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Kennedy Center Honors 2012 - Natalia Makarova honored


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#46 ascballerina

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 07:47 PM

I did enjoy it. But wonderful as Markova is, I do not appreciate seeing her face for 10 seconds when it's not doing anything and people are dancing! ("Come on, cut back to the dancers...come on....THANK YOU!....no....there they go again!")

#47 Jack Reed

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 09:37 PM

Sorry to be disagreeable, but I thought the televising of the dancing was another opportunity missed. Much too complicated. Good glimpses and bad, shuffled together - like cards in a deck - as though they couldn't tell the difference. The "reaction shots" ascballerina complains of are part of the problem - they're thrown in mechanically when Makarova's not reacting, she's watching intently. Same thing with Farrell in 2005, IIRC.

These shows, like the incessantly busy camera-work on the dance-craze shows, look like they're made by people uninterested in the dancing; to that extent, don't they induce lack of interest in the viewer? Or reinforce the idea that ballet is arcane? If people just had a chance to see it, maybe some would go for it.

(Part of the excitement people have for the dance-craze shows is artificially induced by introduction of a contest, of competition; and from what I can see of the dancing, it's expressively limited and boring, compared to ballet, and might just as well be partly masked by fancy camera work.)

It's ironic, historically, if the producer is the son of the director who famously heard that gracefully-phrased ultimatum from one of our greatest (native-born) dancers: "Either the camera dances, or I do." Of course, Fred Astaire's dances were made for the camera.

#48 Helene

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:17 AM

I just finished watching it, and the only parts I liked were the clips of Makarova dancing in the bio-tribute. The seven seconds of her in "Giselle" trumped anything Cojocaru and Corella did. I think more than half of that was the atrocious camera work -- all over the place -- but there was no scent to any of the dancing except for Kent and Hallberg in the "Romeo and Juliet" Balcony Pas de Deux, where drama is built in and the Macmillan is enhanced by being edited down to an excerpt, although I'm still wondering what was so profound about Kent's arm from her elbow up that merited a long camera shot. The dancers are wonderful dancers, but cut and sliced like that, apart from Kent and Hallberg, they didn't bring across any personal, recognizable quality, and Part was mis-cast. Just loved the "except for the people here to see the ballerina" joke. NOT. It's so annoying that many of the people who bothered to watch the show long enough to see Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and David Letterman age well will think this is representative of ballet.

I'm not sure any of the other honorees got that much better across-the-board performance-wise -- Bonnie Raitt is the best exemplar of blues, really? -- but the music excerpts were coherent at least, and it looked like they aimed towards the 11-minute mark for "Stairway to Heaven." According to the closing credits, Damien Woetzel was co-producer of the Makarova segment. I don't know what that means -- Casting control? Excerpt choices? Helped develop the bio-segment? Presumably, not camera editing.

Growing up I didn't watch many old movies and missed most of what was considered handsome leading man material -- I thought they lived in soap operas -- so when the young Dustin Hoffman came along in "The Graduate," I thought he was gorgeous. I didn't realize there was a mold to break.

Did Balanchine really jump in line to choreograph for Makarova after she defected? I must have missed that chapter.

#49 abatt

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 05:57 AM

The camera work was awful. I thought the same thing as Helene - why are they focusing on Julie Kent's hand when there are two gorgeous dancers on stage? Why are they cutting to Makarova's expression when Part is doing her fouettes? I thought the most spontaneous and exciting dance performance was from Tiler Peck. She was the only person out there who looked completely free and danced with abandon. .I also thought that opening the segment with the student was quite charming.

The most cringe inducing moments came in the tribute to Dustin Hoffman. Neither Naomi Watts nor Liev Schreiber have much connection to Dustin Hoffman. Couldn't they get some more of his important co-stars (Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise) to say something. Why was Laura Osnes singing a song from My Fair Lady???

#50 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 07:39 AM

Still ranting after a night's sleep - not only must you have good shots which show what's happening, they must be in an effective sequence for the viewer to get much from it. We see a lot on screen - film and TV - and being experienced, we can take it different ways, but we're good at "entering in" to what we're shown if we get the chance. Nothing builds here because of the clueless confusion on screen, though in a couple of places they did - apparently by accident - get just a little consistent. One of those was where Peck's dancing was visible, and I agree with abatt about her - she was like - Tiler Peck, in spite of everything.

I do wish more of the dancing had been shown (instead of being interfered with). There would have been more to respond to, whether on the level abatt and I and others here are, or a more newcomer level - Gee, look at that! - but I'm afraid this sort of thing is more likely to provoke, "That's ballet? Ech." (Or is it, Meh.)

I noticed that the ballet segment was relegated to its old position of second on the menu, so its deadening effect would be over early, and the show would have a chance to recover and "build" through the later numbers. In 2005, Farrell's dancers were second from the end, and the number - the last movement of Divertimento No. 15 - was fast and lively, as though someone thought it might contribute to, rather than weigh on, the energy of the show. Too bad the lighting made it harder to see than the other numbers, but that's the state of comprehension, or lack of it, of ballet today.

#51 California

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:23 AM

To add insult to injury, the clips on the CBS site this morning include every honoree except Makarova:
http://www.cbs.com/s...r_honors/video/

Perhaps they're still editing that one?

