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Winter Season


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#16 Swanilda8

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 09:46 AM

I'm going to disagree with everyone, apparently. I was at the ballet on Friday and Saturday night. I enjoyed the contemporary pieces. Spectral Evidence was much better than I remembered, and danced with great conviction. I thought Acheron was a very good piece - I love Scarlett's use of masses onstage, and I think it produces an excitingly different counterpoint from the Balanchine type we see so often. The designs were unfortunate, and also it unfortunately was the third ballet of the evening done in half lighting, which tired my eyes and made for a singular lack of contrast.

 

Dances at a Gathering was AMAZING. Beautiful performances. I've been waiting to see this work for a few years now and it was well worth it. Union Jack sadly should burned. Not the flag - the ballet. It was so dull, the score was plodding and nonsensical and desperately annoying. The performances were virtuosic, but there's not much you can do with that material. The only good thing about it was the pony. Thank you pony.

 

Full review: http://itinerantball...mixed-bags.html



#17 canbelto

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:07 PM

You're not alone. Union Jack is the one Balanchine ballet I will never sit through again. Way too much fluff/dancing ratio.

#18 abatt

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 05:11 PM

FYI, there is a program change  in February.  The New Martins work that was scheduled to premiere in late Feb. (on a program w. La Valse, Walspurginacht and Faun)  is not ready yet, so Acheron (new L. Scarlett ballet) is replacing the New Martins ballet.  Yeah, I don't have sit through Vespro and Spectral Evidence to see Acheron.



#19 California

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 05:18 PM

Fun fact: In the January 2014 program, in the back, is a list of the NYCB "Family of contributors." In the category $6,500-$9,999: Julia and David Koch.

 

In the January 2013 program, in the category $100,000-$249,999: Julia and David Koch.

 

They have a Koch Foundation, which has donated to ABT in the past, along with their individual donations, but I couldn't find the Foundation on the NYCB lists.

 

This is for programs, both years, in the Koch theater, for which he donated  $100 million for renovation.

 

I did some googling to see if there were any published reports or if reporters had asked him about this and I could not find anything. If anyone sees published reports addressing this (no speculation or rumor, please), let us know.



#20 vipa

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 05:50 PM

You're not alone. Union Jack is the one Balanchine ballet I will never sit through again. Way too much fluff/dancing ratio.

 

Interesting.  I have to say that Dancers at a Gathering is one ballet I will never sit through again.  I've seen it several times, and had vowed  - never again.  I decided to give it another chance.  For the first 20 minutes or so, I loved it, and couldn't imagine what my problem had been with it. After another 10 minutes I wanted to shout out - All right you can stop now.  5 minutes after that I was willing to beg - Please, please stop now.  Each to one's own I suppose.



#21 AlbanyGirl

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 07:04 PM

I've been reading this thread and find it very interesting.  First, I had to cancel my weekend of Jan 25 for the matinee and evening performances because my Golden Retriever, Fergus, is ill.  He's doing better and was actually better in time for the weekend, but we did not want to chance leaving him, wouldn't have enjoyed ourselves, anyway, being so far away from him.  Given that, I can see the company is performing beautifully and am sorry to have missed Concerto Barocco with that matinee cast (Mearns and Kowroski, I believe), and the Gershwin cast, esp. Tiler and Robbie. And missing Jewels was a great disappointment, too.   From MaCauley's review, Maria danced Diamonds beautifully.   Oh, as an aside, from my Google Alerts, I get reviews from that NJ Star Ledger critic, Robert Johnson, I think that's his name.  He absolutely hates Maria Kowroski and IMO, if what he says stands in for meaningful critical assessment, I think he should find another occupation.    Last winter season, when she danced Balanchine's Swan Lake, he made some fatuous statement that she couldn't dance.  I just shook my head (and fist, in fury).    

