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Kaysta

The Winter's Tale at Kennedy Center, DC

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As a Londoner who saw both casts in the original run (not streaming or DVD) I share the deep reservations about this ballet. It is one I don't plan on seeing a third time.

The story line of A Winters Tale is deeply flawed and is basically an uninspired re-run of Othello without the profundity, difficult enough to sit through as a play, I never thought it would ever turn up as a ballet. The middle act is the most enjoyable and with a few tweaks and a new title could stand alone without the dreary 1st and 2nd acts.

It will be interesting to see how the revival in London sells as there was little enthusiasm among the long term ballet goers I spoke to, though I'll admit the RB has a fan following that turns up for anything. Perhaps the positive reviews say more about the present crop of critics than anything else. Clive Barnes would have crucified it and Richard Buckle would have killed it stone dead with comedic acid-edged home truths.

Great company NBoC, they deserve better.

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Winter's Tale is getting a re-thinking across the boards, including the cinema broadcast of Branagh's theater company. I have a feeling it's just in the air right now.

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Great company NBoC, they deserve better.

Indeed! NBoC also co-produced The Tempest, which I sat through twice at ABT - never again. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe the Canadians have ever staged it. Perhaps their company managers visited New York to see it at ABT. Given a choice between Tempest and Winter's Tale, they choose the lesser of two co-produced disappointments.

http://www.abt.org/education/archive/ballets/tempest.html

(San Francisco Ballet had much better luck with their co-production with ABT of Trilogy.)

I saw the first two performances of Tale in London in April 2014 (same cast, alas). I enjoyed the second act, but doubt I will go out of my way to see it again, and I'm relieved to read Mashinka's commentary. The story is so complicated - and so unfamiliar to most audience members - that it seemed that an awful lot of energy went into trying to make the story clear. The ever-changing sets were clever, but those don't carry a full-evening ballet.

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NBOC never did stage Tempest. I think Karen Kain saw it and decided against it.

I thought Winter's Tale was fabulous, all 3 acts of it, and it was very well received in Toronto. I certainly wouldn't call it the "lesser of two disappointments".

How on earth can any of us presume to say what now-dead critics would think of it?

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NBOC never did stage Tempest. I think Karen Kain saw it and decided against it.

I thought Winter's Tale was fabulous, all 3 acts of it, and it was very well received in Toronto. I certainly wouldn't call it the "lesser of two disappointments".

How on earth can any of us presume to say what now-dead critics would think of it?

In the old days the critics were so good I'd read their every word and did so for decades I think therefore I can make an educated guess.

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I have always thought that if you are able to do so you should try and see more than one cast performing a work with which you are unfamiliar. There is no guarantee that the first cast or the cast with most big names will be the best cast in any work. As far as Winter's Tale is concerned it is difficult to justify the description " rarely performed" which most of the dance critics have applied to it in their articles about the piece as it seems to have been a regular feature of London theatre life for years. It is no more difficult or complicated than any other Shakespeare play. The late plays are now described as the late plays rather than the "problem plays". It is years since anyone thought of Winter's Tale as little more than a failed reworking of Othello. I know several people who are keen theatre goers who say that it is their favourite Shakespeare play

I understand that many ballet goers want narrative works. Not every new work is going to be a great one but Wheeldon's Winter's Tale shows how much he has learnt since making Alice. It has always seemed to me that both Ashton and Balanchine benefitted from their time working in the commercial theatre. As Balanchine said of Ashton and himself they may have made bad ballets but they did not make boring ones. I have no doubt that Wheeldon's experience in working on An American in Paris will feed into any other narrative works he makes.

I am pleased that the Royal Ballet is once more a creative company and that it is able to work with the National Ballet of Canada. I don't expect to like every new work that the Royal Ballet produces and have not liked all of them. I have a long list of ballets that need to be revived beginning with the Diaghilev repertory, including a lot of Ashton and some of MacMillan's classical ballets. It seems to me that dwelling on the past is just as unhealthy for a ballet company as treating everything that is new as something to be treasured merely because it is novel. I think That Wheeldon has done remarkably well with Winter's Tale. I think that those who are able to do so should buy tickets for a couple of different casts see the ballet and make up their own minds about it. I hope some who go tell the forum what they thought of it .

