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Student workshop reports

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#1 Alexandra


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Posted 29 May 2002 - 08:20 PM

It's that time of year again.....

We've had some rough times with posts about student workshops. The moderators have been batting this one around, and we'd like to try again to have reports about workshops, including SAB -- which is just around the corner.

Please remember that you're writing about Very Young People, people who are not yet professional, who are students, who cannot be expected to dance like 30 year olds.

Please remember that, especially with SAB, it is very likely that the students will be reading what you write -- parents, too :)

Of course, no one would dream of writing "John Jones was the absolute worst! He was awful! He'll never have a career in ballet!" Of course not. But we'd also ask that you resist the temptation to Pick the Winner ("John Jones is the Baryshnikov of the future! I know a star when I see one!") Predicting the future of young dancers, for good or ill, can have unfortunate implications.

Thanks! Enjoy the workshops -- I'll look forward to reading what you think about them :)

#2 Hal



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Posted 02 June 2002 - 08:28 AM

Saw the SAB Workshop last night and was impressed as usual by the level of dancing that the students put on. The first ballet was Ballo della Regina and was staged by Merrill Ashley (just in case someone here doesn't know, it was choreographed by Balanchine to specifically take advantage of her strengths as a dancer). I actually sat next to her during the performance - which was a great thrill. She was very pleased with the performance (I asked :) ) She said they had been working on it since February and there are actually three different casts, one for each of the three different workshops. The cast I saw starred Ann Sophia Scheller and Allen Peiffer. I thought they were both terrific. She seemed to handle the necessary speed pretty well, I was impressed.

The second ballet was Les Geneilhommes by Peter Martins. This is a dance for 9 men and the boys looked like real men to me! The all did very well, especially David Blumenfeld who was the lead.

After the first intermission they did Copland Portrait by Damien Woetzel to music by... duh... Copland. This is a new ballet, part of this seasons New York Choreographic Institute. So it was actually concieved for these dancers. I had mixed feelings about the actual ballet - the beginning seemed a bit dark for a workshop performance. There are actually 11 segments to the ballet and it would have been helpful to have been able to have read the program during the performance to see the mostly descriptive titles. It was for 4 couples was mostly charming but I don't remember anything about it that wowed me. I think it has potential - need to see it again to get a better handle on it.

After the second intermission they performed the third and fourth movements from Brahms-Schoenberg Quarted. The third movement (Andante) was a delight, well danced by Jessica Flynn and Tyler Angle (Jared Angle's relative??? with my eyesight and sitting at the back of the Orchestra I couldn't tell if there was any resemblance). The fourht movement (Rondo alla Zingarese) is a favorite sort of a chardas - very gypsy and delightful. It was danced exceptionally well by Ashley Laracey. The male role was danced by Adrian Danchig-Waring. He was also quite good but needed a bit more snap in clicking his heels.

All in all a very wonderful evening. I doubt if there are any tickets left for Monday (also I think they are more expensive), but if there are I certainly recommend going.

#3 Jack Reed

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Posted 03 June 2002 - 06:47 PM

One thing that's changed since last season - student-workshop season, that is - is that we didn't used to include kids' names, lest they become stalker targets or something, right? Was there discussion here about that? If so, I missed it. As to which policy is better, I'm not sure, but prefer to err more often on the side of caution.

#4 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 06 June 2002 - 01:39 AM

A brief note on worskhop performances, at least as far as SAB is concerned.

When I first started to attend such performances some 20 years ago, the performance regularly included a dance featuring young students and another featuring intermediate students and the press was actively discouraged from attending. The writers who attended on an expense account rarely identified dancers by name.

In recent years, however, the workshops have featured only students in the graduating division -- young dancers who have already signed contracts with professional companies or will do so within a few months. They deserve to be measured by professional standards, and they do measure up. The School now routinely holds complimentary tickets for critics, and reviews appear in all media that cover dance. Negative comments are rare, but performance standards are extremely high.

Sometimes the repertory is ill-chosen for young dancers (last year's Danses Concertantes is a prime example), and I agree that everyone should cut the students a lot of slack in such cases. Also, I think we can all overlook occasional signs of "performance anxiety" -- the expressions of consternation that occasionally accompany complex partnering maoeuvers, for instance -- since they have little effect on the overall performance.

In short, I agree that we should not expect a teen-ager to dance like Danilova and should never tell a dancer at this level that his or her career is over before it's begun. At the same time, however, I don't think it's unfair to expect dancing of the highest standard from students at one of the world's most selective and prestigious dance academies.

#5 AmandaNYC


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Posted 30 May 2003 - 06:33 PM

Just wanted to highlight this post, as tomorrow and Monday are SAB's workshop performances, so we should mind what Alexandra's note says.

#6 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 07:12 PM

I'll add one reminder/request.

Some of the harshest comments in the past have come, ironically, from fellow students. Folks, these are your peers. Be kind.

#7 Alexandra


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Posted 30 May 2003 - 07:35 PM

Thanks to both of you, Amanda, for bumping this up, and Leigh, for your observation.

Since we try to play by journalistic rules here, and since newspapers are covering this workshop, I'll go along with that, but please remember the things we've talked about in the past -- these aren't professionals, it's not intended to be a professional performance but a student WORKSHOP performance, being spotted and crowned the Next Ballerina can be as harmful to a career as being slammed -- best Aunt Nellie's come to tea manners, please. :(

#8 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 01 June 2003 - 11:24 AM

I'm closing this thread temporarily so that people will post reviews in the SAB Workshop Reviews thread (or in a new thread if it's a differen't school's performance)

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