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Jack Reed

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About Jack Reed

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    aficianado
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    Chicago, Illinois, USA

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  1. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    Saturday evening's cast, largely from opening night, I gather, seemed to me the best of this (second) weekend; Peter Boal, after the show, called it "A-list" himself, acknowledging the large turnout in the lecture hall. The "Emeralds" pas de trois (Biasucci, Generosa, Davis) had the continuous flow I had wanted, but it was Lindsi Dec, the tall girl in "Rubies" - the most interesting dancer I'd seen so far - who, energizing that part, really lifted the evening; and then, Lesley Rausch in "Diamonds" (with the towering Karel Cruz) brought us her mastery on that elevated plane. No, more: "Mastery" might imply it's finished, done, perfect, boring; with Rausch, it's fully inhabited but inherently unsettled. It's the quality we talked about above - she's cool and independent, yes, but her prince matters to her, too. This duality, this tension, shone forth from within this dancer.
  2. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    So this was Generosa's third "Rubies"? Okay, but I still think there are tentative moments to be seen across the stage, not just her, in this "Rubies" - as well as lots of moments which have come to themselves, so to speak, and are realized. Fast-paced and quirky that it is, any cast in this ballet has its work cut out for it to bring it off without fuss. Maybe three essays at a part are not experience enough in this. There wasn't much strain in Orza's pas to be seen; and listening to her little autobiography after loving what I saw her do, I too was glad that she got herself out of NYCB and found she could have a life in Seattle.
  3. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    My post just above Helene's applies to Thursday evening's performance (September 28th); here's what I thought after a return visit on the 29th: Much joy in watching Friday evening's performance. The "Emeralds" cast was the same, so I can't easily account for why it was so much better an experience than Thursday, not that there was anything wrong with that. They'd had a day for more studio time, or it might have been me or my seat - I was smack on the center line in Row N, and being smack in the center at "Emeralds" does a lot for me , but Merchant and her companions were - how shall I say? - populating a calm but vibrant world, inhabiting the space of Faure's steady, even sounds. An odd way to put it? Well, the man, Balanchine, himself remarks somewhere in the old 2-hour PBS documentary about him that, "The dancers are the fish! And the music is the a-quar-i-um!" I think it's a good metaphor in general for his kind of ballet, but especially for this one. Many people saw it originally as connoting "a world beneath the sea". However you put it, the visible movement ebbed and flowed within the audible last night, until the pas de trois, where there were a few of those minor instants of rest, stopping the flow, as though they had to give their music an instant to begin again. "Rubies" was led creditably by Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths, but "Rubies" continues to be something of a sometime thing here, though Cecilia Iliesiu was outstanding as "the tall girl" and well-liked by the audience. Friday's pianist was Christina Siemens, whom I thought gave her part more eloquent inflection than Allan Dameron had on Thursday (though not reaching the level of wit heard in the four or so recordings I've heard with the composer's participation). In "Diamonds" Sarah Ricard Orza made a fine debut, looking just a bit strained to hold her dance together by the slow tempos of the pas de deux and a little hard pressed by Emil de Cou's good, brisk tempo in the scherzo which follows it, as a kind of coda - but here, she seemed determined to show us clearly and fully, in the flow, everything we heard, no blurring or short cuts, and I loved her for it. (In the conversations in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall which followed, Orza said that dancing in slow tempo is more challenging because it's harder to maintain control.)
