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Love Stories4-5, 10-13 November


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#46 sandik

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 12:39 AM

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


I'm sorry I missed it -- I think the two men in particular would do an excellent job together. That trio really rocks when the guys are the same size and style.

#47 SandyMcKean

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 11:27 AM

I'm in a Mea Culpa mood. I need to take back much of what I said in this thread on 11/6 after seeing opening night of this rep. I have now seen it twice more, and altho much of my concerns about the rep remain valid (in my mind), I did find much to praise after more exposure.

First, my 11/6 statement that in a "Gala" constructed rep like this:

.....the drama just ain't there.

I still believe this to be so. The key is the word "drama". Taking excerpts creates good opportunities for dancing perhaps, but in terms of the delivery of character, emotion, meaning (if I can use that word), excerpts just can't deliver. What I missed picking up on in that first viewing on opening night is what a fabulous opportunity a rep like this is to show off great dancing by many dancers of all levels. What the rep loses in drama, it makes up for in pure display of virtuoso dancing and in showcasing up-and-coming dancers. On 11/6 I also made the comment that:

I don't know, maybe it was me, but on this opening night, something was missing.

I stand by that assessment also -- more or less. I "blamed" this "missing-ness" on the Gala quality of the rep. I now believe the confusion and lack of precision and power I thought I saw in the dancing was the product of large numbers of substitutions and chaos caused by a large number of injuries (as Helene reported above, Peter Boal in a Q&A mentioned 11 dancers were injured.....a huge number in a company with less than 50 dancers). Well, this great company and its dedicated professionals, soon made short shrift of that problem. The 2 additional performances I saw the following weekend had none of that. Indeed, over last weekend, I saw some of the most together and powerful dancing I have ever seen.

Once I "got" that the power of this rep is seeing lots of dancers showing their stuff (leaving it all out on the floor), my attitude totally changed. I was lucky enough to have seen all 3 performances of Carrie Imler and Lucien Postlewaite in the Black Swan PdD. I have long claimed that these 2 are the most accomplished male and female dancers in the company. We rarely get to see them together (my guess is that Lucien isn't quite big/strong enough to match Carrie well). What they did over the course of these 3 performances was simply incredible. It was mentioned in a Q&A that these 2 masterful principal dancers, who seem capable of doing whatever they put their minds to, fell into a playful match of professional competition. As each took their turn at the solos in this famous PdD, they challenged each other to "top that!".......and top it they did. They deservedly brought the house down every time. As great as the Ilmer/Postlewaite display was, there was so much else to see over these performances. As Helene mentioned above, overall this rep belonged to Jerome Tisserand. Jerome is a corps man (promoted to soloist just a day or 2 ago) whose day had come. I suspect many dancers take their rightful place fully on the stage when, by chance, they are called on to step up to a challenge almost impossible on the surface. Naturally in ballet, such a calling often springs out of a situation of injuries. Jerome was originally scheduled as the 4th cast for "Afternoon of a Faun" with only a single scheduled performance as the last performance of the rep on a Sunday matinee (often the time that corps dancers are given a shot at a principal role). Well, Jerome danced the Faun 4 times including opening night where he was a sensation. His "carry the company on my back" opportunity was far from being limited to just the challenge of the Faun; Jerome also danced Romeo to newly promoted principal Leslie Rausch's Juliette in Maillot's R&J (Prokofiev) with, as I understand it, a mere 2 weeks to rehearse the role when the original cast(s) became injured. What Jerome and Leslie created (they did not dance opening night) was pure magic. I've been a fan of Rausch's for many years and have been very gratified to see her recent meteoric rise in the company. The characterization and the muscality she displayed in the role of Juliette on the 2nd weekend was nothing short of spectacular. She and Jerome created an artistic combination of teenage playfulness, genuine passion, youthful exuberance, and modern assertiveness that was different than any other pair I've seen do this ballet. I hesitate to say it, but their interpretation is the best I've seen.....and that's saying a lot. I won't go on about so many other dancers we got to see "on display" in this rep since Helene has chronicled that very well above (Davis, Biassucci, Reshef, Clark, etc), but it was a joy to see these young dancers step up to the plate and pretty much universally knock it out of the park.

One final comment, and here I must make an apology to Balanchine. May the Ballet Gods strike me down cold dead if I ever doubt Mr B's genius again. After opening night I made the rash statement upthread that:

Even "Le Baiser de la Fee" .........I just didn't like it....a rare thing for me to say about anything Balanchine.

Well, of course it was me, not Baiser that was the problem. I just didn't "get" the music that first time. I wanted to hear Stravinsky since I absolutely love his music. I knew there would be Tchaikovsky influence, but I just wasn't able to find a place in that music to stand. I was neither here nor there. For me, when the music doesn't click, I almost never like the ballet.....the two are just too intertwined in my being. Well, leave it to Mr B and his genius for educating one "to see the music"......and "see" it I did that 2nd weekend. For the thousandth time....thank you Mr B. Baiser is different, more cut into short exploding gems, but how Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Balanchine blend in that piece is truly remarkable. As I think Helene said above, it is a piece for aficionados. It was like seeing a cubist painting for the first time: at first, it looks like boring nonsence, but in time its bits and pieces blend into a whole that could not be expressed with more traditional methods. Strangely, the piece "I just didn't like" on opening night, in spite of the other spendors in this rep, is the very piece I'd most like to see again. Mr B moves even higher in my pantheon (if that's possible).

#48 Helene

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 09:07 PM

I was having a conversation with a friend who dances Tango about partnering and how the man can make the woman look fantastic, and I thought again of Lucien Postlewaite in "Swan Lake" and the way he gestured to the audience to watch Carrie Imler's amazing feats and stood to the side with so much energy and attention, that we saw her through his eyes.

