sf_herminator

2017 Season - Program 1 & Program 2

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Casting for the first two nights of Program 1 & opening night for Program 2:

 

PROGRAM 1

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - 7:30 pm

 

HAFFNER SYMPHONY

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Conductor: Martin West

Maria Kochetkova, Angelo Greco*

World Premiere

FRAGILE VESSELS

 

Choreography: Jiří Bubeníček

Music: Sergei Rachmaninov

Conductor: Martin West

First Movement

Sofiane Sylve*, Carlo Di Lanno*

Dores André*, Francisco Mungamba*

Mathilde Froustey*, Wei Wang*

Second Movement

Dores André*, Joseph Walsh*, Wei Wang*

Third Movement

Sofiane Sylve*, Carlo Di Lanno*

Mathilde Froustey*, Francisco Mungamba*, Wei Wang*

Dores André*, Joseph Walsh*

 

IN THE COUNTENANCE OF KINGS

 

Choreography: Justin Peck

Music and Original Orchestrations: Sufjan Stevens

Orchestration for San Francisco Ballet: Michael P. Atkinson

Conductor: Martin West

 

Quantus: Dores André

Electress: Frances Chung

Botanica: Jennifer Stahl

The Protagonist: Joseph Walsh

The Foil: Daniel Deivison-Oliveira

The Hero: Luke Ingham

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 7:30 pm

 

HAFFNER SYMPHONY

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Conductor: Martin West

Vanessa Zahorian, Taras Domitro*

 

FRAGILE VESSELS

 

Choreography: Jiří Bubeníček

Music: Sergei Rachmaninov

Conductor: Martin West

First Movement

Jennifer Stahl*, Carlo Di Lanno

Dores André, Francisco Mungamba

Mathilde Froustey, Wei Wang

Second Movement

Dores André, Joseph Walsh, Wei Wang

Third Movement

Jennifer Stahl*, Carlo Di Lanno

Mathilde Froustey, Francisco Mungamba, Wei Wang

Dores André, Joseph Walsh

 

IN THE COUNTENANCE OF KINGS

 

Choreography: Justin Peck

Music and Original Orchestrations: Sufjan Stevens

Orchestration for San Francisco Ballet: Michael P. Atkinson

Conductor: Martin West

 

Quantus: Dores André

Electress: Frances Chung

Botanica: Jennifer Stahl

The Protagonist: Joseph Walsh

The Foil: Daniel Deivison-Oliveira

The Hero: Luke Ingham

 

PROGRAM 2

Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 7:30 pm

 

SEVEN SONATAS

Choreography: Alexei Ratmansky

Music: Domenico Scarlatti

Pianist: Mungunchimeg Buriad

 

Mathilde Froustey, Joseph Walsh

Frances Chung, Angelo Greco*

Sofiane Sylve, Carlo Di Lanno

 

World Premiere

OPTIMISTIC TRAGEDY

 

Choreography:

Yuri Possokhov

Music: Ilya Demutsky

Conductor: Martin West

 

Lorena Feijóo*

Luke Ingham*, Taras Domitro*

 

PAS/PARTS 2016

 

Choreography: William Forsythe

Music: Thom Willems

 

Maria Kochetkova

Frances Chung

Dores André

Sasha De Sola

Julia Rowe

Sofiane Sylve

Jennifer Stahl

Skyla Schreter

Carlo Di Lanno

Francisco Mungamba

James Sofranko

Diego Cruz

Joseph Walsh

Wei Wang

Henry Sidford

 

*Denotes premiere in ballet

 

Link to casting:  https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting

Program 1 Info:  https://www.sfballet.org/season/repertory/program-01

Program 2 Info:  https://www.sfballet.org/season/repertory/program-02

 

 

Edited by sf_herminator

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I'm surprised that Aaron Robison isn't listed for either program. I'm looking forward to seeing him with this company. Any (published) reports on what he's rehearsing?

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The new Possokhov work was being created on Robison and Tan, and Feijoo, but interestingly, only Feijoo is in the opening. So we will see, but I don't think we can read anything into this yet. Yuan Yuan is in Shanghai at present.

