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Villella To Step Down from MCB


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#181 cahill

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:26 AM

A Q and A with Lourdes Lopez

http://www.google.co...wskjaYHdwRNqPUw

#182 Helene

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:33 AM

This is how to ask a direct question:


Q: It’s no secret that you were not Villella’s choice and that about half the company’s dancers sided with him to back Jennifer. Do you see this as a problem going in?

LL: It’s interesting because I was thinking Jennifer would have faced the same problem. I’d be interested to speak to the dancers to have a sense of what they’re feeling. It’s always the fear of the unknown; that’s always scary for a dancer. I went through it when Peter (Martins) took over for Mr. B (George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet, where Lopez danced for 23 years). I am not that different from Edward. We come from more or less the same seed, which was Mr. B. I bring with me 30 years of experience, not only in my own dancing, but as a teacher, coach, director of a foundation (the George Balanchine Foundation) and someone who understands them as dancers — their fears, passions, insecurities, goals. I think once I go in and they realize “she’s not that different from us, or from Edward” in terms of philosophy and heritage, I think all the rest will subside.


By the answer, I think Lopez is pretty direct about addressing her intentions for the company going forward, and that it will be a continuation of the Villella legacy.

#183 Drew

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:43 AM

Does anyone know if NYCB has danced the one-act version since Martins produced his full length.


NYCB has done the one act version since Martins produced his full length--not often, but they have done it. I think it quite striking.

In response to earlier parts of discussion I wanted to say very explicitly what many have been more or less suggesting/assuming in discussing Cubanmiamiboy's points: ballerinas can make a decisive, historical mark as great ballerinas in the Balanchine repertory as well as in Petipa--usually they do so while making their mark in other neo-classical works as well, but Balanchine seems to me the really crucial figure, a twentieth-century peer of Petipa. Such ballerinas include Suzanne Farrell, Patricial Mcbride, and (to show it can happen "post" Balanchine) Wendy Whelan...From the little I have seen and the rather more that I have read Bouder, Peck, and Mearns are all candidates in the current generation. (It is also the case that great ballerinas in the nineteenth-century rep are sometimes not effective in Balanchine...)

In choosing Lopez to direct MCB, the company's board appears to have chosen to build on the company's strengths and to reach out more visibly to the Cuban and Spanish speaking communities in South Florida (though not necessariy to fans of the Cuban ballet tradition) ... a decision that may be disappointing to ballet lovers who would have liked to see a different approach developed and different opportunities given to the dancers, but which in and of itself makes plenty of sense.

I suppose,too, if Lopez is a sucess, then she may be able to expand what the company currently does and she probably has a better chance of success if she begins from strength. (Given time, she may have some surprises up her sleeve in any case).

#184 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 02:35 PM

In response to earlier parts of discussion I wanted to say very explicitly what many have been more or less suggesting/assuming in discussing Cubanmiamiboy's points: ballerinas can make a decisive, historical mark as great ballerinas in the Balanchine repertory as well as in Petipa--usually they do so while making their mark in other neo-classical works as well, but Balanchine seems to me the really crucial figure, a twentieth-century peer of Petipa. Such ballerinas include Suzanne Farrell, Patricial Mcbride, and (to show it can happen "post" Balanchine) Wendy Whelan...From the little I have seen and the rather more that I have read Bouder, Peck, and Mearns are all candidates in the current generation. (It is also the case that great ballerinas in the nineteenth-century rep are sometimes not effective in Balanchine...)

In choosing Lopez to direct MCB, the company's board appears to have chosen to build on the company's strengths and to reach out more visibly to the Cuban and Spanish speaking communities in South Florida (though not necessariy to fans of the Cuban ballet tradition) ... a decision that may be disappointing to ballet lovers who would have liked to see a different approach developed and different opportunities given to the dancers, but which in and of itself makes plenty of sense.

I suppose,too, if Lopez is a sucess, then she may be able to expand what the company currently does and she probably has a better chance of success if she begins from strength. (Given time, she may have some surprises up her sleeve in any case).


Beautifully put. Thanks for the understanding. I might be a minority on this board on this aspect, but surely not in the Miami ballet-loving scene.

#185 sandik

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 03:11 PM

Beautifully put. Thanks for the understanding. I might be a minority on this board on this aspect, but surely not in the Miami ballet-loving scene.


And in case it's not clear, the fact that you speak for an under-represented view here makes me that much more interested in what you have to say.

#186 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:04 PM


Beautifully put. Thanks for the understanding. I might be a minority on this board on this aspect, but surely not in the Miami ballet-loving scene.


