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Everything posted by Ari

  1. Lolly, the whole company isn't coming over, just the three dancers who do Monotones.
  2. I could think of a lot of candidates, Manhattnik, except for the fact that most ballet orchestras range from bad to horrid. Which brings up another category: those best experienced with earplugs.
  3. The difficulty that Liebs discussed—showing complex motivations and situations—is true for ballets based on another source, especially a literary one. The best story ballets (The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, The Nutcracker) were all either original stories or taken from fairy tales, which don't have much social or psychological depth (and choreographers who have tried to introduce such things into these ballets have ended up with fiascos). So one way out of this conundrum would be to make original story ballets. The trouble is, a company that premieres a new ballet, especially one that's evening-length, relies in great part on name recognition to sell tickets. A ballet version of, say, Little Women, would enjoy a much bigger advance sale than one with a name that means nothing to potential ticket buyers.
  4. I saw a documentary about ABT on PBS, liked what I saw, and bought a couple of tickets to NYCB, the first ballet season available after the telecast. It was also a PBS broadcast that enticed me into seeing my first opera as an adult. Television has such great potential for developing audiences—I wish there were more programs about all the "high arts."
  5. Bobbi, the Royal is scheduled to do one of the Monotones trios (I don't remember which one) at the Kennedy Center next March. Let's hope they add the second trio, too.
  6. Liebs, your review gives me a very good idea of what the Dutch National Ballet is like at the moment. From what you say, it sounds like the company is international in composition. When they came to New York in the seventies, the dancers were mostly Dutch, with some foreigners. This was still the case in 1988 when I saw them do Swan Lake in Amsterdam. What are the corps and soloist levels like—are there a lot of Dutch names? Lolly, whom did you see in the RB performances?
  7. I just want to add to all the praise that Alexopoulos has so justly received that she has always been a ferociously strong dancer. Her performance of the killingly tough Gloria Govrin variation in Raymonda Variations remains the Gold Standard for me--I've never seen another dancer come close to articulating every step the way she did. She could have been a top international ballerina if she'd wanted to, but she evidently preferred to have a personal life as well as a professional one.
  8. How could you forget about the Fairy of Connectivity? Instead of a wand, this fairy carries a PDA. The famous "thumb" variation features a constantly working digit as the head swivels always to the mini-screen, allowing constant updates on e-mail, voice mail, stock quotes, and the latest posts on Ballet Talk. Until five or six years ago this fairy was male, but more recent appearances have revealed an increasingly feminine fairy.
  9. BW, when I read your first post, I thought you meant, "Are story ballets considered naive by highbrows?" I think the answer to that is yes, whether the proposition is true or not. There may be several reasons for this. Stories, or at least subjects that can be explained verbally, have traditionally been what ballets were created around. When Balanchine (and others) abandoned this in the 20th century, it was different, and some people think this change is an advance and that doing story/verbal ballets is going backwards. (Personally, I think that it's not progress, just something different.) And a lot of modern story ballets encourage this thinking because they seem to be resolutely conservative, making no effort to do anything original, but instead, as Arlene Croce once said, "attempt to extort from the 19th century those ballets it never produced." Some efforts look like the makers cynically pandered to their audience's most basic tastes without trying to challenge them at all. ("Oh, they like pretty stories that don't disturb them, lots of pretty costumes and the fanciest scenery we can afford, and, of course, a pretty, tuneful, score. Give 'em that and they'll plunk down their money.") Also, some people assume that making a story ballet is easier than making a non-story ballet, because the choreographer can disguise a lack of dance-making invention by using mime or other theatrical elements. I'm not endorsing any position here, just trying to explain why the prevailing sentiment might exist.
  10. Becky, MCB has a website: Moscow City Ballet
  11. Hmmmm . . . how about: "Good. He's in an impossible position, and while he's handled his responsibilities unevenly, who else is there?"
  12. Hmmmm . . . how about: "Good. He's in an impossible position, and while he's handled his responsibilities unevenly, who else is there?"
