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Ballet Nacional de Cuba Kennedy Center May 29-June 3, 2018

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15 hours ago, sandik said:

The lack of press is not necessarily the fault of the presenter.  While they might buy display advertising, the rest of the attention in print is the decision of editors, many of whom feel that arts coverage is not going to draw readership.

You're correct, Sandik. I'm actually referring to social media coverage--Facebook and email blasts, which is in the presenter's control. 

I wish Ballet Naccional a successful three performance run of Giselle and will certainly attend. 

But NYCB is the cornerstone of our SPAC season, and everytime it is diminished this way, it hurts more and becomes protested less. 

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Posted (edited)

Slightly off-topic, but reading the cast list I wonder how the Cuban trend of creative spelling / names became so popular? No other Lat-Am country has this trend.  

Edited by Jayne

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Don Quixote fans need to get tickets NOW if they don't have them already. Both performances are virtually sold out.

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I would have preferred a schedule of 3 x Don Quixote and 4 x Giselle. With the 2 vs. 5 schedule, there will probably be people who miss out on Don Quixote and lots of empty seats for Giselle. Giselle has about reached saturation level in DC; I got a little bored watching the Washington Ballet's rendition last Friday at the Wolf Trap (admittedly, they seemed a little rusty).

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The Cuban version has a lot of small differences that are fun to see though.

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At the beginning of tonight’s performance of DQ, there was a tribute for the 40th anniversary of Alicia Alonzo’s appearance at the Kennedy Center. Then she waved to audience from her box. I am glad I got to see her.

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10 minutes ago, Dreamer said:

At the beginning of tonight’s performance of DQ, there was a tribute for the 40th anniversary of Alicia Alonzo’s appearance at the Kennedy Center. Then she waved to audience from her box. I am glad I got to see her.

That's great that you got to see her there.

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16 hours ago, YouOverThere said:

I would have preferred a schedule of 3 x Don Quixote and 4 x Giselle. With the 2 vs. 5 schedule, there will probably be people who miss out on Don Quixote and lots of empty seats for Giselle. Giselle has about reached saturation level in DC; I got a little bored watching the Washington Ballet's rendition last Friday at the Wolf Trap (admittedly, they seemed a little rusty).

I was reminded that this is also the 3rd production of Don Quixote at the Kennedy Center in 5 years.

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By far the best staging of Don Quixote that I've seen. Also, the best costumes. Grettel Morejon totally nailed the fouettes. If they were having a 3rd performance, I'd watch it again.

Edited by YouOverThere

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1 hour ago, YouOverThere said:

By far the best staging of Don Quixote that I've seen. Also, the best costumes. Grettel Morejon totally nailed the fouettes. If they were having a 3rd performance, I'd watch it again.

Agree. I love how Cubans do fouetté turns—they beautifully show the working leg in the perfectly turned out second position at a 90 degree angle and then quickly whip it to turn.  You could take a snapshot of their fully stretched leg a la second!  

The entire ire company looked terrific. I have not seen a single sickling or incompletely pointed foot. And five turn pirouettes seemed to be a piece of cake for these dancers. And how about eight or nine supported pirouettes? Easy. At some point, Rafael Quenedit used just one hand to spin Grettel Morejón around. 

Too bad, the Kennedy Center changed the initially announced three performances of DQ to just two. I am sure the third one would be a sell out as well.

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On ‎11‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 1:28 AM, Drew said:

...I am sure presenters are concerned about what people -- and not just ballet-fan-people -- will go to see.  And the choices seem to narrow more and more (News of Lincoln Center Festival's demise is not heartening on that front.)...

Cuban DQ's sold out.   Great artistry, technique, staging.  Cubans were at the KC in 2011.  The 3 in 5 years DQ's were ABT 2014, Royal 2015 [new Acosta who is Cuban], Cuban 2018-incidental due to Artes De Cuba.  I don't think the KC is as concerned with revenue as other venues - ie Saratoga [local media market had financials for NYCB].   There is an element of what the KC [see 2018/19 season] and media think we should see. 

