puppytreats

Winter Season 2013

159 posts in this topic

Abatt I was there Wednesday, but not Tuesday. I agree with your thoughts about Wed. Yes, it's great to have Mearns back and that can't be said too often. I love Bouder's Russian girl - not only her elevation, but her speed and a kind of softness you don't get from her in many roles (or maybe it's a side that she isn't given many opportunities to present.}

Just want to add that I thought the corps looked great in Seranade & in Tchai Piano Concerto too for that matter.

Finlay did better than I expected in Mozartiana. Eventually this will be a good fit for him I think. I'm kind of spoiled by the Suzanne/Ib rendition which I saw live and also

Huxley looked great in gigue, but I'm a little sorry I didn't get to see Ulbricht.

In Tchai Piano Concerto there were moments when Ana Sophia Scheller really lit up the stage.

I'm really looking forward to seeing T. Peck and DeLuz in Theme and Variations next week.

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Thanks, Vipa, for posting that clip. It brought back all the wonderful memories of those two great artists in their prime. When that ballet was first done, Suzanne wore a short black tutu but then asked to have a longer flowing one made (as is the tradition now). Also, in Balanchine's day, the second male lead was cast with a taller boy (i.e, Chris D'Amboise, Victor Castelli), which I also miss. By the way, I too was at the Hylin/Findlay debut. It was a promising sketch which I hope they will work into over time. Sterling's borrees were terrific by the way.

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Thanks also to Vipa for this amazing video of Suzanne as I remember her. Notice her perfection of form, the use of her arms, always in place. And Ib Anderson's legs create angles, pictures, in the air. And when he's almost done, there's Suzanne, flying on, then striking a "ready" pose with her arms at her waist, about to fly into space. They maintain the "preghiera" theme of the first movement, in their solemnity. Notice also that despite what vivace movements Suzanne is dancing, her expression is utterly impassive.

This stands further study. I have a book called Mozartiana by Robert Maiorano and Valerie Brooks which traces, step by step, the creation of Mozartiana by Balanchine. I'll also look at the portion of Suzanne's memoir on Mozartiana. She was a phenomenon, and her like will not be seen again. Thank God she has her own troup and is teaching. Can't they come back to New York? How did she find a dancer who resembled the young Balanchine in Meditation?

Must learn more about Mozartiana. Page 1: "Simply, with great delicacy, Balanchine leads Farrell by the hand." The opening description from the pas de deux we just viewed. If you want to know more about how Balanchine choreographed (and I do), locate this valuable book.

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Yes, thanks for the clip. I never saw Farrell dance live, so this clip enhanced my appreciation of Mozartiana.

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Sterling's borrees were terrific by the way.

Glad you mentioned the borrees - they were really terriric.

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They must have been striking: Marina Harss mentioned them as well.

I'm so envious of everyone who got to see this program with these casts :)

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I believe that tonight is the first time I have seen Mozartiana since seeing Farrell and Anderson. (I have deliberately stayed away from the video above and decided to just see how I reacted to Hyltin w. Finlay with no more than fragile images of the past in my mind.)

Truthfully, Hyltin doesn't (yet) have Farrel's spirituality in the role, and Farrell's "impassivity" which often seemed like an inner communion is not part of her persona. She is an earthly beauty. . But a beauty she is and a real ballerina. The moment the curtain goes up, one knows it. And she has one ballerina quality that seems to me somewhat comparable to something Farrell had and very necessary to this role--the ability to make even a very small move or change of direction/epaulement into an event in the choreography. Whole passages of the ballet were just ravishing--including the bourrees mentioned above by others.

I write with a touch of remorse because early in Hyltin's career I did not understand why people were so excited by her and was decidedly resistant to her personal charm. Delighted to be proved wrong and won over!! I think she is now one of my favorites.

By the by, I enjoyed the very promising Finlay too--doesn't have Anderson's beats (or angles), but offered clean, well shaped, easy and unaffected dancing in some very difficult choreography. (Thought the adult ensemble dancing in this ballet was the weakest ensemble dancing of the evening...and I think that Hyltin and Finlay together may have come to a little less than the sum of their parts which I would attribute to their not fully finding a way into the choreography's odd-to-identify mood.)

