Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
sohalia

Program IV: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Recommended Posts

That whole review makes me think I may have missed something by not going down to Florida. I saw Messmer here in Chicago a few years ago, as though on her way from the East Coast to the West, and I thought I saw a lot of potential, and I've lately picked up that not only Sandra Jennings but Suki Schorer had a hand in the staging. (Schorer staged a bit of Midsummer very beautifully for Workshop several years ago.)

But I just checked the tickets remaining, and Broward - where they are running only two repertory shows per weekend now, instead of four, as under Villella - is very nearly sold out. (And I still wonder about that scrim people are complaining about here.)

Yeah, nice swipe at ABT, abatt. Right on! It's good to think she's finally in the hands of people who appreciate her.

Share this post


Link to post

Alistair Macaulay's New York Times review includes one image, apparently from a performance, with no scrim that I can see. Does it not accurately show the production as you all saw it in the theater? It wouldn't be the first time a ballet company made some adjustment for a publicity picture, I'll bet, or even encouraged some dress-rehearsal photo-taking. Just for the record, not to mention our tradition of accuracy, what do you think is going on here?

But I just checked the tickets remaining, and Broward - where they are running only two repertory shows per weekend now, instead of four, as under Villella - is very nearly sold out. (And I still wonder about that scrim people are complaining about here.)

I swear we didn't hallucinate the scrim ahah! However in that NYT photo, it does look like it's not there, so I also guess it's probably staged.

I too wish they did more performances. I almost missed Program III because they only had two shows in Miami, and by the time I recommend to friends or colleagues that they should go check it out, it's basically almost over and/or sold out.

Share this post


Link to post

Messmer was one of my absolute favorites at ABT!

Share this post


Link to post

I swear we didn't hallucinate the scrim ahah! However in that NYT photo, it does look like it's not there, so I also guess it's probably staged.

I too wish they did more performances. I almost missed Program III because they only had two shows in Miami, and by the time I recommend to friends or colleagues that they should go check it out, it's basically almost over and/or sold out.

Try to think of the run as a multiple city run. I sort of grew up in South Florida (8th grade to graduation and parents still live down in Jupiter which is just north of West Palm) and the South Florida culture is such a driving culture. It was nothing to drive to Miami to party or for Miami or Ft. Lauderdale friends to visit for just the evening in West Palm, etc. However, since then I have lived in Tampa where I lived in South Tampa and could practically walk to everything or take a 5 minute drive to get places and now in Gainesville it is the same way for the most part, so when I visit my parents I dread driving to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. It feels so far. But when you are there for years it is like a megalopolis (one city blending into the next with no cut off in the concrete). So I remember the lifestyle is to drive, drive, and drive. Miami City Ballet should really be called South Florida Ballet, because it performs in West Palm, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami (and now even in Naples, FL). If I still lived down there I would probably see multiple showings and drive all over.

It is odd that more shows are in West Palm than in Miami, but I have heard there are more donors in West Palm. It is sad that Miami, which is much larger in population, can not seem to sustain a ballet company on its own.

Share this post


Link to post

Alistair Macaulay's New York Times review includes one image, apparently from a performance, with no scrim that I can see. Does it not accurately show the production as you all saw it in the theater? It wouldn't be the first time a ballet company made some adjustment for a publicity picture, I'll bet, or even encouraged some dress-rehearsal photo-taking. Just for the record, not to mention our tradition of accuracy, what do you think is going on here?

Macaulay needs to read up on Florida sea life. Seals are nowhere to be found in Florida (maybe in a zoo somewhere). I read it is a manatee head that is put on Bottom. I will see for myself during the West Palm run.

The pics of the costumes look beautiful and since the choreography will be the same, I have no problem with the changes, but I suspect I will feel the same way as CubanMiamiBoy and others. It makes no sense for fairies and butterflies to be underwater. I think they should have changed them to be something else.....maybe dragonflies that skim the water in places. Or jellyfish. Not sure.

I think I will like it nevertheless, but I suspect the new production is sort of half baked and not totally thought out.

Share this post


Link to post

Try to think of the run as a multiple city run. ... Miami City Ballet should really be called South Florida Ballet, because it performs in West Palm, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami (and now even in Naples, FL). If I still lived down there I would probably see multiple showings and drive all over.

It is odd that more shows are in West Palm than in Miami, but I have heard there are more donors in West Palm. It is sad that Miami, which is much larger in population, can not seem to sustain a ballet company on its own.

Back in the day, I saw two consecutive programs on consecutive weekends in Broward and Miami Beach, crossing over - it's a two-hour drive, well-suited to cruise-control - to Naples, where the Philharmonic Society hosted a couple of mid-week MCB shows including items from both.

