lillianna

Sacramento Ballet

23 posts in this topic

I must admit that I am intimidated by this board because I have never had a ballet class, but I do love to watch ballet so I will give this a try.

I just saw the Sacramento Ballet perform Balanchine's Theme and Variations and the world premiere of their director, Ron Cunningham's , Alice in Wonderland.

At his pre-performance talk , Mr Cunningham, talked about how proud he was of his company . It was obvious to see why.

The company looked wonderful in Theme and Variations. The women all had great legs and feet. They were musical and expressive and a joy to watch.

Alice in Wonderland was an absolute delight. Alice has never been one of my favorite childhood stories so I was not expecting to be so enchanted. The sets and costumes were absolutely amazing . The choreography was an absolute delight. The company really embraced their roles and made it so much fun to watch. The audience obviously enjoyed themselves as there were frequent gasps and belly laughs throughout. It was certainly impressive for a company of 23 to pull off. Most of the company members had multiple roles. Charlie Hodges as the white rabbit , made the show. He is a very expressive and talented dancer. He has amazing jumps and turns. Emily Hite, as Alice, was also a delight. She had great "pouts"--I just loved her face. It was certainly a night of smiles--from the dodos and walrus entering in their bathtub boat, to the lobsters and tortoises doing the samba in the field of tears, to the lovely dancing flowers, to the queen playing croquet with the cards. I couldn't resist telling the director that it was better than Disney. I loved every minute of it.

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Lilliana, thanks for your post. You know, there are a lot of people on this board who have never had a ballet class ;) And it's great to read about companies from all over the world (I think it's the first time someone posts a review about the Sacramento Ballet on this board).

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Yes, Estelle's right - and I'm certainly one of them! :D

I loved reading about your experience too, lilliana - it's refreshing to hear about a perfromance without having it dissected, not that I don't find the dissections interesting - but I enjoyed imagining the Alice in Wonderland scenes and really felt your enjoyment in reading your post! Many thanks for sharing your experience- wish I'd been there too.:)

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Lillianna, can you tell what music was used for "Alice"?

Thank you.

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Andrei

Ron Cunningham said that he chose not to use the traditional Alice in Wonderland music ( I don't know what that is). He chose to use exerpts from music by: Benjamine Britten, John Alden Carpenter, Percy Grainger, Leon Minkus, Douglas Moore, Burill Phillips, and Bernard Rogers as well as some traditional Middle-Eastern music.

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Can you post the casting for the performance? I have several friends in Sacramento Ballet that are difficult to keep up with since I hear so rarely about that company.

Thanks!

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Alice--Whitney Simler or Emily Hite

White Rabbit--Charles Hodges

Mad Hatter--Benjamin Schrevogal

Cheshire Cat--Ricky Resijan

Lobsters--Sarah Hinman, Janine Maher, Lynlee Towne

Mock Turtles--Jesus Demar , peter Greene, Stephen StraubC

Lilies--Kirsten Bloom, Jack Hansen

Theme and Variations

Kirsten Bloom and Jack Hansen or Whitney Simler and Charles Hodges

Angelica Burgos Sarah Hinman Janine Maher

Jesus Demar Brady Hartley Michael Separovich

Corps--Regina Bernardini, Annali Clevenger, Susan Fernandez, Emily Hite, Chrisina Moore, Ilona Pociunas, jennifer Tierney, Lynlee Towne, Kristopher Brown, Peter Greene. Luis Napoles,Corbin Popp, Ricky Resijan, Benjamin Schreivogal, Grant Spencer, Stephen Straub

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I had the privilege last weekend to see 2 performances of the Sacramento Ballet at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. The company performed Agon, A Streetcar Named Desire and Jaybird Lounge.

