Jack Reed

Suzanne Farrell Ballet season preview & webcast 23rd October 2013

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The Kennedy Center has a free show on a small stage at either end of the Grand Foyer, along the west side of the building, every day at 6:00 PM, and most of these are webcast and most of the webcasts are archived on the Center's web site.

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet is scheduled there on the 23rd, probably performing excerpts from their upcoming season at the Center, running November 6-10.

Technologically, they're amateur productions, done on a shoestring from the looks of it, not in an impressive studio, but sometimes very skillful nevertheless. And the dancing on the tiny stage can look held in, so these really are in the manner of a preview of the real thing, to come later in the Eisenhower Theater. But even so, for this old Balanchine addict, they're rewarding to see: Some of the most authentic, human Balanchine to be seen today.

(Getting the beginning of the live show can be tricky - something about refreshing the web page just when it begins - so if you're up for that, you might want to practice an evening before. I hope it will be archived, but as the list on the page linked above shows, not all of them are.)

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(Getting the beginning of the live show can be tricky - something about refreshing the web page just when it begins - so if you're up for that, you might want to practice an evening before. I hope it will be archived, but as the list on the page linked above shows, not all of them are.)

Thanks for the heads up, Jack - I do remember enjoying the broadcast I watched last season. Be a part of history! ;)

And for anyone not used to the Kennedy Center website, the website functionality is fairly primitive too (note that JavaScript needs to be enabled in the viewing browser), so it is often necessary to reload the page a few times to catch site of the video link which gets added at the last moment. If no link is displayed at first - don't panic! But at the appointed hour, start refreshing the page until you see the link. And if the video feed drops it may be necessary to refresh the page again to give things a kick. These days, it is de rigueur to use a technology like AJAX on a video website that allows for instant updates to portions of a web page without having to have the entire page reloaded - thus making your experience truly interactive. And if I just made your eyes glaze over, I apologize.

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Nothing like a little good dancing to cure glazed eyes!

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Natalia Magnicaballi just led the first movement of "Mozartiana," and it was followed by the third movement for four women.

Just announced are selections from the first movement and the pas de deux from the third movement of "Episodes."

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Next was Terpsichore's solo, Apollo's solo, and the pas de deux from "Apollo." Magnacaballi danced with Michael Cook, I think.

"Agon" is being announced now. Excerpt from second pas de trois. Women's solo through the end. Kenna Draxton? Edited to Add: oops, no, she's not with SFB this season. Heather Ogden?

Last up: "Pas de Dix" excerpt. The ending, with Magnicaballi and Cook.

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OK, well that was fun. I've never seen any of Episodes live before (and it's been near the top of my list of things to see), so I appreciate what was shown. And Pas de Dix I am unfamiliar with.

I think they could have called this preview the "Magnacaballi Workout". She was a busy woman.

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I know I'm supposed to love "Agon" the best of the black-and-white ballets, like I'm supposed to love Enrico Caruso, but I love "Episodes" best of all, and I can't see it enough.

I hope Ib Andersen can get "Mozartiana" someday for Ballet Arizona, and I'd love to see "Pas de Dix" as well.

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I know I'm supposed to love "Agon" the best of the black-and-white ballets, like I'm supposed to love Enrico Caruso, but I love "Episodes" best of all, and I can't see it enough.

I hope Ib Andersen can get "Mozartiana" someday for Ballet Arizona, and I'd love to see "Pas de Dix" as well.

I don''t think you have to feel bad about what you like. ;)

I tend to favor the "4 T's" myself, but as I mentioned, I haven't seen all of Episodes, so I would love to give that one a try as well.

Agon, imo, is a very solid piece of art, in which the visuals and the music are wonderfully, organically unified. But so is the Mona Lisa (organically unified), but that wouldn't be my favorite painting to stare at. And I'm pretty sure I couldn't come up with just one single item to top the list.

The fun thing about this kind of "preview" program is the diversity of the items. I just wish it could have gone on for a full hour, or more.

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This experience makes me wonder (again): Why can't SF Ballet do live streaming broadcasts of their performances, that are accessed by people who pay in advance for an online "ticket" (and use name/pass access)?

Or any company for that matter - why not do a live stream of the performance and charge for access? At say, $15 a ticket, they could get a few hundred people (I'm sure) to participate and make some money, and gain exposure.

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Next was Terpsichore's solo, Apollo's solo, and the pas de deux from "Apollo." Magnacaballi danced with Michael Cook, I think.

"Agon" is being announced now. Excerpt from second pas de trois. Women's solo through the end. Kenna Draxton? Edited to Add: oops, no, she's not with SFB this season. Heather Ogden?

Last up: "Pas de Dix" excerpt. The ending, with Magnicaballi and Cook.

"Apollo" was indeed danced by Michael Cook, but Heather Ogden was not in what we saw of Agon.

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Who was the woman in "Agon"?

