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volcanohunter

2016-17 season

125 posts in this topic

13 minutes ago, JumpFrog said:

They seem to do a fair bit of midseason repertoire editing here. Odd. Is that every season?

Did anyone actually see this piece? I hope it's not like that gala work from last season or the art gallery installation 😬

Can't wait for Tarantela though. I here the mcgregor piece is basically chroma with darker lighting.

 

only for the mixed program of which there is only one out of 7 programs. When they announced the season they only had the Concert and Chroma listed for this program, so clearly something had to be added to flesh it out into a full evening.

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Lots of casting changes for the Ottawa run of Onegin. Since Jurgita Dronina is in London dancing in Giselle with English National Ballet, casting for Olga has been shuffled, although the company was awfully slow to announce the change. Sonia Rodriguez will be replaced by Greta Hodgkinson. Evan McKie, Svetlana Lunkina and, by extension, Nan Wang, won't be appearing either. McGee Maddox and Xiao Nan Yu will be performing twice instead.

 

http://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2016-17-Season/Onegin-Ottawa-2017

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I had intended to write about the November run of Onegin much sooner, but Nutcracker season came and went, and lo and behold, the next set of Onegins at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre arrived. So here are my impressions of both batches together.

Tatiana – Sonia Rodriguez (Nov. 25), Xiao Nan Yu (Nov. 26m, Jan. 21), Svetlana Lunkina (Nov. 27), Greta Hodgkinson (Jan. 20)
Onegin – Piotr Stanczyk (Nov. 25, Jan. 20), McGee Maddox (Nov. 26m, Jan 21), Evan McKie (Nov. 27)
Lensky – Francesco Gabriele Frola (Nov. 25, 27, Jan 21), Harrison James (Nov. 26m), Naoya Ebe (Jan. 20)
Olga – Miyoko Koyasu (Nov. 25, Jan 20), Jurgita Dronina (Nov. 26m), Elena Lobsanova (Nov. 27, Jan. 21)
Gremin – Jonathan Renna (Nov. 25, Jan. 20), Ben Rudisin (Nov. 26m, Jan. 21), Nan Wang (Nov. 27)
Larina – Lise-Marie Jourdain (Nov. 25, Jan. 20), Stephanie Hutchison (Nov. 26m, 27, Jan. 21)
Nurse – Rebekah Rimsay (Nov. 25, Jan. 20), Lorna Geddes (Nov. 26m, 27, Jan. 21)

Although Sonia Rodriguez is the oldest of the company’s ballerinas (she was playing Tatiana on the eve of her 44th birthday), she is small, slight and a fine actress, so I have never found her implausible in an ingénue role. I did catch myself thinking that what distinguishes Rodriguez’s Aurora, Tatiana and Hermione is more life circumstances than distinct personalities, but she invests these roles with a winning modesty and sincerity, and on this occasion she performed all the choreography with unforced ease.


Piotr Stanczyk was making his debut as Onegin after many years of playing Lensky. His low center of gravity makes him good at turning, which was undoubtedly helpful for the role, although poetic longing is really not his element. For that matter, Stanczyk’s simmering intensity is not a particularly natural fit for Onegin’s ennui either, and his first performance was lacking in subtlety. When perusing Tatiana’s novel, he threw his head back so hard that even with his back turned to her she would have guessed that he was laughing at her. Not surprisingly Stanczyk did a good duel scene, but by the time Rodriguez finished her duet with Jonathan Renna’s warm and sympathetic Gremin, I would say the contest was over.


Of all the company’s dancers, Xiao Nan Yu is the most like artistic director Karen Kain, and sometimes the reasoning seems to be that if Kain danced a particular role, there’s no reason for Yu not to do it either, even if neither is an especially obvious candidate to play dreamy-eyed teenagers. Yu never leaves an audience in doubt as to what her characters are thinking. Her acting is clear, perhaps even broad, although not especially layered. Like Rodriguez, Yu’s Tatiana glanced over her face-to-face encounter with Onegin at the ball much too quickly for the moment to register. For me what interfered most with my enjoyment of her performance was how much I feared for her partner, McGee Maddox, during the duets. (Indeed, during the performance I saw in Toronto, the extremely perilous feet-first slide in the mirror duet nearly went wrong.) Over time some of the lifts in the ballet have changed, and grips that were once waist-high and fairly vertical are now shoulder-high and horizontal. However, Yu is quite tall and a fairly robust dancer, so she and Maddox performed the lower versions of the lifts, and during the last scene, when Tatiana lies down on the ground before coming up for a big split leap, Yu did not actually lie down, but remained kneeling on her right shin. Those ABT fans who lament the absence of Tatiana from Veronika Part’s repertoire might want to take a look at Yu’s performance to get a sense of why it may not be a good idea for Part to dance it, bearing in mind that Yu is not quite as tall as Part, while Maddox (6’2” and I don’t know how many pounds) is bigger and burlier than any of ABT’s principal men.


