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Everything posted by Drew

  1. Drew

    "Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan"

    Whelan is listed on Ballet Academy East's website as a member of their pre-professional faculty. Her appointment to that faculty was discussed here not long after her retirement. (I have no idea what the terms of her employment are. I imagine it would be fascinating to see her at work as a teacher.)
  2. Drew

    Bach to Broadway

    Quite right I think. In fact, I usually stay away from nicknames for artists and prefer to call them by whatever professional name they use, but some of the Atlanta Ballet publicity on Facebook for example referred to him as Max Petrov, so I started to wonder if that was actually his preference. (By unfortunate coincidence, "Maxim Petrov" happens to be the name of a particularly notorious Russian serial killer.) But you have been following his work for years, and he is listed as Maxim Petrov in most places, so I think you must be right that he uses and wants to use his full name in professional settings. I won't change what I wrote above at this point, but will stick to Maxim Petrov in future. And I do hope to be hearing from him in future.
  3. Drew

    Bach to Broadway

    The seasons' final program for Atlanta Ballet was Bach to Broadway. On paper this was my favorite of the season, though in the event a mixed bag in part because of misleading advertising--or at least it seemed misleading to me. The announced program was 7 for 8 (Tomasson) to Bach, Balanchine's Who Cares? and a premier by the Mariinsky's Maxim Petrov (or Max Petrov as they said over the loudspeaker) to Tcherepnin's Concerto Armonico (ie Concerto for Harmonica). I confess to having thought beforehand that the company might well need every last member of Atlanta Ballet II to fill the stage for Who Cares? But when the curtain went up, it was on the pas de deux to "The Man I Love"--that is, this was a four person version of Who Cares? -- no ensemble at all. Nowhere on the program or in the announcements or publicity for the program was there any indication we were going to see a reduced "highlights" Who Cares? I know the choreography for the pas de deux and solos make up the meat of the ballet which is what we got, but Who Cares? sans ensemble is not exactly the full-on Broadway celebration Who Cares? Nor does opening on a "highlight" have the same effect as when the highlight emerges later in the ballet against the backdrop, as it were, of the ensemble. If I had been warned ahead of time I might have adjusted. But I wasn't and it threw me for the whole performance. Obviously this must have the Balanchine Trust's okay and perhaps others can report to me if this is how the ballet is usually performed by smaller companies etc. But I was bummed. Petrov was in the audience for this and I kept thinking--'well I hope somebody tells HIM, this is not what Balanchine designed.' The reduction to the male lead and three ballerinas, did make the ballet more than ever seem like "Broadway Apollo" -- down to the fact that, like Apollo as it's often performed now, it's a truncated version of something that's better in its entirety. All that said, Balanchine is Balanchine and the inventiveness and musical responsiveness of the choreography make the dancers look good. At this afternoon's performance I thought most of the dancers could still use more speed and more power but Nadia Mara in particular had a lilting flow at times that was very appealing. 7 for 8 is presumably well known to San Francisco Ballet fans. I appreciated the first and last pas de deux danced (at this performance) by Jessica Assef and Moises Martin. With their long, elegant lines they are very well matched and this was the first performance by Assef I've seen all season where I felt her dancing had real distinction and "flavor." She certainly has gorgeous legs -- probably the most beautiful in the company, at least as best I can judge. But on the whole, though tasteful work --and what else would one expect from Helgi Tomasson -- 7 for 8 is not a ballet I'd be eager to see again unless by an entire cast of dancers who could find more depths in it, as Assef and Martin did. (I did enjoy Jackie Nash's swift sequence of pique turns alternating with a sort of slowed down rond-de-jambe along the floor.) The ballet's black costumes against a dark grey/black background with -- you guessed it -- dim lighting did no-one any favors either. For me the program highlight by some measure was Max Petrov's Concerto Armonico which I thought terrific. In a publicity video posted on the company's youtube channel but not played at the performance Petrov says his inspiration was America [edited to say: actually he says it's the music and the music made him think of America etc.], but I'd say it's pretty clear his inspiration was Ratmansky. I guess one could say he seems to have looked closely at some Ratmansky ballets created in America (Concerto DSCH which the Mariinsky dances and Shostakovich Trilogy or at least a portion of it which he could have seen in St. Petersburg at Vishneva's Context festival). In any case Concerto Armonico had many elements that, to me, recalled Ratmansky: complex patterns with hyperactive, busy choreography and stage images, down to a lively, smaller solo male dancer weaving in and out of the action and an adagio for two couples or "double" pas de deux at times merging into a quartet; classical dancing alternating with and sometimes integrating everyday movement--including what looked like a game of Rock, paper, scissors; a sense of community out of which the individuals and couples emerged--sometimes watched over by the community, sometimes simply watched by them--maybe occasionally a hint of dissonance between community and individual/couples; certainly a quiet sense of threat or anxiety occasionally overtaking the more festive joyful moments and the more intimate ones; attentive musicality and striking visual designs including a front curtain and alternating backdrops of abstract design recalling Miro crossed with...well perhaps Kandinsky? Perhaps Rothko? But all of this was so integrated, so skillful, so effectively calibrated, that though one could see the Ratmansky "influence" the ballet still seemed a genuinely substantive work on its own account. The only huge negative was the lighting which was possibly the worse I have ever seen for a ballet I otherwise liked a lot -- not just dim, though it often was that -- but tonally weird at times and seemingly oddly cued. Actually at this afternoon's performance Petrov and the man sitting next to him in the audience got up rather noisily in a quiet portion of ballet and quickly headed (I infer) backstage. I sincerely hope it was to complain about the lighting. I think Concerto Armonico is my favorite of the company's season's premiers. I can't say for sure on the basis of one viewing, but I'm inclined to think this could be a keeper and not only for the Atlanta Ballet; that is, that it could be taken up by other companies. (And though it sounds cynical to say so, it might do very well for a company that can't afford to obtain a Ratmansky for its repertory. The "harmonica" hook has to be a good thing too.) Still, multiple viewings would give me a better idea. I did feel the dancers were on the stretch -- though I enjoyed them, Jackie Nash in particular -- and I would have been happy to be able to see this a second time with the premier night cast.
  4. Drew

