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Love Stories4-5, 10-13 November


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#31 Helene

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 10:47 AM

Rehearsal footage from "Divertimento from 'Baiser de la fee'", with Kaori Nakamura and Jonathan Porretta:



#32 Helene

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:11 PM

Thanks to a heads up! by a friend, there were changes to the original casting on the website for the "Love Stories" program for the first weekend:
  • Kaori Nakamura dances all three "Romeo et Juliette Balcony Pas de deux" with Lucien Postlewaite on opening weekend. James Moore was originally scheduled to be her partner tonight (Friday, opening night), and Carla Korbes was originally scheduled to dance it with Postlewaite tomorrow matinee and evening.
  • Leta Biasucci and Kyle Davis make their debut in "Divertimento from 'Baiser de la fee'" tomorrow night instead of second weekend Sunday. They replace Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths, whose debut is now listed for second weekend Saturday evening.
  • Kylee Kitchens/Jerome Tisserand made their debuts tonight in "Afternoon of a Faun", replacing Carla Korbes/Batkhurel Bold, and replacing Rachel Foster/James Moore tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. Foster/Moore are still scheduled for second weekend Friday and Korbes/Bold are still scheduled for second weekend Saturday.
  • Rachel Foster danced with Jerome Tisserand tonight in "Bluebird Pas de deux", with Tisserand replacing Benjamin Griffiths.


#33 sandik

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 11:58 AM

The official word is that Moore and Korbes are both injured, but "hope to be back by the second week." Don't know if that means more shifting performances around to give them their turn next week, if they are indeed back in dancing shape.

Other fun facts from the Q/A Friday night.

The current plan (always subject to change) is to bring back Swan Lake and Romeo next year, so looking at these excerpt performances adds extra zest to speculations!

And last night was Lesley Rausch's first performance as a principal dancer -- she was the post-show dancer, and it was lovely to hear her talk about how much that milestone means to her.

#34 SandyMcKean

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 03:23 PM

I only have time for a quick comment.....hopefully, I will post a longer review later -- perhaps after I've seen the program again.

I wasn't thrilled with this program. I haven't really thought about this before, but constructing an entire program out of tid-bits from large, or at least larger, ballets may be a mistake. It works, and works well, for such things as a Gala or an end of season retrospective encore evening, but as a stand alone program, I now have my doubts.

In a word, the drama just ain't there. The Black Swan PdD is wonderful of course (and Carrie Imler paired with Postlewaite were the highlight of the night -- see exception later), but the PdD comes so out of context that it loses much of its power (no Odile/Rothbart plotting for example). That's fine, even desirable, if such an extract is used to fill a need for a short piece to fill out an otherwise well thought out program, but when the evening is extract after extract.....something is missing. I thought it was missing for the dancers too. They seemed lack luster and even confused. If I'm right about that, it could have been the result of the many injury driven substitutions; but I wonder if a program like this deflates the inspiration and motivation of the dancers. Maybe a program constructed like this has the dancers focused on "doing the steps" rather than on being something other than themselves as inspired by the piece as a work of art.

I don't know, maybe it was me, but on this opening night, something was missing. The exception was Robbins "Afternoon of a Faun" danced superbly by Jerome Tisserand and Kylie Kitchens (great casting BTW). I was captivated by this piece (my first time seeing it). From the moment when Tisserand lifted his torso to stretch like an animal waking in the afternoon sunshine, I was hooked. What I saw in that piece was artistry -- maybe it isn't chance that this was the one piece that was presented as created. (Even "Le Baiser de la Fee" was once a longer, more fully designed piece. I guess one could argue that Baiser was presented as a complete work of art that night. But for me, I just didn't like it....a rare thing for me to say about anything Balanchine.)

#35 Jayne

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 07:48 PM

I have to agree with Sandy, I saw the Saturday 2pm matinee and it felt like drinking diet cola - the emotional connection was missing. I will post more as I fish my notes out of my bag.

#36 sandik

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:20 PM

More fun facts (am writing actual review, but that takes me longer...)

Friday night: Boal used the curtain speech to "officially" welcome new music director Emil deCou (even though he's been here since last spring) He (deCou) was very smooth, said he wasn't used "to being up this high" standing onstage, and referred to the ensemble as "the finest ballet orchestra in the United States."

Maria Chapman gave the donation appeal for Second Stage during the pause before Romeo -- this is the 13th year that dancers have donated their opening night salary to the fund.