#52 kfw

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:41 AM

there was no scent to any of the dancing except for Kent and Hallberg in the "Romeo and Juliet" Balcony Pas de Deux, where drama is built in and the Macmillan is enhanced by being edited down to an excerpt


They were wonderfully in character. Still, while I guess a proper tribute to Makarova had to be heavy on story ballets, I generally hate to see excerpts, especially the most emotional bits, and especially when they’re danced in front of a generic backdrop. But Tiler Peck - wow!

I turned the set off after the introduction for Led Zeppelin, but I enjoyed the tribute to Buddy Guy, whom I used to see in Chicago, mostly at his own Checkerboard Lounge on the south side, during those lean, “20 years of small clubs.” It was fun to recognize the Checkerboard and Teresa’s, both long gone, and also musicians like Buddy’s longtime partner Junior Wells and the saxophonist A.C. Reed. I remember Reed freaking me out one night at Wise Fools Pub, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes on the bandstand, dragging on them down practically till they burned his lips. And the man managed to live till his late 70’s.

#53 Dale

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:09 AM

I always have to temper my fan girl side ("I can't believe you guys cut away from Veronika Part to show a reaction shot!) with my practical side (It's network tv, a mainstream audience). The cameras seemed to leave the Giselle and Romeo and Juliet sections alone but I agree that Tiler Peck's dancing was the most vibrant. Maybe all of this came off much better in the theater. The general reviews actually singled out the ballet portion as excellent, so there must have been more of it. Another exercise in frustration and a wasted opportunity.

#54 Helene

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:41 AM

Tiler Peck is clearly a wonderful dancer, but could she be more opposite of the kind of dancer Makarova was? There is nothing "Je ne sais quoi" about her. Why even a NYCB ballerina, anyway? (For Baryshnikov, that's understandable.) There must be hundreds of dancers who wore out their Makarova tapes, wanting to be her someday, who have some of her dramatic quality.

Why couldn't Part, a Russian-born dancer who left for America, so we have a parallel, not have danced the excerpt from "Other Dances"? (In the fouettes from Black Swan PDD, Part looked dour; that's not her strength, and Peck looked like she could have eaten them for breakfast.) In the "Giselle" Cojocaru's face was a death mask, and she looked robotic to me, which was surprising, since her Giselle got rave reviews. As Giselle, Makarova's eyes, at minimum, were always alive.

#55 abatt

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 11:06 AM

As a practical matter, Peck had previously learned Other Dances when NYCB revived it recently. (She and Bouder alternated the role.) Maybe it would not have been practical for someone to learn the role from scratch in order to perform for 3 or 4 minutes on a TV show. Since Other Dances was created on Makarova, I thought it was a good idea to include it. I enjoyed Peck's performance more than any of the other dance performances. She dazzled. Cojocaru did look robotic,but even worse was the lack of flexibility in her back. It didn't matter much that Part is not a fouette machine, since the camera operator spent most of that portion of the performance on Makarova's face, not Part's dancing. As much as I enjoyed watching the R&J pdd w. Kent/Hallberg, I found the age difference between these dancers distracting and problematic. (Those television close ups only added to this issue.) AT this stage, the only age appropriate partner at ABT for Kent is Bolle, in my opinion.

#56 dirac

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 11:56 AM

Tiler Peck was marvelous, easily the highlight of Makarova's segment. One didn't get to see enough of Part's fouettes to judge them properly - a really unforgivable cutaway. I agree it was important to include Other Dances, since contrary to the impression given in the show Makarova never did acquire a large repertory of roles personal to her, even after her arrival in the West.

Cojocaru did look robotic,but even worse was the lack of flexibility in her back.


I wasn't inclined to judge her that harshly on such a brief segment in front of a national television audience - both she and Corella wore Excedrin headache expressions that didn't help much - but I too wondered about her flexibility, enough to wonder if perhaps her back was bothering her?

#57 abatt

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:40 PM

I wish they would have included an excerpt from On Your Toes,with Kowrowski dancing Makarova's part and Woetzel as her partner.

#58 Helene

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:44 PM

That would have been a great segway into a rousing finale, and would have been user-friendly at the same time.

#59 dirac

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 01:08 PM

I thought it was nice that they stuck to pure classical dancing and didn't dumb it down or try to goose the audience with an old pop number.

As much as I enjoyed watching the R&J pdd w. Kent/Hallberg, I found the age difference between these dancers distracting and problematic.


Not so much for this viewer. Yes, when the camera really zeroed in you could see that Kent was somewhat older, but the pairing didn't look like Romeo and Aunt Juliet.

#60 aurora

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 01:20 PM

I thought it was nice that they stuck to pure classical dancing and didn't dumb it down or try to goose the audience with an old pop number.


As much as I enjoyed watching the R&J pdd w. Kent/Hallberg, I found the age difference between these dancers distracting and problematic.


Not so much for this viewer. Yes, when the camera really zeroed in you could see that Kent was somewhat older, but the pairing didn't look like Romeo and Aunt Juliet.


Agreed. In fact I was pleased at how good she looked. I mentioned she was an older dancer to my spouse and he was surprised.


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