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NYCB Spring Season 2011


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#31 kfw

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 10:59 AM

Ceeszi, it's good to read that you were finally able to see NYCB again! Afternoon of a Faun is something of a take off on Nijinsky's L'après-midi d'un faune. I could say more, but you'll find it more interesting to note the similarities and differences yourself. Try YouTube if you don't know the Nijinsky.

Robbins choreographed Antique Epigraphs after seeing bronze statuary in Naples. He wrote that the ballet "was inspired by French poetry about life and myths of Greek antiquity." I hope that helps.

#32 Eileen

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 03:53 PM

Ceeszi, another poster described Afternoon of a Faun as a commentary on the original Nijinsky Faun. That's valid. But I've always considered it a ballet studio where the dancers are stretching on the floor, doing a barre, each at first oblivious to the other because they are concentrating on the "fourth wall" - gazing intently at an unseen mirror in front of them. They are concentrating on themselves and their perfect form, which is why I described them as narcissistic.

#33 Marga

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:36 PM

I did not get Afternoon of a Faun. The music was beautiful, but I just didn't get what it was supposed to be about.


Ceeszi, another poster described Afternoon of a Faun as a commentary on the original Nijinsky Faun. That's valid. But I've always considered it a ballet studio where the dancers are stretching on the floor, doing a barre, each at first oblivious of the other because they are concentrating on the "fourth wall" - gazing intently at an unseen mirror in front of them. They are concentrating on themselves and their perfect form, which is why I described them as narcissistic.

Eileen, you are right about Robbins's "Faun". I've always known it to be as you describe. I also found reference to its creation by Eddie Villella in his book Prodigal Son:

In a matter of weeks after joining the company, which had actually occurred on my twenty-first birthday, I was told by Jerome Robbins to learn the male role in Afternoon of a Faun. I was scheduled to perform it during the second week of the season. This was completely unexpected. I knew next to nothing about the ballet,.....

.....I was flattered and excited. Faun is a pas de deux set in a ballet studio, a fleeting encounter between a young man absorbed with his image in a mirror and a woman who enters the studio and interrupts his reverie. It's set to music by Debussy, the same score that Nijinsky used for his ballet for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1912. That choreography caused a scandal.

....Another challenge in Afternoon of a Faun was that I had to create a character, reach the audience dramatically as well as show off my technical capabilities in this role. The ballet depicted a brief sensual encounter between two dancers in a studio. I danced with my shirt off. I was very young and felt that I looked good in the part. Jerry Robbins gave me a lot of visual imagery to use.

'You've just come out of the shower,' he'd say. 'You've put on cologne. It's summer, late afternoon, and you're lying in a shaft of sunlight.'

....A number of years later, I learned that I had actually been Jerry's inspiration for Afternoon of a Faun when he had seen me as a teenage student work at SAB on Madison Avenue. Studios there had huge windows, and sunlight often poured in through them. One afternoon, I was standing in the fading light day-dreaming and leaned against the barre, yawning and stretching absentmindedly. Watching me, Jerry was struck with an idea for the ballet. Although I was very flattered by that story, I was glad that I had been unaware of it when I first danced the role.



#34 kfw

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:58 PM

Ceeszi, another poster described Afternoon of a Faun as a commentary on the original Nijinsky Faun. That's valid. But I've always considered it a ballet studio where the dancers are stretching on the floor, doing a barre, each at first oblivious of the other because they are concentrating on the "fourth wall" - gazing intently at an unseen mirror in front of them. They are concentrating on themselves and their perfect form, which is why I described them as narcissistic.

Quite right, of course. Here are ABT's notes on the ballet.

All these ladies need a heartthrob for balance.

canbelto, what an interesting idea.

#35 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 06:30 PM

Regarding Chase in "Apollo," I felt more of the character and story come out this time. I also felt that his problems partnering were related to Maria Korowski's size. I loved what she did, but felt she was too big for him. The same issue--size--affected the ending of "Sonnambula.". This time it was Marcovicci overpowering Whelan.

