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Let's talk about the 2012-2013 season


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#1 bart

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 07:10 AM

This is the place to talk about MCB's 2012-13 season as it approaches -- news, links, thoughts, suggestions, wishlist for casting, hopes and fears.

It might be a good idea to focus on artistic and performance issues on this thread, and to use our "Transitioning from Villella to Lopez" thread -- http://balletalert.i..._15#entry307512 -- more for matters of company governance, policy, etc.
Thanks.

For the record, the FOUR PROGRAMS are as follows. Anything you want to add about upcoming Nutcackers, tours, special performances like Open Barre, dancers, fantasy casting, etc., belong here, too
Quote

PROGRAM ONE.

LES PATINEURS (The Skating Party) -- (Ashton, Meyerbeer).
PIAZZOLLA CALDERA (Taylor, Piazzolla)
APOLLO (Balanchine, Stravinsky

PROGRAM TWO

DIVERTIMENTO NO. 15. (Balanchine, Mozart)
DUO CONCERTANT (Balanchine, Stravinsky)
DON QUIXOTE PAS DE DEUX ("after" Petipa, Minkus)
WORLD PREMIERE BY LIAM SCARLETT (Scarlett/ TBD)

PROGRAM THREE

LA VALSE (Balanchine/ Ravel)
THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER (Balanchine/ Bizet)
TSCHAIKOVSKY PAS DE DEUX (Balanchine/ Tchaikovsky)
SYMPHONIC DANCES (Ratmansky/ Rachmaninoff)

PROGRAM FOUR

DANCES AT A GATHERING (Robbins/ Chopin)
SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE (Balanchine/ Rodgers)

I'm so grateful for the Balanchine emphasis, especially Divertimento No. 15, which could be perfect for this company depending on who is doing the coaching.

I'm drawing a blank on ideal casting for the role of Apollo. There are no young gods in the company, but there are a coupe of men who could do quite well with Jacques d'Amboise's approach to the role. Jennifer Kronenberg was a good Terpsichore when MCB last did the ballet. She is on maternity leave this season, and will certainly be missed.

How about this off-the-cuff casting? Apollo/ Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez I'm thinking of Marie-Jeanne saying that Balanchine wanted, in 1937, an "unformed unmajestic Apollo. He said that he had in mind a soccer player when he did it for Llifar. Lew [Cristensen] had a kind of jerky movement, a roughness. he was tall enough to wear a little skirt. The hairs on his head, chest, and legs were gilded, so when the lights turned on him, he shone."

Terpsichore/ Jeanette Delgado (Terpsichore doesn't have to be a long-legged Adams, Farrell, Kronenberg type. Marie-Jeanne wasn't; Tallchief wasn't.) Calliope/ Sara Esty. Polyhymnia/ Jennifer Lauren..

The Steadfast Tin Soldier has Kleber Rebello written all over it, but who should dance the doll? Mary Carmen Catoya was the Coppelia who reminded me most of Patricia McBride last spring. I'd pick Catoya.

I am getting more and more curious about how they will approach the Ashton, which is for many of these young dancers -- and their ballet masters -- a foreign language. I know the Joffrey version (1970s) best. When this was prepared, a team of Ashton experts including Michael Soames was brought over from the Royal to set the ballet. It paid off. Possibly someone from the Joffrey will come to help MCB. Kleber Rebello is my hope for the Boy in Blue. For the 2 girls in Red and the 2 girls in Blue, I'd give an opportunity to Sara and Leigh Ann Esty and as many of the excellent women of the corps as possible.

Lourdes Lopez will be down here quite a bit this season, I gather,. There is still no official word about who is actually 'running" the artistic business of the company for this season, as opposed to planning next season. Then there's the matter of the direction of School. And the orchestra, whose status appears to be up in the air.

The staff directory on the website -- administrators, development, ballet mistresses, music -- seems pretty much as it was at the start of the summer. I don't know MCB's contract cycle, but September is probably when we will see whatever changes have already been arranged.

