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Balletwannabe

What are you looking for?

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I'll be seeing my second NYCB performance this season, my other live experiences have been with a smaller, (but excellent) company.  I'll be see an All Balanchine program. 

 

What do you look for in a live performance?  I read reviews and I'm amazed at how people are able to so eloquently describe performance's and dancers.  Just wondering if there are any tips you could give me to enjoy live ballet more.  

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I'm in the habit of listening closely as I watch, to see how the dancers' moves fit the sounds.  I've learned that I enjoy watching dancing the most if I see what I hear. 

 

This way of watching has proved so fruitful, I will even try to get acquainted with the music , or at least some of it, ahead of time, if the music is unfamiliar.  And I've even found that this way, the dancing may help me to hear things in the music I wouldn't have heard, or I don't hear, when I listen to the music alone, like from a recording.  So I recommend it.

 

Balanchine's choreography provides some of the richest possibilities for this experience.

 

It might not hurt to have a look at some video, too, to "warm up" for the experience, or maybe to review it afterwards.  Chances are, the video will be different in important ways from the theater experience, but they ought to be similar enough for some comparison - comparison and contrast is a good method to bring out the subtleties in things and help you to get more out of each of the things you're comparing.  

 

 

Edited by Jack Reed

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I'll second Jack's recommendations - get to know the music, and try to "give it a chance" even if,, musically, it isn't your cup of tea. Sometimes the choreography will illuminate the music in unexpected ways (that's always nice). That's especially true of Balanchine ballets - he was more attuned to the workings of the music scores that just about any choreographer who has lived.

 

And if there are videos online of the ballet - that can be a great help, but also keep in mind that watching a video isn't anywhere as interesting as seeing a live performance by a first-rate company and ballet orchestra. Something that may not interest you in video may seem much more nuanced and dramatic when viewed in person. So live is always better. It just happens to cost more.  ;)

 

Let us know which NYCB ballets you have seen.

Edited by pherank

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I worded my post incorrectly making it sound like I saw one this season, it was actually last season that I saw:

 

Allegro Brilliant (Sara Mearns was sick, filling in for Fairchild who was really sick, I could tell something was off!)

1 act Swan Lake (Teresa Reichlan, her technique was excellent, but this version is way too short to pull me into the story)

Four Temperaments (After seeing this one, I know that Balachine's black and white ballets are my cup of tea; I left so fulfilled!)

 

I'm going in January to see: Apollo, Mozartiana, and Cortege Hongrois.

 

I watched a YT video of Suzanne Farrell performing Mozartiana, if I'm correct in my recollection of her autobiography, Balachine gave her the rights to this ballet?  

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Echoing what's been said above -- if you're watching Balanchine's work, listening to the score ahead of time is a great tool.  As far as "what I'm looking for" though, it's a combination of things.  Patterns (shape, rhythm, dramatic), how vocabulary is developed (and passed along from person to person), dynamics -- those are a big part of my toolkit.  But you might have totally different interests and concerns.  In general, though, ask yourself what sticks with you, when the work is over and done.  What still resonates with you -- what surprised you, touched you, annoyed you, exhilarated you?

 

 

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1 hour ago, sandik said:

Echoing what's been said above -- if you're watching Balanchine's work, listening to the score ahead of time is a great tool.  As far as "what I'm looking for" though, it's a combination of things.  Patterns (shape, rhythm, dramatic), how vocabulary is developed (and passed along from person to person), dynamics -- those are a big part of my toolkit.  But you might have totally different interests and concerns.  In general, though, ask yourself what sticks with you, when the work is over and done.  What still resonates with you -- what surprised you, touched you, annoyed you, exhilarated you?

 

 

Thank you, I'll keep these things in mind when I'm watching.

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7 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

I worded my post incorrectly making it sound like I saw one this season, it was actually last season that I saw:

 

Allegro Brilliant (Sara Mearns was sick, filling in for Fairchild who was really sick, I could tell something was off!)

1 act Swan Lake (Teresa Reichlan, her technique was excellent, but this version is way too short to pull me into the story)

Four Temperaments (After seeing this one, I know that Balachine's black and white ballets are my cup of tea; I left so fulfilled!)

 

I'm going in January to see: Apollo, Mozartiana, and Cortege Hongrois.

 

I watched a YT video of Suzanne Farrell performing Mozartiana, if I'm correct in my recollection of her autobiography, Balachine gave her the rights to this ballet?  

 

The Four T's is one of my favorite ballets (and that's true for many people). A great piece to end an evening on.

Allegro Brilliante seems fairly popular with regional companies: the ballet doesn't require a large stage area; it is short in length; and it is packed with lots of classical ballet technical challenges.

Balanchine's Swan Lake was a minimal take on the Petipa/Ivanov original - focusing on Act II which was choreographed by Ivanov. The NYCB website mentions that the stage and costume designs used now are the 3rd version developed (the original ones were by Cecil Beaton). Peter Martins has created a full-length Swan Lake which you probably have heard about (but I haven't seen it to say anything about it).

 

Definitely you need to see Apollo (one of those historic ballets to check off the list of must-do's). I saw Apollo on film first (the Jacques D'Amboise/Diana Adams version from the 1950s) and it really opened my eyes to a dance world beyond Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

In addition, I would say see these Balanchine ballets:

 

Serenade

Concerto Barocco

Symphony in C

Agon

Prodigal Son (like Apollo, created for Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russes)

Jewels (consisting of Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds each of which can appear on its own in a program)

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

Theme and Variations

 

That would be my basic "desert island" list (along with The 4 T's). But everyone has other favorites that they would add - I love large amounts of La Valse, for example, but I'm not sure I can say it belongs on a general top ten list. Many people love A Midsummer Nights Dream, or Vienna Waltzes, Western Symphony, or Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and on and on...

