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Jack Reed

Golden Celebration of Dance, November 12, 2017

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I went to the "Golden Celebration of Dance" in the Auditorium Theater in Chicago on November 12th, which turned out to be more of a Golden Celebration of the re-opening of the Auditorium fifty years ago, and some of the historical content presented between the dance numbers by projection and spoken word was a little different from what I remembered, including references (from the stage) by Edward Villella to opening with "A Midsummer Night's Dream," so I went to the archives of the Chicago Tribune and filled in what I never knew or had forgotten.  (I only remembered seeing "Jewels.") 

Along with performance reviews confirming that NYCB had performed "Midsummer" and "Jewels" about three times each and a few mixed-repertory programs as well, I found an interview with a Cincinnati Reds fan, 22-year-old-Suzanne Farrell (who spoke to us by recording before the show) from November 5, 1967.  Here's a little of it:

Quote

"People ask me how I can do the modern things.  They say it's not music.  But they make sense to me.  I tell them that…  I have no trouble counting the crazy things in Stravinsky.  For instance, in rehearsal we may start in the middle of a place [sic].  Mr. Balanchine will ask me if I know where that is.  I always do.

"I like the modern ballets because I don't have to project a character.  I like the ones where I do have a role to project, too.  Don't misunderstand, but in the modern ones, I just dance the music.  I like to pretend that I'm a note, part of the music, starting out here and suddenly there," she said, grasshoppering her arm across the table...

"Sometimes when I'm rehearsing with Mr. Balanchine I look at myself in the mirror I look at myself in the mirror and think, 'Hey, Suzie from Cincinnati, look where you are, who you're working with.'  It's not that I'm vain, I'm amazed…"

She… is not delighted about sewing straps on ballet shoes but would never ask anyone else to do it because it is dull…  She… could only live in New York because it is awake all the time.  But most of all, that's where the company is.

But on November 12, 2017 there was a baker's dozen of dance numbers, danced by members of as many companies, from solos up to small ensembles, including three by Balanchine, whose rich perceptions of his music was the most rewarding to see even in the cool, remote, analytically virtuoso performances we got of most of the program, like the opening Tarantella, danced as bravura demonstration of technique but with little personality and fun by Megan Fairchild and Daniel Ulbricht of NYCB. 

This predictable disappointment was followed by the reason I was there, Meditation, danced by the Suzanne Farrell Ballet's Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook.  They didn't analyze, they didn't demonstrate, they made this short dance, with its concealed technique, about life and change, though springing from Tchaikovsky's music, live and breathe.  The "top act" of the evening, for me, looking back. 

Though I must say the excerpt from Solo Echo (not unlike Paul Taylor), by a choreographer I hadn't seen before, Crystal Pite, performed by a small ensemble from Hubbard Street Dance, was something I wanted to see more of, and the pas de deux and variations from Chaconne was creditably-enough danced by Emily Adams and Adrian Fry from Ballet West that it would also have made me want to see more of it, too, were it not already on my list of good dance I need a good dose of once in a while.
 
But otherwise I was dismayed to see things like the traditional "Don Quixote" pas de deux shorn of traditional panache by Maria Kochetlova of the San Francisco Ballet and Daniil Simkin of ABT, which made it an more impoverished conclusion than the opening Tarantella.  I think panache is the main point of this show-off piece.

 

Edited by Jack Reed

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13 hours ago, Jack Reed said:

 

Though I must say the excerpt from Solo Echo (not unlike Paul Taylor), by a choreographer I hadn't seen before, Crystal Pite, performed by a small ensemble from Hubbard Street Dance, was something I wanted to see more of,

 

Then you're in luck -- Hubbard Street is doing an evening of her work opening this Thursday.  Go, and let us know what you think.

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"This Thursday" - December 7?  If I'm really in luck, I'll be in the Kennedy Center Opera House, watching TSFB.  (Their show in Purchase last Sunday included a radiant Gounod Symphony and an even better Serenade I don't have an adequate single word for - this is not the thread for that anyway, but I can't contain myself!)

I'll get back to Pite in due course - heck, I can see that and sleep in my own bed.

Edited by Jack Reed

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