 

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I just checked the casting and Mathilde Froustey is not dancing in any of the ballets she was listed in.  Instead, Lauren Strongin is dancing in Seven Sonatas, and Koto Ishihara in Fragile Vessels. 

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14 hours ago, Josette said:

I just checked the casting and Mathilde Froustey is not dancing in any of the ballets she was listed in.  Instead, Lauren Strongin is dancing in Seven Sonatas, and Koto Ishihara in Fragile Vessels. 

 

Unfortunately, it looks like she may have more 'medical issues' - she posted a photo taken from the window of the Pacific Medical Center. I really hope she hasn't had another seizure.

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On 1/23/2017 at 1:48 PM, pherank said:

 

Unfortunately, it looks like she may have more 'medical issues' - she posted a photo taken from the window of the Pacific Medical Center. I really hope she hasn't had another seizure.

Mathilde has shared what is going on with on Instagram:  

 

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Thanks for sharing the news, sf_herminator. I was wondering/worrying about her.

 

 

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I went to Friday's performance of Program 1 and Saturday's matinee performance for Program 2. I thought it was a nice start to the season - energetic and and optimistic.

 
Program 1
Haffner Symphony
The corps ladies did well, very pretty and together. Daniel D-O was sloppy, missing a few turns, and jumps. The soloist ladies were also together and beautiful. Sasha de Sola has gorgeous legs, a great smile, and lots of sunshine, but I found her arms a bit too wristy. I think it would have benefitted her to find a little more steel in her dancing. Carlo di Lanno seemed nervous and wasn't really smiling. He had a few wobbles but overall was fine. Helgi's choreography never really does it for me, it's an opportunity to see the technique and talent of different dancers in the company. The program notes described it as a garden party, light and happy, and that was definitely the case. 
 
Fragile Vessels
This piece had excellent lighting and set. The white curtains acting as legs made everything different and were striking while still being simple. The set piece in the back was the same - a perfect amount of "something" without being too over the top. The music was beautiful, full of contrasts. Sofiane Sylve has powerful, vigorous legs - her arabesque is so striking. Dores Andre also showed a lot of power. Koto had a chance to shine in her solo in the third movement, but Dores and Sofiane definitely drew the eye. The chaos of the beginning was so interesting and both the first and third movement were constantly entertaining. There was some really interesting partnering, and some parts where the whole company's arms and legs were isolated and powerful. This was an excellent commission. 
 
In the Countenance of Kings
I saw this last season and continue to be impressed by the orchestration. While Peck's choreography has moments of excitement, there are some parts that are too cutesy and coy for me. Mugamba had a hefty weekend of dancing, here as a soloist with gorgeous extensions. De Vivo and Strong made good impressions. Maria K had her debut in this. She is incredible, but I don't think this piece is her strongest suit.
 
Program 2
Seven Sonatas
I was excited to see a Ratmansky piece, but this choreography let me down. A few exciting moments, like when the women are doing chaine turns and their arms travel up over their heads, but overall the relationship aspects of the piece felt forced. There was a competing motif of some Russian character dancing. The six dancers I saw - Lorena Feijóo, Tiit Helimets, Dores André, Francisco Mungamba, Vanessa Zahorian, and Steven Morse were all confident and professional. They made it fun to watch because everyone was performing at such a high level. Unfortunately, Lorena had a loose ribbon or bandage during her pas de deux which was a little distracting but Tiit was a very good partner and it was nice to see him dance. 
 
Optimistic Tragedy
This piece was quite interesting, and I need to see it again to judge. It was awesome to see so many of the male dancers showcased, but Possokhov is always a little kitschy to me. The costumes on the men were good - sailor shirts and pants, although Luke Ingham's jacket was bulky. Lorena's costume was a black pageboy wig, black leather jacket, black skirt, and black pointe shoes. The overall effect was arresting, but perhaps mismatched to the rest of the scene. Possokhov seems to love projections and most of them worked in this, and also seems to love the idea of a woman in danger too. The set pieces of the boat and the hammocks were well used and effective. The music was fine. The plot was not always clear especially if you hadn't read the program notes. In terms of choreography, when the ensemble was working together it was pretty amazing. Lorena had a lot to do and at times I wish it had been simplified so she could have made more of an impression. There were some creative lifts. Taras Domitro made the biggest impression of the day - he bolted out of the wings and every step was powerful, clean, and exciting.
 