Maddox is a dancer I almost invariably enjoy more than I would have expected, although I immediately feel the caveats and back-handed compliments creeping up. Maddox, to quote Alexei Ratmansky, does not look like a ballet dancer. Nature endowed him with neither aristocratic face, nor anything like an ideal body, which is big all over and particularly thick through the pelvis and thighs. But no one is more aware of these shortcomings than Maddox himself, and he works hard on elements such as port de bras and épaulement, which some of his more obviously gifted colleagues neglect. The role of Onegin is kind to Maddox both in that it dresses him entirely in black and that it is relatively light on his greatest technical weakness, which is jumps. On stage Maddox comes across as immensely likable and sympathetic, and indeed his Onegin was about as personable as the character could plausibly be. What drew Tatiana to him was, believe it or not, his charm. His momentary fit of pique in Act 2 was caused by Tatiana’s letter and especially her reaction to his attempt at a polite refusal. Among of the company’s Onegins, Maddox was the one who tried hardest to avert the duel. His was the most poignant rendition of the “Onegin’s dreams” section, and for better or worse, he distracted me from the ending of Tatiana’s duet with Gremin, such was the force of his newly awakened desire for her. Unfortunately, I got the impression that he and Yu were dancing in different ballets. Although they have the longest track record of performing the ballet together, I got no sense of a joint approach to the piece, unlike Rodriguez and Stanczyk or especially Svetlana Lunkina and Evan McKie. While he poured out everything he had into the final scene, she remained largely stoic and unresponsive. Maddox is paired with Yu because she needs a big, strong dancer to partner her, and that he is, but I would rather see him dance the ballet with someone else.

“And tell me, which was Tatiana?” “The one who sat by the window, sad as [Zhukovsky’s] Svetlana, as though she had a private sorrow.”

Tatiana is a role Lunkina was born to play, not because of temperamental similarity or even nationality, but because of her ability of inhabit a character completely. Suddenly what would normally seem like good ballet acting comes across as two-dimensional by comparison. Lissome, soulful and luminous, as though glowing from within, her body was like a finely tuned string, acutely responsive to the subtlest musical, physical and emotional vibration. As soon as McKie came onto the stage—extremely tall and elongated, with his imposing profile and exquisite manners—it was immediately apparent why Lunkina’s Tatiana would be deeply stirred, for he was entirely different from anyone else in her world.  Above all the soul of her character was reflected in her enormous, liquid eyes, which are of a pale hazel color and have a particularly unearthly luster under lighting that simulates moonlight. As she sat on her bed at the beginning of the mirror scene, all the conflicting emotions of her letter were written on her face. The dancing of the duet that followed was breathtakingly free and rapturous. The multilayered quality of Lunkina’s acting was just as apparent in her soul-crushing humiliation at Onegin’s indurate rejection—and a particularly striking moment was seeing how hurt she looked when she saw Onegin socializing with Olga rather than her—and later in her profound disillusionment when she sees the fatal extent of his pride and arrogance.

In the first act McKie’s Onegin was defined by impeccable cultivation, which he conveyed through immaculately refined dancing. What was shocking, then, was how quickly this veneer came off in the second act. Onegin may be vain, but there is no hint of vanity in McKie’s performance, no attempt to soften the character’s edges, to make him more sympathetic or to justify his actions. It is a masterful performance from top to bottom, and my sole criticism would be directed against the quadruple pirouette he performed just before the duel, because it ran over the music and did not take advantage of the cymbal effect at the end of the phrase. For a moment I was pulled out of the drama and distracted by a feat of virtuosity.

Lunkina’s duet with Nan Wang’s Gremin had one sticky partnering moment, although when the sequence was repeated a second time it was performed perfectly smoothly. Her dancing in the ballroom was decorous, regal and restrained, while the second rendition of the duet in her boudoir was far more ardent. When McKie’s Onegin returned and desperately, passionately and relentlessly pursued her, one could feel her soul being torn to shreds as she fought to resist him. Cranko and Kurt-Heinz Stolze had been canny to choose Francesca da Rimini for the scene, because Lunkina’s Tatiana really did seem to be experiencing a particularly searing temptation and even a personal sort of hell. It was a devastating finale. This may have been Lunkina’s debut, but surely the performance must rank among the finest the ballet has seen.

During the first two acts I was not entirely convinced by Greta Hodgkinson’s Tatiana. She was not persuasively young (it probably didn’t help that I was sitting in the second row) and her flourishes in the mirror duet came across as a little forced. However, her third act was simply stupendous: a performance of rare beauty and emotional truth. Her duet with Renna’s Gremin was simultaneously elegant and gracious, poised and radiantly happy. When she and Onegin met in the ballroom she managed to convey both outward calm and inner turmoil. Then there were her own very remarkable eyes: huge, dark and melancholy. When she sat at her desk looking into the mirror and contemplating Onegin’s letter, they projected her swelling disquiet and anxiety. Her final duet was arrestingly dramatic, desperate and fearless, both physically and emotionally. Stanczyk’s second crack at Onegin was subtler and more successful. If it was not yet complete or especially complex, it did not matter. His force, intensity and Clark Gablesque sex appeal gave Hodgkinson what she needed to produce an emotional wallop, and together they blew the roof off the performance.

