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TSFB @ Kennedy Center, Nov. 2012Rare, not-so-rare Balanchine (Danses Concertantes, etc.)


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#16 Natalia

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 03:05 AM

.... in Valse-Fantaisie, ....this shade of green is less attractive than we've seen.)

.....


Jack, have the costumes in Valse-Fantaisie been anything but a very soft lavender or lilac? Earlier this year, the original stars of the 1967 ballet, Mimi Paul and John Clifford, staged this work at the DC-area's Kirov Academy of Ballet. At that time, the proper soft-lavender tutus were obtained from Indiana University. Farrell obtained the "forest greens" from Pacific Northwest Ballet. Surely there's some sort of database (formal or informal) for this sort of thing...'costume repository'...'e-tutus.com'?


I enjoyed reading your report, Jack. We definitely attended the same performance! :)

By the way, Jack - Do you happen to know if Farrell staged these ballets on her own or if she also had assistance from coaches with experience in dancing the specific ballets? Farrell, of course, danced Striptease in Slaughter but, I believe, not the other three works presented in Program A...unless one counts the final movement of Brahms-Schoenberg ('Zingarese'), which is not the portion of B-S presented here. [I'd love to see Holowchuk, especially, tackle the lead in 'Zingarese'!] I'm sure that Gurevich's performance in Valse-Fantaisie would have benefited from, if not Clifford, then someone else who may have danced the role in Balanchine's time and, thus, aware of the subtle pauses and nuances that were missing here. It's not 'just the steps' as you know. Ogden and the four corps ladies, on the other hand, were spot-on in both nuances and dancing [size=2]except for one teeny-tiny mistep when the four corps ladies join hands and dance in a tight circle, undoubtedly fixed after the opening night....[/size]

These little quibbles aside, though, this is a lovely program, beautifully danced. I look forward to tonight's debut of 'Program B' that includes one of my all-time-fave Balanchines, Divertimento no. 15, as well as the company premiere of Prodigal Son, plus a reprise of Slaughter.

#17 Jack Reed

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 07:03 AM

To deal with Natalia's last question first, the credits for Prodigal Son include this line: "Repetiteur Paul Boos and Suzanne Farrell" (Note, on this point, my long third parenthesis, below.)

As for the V-F costumes, I recall pale blue. I think that's what they are on the 1973 video. I don't remember lilac. I'll try to check next week and post, if no one else reports on this.

Anyway...


Further thoughts

Program A Thursday evening November 8th

The main difference here was Ogden and Gurevich rotating into "Intermezzo" and Angelova and Cook coming into Valse-Fantaisie; I can't say Ogden's performance was "better" or "worse" than Magnicaballi's, but different in the way it was sustained, compared to the rise and fall, ebb and flow of loveliness with Magnicaballi. Maybe I preferred Magnicaballi a little, so far, but I look forward to seeing each of them in this again. As for Angelova, as with Holowchuk, she continues to dance on a smaller scale than the two top-rank women. (The company roster is organized into five unnamed categories.)

Program B Friday evening November 9th

(Amy Brandt remained out, replaced by Jordyn Richter)

Divertimento No. 15 was really fine; not only did it have the lightness it should have, the "Theme and Variations" movement, in unusually "easy" tempo - but not by any means dragging - was used to good advantage by everyone, on stage and in the pit. Magnicaballi gave amplitude to the Third Variation (which may have made Angelova's Fourth look a little more scaled-down for that), and Ogden did herself very proud in the Sixth Variation and throughout the ballet; plenty to smile about, although I'm not convinced that detail should actually have been provided. (I'd rather the costumes for this Classical ballet were a less "Romantic" color than lavender and that the principals and corps costumes were more differentiated, too.)

Prodigal Son needs more weight in the principal roles, I'd say at this early stage: Michael Cook's movement was rather snappy, especially in the first scene, so that it didn't convey all the intense fury I've gotten other times from some other dancers, but this is a huge role and we may see some development as the run continues, not unusual with this troupe. Early in the second scene ("In a Far Country", in The Complete Stories of the Great Ballets) he already brings a light, innocent joy to playing around with the Drinking Companions which serves to contrast with his later fright as events overwhelm him and, still later, his shame.

(Also in this scene, Boos and Farrell have restored some extensive antics by the Servants, here called Confidants of the Prodigal Son, while the Siren and the Prodigal … make small talk? … seated on the back of the long table, upstage, cut from the "Dance in America" version of the ballet, which was reissued on the "Choreography by Balanchine" videos. The restored material runs about two minutes, and it comes in at about 33:50 on the DVD.)

And Magnicaballi's generous warmth doesn't serve her so well in another big role that should chill your blood more. Some ballerinas have not only the ability to do that, they can possess the whole space while remaining at the side of it; they don't seem to stop performing when they're standing still. Magnicaballi looks like working into it. So far, it's casting against type, though.

The powerful figure in this ballet for me was Pavel Gurevich, in the smaller role of the Father, especially in the first scene: Here was someone who could produce an effect without obviously doing much but rather by apt phrasing of what he did.

Kirk Henning continues to fill out his role as the Hoofer in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue; in particular his tap-dancing is more clearly articulated each time. And from a closer seat than I had opening night, Wednesday, it was clear how Holowchuk was completing her portrayal of the Strip Tease Girl; for example, her first dance with the Hoofer begins as an obligation he has purchased, but later she shows some real interest, which sets up some of the following action.

Edited by Jack Reed, 11 November 2012 - 08:37 PM.


