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Tonight I went to MCB's Program 4 at the Kravis in West Palm Beach. It was a great mixture of classical ballet and modern dance. Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15 was mostly classical with a few modern combinations of steps. Then, Taylor's Arden Court was more like modern dance doing an homage to classical ballet. Finally, Balanchine's Who Cares? which uses classical ballet vocabulary danced to Gerschwin songs with jazzy touches to the dancing. It was a great night.

 

I will report more tomorrow after I see a matinee.  Having drinks with a friend. 

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I will try to write down some thoughts about last night and today's matinee. I enjoyed both performances more than I thought I would.

 

Divertimento No. 15 is one of the "classical" Balanchine ballets, and I love it. The series of variations followed by a mini-duet for each couple (using two of the men twice) is beautiful. However, each exiting couple causes audience applause for the exiting couple as each entering couple comes on-stage. I have never minded applause in ballet during the music except in this ballet. It is a beautiful adagio moment, and the exits as another couple enters is gorgeous, so the applause is annoying. Usually applause happens during bravura moments in ballet when the music is loud and fast and you never feel like you are missing an important mood, but in the case of this ballet, it ruins the mood, in my opinion.

 

I have always hated the applause in opera when the curtain goes up and the audience applauds the sets basically (sets are usually much more three dimensional and opulent than in ballet). But overall, except for the ends of arias during opera the music is viewed as so important that very little is applauded until the music stops.

 

With that said, in my opinion, the stand outs on Saturday night were Nathalia Arja and Jeanette Delgado. I love their spicy personalities even in a fairly demure ballet. It occurred to me that I would love to see what Arja could do with the role of Kitri one day. Today Jennifer Lauren was the standout.

 

I saw Arden Court once before when the Taylor company toured Florida, and I remembered liking it, but I couldn't remember much about it. This time I felt like it is a very playful piece with bodies becoming either obstacles to jump over or clear a leg over, or attempts at avoiding a touch, etc. It looks like ballet, but everything is fresh and different. Very unique versions of lifts, turns, pas de chats, barrel turns, brises voles, etc. Interesting balances too for the men. It is almost like how ballet might turn out in a parallel universe. The MCB audience loved the work both days and seemed to give it more applause than the other works.

 

Who Cares? is hard not to like. Most of the Gershwin songs are so well known, and the dancing is classical ballet vocabulary. It may look modern and sound modern (for ballet), but the dancing itself is very classical to my eyes. On Saturday night I loved Kleber Rebello, who I think has the best arms in the company. He is always technically great, is handsome, and very elegant. Jennifer Lauren wowed me during her "Fascinating Rhythm" solo. But then at the Sunday matinee I thought Patricia Delgado had a sexier charisma during that solo and her pas de deux with Renan Cerdeiro. Both are wonderful dancers, and I will miss Patricia Delgado since she is moving to NY (I assume to be with her boyfriend Justin Peck). So maybe that caused me to want to see Patricia Delgado as the more exciting dancer, because I actually think Jennifer Lauren was wonderful too.

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I went to see this last night.  More thoughts later on, for which I plan to attend a different cast tonight, and tomorrow matinee.  But...just to give a hint of last night's, I swear Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello are two of the MOST FINEST DANCERS I have ever witnessed in my entire balletomanne life.  They are truly MAGNIFICENT.

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regarding applause there was a time at NYCB, during the 1970s at least, when there was a slip in the program for DIVERTIMENTO NO. 15 that said the company "respectfully asks the audience to hold its applause until the final curtain." a similar slip was included in the program when Jerome Robbins's GOLDBERG VARIATIONS was given. it hasn't been done in many years however, including at the end of Balanchine's and Robbins's lifetimes. it didn't always work but it did help a bit in this direction. Balanchine told an interviewer, Anna Kisselgoff perhaps, that people who applaud while the music was playing should be put in jail for stealing those notes.

 

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Since ballet music is often lightweight and not usually symphonic (in most classical ballets), it doesn't bother me when the audience applauds a manege or great combination of steps during music, but when it is Mozart and so lovely and such a quiet, slow piece it is upsetting.

 

Opera fans tend to be better in this respect rarely interrupting the music although a new production or especially nice production gets applause (to my dismay) the second the curtain goes up. People applaud at the end of an aria but for the most part music (including the singing) is the most important part. In contrast, the most important part of ballet is the dancing and choreography so the music seems to take a back seat.

 

 

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When you applaud in the midst of the adagio of Divertimento no 15 you are interrupting the music, but you are also interrupting the choreography--that is taking attention away from the ebb and flow of different couples taking up the ebb and flow of the music. It may not seem as if applause prevents one from seeing the way that it prevents one from hearing--except that it kind of does. (And when you are the one doing the applauding, chances are you may even miss the entrance of the next pair of dancers...)

 

Usually, I'm not a stickler about things like this.  But in Divertimento no 15 it's a 'mistake' that does get in the way of properly appreciating the dancing as well as the music. I like the idea of a program insert of the kind rg mentioned. Probably companies nowadays don't want to seem stuffy--or to discourage positive attention (especially if it's coming from a new audience); I guess it's all they can do to get people to turn their phones off!

Edited by Drew

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True about how they are trying to get people to turn off phones and they are emphasizing that and giving up on other faux pas! LOL 

 

I forgot that sometimes opera lovers mess up too...during operatic concerts or recitals the audience tends to applaud after every "song" even if the songs go together. Ideally, for something like Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder you do not applaud until all 4 songs are over. But what can you do? 

 

Like you say we can only hope no cell phones go off, although one always does at every performance nowadays!

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So here are some thoughts on this program.


