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stylistic changes under Lopez's leadership


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#1 kfw

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 09:09 AM

Copied from the Pennsylvania Ballet at 50 on PBS thread:

 

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.

 

I could try to research this, but did Villella hire mostly from SAB and from MCB's own school? Has Lopez brought in dancers from places Villella did not? I would expect she'd want the same high degree of Balanchine training he did. But you're not the first person here to see a difference already in the company's dancing. I wouldn't have thought they could occur so fast.



#2 mira

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 11:29 AM

Villella was not know for hiring SAB trained dancers (about 25% of the company?).  Most of his dancers came from schools in Cuba and South America or Miami City Ballet School.  Lopez seems to be favoring the SAB training but it is a little early to tell.



#3 kfw

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 02:09 PM

Thanks, Mira. I knew he took some dancers trained in Latin America, but I didn't realize that few came from SAB.



#4 Jack Reed

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 07:18 PM

And as I say on that other thread (this is probably the better place, though, thanks for starting it, kfw), it may matter as much or more what dancers are being told to do in the present than it does where they were trained in the past.

 

Peter Martins's transformation of the way NYCB dances Balanchine was fairly quick, back in the mid-80s; I don't think there was a big turnover in company personnel, though there was in the audience.  As you said on yet another thread, IIRC, the Old Audience, as the development department called us, "decamped."  

 

(I think it took about three years or so for the dancing to change over.  It looked as though Martins had asked for "smaller" while Mr. B. was said - or so it looked - to have been asking for "bigger! more!"  The CBC videos in the series called "New York City Ballet* in Montreal" on the VAI discs now coming out sure look to me like that's what his dancers heard.)

 

So I don't have to imagine what change Lopez may bring to MCB; I've seen it elsewhere.    

 

*I had this as "Balanchine in Montreal" originally.  Sorry for any confusion. 


Edited by Jack Reed, 08 May 2014 - 03:03 PM.


#5 Buddy

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 01:50 AM

I somewhat posed this question about a year ago. Over a decade I’ve become a dedicated Mariinsky follower, although at heart I’m not a ballet purist. I love ballet’s enchantment but I’m open as to how it’s accomplished. I am devoted to the Ethereality of what a company like the Mariinsky represents.
 
I was also a lover of the Miami City Ballet when Edward was in charge and there’s quite a difference between it and the Mariinsky. I haven’t been able to see the company since, but hope to as soon as possible. I have to admit that Edward's leaving did effect my desire to make the special trips, rightly or wrongly. For me he was a huge part of the company’s magic. 
 
I’ve a strong feeling that the company will continue to be a great one, but I can’t really say why. Bart has attributed a lot of it’s excellence to Edward’s constant presence and insight. Artistically, something was being done very right when he was there and it was in a lot of different areas. 
 
One of the main things that impressed me was how distinct the dancers were -- And -- how extremely good they were. Someone made some very good choices in finding talent, nurturing it and determining how it should be presented. I have to attribute this to Edward.
 
Style is one thing, but to me the Miami City Ballet is also something else. For me it represents excellence — and a Lovability.  Stylistically it was a Balanchine stronghold, but in its own very personal and exciting way. It also ventured beyond, into Broadway, ‘rock n roll’, other fine choreographers, etc. It was it’s sense of exploration (within a Balanchine oriented framework), friendliness and it’s excellence that was one of a kind.
 
If Lourde Lopez can somehow keep her hand on the pulse of that illusive, for me, to define *Something* then the company should remain great.
 
I’m wishing the company the very best because I love it and I think that it has a chance, not only to offer more great art and entertainment with its Balanchine heritage, but also to be an important source of artistic growth. I also wouldn’t mind at all if Edward could somehow reconnect.


#6 mira

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 01:12 PM

another thought,  Lourdes is bringing up through the student apprentice and company apprentice program a few SAB girls and has hired at least 2 SAB grads (one girl, one guy) into the corps already.  She may be leaning towards bringing more of that kind of training into the company and also seems to be hiring a taller dancer than is typical for MCB.    very early to really know which way they are headed but I am optimistic that her influence will enhance the great company MCB already is.  I think the transition is a good one but it may be another season or two until it all comes together - just one person's opinion.  As a contrast (not a value judgment), Roy Kaiser has been hiring SAB dancers for a long time - a majority of the company has Balanchine training and that, to my eye, creates a more uniform style at PAB.



