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Everything posted by kdubzz

  1. Does anyone know whether any sort of documentary is being made about the RB's visit to Cuba? As an earlier poster mentioned, it would make a wonderful film or television special; one hopes that someone had the foresight to film the tour itself at the very least!
  2. Being that this is choreography and not an academic class, especially since it's Balanchine, many of the moves that you see here don't NECESSARILY have standard ballet names. But I will say that there are several sissones on to pointe, into arabesque, performed by the soloist in the middle (Patty Barker), and that the corps around her, among other things, are executing bouree's en pointe (fast shuffling movements with their feet while on their toes), as well as some pas de chat jumps.
  3. As a youngster, one of the Odette/Odile's who made a strong impression on me (on film) was wonderful Canadian ballerina Evelyn Hart, in the Makarova production for London Festival Ballet, alongside Peter Schaufuss. Despite her wiry, bird-like physique, she exuded great passion, strength, and devilish charm as Odile while being a perfectly natural, quite regal Odette as well.
  4. I apologize to anyone who took offense to my initial post which began this thread, as I in no way meant to give short shrift to BRB or other smaller companies. I of course completely understand why some dancers would choose a contract with a smaller company than RB even when given a choice, especially if given the opportunity to join a wonderful company like BRB. The root of my question was partially that, being an American, I didn't know much about the current relationship (if there is one) between RB and BRB - which is why I posed the original post as a question and not a statement of fact or opinion. I remembered that in the past, BRB (which was known as Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet) was the smaller, touring arm of the Royal Ballet and acted as a sort of sister company that often fed dancers into the larger company after they'd gotten some experience under their belt. I simply wanted to know if this was still the case - I wasn't trying to suggest that the current BRB was inherently inferior to RB. Again the reason why this question arose was that I recalled that Darcey Bussell, despite being a top RB School student who was already being eyed as a future star of the Royal Ballet, had first gone into Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet following graduation - not into RB. For her and others, the smaller company was, indeed, a 'stepping stone' (and I mean to imply nothing pejorative about that term either). Nadia Nerina, Lynn Seymour, Leanne Benjamin, Miyako Yoshida, and Isabel McMeekan are also amongst those RB dancers who began their careers at what is now known as BRB before moving to RB. Since making the original post, I have researched and found that the official relationship between RB and BRB ended in '97 but was wondering whether on some informal level, at least from the RB's and/or the dancers' standpoint, aspects of the prior relationship may still exist. Aside from Delia Matthews, I noticed that another of the school's top recent grads, Dusty Button, has gone into BRB. In published interviews Button has stated that her dream company is RB and that this is why she turned down a contract with ABT Studio in order to continue studying at the RB School - in hopes of getting into the company. Given that she ended up going into BRB right after graduation, presumably she did not get offered that RB contract despite having gotten principal roles in RB School performances, etc. My idea was that perhaps some young dancers who DO aspire to RB view BRB as a place in which to gain experience while remaining in close enough proximity to the RB that the latter's directors may keep an eye on them for future RB corps positions. I was simply wondering if anyone with more knowledge of these companies could tell me whether there's some validity to this theory. Beyond BRB, though, my original question also stemmed from the following quote from Johann Kobborg in an interview with the Telegraph (the full article is here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre...l-Ballet.html): "Kobborg disagrees with those who claim that there is a shortage of British native talent. On the contrary, he thinks the Royal Ballet doesn't move fast enough to capture it. 'Some amazingly talented English girls and boys have been snatched by American and European companies.'" If what Kobborg says has some basis in truth, I was trying to find out the reasons behind RB 'not moving fast enough'; seemingly having these dancers in the RB School should afford the artistic leadership at the RB what we refer to in the film business as a 'first look' at the dancers; one would assume that the RB would do everything in their power to snatch up the prime talent from the school before, as Kobborg suggests, the other companies swoop in. Of course we can't know for certain which dancers would have WANTED to be offered an RB contract. It's hard to believe, though, that all or most of the top young dancers who have graduated in the past few years from the school but who ended up elsewhere -- including Adeline Kaiser, Matthews, Buttons, Pipit-Suksun, and others -- were offered corps contracts with RB but turned them down (I realize btw that none of these girls are technically UK born, but they trained at RB school). It's possible, but does seem highly unlikely, and concrete evidence points to the contrary in the case of Button and Pipit-Suksun in particular. Again, this is not to imply in any way that the other companies like BRB are inferior; that's missing the point of my original inquiry entirely. Here in NY, dancers coming out of SAB who are offered