 

I saw Barocco at SPAC two years ago and I don't think it was the greatest perf. I'd seen of that ballet.  I believe the cast at that time was Lowery and Reichlen, and I saw it twice that summer, but it was somehow, I don't know, I can't put my finger on it.  I was thrilled to be seeing it - it is always a privilege to to see this company, but....     So I was looking so forward to this prformance on the 25th, with these particular principals.  Since I had to cancel, I exchanged my tickets for June 1, so it will be interesting to see who dances Barocco then.  Who Cares is on that bill, also.  As for Kammermusik, I, too, am loath to criticize Balanchine choreography but I saw it twice two years ago at SPAC and I have to say, I just didn't like it.  So I am not terribly upset to have missed it.  

 

Dances at a Gathering, which I've only seen a couple of times, well-spaced out, is, in my opinion, too long.  I enjoy it, I love, love, love the music and the dancing, but it seems to need editing.  Union Jack is a ballet I haven't seen in years, so I don't know how I would receive it now.  I remember liking it very much, but I was young when I saw it so I appreciate the critical input on the ballet in this thread.   



#22 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 05:59 AM

 

You're not alone. Union Jack is the one Balanchine ballet I will never sit through again. Way too much fluff/dancing ratio.

 

Interesting.  I have to say that Dancers at a Gathering is one ballet I will never sit through again.  I've seen it several times, and had vowed  - never again.  I decided to give it another chance.  For the first 20 minutes or so, I loved it, and couldn't imagine what my problem had been with it. After another 10 minutes I wanted to shout out - All right you can stop now.  5 minutes after that I was willing to beg - Please, please stop now.  Each to one's own I suppose.

 

 

 

 

Dances at a Gathering, which I've only seen a couple of times, well-spaced out, is, in my opinion, too long.  I enjoy it, I love, love, love the music and the dancing, but it seems to need editing.  

 

You're in good company. Arlene Croce on Dances at a Gathering: "I would like to see it cut by fifteen minutes--though not the same fifteen minutes--at every performance."

 

(From "The Relevance of Robbins," first published in Ballet Review as "Waterloo" in the Spring 1972 issue, and republished in her first review collection, After Images.)



#23 flo

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:16 AM

just a few comments...... I agree w/ vipa that Bouder often looks smug, even conceited about her talent.  I thought so all the years she was coming up, then thought I liked her better in recent years but maybe she's back to that.  I admire her talent but she's one ballerina who could never make me cry or feel something deeply.                 Dances at a Gathering I find too long.  I love the dances and I hate that my feeling at the end is relief that it is over.  I would like to be left with a more pleasant feeling!  If only they had cut those 15 minutes that Croce wrote about......          I do love Union Jack though!  I even get goose bumps during the procession of regiments.  Maybe it's my English roots but I thoroughly enjoy it.  I love the costuming and I love the fun the dancers have during the Royal Navy section.  Sometimes I tire of the costermonger part but it was great to see Ringer hamming it up on Feb. 1, and the new pony was a scream!



#24 Lcg

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:31 AM

I agree that Dances at a Gathering is too long ...which leads to the question...what part or parts would we be willing to give up? After much thought, over several years of Dances watching I cannot come up with an answer. Thoughts?

#25 atm711

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:38 AM

If it is too long for you---don't go to see it!!  Leave it untouched for the rest of us.



#26 macnellie

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:52 AM

I agree with atm711!

#27 Drew

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 02:27 PM

I came to NY for a chance to see a mix of works new and old--some once familiar to me that I hadn't seen in a long time. But I'd like to begin by saying a word for Bouder: I thought she was fantastic in Rubies Thursday night--really made the case for it as major Balanchine (which I don't really believe it is). Her engaged facial expressions seemed entirely organic arising out of the total performance which I found powerful, sexy, and fun. I also thought she was excellent in Who Cares? on Sat afternoon. Her musical playfulness softened--or, at any rate, lightened the texture of the hard hitting showgirliness of the other lead women (Hyltin and Lowery). She certainly seemed utterly confident, but I would not say the least bit smug.

