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saratoga debuts


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#1 rkoretzky

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Posted 20 July 2002 - 05:20 AM

I don't know whether any of these roles were performed in NY, but the Saratoga audience was treated to a few debuts in the past two days.

Notably, the Daniel Ulbricht/Ashley Bouder "Tarantella", which I believe was a true debut? Certainly so, if one judges by the amount of interest that was generated by members of NYCB. I saw members of the company who rarely, if ever, come to the house to watch, coming in for this 8 minute sensation. Having fully absorbed the Balanchine dictum that "ballet is woman" I usually give most of my attention to the ballerina, however I could not take my eyes away from Daniel Ulbricht. The guy flies. There must be a wire somewhere! I was expecting this, after having seen him leap off the bar last week in Fancy Free. And he certainly did not disappoint. The elevation was fantastic, but equally so the light and soft landings, which have been a benchmark for the entire company for these two weeks. I just can't stand the noise, and it hasn't happened. Ashley Bouder did a fine job too, but the star of that ballet was Daniel. The pique sequence at the end, with his tambourine at her feet was extremely well-done, but Daniel Ulbricht does have a little way to go in terms of partnering--my only (small) criticism. And because of his height, he may not have those opportunities in abundance. NYCB certainly does have a number of these small men who are incredible jumpers right now.

Last night was certainly a night to watch the men, as Peter Boal gave a stunning performance in Opus 19, the Dreamer. I must admit that it has taken me a while to appreciate this ballet. I find part of the Prokofiev score melodic and lovely, and parts of it unbearable. For me, this is one that I must see a few times and it grows on me each time. Tonight it was the best that I have ever seen.

I also enjoyed Morphoses more the second time around. I emphatically do not agree with Gottlieb that Wheeldon's piece is the only good thing to come out of this year's Diamond Project--in fact I think that Haiku is much much better. But I think that both pieces are keepers. Showing my preferences here-I wish that Chris Wheeldon would make something pretty, to pretty music. I loved Slavonic Dances, and wish we could see it again.

Working backwards.....Thursday afternoon's matinee also featured a few debuts. Alexandra Ansanelli fell on her entrance in "My One and Only", scrambled to her feet so fast that you might have missed the fall if you weren't watching carefully, immediately nailed the fouttes with power, and received a well-deserved round of applause. Other than one little slip toward the end of her variation, she was wonderful and sparkling. I also enjoyed seeing Abi Stafford.

Raymonda Variations. I am happy to say that this was the best dancing that I have seen from Yvonne Borree in quite a while. She doesn't have the fire of Jenifer Ringer, but she has a lovely airy quality and she seemed more relaxed and less nervous this afternoon. She floated through the pas de deux, even smiled. I don't think she is particularly strong, in comparison to the other dancers, and she is sometimes off the music, but when she was on, today, she was on and it was a delight to watch her.

Glenn Keenan was MUCH better in that fiendish first variation than she had been in the last performance. Instead of hitting the side of her shoe in pointe, she was right over the box, and what a difference that makes. Thank you, Michael, for bringing her to my attention. I am also happy to say that Lindy Mandradjeff came though in Variation II. Do those two resemble each other or was I imagining it? Alina Dronova will grow into Variation VI, I think, and that is the purpose in giving the younger corps these opportunities. However, Ashley Bouder and Abi Stafford are much better matched to each other in that little competition. I missed Abi in her part.

Today is another double-header, including the gala/horror show. I'll be back......and, just as some of you have been doing, please post or message me with anything special you'd like me to watch for.

#2 tango49

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 03:00 PM

I've been curious about the casting practices of N.Y.City Ballet for awhile so I thought I might jump in! Was this an official debut of Daniel Ulbricht (as I know he's been given solo roles before Sarasota). Perhaps he was debuting in his first Principal role. Is this the normal practice of N.Y City Ballet to bring students, apprentices and corp members into leading roles before they've even worked their way up into the ranks? How do you think this affects other members of the company such as seasoned soloists and Principals? Love to hear your opinion.

#3 rkoretzky

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 03:30 PM

Hi tango:

When I use the term "debut" with NYCB, I mean the first performance in a particular role, not necessarily a first performance as a soloist, principal or whatever. Is this what is commonly meant?

Anyway, to answer your other question, that will open something of a Pandora's box I think. No one really seems to understand how roles are given or taken away in this company. Indeed I had a quite disturbing conversation Saturday night with the parents of a long-standing member of the NYCB corps. There is quite a lot of dissatisfaction and unhappiness there. None of this should come as any surprise, but I have been just as happy as a ---- in ----- for the past few weeks with NYCB here in Saratoga, and I have not wanted to know that there is trouble in paradise. But after having this conversation, it wouldn't shock me one bit to see many more defections.

#4 sneds

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 07:09 PM

Hi!
Saratoga, not Sarasota :)

Yes, this was Ulbricht's first time in "Tarantella". He has danced other "soloist" roles- a sailor in "Fancy Free" and the gigue section of "Mozartiana".

Casting choices at NYCB (under Martins) have often been, um, interesting. In part, I think that because the repetory is so large and mostly comprised of short ballets, younger dancers get more shots at larger roles. There simply aren't enough healthy soloists and principals to fill every soloist/principal role in every ballet. Still, dancers somtimes seem miscast, and some dancers seem to be neglected while others seem to get many roles.

