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2017 Workshop Performances: School of American Ballet

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This was just sent out by e-mail:

 

The School of American Ballet is very pleased to announce the 2017 Workshop Performances, taking place on Saturday, June 3rd at 2:00pm and 8:00pm and Monday, June 5 at 7:00pm. . . . This year's program . . . will feature:  

Scènes de Ballet
Music by Igor Stravinsky
Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon

Hallelujah Junction 
Music by John Adams
Choreography by Peter Martins

Scotch Symphony
Music by Felix Mendelssohn
Choreography by George Balanchine

Performance tickets will go on sale to the public at www.sab.org in mid-April.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon's workshop, displaying precocious talent from students of all ages, essaying three complete ballets, all to live music.

 

Scenes de Ballet (Wheeldon/Stravinsky) This lovely work evoked a ballet academy in the Tsarist Russia of our dreams. (Which ballet school is next to St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, of which onion domes are seen through a big picture window to the right? A fantasy!) A long ballet barre dissects the stage giving the impression that half of the dancers are mirror images of the other half. Standouts among the large cast included two bravura guys (Jonathan Alexander & Nathan Compiano) and a regal adult pdd couple (gorgeous Gabriella Domini and Gilbert Bolden III). A joy...set to a rather difficult Stravinsky score (used earlier by Ashton). Seemingly cast of 100s filled the stage with beauty. Loved the abundance of fluffy pink tutus!

 

The Martins/Adams Hallujah Junction followed, with its elevated twin pianos in the background. Electrifying technical wizard Jonathan Alexander stole the show, but the leading couple in white, Nieve Corrigan and Darius Black, also created beautiful forms in space. Kudos, too, to the four energetic corps pairs in black...with Cleo Taneja a spitfire standout among the girls...and Uma Deming seems to be the twin of Tess Reichlen!

 

The delectable Scotch Symphony (Balanchine/Mendelssohn) closed the afternoon "with golden clasp"...con broche de oro, as we say in Puerto Rico! Young Audrey Hepburn look-alike Mira Nadon, just 16, valiantly essayed the Maria Tallchief role of a Sylph in pink. She's still wet behind  the ears (a bit gangly and Somova-esque) but I see potential in a year or two. Davide Riccardo partnered her well but seemed a bit frightened...and not just by the big guys protecting his Sylph! Greatest kudos go to the zingy sprite, Kristina Hadjipetkov, as the petite Scottish girl in red plaid...the most polished dancer of the soloists in this work. The corps was musical, in synch, full of grace...but - my one caveat - port de bras, in general, is not their forte!!! But that didn't dampen the overall fine quality of the afternoon.

 

"Bravi!" to the future stars of American ballet! "Bravi!" to the coaches, too.

 

I return home to Washington DC on Megabus, a very happy visitor. SAB was definitely worth the journey, Can't wait to see who among them join NYCB or other top companies.

Edited by Natalia
added a couple of names to my re

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I saw the dress rehearsal Friday afternoon. It's not fair to comment on performances from that, but I did want to make note of one thing that was very striking: the racial/cultural diversity among the young men in all three works! SAB has a very impressive program to recruit boys and provide all with tuition-free classes. I understand they do serious recruiting from the region. It was especially striking in comparison with the mostly white girls, although a few were other races. I don't know how many of these young dancers will make it as professionals, but SAB does seem to be grooming a large number of young men that might well replenish companies elsewhere in the country, without having to recruit from Cuba and Russia!

 

I was mainly interested in seeing Scotch Symphony. Brief clips of that were featured in the PBS bio/documentary on Balanchine many years ago when they performed it on  Sunday afternoon live TV in the 60s. I confess that it did seem dated, and I can see why NYCB doesn't perform it often (if at all, at this point). Still, it's part of the Balanchine legacy and worth seeing for that reason alone.

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California, I'm curious. In what way is Scotch Symphony dated? I find it timeless...almost a variation on the Sylphide story. I'd love to this as the closer on an NYCB "all Scottish" double bill that opens with the Martins Sylphide.

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Just now, Natalia said:

California, I'm curious. In what way is Scotch Symphony dated? I find it timeless...almost a variation on the Sylphide story. I'd love to this as the closer on an NYCB "all Scottish" double bill that opens with the Martins Sylphide.

