worth the trip...but there was so much more to admire at the Joyce yesterday afternoon.

Haieff Divertimento - Courtney Anderson was a mysteriously beautiful little 'kitten' of a ballerina to Kirk Henning's leading danseur, in a gem of a Balanchine rarity from 1947. The leads were backed-up by an amazing group of 'soloist corps' of 4 couples, all of whom get 'solo moments.' Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review does absolutely no justice in describing this ballet, which most defintiely is not about a bunch of high-energy youngsters. No, this ballet is about a gent looking for his elusive girl-kitten -- as in La Chatte. The 'kitten' is the only dancer in the cast of 10 who does not take part in the courtly, mannerly first movement. She appears for the gorgeous pdd-adagio of the 2nd movement...full of inventive, cat-like movements by the girl. The eight corps-soloists perform the 3rd movement, in which the 4 men often have the stage to themselves, lining up in a very Raymonda Pas de Quatre manner (!)...all of the soloist men are superb but I was totally bowled over by the elegance and expansive, magnificent dancing of Andrew Shore Kaminski. WOW - just wow! Peter Boal Junior was in Da House...with a bit of the countenance of Ethan Stiefel mixed in!!! The tiny 4th movement is the female lead (the girl-kitten?) solo, so elegantly rendered by Ms Anderson; it's almost a prolonged 'class reverence.' All dancers take part in the 5th and final movement...but the kitten 'purrs' skittles away from the leading gent at the last moment...leaving the rest of the dancers registering surprise for a few seconds before the lights go out. Bravi Tutti!

Diamonds pdd w/ Ogden/Cook - Imagine my delight and surprise when I read the little insert on the replacement! For me, it was a chance to see this stellar duo 'up close and personal,' as could never happen at the large Kennedy Center. Yesterday was simply a reaffirmation of the greatness that I saw last weekend in DC...and, even though NY got the 'flashlight' costumes with the crystals...the lighting was adjusted (or perhaps half of the crystals taken off?) because the entire effect was tasteful and much-toned-down from a few years ago, when the tutu would almost blind the audience in DC.

Meditation w/ Howlachuk & Mladenov - Another WOW moment...I'd seen this lovely romantic pdd in DC a few years ago...but only in the intimate setting of the Joyce did it become the powerful 'image' that Farrell had described in her book -- we were voyeurs peeking at the story of Balanchine & Farrell...and, my goodness, does Momchil Mladenov possess the profile of Balanchine or what??? Eerily beautiful. Haunting. Gasps from most in the audience as the ballet ended and 'Balanchine' walks into the wings, having lost his beauty. [The incredible fact is that this ballet was choreographed years before Balanchine 'lost' Farrell.]

Agon - It was SO much fun to see and feel the energy of this A#1 Balanchine masterwork, up-close-and-personal. There was amazing dancing by all but I most loved the Pas de Trois with the solo girl and two guys...again, Andrew Shore Kaminski the male standout but I also heap laurels on the gorgeous, expressive Violetta Angelova, who garnered some of the loudest bravos of the afternoon.

Happiness = TSFB at the Joyce Theater. The audience around me was in awe; my neighbors included a senior couple who used to subscribe to City Ballet "back in the day" who literally had tears in their eyes at the end of yesterday's matinee, the lady telling me, "THIS is how Balanchine must be danced!"

p.s. It was so nice catching up with you, Jack, during first intermission. What an event!

#48 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 06:35 AM

On Saturday the 22nd this cast - the one nysusan and Natalia describe above - continued to give the best performances, right through the program. Ogden's Diamonds pas de deux with Cook was quite beautiful, and even the dancer sitting next to me could scarcely fault Cook's partnering. (Dancers, I've learned, are much sharper-eyed than I am, for technical details, anyway.) And in the matinee Meditation became vivid and present - "memorable, not a memory," as Ms. Farrell likes to say sometimes, and quite developed from the earlier performances. Mladenov's presence may have been a factor here.

Agon benefitted from being well lit, i.e. strongly lit, from the beginning, in the matinee and again in the evening; but my experience of Meditation was diminished some in the evening because the music was a little too loud. Or was the performance itself a little subdued, compared to the matinee? And for the record, there were a number of minor slips by several dancers this evening, as though the stage may have become slippery, speaking of technical support matters. So these last three performances were the best of the run so far for me, and the matinee was the best of these.

Yes, with this ensemble, Agon has the rush of the new. Thanks for that phrase, nysusan. A similar concept came to me in some fantasy dialogue: "What's Agon about?" "It's about the future of ballet."

atm711, which of Ogden's performances did you see? And, could you compare the video Farrell Diamonds pas with Ogden? Some energy there, too, no? (Not arguing, but I'd like some elaboration; the Saturday matinee looked more energetic all around, but this can be me, too. Which reminds me of other, better observers: We'll see if Macaulay has anything to say about the new cast.)

