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Villella To Step Down from MCB

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Well if we're going to think about her ability to appeal to the masses, let's not forget her work with Jock Soto on

.

What makes this really fun to watch is knowing -- and I haven't seen this in print but I've heard it from an extremely reliable source, and so may be bending a BA rule here -- that the choreography is by a young NYCB dancer with a keen interest in choreography. Named Christopher Wheeldon.

And the theme -- "Cooperate" -- is oddly appropriate given what the next year is likely to bring . . . .

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Also someone whose first love in ballet is Balanchine, I worry when I look at the exclusively contemporary repertory of Morphoses, Lopez's previous project. And when I think of her years as a principal under Martins, I wonder what her preference is for how Balanchine is danced. (Although watching NYCB was something I had to have in Balanchine's day, after 1985 it does nothing for me.)

And Toby Lerner Ansin, who was instrumental in bringing Villella in the first place, if I remember what I've read correctly, speaks of Lopez's "wish to expand the repertoire" of the company, which gives me some concern because I agree with bart that there's a potential problem here of trying to embrace more styles than can be done at the highest level, while also agreeing with cubanmiamiboy that some older classics would be great to have available...

I have to say, I had similar thoughts/worries about Lourdes (though I am generally very excited by her appointment), but she does say repeatedly in the NYTimes article that she is deeply committed to Balanchine. I'm willing to think that Morphoses was/is a specific project and Lourdes will be fine switching gears back to her roots. Then again, she also says she's thinking of two or three contemporary choreographers she'd like to commission and she would add Wheeldon, so....dunno.gif

What do you think of the article, Jack?

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Should I mention that Villella never did pre-performance talking here in Miami...? Only in Broward. I wonder why.

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Understandable concern. I don't know what year she joined the company, but she was 16 at the time, ...
She entered the company in '74 or '75, around the same time as Fugate, Calegari, Nichols, and she was an immediate standout. Was it her second year in the corps that Balanchine cast her in Kay Mazzo's role in Stravinsky Violin Concerto? I found Lourdes' attack a little too unrelenting, especially in more lyrical roles, but I saw that photo of her in Divertimento #15 and drew a sharp breath. It's been a long time since we've seen an arabesque pushing so aggressively into space at NYCB. Although I think NYCB dances very well these days, I do miss the quality of that energy. Miami has it, so it's a good bet it will continue.

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A quick look at the company website shows a roster (including company apprentices) of 43. Over here in the UK, companies around this size can be slated for doing traditional productions of the classics because they can't provide a "full quota" of swans or wilis. Equally they can be slated if they try to do the classic in a non-traditional way (except for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake that is beloved of everyone.

It can be a lose lose situation!

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A quick look at the company website shows a roster (including company apprentices) of 43. Over here in the UK, companies around this size can be slated for doing traditional productions of the classics because they can't provide a "full quota" of swans or wilis. Equally they can be slated if they try to do the classic in a non-traditional way (except for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake that is beloved of everyone.

It can be a lose lose situation!

MCB's corps for Giselle was a very decent one. No complains about it. I don't think the lack of corps would be an issue over here not to stage the classics. What I know for sure is that one doesn't really get to totally "know" a dancer-(and hence a company)-in full terms of technique, mime, and folk dancing until a warhorse is in full display. As technically difficult as the ballerina's dancing of T&V is, it is NOTHING to what she has to face by doing Swan Lake, DQ or Raymonda. An attempt to get away with the classics if not in full capacity can be a sad pic-(I've seen it recently). Still, you can do La Valse beautifully. The classics NEED to be done for a dancer to really say his/her curriculum is complete.

To put it boldly. Is MCB afraid of not being up to the technical level to do them...? And if so...are promising young dancers like Delgado accepting that...?

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The Times keeps expanding its story with more information about Lourdes and the search.

The more I read, the more I like her.

I like her evaluation of MCB dancers as "stage animals," something which they got from Villella and which sets them apart from certain other regional companies.

I'm getting hopeful again.

