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MCB Program IBallo de la Regina, Serenade, Polyphonia


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#16 Natalia

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 12:26 PM

Thanks, cubanmiamiboy...and it was great to have met your lovely mom too! smile.png

 

Whew, that was probably the quickest trip I've taken but definitely one of the most satisfying. Cubanmiamiboy already knows that I had major issues with the dancing of the female lead (Ms Arja) in Ballo, who changed/watered down many steps to help her get through the piece. I find it really hard to believe that Merrill Ashley approved this; such sloppiness cannot be blamed just on opening-night jitters. Nathalia Arja is a pretty dancer, blessed with the ideal physique of ultra-long and willowy limbs, in relation to a tiny torso but...this part requires steel pointes, not sponge pointes (for starters). This ballerina role requires a strong, straight back...not tipping the torso forward, making a rounded 'C' shape by sticking out the ribs, in every arabesque. Limp wrists in port de bras....etc, etc. And that's all I'm going to say about that.  Everything that I write henceforth is uphill...

 

pause - pause - pause...deep breathing...

 

 

I arrived at the Arsht Center, straight from the airport, about an hour before curtain. Those Miamians sure know how to put on a party and dress to the nines -- it was Friday Night Prom amid the coconut palm trees!  The entryway to the theater had been turned into an outdoor nightclub, with live DJ, cocktail tables, special lights, etc. All beautiful young gals in Miami seemed to be there, wearing size-0 prom dresses, some cut like tutus. All I can say is:  I'm glad to have traveled in high heels and not the usual sneakers.

 

So on to the show:

 

Ballo - beautiful, beautiful staging by Ms Ashley. We already know that the MCB corps de ballet is one of the world's best in Balanchine, but they truly outdid themselves here in Ballo, as well as in Serenade. Bravi! The leading man, Renan Cerdeiro, was phenomenal, with a huge jump and very musical. The four demi-solo ladies were commendable but I especially loved the steely footwork of the first (Zoe Zien) and the bouyant jetes of the third (Nicole Stalker).

 

Polyphonia - A powerful work to Ligeti solo-piano pieces, this is considered one of the greatest ballets of the 21st C (so far!). One of the reasons why I made this trip was precisely to see this, as I'd previously seen only the other two of Wheeldon's 'Ligeti Trilogy' works, Morphoses & Continuum. [I always seem to be away when NYCB or Pa Ballet do it.] To me, it is definitely the strongest of the three Wheeldon-Ligetis, in its composition -- how the 10 pieces flow from one to the other -- and due to the beautiful innovative shapes made on the 8 dancers (4 male-female couples). All 8 dancers were fantastic...including Ms Arja, who was fine in the more 'freeform' demands made by Wheeldon, compared to Balanchine. The other dancers also deserve mention:  Tricia Albertson (who dances the two most mysterious pdds, with Reyneris Reyes), Jennifer Kronenberg (extraordinary in her solo within Part VI), Sara Esty, Renan Cerdeiro, Mr. Reyes, Renato Penteado and Kleber Rebello.

 

Serenade - Now I totally understand why this work was programmed last, even though it is 'softer' than the zippy Ballo. The corps was breathtaking. Sheer perfection, in delivery and nuances. I have rarely seen this ballet so magnificently performed. And those soloists - WOW to Jennifer Kronenberg. I've never quite understood the 'full story' behind this ballet but, whatever the story, Kronenberg's leading character had me in tears well before the famous death ending. This is a great artist - true ballerina.  And the other soloists were just as swell:  Sara Esty, Emily Bromberg, Carlos M. Guerra (as Kronenberg's partner) and blonde 'angel' Chase Swatosh.

 

So I came for Polyphonia but had Serenade in my heart as I exited the Arsht Center, with a huge full Moon Over Miami. Yes, it was full...how ideal is that?



#17 Natalia

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 12:42 PM

p.s. - Before the show, the Mayor of Miami stepped before the curtain to proclaim October 18 'Lourdes Lopez Day' henceforth throughout the city. Ms. Lopez seemed truly surprised as she stepped up to get her proclamation.



#18 Birdsall

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 07:44 PM

I am very surprised. Arja usually comes off as a spitfire powerhouse sort of in the Osipova mold. At least that has been my impression. 

 

I will see this program in West Palm in November. I wonder if casting will be different. 



#19 Jack Reed

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 07:51 PM

I think if you're a little mystified at the end of Serenade, if you don't understand the 'full story', then you've got it.  

 

The ballet is strewn with surprises and mysteries, maybe beginning with the class formation combined with the raised hands, certainly with the girl who comes in late - it happened at the first rehearsal, but by the second one the perfect world of ballet could have been established, but no - and later the little accident of the girl falling - a tragedy in the world of ballet, a dancer falls down - is transformed into a beautiful tableau (like you might see in a sculpture museum, right?).  

