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Everything posted by Ari

  1. The repertory for the company's week in Washington has been announced by the Kennedy Center: March 2 & 6 at 7:30 p.m.; March 5 at 1:30 p.m. Theme and Variations (Balanchine/Tchaikovsky) The Four Temperaments (Balanchine/Hindemith) I’m Old Fashioned (Robbins/Gould) March 3 at 7:30 p.m.; March 6 at 1:30 p.m. Glass Pieces (Robbins/Glass) Thou Swell (Martins/Rodgers, arr. Kelly) Stars and Stripes (Balanchine/Sousa, arr. Kay) March 4 & 5 at 7:30 p.m. Divertimento No. 15 (Balanchine/Mozart) Polyphonia (Wheeldon/Ligeti) West Side Story Suite (Robbins/Bernstein, Sondheim)
  2. Deep Discount DVD is having another 20% off sale. It ends this Saturday, November 20th. Just type SUPERSALE in the promotion code box after you place your order, and 20% will be deducted from your total cost. All prices include shipping (in the U.S.). Examples of their dance discs (click on the title): The Sleeping Beauty with Sofiane Sylve and the Dutch National Ballet List price $39.95 Amazon price $31.99 Regular DDDVD price $31.20 With special promotion $24.96 La Bayadere by the Paris Opera Ballet List price $29.95 Amazon price $26.96 Regular DDDVD price $16.18 With special promotion $12.94 Don Quixote by the Kirov, with Tatiana Terekhova List price $29.95 Amazon price $26.06 Regular DDDVD price $16.18 With special promotion $12.94 (note—I'm not sure that this is available with the special promotion because it won't be released until Nov. 23 and the promotion doesn't include preorders, but you can try) Video Dictionary of Classical Ballet List price $49.95 Amazon price $44.96 Regular DDDVD price $26.98 With special promotion $21.58 Martha Graham in Performance List price $19.95 Amazon price $17.96 Regular DDDVD price $10.77 With special promotion $8.61 As I mentioned above, I have ordered from this company several times and have never had a problem.
  3. I was also in London last week, and here are my thoughts on Sylvia — In the ballet world, 2004 will undoubtedly go down as the Year of Sylvia. To start with, we had Mark Morris’s highly acclaimed new version for the San Francisco Ballet. Then the National Ballet of China teamed up with the Paris Opera Ballet to revive Lycette Darsonval’s 1979 staging. And now the Royal Ballet has brought Ashton’s version, which premiered in 1952, back from the dead. It was a risky undertaking, given the unavailability of any dancers who had actually performed the work to stage and coach it and the consequent necessity of using only notes (not notation), scraps of film, and memories. Such reconstructions are usually textually dubious and, more important, stylistically barren. So it was a real surprise (and delight) to find this Sylvia looking authentically Ashtonian through and through. I never saw the ballet in Ashton’s day (it was dropped from the repertory about 40 years ago), so I obviously can’t speak to this production’s faithfulness to the original, but it feels like Ashton, and that is what really counts. Bravo to Christopher Newton, who is almost singlehandedly responsible for this production. The original Sylvia—that is, the production for which Delibes first wrote his score—was a product of the French Romantic period, and thus very different from the brilliant kind of dance-and-drama extravaganza that Petipa has led us to expect. The world of nymphs, shepherds, fauns, and dryads is a gentle, pastoral one, and you’d think that it’s a style that Ashton would take to naturally, but a curious thing about his Sylvia is that it owes much more to Petipa, specifically The Sleeping Beauty, than to his Romantic predecessors. In fact, the cues it takes from The Sleeping Beauty are too numerous and too specific for comfort. As with his first three-act ballet, Cinderella, Ashton has leant too heavily on Beauty as a model. This may be why he was reluctant to do more full-length ballets, despite Ninette de Valois’s urging: he was unable to break through this model of a formal classical three-act ballet to find an approach of his own. (The Two Pigeons and La Fille Mal Gardée are different animals, being stories about real people rather than fairies and gods; it’s the narrative that counts in those ballets, not formal structures bearing the weight of classical mime and dancing.) Ashton never had this problem with his one-act works, possibly because he had no Petipan model to inhibit him. In Sylvia, the borrowings from Beauty occur in both the choreography and the staging. Sylvia’s first variation quotes liberally from the fairies’ variations in the Prologue. The third act consists largely of divertissements by gods and goddesses who celebrate the hero and heroine’s reunion (a bit prematurely, since they aren’t actually pledged until later in the act). There’s a frisky duet for a pair of . . . well, they’re supposed to be goats, but they behave just like the cats in Beauty. The initial appearance of another pair of gods (Apollo and Terpsichore, as it happens) is a mimed scene that looks exactly like Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. At the end of the ballet, Sylvia and Aminta pose centerstage with Terpsichore behind them, raising her arms benevolently as though she had brought them together (which she hadn’t). And the second act ends with Eros arriving in a boat to show Sylvia a vision of the lovelorn Aminta. She climbs into the boat and sails away to find her beloved. (None of this is required by the story. Mark Morris’s version, from the accounts I’ve read, is quite different.) This is not to say that these appropriations from Petipa spoil the pleasure of the ballet, with its beautiful choreography, luscious music, and lovely and appropriate costumes and scenery, but it is a little disconcerting. The biggest