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World Ballet Day Live - 5 October 2017

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As a newbie, I just want to say I agree with Drew that there was too much prerecorded material.  I was wondering, why am I up in the middle of the night to watch prerecorded material? Just asking.....

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1 hour ago, Quinten said:

As a newbie, I just want to say I agree with Drew that there was too much prerecorded material.  I was wondering, why am I up in the middle of the night to watch prerecorded material? Just asking.....

 

It is a fair statement, and I can assure you that the word will get to the companies. The problem is, October 4th/5th is not always going to be the perfect time for companies to 'put on a show'. Even SFB, technically, had some per-recorded material this year - they have been doing live broadcasts of their rehearsals for next year's new works festival, and they recorded the last 3 ballets in rehearsal to use for WBD. I don't really have a problem with that because the logistics just get to be too much sometimes - but I know most of the audience expects to see only a live "day at the ballet". The companies, though, plainly want to show more than that - they want to give the world an idea of their repertoire range and plans for the future. WBD is very much a marketing/advertising event for ballet companies, as well as an educational tool, and a fan-appreciation sort of event.

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Highlights for me in the SFB segment:

    1)    Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Picasso/Guernica-inspired ballet for SFB's UNBOUND Festival, including getting to see Jahna Frantziskonis dancing in a contemporary ballet, and Natasha Sheehan taking part as well (this will be far outside her comfort zone, but what a tremendous introduction to the world of professional ballet for "tippytoegirl"). Solomon Golding's partnering of Jahna seemed uncertain, not fully confident (which can be scary for the woman). It was better when Jahna was partnered by Sofranko and Cauthorn (no hesitation or lack of energy with those two). The music track had a really interesting "prologue" of creaking sounds. Seeing Madison Keesler dance again at SFB brought a smile to my face. So good to have you back, Madison.
    2)    The Serenade rehearsal just because I love to see and hear the details about Balanchine works from the répétiteurs (in this case Elyse Borne). The company just began the rehearsals for Serenade so there were kinks to be worked out, but still a joy to watch the movements.
    3)    Finally got to see Ana Sophia Scheller dancing in SF! Partnered by the human dynamo, Angelo Greco. Now she gets to learn choreography that may at times vary considerably from NYCB repertoire. I had a feeling that Tomasson would pick Scheller for the first cast of Sleeping Beauty.
    4)    Masha And Sofiane dancing in the new David Dawson ballet. Great contrasting looks.
    5)    It was hard not to get misty-eyed over the Houston Ballet's video segment thanking supporters for their aid in the Hurricane Harvey aftermath.

And a late congratulations to Christopher Stowell being appointed Associate Artistic Director of National Ballet of Canada (formerly San Francisco Ballet Assistant Director and Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theater among many other things). It was good to see his face again, leading the NBofC class.

Edited by pherank

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3 hours ago, pherank said:

 

It is a fair statement, and I can assure you that the word will get to the companies. The problem is, October 4th/5th is not always going to be the perfect time for companies to 'put on a show'. Even SFB, technically, had some per-recorded material this year - they have been doing live broadcasts of their rehearsals for next year's new works festival, and they recorded the last 3 ballets in rehearsal to use for WBD. I don't really have a problem with that because the logistics just get to be too much sometimes - but I know most of the audience expects to see only a live "day at the ballet". The companies, though, plainly want to show more than that - they want to give the world an idea of their repertoire range and plans for the future. WBD is very much a marketing/advertising event for ballet companies, as well as an educational tool, and a fan-appreciation sort of event.

 

I understand the companies want to promote themselves, but they risk killing the goose that laid the World Ballet Day egg. It is a kind of special event --not just your average youtube ballet footage--and that specialness has promotional value too I should think. I expect some video and some promotional bits, but this year seemed to go overboard.

 

I have now watched Part I of the Royal's footage, and that was more of what I hope for .... I enjoyed the class (though I wish they had a better camera angle for center work)--and I should mention the pianist's appealing playing of rather light classics, Broadway/West End etc. which I also enjoyed. And it was very nice seeing what felt like real, if perhaps a little truncated, rehearsal footage.

