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Pennsylvania Ballet at 50 on PBS

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PBS schedules vary widely, of course, but "Pennsylvania Ballet at 50" is being shown on Denver PBS (Ch. 6) on Friday, May 2, from 9-10 pm. The DVD will be released on May 13, 2014, on Amazon. The program includes Part I of "After the Rain" and "Diamonds."

http://www.pbs.org/program/pennsylvania-ballet/

If you order it from Amazon, be sure to go through the Amazon box on this site:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IVLRA76/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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Thanks California. It's going to be shown on New York's Channel 13 on May 2 at 9PM.

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According to the PBS page linked to above, we're waiting until Sunday May 11, Mother's Day, in Chicago, when Channel 11 is scheduled to carry it at 2 PM; the page carries a reference to "Diamonds" suite. Any idea what this is about, or just another example of a copy-writer's not quite got it? But thanks to you, California, it's on my calendar now.

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And there's nothing scheduled for Seattle/KCTS.

A question -- on the website there's a photo that looks like a pose from After the Rain, but the costumes look like the Calder work -- am I hallucinating?

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the page carries a reference to "Diamonds" suite. Any idea what this is about, or just another example of a copy-writer's not quite got it?

Is that Channel 11's page? The PBS page says that

The third featured ballet is “Diamonds” from Jewels by George Balanchine.

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Depends what block of text ya' read. The main text, the one you quote, below the still image, is pretty good, but there's another on the right with the channel and time that says

A celebration of the Pennsylvania Ballet's golden anniversary, featuring performances of Christopher Wheeldon's "After the Rain"; Margo Sappington's "Under the Sun Pas de Deux"; and George Balanchine's "Diamonds" suite from his three-act "Jewels." Also: remarks from Pennsylvania Ballet founder Barbara Weisberger; and artistic director Roy Kaiser.

(The text is the same even when you change the station.)

So we may get the whole ballet! That'd be nice. I think there might be enough time: The other dances we glimpse in the video clip seem to be the Wheeldon excerpt movement, in gray costumes, and the pas de deux from the Sappington ballet inspired by Calder, shown mis-captioned in the still image, in the bright colors. We'll see what we'll see, but I thought somebody might have spotted an intelligent preview article in the press.

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PBS did tape the entire After The Rain but when they decided to release it for purchase (not just broadcast), Chris Wheeldon felt that because the pas was created and is so closely identified with Wendy Whelan, that he could not give permission to have that part of ATR sold.

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I'm a bit confused -- so the video for sale has the "rest" of After the Rain, but not the duet?

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Since Wheeldon has given (I mean sold) performance rights to After the Rain to numerous ballet companies, it seems incongruous to assert that he doesn't want the pdd of that ballet on video because it is associated with Wendy Whelan. The entire heart and guts of the ballet is the pdd.

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I'm wondering how many companies present just the duet (PNB for one) and how many perform the whole work. Is the rest of the work often performed without the duet?

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AT NYCB, the pdd is frequently performed alone, but the work has never been performed without the pdd.

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Just watched it. They did show entire Diamonds. Looked like Julie Diana and Zachary Hench danced the leads, they were both superb.

This is the first time I saw Under the Sun pas de deux and it was fantastic. Couldn't tell who was dancing it? Was it Brooke Moore and Ian Hussey?

I didn't enjoy the After the Rain segment as much as the others.

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... They did show entire Diamonds. Looked like Julie Diana and Zachary Hench danced the leads, they were both superb.

...

Thanks for that! Looking forward, here in Chicago.

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I was glad to see the complete Diamonds, but I didn't like the camera work for the large ensemble sections. One of the amazing things about Balanchine (as a commentator on the show pointed out) is his genius at moving large groups of people around stage. Yet the camera often picked out a small group from the ensemble and focused on that instead. I like to see the evolving patterns of the large groups in his choreography and this was often missed. Great principals, as others have noted.

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Uh, oh. So you knew part of the show was hidden from view. Well, Matthew Diamond has not been one of my top favorite directors.

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To my surprise the entire show seems to be up now...

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There were more good cuts than bad cuts... At least this was better framed than Wrecker's Ball. It seemed like once he got into the piece, the distracting cuts grew less (but I'm saying this without seeing Diamonds yet).

After The Rain: I was happy to see something other than the Whelan pas de deux which is already easy enough to find on the internet.

I thought the company looked good and was interested that although the dancers have all changed since I saw much of the comany (early '90s), they still had the same style... This was very much the PAB, not BB or SFB or PNB. Very subtle and hard to describe what makes each company look a little different even when performing the same repertoire. I thought surely a new generation would have a different look and yet they still have the same esprit the company had 20 years ago. It must be the influence of Roy Kaiser and his team of former PAB principals turned ballet masters & mistresses.