 

In other roles, in Acheron, for example on Friday night, her extremely accomplished dancing was presented in an almost subdued way; if anything I wished she would do more to draw attention to herself. I have in the past found that in some roles she seemed more cheerleader than ballerina and in still others put too much of a damper on her personality--but in her dancing this past weekend at least I saw not only extraordinary skill but tremendous vitality.

 

For me Dances at a Gathering has aged...I did love it at one time, but not since performances in the 70's and perhaps early 80's have I ever entirely enjoyed it as I once did and indeed I stopped trying to see it since I can only go to the ballet occasionally in any case. But this weekend I was in NY for a slew of performances and happy to give it another chance. I liked it, but...and I am still trying to figure out where the "but" comes from.  I think the tone very quickly turns too cutesy for me--some of it is performances (I don't remember Verdi being as archly comic as Kowroski as the woman in green), but I think some of it is the choreography. When the music/choreography does seem to go deeper and darker, I did not always feel the dancers got to the same place.  I did think the quality of dancing at the performance I saw Saturday night was very fine -- Peck (in pink)  is always flawless and dances with subtle musicality and there was one tour jete where, among a group of men, Catazaro (in blue) went lightly soaring with real ballon and I thought--'oh no wonder they are pushing him'--and all the other men as well were very skillful, Tyler Angle especially. Still,  with the exception of Mearns the performances mostly remained generic for me and I'm not sure the problem is entirely the dancers. Mearns is another story.  In Dances (as in other roles) I found her remarkable in her ability to convey the sense of an entire world within her and around her.  (She did slip at one point which broke some of the spell, but then in an instant she restored that spell.) I know Peck can do it--I saw her do it two nights earlier in Emeralds--but somehow even her performance didn't take flight for me.

 

In general, Mearns was the heroine of my visit, dancing at every performance I attended--Thursday, Friday, and Saturday matinee and evening and indeed Sat night dancing in both ballets on the program. I felt lucky because I find her the most compulsively watchable woman in the company and her Diamonds was especially memorable, even thrilling. (I did think her tights looked odd when I looked through opera glasses from the first ring--one could see her ankles; someone told me she sometimes wears stirrup tights. I don't know if there is a physical reason for that--protecting blisters or some such--but it's not a choice I care for aesthetically and certainly not in Diamonds.)  She also helped make Union Jack an event for me: forceful and severe as she led her regiment dancing to a pounding section of the music in the opening and adorably silly and energetic in her sailor suit at the end.  

 

I hesitate to say I was pleasantly surprised by Spectral Evidence, but I found it disturbing in a way that genuinely affected me. It was decidedly not generic and seemed to draw on a wellspring of imagery that percolates through American fantasies about the Salem trials that were its inspiration--hysteria, child abuse, repression, violent death and almost equally violent rebirth. I found it to be a serious work and very powerfully danced by Robert Fairchild, Peck and the entire cast. I had not really been looking forward to it and ended up very glad I saw it.

 

However the big emotional event for me during my visit to NY was...uh...the Costermonger bit in Union Jack, for it gave me a final chance to see one of my very favorite ballerinas Jenifer Ringer for one final time before she retires. I was so focused on her, so flooded with memories watching her, and so tearful [sic] that I actually missed the donkey poop. That is I knew the donkey was doing something it wasn't supposed to because it was moving and the audience was giggling, but it just passed me by...As for Ringer, she was utterly beautiful and funny/expressive in all of her pantomime/dancing. I found myself thinking what a great Massine ballerina she could have been. And she knows how to wear a costume!  I am sorry not to have been living in NY for much of her career--just writing about it makes me emotional.

 

Union Jack itself is well, an oddity of sorts. I had forgotten Kirstein's typically eccentric program note for it. He refers the "tepid euphoria" of bicentennial celebrations to the Watergate scandal and then  refers to the" sacerdotal function" of the soldier--completely leaving out the post-Vietnam mood of the 70's which would rather have complicated his latter point while changing one's view of "tepid euphoria." The opening parade seems to me an impressive tribute to the company qua company, and stunning to watch--especially when the regimental leaders have real stage presence (Mearns, Janie Taylor too, on Sat night) but not all of them do and for me it meant something different and more moving when the ballet was first done and, at the end of the first section, Farrell was at the front of the entire company. Likewise the silliness at the end. I love Reichlen and she has the legs for Wrens--but not the oddly witty sexiness and daring elan that enabled Farrell take the silliness to another realm.  

