Kathleen O'Connell

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About Kathleen O'Connell

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. Les Trocks de Cosplay ... PS I would love to go to ComiCon, but I'll leave Wonder Woman to the pros.
  2. Oh Lordy, yes! But there have also been some pretty good ones ... and I might add that the home team has dished up some clunkers right on the stage of the Theater Formerly Known as State.
  3. Yes, of necessity and up to a point. Any company that wants to present a Balanchine ballet to its audience and has the wherewithal to do so ought to: it does neither his legacy nor the world any good to lock his work up in a cabinet like a rare manuscript that can only be viewed by special permission in a climate-controlled room while wearing white gloves and a surgical mask. Lord knows, that's not how we treat Shakespeare, Beethoven, or Petipa: tastes, technique, and technology change over time, and so does performance practice. That being said, choreography is more than an assemblage of codified steps; simply executing the steps in the right order to the right music isn't enough. The way the choreographer moves the body through space in time in relation to the music (and, I'd argue, in relation to dance tradition and codes of behavior as well -- body language if you will) is as essential as the steps. So are the things that are emphasized -- and, importantly, de-emphasized. I'm guessing, for instance, Balanchine wasn't particularly invested in the kind of tidiness that some styles require, and that insisting on it might in fact be detrimental to the way he wanted to see the body move in relation to the music. A company's style tells you what it values. It can't simply abandon those values wholesale to dance Platonic Idea Balanchine. But by the same token, it can't insist on something that's antithetical to the values that are central to Balanchine's choreography - the way phrases are shaped in relation to the music, for instance, or the way the arms are deployed to facilitate speed. A company that has been bred to present the body in time and space and with the kind of decorum that is ideally suited to Petipa is going to have to make some adjustments to do justice to Rubies. And it's OK if the Tall Girl has an accent (America is a nation of immigrants after all ) but she can't just be the Lilac Fairy engaging in some showgirl cosplay (or worse, a cheap hoyden, but I digress ...). Similarly, a company that's comfortable pulling the music out of shape to accommodate pyrotechnic display or using big preparations to signal that the next amazing feat is on its way will have to make adjustments to perform, say, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux with the right kind of music-dependant showmanship. By the way, I also think its wrong to patrol the borders of Balanchine style with unwarranted ferocity. Back in the day, someone tartly informed me that Bart Cook was dancing Melancholic all wrong and I was naive enough to believe him.
  4. I ask this question about Paul Taylor and Merce Cunningham's works all the time. To me, so long as the choreographer's company is still in existence and is still actively engaged in conserving his or her essential style, its reading remains the touchstone. Note that in the case of Balanchine, I would include among companies 'still actively engaged in conserving his or her essential style" those headed by one of his dancers - e.g., PNB, MCB, etc. In the case of Cunningham, I would probably include Compagnie CNDC-Angers, which is headed by Robert Swinston, a long-time Merce dancer and disciple.
  5. Five foot six, per Joan Acocella in her review of Farrell's autobiography, Holding On to the Air.
  6. I honestly don't think anyone was ever suggesting that it should be otherwise.
  7. In addition, there are 80 women in the Bolshoi corps and 75 in the Mariinsky's. It's simply easier to put sixteen women who are the same height, weight, body type and coloring on the stage at the same time. What stood out the most for me the last time I saw the Mariinsky's Swan Lake was the corps' absolute uniformity of height, weight, and body type. I assumed that the company's sheer size gave it the luxury of filling the stage with a flock of look-alike swans. I also assumed that this was intended as an aesthetic and theatrical effect.
  8. Marina Harss has posted a comment to the piece: "I couldn't disagree more. Jewels, like La Boheme or La Traviata, is a popular work, the kind that brings in the non-elite. As Balanchine knew better than anyone, everyone wants a good show. Furthermore, the female dancers in this ballet are not at all "commodified"—unless one believes that about all of ballet. Each has a story. Violette Verdy has gone on and on about her role in Emeralds and its connections to impressionist art, Pelleas and Melisande, the sea. Teresa Reichlen, of NYCB, has spoken about how her Amazionian character in Rubies dominates her four partners, not vice versa. And the "Diamond" ballerina is a distillation of both Aurora and Odett/Odille in Swan Lake. And more..." My own eyes rolled at the notion that ballet has become "a form of conspicuous consumption." Methinks someone has not read their Veblen very carefully. And don't get me started on the "commodification" of women; there are many more pernicious examples of that particular phenomenon.
  9. I wasn't asking you to do my work for me; I simply thought someone might know. Since I haven't seen the Bolshoi in quite some time, I can't speak to how diverse the company looks from the stage.
  10. A nation needn't have had a history of chattel slavery to be ethnically diverse, nor for there to an expectation that its national dance company would reflect (if not actively respect and celebrate) that diversity. There are any number of ethnic minorities still living in today's Russian republic, even if it's shed many of its former non-ethnically Russian republics -- the various Central Asian "stans" by way of example. If I'm not mistaken, Nureyev was ethnically Tatar. Balanchine may have been culturally Russian, but he was ethnically Georgian. I don't know anything at all about the ethnic makeup of Russia's big dance companies: would it be surprising to find non-ethnic Russians among its ranks?
  11. That was my first thought too. I quickly checked ABT's Board of Trustees against Infor's Executive Team: there's no direct relationship - i.e., no one on ABT's Board is also on Infor's Executive Team. That doesn't mean there isn't a connection of some sort. And even if there is a connection, it could be completely innocent: I can easily imagine an ABT Trustee saying "Oh, my firm works with Infor and they've served us really well -- I'll have someone on their team call you." That kind of thing needn't be particularly nefarious -- although a thoughtful Trustee might have said "Hmmm ... I'm going to reach out to my IT folks and ask them if there's a firm with a track record working with arts organizations." That being said, ABT -- like all organizations -- needs more than front-end web design, and Infor may well have been charged with developing a whole suite of integrated enterprise systems for the organization: everything from accounting to wardrobe management to audience data analysis. Also, ABT could be a lousy client in terms of putting resources behind the project or even deciding what it really wants (and we've all had those clients ...) fondoffouettes' observation that ABT's website shouldn't require much by way of design to be attractive and responsive seems on the mark: if they don't need a ticket sales back end, they could practically do it with Squarespace.
  12. PS: note that you can sort the repertory list by work, choreographer, or composer. That is a really good thing and I hope it survives the redesign when it trickles down to the Library pages.
  13. The world is awash in front-end web developers whose whole raison d'être is to help their clients build logical, engaging, and easy to navigate websites. I heard a member of the NY Philharmonic's Digital and Strategic Initiatives staff speak at a seminar a while back, and was mighty impressed by how much thought and energy the organization puts into its digital presence.
  14. What Olga said. Is it in no one's remit to proofread the programs and fact check the program notes? Into whose bailiwick does the website fall? (NYCB has staff dedicated to both digital content and information technology.)