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Friday, November 25


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#1 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:41 AM

An obituary for the Countess of Dudley, the former Maureen Swanson.

Her heroine was Margot Fonteyn, and she was eventually given her part in The Haunted Ballroom. She got good reviews but was devastated when Dame Ninette de Valois informed her that, in her opinion, she was a “personality dancer” who would be better suited to acting.

A ballet mistress who believed in her talent secured an audition for the juvenile lead in the musical Carousel at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Maureen won the part, and was soon spotted by a talent scout who recommended her to John Huston, then busy directing Moulin Rouge. Soon she was playing her first screen role, as Denise de Frontenac opposite Jose Ferrer’s Toulouse-Lautrec.

#2 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:43 AM

Reviews of the Royal Ballet.

The Telegraph

We kicked off with a revival of Liam Scarlett’s Asphodel Meadows (2010). The plotless ballet, boldly set to Francis Poulenc’s extravagant Double Piano Concerto, was the 25-year-old dancer’s first work for the main stage. It is constructed with dazzling assurance and shows him shuffling and dealing a large ensemble with the legerdemain of a card sharp. Scarlett plumped for abstraction in Asphodel Meadows but admits to an interest in narrative ballet – I can’t wait.

The Daily Express

While Enigma Variations is cluttered with Edwardian props from pipes to plus-fours, bicycles to bustles the work is among Frederick Ashton’s most subtle and nuanced.

Delivered with the formal, upright stiffness characteristic of the period it conveys the buried emotions and hidden heartaches of its characters with fractional movement – a raised hand, a hesitant glance, a quick, sweeping bend – which requires an understanding of period emotion not easily accessible to young dancers.


#3 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:45 AM

Q&A with David Hallberg by Ellen Barry in The New York Times' arts blog.

.
Who did you tell when that happened?

No one, not until curtain went down. Russians love that kind of drama in the theater. It would have been really dramatic, but nothing would have gotten accomplished. When stress sets in, and pressure, I focus. I don’t want the world to know I sprained my ankle, because that will just create disorganization. Nothing will get done. Had it happened two days before it would have been a catastrophe, because now I can’t dance. I can barely walk right now.

#4 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:47 AM

Kansas City Ballet presents its thirty-ninth Nutcracker.

#5 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:50 AM

A listing of local Nutcrackers by Ellen Fagg Weist in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Ballet West received good tidings last year from New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay, who toured the country reviewing "Nutcrackers." BW’s "Nutcracker," Macaulay wrote, "charmingly designed in 1962 by Ariel Ballif, is one of the best productions I’ve ever seen — and, to date, the best discovery of my "Nutcracker" marathon."

That’s old news to Utah families, of course, who have been shuttling young ones to rehearsals and performances for more than 50 years. "The Nutcracker" is the most venerable production in town — this year’s show features seven casts of rotating principals, soloists and demi-soloists — but local dance studios offer their own holiday concerts and "Nutcrackers." Plus, there’s new contemporary work on display at Ririe-Woodbury.

#6 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:52 AM

The "Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet" faces the problem of poor ticket sales.

"I don't know if it's a sign of the times or the economy, but it surprised me because this is our 12th year doing it. We can't continue to do these large productions for the community if we don't sell tickets," Lewis said. "It's a shame, because there are so many people involved from our head choreographer Jill Hammond, who's been by my side since the beginning, to the seamstresses, lighting crew, music design, photographers, not to mention the cast."

The "Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet" is one of the few performed by children and only a few adults . This year, 80 children make up the cast with 10 adults as party-scene guests.


#7 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:55 AM

A preview of local Nutcrackers in The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

They all have in common dancing children and elaborate costumes. One of the more sumptuous stagings comes from the Miami City Ballet, with performances in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

"It was a huge undertaking," said Haydee Morales, costume designer with the dance company. "Not a big one, but a huge one. I think I went to New York three times [to work with the Balanchine Estate]. I spent a year and a half to two years designing and sketching. And then we spent about six months in production. I had two drapers/cutters, four to six seamstresses, a tailor…and an artist who did the headdresses and tiaras."

#8 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:57 AM

A preview of Houston Ballet's Jubilee of Dance.

With his new work The Gentlemen, artistic director Stanton Welch pays homage to the night's honoree, managing director Cecil C. Conner Jr., who retires Feb. 15. Featuring the company's men, it's set to excerpts of Gioachino Rossini's comic opera La Scala di Seta First soloist Melissa Hough has choreographed C-Sharp Minor, a duet for herself and James Gotesky, to Sergei Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C Sharp Minor, with costumes by corps de ballet dancer Allison Miller.

