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MCB On Tour 2016

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It's about as high a recommendation as I can make, sandik, even knowing that what one person loves another might not. If Jack saw her and liked her then I can share his pleasure vicariously.

If he did and didn't, then I'll put my money where my mouth is. :)

It's money that I gladly would have spent to see her if I were there myself.

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For some reason, this reminds me of that late-nineteenth-Century custom, if I have it right, where balletomanes, taking the place of horses, drew open carriages displaying their favorite ballerinas through the streets of St. Petersburgh as tribute to them!

(But what about the money I spent on my two friends' tickets?)

But more seriously, no need to reimburse me, Buddy, we had a great time overall, even if we liked Messmer better in the second number of Bourree Fantasque than as "Waltz Girl" in Serenade. Both my guests hugely enjoyed this most ensemble ballet they'd ever seen, with scarcely any prominent, elevated roles except almost by accident, yet we saw that she still has to find her way more into the company which MCB is (people remark on their uniformity of style). So we also enjoyed reflecting (in fresh memory of the performance) on her casting as the girl who arrives late and has to find her place.

Later, in Bourree Fantasque, her way of still being herself and different was more successful, though I found her still making a smaller effect than Jennifer Kronenberg had the night before. (I would love to see what Tallchief, whose role I think this was, made of this part in B. F..)

And since the word love has been invoked above, the performing I loved was Jennifer Kronenberg's Friday night; but the choreography of the two Balanchine ballets on Saturday's program made it very strong for us - in fact my modern-dance fan was overwhelmed by the way Balanchine and Chabrier keep raising the energy level higher and higher at the end of Bouree Fantasque.

I didn't say anything about the Peck novelty. Heatscape went past me. I could see that qualities of the movement sometimes coordinated with qualities of the sound, but that was about it; and even the optimistic Macaulay found that it’s “a hard ballet to add up”. But my modern-dance-fan friend found that after being bored by it at first, it was funny later.

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Jack, the original Bourree Fantasque had Tanny LeClercq and Jerome Robbins (!!!):

0218_tanaquil-jerome.jpg

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Jack, I’m very glad that you liked what you saw as much as you did. I do indeed agree about the togetherness of the company.

In regard to Simone Messmer, I’ve also seen her when she seemed to be feeling her way and still thought that she was brilliant. Her effort was so committed and her ability so apparent. This is how I feel about ABT’s Veronika Part. It’s built in. Even if they were to almost fall off the stage, I would probably think that they did great because their remarkable, inherent capability still shone through. I once wrote that if Simone Messmer doesn’t fit into a company then someone should create one for her. I’d do it myself except that it would cost a little more than a theater ticket. I think that there’s definitely a place for great individuality at MCB, as well as harmony. Edward (Villella), as a performer, apparently was an outstanding example. I think that Simone Messmer, also, will offer both, more and more.

I’m glad that you liked Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg so much. I’ve also seen her when she was absolutely outstanding, both in depth as well as in all out abandon. I wrote earlier, that the tribute paid to her and her husband, Carlos Miguel Guerra, by the cast and audience after their final Miami performance, was the most heart touching part of all that I saw there that weekend.

Great photo, canbelto. Thank you. I'm catching up somewhat on my Balanchine history and for the moment Allegra Kent has stolen my heart.

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Yes, canbelto, LeClercq and Robbins originated the first movement, to the Chabrier music whose title Mr. B. hung on the whole ballet. And thanks for the studio shot for that. (Not literally taken from it, I think, but definitely in the spirit of it - as Jordan-Elizabeth Long and Shimon Ito showed us on Saturday, the tall girl paired with a short boy often has the "What am I doing with him?" bit to play with, in deadpan fashion.)

Tallchief originated the second movement, the "Prelude," from Chabrier's Gwendoline - cribbing here from Nancy Reynolds' great resource, Repertory in Review - with Nicholas Magallanes; but LeClercq did also dance "Prelude", though Reynolds doesn't make clear who her partner was for that.

What casts, right? What a company! What a time! What a world!

Isn't there some footage of LeClercq in B F? First movement? So maybe some footage of Tallchief as well. That's what I was dreaming of seeing someday.

But I agree with what I think Buddy is saying - if Lopez's MCB is so bent on conformity of style that someone of Messmer's obvious great potential doesn't fit, something needs to be made over, or made again, or rethought. Mr. B's NYCB (and Mr. V's MCB) thrived on individuality. (Though, I would add, wanting not to be misunderstood, not to the degree ABT has often shown over its history - "Dancers at a Gathering" some called it - an impressive collection of stars and a corps with little hope for promotion. There's an audience for that of course, but I'm not in it.)

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Jack, with all the delicacy and good will possibly, I didn't mean that. Can I still keep my ticket money? :)

I think that MCB might be the perfect place right now for Simone Messmer. Lourdes Lopez apparently made her a Principal without a second thought. I think that the innovative, and in my opinion very successful, programming of new works, along with the fine selection of Balanchine, was a hallmark of Edward's presence and one that Lourdes Lopez is trying to continue. For an artist such as Simone Messmer this could be great. And I would love to see her given as much freedom as possible.

