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Jack Reed

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

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  1. Jack Reed

    Seating Advice at the Met

    I'm in some agreement with kbarber, though I've had delicious cous-cous and lobster risotto in Boulud Sud in years past; but Kathleen O'Connell was talking about Bar Boulud, which I haven't tried (yet). Likewise, I also like Le Pain Quotidien, for a leisurely breakfast or quick lunch. My friend from Beijing says there are too many regions represented on the menu at Shun Lee West for them all to be authentic, but that doesn't mean they can't be good. Quality ingredients carefully handled, not your downscale Chinese restaurant, but maybe less ambitious than Kathleen's beautiful-looking choices (which I must try next visit, thank you, Kathleen). Visiting for Workshop ten days ago, I revisited some old faves at SLW, like Soupy Dumplings - there's hot soup inside each one, so close your lips over it in your mouth and bite it open - and aptly named and very delicate Heavenly Fish Filets. For stronger flavors, Twice-Cooked Pork, Crispy Whole Sea Bass.
  2. One of the benefits of reading here is to see the programs through others' eyes and minds. Maybe what impressed my friend and I as smoothness in Hong's performance was dull watering down to CharlieH. But we missed parts of La Source, too, an adagio, two variations, and - we think - an ensemble. These may well add up to the missing PDD CharlieH speaks of. And speaking of omissions, just for the record, Western Symphony had a "Scherzo" third movement at one time, though IIRC it's been only Villella's MCB that's performed it in recent years. (Earlier in his career, Villella danced in it, I think.) I'm not complaining about this, though. As to Circus Polka's place on the program, it's hardly one of my favorites, and thinking about this school program as though it were a professional company's is not out of place, considering the level some of the dancing; still, it is a school showcase. I'm sorry I don't remember 2 & 3 Part Inventions. Would that have displayed the youngest students so well for their parents to see? They did get a good hand or two.
  3. Agree that Workshop is not to be overlooked - I've been watching a few years longer - the first place I saw Tiler Peck, for instance - and the vitality onstage made this old man feel younger. Yes, Corti was a delight for the reasons cobweb gives, and a great introduction to the entire program, though I enjoyed Mia Domini, the pas de deux girl in the matinee even more. The rondo of Western Symphony has been traditionally cast for laughs - the tallest girl with the shortest boy available - for many years, although not originally, when Tanaquil Leclercq had Jaques d'Amboise for a partner; he was taller than she. (Not that there aren't plenty of laughs built into the choreography.) In the evening, La Source was led by the amazing Amarra Hong, who made her part seem to flow continuously, elegantly and smoothly around the stage and often appearing lighter than air - there were moments when I thought she would sit up there above the stage before she gently came down. (Lincoln Kirstein's phrase characterizing ballet dancing as the "aria of the aerial" came to mind.)
  4. "Older Nutcracker"? The 1993 Warner Brothers production was well-liked for Darci Kistler's "Sugar Plum", Kyra Nichols's "Dewdrop" (worth the price in the day, just in itself; the most authentic dancing in the whole show, IMHO) and Emil Ardolino's sensitive and sympathetic direction. The relatively recent 2011 PBS production was put to shame, in my experience, just a week later, by Villella's MCB's version, in Ft. Lauderdale. (When you could get a good idea of the dancing at all, what with the interfering camera-work in the later one.) Older than that? (Any with Balanchine's "Drosselmeier"? Just for kicks. It's things like Villella's "Candy Canes" in one from the '50s deserves to be seen.)
  5. Danced by whom, and when?
  6. One thing to keep in mind is that the City Center stage is smaller than some, e.g. the one at the former New York State Theater. I don't have accurate dimensions handy, but performing ballets made to be performed there makes sense to me from that angle. I remember seeing the Joffrey perform the original version of Square Dance several times in the City Center in the '70s. I found that the caller's voice, amplified as it was, made it harder to follow the Corelli and Vivaldi numbers Balanchine had selected (the string playing was on a higher, more conventional concert-style level than "hill-billy" might imply), and so I tried an experiment: I put in some earplugs, and they cut down the amplified sound more than the live acoustical sound of the violins, and I was happy. My own preference is for the later version of Square Dance, not only because I can hear the music better and see the dancing better in the new costumes (with the musicians in the pit, too), but especially for the majestic new male solo, especially when it was danced by the dancer who inspired it, Bart Cook. That week in the '70s exemplified Robert Joffrey's interests in historic revivals as well as an already accomplished newcomer. If I remember correctly, Petrushka was also on the program, which was rounded out by, again IIRC, a remarkable piece of work called As Time Goes By, choreographed by someone with the taking name of Twyla Tharp.