  4. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    "Emeralds" seemed imbued with much life by everyone last night; it looked as native to these dancers as it looks alien to the POB dancers, in their well-shot video. (Even if the Parisians are arguably more accomplished in other ways.) But I missed the gravity and stillness, the trance-like mystery of that "walking" duet, originated by Paul and Moncion. Similarly "Diamonds." Yes: I like these Seattle dancers better than the Paris ones, in this. But "Rubies" is more - idiosyncratic? So some bits looked tentative, even led by an experienced cast, though most of it looked enlivened, as "Emeralds" had. A ballet constructed of startling moments, "Rubies" has often been shown in recent years with the most startling one replaced by a dead moment. A real lapse: It's at that point in the dance of "the tall girl" with her four boys when we hear the opening music again, and each boy rushes to her and grabs a wrist or an ankle. They manipulate her through a series of arabesques until the girl looks out at us from the group so that we see her face - originally, upside down! For years she has looked upstage, showing us the back of her head - for example, in that POB video - with no effect, but now here once again, the original startling effect of this moment is restored. Another of PNB's efforts pays off. As for the new settings, having seen them on stage, I agree more strongly with volcanohunter and jsmu. And then some: The huge picture frame doesn't just diminish some of the movement, it dwarfs the cast; and the touches of pink in the costumes softens the cold, hard dazzle of "Diamonds." The blank black backdrop for "Rubies" doesn't have this problem, though it doesn't set the ballet off, either, and the starry night-sky backdrop for "Emeralds" just seems odd, oddly prosaic: Stars, not jewels? Not settings for jewels?
  5. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    In the traditional SL, frightened though she is at first, doesn't she does eventually submit in confidence to his embrace? I remember him behind her but both face us at the end of the pas, the more for her expression to move us. He wins that confidence from her; in "Diamonds" she remains remote in tone, if not so much in her place on stage.
  6. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    The "Diamonds" pas in particular is more one of an independent being and her admirer than your typical romantic, win-her-over pas; see where she proceeds across, downstage, alone, while he runs across upstage with excited little jumps, swinging one raised hand in salutation or exclamation. And Farrell was usually her cool, expansive self in this, showing us how Mr. B. heard Tchaikovsky's cool, spacious sound. So, yes, a ballerina today can get this quality from the choreography, and it's a tribute to Rausch and an important thing to observe and to report that she found it and showed it, too. (The ending is played a little differently different times; I've seen the same dancers - Illeana Lopez and Franklin Gamero, in the MCB of old - show us how she lets him kiss her hand, or, another time, how she is surprised when, kneeling, he takes it - but the point is that neither way is it ever a warm embrace, never near. He may warm to her, but her? Very cool.)
  7. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    Based on the "Emeralds" and "Diamonds" clips from the current production linked here, I'm in agreement with both of you. (Not charmed by the tiaras, but encouraged by the comment about how the skirts flow. Costumes must move well.) Moreover, the movement in both clips keeps stopping in poses and then starts again. Not what I remember from the '70s (and prefer), either, especially in the "Diamonds" performances propelled by Robert Irving's rather stiff and fast tempos, or in Hugo Fiorato's still brisk but more wonderful rubato approach, as well as in some recent ones, notably Villella's MCB. (Haven't seen any of the PNB performances. Yet. Nothing quite like dancers on stage, and I'm looking forward to Rausch and Dec, especially.) What's taking in authentic Balanchine is how the poses flash by, vividly visible, in the flow, in what I think Alexandra called the "through-line".
  8. Suzane Farrell Ballet at Purchase December 3, 2017

