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Alexandra

Balanchine Celebration Program #2

40 posts in this topic

Originally posted by Barb:

I went to the Kennedy Center matinee and evening show Saturday....

Barb, since you saw both of the Saturday performances, could you please comment on the two Tarantellas? Overall, this was one of the most glorious afternoons of ballet I've experienced in a very long time and one I'd like to have seen again (and again)--so much subtlety, so much nuance in Divertimento, Agon, and Four Temperaments. However, Allan and I had differing impressions of Tarantella. Would be interested to hear what you thought of it, having seen the evening performance as well.

Like you, I was gratified by the audience response. Perhaps the Kennedy Center will realize that the Washington ballet audience aspires to more than The Merry Widow and Dracula.

Incidentally, Edward Villella happened to sit right in front of us during part of the performance, a small added thrill in an altogether thrilling afternoon.

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My apologies! By no means did I intend my flippant dig at my own bias for MCB to be mistaken as name calling, Jeannie. I had intended to poke fun at my own enthusiasm but it was clearly a poor choice to attempt humor by teasing about how we all have our favorites among companies. That's the fun of this board -- to share what we love and learn from each other. So, once more, I apologize and will message you personally, Jeannie, if the wise moderator slips me your email address which, for reasons unknown, I seem to no longer have.

[This message has been edited by samba38 (edited September 18, 2000).]

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It was Arlene Croce, always good for an apt quote, who wrote once that Divertimento #15 was famous for never being performed well--I suppose somewhat of an overstatement, considering the original cast! But she did say (I am quoting from memory) that if not done well it could look a bit chocolate boxy. But that was the dancing, not the ballet itself, which is really perfection. It is like visiting the prologue fairies at home--it may be a concidence that there are five main women, and then again it may not. I really think the more Petipa you have seen, the more extraordinary Divertimento looks. It is just so concentrated, it is like mainlining Beauty. I am fond of well-made fluff, and wouldn't use the term as a putdown necessarily, but Divertimento is rock solid with deep foundations going back through ballet history.

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Thanks, Samba!

Regarding the program, which I saw Saturday night, I'll give the nutshell-summary (as we have entered a crazy period at work).

* DIVERTIMENTO #15 (Farrell Troupe) & TARANTELLA (joffrey) were the absolute-highlights for me. I agree with Cargill & others that Divertimento #15 is one of Balanchine's most obvious and captivating tributes to Petipa and the art of the female variation. Whoever loves 'Sleeping Beauty' would be a nut not to love "Divertimento.' Among the fantastic soloists, I was most taken by the beautiful line and crisp dancing of Chan Hon Goh. [i'd love to see her Aurora. Isn't she a star with National Ballet of Canada?]

* AGON & FOUR T's (Miami City Ballet) - While I honor & respect these two ballets as masterpieces, they personally don't do much for me. Sorry--'Balanchine black-and-white' is simply not my thing. However, the well-drilled & uniform corps de ballet allowed these two works to triumph over so-so soloists (IMO)...as I continue to have trouble with the 'short line' of some MCB soloists. I saw MCB's AGON at Wolf Trap three or four years ago & much-preferred the soloists on that occasion.

I'm very much looking forward to the greater variety of costumes, music, & style promised by the 3rd & 4th programmes in this Balanchine Celebration, later this week. - Jeannie

[This message has been edited by Jeannie (edited September 19, 2000).]

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Originally posted by cargill:

It was Arlene Croce, always good for an apt quote, who wrote once that Divertimento #15 was famous for never being performed well ...

I've read that the excerpts of this on video, originally shot for a PBS "Dance in America" broadcast aren't considered top notch. Anyone care to give more detail? Who do you think stands out, and why? Who is lacking?

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Ken, as I remember it, the buzz at the time was that this was an extremely difficult ballet technically, and it took the dancers a few performances to be able to do it smoothly. (Early performances looked a bit awkward.) I think it's a very good performance on video, but that later ones were better. This had the same cast for a long time. Peter Martins subbed for Ib Andersen for awhile when Andersen was injured, as I remember it, but other than that, it was Farrell-Andersen-Castelli.

Other people may have different memories or takes on this, of course. Please chime in.