#2 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 03:22 PM

Welcome Les Patineurs, Apollo, Div#15, and Soldier. Nice to see DQPDD and TPDD as pyrotechnic try outs-(Definitely Delgado/Panteado and Catoya/Rebello here). Apollo could be given to Reyes or Guerra. Even to Garcia-Rodriguez, which could be proven interesting as a black Apollo. Don't care too much for the Ratmansky, Taylor and Scarlett pieces. I don't like Duo Concertante and Slaughter bores me, but will try to "get" 'Dances" this time, so let's see. Still, the last program seems to be the weakest one. I don't know why are they repeating "Slaughter", and even pairing it with "Dances", a ballet which, like "Slaughter", has no technical attractions.

#3 bart

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 05:30 PM

Cristian, I agree about the oddness of the Program IV choices. "Slaughter" has a place in the rep, but it is not for dance so much as possibly for U.S. ballet history. It can be a striking work if done well; the problem is that very few can do it well.. No one among the current principals seems to have the qualities that will carry the Hoofer or Strip Tease Girl roles. Without them, what do you have left.

OFF TOPIC: Villella himself played the non-dancing Gangster last time around,. (That was just two years ago.) . Contractually, he has the right to remain as A.D. right to the end of the season, though this may not actually happen. Now here's a casting idea !!! -- Why not rotate the Gangster part among the power brokers on the Board of Trustees? Just make sure that no one puts live ammo in the gun.

#4 Jack Reed

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 06:54 PM

Program IV makes sense to me as Villella's farewell - not that things always happen in the theater as I anticipate, or anything - but in Dances we see ten members of this great company ("This is a dancer's company" he said one evening, when he still spoke before performances) a few dancers at a time - a series of vignettes, showcasing, as its choreographer said - had printed in the program, even, that "The dancers are themselves dancing with each other to that music in that space." That is what - that is all that - Dances is about: These dancers dancing with each other to this music in this space. This company, performing, in other words.

And as for Slaughter, Villella's was the best "Gangster" of my experience - an experience including Farrell's "Strip Tease Girl". (I am confident I will never see anyone else approach her natural combination of innocence and sensuality. But then, things do not always happen in the theater as I anticipate...) Not off topic, but we'll see if he's up for it, or coaches someone. (I presume he coached Jeremy Cox's "Prodigal", the best one of those I think I've seen since Villella's own and Baryshnikov's.)

So I happen to think this program has good program-making going for it. On the other hand, my conception of it as marking Villella's farewell may make it too much for me to bear to watch.

But I am strongly inclined to watch their Nutcracker again, which I think of as a Balanchine mixed-repertory program all rolled into one, with its realism, pantomime, dream-fantasy (with choreographed tree and bed!) and divertissements. (Not to mention one of Balanchine's best musical collaborators.)

Edited by Jack Reed, 25 August 2012 - 07:33 PM.


#5 Birdsall

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 08:09 AM

I'm hoping Kleber Rebello dances the Blue Boy in Les Patineurs!

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 08:46 AM

But I am strongly inclined to watch their Nutcracker again,


Oh, yes...B's Snow Scene, one of the most memorable "blanc" scenes EVAA!! Posted Image



#7 brokenwing

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 07:11 PM

There is a new article on the upcoming season in the Miami Herald today. It hints at some of the casting, including Renan Cerdeiro and Carlos Guerra as Apollo. It also features some ideas for next season which include Robbins' 'West Side Story Suite', Wheeldon's 'Polyphonia' a piece by Nacho Duato, and a 'Don Quixote' that would bring in guest artists.

http://www.miamihera...dy-for-new.html

#8 bart

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 08:23 AM

Thanks, brokenwing. Lourdes's openness to the press is refreshing. Villella came from an older generation and never seemed comfortable with reporters unless he was able to control the situation and the story.

The story includes marvelous and helpful insights into the way Lourdes seems to be gradually, subtlely redefining things like class, coaching, interpersonal relationships. Makes me want to say about the season -- starting with the intimate Open Barre performances next month -- "I can't wait to see what happens."

