Coppelia: Previews, Casting, Videos, Reviews, News1-10 June
Posted 06 June 2012 - 11:53 AM
Coppelia Casting Weeks 1 and 2.xlsx 32.78K 10 downloads
Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:01 PM
Posted 09 June 2012 - 10:04 AM
Two stars were born last night: Leta Biasucci and Ezra Thomson.
Ezra absolutely nailed Dr Coppelius.....I might just have witnessed a new gold standard being established. Furthermore, he absolutely loves what he is doing (he was the Q&A guest last night).
No surprise, I suspect, to those of us who continue to be blown away by this extremely talented new dancer to PNB. Swanilda is a "perfect" role for Leta, and she made the most of it. Except for her diminutive size, Leta kept reminding me of Carrie Imler (to be expected, I guess, given that they both studied at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet with Marcia Dale Weary). Leta's speed, accuracy, musciality, acting ability, and presence, a presence that simply dominates the stage, is highly impressive. A stellar career is in front of this determined young lady.
Posted 19 June 2012 - 10:32 PM
Saturday, 9 June matinee, with Kaori Nakamura and Jonathan Porretta (Swanhilde and Franz), moderated by Otto Neubert
Neubert broke the ice by telling us that "We're going to need a lot of help today, because Jonathan is very shy."
Porretta started by saying that he loves to partner Nakamura: she's the easiest partner in the world, and she teaches him something every time they dance together. Nakamura said she loves dancing with Porretta. When asked how long they've danced together, they answered 14 years, and Porretta explained to the questioner that partners change per rep.
When asked about what it is like dancing matinees -- both danced opening night first weekend as well -- Nakamura said that it's more relaxed. Porretta said that they go from class directly to the show, and that there's good energy.
Asked about their favorite ballets, Nakamura answered that she loves full-length ballets, like "Coppelia" and "Giselle", and they both talked about how they get to spend more time rehearsing them [than mixed rep ballets]. Porretta elaborated that they spend more time developing their technique, acting skills, and partnering, and explained that they don't partner in class every day. He mentioned "Prodigal Son," "in the middle, somewhat elevated," and "A Million Kisses to My Skin" as some of his current favorites. [It showed in his performance of the excerpt from the last ballet in the Encores program Sunday night.]
The were asked what was most demanding about "Coppelia". Nakamura answered, the combination of acting and technique, and stamina, especially by the end of Act III. Porretta said he celebrates backstage after the double-tours sequence in his Act III variation. Neubert talked about how difficult it is for Franz to sit in the chair for most of Act II -- normally the lead gets to disappear and warm up -- and mentioned that Helgi Tomasson used a warm cushion on the chair when he did the part.
There were kudos from the dancers to the "amazing stage crew."
One of the three mentioned that Jeffrey Stanton has been teaching a lot and doing some guesting this year.
When asked what roles he'd be doing next year, Porretta said that he'd be doing his jester roles, and when asked why, he said that he doesn't dance or look like a prince, and that he's too short to do those roles, but kidded, "My roles are better."
They were asked about eating during the performances. Both Nakamura and Porretta drink water, but said that other dancers snack.
They were also asked if there were concerns when the kids -- the 24 girls, ages 8-15, who dance in Act III -- are dancing. All three looked a bit puzzled by that, and I think it was Porretta who asked, "Like watching your language?" and then he said, "We have Otto backstage." Neubert, who serves as Ballet Master for the children as well as the Company, then spoke about the "little people": He said it was amazing what they do, and that if you give them responsibility and rehearse them enough, they will do their jobs: they are the only constant in the ballet. He said that Kent Stowell used to say to the dancers, "If you don't know what to do, ask the children. They will know what to do."
Asked what a Ballet Master is [obviously the questioner didn't read Stephen Manes' book], Neubert answered: teach class, rehearse the ballets, assist the choreographers, take notes so that the next time the ballet is performed, he can bring the dancers up to speed for the Artistic Director, and, speaking to the dancers, "giving you guys a hard time." He also does roles; Porretta said, "That's because he's so good at acting," and they spoke a little about performing Don Quixote and Sancho Panza together in the Ratmansky "Don Q" [this past February, and they were dynamite together].
Porretta and Nakamura both started to dance at 7. Porretta did the gamut -- ballet, jazz, tap, etc. -- and gradually went from twice a week to three times a week to every day.
Asked what is the most difficult part, I think it was Porretta who answered that there were so many, including keeping the legs turned out and toes pointed all the time. Neubert then said that it is different for each dancer, and each works on different aspects of technique. He said people confuse ability and technique, and that it's technique that prolongs a dancer's career.
I think it was Porretta who answered the question "What surprised you most about becoming a professional dancer" with "It was harder than I thought. As a student, taking so many classes, I thought it would be easier [than being a student]."
There were lots of kids at the Q&A, and Porretta was an absolute sweetheart answering their questions.