Lots of other pleasures at this evening's performance, including Janie Taylor's rather striking performance in Serenade. I will make the by now ritual but still perhaps necessary concession that she is not always technically reliable, but I find her terribly interesting--strikingly "in" the moment at every moment. I don't think I've seen anyone perform the episode based on a dancer arriving late to the rehearsal as if really looking hard at everyone around her trying to figure out what was happening and where she should be. It probably should be performed in more stylized fashion (as it usually is in my experience), but I kind of loved what Taylor did anyway.

I thought the corps looked wonderful in Serenade--they don't all look the same, but they do all move with a shared energy and breath. Also very good in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no.2, though when the curtain went up they actually seemed lined up in a way that perhaps did too little to mute height disparities....Once the corps was dancing, though, the disparities became pretty much invisible (to me).

I reacted to Bouder in the ballerina role, perhaps oddly, somewhat as I did to her in Liebeslieder. That is, it took me a while to accept her as a "nineteenth-century" figure. For the first few minutes I simply did not believe her as an after-image of imperial ballet glamor. Only as the ballet unfolded did the sheer quality of her dancing win me over. I will say that this is one Balanchine ballet that I would not mind seeing restored to its more "thematic" designs--or given some new ones. A backdrop of St. Petersburg seems as if it would fit the music and the choreography to perfection. And the Tchaikovsky almost cries out for something less austere than the current blue blank.

Anyway, very grateful for the evening all round.

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Drew, very grateful for your precis of the evening, since I am relying on Ballet Alert posters to convey the ballets to me. (I can't attend til mid-April.) I appreciated Drew's interpretation of what I called "impassivity" as "spirituality". I think that's right.

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Absolutely wonderful performance last night from everyone. Serenade looked better than I've seen it in a LONG time. Mearns was unforgettable as the Waltz Girl and Bouder in the Russian Dance. Sterling Hyltin and Chase Finlay looked like a vision in Mozartiana and Hyltin's bourrees were breathtaking. Hyltin has really grown in stature as an artist. Most of all, Teresa Reichlen absolutely dominated Tchai Piano Concerto #2 in the most wonderful, regal way. Wonderful to see Mearns and Bouder back and the company in such great shape.

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Absolutely wonderful performance last night from everyone. Serenade looked better than I've seen it in a LONG time. Mearns was unforgettable as the Waltz Girl and Bouder in the Russian Dance. Sterling Hyltin and Chase Finlay looked like a vision in Mozartiana and Hyltin's bourrees were breathtaking. Hyltin has really grown in stature as an artist. Most of all, Teresa Reichlen absolutely dominated Tchai Piano Concerto #2 in the most wonderful, regal way. Wonderful to see Mearns and Bouder back and the company in such great shape.

Very much my reaction -- especially impressed by Reichlin in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no. 2. (Did think the men in the ensemble and in the trio were lackluster. And the men get some of the best music in the finale--a ringing horn theme as they all enter as a massed group; if they were on their game with strong, vivid jumps, it would be very exciting; on the musical repeat the same theme goes to the lead couple, Reichlin w. Tyler Angle, and they were splendid.)

Enjoyed the matinee very much as well. I have always loved the Balanchine Swan Lake, and I think Odette is one of Kowroski's best roles. But I had almost forgotten just how beautiful the designs are...especially the arctic backdrop. I had not forgotten how marvelous the swirling corps-de-ballet storm is in the finale section and how moving I find the whole thing. And Tiler Peck in Allegro Brillante can do anything--and do it slowly,quickly, flirtaciously, romantically, happily, sadly, etc. etc. --weaving every beat and tone together into a single sweep of motion as if it were the easiest most natural thing in the world.

Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3 however was a mixed bag. I quite like Janie Taylor's extraordinary intensity in the second movement, but when the second movement is the highlight of a ballet that includes Theme and Variations, there's a problem. Even as I had forgotten just how beautiful the one act Swan Lake designs are I had forgotten just how ugly the costumes for T&V are at NYCB (and the backdrop is nothing to write home about either). Additionally the music was taken at quite a fast clip with not so much as a nano-second break between the third movement and the opening of Theme and Variations--completely spoiling the "ah" moment when the light goes up on the purely classical vision; one could barely even grasp the dancers' performance of the "theme" because the transition was so sudden. (All one needed was an additional second or two.) And at various times throughout, I thought the principles (Fairchild and Veyette) and demi-soloists visibly had trouble keeping up.

