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Mixed Bill - Firebird, etc.Ratmansky premiere


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#16 kfw

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:57 PM

As for the Leto birthing scene in "Apollo" - again the coaching was lacking here. When I have seen it done by other companies you have a tall imposing ballerina who really gives you the throes of childbirth with real agony and the legs shooting upward. Sarah Smith looked like she was doing yoga.


Kathleen Moore made a strong impression as Leto in the mid-90's.

#17 Ilya

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:20 PM

Oh dear. I'm glad that I read all of the reports after Ilya's before hopping on the bus to NYC.


Apologies, Natalia. I meant no harm! I do seem to be the odd man out around here regarding "Firebird", and, more generally, this entire triple bill. Moreover, now you can also read Alastair Macaulay's review of Firebird in the NYT, and he echoes many of the points raised in this thread by most everyone except me, e.g., the lack of correspondence between choreography and music. My problem is that I had never considered large stretches of this score danceable in the first place, and I thought that Ratmansky did as admirable a job as possible. Also, I liked the abundance of humor; I found the updated story more interesting than the original one; I thought it a plus that Ratmansky had four quite distinctive characters all of whom were defined through both mime and dancing (whereas Fokine had essentially only one dancing character, the Firebird).

Ilya, the squeaky soles on the floor was only in the opening scenes, was it not? I wonder if they changed something mid performance


The squeakiness was ever-present, but Gomes didn't have as many pirouettes later on as in the first few minutes, and so it wasn't as pervasive and jarring later on. An additional reason why the squeaks were the dominating sound at the beginning is that the music happened to be very quite during those passages.

#18 Amy Reusch

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:32 PM

Ilya, there were many crying Bravo, so do not feel too lonely.

#19 abatt

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:28 PM

I went to this evening's performance, but I left at intermission because I could not tolerate the thought of seeing Firebird again. The show contained two lengthy film clips honoring McKenzie. One was a montage of directors of various ballet companies and former dancers wishing him well. The other was a montage/interview with him regarding his career. There were some fun moments in these films. For example, Natalia Makarova poked fun at McKenzie's inability to tell a joke well. At first she thought it was her poor English that prevented her from fully understanding the jokes, but as her English improved she realized it was not a language barrier. Mark Morris poked fun by saying that maybe Kevin can have a building all his own like the MMDG. Jiri Kylian pretended that he got into a crash on his bike as he was filming his congratulatory remarks. Peter Martins toasted w. a shot of Vodka while holding an American flag.

Gomes' new work looked like something you would see at a workshop or at the Joyce. It was workmanlike and full of classroom steps. It did not belong on the Met stage.

I enjoyed Cruel World pdd (Kent/Gomes). It was a romantic and intimate work that was engaging.

Thriteen Diversions looked more polished tonight than last, with better unison of the dancers. The only problem was that there was something wrong with the lighting, so that on a fairly frequent basis there would be a sudden burst of orange/yellow light that was blinding.

I was in the balcony, and it seemed to be only 50% full.

#20 Batsuchan

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:41 PM

Hmm, I have only had a chance to scan through the rest of the thread, but I had a totally different reaction to "Firebird." Maybe it WAS made for Misty, because she totally SHINED tonight! Muscular, powerful, intense, commanding--I LOVED her Firebird!

Cornejo also seemed to have the same problem with the squeaky floors/boots, but nonetheless he danced beautifully.

Whenever they give Maria Riccetto a comedic role, I feel like she hits it out of the ballpark, and I was totally entertained by her Maiden tonight. I particularly admired her quick, precise footwork in the beginning of her pas de deux with Ivan.

Roman Zhurbin was absolutely fantastic as Kaschei--I felt like he was born to play this role. So deliciously evil!

There were a few sections of the ballet that felt a little long to me--for example, the pas de quatre (if you can call it that) with the four leads--but I enjoyed Ratmansky's way more than the original Fokine version (no silly swamp monsters!) and NYCB's version. My main complaint (other than the squeaky floors) is that the apples onstage really bothered me, as they do in the Mariinsky's version. I keep worrying that the dancers will trip and fall on them!

