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Alexandra

Season opener -- note start time is 8:00 p.m.

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Those going to the Washington Ballet performances this week at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, note the start time is 8:00 p.m., not the usual 7:30. (I'm told the Eisenhower and Opera House have switched start times this year generally -- the Opera House will start at 7:30, the Eisenhower at 8:00. Check the calendar at www.kennedy-center.org for times.)

I hope some posters will go and report on the season opener. It's Balanchine's "Serenade" and Septime Webre's "Carmina Burana."

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Did no one go? I thought this was the strongest program I've seen from the company in years. And years. (And that includes last season's opener, which was quite fine.)

My review in the Post and Jean Battey Lewis's in the Times are on Saturday's Links thread.

What did you think?

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I went to the Sunday matinee. Serenade is one of those pieces I'd previously only seen in random, excerpted bits on TV, so I was thrilled to finally see it completely. I love that moment in the beginning when the dancers snap into first position -- such a small but potent element. I thought the piece got going rather slowly, it seemed rather tentative or maybe lacking in energy. But once the waltz movement began, things picked up. I thought the dancers were quite lovely -- very nice footwork and ensemble work. I think that's the beauty of the piece, the classroom quality of a group of dancers performing often basic tendus or port de bras with precision and as one. The sum indeed is greater than the parts.

Carmina Burana confused me a bit, I think maybe I needed more program notes. I guess what threw me was it began, and ended, with a primitive, sort of pagan sensibility, but the middle was something entirely else. I'm not sure I can describe this, but the beginning and end seemed tribal, like a ritual was going on -- like a human sacrifice or something (I'm grasping here). But I wasn't sure how that related to the middle sections, which were very colorful and almost circus-y with giant Mother Ginger-like figures. I thought the choreography was quite splashy -- lots of pairs-skating-type twirls and lifts -- and the men were particularly awesome. Great Fred Astaire moves with the chairs! The company overall looked terrific -- kept up with the challenging choreography and never looked frantic. I loved the spectacle of it all, the three tiers of singers, the moving scaffolds, the moody lighting.

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