  7. I think she doesn't merely want to teach, but has work lined up, not least at the Ballet Arizona school in Phoenix. And in her remarks - there was another "Chat" this afternoon, post-performance and scarcely announced, for example - she mentions Andersen together with Farrell as her Balanchinian mentors
  8. I attended both pre-performance "Chats," just to see what might turn up: On Thursday (May 3rd), Magnicaballi told us she has been dancing since age 9, in school in 1986. Since 1999, she's danced with Suzanne Farrell, and since 2002 with Ib Andersen as well. She wants to teach and coach. What inspires you about Balanchine? I love him. I feel at home. Also, he's so fulfilling. Good, makes sense. Is Balanchine unpopular? Balanchine was ahead of his time. Not now, no one is ahead. In Balanchine, your pose is deeper (demonstrates). You try to project to the last row. "Siren" is an opportunity to be a woman, to be seductive. Saturday will be different from tonight. Why "Sleepwalker"? Sonnambula was my first role here. Where are you going from here? I have some special projects with Suzanne. In Arizona, summer classes. On Friday (the 4th), Martin told us about her background in Cuba, dancing in the National Ballet of Cuba, founded by Alicia Alonso, among other things. What's your favorite role? I like the Coquette in Sonnambula - Martin started to giggle - because she's a seductive woman. Martin was so overcome with the giggles she couldn't say more about this question. (Frankly, I think my notes on these "Chats" are too skimpy, and if any other BA!-ers were there and can add some details, as always, feel free.)
  9. As it happened, the revised order of the program was the one we got: Friday, May 4 Evening. In brief: Either Symphony in Three Movements has changed in performance since opening night or I've adjusted, watching it - an effect I've noticed before, watching BA - but I found myself thinking tonight that about all it needs is a little more snap in the dancing and less shrillness in the sound. Tonight's audience went for it more loudly than last night's, too. Watching it tonight, I remembered Magnicaballi's remark in the pre-performance "Chat" last night that Balanchine was ahead of his time but today, nobody is: In the '70s, we used to kick around some ideas about the ballets we knew, and one of my friends asked me if "Symphony Three" was not about the Second World War, as Stravinsky said it was not, then what was it about, and I said, it's about the Twenty-First Century. Mimi Tompkins came into the Siren role in Prodigal Son, and if she was more lovely she was less sinister and domineering than Natalia Magnicaballi had been last night, which may derive partly from Magnicaballi's seniority in the role and in her career - she has about ten years or more on Tompkins, so enjoyable as Tompkins was, Magnicaballi had brought more appropriate power to the role; and Alejandro Mendez brought a little more strength and weight to the role of the Prodigal tonight than Nayon Iovino had. And Arianni Martin was delightfully animated in the Pas de Deux divertissement with Eric Hipolito Jr. Then in the Sonnambula pas de deux, the later sequence where the Sleepwalker's progress across downstage brought some chuckles around me because of the humor some see in the Poet's frustrated attempts to interfere with her progress, I wanted intensity; I wanted the dance to get us closer to the edge of a cliff, and it happened in the following sequence where the Sleepwalker bourrees upstage away from the Poet who has propelled her that way, and so on. Magnicaballi with Helio Lima this evening did make the movement intensify in speed and sharpness of direction, and the superficial audience around me fell silent, finally absorbed, showing the power of the art visible onstage to draw people into this mystery.