In the PBS documentary, they do characterize it as Balanchine's take on the Sylphide story. I suppose I just meant that it seems like middle-of-the-road Balanchine, well-done but not a breakthrough, not astonishing, not something on anybody's top-ten list. An evening paired with Martins' Sylphide would be interesting!

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This was my first SAB workshop and I enjoyed it very much. The dancers looked lovely and beautifully trained and prepared. Agree about Kristina Hadjipetkov ("zingy" is a good descriptor) and Jonathan Alexander. I thought Mira Nadon was lovely. I'll be interested to see who the new apprentices are. I was especially interested to see Scotch Symphony which I had never seen before. Wish NYCB would bring it back. 

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Loved, loved, loved "Scotch Symphony" in today's Workshop performance.  The way the women tilted their heads and used their epaulement was especially pleasing.   As was their foot articulation and batterie.  Mira Nadon as the lead displayed a wondrous softness, yet was utterly expansive and lush in her movements.  The sun was shining in the Highlands today.  As always, I am astonished at how the "older" ballet (Scotch Symphony)  looked the freshest, the "newest", the most unencumbered of the three offered today.   Both the Wheeldon and the Martins looked pinched, busy, over done.  The naturalness of Mr. B's choreography and his response to the Mendelssohn score was wondrous to behold.   Kudos to all!

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Fun fact: Roman Mejia (who performed in last night's Hallelujah Junction) is the son of Paul Mejia, ex-husband of Suzanne Farrell.

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On 6/4/2017 at 2:54 AM, wonderwall said:

Any idea on when the recipients of the Mae L. Wien awards are announced?

 

I believe these are customarily announced from the stage just before the 7:00 Benefit performance, on Monday again this year, as it was until a few years ago when it was moved to Tuesday.

 

I see no comment here so far of Gabriella Domini, the alternate, Sylph-like "adagio" girl in Scotch.  Many of us who've seen her apply the affectionate diminutive: Just 18, she's "Gabbie" to us.  Lovely, and with a lovely stage presence, too, though an acute friend, while granting Gabbie her virtues found Mira Nadon "truer to Mendelssohn". 

 

My friend and I agree that Gabbie's stage presence helped to make the enduring, timeless Scotch the hit of the program, not to mention the stagers' care to restore myriad bits of pantomime; agreed, the Wheeldon and the Martins are rather "busy," skillfully fitting movement to to music, but to little further effect.  (Some say Hallelujah Junction is Martins' finest ballet, and, comparative statement that it is, it may be true.)

 

I feel Suki Schorer and Susan Pilarre, the Scotch stagers (for principals and corps, respectively), deserve lots credit for their achievement.  Scotch came to life again!   

 

Two casts. Relative youngsters on view, but an abundance of riches.   

Edited by Jack Reed
Googling around, I gather Gabriella herself uses "Gabbie"

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The Mae Wien winners are listed in the program. Nieve Corrigan, Gabriella Domini, Andres Zuniga, and Arch Higgins as the faculty. 

Does anyone know who the orchestra was? Daniel Capps conducted the "workshop orchestra." Were they Juilliard students?

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12 hours ago, cobweb said:

This was my first SAB workshop and I enjoyed it very much. The dancers looked lovely and beautifully trained and prepared. Agree about Kristina Hadjipetkov ("zingy" is a good descriptor) and Jonathan Alexander. I thought Mira Nadon was lovely. I'll be interested to see who the new apprentices are. I was especially interested to see Scotch Symphony which I had never seen before. Wish NYCB would bring it back. 

 

Thanks. Now I understand . Agreed; not absolute top-flight Balanchine...yet, for me, in the Top 20. Love how the leading lady (Sylph) goes from elusive in the adagio to "jolly village lassie" in the finale. I'm only sorry that Mr B didn't carve out a presence for the zingy "Little Red Scotch Girl" in the finale!

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29 minutes ago, Jack Reed said:

 

 

I see no comment here so far of Gabriella Domini, the alternate, Sylph-like "adagio" girl in Scotch.  Many of us who've seen her apply the affectionate diminutive: Just 18, she's "Gaby" to us.  Lovely, and with a lovely stage presence, too, though an acute friend, while granting Gaby her virtues found Mira Nadon "truer to Mendelssohn".    