Pas/Parts
I was originally not looking forward to seeing this, as I saw it last year and was disappointed. I felt that the music was so distracting that it was difficult to enjoy. However, when I saw it this time, the music didn't annoy me as much and I was able to see how stellar Forsythe's choreography really is. The sets, which remind me of James Turrell are used well. My other gripe is with the men's costuming. The ladies are striking in their colorblocked leotards, but some of the men are wearing ridiculous glitter tanks, which do not match anything. Benjamin Freemantly and Wei Wang did great, and I wished for more Maria K. Jen Stahl was also a great opener for the piece. 

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2 hours ago, hernando's hideaway said:

I went to Friday's performance of Program 1 and Saturday's matinee performance for Program 2. I thought it was a nice start to the season - energetic and and optimistic.

 

 

Welcome Hernando's Hideaway - a new member is always appreciated. ;)

 

Your observations about the individual dancers echo my own typical impressions. Fragile Vessels seems to be a success with people (and that's always a good thing). Yes, Yuri tends towards kitschy visuals at times - if it is done playfully it can work, but too many visual cliches is always dangerous.

The essential problem with Forsythe ballets (fortunately for him) isn't the Forysthe part, it's the "music" he chooses to spar with. The scores are often too loud and unpleasant to put up with. Don't leave your earplugs at home.

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Thank you for posting your impressions, hernando's hideaway!

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That reminds me, I have a single ticket available:

Program 2
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
7:30 PM
Orchestra S 21

 

If interested, just PM me - it is a printable PDF (I don't think you have to have a color printer).

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Thanks, HH for the thoughtful review. I'll comment that "Seven Sonatas" seemed slightly off this year. (Allan Ulrich at the Chronicle said it might be better as "Five Sonatas.") I thought the choreographic measures didn't end quite at the right places, the pauses a little rushed or less firm, and so it seemed to have less of a Ratmansky flavor than last year. Also two dancers I liked in it, Mathilde Froustey and Carlos Quenedit, were out. But there was a great pas de deux between Sofiane Sylve and Carlo di Lanno. It's analogous to the one in "Dancers at a Gathering" where the woman is abandoned (which Sylve has done in the past, simply shrugging her shoulders instead of making a big thing out of it). Here the man is abandoned, shrugging his shoulders and dancing alone until Sylve returns.

 

The problem with "Optimistic Tragedy" is that, unlike "The Swimmer," there were no guideposts to follow. It's based on two different incidents at sea, ten years apart, and on an opera version of one (maybe the best form in which to tell the story) and on Sergei Eisenstein's brilliant film account (long streaming ribbons of montage) of the other. Too much to meld together. Plus the romance between the captain and the commisar seemed to have strayed out of a Neumeier ballet. But lots of good dancing.

 

Kochetkova was perfect in the "Divertimento #15"-like "Haffner" and "Pas/Parts" was like a snack food that got better the more you ate. (Yes, Turrell-like set.) Liked Peck's "Kings" more this year, it's grown on me. 

 

 

Edited by Quiggin

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Looks like  Yuan Yuan Tan and Aaron Robison are back in the Optimistic Tragedy lineup - for Feb. 3 and 5:

https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting

 

The lucky latecomers should enjoy those performances.  ;)

 

And Jahna Frantziskonis and Max Cauthorn are part of the Pas/Parts lineup for each show - that's a good sign for those two.

Edited by pherank

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19 hours ago, pherank said:

Looks like  Yuan Yuan Tan and Aaron Robison are back in the Optimistic Tragedy lineup - for Feb. 3 and 5:

https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting

 

Excellent news. Can't wait. 

