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NYCB at SPAC


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#16 Dale

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Posted 24 July 2001 - 07:58 AM

Oh, I'm so glad M.M. has had such a triumph in Cortege Hongrois. I'd love to see her do more of the "grand" roles, such as Diamonds, Symphony in C (1st or 2nd mvt), or Tchiak pas de deux. Then again, I'd like to just plain see her get cast, period.

#17 bobsey

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Posted 26 July 2001 - 08:06 AM

I have enjoyed rkoretsky's (very pleasant and knowledgeable person, try and meet her when you come to SPAC) and Manhattnik's (his a work of art) posts here.
But I'm thinking that, as they say, Yvonne Borree is not Kay Mazzo, and that's therefore pretty bad. (Yeah, and Mark McGwire is not Ty Cobb). And in another post I learn that she is "attempting to exorcise her own personal demons night after night." What does this mean? Are we supposed to be on to something evidently hidden from management that casts her so often? I like her and don't think she's "floppy." I've just signed for another subscription to NYCB and hope to see her again.

#18 rkoretzky

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Posted 26 July 2001 - 09:54 AM

Hi there Bobsey:

Different strokes for different folks, as they say. I loved Yvonne Borree when she was in the corps and a soloist, and I cheered when she was promoted. But, in my opinion, she hasn't gone anywhere since her promotion. In fact, I think she has regressed as a dancer.

I've watched her in rehearsals-roles that she has performed over and over again, and she always makes mistakes, over and over again. I also can't warm up to a dancer who shows so little emotion--OK in the leotard ballets, but Dances at a Gathering? Romeo and Juliet pdd? PLEASE!. I wish I liked her better as a dancer, because I have met her and she is a lovely person.

But even if we don't agree on Yvonne as a dancer, I think we do agree that the vast variety currently present at NYCB offers something for all of us.

Yup, I'd like to see someone else in Violin Concerto--I truly would. Those of you who are in the city--who else has done it lately? Miranda, perhaps?

Bobsey, I enjoyed meeting you too. Hope to see you again, in NY or in Saratoga.

Another note: I said what I did about Kay Mazzo because I think it is precisely because of the physical resemblance that Yvonne continues to be cast in this part. I don't think she is suited to it. It was not my intention to disparage one dancer because she is not someone else. In fact, one of my earlier points is that Peter Martins is not George Balanchine, never will be, and we had all better accept it.

And a question for you: what subscription(s) did you choose? As for me, I am renewing my membership in the Fourth Ring Society.

[ 07-26-2001: Message edited by: rkoretzky ]

#19 rkoretzky

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Posted 26 July 2001 - 10:29 AM

Me, again. I have just a few minutes before going over to SPAC--another Thursday, another double bill, and our three weeks are coming to an end, alas. But I did want to say a few words about Morgen, since we got our first look at it last night.

I've purposely not gone back and reread reviews, but I seem to remember that they were mixed-all over the place, in fact. That was the reaction here in Saratoga too. It ranged from: "I hated it" to "I loved it".

As for me, I loved it. Surprised that I did, too. First of all, I do NOT like Strauss at all, and yet I found the songs to be beautiful and beautifully sung, too. Second, I am no fan of Martins' choreography. Ash was on the same program, for the 3rd time this season. Finally last night it came to me: this ballet is UGLY. Ugly costumes, ugly music, ugly movement. I had never put that term to it before, but oh my yes, it fits.

After all that ugliness and a lackluster Romeo and Juliet pdd (anything would be lackluster after Jenifer and Nickolaj the previous night), the beauty of Morgen hit me like a rocket. I have to say that I was knocked out by Janie Taylor. She has always seemed to me to be a very competent allegro dancer with clean technique. Oh she was stunning in this. It was a whole new side of her for me, one that I had never seen.

Jenifer Ringer is my favorite dancer and she was her usual exquisite self here, and Darci, well I think she is beautiful in this type of part. Jared Angle, I don't always like him, he sometimes seems stiff and awkward to me, well I certainly liked him a lot last night. I even found it agreeable to watch Nilas.

I can't wait to see this piece again. And I'll be sure to tell you all about the preview of Martins' Verdi. OK? I'm leaving now, so I won't be late.