On ‎5‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 8:11 PM, sandik said:

The lack of press is not necessarily the fault of the presenter.  While they might buy display advertising, the rest of the attention in print is the decision of editors, many of whom feel that arts coverage is not going to draw readership.

Pre-show press varied:   Washingtonian 1 of the top 5 must sees, WP critics choice as minor/also appearing.  The online Washington Post negative review was available 5/30/18 and "losing battle"  isn't in  the current online or print article.  Spin?   Thursday 5/31/18 print edition is titled : "Like it's title character, 'Quixote' is stuck in the past     A little revolution might be in order for Ballet Nacional de Cuba"

Google: 

As Cuba enters the post-Castro era, its ballet company seems stuck in ...

23 hours ago - Ballet Nacional de Cuba's 'Don Quixote' at the Kennedy Center is a losing battle.
Edited by maps

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I saw both performances and was impressed with many things, but not all. The Gold Standard for me is the Bolshoi (which I saw do this several times in 2010 at Segerstrom/Orange County and all three performances at Lincoln Center in July 2014). But that's a huge production by a huge company that others can't be expected to match, so that's an unfair comparison.

Viengsay Valdes and Dani Hernandez were Kitri and Basilio on opening night, Grettel Morejon and Rafael Quenedit on Wednesday. Hernandez was almost too refined for that character and didn't impress me, but Quenedit was perfect, with impish charm and dazzling technique. Even so, Quenedit seemed obviously disappointed and glum at the end of Act III, perhaps because of what seemed to be some very slight partnering issues.

Valdes was Queen of the Unsupported Balances. I've never seen anything like it. There must have been a dozen in the final PdD that went on forever and were clearly her forte. Morejon had the same choreography, but couldn't begin to match Valdes. Valdes' fouettes started with several doubles and ended with a slight bauble, but nothing serious. Morejon had a textbook position on the turns, and did entirely singles, but she travelled seriously from back to front of the stage and off on a diagonal, and only made it to about 26.  I saw only the palest imitation of a Plisetskaya leap from either and wasn't even sure they intended to do it.

The one-armed lifts in Act I were identical with both couples. The first was short and disappointing. But the second went on forever, as Kitri was carried to the front of the stage on the diagonal. Very exciting!

I was impressed by the depth of male talent, especially among the bullfighters, gypsies, etc. They tend toward pyrotechnics in their techniques, although sometimes weak in form and style. It's as if they are all trying too hard to impress with their height, speed, etc. and forget about their overall presentation.

In Act II, the Queen of the Dryads (Claudia Garcia and Chavela Riera) knocked off the Italian fouettes without problem. The Love character had a costume barely indistinguishable from the Dryads, which was odd.

There was one distinctive re-ordering of events, but it worked. Basilio's fake "suicide" with the knife and cape took place at the beginning of Act III, interrupting what was to be the wedding of Camacho and a very reluctant Kitri (instead of its usual placement near the end of Act I). 

In Act I, Sancho Panza was tossed high from a blanket. The Bolshoi tosses the real person. Cuba tosses what was obviously a stuffed dummy, even from the first tier. 

I had mixed feelings about the women's costumes, which were knee-length tutus, with layers of sparkly tulle, and bodices out of what seemed to be scrunchy elastic something. I couldn't decide if they were cheap-looking or just different from what we are used to. The super-colorful costumes of the Act II gypsies were superb, however, and captured that culture far better than we usually see.

The Dulcinea character appeared in several places and helped make sense of Don Quixote's quest. The costume with a white long veil reminded me of Jessica Lange in All That Jazz.

On opening night, as others noted, Alonso took a bow from one of the boxes after a short film about her was shown. During the bows, she was helped on stage and supported by the principals to thunderous applause. But on Wednesday, after her bow from the box before the performance, she was not seen again. Well, she's 97 years old. 

