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Spring Mixed Program


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#1 Paquita

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Posted 14 May 2002 - 01:19 PM

I saw 2 performances of Apollo, Intermezzo, and Voluntaries. I rarely get to chance to see 2 different casts, and enjoyed both nights greatly!
APOLLO
On opening night (May 8), Rex Harrington danced Apollo. He gave a energetic and exciting performance, though he has lost a lot of his technique (line and turns), he still has that charisma and presence that audiences love. The choreography is not too gruelling, and it's a good role for him. The 3 muses were Chan Hon Goh, Greta Hodgkinson, and Sonia Rodriguez- one could not ask for a better cast. Each brought life and uniqueness to their variations, Hodgkinson was especially charming as Polyhymnia, nailing all the double pique turns while keeping the arms still and contrasting quick, sharp movements with smooth, flowing steps. As terpsichore, Goh was elegant and moving. Perhaps her working with Farrell's company has influenced her dancing of Balanchine? Her dancing was seamless and musical. The pdd was beautiful, actually, the entire ballet is really a masterpiece and has become a favourite of mine. I saw it 3 years ago in the All Stravinsky program, but on second and third viewing I really appreciate Balanchine's genius so much more. The music is both powerful and playful, and after seeing Apollo, I've decided I must find a recording of it! When the ballet ended, I was left wanting more! It seemed to go by too fast!
On the following evening, Geon Van der Wyst danced Apollo, and also looked great (and he's blond, which just seems fitting for the god of light). He really gave his all in the performance, even when the top part of the costume fell off near the end (it was hanging around his waist like an Egyptian skirt!). This time Hodgkinson danced Terpsichore, and also was exceptional in the role. However, overall, the muses were less in sync (Brenda Little and Rebekah Rimsay).
INTERMEZZO
This is a goregous, romantic ballet- with no real plot, but more focused on moods and relationship between 3 couples. Andrew Burashko should be applauded for his sensitive rendering of Bach's music (the familiar Intermezzi opus 117, No.2 and opus 118, and Waltzes opus 39). He paid a lot of attention to the dancers, especially in the final waltz, slowing down the tempo so the dancers weren't rushed ( there was a lot of intricate footwork, and lifts). Eliot Feld's choreography is delicate and at times imaginative, though I found the piece a bit long (watching it again though, I found it more enjoyable... is everything better the 2nd time around?!).
Still, as the leading couple, Aleksandar Antonijevic and Sonia Rodriguez were excellent interpreters of the steps and music, creating a warm and intimiate feeling, and moving with the greatest of ease. Stacey Shiori Minagawa and Piotr Stanczyk led the trio of couples on thursday. They did not seem to me to have the same level of comfort with each other, or the same understanding of the style, but they were nevertheless a pleasure to watch. The other two couples (on both nights) were Heather Odgen & Nehemiah Kish, and Tiffany Knight & Patrick Lavoie. I felt Ogden was most suited to the ballet. Her dancing was soft, never rushed or tense. The latter couple was enjoyable, yet not very memorable. Overall, a lovely ballet and performances (and very nice costumes!), but it looked a little bit dated.
VOLUNTARIES
This ballet was Glen Tetley's tribute to John Cranko for the Suttgart. The images and feelings of the ballet are those of grief, yearning, and loss. The mood is sombre, and the music (Poulenc's concerto in G minor for Organ, string, and timpani) is reverent and dark.
The leading couple was Geon van der Wyst and Greta Hodgkinson on opening night, and Aleksandar Antonijevic with Martine Lamy on May 9. Both men looked a bit tense in their partnering, granted though, the lifts are very difficult and demanding. Van der Wyst has become a very interesting dancer, and he is becoming a wonderful dramatic actor. Antonijevic seemed more secure in the attitude turns and jumps though, as always, a picture of technical perfection. I slightly prefered Hodgkinson, because she has a stronger attack and more pliant back (important in this ballet)- but Lamy also had a lot to offer, and has a beautiful upper-body that highlighted every sorrowful contraction and port de bras.
Both casts of the pas de trois were wonderful. Xiao Nan Yu, Patrick Lavoie, and Ryan Boorne were dramtic and conveyed a message of hope and release from pain. Both men partnered Yu very well. The other cast was Jennifer Fournier, back at NBoC after having a baby and touring with Suzanne Farrell's company, Etienne Lavigne and Piotr Stancyk. Fournier looked great, in better shape than I've ever seen her (before she left).
Finally, the corps were quite good. The men in particular were very together and completely threw themselves into the complex leaps and jumps. As the Globe and Mail stated, the ballet has a new relavence with it's themes of sadness and hope. While the trio embody hope, the couple personify enduring anguish and realism. The work is filled with many powerful enduring images, as the NBoC pays hommage to not only Cranko, but Tetley as well- two choreographers who had a enormous impact on the company.
This season was a real success for the NBoC, remembering their past and embracing the future (in the Contract, Kudelka's first original full-length... haven't seen it myself yet, but it did receive an excellent response from critics and balletgoers alike). The Erik Bruhn Competition coming up on monday should also be very exciting!

#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 14 May 2002 - 02:55 PM

Paquita -

Thank you so much for your report (I couldn't make it up this go-round for the performances or the Bruhn competition - I hope you will report on that!) I've never seen Intermezzo and it's on my list of ballets I need to see.

A few comments. I saw Andrew Burashko accompany Peggy Baker at a performance in the Betty Oliphant Theatre a year ago - he seems very accustomed and sensitive to the needs of accompanying dance - in Baker's solo work, he's almost required to function as a second presence on stage.

I think Fournier does look better than she did before she left the company as well (I saw her rehearse Monumentum/Movements with Farrell). I have to admit that Voluntaries has never done anything for me on the times I've seen it. I just found it overwrought and rather incoherent - it's one of those ballets that to me is just one damn step after another.

I'm glad you like Apollo! I know NBoC does the '57 version (with the birth of Apollo) - I prefer it to the cut down version from the '70s. The music is available (I have an old Nonesuch recording paired with Orpheus, the score of which I may like even more.) And you know, if ballets look better the second time you see them, it means that not only the dancers are learning and getting comfortable with the work, so are you. You're seeing more to appreciate, the sign of a good viewer.

Has the run of The Contract ended? Will you get a chance to see it?

#3 Paquita

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Posted 16 May 2002 - 02:42 PM

Though I enjoyed Voluntaries (again, more on 2nd viewing), it is very busy, and at times, it can seem like just steps. It is the first Tetley ballet I've seen (I'm still young!), how does it compare to his other works? La Ronde, Sphinx and Alice are on my 'ballets to see' list. I think it's interesting how he sought relief from the pain of death through choreography. I found it quite powerful, but I definately could not listen to that organ music repetitively!
Of the 3 ballets, Apollo seemed the most 'perfect', Balanchine is so imaginative, and I will have to find the CD this weekend!
The Contract continues this week, and I will see it on friday.
I'm excitied about the Bruhn competition, and have my tickets. NBoC is doing black swan and a work by Dominique Dumais. ABT is doing Grand Pas Classique and Manon. Royal Danish is also doing black swan, and a work by Neumier. SFB will perform a Wheeldon ballet, and I'm not sure about their classical pdd. And Stuttgart will bring Sleeping Beauty pdd (Act 3) and In the Middle... All I know is that ABT's female dancer is Michele Wiles. Looking forward to it!


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