In the other roles Jurgita Dronina as Olga achieved the same level of excellence. Dronina is a dramatic dancer of remarkable ability and skill. With her perfect execution and acting come together seamlessly. She invests her characters with rich detail and luminous presence, and every movement is infused with full emotional life. Dronina and Stephanie Hutchison’s Larina had a remarkable affinity: really two birds of a feather. She was so charming it was not difficult to understand why Lensky would be smitten, even if a flighty extrovert may seem like a strange choice of girlfriend for a poet. But there was nothing shallow about her grief at Lensky’s death. She stirred my only tears at that performance.

In making her debut as Olga, Miyoko Koyasu was dancing her first leading role. She appeared nervous during the first act, but looked much more comfortable by the time the second began. By her second performance she looked secure in the choreography, and undoubtedly felt secure in the hands of her experienced partner. Her interpretation is not yet particularly individual, which is hardly surprising at this point. By nature Koyasu is probably not much like Olga, and as yet she has little first-hand experience that would help her portray an unlike character. Hopefully that will come with more opportunities.

By nature Elena Lobsanova is clearly more Tatiana than Olga: wistful, reserved and attuned to the melancholy undercurrents of Tchaikovsky’s music, which are nearly omnipresent. No doubt Olga was an important stepping stone in her development as a dancer, but today she continues to dance the part largely by virtue of her age. In effect she is waiting in line to dance Tatiana.

I was very sorry to have missed Jillian Vanstone’s Olga, since she is a dancer I particularly admire and the company’s best exponent of radiant youth.

My first Lensky was the National Ballet of Canada’s Jeremy Ransom, whose performance, happily, was preserved on film, although, unhappily, it is not currently available. Ransom was an ideal Lensky, right down to his bushy black hair, and his performance was a jewel of British-school dramatic dancing, whereby technical perfection served emotional truth, musicality and naturalism merged, and his acting was always profoundly felt, but never melodramatic. He was airborne, as befitted Lensky’s youthful ardor, he was sensitive and lyrical, as befitted a poet, and he was obviously doomed. Amid all that he could reel off perfect triple, quadruple and quintuple pirouettes one after another and then transition with breathtaking fluidity and control into gorgeous, wobble-free arabesques without every seeming to make a show of this astonishing virtuosity. I consider having seen his Lensky as one of the greatest gifts of my ballet-going life, but for me he probably wrecked it for everyone who followed.

I have been bothered in recent years by what seems to me to be the “prissification” of Lensky’s choreography, as though fifth positions and poses became more important than naturalness and dramatic verity. I do not remember this self-conscious emphasis being there thirty years ago, so I am inclined to regard it as a wrongheaded shift introduced long after Cranko’s death.

And amid the many misguided elements of Santo Loquasto’s unfortunate and wholly unnecessary redesign (the sisters’ quasi-peasant garb, the horrid velour tights worn by the young men at the birthday party, Tatiana’s ostentatious ball gown, even the fact that she wears blue during the duel scene, which is confusing given that Olga wore blue in Jürgen Rose’s original), Lensky may get the worst of it. Not only do the yellowy-orangey colors of his costumes conspire to make him fade into the yellowy-orangey backdrops, the wide lapels and collars of his tailcoats—presumably a stab at greater authenticity—almost guarantee that he acquires a turtle-like posture as soon as he lifts his arms above his shoulders. (Although it’s harder to see in black, presumably Onegin’s lapels are just as wide and the collar rises up just as high at the back, but since these dancers tend to be taller, their necks do not seem to suffer as badly.)

Add to this the poor playing in Toronto of the viola soloist during Lensky’s solo (although things were better when the NAC Orchestra took over in Ottawa), and all this contributed to Lensky being my biggest disappointment at every performance I saw.

Here I run into the problem of trying to write honestly about Francesco Gabriele Frola without seeming overly critical or cruel. Frola is a dancer in his mid-twenties, being pushed hard by the company, but still very raw, despite having danced a significant number of leading roles. My previous experiences of his performances in Toronto were, to put it mildly, not positive, but I enjoyed him very much last summer in New York in Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale, so I had hoped he had turned a corner in his development. Well, not yet. As Lensky his acting was stilted and incomplete, particularly awkward at his entrance when miming requests for silence from Olga’s friends as he prepared to sneak up on her. His gestures in his main solo were big and dramatic, but with little relationship to the tone of the music. Frola’s approach to his roles seems to be to jump as high as possible (no matter how noisy the landing), to turn as much as possible (even if it means running over the music) and to kick as high as possible. At his debut he not only had difficultly connecting the steps meaningfully, he had trouble connecting them, period. His second performance was already better, so I had hoped that most of the kinks would be worked out by the time he performed in Ottawa, but this was not yet the case. I do not know whether Frola gets too little rehearsal time or whether he needs more of it than others. (The nadir came during his debut as Albrecht last June when he came running out of Loys’ hut still wearing his sword, only he neglected to hold on to its hilt, so the blade went bouncing chaotically against his left leg, and I could only wonder: did he never rehearse with the actual prop?!!) Perhaps he needs multiple performances to settle into a role, in which case he is fortunate that the company is being patient and indulgent. But for me I suspect it would be better to avoid him in tights roles, or at least his debuts.

