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Danses Concertantes - NYCB dancers in London


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 24 September 2002 - 02:03 PM

I just got back from the first night of this. the programme was:

In the Night - Borree/Marcovici, Somogyi/Boal, Whelan/Soto

Triple Duet (new piece by Benjamin Millepied) - Ansanelli/ Hall

Duo Concertant - Borree/Boal

Polyphonia - most of original cast

The whole evening was very warmly received - highlights for me were Polyphonia and Peter Boal in Duo Concertant - but it's wonderful to see NYCB dancers in London and I only wish they were staying longer and doing more!

#2 Kate B

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 04:36 AM

Thanks for posting this Jane! Me, Lolly and Anouska are going tonight so we'll let you know what we thought about it!

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 01:36 PM

Kate! You're going to the ballet!!! :) That's great -- I look forward to all of you reporting on this one :)

#4 anoushka

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 03:25 PM

It was superb! I think my favourite was the Millepied piece Triple Duet. I wish I could see them all over again already, and I've only just got home! It was great to see the other pieces too, they were all new to me, and I enjoyed them all.

The Dowell costumes for 'In The Night' were excellent-I wanted them all!
For me, Duo Concertants was probably the ballet I would need to see again the most, I found the way the dancers wandered over to the piano and violinist a bit odd.
Polyphonia was also very interesting to watch, espeically as Wheeldon's Tryst is in the Triple Bill again at the Royal in October. I could definatly see some similarities in the pieces.

Anyway, thats enough for the middle of the night, it was worth the cold cycle ride home! xx :)

#5 Kate B

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 12:38 AM

Hi Anoushka, glad you got home OK last night!

I too thought the Millepied was the best thing, both the dancers had what I can only really call 'sparkiness'! 'In the night' was also lovely. I'd say I thought the Polyphonia thing was a bit too gymnastic at points but I thoroughly enjoyed the entire show, and it was over far too quickly for me. I will have to go again soon!:)

#6 jude

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 02:42 AM

What a wonderful evening of dance!! Covent garden could learn a few lessons from this programme! There were uncomplicated costumes (besides from In the Night) little scenery only a few musicians but with fantastic music, wonderful dancing and ingenious choreography the evening was a blazing success!!

Its amazing how Balanchine can still seem to alive, fresh and modern even today, the Millepied work was fantastic, reflecting the music perfectly and the Wheeldon was of course stunning, although a little gimmicky in parts perhaps.

As for the dancers I thought the pair who danced the Millepied piece were astounding especially in their brief solo variations.

I know the Balanchine trust is awkward, but its about time that the RB got round to using more work in the style of what was displayed at the wells this week. Who needs so called modern work such as Baynes and all those other bits of nothingness when there are young fresh choreographers out there like Millepied!!

This has turned into a bit of a rant..sorry!!

Anyway I urge everyone to go to see this exhilarating programme.

For me its right up there on my list of all time fave performances!!

#7 Lolly

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 12:37 PM

Oh, I had such a great evening! My goodness... Your dancers are so different! And so similar... watching them dance I could see so many similarities with RB dancers, I was able to instantly cast RB in these works!

Okay, I saw Borree/Marcovici, Somogyi/Boal, and Whelan/Soto in In the Night. Ansanelli/Hall in Triple Duet. Borree/Boal in Duo Concertant. And Whelan/Soto, Somogyi/Marcovici, Ansanelli/Hall and Tinsley/Fowler in Polyphonia.

The men were very broad shouldered - I think RB are much more finely built. The all had ARMS and not just arms! (If you see what I mean!) Are they all like that or is it just the selection we got to see? I was disappointed that they weren't taller, but that was my only disappointment so I don't have anything to complain about really! The dancer who I thought was the most American in the way I was expecting, was Jennifer Tinsley - she was quick, expansive, long limbed... Wendy Whelan was lovely, gosh, I wish I looked like her! Alexandra Ansanelli was my favourite, she looked like she has personality and was very sparky, lively, fun.:) From the men, I liked Sebastien Marcovici and Peter Boal.

In the Night was gorgeous. I kept thinking of The Leaves are Fading for some reason, it had a very similar atmosphere I think, a bit drifty, wistful. Beautiful costumes, I would have happily worn any of them! I liked the sort of cartwheeling turns of the final couple, so you could see the bright orange underskirts! And there was a lovely backdrop, with fairy light pinpricking across the back of the stage. it was funny, when the house lights went down, before the curtain went up, I thought, "It is so dark!", it was completely black, very unusual. Then the curtain went up, and I gasped silently and thought "And so pretty..."

Triple Duet was cool... I really liked it, and I wanted it to be me dancing! (I don't always think that - sometimes I am happiest to watch but I wanted to be up there last night!) Will you get to see it in USA this season? I hope so.

Duo Concertant was... Balanchine. I did like it, I just can't articulate why! It was interesting to have the dancers acknowledging the presence of the musicians. Maybe the musicians were giving the concert and the dancers were a sort of accessory? Though I was sorry for the dancers standing next to the piano for ages before they got to do anything, I thought they might be getting cold! I liked the minimalist costumes, the white looked very pretty.