hurdle for a modern production to overcome—aside from the dancers’ unfamiliarity with the Ashton style, a larger problem that Monica Mason is trying to rectify beginning with this Ashton-rich season—is finding a ballerina who can follow Fonteyn in the title role. Reviews of the 1952 production stressed the extent to which the production was tailored to Fonteyn’s special qualities: her dramatic versatility, lyricism, and above all the overwhelming sense of purity she embodied. This purity went beyond the technical and stylistic; it was an aura that surrounded her as a person, and Ashton used this, along with her strength, to create in her a kind of icon of moral rectitude. It’s hard to think of another ballerina who possesses this. Farrell had it, but in a completely different way—there was never anything innocent about her. Kistler has it to a lesser degree, but again without the innocence. Marianela Nuñez and Darcey Bussell, the two Sylvias I saw, certainly don’t have it. Bussell was a more aggressive heroine than Ashton seems to have intended, while Nuñez didn’t appear to have any concept of the role at all. At the beginning of the second act, when Sylvia rejects Orion’s bribes of rich clothing, she looked like a petulant princess (in the negative modern sense) sulking over having nothing to wear. In the third act, she grinned nonstop, without regard to what was happening dramatically. Neither dancer has the necessary technical or stylistic purity. Bussell is physically so different from Fonteyn that the steps look like different choreography. Nuñez is a closer match physically but lacks lyricism and dramatic understanding, and looked to me like a soloist doing a ballerina’s job. This was a real disappointment, as I’d read so many good things about her. I wonder why Tamara Rojo was not cast in this; of all the Royal’s ballerinas she strikes me as the most suited to the role. In the future, Sarah Lamb, who appeared as one of Sylvia’s attendants and who danced the Thais pas de deux at the Saturday matinee, might also fill the bill. She seems to be in the Antoinette Sibley/Sarah Wildor mold, if not the Fonteyn one. Neither Aminta I saw was especially convincing. Jonathan Cope is tall and reedy and, while muscular, is rather scrawny, giving him the appearance of a nerdy intellectual rather than a vigorous outdoorsman. Rupert Pennyfather (replacing Iñaki Urlezaga) is a young dancer who made a good stab at the role, but is as yet too inexperienced to put it over. Both Dianas, Mara Galeazzi and Laura Morera, were powerful and effective (looking forward to ABT’s production, this role has Monique Meunier written all over it), as were the Orions, Thiago Soares and Viacheslav Samodurov. I liked Joshua Tuifua as Eros; he had a dignity and commitment to the role that is rare in so young a dancer, although Martin Harvey danced it more strongly. The ensemble looked like they were making a sincere effort at the Ashton style, although I don’t know how faithful any performance can be that is not done by dancers trained in the Cecchetti method. But since few professional dancers are these days, we have to be grateful for what we can get. More on the mixed bills later.
  4. I haven't read the book yet, but on the issue of the account it presents of Fonteyn's sex life, I think that Daneman might have been prompted to include as much detail as she did by the prevailing image of Fonteyn as some kind of chaste saint. That image was formed in part by her stage persona, which a critic once described as "stainless," but it was also very much a creation of Fonteyn's own. When I read her memoirs some years ago, I had the impression that it was a conscious attempt to formulate a public image of herself, which after all is not unusual in autobiographies. In particular, I remember her writing that she had qualms about getting involved with Tito Arias because he was married when she met him, and "I believe it is sinful to take another woman's husband." (That's a direct quote, I went back and checked.) When someone is on record as saying something like that, the revelation that long before she met Arias she had experience in taking other women's husbands should not come as a surprise—and not to include such information would have been irresponsible on Daneman's part. Exactly how graphic such details should have been is a valid subject for debate, but from what I recall of the excerpts in the Telegraph, Daneman simply reported what Ashton had said about what Lambert told him, and did not vouch for the statements' accuracy.
  5. I wasn't there because I was at the SAB Workshop that night. It began an hour before the NYCB performance, so Kirstein came out and made a speech before that performance, too. He was joined by Peter Martins and John Taras -- I don't remember if Robbins was also there. He said, "Mr. B is with Mozart and Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky now," and went on to say that the school and the company were institutions and would continue to thrive. Just the three of them coming out on the stage together was quite an emotional experience. Everyone's spirits had been very subdued, of course, very different from the celebratory mood of most Workshops, and their appearance helped dispel the gloom somewhat and prepare us to enjoy the performance.
  6. I have Ballet Gala, which I found in a used book store. It's a 2-CD set that contains, in addition to Night Shadow (as it's called on the disc, and it's beautifully played by the London Festival Ballet Orchestra under Terence Kern), the pas de deux from Flower Festival and Corsaire, Czerny's music for Etudes, and the third act of Napoli. It's an indispensible recording for fans of these ballets, marred only by too-fast tempi for Napoli. Well worth searching out.