I realize that much of what I'm quoting below probably belongs on our TRANSITIONS FROM VILLELLA TO LOPEZ thread. I'm keeping it all here to avoid confusion. Everything in tihs article, whether related to casting for Program I and even ideas for for where the MCB repertoire will go in the future will have an impact on the Company in 2012-13.

I hope there's healthy disagreement about what I am about to write, but .... Among the highlights for me:

“Dancers just want to dance and be nurtured and encouraged,” she says. “I said to them that the greatest gift I can give you is for you to be able to just walk into this building knowing all you have to worry about is dancing — not budgets, not drama, but your jump and your role that night.”

This has been missing in the up-and-down, boom-or-bust management I've observed. I hope the re-invented Board and the new General Director take note.

When she teaches company class, a crucial foundation for the dancers’ technique and style, she has zeroed in on precision and details — shaping the upper body or cleaning up specific steps, for example — where Villella tended to focus on broader qualities like energy, rhythm and musicality.

“I see it as an opportunity to fix things so they don’t have to worry about it onstage,” she says.

The dancers have noticed the difference. “She’s clearly paying attention to people’s strengths and weaknesses,” says principal dancer Tricia Albertson. Corps dancer Neil Marshall says Lopez has challenged the troupe: “I think she’s ambitious for the company and the dancers.”

As she coaches Delgado and young Brazilian dancer Renan Cerdeiro in Apollo, Lopez makes some technical corrections, but mostly talks about the ballet’s back story about a young god discovering his inspiration and power.
[ ... ]

She speaks in a mix of Spanish and English as she rehearses Venezuelan Mary Carmen Catoya and Cuban Carlos Guerra in the same ballet. As she adjusts Catoya in a precarious arch atop Guerra’s shoulders, the shy dancer, who has struggled since a serious foot injury two years ago, breaks into a radiant smile.


Villella's teaching style produced what most people consider to be MCB's greatest and most appealing strengths: speed, momentum, joy, the ability to syncopate and go all out. I hope these remain a focus, even while paying more attention to "precision and details." Helping the dancers to refine their upper bodies, something often fudged in current performances, is an excellent idea. Can one have it all? I don't know, but it would be nice to see them try.

Very interested to see how Catoya (I assume she is Terpsichore) and Guerra do together. My impression is that the popular husband-and-wife team of Guerra and Kronenberg actually become more interesting dancers when partnering with dancers they haven't worked with forever. Also, Catoya has a way on stage of making every partner look good.

[N]ext year she plans a new work on each of the troupe’s four programs.

On her wish list are Polyphonia by Christopher Wheeldon, the choreographer with whom she launched Morphoses; a work by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato that she describes as “lush, mellow, romantic,” and West Side Story Suite, drawn from Jerome Robbins’ choreography for the famous Broadway musical and film, which would require some dancers to sing.

She’d like to do Don Quixote, which MCB has danced before, but using the costumes and sets Santo Loquasto created for American Ballet Theater and pairing guest stars with MCB’s principals, partnerships she believes would enrich the Miami dancers.


I'm not convinced that it's wise to bring in "guest artists." I would do a cost-benefit analysis on this one. Currently, MCB dances only 3 performances of each program in Miami itself. (Plus 4 in Fort Lauderdale and 4 in West Palm.) Guest principals mean fewer performances for MCB's own dancers, which means less chance to grow on their own.

I'm actually enthused by her suggestions for additions to the rep. (I realize this will not be universally shared on Ballet Alert.) We need more Wheeldon. Based on what I've seen of his work, there's "good Duato" and (inevitably) "not so good Duato." The across-the-board criticisms I've often read on B.A. -- as when he was brought in to revive the fortunes of the MIkhailovsky in Petersburg -- seem unjustified and unfair. West Side Story Suite is a brilliant programming choice, given the nature of the MCB audience. On the other hand, I don't see that spending money on another production of Don Q would make much difference. (The lackluster quality of performances in the past had to do more with the failure to communicate the the style and feeling of the piece to the dancers, not with sets or costumes. Don Q works best when everyone takes it VERY seriously and gets the style. it should not be, as it has been, unfocused or a "sketch.")