Otherwise Fairchild and Veyette had some fine moments, but they seemed under-cast. (At the "Balanchine Ballerina" demonstration I thought Fairchild did much better by the variation/coda from Tchaikovsky pas de deux: in the right role, she's terrific.) The four women demi-soloists were mismatched in height which I would mind less if they would at least put the taller women in the center of the four so there was a kind of arch effect. Instead, it was short-tall-short-tall. I don't require Boshoi or Mariinsky style uniformity from NYCB--I don't even want it from them--but I do not understand that choice in this ballet.

The demonstration on the "Balanchine ballerina" was a very full and fun event: lots of dancing. And the dancers also did a great job introducing their excerpts. I did think that it was a shame not to include an example of one of Balanchine's modernist "ballerinas"--a bit from Agon or Rubies or some such. I suppose that, with the exception of the Sugar Plum Fairy variation, (danced by Bouder) they were sticking with ballets from this season. (And Variations for a Door and a Sigh doesn't really allow of excerpting). Still a big piece of the Balanchine ballerina story was missing.

Ironically, the highlight for me was not a ballerina at all. I had been disappointed not to be seeing Robert Fairchild at any of the performances I had tickets for, so I was just delighted to see him in an excerpt from Western Symphony w. Maria Kowroski.

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Well, yesterday couldn't have been a better day! I went to the matinee and enjoyed it enormously. Starting with Balanchine's beautifully distilled essence of Swan Lake, I loved the corps and Maria Kowroski was breathtaking. She had all the qualities Odette should have - expressive, delicate and brittle but also strong, tragic but queenly and with clean, 'quiet' dancing. She was so beautiful. I loved Tiler in Allegro Brillante and she did not disappoint - for me, she rarely does - I think a role like that is just meant for her - she is so strong ans sure of herself and can handle anything and with grace and aplomb. A very exciting ballet on its own, but more so with Tiler at the helm. I enjoyed Amar's dancing with her, also. This was my first viewing of Tschaikovsky Ste #3 and i enjoyed it very much but it kind of stumped me - movements 1-3 seem all of a piece and of course, being a stand-alone ballet originally, movement 4 T&V was, well, a stand-alone ballet that ends a 4-movement piece. It seemed odd. Read Nancy Goldner's essay awhile back but forget some of the details so I'll read it again.

The demo was a lot of fun and quite a lot of dancing for 50 minutes or so. As I've been writing this, Drew's post came in and I have to agree that it would have been more comprehensive to include a demo from 4T's, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, etc.

I decided to stay for the evening performance and I have to say Serenade was fantastic and I agree with Canbelto, having seen it twice two summers ago at SPAC - this was the best performance I've seen recently. I was in the 4th ring and so could not focus on any one dancer's work, being so far away, but what the distance gave me was a great perspective of the ballet as a whole - it's lovely architecture and the overall structure of the choreography became very clear. The corps was in great shape. I haven't seen Mozartiana in many years, so seeing it last night was great. I feel I understand Sterling better for it, as I've not warmed to this dancer much, but her performance did touch me in a way others of her performances have not. I agree - her bourrees are gorgeous. As for Tschaikovsky Piano C#2, this is the first time I've seen this ballet, too, and it was wonderful, with amazing choreography, but I can't help thinking, Drew, when I was watching it, that the costumes were lackluster and the backdrop did not fit the occasion, whatever it be called. I think the ballet should be called Ballet Imperial and and the costumes should be classic tutus with perhaps a set of some sort.

A wonderful day! Can't wait until February for The Sleeping Beauty.

~ Karen

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Oh, one more thing - during the first intermission in the evening, a man sitting next to me advised his wife had left not feeling well and so offered me her seat, knowing I was way up int he 4th ring. Well, I was able to see Mozartiana and the TPC#2 in the first ring, second row! I was very blessed yesterday indeed. I would also like to remark that for TPC#2, Ana Sophia Scheller and Theresa Reichlin were terrific. For the matinee I was in the 2nd ring right and that was a good seat, too.

