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NBoC Mixed Program, 2/23 Evening


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#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 24 February 2002 - 01:24 AM

Hi folks! I'm visiting up in Toronto and I thought I'd offer some brief notes.

The Paquita the NBoC does is the Makarova version, but the second slow variation (the one Susan Jaffe did - and the one I know as "Amy's variation" because a dear friend of mine did it for her graduation performance) is not performed, a different adagio variation is substituted - even without a sentimental attraction, I liked the former variation more than the substitution - but it's harder. Martine Lamy gave a steely performance in the lead - it was polished but she is approaching 20 years with the company and extensions are problematic and turns less reliable than I think she would have liked. Also, her partnership with Aleksandar Antonijevic is not a match made in heaven; they didn't seem to have much rapport. He was having real problems simply finding her axis in turns. I've seen Antonijevic a few times now. I'm rather impressed with his facility and technique. I only wish he weren't quite so impressed with them as well.

It was fascinating to see Monotones again. My thoughts on it loop back to our discussion on when something becomes dated. There's one sense in which I like it when a ballet becomes dated - when it becomes a time capsule of an era. The choreography in Monotones is timeless, but the costumes, the flavor of it are so much of a time fascinated with the advent of space travel. Looking at the costumes, the lighting, and yes, even the adagio choreography which seems to take place in a lesser gravity one sees the era of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rudi Gernreich’s fashions (the actual costumes were by Ashton himself)

We saw Act III of Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty for the Canadians. It’s hard to tell the differences between this version and his later version for Paris, although this one seems less capricious, but his real oddities in that one are in his treatment of the Lilac Fairy - true to form, Nureyev banishes her from the third act here as well. There are some very nice moments in this staging - his Sarabande for the King, Queen and court is more interesting that the one for Paris (it’s also set about 100 years earlier historically). The Bluebird couple (Keiichi Hirano and Sonia Rodriguez) gave very clean performances. I found Xiao Nan Yu as Aurora somehow cold (it could simply be that I was very far back and she didn’t project that far) and Ryan Boorne as the Prince scattershot. He’d relate to her very elegantly and then walk about flatfooted with his weight all the way back on his heels.

I hope our own Paquita and other Torontonians will chime in on the performances!

#2 Paquita

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Posted 24 February 2002 - 12:36 PM

Overall I too found the program a bit cold, certainly when compared to last weeks Romeo and Juliet. At first I thought maybe this was because there was no real story to any of the ballets. Paquita and Beauty were taken out of the context and becaume technical show-pieces. But then I've seen many plotless ballets that are just as moving as the traditional full-length ones. I think this mixed program was very challenging on the dancers, stylistically and technically, and it showed at times.
I was pleased with the cast on friday night, and as many newspapers have mentioned, the performance hilighted the company's depth in talent within the corps.
Paquita is a favorite of mine (hence the screen name) because my first solo variation I did was from Paquita. I have the ABT mixed bill video with Makarova's Paquita danced by Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones. On friday night, the ballet was led by Sonia Rodriguez and Richard Landry. She was very elegant, with gorgeous port de bras. Her pirouettes were fast and sharp, she really knows where her centre is. Her working leg on the fouettes was a bit low, and at the end she did a series of piques. Landry had some difficulty on his variation- Bujones he is not. I was a bit dissapointed because he looked excellent as Mercutio last week. I was impressed with the corps, they were lively and exact, except for a few broken wrists (I am very picky about hands!). I think it was a fun piece for them, and most of them performed the quick steps with flair. The variations got better as they went along. The first 2 were a bit nervous and shaky, but as those dancers gain experience they will improve. Rebekah Rimsay was great in the 3rd variation, and she looked the most confident. I just wish that the tutus for the corps were a different colour. They were bright orange with black trim, and it looked a bit Halloween-ish! The soloists' tutus are orange as well, but a bit more toned down.
I saw Monotones 1 and 2 for the first time. I enjoyed it very much. I like the simplicity and cleanness of Ashton's choreography. Monotones 1 showed the newest corps member, Tina Periera. She only graduated from the National Ballet School last year, and in September was accepted into Tier 1 apprenticeship. Usually Tier 1 lasts a year, then Tier 2, and then one becomes a corps dancer. So she has risen very quickly, and ever since her performance at the school's spring showcase has been one to watch. She is very petite and has a wonderful facility and line. The other dancers were Stacey Shiori Miagawa and Richard Landry. Some parts of Monotones 1 reminded me of Solitaire, the jumps and the static poses.
Monotones 2 was flawlessly danced by Xiao Nan Yu, Geon van der Wyst, and Ryan Boorne. That music by Satie has been used in so many commercials, movies, etc. but it was completely different in the ballet. The music is so slow and light, the dancers had to be perfectly smooth and they were. Xiao Nan Yu has unbelievable extension and balance. There are a lot of difficult promenades in arabesque, and she did not wobble once. I would love to see her in Theme and Variations, Sleeping Beauty, or La Bayadere! I am impressed by her ability to mould to different styles so easily. She looks wonderful in Petipa classics, but also the MacMillan, Cranko, and Ashton repetoire. I'm interested to see her in the Balanchine ballets.
Sleeping Beauty was a delight, and when the curtain when up the audience gasped and then appluaded! The sets and costumes are sumptuous and beautiful (Rudolph would have it no other way), and stood out because the other 2 ballets had simple backgrounds. The pas de cinq was a bit stiff, particularly the coda. The dancers looked a bit tense with the busy choreography. Je-an Salas and Etienne Lavigne (Diamonds) looked comfortable and happy on stage however. Dong Hyun Seo, a very young corps member, made his debut as the bluebird. Excellent ballon on his brise-voles. Stacey Shiori Minagawa was Florine ( she also danced Florine on opening night, b/c Sonia Rodriguez sprained her ankle), and was strong yet delicate. The audience loved the pussycats. Lisa Robinson and Daisuke Ohno gave a comic performance. The grand pas was danced by Greta Hodgkinson and Aleksandar Antonijevic, both are so technically sound that they can give a lot to the audience. They share a warm rapport and confidence in each other. He was always smiling and danced an excellent variation. He is one of the few dancers that gets a good 180 degree split in the air during grand jete en tournants (manege). Greta was a youthful and pretty Aurora. She was trying to get as much in character as one can when doing an excerpt of a story ballet. The coda was lovely, Greta and Aleksandar were very together. The finale was grand and very Russian, very Nureyev. I loved it.

