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Apollo/Carmina Burana


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#16 SandyMcKean

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:26 AM

What a joy to see Lucien Postlewaite and Leslie Rausch as the crucial "Cour D'Amour" pair in opening night's Carmina Burana. I swear I witnessed the two of them "fall in love" right in front of our eyes. The musicality they both display so well is superb. It felt particularly poignant given how infrequently we see them paired and given that Postlewaite is soon to leave the company. Indeed, I've just re-arranged my week-2 schedule to see this pairing again!

The "muse trio" of Ricard, Chapman, and Rausch in my beloved Apollo was also a highlight. At times they danced as one.....so appropriate at particular moments in this famous ballet.

#17 sandik

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:04 AM

Some miscellaneous thoughts

It’s far enough along into the spring that it’s still daylight when we come into the theater, and when the lobby doors into the auditorium are open, you can see pools of daylight on the front curtain.

Apollo

Batkhurel Bold takes this role very seriously -- his is not a playful Apollo. His work with the lute is very controlled and smooth, especially as he cartwheels it down to the ground. His relationship to the Muses is equally careful -- all the notes are there, but he hasn’t decided yet which ones he likes the best. The moments of disequilibrium (stumbles and falls) are polished -- they’re not accidents. I wonder what he would look like in the full-length version, where these moments of weakness are an echo of the wobbly newborn.

All three of his Muses (Maria Chapman as Calliope, Lesley Rausch as Polyhymnia and Sarah Ricard Orza as Terpsichore) are very clean, almost dry in their approach. They are all making debuts in these roles, and right now they seem to be performing what they’ve learned, but not what they might have discovered. With some extra time, they could certainly get to that point -- they’re all confident in their parts, but not yet adventurous.

The horse imagery is really clear in this production, both casts have that sense of animal drive as the Muses almost drag Apollo across the stage, while he digs in his heels to control them. And Bold makes the strong-man moments really read -- it made me think about Balanchine’s experiences in cabaret theater, almost like a music hall number.

In the second cast I saw, Karel Cruz seems to be further along in the process of making this role his own -- he’s making choices about accents and phrasing, and most importantly, how he relates to the Muses. The opening tableau is truly lovely. He’s always been really tall, but when he first came to PNB he was just a little diffident, as if he regretted his height. Muscularly, he seems to have been doing upper body work -- he’s filled out, especially in the shoulders -- but it’s the sense of poise and elegance that just knocks you over. He may still have a lot to learn, but he is a god from the start. And this seems to give him a sense of freedom, to strum his lute, to really look around as he moves through the space, to over-reach and stumble and then to catch himself up again. In one phrase toward the beginning of the work, as he twists and turns the lute it seems like the double ended oar of a kayak and he was shooting a rapid. And once the Muses arrive he really is almost a cowboy, pulling back on the reins or urging them forward with the same circling arm as the opening phrases, only now it’s all about the giddy-up.

Kylee Kitchens as Calliope has some lovely reverb in her torso as she rolls through her spine, like an echo of her initial gut-clenching movement. And there’s a moment in her solo where she twitches side to side that I think might be a foreshadowing of Melancholic’s twinges in 4Ts. Lindsi Dec eats up space as Polyhymnia, which isn’t a surprise. There’s a moment at the beginning of her solo where she stands still with her prop and just smiles -- she seemed like the good student about to recite her lessons. She had some trouble with the turns (keeping the finger to her lips means that she can’t use that arm to help with the rotation) but she didn’t get flustered, and made a good end with the outburst. Gilbreath’s opening phrase as Terpsichore, pawing the ground and swiveling, had a great rhythm to it, and the sequence where she peers under her arm as she turns was a nice foreshadowing of a similar moment in the duet. There are some other lovely physical moments, but the part that was most impressive was the relationship with Apollo -- throughout the solo she was making choices about how she related to him, when she looked at him, when she looked away. It was clear that this was a test, and she wanted to know how she was doing.

The duet had more really interesting timing choices. At the very top, Gilbreath held her first develope for what seemed like an extra beat before stepping over Cruz into the promenade -- it was almost confrontational. The role of teacher and student shifted back and forth several times -- Cruz almost scrambled to get his knees up, hoping she might perch there, but then later he was calling the shots while she was following his lead -- it was great to watch the changes.