I couldn't help but think back to Alonso's 90th birthday celebration by ABT at the met in 2010. They did Don Quixote, but with three sets of principals, which was truly fun. I remember that Marcelo Gomes did Act I and Osipova-Vasiliev did III, but can't remember the rest. Interesting that this seems to be the ballet everybody associates with her. This production by Cuba dates to 1988 and I'm not sure she even danced the role much if at all. At least the film this week showed her Giselle and most of the music came from Theme and Variations, another of her greatest roles.

 

 

 

Edited by California

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45 minutes ago, California said:

Act I, Sancho Panza was tossed high from a blanket. The Bolshoi tosses the real person. Cuba tosses what was obviously a stuffed dummy, even from the first tier. 

I couldn't help but think back to Alonso's 90th birthday celebration by ABT at the met in 2010. They did Don Quixote, but with three sets of principals, which was truly fun. I remember that Marcelo Gomes did Act I and Osipova-Vasiliev did III, but can't remember the rest. Interesting that this seems to be the ballet everybody associates with her. This production by Cuba dates to 1988 and I'm not sure she even danced the role much if at all. At least the film this week showed her Giselle and most of the music came from Theme and Variations, another of her greatest roles.

A stuffed dummy? Sounds a bit odd, however, from what you've described the dancing was pretty stellar with some minor quibbles. Wish they were performing in NYC.

At the ABT 2010 celebration, Act I was Herrera/Gomes, Act II was Reyes/Cornejo, and Act III was Osipova/Carreno. I didn't attend and kicked myself afterwards.

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3 hours ago, California said:

This production by Cuba dates to 1988 and I'm not sure she even danced the role much if at all.

 

 

 

She never did. During her 20 years in Ballet Theater-( 39-59)- and the occasional guesting with BRdMC only the pdd was in repertoire-( there is a great video of her and Frederick Franklin dancing it on the Robbins video collection). When the full length production was staged in Cuba she was pass 60.

https://goo.gl/images/yMbDKD

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3 hours ago, California said:

The Love character had a costume barely indistinguishable from the Dryads, which was odd.

 

AND...her variation is not set to the original Amor music, but rather to "Kitri as Dulcinea"s variation music sans the pique turns coda.

6 hours ago, maps said:

Cuban DQ's sold out.   Great artistry, technique, staging.  Cubans were at the KC in 2011.  The 3 in 5 years DQ's were ABT 2014, Royal 2015 [new Acosta who is Cuban], Cuban 2018-incidental due to Artes De Cuba.  I don't think the KC is as concerned with revenue as other venues - ie Saratoga [local media market had financials for NYCB].   There is an element of what the KC [see 2018/19 season] and media think we should see. 

Pre-show press varied:   Washingtonian 1 of the top 5 must sees, WP critics choice as minor/also appearing.  The online Washington Post negative review was available 5/30/18 and "losing battle"  isn't in  the current online or print article.  Spin?   Thursday 5/31/18 print edition is titled : "Like it's title character, 'Quixote' is stuck in the past     A little revolution might be in order for Ballet Nacional de Cuba"

Google: 

As Cuba enters the post-Castro era, its ballet company seems stuck in ...

23 hours ago - Ballet Nacional de Cuba's 'Don Quixote' at the Kennedy Center is a losing battle.

Of course Valdes must look tired. The woman is 42 and still dancing Kitri, for God's sake!

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2 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

At the ABT 2010 celebration, Act I was Herrera/Gomes, Act II was Reyes/Cornejo, and Act III was Osipova/Carreno. I didn't attend and kicked myself afterwards.

I was there and it was a SPECTACULAR performance.

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19 hours ago, Dreamer said:

Agree. I love how Cubans do fouetté turns—they beautifully show the working leg in the perfectly turned out second position at a 90 degree angle and then quickly whip it to turn.  You could take a snapshot of their fully stretched leg a la second!  

 And five turn pirouettes seemed to be a piece of cake for these dancers. And how about eight or nine supported pirouettes? Easy.