  10. Nice going, especaily for the link to the cast list, fiddleback; I missed that by just hours. Did you notice it showed a different order than what is implied on the "All-Balanchine" page? The older page had the program open with Prodigal Son and then Symphony in Three Movements, which would have lent some interesting variety and contrast, not to mention giving Magnicaballi a chance to rest! Speaking of that, if she can do all this, why is she retiring? I'll confess there's some projection of my own wishes in this question - I'd rather she wouldn't quit! I want to see more of her performances! What I like to see in dancing is a dancer exploring the role - never changing the steps and the moves but continually exploring how the moves fit the sounds - but Magnicaballi is one of those who goes farther with a role sometimes, exploring different approaches, especially if there is some characterization there. For example, her two "Terpsichore"s a year ago: The whole ballet, Apollo, shows us some gods from Greek mythology, and her first approach reflected, I thought, their pure, remote life on high; but there's a little plot in it too - the three muses are, like, auditioning for Apollo, who watches their solo dances from the side of the stage - and Terpsichore is the one he judges the best, the one he soon rewards and dances with. Magnicaballi's second performance had some of the earthly exuberance, I thought, of someone who could feel, Hey, I got the gig! So this time she will show us her take - or takes - on two roles, the dominating, seductive "Siren" in Prodigal Son and the remote, unreachable - almost unreachable - "Sleepwalker" in La Sonnambula. But as to the program - I've picked up from talking with newbies in the theater over the years that some of them are afraid of watching a story ballet and missing something early and not getting the rest of it as a result. Prodigal Son tells most of its story so clearly, you don't even have had to run across it in the centuries it's been around, and so it would not have been a problem to start with it. And some ballet audience I've encountered think a ballet company does mainly one style, so following Prodigal with Symphony Three would have the advantage of demonstrating quickly the range a program devoted to one choreographer can have if it's George Balanchine. (Not that I think proving a point like that is what a program should do. It should provide a satisfying experience. I'm not the only one who compares attending a performance to having a good meal: I can't quote chapter and verse exactly, but I remember reading Mr. B himself remarking, in this context, that people like beef but "they don't want to eat beef three times; some people like oysters". People like different things that go together.) So we'll see what the order actually is. But with two ballets offering Magnicaballi good opportunites to involve her considerable talents, as well as something completely different - but comparably powerful - this program looks like fun for everybody. And as for seeing more of Magnicaballi's kind of dancing, the remark dirac picked up on is a hopeful hint. (More about that I wish I could say, as a once and maybe future supporter of TSFB, but I can't.) As for tracking her own future performances, she does have that web site...
  11. I sympathize - and empathize, too - but here's another post of mine: http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/43726-simone-messmer-in-chicago-may-5-2018-and-over-the-summer/ So, we'll see how many of her fans come from Florida and California to see her! Why here? I'm not really privy, but I gather she is very interested in Balanchine's choreography, stopping off here in 2012 on her way from New York to San Francisco to dance Balanchine's "Sugar Plum" with Ted Seymour in BC's The Nutcracker four times, and Ballet Chicago's curriculum is constructed largely from it - a few years ago, I managed to see one of their end-of-summer-session shows, where we got his Tchaikovsky pas de Deux five times with five casts, interspersed with fragments and excerpts from other ballets, mostly his, and - true to his way, I think - all five were pretty accurate and true but each was a little different in level of accomplishment and "flavor," and so, fresh and entertaining - and she wants to dance a considerable amount of it - his way - herself. How much of this will be on view I don't know, although there was a program late last summer, not just advanced students, but members of the Studio Company, some of whom teach, as well.
  12. I've lately posted a HeadsUp! regarding Ballet Chicago Studio Company's annual Spring show in the Harris Theater: http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/43723-ballet-chicago-may-5-2018-duell-seymour-balanchine-with-simone-messmer-mcb/?tab=comments#comment-399253 It's not been announced, but I expect her Siegfried to be Ted Seymour, who danced with TSFB and who teaches at Ballet Chicago - where, incidentally, I gather Messmer herself will be teaching (and, we hope, maybe dancing?) over the summer. Let's see how many of her fans are rabid enough to make the trip from Florida! (Only two performances, though, but if late Nineteenth-Century and Mid-Century modern architecture are of any interest, there's still some of that in the Chicago area.)
  13. There will also be a pre-performance lecture with Daniel Duell in the Donor's Room of the Harris Theater at 1:00 pm on May 5th. I think mainly ticket holders to the matinee will be admitted. These things are usually informative and pretty small and informal, so if you want, bring some questions to ask.