#20 rkoretzky

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Posted 27 July 2001 - 06:50 AM

Two swans. Thursday afternoon gave us a performance with Maria and Charles, Thursday evening Monique (subbing for an injured Wendy) and Nilas.

A completely unexpected reaction from me. I have adored Maria forever, and was not prepared to dislike this, or any performance from her. OK--overly high expectations, I admit it, but I had not been disappointed before. She never convinced me as Odette. Other than a slip at the very beginning, her dancing was fine, correct. Her expression remained the same throughout. Askegard, however, was a revelation. I have written here already of the transformation that I have seen in him this season. At the end of the ballet, when I was in tears, it was Siegfried who had moved me there, not Odette. His final anguish was heart-rending.

Monique. I had an interesting, albeit brief, conversation with Manhattanik and Juliet last week. I think I indicated that she is not my favorite, although I like her quite a lot in those certain stock roles where she seems to be placed always--I did not think of her as a swan. I'm eating crow now.

Whether the afternoon's disappointment primed me to be especially moved by Odette, or whether Monique was truly magical in this role--it happened. She TOTALLY convinced me that she was bewitched. Her final backwards bouree/fluttering arms sequence might have been the most beautiful moment of the entire season. The fragile vulnerabilty wasn't there. It just can't be--Monique isn't fragile looking. What was there was doom, heartbreak, inevitability.

Then there was Nilas. The man just cannot get off the ground. I feel sad every time I see him on the stage. Is he just expressionless or would he really rather be at the dentist's office?

I would have given anything to see Monique and Charles together.

#21 Manhattnik

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Posted 27 July 2001 - 12:54 PM

Of all the swans in Martins' "full-length" Swan Lake, I liked Meunier the best. I'm sure I would've also loved Whelan's, if Andrea Quinn hadn't rushed her through all of Odette's best moments. Whelan was gorgeous in the one-act Swan Lake this spring in NYC.

There's certainly precedent for big gals dancing Odette/Odile -- my all-time favorite is Martine van Hamel, who was certainly not a little slip of a thing. While Van Hamel and Meunier are very, very different dancers, they both gave Odette a power and authority, despite her sadness, which makes her quite different from other classical ballet heroines (except, come to think of it, Raymonda, another role in which they've both excelled, in various incarnations).

Another Saratoga highlight I'd be remiss in not mentioning was Benjamin Millepied's debut (I think) in the lead in Ballo de la Regina at Saturday night's gala, with Abi Stafford. While I'd always admired Millepied's exuberence and elan, I'd also always found his style to be overpowering, unsubtle and often lacking in polish. What can one say about a French dancer who does not get the point of La Source?

However, he did finish the Spring season with a gorgeous, pull-out-all-the-stops performance of Oberon at the State Theater (his Sherzo was nothing short of spectacular). I wasn't as impressed with his debut in Fall in The Four Season (flashy and unpolished, I sniffed), but he was like a man transformed in Ballo. Not only was his dancing on an appropriately grand scale, but it was clean and sculpted, and he resisted the easy temptation to simply blast his way through the tricky bits (there are a lot of tricky bits). I don't think I've ever seen the male role here danced better.

Would that I could say the same about Stafford's two performances in Saratoga. The first time she seemed to be having an off night all-around, but in the gala with Millepied she also seemed ill-at-ease, unexpectedly fudging some of the trickier technical bits, like the fast pirouettes into arabesque, or, more distressingly, those three big, signature "Balanchine" saute de chats (sometimes dubbed, I think, "pas de Verdy").

As far as Yvonne Borree, I found her performances in Saratoga, particularly in the first solo of Divertimento No. 15, to be beyond distressing. She's clearly well capable of dancing anything, technically. But her dancing gets sketchier and sketchier as a solo progresses, her shoulders and arms grow tighter and more wild (it was painful to see in Divert) and her face seems to barely mask some sort of terror or dread, which turns to panting relief when she's finally survived. (No more relief than I feel in the audience.) I don't know what the answer is here, but surely putting her out there night after night is only reinforcing whatever the problem is -- it seems to be getting worse.

I am beginning to think I'll just maintain a discrete silence about Borree in the future.

