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Dale

Winter Season, Week Three and Four

33 posts in this topic

I was there too! There was quite a contingent of Ballet Alerters there on Saturday afternoon.

Kammermusik: I don't care much for the music or the choreography. It just isn't a favorite of mine. I will agree enthusiastically with the poster who said it has lost its edge, though. It was too soft, there was none of the sharpness and attack that I expect with the Balanchine/Hindemith pairing. I will be sorry though, to see Sofiane Sylve go back to Europe. Is there really a possibility that she would stay on?

Ballade: Contrary to another poster, I sensed a wonderful connection between Whelan and Tewsley. I found them completely convincing as a couple. I am also here to tell you that I am a Tewsley fan!! Prior, I had only seen him do the Nutcracker cavalier--not much of a part, and I wasn't really taken with him. But, oh boy! He has a gorgeous classical line, he is handsome and tall, and I want to see more, more, more of him! One small criticism--I could hear some landings, both his and Wendy's--and I don't want to.

Haiku: It has all been said, some of it by me, last summer. It is a keeper with some of the most inventive choreography in a very long time. Of particular interest to me is the courage to choreograph (and dance) during the long silences in the score.

Bizet: It was a Wendy afternoon for me--all the way. The second movement adagio may be the most exquisite piece of choreography ever. I loved the way that she took her time with every movement--very carefully showing each position before she moved to the next one. Jennie Somogyi in the first movement was like a piece of crystal herself. I could see every facet and edge, every position of her feet, every movement of her head. Nilas was terrible. I cannot believe that he gets away with such limp, lusterless work when the demi-soloists on either side of him are showing such effort and such promise. In the third movement, my eyes didn't leave Carmena. Joyful, elegant, elevated, light--everything that was missing from the first movement principal was there in spades for the third.

Should also mention that the Bizet began with another horrible screeching "solo" from the french horn section. I don't know how this guy gets away with this kind of playing.

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Hey Dale -

On your next check-in with the press office, could you (or anyone else) find out how tall Tewsley is? I think it's really interesting that he keeps being described as tall. He may be tall, but it may just be his proportions. I could be wrong, but I don't think he's in reality that tall, he does third movement Symphony in C with Jennie Somogyi and he was paired before with Weese, which suggests to me that he's a "medium" - whatever that means!

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A very good point, Leigh. As I was typing that, I was thinking: "Is he tall? He IS tall, isn't he? Is he or isn't he? He must be."

And perhaps he isn't that tall after all. But he dances "tall". His bearing yells "danseur noble".

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Well, it's hard for me to add much to what's been said about the matinee, but that's never stopped me before.

In Kammermusik, Sylve looked like she'd been dancing this sort of angular, faceted, fractured Balanchine forever. I just wish she'd been dancing Kowroski's role. I just adore Sylve's speed and magnificent jump. And, yes, it's been observed a few times that she can turn. I just want more, more, more. They're doing PC No. 2 in the Spring. Well, one can dream, can't one?

It's interesting that at a time when it seems like most of the ballerinas and almost all of the corps are doing their best to turn themselves into the Cheshire Cat (I swear, in Bizet Janie Taylor looked thin as a reed -- next to Wendy Whelan!), Sylve has heftier shoulders and more muscular thighs than most of the principal men, it seems. What a tank she is! I can't help but observe that after misusing Monique Meunier so badly that she bolted the company last year, the most exciting thing in the Winter Season (well, after Kyra Nichols' astonishing visitations) has been Martins' engagement of a ballerina who has the physique of Meunier on steroids.

There's a lesson to be learned here, well, several. It's not for nothing that one of the most common phrases I've heard to describe Sylve (well, by me, anyway) is that she's a "big, strong, healthy girl." At one time that might've been a polite euphemism for the f-word (no, not that one!), but I am rather enjoying Sylve's very modern blend of athletic power and feminine grace. She's not decorous, as ballerinas of ages past have been, yet she's also not an India-rubber sideshow freak, as are too many of today's "ballerinas." And, while, in admiration, I just called her a tank, that athletic femininity of hers sets her apart, at least in my mind, from some of the more celebrated warhorse ballerinas of decades past. (You know who I mean.)

Sylve's joy, power and speed (I'll never forget how she just gobbled up the stage with her pas de chats and pique turns in the coda of her two Nutcracker pas de deuxs), stands out even more than it might because it's in such sharp contrast to what I've been seeing in the corps. If many, if not most, of these girls are dancing like exhausted, malnourished waifs, well, perhaps that's because they ARE exhausted, malnourished waifs.

It's no secret that Martins is rather forceful about sitting down women who are heavier than he'd like, and it appears that the lesson of Meunier has not been lost on the rank and file. (Ringer is a bit of an exception, but it's clear she's become a niche dancer, much as Violette Verdy was decades ago.)

I think Kowroski looked better, and danced better, a couple of years ago when she wasn't as reedlike as she's become lately. It seems no sooner did she develop the core strength to hold together her gorgeous hyperextensions (and seemed to me to be well on her way to becoming an extraordinary dancer), she threw it away when she lost five or so pounds over the past year or so. Was it worth it?