Otherwise, I found the choreography fun and inventive, but I am a fan of Ratmansky's light-hearted ballets in general--I love "The Bright Stream" and I loved "The Little Humpbacked Horse." And the dancers seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

And it may have been cheesy, but I did like the effect of those grotesque trees opening up to reveal the princes and a beautiful, sparkling, floral scene.

I'm seeing the Osipova/Gomes/Messmer/Hallberg cast tomorrow--it will be interesting to see how it compares for me.

**

As for the rest of the show:

Unfortunately, I was sitting way on the side, so I could not see half of Marcelo's "Triptych" since the violinist/cellist were blocking my view. Also unfortunately, the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia is one of my most favorite pieces, and the violinist was not up to the challenge (or at least compared to the recording I listen to), so his playing distracted me the same way the out-of-tune violin solo in "Swan Lake" drives me nuts. I did not feel, however, that I was really missing much by not being able to see.

Thankfully the "Cruel World" pdd was beautiful. Unlike others, I am a huge fan of Kudelka's "Cinderella," and I suspect there just must be something about his choreography that appeals to me. There is a lot of involved partnering in his p.d.d.'s, but the shapes always seem to be clean, open, pretty. And he throws in a few jaw-dropping throw-lifts--I couldn't help but gasp twice. During the bows, Julie Kent gave Marcelo Gomes her bouquet, and I thought that was really sweet.

I enjoyed "Thirteen Diversions," but again, sitting way off on the side meant that the dancers occasionally disappeared out of my field of view. I thought Hee Seo put her lyricism and beautiful lines to excellent use in the slow pas de deux.

After the "Firebird," Kevin McKenzie came out onstage and took a few bows while confetti rained from the rafters and the whole company applauded.

All in all, a very fun night for me! I enjoyed the videos very much--Natalia Makarova always cracks me up!

#21 Natalia

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:44 PM

Abbatt, it's a shame that Misty's NYC debut in this ballet had to be part of the MacKenzie tribute night. Not that I don't mind seeing Boylston and (maybe, if I stay) Osipova tomorrow.

As 'prep' for my trip, I've spent this evening watching various updated films of FIREBIRD from my collection. It will be interesting to see where the Ratmansky falls on the 'weirdness meter' among these. I am already quite familiar with the original and near-original versions by Fokine and Balanchine, so did not watch today. What I saw, beginning with my favorite among these:

1. Dance Theater of Harlem - John Taras, ca 1986 on PBS - My favorite among the 'oddities' by far. So richly designed -- in a tropical jungle with huge colorful blossoms -- and sensitively choreographed! Taras stuck very close to the Fokine and Balanchine versions, while cutting some of the music between the Princesses and the Infernal Dance. Absolute reverence to the Stravinsky score at the end. Stephanie Dabney was spectacular in the title role.

I still have great hopes (yes, Ilya, I still do) that the Ratmansky version will have the taste, smell and feel of the Harlem-Taras version.

2. Australian Ballet - Graeham Murphy, 2009, Diaghilev Centennial DVD - much odder than the DTH-Taras, yet I love it as a totally different 'take' on Firebird that works and doesn't offend those who love the Stravinsky score. The sets and costumes, while different, are 'rich' and luxurious. The ballet is set in what appears to be a valley of giant dinosaur eggs. The Firebird's tutu resembles a giant reddish ferm but is still glamorously rich. Ivan and the Princess, in the end, reappear in the nude bodysuits and we find out that they are, in fact, Adam & Eve, with the lizard-like Kotschei handing an apple to the innocent Princess/Eve! I love it. If we cannot have something traditional, then this is a great alternative. The final majestic music plays as Kotschie is revealed to be Satan and Eve is about to take a bite from the apple. Lana Jones was the exquisite Firebird here.