Polyphonia was wonderful. The only Wheeldon I have seen is Tryst, and I could see so many similarities between the two, it was fascinating! I was wrapt (or do I mean rapt? Or is it the same?!), after each section I had to take a moment to come back into the world, it was mesmerising. It was similar in that it followed the same pattern with a pas de deux and then all the dancers coming back on stage together and using 5th positions a lot... is it a Wheeldon characteristic?! (I loved them working from 5th, it is so neat... my favourite part from both Tryst and Polyphonia was the end, and I wished it hadn't been the end already, in both!) The central pas de deux was great, but I think that in both Tryst and Polyphonia they are too careful and precise, there are a lot of peculiar positions that could end in disaster. Risk is good, but so is abandonment. I missed that. The costumes were nice although I am not sure about the girls' plastic belts! The sort of purple/dark blue was streamlined and a bit like school uniform!

You know, I think I need to see the programme again! With both the dancers and the works being new to me, it is hard to keep them separate in my mind. Reading this back I see I haven't said much about the actual choreography. Maybe that is why I instantly cast RB dancers into the roles as I watched, I needed something to relate it all to. I should have written things down! I am going to try and go again tomorrow I think. It is sooooo definitely worth a second look!

I enjoyed it all so much. The Millepied and the Wheeldon tie as my favourites.:)

#8 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 01:38 PM

Originally posted by Lolly
It was similar in that it followed the same pattern with a pas de deux and then all the dancers coming back on stage together and using 5th positions a lot... is it a Wheeldon characteristic?! (I loved them working from 5th, it is so neat...


I'd say it was a Balanchine characteristic ;) Have you ever seen Agon? It has a similar structure.

#9 Lolly

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 01:45 PM

Yes! There was some kind of arm movement I thought I had seen before too, I thought it could have been Agon! Sort of intertwining... I could be thinking of something completely different of course... for the life of me I can't remember where I have seen it before. I can see it in my mind now... how frustrating!:)

#10 sylvia

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Posted 27 September 2002 - 02:13 AM

I couldn't wait til Saturday! I decided at the last minute to see it last night as well and I thought it was terrific, one of the best ballet evenings I've had in a long time. I'll write up a longer post later but I think the stand-out for me was the Yvonne Bouree in Duo Concertant.

#11 Lolly

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Posted 27 September 2002 - 03:25 PM

I went again...:)

I'm so glad I did - it was wonderful! If anyone is still thinking about it, GO! I phoned up and managed to get a ticket at 5pm as I left work. It was packed - a very different audience to Wednesday's, I thought, and VERY different to the ROH audiences! The young and hip were out in force replete with multicoloured hair... The foyer looked like a trendy bar with everyone hanging around wanting to see and be seen. Oh, and I saw Alexander Agadzhanov and Ernst Meisner from RB. (not together!)

In the Night was beautiful. I like the first pas de deux (purple and white) best now, very adagio, port de bras, fluid, waltz turns.. so pretty. The second, (gold/brown) I thought very Russian this time, a bit demi-character and mazurka-like. The final one is the spectacular one I suppose - the movement where the girl slides between the man's legs along the floor, he steps over her and runs off into the wings left a big impression! It was a bit comic in places. The thing I noticed most about the style was the use of demi-point a lot, I kept expecting things to be on pointe but they weren't. I wonder why it was done like that?

Triple Duet was great, I adored the 1st postion base they kept coming back to, standing in the middle of the stage, like a motif. I liked the repetitive quality of that, there was something you could hold onto, it drew you in. It was really quite serene and lovely, but sparkling too. The audience seemed to love it, there was lots of applause. Hurrah!

There was a funny moment a few minutes into Duo Concertant when the dancers were at the piano - I heard a voice behind me say, "Why aren't they dancing?" and the reply - "I'm not sure..." Any ideas?! I did like the dancing, it was very sharp and fast with a lot of parallel positions which was interesting to see the blend with turn out. The man's solo was fab. The style uses much wider foot positions than anything I have seen - the 4th and 2nd are much wider. I didn't like the section with the spotlight on their hands. I started to kind of resent being told what I should be looking at!

Polyphonia was fantastic. I am completely obsessed with the 5th positions they use now! It looks so tight and neat (I am not allowed to take my 5th like that - I have to have my heel on the bunion joint, so the toes of the back foot are visible). The duet for the two men was great -it reminded me of the pas de trois in R&J (whcih I also love) Doesn't Jason Fowler have a fabulous jump? The trio for three girls is a bit odd - the standing in parallel 4th, bending at the waist and sticking the leg out at the back is bizarre. And so is the bit where spiders crawl up the side of their torso - quite Wayne McGregor! I would love to know where it came from. The final pas de deux was lovely - I appreciated the gymnastic-ness of it much more with a second viewing. The last fluid motions of the girl sitting on the man's lap and twirling under his knee, upside down in the splits was amazing. The music at this point was melancholic, the notes sounded very deep and the dancers moved slowly, it was almost as if there was silence. it was strange.