Harrison James danced the role cleanly but a tad stodgily, and in particular he lacked épaulement. (Of course Loquasto’s d****d coat didn’t help.) His acting was natural and convincing throughout, although I did not sense much of a poetic spirit in his Lensky. Naoye Ebe danced beautifully during the first scene. He had easy technique, soaring jumps and silent landings. He looked less comfortable with the folksy element of the last dance in scene one—there I had to give the edge of James—but I was ready to declare Ebe by far the best of the company’s Lenskys. Unfortunately, in Ottawa he struggled mightily with his solo in Act 2. Perhaps he became overly emotional and lost physical control as a result, but I am sure it was a performance he would rather forget.

Lorna Geddes has been performing the Nurse for more than 30 years, and hers is a very fine, warmhearted characterization. In the birthday party I particularly enjoyed Tomas Schramek’s and Hazaros Surmeyan’s geezers. Both had been Gremins once upon a time, and while gravity and probably arthritis have taken their toll, it was still peculiar to see Surmeyan dancing a mazurka directly in front of Wang and looking so small in comparison. It was almost strange to remember that he had been hired by the company 50 years ago to partner Martine van Hamel.

The women’s corps was a somewhat ragged bunch, with the exception, perhaps, of Soo Ah Kang. I have never liked the diagonals of supported split leaps since it strikes me as a trick, but it can be effective. However, during these performances I was particularly bothered by one of the women who did not stretch her left foot during the second diagonal. At first I thought she might have stubbed her toe backstage and was continuing on despite the injury, but at all five performances I saw I was confronted with the same dangling foot. She happens to be one of those bulging-instep types, but if she cannot stretch her left foot quickly enough, I wish the company would bury her further back in the line where this might be less obvious.

The men were a much stronger bunch. Russian audiences always object, justifiably, to the “peasant” choreography as completely inauthentic, but when performed by the likes of Laurynas Vejalis, Jack Bertinshaw, Dylan Tedaldi, Donald Thom, Giorgio Galli and especially Kota Sato, who danced with completely convincing bravado, it was impressive nevertheless.

In the final act the women’s corps fared much better, once it had been supplemented with soloists such as Hannah Fischer, Alexandra MacDonald, Kathryn Hosier and Tanya Howard. Each time I was struck by how sensationally beautiful Hosier looked in her 19th-century garb. If ever the dancing thing doesn’t work out, I would hope she would take a stab at period drama.

Finally, a few niggling things that bother me. Russian audiences object to the presence of the women during the duel scene as simply inconceivable. I can understand why Cranko thought it necessary that Tatiana be there to see Onegin for what he really is, although it perhaps gives an inaccurate impression of Olga’s ultimate destiny. Pushkin lets us know that she got over Lensky pretty quickly. I have more difficulties with Gremin’s presence in Act 2. Again, I can understand why Cranko did not want Tatiana’s future husband to come from nowhere, but I think having him on stage at the end of the first scene is a mistake. Had someone like Gremin been there, he would have told Lensky and Onegin to stop behaving like children, and the duel would never have taken place. One more little barb at Loquasto. The signature on the front cloth uses contemporary Russian orthography, not the orthography of Pushkin’s day. Since the ballet clearly aims to create a period atmosphere, I do not understand why this would not extend to spelling. Why not reproduce the handwriting from Pushkin’s manuscript? It can be a bit of a mess, with a striking number of doodles, but this could be done, and it isn’t as though Russian audiences wouldn’t be able to read it. (Taking off my philologist beanie now.)

Edited by volcanohunter

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Casting for Pinocchio

 

Pinocchio
Jack Bertinshaw (March 11, 19 at 2:00 pm/March 16 at 7:30 pm)
Skylar Campbell (March 11, 15, 17, 18, 24 at 7:30 pm/March 23 at 2:00 pm)
Robert Stephen (March 23 at 7:30 pm/March 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)

 

Blue Fairy
Hannah Fischer (March 11, 12, 18, 19 at 2:00 pm/March 16, 23 at 7:30 pm)
Elena Lobsanova (March 11, 15, 17, 18, 24 at 7:30 pm/March 23 at 2:00 pm)

 

Geppetto
Jonathan Renna (March 11, 12, 18, 19 at 2:00 pm/March 16, 23 at 7:30 pm)
Piotr Stanczyk (March 11, 15, 17, 18, 24 at 7:30 pm/March 23 at 2:00 pm)

 

Blue Fairy Shadows
Guillaume Côté, Harrison James, Antonella Martinelli, Sonia Rodriguez and Xiao Nan Yu