NYCB contracts rarely turn them down, although they often move onto smaller companies after a couple of years if it looks as though they'll have the opportunity to shine more in the smaller co (among other, varying reasons). This does not imply in any way that those smaller companies, like MCB, PNB, et.al., are at all inferior to NYCB; it's just a fact that the majority of dancers who are offered a contract right out of SAB accept such an offer -- at least initially. It may be much more common for RB School grads to turn down contracts with RB than for SAB grads to do so at NYCB, but I find it hard to believe that they do so as commonly as some are suggesting. Also, with regards to Pipit-Suksun, as mentioned earlier, I based my conclusion that she was not offered a contract with RB on the content in her interview at ballet.co.uk (full article here: http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_07/ma...pit-suksun.htm) and in particular the quote below, in which she addresses how she decided to go to SF Ballet and lists the other companies where she was offered a contract...RB is not mentioned (also note that she lists the same exact set of companies, sans Royal Ballet, in at least one other published interview as well). While this doesn't 100% exclude the possibility that RB offered her a contract, it's absolutely reasonable to assume that they did not based on this and other published information: "Asked when she was offered the contract, she [Pipit-Suksun] replied, 'Actually, I was offered contracts by Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre Studio, Birmingham Royal Ballet, La Scala, and Hamburg. During the Easter holiday, I took a trip to America, to Houston and New York, taking classes. While I was here, Mr. Jolley called me to say ‘San Francisco wants you to fly, see them, and take classes.’ I said, ‘My flight is already booked back to London—what am I supposed to do?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry. The ballet will organize everything, the hotels and stuff.’ I took three classes.'"
  5. Carbro, the reason why I cited Nutnaree as an example was because she has stated in at least two different published interviews that she was offered contracts with a number of different companies, including BRB, ABT Studio, Hamburg, and SF Ballet - but specifically never has included RB amongst them.
  6. Well, she's Cuban, we're Cubans, and we DO love extravagance and passion-(aside from great turns and balances)-perhaps more than a "perfect" style and pure line-(is there any "perfection", I wonder...BTW?). And thinking about it, we do carry our good dose of "vulgarity" with pride and humor. That, in the long run, turns to be kind of spicy and attractive for some others... If anything, let's agree to disagree. Absolutely happy to 'agree to disagree' re: Valdes! I should note, though, that I love so many of the male Cuban dancers and several of the other female ex-pats that I have seen - especially Lorena Feijoo. It's just Valdes who perplexes me, especially since I'm normally fairly good at seeing a dancer through the eyes of his/her fans, even if they don't personally move me. I just can't get past the technique with her but would certainly give her another shot if I had the chance.
  7. I think that NYCB's philosophy of being "non-star-driven" may partially explain why they don't follow a more European model of having separate company classes for dancers of differing ranks. There is a video on the Royal Opera House website that follows Royal Ballet first soloist Yuhui Choe around for a single 'typical' work day (the video is also up on youtube, fyi) and I noticed that in the video, the company class that Choe takes in the morning is quite small - maybe only ten or fifteen dancers tops - and seems to be comprised only of soloists (Steven McRae is amongst those in the class with her, before his promotion to Principal). Also worth noting is that some companies, such as Miami City Ballet, have made company class a 'mandatory' daily activity. In the case of MCB, I think that this practice has paid off, as the company displays an impressive stylistic cohesiveness. I remember in the late 90's reading a piece by a particular critic (Arlene Croce perhaps?) that attempted to make a connection between NYCB's more relaxed attitude towards company class following Balanchine's death and what the critic perceived to be the subsequent decline in the quality and strength of the dancers' technique -- particularly that of the corps. I personally feel that this connection may have been overstated, as by all accounts (as noted in the Gold interview and in a number of other sources including Kirkland's first book and Merrill Ashley's autobiography), Balanchine's class was not an environment in which a dancer could necessarily obtain the kind of conditioning necessary to keep up with the company's heavy rehearsal and performance schedule. On any given day or week, Mr. B's class would obsessively focus on a particular step or theory and the dancers would undoubtedly learn a great deal from the lesson. On a practical basis, though, the class failed to offer the opportunity to adequately warm one's muscles or develop/maintain the kind of strength and stamina that a professional dancer requires. This posed a challenge to many company members at the time, as Mr. B discouraged the dancers from taking class elsewhere, thus forcing them to sneak around to work with other teachers. Repeated absence from Mr. B's class could also lead to a dancer falling out of favor when it came to casting. Still, though, I agree with the others who have suggested that today's NYCB could benefit from dividing up the daily class in some fashion, as I'm certain that Gold wasn't alone in his frustrations and that the issues he experienced have not been resolved since his retirement.