As far as the critics of the past are concerned we none of us know what they might think of this work or any other ballet that has been staged in the last twenty or thirty years, If they were around now they would also have experienced the dearth of new classically based work that we have. They too might be pleased to see that new works are being made. I don't know and I have no intention of trying to find out.

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As far as the critics of the past are concerned we none of us know what they might think of this work or any other ballet that has been staged in the last twenty or thirty years, If they were around now they would also have experienced the dearth of new classically based work that we have. They too might be pleased to see that new works are being made. I don't know and I have no intention of trying to find out.

So we should cancel the seance?

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Clement Crisp has at times an old fashioned acid tongue so his reviews might help in the seance. Anthony Lane could probably tie the performance in knots, ditto Robert Gottlieb though not as cleverly. And there are dead critics whose style was so strong that you can run their possible comments by in your head backwards and forwards like a pop tune.

I was priviledged to see two great performances of Winter's Tale at BAM in the early ninities. One was by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the other directed by Igmar Bergman. Bergman set it like a film, in the last part of first act the action turning around the boy Mamillius like a tracking shot. But not being a great Wheeldon follower, not sure how I'd react to this version.

Anyway, the late romances (WT, Pericles, The Tempest) with their themes of family loss and restoration - I think are still considered great art.

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So we should cancel the seance?

No indeed. I've got my Ouija board right here and I’m dying to hear from Andre Levinson.

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So, a snowpocalypse is forecasted for this weekend. Of course this is scheduled to happen during a performance of something I've been looking forward to seeing, after a winter of no snow.

I'm hoping they are wrong, and we are not going to get a foot of snow, because I really don't want to miss my Saturday matinee performance.

Maybe during the seance we can ask if the spirits are predicting snow?

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Drive safely, Kaysta!

Thanks, but unfortunately it looks like I won't be making the trip.

The weather reports are hedging on whether it will hit Philly directly, or it will be a more southern storm hitting Baltimore/DC. Either way, I'd either be driving out of a lot of snow or driving into a lot of snow, neither of which I'm excited about doing.

I offered the tickets to a friend in Baltimore if she can get there. I am super bummed though, because I really was looking forward to seeing this wonderful company again. But I guess I'll just have to take another trip to Toronto soon! :)

If other folks go, please please please come back and tell us how it went!

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Oh dear--that's bad luck...Winter ballet travels can be nerve-wracking. (Wishing us all better weather-fortune when the Mariinsky arrives in Feb.)

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A good background article by Rebecca Ritzel in the Washington Post about staging "The Winter's Tale" (from Links). And Nicholas Hytner's significant role in the translation of the play into ballet form. Wheeldon's (curious) comment:

“I found it quite hard going on the page, actually,” he said. “But, I could see why Nick was so buzzed about seeing the play told through movement. If you knock away the language and boil it down to the bare essence, there is a really a great story there.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/the-winters-tale-the-blockbuster-ballet-that-almost-wasnt/2016/01/14/97e0d3b4-b8be-11e5-85cd-5ad59bc19432_story.html

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According to local NBC TV station, the Kennedy Center is "standing by" on making a decision on whether or not to shut down on Saturday. Since the big snow is due to commence on Friday night, the Friday shows will likely take place. Major impact won't occur until Saturday, as per latest predictions. Sunday? No new snow predicted but "clean up" may be an issue. In sum, best bet to see THE WINTER'S TALE during the weekend is the Friday night show.

Update, 7pm: I spoke with a KC rep, who said that Friday will most likely go on but "...we're all waiting to hear about Saturday."

I'm sorry for those traveling. I hope that your shows go on.

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How frustrating for everyone involved. I hope they don't lose too much money on this.

(several years ago Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker had to cancel a couple of performances due to a major snowstorm. Between that and the number of people who couldn't get to the shows they did have, they took a big financial hit)

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In Toronto, the NBOC has a policy of never cancelling shows for inclement weather. But that's Toronto.

