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


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#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:56 PM

Jack...allow me to ask you something I've had in my head since I saw "Episodes".  Now, I know about all the cons working against me being able to get such type of thing-(little exposure to abstract works, dislike for atonal music, etc..)-but...didn't you find this piece a little hard to enjoy..?



#17 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 06:30 PM

Aside from "Variations, Op. 30," no, not particularly hard.  My usual way, looking for how the dance corresponds - sometimes by contrast - to the music, or looking for how the choreographer hears his music, served me fairly well.  If I had had more familiarity with the music for the solo, that might have "worked" better, too, but as it was, I was still trying to find my way in it, surprised by all the repeated material, for example.  Maybe if I relaxed a little more?

 

My artist friend had her best time with that, chuckling at the aptness of Balanchine's metaphor for it, "a fly in a glass of milk," and with "Concerto Op. 24," possibly because of its more clearly demonstrated structure -  the energetic outer movements more populated, for example, by contrast with the quieter, middle one, a pas de deux, and her least enjoyment, in Episodes, with "Five Pieces. Op. 10," though she could imagine in other circumstances and different renditions how it could have more of the dry humor it still had some of for me.

 

An example of the correspondence by contrast I meant happened a few times in "Symphony Op. 21," where the music "froze" when a note was held, while the dancers broke into a greater degree of animation, resuming their previous rate as the music took up its activity again.  And I thought Eric Trope's performance of that solo again today fitted the "fly" metaphor a little better than Furlan's more powerfully shaped and phrased one.  Not to say Trope's was "better," though.

 

She also had a good time with Tchaikovsky pas de deux, where she was about as delighted as I was by how wonderfully Catoya showed the dance, just brought it into existence I would say, with ease and some pride and joy, and without much in the way of physical restraints, and she was impressed by the exuberant energy of Penteado's spectacular dancing of his variation and in the coda.  (Personally, their dancing in yesterday's matinee pleased me even more.)  

 

Okay, was this supposed to be how I liked Episodes?  I'll try to get more into that later.

 

But in West Side Story Suite both my friend and I had a sense of movers of great ability who might have had something better to show us in making use of those abilities.  I agreed with Jean-Pierre Frohlich's remark on the soundtrack of the introductory advertisement - a film clip shown before the performance began - that these dancers can dance better than Broadway dancers, though I think Broadway dancers have the advantage of dancing their way much longer, while these ballet dancers are just coming to it.  

 

(Years ago, NYCB mounted Jerome Robbins's Fancy Free and Interplay while he was on hand, and ABT revived their productions, which in the case of Interplay was rather different.  I saw all four, and found the ABT ones more effective.  One had a sense of deep authenticity with them.  Since making them for ABT in the 40's, Robbins had moved on, making more balletic dances for NYCB, notably Dances at a Gathering.  Maybe he had moved on without realizing it himself.  WSSS looked more balletic to me, and less effective than the few sequences, both fighting and dancing, I've had a chance to see, very early in the 1961 film, West Side Story.)


Edited by Jack Reed, 17 March 2014 - 05:10 PM.


#18 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 06:43 PM

Thanks for the report, Jack..! tiphat.gif

 

Yeah...I figured that this is my limitation-(and probably my inability to try to go against my instincts...).  happy.png

 

Oh well...we'll have Quiteria and Basilio next, so I'll be watching...



#19 sandik

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 08:07 PM


(Years ago, NYCB mounted Jerome Robbins's Fancy Free and Interplay while he was on hand, and ABT revived their productions, which in the case of Interplay was rather different.  I saw all four, and found the ABT ones more effective.  One had a sense of deep authenticity with them.  Since making them for ABT in the 40's, Robbins had moved on, making more balletic dances for NYCB, notably Dances at a Gathering.  Maybe he had moved on without realizing it himself.  WSSS looked more balletic to me, and less effective than the few sequences, both fighting and dancing, I've had a chance to see, very early in the 1961 film, West Side Story.)

 

I saw some of those performances, and had a similar reaction.  While the NYCB dancers seemed more technically skilled at the time, the performances at ABT had a more grounded quality, with the dance action supporting a more natural dramatic approach.  This was, for me, particularly true when it came to turning -- the dancers at NYCB were doing some really beautiful pirouettes, but I felt the dancers at ABT were spinning as their characters.



#20 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 06:40 AM



 While the NYCB dancers seemed more technically skilled at the time, the performances at ABT had a more grounded quality, with the dance action supporting a more natural dramatic approach.  This was, for me, particularly true when it came to turning -- the dancers at NYCB were doing some really beautiful pirouettes, but I felt the dancers at ABT were spinning as their characters.

 

 

That puts my thought well, though I don't remember turns specifically; whatever they did was inhabited by their characters.  (The sailors did turn a lot, but not so much turning in Interplay, I believe.)