"DIVERTIMENTO # 15"

 

Divertimento No. 15 is such a jewel of a ballet.  I would definitely say that it is up there in my top B's 5 fav-(along the lines with "T&V", "Diamonds", "Symphony in C" and "Ballet Imperial").  Well...TODAY it is my BIG favorite! ;-).  The house was full and the atmosphere was electric, probably due to the fact that two of our most beloved ballerinas, the great Delgado sisters, are bidding their farewell, and the audience is well aware.  Patricia for good...Jeanette who knows until when, given that she has danced very little lately, and again....who knows why..  Anyhow...the whole company looked radiant...they all gave their best and more, and I had a marvelous night at the ballet.

As I said, it is impossible to go wrong with "Divertimento  " .While watching it I was just re affirming all my previous ideas on why I TRULY believe in the genius of Balanchine.  Nothing that I have seen from him-(and I know i have seen much less that many others here)- leaves out certain elements that makes his ballets such a pleasure to watch.  One particular word comes always on my mind when watching his creations: his ability to permeate them with "finesse" .  And Divertimento is just the classic example of this.  The sensitive, cultured, well spoken, well mannered man shows up right there since the beginning.  It is obvious that Balanchine very well knew  the good music, the magical and complicated art of courtship and the intricacies of the refined social gatherings.  No wonder he had such allure to attract his women-ballerinas the way he did all the way to marriage. 

The star of the ballet was without a doubt Jeanette Delgado and her impossibly fast sixth variation.  This was just perfection with capital P.  Right now I would say that Jeanette is at her 150 % of her peak.  Her legs are pure steel...her multiple pirouettes done with such ease that it is imposible not to cheer up at them-(I did...guilty as charged, Cuban style...so sorry...but really...not sorry).  Her petite allegro is just text book perfection, and I say she can REALLY go up there to any Principal spot I can think of...namely at NYCB or ABT...and DEFINITELY past and over any Russian.  Tonight Jeanette took me way back in time...back to my early 90's  times and its exciting ballerinas in Havana.  Actually...I can assure that if this two sisters could ever dance in Cuba my fellow countrymen balletomannes would be CRAZY about them.

But back to Divertimento. Watching it I could perfectly place in my mind this action as a moving tableaux from a Watteau' painting, in the lines of the group in his "Pilgrimage to Cythera". .  Actually there is even a better example....his "Les Plaisirs du ball"

Divertimento is all about amicable and pleasant courtship in between the women and her fewer men, particularly during the series of pdd's to the Andante movement.  The plasticity of this section is just mesmerizing.  A particular beautiful moment takes place when, breaking the usual exiting via lift, one of the couples graciusly make theirs walking backwards, the male dancer supporting his burreing ballerina.

 

 

"WHO CARES..?"

 

"Who Cares?" was with no doubt the audience's favorite on Saturday night.  I must confess the first time I saw the ballet-(here at MCB)-it didn't make that much of a big impression, but by now I totally had a change of mind.  By the time the ballet was way into its wonderful three pdd's I was thinking again on how endless was the genius of this man who was able to move Imperial Russia into jazzy America without loosing an ounce of elegance and style in the process.  I know there had been the revolutionary Fokine and his breaking contributions at the turn of the century, but THIS...basically offering the Rockettes and Fred Astaire in BALLET-(and being able to comulgate with the idea, given the respect that he had for classicism)- is something I find quite big. To be honest...I don't find the neoclassical, leotard works a la Agon or Symphony in Three Movements as edgy as this ballet. Only listening to this Big Band music and realizing that is PURE ballet what is presented is just...amazing.

The stars of Saturday evening were Patricia Delgado in "The Man i Love", Jeannette Delgado in "Embraceable You" and Tricia Albertson in "Who Cares?", all beautifully partnered by Renan Cerdeiro. The pdd's were magical, and it was quite a sight to see this young, still developing bailarin enjoying himself next to this three experienced ballerinas, although "Embraceable You" was truly dreamy the night before, when Jeannette Delgado was partnered by Kleber Rebello.  This two have a quality I have not seen in too many dancers, even if they are technically proficient, which is a particular higher level of musicality.  The way they attack and mold their accents...the plush quality of their interaction with the floor...the wonderful legato they permeate their change of steps with...it all talks of a deeper understanding of music and rhythm.   I would say without a doubt that they have been surrounding by rhythm and music since they were very little.  As Alicia Alonso once said when referring to how she thought Cubans upbringing with music since childhood was important in their ballet careers...they dance "with their eyes, their necks, their fingertips...their eyelashes".  And that's, I'm sure, the way Rebello and Delgado grew up like.

During curtain calls I noticed a cute elderly tiny couple behind me-(I was in first row orchestra)-cheering and screaming in Spanish "Mi nieta, mi nieta!!"-("Grand daughter, grand daughter!!"). Well...they were the Delgado's Cuban elderly grand parents, who couldn't be any prouder watching their lovely girls onstage.. They were emotional. ;-)

 

"ARDEN COURT"

 

It took me three views of Paul Taylor's "Arden Court"  to get my attention aroused.  I don't like modern dance...I yawn at the endless floor rolling , armpit dragging and gymnastics that are so ever present in contemporary creations-(hello Miss Danilova!).  Now, I won't say that I loved Taylor's work, but it certainly had some appeal to my uber balletic eye. The costumes were quite pleasing-(some sparkling patterns for the fabrics), and they shaped the dancers bodies quite lovely-(as you all know men are bare chested, so their only covering is their skin tight bottoms, which looks quite sensual).  The use of the arms is interesting, usually a "la couronne", and in general the work has a certain plasticity quite captivating. But that's abut it-(at least for me).  I didn't disliked the work, but I'm must certain that if it had been place the last I wouldn't had stayed after the second intermezzo.  General audience seemed to disagree with it, given all the cheering and enthusiasm it created-(which in my case was given first to "Divertimento # 15". and then to "Who.Cares?")

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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