I'm so pleased I saw it twice. I want to see it again though! At least it is a programme you aren't bored with after one performance I suppose! As I said before, if you are still thinking about it, just go!

And I really hope you get to see Triple Duet in USA. It's cool we got to see it first here!;)

#12 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 27 September 2002 - 04:19 PM

Originally posted by Lolly

There was a funny moment a few minutes into Duo Concertant when the dancers were at the piano - I heard a voice behind me say, "Why aren't they dancing?" and the reply - "I'm not sure..." Any ideas?!


Lolly, here's something I wrote about Duo on this thread from early last year:

The first movement of the ballet, the Cantilène, is not danced; the violinist and pianist are onstage, and the dancers stand quietly behind the piano, listening and watching. This is no rest for them, their job is to represent all of us as engaged audience members, Balanchine is honoring Stravinsky’s music at his festival [note: The 1972 Stravinsky Festival] and giving us lessons in appreciation and deportment. They are his chosen teachers. They look at one player, than the other, silent, respectful and receptive. And then they go where no audience member can; the man leads the woman to the other side of the stage to begin dancing the first Eclogue.



#13 Lolly

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Posted 28 September 2002 - 12:25 AM

Thank you Leigh. From reading your post on the linked thread, it seems like Duo Concertant is a poem foremost and a ballet second - like Song of the Earth perhaps, with the different sections and themes. Hmm, I have to think about this!

And then they go where no audience member can; the man leads the woman to the other side of the stage to begin dancing the first Eclogue.

Ah, but you can project yourself onto the dancers, so it is you dancing after all!;)

Are the musicians cast along with the dancers? Is there an equal relationship between the dancers and musicians? I think I have a lot of reading to do! I know so little about Balanchine.

I wish I could go again today. I'll just have to be satisfied with going to class and rehearsal and trying out my new super-crossed 5ths!

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 28 September 2002 - 05:56 AM

There's an interesting thread about this performance on Ballet.co, including a summary (by Jane Simpson) of Peter Boal's remarks in a post-performance Q and A.

http://www.danze.co....ening/3034.html

#15 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 01 October 2002 - 02:13 AM

To European ears American orchestras often sound quite different to ours: a little less nuanced, perhaps more showy, certainly warmer. American dancers also seem different to our eyes – sassier, and with a ‘larger’ and more legible performance style.

Danses Concertantes, the programme that a group of New York City Ballet principals and soloists brought to Sadler’s Wells last week, was the clearest demonstration imaginable that ballet is alive and relevant, and that a new generation of choreographers are busy charting its future. For London audiences, sated with the events of the week at the Royal Opera House, it came as glad reassurance.

Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia was being shown for the first time in London (it has already been seen at the Edinburgh Festival). It contrasted interestingly with his Tryst for the Royal Ballet this spring. Whereas Tryst is often dark, reflective and ambiguous, Polyphonia is altogether more playful and engaging. Wheeldon pays particular attention to lighting and there were obvious parallels in the lighting of both ballets. Polyphonia unfurls and closes in an almost filmic way. Its opening section, however, is difficult and seems overly intellectual and passionless. The work is still, so to speak, in the shade and the eye strains to spot symmetries. As the work develops, it becomes increasingly clear both that Wheeldon has a heart and that he has wit. Whereas an early duet for the leading couple, Whelan and Soto, is stylised and passionless, their final solo, in which they sinuously close in on each other, is mesmeric and an absolute coup. Polyphonia deserves all its superlatives and it should feature strongly in the various awards ceremonies at the end of the year.

The other (and inevitable) great success of the night was Balanchine’s Duo Concertant danced by Yvonne Borree and Peter Boal. Its sophistication is undimmed and it completely recalls the time of its making. Staggered counterpoints, playful piques and seeming spontaneity take the breath away. It is well mannered and giddy at once, always returning to centre with grace. While it was deliciously danced, my afterimages are of the dancers standing at the piano, just listening. Sometimes it is not necessary to show the music.

Benjamin Millepied’s Triple Duet was a premiere, with Alexandra Ansanelli and Craig Hall its first cast. It recalls Duo Concertant in that it is danced with the solo flautist on stage. Millepied closely annotated the music (Bach’s Partita in A minor BWV 1013), almost as if he were adding an underlying continuo. It was well made and not overly literal.

Jerome Robbins’ In the Night opened the programme and was, to my mind, the least memorable piece of the evening, with its images overwhelmed by the works that followed. Three couples represent love as alternatively young and lyrical, mature and harmonious, stormy and passionate. The central duet for Jennie Somogyi and Peter Boal was, however, sumptuous. Boal is a most exceptional dancer in a company that is itself very exceptional. Danses Concertantes whetted the appetite for a full NYCB season in London.


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