#49 puppytreats

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 08:32 AM

The $2.50 total spent on a round-trip DC-NY-DC Megabus ticket yesterday more than paid off:



Is this something new??? How long is the trip? Where do you catch it and where are you left off? Is it worth the time to see the Degas exhibit?

#50 Natalia

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 08:45 AM

Puppytreats, I know that the whole Megabus (or Bolt bus or similar ventures) thing has been discussed in detail elsewhere on BA, so I don't want to muddy the Farrell-Joyce discussions. Suffice to say that the key is in the planning. To nab the $1-per-leg seats one has to PLAN months in advance & log onto the bus' website the morning that seats for a particular day begin to be sold. For ex., if you know that you'd like to travel from NYC to DC for the Mariinsky Ballet in mid-January, I believe that you should be tracking the schedules now. My round trip yesterday costs $2.50 because, in addition to the $1 each way, I paid the 50-cent service charge per order. The $1 seats to attend the July Mariinsky season at Lincoln Center were bought in late March/early April (used by my niece, as I was ill). The seats for yesterday's trip were bought in early August.

atm777, how close were you sitting yesterday? I was in the orch-mid section, 7th or 8th row back. Ogden's face seemed to 'emote' more than at the KennCen simply because I was quite close but that somehow didn't bother me. The emotional nuances worked, IMO. I can see how it might be a negative to some.

Question: So where does Andrew Shore Kaminski dance the rest of the year, when he is not performing with TSFB troupe? Second question: Does Megabus go there? (ha-ha)

#51 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 01:24 PM

Thinking about atm711's remarks while watching Ogden again Sunday afternoon, I thought that one of Ogden's qualities - a certain vulnerability - may have taken away from the regality atm711 wants to see in abundance in the Diamonds pas. (I wouldn't mind more, either; thanks for bringing it up, atm711.) This suited her "Dulcinea", for example, made it better, if you could see it from a near seat in the largest theater in Britain, than Sonia Rodriguez, her alternate, just to illustrate - but the comparison some of us are making is with Angelova here, who unfortunately had an inauspicious beginning this week. (I'd say she redeemed herself in her second Diamonds pas and continuing in the second pas de trois of Agon.) Ogden benefitted from that comparison, I'm afraid, *good as Angelova was the second time (some were well pleased the first time, overlooking her difficulties), and in contrast to the Edinburgh playhouse, the Joyce may be the smallest theater in New York. But even without odious comparison, I'm with those like Robert Greskovic in the Wall Street Journal who found Ogden "radiant" (in DC, to be fair), but I'd agree with those who wouldn't equate this with "regal", too.

That said, the program today - continuing the cast we've been discussing, the best for it so far - was another delight for me, like Saturday's matinee. Today, my neighbor, a different lady from the young dancer I paraphrased, also admired Kirk Henning and wished he had more to do, with which I certainly agreed, and remarked on the many details in Haieff not seen elsewhere. (My neighbor evidently had been a close watcher of NYCB since Balanchine's last years.) I thought I remembered Balanchine's reason for letting it disappear: He had cannibalized it for other ballets, he said, and didn't want people to notice! Just the opposite of our conversation. I offered that he regularly challenged people, and met questions abut his methods with a little puzzle.

*Further undeveloped ideas. Sorry for the rambling. But as I am in the Joyce at the moment, I can report tonight's cast changes: Angelova and Mladenov in Diamonds pas, Ogden and Cook in Meditation.

Edited by Jack Reed, 23 October 2011 - 03:22 PM.


#52 Eileen

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 03:53 PM

I attended the Sunday matinee. I thought Haieff Divertimento was a little too "dance by numbers" for me - every step spelled out with ultra clarity, you knew if one girl lifted her leg, the next one would strike the same pose on the next beat, and so on. The soloist couple (Courtney Anderson and Kirk Henning) did not grab me with star quality. The men were not exactly at City Ballet standards of technique. The women were over-precise. That's what I mean by dance by numbers. The whole piece failed to flow, though I can see how it is Balanchinean, with a lead couple and four demi-soloist couples framing them.

Diamonds Pas de Deux featured Heather Ogden and Michael Cook. I thought she was lovely, romantic, all a ballerina should be (I was in row K center). But he was wooden emotionally, and not exactly a technical whiz.

But Meditation - from the entrance of Momchil Mladenov as the Balanchine character, I was transfixed. In profile, he actually looked like pictures of the young Balanchine in profile! (As someone else has mentioned.) He also had the emotional intensity for the role. I had only seen a brief excerpt of Meditation in Elusive Muse, the famous documentary of Suzanne. How could someone else play Suzanne? Elisabeth Holowchuk could and did. She lacks only Suzanne's natural beauty, but she has rapture, sorrow, total engagement in this ultimate muse-poet ballet which encapsulates Balanchine and Farrell's tragedy - that they are of too distant generations for a relationship. By imagining Balanchine as a young man, Farrell has heightened this aspect of the tragic and made it more real. I was so emotionally moved by this performance that I left at intermission, wanting the images of this central tragedy to be my last memory of the Farrell Ballet.