And in case it's not clear, the fact that you speak for an under-represented view here makes me that much more interested in what you have to say.


Posted Image

#187 bart

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 07:13 PM

I don't really remember Lopez as an NYCB dancer, except as Firebird. This is largely because the bulk of her career as a principal was after I pretty much stopped attending ballet for an extended period. I checked in one of Arlene Croce's books, and here is an extended discussion of Lopez in March 1985, following a performance of "Theme and Variations" in Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3. It's a snapshot of Lopez at a single point of time, and perhaps focuses a little too long on a relatively small point of technique. But it does give us some ideas of the qualities that made Lopez a unique and vivid performer.

Lopez is very much a type; she reminds me of the ballerinas of the forties who had large dramatic faces and monlighted in the movies. She's a very beautiful woman for whom classical technique has as yet nothing like the expressive force that it has for Farrell, and in the "Theme and Variations" she seemed as anonymous as Farrell did in the "Elegie."

Lopez is strong and talented, and she wasn't miscast, yet the beauty she brings onstage isn't amplified and dramatized by her dancing. Her gifts were apparent from the minute she turned up in a School of American Ballet workshop, in 1973. She graduated into the company the following year (along with Maria Calegari, Kyra Nichols, and Judith Fugate); hast year, she was made a principal dancer. Lopez has never sought to trade on her looks, and while I can't help feeling that she might have come along faster if she had, I also feel that she habitually dances with less than her full impact. Looking at her feet in "theme," I saw carelessly loose fifth positions wherever the choreography calls for airtight ones -- for example, in the soutenu turns that are practically the role's signature step. Narrowly based footwork is more than just a technical nicety, a sign of good workmanship; it's a hallmark of Balanchine style. ... Lopez's beauty is soft and doe like, and sometimes I think she keeps her base wide in order to further soften her image; in other technical respects she's as punctilious as Merrill Ashley. Ashley-style enunciation with Spanish consonants -- that seems to be what she's aiming at. It's much too modest, too general a goal. Maybe, though if she tried closing her fifths as tightly as Ashley does, she'd look more herself. Cleaner technique can only make her a more individually beautifully dancer.


It was an interesting time. Farrell was winding down; Ashley was at her prime; Calegari, Nichols and Fugate were exact contemporaries. Lopez had a lot of competition for attention, but did an admirable job of holding her own and making her mark.

#188 carbro

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 07:30 PM

Posted Image Mentioning Lopez and Calegari in the same [virtual] breath reminds me of one of my favorite Lourdes/Maria moments -- when both were still in the corps and dancing Raymonda Variations. In the finale, two corps women enter from the stage left wing, fly across the stage with a huge sissonne and embark on a brief fouette contest. Lourdes' coal-black hair against Maria's flaming red amplified the excitement of the moment. Hasn't been matched since and likely never will.

#189 bart

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 07:38 PM

A great memory, carbro. Thanks. And not Off Topic at all, I think (considering how exceptionallky far-ranging this thread has became.

Lopez, like Villella, is a former dancer who will be in charge of dancers. Memories of her own career on stage are very relevant, it seems to me.

Do you have any more such memories? Helene? How about others who followed NYCB in those days?

For example, am I correct in thinking that I remember her in Firebird? Wouldn't THAT be an interesting Balanchine addition to the MCB rep, assuming that there is a dancer who can carry the part.

#190 sandik

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:25 PM

Lopez, like Villella, is a former dancer who will be in charge of dancers. Memories of her own career on stage are very relevant, it seems to me.


Early on in his directorship here, Peter Boal mentioned a few times that he was programming things that he himself would have liked to dance. It's certainly an understandable point of view, but in the long run, I think probably not the best gauge to use.

#191 carbro

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:41 PM

Early on in his directorship here, Peter Boal mentioned a few times that he was programming things that he himself would have liked to dance. It's certainly an understandable point of view, but in the long run, I think probably not the best gauge to use.

Oh, I so agree! And if my memory's intact, I believe he used that criterion when, still at NYCB, he had his own mini-company at the Joyce. I know it's hard to read minds, but are you sensing that the "wanna dance" factor weighs less with time? It's hardly a way to build an identifiable company profile.