She wants to turn Morphoses into a creative arm of MCB, inviting guest choreographers and the troupe’s dancers to make pieces, possibly staging them at nontraditional venues like museums or malls or at the troupe’s in-house studio series Open Barre.

And she wants to incorporate more choreographers, including major ballet modernists such as William Forsythe and Jiri Kylian, into the troupe’s repertoire.
“Miami City Ballet really functions as a very traditional — and I mean that with full respect — dance company,” she says. “What it doesn’t have is a choreographic arm.”

But she insists she won’t take the troupe too far from its classical base of Balanchine and Robbins and modern dance masters such as Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp. 'We’re not going to do Pina Bausch,” she says, referring to the experimental German choreographer.

“The foundation of Miami City Ballet’s repertoire will not change. I’m bringing in other choreographers that are very similar, that will complement those. … I strongly believe the more information you have, the more accomplished you are as an artist."

"Non traditional venues like museums or malls" etc. A great idea for Miami especially, and easily transportable to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

I could spend the rest of my life watching Balanchine, but I've felt for a while that well-selected Kylian and Forsythe will be good for the dancers and for the company. I know that "Kylian" especially, and "Forsythe" to a lesser degree, still manage to provoke either rage or rolling eyes in certain quarters. But they have been around for a long time, and much of what they have produced is hardly radical.

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 01:27 PM

I could spend the rest of my life watching Balanchine, but I've felt for a while that well-selected Kylian and Forsythe will be good for the dancers and for the company.


What Lopez needs to do is to bring Odile to the company once and for all. A full lenght SL is long overdue. A trying at putting together the ill fated company's "Aurora's Wedding" would be VERY healthy also, along with SL, to the basic stylistic development of this dancers whom have had almost no exposure to Petipa-(huge mistake, IMO).

#10 Jack Reed

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 02:47 PM

... Lourdes's openness to the press is refreshing. Villella came from an older generation and never seemed comfortable with reporters unless he was able to control the situation and the story.


Maybe he was influenced by a still-older generation including someone who told an interviewer, "Why don't you ask all your questions and then I'll talk?"

When she teaches company class, a crucial foundation for the dancers’ technique and style, she has zeroed in on precision and details — shaping the upper body or cleaning up specific steps, for example — where Villella tended to focus on broader qualities like energy, rhythm and musicality.


Sounds like part of someone's description of what Martins did to Balanchine's company.

As she adjusts Catoya in a precarious arch atop Guerra’s shoulders, the shy dancer, who has struggled since a serious foot injury two years ago, breaks into a radiant smile.


One of the few things I really enjoy about In the Upper Room, aside from the fact that practically the whole bunch of these dancers I've grown to love is in it, is that, at the end, two boys pick Catoya up and toss her in the air, and she always cracks a smile. (Tell me that's just the choreography. Just try!)

Villella's teaching style produced what most people consider to be MCB's greatest and most appealing strengths: speed, momentum, joy, the ability to syncopate and go all out. I hope these remain a focus, even while paying more attention to "precision and details." Helping the dancers to refine their upper bodies, something often fudged in current performances, is an excellent idea. Can one have it all? I don't know, but it would be nice to see them try. Very interested to see how Catoya (I assume she is Terpsichore) and Guerra do together.


The idea of missing a few of Catoya's Terpsichores makes me sad, but there's not enough more to draw this Chicagoan to Program I. (A chance to see her Ballet Imperial a few years ago was, though.)

[N]ext year she plans a new work on each of the troupe’s four programs. ... “Miami City Ballet really functions as a very traditional — and I mean that with full respect — dance company,” she says. “What it doesn’t have is a choreographic arm.”


Sounds school-of-Martins again. It's true that about half her dancing at NYCB was in Balanchine's corps and then as a soloist for Martins; but I'd expect this to develop more of the concern for precision or perfection that made Martins's own dancing leave observers "perfectly content rather than excitedly alive" to quote Robert Greskovic's concluding phrase in his appreciation of Martins in Ballet Review 1978-1979 (reprinted in Robert Gottlieb's great anthology, Reading Dance)

I know that "Kylian" especially, and "Forsythe" to a lesser degree, still manage to provoke either rage or rolling eyes in certain quarters. But they have been around for a long time, and much of what they have produced is hardly radical.