Cubans have ALWAYS been way better turners and in general "a terre" dancers than jumpers. Let's not forget we learn to dance salsa very early, and the core of salsa is the endless turning. Very rare will you find a Cuban who can't dance.

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Posted (edited)

.

 

 

Edited by maps
delete

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10 hours ago, maps said:

Pre-show press varied:   Washingtonian 1 of the top 5 must sees, WP critics choice as minor/also appearing.  The online Washington Post negative review was available 5/30/18 and "losing battle"  isn't in  the current online or print article.  Spin?   Thursday 5/31/18 print edition is titled : "Like it's title character, 'Quixote' is stuck in the past     A little revolution might be in order for Ballet Nacional de Cuba"

Google: 

As Cuba enters the post-Castro era, its ballet company seems stuck in ...

23 hours ago - Ballet Nacional de Cuba's 'Don Quixote' at the Kennedy Center is a losing battle.

Judging by the ticket prices, I don't think that the Kennedy Center thought that NBC would be as big a draw as it's turned out to be (they might have underestimated the interest in the Cuban arts groups in general, given that several programs scheduled for the smallish Terrace Theater sold out well in advance and probably should have been in the somewhat larger Eisenhower Theater).

I think that the WP reviewer's comment about the dancing at times being a bit mechanical is not unjustified (my accomplice would probably disagree). That being said, it seems that she has developed a pattern of looking for things to criticize about ballet performances while looking for things to praise about modern dance performances.

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4 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Cubans have ALWAYS been way better turners and in general "a terre" dancers than jumpers. Let's not forget we learn to dance salsa very early, and the core of salsa is the endless turning. Very rare will you find a Cuban who can't dance.

I wish I were Cuban 😪

I wouldn’t say NBC dancers are not exactly great jumpers.  The only person who had difficulties with jumps was Valdés but she more than compensated for this deficiency with her incredible balances. Everyone else was pretty much flying. But then again, it is probably my poor judgement abilities as, for example, I could never see anything spectacular about Osipova’s jumps.  Maybe I always get distracted by her lack of turnout or beat up pointe shoes?

Edited by Dreamer

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I went to just one performance of Giselle, the opening on Thursday, May 31. Many interesting and impressive differences, with a few oddities:

Act I:

  • The music for Peasant PdD was used for an ensemble of four men and six women, but incorporating almost all of the traditional choreography. It was a nice way to show off more soloists and worked well.
  • During the Mother's mime sequence worrying about Giselle's death, the lights dimmed dramatically and a Wili with white veil ran across the back of the stage behind the trees in dim light. It was a nice reminder that the Mother worried not only about Giselle's death, but also her fate as a Wili.
  • The variation in opposing lines for a group of women near the end of the Act which anticipates the Act II chugs was replaced with a silly-looking row of women doing childish things with overhead arm positions. Standing unusually close together, it reminded me more of the Little Swans than the Wilis.
  • Sadaise Arencibia had some nice moments as  Giselle, but her hops on pointe were an embarrassment. She started in the middle of the stage, barely moved forward, seemed to be struggling mightily, and kept this very short. 
  • At the end of the act, the curtain went down and then came back up to show a frozen tableau of the last scene. Down again and up again. It gave the audience an opportunity to applaud the many dancers (mainly the men) who wouldn't be around for the final curtain calls.

Act II:

  • Another nice use of Wilis behind those trees in dim light: several appeared out of a fog, as if rising from their graves, at the beginning of the act
  • But the entrance of all the Wilis was dreadful: lines marched in from both sides in formation, but with the noisiest shoes on the planet and a simple walking step, it seemed more like a military march than an other-worldly reappearance. 
  • During the ensemble numbers, the Wilis had beautiful unison in position, arms, steps, etc. Very impressive. And terrific chugs. 
  • I always wonder if Albrecht (Raul Abreu) will do the flying brises (a la Baryshnikov) or the entrenchets (a la Bolle, Gomes, Nureyev, Hallberg, et al.). Neither, it turns out, in this version. Two not-very-impressive double cabrioles and some promenade around the stage. Not exactly under Myrtha's spell. 
  • In the opening PdD, no "tabletop lift", just an up and down with head back, but that alternative is what Hallberg-Osipova and many others do as well.
  • Giselle's pas de poisson were dreadful, a sort of tangled entrechat with bent knees, but the entrechats moving backward that followed were brilliantly fast and impressive.
  • Albrecht's ending after Giselle returns to the grave was startling. He did a variation himself of fast turns and leaps around the stage and finally flung himself on the grave. Very odd -- as if he were celebrating or having his own mad scene?