 

The Binet Dreamers Never Leave You, looks to be a genuinely engaging event and what a pleasure to see Hayward and Naghdi at work side by side. And later a bit of Stix-Brunel in Alice too (with Montero?)--including what seemed quite candid discussion of elements to be fixed from the performance the evening before. These rehearsals did a great job showing off the Royal's up and coming young ballerinas! (I am a ballerina-centric fan, but all the featured dancers looked great.) 

 

To have some video and promotional footage alongside that, which the Royal did (eg ads for Alice and the Macmillan festival, material from other companies), all clearly designated...that I don't have as much of a problem with...though it's not what makes this an amazing event. Will continue catching up this weekend.

Edited by Drew

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9 hours ago, Drew said:

 

I was also dismayed to realize the entire National Ballet of Canada's segment was recorded. They were touring and didn't want to drop out of the event--which I understand--but I still wish more time had been made for another Canadian company to appear live. And it was incredibly frustrating  when the company excerpted a pre-recorded rehearsal of Nijinsky and CUT OUT as soon as the dancers stopped and the ballet master started commenting.  That can be one of the most interesting parts of the rehearsals--and the part where one can really learn something as a spectator. It started to make the whole rehearsal feel like a controlled package--an advertisement for Nijinsky-- not an insight, however partial, into how things work behind the scenes.

Can't agree more about that. And the camerawork for the class was not good at all. NBoC's presentations are always the poorest among the participating companies, even though it is their 4th time joining this event.  The camera was taking only a few dancers and not showing Svetlana Lunkina and other greats enough.

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That's what I loved about San Francisco Ballet's segment. I think most of it was live including the smaller segments of other companies (Ballet West etc). 

 

I had no idea that the entire NBC segment was recorded. The whole thing? Even Bolshoi streamed some segments in live. 

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In this case I am willing to cut the National Ballet of Canada some slack. Not only is it on tour in Paris, but it also didn't have use of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées that evening. It had a performance on October 4 and another on October 6, but on October 5 the theater was occupied by the Vienna Philharmonic. Weird that their tour should have been interrupted that way, but that's how it was. It's unfortunate that the event wasn't scheduled for another day, because I think backstage footage during an actual performance would have been interesting. (I remember the Royal Opera doing this during one of its streamed opera days.) Under the circumstances, the National Ballet elected to reduce its segment to two hours and record it in Toronto before leaving on tour, which is why Lindsay Fischer could appear in the NBoC and SFB studios almost simultaneously.

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The Dawson and Rhoden rehearsals were happening just days ago - no doubt SFB had to choose between producing another UNBOUND Festival live broadcast, or waiting a few days for WBD. And it would probably cost too much money to try to do both things. So they recorded the sessions and presented them with the WBD footage.

"NBoC's presentations are always the poorest among the participating companies"

— it's important to know that it does require an experienced (especially with dance), professional video production crew to bring these things off (expensive!). And that means multiple camera operators, audio operators, a director, and a number of technicians with laptops to monitor everything and make any live edits and produce subtitles, etc. And those people normally require a couple of days (at least) advance time to set everything up: creating a control center to place the computers with necessary software and run miles of cable through the building to the area(s) where the camera and audio will take place. SFB had given over their "shoe" room to the video director and editor/technicians, and that was probably not very comfortable for everyone involved. The SFB ballet building is more cramped for space than many of the newer centers that you will see in the WBD footage. There's no "media center" to deal with these special situations.

Here's footage of what the "backstage" area looked like at SFB (audio levels are low):
https://www.facebook.com/sfballet/videos/10155466123731293/

And then there's the issue of labor unions (at least in North America) - Does the video production team have to be union certified? Apollomuse may know about this.

One list of the BASIC video team positions looks like this:

Producer (initial contact for the project)
Director
First Assistant Director (1st AD)
Director of Photography (DP)/Cinematographer
Digital Imaging Technician (DIT)
Camera Operator
First Assistant Camera (1st AC)
Lighting Director (LD)
Key Grip
Audio Technician
Production Assistant

The point being, that it's not something that is easy to put into place at the last minute, and it probably takes a number of projects with the ballet company to work out the kinks. And things still go wrong.