    2018 Spring Season

    Unfortunately I am missing the Robbins celebration this year, but speaking from personal experience of past performances -- and as someone who might plausibly be described as headed in the direction of "elderly" -- let me say that it is entirely possible to like Goldberg Variations a lot and still not much like Antique Epigraphs.
  5. It almost goes without saying the dancers will be excited about participating in a premier by such a major choreographer. And however one judges his works, McGregor's eminence today is self-evident. I think pairing Firebird with Rite of Spring -- in this case AfterRite -- makes plenty of sense; they are linked historically and musically even as Rite also marks a historical, musical (and also conceptual) departure from Firebird. That actually makes the pairing all the more interesting. Add to that, "new" 21st-century choreography to both scores by central figures in the ballet world today and the program at least has a claim to serious attention. Whether it lives up to that claim is a matter for individual judgment of course--McGregor divides opinions to say the least, as does Ratmansky's Firebird. But the idea that the Metropolitan Opera House can't be expected to feature work that isn't familiar or daring in any way seems unnecessarily limiting to me. And to the Met I should think. It's probably unrealistic though to expect people nowadays to know what the Rite of Spring is or to be that informed about its background when they go to the ballet. Not everyone will know the history of these scores and it's maybe not a bad idea to have some kind of notice on the website or some such indicating something about "challenging" content for children...at least in this day and age. [Edited to add: Perhaps too obvious to say this but offending the audience belongs to the history--even the mythology--of Rite of Spring as a work of art. That doesn't mean that all ways of offending are equally valuable, but sometimes it takes a while to know what is an artistic challenge and what is a trivial shocker. And sometimes they overlap in uncomfortable ways.] None of the above is an endorsement or criticism of McGregor's ballet which I haven't seen. From the descriptions, I would at least like to see it. Haven't the faintest how I would respond.
  6. My memory is that "drawn aloft" was pretty literal--the Chosen One was strung up above the stage in a way that also looked like a Crucifixion. I remember the strung-up figure sort of being flung downstage as he went into the air, and being kind of shocked (or at least struck) the first time I saw it. It was definitely a high-impact theatrical moment. I wondered if my memory was correct, but the moment is also described in a Pointe feature on a PNB revival of the ballet in 2001: “'There is so much going on in the score, and then it ends very abruptly,'” Tetley says. 'I didn’t know how to end the ballet, until I remembered a line I had once read in a poem: ‘Man is really a monkey who wants to fly.’ The line gave him the idea to have The Chosen One fly (lifted by a rig) and hover above the ground, his arms outstretched as if on a crucifix. The stage goes black just as the music ends, bringing the ballet to a dramatic climax..." Here is the link: https://www.pointemagazine.com/best-ballet-trailers-2571130799.html
  7. A baby is stoned to death in Edward Bond's Saved.
  8. Drew

    2018 Spring Season

    Hope that means we will continue to be reading your reflections on dance and other arts...at least should you want to resume. I realize you may wish for a break.
  9. Drew

    Ratmansky's Paquita

    I don't expect the dancers in Munich -- whether several years ago or even now -- to look like the dancers of the Mariinsky or Vaganova graduates. They wouldn't look like them even if they were dancing the identical variations under the identical coaches. For me, the interest of the production was a chance to see something that was based on the notations and the original libretto and thus close at least to the steps and patterns Petipa designed and the story he used (after Mazilier). I thought the Pas des Manteaux was a special treat...and I enjoyed seeing the extended mime. I allow that all reconstructions leave room for debate and I can also see why companies might feel that this Paquita might not meet the expectations of their 21st-century audiences. And I find it unsurprising when it is companies like Bayerisches Staatsoper and Zurich etc. that are willing to commit to these historical reconstruction/revivals because at least they don't have their own quasi-sacred traditions to preserve in the dancing of the classics -- at least not to the same extent as the major Russian companies. I'm rather an eclectic fan and I love the "Grand Pas" stagings I've seen that are not based on notations per se --they include some of my favorite variations (or versions thereof). For me it was still a pleasure to see this Ratmansky staging...and an informative pleasure too.
  10. Drew