#22 bobsey

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Posted 28 July 2001 - 10:04 AM

Gosh, I never thought I'd be stirring up such vigorous rebukes. Let's leave her alone.

#23 Alexandra

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Posted 28 July 2001 - 12:42 PM

Bobsey, these have been pretty tame rebukes, as BAllet Alert threads go :) It's always hard when people disagree about dancers or a ballet, or whatever, but it's good to read what other people think -- please feel free to say why you like Borree.

I wanted to thank everyone who participated in this thread, especially rkoretzky for the wonderful daily reviews.

#24 rkoretzky

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Posted 29 July 2001 - 07:44 AM

Sunday morning--the day that I dreaded has arrived. NYCB is gone.

The 21 performances at SPAC pass in a whirlwind--would that three winter weeks go by so quickly, alas they don't. I'll try to wrap up the weekend, and offer a few humble thoughts.

The Verdi preview: have there been any reviews in the NY papers? I didn't see any, but I haven't had a lot of free time to look either. If there haven't, why ever not?

I enjoyed Viva Verdi quite a lot. The music is eminently familiar--greatest hits of La Traviata, without any voices. There were two substitutions--Janie Taylor and someone else (I am so sorry, I should have written this immediately because I have forgotten the other, but I think maybe Abi Stafford) for Ashley Bouder and Glenn Keenan. The piece broke no choreographic ground, but it was very charming and pleasant to watch. Of course any time Darci is on the stage is a time to celebrate. I'd like to see it again because I often find much more to see the second time around.

I didn't care for the Quartet for Strings. It didn't offend me at all, as much of Peter's choreography has in the past, but I didn't find it especially interesting either. It was Margaret Tracey's last appearance on the SPAC stage. There were five dancers in a piece called "quartet". Maybe I am oversimplifying, but I would have liked a quartet of dancers. It seemed that there were two couples and Jennie was the "odd one out"-- duh, maybe THAT was Peter's point. Anyway Jennie was great as usual. The rest of 'em--the costumes were all alike (teal green things) and I don't really remember. It was all OK, but not memorable.

Yesterday we were treated to two performances of the concert, with a different cast than earlier in the week. I've seen it so often that I now laugh hysterically before the jokes (leading those around me to wonder about the crazy woman). The Concert did not disappoint. For all the expression that I thought was lacking in Maria's Odette--she obviously put all her acting ability into The Concert, to the delight of the audience. Melissa Walter is a local girl here and we all love her and wish we would see her in more roles, and she is fantastic as the wife--but so was Dena Abergel. Stuart Capps, in a debut, was just fine and I think will grow in the part as he continues. Pascale substituted for Jenny Blascovich as the girl in glasses. I was laughing so hard at her in the Mistake Waltz that I was in tears. I love to see the humorous side of these dancers.

The third Swan Lake brought Miranda and Damian. (in a debut for Damian, is that correct? I thought surely he must have done it before?). Miranda must have the cleanest and most precise technique in the company. Has she been cast in Ballo or Square Dance?

But her Odette did not move me too much, as Maria's did not either, after having seen Monique amaze me on Thursday. I would have to put Monique's Odette as the highlight of my season--a revelation, if you'll forgive the cliche. I did notice with both Maria and Miranda that the final sequence--the famous backwards bourrees with the fluttering arms, was the best moment of their respective perfomances, and I'm wondering if perhaps that beautiful final moment is given a preponderance of attention in rehearsal. In any case, it works every time.

Damian was a restrained (for him) Siegfried, but Charles Askegard was da man in that role for me, and Nilas was not.

We got to see Morgen again last night too. I really do love it. I especially enjoyed Janie Taylor here--is the girl fearless or what? Who else would do this kind of leaping? Takes my breath away. Am I correct in thinking that Morgen was a Valentine's Day gift to Darci? If so, most appropriate.

A few thoughts on our season here, and what seems to be happening at NYCB:

Sometimes there is double casting, and sometimes there isn't. Why ever not? We in Saratoga were very anxious to see Polyphonia, and so we did. But because no one but Wendy knew her part, she worked through an injury to show us the ballet at the end of the first week, and by the third week she was out. I wanted to see Polyphonia as much as anyone, but in retrospect I would have waited until another season--gladly-- if I had been given the choice, knowing that Wendy, dependable Wendy who had never missed a Saratoga performance to my knowledge before, would have excacerbated her injury. By contrast, there were understudies for the Viva Verdi, and it went on with two of 'em. Which brings me to....