(I’m glad I’m going to see two more performances this weekend, one each of Lucien Postlewaite and Seth Orza)

There’s been a lot of discussion here on Ballet Alert and elsewhere about the different versions of Apollo, and I don’t want to rehash things, but I still feel that this later version, without the birth or the apotheosis on the stairs, is dramatically weaker than the earlier version that the company used to perform. I know this is Balanchine’s ballet, and if he wanted to take all that material out, it’s his prerogative, but I can still prefer one over the other...

Carmina Burana

This is one of Stowell’s most popular works, and it’s easy to see why -- it’s a score almost everyone knows, rhythmic and tuneful, with big folk dance references. Between the set and the on-stage choir, the stage picture is full even if there are no dancers on stage. Ming Cho Lee’s golden Wheel of Fate is a little like the chandelier in productions of Phantom of the Opera, you’d have to be dead not to notice that it ‘means something.’ And for all that the lyrics are in Latin, most of us can still hear the opening “O Fortuna” and get a sense of what it’s about. The peasant costumes with headbands for the men make it look just a little bit like a production of Hair, and the springtime and love elements fit into that reference as well. We don’t need the specifics of the tavern scene to know that it’s all about the sex. And if we weren’t sure by then, the corps of couples in nude unitards would clear up any lingering questions.

Stowell makes really good use of folk/ethnic dance elements -- there’s plenty of contra dance phrases as well as long series of Thread the Needle that might have come straight from the Playford manuscripts. Kyle Davis, Benjamin Griffiths and Eric Hipolito are great in the men’s trio early on, Liora Reshef and Leta Biasucci are quite lovely in the corps sections, James Moore and Kaori Nakamura were very playful as the lead couple in Primo Vere -- he was substituting for Jonathan Porretta, who bruised his toe, but near as I could tell he did a chunk of his regular role as well. But there could have been ten times more than the three substitutions I knew about for this performance -- there are just that many people on stage. Rausch was channeling her inner Patricia Barker in the Cour d’Amour -- pale and elegant. She was partnered with Postlewaite -- right now we’d all come to watch him change his dance shoes as he prepares to leave the company at the end of the season, so watching him in anything is fraught. Carrie Imler looks almost too healthy to be the Harlot in the tavern scenes, but she shimmied her shoulders and shook her butt with relish. And at the ending tableau, she’s hoisted up on top of all her partners while Rausch and Postlewaite are twined around each other.

Q/A

Rausch was the guest on Friday night. Boal mentioned the 800 pound gorilla topic, that Postlewaite was leaving at the end of the season, and judging from the response, there were a number of people who hadn’t yet heard that. So when one of the first questions from the audience was “how do you deal with unexpected changes?” Boal didn’t really have a pat answer. He acknowledged that the company is thin in soloist and principal men, and mentioned that we’d be seeing some corps men get more than the usual roles. He mentioned Jerome Tisserand, Davis, Moore and Andrew Bartee -- did not mention Griffiths in this context. Rausch said that there was a powerful bond between the women who danced the Muses that evening (Friday) and that she and Bold were both cast in the 3rd movement of Kiyon Gaines’s upcoming new work.

#18 Helene

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 02:33 PM

Many thanks, sandik!

PNB just announced on Facebook that there is a 50% discount on tickets to this Saturday matinee performance of "Apollo" and "Carmina Burana" in celebration of the NEXT 50 kickoff at Seattle Center. (That's 21 April, 2pm). It's a non-subscription performance, which usually means there are more great seats from which to choose.

https://www.pnb.org/...tm_medium=email

Seth Orza makes his debut as Apollo and Leah O'Connor as Calliope in this performance.

Some casting changes due to Jonathan Porretta's injury:
  • Tonight (Thursday): James Moore dances In Taberna
  • Saturday Matinee: James Moore dances In Taberna; Leta Biasucci and Benjamin Griffiths lead Primo Vere
  • Sunday Matinee: James Moore leads Primo Vere with Kaori Nakamura


#19 sandik

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 03:08 PM

I stumbled across this advertisement, and it reminded me of Apollo...

Attached File  vitruvian guitar man.jpg   40.63KB   12 downloads

#20 Helene

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 08:27 AM

If there's anyway you can, get to PNB this afternoon and see Seth Orza's Apollo with a splendid cast of muses. Lucien Postlewaite also dances Course d'Amours this afternoon.

Also get a ticket for everyone you know for Season's Encore, where Postlewaite will dance his Apollo.