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... I once wrote that if Simone Messmer doesn’t fit into a company then someone should create one for her. I’d do it myself except that it would cost a little more than a theater ticket. I think that there’s definitely a place for great individuality at MCB, as well as harmony. Edward (Villella), as a performer, apparently was an outstanding example. I think that Simone Messmer, also, will offer both, more and more.

...

... for the moment Allegra Kent has stolen my heart.

...

But I agree with what I think Buddy is saying - if Lopez's MCB is so bent on conformity of style that someone of Messmer's obvious great potential doesn't fit, something needs to be made over, or made again, or rethought. Mr. B's NYCB (and Mr. V's MCB) thrived on individuality. ...

Sorry if I misunderstood, but comparing our language it still looks to me like we're pretty close, pretty much in agreement - individuality in harmony with others was how it was with those companies, to me, anyway. But I can be very thick sometimes. (As in, "thick-headed"!)

And when Messmer was just passing through here (in Balanchine's SPF with Ballet Chicago) on her way to San Francisco, I also sensed that she has a lot to offer, if only she can find the right garden to grow in and the right gardener to nurture her. (If she needs one. Some dancers do it more on their own, some respond to another. I've seen it happening at MCB, as I wrote about Arja and Albertson in Program A.)

But, yeah, you get to keep your money, Buddy! We three had a good time, although it may have been derived more from the choreographies - the Balanchines - than from any individual's dancing. (That reminds me - my "modern" friend had looked at Serenade a few times before over the years, but this time, even allowing for how she might have changed over the years, she said she felt she'd seen it for the first time. Credit all around.)

P.S. Historical note: Reynolds' book lists Kent among the "Other Casts" for Bourree Fantasque.

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But more seriously, no need to reimburse me, Buddy, we had a great time overall, even if we liked Messmer better in the second number of Bourree Fantasque than as "Waltz Girl" in Serenade. Both my guests hugely enjoyed this most ensemble ballet they'd ever seen, with scarcely any prominent, elevated roles except almost by accident, yet we saw that she still has to find her way more into the company which MCB is (people remark on their uniformity of style). So we also enjoyed reflecting (in fresh memory of the performance) on her casting as the girl who arrives late and has to find her place.

Later, in Bourree Fantasque, her way of still being herself and different was more successful, though I found her still making a smaller effect than Jennifer Kronenberg had the night before. (I would love to see what Tallchief, whose role I think this was, made of this part in B. F..)

This reminds me of an article I read recently (I don't have the URL) saying - and I'm paraphrasing - that Messmer was a prima ballerina for a company that might not need one. If she's going to come into her own, that's what counts. I'm glad it's happening somewhere.

And we're finally learning a bit about what happened before MCB -

'But while it all happened quickly—she started on June 1—getting to this point hasn’t been easy for Messmer. In San Francisco, she quickly realized that “it was not an environment that I was working well in. I wasn’t dancing well. But other people have really flourished there. It depends on something I’m not sure I have.”

She did get little pearls of wisdom from certain people, including Sofiane Sylve and Yuri Possokhov (dancing his Firebird was a highlight, as was tackling a new role in Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy). “But in general I was floating on the ether because I wasn’t a focus of the staff, therefore my rehearsals were almost nonexistent,” she says. “I think it was a combination of the wrong place for me and also the first time in a brand-new environment. I was at Ballet Theatre for over a decade. It was the only thing I knew.”'

http://dancemagazine.com/inside-dm/the-reinvention-of-simone-messmer/

I already had the feeling that she very much needed to be a principal, first, and that she needed management to focus on her and bring her along. And that's only likely to happen at a smaller regional company. The major companies still expect each soloist and principal to prove themselves each day - you've got to be courageous to last.

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She did get little pearls of wisdom from certain people, including Sofiane Sylve and Yuri Possokhov (dancing his Firebird was a highlight, as was tackling a new role in Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy). “But in general I was floating on the ether because I wasn’t a focus of the staff, therefore my rehearsals were almost nonexistent,” she says. “I think it was a combination of the wrong place for me and also the first time in a brand-new environment. I was at Ballet Theatre for over a decade. It was the only thing I knew.”'

http://dancemagazine.com/inside-dm/the-reinvention-of-simone-messmer/

I already had the feeling that she very much needed to be a principal, first, and that she needed management to focus on her and bring her along. And that's only likely to happen at a smaller regional company. The major companies still expect each soloist and principal to prove themselves each day - you've got to be courageous to last.

Courage means different things in different contexts, and I think I understand your point, but I also think that a dancer who lacked courage would not have made the leap after a decade--and a quite successful decade dancing prominent roles--at ABT.

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Pherank, thanks so much for finding this article from December, 2015. I thought that I’d read everything about Simone Messmer. I highly recommend it. One quote that stands out for the moment,

"... [she] has found herself where she’s always wanted to be: in an environment full of rigor, in which studio exploration is as valued as a performance."

