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Villella To Step Down from MCB

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I wanted to mention that perhaps one of the reason MCB doesn't do full lengths is that maybe most of the dancers actually do *not* like doing them. The principals love the challenge, sure, but what of the soloists down? MCB is used to doing very involved and demanding corps/demi-soloist work that pervades the Balanchine repertoire, so when they come into wilis and there is so much standing on the side, I'm not sure how much they like it. I know that one can argue that there is so much more than just standing on the side to wilis in terms of character and contributing to the greater picture, but MCB's dancers are PHYSICAL dancers and movers, so it may just not be as satisfying to them. I saw mentioned in another thread that Casey Herd left ABT years ago because he was sick of holding a spear in the back of full lengths, and I know I've heard other dancers with similar sentiments. To many corps members these days, full lengths might be deemed a necessary evil. Just a thought.

Cubanmiamiboy- I wouldn't hold your breath on getting more classics in the rep. Lourdes has stated the LA Times that the kind of work she's interested in bringing and thinks would fit the company includes Forsythe and even some Graham and Limon. I'm also afraid I have to contest your statement that no one liked or remembered Liturgy, Symphonic Dances or Viscera. Those three choreographers are in huge demand all over the world and are critically adored. Those three works in particular have also garnered acclaim and seemed to be well liked by audiences. I will give you Nightspot though smile.png. I also completely agree with you that when they are doing full lengths, there is no excuse to not utilize the resources they have locally of the old guard from National Ballet of Cuba! If they have repetiteurs/experts setting and coaching the Balanchine, Robbins, Tharp and Taylor, why don't they afford the classics the same respect?

Do people really want MCB to be taking on more full lengths? There are only four programs a year and if they increase their usual once-a-year dabbling in 19th century classics, that would make at least 50% of their rep full lengths classics. I personally would not want that. I think the only real solution here is just to add more programs. beg.gif

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Why does MCB have to perform all styles of ballet and/or dance? Why do all companies have to be rep companies - don't they all become the same thing after a while?

IMHO, I'd like to see MCB (and many other companies) become specialists in a couple of styles. If MCB is going to do story ballets, I'd like to see them excel in the style they are trained in, and perform Balanchine's story ballets (and they have done many of them): Midsummer, Coppelia, Prodigal Son, La Sonnambula, Apollo (well, there is something of a story there), Nutcracker, Tin Soldier, Slaughter on 10th, .

I'd like to see the big 5 regional companies (PNB, SFB, Boston, Houston and MCB) produce new sets to do a full Waltz Rep, as the Bolshoi will do later this year. I think a Waltz rep - especially for Valentine's Day - would be a big seller.

I'd like to see MCB become a specialist in choreographers that they look good in: Cranko, Tharp, Page, etc. But the goal should not be "everything but the kitchen sink".

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I'd like to see MCB become a specialist ....

That could be the key. Perhaps what you see as an specialization I see it rather as a limitation, more when they publicly expose things like the Aurora's Wedding's failure, so it becomes a matter of "I can't" instead of "I don't want to".

MCB has the "Ballet" last name on its presentation card. They ought to know how to do Sleeping Beauty. Paul Taylor Dance Group doesn't.

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I'd like to see MCB become a specialist ....

That could be the key. Perhaps what you see as an specialization I see it rather as a limitation, more when they publicly expose things like the Aurora's Wedding's failure, so it becomes a matter of "I can't" instead of "I don't want to".

MCB has the "Ballet" last name on its presentation card. They ought to know how to do Sleeping Beauty. Paul Taylor Dance Group doesn't.

NYCB does too. And they aren't a classical company. They are a neo-classical one. It is a different style.

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Do people really want MCB to be taking on more full lengths? There are only four programs a year and if they increase their usual once-a-year dabbling in 19th century classics, that would make at least 50% of their rep full lengths classics. I personally would not want that. I think the only real solution here is just to add more programs. beg.gif

I would love for them to add more programs and keep the number of rep programs and simply add an extra story ballet or two each year. That would be ideal. I understand saying they should specialize and stick to what they know, but....... If ABT came down to Florida and did 5 story ballets every year I would say, "Yes, MCB should just do Balanchine," but since ABT has only come down sporadically and done ONE story ballet at times, and most of us love story ballets, we do want MCB to do story ballets and to get better at them.