Both of them were spectacular, among the best short-version Apollos I've seen.

There wasn't a lot if Balanchine this season, but we've seen some definitive performances. performances.

#21 Helene

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 08:28 AM

If there's any way you can, get to PNB this afternoon and see Seth Orza's Apollo with a splendid cast of muses. Lucien Postlewaite also dances Cour d'Amours this afternoon.

Also get a ticket for everyone you know for Season's Encore, where Postlewaite will dance his Apollo.

Both of them were spectacular, among the best short-version Apollos I've seen.

There wasn't a lot if Balanchine this season, but we've seen some definitive performances.

#22 SandyMcKean

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

I just came back.

OMG, is Helene correct!! What fortuitous serendipity this cast was. The PdD in Apollo btwn Seth Orza and his wife Sara Ricard (aka Suzanne Farrell) combined together, as commanded by Stravinsky in this segment of indescribably beautiful music, surpassed many of my previous high water marks. It was sublime.

But the PdD in Carmina in the "Cour D'Amour" (The Court of Love) section danced by Lucien Postlewaite and Leslie Rausch is my new high water mark. Absolutely spectacular. They danced as if they were in some magical bubble of love and respect. They both have such mind-blowing musicality and artistic creativity. This time....they did all of that, but together....in the same space, and in the same time. What a perfect "last performance" for Lucien. Farewell, my Apollo.

#23 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:49 AM

I just came back.

OMG, is Helene correct!! What fortuitous serendipity this cast was. The PdD in Apollo btwn Seth Orza and his wife Sara Ricard (aka Suzanne Farrell) combined together, as commanded by Stravinsky in this segment of indescribably beautiful music, surpassed many of my previous high water marks. It was sublime.


Sigh. Watching the rehearsal footage Helene posted earlier made me wish I could hop on a plane to catch Seth Orza's Apollo. (And can I just say that Peter Boal -- dressed in street clothes and holding only an imaginary instrument -- still looks gorgeous lifting his lyre heavenwards.) I'm especially pleased that Sarah Ricard's career has taken off at PNB. She was always one of my big favorites in the NYCB corps, and I was sad to see them both leave NY. Selfishly sad -- it's hard to begrudge a move that's brought them the opportunities they deserve.

#24 Helene

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:51 AM

Men are still at a premium, especially tall ones who can partner, but she is proving to be the best gift that came with Seth Orza.

#25 SandyMcKean

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 12:12 PM

My comment "Sara Ricard (aka Suzanne Farrell)" was not lightly said.

I can't watch Sara (which I could do all day long), especially in the Terpsichore role, without Suzanne Ferrell coming to mind. Sara is a superbly lyrical dancer with a grace, style, suppleness, and understanding of the character behind the dance, that all of us in Seattle are grateful to NYC for sending our way.

#26 sandik

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:49 PM

Selfishly sad -- it's hard to begrudge a move that's brought them the opportunities they deserve.


I have to say that's how I feel about Postlewaite leaving -- I know this is a great adventure for him, but I'll miss seeing it...

#27 Helene

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:11 PM

Some notes from Saturday's Q&A:

William Lin-Yee was the guest after the matinee. He had performed the Monk in the "In Taberna" section of "Carmina Burana," and Boal said that Kent Stowell really liked him in the role and wanted him to dance it. (He was really fine in it: he approaches roles like a smaller, faster dancer, but his movement can be very plush, and he gave the role pathos.)

The session was on the short side: it was a gorgeous day and a non-subscription audience, which might have been unaware of it or didn't know what to expect.

When asked when he knew he wanted to dance, he said it was at 12, but that he started at 7. His mom took him and his younger brother to the studio when she was taking an adult ballet class, and she told him after class that she was having trouble with the brise. He demonstrated the step for her, having absorbed it by watching the class. She then put him in class.

He was asked by, I think, the same man who sits up front and asks everyone this question: "What are your favorite roles and what are you looking forward to performing next season?" He said that every opportunity is a good one, and that he enjoys dancing in general. He mentioned "One Flat Thing Reproduced", but he also likes classical ballets. Boal then praised him for "Sechs Tanze". He said he doesn't consider himself "princely" and looks forward to von Rothbart next season. He likes to play the bad guys and is hoping to learn Tybalt.