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News flash. When DC gets hit with a lot of snow, the city seems to come to a halt. When I was in DC to see Mariinsky's Sleeping Beauty at the Kennedy Center in 2010, there was a foot or so of snow that started falling on Tuesday evening. The Tuesday evening show proceeded (with loads of empty seats), but on Wednesday the Kennedy Center was shut down. (They rescheduled the missed Wednesday show by adding a show on Sunday evening). I fully expect that the Kennedy Center will shut down if these forecasts come true. We'll see.

It's not up to the visiting company to decide whether to proceed. I'm sure the dancers and staff of the Mariinsky thought that a foot of snow was a joke, and there was no reason to shut down the city. DC does not do well with snow.

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News flash. When DC gets hit with a lot of snow, the city seems to come to a halt. When I was in DC to see Mariinsky's Sleeping Beauty at the Kennedy Center in 2010, there was a foot or so of snow that started falling on Tuesday evening. The Tuesday evening show proceeded (with loads of empty seats), but on Wednesday the Kennedy Center was shut down. (They rescheduled the missed Wednesday show by adding a show on Sunday evening). I fully expect that the Kennedy Center will shut down if these forecasts come true. We'll see.

It's not up to the visiting company to decide whether to proceed. I'm sure the dancers and staff of the Mariinsky thought that a foot of snow was a joke, and there was no reason to shut down the city. DC does not do well with snow.

That's the truth. Just look at the home page of the Washington Post from last night. They got an inch of snow/ice last night and the traffic jams were 6 hours long. I lived in VA for four years during residency, that part of the country is not very good at handling winter weather.

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Thanks, but unfortunately it looks like I won't be making the trip.

The weather reports are hedging on whether it will hit Philly directly, or it will be a more southern storm hitting Baltimore/DC. Either way, I'd either be driving out of a lot of snow or driving into a lot of snow, neither of which I'm excited about doing.

I offered the tickets to a friend in Baltimore if she can get there. I am super bummed though, because I really was looking forward to seeing this wonderful company again. But I guess I'll just have to take another trip to Toronto soon! :)

If other folks go, please please please come back and tell us how it went!

Well, now you can see it in New York in July instead (see my most recent post).

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Well, now you can see it in New York in July instead (see my most recent post).

Oh my goodness, kbarber, you just made my day! :tiphat::shake::yahoo:

I was really bummed about the snow storm but now I can see it closer to home this summer!

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DC's Mayor just declared a snow emergency for the next three days. They want everybody indoors, even tomorrow morn, so that the salt trucks can begin to prepare the streets at 6am. Sunday has been declared "clean-up day." I wouldn't be surprised if the Fedl Gvt and the Kenn Cen shut down from through Sunday. Even the Friday night show may not happen. My company follows the Fedl Gvt but the boss has already told us to take enough work home tonight to allow us to telecommute and stay put.

Happy that US audiences will get a 2nd chance to see this ballet in NY. Now if only the'll add a mixed bill to the presentation! :)

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Washington Post is predicting up to 2 feet. While I'm bummed that I won't get to see this on Saturday, at least there is a strong chance a refund is heading my way! Plus I bought a whole bunch of old Ulanova and Plisetskaya videos at the Met Opera shop, so at least I'll have entertainment while i'm snowed in!

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There will be refunds for affected shows cancelled due to the highly-likely closure (Fri/Sat/Sun).

I just called the box office - 202-467-4600 - and spoke with a kind ticket agent who said that, while he was not at liberty to make the announcement on the closure, he offered that "smart money is on a cancellation" and that the "highly likely cancellation" may come at noon tomorrow., Friday. Assuming that I had tickets to a weekend show (I don't), he:

1. Volunteered to take my ticket info (show's date, time and seat location or have credit card info used to make purchase) over the phone and set the wheels into motion for a full refund (so some of you may wish to call now...he said that at least one agent would be there until late-night tonight...10 pmish) and ....

2. Said that once the official closure is announced (maybe around noonish tomorrow-Friday), the Kennedy Center's web home page will display the announcement that will contain a hyperlink through which folks with tickets for the affected performances can request full refund.

He explicitly said that the KC is very aware that many folks travel from out of town to attend the shows and that, in such cases of bad weather coming, people need to make travel decisions sooner than later...why folks can avail themselves of Option 1 above & simply call the box office NOW. Or wait for the announcement to appear on the homepage, if there's no hotel or travel expense involved. Your choice.

I hope that this helps.

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