 

Cristian, you're in south Florida.  How are you and Art Deco architecture?  Just a thought about you and modernism, abstraction, all of that.  Just wondering.  



#21 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 07:36 AM

It is small scale Art Deco, Jack.  I do like going around the neighborhoods looking at the simple lines of the sunny structures, but for the grand Art Deco feeling-(the sort with big buildings front bronze panels and heavy lobby lamps, which I'm more inclined to "feel")-I still have to jump on a plane...



#22 bart

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 06:46 PM

Arriving late to this thread.  I'm about to see Program III this weekend.  West Side Story should be lots of fun, and it will be great to see the Delgados and Jeremy Cox back on stage.  But I confess that I am looking forward most to the revival of Episodes
 
I missed the 1959 performances, the ones which were joined to a very different work by Martha Graham.  I suspect I saw Episodes during its first revival, a year or so after that.  It's said that Balanchine tailored each "episode" to suit the style and strengths of each principal lady.  I once knew those 1959 principals very well, so it occurred to me that it might be interesting to compare that group with another group of dancer's I've come to know well -- MCB's first and second casts. 
 
The listings below follow this format:   NYCB first cast, 1959 -- MCB first cast, 2014 -- MCB second cast.
 
Symphony   Violette Verdy, Jonathan Watts // Tricia Albertson and Didier Bramaz // Emily Bromberg, Jovani Furlan
 
Five Pieces   Diana Adams, Jacques d'Amboise // Christie Sciturro, Chase Swatosh // Maya Collins, Neil Marshall
 
Concerto    Allegra Kent, Nicholas Magallanes // Patricia Delgado, Renato Penteado // Nathalia Arja/ Renan Cerdeiro
 
Variations    Paul Taylor // Jovani Furlan // Eric Trope
 
Ricercata in Six Voices    Melissa Hayden, Francisco Moncion // Jennifer Kronenberg, Reyneris Reyes // Sarah McCahill, Ariel Rose
 
Adams/Sciturro --  long legs, beautiful line, a sense of gravitas -- makes a lot of sense.  Delgado/Kent and Kronenberg/Hayden strike me somehow as right, but I will have to wait to see why I felt that way.  Albertson/Bromberg don't recall Verdy to me, but each is a strong neoclassical dancer in the Agon, Four Temperaments mode. 
 
I'm also impressed at the opportunities Lopez continues to make for lower-ranked dancers, some of them quite young.  For example:  Jovani Furlan (new to the corps de ballet) and Eric Trope (still an apprentice) in the Paul Taylor role.  And, among the more experienced corps members:  Christie Sciturro, Maya Collins, Neil Marshall, Chase Swatosh,  Ariel Rose,.
 
The chance to see Episodes is a rare privilege, it seems to me.  I have lots of questions:  Will the separate parts somehow cohere into a whole?  Will the orchestra do justice to the Webern?  Is the Paul Taylor solo as astonishing as we remember it?   Will I be able to see something of the 1959 dancers in the current casting?  Is the ballet interesting mainly as an artifact, or is it strong enough to take on renewed life in 2014?
 
Can't wait until tomorrow.

#23 mira

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 10:04 AM

hi Bart,

 

I believe Eric Trope is a corps member.

 

Mira



#24 bart

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:45 PM

Thanks for the correction, mira. I misremembered something I read in the press about his selection for the Taylor solo. Looking forward to seeing him on Sunday.

#25 Birdsall

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 07:05 AM

I actually thought I would not like this program, but I enjoyed it for the most part. After seeing it, I think it was smart to program a crowd pleaser like Westside Story after Episodes. Lourdes Lopez knows what she's doing. To get us to eat our spinach she offers a puff pastry at the end of the meal.

I was totally unfamiliar with Episodes but read about it, and it sounded like it started as an interesting experiment with Martha Graham. It is very modern so the type of ballet that we know we "should" see. Lourdes Lopez even says this show was designed to show that ballet is not just tiaras and tutus, that it is a living art form (I am paraphrasing her comments in the program). For me it was like eating spinach (or sweet potatoes). Although I respected Balanchine's inventiveness and the dancers' ability to bring life to Webern's modern music I really only liked the final movement which included the most beautiful ballet movements (probably because the music for the final movement was an arrangement of Bach's music so the music was more beautiful also). Maybe repeated viewings would help me enjoy the whole thing more.

For me Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux is an example of what draws most of us to ballet in the beginning. It is such a gorgeous work that stresses the beauty of ballet and shows Balanchine's roots in classical ballet in Russia. Yet there are slight changes and tiny modern touches that make it a very Balanchine piece at the same time. I felt Arja and Cerdeiro Danced well especially in the coda, although I recently saw this same piece danced by two more seasoned and polished dancers. Little things like the awkward linking of arms as Arja is assisted in turns near the end of the adagio betrayed that they are young dancers, incredible dancers, nevertheless. I also feel this piece requires an almost Russian-style imperial body carriage at least when they first enter.