In the Q/A Boal answered a question about corps members cast in more featured parts by saying that otherwise, in a program like this one, there wouldn't be much for them to do. In Aurora's Wedding the corps gets "a big wig and a mazurka." Tisserand wasn't scheduled to dance Faun for this performance -- he was actually closer to 4th cast, but injuries moved him up the roster.

In discussing the physical challenges of big roles like Black Swan, either Rausch or Boal (can't remember and my notes don't say) described Carrie Imler's coordination as a "freak of nature." But in a good way!

Saturday matinee: Brittany Reid did the Second Stage talk, in a very shiny silver dress. She is taking the arts management program at Seattle University (they've been running it for a few years, but it's only recently been tailored for the Second Stage students) and will finish her freshman year credits by the end of the season.

There were lots of debuts in this performance (Sarah Orza as Aurora, Lindsi Dec as Odile, Elizabeth Murphy, Kyle Davis and Eric Hipolyto - all in Gold and Silver trio).

A couple of people asked about items in Steven Manes' new book, but Boal didn't comment other than chuckling "it's a long read."

Ryan Cardea and Carli Samuelson were the guests -- spoke about the transition from their earlier training to PNB. Cardea said that his training in the Professional Division at the PNB school was much more rigorous than his time at SAB.

Someone from the audience asked about the excerpts in the program and possibilities for others -- Boal apparently danced a Corsaire when he was 14 in a program at Goucher College.

Answering question about promotions, Boal said there would likely be a couple more announced in January and that we could "speculate away."

Saturday night: In Doug Fullington's pre-show talk, he said that Bart Cook, who came to stage Faun, said that there were some intentional quotations from the Nijinsky version of the work.

Leah O'Connor did the Second Stage appeal, in her Baiser costume.

Even more debuts in this performance (Leta Biasucci and Kyle Davis in Baiser, Leslie Rausch and Seth Orza in Faun, Laura Gilbreath as Odile, Maria Chapman as Aurora, Kylee Kitchens as White Cat, Sean Rolofson as Puss in Boots, Leta Biasucci as Red Riding Hood, Mathew Renko as the Wolf)

Jessica Anspach laughed at herself when answering a question about how not to run into the stage set -- "I've had issues with spatial awareness."

And interestingly, there was a change in program order between Friday night and Saturday. Friday opened with Baiser and Black Swan, intermission, Faun and R&J, intermission, Aurora's Wedding. On Saturday, Baiser opens, followed by an intermission, all three duets (Faun, R&J, Black Swan), intermission, and Aurora's Wedding. Personally, I thought the Saturday order worked better, but I don't know why the switch. Will ask around.

#37 Jayne

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:52 PM

ok, fished out my notes. I attended the Saturday 05.November 2:00pm performance. We arrived just as the lights were going to black, so I missed any pre-event announcements of changes. So my notes are based on the official program. BTW I am writing this while listening to Rach 3 (a personal favorite) on the classical station in Seattle, and Peter Boal gives occasional appeals for donations (it's a public radio station, same system as NPR).

Divertimento from "Le Baiser" (my computer isn't allowing accents for some reason, so I won't attempt to type out fairy in French today)
Technically I can see how this is very strong for the dancers. From an audience perspective, my mind kept wandering, trying to imagine how it would look with all the set trimmings, full storyline, etc. A lot of fidgeting kids around me, and mentally I was fidgeting. I really wanted to like this, and I didn't hate it. But I wouldn't pay a ticket to see it a second time. Kaori Nakamura and Jonathan Porretta were their usual technical whizkid selves. The corps looked fresh, in a good way.

intermission seemed to come very soon into the program, but I was grateful, because I really needed that Starbucks coffee. The theater was unexpectedly cold.

"Afternoon of a Faun", music by Claude Debussy
I was glad I read up on this online, as it really enriched my understanding of the performance. This ballet has so much emphasis on strength and control. Jerome Tisserand is unexpectedly virile and masculine in ways I've never seen him display on stage in the past. Kylee Kitchens isn't a carbon copy of Tanequil LeClercq. She doesn't have the same gamine quality, but instead has a tensile strength and intelligence to her movements. There were a couple of balance shakes where Ms. Kitchens balances on Mr. Tisserand's outstretched arm (as if it were the barre). Otherwise very well done.

A short pause, and then we move on...