I've watched Postlewaite modulate his facial expression based on the size of the venue, and I've seen him do more with his eyes than most film actors. (That and resembling a young Richard Chamberlain.) I think he could act in film. It's a real shame that PNB doesn't do HD broadcasts, because he'd be a natural for the big screen.

One of the consequences of all of the schedule changes is that four young dancers, who were scheduled for a single, debut performance in "Divertimento from 'Baiser de la fee'", Leta Biasucci/Kyle Davis and Liora Reshef/Matthew Renko, were each given two. Biasucci and Davis performed first weekend and time to mull it over, while Reshef/Renko danced theirs back-to-back second weekend, but what a difference the opportunity a second performance makes in locking it in as their own. By the end of the run, "Baiser" was starting to look like a tryout for "Coppelia", and Peter Boal has a few more Swanhildes and Franz's than he has performances to give them.

Davis, discussed above, gave a complete and nuanced performance dramatically. It was also a technically beautiful performance with a few noticeable, but perfectly appropriate, preparations. By contrast Matthew Renko danced most of the ballet in an upbeat way until the very last section. He, like Seth Orza and Carla Korbes from NYCB before him, dances to a tier of the theater that doesn't exist in Seattle, with boldness, brightness, and confidence, taking up the whole stage. His jump has snap at the top, which is so satisfying to watch. He was a focused and attentive partner to Reshef. In the famous solo there were no visible preparations in seeming defiance of the laws of physics, even as he constantly changed direction, and the only stops were the ones choreographed. This was magical.

Biasucci's performance, matching Davis', had more of a dramatic arc than Reshef and Renko's, but Reshef had some very high moments. Temperamentally, it was interesting to see that in the Reshef/Renko pairing, Reshef was temperamentally more like Helgi Tomasson and Renko showed Patricia McBride's cheery optimism. Aside from her soft, rounded port de bras, which, happily, Renko's own matched in roundness, Reshef used her upper body most dramatically and effectively where she was reaching, and her faced showed a hint of shadow. In "Baiser" her lower body was a bit languid. While a bit inconsistent, she showed that she could break out of a soubrette mold and show strong temperament.

Not so as Princess Florine, which is listed on the PNB website as her debut. (I thought she was cast for a performance when PNB did the full-length last, but she may have lost her partner to injury.) Her upper body, head, and arms were beautifully shaded, her facial expressions evocative, and she moved her articulate legs and feet independently, but balanced in strength and in harmony. It was a knockout performance, and in true classical style.

I didn't see Carli Samuelson and Eric Hipolito's debut on Thursday as Princess Florine and Bluebird, but I saw their second performance on Friday. I was very impressed with Samuelson's upper body in particular. She used it to create a strong, bright presence: she was a true Princess. That is not faint praise, because the role is filled with gestures, and her arm and upper body made them rich and full. Overall, her dancing was a bit emphatic, hitting positions, but it was a great first run, and, importantly, she was able to show what she had in a prominent classical role. She was lovely as White Cat and she and Leta Biasucci were both charming as Little Red Riding Hood.

Hipolito as Bluebird was stronger on Saturday night than on Sunday, with clearer beats and definition, but he was unusually upright, which cut the angle of the cabrioles and brisés volés and their impact. His body line was a bit limpid and needed more tension, as if he meant his position to be 25 minutes before seven. He was more alive as Wolf with Carli Samuelson.

#49 Helene

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 05:00 PM

In the original plan, the two new Principals, Lesley Rausch and Rachel Foster, were cast in major debuts. For Rausch it was "Romeo and Juliet 'Balcony Pas de deux'" -- I would have lost money betting that Foster would have been cast as well -- and "Afternoon of a Faun", in addition to Aurora. For Foster, it was both "Faun" and "Baiser", in addition to "Bluebird". Unfortunately, an injury to Benjamin Griffiths stopped her "Baiser" debut -- Biasucci and Reshef each danced a second performance instead -- and an injury to James Moore looked to do the same for "Faun". Instead, Peter Boal paired her with James Tisserand for second weekend, and she was able to debut "Faun" on second Friday.

Rausch's and Foster's interpretation of "Faun" was fascinating to contrast. Where Rausch entered the studio like the Young Dancer in "Variations Serieuses" enters the empty stage, and she became self-conscious as soon as she was aware she wasn't alone, and creating a push-me-pull-you ambivalence throughout the work, Foster, who made a dynamic and determined entry and "practiced" with power and energy, saw Tisserand and her attitude seemed to be, "Fine, you're here, so lets work." It wasn't until the kiss that there was a hint of change, but then how much of a change she left ambiguous. If someone described the two performances without identifying the dancers, I would have lost another bet by guessing wrong. In decades of seeing this work, in which the female role most often has been portrayed as a cypher, I've never seen anyone so direct and alive in it as Foster.

Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand made their debuts in "R&J", and what a tour de force for both. Tisserand's Romeo burst on the empty stage like he could not contain a single emotion, a whirlwind of adolescent ecstacy and energy. Watching shyly from the wings at first, soon Rausch's Juliet joined him in the scene in which they were alternately romping playfully and youthfully impassioned. For two dancers who tend to cool, they were on fire, and they had amazing chemistry together. It was another unique take on the role: Rausch gave herself to Romeo by revealing herself: she was like the tall, elegant, strong sails on a racing yacht. This pairing will be incredible in the full-length version.

#50 SandyMcKean

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 06:04 PM

Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand........This pairing will be incredible in the full-length version.


I couldn't agree more, and I'd certainly bet (speaking of betting Posted Image). that we will be get to see just that next season.Posted Image


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