TSFB @ Kennedy Center, Nov. 2012Rare, not-so-rare Balanchine (Danses Concertantes, etc.)
Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:40 AM
Program A (Nov. 7, 8, 10 eves., 11 mat.)
Danses Concertantes (Balanchine/Stravinsky)
Intermezzo from Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (Balanchine/Brahms, orch. Schoenberg)
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Balanchine/Rodgers, arr. Kay)
Program B (Nov. 9, 10 mats., 11 eve.)
Divertimento No. 15 (Balanchine/Mozart)
Prodigal Son (Balanchine/Prokofiev)
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Balanchine/Rodgers, arr. Kay)
Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:31 AM
The Berman designs were almost half the show when I watched Balanchine's NYCB dance the 1972 Danses Concerantes, including not only costumes, but a forecurtain, in front of which the cast introduced itself, with some superb "business," during the opening "Marche." I remember B. H. Haggin reporting that there was a new pas de deux, for Linda Yourth and John Clifford, replacing the one made for Danilova and Franklin originally in 1944, but not seen there in my day. (It figured in a painting I used to sit opposite in the Russian Tea Room under the original owners in the '70s.) I wonder whether someone can stage that version? Nancy Reynolds reports in "Repertory in Review" that
Complete redo or no, we all had quite a lot of fun with the 1972 D C.
For the  Stravinsky Festival, the Berman mounting was still available, and, although Balanchine completely redid the choreography, it is said that in form and effect, the work resembles the original.
Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:50 AM
Posted 15 May 2012 - 02:54 AM
Posted 18 May 2012 - 07:12 AM
Posted 02 November 2012 - 07:48 AM
Posted 02 November 2012 - 09:12 AM
Posted 07 November 2012 - 08:42 PM
Elisabeth Holowchuk and Kirk Henning
Jessica Lawrence, Nancy Richler, Emanuel Abruzzo (Green)
Amy Brandt, Melissa Reed, Andrew Shore Kaminski (Blue)
Jane Morgan, Jordyn Richter, Ted Seymour (Wine)
Katie gibson, Melanie Riffee, Ian Grosh (Red)
"Intermezzo" from Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet
Natalia Magnicaballi (7th, 10th November) and Michael Cook (7th, 10th, 11th)
or Heather Ogden (8th, 11th) and Pavel Gurevich (8th)
Amy Brandt, Katherine Gibson, Jane Morgan
Heather Ogden (7th, 10th) and Pavel Gurevich (7th, 10th, 11th)
or Violeta Angelova (8th, 11th) and Michael Cook (8th)
Cleopatra Avery, Jessica Lawrence, Nancy Richer, Amy Saunders
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
Hoofer Kirk Henning (7th, 8th); Michael Cook (10th, 11th)
Strip Tease Girl Elisabeth Holowchuk (7th, 8th); Natalia Magnicaballi (10th, 11th)
Big Boss Michael Cook (7th, 8th); Kirk Henning (10th, 11th)
Bartenders Ian Grosh, Oliver Swan-Jackson
Thug James Folsom
Morrosine, premier danseur noble Pavel Gurevich
Gangster John Michael
Cops Peter Doll, Dylan Keane, Jordan Nelson
Ladies of the Ballet Cleopatra Avery, Miriam Ernest, Katherine Gibson, Jane Morgan, Jordan Richter, Melanie Riffee
Gentlemen of the Ballet Ted Seymour, Andrew Shore Kaminski, Emanuel Abruzzo,
Posted 08 November 2012 - 05:58 AM
Review of Program A:
Danses Concertantes, Intermezzo (from Brahms-Schoenberg), Valse-Fantaisie, Slaughter on 10th Avenue
November 7, 2012, 7:30PM
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater
There was an odd karma in the hall before the show began. An elderly gentleman tripped and fell while descending one of the steep balcony aisles, hitting his head against one of the sharply-pointed metal banisters, causing profuse bleeding from the cranium. He was very still, lying on the steps, and many of us were offering prayers. Three security guards with first-aid training helped him during what seemed to be a long waiting period. The show was delayed a bit until the injured man 'came to' (hoorah!) and was assisted up the steps and (I'm guessing) to parameics and a waiting ambulance. The audience in the balcony applauded and voiced good wishes to the man, as he went up the stairs with the security guards.
Apparently, at the same time (just before curtain up), a lady suffered a similar fall in another part of the theater (orchestra or box tier?)...so we were told.