Romeo & Juliette Balcony pas de deux / Prokofiev
Kaori Nakamura showed us why she should have been cast in the first go of Maillot's R&J in 2008. Lucien Postlewaite was her ardent lover. I just love how the PNB orchestra performs this piece. Honestly a lesser orchestra would ruin the feeling. At the end, there was a large exhale of breath from the audience, before the bravos began. I'm hoping it does work out that the work returns in the 2012/2013 season, because Nakamura is already 41, and we will probably only get one more chance to see her do the full ballet next season.

Another short pause, I'm craving more coffee, and every one is squinting at their programs in the half-light....

"Swan Lake" Black Swan pas de deux
Oddly the orchestra seemed underpowered for this section, or maybe they were just not punching it up as we're used to from European orchestras. Swan Lake must get pretty old for the orchestra after a while. I, however, was pleased as punch to see PNB's designated tall girl get the Odile nod. Lindsi Dec performed with Batkhurel Bold, and both hit every Petipa move, without any visible issues. Without the stage or additional supernumeraries, Odile's dress glitters so much that you really cannot take your eyes off of her.

Then we go to intermission and I ran downstairs to check out the giftshop. As expected, they had the book "Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear", but marked up to $39.99 (it's $35 on amazon). I pondered why Swan Lake didn't please me as much as it normally does. I decided pulling it out of context was part of the problem. It's rather like watching the Academy Awards ceremony, and seeing excerpts from movies, but the melodrama can be awkward without the full arc of the story.

Secondarily, I felt Ms. Dec and Mr. Bold lacked some of the finer details of the Black Swan ppd. The flirting wasn't finely defined, nor was Prince Siegfried's confusion and attraction finely acted. Other companies, such as RB, Bolshoi, ABT, etc perform Swan Lake every single year, multiple times per year. Their principals have the opportunity to refine and explore these roles, and put on stage acting performances with far more experience and time in rehearsal. PNB performs SL maybe once every 3-5 years, for one rep of 7 performances. So one ballerina might perform the role twice every 3-5 years. Not enough time to create the performance possible at ABT.

Moving on:

The Sleeping Beauty / Aurora's Wedding / Choreo by Ronald Hynd after Petipa
Sarah Ricard Orza (misspelled surname in the program) was Aurora and Karel Cruz was Prince Florimund. This was my first time seeing Ms. Orza perform the role and she was admirably regal. This sort or princely role is right up the ally for Karel Cruz's Cuban and Venezuelan training. But what really impressed me was the Gold & Silver ppt of Elizabeth Murphy, Kyle Davis and Eric Hipolito Jr! I really hope we get to see Ms Murphy in more featured roles. Bluebird was Jerome Tisserand and Princess Florine was Amanda Clark. Their ppd was pretty and Tisserand does some amazing beats. They got lots of applause.

I've mentioned it before, but time has not improved my impression of the "Vegasesque" gold lame on Bluebird's costume upperback, or on the Mazurka dancers' skirts. Yes, this is the Sun King's court, but let's not beat up the audience's eyes with obviousness.

Unlike other productions with Disneyesque sets, I quite like this version. And I really do like the Gold & Silver ppt costuming. Her skirt is a lovely lemon souffle dessert.

Unfortunately my partner couldn't stay for the post performance Q&A, and since he was my ride, I had to leave with him. Usually I try to catch a 2nd weekend performance on my own in a cheap seat. But this time I feel uninspired to pay the money. I'd rather go see a ballet in cinema in Bellingham.

#38 Helene

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 11:49 PM

The PNB website is updated with a bunch of casting changes, as Porretta, Korbes, Griffiths, and Moore, who were out first weekend, are still out Posted Image

I've changed the spreadsheet to reflect the changes (in red) on the website as of today:

Attached File  Love Stories Casting as of 9 Nov 11.xlsx   55.81KB   13 downloads

#39 SandyMcKean

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 09:59 AM

Thanks Helene.....I'm trying to figure out when to go again during the 2nd weekend. Your spreadsheet saves me a bunch of time trying to figure out casting. I wasn't smart enough to look at the website.....my plan today was to call the box office! (I bet that would not have gone well Posted Image.)

#40 Helene

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 11:27 AM

Two more videos:

A 2'30" slice of "Afternoon of a Faun" with Kylee Kitchens and Jerome Tisserand, in costume and with the set:



A montage from "Love Stories", in rehearsal:



Laura Gilbreath/Karel Cruz
Batkhurel Bold
Carrie Imler
Lucien Postlewaite
Karel Cruz
Lesley Rausch
Jonathan Porretta
Kaori Nakamura
Batkhurel Bold
Carrie Imler
Carrie Imler/Lucien Postlewaite

#41 Helene

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 10:53 PM

The latest change today is that Leta Biasucci is now listed for Little Red Riding Hood in place of Abby Relic, in addition to her own scheduled performances.