I agree with the previous poster about Lowery, as I mentioned about two weeks ago. On the other hand, it was lovely to see Rachel Rutherford on stage again.

Marga, that was wonderful of you to quote so extensively from Villella's book. Much information about the ballets can now be found in the programs, and in the "Repertory Notes" distributed by volunteers at the "Info" booths. Also , the "First Position" talks before many performances on the 4th ring right.

#36 Eileen

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 07:54 AM

Ceeszi, Antique Epigraphs is more mysterious than Faun, and I think it is related to the Nijinsky Afternoon of a Faun in the attitudes of the dancers - the row of sirens in Faun is similar. I was researching Greek art on the Met Museum's website, because I think the poses of the dancers in Antique Epigraphs is related to ancient Greek art - the row of women, their stylized poses. Here is an example of what I mean:

http://www.metmuseum...ollID=13&dd1=13

#37 Eileen

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 08:50 AM

Alastair Macauley has a review of Wednesday night's performance in the Times, with many insightful comments.

http://www.nytimes.c...w.html?ref=arts

#38 carbro

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 11:45 AM

Ceeszi, Antique Epigraphs is more mysterious than Faun, and I think it is related to the Nijinsky Afternoon of a Faun in the attitudes of the dancers - the row of sirens in Faun is similar. I was researching Greek art on the Met Museum's website, because I think the poses of the dancers in Antique Epigraphs is related to ancient Greek art - the row of women, their stylized poses. Here is an example of what I mean:

http://www.metmuseum...ollID=13&dd1=13

Thank you, Eileen. I never made the connection between Nijinsky's Faun and the women's poses in Antique Epigraphs. I thought Robbins liked them paired due only to the fact that the music for both is Debussy, but I think you're onto something.

Here is a link to NYCB's notes for Antique.

#39 Eileen

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 05:08 PM

Thank you for that validation, Carbro. Searching the Met Museum website of pictures of their Grecian reliefs, here is another example that reminds me of Antique Epigraphs:

http://www.metmuseum...&vT=1&hi=0&ov=0

Also many of the vases are terracotta, a shade of red that is the same as the dresses of the 4 corps girls in Antique Epigraphs.

I looked at the Parthenon sculptures, the so-called Elgin Marbles, on the British Museum website and it is so obvious that in Apollo, Balanchine was molding his Greek God after Grecian art, with Apollo striking poses strikingly reminiscent of ancient Greek sculpture. There is a clear connection from ancient Greek sculpture to Michelangelo's famous image of Adam and God reaching out fingers touching, to that very image in Apollo where Apollo anoints Terpsichore, that "it" moment.

#40 kfw

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 06:03 PM

Ceeszi, Antique Epigraphs is more mysterious than Faun, and I think it is related to the Nijinsky Afternoon of a Faun in the attitudes of the dancers - the row of sirens in Faun is similar. I was researching Greek art on the Met Museum's website, because I think the poses of the dancers in Antique Epigraphs is related to ancient Greek art - the row of women, their stylized poses.

Great point. As related in Greg Lawrence's bio Dance with Demons, Robbins went to see Grecian statues in Naples after being impressed with photographs in a book brought back by Bart Cook. The book quotes the following from Robbins' original program note (I wonder why NYCB doesn't have this on its website): "Like Epigraphs and Afternoon of a Faun, Syrinx [for those not familiar with the ballet, this is one of the Debussy pieces the ballet is set to] was inspired by French poetry about life and myths of Greek antiquity."

#41 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 07:34 PM

I feel that nearly ALL robbins' late ballets that are not costumed In white use those same earth tones and olive-ish green.

His "Faun" has at least two poses that are direct quotes from Nijinsky.

