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About odinthor

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Avid balletgoer
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  1. My quick reaction to Saturday night's performance: Entertaining, sophisticatedly sweet (not cloying), choreography was postmodern classicism, vibrant and imaginative; music was charming and good while playing, but darned if a bar of it lingers in the memory. All of my audience neighbors were completely enchanted. Natalia has hit all the nails on their various heads in her postings; no disagreements. Cornejo was wonderful, both dancing-wise and acting-wise. All the dancers were dedicated, inhabited their parts, and--best of all--seemed to be having a great time. The tiniest negative, the only one I can come up with: The (giant-headed) Doctor touches his head a few times, and it was hard to tell in some instances if it was dramatic gesticulation or rather that the head "felt wrong" and needed to be adjusted. Yes, it's a splendid must-see. It's a show that--perhaps thankfully--doesn't have a deeper meaning (nice to have a vacation from Deep Thoughts). Just sit and let the wonderful artistry wash over you.
  2. Thanking everyone for their comments and details about this. I'll be there Saturday night, and will post any observations which add anything of (I hope!) value to the above. Cutesy and sweet try my patience; but . . . we'll see . . .
  3. Thanks (about what happened after I left)! I'm usually a stay to the bitter end sort, so was chagrined when I realized something was happening without me. Yes, the audience was very receptive Saturday night, which doubtless energized the dancers. Everyone was a winner. My audience neighbor was very impressed with MacKay, as I was--very lyrical and smooth. His lifts need a little work; but I'm sure he's working on that as I type this. The performers last Saturday from the top of the bill to the bottom all get an enthusiastic thumbs up from me, whatever use they can make of that; but I have reservations about the production (as opposed to the dancing). Quite some long time ago indeed, I saw a production from I believe it was the Bolshoi; and though I don't associate Farukh Ruzimatov with the B., I'm certain he was the Ali, and he turned in an unforgettable performance, and the production was splendid and opulent, from the shipwreck at the beginning to the sailing off to new adventures at the end. --My point being that I'd happily empty my wallet to see another such production of Le Corsaire; another iteration of this cropped and re-arranged production, eh, not so much . . .
  4. Saw the Saturday evening (Nov. 19) perf. of Le Corsaire at Costa Mesa. I was a bit taken aback to find the production not starting with the familiar shipwreck scene etc., a scene which enriches the ballet dramatically as well as providing a production with a chance to strut its stuff in theater-craft and wow the audience. I was then disoriented to find the quondam Ali the slave role much much reduced and the choreography scrambled, the Pas d'Esclave gone from Act II. Needless to state, ballet is not a history lesson; but, gee whiz, the pirates' ship seemed to be a Spanish galleon from the 1500s (corsairs would have used not only a much later ship but also a much much lighter and less bulky one), the drop showed a map from the reign of James II (reigned 1685-1688), and if I'm not mistaken the action of the piece is supposed to be taking place around 1800-1820. The set and dancing in this production seemed very tight and claustrophobic on our notoriously (and wonderfully) big Segerstrom stage. That said, I very much enjoyed the show; and Vasiliev gave his characteristically exuberant performance. But he wasn't just self-involved; he consciously bonds with the audience: I'm sure I'm not the only person in the audience whom he locked eyes with during the performance. This is generous in a dancer and serves to spread and intensify the spirit of the event on both sides of the proscenium. At the end, I thought the curtain calls were over and stepped away; but I heard at least two loud roars behind me as I walked through the front of the house, and am consumed with curiosity as to what I missed. Can anyone tell me?
  5. I attended the evening of the 11th. It was danced beautifully and with concentration and verve by the uniformly disciplined and expert dancers in the company; the stark, brutalistic sets were impressive and appropriate; the Tchaikovsky score (a pastiche) was splendidly performed, though I wouldn't say the pieces were always well-chosen. And so we come to an interesting dichotomy: I enjoyed it as a display of outstanding dancing expertise; and I enjoyed the vigorous, fresh, and intriguing conceptualization of the choreography; but, as a depiction of a story, it left me completely untouched. To see it was a bit like reading an intricate and obscure roman a clef: Unless, on a meta plane, you knew from moment to moment what it was referring to, it was frequently difficult from seeing what was being presented onstage to put together just who was who and what was what; and for those very familiar with the tale, a good deal of time is spent looking for evidence of certain incidents and nuances of the story which . . . just aren't there in this telling. The gesticulation tapped a vocabulary which is far from universal--just so much mysterious hand-jive, I'm sure, to most onlookers. In the intermission, I heard much mystification being expressed; and about a quarter of the already-skimpy audience did not return for the second half. The intensity of the dancers impressed me, just as it did on the previous visit of the Royal Swedish Ballet (and I very much look forward to their return!); and, on an intellectual plane, I appreciated the choreography. But I felt neither the danger nor the passion of the relationship between our two star-cross'd lovers.