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Mearns was a very soulful and dramatic Odette. She has the kind of expressive face that speaks volumes. (Mearns slipped on Sunday, but made a quick recovery.)

I also completely agree w. the posts above that praise Tiler Peck for her thrilling, musical Allegro Brilliante. Megan Fairchild looked dull and dutiful in the same role last night. Bouder and Veyette were wonderful last night in T&V. They had some partnering issues on Sunday, but things looked much smoother last night. Krohn and Catazarro were excellent in the first movement of Tchai Suite No. 3. This irole s a very good fit for Krohn.

What has happened to Jenny Ringer. She was replaced by Abi Stafford in the 2nd movement of Tchai Suite 3 both Sunday and last night.

Can't wait to see Tiler Peck and DeLuz tonight in T&V.

It's been a very enjoyable season so far, with very high attendance. Since yesterday was Balanchine's birthday, I was expecting a curtain toast w. vodka. There was no toast.

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Has anyone reviewed the music from Saturday? I am interested in reading reviews or hearing comments.

Just a few observations...this is an exceptionally good orchestra as many others have noted. I sat in the front row for a couple of performances during the first week out of curiosity (seeing soloists up close and also getting a better sense of the orchestra). It's unfair to criticize the orchestra by comparing them to recorded performances under ideal studio or concert conditions, but a few things were noticeable.

E.g., the piano sounded "mushy" to me in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, but there are good explanations for that. First, the entire orchestra is miked, with at least 10 little mikes on stands scattered throughout the pit -- necessary, presumably, because of the odd acoustics in that pit. I saw at least two mikes clipped inside the stringed area of the piano and perhaps there were more. But, in fairness to the pianist, we should also note that she is playing a smallish grand -- I would guesstimate that it was about 6' as opposed to the 12' of a true concert grand. That means that many strings are doubled back over each other, which limits the sound possibilities that we hear in a concert performance. Add that to the odd acoustics and miking, all of which explain the "mushiness." Did she use a little too much sustenato pedal in certain sections? Perhaps, but that's a judgment call I can't separate from the other factors.

The tempo in much of Swan Lake was noticeably faster than we are used to with ABT's version, but that's presumably Balanchine's preference. I don't think we really know at this late date what Tchaikovsky intended.

I heard a few obvious mistakes (e.g., a misplaced cymbal crash in Sunday's T&V), but that's to be expected in so many live performances. Some solo passages by a flute or oboe seemed to me unnecessarily "flat" considering the expressive possibilities.

I'd be interested in the responses of others to the music.

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There are some major cast changes in the latest casting notices on the website. Most notably, Whelan is replaced in every single performance she was scheduled to dance during week 3 of the season. Also, Ask LaCour is Mearns' partner in Diamonds. If the free demonstration last Sat. was any indication, Ask has a lot of work to do. His partnering of Mearns in the excerpt from Diamonds had a lot of rough patches.

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E.g., the piano sounded "mushy" to me in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, but there are good explanations for that. First, the entire orchestra is miked, with at least 10 little mikes on stands scattered throughout the pit -- necessary, presumably, because of the odd acoustics in that pit. I saw at least two mikes clipped inside the stringed area of the piano and perhaps there were more. But, in fairness to the pianist, we should also note that she is playing a smallish grand -- I would guesstimate that it was about 6' as opposed to the 12' of a true concert grand. That means that many strings are doubled back over each other, which limits the sound possibilities that we hear in a concert performance. Add that to the odd acoustics and miking, all of which explain the "mushiness." Did she use a little too much sustenato pedal in certain sections? Perhaps, but that's a judgment call I can't separate from the other factors.

I'm not sure that the mikes you saw scattered throughout the pit were being used to amplify the sound in the auditorium. The theater's much-derided "audio enhancement" system was ripped out as part of the 2009 renovation, during which a number of structural changes were made to enhance the sound coming from the pit. I'd be surprised if the orchestra was being piped through the theater's current sound system.