#192 Helene

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 10:47 PM

This year, there have been 2.5 non-ballet works: the Quijada "Mating Theory" and half of "Cylindrical Shadows", where there were two big chunks of what is recognizably ballet and whole sections that were not, and the Balcony Pas de Deux from the Maillot "Romeo et Juliette", which was packaged with two company premieres, "Divertimento from 'Baiser de la Fee'" and Robbins' "Afternoon of a Faun", and the Black Swan Pas de Deux and Wedding Act from "Sleeping Beauty." That isn't even a full evening out of six rep programs, which included three by Wheeldon, two more by Balanchine ("Apollo" and "Coppelia"), Dawson's clearly neo-classical "A Million Kisses to My Skin", Stowell's "Carmina Burana", and the Ratmansky "Don Quixote". This rep is squarely within the Russell/Stowell tradition, and they were the ones who brought in Nacho Duato's "Jardi Tancat", not Boal. (On the other hand, they also brought in Forsythe.)

Most of the money that Boal has spent on new works has been for the "Coppelia" co-production with SFB and the Ratmansky "Don Q". Since the Maillot "R et J" is coming back for the third time and looks like a keeper, the company has invested in building costumes. (I don't know if they're building their own set this time.) I'm sure that the economy has slowed Boal down, but the "Swan Lake"s and "Sleeping Beauty"s, and "Coppelia"s that bring in revenue take slots away from "Jewels", too, not just another Kylian, for example,

Tharp's work is in every major company in the US, and companies chomp at the bit to get work by Mark Morris, who choreographs ballet for ballet companies. The program PNB brought to the Joyce was Millipied, Liang, Tharp, and "Mopey", and only the latter is unusual programming for a US ballet company. While I don't think any of the works were particularly strong -- and the Millipied looked much better on the big stage at McCaw Hall and cramped at the Joyce -- it was not radical programming, for better or worse.

I don't see a major change in profile, and so far, I've seen the dancers take the energy, sharpness, timing, and articulation they've learned from doing the Quijada and the most recent Goecke pieces, for example, and use it in neoclassical and classical works, and sandik has told me about trans-formative performances that have translated into big step up in projection and performances since in at least one other work I missed. If I never see "Mopey" or a work by Dove again, though, I wouldn't shed a tear.

#193 Jack Reed

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:14 AM

I do agree that the way somebody danced is likely a strong predictor of how their company will dance, and my memory of Lopez is also as a type, as Croce says, and dancing with less than full impact and some lack of individuality. That's a little worrying, but as I said before, we'll know for sure what she's going to do when she does it.

#194 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:15 PM

A great memory, carbro. Thanks. And not Off Topic at all, I think (considering how exceptionallky far-ranging this thread has became.

Lopez, like Villella, is a former dancer who will be in charge of dancers. Memories of her own career on stage are very relevant, it seems to me.

Do you have any more such memories? Helene? How about others who followed NYCB in those days?

For example, am I correct in thinking that I remember her in Firebird? Wouldn't THAT be an interesting Balanchine addition to the MCB rep, assuming that there is a dancer who can carry the part.


Yes, she did Firebird several times -- but was 3rd cast, as I remember: Merrill Ashley was 1, Valentina Kozlova was 2. I never cared for Merrill Ashley in that. To me, Lourdes channelled Maria Tallchief in looks and style, especially because for the 1985 (?) revival they used a copy of the tutu from the NYCB original production. I felt that Lourdes was very solid and firm in her approach.

One of the things I liked Lourdes in was Concerto Barocco when she danced with Merrill Ashley: they were very much in synch, and to me seemed like sisters when they did the duet. I also especially loved her in the Mozart, and Stravinsky's Symphony in 3 Movements, more than in the Violin Concerto, obviously my favorite ballet.

But I can't completely concur with those of you who have said that a dancer's style will be transmitted to a Company when they become director. I don't think that Peter's style of dancing (perfect, cold, icy) has predominated NYCB these past nearly 30 years.

#195 Quiggin

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:50 PM

ViolinConcerto

But I can't completely concur with those of you who have said that a dancer's style will be transmitted to a Company when they become director.


It does somewhat, at least with the earlier generation of Balanchine dancers. Suzanne Farrell's company seems to have something of an introverted - working out from within - character, if that's her style, which did beautifully for La Sonnambula but not for Union Jack. Edward Villella and his company it seems to me is more outward directed and in the expression and sizzle of counterpoint and the complete realization of the architecture of the choreography. Helgi Tomasson's is about a certain elegance and honesty and beautiful finish of each dancer's entrance and exit, perhaps at the expense the overall effect of the choreography, at least Balanchine's. Croce said Tomasson's "grasp of style has about it an almost moral tenacity." It never seems dangerous or that it's about to break all the rules.

But San Francisco is moving away from Balanchine - only two pieces are programmed for next year, a reprise of Scotch Symphony and Symphony in Three Movements - and in the direction of Neumeier and Lifar - sort of bas relief, high drama works. So the continuation of a living Balanchine repertoire would seem to depend on City Ballet and Miami.


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