  6. About the Russian trio: California, I see where you're coming from on this, and would feel the same way if the choreographer weren't a Russian native; but my read on this is that making them three sillies is a sort of gracious joke from Ratmansky: He's saying, "Yes, I'm Russian, and we're very proud of our extraordinary ballet history and notoriously wonderful dancers; but here I am in America and I'm going to show that a Russian can poke a little fun at his fellow Russians." Had Nutcracker had an "American Dance," and made its dancers loonies, I'd feel insulted; but I take this as a sort of good-natured bonhomie. And, Kaysta, I liked the Bees and the Waltz of the Flowers too, and very much. (Earlier in the show, during the Battle I think, I remember reflecting to myself that Ratmansky was very lose to being a modern Petipa--same imaginative, daring spirit.) For those non-balletomanes in the audience who didn't know the female dancers were supposed to be flowers, I wish there had been some way to clarify this (somehow, perhaps, detaching from an enormous and obvious "plant" at the beginning, or something). I'm sure many were confused why there were bees flitting about. (Meantime, not sure why, but the "quote" command doesn't want to work for me here when I'm responding, not just now, but lately.)
  7. As previously mentioned in prospect, was at the Saturday evening perf. (last night). Just a few notes to record. A general word: The dancers were committed and focused, but--the audience was not very receptive, it seemed to me. I finally laid this to the account of the audience being largely made up of not balletomanes but rather families doing a Christmas event and so unfamiliar with what to appreciate and how to appreciate it. Our Harlequin (Craig Salstein) and Columbine (Luciana Paris) were, I thought, particularly splendid, and I was startled by the weak or indeed non-existent response by the audience, same with the Russian Dance in Act II. Setting the audience aside: The kids in the production--pardon me, the young dancers--were unusually amusing, professional, and successful: George Buford (Little Mouse), Justin Souriau-Levine (Fritz), Seth Koffler (young Nutcracker), Claudia Schuman (young Clara) as the top-liners, but all the young'uns are to be complimented. Marcelo Gomes and Hee Seo gave lyrical and confident performances, beautifully so. At one point, just before the end of the entrée of their pas de deux, something went momentarily awry, I think (did anyone else notice this?): I saw Marcelo's face take on a startled look for a split second, and he braced his body as if about to lunge to catch an off-balance Hee Seo (I didn't see what happened to make him react this way). They quickly both got a look of relief on their faces, and it seemed to me that they shared a little smile of "Whew, barely averted a disaster!" for the next moment or two. Ratmansky's vision of The Nutcracker has very much to commend it, with its freshness and wit (though I miss the weirdness and menace of Alexander Minz's Drosselmeyer in the familiar TV Baryshnikov version). Last night, I felt one or two of the Bees were contemptuous of their role; nevertheless they all danced with appropriate pollinating fervency. The Pacific Symphony gave a sensitive, beautiful performance; and the Southern California Children's Chorus was flawless--the whole effect of the Snowflakes number--dancers, music with chorus, scenery--brought an appreciative tear to my eye.
  8. Still no DVD of Les Millions d'Arlequin? Any recent productions? Assuming "no" and "no," why and why?
  9. Thanks--no offense taken!
  10. Tall people in the orchestra section? OK, that would be me (6' 3 1/2"). Sorry!--I always try to hunch down when the curtain goes up. Anyway, will be there Saturday evening 12/12 to see Veronika and Marcelo! And side seats? Me, I like my longtime side seat. "Less than ideal," yes, quite so; but there are certain plusses to the un-ideal: One gets a rather different experience of the performance proper from what one would get on, say, a DVD or the like, which can be thought-provoking and perhaps can give insights of one sort or another. Also, it's fun to be able to see a bit into the wings and observe what's going on there; and being close to the end of the row and freedom has benefits beyond anything mere words can express . . .