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Bart- I wanted to mention that perhaps one of the reason MCB doesn't do full lengths is that maybe most of the dancers actually do *not* like doing them. The principals love the challenge, sure, but what of the soloists down? MCB is used to doing very involved and demanding corps/demi-soloist work that pervades the Balanchine repertoire, so when they come into wilis and there is so much standing on the side, I'm not sure how much they like it. I know that one can argue that there is so much more than just standing on the side to wilis in terms of character and contributing to the greater picture, but MCB's dancers are PHYSICAL dancers and movers, so it may just not be as satisfying to them. I saw mentioned in another thread that Casey Herd left ABT years ago because he was sick of holding a spear in the back of full lengths, and I know I've heard other dancers with similar sentiments. To many corps members these days, full lengths might be deemed a necessary evil. Just a thought.

Cubanmiamiboy- I wouldn't hold your breath on getting more classics in the rep. Lourdes has stated the LA Times that the kind of work she's interested in bringing and thinks would fit the company includes Forsythe and even some Graham and Limon. I'm also afraid I have to contest your statement that no one liked or remembered Liturgy, Symphonic Dances or Viscera. Those three choreographers are in huge demand all over the world and are critically adored. Those three works in particular have also garnered acclaim and seemed to be well liked by audiences. I will give you Nightspot though smile.png. I also completely agree with you that when they are doing full lengths, there is no excuse to not utilize the resources they have locally of the old guard from National Ballet of Cuba! If they have repetiteurs/experts setting and coaching the Balanchine, Robbins, Tharp and Taylor, why don't they afford the classics the same respect?

Do people really want MCB to be taking on more full lengths? There are only four programs a year and if they increase their usual once-a-year dabbling in 19th century classics, that would make at least 50% of their rep full lengths classics. I personally would not want that. I think the only real solution here is just to add more programs. beg.gif

Well, this is a good point. I am not a dancer, so haven't thought about that. However, as an audience member I want more story ballets. Miami City Ballet is more famous and experienced at the Balanchine repetoire, but I would like to see them continue to do a variety and do the story ballets (even if a different style) along with the Balanchine and contemporary rep. There isn't as much ballet down here as in NYC, so I think a company has to diversify rather than specialize down in Florida. Of course, whenever you have hands in several pots, you do run the risk of becoming very generic and losing your "special-ness." So this is a good debate on this topic.

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I'd like to see MCB become a specialist ....

That could be the key. Perhaps what you see as an specialization I see it rather as a limitation, more when they publicly expose things like the Aurora's Wedding's failure, so it becomes a matter of "I can't" instead of "I don't want to".

MCB has the "Ballet" last name on its presentation card. They ought to know how to do Sleeping Beauty. Paul Taylor Dance Group doesn't.

NYCB does too. And they aren't a classical company. They are a neo-classical one. It is a different style.

Good, but they still have to commit to full lenghts. Are they capable...? How do they dance them...?

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I'd like to see MCB become a specialist ....

That could be the key. Perhaps what you see as an specialization I see it rather as a limitation, more when they publicly expose things like the Aurora's Wedding's failure, so it becomes a matter of "I can't" instead of "I don't want to".

MCB has the "Ballet" last name on its presentation card. They ought to know how to do Sleeping Beauty. Paul Taylor Dance Group doesn't.

NYCB does too. And they aren't a classical company. They are a neo-classical one. It is a different style.

Good, but they still have to commit to full lenghts. Are they capable...? How do they dance them...?

cubanmiamiboy, I appreciate your love for the 19th century classics, but I very much agree with Jayne and Aurora here. As infrequently as I’m able to see MCB, I'd still hate to see their concentration on Balanchine and their ability to dance his work on a high level weakened by an attempt to be all things to all ballet lovers, and I don't see why the word "ballet" in a company name should obligate it to dance all styles. Does the Ballet Nacional de Cuba need to dance a credible Agon? Credible Forsythe? And pretty soon probably (shudders) credible McGregor?

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MCB does story ballets, and quite well, but these are the neo-classical story ballets, even if "Coppelia" Acts 1&2 were based on the classical version. What they haven't done well from many reports is the classical story ballet rep.

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I'd like to see the big 5 regional companies (PNB, SFB, Boston, Houston and MCB) produce new sets to do a full Waltz Rep, as the Bolshoi will do later this year. I think a Waltz rep - especially for Valentine's Day - would be a big seller.

This is perhaps a conversation for a different forum, but I'll reply to it here, since this is where it started.