  8. This is slightly off topic (feel free to move to a more appropriate thread if one exists), but I've been noticing for some time now that many of the most promising young dancers coming out of the Royal Ballet School - especially female - seem to NOT be getting into the main company, or at least not right out of school. I believe I read Johan Kobborg lamenting the fact that the UK loses many of its most promising talents to other companies. Most recently, for example, I was surprised to see that the wonderful Delia Matthews, a top Prix de Lausanne winner, had gone into Birmingham Royal Ballet instead of RB. Same thing in past years, including the wonderful Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun, who ended up taking a soloist contract with SFB when she wasn't offered a contract with RB (despite being the Adeline Genee Gold Medal winner). Does anyone know why this seems to be happening? I presume it's just that there simply aren't places for these new dancers coming out of the school? Or is Birmingham RB being used as kind of a 'junior company', a stepping stone, for some of these dancers (I do recall that Darcey Bussell was first in Sadler's Wells RB before getting into the main company).
  9. I'll cast another vote for Bujones (also my childhood crush). Such purity of line, yet so virtuostic. We may sometimes forget that he was one of the only male dancers to rival Misha's virtuosity for many years.
  10. My first true balllerina love/obsession was Gelsey Kirkland, first after seeing her in Misha's 'Nutcracker' as a young girl, and then once I read her first book. She'll forever be the 'best ballerina that ever was' in my heart.
  11. Oh, if anything, he is certainly very STRAIGHT. And you're right...it is definitely a particularity of the Cuban male dancers... That's SO comforting to know! Isn't it...? Ha, double entendres aside, I like the 'upright' nature of the Cuban trained men when it comes to their pirouettes. Jose Manuel Carreno has that incredibly 'pulled up' feeling to him too (I won't say 'straight' - lol). For me the Cuban training doesn't look as good for some reason on some of the women, esp Viengsay Valdes, or maybe it's just a body type preference.
  12. Jonathan Cope, Edward Watson (I like the Brits:)) and I recently noticed that Jiri and Otto Bubenicek are handsome as well!
  13. Interesting -- Shevchenko joined the corps only during the summer of last year. http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=179 Yes, I was excited to see Shevchenko on that cast list! She's young and new and I've only seen her on video (clips from her performances at the Moscow Ballet Competition, where she took the gold medal), but from what I can tell she's a potential star. Incredibly strong technique and a certain regality and elegance that belies her age.
  14. For anyone who missed it, on danceviewtimes Marc Haegman reviewed Kirov/Mariinsky's UK performances (in Salford) during their Spring '08 tour and cited 'tour fatigue', as you say, as well as bemoaning in some detail the company's perplexing habit of Somova in key principal roles: http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2008/06/the-...sky-b.html#more oops meant to write "perplexing habit of CASTING Somova in key principal roles"...