As usual, I was very impressed by this company. I think that they get better every season. I was very pleased with their performance of Agon. The lead was danced by a new addition to the company, Neli Beliakaite. Neli is from Lithuania and has never danced Balanchine before according to Ron Cunningham, the artistic director. She is a beautiful tall blonde with Darcy Bussel extension. (A former silver medalist at the Prix de Lausanne. She was partnered by Jack Hansen. On Saturday she looked a little nervous and slightly uncomfortable with the style, but was beautiful and a pleasure to watch. Doing the role of Bransie Gay was Melanie Haller. Melanie is a tiny dancer who has bloomed at Sacramento. She is very strong with great jumps and turns. Her arm movements were right on. The First Pas de Trois was danced by Sarah Hinman and Janine Maher with Joo Hwan Cho. The women were tall and both have great extension also. The entire company looked wonderful in this number. I thought that Sunday's performance was even better. Neli looked more comfortable and everyone was having a "right on" day.

I can't say that I enjoyed A Steetcare Named Desire. This production was choreographed by director Ron Cunningham. The dancing was fine, I just did not enjoy the rawness of the story. In Mr Cunningham's pre-performance talk, he said that in the famous movie much of the story is left to the imagination--the rape, etc--but he said" We will show you everything here." I was disturbed by the rape sequence. It appeared very violent and was not something that I cared to see again. On Sunday, I chose to leave instead of watching it again.

Jaybird Lounge was choreographed by Val Caniparoli. He had originally choreographed it for PA Ballet. The music was a very strange combination of Bach and what sounded like a radio caught between AM stations with out of focus voices and no musid. I especially liked Colby Damon's performance--lots of jumps and turns and he did them all with pizzazz. The number will not be one of my favorites and would have been better if it was a bit shorter, it got wearing after a while.

I'm looking forward to their Nutcracker this year. There has been new sets constructed for the production and there will be live music for every performance. This is a wonderful company with some very talented dancers. Hope that some of you get to see them this year.

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lillianna, thank you for giving us the good with the bad on this one. It's good to know that even though you found Streetcar disturbing, you didn't let that stop you from attending again - you just excused yourself during that piece. Good for you!

I noticed that there are a number of tall women dancers that you've mentioned - that's a nice thing to hear, especially for those of us with taller would be dancers coming along. :thumbsup:

If you see any news coverage, and it doesn't get posted, I hope you'll make sure to post the articles, OK?

Interesting decision to show all in Streetcar Named Desire, I wonder how it was received by others who attended. Perhaps this is an example of too much reality, something that's been talked about in other threads on Ballet Talk of late.

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Paticularly disturbing to the "mom" in me, this series was part of their school outreach program. Middle and high school student groups attended this program. Agon and Jaybird Lounge would have been fine, but I thought that Streetcar was way too violent for them. I know that there is all kind of violence on TV , etc, but I found this extremely disturbing as did my youngest daughter who is a teenager. Neither of us wanted to see it again and when we went to the ballet the second day, she asked if we could leave before that number. Agon was worth the price of admission so I did not object to leaving early.

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Interesting decision to show all in Streetcar Named Desire,

Although, as Lillianna pointed out, the rape is indicated but not explicitly shown in the film, it is usually present in the stage play, so in a way Cunningham was being truer to the source material.

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It's great to hear such good things about Sacramento Ballet-- though they're a "regional" company, they've always been known -- at least around here, in the SF Bay Area -- as a company of VERY strong dancers, with a really good school behind htem.Some big stars have come out of there -- Parrish Maynard, for example, was trained there. Barbara Crockett knows what she's doing.

It's especially good to hear that "Theme and Variations" and "Agon" came across so well -- any company that can dance those idiomatically, so the audience enjoys them, is dancing very well indeed.

Is Richard Marsden still with the company is some capacity?

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My understanding is that Richard was injured this summer. He did a part in Streetcar Named Desire but was not able to dance in Agon.