I've seen a few single theme evenings, including a couple of waltz programs, and I have to say that it's a difficult kind of project. An evening of any one thing needs to be careful to include a lot of other elements or you'll find the audience becomes inured to the key theme. This is particularly true when you talk about a rhythmic idea -- 3/4 time is extremely powerful, for all that the waltz has acquired a decorous reputation, but repetition has a way of canceling itself out.

Francia Russell, former co-director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, has often said that Liebeslieder Walzer is probably her 'desert island' ballet, but she and her husband Kent Stowell never presented it in a regular program during their 20+ years here, in part because they both remembered the steady stream of people leaving the audience during performances of the work when they were with New York City Ballet.

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Good, but they still have to commit to full lenghts. Are they capable...? How do they dance them...?

Do they have to do program-length works, or are you really asking for stylistically classical work, no matter the length of the ballet?

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Francia Russell, former co-director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, has often said that Liebeslieder Walzer is probably her 'desert island' ballet, but she and her husband Kent Stowell never presented it in a regular program during their 20+ years here, in part because they both remembered the steady stream of people leaving the audience during performances of the work when they were with New York City Ballet.

"Liebeslieder Walzer", my favorite ballet of all, is tricky, too because it's a two-parter, although with pause, not intermission, and it dominates a program. I think that is rightly so, but if the audience doesn't like it, the program is in huge trouble. Russell also mentioned the cost of the sets and costumes required by the Trust: her sons had to get special permission from the Trust for the company to perform excerpts for Russell and Stowell's retirement tribute performance.

At one one, Russell said that PNB and SFB talked about co-sponsoring and performing "Vienna Waltzes", but that never came to pass.

There are waltz ballets that are neo-classical and would provide a big contrast to a "Liebeslieder" or "Vienna Waltzes", which in these economic times could only happen if someone made a monster, restricted donation for it, since I'm not sure PNB could afford the "Rosenkavalier" costumes alone, such as Peter Martins' "The Waltz Project", which I've seen at least once outside NYCB. (Maybe in SF?) "La Valse" would fit the theme, but is a bit macabre for Valentine's Day.

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At one one, Russell said that PNB and SFB talked about co-sponsoring and performing "Vienna Waltzes", but that never came to pass.

If I had to choose, I'd pick Liebeslieder over Vienna, but that's me.

There are waltz ballets that are neo-classical and would provide a big contrast to a "Liebeslieder" or "Vienna Waltzes", which in these economic times could only happen if someone made a monster, restricted donation for it, since I'm not sure PNB could afford the "Rosenkavalier" costumes alone, such as Peter Martins' "The Waltz Project", which I've seen at least once outside NYCB. (Maybe in SF?) "La Valse" would fit the theme, but is a bit macabre for Valentine's Day.

I think PNB did La Valse in February once, but that was before they were marketing the dickens out of the Valentine connection.

For me, there's a difference between La Valse and Libeslieder or Vienna, in terms of programming -- La Valse "plays well with others" in a way that the other two do not. Liebesleider and Vienna are so substantial and lengthy that they really dominate the program, almost in the way that Giselle does. You can put something else alongside them, if all you're looking at is running times, but it's a difficult marriage.

(rather like the Apollo/Carmina program we have coming up, but that's a topic for a different forum)

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Liebeslieder, with its intense Brahms songs, may work better for a serious opera audience or opera-ballet audience - as would Davidsbundlertanze. Ravel wrote La Valse, full of caesuras and moments of paralysis, to celebrate the destruction of the waltz and 19th century Vienna, and the Balanchine's version is just as dark. Anyway none of these pieces are not really general ballet crowd pleasers. San Francisco did Liebeslieder in the 1990s but now does McMillan and Onegin as its dark modernist pieces - and as a Balanchine company is only doing one program of his works this year. So I'd like to see Miami keep its sunny Balanchine reportoire in regular rotation and not become another New Works company.

The problem with New Works for me is that they never seem to stake a place in the world from which to develop secondary ideas and return again - no symmetries of form established which would make the assymetries more bizarre. Everything is tenuous and unstable from the beginning. They're enjoyable but I tend never to remember them from season to season, and second viewings are never more interesting than the first. I don't find this true of contemporary architecture - which has entered a new period of classical modernism - or completely of contemporary painting (such as Robert Ryman's works).

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re: NYCB

I'd like to see MCB become a specialist ....

That could be the key. Perhaps what you see as an specialization I see it rather as a limitation, more when they publicly expose things like the Aurora's Wedding's failure, so it becomes a matter of "I can't" instead of "I don't want to".