Posted 19 June 2012 - 11:22 PM
Boal noted that in the last performance, "Everyone was adding choreography, even the bell ringers." He said that the dancers will be back in a week to rehearse for the "All Tharp" program that the company will perform at the Spoletto Festival, and to a question about the initials on the bells, he answered that two (LD and GB) were for Delibes and Balanchine, and the other four were the initials of major patrons, three from Seattle and one from San Francisco. [PNB's partner in the co-production was San Francisco Ballet, and they performed it superbly last season.] In the original production, some of the initials were the performers' in original cast.
Someone asked about Carla Korbes, who was injured during the "Apollo/Carmina Burana" rep, and Boal said that Seth Orza had an injury, and Korbes lost her Swanhilde. He later said that originally, Leta Biasucci was cast with Kyle Davis, and Liora Reshef with James Moore, and that he expected the Biasucci/Davis cast to do only an outreach performance. [Maybe Discover Dance]. However, Reshef was injured and couldn't dance.
Both dancers were asked about their background. James Moore was a member of Pittsburgh Ballet before PNB, and when asked if he was a Steelers fan, he said "Yes", and Leta Biasucci was with Oregon Ballet Theatre for three years [before joining PNB this year].
Someone asked if we would ever see same-sex marriages in Act III. Boal said that in Ezra Thomson's new ballet [in the Next Step program, performed last weekend], three women are pining over shoes, representing their partners, and when the "Men" come in, one of them is a woman.
Biasucci was asked how much notice she had before dancing "Coppelia" [on the main stage], and she said "2 weeks." She had done the role when she was 15 at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), where she trained, for the school show. While it was a different staging, she knew the story and the character.
James Moore's mother and little sister, and Leta Biasucci's parents and aunt and uncle were in the audience [performance and Q&A]. Boal mentioned that Benjamin Griffiths had five grandmothers at the Q&A the night before.
Gigi Berardi from "Dance Magazine" asked Biasucci what it was like going in and out of Principal roles. [For background: Biasucci danced a major role in most of the season's reps: ingenue in "Variations Serieuses" in the season-opener "All Wheeldon" program, lead in "Divertimento from 'Baiser de la fee'" in the "Love Stories" program, Amor in "Don Quixote", "Primo Vere" in "Carmina Burana," and Swanhilde in "Coppelia". At the same time, she danced corps and demi-soloist roles all year, often in different performances of the same ballets in which she danced leads.] Biasucci answered that it was "incredibly exiting" and "nerve-wracking," and said it was a "huge opportunity" to be asked to substitute in Doug Fullington's "After Petipa" presentation at the Guggenheim. She said that when she was feeling nervous, she told herself that she was going to do it whether she was nervous or not, so she calmed herself down. Boal said that one of the reasons he cast her, was that he saw that when she did the role of the ingenue in "Variations Serieuses", also in a short time, he was impressed with her confidence and grace under pressure, and he said he can see in class when dancers have stamina and technique.
Boal said that all three new dancers who joined the company this season [from the outside] -- Elizabeth Murphy, Matthew Renko, and Biasucci -- "found their places in the company in a nice way." [Josh Grant returned to the company, and the other new dancers were apprentices turned corps and new apprentices.]
When asked what they look forward to next season, Moore said the new Christopher Wheeldon and "Romeo et Juliette" and Biasucci said those and "Diamonds."
When asked about new works, Peter Boal mentioned finances. He said that for the Next Step program, where six company dancers choreographed for the Professional Division students, cost $5-6K for all six ballets. He said that commissions from Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon cost more than $100K. [He might have said for all three or for each, but I was too busy picking up my pen and my jaw from the floor.]
Boal said that Kent Stowell felt his production of "Coppelia" was patchy, and that he even matched roles to the costumes he had, and Stowell told him that the company could use a new version.
Someone asked if Leta Biasucci would dance Juliette next year, and Boal said that he has others for the role, but he also didn't expect her to be Swanhilde.
One question was about how is rehearsed, and the answer was, the dancers learn pantomime the same way they learn choreography.
When asked about watching themselves on tape, James Moore said that it could "freak him out", because "sometimes it feels better than it looks."
About his training, Moore studied at San Francisco Ballet School from ages 11-18, and that there was nice continuity have the same teachers throughout.
The dancers were asked about competition, and James Moore said that you compete with yourself to improve, and that if you're ready, Peter Boal is good about giving them [the roles]. Boal said there was "positive competition" in the Company, and the dancers were really supportive of each other in the wings.
The discussion turned to "Black Swan" and how much it reflected reality. Peter Boal quipped, "Directors are really like that." James Moore said that the movie was dramatic, and reality was not that hardcore or cutthroat. He said it can get intense and stressful sometimes, but that at a certain level, you want your friends to do well. Asked to compare how the extremes of "Mopey" and Franz informed him as a dancer, Moore said that SFB was a very classical company, and he dreamed of doing those roles. When he came to PNB, his first big roles were contemporary [he was featured in "Mopey," "State of Darkness," and "Kiss," for example], and then he got chances to dance classical roles.
The dancers were asked to what they aspired. Biasucci said that she reminds herself when she's tired or hurting that she's living the dream. Moore said that it's tough when you're hurting and want to stay in bed, but that you find the energy and motivation, and then you're fine. He spoke about being aware with what's happening right now.
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