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Balanchine Celebration Program #2


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 15 September 2000 - 11:50 PM

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)

#2 kfw

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Posted 16 September 2000 - 01:07 AM

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! Posted Image

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

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 September 2000 - 09:36 AM

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).]

#4 Natalia

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Posted 16 September 2000 - 12:21 PM

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

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 16 September 2000 - 11:49 PM

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 Posted Image ) 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.

#6 samba38

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 12:36 AM

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.

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 09:51 AM

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

#8 Juliet

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 12:21 PM

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!

#9 Guest_Just a Mom_*

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 12:58 PM

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.) Posted Image

[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).]

#10 Nikiya

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 01:29 PM

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.

#11 Juliet

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 03:01 PM

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!!!!

#12 Guest_dancewriter_*

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 08:18 PM

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.

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 08:28 PM

Divertimento #15 is most decidedly not fluff. Its purity is not to everyone's taste and like the Mozart, its delicacy and unclouded emotions are deceptive. I think you need to look again.

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#14 Manhattnik

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 08:58 PM

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

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 09:19 PM

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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