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Saveta

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About Saveta

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid ballet spectator
  • City**
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Saveta

    The Contract

    Well, I do agree very much with Paquita's original thoughts on The Contract from 2002 (there's a hyperlink in Gisele/Violin Concerto post). Like Paquita I also saw Contract first time in '02 - this time around I saw the same, opening cast with Martine Lamy and Gillaume Cote. I think the same qualities I liked in the production that time I liked again - the sense of true artistic collaboration where all the parts sort of had equal importance (very much like rethought concept of gesamtkunstwerk, or fusion of art forms);Some of these elements however, stood out for me personaly- lighting design of Kevin Lamotte and set design by Michael Levine. I liked the simple monochromatic beauty of that bare and symmetrical 'school gymnasium' and I found the crisp, white light was very appropriate to depict the simple, stark lifestyle rules and patriarchal hierarchy (I think- mother was also not a pushover) in the small community; actually I didn't notice that thoughtful play with light until the appearance of Lamy's character of healer Eva. The warm, buff spot light is used exclusively on her throughout the work, and her costume was also in warm, beige/apricot reassuring color, so it seemed like she radiates positivism and calm. The beginning of ballet is so enjoyable and really flawless- the first part when there's a 'school play Pied Piper within play' I just love! I adore performances by the students of NBS and I love the visual impact that colorful little piece has to set off the entire ballet. THe very concept of having all dancers on the stage all the time was very interesting choreographically; however I'm not sure about the dramaturgical justification for certain scenes. For example, after that mysterious breakout was resolved by the healer Eva, all the members of the community go to sleep right there in the separated part of the school gymnasium. Why they don't go to their homes is unclear- I kept thinking weather they belong to some religious cult, which is cool if that's their lifestyle, or there was some parrallel natural catastrophe going on and they had to be evacuated? But we don't get any indications in the libretto and to me such details were a little bit distracting from the actual main scenario, I have to say. And few more things bugged me in that sense. I'm not too thrilled with Sirman's libretto actually. There are some illogical places, for example what is that actual contract between Eva and the community? I mean I can guess she gave them a lot and in return they had to like her, but how do I know that she wasn't supposed to just get paid and go for a vacation? And ok she got in trouble for getting intimate with a wrong guy, but than I don't know what was her particular connection to the children- I mean she did cure most young members of the community, but I don't remember her interacting with the children who appear in the beginning as actors in the 'Pied Piper school play'- how can I understand her character who just takes the kids and take off with them (in the Pied Piper costume, as Paquita mentioned)? This way she comes across as some incarnation of Carabose, going around and snatching people's children when they don't like her. Nevertheless, choreographically the constant presence of the entire ensemble on stage is used in a good way - I personally really liked all the group dances. I do sometimes find it hard to enjoy Kudelka's over explanatory and too literal gesturing movement style - here in the Contract the 'hart gesturing' movement for Eva (as well as, say, 'cradling baby' or 'harvesting' movements in Four Seasons), were a little bit over the top. I just think there are more subtle choreographic means available. Having said that, this time around I really got a better sense from the pas de deux of Eva and Will characters. There was a buildup where I really could better understand that two of them got curious and interested in each other's inner personas on a human level so to say, and than slowly things 'just happened' rather than just seeing them suddenly ripping the clothes off. (Disclaimer here: I honestly am not sure if something was changed in choreography, or it was just me being more in tune with the performance this time. Did anyone have a similar feeling?) Anyway, I liked a lot of things and I believe this ballet is an interesting work that could be in my oppinion easily fine tuned in details. Of course, all the performances for me were excellent- I think Lamy was brilliant, so were Cote and Julie Hay as Mother, or Rebecca Rimsay as Daughter and the rest of the ensemble really danced with beautiful synergy.
  2. I agree with tigger, this was an excellent review Paquita, and it would be just fun to hear what you thought in comparison this time around. I'm going to open a separate post for it. Read you all there!
  3. Hello all, and I'm sorry I'm so late to report about my impressions from the fall season. I saw two different casts of Balanchine's Stravinky Violin Concerto/Giselle performance, and than I saw the opening cast of Kudelka's The Contract. But I should probably make a separate post for that performance. Well, I love any Balanchine's works and always love a good Giselle, so I was thrilled with this type of programing (although I admit it was a bit unortodox, and it did surprize me when Giselle was added to the repertory later last year). As I said, I was very fortunate to see three different performances this year (thanks to another Ballet Alert friend ). It was my first time seeing Violin Concerto in person, and I think I got to understand it a bit better than what I did from watching the tape. About the first cast (Goh-Cote/Fournier-Colau) I agree with Paquita about pretty much everything . I really liked Goh in the pas de deux section, and for Cote, I'd love if he'd be able to spend some time