#9 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:59 AM

A preview of Gerard Alessandrini's "The Nutcracker and I."

Celeste meets updated characters from “The Nutcracker” — such as the Sugar Rush Fairy — and others who never were a part of it.

“That includes choreographer George Balanchine,” says Alessandrini. “He made ‘The Nutcracker’ famous in this country. When the ballet debuted in Russia, it was not a success. Even today, it’s not done there or in Europe the way it’s done everywhere here. His production in 1945 started it on its way.”

#10 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 12:02 PM

Two interviews with Emile de Cou.

The SunBreak

Why would he choose to come to Seattle, to PNB?

“It’s the best ballet orchestra in the country,” he says without hesitation.”I’ve conducted all the ballet orchestras. There’s a love and commitment, a focus and care to what the PNB players do, and they take great pride in it. Stewart (Kershaw, previous PNB conductor) did great work with this orchestra. It’s a happy family, which was so before I got here. This is an orchestra which has grown together.”

Examiner.com

"It is performed so much that we can forget that it is a great work of a musical genius," said de Cou. "It is emotionally exhausting to play. And classical musicians can't just phone it in. We're trained to give it our all every performance, which is why everyone is a little wrecked by the end of December."

The same is true, of course, for the dancers too. And, with so many versions of the Nutcracker performed around the country, transfering from one company to another can mean something so familiar can suddenly be new and strange, as demonstrated in a PNB video interview with Corps de Ballet dancers Leta Biasucci and Elizabeth Murphy.

#11 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 04:28 PM

A review of the Royal Ballet by Clement Crisp in The Financial Times.

And, to begin the evening in the best way, Liam Scarlett’s first major work for this stage. We must beware of laurels too soon, but – to hell with restraint – I think Scarlett a most impressive talent. He uses ballet’s language with sensitivity, real musical grace, and not a little originality. He is a choreographer to carry the torch on from Ashton and MacMillan, and Asphodel Meadows responds to Poulenc’s two-piano concerto with unfailing wit and invention. The sole problem for me is the loathsome costuming and bar-code set from John Macfarlane.............

#12 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 04:30 PM

A story on two local families' intergenerational Nutcracker connection by Celia R. Baker in The Salt Lake Tribune.

As a young child, Melanie Watts Robbins spent many rapt hours watching her father conduct the Utah Symphony for Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker.” Ardean Watts was the Utah Symphony’s associate conductor in the 1960s and ’70s, and young Melanie loved watching his energetic baton work.

It was the sight of the beautiful ballerinas twirling across the stage that captured her heart, though, making the girl ache to dance, dance, dance.

#13 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 04:34 PM

A story on the local kids in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker by Mark Kanny in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"The Nutcracker" is a family oriented story centered on a girl named Marie, who is growing up with loving parents and many friends. While there are other ballets about children, such as "Peter Pan," which opened Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's season in October, "The Nutcracker" is unique for the large number of children who perform in it.

When Pittsburgh Ballet casts "The Nutcracker," it turns to students at its school for the children's roles.

#14 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 04:35 PM

Listings for New Orleans-area Nutcrackers and advice for parents taking children to the ballet for the first time.

Joseph Giacobbe, whose Delta Festival Ballet marks its 30th year presenting the holiday classic, has seen his share of enraptured youngsters as well as those who don’t quite make it to the end of the show.
He recommends familiarizing children with the story and music through books, DVDs and CDs. He cautions parents to ensure that DVD versions are suitable, noting that some play up the darker, scarier elements of the story of Clara and her magical Christmas gift.

#15 dirac

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 11:23 AM

A preview of New Jersey Ballet's Nutcracker by Tammy La Gorce in The New York Times.

Last year, for instance, the New Jersey Ballet added “a gorgeous new Act One set,” said Paul McRae, assistant artistic director of the company based in Livingston, which is performing “The Nutcracker” for a 41st year. “It really brought the whole production together,” he said, “so you feel like you’ve been magically transported inside the home” of Clara, the young girl who dreams of a beloved toy nutcracker springing to life.

But the dance itself has not changed: “The production has held up so well over 41 years, we don’t have any plans for new choreography,” Mr. McRae said. He should know: He danced the role of a mouse in the company’s first “Nutcracker,” in 1971, as a 14-year-old.


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