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Alexandra

Balanchine Celebration Program #2

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Anybody go Friday evening? If so, please post comments on Program #2:

Divertimento No. 15 (Suzanne Farrell Ballet)

Agon (Miami City Ballet)

Tarantella (Joffrey Ballet)

The Four Temperaments (Miami City Ballet)

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Vary quick impressions. We just got in, I'm wiped out, but happily so. Divertimento #15 by the Farrell company last year was a taste of heaven. Neither my wife and I trust our perceptions enough to say if it was the dancing or our fatigue tonight, but something seemed lacking. Chan Hon Goh (4th variation) stood out for her beautiful turns. Poor Christina Fagundes took a fall during her solo. We were sorry to Askegard didn't dance.

We've seen Miami City dance Agon with more energy. The pas de deux was the exception, it was Jennifer Kronenberg and Eric Quillere tonight, they had the chemistry and the technique.

We'd seen Miami City dance Tarantella live and McBride and Villella dance it on video and never cared for it all that much, and for our money -- this will probably ruin my credibility for good, and I should know better than to compare a live experience to video, but .... -- I'll take tonight's Joffrey performance, we loved it. Maia Wilkins couldn't match McBride's quickness, but she had the charm, and Calvin Kitten reminded me of a young Villella. Of course I never _saw_ the young Villella, but I'm sticking with this opinion! smile.gif

The Four T's -- Miami City is always impressive in this, they catch the style better City Ballet has in my experience.

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I think it worthwhile to note that Villella was not in absolutely the "first flush of youth" when Balanchine set "Tarantella" on him, but Mr. Kitten is at a roughly comparable state of development in his career, as far as experience is concerned.

(a parenthetical postscript - lest it be mistakenly construed that I am slamming the formidable Messrs. Villella and Kitten, I merely meant to state that they were both stagewise, craftsmart artists at the times they first essayed this meatgrinder of a pas de deux - it has defeated many other fine male dancers!)

One of the most fiendish things about "Tarantella" is its constant flow of pyrotechnics, which is derived, as all of Balanchine is, from the music. Louis Moreau Gottschalk wrote the music originally as a duet for violin and piano, with all of the double-bowing and technical fizz the former instrument is capable of. Its transformation into Piano and Orchestra happened shortly after Gottschalk's death, in an arrangement by his editor, Arthur Napoleao. The Hershey Kay reconstruction of this work goes even farther that Gottschalk himself did in providing left-hand material for the pianist that is just beastly to perform, but at least doesn't include the nearly-impossible intervals found in much of the composer's piano works. Gottschalk must have had huge hands! In all, the Kay arrangement places the piano and the orchestra on equal footings, and makes it ideal for a pas de deux of shared fireworks!

[This message has been edited by Mel Johnson (edited September 16, 2000).]

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Thanks for the reports! smile.gif I look forward to seeing tonight's performance, keeping in mind your comments. - Jeannie

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Ken, I had the same feeling about "Divertimento" that you did on Friday night. BUT for me, I think it was mostly because I had the Video Version in my eye and it took awhile to adjust to the full version that Farrell is presenting this year. For whatever reason, the ballet didn't look very taut. This afternoon, however, I thought it looked fine. Whether this was me, or them, or the fact that I was watching it from a slightly different angle....who knows?

Lots of children this afternoon, many balletic looking preteens. Despite that this wasn't a "children's program" -- "Agon" AND "Four Temperaments" -- the ones sitting near me seemed quite happy. One of the pleasures of this week (aside from the fact that there are No Bad Ballets, of course smile.gif ) has been the audience reaction. It's obvious that for many people the ballets are new to them (you can tell by the applause patterns) you can also sense that people actually *like* "Agon" and "Four Ts."

I thought Miami City Ballet's "Four Ts" was the best I've ever seen that ballet danced--at least, the best I can remember it. No harshness, no overselling, no rushing anything. The tone, the phrasing, the whole approach to the ballet was beautiful. It was a pleasure to see.