And Balanchine, in "Apollo" quotes Nijinsky's "Spectre de la Rose. " Right after he raises both arms with flat palms, He brings his arms down and raises them again -- elbows first -- and briefly holds that with wrists down, hands on either side of his face.

#42 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 08:12 PM

This evening's performance was sadly not well attended, bit those that were there saw some lovely work and were very responsive.

"Divertmento #15" was a treat for the eyes and beautifully danced -- except for Jonathan Stafford nearly toppling sideways from a kneeling position with Ana Sophia Scheller. He actually did not look well, and I hope he is OK.

"Polyphonia" was danced with precision and seriousness that brought out the humor. I had not seen this cast, and liked the contrasts in the different dancers' bodies and approaches. Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle were superb.

The cast for "Sonnambula " was different from Wed.'s cast. Jennie Somogyi and Robert Fairchild seemed to give the Poet and the Coquette more of a history together, yet when she removed her mask, he had no reaction. Jennie acted the jealous/deceived lover to the hilt, and Justin Peck as the Baron responded well. Janie Taylor was a natural as the "Sonnambula " though I wondered if she would be strong enough.... And the arms of a stage hand to help her out when she backed into the set were.very visible.

#43 Eileen

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 03:02 PM

I attended the Saturday matinee (May 21) and it also was not well attended. Divertimento was lovely as always, and Lauren King danced beautifully. It's always interesting to see who replaces a retiring dancer, in this case Yvonne Borree, who had a lock on one of the principal roles until her timely retirement.

Polyphonia - it was my first time seeing this ballet by Wheeldon, and it premiered ten years ago! I can see why I had passed it by til now. It is not dancing to me, but acrobatics. It's not about movement, which, as Suki Schorer wrote in her Ballet Technique book (which I looked at before the performance), is the touchstone of Balanchine's choreography. Balanchine is about movement; she emphasized this. I wish the company would revive Wheeldon's Variations Serieuses, I remember from a dozen years ago as a brilliant vehicle for Maria Kowroski's comedic talents, as well as terpsichorean gifts.

La Sonnambula with Janie Taylor and Robert Fairchild - Robert Fairchild was far more ardent than Marcovici had been Wednesday night. He convinced me he was the Poet. Jennie Somogyi, Coquette and troublemaker, as ViolinConcerto pointed out, conveyed better that she and the Poet had been lovers. But I still missed my favorite of all, Jenny Ringer, whose presence is beauty and whose refinement conveys to me all that ballet is, or should be, about.

Exciting sighting! This morning about 9:15 I was on Broadway at Lincoln Center and I passed none other than Jenny, her hair in short ringlets and with her husband and little girl in a stroller. She was obviously on her way to the theater for her performance in La Sonnambula.

Janie Taylor as the Sleepwalker - she was excellent. It will take some getting used to her as I identify this role very closely with Wendy Whelan, who emits an intensity despite her emotional absence in the dance with the Poet. But Janie certainly looked ghostly, and I saw that she was wearing very white makeup when they took curtain calls.

Adam Hendrickson acquitted himself respectably as Harlequin - but Daniel Ullbricht the other day had been thrilling, and funny. This is the difference between principal and soloist. Daniel Ullbricht is a principal and deservedly so, his jumps were spectacular and he was spectacular.

The pas de quatre featured two new corps members, Ashly Isaacs and Sarah Villwock, who were clearly thrilled to be given this opportunity. They were lovely, and their cavaliers, David Prottas and Devin Alberda, were eloquent.

I also was glad to see one of the most expressive of the corps members, Alina Dronova, in the pas de deux with Vincent Paradiso. She has lovely qualities, and an alertness that I have noticed. All the dancers were superb.

Question: Which corps members or soloists should be promoted? There are many I can think of. But there are currently so many principals, and none seem to be headed toward retirement, so how can Peter Martins promote anyone unless someone at the top retires?

#44 FauxPas

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 07:30 AM

I went to the Sunday matinee and had a wonderful afternoon despite one big annoyance.