Hardly radical, but is it any good? Apollo was pretty radical, to some, in its day: "Whoever saw Apollo do that?" "Whoever saw Apollo?" It's still danced because there's something good about it - what that is, is another thread, or forum, even, but I'd just offer that what the dancers do, they do in response to, or to complement the music, is a major part of it.

#11 bart

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 07:27 AM

cristian, I would love to see you develop your point about a full-length Swan Lake. I know and appreciate your very high standards for the performance of classics like this. We both agree that mediocre Swan Lakes are in over-abundance in Florida. Wouldn't the ability to do it really well involve huge investment in time and money and, basically, a reinvention of the company? Would it work?

Jack, I appreciate your points about Martins but don't necessarily buy the comparison. All artistic directors -- including Petipa and Balanchine -- have believed in the need to keep the repertoire alive by giving dancers a chance to work with "contemporary" choreographers.

As I said, there are choreographers and choreographers. Martins, having a very long season and many ballets to produce, has gone, it sometimes seems, for quantity (numbers of new works) rather than quality. (On the other hand, even Balanchine had failures.) Lopez has a much more limited budget, many fewer programs, and an audience which has proved itself, on the whole, willing to accept a degree of "newness," while remaining generally conservative.

My hope is that Lopez will approach new work as Villella did. (I'm omitting the period in which MCB danced many works by Jimmy de Gamonet, none of which I had the chance to see.) Villella's choice of "original" choreography was mixed, but on the whole worth the effort. The costly fiasco of the Twyla Tharp/ Elvis Costello Nightspot is balanced by the achievement and success of Lliam Scarlett and Alexei Ratmansky. As for works already created and performed elsewhere, what exactly is "new"? Kylian began choreographing in the early 70s; Forsythe, in the early 80s. That's 40 and 30 years ago. Both of them have produced work, much of it widely performed by companies comparable to MCB, that would fit into MCB programming without much more of a stretch than adding Taylor and Tharp, as Villella did. The point is, surely, WHICH Taylor, Tharp, Kylian, Forstythe, or whomever?

As for commissioning new work -- a la Martins -- Lopez's references to plans for Morpheses (focusing on alternate venues) seems the best place. The MCB Board, with new financial oversight, knows just how much it costs to rent the Arsht or the Kravis Centers. Ballet audiences down here are educated but essentially anti-experimental. I have to trust that those in charge know that and will plan accordingly.

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 12:37 PM

cristian, I would love to see you develop your point about a full-length Swan Lake. I know and appreciate your very high standards for the performance of classics like this. We both agree that mediocre Swan Lakes are in over-abundance in Florida. Wouldn't the ability to do it really well involve huge investment in time and money and, basically, a reinvention of the company? Would it work?


The point is an easy one,bart. A full length successful SL needs to be done to keep the very essentials of the art form in a ballet company. MCB is a ballet company, not a modern dance troupe. The last name Ballet is there for a reason, and yes, even if Balanchine is a strong part of its lifetime, it is at the end Miami City Ballet, not Balanchine Ballet, and that fact needs to be completely accepted and carried on. Then, all that floor rolling and bare footed stuff and Taylor and Twyla and so on and so forth should be interesting complements once and for all the company has finished with the task of mastering the very basic product of the art form. A full lenght SL could be costly, but Petipa is the very bones of every self respected ballet company, so it needs to be done over and over with the required reverence and mastership. 500 years from now the art form will keep surviving ONLY if the classics are still being produced and performed. All that Morphoses business stuff are nice experiments, but in the long run they have and will have a limited time, after which dancers, AD's and audiences will go back again at producing and watching yet another production of one of the classics. I don't know too much about Farrell and McBride and all those ballerinas who were able to survive and become internationally known without the essentials, but I firmly believe that their success had to do with the fact that they were part of something new that at the time was probably working just fine and didn't required for them to do anything else, but whatever that was, it is not new any longer. Graham and Merce and some others were also something new, and they too had dancers that were lucky to be there at the right time and the right place to show the novelty to the world, but that was it...the mystery of the BALLET pathos-(with its share of Auroras, Giselles, Swannildas, Odiles, pointes,tutus, tiaras, reverences and barre language)-has been able to go along all the rest and win in the lung run. Whatever the formula is, it has worked for many years, and people both on and offstage have accepted it and kept it where it is. MCB needs to be part of that too, and our great ballerinas deserve the great roles. And we the audience need them, want them and are rightly entitled to them too just as NewYorkers and Mariinsky goers.