exploring Balanchine's style a little bit more in the future. It seems like he is instictively drawn to it, but not always clear on the fact that Balanchine really was interested primarily in Stravinsky's music in the formalist sense. I feel Cote is a dancer with such an interesting potential and that may be why it seems natural that he'll develop further. Having said that, I loved his boyish 'folk' attitude which felt so genuine in the last section. And although I said I did like Goh's really interesting musical phrasing in the pas de deux, overall I think she attempted too much to emote, which to me was very distracting. (Simmilar criticism I have for Colau's grinning approach, as well as for Rodrigues and Hodkinson in the other cast, both of whom I revere as dancers, but here I felt that they were smiling in places just because they are there-on stage, not like they were genuinely happy to dance in that section- which would be ok I guess) In that second cast (Sonia Rodriguez-Nehemiah Kish/ Greta Hodkinson/A. Antonijevic) I was really impressed by Kish's approach which was in moments rough, like he was little bit trying to catch up with the right phrasing so it started looking in places almost non-academic; but because he's very musical dancer, this toghether made an interesting quality that with right fine tuning would make really solid Balanchine sensibility. For Antonijevic and also Sonia Rodrigues I felt they were on the contrary just very academic and correct, (especially in the last section I somehow expected that Antonijevic's Slavic background would help him 'just do it' in that folk-spirited kinda' way. Greta Hodkinson danced beautifuly in the opening scene and in the pas de deux, but as the ballet progressed somehow she seemed to lose that 'in the moment' feel, and just started smiling away and executing choreography. (again, this is one of my very favourite dancers, and I think I just saw her on particular evening) About Giselle: this production (Peter Wright) to me is the most logical First Act I know. Very clear in storytelling in comparison with the Russian Petipa/Lavrowsky production I was before more familiar with. Here a lot of things happen (such as Peasant Pas de D.- actually Pas de Quatre here; that harvest cellebration if I have that correct etc) so many things happen before the Court party appears at all, so once they do, everything works like a good pas d'action and the tragedy quickly unfolds, which builds up drama and really gives nice hartbreaking effect, completely proportionaly accentuated with the mad scene. What I don't like about Wright's production is the opening of the act II and the entrance of Myrtha/Willis. It's significantly shortened, Myrtha dances the opening scene with the arabesque penchees, but doesn't get to dance those lovely parallel enchenments- too many things happen on an diagonal angle, Moyna and Zulma finish quickly their shortened sections and the travel of Willis seems hastened. (and in here we don't get so many Willis, just 18 which doesn't have such powerful impact in that travelling arabesques) The rest of the act however is very nice, logical and concise. So again, dramaand story coherence seems to take precedence in this version. The first of two casts I saw in those 3 performances, with Greta Hodkinson and Alexandar Antonijevic, probably is my favourite over all in the NBoC's Giselle casts I saw in my ten years here. They took my breath away few years ago, and this year I had the same butterflies in specific segments. To me this is one of Antonijevic's best roles (along with Cranko's repertory- Romeo and Lensky in Oniegin) and Hodkinson I feel is even better in the role this time around. I did find that she was more detailed and natural in the First act on the opening evening and by the time I saw her again few days later, she had to be exausted from dancing both Gisele and in Violin Concerto on the alternate evenings. Even so, since the last time I saw her few years ago, she really matured in the Mad scene - that was the only thing I felt was initially almost too subtle for theatrical production (didn't project enough to the depth of the theatre proscenium in my oppinion) and now she found an excellent ballance between the naturalistic subtle emoting and assertiveness in drama. In the same cast I also liked Ryan Boorne as Hillarion- really convinced me that he's good harted but rough-around edges village boy. Myrtha was Heather Ogden, whose jetes I really loved, but for my taste she didn't display enough command in the upper body- Which brings me to the other cast- Jennifer Fournier had a great command of the stage as Myrtha, but unfortunately not enough precision in her allegro steps. In that other cast, Giselle was Chan Hon Goh and Gillaume Cote was Albreht. It was my first time seeing them in the roles and I liked Goh's second act more than her first (while I felt Hodkinson is equaly good,and very different in both acts; by the way both of them did heartbreakingly beautiful Giselle's 'Willi -initiation' turning scene in the 2nd act ); Cote I think has a lot of potential, he's very natural in every role I saw him so far,and he'll just get better with more experience. I was blown away in both casts by Victoria Bertram in the role of Giselle's mother Bertha, as well as by Julye Hay as Bathilde- they both approached their roles with such fine details, Hay had this unbeliveable moment when she gives necklasse to Giselle, but pulls away her hand when the other one tries to kiss it- makes it clear that she doesn't appreciate Giselle's overt enthusiasm about their little moment of 'bonding'. I think (and would like to nominate if anyone is listening) Julie Hay for the next Myrtha- I have a hunch she'd be spectacular. Generally, in both casts the entire ensemble had great chemistry, and the production came nicely together. I shouldn't forget that I loved some of the dancers in the Peasant Pas (de Quatre):Gillian Vanstone, Piotr Stancyk and Keiichi Hirano are the ones whose variations I remember still vividly. And yes, it was great to finaly meet Paquita.
  4. Saveta