Jack, I've been thinking about your question: why did Gottllieb consider only outsiders. Can you think of anyone inside the company who has the experience, connections, and financial and p.r. skills necessary to to do the job? Villella never had a real protege. Nor is he the kind of guy who would seek to develop one. MCB was a regional company until it became good enough to become a company NYC and Paris audiences took seriously and could get excited about. Gottlieb was searching for someone to lead a company that now has a national and international following, at a time when "ballet" is looking for a way to attract new audiences, and when financial resources are not as available as they once were. He had no choice but to look outside Miami.

It's interesting the way everyone at MCB keeps assuring us that the Balanchine tradition, style, training, etc., etc., will still be at the heart of the MCB project. I really want to believe this. However, I accept and even welcome that this does NOT translate being closed to other kinds of dance. Villella himself was enthusiastically committed to bringing in Taylor, Tharp, Ratmansky, the new choreographer Liam Scarlett, and even a tiny bit of Wheeldon. These works challenge dancers and expand their range without, I think, taking away from their ability to dance Balanchine and even to dance (with lots of help) respectable versions of the classics. If Lopez's connections with Wheeldon remain positive and constructive, it would be GREAT to have him form a connection with MCB. I'm sure a donor could be found who would start the funding.

We've been talking a lot about refocusing on the 19th-century classics. This is an interesting topic but something of a distraction. My sense is there are few people within MCB, or in the south Florida ballet community generally, who have any interest in this project. Each season, Florida is innundated with Swan Lakes. MCB already has the Balanchine Act II-IV version, which they dance beautifully. I hope they stick with that and leave the rest of the ballet to the touring Russians. As for the more esoteric 19th-century works, my feeling is that one is more likely to see a version of Pharoah's Daughter on a Disney cruise ship than on the stage of any regional company the size of MCB.

Recommitting to making MCB's versions of Giselle, Coppelia, and Don Q better -- and finding a like-minded donor to pay for it -- would be realistic, and a great idea as well.

If they can get their financing straight, why NOT the Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream? Or Ashton's The Dream if you want something simpler (and cheaper)? (There are plenty of coaches available to help set both of these, and Gottllieb and Lopez have the contacts to get the neacessary permssions.) Why not a couple of Diaghalev revivals? -- the kind that helped put and keep the Joffrey on the map and which still pull in audiences? Why not a joint performance with the Paul Taylor Company as part of PT's almost annual tours to the Southeast? There are so many realistic and intriguing possibilities. New collaborations with the Cleveland Symphony or New World Symphony? Performances, probably starting small, that bring in artists and choreographers from Latin America? Something analogous to NYCB's "Black and White" programs?

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Also someone whose first love in ballet is Balanchine, I worry when I look at the exclusively contemporary repertory of Morphoses, Lopez's previous project. And when I think of her years as a principal under Martins, I wonder what her preference is for how Balanchine is danced.

Well, Peter Boal spent his entire NYCB career dancing for Peter Martins and I think the general consensus is that he turned out OK. wink1.gif What's more, he left NYCB for a time to dance elsewhere and throughout his career took on roles created by choreographers who work well outside of the classical ballet idiom -- Molissa Fenley and Ulysses Dove, e.g. I'm guessing that Boal's exposure to contemporary rep -- both as dancer and AD -- is considerably more extensive that Lopez's.

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Recommitting to making MCB's versions of Giselle, Coppelia, and Don Q better -- and finding a like-minded donor to pay for it -- would be realistic, and a great idea as well.

If they can get their financing straight, why NOT the Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream? Or Ashton's The Dream if you want something simpler (and cheaper)? (There are plenty of coaches available to help set both of these, and Gottllieb and Lopez have the contacts to get the neacessary permssions.) Why not a couple of Diaghalev revivals? -- the kind that helped put and keep the Joffrey on the map and which still pull in audiences? Why not a joint performance with the Paul Taylor Company as part of PT's almost annual tours to the Southeast? There are so many realistic and intriguing possibilities. New collaborations with the Cleveland Symphony or New World Symphony? Performances, probably starting small, that bring in artists and choreographers from Latin America? Something analogous to NYCB's "Black and White" programs?

