canbelto

Winter Season

94 posts in this topic

Last week, I saw a brief video interview with Andrew Veyette, who said he was "excited" about his new tattoo. I groaned in dismay. Last night I saw it for myself, in Acheron (which--unexpectedly--I really enjoyed, by the way). Why do supremely athletic and attractive dancers feel the need to scribble all over their bodies? Their bodies are their art, for goodness' sake, so why would they deface them? Over at ABT I've bemoaned the ugly eagle on Sascha Radetsky's bicep, and Patrick Ogle has stuff all over him. Doesn't matter when they're costumed, but when bare-chested it's at least a distraction, at most distasteful. Bear in mind that the danseurs shave their armpits and trim the chest hair so they don't look messy onstage. I fail to understand why the artistic directors don't forbid dancers from tattooing themselves, on pain of dismissal from the company. Sound severe? I don't think so. Tell them to wait until they retire from the stage to "express" themselves in this deplorable way.

But I LIKE the tattoos. Maybe the AD's do, too. ABT's revival of Clear was much improved by them, IMO. And they certainly don't strike me as out of place in Acheron.

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I've just clicked over to the separate thread about tattoos and (oh dear god, I don't want to think about it) piercings, and I must say that the same divide in opinions existed in 2007 as it apparently does now. Sascha's tattoo seems to be the biggest offender, if offended you are. I didn't see ABT do Clear in 2007 or last fall, but two years ago when he did the slinky Arabian variation in Nutcracker (called "Coffee" in the Balanchine version) he had something covering up the eagle--whether it was a bad makeup job or a clumsily applied patch, I couldn't tell. The cover-up attempt was just as bad as the tattoo itself, and I did find it a distraction, because Ratmansky's new "story" for that variation was otherwise clever and very entertaining, and Sascha danced it well.

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I went back and re-read the tattoo thread as well (and there were several comments from carbro, which made it sweet and sad) -- I think a tattoo is much like a birthmark or another distinctive body mark. In some cases it can be a distraction, and that's where makeup and other tools come in. Otherwise, I don't really mind.

At one point several years ago I realized I was seeing a lot of ink, and so started keeping track in my performance notes. After a few months, it seemed that almost everyone I saw had something, so I stopped keeping statistics.

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I went this afternoon and want to give a few impressions.

Acheron - when it was over my husband turned to me and said,"I think I've done that ballet several times, by several different choreographers." To me that said it all. Nothing new or distinctive, but pleasant enough. The dancers looked nice. Some of the partnering looked difficult. My mind wandered now and then, and then it ended. I've seen worse.

Afternoon of a Faun - I read a review that compared Sterling Hyltin and Craig Hall unfavorable to clips of Taniquil LeClerq in the documentary about her life. I think that's totally unfair. A film with close ups is very different from a stage performance and LeClerq was already known for the role when the film was made. I really enjoyed Hyltin and Hall.

Walpurgisnacht - I hadn't seen this in a while and really enjoyed it. It is in some ways really over the top but the choreography is joyful and inventive. I've enjoyed Maria Kowroski more this season than I have in a while. Her wit and musicality are evident. Erica Pereira is always a mystery to me. She looked mostly fine with a few glitches but I'll never understand why she became a soloist so quickly. I think it was a disservice to her. She never got the corps stage time and in some ways it shows.

La Valse - Another work I haven't seen for a while. Dramatically it seems dated but musically and choreographically it is still inventive. I don't know if that makes sense.

I'd love to hear from others who were there.

One more note: I dislike the music lectures that appear at some performances. I love classical music, attend the phil and sometimes go to the pre-performance lectures but I dislike music lectures being thrown into ballet. It seems random because it has nothing to do with ballet. If they have to fill out a program why not talk about how this approach to Afternoon of a Faun differed from previous approaches. My husband disagrees, but I want ballet to be about ballet. The information in the talk in no way informed my viewing of the piece.

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I totally agree with you Vipa. Those "See The Music" lectures - while often interesting and informative - are demystifying. When the curtain goes up on a work like Concerto Barocco, you're totally in a different place, its own world. After Bach's score is broken down for you that's no longer possible. Or at least it's more difficult to achieve. There's no mystery because you've been told what to expect, even what to think.

It's even worse when dancers come out to talk. Turns out they're just people. Not these magic creatures capable of extraordinary, beautiful things. I don't want to know how hard it is or how many hours they spend in the theatre or how much they sweat. It takes away the fantasy. And nothing does that more crudely than ink. For me seeing tattoos, even covered tattoos, makes the experience about that person's life off stage rather than about the ballet they're supposed to be presenting.

.

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Are these surprise lectures, or is there a way to know ahead of time if they're planned.

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They're identified as "See the Music" well in advance.

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Right there in all capslaugh.png .

I had always thought it was an educational branding thing, I get the "seeing" as "understanding" rather than visually seeing, but it is a questionable use of the phrase, since it has a specific meaning in NYCB lore, and Balanchine was noted for not wanting to explain.