3. Kirov Ballet - Boris Eifman's ca-1977 choreography, filmed in a studio, with Gabriela Komleva as BOTH Firebird and Princess (one and the same in this version), Vadim Budarin as Ivan, and a very tall and creepy-looking Arkadi Ivanenko as a skinheaded Kotschei. In this version -- my least favorite, yet with much to admire -- Kotschei creates the Firebird, who initially dances in a very grotesque manner. (Komleva is amazing in her acrobatics!) Kotschei instructs her to kill Ivan. Instead, she falls in love with the prince and turns into a princess. The happy couple dance Russian folk dances with the other princesses and princes (the latter were never entombed in a wall). During the Infernal Dance, Kotschei turns the Princess back into the Firebird and is torn between the two guys, in the end savng Ivan. The pdd music is reprised and the Firebird and Ivan dance one last dance...before the final majestic music is heard...and all of the princesses and princes jump up and down like idiots in tune to the music, as many of you describe with the Ratmansky! So maybe Ratmansky loves the Eifman version?

I can't wait to find out where the ABT-Ramansky version falls. Off to NYC in a few hours...with an open mind. (I'm trying - really! Besides, Apollo and the Wheeldon will be on the bill.)

#22 aurora

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 08:05 PM

I do seem to be the odd man out around here regarding "Firebird", and, more generally, this entire triple bill. .... My problem is that I had never considered large stretches of this score danceable in the first place, and I thought that Ratmansky did as admirable a job as possible. Also, I liked the abundance of humor; I found the updated story more interesting than the original one; I thought it a plus that Ratmansky had four quite distinctive characters all of whom were defined through both mime and dancing (whereas Fokine had essentially only one dancing character, the Firebird).

I haven't had the time to write up my opinions but they actually were very much in agreement with yours. I enjoyed Firebird very much and while I like the score I do have issues with its "dancability."

So just to voice an opinion in agreement!

#23 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 05:15 AM

.., the conga line in Cinderella,...


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#24 California

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 05:37 AM

My problem is that I had never considered large stretches of this score danceable in the first place, and I thought that Ratmansky did as admirable a job as possible.


I wonder if anyone here knows if Ratmansky is using the complete score of Firebird from 1910. Balanchine uses the shorter 1945 Firebird Suite for Orchestra:
http://www.nycballet...rep.html?rep=74

I long ago read that Balanchine did this, as the copyright had expired on the 1910 original and he wanted his friend Stravinsky to get royalties from the 1945 version. But I wonder if perhaps Balanchine was also concerned that parts of the original were "undanceable," as Ilya notes. Does anyone know more about this?

In the other versions discussed here, which score are they using?

#25 Amy Reusch

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 05:52 AM

I wonder if some of the "undanceable" sections weren't suitable for staging special effects to. There were some nice special effects that I don't want to mention for spoiler reasons. I was disappointed with the choreography's musicality overall... And I am one of those who loved the bees in Waltz of the Flowers particularly because of the musicality of their choreography. There are good choreographic bits in here, they're just spread too far apart.

#26 Natalia

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 03:57 AM

Back from NYC around midnight. Just wakin' up. How to begin?

If I were Donald Trump, I'd yell "MR. RATMANSKY, [size=6]YOU'RE FIRE[size=2]bir[/size]D!"[/size]

That had to be the feckin' butt-ugliest Firebird in existence. Pathetic production values ('El Cheapo' Pastukh once again, delivering trees that look like smokestacks in a factory). Silly choreography (trite, unmusical, just-plain-ugly and offensive to anyone who cares about ballet history), Ratmansky even manages to turn Stravinsky's lovely Berceuse into a mockery of Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden, i.e., the four main characters standing side-by-side facing audience, then alternating partners in little psychological duets:

Ivan - The Man
Green Maiden - The Woman He'll Marry
Firebird - The Bird Who Saved Him
Kaschei - The Goon from Tree Opposite

As my partner commented, "Where's the beauty? Where's the magic? Where's the fairy-tale? This is supposed to be a Russian fairy tale to delight children of all ages."

Saving graces:

1. The initial monologue for Ivan, yesterday beautifully danced by Alexandre Hammoudi. (Wow! Isn't he a lovely elegant dancer?) Alas, it was downhill from there, as Ivan crossed himself and stepped into Ratmansky-Pastoukh's ugly garden.