 

Final thoughts on my visit? An older gentleman sitting behind me Sat afternoon (subscriber I infer) turned to his wife at the end of Concerto Barocco to comment on how wonderful it was--she concurred--then he paused before summing up:  "They should do that one more often!" Truer words never spoken.



#28 abatt

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:50 AM

I attended last night's performance.  Bal de Couture is very dull in terms of the choreography, and every time Janie Taylor's big, billowing sleeve covered her face or her partner's, it reinforced how inept and unsuitable these Valentino designs are for ballet. 

 

I once again marveled at the inventiveness of Wheeldon's DGV.  I'm a big fan of this ballet. Maria K. was absolutely stunning.  Her long lines and sensuous interpretation are perfectly suited to this ballet.  The entire cast performed well, although I thought Megan Fairchild looked out of place in this ballet.  She is not a leotard ballet kind of dancer. (Based on the casting list, it looks like Lauren Lovette is debuting in Maria's role next week w. Hall as her partner.  I have a hard time imagining how someone so short could make an impression in this role.)

Four Seasons was the final ballet of the evening.  Special mention for the lovely and lyrical performances of Mearns and J. Angle in the Spring Section of the ballet.  It chased away these awful winter days from my mind for a few minutes.  DeLuz, Bouder and Ulbricht were firing on all cylinders in the Fall secton with bravura execution of their difficult parts.  (I thought Bouder's mugging for the audience became a bit distracting. Arguably since this is a show off role, the mugging was not entirely out of place .)



#29 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 11:38 AM

I attended the February 2nd performance of "Jewels' and am surprised that no one has mentioned Teresa Reichlen performance in "Diamonds".

 

When I first saw 'Jewels' more than 30 years ago, the ballerina role was danced by the imcomparable Suzanne Farrell.  It was a performance I thought I would never see equalled until I saw Reichlen on February 3rd.  Reichlen stood out for her meltingly expressive upper body and gorgeous deep back bends.  Her arabesquues were absolutely gorgeous and her musical phrasing was creamy and luscious.  Reichlen enriched "Diamonds" with a regal grandeur not often seen in 21st centiury ballerinas.  A very young corps member, Russell Janzen, was Reichlen's cavalier. He was a very good partner and was doing pretty well in his solos until he slipped as he was about to leave the stage.  I do think he has real potential and will look for him in the future.

 

All the other dancers were great, except for Savannah Lowery as the Tall Girl in Rubies.  I think the problem is that Teresa Reichlen's performance in Rubies is embeded in my mind.   I thought Lowery was pretty bland in the part.  Her dancing lacked sharpness and explosive stage presence.  Is there any one at NYCB besides Reichlen who can dance this role?  I can't remember who danced the Tall Girl the first time I saw 'Jewels'.  Who were the great Tall Girls of the past?  Can one of them help turn a current NYCB dancer into a a great Tall Girl in the future?



#30 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 07:40 AM

All the other dancers were great, except for Savannah Lowery as the Tall Girl in Rubies.  I think the problem is that Teresa Reichlen's performance in Rubies is embeded in my mind.   I thought Lowery was pretty bland in the part.  Her dancing lacked sharpness and explosive stage presence.  Is there any one at NYCB besides Reichlen who can dance this role?  I can't remember who danced the Tall Girl the first time I saw 'Jewels'.  Who were the great Tall Girls of the past?  Can one of them help turn a current NYCB dancer into a a great Tall Girl in the future?

 

If you saw Farrell in Diamonds, I wonder if you saw Colleen Neary as Tall Girl? That would have been the original cast.

 

I agree no one else currently dancing the role can touch Reichlen. Kowroski was great too, but she hasn't done it in ages.




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