#42 Helene

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 11:29 AM

And interestingly, there was a change in program order between Friday night and Saturday. Friday opened with Baiser and Black Swan, intermission, Faun and R&J, intermission, Aurora's Wedding. On Saturday, Baiser opens, followed by an intermission, all three duets (Faun, R&J, Black Swan), intermission, and Aurora's Wedding. Personally, I thought the Saturday order worked better, but I don't know why the switch. Will ask around.


In last night's Q&A Peter Boal explained that he juggled the schedule to avoid having dancers do two major roles in a row. Last night, the schedule was "Baiser"/pause/"Romeo et Juliette Pdd", with Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand in R&J, and then after the intermission, Rausch and Orza danced "Afternoon of a Faun", followed by "Black Swan Pdd" and second intermission. In this afternoon's performance, he'll split Tisserand's "R&J" and "Faun" by an intermission. It's hard to believe Tisserand's still standing after the two weeks he's had, between his own scheduled performances and substituting for injured dancers. (Boal joked in the Q&A last night about how Tisserand engineered this to be in line for a promotion.) He also partnered two different women in "Faun", which is par for the course at NYCB, but has been much rarer in the last 15 years: when a dancer loses his or her partner, it most often means not performing the role. Here, by pairing Rachel Foster with Tisserand, who performed a weekend early with his original partner, Kylee Kitchens, Boal saved this rep for her, as she lost three partners to injury.

On Friday night I saw "Baiser", first intermission, "Afternoon of a Faun"/pause/Romeo et Juliette Pdd"/pause/"Black Swan Pdd", second intermission, "Aurora's Wedding". It was like an inverse "Vienna Waltzes" -- in that ballet, the five parts go from innocent to contrived to demi-monde to sophisticated to neurotic" -- by starting with the most ambivalent and bittersweet in "Baiser" to no ambivalence in "Aurora's Wedding", because even though "R&J" and "Swan Lake" end badly, in the actual excerpts, the characters are at their happiest, and in the case of Odile, most triumphant.Last night's order switched back and forth rather than progressing along a path, and it mixed it up emotionally.

Still, "Black Swan", which I must have seen dozens of times in galas, is the temperamental misfit among these other works, which all have deep resonance. In most gala programs, there are several other virtuoso pas, like "Diana and Acteon", "Le Corsaire", "Don Q", etc., but the other four works in this program ask for something different from the audience.

In Aurora's Wedding the corps gets "a big wig and a mazurka."


I think that if an excerpt of "Swan Lake" was meant to whet the appetite for next year's announced full-lengths -- "Romeo et Juliette"is the second -- "White Swan" would have more in line with the others, but "Black Swan" might have been meant as a contrast and lead in to the optimism of "Aurora's Wedding". "Black Swan" did bring people out of their seats in a heartbeat last night: Carrie Imler and Lucien Postlewaite were evenly matched technically, dramatically, stylistically, and physically, and it doesn't get any better than that. Without a corps, though, "White Swan" tends to look empty.

In this rep, the limited formal corps work was probably a godsend. Boal mentioned that 11 dancers were injured, although some were performing in limited capacity. For example, he mentioned that Andrew Bartee and Price Suddarth can't do jumping roles quite yet. Bartee donned the wig in the "Sleeping Beauty" Mazurka, while Price Suddarth was very impressive as Catalabutte, performing with style and stature. Without corps duty, there was lots of work for Kylee Kitchens, in "Faun" and "White Cat", Amanda Clark and Carly Samuelson as demis in "Baiser" and "Bluebird", Eric Hipolito in "Bluebird", "Gold and Silver", and as Wolf, Elizabeth Murphy in "Gold and Silver", and major debuts for Liora Reshef and Leta Biasucci in "Baiser", and Jerome Tisserand in just about everything.

#43 Helene

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 03:16 PM

I can't believe I forgot Kyle Davis in that list: he danced "Gold and Silver" and the male lead in "Baiser". I saw him dance both on Sunday.