  13. "The Planets," a ballet created by Antony Tudor to the music by Gustav Holst, will receive its first performance in 50 years at Duke University's Reynolds Theater on Friday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday, March 31 at 3:00 p.m. Admission is $12 and $14 for the general public and $7 for students. Tickets can be obtained by calling the University Box Office, 919-684-4444. The ballet was made in 1934 and performed in Europe primarily by Ballet Rambert, a company with which Tudor was long affiliated. The reconstruction effort at Duke, spearheaded by dance professor Tyler Walters, was helped by the participation of Muriel Topaz, a notation translator familiar with Tudor's works, and Donald Mahler, a choreographer who worked with Tudor during his stint as director of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and who staged Tudor's Jardin aux Lilas for the Joffrey Ballet. Celia Franca, the founder of the National Ballet of Canada and a former Rambert dancer who performed The Planets in the '30s and '40s, also came to Durham to help. The ballet is one of Tudor's shorter works--15 minutes--and "is not recognized as a masterwork," said M'liss Dorrance, associate professor of dance at Duke. ""But it is the last ensemble piece he developed before 'Lilac Garden,' his most famous ballet." The ballet originally had four movements, but this performance will only be of the two (Neptune and Venus) that were notated. "The Planets" will be performed by Duke students and guest dancers who are students at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. Topaz will also give a pre-performance lecture at 7 p.m. Friday. There will also be an symposium on reconstructing the ballet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30. Speakers will include Walters, Topaz, Mahler, Franca and Sally Brayley Bliss, trustee and executor of the Tudor ballet trust. For more information about the performances or symposium, call Christina Eller at the dance program, 919-660-3354.
  14. An article in yesterday's Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that the financially troubled Fort Worth Dallas Ballet has put off its search for a new artistic director until it has resolved its financial problems. A group of executive committee members and other supporters has pledged $1 million towards financing the remainder of the season and advancing the company's goal of a $2 million endowment fund. The company has been without an AD since February 2001, when Ben Houk left under pressure from the board of directors. Since then Bruce Marks, whom the article refers to as "a Florida-based consultant," has served as "artistic advisor." The company also announced the cancellation of the Dallas dates for its production of Romeo & Juliet. The ballet will still be performed in Forth Worth from May 17-19, with an additional performance, making a total of four. The executive director also announced that the contracts of all 32 dancers will be renewed, and a 2002-03 schedule will be announced in April. "Everybody's screaming that we need an artistic director," the article quotes a company spokesman as saying. "But first, we need to be able to pay an artistic director."
  15. Leigh, there's another piece of music that Balanchine set twice--Stravinsky's Violin Concerto. The first version, called Balustrade, was completely different from the 1972 version. For one thing, the two middle movements, which in the later version were assigned to two separate couples, was danced (by Tamara Toumonova and partner) by a single couple. I don't know how different Divertimento #15 is from Caracolle, but I'm sure he made some changes. Of course, Balanchine was constantly tinkering with his ballets, sometimes for practical reasons (the steps didn't suit the dancer) and sometimes for no apparent reason other than he wanted to do it. In the three instances that come to mind right off the bat, I preferred the earlier version in all of them. In Symphony in Three Movements, the first movement ended with the first male dancer (Helgi Tomasson in the original) re-entering and dancing at the same time that the diagonal of 16 girls unfolds into open positions. Balanchine deleted the boy's solo sometime in the late '70s, but every time I see the ballet my mind keeps inserting the boy back into the picture. In the Garland Waltz from The Sleeping Beauty, there was a lovely moment that disappeared soon after the premiere--perhaps the next season they did it. At the time when the 16 couples and 16 children form a huge ring, linking hands, and the music gets high and tinkly, the women and children used to take one step into the center, link hands, and dance around in a circle. It was a meltingly touching moment, and again, my mind insists on putting it back in whenever I see the ballet. Finally, I've always preferred the original ending of The Four Temperaments to the one that Balanchine made in 1977 or so, when it was filmed for TV. He said at the time that the change was necessary because of the limitations of video, but then he added that he'd always wanted to change the ending anyway. Among other choreographers, Twyla Tharp did two versions of Deuce Coupe for the Joffrey. I never saw the first--did anyone? Mel? [ March 23, 2002, 10:18 AM: Message edited by: Ari ]
  16. Interesting discussion about criticizing artistic directors, and an important one these days, when long-time balletgoers are so unhappy with what they're seeing. I agree with Alexandra that targeting the AD for everything that goes wrong is inappropriate, and critics should remember that ADs set policies for the long term. Stretton's predecessor, Anthony Dowell (who, as a dancer, was an icon of Royal Ballet tradition and was beloved by the audience), got lots of criticism, too. One thing the press disliked was his hiring of foreign dancers for what had previously been seen as purely British company (if you count Commonwealth countries). It was Dowell's reaction to the crisis caused by the RB School's not producing enough top-quality dancers. But now, we hear nothing but praise for Cojocaru, Roja, Kobborg, Tapper, et al., and I haven't noticed anyone crediting Dowell with the foresight to hire them.
