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MCB Program III. Episodes, TPDD, W.S Story Suite,


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 06:46 AM

Getting some hours of sleep before heading to the theater.

 

Will report back! tiphat.gif



#2 Jack Reed

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 04:23 PM

Even before the curtain goes up, the casting list is up, and Mary Carmen Catoya and the Delgado sisters are expected to be back!  That's good news!  I was hoping to see MCC in Tchai Pas in Broward next weekend, as well as get another dose of Episodes, which TSFB showed (without "Variations, Op. 30") in November.



#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 12:15 PM

This was one of the most boring "ballet" evenings I've ever witnessed.  Given, I don't "get" the sort of choreos like "Episodes".  I hated the whole thing...the atonal music, the floor rolling, the, to me, nothingness to infinity...and yes, I read all about its history, Graham, Taylor, etc, etc.  I guess I just approached it with the same curiosity I approached Duchamp's "Fountain"..("Oh, ok...so this is what it was, ok...the times, the significance...oh, ok...next..let's finally get to Rubens' Maria de Medici series...")

 

Tchai.PDD was the blandest I've seen it in recent years.  Cerdeiro is NOT up to this type of technical challenge-(I think he better stays in the "Episodes" territory)- , and Arja looked totally underwhelmed. 

 

Wet Side Story Suite.  I don't even know where to start.  I think this is the first time I saw a ballet company doing a musical and singing-(and bad singing, on top of everything...). 

 

Lopez is good at PR.  She organized a post performance gala, and so all the rich Miamian socialites-(normally absent from ballet performances)-were there exhibiting their minks in 75 degrees Miami and having their pics taken by local media.  Lourdes herself was stunning in a red carpet form fitting strapless red dress with a huge bow on her back. She spent time onstage pre performance acknowledging some rich Cuban sponsoring family.  And she did so both in English and in Spanish.  Smart woman, I think.

 

Behind me there was an old couple in formal tuxedo and black gown attire, and the guy was very happy with West Side..."Oh, I love Brodway!", he said to his wife...

 

 

In between all this 80's barefoot Duato and now this Brodway, I don't even know what to think. To better explain,  I'll quote a FB exchange on the subject...

 

 

-"What a caricature of a ballet program...MCB is in the verge of becoming a sad hybrid of a company.  Bad singing, barefooted choreo...little exposure to the grand XIX Century core.  Just very sad, BUT the house was happy and revenue was collected so I guess that's all that matters"

 

-"I did not attend...MCB loosing its "ballet...

 

-"It was so awkward...it looked to me like a modern dance company attempting at some classical stuff-(the boring "Episodes" and the bland TchaiPDD"



#4 Jack Reed

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 04:35 PM

Sorry for your "down" evening, Cristian.  Though interpretive stuff sometimes helps, I never get much out of ballet histories, though, myself.  "Important" is invisible to me.  

 

You can't see history, only see and hear what's now; I mean what's happening in front of you, not what somebody thinks is current fashion.  (We're seeing plenty of that at ballet programs.)  Art comes from somewhere within the artist, I think, not from trying to follow others, "outside" influences, but if an "old" work - you mention Rubens - can be set before us, and we can appreciate it, we are having the experience of it now.  So how old is it?  The first time, it may be new to us.  

 

Or sometimes an artist will absorb and "recycle" the old but make something fresh.  New to everybody.  Okay, now I'm rambling so much, I'm not sure myself what I'm saying.     

 

Anyway, as for the gala crowd, there's something to be said for people having a good time and kicking in some cash - though it sounds like it was other people, enjoying their show.  Not part of my civilization.  Feeling alienated from the rest of the audience hardly improves the experience, as I recall.

 

Thanks for your report.



#5 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 07:31 PM

Thanks, Jack. As polite and proper as always. I hope to see you at one point here back at the ballet!

#6 Jack Reed

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:12 AM

It takes one to know one, Cristian.  I enjoy running into you too, but it looks like it'll be next season - from what you've just said about Program III, you'll not be braving Miami's notorious traffic to see it again in Broward this coming weekend, and as I complain elsewhere - not at too great length I hope - I'll not be braving all that Minkus for this season's Program IV.  Enjoy Don Q, Cristian!  I wish you good casting, as the Delgados and Catoya are back, and the men seem to be on their feet as well.



#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:14 AM

Thanks, Jack...and let me keep going on now, because I was really frustrated that night.

 

Why is this company reducing so visibly its percentage of balletic works in favor of those works by either contemporary troupes and now by Broadway..? What's next...maybe "Spring Awakening" or maybe "Cats"...?-(to stay in the classics..)