 

And the end, death and transfiguration?  If you like.  Mr. B. liked a little ambiguity, but at the end it does look like the girl who takes a fall, has her adventure with her Eros or Cupid, and is abandoned, meets her larger fate - looks up at the mother-figure, if you like (Karin von Aroldingen would sometimes wear a terrified expression here for a moment) - and goes on high, like another sculpture, of Victory, this one.



#20 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 10:04 PM

I had a pleasant night.  Ballo is sort of new to me since I had only seen it once, many years ago in Cuba.  As I had said before, it was staged by Ashley too, and only one performance was given, with only one ballerina chosen for the role: Lorna Feijoo.  As I had also said, I remember Ashley famously declaring after watching the performance that if she ought to choose one dancer to be the bearer of the role after her, that would be Miss Feijoo.  I don't remember too much of it, to be honest...everything being a fuzzy  memory of a very fast, quick, brilliant allegro for the ballerina.  Funny enough, aside from that my biggest memory of it was the rampant fall that Feijoo took onstage during a little running segment, after which she quickly got up and danced even better.  I also think that this was the only time a Balanchine role originator-(aside from Alonso with T&V)-has staged a work in Havana.

So then...I was seated in the third tier center-(I usually prefer orchestra, due to my poor vision, but I really wanted to see the evolutions of Serenade from up there).

Nathalia Arja is still a very young dancer, and she's still in the Corps.  I really don't understand why isn't Jeanette Delgado or Mary Carmen Catoya dancing this. Evidently, just as Natasha says, this role needs one very technical ballerina.  I don't have too much to add to this, for which I don't have that much of a point of comparison.  I don't know the choreography to the point of detecting mishaps, but one thing I know.  The performance didn't thrill me as much as that one I saw those many years ago.

 

Cerdeiro is still a work in progress in my book.  He's l not yet in the page I like my male dancers to be...a la Carlos Acosta, Marcelo Gomes, Jose Manue Carreno, Roberto Bolle etc.  He's technically attractive, given, but I still don't see rapport with his ballerinas.  His onstage love stories-(even imaginary ones as in Ballo)-are still not very credible.  He needs to GROW...to look less of a boy onstage.  He performed nicely though.

 

While looking at the choreo, I kept thinking-(and don't kill me for this, please...)- "This ballet would had looked opulent in tutus..."

 

 

Serenade was just mesmerizing.  What a wonderful piece.  Balanchine couldn't go wrong with it.  The magnificent music, the dreamy atmosphere, the beautiful costumes..everything is just perfect.  I always think of it as the sophisticated younger sister of "Chopiniana"...happy.png

 

My mom looked at me at one point and whispered..."But that's not the order of the music!"  tongue.png



#21 sandik

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 10:15 PM

My mom looked at me at one point and whispered..."But that's not the order of the music!"  tongue.png

 

Think of all the people who learn the music by seeing the ballet, and then wrinkle their foreheads when they hear it in the original order.



#22 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 07:37 PM

BTW...I was hesitating abut bringing this issue, but I can't resist...Carlos Guerra in Serenade looked square...VERY out of shape.



#23 Natalia

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 04:27 AM

I was thinking the same, cubanmiamiboy! Well, at least Guerra's role is mainly that of a partner, with little solo-bravura dancing. Hence, he performed ok but he looked a bit out of place.



#24 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 06:22 AM

I think next time I see Ballo-(probably  during the Fort Lauderdale run)-I'll try to see it from orchestra center very near the stage.  I think all this fast allegro work of the ballerina can get lost from too much distance-(and more if 1-one doesn't know the choreo very well and 2-if one's vision is sort of poor like mine.  For instance...I could not luxuriate very well in that fast series of hops on pointe...so I feel like I lost much of the variation's charm.

 

Serenade, on the other side, is a WINNER from upstairs.



#25 Helene

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 01:57 PM

Here's a 3-minute interview with Merrill Ashley on "Ballo della Regina" with practice clips; it was linked from MCB's Facebook page:

 

https://www.facebook...&type=2



#26 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 07:18 PM

I think next time I see Ballo-(probably  during the Fort Lauderdale run)-I'll try to see it from orchestra center very near the stage.  I think all this fast allegro work of the ballerina can get lost from too much distance-(and more if 1-one doesn't know the choreo very well and 2-if one's vision is sort of poor like mine.  For instance...I could not luxuriate very well in that fast series of hops on pointe...so I feel like I lost much of the variation's charm.

 

Serenade, on the other side, is a WINNER from upstairs.

 

I'll keep an eye out for you, Cristian, but meanwhile, do you know Ballo is on the "Choreography by Balanchine" DVD that has the audio and video in sync?  Or maybe somebody will tip you off by PM...



#27 Jack Reed

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:19 PM

Broward performances 25-27 October 2013

 

The casting is up, although Friday evening, the 25th, there were already some substitutions in Polyphonia which I'm not sure I got, but I think Rebecca King subbed for Natalia Arja.

