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Winter Season 2013


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#61 AlbanyGirl

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:53 AM

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

#62 AlbanyGirl

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:57 AM

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.

#63 abatt

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:22 PM

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.

#64 California

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:29 PM

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.

#65 abatt

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:47 PM

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.

#66 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:36 PM

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.

#67 California

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:47 PM

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.)

#68 lmspear

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:03 PM

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.

#69 Helene

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:28 PM

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.

#70 California

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:44 PM

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?

#71 lmspear

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:36 AM

Posted Image

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

#72 LiLing

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

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.

#73 puppytreats

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 11:31 AM

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.

#74 abatt

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 11:38 AM

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

#75 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 11:39 AM


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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