This program's whole 50 %-(the one publicly announced)-was not ballet-(WST).Last program, same thing.  The emphasis here and there, in the media and so on was based in Duato's thing.  On top of everything, they decide to pair here the bad singing-(because it was BAD)-with this "Episodes"-(ok...maybe many of you NY'rs love it, it is in the bones of City Ballet, there are fond memories of it in the past and so on and so forth, but then, remember that you also have all the other great balletic stuff going on across the plaza, so it is not as if this is the only option...the only ballet to enjoy...which is my case here.). 

 

And talking about West Side Story.  Why so purposely expose something this dancers lack, which is voice, instead of further dig the very vast world of the art form, a rich territory which its foundations are still partially uncovered by this company..? And what an ill fitted cast! Jeremy Cox as Riff is the most ridiculous thing I've seen onstage for years.  Cox, and Chase Swatosh as Tony, and the rest of the "gang"-(Sean Breeden, Dunlap, Marshall et al)-looked as if they haven't even witnessed a street fight during their entire lives! MCB's men are better fitted to be called "boys".  They are all too boyish and delicate looking to be convincing in this roles.  The only one that looked the part was Reyneris Reyes as Bernardo. 

A couple of times there were voices off singing to their dancing-(as with Tony's solo).  I don't know if this is supposed to be like that, but listening to an out of tune voice while another person is onstage and knowing that this is supposed to be done at the same time by the same actor wasn't pretty.

 

Another take from FB.

 

"When I saw this at NYCB I was really peeved.  Those ballet dancers cannot do Broadway acting or attitude well. They immediately look silly"

 

 

 

Ok...I deleted almost the other 50 % of this...rambling, because I realize this is what I'm doing...rambling.



#8 brokenwing

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:57 PM

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#9 Birdsall

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:31 PM

The problem is that American ballet companies are probably struggling to survive and having to program hodge podge shows that include modern dance. You can't really blame the ballet companies. This culture prefers pop stuff. Classical music stations have a hard time surviving in most areas. Regional opera companies have to program the bread and butter operas (Rigoletto, Butterfly, Boheme, Carmen) over and over and throw in ONE rarity occasionally (that usually doesn't sell well). This is a pop culture country. I think New York is an exception, because you have so many people from all over concentrated in one city, so NY can have a huge opera company and two main ballet companies and then a lot of smaller troupes and touring companies and everything sells well. 

 

But in most parts of the country people simply don't care about classical music, ballet, or opera. There are always SOME people in each area but not enough. You also have music in general de-valued (some schools no longer have any music education program at all). You have to have exposure to see value in it, and there is very little exposure to classical music, ballet or opera for the average American. 

 

Even gay men who have always loved the classical arts in the past are changing. Not sure why. Most gays my age and younger only know Madonna and Beyonce and any number of singers who can't sing. I know Madonna's older stuff but I have no idea what Beyonce sings. I used to read Perez Hilton daily simply to know the names of current pop culture so I could hold a conversation with other human beings, but I have given that up now that I am working and so busy. I have no clue who any current pop singer or any new actors are, and I really don't care. I have discovered that your life goes on when you have no clue who the current stars of anything are.  I come home and put on ballet videos and watch them. My free time is so limited. I do not want to eat it up with junk culture. There is no fighting this. People here are much more interested in watching reality tv and listening to pop music (if you can even call it music). You have to find your own way to find pleasure. Ballet is never going to be the most popular art form. So go on trips and resort to videos both commercial and otherwise. 



#10 Jack Reed

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:42 PM

I've just had a look at a little of the famous film of West Side Story, many pieces of which are on You-know-where, and I think that brokenwing may have a point, at least about the original.  These guys are acting out roles they'll never grow into, with luck - I mean that they'll straighten out, not that they'll get killed off - this is an awful truth about urban gangs, I guess, nobody wants the fight (except maybe a few lunatics fomenting it) but everybody gets caught up in it, and the contrast between acting tough and being vulnerable could add dimension to this fantasy world which draws upon timeless reality.  (The PR for this won't let us forget Shakespeare's play, itself referring to an old story.)  



#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 04:31 PM

Believe me, Jack-(and I don't know what brokenwing's post was, because it is now deleted)...this was not a case of "vulnerability adding dimension to fantasy world and drowning upon timeless reality"....this was plainly a case of wrong casting...these roles are not for these boys-(with the exception of Reyes perhaps).  They were simply out of their league.  And I'm sorry, MCB fans and/or dancers if any of you is reading this, but...not every male ballet dancer can pull out masculine roles with the same level of credibility as, let's say, Carlos Acosta or Reyneris Reyes.  It is what it is, and if wrongly done, then it is a travesty.

 

I would had love to see your impression, Jack, at seeing Jeremy Cox playing tough onstage...it was hard to digest.  The last time I saw him dancing was in a backstage gala where he and Wong did a very good impersonation of Beyonce's "Single Ladies".  He was better then.