I was interested to see the Sappington Calder piece having heard someone rave about the original. I thought the rehearsal footage did more to evoke the mobiles... This felt somehow rushed... Not that the dancers looked rushed in their technique but that the shapes didn't hang in the air long enough to allow ours eyes would linger on them as sculpture. I almost wished the dancers had stayed behind the music. I wonder if the tempo has speeded up a little since the premiere or whether the huge cultural emphasis on Calder at the time of the creation didn't seep more into the performers' consciousness, changing the way they interpreted the dynamics. It didn't seem that the choreograohy was dated as some said on this board about the live performance... more that it wasn't giving itself time to show the connection. I would like to see it again, slower, or more with the timing of Calders' mobiles than of partnering maneuvers. Very subtle change to request.

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Here's a video link to the whole episode. http://video.wedu.org/video/2365232004/

Amy, thanks for your comments - so interesting! I wonder if you'd be able to add more detail to your thoughts about the differences in styles between PAB, BB, SFB and PNB. tia,

Mira

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It is subtle, I don't know that I can... But it seems a slight difference in articulation dynamics... Holding the weight, moementum from the back or core... It would be interesting to spend some time studying videos of the same repertoire by the top six US companies to see if it couod be nailed down like a linguist on accents, but I,m afraid time is short just now for me. I wonder that company class could be so different to produce a different look... It surprises me that there is a difference given how mobile everyone is these days... But of course artistic directors are not stamped from a mold. I wonder how different Miami Ballet will become from the company it was under Villella.

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thank you - it's an interesting and fascinating discussion. I've watched MCB for years and I think I am beginning to see a difference in the company now that Lourdes is AD. My first impression was that it might be because she seems to be hiring a different type of dancer with a different training than Villella did. And he did imprint that fast, athletic and joyful style on a specific type of dancer over many years of class and coaching. Maybe next year her style will become more apparent to me. I'd love to hear from others on their impressions of these companies and their evolution.

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I've also ben looking at MCB for a long time, and I share your impressions, mira, though I don't know whether it's the dancers Lopez is hiring or what they're being told. (I think I see mostly the same names on the roster, though I haven't worked on a careful comparison.)

Like NYCB, which I rarely watch anymore, last time I saw MCB, they seemed to have most in focus Wheeldon's Polyphonia, sandwiched between a somewhat undercast Ballo della Regina - though of course anyone stepping into Ashley's shoes has her work cut out for her - and a Serenade that looked just a little fussy to me. I saw hundreds of Balanchine's company's performances over the last dozen years of his life, and a little beyond, but since the mid-80s I'd describe them in similar terms - serving glowing performances of contemporary repertory and slighting the Balanchine - of which Lopez has scheduled just three ballets next season.

Yeah, "fast, athletic and joyful" is a pretty good description of the dancers Balanchine watched over, too. (Check out the videos if you can, especially the VAI series just starting.)

But speaking of Ashley, I finally saw this PAB video through (thank you for posting the link), and I thought Diamonds was pretty good (a little slow in places), and I think that's greatly to her and Sandra Jennings Eshima's credit, they having staged it. And to Roy Kaiser, the departing AD's credit, for having them do it. (Now we can worry about the direction of that company.)

Edited by Jack Reed

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wonderful discussion Jack. thanks. will add to it as I see more MCB and PAB this coming season. oh, and I agree about Sandy Jennings and the other wonderful stagers that come to set ballets on PAB - what an honor for the company.

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Here's a video link to the whole episode. http://video.wedu.org/video/2365232004/

Amy, thanks for your comments - so interesting! I wonder if you'd be able to add more detail to your thoughts about the differences in styles between PAB, BB, SFB and PNB. tia,

Mira

Thanks so much for the link -- as I said, my local PBS station doesn't seem to be airing this.

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Just watched the program online and have thoughts, but right now just a question -- does anyone know what the width of the stage in Philadelphia is in relationship to the stage at City Center?

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Just watched the program online and have thoughts, but right now just a question -- does anyone know what the width of the stage in Philadelphia is in relationship to the stage at City Center?

According to this site (scroll down), it's 79' x 73' at the Academy of Music: http://www.phillyspacefinder.com/spaces/2393

City Center's Main stage is 45' x 43': http://www.nycitycenter.org/Home/Rentals/Theater

Somehow the Academy's stage seemed smaller on the video.

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