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Alexandra, you must be thinking of Mozartiana - the original and long time cast was Farrell, Anderson and Castelli. Is this one video? If so, I'm not familiar with it.

The cast on the video for Divert includes Castelli, Merrill Ashley, Marjorie Spohn, Susan Pilarre, Stephanie Saland and I think Calegari. I think it is a very good performance give the limitations of video ie it just doesn't have the emotional power of a live performance.

I watched this Divert video recently and although neither Spohn nor Pilarre ever made it to principal dancer. their performances have the polish of those who are steeped in the Balanchine tradition. Tight, pulled up fifths, creamy turns, good extension and they are really inside the music. As are the other better known dancers. Ashley is, of course, wonderful in her solo.

The drawback is only two movements are included. Still I could watch this piece every day, it is a jewel.

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liebs, you're right. Sorry! "Mozartiana" was shown on PBS (with "Who Cares?" and "Vienna Waltzes," I think) but not available commercially.

I can't answer the question for "Divertimento," because any complaints I've heard are from people who don't like particular dancers -- but the complaints are all different smile.gif

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"Mozartiana" was telecast by PBS in December 1983, along with the complete versions of "Vienna Waltzes" and "Who Cares?" (program title: "New York City Ballet Tribute to George Balanchine"). People who had VCRs at the time were able to record it. Yes, Farrell/Andersen/Castelli danced the "Mozartiana" telecast. No, it has not been made commercially available...although there was great hope at one time that this would be the next installment in the 'Balanchine Library' video series.

We may wish to send our cards & letters to the producers of that series, Nonesuch, requesting that they release that magical broadcast. (hint-hint) Of course, approval must be received by all dancers before a telecast performance is made available commercially...one reason why we'll never see certain blooper-filled telecasts come out on commercial video...such as ABT's 'Romeo & Juliet' starring Makarova/McKenzie, in which Kevin Mckenzie danced Act III with his warm-up pants on, over his tights. [Darn...if it weren't for those sweat-pants...]

[This message has been edited by Jeannie (edited September 19, 2000).]

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Originally posted by Ginny:

Barb, since you saw both of the Saturday performances, could you please comment on the two Tarantellas?  

My vantage point for the matinee was not remotely what the audience saw, so it's rather hard to compare. My gut reaction, however, when I saw it from the orchestra in the evening, is that the evening was much more played to (and with) the audience. But I thought the male variations in the matinee seemed larger, higher, etc. Both performances seemed to get ratcheted up by the wonderful audience reactions as the piece progressed.

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Re: Mozartiana video.

I remember speaking with someone at the NYCB gift shop who told me that Farrell was holding back, playing it safe, in that video and that her live performances were far more thrilling and daring.

I later saw her live in Mozartiana at the end of her career and I was shocked to see her smiling throughout the T&V. She was so serious on the video. There's that last moment though when she finishes a turn, cracks a smile and the curtain comes down.

What a dancer!

(Equally thrilling on that video are performances of Heather Watts, especially in Who Cares)

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I forgot to add that I was also amazed at how much the male dancer looked like the photos of Edward Villella doing the role. I was very much struck by that. In fact, I wondered if casting had been done that way deliberately.

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I don't think Farrell ever did anything exactly the same way twice, not that she changed steps, but in her approach, conception, emphasis within the phrase, that sort of thing; it's long been my theory that that was a large part of why Mr. B. went so nuts over her - it was always the first time, always fresh, alive - well, okay, she could have a bad night, too - but in general -

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Originally posted by Barb:

I forgot to add that I was also amazed at how much the male dancer looked like the photos of Edward Villella doing the role.

Meaning the afternoon cast's Randy Herrera? The same thought occurred to me. I thought his performance had the snap and sizzle (better terms escape me at the moment) that one hopes to see in Tarantella. For me, this was missing in Tracy Julius's performance, which seemed a little smooth and unaccented by comparison. What a glorious afternoon, though. Really looking forward to tomorrow's performance!

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Originally posted by Ginny:

[b

Meaning the afternoon cast's Randy Herrera?

[/b]

Indeed. It was striking watching the two of them.

Made me wish I could have seen Edward dancing it...

I've also always wished I could have seen him do Rubies.

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