Pushing these kids. It seems obvious to me as an outsider. If Peter picks his current favorite of the moment--the newest corps girl to catch his eye, and casts her in EVERYTHING, sooner or later she will become injured and disappear for a while. Maybe a long while, as in the case of Alexandra. I can't stand to see it happen, and it does, over and over. I was looking forward to seeing the latest wunderkid--Ashley Bouder. But after her sprained ankle in the first Soiree, she was gone for the rest of the season. She is still a child--this should not be allowed.

Saratoga programming. This third week featured Episodes three times, and Tchaik Suite three times--in a row, no less. People here are, in the vast majority, not going to attend the same program three times in a row. I will, and so will some of the other lunatics here, but there were lots of empty seats by the 3rd Tchaik....And I was doubtful about ending the season with The Concert. Even though I adore it and it is hilarious (and a great antidote for my depression as I realize it is OVER), Saratoga audiences look forward to a huge splashy production number as our swan song. This year it could have been Cortege Hongrois, since it was in our programming. I am quite fond of Symphony in C, myself. Ah, maybe next year. I see it is in the rep for Winter Season.

This board has been a wonderful addition to my life. I thank you all (those of you who are still reading) for listening to me, and I hope to meet some more of you. At the moment, I'm planning to see ABT on October 27, and I am studying the NYCB brochure. And waiting for Wednesday when the Philadelphia Orchestra opens here.

#25 petitallegro

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Posted 29 July 2001 - 05:03 PM

I just returned from NYSSSA-I saw almost all of these programs, and I must say you gave descriptions that were nearly identical to mine. What is going on with Wendy Whelen? And when will Ashley Bouder dance again? :)

#26 justafan

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Posted 29 July 2001 - 10:18 PM

As a frequent lurker, I am moved to thank rkoretzky for her faithful -- and insightful -- postings keeping us up to speed with NYCB in Saratoga. It couldn't have been easy to do so, given that she attended each performance. I was also struck by the comment that this board has been an addition to her life, as it has been to mine. (Thank you Alexandra et al.)

Now, I wonder who can keep us abreast of of the tour to the UK and Italy?

#27 rkoretzky

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Posted 30 July 2001 - 07:22 AM

It was such a pleasure to do this, really. I volunteer to be the Europe correspondent too!
If only I could just take off....

Petitallegro: I hope you had a great time in Saratoga.

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 30 July 2001 - 09:30 AM

We have several UK posters, and I hope a few will make the trek -- as for Italy, calling antoP!!

#29 petitallegro

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Posted 30 July 2001 - 01:43 PM

rkoretzky-
Re-reading your posts, I noticed you mention a rowdy group from a ballet camp. Yes, that group was very likely NYSSSA.
I would like to apologize for the behaviour of my peers. What would drive ballet students to act in such a way? I'm not completely sure. I know that I was constantly annoyed by their responses to the performances. This might have been a result of the fact that the shows were mandatory for us, and some students, who lived in NYC, did not realize what a privilage it was to see NYCB so often at such a low cost.
I just wanted you to know that not all of the NYSSSA students had such manners, and that I wanted to apologize to you.
Thanks
Steph

P.S. If you were an usher, thanks! All of the SPAC ushers were very nice to us.



:)

#30 rkoretzky

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Posted 30 July 2001 - 03:37 PM

Hi Steph!

I was a SPAC usher for over 20 years. Last year I was offered a paying job as the usher captain, and yes I was on the right side of the house, where NYSSA sat every night.

Thank you for saying what you did about my ushers. They are a wonderful group--dedicated to SPAC and to NYCB and I will pass along your comment to them.

For the most part, the kids were pretty well behaved and it was a pleasure to see them at SPAC. It was the one performance of Dances at a Gathering that was a problem. after I talked with some of your staff members, things were much better.

So please don't worry about it and I hope to see you there next year. My daughter has some friends who were at NYSSA. Maybe you know them.


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