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The adjectives that come to mind for me for the Friday night program: crystaline clarity; maturity; serenity; intelligence. Program #1 had more bounce to the ounce with three in four ballets all sensual and flashy. But #2 offered the lasting pleasure of choreography that intrigues the mind as well as entertaining the eye. I could see the brilliant architectural choreography in Agon and, my absolute favorite ballet, 4Ts, and finally I could see why Divert. has it's fans for all the fluff. Layer on that I'm almost as big a fan of MCB as Jeannie-Gimme-Russians is of her Kirov, and that Farrell sees the glory in Veronica Lynn that somehow escaped its due at ABT, and you have a satisfied viewer here.

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Glad you liked it, samba, but I'm curious. I have never heard Divertimento called "fluff" before (live and learn smile.gif ) What do you see that's fluffy about it?

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Well, I certainly don't think Mozart, or Divert is fluff. You can see the bones all through....and exquisite, at that. I thought the performance on Saturday night was very, very beautiful. I thought it was even *better* than this company did it last year. Sarah Kaufman, in the Washington Post, made a reference to Farrell highlighting nuance and artistry in dancers who were near the twilight of their careers--what a pleasure to see Christina Fagundes, Veronica Lynn again....

We are fortunate to see Askegard and Neal perform frequently, but Eric Lindemeyer (as well as the remaining beautiful, beautiful soloists) was such a treat to see. The corps of, I believe, fairly young dancers, was lively as well as polished...this was a very, very well executed performance.....almost made you forget how difficult and layered the choreography is....

And they came up with new, lovely jewelled headpieces for the soloists to make my cup truly run over!

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We were there Friday night -- in a word -- wonderful. I smiled all evening. Divert was such a joy to see in total. Sometimes we tend to think of Balanchine as the abstract leotard ballets and forget that he did such deceptively difficult beautiful gems as Divertimento and Emeralds and Diamonds from jewels. My daughter asked me which of the soloists was my favorite and I couldn't name one. They each brought a spark to their variation that one did not outshine the others for me. (Of course I thought the corps was beautiful -- but then, I'm Just a Mom.) wink.gif

[This message has been edited by Just a Mom (edited September 17, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Just a Mom (edited September 17, 2000).]

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Does anybody know if Kristin Ghallager with the Farrell company did any solos or anything? She is with Richmond Ballet but I didn't know if she was in the corps of the Farrell company or if she does solos or something.

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Hi,

Kristen was in the corps of 8 girls who were extremely good, I thought. Good coaching shows--of course, none of them are exactly lacking in talent!!!!

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Darn... I wrote specifically in my program that Divertimento was pure fluff. I can't help it; this piece did nothing for me. Of all the great ballets by Balanchine, why resurrect this one? Anyway, the rest of the program was very well executed. I've been spoiled by the video of Darcey Bussel performing in Agon, and while Jennifer Kroenigsburg was technically rock solid, she didn't have the poise I would have liked to have seen. I would like to see more of the Joffrey Ballet; the two I saw were very light-hearted and fun to watch. Four T's was exellent, and the audience even knew when to clap! All in all, this was a good performance to see.

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Fluff? Personally, I've always considered Divertimento No. 15 to be a little slice of heaven.

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I've got to ring in on the "fluff" issue too. Feel free to loathe it, of course, but "Divertimento No. 15" is considered one of Balanchine's more perfect works. They're not reviving it, it's been in repertory continuously (not only NYCB, but in several American companies). It's as perfect as, say, the grand pas classique of the fairies in the first act of "Sleeping Beauty." With a lot of Balanchine, I think there's a divide between people who look for obvious content (nothing wrong with that) and people who find substance and content in the choreography -- not just the steps, but the structure, the patterns, the nuances, the musicality, etc.

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I'm feeling really jealous of all the people who saw that program- it really sounds wonderful...

