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Pennsylvania Ballet at 50 on PBSMay 2, 2014

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#31 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 06:27 PM

Finally, we got the broadest in Chicago this afternoon!  Not sure what the thinking was behind showing it at 2 PM on Mother's Day, when the families are taking Mom to a restaurant, aren't they?  But I thought even more of the dancing when I could see it bright and clear on my HD TV, instead of in the on-line video.  In fact, I wanted even more to see it better, unimpeded by the often-complicated camera-work.  


Even though I'm not crazy about the POB performances on Opus Arte DVD 0951, I thought comparison might be revealing of something, so I played it after the broadcast - and then I had to have the Pennsylvania performance again!


It seems to me that the POB dancing is about clarity, exactness, and finish; their phrases are finished at the expense of momentum, though, and the ballet seems static, a succession of views, while the Pennsylvanians are by no means fuzzy or sloppy, but one phrase "ends" into the beginning of the next - the dance flows as the music does.  This helps give it life, the vitality authentic to Balanchine.  


On the other hand, Pierre Cavassilas's TV Direction of the POB disc is much simpler and more revealing of the ballet than Matthew Diamond's is in the PBS program, though there are still too many "partials" - shots giving a partial view of the person - in the POB pas de deux, while the dancers are moving.  There are sequences where we hardly see them in full, and so the expression in their movements is much less full also.  


(As I remember it, the late (great) Merrill Brockway, the director of the first series of Dance in America programs, would sometimes insert very short, almost "subliminal" partials, but usually when the dancers were stationary, so the dance flow was not intruded upon.  I think that if you must have partials, this is the way to do it.) 

Edited by Jack Reed, 12 May 2014 - 06:21 AM.

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