Great post. I'm beginning to think my concerns about the new rep she'll bring are silly. A mention of two or three new choreographers and Wheeldon (whose work I often like) does not mean she's going to inundate the rep with bizzare, alienating non-balletic rep.

Also, I love all the ideas you spouted off at the end there! Keep 'em coming! I'm betting the Lopez will be someone who is willing to experiment with those sorts of things. I'm really hoping she gets MCB on the Art Basel bandwagon in some way. That festival has become so big, it seems ridiculous that MCB doesn't take advantage of it each year!

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Well if we're going to think about her ability to appeal to the masses, let's not forget her work with Jock Soto on

.

What makes this really fun to watch is knowing -- and I haven't seen this in print but I've heard it from an extremely reliable source, and so may be bending a BA rule here -- that the choreography is by a young NYCB dancer with a keen interest in choreography. Named Christopher Wheeldon.

Excuse me, but everyone knows that it was choreographed by Kermit.

Also someone whose first love in ballet is Balanchine, I worry when I look at the exclusively contemporary repertory of Morphoses, Lopez's previous project. And when I think of her years as a principal under Martins, I wonder what her preference is for how Balanchine is danced.

Morphoses has/had a different mission, and I'd expect Lopez to further that mission when that was her job.

Also someone whose first love in ballet is Balanchine, I worry when I look at the exclusively contemporary repertory of Morphoses, Lopez's previous project. And when I think of her years as a principal under Martins, I wonder what her preference is for how Balanchine is danced.

Well, Peter Boal spent his entire NYCB career dancing for Peter Martins and I think the general consensus is that he turned out OK. wink1.gif What's more, he left NYCB for a time to dance elsewhere and throughout his career took on roles created by choreographers who work well outside of the classical ballet idiom -- Molissa Fenley and Ulysses Dove, e.g. I'm guessing that Boal's exposure to contemporary rep -- both as dancer and AD -- is considerably more extensive that Lopez's.

But the general consensus is that PNB should be dancing works by Fenley, Dove, Goecke, and Quijada, for example, and believes Boal when he says in a Q&A that Quijada's vocabulary, which, while not seen in the classroom, is the extension of ballet vocabulary.

That's not to say some of these works, and Lopez Ochoa's co-commission with Olivier Wevers' Whim W'him "Cylindrical Shadows" aren't beautiful dance works, although the Lopez Ochoa lost too much on the big stage. They're not ballet, and the question is whether and how much a ballet company should dance not ballet.

From Daniel Watkins' article in the NYT:

Ms. Lopez currently runs Morphoses, a New York-based company she founded with the prominent choreographer Christopher Wheeldon in 2007. Mr. Wheeldon left the company three years later amid a falling-out with Ms. Lopez.

But Ms. Lopez said she wanted to consider some sort of merger or partnership of Morphoses and Miami City Ballet, and was open to including Wheeldon works in her new company.

An MCB / Morphoses partnership -- I wonder how that would work? Morphoses still a laboratory for new dance run on a "curatorial" model, but now with a more-or-less stable roster of dancers recruited from MCB during the off season, with performances scheduled for venues outside of Florida? A run at Aspen, a week at the Joyce, etc ...

I wonder if she's trying to save the roster/livelihoods with this idea.

For many years Alonso's ballet has been touring world wide presenting very cheap productions in terms of props and costumes, some of them so old that they have fallen to pieces right onstage. Still, the success of the company is right there. The only way to consolidate the art form in the public memories and to make them part of a culture is just dancing them, dancing and dancing them. Props and costumes can be better or worse. Still, among all the material ugliness, there could probably be one memorable ballerina dancing Giselle, and that could probably be a magical night for a new ballet goer who will never forget her.

I saw this myself in Vancouver recently when they performed "Don Quixote". Worth every penny.

I asked the head of the local ballet company in my town if she would ever consider doing Raymonda, and she said they are too small for such a ballet. There are lots of roles and a need for a big corps, I assume.