#18 Natalia

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 07:12 AM

Friday, November 9, 2012 - 7:30PM
Program B: Divertimento no. 15, The Prodigal Son (+ reprise of Slaughter, reviewed above)

Divertimento was surprisingly crisp and clean, in comparison with the Program A ballets seen on Wednesday. Heather Ogden took the cake as the 'central soloist' - absolutely ablaze in the rapid-fire 5th female solo in the T&V section. However, in the Andante, I most admired the noble port de bras and classical beauty of Violeta Angelova in the 4th pas de deux, with Ian Grosh. Some of the other soloist ladies seemed a bit 'muddy' with their footwork and lackadaisical in their port de bras. On the other hand, the eight corps ladies were sharp and sparkled in the Minuet, something not always seen with other companies. Pavel Gurevich was very elegant in his solo and offered noble partnering in the group scenes.

Prodigal was a tour de force for Michael Cook in the leading role. Following in the footsteps and memories of folks like Baryshnikov and Villella is no easy task. I kept my expectations low but Cook amazed and delivered. More than his dancing (the steps), he conveyed that restlessness, then pathos, of the prodigal...and brought me to tears in the final crawl up to his father's warm embrace. Bravo! The corps of insect-like 'goons' was appropriately nasty and vulgar. Ian Grosh and Andrew Shore Kamisky were magnificent in their 'fighting duet' in the tavern. Natalia Magnicaballi exhuded icy glamour as the siren, although she seemed a tad short for the role, compared to the usual ballerina cast in the role.

Slaughter was even more fun and more 'settled' than at the opening night. Cast was exactly the same, so I won't repeat comments.

Costume quibbles in this program? Minimal. True, the Divertimento tutus are not the Karinskas but they are of proper cut and a nice pale pink color that goes with the mood and style of the work. Prodigal seemed almost-perfect, using all of the Roualt designs, although the dresses of the two sisters were loose and billowy - not at all the form-fitting bodices that we see at NYCB. Hardly important but some of us 'old timers' notice such details.

Unlike Wednesday, the house seemed full -- and much more enthusiastic.

#19 Jack Reed

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:19 PM

Program B Saturday matinee November 10, 2012

Divertimento No. 15, Prodigal Son and Slaughter would have been a bit much for Natalia Magnicaballi, and so she was subbed for by Heather Ogden as a cooler Siren in Prodigal, one with a greater air of mastery, appropriately. Elisabeth Holowchuk's Variation One in Divertimento No. 15 was more fully realized than last night I thought, and Angelova's Fourth Variation also seemed stronger, so, with the performance otherwise on its former high level, and with the same cast, this was quite the matinee; and then we got Magnicaballi eating up the role of the Strip Tease Girl, just making it large without any "effects" or exaggeration, just filling it up with energy and clear dramatic detail.

#20 Natalia

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 03:23 PM

Thanks, Jack. That's very interesting about Ogden dancing Siren. I would never, in a million years, have pictured her as Siren, i.e., Ogden is even more petite and 'apple pie/gal next door'-looking than Magnicaballi. More power to her, though. Heather Ogden continues to amaze in every respect. I'm sorry to have missed this and other casting changes this weekend. I'm indebted to your (and others') reports.

#21 Jack Reed

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 08:24 AM

Regarding both Ogden and Magnicaballi, I don't need to tell you, that's part of the fun of going repeatedly, seeing dancers develop. Both looked "older" in these roles, M. most impressively - fresh-looking, but the complete actress, knowing what she was doing, going into the taxi dance yet already showing interest in this special guy; in row L, I could keep my eye on her, and saw, for example, her reaction at one side as the police raid began - "Oh! We've got to get out of here!" - small detail, part of the big picture she showed us.

I'd say, having seen MCB's Kronenberg (and von Aroldingen on stage, even more effective than on the DVD), Ogden has farther to go to leave behind that apple-pie quality - there were lapses into youthful innocence, but only lapses, and I wouldn't mind seeing either of them this evening.

(They have of course in the studio the dancer who more than any other in my experience brought a natural combination of innocence and sensuality to the Strip Tease Girl; I never saw Suzanne's Siren, if there was one.)

BTW, Boos was a Drinking Companion in the day; he's credited on the DVD.

#22 Jack Reed

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 08:54 PM

Program B, Sunday evening November 11, 2012

Another beautiful performance of Divertimento No. 15, with its unvarying cast, except that Jordyn Richter continues to sub for Amy Brandt and Miriam Ernest continued to sub for Jessica Lawrence, as she has all during the run, although I didn't mention this before. I noted "Wow!" in my program on Friday night, and it's still pretty much true.

In Prodigal Son, Magnicaballi as the Siren slinks around without being awfully menacing yet; but in a few more performances of this, that may come, too. She does other roles as different as Third Variation and Strip Tease Girl so well, I think she'll fit herself into this one if she has the opportunity. Maybe by the time the troupe goes to Oman? (I don't know whether they're taking this there. Or what that repertory is, except for, apparently, Agon.)

In Slaughter, Henning showed the most complete and pointed-up Hoofer yet, especially in the penultimate scene, where he maintains dramatic tension about the presence in the audience of the Gangster, not to mention his fluent tap dancing.

#23 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 07:25 AM

Collecting myself for the return to the Windy City, but wanting not to leave any overall impression of grumpiness or pickiness on my part - it's easier to quibble than to find adequate phrases for a troupe of this caliber: Overall it was a rewarding run, more than satisfying; and such shortcomings as there were, like interpretations shown by further performances to have been a little underdeveloped at first - which Sarah Kaufman chose to emphasize in her review of opening night, apparently also choosing to ignore Program B, with its Wow! Divertimento No. 15 right off the bat - can be ascribed to the apparently tiny budget with which Farrell works. We don't usually review the audience much, but their understanding and opinions are interesting: I gather someone in the house explained to a friend Farrell doesn't get a lot of money; and the lady next to me remarked to her companion last night, after the last performance, "I'm going to miss this company. It's all Balanchine, and Balanchine is the best." Amen, sister!


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