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Ocean's KingdomMartins, McCartney and McCarney at NYCB

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#46 Eileen


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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:48 AM

Eileen, it is Janie Taylor. Her hairdo looked a lot better in person that it does in the photo.

She really looked very pretty in the photo. On stage she often looks pale and wan.

#47 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:16 PM

WNYC's John Schaefer discusses "Ocean's Kingdom" with Jennifer Homans. She is not a fan.
[font="Arial"][size="2"]Beatles 2K11: Paul on Pointe[/size][/font]

#48 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 12:55 PM

I saw the September 25th matinee performance of Ocean's Kingdom and Union Jack.

New York City Balletís production of Oceanís Kingdom has been anticipated for months. Does Oceanís Kingdom live up to the hype? In my opinion, not really. The score is very nice, but nothing special. Some critics have found the music to be better suited for a film, but I found it to be very danceable.

The choreography for this ballet was created by New York City Balletís Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins. To me, Oceanís Kingdom is a typical Peter Martinsí work, with dance movements which are both bland and repetitive. I did, however, find the choreography for King Terra and the Terra Punks to be punchy and edgy. The ballet comes to life whenever Amar Ramasar (King Terra) and his crew appear on stage.

There is not much character development to be found in Oceanís Kingdom. The performers are given so little to do that not even proven dance actors like Sara Mearns (Princess Honorata) and Robert Fairchild (Prince Stone) can make much of their roles. Oceanís Kingdom is a ballet crying out for an innovative and inventive choreographer like Alexei Ratmansky. The Little Humpbacked Horse is basically a silly story, but Ratmansky created a delightful ballet from it.

I sincerely doubt that Iíll ever see Oceanís Kingdom again, unless itís paired with a ballet as phenomenal as George Balanchineís Union Jack. Union Jack is a three part salute to Great Britain which uses regimental military tattoos, Scottish ballads, British folk music, music hall ditties and sailorís hornpipes to set the desired moods. The score is provided by Hersey Kay, who did similar arrangements of music for Balanchineís cowboy ballet, Western Symphony, and his Sousa work, Stars and Stripes.

Part I is a tributes to the Scottish and Canadian Guards Regiments. 70 members of these clans, dressed in their complete tartan finery, march onto the stage in complex formations. Then the parading evolves into spectacular dancing. The highlight of these is the MacDonald of Sleat variation, where the lead dancer performs a very fast paced solo to a staccato drumbeat. Wendy Whelan has owned this solo for years, but on Sunday she slipped and fell halfway through the variation. She immediately got up, finishing beautifully, and was rewarded by a tremendous round of applause.

Part II is the Costermonger pas de deux. It is set in an Edwardian music hall, where a down at their heels husband and wife team perform. Andrew Veyette shows a goofy charm as the Pearly King and Megan Fairchild is delightfully hammy as his wife, the Pearly Queen. At the end of the pas de deux, their daughters, the Pearly Princesses, arrive in a cart pulled by a donkey. Some of the funniest moments of Union Jack are provided by a donkey who wants nothing more than to leave the stage at the David Koch Theatre. His little boy handler cannot bring the donkey under control, so Andrew Veyette, staying in character as the Pearly King, gets the animal calmed down.

Part III is a tribute to the Royal Navy. All the dancers enter into the spirit of high flying hijinks. Maria Kowroski is the leader of the Wrens, the sexy pin-up girls who perform to the ďColonel Bogey MarchĒ (the theme from the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai). Unfortunately, Kowroski fell during her variation, but she recovered quickly. (After seeing two principal dancers fall during Union Jack, some audience members wondered if the stage was slippery.)

My favorite part of Union Jack is the second section of the Royal Navy salute. In my mindís eye, I still see former NYCB principal, Damian Woetzel, performing the solo. He always made the endless leaps and turns look so light and effortless. And it was all done with such a happy swagger! Charles Askegard, an elegant dancer and wonderful partner, is miscast in the Damian Woetzel role. I would love to see Joaquin DeLuz in this part. He has the charisma and technical brilliance to carry it off beautifully.

As always, Union Jack ends on a happy note. As the orchestra plays ďRule BritanniaĒ, the cast uses hand flags to signal ďGod Save the QueenĒ and the Union Jack flag rolls down the backdrop of the stage at the David Koch Theatre. All is well with the New York City Ballet.

#49 Balanchinomane


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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:22 PM

Too much of a coincidence that they both fell. My thought was they both slipped in puddles
left behind from Ocean's Kingdom!
I had attended the Gala last week and was disappointed that Union Jack had been cancelled
so I went on Sunday also. It was one of Askegard's last performances and I am going to miss
him. There was a flower mishap also. Megan's flower fell off her lapel and plopped center stage
taunting the sailors until Wendy's hornpipe when she delightedly picked it, sniffed it and saved
the day. Nothing like Union Jack to cheer everyone up. I think Sir Paul would have loved it too.

#50 miliosr


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Posted 29 September 2011 - 05:05 PM

Bombs away!

Robert Gottlieb pans Ocean's Kingdom (and a whole lot more):


#51 bart


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Posted 29 September 2011 - 05:06 PM

Joan Acocella has a review in The New Yorker (10/3/11), Come Together: In search of a new audience, the ballet brings in a former Beatle..

Unfortunately, it's available online only to subscribers.

The piece is interesting, more for the side information she includes than for the opinions, which are pretty much which have been posted here and published elsewhere.

About the music:

... a big, pleasant, tuneful, unremarkable piece of Orientalism.

Robert Gottlieb's review, linked by miliosr (above), makes an interesting comment about the plot.

Ocean’s Kingdom is a fairy story with no subtext, no resonance—it’s not about anything except its water-logged plot.