#12 Jack Reed

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 06:08 PM

(I rarely quote a post I'm replying to, but now I think I will try to make a habit of quoting the specific phrases I have in  mind!)

 

But I've seen more of the film, now, and some of the tough-guy stuff does come off, and yet, so much of it is plainly organized choreography.  And some of it just clanks along, to develop the plot situation, like Hollywood does sometimes.

 

But you may get your wish - I'll see at least one or two performances next weekend in Broward.  (Cox was one of the three memorable Prodigals in my experience, but he was probably coached by one of the other two - his old boss, Villella.  If he didn't equal Villella, he did convince.)



#13 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 07:04 PM

Just let me know via PM which performance will you attend.  I'll be a pleasure to see you again, and we might even repeat the Cuban restaurant.! tiphat.gif



#14 Jack Reed

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 02:16 PM

Some comments on the Broward performances - anybody who wants to go on talking about the ones in Arsht, please feel free.  (The Broward performance dates are on Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd at 8:00 and Saturday and Sunday the 23rd at 2:00.)  

 

This afternoon the hit of the weekend so far for me was Mary Carmen Catoya in Tchiakovsky pas de Deux, with the excellent Renato Penteado.  You know how with some dancers, or some ballets, what you see is what you get?  With Catoya, you get so much more than that.  Quick and clear, then stopping time and starting it again - momentum is not involved here, this is unbelievable but you're seeing it, and it's all deployed to show you her dance; she herself never shows off - though there is sometimes a hint of "This is fun!" as befits this dance.  As for Penteado, the right partner - so clear I can fix my gaze on her and see him, too, peripherally.

 

I've just re-read this and it's inadequate, but I'll leave it here.  Maybe I'll think of something better when, God willing, I see them again tomorrow.  (And if God is not willing?  I'm reminded of that old phrase that applies, when you have experienced something really fine, "Now I can die happy!")

 

(I texted a friend in NYC who remembers Catoya from MCB's week there in January 2009 and she replied, "She's a joy to watch!")

 

One aspect of Episodes to comment on is the authenticity of the "restored" male solo, originally danced by Paul Taylor, "Variations, Op. 30."  rg believes there's no recording of this choreography, and I trust that.  I have seen only two still images, one in a photographer's studio, a dubious genre, but another in B. H. Haggin's Ballet Chronicle which, typically of Haggin, is a performance photo.  Both times, both images have flashed by in the course of things, for what that's worth.  And the second number, "Five Pieces, Op. Op. 10" was more authentically lit here than when TSFB presented Episodes at the Kennedy Center last November:  Here, much of the stage was quite dark, except for an area of variable size where the dancers were moving; there, the surrounding stage area remained dimly lit, which diffused one's attention.  



#15 Jack Reed

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 07:50 PM

I'll add that of the two dancers who perform the "Variations, Op. 30," Jovani Furlan, in both evening casts, was more effective than Eric Trope this afternoon (substituting for Neil Marshall, who took over for Chase Swatosh in "Five Pieces, Op.10", with Maya Collins, which they repeated this evening in place of Christie Sciturro and Swatosh.)  

 

Furlan fills out, inhabits, the movement, and phrases it, so that it is becoming something - a thing, one thing - I can begin to remember; with Trope, it looked more indefinite and formless, and I looked in vain for the images I'd seen published, but with Furlan, I had already spotted on first viewing some repetition, like the image in Haggin's book, which is  followed, a couple of counts after the second time it goes by, by the "studio" image I posted a link to.  Indeed, there are a lot of repeated poses and short sequences in this dance, possibly corresponding to repeated music phrases, which I'm not hearing.  (I prefer to prepare to see a new dance by becoming familiar with the music first, but I didn't manage to this time.)  As to the "fly in a glass of milk" quality Balanchine was supposed to have referred to, this seems only sometimes apt.  (Maybe it depends on the particular fly?)  

 

I might add that whichever dancer solos gets a big hand; for that matter, West Side Story Suite got people to their feet Friday night, and there were exclamations of "Wasn't that marvelous!" behind me, but it looked like so half-baked in concept to me (not to mention the failed lip-synching) I skipped it both times today, especially since I wanted just some quiet time this afternoon to savor Catoya and Penteado's extraordinary performance of "Tchai Pas."  

 

This evening, that little showpiece was performed again by Nathalia Arja and Renan Cerdeiro, and it made the young woman sitting next to me happy to the point of giggles, especially the coda, where in the "fish dives" the two made Arja look like she might weigh ten pounds.  Hearing the giggles, I remembered the story of Balanchine explaining what ballet was for:  "It makes people happy."  It sure did my neighbor, and Arja displayed many virtues in it, but hers remained a small performance even without contrast with Catoya's magical powers.  (The young lady, with pre-professional ballet experience herself, was surprised to hear from me that Balanchine had made both Episodes and Tchaikovsky pas de deux.)




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