 

Jack, I mentioned lovely Gaby as a standout in Wheeldon's Scenes de Ballet (lead pdd girl with Gilbert Bolden III) at the matinee. She definitely caught my eye.

 

Two years younger than Gaby, Mira has an amazing Audrey Hepburn face, swan's neck, long lines but...to be kind...at this point in her development, extremely gangly (in need of some haggis?)  and not quite in control of her limbs, fingers splayed, feet not quite pointed. But I bet that this will change. There is "ballet goddess" potential here.

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6 minutes ago, Natalia said:

I'm only sorry that Mr B didn't carve out a presence for the zingy "Little Red Scotch Girl" in the finale!

 

Me too! I kept waiting for her to come back!

SAB is a "company" I'd eagerly go to see again. The freshness, lightness, crispness, and eagerness were really heartening. 

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22 minutes ago, Natalia said:

 

Jack, I mentioned lovely Gaby as a standout in Wheeldon's Scenes de Ballet (lead pdd girl with Gilbert Bolden III) at the matinee. She definitely caught my eye.

 

Two years younger than Gaby, Mira has an amazing Audrey Hepburn face, swan's neck, long lines but...to be kind...at this point in her development, extremely gangly (in need of some haggis?)  and not quite in control of her limbs, fingers splayed, feet not quite pointed. But I bet that this will change. There is "ballet goddess" potential here.

 

Oh, dear, where is that red-faced emoticon!  Sorry your comment didn't catch my eye but glad Gaby's dancing caught yours!  That's the important thing.  What a joy!

 

And I do appreciate your characterization of Mira - such accurate details help to bring back to me that all-to-brief experience of this art that disappears before it is even finished.

 

But, can I disagree a little bit about putting Sylphide and Scotch on the same program?  In that order? 

 

Yes, I want - and I want the audience to have - those agreeable little pangs of recognition when the references to the older ballet appear in the newer - but, partly because of having recently endured another proof of an old Balanchine analogy of program-making to menu-planning in the form of three new "Game Changer" ballets on one Joffrey program in Chicago, one needs to consider that "people don't want beef three times - some like oysters," how about we present Sylphide earlier in the season - the week before, or something, then Scotch?  And let people have that experience that way.

 

Not that we're going to get the assignment, but for the sake of discussion...

 

We can only disagree with someone who cares about the same thing, right?  Otherwise, it's a shrug.  So it's not all bad.  So I venture the point.   

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Right, Jack. I'd just love seeing them back to back. To me, Scotch Symph is the "alternate ending" of La Sylphide, if James' weird dreams came true. If Madge did not exist. James gets his Sylph, she becomes a mortal & becomes a villager, they are married & live happily ever after. :thumbsup:

 

p.s. I'll go one further and suggest a triple bill that would include the very short A la Francaix by Balanchine, which also evokes La Sylphide, in a very different (comedic) manner. But that would make for an exceedingly  long night. Don't even think of a quadruple bill with part 1 of Union Jack!

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odd, it would seem to 'the full picture,' that the decor used for Workshop performances isn't credited at SAB, that is, no credit this year to Ian Falconer for SCENES DE BALLET and none to Karin von Aroldingen for SCOTCH SYMPHONY which replaced Horace Armistead's backcloth from Balanchine's era.

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2 hours ago, rg said:

odd, it would seem to 'the full picture,' that the decor used for Workshop performances isn't credited at SAB, that is, no credit this year to Ian Falconer for SCENES DE BALLET and none to Karin von Aroldingen for SCOTCH SYMPHONY which replaced Horace Armistead's backcloth from Balanchine's era.

 

Oh, that's too bad, especially for the Falconer, since the scenic elements are a big part of the architecture of the choreography.

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I saw the Sat night performance and really enjoyed Gabriella as well.  I thought that she was the standout girl.   Very poised. I also loved Andres Zuniga (male lead Scotch) and Amara Hong as red girl in Scotch.  Scotch was very polished and showed all the dancers well.

 

Hallelujah Junction that I saw was good but felt like a bit of a struggle on all counts. It just didn't feel like a good student piece.  The partnering is so challenging and there were several "hold-your-breath-moments" both with the partnering and the stamina of the female lead.  I felt like they all just felt like "I got through it," and it felt that way as an audience member.