Acocella's rather sardonic summary of the plot makes it sound even more old-fashioned and comic bookish. She points out feature that reminds me of more than one 19th-century Imperial Russian ballet or American minstrel show -- the heroine, Princess Honorata, is a blond beauty; the good Prince is "pale-skinned," matching Honorata; the villain is "dark-skinned." (Who says that there aren't enough opportunities in ballet for people of color? :wink:)

The events, according to Acocella, "go by fast. Martin's choreography keeps pace, in banality, with the libretto." (Ouch!)

Here's the part that I think will interest fans of NYCB:

One thing that you can say for "Ocean's Kingdom" is that its blandness brings into sharp relief the opposite qualities -- precision, brilliance, nerve -- of its Honorata, the twenty-five-year-old star Sara Mearns. Mearns is the most dazzling dancer that N.Y.C.B. has fielded in maybe twenty years. Here dancing is luxuriant: plush, creamy. Light beams off her. She has an unusually flexible spine, and the movement issues directly out of that deep source, entraining the whole body. It's not hand here, feet there. It's one action, one story. Apart from the singleness of movement, the most striking thing about Mearns is what she calls her "expressiveness." That is, she likes to act, and she thinks that's what she's doing. Actually, what she's doing is concentrating emotional energy in her spine, so that the dancing comes out looking like acting.

Acocella drops "Ocean's Kingdom" by the end of the piece and makes some interesting generalizations about NYCB in this generation. In addition to Mearns, she praises Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, and Robert Fairchild, all of whom are ...

doing thrilling work, unpretentious and yet glamorous, wild, rimmed with fire. They, more than any of the chats and posters [about audience-building], will bring in a new audience.

#52 cobweb



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Posted 29 September 2011 - 06:16 PM

Too much of a coincidence that they both fell. My thought was they both slipped in puddles
left behind from Ocean's Kingdom!
.. There was a flower mishap also. Megan's flower fell off her lapel and plopped center stage
taunting the sailors until Wendy's hornpipe when she delightedly picked it, sniffed it and saved
the day. Nothing like Union Jack to cheer everyone up. I think Sir Paul would have loved it too.

I saw Union Jack Friday night and the Sunday matinee. There were several costume mishaps in these two performances, at least four that I noted, leaving scarves flailing and odd pieces littered across the stage. It was a relief when a dancer would pick up a stray piece or, in one case, just kick it off the stage. If Andrew Veyette could manage the donkey, I thought surely he or Megan Fairchild could have retrieved the flower in character. Leave it to a pro like Wendy Whelan to save the day with charm and wit!
I greatly preferred Jenifer Ringer and Amar Ramasar in the costermonger pas de deux, as opposed to Fairchild and Veyette. Ringer in particular was a winner, a natural comedienne who lit up the stage and connected with the audience. Amar Ramasar was also funny and charming, if not quite as radiant and natural as Ringer. I thought Andrew Veyette, while funny at times, also came across as angry. Amar Ramasar looked like a charmer with a roving eye, but it was all in good humor and he seemed very affectionate with his lady. Veyette, on the other hand, had moments of what looked like bitterness, which was totally not in the mood of the piece.

#53 vipa


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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:47 PM

Just saw Ocean's Kingdom. I have to agree with the critic (can't remember who) who called it "a hard day's night." I though the music was like movie music for a boring movie, and what was Peter Martins thinking? What a mess. I'm not a fan of his choreography, but I know he can structure something better than this. Again, what was he thinking? My husband has a theory that the music wasn't ready to be a narrative ballet, and so had to be fixed and restructured to accommodate pas de deux sections, a divertissement section, a finale etc., and that Peter had very little time to actually choreograph so just threw something up. Who knows, but what a mess. For whatever reason, Martins ended up with a messy, uninventive, boring ballet. One comment about Daniel Ulbricht. He was saddled with a silly clown wig, and the technique that he did was sort of lost in the shuffle. If the turns and jump that he did were part of a classical pas de deux, audience members would be jumping out of their seats. A waste of talented dancers all around.

The audience was packed. Audience reaction to Ocean's Kingdom was tepid. No front of curtain bows.

Next La Sonnambula. This is not one of my favorite Balanchine ballets, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe it was a relief to see a clear narrative intent, inventive choreography (even though it's more than 50 yrs old), a fulfilling structure and hear music that supports the movement. Ana Sophia Scheller was outstanding in the pas. Sometimes I wonder if she will ever be a principal. What is keeping her back.

West Side Story Suite - Georgina Pazcoguin as Anita is the star of this show!

Audience reaction to Sonnambula and West Side were much greater then to Ocean's Kingdom. So maybe those people who bought tickets because of Sir Paul will have seen something they liked and come back to the ballet.

#54 kfw


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Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:45 AM

The audience was packed. Audience reaction to Ocean's Kingdom was tepid. No front of curtain bows.

Wow! Aren't front-of-curtain bows pretty much de rigueur at the Koch State Theater?

#55 abatt


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Posted 30 September 2011 - 02:44 PM

There were no in front of the curtain calls at the Tuesday performance of Ocean's Kingdom either.

#56 Eileen


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Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:01 PM

The Ocean's Kingdom video in which the much-admired Sara Mearns sparkles her brightest and during her commentary, hair specially curled for the occasion and make up neon-bright, she exudes all her charm and stage presence, trying to convince us that her ballet is something other than a failure and a fiasco. Looking at the excerpts, what strikes me is that it seems like a comic book plot, and suitable for teenagers. It has that teenage vibe - tattoos, young couple against the world.

#57 Eileen


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Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:02 PM

Sorry, it posted twice.

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