  11. I was present, in my usual way up front seat, for the Saturday night performance of Raymonda. While I can't make dancer-specific comments with good overview and perspective, as many of you have done, I feel I should make some remarks because, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I have strong reason to believe that Raymonda appeared here, premiering on the West Coast, specifically because a letter of mine to the management about two years ago mentioned not only it but also everything else on this season's regular roster (meaning "not Nutcracker," which is an optional add-on); at least, if this was a coincidence, it's the most remarkable one I've ever heard of. I was thus personally pleased to see this rarity in its full length, and indeed liked Act II--enthusiastically--with its exciting diversity much better than what one usually sees from the show, the pas de dix from Act III. About Oxana Skorik, I defer to the opinions of earlier posters; I came away with the impression that she danced beautifully while not feeling the part; but I laid that to the nature of the show (see below). Andrei Yermakov made a noble and handsome Jean de Brienne without the part giving him ample opportunity to dominate. Yuri Smekalov reveled in the lustful sneakiness which mediaeval times characteristically invested in Saracens; exacting technique such as his can too easily be camouflaged by the grand gestures required by such character roles. The show's various friends and troubadours were without exception wonderful, focused and invested in their roles; the various national dances were nothing but thrilling; the corps faultless as always; and I was especially charmed by the children's dances. Raymonda does not offer the emotional impact of shows such as Giselle, Swan Lake, La Sylphide, or indeed even Coppelia. It is a show of atmospheric moods and tone, not of character development. We are immediately plunged into a mediaeval ethos, and the attitude and action of the work is best digested from this viewpoint. The original's inclusion of the supernatural White Lady would serve to enhance this mediaeval mind-set; its exclusion thus weakens the show's dramatic underpinning. Glazunov's music, while good enough, especially in the ethnic or character dances, does not seem to me to be deeply felt; rather, while it often seems to echo Tchaikovsky, it seems to be echoing a Tchaikovsky having an off day. All of this, I feel, is why one leaves the theater less touched with Raymonda than one is accustomed to be after seeing an acknowledged classic ballet, its unfamiliarity also militating against it. I had no problem with the clouds per se as the audience is taken into Raymonda's dream; but the length of this passage, combined with the fact that the audience was unfamiliar with it, seemed to be sparking discomfort in the audience as if something had gone awry in the scene change. This--and I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the audience--had a shadow effect in that it distracted audience members with a notion that there would be further such interludes in the show. We have all been to dance performances in which part of the show is for the dancers to come down into the audience and drag audience members onstage; when this happens, the audience remains wary for the rest of the performance that this usually unwelcome development might happen again, and so distracts from the presentation. Same with this segue into Raymonda's dream (though less worrisome). The audience likes to know what to expect, and then likes to have its expectation fulfilled! While much of the above is of the nature of general remarks on Raymonda, rather than remarks specific to the performance, these elements played their part Saturday night. The audience members who remained to the end of this delightfully long ballet were enthusiastic in their standing ovation; but, between acts--especially after Act I--we lost more than I would have anticipated. Were Raymonda more familiar, were its special and varied charms and serene sophistication more securely placed in the minds and experience of the less cosmopolitan ballet-goer, the greater familiarity would, I am certain, engender exponentially a fuller and warmer appreciation of this ballet. Much as the ripe genius of Verdi pervades his late opera Falstaff, a masterpiece though of a difference sort than the early Rigoletto, so do I sense the ripe and consummate genius of Petipa in Raymonda, still achieving choreographic wonders of the highest level as his career neared its unwilling end. Raymonda is magnificence; it is a magnificence that the audience member has to prepare to live up to. That is what I saw on Saturday night.
  12. Many thanks (please excuse the delay; cataract surgery--perfectly successful--has thrown a monkey-wrench into the smooth flow of life, for the moment) for your very enlightening and detailed post! Very good to know and reflect on. Yes, I'm almost certain that the Segerstrom Center had a hand in producing the ABT Sleeping Beauty, recalling the press when the season was announced. Right, my idea was along the lines of the venue's availing itself of different companies scattered across the globe to present the various Petipa works (of course, I'm just using P. as an obvious example; I'd be just as delighted to see a survey of Buornonville etc. etc. etc.. or--focusing on era rather than choreographer--a somewhat less focused theme of the likes of "little-seen early ballets"), and not taking over whole seasons but just one or (getting greedy) two of a season's yearly presentations. Among the other many benefits, it would give the audience member a feeling of anticipation and commitment each season. It's impractical in many ways; but it's very canny in other ways. To end: I've wanted to air this thought for quite some time, just to put it in the air for those who could conceivably act on it. There in the audience with my long-familiar audience subscriber-neighbors, I hear (and participate in) the groans or cries of pleasure when the content of a new season is announced. I see who renews, who disappears, and generally know why. This is my way of addressing the question, "How do we develop subscriber loyalty?" Thanks again for your kind responses!
  13. Stepping up to the plate would have to be someone with vision, dedication, resources, an ambition to make a name for him- or herself . . . Begging pardon for a bit of thread-drift; but it pertains to our discussion: In a nutshell, what, generally speaking, is the succession of events and time frame for a venue in planning a dance season for its subscribers?
  14. Yes, thanks, my brain--such as it is--knows that you're completely right; but a little of me always sings, "If you don't have a dream/How you going to have a dream come true?" . . .
  15. As a sort of PS to my note above: It often seems as if, considering multiple adjacent seasons at a particular venue, ballet seasons comprise just a sort of better or worse miscellaneous choreographic hash slung at subscribers. We're used to that, so nobody squawks too much, however they might feel about it; but wouldn't it be an improvement if there were some sort of integral coordination or multi-season "build," not necessarily taking in all presentations of the seasons, but including some portion of the shows? To clarify with an obvious example: I know that, if SCFTA would, over successive seasons, at length have presented all of the ballets of Petipa for which his choreography was still extant, or for which there was a good approximation of same, I would certainly be moved to very joyfully renew my subscription each year, no matter how many years it would take, with the fulfilling feeling that, when the due number of years had passed, I would have experienced all told something very special. And, perhaps more to the point, it would carry along into successive season subscriptions subscribers who might otherwise scowl, "Eh, just [insert uninspiring company] yet again, and another [insert common and uninspiring show]. Bah!" as they decline to re-up. If successive seasons would at least partially reflect on and enrich each other in a well thought out way, well, my opinion is that everyone would be better off. If memory serves, The Joffrey Ballet did something like this once upon a time for a few seasons with many of the Diaghilev-related ballets; and I at least found it exciting and, well, wonderful.