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ABT D.C. opening: 'Black Tuesday'...lives up to the title


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 12 April 2001 - 11:34 AM

Leigh, I'm sure that was the method here (and Taylor isn't the only one who uses it, as I'm sure you know), but I don't know who the "transmitter" was/were. Taylor was here and was at rehearsals (I think he was also at rehearsals in New York). This isn't an unusual way of working. There are other instances of people "working out" choreography on other dancers and then transferring it onto the Intended, whether because of scheduling problems (working out star parts on corps dancers who'll work for free, or off-hours) or other reasons. But they know who the dancers in the final cast will be and make the dance accordingly. It's cleaned, and individualized, later)

There was some discussion about Taylor's work for ballet companies at the time of "Airs," which was intended for ABT, and a lot more around the time of "Company B": It's not quite a modern dance, Houston looked better in it than the Taylor Company did, etc., how is it different? Is it just the steps, or the dancers' demeanor and approach, or is the structure more episodic, etc.

[ 04-12-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

#17 Natalia

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Posted 12 April 2001 - 11:48 AM

At the dress rehearsal, the person doing most of the talking & correcting was a tall, short-haired woman in a grey sweater. I *think* that it was Bettie De Jongh (sp?) but it was so dark in the auditorium that I'm not 100% certain. The ABT regisseur with Mr. Taylor & woman-in-grey appeared to be Susan Jones. Thus, I'm assuming that Ms Jones will be responsible for maintenance of the work in ABT.

Incidentally, Sarah Kaufman's review is in today's Washington Post. I'm not sure if it is included in today's links by Dirac. Title of the review: "The Not-So-Great Depression: 'Black Tuesday' an Underperformer in Taylor's Portfolio." Most accurate, IMO. :)

#18 samba38

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Posted 12 April 2001 - 03:36 PM

Wednesday evenings performance had my little family tussling all the way home over ideas/performances and choreography. Consensus: Wiles is one to watch -- clean dynamic with too much presence for a corps role. Your eyes lock on her and you don't miss the rest of them. Hence we were happiest with her diamond role. The men... the poor men. They were so sluggish I was tearing my hair. At the Tuesday rehearsal Maxim and the orchestra were clearly not in synce and the situation didn't improve Wednesday night. Only Joaquin de la Cruz had the fire. What did imporve -- and vastly -- was Black Tuesday. After two viewings on Tuesday in rehearsal and a performance plus demonstration, I was about to write it off as a too-pretty, too-plucky rehash, a not-company-b piece. But Wednesday night's performance had more power than earlier glimpses. That said, sorry but the talented Ethan is out of place as a begger. He can't look anything less than a well-nourished lucky boy, any more than most of this company can't help but look like vibrant beautiful young classical dancers miscast in the american 30s. I will withhold my final judgement on this piece until I see it danced by the people it was made on -- Taylor's company, according to Susan Jones. Brother can you spare a time has Patrick Corbin written all over it so you can't help but watch wishing for what's not there. And surely Blvd. of Broken Dreams is a Lisa Viola solo awaiting its Lisa. Susan Jones talked about modern as "feelings made visible" and I think this is still too novel a concept, no matter how many Taylors and Tharps they've danced, for most ABT dancers still in the "music made visible" mode.

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 12 April 2001 - 05:28 PM

I agree that this current crop of dancers, anyway, is trained on "music made visible." I hope there can be a transference of "feelings made visible" to other works in ABT rep -- that's not the preserve of modern dance; ballet used to be expressive too :) I think Stiefel could add more depth to the role -- he did last night, over the opening, and I think that's to be expected. The first night, the dancer is trying to get through it and shading gets added later. I kept wanting him to be more angry, though. (Patrick Corbin was trained at Washington School of Ballet; he was the Nutcracker Prince in WB's "Nutcracker" for several years, starting at age 14. I'd bet a quarter that Lisa Viola will do the Big Bad Wolf dance if the Taylor company does Black Tuesday.)

I think the ballet needs more emotional, more experienced, performers to really make its points. Sometimes when modern dancers set works on ballet companies they'll go for the younger dancers because they're not as set in their ways as someone who's 30, but I think it's the youth and inexperience of the dancers that made the ballet seem so shallow opening night.

I posted more a more formal review on the main site; link on Links.

#20 leibling

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Posted 12 April 2001 - 09:50 PM

I've come late to this discussion- I am not even in DC to see the performances, but so much of what has been said echoes what I felt when ABT was in Miami. Particularly what Alexandra said about ABT resembling Joffrey with the mant different bodies... it didn't occur to me in February, but that is part of the proplem, definately. It just seemed to me that the presentation I saw went beyond any excuse about ABT being on tour, in a new city, etc. "Unloved"- that was a good word.
None the less, I wish I could be there to watch!!! :)

#21 Alexandra

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Posted 12 April 2001 - 10:22 PM

Thanks, leibling. You've seen them recently enough, and in much the same repertory, so I'm glad you posted. What I've long found frustrating about ABT is that you know they're wonderful dancers. (Not that all dancers aren't wonderful....) And I've seen so many careers that, in my eyes, went to waste -- even people who were very successful, like Gregory and Bujones. They didn't have the same career they could have had in a company that was more engaged in developing dancers. Every company has a culture, and I think (this is just a theory, and very much an IMHO :) ) that perhaps ABT was living from hand to mouth for so long, and got by on scraps and sympathy, that it's become what they do: Put on a show. For such a long time it was so absolutely amazing that the curtain went up, they got lauded for just that. But I heard several people saying, after opening night, that San Francisco Ballet looked better, that it danced Sleeping Beauty better, and that should be a bit of a shock to ABT management.