When asked about staging, he said no, but that if he were to choreograph, he'd want to think about it a lot before he did it. Boal then talked about the opportunities company members have to choreograph for the Professional Division students and how there are usually more volunteers than the program can use. (Next season, a number of company members who started in the workshop, now called "Next Step", will have premieres in the new works program for PNB.)

Boal spoke about staging "Apollo" in general, and he said while he knew his former role inside and out, he went to video for specifics about the muses. He said it much harder to stage what he hasn't danced.

Boal was asked about how NYCB dancers have come to PNB. He said that all approached him, and that he doesn't believe in approaching a dancer under contract. He said that contracts are offered yearly on 1 March, that dancers respond by 31 March so that he knows the roster on 1 April, but that he rarely doesn't offer a contract to an existing company member. Lin-Yee said he danced with two of Orza's brothers, including a twin, at San Francisco Ballet School, but met Seth Orza at SAB.

Boal was also asked about how ballet companies rank in the US. He said that the top three are usually considered to be ABT, NYCB, and San Francisco Ballet, with six companies, PNB among them, claiming to be fourth. (I know it's safe to consider ABT in the bunch, but having seen ABT recently, I wouldn't count it among the top three. I also wouldn't be heartbroken if Marcelo Gomes had an urge to join PNB.)

Saturday night was Lucien Postlewaite, who had danced "Apollo". He had all of "Carmina" to relax and get ready, and he wore his very spiffy gold sneakers. I was writing very quickly, and there are a few things where I don't remember who said what, but this is what I could get down, since it was more a conversation than the usual Q&A format:

Boal on Postlewaite's "Apollo": he made really good choices. Postlewaite talked about the huge difference between working with orchestra, and as great as the rehearsal accompanist were with the piano scores, it was a totally different experience. Boal said that often the strings, which the piano can't replicate, give Apollo the clues about what he is feeling in the moment.

About leaving: Postlewaite said it was bittersweet. He's realize the impact the company has had on him. He grew up at PNB, and considers Seattle home. He tried to meet everyone in the company, from dancers to marketing people, etc. His parents were Montessori teachers and taught him to find his own way, always suggesting alternatives, and his mother used to speak French to him when he was small, until he became embarrassed in the playground. He hopes by living in Monte Carlo he'll pick it up quickly, and he's asked his husband (Olivier Wevers) to speak French to him as preparation. The company uses English as a working language; Noelani Pantastico told him that she expected to be fluent in a few months, but that using English in the studio has made that difficult.

He said he wants to find out who he is and re-invent himself: he said he's been at PNB since 19, and he's known a certain way here, with the trappings of growing up in front of everyone. He looks forward to touring, to have an opportunity to see the world, dance on many stages and see many artists. He's been told that touring gets old in two-three years, but he wants to experience it for himself, and that he can't be told: he always has to learn for himself.

Boal was asked if it was a big problem when people come from the outside and steal our dancers. Boal laughed and jokingly said "Yes", but he asked whether he was supposed to keep him in a closet so he doesn't meet anyone. Boal said he felt the same way about Maillot, but that he "wouldn't fit into the unitard." He said it was a blessing and a curse to have so many outside stagers, and that dancers can get a taste and want more. Postlewaite said that he will miss the variety, and that it was very hard to leave the rep, which Boal said most dancers cite when contacting him, but that he's also looking forward to focusing on the work of one choreographer, who is working and creating in the studio.

When asked how it would affect his marriage, he said that it was already a big change this season when Wevers stopped dancing with PNB and focused on Whim W'him, with them seeing each other less, and that they both would spend the next year focusing on their careers. Wevers will be based in Seattle, with Postlewaite returning home often, and Wevers meeting him on tour in places like Argentina, Israel, because he's able to work remotely when he's not in the studio. He said Wevers encouraged him and is totally supporting him in this decision.

Asked what roles he would do in Monte Carlo, Postlewaite said he knew Romeo and the Prince in "Cinderella", but not much more. Maillot is very protective of his dancers and loyal to them, and isn't going to give everything to him as the new guy. He said he wasn't starting at the top in his new company. He wasn't sure if Maillot would cast him with Pantastico in "Romeo et Juliette" or mix it up. He said he was going in with an open heart and mind.