Alonso was again present. She was introduced before the performance, as on the previous two nights, with the film and bows from a box. But she also came on stage at the end, as she did Tuesday. She was helped on by Hilarion and Albrecht, then supported throughout by Giselle and Albrecht. She seemed to delight in making several small curtsies. Roaring applause, of course. 

On another note: I notice these dancers doing a lot of double and triple duty, as you are more likely to see in US regional companies. e.g., Rafael Quenedit, my preferred Basilio from Wednesday, is doing two Wilfreds, one "male friend," and one Albrecht, missing only one performance of Giselle

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3 hours ago, California said:

 

  • Albrecht's ending after Giselle returns to the grave was startling. He did a variation himself of fast turns and leaps around the stage and finally flung himself on the grave. Very odd -- as if he were celebrating or having his own mad scene?

 

The original ending of the ballet is the "Lever du Soleil et Arrivee de la Cour", with Bathilde and the court making an appearance with some mime between Giselle, Albrecht and his fiancee. The fast music ending is the original. The slow cut you're used to I believe belongs to a production done for Pavlova's debut in 1903, supervised by Petipa-(even though he was in forced retirement by then). The Cuban production aims at portraying desperation at the end, vs sorrow.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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3 hours ago, California said:

 

  • I always wonder if Albrecht (Raul Abreu) will do the flying brises (a la Baryshnikov) or the entrenchets (a la Bolle, Gomes, Nureyev, Hallberg, et al.). Neither, it turns out, in this version. Two not-very-impressive double cabrioles and some promenade around the stage. Not exactly under Myrtha's spell. 
  •  

Remember this is a production that dates to the 40's. Nothing has been added. The whole entrechats/brise' voles started with the Soviets. I'm sure some who saw the pre-Baryhsnikov productions-(atm711?)- might give credit to this. Same with the over head lifts.

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I attended the Saturday Matinee performance of Giselle.  My review is short, but suffice it to say that that the Ballet Nacional De Cuba did not disappoint!   Sadaise Arencibia danced Giselle, Raul Abreu danced Albrecht and Ely Regina danced Myrtha.  Everybody was excellent and the audience was appreciative.  Sadly no flowers or special curtain calls for anybody.  I never understand this. Is it a Saturday Matinee thing, a Kennedy Center Crowd thing, or is it just a sign of the times?  I find it unconscionable that neither Ms. Arencibia nor Ms. Regina got so much as a daisy.    About Ms. Arencibia, she was a lovely, soulful and moving Giselle.  I found her to be totally believable.  About Ms. Regina, in a word, chilling. I was sitting in the second row.  Terrible if you want to see feet, but great if you want to see face, and hers was really something else.  Every move she made was chilling and I loved her performance.   I would not want to meet her in a dark alley, but on the stage, anytime.   I thought the corps did a great job.  No dropping arabesques during the chugs for this company.  I hope they come back to KC sometime in the near future.   The last time I saw them before this was in NY in 1998. They danced Cinderella. Way too much time between performances.

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1 hour ago, theo said:

 I hope they come back to KC sometime in the near future.   The last time I saw them before this was in NY in 1998. They danced Cinderella. Way too much time between performances.

And that they bring something different. How about the company taking advantage of still having active works in repertoire from the old BT days that have been all but dropped anywhere else...? Triple bill of Dolin's "Grand Pas de Quatre", William Dollar's Le Combat and Lifar's "Aubade", for example..?

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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