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On 6/4/2017 at 11:43 AM, Natalia said:

Right, Jack. I'd just love seeing them back to back. To me, Scotch Symph is the "alternate ending" of La Sylphide, if James' weird dreams came true. If Madge did not exist. James gets his Sylph, she becomes a mortal & becomes a villager, they are married & live happily ever after. :thumbsup:

 

p.s. I'll go one further and suggest a triple bill that would include the very short A la Francaix by Balanchine, which also evokes La Sylphide, in a very different (comedic) manner. But that would make for an exceedingly  long night. Don't even think of a quadruple bill with part 1 of Union Jack!

 

I'm coming around, Natalia.  Hmm...  Yeah, Scotch second. "Comedy" (i.e. with the happy ending) after tragedy, ancient-Greek style?

 

But I'm unclear about the quadruple bill, with A la Francaix and Union JackA la Francaix, La Sylphide, Scotch, and even just Part 1 of Union Jack?  Wow.  Okay, I won't even think about it.  (Unless you elucidate, that is.)

 

(The original triple-bill plan for Stars and Stripes, Tricolore, and Union Jack, or "Entente Cordiale," was sensibly abandoned when Tricolore turned out a mess.)

Edited by Jack Reed

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15 minutes ago, Jack Reed said:

 

I'm coming around, Natalia.  Hmm...  Yeah, Scotch second. "Comedy" (i.e. with the happy ending) after tragedy, ancient-Greek style?

 

But I'm unclear about the quadruple bill, with A la Francaix and Union JackA la Francaix, La Sylphide, Scotch, and Union Jack?  Wow.  Okay, I won't even think about it.

 

(The original triple-bill plan for Stars and Stripes, Tricolore, and Union Jack, or "Entente Cordiale," was sensibly abandoned when Tricolore turned out a mess.)

 

Forgive me, Jack; I was going Scots Crazy. I almost added another Balanchine work with a bit of Scottish-sounding music: the 3rd movement of Bizet-Symphony in C (middle section when the demisolo couples do a little squared dance).

 

Nah. Sylphide should be followed only by one ballet, so I'd hope for Scotch Symphony.  

 

Good grief, I had almost forgotten Tricolore.

 

Enjoy tonight's big SAB benefit!

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40 minutes ago, Natalia said:

 

Forgive me, Jack; I was going Scots Crazy. I almost added another Balanchine work with a bit of Scottish-sounding music: the 3rd movement of Bizet-Symphony in C (middle section when the demisolo couples do a little squared dance).

 

I always listen for a bagpipe there.

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30 minutes ago, sandik said:

 

I always listen for a bagpipe there.

I always hear a bagpipe making those chords :)

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You got me going now, Natalia.  With two sailors and a girl in a cafe, A la Francaix starts out like Fancy Free, so don't you want that one on the program, too?  Earlier.  As the opener?  Then La Sylphide, and Scotch.  And A la Francaix to end up, to leave the audience dissolving in helpless laughter, not to mention fatigue?  No?  No, I suppose not.

 

Let's get serious, and even farther OT?  The friend who accompanied me Saturday inadvertently tipped me off to another experience of the invisible becoming visible, like where the Sylph makes her boy (James or Albrecht) aware of her presence.  In this case, it's Rembrandt's realization, in "Abraham Entertaining the Angels," of the episode in Genesis 18, I think, where Abraham gradually becomes aware of who his visitors are. 

 

We see the three of them gradually revealed, revealed in gradations, in the painting, one's wings concealed under his coat, another's partly open, the third's fully extended and illuminated (in Rembrandt's wonderful way with light), by which we understand this angel is the Lord.  Abraham is stopped in pouring from a pitcher, his activity arrested with his thumb still holding the pitcher's lid open, and Sarah looks on from the doorway in the background.  As the curator has it, "They have not yet grasped what is taking place but are at the cusp of revelation, suspended between seeing and understanding."

 

Where have we seen this before?  The image in the Frick museum is tiny, but having been "set up" for it, it had big effect.  In Scotch and in La Sylphide and in Giselle, too, we see a young man at the cusp of revelation.  We see his revelation, and we anticipate Abraham's.  

Edited by Jack Reed

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Fascinating, Jack. Thank you for this link to one of the many treasures of the Frick, my favorite art museum in the Big Apple. 

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