But as to calling it the South Florida Ballet, I remember Villella blowing up one evening before the performance, loudly complaining that "We carry their name - Miami - but they give us nothing. Miami Beach has always been generous." This may have been when their new building at 22nd Street and Liberty Avenue was set to be built in Miami Beach. Your idea is not a bad one, Birdsall.

So Andersen coached Oberon, the part he danced in that 1986 video? Hmm...

Share this post


Link to post

Just curious when you saw those NYCB performances, choriamb. Since the mid-80's, NYCB's Balanchine has often seemed bland to me, and so, I haven't seen much of it.

The performances occurred in the same year (2012), oddly enough. The first cast was dominated by dancers who had started in the '90s/early '00s. The second cast was dominated by some of the dancers with better stagecraft who began in the mid-to-late '00s.

Share this post


Link to post

Macaulay needs to read up on Florida sea life. Seals are nowhere to be found in Florida (maybe in a zoo somewhere). I read it is a manatee head that is put on Bottom. I will see for myself during the West Palm run.

The pics of the costumes look beautiful and since the choreography will be the same, I have no problem with the changes, but I suspect I will feel the same way as CubanMiamiBoy and others. It makes no sense for fairies and butterflies to be underwater. I think they should have changed them to be something else.....maybe dragonflies that skim the water in places. Or jellyfish. Not sure.

I think I will like it nevertheless, but I suspect the new production is sort of half baked and not totally thought out.

I meant to comment on that in my earlier post and I forgot. It's even written in the program booklet that they changed Bottom to a manatee! And if you have a minimum of knowledge in the local ecosystem, you should manatees are a very important part of Florida's sea life.

When you write for the NYT, a little bit of background research should be mandatory.

Share this post


Link to post

To be honest...I didn't "get" the underwater feeling of this production. The story of the two couples is too "earthy" to be placed down the ocean. Yes..the whole thing has a fantastic approach, but there are still guidelines to be followed, as to who is who and what are they doing. In the original libretto there is a definite differentiation in between the fantastical creatures and the humans. In the Miamian production this is a failure.

Share this post


Link to post

It seems silly to put it underwater, when scenes showing everything "above" ground in the Everglades or at a shoreline of a Florida Key would have been just as lovely. Bottom still could have become an amphibious creature instead of a donkey.

Share this post


Link to post

Just agreeing with cubanmiamiboy's point - it looks from here like something has been lost - or hidden, obscured - in the re-packaging. Speaking of "obscured"- was there was an obscuring scrim down all the time? Never raised? I'm still wondering, incredulous, with some others, that anyone would do that.

Share this post


Link to post

Won't be able to see this, so really shouldn't have an opinion, but this is beginning to sound like an Esther Williams vehicle.

Share this post


Link to post

People always feel the need to revise and tinker with the classics. It results in additional publicity and a curiosity factor. I'm not sure the NY Times would have sent its lead critic to Florida to review this production if it was merely the same exact production that's performed at NYCB and elsewhere.

Share this post


Link to post

We're pretty serious about our art form, our entertainment; ballet is serious fun, important fun, right? But there's another aspect to the redesigns we see going on here and there - unnecessary redesigns, even interfering redesigns - from the point of view of the marketing mind, the mind of the marketers: It gets attention, it generates "buzz", right? Just look at this thread, for example, running three pages already.

Should that be a factor along with, or even dominating artistic factors or esthetic qualities in the mind of the AD? Should marketers have such dominance? AD's may well be glad to listen to the marketers; they know their company needs income, and they'd be disappointed - or hurt, even - if nobody came and watched.

I well remember in this connection not so many years ago - Edward was still there - a marketer who knows my face said for me to hear, "They have to put on what we can sell." Marketers would of course promote themselves and what they do, but this development - a sad development to me, when it compromises the art, as this underwater concept seems to have done - may be part of the story. Not one I like to think about. Not as much fun as an Esther Williams vehicle, right. Uh oh. When does a ballet become just a show, just a curiosity, another spectacle to churn the crowds in and out, a circus?

Share this post


Link to post

I don't agree with the decision to put this ballet in a new setting. I'm just pointing out what I think Lopez's motivation was to change the setting. It's all about the buzz for some company artistic directors.

Share this post


Link to post

People always feel the need to revise and tinker with the classics. It results in additional publicity and a curiosity factor. I'm not sure the NY Times would have sent its lead critic to Florida to review this production if it was merely the same exact production that's performed at NYCB and elsewhere.

Macaulay has been logging a lot of miles for a Times dance critic in the last several years, and I'm glad for it. Decades ago they hardly went anywhere, although I do remember Kisselgoff coverage of a "Festival of Stars" in Chicago in the '70's.

I think he's excellent, and partly a reflection at the Times that it really is a national newspaper, but I wonder whether they send him or he sends himself. In contrast to the redesign concept, TSFB tends to present authentic performances of Balanchine's repertory - personally, I think a good authentic staging, including well-coached movement - does make the experience fresh, the experience of anything - and he covers those. Likewise I didn't see the same performances in Phoenix as he seems to have - the usual quotes they put in their publicity are a little vague as to context, as usual - but having seen their Balanchine show in Phoenix last May I can say they look pretty authentic to me. No novelty added for the publicity.