Once the show began, it was quite wonderful. Elizabeth Howlachuk was especially sharp and scintillating as the Strip-tease Girl in Slaughter, in which a tap-dancing Kirk Henning also shined. Earlier, Howlachuk and Henning were commendable as the leading couple in yellow, in Danses Concertantes, if a bit tentative during their pas de deux (as can be expected in any company premiere of a ballet). DC afforded us the opportunity of seeing new and veteran corps members in the four delectable Trios -- each garbed in a different primary color -- that constitute the middle section of the work. I was particularly blown away by the fleet footedness and comic panache of the 2nd trio (in Blue): Amber Neff, Melissa Reed and Andrew Shore Kaminski. I particularly loved his series of entrechats with the last one ending in grand plie. All 'trios' were fine; there's a lot of talent -- and lots of new faces -- in the company.
The evening also featured company premieres of two small (8-9 minutes each) Balanchine rarities -- both from the 1960s, both sweepingly romantic, both set to lush 19th-C music: the 2nd movement of Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet ("Intermezzo" section) and Valse-Fantaisie, originally from Mr B's Glinkaiana. Both works featured extraordinarily musical ballerinas last night: the glamorous dark-haired Natalia Magnicaballi in 'Intermezzo' and the pert-and-sassy Heather Ogden in Valse-Fantaisie. Ogden was like a beautiful leaf blowing in the wind, tossing out extraordinarily difficult petit batterie as if it were child's play. The elegant Pavel Gurevich, while a gallant partner, was not quite able to keep up with the music and watered-down some of the choreography, e.g., single-assamble jumps near the beginning, instead of the required doubles. Little ballon, so essential to this role. He is not yet able to include the 'grace notes' and inflections that the ballet's originator, John Clifford, and even the young lads at DC's Kirov Academy (coached by Clifford this past spring) were able to do. [I wonder who coached Gurevich in this? No coaches for specific works were cited in the playbill.] In Intermezzo, the picture-perfect Magnicaballi received steady partnering from Michael Cook.
The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, led by Leif Bjaland, added so much to the beauty of the evening.
Finally, some words about the designs. Most were pretty and effective. DC had already seen the colorful and appropriately goofy set and costumes for Slaughter. No qualms there. But....Danses Concertantes saw an approximation of Eugene Berman's original primary-colored costumes, redone Holly Hynes -- call it 'the budget edition' as, for example, the skirts, while longer, had less frills and flouces than the Bermans (which DOES affect the look of certain hip-shaking moves). Also, the men no longer wear the colorful gloves from the originals, which, I suppose, now makes the partnering a bit easier. Also, while the front-curtain has been faithfully reproduced, there is no backdrop with balustrade, as can still be seen at NYCB. Yet, even with the changes, Danses Concertantes still looks spiffy.
The less-forgiving 'costume misfirings' of the night came in the two brief romantic works, Intermezzo and Valse-Fantaisie. First the greater problem: Intermezzo's flimsy-'nightie' dresses. Mr B's choreography can no longer be appropriately appreciated because, in the original NYCB version, the ladies wore full-puffy-skirted romantic tutus that give the 'swooshing' effect of blowing in the wind. Now, instead, the ladies are garbed in light 'nighties' (a-la Allegro Brillante or Tchai PDD). Pretty but the 'swooshing' effect of a ballgown, worn in a ballroom, is lost. On the other hand, Valse-Fantaisie's romantic tutus were indeed the right 'romantic' full-puffy-tulle style...but in a dark green color that is so much harsher than the soft lilac hues of the 1960s (which we recently saw at the Kirov Academy). The bodice of the leading ballerina appears to be black with some sort of blue/purple applique. Instead of 'soft light creampuffs,' we now have dark-green moss! A shame. One more quirk in Valse-Fantaisie: the man wears an Italian-sailor's kerchief making him look like a renegade from Napoli.
The positives far outweighed the negatives last night...especially once the lights went down and the 'bad karma' had left the building! I'm happy to have made it back home in time for this run and look forward to seeing 'Program B' later this week, as well as San Fco Ballet next week.
p.s. I was a tad surprised by the stark choreographic differences in some of the 'placements' (angles of moves) and details of the choreography of Danses Concertantes, comparing NYCB and TSFB. For example, the 3rd trio (fuschia color - with the slow marching steps) is set at different angles here, with the 'marching girl' almost impossible to see, as she now almost faces backstage and the lunging boy covers her. At the end of that trio, the angles of the 'see-sawing legs' seem all wrong, e.g., the girl with the 'low leg' begins at 90-degrees. Ditto, the final pose in the yellow Pas de Deux is altered; at NYCB, the couple ends in a 'mock Diamonds PDD' pose in which the man kneels and kisses the ballerina's hand...instead, he lifts her arm and pokes his head under her armpit, making a funny face at her. Maybe Farrell did not want 'her' iconic Diamonds to be mocked, so the gallant kiss-the-hand move was altered? [Or maybe it was NYCB that altered many moves and we're seeing Balanchine's intended choreography here? Who knows???]
Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:32 AM
Divertimento No. 15 (Balanchine/Mozart)
showing dancers in order of appearance in the Theme & Variations segment:
Theme - Emanuel Abruzzo, Ian Grosh
1st Var - Elisabeth Holowchuk
2nd var - Nancy Richer
3rd var - Natalia Magnicaballi
4th var - Violeta Angelova
5th var - Pavel Gurevich
6th - Heather Ogden
Prodigal Son (Balanchine/prokofiev; Roualt's full designs will be used)
same cast for all performances:
Prodigal Son - Michael Cook
Father - Pavel Gurevich
Siren - Natalia Magnicaballi
Two sisters - Jane Morgan, Jordan Richter
Two confidants of the Prod.Son - Ian Grosh, Andrew Shore Kaminski
Slaughter on 10th Ave (Balanchine/Rogers)
Hoofer - Kirk Henning at all ProgB perfs
Striptease Girl - Magnicaballi (Nov 10 mat); Holowchuk (Nov 9 and Nov 11 eves)
Boss - Michael Cook at all PrgB perfs
Morrosine, Premier Danseur Noble - Pavel Gurevich
Cops- Peter Doll, Dylan Keane,Jordan Nelson
Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:32 AM
Posted 08 November 2012 - 08:03 AM
Oh dear, I'm not looking forward to Holly Hynes's costumes tonight. She may have run NYCB's costume shop well, but her own designs always fall flat. Pity TSFB can't rent the originals.
Indeed. One mo' detail: the underskirts of the longer tutus are lined in black, in the Holly Hynes version, so that's what we see when the girls jump or perform arabesques and developes (an underskirt of jet-black tulle and black 'underwear'). AT LEAST the colors on the outside of the costumes and general commedia dell'arte feeling remain. Also, the front curtain with the names of the collaborators, throne, etc. looks like the original real deal.
Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:02 PM
Anyway, here's my take, composed before logging on through a slow connection:
Program A November 7, 2012
Danses Concertantes was good to see all sharp and energized, after the open rehearsal in the afternoon, which had some sequences under-danced and some dancers incompletely costumed. In particular, the gag bits in the opening March before the front drop were sharply rendered - the Blue trio - Amber Neff subbing for Amy Brandt - exiting with hands fluttering, like the "Bluebird pas de deux" in The Sleeping Beauty, the Red girls tolerating and then dismissing the late-arriving boy, to prance off stage by themselves, and so on. All this had me shaking in my seat, while the man next to me chortled audibly.
The third pas de trios, in Wine - okay, Fuchsia - costumes, was better danced than played; the melodies - and thus the choreography - twine around themselves, but even in tempos so slow Ms. Farrell asked at rehearsal for faster ones, the wind players had trouble with the phrasing; nor at the performance was there much speed-up. By and large, I'd say the quality of the dancing outshone every other element of this production, and I felt these tempos most needed more animation.
Holly Hynes's costume designs refer to Eugene Berman's originals, they don't reproduce his; and her colors, being more intense, don't match the good approximation to his in the front curtain. Jeff Bruckerhoff's lighting is bright on the ensembles, so we see them well, not so bright on the small groups, the pas de trios and pas de deux, so we don't see the most important dancing so well.
With the "Intermezzo" from Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, the character of the program changed radically after intermission from the noodling, bouncy Stravinsky score to sweeping flow; and so the dancing swept around the stage, with Magnicaballi very lovely, especially in the lifts, where she is animated aloft, not merely picked up and shown; and she and her partner were well-lit, too, Mr. Bruckerhoff erring on the other side here, giving the more important dancing good light and leaving the trio of girls - Jordan Richter subbing for Amy Brandt this time - in dim light. (But why err at all? Why not let the dancing draw more or less of our attention on its own?) And Natalia is right to point out here that these costume make less effect than the originals.
Even more flowing dancing after a pause, in Valse-Fantaisie, Balanchine's third setting of Glinka's music, as we learn from Farrell's notes on the Kennedy-Center web site. Ogden usually renders a part very clearly, sometimes to the point of neatness; here, without any sacrifice in that clarity, she outdid herself in throwing some caution to the wind that blows though this piece, and made a larger event out of it than I expected. (Yes, this shade of green is less attractive than we've seen.)
After the second intermission, another radical transformation: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue leaves several corpses in its wake, more as though it were a tragic opera than a ballet - "Everything beautiful at the ballet?" No, too many gunshot victims here for that. But before the violence erupts in the speakeasy in the "inner" plot, the "outer" plot gets underway with Pavel Gurevich portraying the jealous Morrosine just broadly enough that - as in the introduction to the first ballet - laughter is scattered around the theater. As a stripper up on the runway, Holowchuk was a little tame; her first duet was well danced though, and in her second, she and Henning really whipped up that apache-flavored number. And Henning has surprising tap ability, for a ballet dancer, anyway.
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