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New Wheeldon Ballet

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#1 Bridget


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Posted 16 June 2002 - 05:37 PM

Anyone else out there see the new Wheeldon ballet? If so, could you explain it to me. I realize it was abstract, but still there was a message being conveyed. Wendy Whelan was amazing in the "spider" scene. But that's all I understood.

#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 16 June 2002 - 06:35 PM

I saw it as well, Bridget. I'm not sure there was more of a "message" to it than what you saw.

#3 cargill


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Posted 17 June 2002 - 08:36 AM

I guess we now have our Spider Woman: the Ballet.

#4 glebb


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Posted 17 June 2002 - 12:17 PM

I loved Ansanelli in it. Great looking dancer!!!!

#5 Michael


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Posted 17 June 2002 - 12:52 PM

I was quite disappointed. It's definitely "Son of Polyphonia." But where in Polyphonia I felt that Wheeldon had something he wanted urgently to tell me about the Ligeti score, about these particular dancers, and ultimately about himself, I felt none of that last Thursday. There were a few interesting moments, but the entire thing felt like just another Diamond Project Ballet, like Wheeldon had nothing more to say, as if there were no particularly urgent reason why this dance had to be made to this music with these dancers. I thought the lighting also gimmicky, that that thermometer motif of the stip of color with the level moving up and down it had no particular connection witht anything.

If "A rising tide lifts all ships," the Diamond Project is like a Sinking Tide and evidently has the opposite effect. And I'll ask again, what does Wheeldon's title of Resident Choreographer mean? We have had as many, if not one more, new ballets from Melissa Barak in the last year than we have had from Wheeldon, and at that we have this half hearted thrown together piece for his new ballet. And also, shouldn't a choreographer resident in the company be more involved with the dancers, with company class, etc., wouldn't that be a great advantage? That is what we are getting from Barak but not Wheeldon. Different kind of "residency."

#6 liebs


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Posted 17 June 2002 - 02:45 PM

Wheeldon has clearly been distracted this year with Broadway, and works for other companies. I think NYCB has been rather generous in allowing him alot of freedom. Maybe, it is Wheeldon who needs to be committted to NYCB rather than the other way around?

#7 Michael


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Posted 17 June 2002 - 04:17 PM

Very possibly Liebs. Putting his name down as "Resident Choreographer" was starting to seem to me analogous to a law firm putting someone on their letterhead as "Of Counsel." But what did you think of his new Ballet?

#8 Calliope


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Posted 17 June 2002 - 04:39 PM

I saw it also and found it flat. It didn't help reading his rather haphazard commentary about doing the piece and it not being expected to be his best work and that's how I went into the piece, not expecting to see much, and it's exactly what I got.

I'm going to be a bit cynical here, partially because I think Wheeldon is good, but he isn't the savior of ballet as he's been called. I think City Ballet gave him the title, which to the outside world, probably gave him more creditability than perhaps he deserved. He went out and has done things for other companies, a Broadway show and gotten recognition in the tabloids, this in turn brings City Ballet some press and hopefully an audience just to see what he turns out next.

I think he's a decent choreographer, but I think there are some others and I wonder if he's just become a ballet celebrity of sorts, with not much star power to back it up.

Sorry, I'm just annoyed yet again at a waste of a season over at City Ballet. What a contrast to see ABT revive something as old as Fille and I love it and all the new stuff I can't stand is across the plaza.

#9 Lynette H

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Posted 19 June 2002 - 04:57 AM

I wonder if Wheeldon is taking on too much. He made a new work for the Royal (Tryst) which premiered in mid May: there were a lot of interviews in the press with him at the time where he made it plain that he had five weeks to create the work before rushing off and starting another work somewhere else. It sounded as if he was undere some pressure. As for Tryst, it had something of a mixed reception. I wonder if he will get the chance to make any adjustments to it (it's coming back next season). I had a sense that some sections of it semed much more finished or polished than others.

#10 Dale


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Posted 19 June 2002 - 05:16 AM

I think Wheeldon is feeling pressure. In the Time Out NY interview, he mentioned that he's not the boy wonder any more and is expected to produce. He sounded a little bitter, but I guess that happens when you're at his stage -- grace period over, more expectations, just beginning to get bad reviews.

That said, I liked the new piece and thought it was interesting.

#11 Patricia



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Posted 19 June 2002 - 05:33 AM

I saw MORPHOSES last night and came away impressed. It was a lot of choreography for four dancers, who were undaunted, polished and brilliant. Christopher Wheeldon brings out the very best in Alexandra Ansanelli, who is pretty wonderful to start with. Hard to believe it was only the 3rd performance. I hope it's scheduled again for a future season. It's not an 'easy' or 'pretty' piece but I was excited by it. Like Wheeldon's other ballets this one looked different than previous ones, including POLYPHONIA. Maybe I'm in the minority, but whatever he does is definitely worth watching. He uses neo-classical titles, ballet positioning, even costumes, but, after all, it is City Ballet.

The 'spider' movement was there, but not as frequent as reviewers led me to believe. I wonder if anything's been changed? No matter, this was appropriate to the Ligeti score, as was when the ladies were held in 'iron cross' positions and tiled side to side. The repetition 'morphed' the two couples, who were emotional opposites. Wheeldon is becoming more musically astute with each piece. Even silent sections work.

During the piece several audience members sitting in my row complained LOUDLY about the music - have NYCB audiences changed so much? 'New' music is a company tradition.

#12 justafan


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Posted 19 June 2002 - 07:06 AM

I saw the piece on opening night, and the "spider movement" was very brief -- but so striking that it stayed with you. I can't imagine anyone performing it so perfectly as Whelan.

As for me, I had a mixed reaction to the piece. I thought the movements were amazingly fluid. Beautiful. I wasn't sure how much that was due to the wonderful dancing -- and it was wonderful -- or the choreography. .

I also loved the lighting, even if I couldn't detect its meaning. And the costumes were very pretty for a leotard ballet. As for the Ligeti score, I thought it was easier to digest and enjoy than his more recent works.

Neverthless, I found my mind wandering about 3/4s through the ballet. It did have the somewhat familiar and unappealling scent of a typical Diamond project ballet.

One hopes that next year Wheeldon will slow down a bit and work on at least one ballet with a large NYCB cast. It seems to me that Martins wants to tie Wheeldon to the company but also give him the freedom he wants. I don't think that's a bad thing -- particularly at this stage of Wheeldon's career. It doesn't force Wheeldon to make a choice -- Broadway vs. City Ballet. The Royal vs. City Ballet, etc. It can only give him more experience and help City Ballet in the long run. And isn't that somewhat similar to the relationship Robbins had with the company?

#13 Farrell Fan

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Posted 19 June 2002 - 07:22 AM

I saw it last night too and liked it very much. I agree with Patricia, each of Wheeldon's ballets is different from the previous one. Morphoses is not like Polyphonia, although he certainly has an affinity for Ligeti. The Flux quartet played the music extremely convincingly, and the audience responded to them -- and to the ballet -- enthusiastically. As for the people in Patricia's row, one has run into their ilk over the years at NYCB performances. Several decades ago, I heard a guy complain loudly about Stravinsky's music for Agon.

The least successful Wheeldon choreography of recent times IMO, was for "Sweet Smell of Success." It was generic Broadway razzmatazz. I thought that show as a whole, though, was a lot better than the critics said, and I'm sorry it closed.

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