It's interesting to see that Quillere seems to get more interesting roles with the Miami City Ballet than with his own company (he used to be cast quite a lot in Balanchine ballets a few years ago, for example in "The Prodigal Son" or as the Melancholic in "The Four Temperaments", but now seldom dances).

About "Divertimento n.15": reading the comments about it in Nancy Reynolds' "Repertory in review" (I can't quote them here, since the book is at my parents' home, but they were very laudative) really made me looking forward to seeing that ballet one day... Unfortunately, the POB hasn't performed it for about ten years (and the only other French company having it in its repertory is the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, but they don't tour much in France, and when they do they seem more likely to schedule full-length works by Maillot frown.gif ).

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Chiming in, a little belatedly....

Yesterday was one of those epiphanic ballet experiences that, sadly, don't come along too often. I had always appreciated Balanchine before (I'm pretty good at knowing good choreography when I see it), but I never truly loved it before.

The whole program was superb. I could nitpick here and there, but with 99.9% pure perfection, I don't really see the need. Some special highlights in the individual performances:

-- Veronica Lynn and Christina Fagundes were both utterly radiant in Divertimento No. 15, as was the man that I assume was Charles Askegard (big, blond god-like dancer)

-- Jennifer Kronenberg and Eric Quillere in the Agon pdd -- was this really the couple I found only "OK" in Rubies on Thursday? They were fantastic, especially the sultry Jennifer.

-- Calvin Kitten's infectious energy in Tarantella ppd

-- absolutely everyone in 4Ts

-- the orchestra

Looking forward to more this week!

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samba38 - So are you into name-calling now? ("Jeannie-Gimme-Russians") Perhaps you could post me a private e-mail if you have a personal quarrel to pick, rather than subject Alexandra and the kind readers of this Forum with this sort of name-calling, which has no place on this board. It is particularly ignorant & out-of-place, as my recent review on the Balanchine Celebration's programme #1 gave the least amount of praise to the one ballet performed by Russians (the Bolshoi's "Mozartiana").

[This message has been edited by Jeannie (edited September 18, 2000).]

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Jeannie, I get the impression Samba38 was merely making a comparison to a fellow fan with strong favorites, no insult intended. As for me, I wouldn't call you names, but every time I check this thread and see you haven't yet posted one of your typically detailed reviews that I always look forward to, I do mutter underneath my breath. smile.gif

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Jeannie, rereading Samba's comment, I think she meant it good-naturedly, trying to say that she's as much a fan of Miami as you are of the Kirov, rather than as something pejorative, BUT I can well understand that it could be interpreted as name-calling. Which is why it's best to avoid addressing other posters, or making remarks that could easily be interpreted as a dig.

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Jeannie, I deleted your post. Perhaps you didn't get my email before you posted--I only have your erols email, not your business one.

Samba, please check your email, as well.

Except for a comment from Samba, which I agree is called for, I don't want this matter discussed further on board.

Thanks.

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited September 18, 2000).]

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Thank you, Alexandra. I'm with you 100%. I'm also pleased that this thread will remain open for the reason why it was created in the first place (BC #2).

[edited to delete a business email address]

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited September 18, 2000).]

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I went to the Kennedy Center matinee and evening show Saturday....and it really made me wish I could have seen the first program, as well as the programs this week. I thought all the companies did a great job of showing their best.

I was also very impressed with what seemed to be packed houses! Yeah, Washington! I hope this week's are as full. The matinee crowd seemed especially warm and vocal.

Only question I had was about the costumes for the first piece...were they a remake of an original costume? I found them rather distractingly fluffy tutus.

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I assume the Farrell company was wearing the same tutus in DC that they wore in New York last season, were they purple and white? If so, those are not the original designs which are pale blue, pale yellow and white and quite exquisite. Some reviewer once compared these costumes to frosting. I did find the purple and white tutus designed by Holly Hynes to be a bit large and floppy. A strange mis-step coming from this very gifted designer.

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They were indeed purple and white...with the lattice-work top.

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