MCB has the "Ballet" last name on its presentation card. They ought to know how to do Sleeping Beauty. Paul Taylor Dance Group doesn't.

NYCB does too. And they aren't a classical company. They are a neo-classical one. It is a different style.

Good, but they still have to commit to full lenghts. Are they capable...? How do they dance them...?

Do they have to do program-length works, or are you really asking for stylistically classical work, no matter the length of the ballet?

I'm asking on how do they do Petipa. That's ballet first and uttermost for me, and then, other choreographers and works that I might enjoy.

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There's almost no company in the world that is a ballet company by that definition, because apart from the original choreography from the notated reconstructions, everything else is "After Petipa".

From Doug Fullington's excellent "After Petipa" presentation, which will be online from the Guggenheim next month, we saw a reconstruction of a beautiful, intricate variation choreographed for Gorsky, the same Gorsky who "streamlined" Petipa ballets to modernize them, starting in Petipa's lifetime, and according to Catherine Pawlick's book "Vaganova Today", Vaganova herself was responsible for stripping much of the mime from Petipa's ballets.

It's possible to argue that we see more of Petipa in Balanchine's original, neo-classical ballets, than we see in productions that tout themselves to be "After Petipa", and Balanchine is what Miami City Ballet does best.

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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).

Sorry to quibble, but by my count, 3 Balanchine: 1. Square Dance, 2.The Nutcracker, 3. Ballet Imperial (also, and more accurately, known as Tchaikovsky Piano Concert No. 2, for those less familiar with MCB's rep).

What's so wonderful about Balanchine, anyway? Isn't part of it the way the dancers move according to what the music tells them to do, although, in the back of your mind, you know no improvisation could be so good, certainly not for so long. To me, that's a wonderful mystery. You see it - if you're listening - but how can it be? And at least for some of us, Balanchine's Nutcracker is like that, pretty much right through. (And seeing MCB's rendition of it in December, by coincidence right after the NYCB television show, which provoked several of us who commented on that thread to feel the need for an antidote, provided this viewer with just what he needed, making a fresh impression of its greatness.)

So, as we talk about repertory and Balanchine and cash cows and full-length, let's count that one in as what it is, I say, and not take it for granted. (I don't worry Lopez would retire it, even though MCB hasn't performed it in West Palm Beach in recent years.)

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re: NYCB

I'm asking on how do they do Petipa. That's ballet first and uttermost for me, and then, other choreographers and works that I might enjoy.

Cristian -- what do you mean by "Petipa"? Do you mean the ballets that he originally choreographed, however much revised -- e.g., Peter Martins' versions of "Sleeping Beauty" and "Swan Lake"? Or do you mean whatever bits of his original choreography that still survive in those ballets? Or do you mean a kind of choreographic style?

One might say that NYCB does wonderful riffs on Petipa -- "Theme and Variations," e.g., or "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2" -- but that its current attempts at putting on versions of actual Petipa ballets are a mixed bag, mostly because Martins couldn't tell a story in dance to save his life. Many of the iconic bits of Petipa (or what we deem to be iconic Petipa) survive in his versions, but little in the way of narrative and theatrical energy. What's the point of putting on "Swan Lake" if you aren't going to break people's hearts with the story?

But even if they never did another "Sleeping Beauty" they'd still be a ballet company, and I'd say the same thing about MCB, too.

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One might say that NYCB does wonderful riffs on Petipa -- "Theme and Variations," e.g., or "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2" -- but that its current attempts at putting on versions of actual Petipa ballets are a mixed bag, mostly because Martins couldn't tell a story in dance to save his life.

That's so hard to tell, though: "The Sleeping Beauty" rushes by at lightning speed, and the only time I can focus is during the projections, when there's no dancing.

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re: NYCB I'm asking on how do they do Petipa. That's ballet first and uttermost for me, and then, other choreographers and works that I might enjoy.
Cristian -- what do you mean by "Petipa"?

I'm talking about putting a black tutu and convincing the audience about Odile's "femme fatale" role...I'm talking about DQ PDD, I'm talking about the grandeur of the Shades, Swans and Willis entrance and the regality of the Grand Pas from Raymonda and Paquita, and yes, including all the "after" renditions. I'm talking about feeling confortable playing princes and princesses, queens and kings, or feeling grand and shameless as THE diva of the ballet, in the case of the ballerina. I'm talking more of the XIX century aesthetic rather than a choreographer's notated steps. I call all that "Petipa".