While I've seen larger companies do Act III (POB, SFB with 70+6 apprentices), I've also seen Ballet Arizona (26+4 apprentices) perform a suite from Act III and do a superb job of it. While it might not be an example of democracy in action, it's got two Principals, four soloists, and a male quartet, and gives plenty of work to a lot of dancers, and is a great closer and a great appetizer, thematically and technically for an upcoming full-length.

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Helene

They're not ballet, and the question is whether and how much a ballet company should dance not ballet.

I think this is an important question because as ballet companies drift away from the classics - Petipa, Balanchine, Ashton, Tudor - they have difficulty restarting them once they come back to them. Or at least that seems to be the case at San Francisco Ballet where Raymonda this year - after several comtemporary programs - appeared to be a little stiff, to lack the sense of the dancers being at home in the classical idiom. (The production also seemed to struggle under all the visual weight of the too much goodness of overly-detailed, very tradtional costumes and sets).

I know dancers are excited to have new dances done on them, for their bodies and particular off-balances, but few of these specifically tailored or bespoke choreographies survive from decade to decade, and it would seem to be difficult to build a core of new classics from these.

Diaghilev's was a smallish company and they did revive things every couple of years, they had an identitiy and continuity yet they could surprise and challenge their audience each season. The Cuban Ballet is not a good business model because they have exclusive rights to their audience and few labor costs and probably couldn't survive very well the transition into a free market economy. San Francisco is well supported by a well heeled audience - money still regularly comes down to it from industries established in post gold rush days - but this seems to come with the proviso that they'll be somewhat cushioned from anything too adventurous.

I wish Miami all the best luck in striking a good balance between its current reportoire - with its wonderful freshness of intrepretation and attack - and - just enough - new works.

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Fascinating thread, which has developed two sub-themes: one having to do with larger issues, the other more narrowly focused on the future of MCB. They actually DO fit together, if you think about, and thanks to all for participating.

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To return briefly to MCB's situation.

Thanks, brokenwing, for your comments. By the way, your suggestion about making a connection with Art Basel is fantastic.

I'm betting the Lopez will be someone who is willing to experiment with those sorts of things. I'm really hoping she gets MCB on the Art Basel bandwagon in some way. That festival has become so big, it seems ridiculous that MCB doesn't take advantage of it each year!

Looking at Lopez's biography, it seems that she has been quite willing to think about collaborative relationships (formal and informal) with entities outside the company itself.

Edward Villella is the product of a different age. Although Balanchine experimented with collaborations with outside artists and groups, the basic or default position of NYCB was to stand alone.

There is also an unfortunate predisposition in a lot of arts managers to think of other organizations (dance or non-dance) only as "competition" for audiences and dollars. This was quite noticeable at Ballet Florida and was, I think, a factor in its demise.

Not coming from Miami, nor being particularly interested in the contemporary art scene, I was stunned to learn just how huge Art Basel is. Performing artists of all sorts are getting involved, hoping for a piggy-back effect. What an opportunity. MCB has a fantastic studio in South Beach. It converts into a small proscenium stage. Perfect for studio work. There are other possible performance spaces in Miami Beach and on the other side in Biscayne Bay that might be looked at as well. Why not integrate a performance -- students at the School could be involved -- with one of the art installations or events?

In fact, why not think about forming some kind of MCB Studio Company with Art Basel or another cityi-wide cultulral event as its trial run?

The dancers at all levels at MCB are so strong technically, right down to the School Apprentices. They are also, in Lopez's term, "stage animals" who almost without exception project a passion for public performance. I am NOT thinking of something similar to ABT II, which is permanent and free-standing and is primarily a touring company. I'm thinking of something more flexible -- a company that would be redefined program by program according to need.

A flexible Studio Company could mix dancers from a number of different levels. It could be led -- on a project-by-project basis -- by some of the more experienced but often underutilized young Soloists or even Corps members, quite a few of whom have the skills and personalities to (a) carry a lead role beautifully and (b) serve as excellent models to the most promising student dancers working with them.