#22 CygneDanois

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Posted 13 April 2001 - 11:04 AM

Juliet, you must have been very high up in order to have seen me. I admit I didn't see you, but will you be going any other nights?

Anyway, I said I would write more about the performance on the 11th, so here it is:

Found Murphy boring. Clean technique, but not sparkling. The non-expression on her face didn't help. Even a cold or restrained presence would have helped, but it seemed as though there wasn't any presence to restrain. Carreno was mostly very clean, but he looked heavy to me, and technically off. This is unfortunate, because he's just incredible when he's on. Still, I found him more engaging than Murphy.

Juliet, I like the costumes, too :). I couldn't tell about the disparate heights in the corps, and I thought they looked all right. Much cleaner than I've seen NYCB do it. Also, praise for Wiles/Radetsky. I know that demi-soloists are not supposed to stand out, but they were so engaged, and engaging, that they really were 75% of the reason I kept watching.

Thought Black Tuesday was a lot of fun, and interesting, although I don't think it's a masterpiece. Funny in parts, sad in others, it keeps moving; I never got bored. The end will be quite powerful once it's been developed.

The Sleeping Beauty: Ugly sets. Strange court costumes. Muddled choreography. Pretty good technique.

Beginning with the polonaise, why were they all dressed so badly. Could hardly tell the men from the women except for the modern tuxedo shirts and bow ties. And all those pink sequins. It went beyond glittery to glitzy. And what a bare court. Hardly any furniture. At least the dancing was pretty good.

Fairies of the Precious Stones and Metals pas de cinq was pleasant, but abbreviated. I know Petipa took out Sapphire and moved Gold into Act II, but to me, it makes more sense in the context of the full ballet, which is amazingly long. Nothing wrong with dancing the full pas de quatre when it's just the one act. As for the dancing, Michele Wiles was fantastic as the Diamond fairy, and it was great to see her in a solo role where she can really shine. She is quite a sparkly diamond, although I didn't like what MacMillan has done to the port de bras in this variation. Elizabeth Gaither stood out as one of the Silver fairies, with her effervescent personality, lovely feet, and a technique as strong and beautiful as silver. I agree that Marcelo Gomes is too big and slow for gold, but he was so technically clean and gracious, I didn't mind.

Radetsky and Maria Riccetti were cute as Puss 'n Boots and the White Cat, but Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf lacked conviction. I don't think Red Riding Hood really cared whether the wolf ate her or not.

Yan Chen and Joaquin de Luz were lovely and lyrical as Princess Florina and the Bluebird, and de Luz's beats were quick and clear, with a very well-arched back during the temps de poissons, but he doesn't seem to have much of a jump. Chen started out well in her variation, but fell off pointe twice and seemed to give up after that.

I loved Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Belotserkovsky as Aurora and Désiré. Thought their dancing was just perfect, although Dvorovenko has to contend with some unusual legs and feet. However, I thought they were both the very picture of serene majesty, and this ended the evening on a very high note for me.

#23 Siren

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Posted 13 April 2001 - 11:24 AM

Did anyone go last night? I'm curious about how the performance went....

#24 Natalia

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Posted 13 April 2001 - 11:26 AM

Yes...several of us did. See other topic/thread (ABT 4/12 - Quick Notes).

#25 Siren

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Posted 13 April 2001 - 11:38 AM

Found it! Thanks, it was interesting to read.

#26 samba38

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Posted 13 April 2001 - 11:39 AM

Patrick Corbin is a great case in point for talking about cross-over talent. A good modern dancer needs great ballet training -- training he certainly got at Washington School of Ballet. But, unfortunately, too few ballet schools take their modern training seriously so they are launching young dancers who not only don't have the skills, they don't have the awareness that the skills are different and, worse, some don't have respect for modern as an expression essential for every working dancer in a classical company today.Oddly enough, it was Joaquine DeLuz, who had to go ask someone what "Black Tuesday' meant, who looked far better, even in a snippet of the final solo shown at the Performance plus talk, who "got" the urgency and depth of that solo better than Stiefel.Likewise Ericka Cornejo was surprior to Murphy in the Blvd. of Broken dreams. All the dancers say they called on their character dance training for this piece. (Alas, my kiddo studies where there is no character training.) Taylor's works don't necessarily require age, although age often gives a dancer the life-knowledge to use in a role. Consider Elizabeth Gaither, a young corps girl, dancing one of the streetwalkers, who clearly "got" the technique. Speaking of Murphy, I'm having trouble with her clean but dull performance. I've seen her coached for Swan Lake, which she will perform with Gomes, and she's not hold up her half of the chemistry at all. But she's young and perhaps will grow into it. I regret my Giselle tix will not show Wiles as Myrta. I'd go back for that Sunday if I could but gotta work on Easter.

[ 04-13-2001: Message edited by: samba38 ]

#27 Steve Keeley

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Posted 13 April 2001 - 07:49 PM

In answer to Leigh's question, an ABT press release states that Black Tuesday was staged by Susan McGuire.


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