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MCB Program II. Ballet Imperial, In the Night, Viscera

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#46 Jack Reed

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 07:39 AM

Thanks, iwatchthecorps, I missed that review somehow. While Macaulay's examination of Viscera may help me to get on better with it - the similarity he finds between Liebermann's concerto, which I've heard a few times now, and not in the awful YouTube performance* linked to in his review but in the one the composer recorded with the BBC Scottish Orchestra and Stephen Hough, and Shostakovich, the unbearable straining portentous banality of whose music puts it at the bottom of my list, seems already to help me to get it at arm's length, where it doesn't bother me so much. (Yes. I'm having a lot if trouble with this!)

But what really took me in this rich review is this:

To return to Miami City Ballet is like being welcomed home. The dancers flood the theater with qualities of warmth and vitality that are like no other ballet company’s. Yet what is so remarkable is their selflessness: they place all their energies at the service of music and choreography.

The guy lives and works in New York, mostly. That's his home, where he sees a lot of NYCB and ABT and lots of other dance. And so watching MCB in south Florida, he feels at home. I'm no Macaulay, of course, and I live in Chicago, but on Thursday I'll be going home to Florida, to watch MCB, "like no other".

*The slam-bang way these two pianists treat the music (just the last movement) doesn't seem to me to do it justice, and hearing it, I wondered, Is there more to this than they reveal? But even with the clarity and fine perspective Hough and Liebermann bring to his score, I don't get much beyond the concerto's "infernal" quality, in every sense of the word (which I think I saw somewhere the composer himself applies to the last movement).

Edited by Jack Reed, 01 February 2012 - 07:46 AM.

#47 bart


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Posted 31 January 2012 - 10:07 AM

Quite a review. I'm impressed that Macaulay committed the time to attend 3 performances.

The photo that accompanies Macaulay's review gives a good idea of the effect of lighting and costuming (especiallyi the lack of tights). However, the leg musculature on the actual stage (which I saw from various parts of the auditorium) is much subtler than the photo suggests,

I admire Macaulay's review, but have to demur on two small points:

-- Macaulay's color designations do not do justice to the brilliance and richness of the color palette. Eg.: what he calls a "red" backdrop was actually stunning fuchsia, The term "maroon" and "dark blue" are probably inadequate to the actual plum and electric blue, especially when the changed subtlely as dancers moved around the stage..

-- His criticism of the lighting -- "the excessive combination of darkness with side lighting" -- does not fit what I saw from various locations. I understand that someone not familiar with all the dancers (as individuals) might not find it hard to "tell which woman is which." But this can hardly apply to the two leads, each of which had a distinctive body type. Their choreography was even more distinctive.

That said, this review is something that ballet companies (including fund-raisers and publicists) dream about.

#48 kfw


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Posted 31 January 2012 - 10:57 AM

I'm really enjoying reading about Viscera and the success it's been, but I'm wondering if I'm the only one a little put off by its title. It doesn't exactly make me think "neo-classical ballet."

#49 bart


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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:45 AM

If I recall the various MCB blog entries correctly, Scarlett seems to have had one of those Lightbulb Moments Posted Image when he came up with the title. I've heard company representatives -- relying on our old friend Mr. Wikipedia -- stating that "viscera" is the plural of "viscus," which means internal organs. The color scheme does indeed remind me of some photography of what parts of the interior of the human body look like when invaded by microscopic cameras and lights. I've heard suggestions that the arm movements of the corps women look suggest the pulsing of the blood, but that eludes me.

I seem to remember a rehearsal video in which the dancers were dancing with and manipulating a blood-red, undulating satin cloth. I may be hallulcinating about that, of course. But if I'm correct, the blood reference (along with the cloth) has been cut from the work as staged.

No audience member I spoke to "got" this title. A more appropriate name, if you insist on building on the "viscus" theme, might be "Visceral." Or how about an alternate title for those of us who grew up on Balanchine: Liebermann Piano Concerto No. 1. Posted Image

#50 Birdsall


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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:46 AM

The title is a little odd. From the title I expected a work with the energy of The Golden Section or In the Upper Room. The dancers probably work as hard but it did not have a relentless drive that I associate with Tharp's works. So I have to admit that I felt the title was misleading.

I also had to stare through binoculars despite being in a box which was not that far away, to make sure it was Delgado, b/c her omnipresent smile that practically lights up a stage was nowhere in sight during Viscera. It showed she can be very serious, but it made me doubt I was watching her, so I sort of understand the reviewer's comments.

At the second performance that I attended on Sunday people near me and I were discussing our worries that next season is Villella's last season with the company. Miami City Ballet is finally top notch due to his work! What will happen when he's gone?

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