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 24 February 2002 - 02:57 PM

I shared your opinion of the corps in Paquita - I found them very spirited, but also "wristy" - I think also the company seems very long armed, which makes that problem more difficult to control. I also shared your opinion about the orange and black costumes, especially the all-black underskirts and panties, which just somehow seemed like they were supposed to be lingerie.

Indeed, the Diamonds choreography in Sleeping Beauty, especially the man's variation, is fussy (Nureyev's version for Paris is also packed with steps). It bothers me because the music is played at an unnaturally slow tempo so that Nureyev could cram certain steps like double sauts de basque that just would not have fit in otherwise. It isn't fair to the dancer, and it isn't fair to Tchaikovsky. I almost went today to see Hodgkinson's Aurora - I was so impressed with her Mozartiana I want to get another look at her soon.

Did anyone else see the performance and care to chime in?

#4 Guest_Vonnie_*

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Posted 05 March 2002 - 09:55 PM

I didn't see the evening performance, however, I saw the matinee performance, and I really enjoyed it. The major roles for Paquita were danced by Greta Hodgkinson and William Marrie. I found that they had a lot of "chemistry" and looked great together. Greta's technique was very strong throughout most of the ballet, especially during the fouettes/pirouettes movements. Unfortunately, she over-turned a little, and fell, but quickly stood up in a pose, while the audience applauded in great encouragement. The corps members danced in perfect unison with energy, and I actually liked the orange costumes of the variation dancers. In the variations, I especially liked the third one, performed by Stacey Shiori Minagawa, who happens to be one of my favourite young dancers in the NBoC. She was very light and poised, but she also had magnificent technique throughout the whole variation.

It was my first time seeing Monotones, and surprisingly, I loved the style, whether it's Satie's music or Ashton's choreography. Corps members Courney Richardson, Jacqueline Straughan and Keiichi Hirano made their fantastic debut in Monotones 1. I couldn't say that their performance was completely flawless, because there were a few "not-so-fluent" parts (in my opinion.) Monotones 2 was performed by Tanya Howard, Nehemiah Kish and Dong Hyun Seo, also corps members. I don't remember exactly frown.gif but I liked the clean extensions and the flexibility/fluency of all the movements.

The moment the curtains lifted for Sleeping Beauty Act Three, the audience applauded at the sight of the beautiful scenery. The audience particularly enjoyed the humorous pussy-cat pas de deux, performed by Je-an Salas and Christopher Body. Princess Aurora was danced by Chan Hon Goh smile.gif and Prince Florimund was danced by Guillaume Cote. I can go on and on about Chan Hon Goh, because I love all the aspects of her technique, yet most of all I can relate to her style and expression the most. When she's dancing, whether it's in Romeo in Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, or Madame Butterfly. I find that she has (sometimes) an asian beauty and style, that is very similar to my style when I'm dancing (according to my teacher.) She's so beautiful... biggrin.gif Guillaume Cote made a great debut as Prince Florimund. He is so incredibly talented, since he joined the National Ballet as a corps member in 1999, and was promoted to Second Soloist position in 1 year. I saw him in Romeo and Juliet, with Heather Ogden, another briliant young dancer, and I adored their connection with one another. biggrin.gif


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