Also hernando's hideaway thank you for your write ups. I agree with much of what you see especially the glitter tanks on the men in Pas/Parts. However pherank I too saw Pas/Parts last year but actually really enjoyed the music. I found it inventive. I just love his choreography. I wish I could see it more but I'm in Canada most of the year and they don't do much. Le sigh.

Edited by JumpFrog

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21 hours ago, pherank said:

Looks like  Yuan Yuan Tan and Aaron Robison are back in the Optimistic Tragedy lineup - for Feb. 3 and 5:

https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting

 

The lucky latecomers should enjoy those performances.  ;)

 

And Jahna Frantziskonis and Max Cauthorn are part of the Pas/Parts lineup for each show - that's a good sign for those two.

I was at last night's performance.  Yuan Yuan & Aaron were great together and I can't wait to see what else they dance this season.  Still, IMHO Lorena owns the role in the piece.

 

Jahna danced the same role Julia Rowe danced.  Jahna also graces the cover of Pointe Magazine - here is a link to the article:  http://pointemagazine.com/featured-article/taking-chances/. 

 

When I watch Pas/Parts, I focus on the dancers rather than the music.  Funny story about last night's performance:  I was sitting in Dress Circle.  I had noticed earlier that there was a guide dog in training in the back.  If you haven't seen Pas/Parts, the first part of the music is a very high-pitched sound.  This either frightened or delighted the dog because the dog started barking!!!  I wonder if the bark was heard in other sections....

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3 hours ago, JumpFrog said:

However pherank I too saw Pas/Parts last year but actually really enjoyed the music. I found it inventive.

 

Obviously Forsythe found something in it.  ;)

I think my one problem with this ballet is that the dancing and music appear to me to be simply occurring in the same space together, but I don't get a sense of the dance being a response to, or dialogue with, the music - but rather existing on its own level, and obeying its own rules. Sure the choreographer can do that, but it's not my favorite approach - it feels too conceptual to me.

 

I remember watching a video in which Sofiane Sylve talks about the difficulties of dancing to some of the score - the dancers just used particular odd noises as cues. I wish I knew where that video was...

 

Simply turning off the sound, gives one a really interesting experience of the tempo and flow of the choreography. I actually find myself filling in music. If we had never heard the music used for a given ballet, I wonder if people could begin to guess what the music was like from watching the choreography?

https://vimeo.com/162575606

 

SF_Herminator: great story about the dog.

Edited by pherank

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I made a quick trip to San Francisco to see Programs 1 and 2 this weekend. A few general observations: As I've noted before, I love that this company schedules overlapping programs so out-of-towners can see a lot in a few days. And I was stunned that both programs were sold out (or nearly so). Is there any other city in the US that could sell two mixed bills of contemporary work for an opera house seating 3126? In February, on week nights? This is one very loyal fan/subscriber base, for sure.

 

I was mainly interested in seeing Justin Peck's In the Countenance of Kings, which premiered last season and was reportedly a big hit. I loved it (and the Sufjan Stevens score). It's very much in the style of his several earlier pieces for NYCB - amazingly imaginative movement of groups in shapes, patterns, like moving sculptures. Individual movement ideas that always seem fresh, surprising, innovative, never gimmicky. I wondered how many in this audience had seen several other pieces by Peck, and this company might want to acquire another one in the coming years. I didn't get the story, but that didn't matter.

 

Bubenicek's new piece, Fragile Vessels, was a puzzle. Set to Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto, the music overwhelmed the movement, especially for anyone well-versed in classical music. It was almost like he loved the music and just cooked up some ideas to fill it. The choreography on its own was imaginative and mostly interesting, with a lot of complicated partnering for the ensemble, but it felt forced to fit the music. E.g., the second movement of the music is poignant, so how about a woman torn between two lovers. Well, okay.

 

The music was part of the problem with Tomasson's Haffner Symphony. This is such a familiar and much-loved Mozart symphony that the choreography just seems to skate over it. Others have observed that Tomasson is not a choreographic genius. This was workmanlike to me, a frothy program opener that relies mainly on an obvious classical vocabulary and hitting the beat. But sometimes I would catch glimpses of distinctive Balanchine ideas; e.g., the principal woman supported by two women hinted of T&V.