She also seems to love the wonderful cheeriness of the Delgado sisters, a very good sign. :)

http://dancemagazine.com/inside-dm/the-reinvention-of-simone-messmer/

It has to be the most insightful and sympathetic article that I’ve read since Gia Kourlas, a big fan, wrote another article, the first that I’d read, interviewing and high praising Simone Messmer about seven years ago. That article sparked my interest in her and when I saw her make several appearances with ABT in London and talked to her briefly at the stage door, I was hooked.

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/dance/simone-messmer

I’d already sensed from reading another quick reference to her, recently, that believing in herself could be a factor. In my mind, she excels as an ‘expressionist’ dancer, and, like theater, its a hard thing to grasp and believe in. It’s different than learning a codified technique, although I’ve read several comments on the internet from those who focus on ballet technique, that hers is quite respectable.

She now has to learn another ‘codified’ style, the Balanchine one, somewhat different from the ABT one, that she used for ten years, most of her career. Apparently, from the article, she’s comfortable with this and doing well, although it requires time. I’ve seen her do several styles and thought that she was a natural at this sort of thing.

For me, as an untrained, armchair observer, but one who loves what he sees and buys tickets to see her whenever possible, her strength still lies in her expression, her remarkable theatrical interpretations, that she can translate into dance wonderfulness. I hope that she, and those around her, will always believe in this and value it highly. I think that if she ‘stumbled’ around the stage, not knowing a thing about the required technique, that she could still, somehow, give a brilliant performance.

In any case, she seems happy and confident now. Those around her seem the same.

Great !

Along with ABT's Veronika Part, I think that she is one of the most fascinating and talented dancers in America.

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Drew, If I implied that Messmer didn't have enough courage, I didn't really intend it, but there can be no wavering at the top, that's more what I meant. And she may have been going through a lot of inner turmoil.

I hadn't really thought about it before, but the SFB principals do tend to be self-starters, and quite independent spirits. Someone who, so far, seems to fit this environment, would be the ex-PNB Corps dancer Jahna Frantziskonis, who has been getting lots of demi-soloist and even soloist turns in this, her first season with SFB. And a lot of that seems to have to do with her willingness to put herself forward constantly - "put me in coach!" as she herself has put it. It's not as if the SFB Corps is lacking in talent either, but soloists are almost always the people who feel comfortable at the front of the stage and keep pushing for that position. They just don't feel satisfied or happy dancing only Corps choreography.

Anyway, back to Messmer, I think she's been needing someone in charge to say, "I believe in you, and we are gong to make it happen together." Tomasson at SFB was more likely of the "let's see what you can do" mindset, which didn't happen to float her boat. And Messmer was probably chafing from years of having to prove herself at ABT - she may have wanted the reward and not the stick, and nothing less. Hopefully now she's found a good environment for her.

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Pherank, based on only seeing her maybe six times, two of those being leads (MCB's A Midsummer Night's Dream) and one exceptional Gamzatti with ABT, and with what I've read up until the article that you just posted, including her lengthy interview with Gia Kourlas, I would have thought that if anyone was a "put me in coach!" 'I couldn't be more ready,' it was her. My feeling, and I could be totally wrong, is that not being given a big chance, time after time, she at times would doubt herself. I still feel that she essentially doesn't need anyone to tell her anything or give her any help, just a chance. Totally personal opinion with no behind the scene's knowledge whatsoever , but we are allowed to do that here and I'd be very glad to be corrected, or better yet, supported, by someone more in the know.

I do have to agree, that "Hopefully now she's found a good environment...." and hopefully a great future.

Added thought: I also get the impression that maybe she just doesn't fit the mold quite as much as some would have wanted her to. I think that this has also been Veronika Part's fate. In addition, there may have been some attitude issues as a result, maybe.

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Really love this quote from the Kourlas article: "They all said that she's [Messmer] really talented, she's a workaholic, she's very focused and present, she delivers onstage, but she has a very strong personality and asks a lot of questions and wants to know the answers," Lopez says. "There was a part of me that made me wonder: If we were talking about a male dancer, would you have the same reaction?"

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I had the same reaction to that quote. Ballet in particular has traditional ideas of the roles of women, and perhaps even how they express themselves in class and rehearsal time. Also, when you're exhausted, sometimes your emotions get the better of you. It happens to professional athletes all the time. Women are labeled "divas" for doing it, but men are just considered "hotheads". One label has a far more negative perception than the other.

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I'm staying out of this one, completely. My *Simone Messmer* is *A Perfect Angel* at all times ! :)

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Having read more reviews and comments, I would like to briefly return to one idea that is central to me —



** Spark ! **



Most everyone writing seems to feel that the company looks very good. I agree. What made the company so special for me when Edward (Villella) was there was it’s Aliveness! (and can I add again, Lovability!) as well as its superior technical prowess and fine choice of programming.



Along with this, loveliness, poetry and refinement are a key contrasting element. I saw this most recently in Jennifer Lauren and Renan Cerdeiro’s beautiful Divertissement duet from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.



But above all, what I’m getting at — Spark and Aliveness — a built-in "Go For It"ness and Excitement -- are what made the company, for me, more than just another very fine one, but a Great and Immensely Enjoyable One !



And back to Simone Messmer for a moment. One reviewer referred to her as “Eloquent.” This is one very fine word to describe her.


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