Carrie Imler and Lucien Postlewaite aren't paired very often. When they have been, it's been time to watch out: their "Square Dance" was among the finest performances I've seen with the company. They were partners this rep in "Black Swan Pas de deux", and watching Postlewaite do the most classical turns and jumps, like saut de basque -- no up-and-around-and-kick-out turns a la Don Q -- with exquisite softness, polish, and phrasing, I saw that he was her equal. Peter Boal said in a Q&A that Postlewaite saw the technical feats that Imler was doing and said that he had to top it, which he at least equaled with complete aplomb, never showing effort or breaking his line. Kyle Davis in "Gold and Silver" looks like he's on the same track of pure, elegant classicism and softness. Davis looks uncannily like a young Peter Boal, physically and stylistically, and I don't thinks it's coincidence that Boal's lines were compared to Anthony Dowell's, because Davis has a bit of that, too. Davis also showed in "Gold and Silver" a whiff of aristocracy in the way he shaded his head.

I saw the original leads in "Baiser" -- Patricia McBride and Helgi Tomasson, and watching this ballet, it's obvious why they were Balanchine's choice for "Coppelia" and "Tales of the Vienna Woods" in "Vienna Waltzes" -- and I also saw her dance with one of my all-time favorites, Ib Andersen -- and Davis' performance on Sunday afternoon was second to none, and both Andersen and Tomasson, who were trained in Bournonville technique and narrative, were in their primes when I saw them, while Davis is at the very beginning of his career. From his first entrance, through both pas de deux with an excellent Leta Biasucci -- is there a dancer out of CPYB who does not know what to do with every second on stage, including stillness? -- through the solo and the final scene, he set the tone, from an underlying unease to the final rupture. It was done subtly, seamlessly, and without any obvious emoting. I was gobsmacked.

"Divertimento from 'Baiser de la Fee'" is such a tricky ballet. It long has been described as an acquired taste. In many ways, it's an obvious opener, with it's bright corps, but unlike "Donizetti Variations" or "Ballo della Regina", for example, it doesn't have un-ambivalently poppy music. Unlike those ballets or "Concerto Barocco", with its plaintive middle movement, it doesn't have an upbeat ending. Unlike "Emeralds", which has the same penultimate bright faux ending -- the original final ending for "Emeralds" -- and a melancholy resolution rooted in unraveling and fate, it doesn't have an obviously sophisticated atmosphere and isn't the first of a progression. "Baiser" starts with Tchaikovsky's melodies, but Stravinky's unsettling harmonies, and ends sadly. (It was almost a disruption when the next ballet started after a pause, especially on Sunday afternoon.) It demands a certain type of engagement from the audience, rather than warming them up. I'm not sure it works well after driving through rush hour traffic or on a full stomach.

It was beautiful to watch Davis paired with Jerome Tisserand in "Gold and Silver", an equally elegant dancer of a different, French-trained style. If any dancer owned this rep, it was Tisserand, who took on his own performances and many others. On Sunday afternoon alone he danced "Romeo et Juliette 'Balcony Pas de deux'", "Afternoon of a Faun", and "Gold and Silver", each dramatically and stylistically different, and he looked just as fresh in G&S as he had when he burst onstage like gangbusters in R&J.

In the Q&A on Sunday afternoon, he was the guest dancer and was given a standing ovation, one of the few I've seen at these things, and he looked very happy. His parents were in town from France. I am so glad they got to see these performances. Boal said that we could practically hold our breath for him to get his promotionPosted Image It's probably too much to ask, but could we just skip the Soloist part and go straight to Principal?

More later.

#44 sandik

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 04:27 PM

If any dancer owned this rep, it was Tisserand, who took on his own performances and many others. On Sunday afternoon alone he danced "Romeo et Juliette 'Balcony Pas de deux'", "Afternoon of a Faun", and "Gold and Silver", each dramatically and stylistically different, and he looked just as fresh in G&S as he had when he burst onstage like gangbusters in R&J.

In the Q&A on Sunday afternoon, he was the guest dancer and was given a standing ovation, one of the few I've seen at these things, and he looked very happy. His parents were in town from France. I am so glad they got to see these performances. Boal said that we could practically hold our breath for him to get his promotionPosted Image It's probably too much to ask, but could we just skip the Soloist part and go straight to Principal?

More later.


I've had such trouble keeping the shifts in casting straight in my head for this rep, so I didn't realize Tisserand was cast in quite this many roles for the Sunday show -- what a tour de force. And having his family there makes it just that much more sweet.

And yes, promotions -- well, there he is!

#45 Helene

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 05:13 PM

It was a wonderfully balanced cast in "Gold and Silver" on Sunday: Elizabeth Walker, Davis, and Tisserand.


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