One dancer might be given a kind of informal oversight responsibility, with title, but the rest of the roster would be flexible, depending on commitments in the regular programming. The Studio Company could go on hiatus at times when all dancers are required elsewhere, like Nutcracker Season and other especially busy times. (Just occurs to me that Art Basel takes place during Nutcracker Season. Well, there are other events.)

To simplify things and keep down costs, the company would be local -- touring no further than West Palm to the north and Naples to the West. I mean, places were MCB is already well known. That would include places with real theaters (with lighting and sound systems) like Boca Raton. It could also include campus theaters, which are often dark. I'm thinking of the Eissey in north Palm Beach County and the Duncan further south, but I'm sure there are many possibilities.

Introducing this to Miami during a larger cultural event would maximize publicity, locally and beyond. My gut feeling, based on what I have read about Lopez, is that this kind of thinking comes easily to her. Meanwhile, Mr. Goldsborough and others are in place to do the numbers and evaluate the costs and benefits on a project-by-project basis.

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Not coming from Miami, nor being particularly interested in the contemporary art scene, I was stunned to learn just how huge Art Basel is. Performing artists of all sorts are getting involved, hoping for a piggy-back effect. What an opportunity. MCB has a fantastic studio in South Beach. It converts into a small proscenium stage. Perfect for studio work. There are other possible performance spaces in Miami Beach and on the other side in Biscayne Bay that might be looked at as well. Why not integrate a performance -- students at the School could be involved -- with one of the art installations or events?

Was it Balanchine who brought his company to dance at an installation at the World's Fair in NYC?

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The point I was hoping to make was that neither dancing for Peter Martins nor exposure to contemporary dance leads inexorably to debased Balanchine, which I took to be the original poster's main concern.

The amount of "not ballet" in a ballet company's repertory is something the company, its AD, its audience, and its donors have to negotiate among themselves, and that process can take years.

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The amount of "not ballet" in a ballet company's repertory is something the company, its AD, its audience, and its donors have to negotiate among themselves, and that process can take years.

Makes good sense to me, Kathleen. Thank you.

Another issue is the difficulty of agreeing what we mean when we say "ballet." For some, this is a narrow category, often restricted to a particular time, place and vocabulary. For others, at the other end of the spectrum, "ballet" becomes a convenient shorthand for just about any form of dance that ballet dancers can more or less perform.

Most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle. But where to draw the line?

My personal idea of "ballet" is mainly what Balanchine made of it. I'm glad that he was willing (quite anxious, actdually) to stretch the possibilities of ballet in new directions.. I'm equally glad that his inventiveness and creativity were always restrained by a reverence for classical ballet and, just as important, a faith in its capacity to absorb new forms of expression.

By any definition, MCB is a ballet company. I expect that, under Ms Lopez's leadership, and despite the inevitable addition of new work, it will remain one.

Was it Balanchine who brought his company to dance at an installation at the World's Fair in NYC?

Puppytreats, I checked, and you are right. Ballet Caravan appeared (1940) at the Ford Motor Company Theater at the NY World's Fair. Lincoln Kirstein, quoted by Richard Buckle, wrote:

The pretext for our dancing was the fate of the horse in the path of the automobile ... We never knew whether or not it sold a dozen automobiles, but for six months it provided food and rent for forty dancers in ... an eighteen-minute ballet entitled A Thousand Times Neigh ! every hour on the hour, twelve times a day.

This isn't included in Balanchine's "Catalogue of Works," but he was working on Broadway in 1940, so it might have been something he put together in between his other show biz gigs.

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I thought the concern was that the Balanchine rep would be replaced by works of the Morphoses ilk.

If it's a matter of performing the Balanchine works badly, I think it's a matter of technique. As we've seen with the Royal Ballet, once Macmillan started to replace Ashton and classes changed, the dancers lost the fine points of style and then, eventually, the technique. I don't think two-four works a year out of the style is necessarily detrimental to the technique when the balance of the rep is solidly classical and neoclassical, and I don't think there's any danger of Balanchine being replaced by Cecchetti or full-time Duato on Lopez's watch. I think it's when there's an Artistic Director who changes the vision completely, or there is a Resident Choreographer whose works in a non-neoclassical style dominate, that there would be an erosion of the technique and energy needed to dance Balanchine.