  15. For anyone who missed it, on danceviewtimes Marc Haegman reviewed Kirov/Mariinsky's UK performances (in Salford) during their Spring '08 tour and cited 'tour fatigue', as you say, as well as bemoaning in some detail the company's perplexing habit of Somova in key principal roles: http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2008/06/the-...sky-b.html#more
  16. kdubzz

    Darcey Bussell,

    I count myself amongst those who, for the most part, always found Bussell overrated (although I did enjoy her in certain neoclassical roles). While impressed by her lower body technique, I was never able to get past the tightness in her shoulders and the manner in which she used her hands - fingers often held together like a mit. It always seemed to me that, as I've pointed out elsewhere, there were better dancers at RB who were overlooked during Bussell's reign. I also agree with Witchel regarding her 'Balanchine Celebration' Agon pdd; there's (for me) an iconic moment where the man reaches down and 'plucks' the woman's foot in synch the pizzicato in the music that was always such a powerful visual - especially when Farrell & Martins performed it. Darcey didn't allow Fischer to 'pluck' her foot; this is just one very small example of what Witchel pointed out about her not allowing her partner to manipulate her as the choreography dictates. But most of all for me it was a lack of musicality that I saw in that performance in particular. For those of us in the states, we've mostly experienced Bussell's later work through videos on youtube (of which there are MANY) and on dvd. I recently compared Bussell's variation from Macmillan's 'Sylvia' to Marianela Nunez's -- both of which are up on youtube - and found Nunez's to be far superior technically and musically. Again it was that stiffness in the upper body and the lack of articulation in the fingers that bothered me most about Bussell's rendition.
  17. I agree heartily with you re: Bussell, both in general, and particularly in her Agon pas de deux for the '93 Balanchine Celebration. While some of the US critics in particular may have been in agreement with me about Bussell in terms of her lack of acting ability and (per Kisselgoff) the tightness/lack of epaulement in her upper body technique, she seemed to receive almost universal praise when it came to her Balanchine interpretations. I think Mr. B would not have been so impressed by her Agon; this may seem nitpicky, but he would've disliked her use of hands and fingers in particular, I think - they lacked articulation and were what Mr. B might have called 'spoon hands.' In general I think that more worthy dancers at RB were overlooked during Bussell's reign, including Belinda Hatley. Another dancer whose popularity mystifies me (much more than Bussell, actually) is Cuban prima Viengsay Valdes. While I understand that she's somewhat of a polarizing figure (some find her flashiness 'vulgar'), for me it comes down to her technique. While she can turn and balance incredibly well, these seem to be the only two tricks in her bag. Otherwise her technique seems caught in some past era and is not up to current standards for any ballet dancer, prima or otherwise -- sloppy footwork, lack of turnout, no looseness in the hips or legs, and unattractive (in my opinion) port de bras. And yet she's so beloved by the Cuban public and by a number of prominent critics worldwide. What am I missing, I wonder?
  18. Thank you, Carbro! I agree that the company hasn't quite recaptured its earlier vitality - YET - but I see signs of hope and, on any given day during the ballet season in NY, will normally choose NYCB over another company...perhaps in spite of Martins' sometimes questionable choices; I'm just so impressed by the current crop of talent. I agree re: MCB, though - they are wonderful. There's always room for more Balanchine-oriented companies in my opinion, especially when they're run with such dedication and care.
  19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotlan...est/8260824.stm This is by no means confirmed, but I have read that NYCB corps members get 12 pairs per week during the season.
  20. While it's true that the standards at NYCB seemed to begin to slip sometime in the late 80's and into the 90's, I personally feel that the company is going through a renaissance of sorts - especially in terms of the depth of talent in its ranks. The current crop of female dancers in the company especially is astounding (Whelan, Bouder, Peck, Reichlen, Morgan, Mearns, etc.). While I greatly admire how other companies are dancing Balanchine (especially PNB and MCB), to me NYCB is still the standard bearer.
  21. I feel that Marianela is a world class ballerina who was somewhat overlooked at the Royal Ballet for some years (seen as a sort of 'second string' principal), but they are finally recognizing, it seems, what they have - a true star. Just compare her 'Sylvia' on youtube with, say, Darcey Bussell's (in my opinion quite overrated). She also shines in neoclassical ballets (see her pdd with Edward Watson in 'Infra', Wayne McGregor's ballet, also on youtube). Marianela seems to have grown artistically over the past couple of years especially and is no longer simply the 'sunny technician.'
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