Regarding the pas de trios woman, I'm stuck. There's a company list on the Kennedy-Center web site, but it may not be quite up to date. At any rate, her distinctive face doesn't seem to be there. Nor do I see her on the Sarasota Ballet site (Farrell had a fine dancer from there in her New York season).

The video of the preview is up, already.

Edited to update the address in the link to the video in accordance with changes on the Kennedy Center web site.

Edited by Jack Reed

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Valerie Tellmann, Ian Grosh and Kirk Henning in Agon. She is on leave from Richmond Ballet. Violeta Angelova is also on leave this season.

In Pas de Dix Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook, Amy Brandt with Jesse Campbell, Alison Basford with Ian Grosh, Miriam Ernest with Oliveer Swan-Jackson, Katie Gibson with Ted Seymour.

A few weeks ago I participated in the class taught by Amy Brandt with Glenn Sales as accompanist. Pianist Glenn will be on stage for Duo Concertant in November.

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Apollo was Natalia Magnicaballi with Michael Cook. A few weeks earlier at the DC Velocity Dance festival Heather Ogden danced with Kirk Henning in Apollo.

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Many thanks for the dancer ID's, cantdance!

I really liked Valerie Tellmann in "Agon." It's also nice to Alison Basford again: she dance with PNB in the 00's.

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This experience makes me wonder (again): Why can't SF Ballet do live streaming broadcasts of their performances, that are accessed by people who pay in advance for an online "ticket" (and use name/pass access)?

Or any company for that matter - why not do a live stream of the performance and charge for access? At say, $15 a ticket, they could get a few hundred people (I'm sure) to participate and make some money, and gain exposure.

What would the production costs be? I have a feeling that it's not as cheap as we might think.

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What would the production costs be? I have a feeling that it's not as cheap as we might think.

We know from yesterday's broadcast that Kennedy Center already has the basic equipment, camera people, software and a streaming server set up for their purposes. The only additional cost that I see would be the online ticket/access purchase, but since they do have online purchases for in-house performance tickets, I would think they just need to modify the existing purchase system to allow for purchase of online credits.

Of course for those companies doing it for the first time, they would need to consider purchasing at least a couple HD quality video cameras (many companies have at least one to record themselves with for their own archives), and 2 operators. [The Kennedy Center broadcast used 2 camera positions that I noticed - a third one mounted above the stage would be a nicety.] They would need a computer to connect the cameras to. The streaming software cost can range from free to, say $1000 or more. Just depends. The computer that the cameras connect to needs to have an Internet connection with an upload speed that supports HD rates. And they would need a tech person who understands how the live streaming software works and can oversee things.

There are of course companies that supply software as well as support to businesses that want to stream an event live over the Internet. Many people are standing by to take your money. ;)

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Many people are standing by to take your money. ;)

You know, I've seen them everywhere.

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Becasue of the costs of configuring and maintaining a webcast/streaming server, I imagine Kennedy Center is paying for a service of some kind, like the Livestream.com people. You can see their pricing structure on this page:

http://new.livestream.com/plans

And for anyone tech minded enough, The "How things Work" website explains the basics of "How Streaming Video and Audio Work".

It's true that a ballet company would need access to a reputable webcasting expert who knows what's involved, and what software/hardware solutions to recommend for the particular job. It always helps to ask those that have been through the experience what worked and what didn't, and what the pitfalls are.

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The very basic set-up at the Kennedy Center, Juilliard (for Master Classes), and the Guggenheim (for Works & Process) isn't nearly expensive as the HD broadcasts, but I don't know how many companies want to be seen in such a primitive form. I'm sure they'd all love to be on the big screen.

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Looks like Kennedy Center is using "JW Player" for at least the archived videos, but those people also offer hosting and streaming services:

"JW Player Platform provides media management, a developer API, and high-volume hosting and streaming."

Anyway, it's possible to set up a webcast with open source software (free) if you have the right tech geek working for you - the real issue is having a dedicated server to support streaming media, and so people often have to go with a service of some kind that specializes in hosting live streams.

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It's so nice to have last night's performance archived already, especially since in the past - as late as 2012, at least - archiving of Millennium Stage performances has taken months. And to have full movements of Episodes, nowhere else to be seen but onstage and at the NY Public Library branch at Lincoln Center . . . fabulous!

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It's so nice to have last night's performance archived already, especially since in the past - as late as 2012, at least - archiving of Millennium Stage performances has taken months. And to have full movements of Episodes, nowhere else to be seen but onstage and at the NY Public Library branch at Lincoln Center . . . fabulous!

I totally agree - I've watched the performance a number of times now. Which reminds me, who is the 'lead' woman in Episodes (the first section)? Is that Ogden?

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w

who is the 'lead' woman in Episodes (the first section)? Is that Ogden?

I believe that's the woman cantdance identified as Valerie Tellmann in Agon. She's new to the Farrell company.That's Elizabeth Holochuk, a longtime soloist in the company, in the following movement.

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