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re: NYCB I'm asking on how do they do Petipa. That's ballet first and uttermost for me, and then, other choreographers and works that I might enjoy.
Cristian -- what do you mean by "Petipa"?

I'm talking about putting a black tutu and convincing the audience about Odile's "femme fatale" role...I'm talking about DQ PDD, I'm talking about the grandeur of the Shades, Swans and Willis entrance and the regality of the Grand Pas from Raymonda and Paquita, and yes, including all the "after" renditions. I'm talking about feeling confortable playing princes and princesses, queens and kings, or feeling grand and shameless as THE diva of the ballet, in the case of the ballerina. I'm talking more of the XIX century aesthetic than a choreographer.

Well, NYCB isn't where one goes for a straight shot of 19th century aesthetic. Many Balanchine ballets evoke that aesthetic and comment on it, of course, although Shades and Willils specifically -- i.e., white acts full of ethereal, other-worldly women -- are notably absent. (Balanchine's one-act version of "Swan Lake" being the exception that proves the rule, maybe. And as one poster here pointed out a while back, that fierce brigade of white-clad corps women in "Symphony in Three Movements" does put one in mind of "space age willis.") I think I'd characterize its repertory as one that requires its ballerinas to project authority rather than portray queens.

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re: NYCB

I'm asking on how do they do Petipa. That's ballet first and uttermost for me, and then, other choreographers and works that I might enjoy.

The short answer is, they don't.

There are Balanchine works that are resolutely AFTER Petipa (Nutcracker and then his heavily Petipa influenced works, like Raymonda Variations for example).

And then there is Martins' Swan Lake and his Sleeping Beauty, the second of which is not bad, but not Petipa.

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NYCB mostly doesn't do Petipa.

NYCB does Balanchine's Act II of "Swan Lake", and the pas de deux and Odette's variation look like most of the other "After Petipa" versions, which is why the Balanchine Catalog says "Choreography: By George Balanchine after Lev Ivanov" and about the original:

NOTE: Balanchine's version of Swan Lake is essentially Act II of the original four-act production, reproducing Ivanov's WHITE SWAN ADAGIO (the pas de deux), the Swan Qeen's solo and coda entrance, and the DANCE OF THE FOUR CYGNETS (the pas de quatre) [later removed and replaced by VALSE BLUETTE]; the entrance of the Swans derives from traditional versions. Balanchine removed all mime, greatly enlarged the role of the corps de ballet, and choreographed a new finale to music from Act IV.

The first two acts of Danilova's and Balanchine's "Coppelia" were "after Marius Petipa (1884; revised 1894 by Lev Ivanov and Enrico Cecchetti), with additional choreography by George Balanchine" -- most notably Frantz' variation for Helgi Tomasson -- according to "Choreography by Balanchine."

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brokenwing has it right. MCB is a neo-classical company. Dancers often come to dance for MCB because they are a company like NYCB dancing alot of Balanchine, in his lyrical, energetic, fast style. In the past many dancers were recruited directly from SAB as they are most suited for the rep of MCB. Some of these dancers are still with the company today (Kronenberg, Albertson, Manning). In more recent years Villella has insisted those interested in being considered for the company come directly from MCB's school, which is also interested in preserving the Balanchine style.

Speculation on future programming for MCB and the hope for more full-lengths is most-likely not going to happen. Lopez's selection seems most obvious for her direct connection to Balanchine and NYCB as well as her administrative experience. Full-lengths only seem to have been brought into MCB's programming to bring in additional audience who might-be fans, or are already fans, of 19th century classics.

Thinking back to when Villella and Ansin began MCB back in 1986. They didn't choose to name the company MBT (Miami Ballet Theater) similar to ABT; but rather MCB similar to NYCB. Somehow I don't think that was coincidental. MCB's, Villella's and we anticipate Lopez's connection to Balanchine and the neo-classical style of rep and dancing is not at all limiting. Even some fifty years later Balanchine ballets continue to appeal. The choreography still looks progressive, fresh and modern. Does MCB, or any other company, always have a hit when new pieces are commissioned? No. But neither did Mr. B.

Under Lopez's guidance may she continue to help build a strong company rooted in Balanchine. May she also be able to develop the resources to commission new works worthy of the powerhouse dancers of Miami City Ballet.

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I give up...(for a little while though...happy.png ) But...ALL I WANTED WAS TO SEE DELGADO'S ODIIIIILEEEEEEE..!! flowers.gif

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