    Akram Khan

    Akram Khan is coming to Toronto this fall (in November) as part of Harbourfront Centre's World Moves series. Here is link to more information (there is a very interesting line up for next season!) http://www.harbourfront.on.ca/noflash/perf...farts/dance.php
  5. Saveta

    Most Beautiful Grand Jete

    I absolutely agree about Terekhova. I always think of her if someone mentions great grand jeté. Splendid examples of this for me are her Mirta on Giselle tape with Zaklinsky/Mezenceva and The Dream Scene on Don Q video (she's Kitri and Ruzimatov is Basilio).
  6. The principal casting for Jewels performances is available on NBOC's website : http://www.national.ballet.ca/Productions/casting.php Also, there is information on the first cast of Tristan and Isolde on the same page.
  7. Saveta

    Swan Lake

    I totaly agree with you about Bruhn's version, Paquita. I'll also take Kudelka's version any day over that one;) (I also saw the recording of it on Bravo channel a couple of years ago.) I also agree with you about Ogden and think she might become a stunning Odette in some time. (Even though I'm happy for Sonia Rodriguez, I wish we could have seen her in the role this time. I'm curious about her portrayal (can't remember if she danced last time around). I guess we'll have to wait for her to come back:)
  8. Saveta

    Swan Lake

    Well, I saw Ogden/Cote performance on 28.th as well, and I remembered things which bothered me in Kudelka's version before - mostly it is his I Act with sociological comments. The concept is sort of that Prince feels trapped in the ugliness of the vulgar surroundings where a mother and a wench are the only women and so on..- I was happy enough with more traditional versions where we understand that Prince is feeling empty inside (withouth any gang rape scenes) and therefore wants to escape to a world of pure and simple emotions. (I also just want to clarify, I'm not always opposed to "reinterpreting" and "reinventing" of classics. I'm one of those who like Mats Ek, but Kudelka's approach to me is half way- he'd like to say something important and be different, but also to be approachablle enough to sell out two weeks of Hummingbird performances as well.) What also bothers me in that act is Kudelka's over choreographing for the male ensemble. That being said, I did like their dancing and I also think Stephanie Hutchinson was dancing really well. I also like Kudelka's subtle changes in the choreography of the II Act and also there is a difference in the order of dances (through Odette's variation, Pettit and Grande Cygnes they build up to the pas de deux). I also don't mind his Act IV , I love the dance for Rothbardt's with four black Swans and the ending doesn't bother me. In soloist roles in the IIIAct I thought Jillian Vanstone danced exellent. I was almost hesitating to post because I feel like such a party pooper:rolleyes: - I know everyone loved Ogden's performance, obviously including the Artistic Director (since she was promoted right after), but I have to admit that I didn't feel anything more than the performance being flat. I liked Cote a lot (he gave his all, and every time I see him I like him more), but Odette and Rotbarth I felt were not very strong at all (again I completely understand I'm in the minority). Christopher Body as Rothbart to me wasn't an authoritative evil force (I knew that seeing too much of Rex had to have its downside), but Body to me looked more like an silly looking Odette's ex-boyfriend trying to mess things up. Ogden's Odette to me didn't feel truly in love with Siegfried at all; I almost had an impression that she felt this young inexperienced guy can offer her an escape from swan life that she's bored with, therefore she went along pretending being in love with him. Her Odille was more convincing to me (I liked her during the E.Bruhn's competition in this pas de deux). I thought her fouettes weren't clean, mostly traveling left and right, but that didn't bother me too much. I know she has technique, and her line is lovely. Interesting to me is that the thing like this already happened to me when Xiao Nan Yu was promoted couple of years ago after an performance of Tatiana in Onegin.(Although her aplomb and musicality were intoxicating, I didn't think she got the complexity of the role of Tatiana at all.) I still think I was right then, but again I guess, I didn't see what majority of people did.
  9. Saveta

    Winter Mixed Program

    thanks for your comments Leigh! It's great to hear different impressions. I just want to say that I really like Kudelka's approach, especially last and this season. Besides current stars of the company, he regularly shows off character and more mature dancers, as well as gives nice opportunities to really young ones (like apprentices).
  10. Saveta

    Winter Mixed Program

    Oh:) Yes, Aleksandra "Napoli Excerpts" are the first part of the evening (followed by Le Spectre, The Judgement of Paris and finally Mac Millan's Elite Syncopations). I would have loved if program had ended with Napoli instead. When I try to think back, I think that is Kudelka's almost standard programming pattern for mixed bills- majority of times a program starts with the classics, and then follow with newer or contemporary pieces. Leigh, I love Premiere Dance Theatre as well - there are no bad seats, the stage is deep and lovely. Another cute dance venue is Betty Oliphant's Theatre at National Ballet School- it is smaller than Premiere but very good size for small companies, or solo performances (Peggy Baker presented her program there last month).
  11. Saveta