  14. The performances, by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company, consisting of the best dancers from the Balanchine-oriented school which Ballet Chicago is, are at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm on Saturday May 5: https://www.harristheaterchicago.org/tickets/2017-2018-season/ht-17-18-ballet-chic (The Ballet Chicago Studio Company is the only non-professional - I'd say, pre-professional - company to appear at the Harris Theater.) This linked page doesn't say much at all about the repertory, and I'm not sure I can say for sure the gorgeous Swan Lake costume at the top of the page is actually one of theirs, but I'd bet on it: They've had a very capable and devoted army of volunteer seamstresses producing costumes for them over the years, and those of you who have seen their Nutcracker know how good they can be. But I'd say that repertory is more important, not to mention quality of dancing, and I was impressed by what I saw at the previews last weekend. Hansel and Gretel sets the familiar story to Wagnerian music by Engelbert Humperdinck (the original, a contemporary of Wagner, not the contemporary pop singer, Hansel and Gretel's choreographer, and artistic director of B.C., Dan Duell, told us with a grin at the previews). His ballet features two pairs of principals, the title pair of youngsters who are supposed to work at broom-making to help support the family, but who, as kids do, really like to play - shown in playful dancing - and their parents, who scold them when they discover them - told in emphatic gestures worked into their dancing, as well as a witch, whose movement also sometimes supports her (evil) character, as when she exults over the trouble she whips up, and a corps. The Creatures of Prometheus may be the novelty of the season: As far as its choreographer, Ted Seymour, knows (as he told us at the preview), Beethoven's music doesn't seem to have been choreographed since 1801, when he wrote it. (Seymour said he reduced the music from the original 66 minutes, rarely heard nowadays, to 27, placing the Overture, which has become part of the concert repertory, as the conclusion.) The plot here is that Prometheus empowers creatures to become more human by giving them fire, not only for basic warmth and cooking, but, in the symbolic sense, for passion, and light: They develop culture; he enlightens them. But Zeus, the ruler of the gods, takes issue with Prometheus's initiative, and some trouble ensues between them. (Although we didn't see this choreography, placing the Overture at the end makes good musical sense to me, as it previews the themes in the score, and it can just as well summarize them, too.) Swan Lake is the half-hour Balanchine distillation of the hour-and-a-half traditional version, with the plot clearly shown in the first and last numbers; the rest is, mostly, beautiful dancing to beautiful music, although you can see romance when Odette (the Swan Queen) and Prince Siegfried dance together. Odette will be danced by the superb Simone Messmer, currently a principal dancer with Miami City Ballet. What I saw, like I usually see from the Studio Company, was dancing expressive of what the choreographers hear: Some of it carries the plot they're working with, more or less strongly implied by their music, and much of it implies dance movement largely for its own sake. Or rather, for the sake of each other, the music and the dance. To me, this is how the people who run the school, Dan Duell and his wife, Patricia Blair, honor the Balanchine tradition they find congenial. It's the one this spectator finds most congenial, too. (B.C. being a school making the most of limited resources, I should probably say that the music will be recorded; but having heard some of it already, as a classical-music lover, I can say that the performances seem to be well chosen, as they usually are.)
  15. I had a pretty good time watching "Layla and Majnun" here in Chicago (16 & 17th March, in the Harris theater) by using my habitual method, looking to see how the movements fit the sounds. I usually turn out for one of Morris's shows because he seems to me to hear very well, if not so well as George Balanchine, whose best choreographies are the high-water mark for me in this regard. (Can this be what some people mean by "musicality"? There are certainly choreographers who don't seem to hear well or who hear very differently from them, and that can give me problems.) Not only that, Morris's movement vocabulary of the moment usually seems less rich to me than Balanchine's, which he developed further from his rich heritage - although, that said, in "Layla" there seemed to be a lot of unique movement expressive of music unique in my experience. But one of the rewards of this approach is that I may see how a choreographer hears music I've never heard before, as here. The choreography has the effect of pointing out the events in the musical progression, as the music informs the visible activity, and the whole experience becomes, well, more whole, stronger, a visit to a larger world. The whole of "Layla" being so new to me, when I watched it a second time (from a slightly different seat), I saw things I hadn't the first time and enjoyed it again, and felt I might yet again when I had the chance. I liked the music, too, but that has not always been necessary; sometimes in the past I've learned from a choreographer a second way of listening to music I didn't like hearing it on its own. (Stravinsky's Violin Concerto, for example.) The supertitles were a big help in following the gist of the narrative - the story - for me too, and I may still have a long way to go to get all of that - not to mention the effect of the four couples in the title roles - if I ever do. If ever this world becomes familiar, or something.
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