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Re -Walpurgisnacht --

Kyra Nichols is of course wonderful, but IMO Nicole Hlinka is spectacular in the 2nd female lead variation. She's a dancer you don't hear much about but WOW.

I saw Erica Pereira in this role last week. She got through it. Nothing more.

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Thanks for that video. Hlinka is a name I haven't heard in a number of years. She retired at a relatively young age. I remember that Scotch Symphony was one of her signature ballets, and I think she did that at her farewell.

I saw Acheron over the weekend. It had some good moments, but all those repetittious lifts created a monotony. Based on that one work, it is hard to see why Liam Scarlett is such a big deal at the Royal.

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I saw Acheron over the weekend. It had some good moments, but all those repetittious lifts created a monotony.

Too much flipping and grappling and hauling for my taste laugh.png , though I liked the opening and I loved the score. Thank you to everyone who posts in this forum. Living far from New York and only seeing NYCB a few times a year, I especially appreciate being able to follow it here. I saw the last three performances of the season and was especially thrilled by Mearns and Lovette in Walpurgsinacht Ballet, Mearns and Reichlin in Concerto Barocco, Hyltin and Hall in Afternoon of a Faun (two beautiful people who looked even better together), and - the reason I made the trip when I did - Taylor and Marcovicci in Faun and La Valse.

Was no one else there Saturday night? It was nice to see so many dancers in the audience in support of the retiring couple, and amusing during their final bows to see someone drape over Taylor's shoulder a black banner that read Janie Taylor Homecoming Queen. I guess that falls under the category of black humor, given what she'd just danced. The couple looked very happy, and we were all very happy for them.

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I was there on Saturday night and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I even liked Acheron for what it's worth. But of course Faun and La Valse were the highlights. I thought that Taylor and Marcovici were having the time of their lives, relishing the moments of their final show. Their performances were up there with their best ever. Jared Angle was the Death figure, which was probably special to them as he and Taylor came out of SAB together and danced many roles together at the beginning of their careers. The applause went on seemingly forever.......so much love and appreciation pouring out to them. It was Jared who put the banner on Janie. (It said Pageant Queen) I saw the retiring couple backstage and they were simply having fun with all their friends. It is a night I will not soon forget. I still have the La Valse music playing in my head.....

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It was Jared who put the banner on Janie. (It said Pageant Queen)

Ah, that's right. Thanks for the correction.

I still have the La Valse music playing in my head.....

So do I.

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Thanks for that video. Hlinka is a name I haven't heard in a number of years. She retired at a relatively young age. I remember that Scotch Symphony was one of her signature ballets, and I think she did that at her farewell.

She was an excellent Swanilda--also, I think, early in her career she danced a wonderful Butterfly in Midsummer Night's Dream.

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Thanks for that video. Hlinka is a name I haven't heard in a number of years. She retired at a relatively young age. I remember that Scotch Symphony was one of her signature ballets, and I think she did that at her farewell.

She was an excellent Swanilda--also, I think, early in her career she danced a wonderful Butterfly in Midsummer Night's Dream.

I loved her in Walpurgisnacht, and also in Donizetti Variations.

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I have a question about La Valse which I’ll post here, since NYCB danced the ballet during winter season, and since the question isn’t likely to generate much discussion. Does anyone remember when the women started wearing larger black bows? (For those who haven’t seen them, Ashley Bouder’s recently tweeted photo of Janie Taylor at the rosin box shows how big they are). Black or not, they strike me as almost girlish and festive, and therefore unsuited to the dark and mysterious mood of the ballet. I also found them distractingly large.

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Thank you vipa for posting the Walpurgisnacht video from 1980. I do remember seeing Kyra Nichols and Ben Huys during that period, and I admired his presence and flair. And Nichol Hlinka was superb in the second variation. And who doesn't love and remember Kyra? Is it my imagination or did the company in Balanchine's era have more softness, less angularity, than it now has? I would have to compare a recent performance of the same piece. Any opinions?

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Robert Gottlieb writes six paragraphs about the final performances of the season in his latest NY Observer article, which I’d been eagerly awaiting. (Thanks for the link, dirac). He calls Taylor and Marcovicci’s final performances "underpowered but valiant." He says that La Valse was “dead on arrival” due to "the company’s failure to grasp,” right from the opening waltz by the Fates, “what it’s about, what its highly specific perfume has been through most of its 63-year history.”

Whoever is responsible for this section of La Valse is either mood-deaf or ignorant. The wrists are all wrong, the ominous gestures are empty, the great costumes and hairpieces have been disastrously “freshened.”

He observes, as Arlene Croce did about the repertory in general in 1993, that dancers “who could explain Balanchine’s intent” aren’t welcome to come coach. He praises Bouder as Choleric in The Four Temperaments, Mearns in Walpurgisnacht Ballet, and all four principals – Kowroski, Ramasar, Hyltin and Fairchild – in Stravinsky Violin Concerto. He also writes that
Scarlett is beginning to look pretentious—the opposite of City Ballet’s own young star choreographer, Justin Peck, who, in the manner of Balanchine, takes everything seriously except himself.

I'm so grateful for critics with long ballet memories.

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