Helene

Don Quixote

57 posts in this topic

I'm old enough to still be amazed at digital technology, having been around when you would have snapped hundreds of exposures in a photo shoot like that, but not know if you had anything truly great until you got back to the darkroom. The ability to 'click and look' makes such a difference!

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Seattle Times intereview Tom Skerritt about playing Don Quixote:

http://seattletimes....prmid=head_main

In 1977, Skerritt was offered a role in the ballet drama "The Turning Point," playing a former dancer who now teaches. He knew nothing of that world — "I grew up on the streets of Detroit; there's not a whole lot of ballet or exposure to the arts there" — but agreed to take some ballet classes to prepare for the role. It was, he said, a revelation. "It's exhilarating!" he said. "I had no idea. It was so exciting to discover that. You're fatigued, but that exhilaration lifts you up to a whole other level."

Earlier in the article, he says he told Peter Boal, "I don't dance. I'm just a clumsy ox,' but I don't remember him looking out of place in "The Turning Point": not every retired dancer keeps up a pronounced walk and posture, and I though he moved gracefully.

He was also interviewed on a local radio show -- there was a lead-in about his part in the ballet, but the two co-hosts didn't speak of it -- and he said he was 78. (They kept telling him how wonderful he looked.) I think it's pretty inspiring that a 78-year-old taking ballet class finds it exhiliarating. From the context of his comment, I guess he didn't take class to prepare for "The Turning Point."

Also, speaking about why he chose Skerritt, "Boal, asked about the casting, said that he'd thought of Skerritt some time ago. He knew that Ratmansky preferred to have actors, rather than dancers, play the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza." On the Dutch National Ballet video, this is clear: the Don Quixote mouths lines or directions throughout. It looks like he took a text-based approach, while for Skerritt: "Working without dialogue, however, has been 'kind of freeing,' Skerritt said, noting that it suits the physicality of the character. 'It's like a silent movie — a wonderful challenge.'"

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Here's a new video of Kitri's and Basilio's Entrance, with Kaori Nakamura and Lucien Postlewaite:

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I note a couple of things in this new video. First (and I'm encouraged), I see Jerome Tisserand marking Basilio's part in the background. I presume this means that he and Leslie Rausch might still be seen in this ballet. Since they are not announced as cast members for these roles, I presume they are a backup couple in case someone gets injured I certainly don't want that to happen, but somehow, someway maybe we will get to see this couple -- a pairing I just loved when they did Robbin's "Afternoon of a Faun" in the last rep.

Next, I see a couple of big (as in big) guys in the corp (green and yellow shirts). I don't recognize them, so I presume they are professional division students. What's interesting is that one of them (green shirt) is not using the guitar as a prop, but seems to be actually playing it.

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I think the tall guy in the green shirt with the guitar is Charles McCall, who was a PD student and is now an apprentice. The tall guy in the yellow shirt may be Joshua Grant, who returned to PNB this year.

In the couples video, Rausch and Tisserand were listed as the last of the Kitri/Basilio pairs, so, yes, they would be next in line.

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Bingo, you got it. Thanks for figuring out the names. I'll be looking for McCall and Grant when I see this rep next week.

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It's very normal for additional casts to learn a new work even if they're not scheduled to be dancing it this time around -- it's more along the lines of preparation for the next time the work is performed.

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I'm just surprised they were listed in the "couples" video if they were "covering" this time around.

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I'm just surprised they were listed in the "couples" video if they were "covering" this time around.

This is just speculation (enhanced after reading Steven Manes' discussion of the R&J where Noelani Pantastico had to perform all 9 shows) but I have a feeling that Boal would be very willing to have several alternates available for a work like this...

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Absolutely. I'm surprised they were revealed in the statistics video under "5 Couples." (We often can see them shadowing in the back of rehearsal videos.) Particularly since the short clip of Rausch was so enticing.

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Marcie Sillman interviewed Alexei Ratmansky and spoke to Peter Boal for this segment on KUOW:

http://kuow.org/program.php?id=25863

For those of us who've been wondering how the cast of thousands in Alexei Ratmansky's version for Dutch National Ballet, suggested to Boal by Mikhail Baryshnikov after Bartyshnikov turned down Boal's request to stage it, would translate to PNB's 46 dancers:

Boal: "I thought, we're sunk! But he said, 'No, wait. We had a lot of extra dancers onstage, we might be able to pare it down.' So, he was willing to make it work. And it's a stretch for us, but it will work."

Peter Boal enlisted some of his top–level dance students to fill in the gaps. And Ratmansky set out to redesign some of the Seattle crowd scenes to make them feel as big as those he made for the larger Dutch cast.

One more night!

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Stage rehearsal: just under a minute of Leta Biasucci in the Cupid's variation:

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Critic Alice Kaderlan was interviewed by KUOW's Dave Beck for the show KUOW presents:

http://kuow.org/program.php?id=25854

(Select "RealAudio", High or Low settings for MP3, or "Download" to listen.)

She discusses having seen her first Ratmansky story ballet in St. Petersburg in 2008, her observations about Ratmansky during a corps rehearsal and his instructions for characterization, and what she's looking for in this production.

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And Marcie Sillman's interview with Ratmansky on KUOW ran this morning (Friday) during their NPR/Morning Edition time -- they often re-run material like this, so keep ears open.

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Biasucci as Cupid -- this looks just like a fairy variation from Sleeping Beauty -- I think she'd make a great Canary.

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When I saw the DNB video of "Don Q", Biasucci immediately leapt to mind as Cupid.

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How is Karel Cruz going to fit in the basket in Act II?

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How is Karel Cruz going to fit in the basket in Act II?

Perhaps it operates as Hermione Granger's handbag does in the last of the Harry Potter books -- infinitely expandable.