Balanchine's versions of The Nutcracker and Coppelia are much performed ballets (his version of Nutcracker, or ballets based off his version, must be the most seen ballets in the US).

 

Yes, I believe Farrell has the rights to Mozartiana which was created on her. Tanaquil Le Clercq had the rights to the vast majority of the ballets, but I don't know what happened to the rights upon her death.

 

 

Edited by pherank

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2 minutes ago, pherank said:

 

The Four T's is one of my favorite ballets (and that's true for many people). A great piece to end an evening on.

Allegro Brilliante seems fairly popular with regional companies: the ballet doesn't require a large stage area; it is short in length; and it is packed with lots of classical ballet technical challenges.

Balanchine's Swan Lake was a minimal take on the Petipa/Ivanov original - focusing on Act II which was choreographed by Ivanov. The NYCB website mentions that the stage and costume designs used now are the 3rd version developed (the original ones were by Cecil Beaton). Peter Martins has created a full-length Swan Lake which you probably have heard about (but I haven't seen it to say anything about it).

 

Definitely you need to see Apollo (one of those historic ballets to check off the list of must-do's). I saw Apollo on film first (the Jacques D'Amboise/Diana Adams version from the 1950s) and it really opened my eyes to a dance world beyond Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

In addition, I would say see these Balanchine ballets:

 

Serenade

Concerto Barocco

Symphony in C

Agon

Prodigal Son (like Apollo, created for Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russes)

Jewels (consisting of Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds each of which can appear on its own in a program)

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

Theme and Variations

 

That would be my basic "desert island" list. But everyone has other favorites that they would add - I love large amounts of La Valse, for example, but I'm not sure I can say it belongs on a general top ten list. Many people love A Midsummer Nights Dream, or Vienna Waltzes, Western Symphony, or Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and on and on...

Balanchine's versions of The Nutcracker and Coppelia are much performed ballets (his version of Nutcracker, or ballets based off his version, must be the most seen ballets in the US).

 

Yes, I believe Farrell has the rights to Mozartiana which was created on her. Tanaquil Le Clercq had the rights to the vast majority of the ballets, but I don't know what happened to the rights upon her death.

 

 

Thank you for this list.  

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9 minutes ago, pherank said:

 

The Four T's is one of my favorite ballets (and that's true for many people). A great piece to end an evening on.

Allegro Brilliante seems fairly popular with regional companies: the ballet doesn't require a large stage area; it is short in length; and it is packed with lots of classical ballet technical challenges.

Balanchine's Swan Lake was a minimal take on the Petipa/Ivanov original - focusing on Act II which was choreographed by Ivanov. The NYCB website mentions that the stage and costume designs used now are the 3rd version developed (the original ones were by Cecil Beaton). Peter Martins has created a full-length Swan Lake which you probably have heard about (but I haven't seen it to say anything about it).

 

Definitely you need to see Apollo (one of those historic ballets to check off the list of must-do's). I saw Apollo on film first (the Jacques D'Amboise/Diana Adams version from the 1950s) and it really opened my eyes to a dance world beyond Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

In addition, I would say see these Balanchine ballets:

 

Serenade

Concerto Barocco

Symphony in C

Agon

Prodigal Son (like Apollo, created for Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russes)

Jewels (consisting of Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds each of which can appear on its own in a program)

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

Theme and Variations

 

That would be my basic "desert island" list (along with The 4 T's). But everyone has other favorites that they would add - I love large amounts of La Valse, for example, but I'm not sure I can say it belongs on a general top ten list. Many people love A Midsummer Nights Dream, or Vienna Waltzes, Western Symphony, or Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and on and on...

Balanchine's versions of The Nutcracker and Coppelia are much performed ballets (his version of Nutcracker, or ballets based off his version, must be the most seen ballets in the US).

 

Yes, I believe Farrell has the rights to Mozartiana which was created on her. Tanaquil Le Clercq had the rights to the vast majority of the ballets, but I don't know what happened to the rights upon her death.

 

 

Great list - I'd add Symphony in Three Movements.

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8 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

... I watched a YT video of Suzanne Farrell performing Mozartiana, ...

 

The one with Farrell, Castelli and Andersen?   The one to see, the one to see!   The greatest ballet video a friend has ever seen, she says, and I have a hard time thinking of any I like as well.   They still danced like Mr. B. was there on his stool in the wing, even though it was months after he had last seen his dancers.

 

I have some difference with pherank, though.  Whether a particular performance on stage or on screen does more for you depends on who's looking, and on their experience, though the immediacy and presence of the stage are real advantages.  But comparisons do help to sensitize you - I found this out for myself when I watched alternate casts step into the repertory years ago - before we had PBS's Dance in America and other blessings, but when we still had the blessing of ticket prices within reach.   ("Count your blessings" where you find them, right?)

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I would add Piano Concerto No 2. or Ballet Imperial to the must see list. It would've been wonderful if they performed it for 2 weeks instead of Martin's Swan Lake.

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And then there are various worthwhile Jerome Robbins' ballets to be seen at NYCB, such as:

Fancy Free
Afternoon of a Faun
The Cage
Glass Pieces
Dances at a Gathering
In the Night
The Concert

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