I'm grateful her company came to New York so I could finally see for myself what she has wrought. She definitely needs the Kennedy Center stage and more dancers. She is obviously working on a shoestring. But we are lucky she is working and presenting her work to the public in NYC. I thought Meditation was the standout, and we are not going to see it in NYCB as long as Peter Martins is in charge. Bernard Taper explained Balanchine's will at the end of his biography, and Suzanne owns certain ballets bequeathed to her, including obviously Meditation and Don Quixote and I surmise Haieff Divertimento. So if we want to see these ballets, it must be under her auspices in her own company. Any major donors out there to help Suzanne do justice to these and other lost Balanchine works? Suzanne is his youngest muse and was instrumental in Balanchine's creation of so many works. If I could, I would fund her. Can you?

#53 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 07:18 PM

Last point taken, Eileen! Right on! I give what money I can, and know others who do. She does more with less, as far as I can see, and it only seems right for her to have more.

I chose a different attendance strategy, and here's my latest account (or diary entry, if you want):

Sunday evening, the 23rd After seven performances of the same program, I might be glazed or jaded by now, but tonight's performances were hair-raising in the good sense.

I enjoyed watching Anderson in Haieff the last few days; she's lovely. But a little tentative? It's still Holowchuk's ballet, and she shows all of it to us. One example among hundreds (if I had the power to describe them): In the early part where she puts her foot back and paws the air behind her (six sets of three), she phrases them in the music, the last one in each set higher than the preceding two. And so it went, through the ballet. Crystal clear. Just what we hear. Quirky - as we hear, and very effective. (Thanks to Eileen for the different response - I think this by-the-numbers quality suited the bouncy music, the notes and chords sometimes seemingly isolated from each other in any sort of flow, but still in an unfolding design, like Stravinsky's music often is.)

Then, Angelova with Mladenov, in the Diamonds pas. You know how, early on, there's a long horn note, crescendo-decrescendo? She unrolls her right arm toward the upstage audience-right corner. We see not just the note, but the way it's played. The whole pas was like this: Not only did she move on the note but made the accent - or lack of it - visible in her flow of movement. Continually inflected, richly enlivened. Later, for another example, as the orchestra is building a crescendo, she runs a little circle on the right half of the stage, but we see the growing excitement we hear as she scampers through here. (With Ogden, it had been more even, more like a demonstation.) And so on, and so on. And Mladenov was also as immersed in commitment to what we heard. Regal? Head up and grand she was. "Royal" came to mind. The music is that. They moved as Tchaikovsky told them.

In my view, the best of the run of this dance, and what Thursday night now looked like a warmup for.

In Meditation, Ogden was extremely effective - maybe excepting a blank moment downstage, or was she just listening to something arising within her to turn upstage and respond to? But generally, very strong projection here, and a little surprising, as I tend to think of her as neat and clear - showing those facets in the Diamonds pas - she was that still, but much more.

I want to see these two ballets danced like this again! And Haieff like that, too. Well, it's over for now, but at least I got what I got.

Agon was already impressive, not least for Holowchuk giving it more than she may have had to give not so long ago. Ballets like Haieff and Meditation I associate with her more, but here was deeper power emerging.

#54 abatt

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:45 AM

I had never seen Mediation before the Suzanne Farrell performance I attended on Sunday evening. I was transfixed and mesmerized by it. What a fantastic ballet. Ogden was breathtaking. I would love to see this ballet again. I can't understand why NYCB doesn't do it. (Does Farrell own the rights?)




Nice to meet you, Jack Reed!

#55 rg

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 07:28 AM

yes, MEDITATION is one of three ballets willed to Farrell.
the others are DON QUIXOTE and TZIGANE (if mem. serves).

#56 atm711

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 07:34 AM

I was at the Sat Mat performance of Oct 22---aside from my comments about 'too much energy'--I also felt Ogden was too attentive to her partner---it was as though SHE was wooing HIM---if ever Balanchine put a woman on a pedestal---this PDD fulfills that or should.--and she smiled far too much and constantly made eye contact with him. To me, the message to her partner was--love me, like me. I hope I am not being too harsh but if Balanchine felt Ballet is Woman, in this PDD she is also Goddess.


Natalia, I was Center Row J Orch---and yes, I noticed the facial emoting, too--unfavorably I might add.

#57 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 08:17 AM

I think atm711's criticisms have a basis, although Ogden also had virtues from my perspective; and reading atm711 on Ogden helps me to appreciate Angelova's last performance all the more: Head up, she regarded her man down her nose. Cool, and commanding, I recall. Commanding the stage, not just him. (Maybe abatt has some recollections of this - it made me feel if I could get a video of any of the programs, it would have been that one.)


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