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5 minutes ago, Marta said:

I second that.  I always applaud the dancers even if I dislike the ballet.  I don't think  sending a message to the choreographer really works.

Absolutely, I always applaud performers who are good even if they are stuck in a bad vehicle.

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Well many of the same dancers of Red Violin got huge applause when they closed out the night with Russian Seasons so I hope they didn't take it personally ... It's hard to muster much enthusiasm for Red Violin though.

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Speaking of boring or inferior choreography….I recall a really dreadful ballet at NYCB which I believe was choreographed by a guest choreographer.  It was so terrible that I couldn’t wait for it to end.  Then halfway through the ballet Maria Kowroski made a sort of slithering entrance through a hole in the floor which made the ballet just slightly more tolerable.  Does this ring a bell with anyone, and do you have any idea which ballet this was?

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1 hour ago, NinaFan said:

Speaking of boring or inferior choreography….I recall a really dreadful ballet at NYCB which I believe was choreographed by a guest choreographer.  It was so terrible that I couldn’t wait for it to end.  Then halfway through the ballet Maria Kowroski made a sort of slithering entrance through a hole in the floor which made the ballet just slightly more tolerable.  Does this ring a bell with anyone, and do you have any idea which ballet this was?

I believe you're talking about Boris Eifman's Musagete but I believe it was Wendy who made the slithering entrance through the hole as she played Mourka's, Balanchine's black cat:

1eee3ba26f4f9f8c97862c2382a2c131--ballet

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I think you are talking about The Unanswered Question by Elliot Feld?

Worst ballet ever at NYCB was Call Me Ben by Melissa Barak.  It never saw the light of day after its premiere.  It was pulled from the remainder of the schedule that Spring and replaced by other ballets. Barak was never invited back to NYCB to choreograph. 

 

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19 minutes ago, abatt said:

IWorst ballet ever at NYCB was Call Me Ben by Melissa Barak.  It never saw the light of day after its premiere.  It was pulled from the remainder of the schedule that Spring and replaced by other ballets. Barak was never invited back to NYCB to choreograph. 

A single performance? Wow! Interesting that they let it get just that far but not a bit further.

The promise of schadenfreude compels me to ask what made it so terrible...

Edited by nanushka

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18 minutes ago, abatt said:

Worst ballet ever at NYCB was Call Me Ben by Melissa Barak.  It never saw the light of day after its premiere.  It was pulled from the remainder of the schedule that Spring and replaced by other ballets. Barak was never invited back to NYCB to choreograph. 

Well, Call Me Ben was pretty bad, but there are plenty of contenders for Worst Ever. I'd nominate Jacques d'Amboise's 1981 Concert Fantasy, which he choreographed for the same Tchaikovsky Festival that gave us Mozartiana. D'Amboise gamely cut it in half after the premiere for its second performance, but that didn't help. (I saw the cut version.) I'm not sure if it was performed after that, even during the festival.

I actually think it was a shame that Barak wasn't invited back. The list of choreographers who have made awful ballets but who have nonetheless been brought back to NYCB for another shot at making another bad ballet is long and distinguished.

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29 minutes ago, nanushka said:

A single performance? Wow! Interesting that they let it get just that far but not a bit further.

The promise of schadenfreude compels me to ask what made it so terrible...

Barak decided to incorporate dialogue into the performance.  It was like watching a high school or junior high production, but with much more expensive costumes.  The dialogue was inane.  Link to the review below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/arts/dance/07barak.html

 

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17 minutes ago, nanushka said:

A single performance? Wow! Interesting that they let it get just that far but not a bit further.

The promise of schadenfreude compels me to ask what made it so terrible...

Barak decided the music she was assigned was more suited to a narrative ballet than to the abstract ballets she typically choreographed. She didn't have the skill to present her story (the rise and fall of gangster Bugsy Siegel) through dance alone and decided to have the dancers speak as well. Not a good idea: for one thing, few NYCB dancers have the requisite theatrical training and the script was awful to boot. Mostly wisecracks, it came off more like a sketch than a drama. Some of the choreography was just fine, and the costumes were gorgeous, but as a whole, it was a mess. Barak didn't know how to tell a story: she didn't know which events from Siegel's life could, would, or should be dramatized nor did she know how to make telling moments in a narrative theatrically effective.

Had I been in charge, I might have asked Barak to step back, take a deep breath, and then rework it with some mentoring by someone with some experience with narrative work in a similar vein - Susan Stroman, say. There was some decent stuff in the work that might have been salvaged. 

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Sounds like a mess!

The story may highlight the importance, for choreographers and other creative artists, of recognizing that their work is really a craft composed of distinct (if not always separable) skills that need to be practiced, developed and eventually (ideally) mastered. Much of that development can and should happen in lower-stakes environments.

When, for instance, choreographing for a premiere at NYCB, one should probably stick within the realm of skills one has mostly mastered.

None of which, of course, is to say that one shouldn't take risks. But there are risks and there are risks...