    Let's remember that in the past the Kennedy Center has held preview performances of excerpts of TSFB's seasons in their Millennium Stage series in the foyer there a couple of weeks in advance, and these previews are livestreamed and most of them have been archived on the K. C. website. They are excerpts, they are previews, and the dancing continues to develop by the time of the performances in the theater, but, nevertheless ...
  9. I just learned about this hours ago. Here's a link: http://www.artscenter.org/events/suzanne-farrell-ballet/ It's billed as the Farewell Tour, to be followed in a few days by the troupe's last season at the Kennedy Center. I notice the center of the main floor at Purchase is already pretty well sold.
  10. Building New Ballet Audiences

    Even better, put the trailers on line when tickets go on sale, so potential "consumers" can sample the goods?
  11. NYCB in Paris

    On the other hand, the Rubies pas de deux, danced by Patricia McBride and Robert Weiss, which was included in Part 2 of the four Dance in America "Choroeography by Balanchine" programs, and broadcast in November 1978, has not been seen much since. Not commercially reissued nor on Youtube. (Some of the current Youtube posts of these performances have less-good image quality than we have seen over the years, but, my God! The dancing! In spite of the taxing conditions at Opryland in Nashville, the long hours, the hard floors.)
  12. NYCB in Paris

    I hope everybody realizes that the company Balanchine actually supervised to dance his ballets as he wanted to see them danced was also recorded in color - though not anything like such glorious color and definition as today: The cameras they used to tape the PBS broadcasts in 1977 and 1978 later released on VHS and on the two "Choreography by Balanchine" DVD's produced pretty garish color, and when I play any of the dances on those, I usually turn the color knob down slightly. Not only that, "Robert Schumann's Davidsbuendlertaenze" was also taped in color around the same time, though released only on VHS and Laserdisc, as far as I know, neither broadcast nor issued on DVD; but now I remember one of the greatest astonishments of all, the 1966 film of Balanchine's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," filmed in color in a studio in downtown New York, with Suzanne Farrell as Titania, Edward Villella as Oberon, and Arthur Mitchell as Puck. (There's also a water fountain upstage in Act II - never in the theater. Balanchine remembered how that could be done in the Czar's theater where he danced as a boy, and he sometimes expressed regret that he couldn't do it in his own theaters.) "Davisbuendlertaenze" can be found sometimes; but the "Midsummer" film is rare, at least in America, apparently. But KarenAG's description of her enjoyment of seeing on screen at home, whenever you want, dancers you see in the theater, is what sent me down memory lane here: I well remember that evening when the first "Dance in America" Balanchine show was broadcast in Chicago in December 1977: Look, I thought, there they are! Those dancers I knew from my expeditions to New York. Not their faces so much as their individual movement flavors. And the next evening, having rewound my cassette, I could repeat the experience, right in my own living room, without the effort of traveling! And I could use those recordings to familiarize myself more thoroughly with the ballets, as I had used music recordings. Yes, I agree, I would also like MCB, or somebody, to release their PBS program - actually from longer ago, 2011 I think.
  13. Here in Chicago, I found the livestream went off more or less as announced - several minutes' late starting (not unheard of in ballet performance) - and with some lapses between about 7:25 and 7:51 Pacific Time. Some of this might have been owing to problems at my end, but a "card" went up on Facebook acknowledging they had a problem, as well. Some of Rausch's dancing, lovely when I could see it, was lost to me this way, but Imler and her partner, Bold, (and Tchaikovsky!) made the anxiety and uncertainty abut what was going on and what to try do about it worthwhile. And a lot of the camera work was very good! They made the hard choices - "ants" vs. "giants" - and usually got it right. (Poor Rausch got cut off at the shins sometimes, in what some of us call "mud shots," because it looks as though the dancer is shin-deep in it.) (I think I saw somewhere that the video would be available for a month, actually; that would be until July 11th.)
  14. 1978 . . . and Today

    And some of us would quibble that NYCB doesn't have so many Balanchine ballets. His steps, yes. The choreographer was reported to ask, "Steps? Steps are what?" The 2016 Paris videos show impressive displays of technique, of highly refined athletic ability, but to someone who saw hundreds of performances of Balanchine's NYCB - when he supervised it - Sara Mearns (and possibly Tyler Peck - praised in those videos by the reliable Alastair Macaulay, but I haven't caught up with her there) are the exceptions who infuse this movement with "meaning" or a sense of a reason for doing what they do, other than that display. But this is an old story, much older than Balanchine's death, 34 years - a generation - ago.
  15. Critics on Social Media

    I thought the question here was more like, Do they really think they will attract more of the audience advertisers want by filling in more junk?, but you may be right in condensing the intermediate step. Another angle may be that media in general improve their bottom line not only by bringing in income, i.e. from advertising, but also by reducing costs, and junk may be cheaper to come by. (The CBS radio outlet here in Chicago carries a lot of "police blotter" material, which holds our breathless attention and must be very cheap to get, not that it has no utility - none of us want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.) Back in the day, it looked like The Times was able to inform the nation according to the calculations of the major upscale department stores.
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