Morphoses was someone else's vision -- or at least began as someone else's vision -- and Lopez did more work that wasn't Morphoses than with the company, while anyone watching Peter Boal and Company could see what his taste and preferences were and his choices for PNB aren't all that surprising.

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A flexible Studio Company could mix dancers from a number of different levels. It could be led -- on a project-by-project basis -- by some of the more experienced but often underutilized young Soloists or even Corps members, quite a few of whom have the skills and personalities to (a) carry a lead role beautifully and (b) serve as excellent models to the most promising student dancers working with them.
More complicated than first meets the eye. Are the dancers in the Studio Company students or quasi-professionals? This must be clear especially for foreign dancers, who will have a different visa, depending. Unions wouldn't consider them full-fledged professionals and would seek to protect those who are on payroll. You don't have enough on payroll to fill the roles? Hire more!

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Most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle.

But are you somewhat elevated?

(sorry, couldn't resist! you can return to the more scholarly conversation now...)

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I still think we ought to look and focus more at the faults, once we all have agreed on MCB's strenghts. Wasn't it Barbara Fallis who said that "we ought to practise what we don't do well". Well. MCB do well Balanchine. Fact. But don't we all here remember the major disaster of the company when they did Aurora's wedding...? (Jack, bart..?). It was a sad picture. The same company that has proven great at rolling on the floor on Taylor couldn't make it to one act of the mother of all classical repertoire. What did they do about it...? They dropped it...(Or so that's what it looks like). They gave up after only one run of the ballet. Whay don't they try to get over it and win the battle, and prove that they have capable dancers that can do EVERYTHING...? Helene mentioned Raymonda's wedding act. Great idea..so it is Aurora's wedding and Coppelia's wedding and Paquita's wedding and all those weddings. Those four last acts are GREAT vehicles for a small company like MCB to show that they know their homework. And what about the romantic style...? Didn't we realize that the torsos of the dancers when they did Giselle, like in the Willis presentation dancing, was as supple and upward as when they did Coppelia..? No head tilt, no soft arm roundness, no inclination of the torsos. Those are the little things that dancers need to know when they dance different styles. MCB just hasn't had enought exposure to know about it. Why then insist on all that forgettable Tharp's "Nightspot", Wheeldon's "Liturgy", Scarlet's "Viscera" or Ratmanski's "Symphonic Dances"...? To be honest, i can't really remember that much of any of them, and i would really like to know if anybody can. I hope Lourdes could do something about it. And then...don't we agree that we're seeing LOTS of repetitions lately...? Why then don't we try to look forward by recognizing the unique value of going back.to the roots..?

Just a thought.

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Carbro, thanks for your comments on the idea of Studio Company. I love the process of a) lots of ideas combined with b) looking seriously at the difficulties. And, of course, the essential c): making a decision to take a chance after all the costs and benefits have been evaluated. MCB dancers are not unionized, and the restrictions are nothing like what you have in NYC. But there would be problems, especially scheduling problems, of course. My thinking is that new management HAS to be willing to think outside the box.

Sandik. Not exactly "elevated," but getting there, the more I read about the background to the events covered in this thread. (But, then, I confess that I am one who would LOVE to have this particular Forsythe work added to the MCB rep. And, I'm an optimistic guy in general, as long as you let me have my dose of authentic Balanchine every once in a while.)

Cristian, I agree completely on Aurora's Wedding. So earnest, so flat, so ... dull, despite the smiling and the gorgeous music. My impression has always been that Mr. Villella was not particularly interested in this repertoire -- not personally interested, I mean -- except as something you have to throw in to appeal to a wider audience (and also to make the dancers happy). These may reflect the fact that Villella as a performer was not really suited for the princely roles and danced them less frequently (and with less distinction) than one might have thought, given his extensive freelance work during his days at NYCB. I recall his Prince in the Balanchine Swan Lake, where I would rank less well suited than Ludlow and several leagues behind d'Amboise, who himself was not an ideal classical dancer, as he would be the first to admit.