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3 hours ago, abatt said:

Worst ballet ever at NYCB was Call Me Ben by Melissa Barak.  It never saw the light of day after its premiere.  It was pulled from the remainder of the schedule that Spring and replaced by other ballets. Barak was never invited back to NYCB to choreograph. 

 

Was it just one performance? I had the misfortune of visiting NYC that spring to see the premiere (June 2010?). All the Friends rehearsals that week were devoted to it, alas, so I knew how awful it was by the premiere. I guess I didn't notice that it had been pulled from the rest of the season. The one bright spot: Robbie Fairchild had the lead and got to show his talent for Broadway and spoken words. (I don't know if he had previous opportunities like that.) 

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3 hours ago, abatt said:

I think you are talking about The Unanswered Question by Elliot Feld?

 

Yes, I believe that's the one!  I just found a review of The Unanswered Question, and it refers to Maria slithering down a trap door after partnering Damian Woetzel.  Now that I think about it, she did slither in both directions, plus Woetzel was her partner at the performance.  So that has to be the ballet.  How many ballets could have a ballerina slithering in and out of a hole, but then again as Canbelto points out, Musagete had something similar..... 

Edited by NinaFan

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Excited to see Tess in Agon; a bit surprised to see her paired with Chase Finlay in that, though.

Also excited to see Tiler in Baiser. Has anyone seen Anthony Huxley in that before?

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2 hours ago, nanushka said:

Excited to see Tess in Agon; a bit surprised to see her paired with Chase Finlay in that, though.

Also excited to see Tiler in Baiser. Has anyone seen Anthony Huxley in that before?

No one's seen him in that before because it's his debut!

But about Baiser I remember seeing Tiler with Robbie in that back when they were together. Looking back the ending predicted their real-life relationship.

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26 minutes ago, canbelto said:

No one's seen him in that before because it's his debut!

Oops I missed that, thanks!

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

But about Baiser I remember seeing Tiler with Robbie in that back when they were together. Looking back the ending predicted their real-life relationship.

Speaking of...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/arts/dance/balanchine-divertimento-from-baiser-de-la-fee-new-york-city-ballet.html

Quote

"But the ballet has already implied that the forces that part them come from within themselves..."

 

Edited by nanushka

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5 minutes ago, Marta said:

It was an interesting article since I didn't know much about this ballet.  I'll be seeing it for the first time next month and I'd be really happy to see Fairchild and de Luz in it.  

I only know it from the PDD with McBride and Tomasson that's on YT (and there are a lot of great unique moments in that), so very much interested to see it.

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51 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I only know it from the PDD with McBride and Tomasson that's on YT (and there are a lot of great unique moments in that), so very much interested to see it.

Thanks for mentioning that PdD. I'll look for it, have never noticed it before.

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21 minutes ago, Marta said:

Thanks for mentioning that PdD. I'll look for it, have never noticed it before.

PM me if you have trouble finding it. Don't like to post links for YT rarities here and I forget how easily searchable that one is.

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13 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Well, Call Me Ben was pretty bad, but there are plenty of contenders for Worst Ever.

"Into the Hopper," Bart Cook's multi-media work for the first American Music Festival, which, oddly, was not the most boring ballet ever.  I think they spent a bazillion dollars on the sets and costumes (and maybe it even had projections).

Cook is one of my favorite dancers of all time, but I was so crushed by how bad it was, it scared me away from seeing another by any other dancer that I loved for over 15 years, when I watched an Ib Andersen ballet by peeking through my fingers, and to my great relief, it was really good.  That opened the way to see Thomas Lund's children's ballet, which I have on DVD.

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17 hours ago, NinaFan said:

Yes, I believe that's the one!  I just found a review of The Unanswered Question, and it refers to Maria slithering down a trap door after partnering Damian Woetzel.  Now that I think about it, she did slither in both directions, plus Woetzel was her partner at the performance.  So that has to be the ballet.  How many ballets could have a ballerina slithering in and out of a hole, but then again as Canbelto points out, Musagete had something similar..... 

I actually really enjoyed The Unanswered Question.  Loved the music, and the odd sets and costumes (I remember an old fashioned bicycle) seemed to fit the quirkiness.  It was done orignally for the American Music Festival with some dancers from Feld's company (Buffy Miller rode the bicycle) and as I remember, it was one of Damian Woetzel's first major roles.  It did come back a few years later and I saw it as often as I could, but I was certainly in the minority!

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3 hours ago, cargill said:

I actually really enjoyed The Unanswered Question.  Loved the music, and the odd sets and costumes (I remember an old fashioned bicycle) seemed to fit the quirkiness.  ... It did come back a few years later and I saw it as often as I could, but I was certainly in the minority!

I enjoyed it too, and so did my husband, who was always thrilled when it was on the program. I'd like to see it on the schedule again, along with Forsythe's Behind the China Dogs, a product of that same American Music Festival.

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