 

One picture is worth a thousand words - thanks to Sasha De Sola. ;)

 

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Edited by pherank

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No one doubts World Ballet Day is an incredibly hard thing to pull off. Huge kudos to all the companies involved. And it has been pulled off very well despite the challenges--

 

But that's the reason I was a disconcerted this year to notice what seems to be a trend, at least with some companies, to MORE video and more pre-packaged materials or, for that matter, deliberately cutting off rehearsal footage as soon as the ballet masters/mistresses start working with the dancers (something that being on tour does not really explain in the case of National Ballet of Canada). It seems to me fair enough to say, speaking for myself, that that's not the big appeal of World Ballet Day.

 

I fully expect there to be some pre-recorded features etc.--there really have to be in some situations and it can help give background also, though some of the videos are just advertisements (like the Royal Ballet's promotional video on Wheeldon's Alice). But this year the trend seems to be going further in that direction.  Perhaps the National Ballet of Canada being all pre-recorded because of their tour and the Bolshoi blurring the boundaries of what was recorded and what not (was that live? recorded? recorded-to-look-as-if-it-were-live? live-but-might-as-well-have-been recorded? )...somewhat over-influenced my impressions.

 

I haven't watched San Francisco Ballet yet; the first half of Royal's footage which I have watched and which included some video features seemed to me, as I mentioned earlier, mostly to hit a good balance, though of course I would be happy to see somewhat less truncated rehearsals.

Edited by Drew

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2 hours ago, pherank said:

Here's an example of a simple, fairly unobtrusive, but effective (for me) video style from WBD 2017:

The Norwegian National Ballet full live stream
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmD-iYiqhQI

 

The approach isn't going to make every company happy, but it works well enough.

 

Yes...thanks for passing along. Given how limited their time was, I thought this Norwegian ballet livestream was effective. (I was also impressed with how spacious the company studios seem to be.)

 

Edited by Drew

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https://youtu.be/mUXxc3mxbiY

World Ballet Day 2017 - The Australian Ballet FULL LIVE STREAM

(Duration: 5:01:18)


Hosted by Chris Bath and Senior Artist Jarryd Madden, our World Ballet Day features rehearsals, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and exclusive insights alongside features from La Trobe University's Gate Lab, The National Ballet of Japan, The National Ballet of China and Singapore Dance Theatre.


The National Ballet of Japan (3:41:08-3:51:51)
Singapor Dance Theater (4:07:25-4:17:35)
The National Ballet of China (4:28:00-4:38:55)

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Alena Kovaleva, Jacopo Tissi Diamonds Rehearsal

World Ballet Day 2017 - Bolshoi (Duration: 18:26)

 

This is the only segment of Bolshoi's WBD-2017 I have found so far in YouTube.

 

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The Bolshoi's segment hasn't been posted anywhere, including on its own video resource. Perhaps the company doesn't know what to do about all that footage of Makhar Vaziev's appalling behavior during rehearsals.

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Now that I've had time to re-watch some of WBD on video...I feel the need to comment on the SFB section - just because I know more about those dancers  ;)

 

Something that really stood out for me in both the Ochoa and Dawson ballet creations/rehearsals were the issues that arose for the relatively inexperienced Corps (or new Soloist) danseurs (e.g. Wei, Golding, Orza) VS the veteran danseurs (e.g. Ingham, Walsh, Sofranko). It's all part of the normal process of growth and experience, but the dancers inexperienced in ballet creation and lead roles tend to be more passive, and hope only to please, but don't always have much else to offer. I'm sure the young ones feel a bit like a 'deer caught in the headlights', whereas the veterans tend to have things that they want to express in their own dancing and look for opportunities to do that. Choreographer David Dawson says at one point in the video, "you were so desperate to get to the center, like I asked you, that you lost your connection to the music". That's something that doesn't happen with the veterans who have figured out their personal aesthetic and know the kind of artist that they want to be. The more experienced the dancer, the more input they can provide to the choreographer: a good example of that being Dawson wanting to work again with Maria Kochetkova and Sofiane Sylve who both have oodles of experience in creating new works. Sofiane represents the opposite extreme from the inexperienced newbies - she knows what she wants to do, and how she wants to do it, and only wants to be involved in worthwhile projects where everyone is completely focused on producing great work. Watching Sofiane go about things is often a masterclass in itself.