I love Ulbricht's dancing, but thought that perhaps Antonio Carmena should have had a shot at "Tarantella" first. Carmena is very talented, and at the this point, appears to have a stronger partnering skills than Ulbricht. I would be very upset if Carmena were to leave-he's one of the great talents still mostly hidden in the corps.
I am pleased to see Amar Ramasar and Seth Orza getting opportunities-both are great dancers. According to the current issue of Pointe Magazine, Ramasar will be getting a shot at "Fancy Free" next season. He's definately been rehearsing it, since he danced an excerpt with Orza & Ulbricht at the Guild Luncheon.
Kate

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 07:15 PM

rkoretzky, don't fret too much about impending "defections." There's always dissatisfaction in ballet companies, and at the end of every season I hear "everyone's leaving" rumors from at least three major companies. Maybe some want to leave and can't find anything better, maybe they're just venting. But come fall, I'm betting most of them will be back. :)

#6 rkoretzky

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 06:40 AM

Kate:

I do agree with you about Carmena--I caught his Four Seasons during the winter season and was wowed, and hasn't his name surfaced with regard to ABT recently?

And Alexandra:

I, too, have heard grumblings and rumors every season. But I also sense a dichotomy at this point between the loveliness that we are seeing on the stage and the bitterness that does seem to lurk backstage. I don't feel that this is an especially healthy time for NYCB. Between the Homans and Gottlieb articles, the fact that the State Theater doesn't sell out except for Nutcracker and that the SPAC at twice the size of NYS Theater looks downright empty a lot of the time, and the fact that many veteran dancers who have given years of service and are looking exquisite rarely show up on stage, the fact that there are certainly more retirements coming from the principal ranks....well I am somewhat worried and depressed about this.

What we see in front of the curtain is looking quite wonderful. What is happening behind is a worry.

#7 Calliope

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 09:50 AM

just to follow rkoretzky's lead on this.
a friend last night commented that with the tragic events of last year, everyone sought solace in what they new and what was comfortable (tv ratings showed it)
and instead of giving us comfortable at the state theater, we go the Diamond Project, which did fair in ticket sales.
whereas ABT gave us Dream and Fille, both of which did very well.
maybe NYCB's sales will pick up, but I think the cat's out of the bag and it was finally voiced in print for all to see.

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 10:01 AM

Both Dream/Fille and Diamond Project anniversary were programmed way before 9/11, of course, lest someone read the prior post as ABT was taking the sure way out and NYCB was forging bravely ahead with new, uncomfortable works :)

As for what's going on back stage -- we don't know what's going on back stage. If one talked to ten different dancers, not to mention ten different dancers' mothers or spouses -- one would get ten different views. Whatever is going on back stage should be kept back stage, at least as far as this board is concerned.

#9 tango49

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 10:05 AM

Hi Kate... Sorry about mistake in spelling Saratoga (Sarasota). Living here in Florida doesn't help the situation! Anyway after getting Pointe Magazine in the mail yesterday and reading about Amar Ramasar I'm beginning to see this as a common occurance at NYCB (bringing newly appointed corp members into principal roles). If the role fits why not use them. Amar (a friend of my sons) is so nice and we're so very happy for him. He even got a pas de deux choreographed on him by Martins! What a great opportunity for these young dancers. Lets hope they don't burn out too quickly with all this responsibility at such a young age. Keep us posted here in Florida of NYCB happenings! I knew it when McBride and Villella were on the bill and I'm sure it is a different co. today in many ways.

#10 Calliope

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 10:20 AM

I knew the spring season's were already planned ahead of time, I just meant maybe people went to see what was more familiar as opposed to something new.
And the print comment referred to literally the print, not here.

#11 sneds

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 10:22 AM

Hi!
I haven't heard or read anything about Carmena & ABT. Perhaps you are thinking about my post referring to the recent NYCB Dancer of the Week profile on Carmena , or the profile itself. In the profile, the story of how Carmena got to SAB is mentioned: He was a Prix de Lausanne scholarship winner, and intended to go to ABT (the studio company). However, at the time he didn't speak english very well, and somehow it was understood that he meant SAB (instead of ABT).

I have absolutely no idea if he's ever considered ABT. There are so many factors in deciding which company is best for any one dancer-salary, repetory, artistic direction, existing talent (i.e. ABT already has many talented, shorter men).

Kate

#12 Farrell Fan

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 11:49 AM

Hi Tango,

Corps dancers doing Principal roles is an old tradition at NYCB. Suzanne Farrell was in the Corps when she debuted in "Movements for Piano & Orchestra," a Principal role Balanchine had intended for Diana Adams, who became pregnant. Suzanne was officially a Soloist when Mr. B choreographed his first ballet for her, "Meditation." And she wasn't named a Principal until after she was Dulcinea in Balanchine's "Don Quixote."

Peter Martins used to be blamed for NOT picking promising dancers out of the Corps and giving them Soloist or Principal parts, but instead going by seniority and trying to give everybody a chance. Now he apparently is being blamed for having favorites. It's one of those situations in which he can't win, which at one time caused me to sympathize. Now I have other issues with him, as they say.

As for unhappiness backstage, everything was not sweetness and light in the days when Balanchine was concentrating his attention on Suzanne and ignoring everyone else.

#13 BW

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 12:18 PM

Farrell Fan, I just loved your comments about the "damned if he does and damned if he doesn't" situation re the casting at NYCB - and especially your last two lines!

I really can't add much to the thread, as I don't have much in depth historical hindsight - except for what I've read - and the autobiographies of former dancers truly do not paint NYCB, nor any other company, as the Camelot of the ballet world!

Perhaps it is like talking about the "good old days" and forgetting that while the apple pie was great - the polio epidemic was not.

I guess, in a way, in reviewing a ballet company's life and art, one can either take the attitude of the investor who buys and holds for the long haul vs. being a day trader. ;)

Anyway thanks for the perspective!

#14 BW

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Posted 01 August 2002 - 02:09 PM

Thanks for your perspective nycb2b/Giovanni.:) You sound as though you know what you're talking about - so it really may be the keep 'em off balance approach - or maybe it is just part of the "mystery" legacy.:)


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