  17. BW, I don't think anyone except the principals really knows why Farrell and Martins fell out, but I do remember reading an interview with Farrell around the time she retired in 1989. She was asked if she wanted to run NYCB, and she replied that she didn't think that women should run ballet companies--at least, she said, she as a dancer could not dedicate herself to working for a woman in the same way that she could work for a man--but that it was good to have a man running a company "with an impossible woman behind him." Perhaps Martins really did find her impossible.
  18. I think the popularity of swans in ballet has to do with the fact that they're beautiful, graceful creatures, so it seems natural for dancers, who are also beautiful and graceful, to animate them. In Tchaikovsky's ballet, though, there's also the other side of swandom: its hardness and cruelty (swans can be vicious creatures when they get riled).
  19. SFB will be losing four of its principals at the end of this season--Lucia Lacarra, her husband (sorry, I forgot his name), Joanna Berman, and now Roman Rykine (see http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...ype=performance and scroll down past the item about the Faerie Queen). How do you think all these departures will affect the company? Who will inherit their roles? Will this leave the company with few older, seasoned principals? The company has already announced its schedule for the 2002-03 season--do you think they took these departures into consideration when they drew up these plans? Do you think that any new principals will be hired from outside?
  20. Thanks for this report, bbfan. Corybantic Ecstasies sounds like an odd choice for this "American" program--Wheeldon is of course English (though he's been working in America for several years) and the ballet as you describe it is stylistically from another planet than the other two. Although I guess you can say that the juxtuposition was bracing. Did anyone else see this program? Comments?
  21. Ari


    Perhaps the choreographer didn't necessarily have a disdain for steps as such, but wanted to de-emphasize their importance for other reasons. Maybe his dancers were showing too much concern for the text of ballets (i.e., steps) and not enough for the spirit.
  22. I've often noticed how the verb "to choreograph" is used in non-dance settings. I've seen it used to indicate that what is being talked about is upscale or "classy," or is highly calculated/artificial. Examples: a New York furniture store (that sold, I'm sorry to say, excruciatingly vulgar furniture) used to advertise that its ensembles were "expertly choreographed." From the context of their ads, I deduced that by that they meant to indicate that their merchandise was elegant, exquisite, and artistic. And I've seen "choreograph" used to describe the way diplomacy and other carefully planned, highly delicate undertakings are handled. I've also seen such operations described as a ballet.
  23. Seeing a ballet at the Garnier is a "must" experience for any balletomane who is in Paris, whatever the program may be. The theater is so magnificent, so fabled, and has been so influential in the design of modern opera houses that just visiting it is an experience that makes you feel privileged. This is especially true since the renovation. The great theater looks reborn. When I saw it last year, just from the outside, coming out of the metro, it was the happiest ballet experience I'd had in a long time. As for seating, I sat in both the second loge de coté and the balcon, and had a good view. At the Bastille, where I saw Die Fledermaus (or Le Chauve Souris, as the French call it), I sat in the second balcony and could see everything, but from pretty far away. For the ballet I'd prefer to be closer. Fortunately, ballet tickets are cheaper than opera tickets.
  24. Calliope, the POB's site is in French, but the information on ordering tickets is available in English. Click on the link for the ballet you want to see. A red box in the upper right-hand corner says "réserver ce spectacle." When you click on it you'll notice a small green tab saying "English." At the bottom, click on "General Terms of Sale" and that will give you ordering information. I booked tickets online when I went to Paris last year and had no problem. Good luck!
  25. Well, Corsaire didn't make me as angry as it did Alexandra (perhaps because this is the sort of thing I expect from ABT), but I did think it was the silliest damn ballet I've ever seen. I also saw the Kirov production. I didn't like it, but as Alexandra said, it wasn't trashy the way ABT's is. This production struck me as a sort of balletic Cymbeline, a mishmash of other ballets. Here's a bit from Giselle, there's some of Coppelia, that's the part from Midsummer about the drugged flower, Medora's entrance was the White Cat in Beauty, the ending was Swan Lake, etc. The Jardin Animé was static to the point of inertia, and the pas de trois in the second act looks infinitely better as the Corsaire pas de deux party piece. (Did anyone else think of Conrad as Benno in the SL pas de deux?) I didn't understand why Conrad isn't dressed like a pirate, and drowning Gulnare and the Slave seems uncharitable after we've seen so much of them. But trying to make sense of such an absurd ballet is a waste of time. I did like Maria Riccetto as one of the Odalisques, though.
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