To make ANY of the changes we are talking about, there will have to be some changes in the Ballet Master/Mistress situation. This is especially true given the departure of Edward Villella, who took on many Ballet Master functions with the repertoire he knew best and cared about most. Lourdes Lopez will have a job to do there. It can't hurt to keep reminding her that MCB's classical repertoire needs serious work, which can't be accomplished if no one knows on the staff (or brought in from the outside) how to transmit it to the dancers -- at the same high level that Balanchine is transmitted.

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I would love for MCB to do more story ballets or excerpts like Raymonda's wedding, etc. So I agree, but maybe there are issues that we don't know about. I don't know. I have always heard that story ballets sell better (put more people in the seats), so there must be some reason we don't know about that keeps them from doing these story ballets. Usually they only do one per season. This season they are doing 2 (Giselle and Coppelia) which I think is unusual for them, isn't it? Next season they aren't doing any story ballets. If story ballets are cash cows I wonder why they don't do more of them.

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Didn't we realize that the torsos of the dancers when they did Giselle, like in the Willis presentation dancing, was as supple and upward as when they did Coppelia..? No head tilt, no soft arm roundness, no inclination of the torsos. Those are the little things that dancers need to know when they dance different styles. MCB just hasn't had enought exposure to know about it.

It also speaks to coaching. Ballet Arizona, a smaller company than MCB, has no fewer neoclassical ballets in it's rep, with the occasional Tharp, but when Olga Evreinoff stages a work for them, like the "Raymonda" Act III suite, or "Les Sylphides", or "Don Quixote", although they'd never be confused with the Mariinsky Ballet or POB, they make those stylistic differences. When the company danced "Giselle", the Wilis, many of them students in the school or apprentices, made the distinction between Romantic and neo-classical or classical.

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But the general consensus is that PNB should be dancing works by Fenley, Dove, Goecke, and Quijada, for example, and believes Boal when he says in a Q&A that Quijada's vocabulary, which, while not seen in the classroom, is the extension of ballet vocabulary.

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with Boal here. While I think MCB certainly would have benefited from more new works over the years, I have appreciated Villella's commitment to performing works that directly use ballet vocabulary. I also tend to define ballet, like Bart Birdsall, as something along the lines of what Balanchine did with it. He stretched it to its limits, but the classical vocabulary was still there. People like Wheeldon, Ratmansky and Scarlett seem to still be making ballets with the classical vocabulary intact, while people like Elo, Bigonzetti, Prejlocaj, McGregor, etc. seem not to be, in my very humble opinion. I think it is fine to program one ballet here and there that really takes the dancers outside their vocabulary, but a whole program of it can be a turnoff.

I've been a bit surprised and a bit disappointed by how little prominence Boal gives Balanchine in his rep (2 ballets this season and Coppelia, out of 6 rep programs). I hope that MCB's rep does not follow this direction, although this season proved no better than PNB's with just 2 Balanchine and a Coppelia that isn't Mr. B's (granted, this is unusual for the company).

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To make ANY of the changes we are talking about, there will have to be some changes in the Ballet Master/Mistress situation. This is especially true given the departure of Edward Villella, who took on many Ballet Master functions with the repertoire he knew best and cared about most. Lourdes Lopez will have a job to do there. It can't hurt to keep reminding her that MCB's classical repertoire needs serious work, which can't be accomplished if no one knows on the staff (or brought in from the outside) how to transmit it to the dancers -- at the same high level that Balanchine is transmitted.

Finally we're in the same page. The fault is too notoriously big to be ignored, and now that MCB has the ambition to become grander and explore overseas, it is time to admit what's lacking and do something about it. And and I'm so glad you get to the point of the ballet masters/mistresses. Isn't it RIDICULOUS that some of the most iconic aging Cuban ballerinas are roaming around the city struggling to make a living while having in their hands the unique first hand link to Alonso's mid century BT/BRdMC ballets, stagings and choreographies...?

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