Westside Story Suite was the piece I was actually dreading. I thought I would hate it as a junky pop ballet, but it was hard not to be swept up by the exuberance the dancers brought to the work. Jeanette Delgado was terrific as Anita. As much as I love and prefer Russian classical ballet with tutus I have to admit that a Russian dancer would not be able to dance Anita with that type of brio and that style. This type of pop ballet is probably where American dancers excell. I doubt this will ever be one of my favorite works, but it was fun, and the audience loved it.

#26 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:42 PM

Thanks for the report.! tiphat.gif. You might be right.  Lourdes is giving people what people want.  Can't wait to see "Spring Awakening" being considered for the company. It is such a crowd pleaser..! 



#27 brokenwing

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 04:35 PM

West Side Story Suite is performed by many major companies around the world (PNB, SFB, NYCB, Royal Danish, National Ballet of Canada) because it is very dance heavy, utilizes classical vocabulary (if you look for it) and is choreographed by one of the great ballet/dance geniuses of all time. I don't think we should expect to see a non-dancing full-evening musical theater evening by a ballet company any time soon.

#28 bart

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 06:24 PM

I loved the programming this weekend, although a number of people in the audience were vocal about not enjoying the "modern" qualities of Episodes, especially the Webern score.  For this audience segment, what came next -- Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and West Side Story Suite -- seems to have saved the day.  A almost people I saw seemed to be walking jauntily and smiling as they left the hall.

 

Episodes -- a work I've been looking forward to all season -- got first-class, often thrilling performances by both casts.  Highlights for me -- Tricia Albertson in the first Section (Symphony) partnered elegantly by Didier Bramaz.  This section comes across as ritual:  pure, cool, aristocratic, profoundly unfamiliar. Albertson is having a great season, dancing very well in both classical and neo-classical principal roles, and this was her best performance so far.   In the second cast, Emily Bromberg and Jovani Furlan, both corps members, were slightly less cool and abstract but equally effective. 

 

Also:  Eric Trope, a first-year company dancer, was outstanding in the Paul Taylor solo.  Balanchine is said to have suggested that Paul Taylor think of this as a "fly in a glass of milk."  Trope captured the sense of moving through something viscous, sometimes heavy, sometimes light.   I loved the way he punctuated his sinuous body-shaping with bursts of energy,  impulsive and almost involuntary  gestures.The details were clearly etched but never distracted from the arc of the larger movements.  What a debut!

 

Also:  Jennifer Kronenberg and Reyneris Reyes in the final section, Ricercata in Six Voices.  At this point the music changes and becomes warmer, more conventionally "beautiful," ,more recognizably humane.   This the big number of the ballet -- with 14 corps joining the principals.  Kronenberg danced it as the ballerina role it is.  Her Mona Lisa smile expressed pleasure in the music and in what she was doing, as I imagine Melissa Hayden would have done at the premiere.  I noticed that a couple of the sulking anti-modernists seated in my section responded warmly to this section, something I attribute to Kronenberg generous dancing and to her cavalier Reyes just as much as  to the beautiful Webern arrangement of Bach's fugue.

 

I was excited to see that Mary Carmen Catoya was dancing Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux on Sunday.  Catoya is returning from maternity leave, but why on earth did they put her in the second cast?  Dancing with her regular partner Renato Penteado, she was superb.  Better than ever, I think.  Catoya still has all the old technique but seems to have acquired an element of insouciance of spirit that I don't recall seeing before.

 

I was impressed by MCB's boldness in taking on West Side Story Suite.  NYCB probably does it better, but they have twice as many dancers (and potential singers) to choose from.  This was a stretch for Miami and in almost every way a big success.  

 

Tops for me were;

 

-- the men, in the rumble scenes-- Jeanette Delgado's firecracker Anita in the first cast, quite different from Sara Esty's (usually the sweet and perky one, with the big smile) a feisty, impassioned, sardonic, street-smart,  though not particularly Latina Anita.

 

-- the use of sound effects (whistle, siren) to suggest the police and the almost ritualistic response of all the dancers to these sounds.  After the death of Bernardo and Riff, when the siren sounded, all the men faced the curtain in ranks, Jets and Sharks mixed together, heads lowered, arms outstretched and moving downward, as the curtain fell.

 

-- and right after that, the way the stage was suddenly flooded with light as the concluding "Somewhere" ballet began.  It's a magical conclusion, though sentimentalized.   It's an ostentatiously feel-good happy ending -- and why not?

 

I had some difficulties accepting the downplaying of the the Tony and Maria story, though Emily Bromberg and (especially) Jovani Furlan  were touchingly innocent and youthful lovers.




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