2. Isabella Boylston's out-of-this-world legs and feet. I'm sure that Misty was wonderful but Boylston's gorgeous curved 'Vaganova legs & feet' were wondrous. Amazingly high entrechats at the start...higher than any MAN I've ever seen deliver entrechats huit! Fantastic balance in the first PDD with Ivan, bringing gasps from the audience. Sculptural perfection in her attitudes. (I will try my darnest to go back to NYC to witness her first complete Odette-Odile in a week or so.)

That's it. Two saving graces. All others on stage were comicbook characters caught in the ugliness, which continued to the very end with the ridiculous leaping to every note of Stravinsky's final majestic music.

During the applause, the only bravos heard were for Boylston. Where I sat, in middle of Dress Circle, many were disgusted. I heard a lot of squirming around in seats during the Berceuse. One guy behind us whispered to his neighbor, "When will this thing end?"

(pause, to breathe...)

Earlier, the matinee opened with my 2nd viewing of Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions. As at the Kennedy Center in January, this struck me as one of the dullest Wheeldons ever, both choreographically and design-wise (dreary grey and black costumes, sorrounded by darkness, with only an occasional colorful laser-light across the backdrop). The beautiful Stella Abrera made the most of the paltry material given to her.

The triple bill would have been a 'triple bomb' were it not for the grace of Balanchine's Apollo sandwiched in the middle. Gomes was commendable as an unlikely Apollo, lovely Semionova showed-off her long legs and lots of teeth (non-stop headache-inducing grin) as Terpsichore, and Melanie Hamrick was capable as Calliope (the 1st muse variation)...but the A#1 delight of the entire afternoon was the 2nd muse, Polyhymnia -- Devon Teuscher -- opening her solo with a breathtaking quadruple pirouette and dancing like a dream for the rest of the ballet. (I referred to Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets to confirm the names of muses performing the first 2 solos...because I cannot go by the faces of the dancers.) Devon Teuscher is a star in the making...just like Lauren King at NYCB!

Devon Teuscher, Isabella Boylston and Alexandre Hammoudi made the long bus trip worth the while. [I got the heck out of town soon after; even Osipova couldn't entice me to stick around for a double-dose of that crap.]

p.s. In an earlier post, I reviewed three of the most un-traditional Firebird films in my DVD collection and ranked them according to 'weirdness factor.' Ratmansky broke my 'Weird-o-Meter.' Even the Eifman seems traditional, compared to Ratmansky -- Eifman had beautiful Russian Princess-maidens.

p.s.s. What were those constant slides across the floor all about, for the Firebird? Ratmansky's tribute to the Widow Simone, from Ashton's Fille Mal Gardee?

#27 vrsfanatic

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 04:55 AM

Thanks for the update on Boylston. Please do let us know what you think of her Swan Lake. I'd be there if I could!

#28 abatt

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 05:54 AM

[size=4]I went to the matinee, but left after Apollo. Couldn't stand the thought of seeing Firebird again. I completely agree with Natalia that Devon Teucher was absolutely wonderful. Whereas Hee Seo was hanging on for dear life in executing the solo for Polyphmnia on Monday, Devon sailed through it with grace, lyricism and beauty. Can't wait to see more of Devon. Gomes' Apollo was a complete departure from Hallberg's. Gomes was virile, vivid and robust. I enjoyed his performance because he made the most of the role to suit his own personal best attributes. Couldn't take Semionova's non stop ear to ear smile. She was fine, but Part was awesome on Monday. Sorry I missed you Natalia! [/size]

#29 Natalia

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 06:04 AM

[size=4]... Sorry I missed you Natalia! [/size]


Same here, Abatt. I *may* have spotted you near the box office, just before the 1:30pm 'mad dash' for the entrances but you had gone off before it clicked in my brain that it was you. Oh well, next time...maybe for Boylston's O/O debut, if I can go?

#30 abatt

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 06:11 AM

Hi Natalia. I'm not planning on seeing the Boylston Swan Lake. Another time, though.


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