 

 

I'm sorry to say that everyone fills their roles in Ballo della Regina - one of the four demis in lavender fills her part to overflowing, doing too much with her head, for instance - except Natalia Arja, who leaves the center of it rather vacant.  (The wonderful picture in the program book of Mary Carmen Catoya in it doesn't exactly help.)  I wish Arja well, and the missing Delgado sisters, not dancing currently, I wish well also, and I look forward to Tricia Albertson's performance.  (And to Catoya's return to the stage!  Maybe in Tchaikovsky pas de deux next year?)

 

A note about some dancers we sometimes say here deserve more than we see of them:  At the curtain, the first of the demis to get a bouquet was - Zoe Zien.  And another dancer we want to see more of?  We sometimes ask, has anyone seen Jeremy Cox lately?  Well, first I spotted him on p. 30 of the program book as a Guest Artist, and later in the aisles.  Okay, sooner or later on stage again.  (Katia Carranza is also listed as a guest.)

 

One of the things I liked about Polyphonia is that the dancers look good throughout it.  (You can't count on that anymore.)  Another thing is that Wheeldon doesn't inflate.  I don't think Ligeti has as much to tell a choreographer as, say, Tchaikovsky, or even Verdi, but Wheeldon does listen, we can see that; and the penultimate piece, in which Ligeti uses only one note - in different octaves (especially lower ones) and different rhythms to be sure, where the music is conspicuously more implicative than evocative (versus the two older composers) neither collaborator becomes portentous.  

 

And another thing was that Jennifer Kronenberg was in the solo part, reminding me that she's one of those dancers who doesn't stop when she's standing still.  Not that she quite stands still here, but she commands the space - the stage, and the house - while expending relatively little energy in this quiet part.  If Polyphonia was any single dancer's, it was her ballet. 

 

Serenade is a beautiful ballet but this rendition looks a little prettified, fussed over, affected in spots, with flourishes and gestures if not added then emphasized along the way, not so full-out and wind-blown as I think suits its music; but still, the dancing is more robust than the accompaniment, which is oddly gentle and delicate, sometimes scarcely audible.  Jennifer Kronenberg led it, and in keeping with the polished conception, her "girl who comes in late" bit is danced, performed, not something which just happens.  So, I'd say, the power of the ballet, especially in its mysteries, was diminished, but it's still a beautiful ballet.



#28 Jack Reed

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 01:13 PM

Saturday afternoon, the 26th:  What a difference a day makes!  Albertson's Ballo looked large, clear, nicely finished, and complete.  If she lacked a little of Ashley's power, well, who doesn't?  I had a sense that the ballet was all here this afternoon, and then there's Kleber Rebello's dancing, everything powerfully articulated and integrated into inflected flow - fabulous, not to reflect on Renan Cerdeiro last night, but this was the pair to see in this, I felt.  Twice as long applause as last night?  It seemed like it.  

  

Polyphonia without Kronenberg still had Helen Ruiz in the solo, who gave this large (though short) part with distinction even if she didn't seem to fill the house with it as Kronenberg had.  And while I still haven't learned by watching the stage what Wheeldon hears in the musical chaos of the first number, significantly titled "Desordre," from there on I admire how he emulates Balanchine's principles without imitating his style.  (Francisco Renno's playing of all this music is beautiful.)

 

Kronenberg was also absent from Serenade, and Albertson, leading it, scampered in at the "late" bit and did act out the happening a little.  Maybe I've adapted to the scale of the accompaniment, but I still want it more full-blooded, even though there is a problem with overdoing Tchaikovsky.



#29 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 02:03 PM

Saturday evening's cast was the same as opening night's, with similar effects, but Sunday afternoon, 27 October, brought some more cast changes and a generally satisfying program.  Albertson returned to Ballo, with Renato Penteado this time.  Less intense than Rebello, with his superb clarity, he made a more even match for her, and so in spite of what I said above, here was the finest pair of the weekend, for me.  And I believe the exceptionally clear Zoe Zien appeared prominently in the corps but was not credited.

 

Katia Carranza took over what I continue to think of as Jennifer Kronenberg's part in Polyphonia with a even more distinction than Helen Ruiz did - short-handed, MCB still has an abundance of riches -  as evidenced by Zien's getting out in the open - i.e. out of an ensemble - in number VIII in this suite, an Allegro con spirito with Michael Sean Breeden, and it was good to see her there.  Number IX, with very compact movement to music composed on one note, continues to impress, not least from Carranza and Chase Swatosh's performance of it.

 

Then Carranza ably led Serenade, which I still want to be more bold and intense, especially after the tempo picks up early on; and Carranza's way with the "late" business is to find her spot downstage apparently by introspection.  (Instead of looking for it, as some have over the years.)  This doesn't achieve the deepness this ballet has sometimes - and so it remains a beautiful ballet (for which I'm thankful, don't get me wrong!). 



#30 Natalia

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 03:47 AM

Thanks, Jack. Just by seeing Albertson and Arja dancing next to each other in Polyphonia (in Miami), I could tell that Albertson would make a far more effective lead in Ballo. You have confirmed my suspicions. After all, the ballet is called Ballo della Regina...not Ballo della Nena.




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