So I may disagree a little with my friend abatt. I think Macaulay covers what's important, wherever in the world it is, according to what he thinks that is. (I can't quote chapter and verse, or post links, but IIRC, he's even explained in the course of some reviews why what he's writing about is something important, and worth our attention.)

But mainly I think abatt and I are in agreement that this is not a good thing, that this compromises the art, makes it less of an experience than it would have been.

Here's a question: Is "purist" a derogatory term or a compliment? People apply it to me sometimes - "You know what's wrong with you, Jack? You're a purist!" - and I always thank them for it: I want the experience pure, unadulterated, and STRONG - and I want it available to others who may also be susceptible to enjoying it as I do.

Winding down my rant, now - any other purists here?

Edited by Jack Reed

Share this post


Link to post

I've been thinking about a few classics that were moved to appeal to a particular audience. San Francisco Ballet set their Nutcracker in the historic city of San Francisco and they have impressive on-line materials each year to whet appetites. Dance Theatre of Harlem set their Giselle in Creole Louisiana. Both of those were very smart moves, I think, and perhaps that's what Lopez had in mind. Nureyev set his Cinderella in Hollywood in the 30s - not sure if that was a good idea.

Share this post


Link to post

DTH's Creole Giselle was a project to "redesign" the ballet for dark-hued dancers - the Wilis wore blue-gray tutus, too - which you can even glimpse clips from on YouTube sometimes. (Searching just now brings up lots of them.)

But I feel that the experience of art, what art is for, is that it takes you away - away from the world you know, not least theater art, and they have to be careful not to "bring the art to the audience," lest they bring it down to the audience and deprive the audience of the experience of going to it - going to the world of that ballet, of that art. (It can do for you what a short vacation can - and no jet lag! And it can change you forever.)

I think the DTH Giselle was pretty successful theater, BTW. (Video of the whole production is currently on offer on Amazon, too; remember our link at the bottom of the page!)

Share this post


Link to post

I've been thinking about a few classics that were moved to appeal to a particular audience. San Francisco Ballet set their Nutcracker in the historic city of San Francisco and they have impressive on-line materials each year to whet appetites. Dance Theatre of Harlem set their Giselle in Creole Louisiana. Both of those were very smart moves, I think, and perhaps that's what Lopez had in mind. Nureyev set his Cinderella in Hollywood in the 30s - not sure if that was a good idea.

This is what the Lopez' approach sounds like to me too. Have no idea what I would think of this production if I saw it, but as long as there is respect for the choreography and music I don't find it absurd for directors to try something new now and then with productions of classics (which I consider this ballet). It won't always work, and people should debate, but productions that don't involve redesigns or narrative reframing won't always work either.

Share this post


Link to post

I LOVE DTH's Creole Giselle. I had a VHS tape of it growing up that I nearly wore down from watching it so many times. Their re-visioning of Giselle completely worked for me and wasn't a mutilation of a classic in my eyes. Not every classic can be tinkered with, successfully. I'm usually a fan of leaving the classics alone, with few exceptions. Guess that makes me a purist.

Share this post


Link to post

As long as Balanchine's choreography is the same I will not mind a re-staging placed underwater, but the problem from the sound of it is that it takes place underwater with butterflies and humans underwater which doesn't make sense.

I come to ballet after over 20 years of opera going, and changing the setting of a show is very mild!!!! In opera the time period, sets, costumes, planet, etc. are often completely changed nowadays!!! One opera site shows pics of opera productions asking you to guess the opera and there is no way to tell!!! Aida is just as likely to be sung in outer space as it is in the original Egypt setting!!! For the most part I can deal with it as long as the singing is good (although today that isn't likely)!!!! But I find it humorous that this Midsummer is so controversial. It sounds very, very mild in the "Change" department compared to the craziness I have witnessed in opera productions.

Share this post


Link to post

I think it's ok to reset a classic in a new setting - didn't Peter Sellars start this in opera? - if it temporarily refreshens it and says something shocking and new. Reseting Nutcracker in Edwardian San Francisco normalizes it and all the choices seem to move it away from the essential ETA Hoffman qualities of scariness and uncanniness. The houses on stage are the same as the ones that many of ballet patrons live in only a few blocks away from the Opera House. Perhaps reseting it in 1890s SF in Mark Hopkins' mansion just above Chinatown, Little Manila and the Latin Quarter would have made for better drama. Or today's Mission district with its Google bus & Uber anxieties ...

But pure and strong as Jack says are also radical qualities ( for which see Ratmansky revivals of SL, etc)

Was Miami Ballet thinking of Napoli?

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×