The program began with Martins' "Fearful Symmetries". I have begun to notice that there are different ballet masters for the repertory and sometimes the Martins ballets look sloppily prepared. There was a lot of out of sync corps work in this revival of Martin's 1990 ballet. The leads were all quite nice but not all on the same page. I was blown away by Tiler Peck who really defined her movements so that they read more specifically than Sterling Hyltin's. Peck's whole body would dance so if she had a bit where she was turned with her leg out, her whole torso would be turned outward so it looked like she was entirely at an angle. Whereas Hyltin in the same choreography was just prettily putting her leg out. Chase Finlay partnered Hyltin and looked good but didn't have much to do. This is a good ballet and well-organized in its formations and alternation of large and small masses. Not much profundity but that may have to do with the John Adams score which is superficially energetic but fails to develop interestingly. However it is very technical and physical and needs to be performed with absolutely sharp ensemble to make its effect - not so here despite good dancers all over the stage.

Second ballet was Robbins' "Opus 19/The Dreamer" which was magnificent. Janie Taylor has this aloof, unreachable allure that defined the ballerina role in this piece. Also Gonzalo Garcia has a soft feline grace - no step looked pushed or separate from the physical line. All the roles were deceptively difficult with knotty combinations that must come off with a sort of seamless flow and cool serenity - I think this is an incredibly demanding ballet. These two pulled it off. Beautiful playing by the orchestra of the Prokofiev score.

Last ballet on the program was "La Sonnambula" with a great cast: Whelan, Marcovici and Ringer as the Sleepwalker, Poet and Coquette. Amar Ramasar (a bit young-looking) as the Baron and Anna Sophia Scheller danced the intriguingly off-kilter pas de deux gloriously. Daniel Ulbricht was in his element selling the Harlequin's acrobatics, comedy and bravura. Whelan had a combination of empty ethereality and a kind of gothic driven intensity that made you wonder if this was a Bertha Mason madwoman in the attic. Marcovici did not surpass memories of Nicolae Hubbe as the Poet but brought out a kind of oblivious self-absorption - so into himself and living in his own world he doesn't sense danger and brings his destruction onto himself. Ringer's refined delicate beauty like a porcelain figurine made the Coquette's deceit more lethal. Very good show.

As for the annoyance - there were empty seats in my row in the side orchestra and I moved more center. There was an asian girl next to me. At intermission her boyfriend turned up and seemed to be arranging something with her. When I returned to my seat for the second ballet he was sitting in the seat I moved into. He insisted on seeing my ticket and refused to move over one. The usher came over alerted by his rudeness and asked to see his ticket. He elaborately searched his pockets but didn't have one. The usher said that he would need to show his credit card to the box office and they would print another ticket. My suspicion - his girlfriend probably was given a free ticket and she instructed her boyfriend to skip the first Martins ballet and sneak into the theater for the second act. He didn't have a ticket at all. I had a ticket for that row and had just moved more center. Anyway, a woman behind me asked me to move one over so her old, short mother behind me could see and I obliged. The girl and her ticketless boyfriend then reappeared and moved into the empty seats next to me as the lights were dimming and the usher had gone. He didn't return for "La Sonnambula" because he was afraid that usher would find him and probably sat somewhere else. Anyway the gall of them bullying ticket holders to seat jump really riled me. This totally off-topic but I just had to vent publicly! :FIREdevil:

#45 abatt

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 09:13 AM

The first cast of Fearful - Mearns, Reichlin et al - was much more incisive and dynamic than the second cast on Sunday afternoon. Taylor was great in Opus. Janie reminded me of how Wendy used to look in this role when she first took it on more than a decade ago. Wendy was wonderful as the Sleepwalker, but the rest of the cast nearly put me to sleep. Marcovici is not very good as the Poet. Ticket sales for Sunday afternoon were POOR. Tons of empty seats.


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