 

Cat
Jillian Vanstone (March 11, 12, 18, 19 at 2:00 pm/March 16, 23 at 7:30 pm)
Jurgita Dronina (March 11, 15, 17, 18, 24 at 7:30 pm/March 23 at 2:00 pm)

 

Fox
Félix Paquet (March 11, 12, 18, 19 at 2:00 pm/March 16, 23 at 7:30 pm)
Dylan Tedaldi (March 11, 15, 17, 18, 24 at 7:30 pm/March 23 at 2:00 pm)

 

Ringmaster
Evan McKie (March 11, 12, 18, 19 at 2:00 pm/March 16, 23 at 7:30 pm)
Francesco Gabriele Frola (March 11, 15, 17, 18, 24 at 7:30 pm/March 23 at 2:00 pm)

 

 

 

 

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I attended today's show.  Very interesting - not your typical afternoon at the ballet, to be sure.

 

Pinocchio was danced today by Robert Stephen, who I've had the pleasure of watching since he was a student.  I'm sure that all lead men are wonderful in the role, but I feel I just have to give Mr. Stephen kudos for a wonderful performance!  I can't imagine that anyone else could have embodied the part better.

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Posted (edited)

Casts for the mixed bill running March 29 through April 2

 

Genus 
Jurgita DroninaKathryn Hosier, Tanya Howard, Harrison James, Svetlana Lunkina, Evan McKie, Chelsy Meiss, Félix Paquet, Robert Stephen, Donald Thom
(March 29, 30, April 1 at 7:30 pm/April 2 at 2:00 pm) (March 29, 30, 31 at 7:30 pm/Apr 1 at 2:00 pm)

Skylar Campbell, Jordana Daumec, Naoya Ebe, Hannah Fischer, Giorgio Galli, Greta Hodgkinson, Elena Lobsanova, Tina Pereira, Brendan Saye, Dylan Tedaldi
(March 30, April 1 at 2:00 pm/March 31 at 7:30 pm) (March 30, April 2 at 2:00 pm/Apr 1 at 7:30 pm)

 

Tarantella 
Jillian Vanstone and Skylar Campbell 
(March 29, 31 at 7:30 pm/April 2 at 2:00 pm) 
Rui Huang and Dylan Tedaldi 
(March 30, April 1 at 2:00 pm) 
Jurgita Dronina and Francesco Gabriele Frola
(March 30, April 1 at 7:30 pm) 

 

Self and Soul 
Calley Skalnik and Félix Paquet
(March 29, 31 at 7:30 pm/April 2 at 2:00 pm) 
Jenna Savella and Spencer Hack
(March 30, April 1 at 2:00 pm)
Emma Hawes and Brendan Saye
(March 30, April 1 at 7:30 pm) 

 

The Concert 
Hannah Fischer, Jonathan Renna, Greta Hodgkinson
Skylar Campbell, Brent Parolin, Ben Rudisin, Ethan Watts or Spencer Hack
Lise-Marie Jourdain, Tiffany Mosher, Jaclyn Oakley  
(March 29, 30, 31, April 1 at 7:30 pm) 
Emma Hawes, Piotr Stanczyk, Chelsy Meiss
Giorgio Galli, Brendan Saye, Robert Stephen, Ethan Watts or Spencer Hack
Jordana Daumec, Shaila D’Onofrio, Alexandra MacDonald  
(March 30, April 1, 2 at 2:00 pm) 

Edited by volcanohunter

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Did anyone actually see this? I'm just not sure I'm willing to spend that much on something I know I have very little interested in.

Feeling a bit down at the current offer of ballet to see in Canada during the coming year.

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5 hours ago, JumpFrog said:

Did anyone actually see this? I'm just not sure I'm willing to spend that much on something I know I have very little interested in.

Feeling a bit down at the current offer of ballet to see in Canada during the coming year.

which "this" are you referring to? Pinocchio? I definitely wouldn't recommend it. Actually that's an understatement of my feelings about it.

I am looking forward to the mixed program.

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10 hours ago, kbarber said:

which "this" are you referring to? Pinocchio? I definitely wouldn't recommend it. Actually that's an understatement of my feelings about it.

I am looking forward to the mixed program.

Yes, Pinocchio -  the only ballet being performed at the moment. Hopefully the mixed program will be better. 

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Yes I did see Pinocchio (referenced above).  As I said, not your typical afternoon/evening at the ballet.  I was glad I went, but more because I got to see someone I've watched for a number of years in a lead role.  Not what I would call classical ballet by any means, however.  

 

My daughter went the other night (she is a dancer, a much more critical eye than mine to be sure).  She saw a different dancer as Pinocchio (Campbell), and thought he did very well.  I had seen a props issue with the nose - this wasn't present in the show she saw.  She liked some of the more creative aspects - like the screen projections (portraying the ocean, for example).  I thought these went on a bit too long; she did not.  We both agreed that the lumberjack scene at the beginning needs work.