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I had the privilege of seeing Sacramento Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet on opening night. I loved the choreography and especially thought that the balcony scene was breathtaking. Annali Clevenger was Juliet. It was her first major lead in a full length ballet. She did do a few Sugar Plums, but this was certainly her shining moment. She was perfect for the part. I was very impressed by her acting ability. She looked the part of a young Juliet in love with her Romeo. She has a very lovely arabesque. The couple dancing under the starry sky was a perfect Valentine's Day treat. Jack Hansen was Romeo. Jack is a veteran at doing lead roles. He was a wonderful partner and wonderful Romeo. There was one missed lift, but other than that they worked very well together. I'm sure that having an experienced partner made Annali's debut more comfortable. Besides the lead couple, Joo Cho almost stole the show as Mercutio. He provided the comic relief to the tragic story. This is the 50th season of the Sacramento Ballet. Here's to 50 more!!

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Lillianna-

I appreciate your posts! I grew up in Davis and have friends in the company, its nice to hear about how things are going. If i am ever home while the company is performing, I'll make sure to post. It would be fun to share thoughts.

Edward

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I went to see the Sacramento Ballet Company perform the Nutcracker last night. Their choreography (Ron Cunningham's) continues to be my favorite Nutcracker. Their party scene had lots of energy, the children were wonderful. Hamilton Nieh as the Nutcracker certainly caught my eye. He is a wonderful addition to the company. He has great jumps and extension and looked so delighted to be dancing.

Sugar Plum Fairy was danced by Eun Joo Cho and her husband Joo Howan Cho was her cavalier. They were absolutely wonderful. Eun Joo is a very delicate dancer. Her positions all were very clear and she danced so lightly.

Other standouts include Stefan Calka as Russian, Kirsten Bloom and Jack Hansen as both Snow Queen and King and Arabian, Nolan T'Sani as Mother Ginger. It ws nice to see Aprentice Brik Middlekauff as Candy Cane. It was a very enjoyable evening and I was happy to see a very full house.

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When I was still a full-time student at the National Theatre Ballet School in Australia months ago, Heidi Zolker and Tim Coleman (joined Sac Ballet in 2006) came over during Sacramento Ballet's season break and they were just..amazing. Heidi and Tim both come from Australia and Heidi was a graduate of the school. I really miss them. They guest starred in the school's mid-term performance in one of the choreographer/teacher's pieces.

And in class they were just.. you just see them and you go 'WOW'. Both of them have good jumps and good beats, and they have good turns. They're both amazing dancers, everyone just admires them. They also conducted a few variations classes for the full-time students and it was huge fun =D It was sad to see them leave to go back to the US.. but it was a good experience having company dancers in the school for a few months.

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I am very happy to have them both in Sacramento Ballet. I have season tickets to the ballet. Heidi is someone that I have been noticing and hope that she gets the opportunity to do some featured roles. They are both great additions to the company.

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I had the opportunity to see Sacramento Ballet's Nutcracker last night. I have always loved this version. Ron Cunningham's Nutcracker contains lots of magical moments. The audience members around me were also enjoying the special effects. Lots of ooos and aaahhhs. The Ballet has had a hard financial time this Nutcracker season. Ron made a speech before the curtain discussing the difficult financial situation the ballet was in. Then at the final bows, dancer Kirsten Bloom took the microphone and again discussed the financial woes. Then the dancers were sent to the doorways to accept donations. Sounds really serious for the ballet. I hope that they can survive this downturn. I enjoy watching Sacrmento Ballet and would really hate to lose them.

Aussie Timothy Colemea was the Cavalier last night and did an excellent job. I enjoyed Chloe Felesina's Rose--new to Sac Ballet this year, I am going to enjoy seeing her performances. Also excellent were Nicole Haskins' Marzipan lead and Amanda Peet's Sugar Plum.

If I had one criticism of this choreography, I wish the Pas would be updated. I think that the dancers are capable of more than this choreography allows. Otherwise, it is a great production.

I hope that we will have Sacrmamento Ballet around a long long time to enjoy.

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