At San Francisco Ballet:
–Ratmansky From Foreign Lands - sweet-and-sour series of episodes. (Would be interesting to know what the original score was that Ratmansky switched out at the last moment.)
–Symphony in Three Movements with Yuan Yuan Tan & Vito Mazzeo or Sarah Van Patten & Carlos Quenedit in the slow movement – two different kinds of quiet.
–Lensky duel and Jonathan in Cinderella, true Pushkin & pure Max Sennett in Taras Domitro's versions.
–Scotch Symphony - always.
–Borderlands - Wayne McGregor's relentless, almost Warhol-like fascination with dance movement (where fascination is a blend of self-alienation and curiosity). Always tottering on the edge of the not-human. Some wonderful scenes and groupings but no resolutions, everthing porous.
–Francesca da Rimini - 20 or so sweet lines of Dante get the Maria Callas treatment.
–Hambourg Ballet Nijinsky - the first act would have been sufficient. Time to let (the idea of) the suffering artist die.
–Suite en Blanc - very weird passages, one with three men, like Borzois, circling a woman and lying at her feet; art deco merangue of a ballet.
–Balanchine and the Lost Muse - With every new anecdote about Lidia Ivanova in Elizabeth Kendell's book, there's less and less of her, until she seems to vanish completely. She becomes the white patch of empty canvas in the middle of a painting that's otherwise finished.
But it's really an important book on Balanchine's lifelong Russian constructivist influences, and the radical theater experiments of Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Meyerhold/Fokine and Lopokhov – 10-13-6-6-2-5-11 counts and dancing on the plane of the floor – for which Balanchine later acted as a conservator.
Also Kendell points out the commedia dell'arte and street theater influence on Balanchine via Meyerhold and via Diaghilev during their visit to the last performng commedia dell'arte troup in Naples in 1926. Melancholic is Pierrot, Kendell says, and Phelgmatic is Harlequin. The figure in the gigue of Mozartiana is the ballet's
master of ceremonies, or its Pierrot, or its Death (as in Le Valse). He might be equated with Balanchine. Some of his steps come from Balanchine's own greatest role, the Buffoon of Nutcracker.
–The Infatuations - Javier Marías' mystery about a woman (Luisa) and the Perfect Couple she sees every morning at coffee before work, until one day something happens and everything is off-kilter after that. Long wonderful flights of discussion on Time (slowly turning the tables on us, never drawing attention to its stealthy labors until... )