 

It's hard to describe - others are so much better with that than I am.  Perhaps I can say it's more like a play without words that has some narration, and a fair bit of dancing.

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Well I wasn't planning on writing about the mixed program. Like Pinocchio my instinct was not to go. Why bother when paying this much for mediocre work? But the lack of dance in my life began messing with me and I took a couple girlfriends out for a night. Afterward, I didn't write here because I didn't really feel there was much to say. But I'm starting to think if I don't than no one else will either lol. In a nutshell it was alright.

 

Genus was interesting and if you saw his previous work you will enjoy it as it is definitely his "style". I actually saw this in Paris when it premiered so it was a treat for me. When I looked back in my journal I saw that the one thing I felt at the time was that the best part of it was the design. He clearly has a knack for working with great visual designers and Genus is a great example of "Mcgregor work" because in my opinion you will almost always get something visually striking, bold and thoughtful. Now I use the word thoughtful because his work is always very cerebral and theory based. The thing is that I'm not convinced that just because something is based in some kind of intellectual theory that it will make great dance work. At the end of the day people are paying - and by holy moly are they ever paying here - to see dance. Good dance. Great dance. Was it? The dancers really went for it and it's not fair obviously to compare them to the Paris cast but I'm just not convinced they had much aside from dense and physically exhaustive steps to work with. It was visually striking though.

 

Tarantella was fantastic. In fact I was most taken by Dylan Tedaldi. He was effortless in his dancing and so very charming. I love the work and am surprised it's not done more often outside NYC where I've seen it probably a dozen times. It never fails. Audiences love it and I'm told by dancers that it is obviously hard with its speed and cast of only two but that it is great fun. 

 

The Concert like Tarantella I have seen many times in NYC. The best part of it for me is being able to see the acting talents of the dancers. Dancing well isn't good enough. You have to have presence, timing, comedic/dramatic ability and intelligence to know when to use these skills and how. All in all I would say that the dancers did well. There was something about it that felt dated however. The ballet itself felt past it's prime. And this got me thinking. Is that the ballet or the performers? I'm sure there is no answer but the truth is when I've seen this ballet in New York it didn't feel dated. However when a ballet has been made on a company they often have a stronger grasp of it than others. Maybe it was the coaching? I just don't know. The Ballerina for instance - try as she might - she just didn't "get it" in the way she should have. We didn't know what she was trying to say. I think as an artist you have to make choices. The choices weren't clear here. As was pointed out to me afterward though the cast here was very young.

 

The other ballet of the evening was called Self And Soul. To be honest I can't recall anything about it. It came and went without much happening. At dinner with friends afterward while looking over the programs - with hastily scrawled notes all over mine haha - I saw it was a piece by Mr. Binet - the same one who did the art gallery work that we were so disappointed by in the fall. The one legible note was the single word WHY with a bunch of exclamation points. 

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Thanks for this JumpFrog!  I saw the show at the last performance.  I enjoyed Genus but then I hadn't seen it before so couldn't compare it like you could.  I agree with you on - does an intellectual theory make a good basis for dance question.  I had a hard time seeing the connection with Darwin.  Lindsay Fischer tried to explain/defend during the ballet talk - but I'm not sure that he was really sold on the connection either.

 

I too loved Tarantella.  In this show the male lead was Skylar Campbell, who was also superb.  In fact he was in Genus too - so quite a day's work for him that day.

 

Concert I enjoyed but not quite as much as I had hoped.  There were a few mis-steps with timing (an action that was supposed to match with something from the percussion section) - too bad.  I thought most of the dancers did well with the acting - the piece was enjoyable for me overall.

 

Self and Soul - Binet did this piece for the Erik Bruhn competition (which I didn't attend this year), and the dancers I saw were the ones in the competition.  So I enjoyed seeing them re-create their roles.  I don't think there was anything special about this choreography other than maybe one lift.  Personally I think that Binet has had the extraordinary good fortune to be able to work with dancers of such high calibre.  I don't know that his young works would present half as well with other dancers. 

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Casts for John Neumeier's A Streetcar Named Desire

 

Blanche DuBois
Sonia Rodriguez (June 3, 7, 8 and 10 @ 7:30 pm)
Svetlana Lunkina (June 4 and 10 @ 2:00 pm)
Jurgita Dronina (June 8 @ 2:00 pm and June 9 @ 7:30 pm)

 

Stella
Jillian Vanstone (June 3, 7, 8 and 10 @ 7:30 pm)
Chelsy Meiss (June 4 and 10 @ 2:00 pm)
Emma Hawes (June 8 @ 2:00 pm and June 9 @ 7:30 pm)

 

Stanley
Guillaume Côté (June 3, 7, 8 and 10 @ 7:30 pm)
Piotr Stanczyk (June 4 and 10 @ 2:00 pm)
Harrison James (June 8 @ 2:00 pm and June 9 @ 7:30 pm)

 