  7. This raises an interesting point -- how the trappings of a work of art can influence our judgment of its quality. When Who Cares? was new, some critics (notably Clive Barnes) dismissed it completely, and I think they were reacting to the use of popular tunes for the score and the ballet's celebration of the Broadway/Hollywood type of dancing and esthetic. It took a while for people to see that the structure of the ballet was no different from any other Balanchine ballet, and as solidly made. At first blush all people saw was the external, and reacted with embarrassment to the sight of Broadway/Hollywood on an opera house stage. As carbro said, it takes experience to see through to this. Of course, those who come to the ballet merely for enjoyment (what a thought! ), without expecting to immerse themselves in Culture, would have no trouble enjoying the ballet straight off. It reminds me of when Masterpiece Theater was new, in the 1970s. In those days there was a reverential attitude towards anything that was shown there, because the subjects were Serious (adaptations of classic novels and history, usually about royalty). It took a while for people to look beyond the surface and question whether the actual programs were any good. Today I think we have enough discernment to see that The Sopranos is far superior to, say, The Pallisers, despite the low-life subject matter.
  8. I asked because the casts for the matinees are listed as "Same as Friday."
  9. What's the cast for Friday? I don't see it except for the changes.
  10. It might be worth checking with the Kennedy Center before you buy the tickets to see if they have an age minimum for admission. I imagine they expect children at performances of Nuts but they may draw the line at babies. Just a thought.
  11. A useful site for info about good eats is Chowhound.com. Scroll down the page to see their regional forums (some have sub-forums for particular locations). Another helpful site is egullet.com? (scroll down to "Restaurants, Cuisine and Travel"), although posters on these forums tend to favor pricier, more upscale places.
  12. Sadly, this is true, but while Balanchine's ballets are becoming more common in the repertories of other companies, there is still a sizable number of them that are performed only by NYCB, or only among the world's leading companies. So I'd say that an NYCB "must see" program would consist of works such as Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Episodes, Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fee, Danses Concertantes, Ivesiana, Raymonda Variations, Union Jack, Vienna Waltzes, La Source, La Valse, and so on. (Of course, some of these works haven't been in repertory for a while. As for Baiser, let's hope that if the spring season is indeed Boal's last that they will revive it for him.)
  13. About Peter Boal applying for the job -- this article says that one of the other finalists, Victoria Morgan, was "invited to submit her name." Perhaps Boal was, too.
  14. Tabachnik replaces Anne Parsons, the previous GM, who left to run the Detroit Symphony. Re Quinn, the music director is considered a member of the artistic staff, not administrative.
  15. I attended the service. Most of the dancers weren't visible from where I was sitting, but it was a beautiful service. The NYCB orchestra played, Bach I think. A few have been. In Bernard Taper's biography of Balanchine there's an interesting photo of Tchelitchew. The exhibit sounds fascinating. Any chance that it will tour to other cities?
  16. "Melissa Hayden" is a stage name; her real name is/was Mildred Herman. So, no relation.
  17. The link is to an interview with Ashley Bouder.
  18. Zoe Zien is the daughter of former NYCB soloist Susan Pilarre. I remember both she and her sister looked very much like their mother when they danced Little Red Riding Hood in Beauty. I believe Zoe apprenticed at MCB last year, too.
  19. I'm confused by the casting for the matinee of Oct. 2nd. Don't Rutherford and Sylve both do the Verdy role in Emeralds? But they're both listed for this performance. A mistake or a debut?
  20. Ari


    I think that's true, Jose Manuel. I've noticed it, too. It stems, I think, from the fact that countries with an Anglo-Saxon heritage have different literary, theatrical, and balletic traditions than those in continental Europe. Bejart's approach to ballet theater -- it needs to be called that and not just ballet, as you have said -- is foreign to me and I don't like it, but I can understand why Europeans take to it. And your point about his politics being dated is well taken, too. What does concern me, though, is that Bejart's choreography is accepted by some people as classical ballet, which it isn't. It is more like modern dance with balletic embellishments. In countries that have established classical companies, like France, people may appreciate the difference, but I'm afraid that those without a similar frame of reference may look at Bejart and think that that's what classical ballet is.
  21. I'm as big an admirer of Balanchine as anyone, charlieloki, but there were aspects of his stewardship of the company that I was quite critical of, too. He was a great man but he wasn't perfect. We can honor him and be aware of his shortcomings at the same time. What you say about being in the right place at the right time is so true.
  22. This thread had its origins in carolm's complaint about what she considered excessive bowing by the Bolshoi during their recent London season. Marc replied that he didn't think they do this all the time, and that the performance traditions in the company's country of origin ought to be considered. This all reminded me of an interview with Violette Verdy in the summer 1987 issue of Ballet Review that was all about a recent Bolshoi season at the Met. Here's the relevant exchange:
  23. ABTwannabe, this is the sort of question that is best posted on our other site, Ballet Talk for Dancers. Take a look! I'm going to close this thread.
  24. I'm not going to make a case for Robbins as a fine human being, but in 1942 he had nothing to lose by admitting his homosexuality. He was a complete unknown. By 1952 he was an extremely successful Broadway director and had reason to fear that his career would go up in smoke if his sexuality were out in the open. That doesn't make his behavior any the less craven, of course.
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