Inevitably, the young danseurs struggle with partnering at various points - trying hard just to be in the right place at the right time, and not mess up the lifts, but it can be un-stylish, and lose any sense of 'dance'. When something goes wrong, the inexperienced danseurs don't really know how to solve the issue - things just come apart. But the great partners like a Joseph Walsh, Vitor Luiz or Tiit Helimets, are really physically strong and can save a bad moment quickly with style and aplomb (often while staying on the music). They simply know how to deal with particular problems using particular techniques - always continuing to impart style and elegance to their movements. Hopefully that 'insider' information is always being passed down to the young danseurs. The SFB male principals do tend to be physically stronger (in both upper and lower body) than the young men because they have to be - the amount of lifting that goes on in modern ballets is crazy. I worried about Carlo Di Lanno's lifting abilities initially, when he first arrived at SFB, and now 3 years later, I don't. He's grown considerably in that time. It helps to work with female principals who are very experienced and not about to be made to look bad by their partner.  ;)

For those that don't know, the SFB artistic staff doesn't stipulate who gets to appear in a new ballet - choreographers can choose who they wish from any level of the company (which is wonderful). But I'm fairly sure choreographers will ask for advice from staff, and review videos of the dancers, if they've never before worked with SFB dancers. And I'm sure Helgi Tomasson tries to spread around the opportunities for everyone from the principals on down to the Corps (at least the results have looked fairly egalitarian in the past). The UNBOUND new works festival that is slated for next season will require everyone in the company to take part, so it's the perfect opportunity for the young dancers to experience ballet role creation (and everyone dreams of that). That is why the live SFB rehearsals for both WBD and the UNBOUND Festival feature such a range of experience and skill levels - everyone has talent, but not everyone has experience dancing lead roles or creating roles in new ballets. Ordinarily, there is a 1st Cast, 2nd Cast, etc. hierarchy in place, but the UNBOUND Festival ballets will be unusual in the way that absolutely all the dancers will take part, and a fair number of Corps dancers will be dancing in PDDs and trios.

Edited by pherank

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Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo section (Including Smirnova and Chudin dancing Maillot's La Belle) which was streamed inside Bolshoi live relay.

 

 

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10 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

The Bolshoi's segment hasn't been posted anywhere, including on its own video resource. Perhaps the company doesn't know what to do about all that footage of Makhar Vaziev's appalling behavior during rehearsals.

 

I saw Vaziev as being perfectionist only and wanting  precision of angles and lines with the all dancers aligned exactly the same.   Yes, he shouted and some might not have liked what he said, but with so many corps dancers, including many new recruits, in that great shades scene, and not a great deal of time to rehearse, he needed to whip them into shape quickly and expected 100% commitment and attention from all.   I think he is a great coach.  

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I disagree. In the Etudes rehearsal Gennadi Yanin managed to be exacting without being churlish, boorish or crude in the way he spoke.

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21 hours ago, pherank said:

For those that don't know, the SFB artistic staff doesn't stipulate who gets to appear in a new ballet - choreographers can choose who they wish from any level of the company (which is wonderful). But I'm fairly sure choreographers will ask for advice from staff, and review videos of the dancers, if they've never before worked with SFB dancers.

 

This is often how it works at Pacific Northwest Ballet as well -- while the creative staff will offer suggestions to a choreographer who doesn't know the company, they often chose people who aren't always featured, or pair dancers that don't usually work together.  It's a treat to see the company through that different lens. 

 

Crystal Pite is in residence this month, and is starting out her process with a workshop for everyone.  She's a big favorite here, as she is almost everywhere she goes, and all I've heard for ages is "I'd really like to dance in the Pite."

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2 hours ago, sandik said:

 

This is often how it works at Pacific Northwest Ballet as well -- while the creative staff will offer suggestions to a choreographer who doesn't know the company, they often chose people who aren't always featured, or pair dancers that don't usually work together.  It's a treat to see the company through that different lens.

 

Mostly it works out in the end, but in the rehearsals we get to see that the learning curve is much higher for certain dancers, and that's probably why a certain percentage of the staff in these companies don't really enjoy being seen on WBD. That's life I suppose.

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World Ballet Day by Houston Ballet, Class, Mayerling rehearsal, the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. 

 

 

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