Mitch
Evan McKie (June 3, 7, 8 and 10 @ 7:30 pm)
Donald Thom (June 4 and 10 @ 2:00 pm)
Jack Bertinshaw (June 8 @ 2:00 pm and June 9 @ 7:30 pm)

 

http://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2016-17-Season/Streetcar-Named-Desire

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Repertoire for the Mad Hot Ballet gala on June 6

 

Surge
Choreography by Robert Binet
Performed by Students from Canada’s National Ballet School  

Tarantella
Choreography by George Balanchine 
Performed by Sonia Rodriguez and Skylar Campbell

World Premiere
The Sea Above, The Sky Below
Choreography by Robert Binet
Costume Design by Erdem Moralioglu
Performed by Xiao Nan Yu, Harrison James and Félix Paquet 

Pas de Deux from Coppélia
Choreography after Arthur Saint-Léon
Performed by Elena Lobsanova and Naoya Ebe

Nuages
Choreography by Jiří Kylián
Performed by Greta Hodgkinson and Marcelo Gomes, Guest Artist and Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theatre
 
Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire
Choreography by Marius Petipa
Performed by Jurgita Dronina and Francesco Gabriele Frola

 

http://national.ballet.ca/Gala-Content/Repertoire

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Casting for Swan Lake

 

Honestly, the company is beginning to resemble the POB in how few of its principals are dancing Odette-Odile and Siegfried. (Well, at least they're not casting principals as the Wench any longer. Back in 1999 watching Martine Lamy being subjected to simulated gang rape was perhaps the greatest outrage of a generally loathsome production. My sympathies to the soloists who will be doing the role.)

 

Odette / Odile
Heather Ogden (June 15, 22, 24 at 7:30 pm and June 18 at 2:00 pm)
Hannah Fischer* (June 16 at 7:30 pm and June 24 at 2:00 pm)
Emma Hawes* (June 17 at 2:00 pm and June 23 at 7:30 pm)
Svetlana Lunkina (June 17, 21 at 7:30 pm and June 25 at 2:00 pm)

 

Siegfried
Guillaume Côté (June 15, 22, 24 at 7:30 pm and June 18 at 2:00 pm)
Brendan Saye* (June 16 at 7:30 pm and June 24 at 2:00 pm)
Christopher Gerty* (June 17 at 2:00 pm and June 23 at 7:30 pm)
Evan McKie (June 17, 21 at 7:30 pm and June 25 at 2:00 pm)

 

Rothbart
Piotr Stanczyk (June 15, 22, 24 at 7:30 pm and June 18 at 2:00 pm)
Ethan Watts* (June 16 at 7:30 pm and June 24 at 2:00 pm)
Ben Rudisin* (June 17 at 2:00 pm and June 23 at 7:30 pm)
Jonathan Renna (June 17, 21 at 7:30 pm and June 25 at 2:00 pm)

 

Benno
Naoya Ebe (June 15, 22, 24 at 7:30 pm and June 18 at 2:00 pm)
Trygve Cumpston (June 16 at 7:30 pm and June 24 at 2:00 pm)
Jack Bertinshaw (June 17 at 2:00 pm and June 23 at 7:30 pm)
Harrison James (June 17, 21 at 7:30 pm and June 25 at 2:00 pm)

 

Fool
Robert Stephen (June 15, 22, 24 at 7:30 pm and June 18 at 2:00 pm)
Kota Sato (June 16 at 7:30 pm and June 24 at 2:00 pm)
Francesco Gabriele Frola (June 17 at 2:00 pm and June 23 at 7:30 pm)
Dylan Tedaldi (June 17, 21 at 7:30 pm and June 25 at 2:00 pm)

 

Wench
Tanya Howard (June 15, 22, 24 at 7:30 pm and June 18 at 2:00 pm)
Jenna Savella (June 16, 17, 21 at 7:30 pm and June 25 at 2:00 pm)
Jordana Daumec (June 17, 24 at 2:00 pm and June 23 at 7:30 pm)

 

* Debut

 

http://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2016-17-Season/Swan-Lake

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I must agree with you volcanohunter.

It just seems odd that so many of the dancers, let alone principal dancers, don't seem to actually perform much of anything here at all. Especially something like Swan Lake. I mean Isn't that the kind of thing principal dancers usually live for? Where they really get to use all their talent and show their art? I just don't get it.

Nor do I understand what I see posted above regarding yet more upcoming programming of this Robert Binet. Again. Why though. What is happening?! Now we have to sit through two in the same program. 😩 Honestly I feel like there is something either we don't know about or maybe something happening behind the scenes that is causing all this odd casting and questionable/poor programming. Or maybe this is genuinely the standard of work they aspire to here. Maybe they look at what they program and honestly think "we are doing it! World class! " Lol 

On a happier note how amazing to see Mr. Gomes coming here and in such a sublime work. Thank goodness! 

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The casting at this company is so weird. I don't even know the guy who is doing Prince while two principals are doing Benno. 

 

The management here has no brains, I think.