Boal said he was hoping to get Pantastico and Postlewaite to guest in PNB's "Romeo et Juliette" next season (and that Maillot knows this). The work will be presented the first two weekends in February in Seattle and then tours to NYC, and there's always the possibility that New Yorkers may be able to see them at City Center. (Carla Korbes, who was injured during the first run, but danced the last time it was performed, was also partnered with Postlewaite.) He also said that Monte Carlo should present "Apollo" and "Prodigal Son" -- the role that put Postlewaite on the map -- since the works were made for that theater, (and it would be great if there could be a bit of an exchange program with PNB and Monte Carlo).

Postlewaite said he'd miss having an audience with recognizable faces. Either he or Boal talked about the small Monegasque audience, with much of the audience made up of tourists (just like in the Diaghilev and Rene Blum days). Postlewaite said that it was funded by the Princess, so interaction with donors isn't in the cards. Here he likes to go to the donor lounge and interact with donors and audience members in Q&As.

Postlewaite was asked what he learned from "Apollo". He said a lot of things in his career led up to it. He said roles like Basilio had a lot of arrogance, and that if he had done the role earlier, he would have been more boyish and natural, but that what he really liked about Apollo was the humility of the role and commanding the stage.

He was asked about what he did to prepare. He mentioned company class and lifting women, who "aren't as light as they look -- they are human", as a way of staying in shape. He said he eats Odwalla protein shakes and a Cliff bar to get the day started. On performance days he eats a big lunch and then naps, and does 20 push ups before going on stage to get his vascular system going. On rehearsal days, he said they "have to keep [food] coming." He then said that he didn't think he could get Odwalla (true) or Cliff bars (sounds like something his visitors will have to pack for him) in Monte Carlo, which may have been what prompted Boal to say, "Luckily, it sounds like he'll be miserable there", and Postlewaite saying that he may call Boal in January saying it was the biggest mistake of his life. (I hope not, as much as I will miss him, because the more he can experience and absorb on this adventure, the more enriched his dancing, already in the Milky Way, and his life will be.)

He said several times that he knows a dancing career is short, and that he wants to tackle ad soak up as much as possible. He also said that he wished this would stop, and that one day he could just be.

He and Boal discussed the final one-time Encore program on the last night of the season, and they wanted to do "Apollo", which Boal said he presented largely for Postlewaite, and "Prodigal Son" -- he'll perform the Pas de Deux -- which "kickstarted" his career when he was 19. He said he hadn't started to rehearse it yet. (I was too much of a wuss to ask who his Siren would be; I've only seen him with Ariana Lallone, in 2004 and 2007.)

Postlewaite's final words were, "Thank you. I've been impacted by all of you", and it was important for his audience to know how much.

In what is potentially good news, Boal said that they were getting closer to a DVD, and even though there were four unions, he thought it could be worked out as a possible new revenue stream. He's looking at a full length and a mixed rep, and he mentioned "Carmina Burana" as a possibility.

#28 sandik

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 10:33 PM

Helene -- thank you so much for the extensive notes. I am very sorry that I missed that Q/A, and I'm grateful for all the details!

#29 Helene

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 12:19 AM

If anyone else was there and heard something I missed or heard it a different way, please let me know. I was writing furiously, and I hope I understood them right. (The comments in parentheses are mine.)

#30 SandyMcKean

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:50 AM

I was there, but I can't really add anything. In spite of Helene protestations to the contrary, she is like a human tape recorder! Her description captures both the essence and the detail of this very special and fascinating Q&A session.

The only thing I can think of that Helene left out was a quick reference by Lucien that a big draw for him to join Monte Carlo was the flat out excitement he feels about living in Europe (and who wouldn't Posted Image ). Also, I believe it was Boal who first mentioned the unique nature of "the small Monegasque audience".

The thing that most struck me about this Q&A session was the close connection between Lucien and his admiring audience. The room was positively overflowing with our gratitude to him for how he pulls out all the stops on stage in order to give to us, his audience; at the same time there was the profound connection Lucien seems to feel in the other direction as we, the audience, give him the inspiration and the energy to give it his all. It felt like family that night in that lecture hall (most of the credit for that must go to Lucien's unpretentious, relaxed presence, and his willingness to share).

Frankly, I wonder if the roof of the opera house will contain the emotions that will no doubt explode the night of the Encore Performance (June 10 at 6:30pm) when we audience members will bid goodbye to this marvelous dancer. From where I sit, it will be right up there with the goodbyes to Patricia Baker, Lousie Nadeau, Jeffrey Staton, and Ariana Lallone.


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