Is it worth it for the women in the corps to look so emaciated? There are some dancers who can be extremely thin, yet dance divinely (the obvious example is Wendy Whelan), but most dancers have not been so blessed. And if the corps today would dance with the energy and elan I recall from only a few years ago, I wouldn't be caviling so about their apparent state of semi-starvation. (And perhaps girls in the corps would stick around for longer than the two or three years that now seems to be standard -- is there anything left now of NYCB's institutional memory?)

But the weak and parsimonious, energy-conserving dancing I've been seeing at the State Theater (of course, there are glorious exceptions) both depresses and frightens me, even more when set against the shining example of Sylve's power and joy. I'm not suggesting that NYCB change overnight into a company of Sylves (although I can imagine worse fates), but that for both the health of the dancers, and the repertory, the company step back from the precipice upon which it seems to be poised. Is it any wonder that so many dancers are out every night, and that the corps is always being fleshed out with ranks of apprentices?

I spent much of Haiku admiring Carla Korbes' beautiful, and quite curvy, physique, not the least of which were her gorgeously muscled, strong yet very feminine thighs (I don't know why bare-legs-in-toe-shoes ballets get such a bad rap!). Although Korbes isn't a powerhouse like Sylve (whom I expect to see on a box of Wheaties any day now), she does show that the range of balletic beauty need not be divided between Beanpoles and Amazons (after all, Balanchine liked the occasional Gloria Govrin-esque woman, and in later years, Farrell herself had quite lovely hips and thighs).

What is going on at City Ballet that there seems to be such an overpowering preoccupation with thinness? I have never had much patience with people who deride ballet for putting a premium on "abnormal" thinness to the detriment of dancers' health, etc., etc. I used to say, "Well, ballet isn't yoga -- you don't do it for your health." Yet, how can I defend the art form I love when too many of NYCB's dancers look like they're starving themselves, if not to death, then past the point where they can function optimally, or even acceptably, as vehicles for the art to which they've so admirably and selflessly dedicated their lives?

Hmm. I see by the clock on the clubhouse wall that I should've left my cozy cubicle ages ago. And I haven't even gotten to Ballade, Haiku or Bizet (much). I have a unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach that Tewsley will become the next Nilas Martins. But that's another post.

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Just an aside here - I really have to disagree with the view of the corps dancers as being, on the whole, thin, very thin or emaciated. My dancing daughter and I both feel strongly that the corps does not look thin. In our views, there are two - one in particular who is also quite tall - who are quite thin...but frankly, I was commenting the other night that I found them on the whole to be quite "healthy" looking. Several of the corps members, in my opinion, have rather atypical ballet bodies...certainly they are not the stereotypical Balanchine bodies to be sure.

It's odd how different people see the same things and see them so differently, isn't it? To me, the corps looks quite healthy and actually quite happy too. To my eyes, there are many more smiles this season.

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Who saw Kyra in Chaconne? Manhattnik, I am sure you did. Reviews please!

I had hoped to get to NY this week to see Kyra in Mozartiana and/or Chaconne. I don't think it is going to happen. Work responsibilities are calling.

Chaconne is repeated during spring season, but this is it for Mozartiana, and I'm not making any more trips to NY until March. ARRGGH.

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Well, I completely agree with what everyone else has been saying about Maria K and Sofiane's stunning performances in Kammermusik 2. I really like that when Sylve is on the stage Maria has to rely on more than have just her beautiful body line. This is one of the few performances that she did more than just choreography. It must be a relief for her to share the stage, not the role with Sylve ;).

Ballade, the corp parts seemed like much of a rehash of Wallpurgisnacht. But Whelan was beautiful. Tewsley was fine, but he needs to loosen up a bit in this new rep.

Piano Pieces ... what a great performance, unlike what I have been reading in the other posts the corps in Piano Pieces was great! Young, enthusiastic, and cleanly together. Wouldn't it be nice if every piece could get as much attention as this "major revival" has gotten? Somogyi just stole the show for me, with Ansanelli in a close second. I think this ballet captures what Somogyi is all about with the possible exception of Concerto Barocco. She danced with such perfect fluidity, clarity, grace and musicality. I hope I don't take away from her performance by saying how much she looked like a young Kyra Nichols. Seeing her dance with Jared Angle makes me realize how unfortunate it was that he was injured last year. Not only is he better for her in terms of partnering technique, they are so well matched in terms of expression. Hopefully this is a partnership that can flourish, although I would also like to see her dance with Tewsley too.

Jeu de Cartes. Well, I saw unfortunate performance last week when Hubbe was injured. I stayed to see what it would be like to have the King. Ummm.... unfortunately Martins did not add to much, I think the first version was better where Millipied was Jester and King.

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Leigh, I will get on that request on Tuesday. And a big Amen, to Manhattnik on his rant.

Will post more later...

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