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Posted (edited)

Greta Hodgkinson, the original Odette-Odile in Kudelka's ghastly production, had said during the previous run that it would be her last. Likewise, I think for Sonia Rodriguez the moment has passed. Xiao Nan Yu lost her (hulking) partner to An American in Paris, and no hired gun from ABT is available because its season is running simultaneously. A gala one-off is not the same as a week-and-a-half run of an idiosyncratic production, and so it seems possible that Yu may never dance the ballet again either. Sadly, Jurgita Dronina, like Jillian Vanstone before her, seems to have fallen victim to perceptions about being "not right" for the part. (I think the company is wrong on both counts.) That leaves Elena Lobsanova as a real mystery. I'm insufficiently familiar with her technical skill set, so I don't know whether her fouettes are too feeble for Odile, for example. Or maybe she doesn't want to dance the part. :dunno: Who knows: maybe Ebe and James would rather be dancing Benno, too. :dry: It would involve less partnering, which may be a consideration if a dancer is battling a back injury, although given that James is preparing Stanley Kowalski at the same time, it's safe to assume he's up for heavy-duty partnering. 

 

Fischer would be considered "right" according to contemporary orthodoxy, and Saye is the obvious person to partner her. I have enjoyed Hawes in the small parts I've seen her dance, and she's having a lot of big debuts this season. A year ago Gerty was among the male corps members who danced the peasant pas in Giselle, although at the time I thought only Laurynas Vejalis had been successful in the assignment. But a year is a long time in the life of a young dancer, and perhaps he's made great strides. Frankly, I don't think any of the company's first soloists is principal material, so in that sense I'm not surprised Karen Kain is looking further down the roster for princesses and princes. But surely the schedule could have been jiggled to fit in another cast (or two), rather than giving the opening-night crew four performances, which would be pretty exhausting over a ten-day stretch. 

 

It turns out that for Hodgkinson, Lobsanova and Yu, the gala will be their only big assignment of June, which hardly seems satisfactory.

Edited by volcanohunter

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There are plenty of footage on YouTube that Jurgita Dronina is dancing Odette/Odile and she is fabulous. 

 

Such as this one.

 

 

Well at least Dronina is guesting with English National Ballet's Japan tour, substituting for Alina Cojocaru in Coppelia this July.

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I have a feeling that in Karen Kain's world Isaac Hernandez wouldn't pass muster either. :( It's absurb, I know. Two years ago Lunkina wasn't cast as Aurora until Lobsanova's injury forced Kain's hand.

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5 hours ago, naomikage said:

There are plenty of footage on YouTube that Jurgita Dronina is dancing Odette/Odile and she is fabulous. 

 

Such as this one.

 

 

Good gracious she is gorgeous. Thank you for posting this naomikage.

And volcanohunter as crazy as it sounds I think you are so right - even Hernandez probably wouldn't get much here. .

Either the artistic direction has very poor taste or they simply don't give chances to people based on their talent.

Either way it will bite them in the backside eventually.

Im sure all companies make questionable decisions sometimes but this company in particular is just so off the mark right now it's pretty unbelievable. Granted I haven't been around long enough to compare it to previous directors so maybe it's always been this way.

Also I am curious to ask what you mean by saying that Fischer is considered "right" by company orthodoxy. I'm guessing you mean politics or? I saw her in Cinderella (Blond stepsister) and Giselle (Myrta) and wasn't really taken.

By the way happy Victoria Day weekend everyone I have no idea what we are celebrating 😂

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I mean simply that Fischer is fairly tall, long-limbed and her arms are quite flexible. Nowadays practically all Swan Queens look like that. (Although just having seen Oksana Skorik do the "white swan" adagio this evening, I know all too well that the results of this thinking can be horrifying. :speechless-smiley-003:)

 

In this instance I think Kain can do whatever she wants, because people will come see Swan Lake no matter what, regardless of who's dancing, and more importantly, no matter how horrid the production. 

 

P.S. Queen Victoria's birthday, which is always moved conveniently to the second-last Monday of May. Because Canadians need a stat holiday in May.

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Is it possible that injuries are the reason for the limited principal casting?  

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No, all principals will be appearing in the season at some point, even if only at the gala. In particular, Hodgkinson, Lobsanova and Yu, who are featuring prominently only in the gala, recently appeared in a new ballet by Guillaume Côté in Ottawa, as did Lunkina and Rodriguez. (The ballet is a dud, but the dancers gave it the old college try.) Hodgkinson and Rodriguez are both over 40 and effectively removed themselves from Swan Lake. Yu needs a strapping partner the company doesn't have anymore. If Lobsanova is doing the pd2 from Coppélia, I doubt she's nursing a bad injury.

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Jurgita Dronina's recent interview, posted May 10, includes:

 

"From a young age, I was constantly told I would never dance the role of Swan Queen because of my height, but after preparing for my first performance as the Swan Queen with legendary Natalia Makarova, I have danced it the most out of all my roles and done ten different stagings of the ballet by now with numerous companies around the world. This is when I turned my weakness into my strength."

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