    Winter Mixed Program

    Thanks for your replies Alexandra and Leigh! Alexandra your remarks on Bournonville are most interesting! I wish to go again and look for all details! I apologize my report on Napoli was confusing. They opened with Flower Festival Pas de Deux. Pas de six was the second part and they closed with Tarantella (as you thought was logical). Leigh, I did see TDT in Christopher House's Severe Clear, I loved it was clever, fun and beautifully danced) and will write about my impressions soon. I hope you'll be able to see it too.
  12. So, I've seen last night's performance (Feb 20th). It started with Napoli Excerpts (Flower Festival-Pas de Six-Tarantella) staged by N. Hubbe. Flower Festival was danced by Heather Ogden and Guillaume Cote. He was very charming, and felt more at ease with Bournonville's choreography and style (although I wish Alexandra could have been the judge of that ;) Ogden is a good technician, but was little bit stiff or maybe she needs to work a little more on connecting steps (at least that's how it looked). In Pas de Six variations I want to credit Jennifer Fournier as I was pleasantly surprised by her performance. I mean she is a loved principal and a good dancer but not my personal favourite. (I usually like her lower body technique, but always felt her port de bras is not clean enough, and sometimes she had lot of tension in her neck during jumps.) Yesterday though, I found her dancing very strong, and her port de bras was very clean and lovely, upper back had proper strength; her whole variation was precise and fast but very fluid and milky. I'm glad she proved me wrong. Overall, all dancers were having fun dancing Burnonville but I think that some still need to perfect their footwork and shoulder line to be able to achieve "the easy flow" of the tricky choreography. La Spectre de la Rose was the second part - second soloist Keiichi Hirano danced with Stacey Shiory Minagawa.They were very good- she was charming in the role. He was the virtuoso star of the evening though. He has very nice ballon and extremely high jumps. It is great to see that the company has another promising and clean technician (besides Antonijevic and Cote) who is probably ready to try out some of the principal roles. (I think that he handled that tricky port de bras in Le Spectre well, maybe little on a soft side- but definitely owned the role). The Judgement of Paris is grotesque farce by Tudor. I can't say that I'd personally call it a ballet. But, majority of audience loved it! And dancers were great in the roles- especially Jennifer Fournier (I guess it was her night) and Lorna Geddes -one of the original dancers who danced in the NBoC's first staging of the choreography. Elite Syncopations also seemed to be loved by the audience last night. For me personally, there is too much of everything (too many dancers and the orchestra all the time on the stage, too much of very colourfull costumes, very fuzzy structure etc.) That being said, I loved female variation danced by a corps member Tanya Howard. She was spunky, had lot of fun and displayed a good technique. Greta Hodgkinson was dancing waltz with Rex Harrington, they are both so charismatic, they can make any choreography work. Also, lot's of fun was a pas de deux " The Alaskan Rag" the way it was danced by the corps members Julie Hay and Daisuke Ohno. Overall, I think that this program was designed to attract some new audiences (with Bournonville of course being the real treat and the rest more like "ballet is not scary and snooty- it's really funny you see!" idea in mind.) Well, if that will work to open more people to the idea of (more subtle) ballet, that's all fine with me.
  13. Saveta

    Swan Lake

    I too will be seeing Ogden/Cote cast on Feb 28th and I'm looking forward to it. Kudelka's version is not my ultimate Swan Lake, but I'm learning to live with it. ;) In previous seasons I saw Greta Hodginson with Antonijevic and last time around they were excellent (actually Greta always was) and I also saw Xiao Nan Yu and Ryan Boorne and I wasn't so enthusiastic about their interpretations. So, I'm ready for a fresh cast! Tomorow night I'm going to see the mixed program I'll definitely let you know about both performances.
  14. Marc, if you think Ekaterina Osmolkina, she is listed as "coryphée" on the Russian language portion of the site
  15. Saveta

    Nutcracker

    Also as far as modern dance there is a big festival in Harbourfront Centre (Premiere Dance Theatre) that goes on from October to May. It's international and it's name is "World Moves" (you can see this year's program on that same link for Harbourfront Centre). In past few seasons there were some well known international companies like Trisha Brown, Rosas, Preljocaj etc. (and their programs are similar to what they bring to US tours) but also very interesting Canadian ones (I'm looking forward to Toronto Dance Theatre's "Severe Clear" this season). Sorry, I know this is place for NBoC and Nutcracker, I just wanted to follow up on Paquita's post about events in Toronto and I apologize for this digression
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