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:)

(I don't think it's placed over one of the traps.)

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I saw the dress rehearsal last night, no cast was listed in the program, but looked to be the Saturday night cast, with Kauri Nakamura / Lucien Postelwaite as Kitri / Basilio. It was a lot of fun to watch, there were quite a few glitches with sets, the dancers kept going even as a portly man in tshirt and sweats ambled across the stage to fix something. Kauri was "on" but Lucien was marking some of his wedding dance solos in the 3rd act. PNB is acting better here, but the Spanish "flair" does not come as naturally to Balanchine style dancers, as it does for other styles. There was a particular lack of bravura on the part of the men, although the toreadors gave it their best shot. Very colorful and charming, though. Definitely in the Ratmansky naturalistic style. Not quite as "mannerly" as other productions.

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Peter Boal said in the Q&A last night that Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand are performing Kitri and Basilio in the abridged school performance of "Don Quixote".

Before Boal and Jonathan Porretta arrived -- there was a big gala party right after the performance, and Boal greeted his guests and made a toast -- Audience Services Manager John Tangeman fielded questions. He said that the opera, which closed last Saturday, was cleared out sometime on Sunday, and that the PNB crew worked until 3am, after which the electricians showed up at 4am.

PNB dancers don't get a lot of stage time for any production, let alone one that ships in 4x as many crates as their "Nutcracker", which itself is a huge production. In some ways, dress rehearsals are the worst of both worlds, if a necessary evil: the dancers are still transitioning from the tape marks in the studio to the reality of set pieces, and adjusting to differences in proportion, spacing, and lighting, yet their in costume and everything looks bright and shiny. Sometime the dance energy is there, but that's not the focus.

Peter Boal joked that last night was a dress rehearsal (for Korbes and Cruz, anyway), but unlike for "Coppelia" and "Giselle", it didn't look it. It took about .0001 second for the audience to erupt and stand when Korbes and Cruz came out for their first curtain call.

It was great to see Alexei Ratmansky, lighting designer James Ingalls, and set and costume designer Jerome Kaplan, on stage to take their bows at the end.

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A TRIUMPH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations PNB, Alexi Ratmansky, and everyone from the youngest student dancer to the electricians. What a performance last night! It felt like a tornado passed thru my life. I'll put this ballet company up against any in the world after what I saw last night. Alexi must be pleased indeed.

BTW, I too was at the dress rehearsal (as well as last night's opening night). It was the exact same cast except for the main couple being Korbes/Cruz instead of Nakamura/Postlewaite. The difference btwn the 2 nights was like night and day. I second Helene comments. Dress rehearsals are no way to judge a company or a production. I guess one gets some insights, but the performers are just not "in the zone" for a dress rehearsal. In the past I've sworn off seeing dress rehearsals just for this reason. Dress rehearsals can be very disappointing.....which was just my reaction after Thursday night. I had looked forward so much to this Ratmansky production (because I think he is one of the 2 most promising living choreographer on the planet), and I thought the production fell flat at the dress. What a difference 24 hours and the power of an opening night makes. On opening night I was doing a standing ovation, with everyone else, in no more than Helene's .0001 second. My disappointment turned to ecstatic thrill. I once again vow to avoid dress rehearsals (a vow I will no doubt have to make again once my memory fades smile.png).

And the partnering btwn Carla and Karel..........that was one of the hightlights of my 45 years of watching ballet. The confidence and total trust in one another was a testament to the human spirit. They were each other's biggest fans time and time again last night......BRAVO!

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I saw the full production today at the Sunday Matinee - Korbes / Cruz as Kitri / Basilio and Tisserand / Rausch as Espada / Mercedes. It was a lot of fun, and I sort of regret attending the dress rehearsal, only because the humor wasn't a surprise. I can't think of anything to say about the production that hasn't already been posted. I didn't think it was the "best that ever was" (there's a lot of other great ballet out there), but it was a ton of fun and the kids attending were enthralled. I thought Cruz's acting skills have improved since Giselle, and Tisserand's Espada had the flair and panache that Bakharold Bold was missing at the dress rehearsal. Leslie Rausch was ok as Mercedes, but could have been more dramatic. Korbes had plenty of latin flair, as befits her Brazilian heritage. :)

Afterwards I attended the Q&A, and Peter Boal noted in his initial comments that how Karel fits into the basket has become a conversation on Ballet Alert. To answer the question - he says there is no "trap door" (he mentioned that was a solution proposed on B.A.). Korbes and Cruz then explained that they pretzel themselves inside, and there is little room for her to pin on the wig she wears to disguise herself as a gypsy.

Now I ask the moderators - does reporting this information count as "commenting on the commentary"???

Korbes did not wear a wig in the show (though she did in the adverts), but her hair was darker than the usual honey blonde. She was asked if she dyed it for the roll, and she explained it's a temporary spray. A significant portion of the women did wear wigs, and they definitely had big Spanish hair. In contrast, Cupid has a wig straight out of That Seventies Show (Kitty Forman). Leta Biascutti played her as the soubrette intended - she is definitely a soloist in the making. I predict a promotion sooner than later.

Most of the Q&A covered details already mentioned on this thread, or in the media articles, so I won't repeat it all. Peter Boal did mention that while rehearsing PNB, designer Jerome Kaplan showed sketches to Alexei Ratmansky for their next project for the Australian National Ballet: Cinderella. Maybe I will have to book a flight to Sydney???

This production reminds me that no matter how we focus on the difficulty of steps, their originality, forward-thinking design of costumes and sets, or injection of "contemporary" into ballet - at the end of the day the audience that buys tickets wants first and foremost to be entertained. Color, charm, humor, and passion and above all a great story for dance - are required for successful story ballet.

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