Ray

PA Ballet opening 2/6

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Some brief observations. The program last night was:

Serenade (Balanchine); Afternoon of a Faun (Robbins); Under the Sun Pas de Deux (Sappington); Petite Mort (Kylián). Complete casting can be found here.

Serenade: Competent, energetic performance, though I thought attention to detail was lacking (makes me question how well it was coached/rehearsed). The Valse was too slow; Élégie too fast; orchestra sounded ragged (which is often the case on opening nights here). The stage of the Merriam Theater, where PA ballet does many of its rep programs, felt cramped. Finally, the tulle skirts didn't seem to fit quite right--they seemed to ride awfully low on the dancers' hips. Amy Aldridge, scheduled to dance, did not appear; that change is reflected in the attached casting.

Jermel Johnson shined in Faun, in which he partnered Julie Diana. They both appeared to have been well-coached and well-rehearsed (by Bart Cook) in this narcissistic psychodrama of a pdd.

Under the Sun: Unspeakable, ghastly pdd, but mercifully short. Live music helped make it tolerable. (This pdd will be part of PA Ballet's PBS/WHYY broadcast sometime this spring, along with Diamonds, as detailed here.)

Petite Mort: the Kylián formula is not interesting to me, but the performers did a great job. And again, the live music made it more interesting.

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Thank you for posting, Ray.

You summed up my feelings on "Petite Mort."

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I vaguely remember Under the Sun from many years ago (some PBS program), but yes, not particularly great.

I've seen a couple of productions of Serenade in the recent past where they've made what feel like odd choices about the costumes -- very shiny bodices, and some where the skirts start fairly low on the hip. I don't really know how much leeway individual companies have for that ballet.

I'm not a huge fan of Petit Mort, but I still find things to look at in it. And dancers love doing it. I think I like it better than ballet companies trying to perform modern dance classics without the style or the training.

Or at least that's what I think today!

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I'm not a huge fan of Petit Mort, but I still find things to look at in it. And dancers love doing it. I think I like it better than ballet companies trying to perform modern dance classics without the style or the training.

Are these our only options?

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I'm not a huge fan of Petit Mort, but I still find things to look at in it. And dancers love doing it. I think I like it better than ballet companies trying to perform modern dance classics without the style or the training.

Are these our only options?

Certainly not, but there are days when it seems like those are the choices being made for us...

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I really do have to find one of those animated weeping icons for this site...

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I really do have to find one of those animated weeping icons for this site...

Just take it as read.

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For what it's worth (not much IMHO), here's the local yokel's "review" of the performance, which trots out the Company's boilerplate about Serenade being its "signature" ballet (whatevs, as the kids say), and makes some obscure comments about Julie Diana's extension in Faun.

This "critic," you may note in the byline, is a staff writer at the paper, not a stringer. Cue the weeping emoticons!

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The review is filed as a "mini-history" of the company, and honestly, it works slightly better as that.

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I've never seen the Sappington piece but distinctly remember a long time fan of the PAB rapturously describing it from memory. It sounded cool. I'm sorry to hear the reality has not withstood the test of time. Perhaps it is like certain pop groups; years later no one can remember why they liked it. Structuralists seem to win out in the long run.

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I've never seen the Sappington piece but distinctly remember a long time fan of the PAB raputously describing it from memory. It sounded cool. I'm sorry to hear the reality has not withstood the test of time. Perhaps it is like certain pop groups; years later no one can remember why they liked it. Structuralists seem to win out in the long run.

My opinion is that they revived this b/c it was already in their rep, so they didn't have to pay much for it. It has no particular resonance for PAB dancers or audiences.

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The little that I remember was about the actual partnering -- stretchy and bendy stuff, that seemed contemporary at the time, which means of course that now it would seem fairly tame and dated.

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Ray, isn't this the Calder piece?

Yes. Since the Calders have deep roots in Philly (Alexander's father and grandfather both worked and made public art here; at one point you could look done one end of the Ben Franklin Parkway and see Calder's grandfather's fountain; on the other end, on the Phila. Art Museum plaza above the "Rocky stairs," there was a Calder stabile, now sold off to a museum in Seattle), there was at one time a drive to build a Calder Museum, not too far from the new Barnes. I think this pdd was done to commemorate him in the spirit of launching or supporting that project (which looks dead in the water for now.) But I'd rather sit in front of an actual Calder than watch this pdd.

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I guess I would still like to see it once to see what Calder references she cme up with. I suspect a straight forward video would be about as interesting as a flat video of an actual Calder.

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a Calder stabile, now sold off to a museum in Seattle),

And we are thrilled to have it!

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and now for another point of view - Stephen Raskauskas reviews Pa Ballet's recent program

http://us.bachtrack.com/review-feb-2014-pennsylvania-ballet-philadelphia

Right around twice as many worlds as the critic for the Inquirer got. I'm just saying...

Quantity does not equal quality. I'm just sayin'...

"The original Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, with choreography by Nijinsky, is one of the most beloved works of modern dance"??? I don't think so.

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