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I'm not sure that the mikes you saw scattered throughout the pit were being used to amplify the sound in the auditorium. The theater's much-derided "audio enhancement" system was ripped out as part of the 2009 renovation, during which a number of structural changes were made to enhance the sound coming from the pit. I'd be surprised if the orchestra was being piped through the theater's current sound system.

Next time people are in the theater, go take a look at the orchestra pit during intermission. I counted at least a dozen little mikes mounted on dark stands about 5-6' high and scattered in every section of the orchestra. If not to pick up their sound, what are they there for? They're on movable stands, so if they're not being used to amplify sound, they could easily be removed. I could not see them from the first tier, even knowing they were there.

Let me add: another odd thing you see in the pit are what appear to be clear acrylic music stands in front of the percussion and brass sections. I asked two percussionists about these at one intermission, thinking they might have something to do with acoustics. No, they are required by OSHA noise regulations to protect the hearing of the musicians. So there is a large folding acrylic screen in front of the percussion section to protect the hearing of the brass players and a lot of the smaller acrylic stands in front of the brass section to protect the hearing of the woodwind and string players. I said I'd never noticed anything like that before at other orchestras. One musician said apparently many orchestras ignore these OSHA rules, but they thought they were a good idea, so they had them written into their union contract. (I suppose this is the kind of thing that drives "small-government" conservatives nuts.)

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Other reasons for mikes besides amplification include recording the performance and transmitting the sound to any monitors that are displaying what's going on in the theater.

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Admin beanie on:

There was a partial response above that has been removed: it was posted before I could remove the post which it addressed.

The removed post referred to a blog post about particular NYCB performances. (The link in the post didn't resolve to anything about ballet.)

The company forums are here for member reviews and discussion. Reviews in official blogs by dance professionals and recognized critics and blog collections should be discussed in the "Writings on Ballet" forum, and reviews in any other blogs are off limits here.

Admin beanie off.

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Other reasons for mikes besides amplification include recording the performance and transmitting the sound to any monitors that are displaying what's going on in the theater.

That makes a lot of sense. If you look up at the first tier in the center, it appears there are several cameras permanently mounted to photograph the entire stage and that's what you're seeing in the lobbies on those screens. Which brings us back to an old question: how about some live-streaming of performances? Or at least tape them and make them available later so people unable to get to New York could see some of these wonderful performances?

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tiphat.gif

Or they could offer some kind of pay-per-view option.

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As for-pay- per view, or live streaming, AGMA would require negotiation over compensation for the dancers for anything that isn't in their current contract.. This could be one of the problems. And of course dealing with the musicians union is even thornier.

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Forgive me for lacking the background, knowledge, ear, or vocabularly to address this properly, and for my inartful phrasing, but the music on Saturday did not sound correct (as I imagined "correct" would be). It sounded somehow "off", with horns or wind instruments that sounded "bloated" or "gassy". The percussion also seemed too loud and ill-timed. I was wondering if it was played properly and these imperfections that I perceived were intended, as part of the language, interpretation, or commentary.

I agree with almost all of the statements above about the dance performances and performers on Saturday. However, I really missed the aching violin adagio and associated dance in "SL". "Serenade" and "Mozartiana" are now two of my favorite ballets, although nothing can touch my heart or my mind the way "Giselle" can.

If anyone found a small hair comb with blue faux jewels, worn for the first time and missing after the 5 pm demonstration, please let me know.

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Puppytreats, you should try to contact the lost and found office at the Koch for your hair comb.

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Other reasons for mikes besides amplification include recording the performance and transmitting the sound to any monitors that are displaying what's going on in the theater.

That makes a lot of sense. If you look up at the first tier in the center, it appears there are several cameras permanently mounted to photograph the entire stage and that's what you're seeing in the lobbies on those screens. Which brings us back to an old question: how about some live-streaming of performances? Or at least tape them and make them available later so people unable to get to New York could see some of these wonderful performances?

Sigh ... I was looking at that camera set up last night and wondering why all that beautiful dancing wasn't being beamed out to the universe. Yeah, I know -- unions, rights, bandwidth, piracy, etc etc etc ... In all seriousness, the compensation and rights issues are real ones, but surely it's not too much to hope that they can be equitably resolved.

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