Posted 21 June 2002 - 03:03 PM
Posted 22 June 2002 - 05:22 PM
Last night I saw the premiere of the new Miriam Mahdaviani ballet, In the Mi(d)st. Leaving aside the questionable significance of that (d), I found it disappointing. Like Wheeldon's ballet Morphoses, it started out in murky gloom. Wheeldon's ballet, which I liked, suggested creatures rising from primordial ooze. Mahdaviani's dancers might have been survivors of Ground Zero, I thought. But that impression dissipated when the dancers paired off. There were a lot of lifts but not many identifiable steps, to bombastic, foreboding music by Oliver Knussen and Aaron Jay Kernis. I know enough not to try to "figure out" what a ballet is "trying to say," even when, as in this case, it seems to want to say something important. Nevertheless, my mind kept wandering and In the Mi(d)st left me in a fog. The dancers (all very good, of course) were Jennie Somogyi and James Fayette, Alexandra Ansanelli and Sebastien Marcovici, and four other couples.
For me, a highlight of recent days has been "Concerto in Five Movements," a Diamond Project ballet from 1997 by Robert La Fosse, to Prokofiev, that I hadn't seen until now. Now I've seen it three times. The corps is reminiscent of the phalanx in Symphony in Three Movements, and there is an athletic pas de deux for Kowroski and Evans, a more lyrical one for Whelan and Soto, and a crowd-pleasing variation for Tom Gold. Good stuff.
Yvonne Borree was an excellent sleepwalker in Sonnambula and Peter Boal was superb as the poet in the two performances I saw. Ringer made the Coquette almost believable. And she made The Man I Love in Who Cares a thing of beauty, without for a moment erasing the memory of Patricia McBride.
You ask about Agon. The last time I saw it, it was preceded by Them Twos and La Stravaganza. One might think that coming after a mediocrity and an abomination, a great masterpiece would be all the more welcome. To my horror, I didn't find that to be the case. My reaction to it was a lot like the reaction Jennifer Homans would have had.
Posted 23 June 2002 - 05:24 AM
Fortunately, Circle of Fifths was the only dog on the program. We also saw Ansanelli's debut in Firebird. I liked it although she seemed a bit tentative, not commanding the stage at all. Agon was spectacular particularly the Kowrowski/Evans partnership (good to see Maria dancing with someone other than Askegard).
Posted 23 June 2002 - 07:14 AM
Posted 23 June 2002 - 07:51 AM
I also though Ansanelli was fabulous. [post edited by moderator]
I've seen the Chris D'Amboise "Circle of Fifths" piece three times this week. At first, I didn't like it much at all, but it's grown on me over the course of the week. D'Amboise makes very good use of his dancers, and it's interesting to see how they adapt to some of the modern dance style movements. The ballet is also packed full of precise choreography- a very challenging piece for the dancers. I found it interesting to see how they reacted to the challenge, and for the most part did an excellent job.
As for Mahdaviani's ballet-I felt that the company simply hit its limit there. After 49 other ballet, neither the dancers or the musicians seemed to have the energy or enough rehearsal time to pull off another new ballet.
Posted 23 June 2002 - 08:34 AM
Adding to the "Go Figure" column, I thought the Evans/Kowroski pairing didn't bring out the best in either of them. She's as tall or taller than him on flat, and he just doesn't have the physical bulk to muscle her around, and the Agon pas de deux sometimes needs that from the man. In most cases this season, Agon has been touch-and-go; last season it looked particularly clean - but this isn't abnormal for NYCB. It is sort of sad that the orchestra sounded much better in Agon last season; at present, the horns in the male duet are doing that old familiar bleating.
It's interesting to see Somogyi and Ansanelli matched in Mahdaviani's new piece, or Somogyi and Kowroski in Agon. Ansanelli and Somogyi have totally opposite approaches to a role (Ansanelli is vulnerable and openhearted, Somogyi radiantly triumphant). There's no rivalry apparent, but they form a sort of uneasy truce on the same stage, agreeing to live in their own worlds. Somogyi and Kowroski are simply physically different (the main one being 4-5 inches in height) but interestingly in Agon, they are assimilated into the same world more effectively.
I also saw Ringer's Theme, and my response to it is milder than some here. I thought she did a good job; I don't think it's a great role for her. She gave a detailed performance on Saturday matinee (the garouillades were there) but she doesn't have the precision in her legs to move with extreme sharpness, so she sometimes slams her upper body into poses to produce a similar effect, and it makes things look hectic. It's a notch on her belt to be able to do it at all, but it does recall another fine dancer I know who did Theme and said "I did it four times. I'm really glad I did it and I don't want to do it anymore."
Posted 24 June 2002 - 06:33 AM
In the Mid(s)t looked a little under-rehearsed and the dancers weren't always together- I think at one part the women were in a deep penche or 'needle' and one of the dancers started to get up too early and brought her leg back quickly which kind of ruined the effect. There were some interesting passages with lifts, but I prefer the Mahdaviani ballet I saw last year, Appalachia Waltz. Generally, the dancers seemed a bit uninspired. But I think this ballet might look much better with more time and more performances.
Who Cares? was a lot of fun. All the dancers let loose here and the corps looked great. Tons of flair and intricate footwork (especially in "I Got Rhythm"). I loved Balanchine's choreography. Jenifer Ringer's solo was a highlight for me. It's a great ensemble piece and everyone looked fantastic, lots of energy.
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