#13 JMcN

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:26 PM

As an outsider looking in, I think the proposals for the MCB rep look really good.

Can a company of 40 dancers plus a couple of apprentices do justice to a full length traditional Swan Lake. I remember Scottish Ballet (a similar sized company to MCB) having a gorgeous Swan Lake mounted by Galina Samsova who worked closely with Sir Peter Wright on BRB's wonderful production. It worked fine for me but a lot of people criticised it because of the "small" number of swans (I think it was 12). BRB has 18 swans in total, including the cygnets and 2 big swans.

What is ballet? I would have classed Balanchine's work as ballet and as he seems to be considered worldwide as one of THE choreographers, I would have thought that followers of MCB would be jealously guarding their Balanchine heritage.

Edited to add in parentheses.

#14 Birdsall

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 02:43 PM

I have to say that I prefer full length story ballets, but I am still new to ballet (watched ballet for many years when I was traveling in a city and no opera was playing, but I knew absolutely nothing about dance so didn't know what quality or lack of quality I was seeing). Only recently have I been refining my knowledge. I am coming from 20 years of intense opera-going and fanaticism flying to see Ring cycles and Normas all over the place, and I have to say that I would not be interested in a soprano who only sings 20th century opera. If she has not had any experience in at least some 19th century opera I wouldn't really consider the singer a true opera singer (how can an opera singer avoid bel canto training?) if all her training and experience only consisted of 20th century (although I doubt any well trained opera singer can get through voice training without learning and doing some work in 18th and 19th century opera...student exercises alone would require arie antiche). Of course, ballet training is different, and there are dancers, apparently, who have spent their entire schooling and professional careers dancing mainly Balanchine and other 20th century works. So I don't know if that is normal or not. I find it hard to believe any ballet dancer doesn't have at least a passing interest in learning the classics.

With that said I think it is very hard for a ballet company to be all things to everyone. I sort of like how MCB in the past tried to do both Balanchine and a classical ballet (not counting Nutcracker). If there were a professional classical ballet company in Miami that was well funded (like if Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami took off and had lots of donors), I would be fine with MCB specializing mainly in Balanchine, but since that isn't the case yet or currently, I think it is a good idea to include classics here and there. Giselle and Don Quixote seem to cycle around quite a bit.

But some classical ballets do require a large company. I can't imagine a small company doing La Bayadere with 32 or 24 shades (depending on which version you use). It would probably require using extra dancers from other companies to supplement. Either that, or they would have to do a 12 shades scene! LOL LOL Just wouldn't be the same!

#15 Birdsall

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 03:00 PM

I don't think my previous message was clear.....I was rambling.....so what I was trying to say was: I understand many MCB audience members being scared if Balanchine is not stressed since MCB has a reputation as being a top notch Balanchine company. And it looks like they plan to stay that way or hope to stay on top in that repetoire. However, I understand Cristian's viewpoint completely also. Even if they don't stage Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty anytime soon (not enough money or not ready for that style), they should probably begin some training in those ballets so that the company is ready when the time comes (maybe when the company is larger or the economy is better). I suspect Lopez might understand this by mentioning bringing in guests for things like Don Quixote. These guests might also be able to coach some of the dancers on the roles they are dancing if there is time. Maybe there wouldn't be. But the dancers would have more exposure to dancers, for example, who know the classical style very well. Just a thought.


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