 

Nice to see Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas, with the pianist on stage for the Scarlatti. The balance between music and movement is so perfect here, it heightened the disconnected feel of other pieces on the program.

 

Possokhov's Optimistic Tragedy was strange, although it did provide a lot of opportunities for the male corps to show off, which isn't all bad. Aaron Robison and Yuan Yuan Tan (the only female in the work) had some truly bizarre partnering - contortionist, gimmicky, risky. Both were strong enough to make it work, but it was painful to watch. I was fascinated with the projections of black-and-white photographs and other images of ships at sea across the back. This seems to be a trend -- Baryshnikov's Letter to a Man used photo projections of soldiers dying outside Nijinsky's window during the war. Wheeldon's American in Paris used photo projections of Paris. The Ballade of Baby Doe (an opera shown at Central City last year, but reportedly produced around the country) uses historic photo projections of 19th century Colorado. Much cheaper than building traditional sets and a nice bit of  stagecraft in all of them. I don't know when this took hold but I expect we'll see more of it.

 

And finally, Pas/Parts 2016. Yuk. At a pre-performance interview with a soloist, we learned that Forsythe almost completely re-choreographed this from the original version for Paris. This dancer raved that he was brilliant at identifying each dancer's strengths and making the most of them. But I found that sound track of special effect noises, at high volume, truly unbearable and I skipped a second performance. Someone here noted that he seems to randomly juxtapose movement and sound. Cunningham, of course, explored this territory extensively. But I did occasionally glimpse a movement pattern or beat that sort of matched the noise pattern. But others will have to explore this one in the future - I simply could not bear to sit through that cacophony of intolerable noise ever again.

 

 

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Wow, I'm so enjoying reading all these comments and summaries! It's a real wealth of perspective, and I love hearing people's reasons for liking/disliking the different ballets and/or their music. I'm a sucker for the classical music stuff, and I really enjoyed Fragile Vessels, which I saw last Sat (Feb 4 matinee). I'd heard about the so-so costumes and their too-blend-in color, and the way the choreography was at odds with Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, so I was able to be pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The second movement and its pas de trois with Dores, Wei and Joseph W - wow, LOVED it. Was one of my favorite parts of both Programs 1 and 2. I loved the music from Optimistic Tragedy, too, no surprise. Very cinematic. Someone else brought up a great point, of how, if you didn't read the program notes scrupulously, you were sort of at sea (okay, pun intended) about the story line. Impressive pas de deux with Lorena and Luke Ingham; she will be remembered for this role once she leaves at the end of the season.

 

I see the importance of clever, innovative ballets like In The Countenance of Kings, and Pas/Parts 2016, but something in me sort of resists them. Brilliant choreography, great dancing. I wonder if it's not me resisting the music innovation (I am of the "hated it" camp on Thom Willems' funky score. The blaring horn at one point made me recoil in irritation - how can this be a good thing?). I also recoiled in irritation at the stage lights blaring out at the audience during Countenance of Kings. How did this make the piece better? If innovation jolts people out of their comfort zones - and I saw other people wincing at the lights too - is it a good thing? Rhetorical question; I honestly don't know the answer. 

 

Was able to see lots of the young, newly promoted dancers in these two programs, which is great fun. So impressed with how Mungamba and Wang have asserted themselves as strong soloists in such a short time (but they were good last year). Lauren Strongin, replacing Froustey in Haffner Symphony, is looking like a principal, and so was Jennifer Stahl in Fragile Vessels. Great to see. I'm sad that there's been no Froustey to rave over, and would have loved to be seeing Norika Matsuyama and Sarah Van Patton, and I haven't seen YY yet this year. Nor the new principal Aaron Robison. But I got to see more of Angelo Greco, and he's an exciting one to watch. And they have one hell of a male roster right now. You really notice it in something like Optimistic Tragedy. Program 1 was awfully sparse for the female corps dancers, alas. What's more, I get the feeling Helgi's got more female corps dancers than he can use. When he added Megan Amanda Erlich back to the roster, I thought "yay!" for her, but, really, I thought "gulp!" for the other female corps dancers, whose slice of the pie got potentially smaller. Then again, there's Swan Lake. Maybe Program 1 with its stronger emphasis on the males in the company is the anomaly. Looking forward to seeing how Frankenstein will be cast.