#7 Buddy

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 01:23 AM

Thanks Mira for your added thoughts. My appreciation of the company certainly includes "style" and the fine Balanchine heritage, but it also includes something else. Something that, for me, is very special. 

 

What captivated me from the first was that the Miami City Ballet seemed like a collection of really nice kids from the neighborhood — youthful, likable, healthy, a breath of fresh air — And! — Wow! were they talented !

 

This is a combination that I really love, and keep as a standard for a performing arts group. The Esty sisters blasting across the stage in “In The Upper Room”. I was amazed! The way that the company morphed into highly proficient and riveting Broadway troupers in “Nightspot,” lead by the super charismatic and hugely talented Rolando Sarabia, I thought was great. Their lively take on Ballet Imperial (which won the hearts of audiences in Paris), as contrasted to the Mariinsky’s  more dreamlike and very personal interpretation — both very different and I love them equally.

 

They defied categorization and didn’t fit into a particular mold. This made them one of a kind and very special.

 

*Lovable, Healthy and Amazingly Talented*

 

This is what I think of and hope really continues.

 

Added thought:
 
In my previous post I said that I think that the company will continue to be a great one, although I’m not yet sure why. I haven’t been following this forum as closely as I did when Edward was there, but from what I have read here and in the press, the comments generally seem quite favorable and in the spirit of ‘the good old days.’ flowers.gif   This is probably the reason.


#8 Michael

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 10:10 AM

If there's really a difference in how they dance, it's probably more a question of both company class and of how things are rehearsed and coached for the stage than of where dancers trained as students.  School accents disappear pretty fast in company style. 



#9 mira

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 12:09 PM

yes a combination of both.  As an example, it's fairly easy to see whether a dancer has trained at SAB or the Kirov long into their career.



#10 kfw

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 12:38 PM

If there's really a difference in how they dance, it's probably more a question of both company class and of how things are rehearsed and coached for the stage than of where dancers trained as students.  School accents disappear pretty fast in company style. 

 

Thank you for that insight. It reminds me of someone (it may have been the writer of that early-90's Vanity Fair piece on the decline of NYCB - or was it Croce?) writing that dancers were coming out of SAB in great shape but rapidly losing their sparkle (my paraphrase) in the company. I suppose an awful lot of people probably made that observation.



#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 12:56 PM

Some ballet friends and myself sometimes now refer to the company as "Morphoses"...



#12 Buddy

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 01:20 PM

yes a combination of both.  As an example, it's fairly easy to see when a dancer whether has trained at SAB or the Kirov long into their career.

I don't know that much about SAB graduates, but 'Russian sphere' dancers who move elsewhere always remain 'Russian looking' to me, and that also means darn good. I still consider one of my favorites, Veronika Part (ABT, formerly 'Kirov-Mariinsky'), to be a Mariinsky dancer. 

 

Edward brought in Haiyan Wu from China and to me she was the company's Etherealist, probably because of her Chinese makeup and training. I loved her, feeling that she added a dreamlike dimension of refinement. Edward seemed to love her too at first, but she eventually moved on as did the remarkable Rolando Sarabia.

 

There were a few major exoduses of dancers, for one reason or another, but the company did manage to keep it together and remain vibrant and outstanding.

 

[last paragraph added later] 



#13 Buddy

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 01:53 AM

Choreographic style is very important. To some posters here, it’s extremely important, and I can certainly respect this. I personally like very much the Balanchine framework in all its aspects, from the more depthful probings of Jennifer Kronberg to the excitement and joy of the Delgado and Esty sisters. Still, I would like to attempt to clarify what I’ve been trying to say as it’s a slightly different perspective.
 
For me, the company was indeed “fast, athletic and joyful,” as Mira stated it, in the Balanchine spirit, probably. But it was also it’s ability to move slightly from one style to another (Balanchine to Tharp, for instance) and do it so well that also impressed me.
 
So what seems to me to be perhaps as important as a ‘choreographic’ (and cultural) style and identity, is to keep the “Joyful” and Free Spirit, the selective and sensitive Exploration and the across the board Excellence as alive as possible.
 
 
 
 


#14 lmspear

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:50 AM

I think the change in approach to the Balanchine style will probably reflect the eras that Lopez & Villella danced at NYCB. I'm reminded of the threads that discussed how Francia Russell's stagings for the Trust reflected the period she danced with NYCB.


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