    Macaulay on ABT 2018 Met season

    In view of Macaulay's criticisms of Hallberg's dancing in the same article -- which seem to me to imply (and more than imply) that he has become more of a self-consciousl star dancer, I think it likeliest that his praise of Copeland as "unspoiled" does indeed refer to her dancing as un-mannered, which is to say, not having the excess self-consciousness that he criticizes in Hallberg, especially since the immediate follow up clause in the same sentence is clearly about her dancing (when he says that he wishes to see more authority in her dancing). "Unspoiled" wouldn't be my choice of word, but I don't find it as odd as you do especially coming from this writer.
  11. Drew

    Ratmansky's Paquita

    Alexei Ratmansky has posted on his public Facebook page that he has learned that the sets for the Paquita he staged for Munich w. Doug Fullington have been "destroyed." Doug Fullington posted the news as well and also credited Marian Smith for her work on the notation. My sympathies to all of them (and Jerome Kaplan) for the way this production has been treated. They both also posted links to the 2015 "livestream" of the production that has recently been made available on youtube: Here is the youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEp22Pd3KNU&t=1s I follow both Ratmansky's page and Doug Fullington's but am not "friends" with either so I assume these posts are publicly readable by anyone. Here is Ratmansky's posting: https://www.facebook.com/alexei.ratmansky/posts/10211734710588081 And Doug Fullington's: https://www.facebook.com/doug.fullington.5/posts/10157399412443496 I missed the livestream when it was done and watched it only tonight/this morning upon learning it was now available on youtube. I enjoyed it and thought Ivan Liska did a really fine job introducing the production and giving just enough guidance to the mime ...
  12. Drew

    Petipa Gala

    This was addressed to me, so I’ll respond: I didn’t design the gala you are referring to, so I can’t speak for the organizers. I can say that Nureyev did dance Balanchine’s Apollo, and if you go to the Nureyev Foundation website they describe it as an important ballet to his career that he danced, in their words, “continuously” from 1967 through to his final Nureyev and Friends tour in 1991 — I am on a tablet and can’t do the link, but a search will turn it up easily enough. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is one reason Apollo would be included in a Nureyev gala.
  13. I am unable to get to NYC for this program and not a big McGregor fan, but actually still feel much as you do, and wish I could see this. I like the Ratmansky Firebird a lot —though it has to be said that on this board, I seem to be an outlier. It does need confident, musical dancers giving 200 percent. But in any case, as you say, hearing Stravinsky live is never a loss. And publicity-wise, I would have thought these two scores in particular on the same origram would have a certain appeal —
  14. Drew

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    I will very much miss your blog, but hope to keep reading your thoughts about performances here.
  15. Drew

    Alexandra Ansanelli

    Oh dear! Sending thoughts to her....and I hope it turns out that something can be salvaged.
  16. Drew

    2018 Met Season

    I didn’t see anything about the location.
  17. Drew

    2018 Met Season

    The entire video feature on the Petipa-Ratmansky Harlequinade:
  18. Drew

    2017 -- 2018 Season

    As the Mariinsky season winds to its close in July...David Hallberg scheduled to appear with Alina Somova in Giselle: https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/playbill/2018/7/12/1_1930
  19. Choreographing to Beethoven is always risky, but your report (and the photos) makes this sound a very enjoyable evening. The desert setting sounds pretty wonderful too....
  20. Drew

    Finally join

    Welcome — New York does have extraordinarily wonderful ballet seasons! I look forward to reading your thoughts on performances (and other ballet-related topics)....
  21. Drew

    Is Alyona Kovalyova "Zvezda" material ??

    She is what...21?
  22. Drew

    Is Alyona Kovalyova "Zvezda" material ??

    Hmm...Just a handful of questions answered by a still very young ballerina at the beginning of her career--what would one expect? I thought the stories about how she found out she was a soloist -- and also about getting lost at the theater her first day and asking directions of someone else who turned out also to be lost were charming enough. As for her refusing to go into more depth when asked a personal question about disappointments in love -- that seems very sensible.
  23. Drew

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    From the photo--love Boylston's new hair and, for my taste, much better suited for the nineteenth-century repertory and even for the 20th-century ballets that are set in the past...
  24. Drew

    2018 Spring Season

    Great news!! After seeing Laracey's debut as the "second ballerina" I was wondering if/when her debut in the "first" ballerina role might happen -- I see the company didn't waste any time.