 

 

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Hey! I'm a "senior member"! :) Didn't notice that. (Must roll over at 100 posts?) I still feel new. Ahh... so many ballets, so little time.

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1 hour ago, Terez said:

Hey! I'm a "senior member"! :) Didn't notice that. (Must roll over at 100 posts?) I still feel new. Ahh... so many ballets, so little time.

 

Congratulations, Terez - keep those comments coming. The time does fly.

 

"If innovation jolts people out of their comfort zones - and I saw other people wincing at the lights too - is it a good thing?"

I think it's important to have a certain amount of boundary pushing, yes, but if every piece were created simply for its shock value, then art would be stuck in yet another rut (much like Hollywood tends to be these days: endless explosions and enormous monsters being battled by people who can leap from building to building in a single bound. This is not exciting - it's a predictably absurd display, and it is shallow). I like that you mention the lighting in the ballets, because I often have issues with strobe light effects used to no good purpose. They just hurt my eyes.

 

With Frankenstein, you may see more of the principals dancing. Walsh and Chung can be counted on to appear, but I wonder if Van Patten and YYT will also be dancing leading roles? We may not see Froustey until Programs 5 and 6 - Salome was created on her, so I know she wants to be healthy for that one.

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On 2017-02-07 at 4:27 PM, pherank said:

"If innovation jolts people out of their comfort zones - and I saw other people wincing at the lights too - is it a good thing?"

 

This conversations is so interesting to me. I recently had a similar one with a close friend who is a major opera and ballet fan. There seems to be an increase in what some would call "gimmicky" (while others would claim "inventive") choreography these days. I can't help but think back to the major choreographers of the last century and all they did with the human form.

I think audiences are growing a bit sick of certain gimmicks that choreographs use under the disguise of being inventive. For example props that don't add anything, lighting as referenced above, or even choice of venue ("Lets present this ballet in a train station..won't that be so inventive and unique").

I think it is one of the reasons I enjoy Peck's work. I'm not a huge fan but I have to say i respect it. Same with Ratmansky. It's thoughtful and inventive and uses the human form in a way that I think speaks to audiences. If more people could trust the human body and all it's limitless potential I think we would see better work. But not enough do. So it's all projection screens and site-specific work in a non-traditional performance space. As Miranda Priestley said so succinctly "Groundbreaking".

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Multi-media is essentially a different art form, and so are costumes and staging for that matter, so there's simply more to work with, creatively speaking. That doesn't mean a ballet without much in the way of costumes and stagings is automatically inferior to one with all the bells and whistles - it's just a different approach. Audience members get to decide whether they think a ballet is a success, no matter what the approach taken, and I think that's fair. But choreographers and composers have to follow their own path in generating the works, and that path often takes past achievements into account while casting about for new perspectives or techniques.

I was just reading an article in the NYT today which illustrates nicely how different artistic approaches can be:
Janet Eilber on Martha Graham -

"How are the two of you different?
She doesn’t traffic in the mundane at all. We disagree there. In her work nobody just is. Everyone’s larger than life.
Also, I’m so interested in objects and have a very nonhierarchical relationship to objects and the body. Everything for me is material: the body, the microphone, the chair. She doesn’t do that. She had an object in the piece, a big globe, and it meant the world, the universe. For her the globe was something valuable; for me it’s a round thing in space that can roll."

Edited by pherank

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I, too, am enjoying the conversation! And just wanted to chime in that I loved Possokhov's "Swimmer." I liked it even more than I was expecting to.

 

.... And speaking of Frankenstein, WHEN is that casting list going to come out?! Surely any moment now (and didn't they used to post at least 10 days prior)? Can't wait to see who's dancing the leads on Sat pm.

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I think casting is posted at a minimum 3 days prior to performance date (per union agreement).

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