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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Mom of 2 dancers
  • City**
    Chicago, IL, USA

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  1. I concur about the raking. The seats in Row P and back are my favorite ones. Our season seats for the Joffrey are in the back of the orchestra, Row DD. The sightlines here are excellent due to the raking, but it's hard to see individual dancers really well. Note that if you visit the office prior to the show, they will give you a booster cushion. The office is just inside the main entrance, to the right. Allow some time just to absorb the splendid ambience of the Auditorium, including the wonderful mosaics in the stairwells. The ornamentation is one of Louis Sullivan's masterpieces.
  2. So sad to hear this. Mark was gracious in helping me to understand ballet when I was a total newbie.
  3. The quotes by dancer Fabrice Calmels sound very calm, reasoned, and hopeful. Does anyone know if he is speaking in an official capacity or just voicing private hopes?
  4. Some of the people voting for Bristol aren't viewers at all. There are websites dedicated to Sarah Palin that are publishing the phone numbers and website links for voting for Bristol, and giving specific instructions for how to vote several times using different methods. I think anyone who follows DWTS at all will be ticked off if they think the system can be (and is) manipulated.
  5. One wonders how long Bristol Palin will hold on.
  6. And he beat a horse named First Dude. First Dude always seemed like a bad bet to me. The more famous First Dude, Sarah Palin's husband, did not have a good run, losing first his race (to be, um, Second Dude?) and then his title (when his wife quit her job as governor). Drosselmeyer seems more enduring, not to mention endearing (at least to me).
  7. I have a kind of love/hate relationship with the scythes in Fille. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to have the dancers grab them by the blades?
  8. Calvin Kitten and Suzanne Lopez are retiring after this season; we saw their final Nutcracker appearances yesterday. Kitten pretty much defined the role of Fritz/Snow Prince ever since the Joffrey arrived in Chicago. So it was great to see him once again play the bratty, indefatigable naughty boy. How he captures the essence of 12 at the age of 38 is ever a mystery, but he projected it even to the very back of the balcony of this huge theater. As Snow Prince, Kitten's leaps have lost a touch of the gravity-defyingness for which he was celebrated, but his series of pas de chats were as quick and clean as ever. At the close of the first act, Kitten appeared in front of the curtain for his individual bow, then quickly left. "Is that it?" we wondered. No; the curtain rose again, on Kitten standing alone, center stage, amidst the remaining snow. What a lovely scene! Up in the rafters, not many people stood but I believe the patrons in the orchestra gave him a much-deserved an affectionate standing ovation. Kitten has been a company stalwart for 15 years. That I have less to say about Lopez's Sugar Plum reflects only that, while she has danced this part many times, it is not the same signature role for her that Fritz/Snow Prince is for Kitten. (Also, of course, one's attention at the end of a performance is not what it is at the beginning ...) Lopez has been with the company about as long as Kitten has, and has always had an admirable sparkle to her performances -- and that was true yesterday as well. At the closing bows, it was lovely to see the affection and admiration exchanged between Lopez and the rest of the company. In particular, I loved the way she acknowledged the recently retired -- and now Ballet Master -- Willy Shives (who, as Drosselmeier, hovered above the stage in the 'ascending' hot-air balloon), and he returned her salute with an elegant bow.
  9. Thank you for your support. I did not feel out of line, and indeed felt generous and kind for acceding to her wishes. In her favor: there was a charming exchange on stage, with gentleman lined up each handing a rose (and a kiss/hug) to the departing dancer. I can see why she would want to see it.
  10. So, at this afternoon's Joffrey season finale, three retiring dancers were each showcased in different dances. I felt moved to give a standing ovation to a dancer who has been with the company ever since I started attending, and who has given us many years of pleasure. The woman behind me poked me in the rear and insisted I sit down. When I commented that I wanted to thank this dancer, she said, "You can write a letter." I did sit. When is a standing ovation acceptable? not acceptable?
  11. We apparently have short attention spans or shallow pockets here in the heartland, as nine performances it is. This has been standard for many years. Yes, that's the video -- minus an interesting introduction that places this ballet in the context of the Ballet Russe and its other cutting-edge productions (e.g. Parade), and plus some annoying ad-type stuff. My mistake, though -- the quote I attributed to Wheater is actually made by Millicent Hodson. Nice views of the new Joffrey studios! (By the way -- this is totally off topic -- in real life one can from street level see students at the barre in the third-floor Academy studios. From a crowded downtown intersection. A little creepy, but mostly cool.)
  12. This certainly is the impression one gets from his letting go the much-beloved Maia Wilkins. I do think the dancing looks sharper and technically better than it did under Arpino. The men, in particular, are more masculine, so I see why he wants those double tours and multiple pirouettes. As he changes the style of the company, it will be interesting to see what he does with the Joffrey and Arpino rep. After watching Kettentanz today (see my review here), I think it would not be such a loss for much of that rep to quietly languish. On the other hand, Arpino and Joffrey deserve huge credit for floating this company and nourishing it, and if the price is to do a little vanity publishing now and again, why not?
  13. What a bizarre little program! Something for everyone to love, and, I imagine, something for everyone to loathe. The opener was Kettentanz, Gerald Arpino’s homage to Austrian social dance. Within a few seconds, the words “froth” and “eye candy” popped into my mind. I found the choreography silly and uninspiring, with much posturing and mannerisms. Which is not to say it wasn’t technically challenging. Indeed, some parts looked fiendishly difficult, but to what end? A few of the dancers struggled to keep up, and even if done technically brilliantly it would not have been particularly pleasing. The backwards bourées by the solo female (Christine Rocas) still stunned me, as they did seven years ago, but I’m afraid the rest of my tastes have changed. (I like to think they are more informed now.) Okay, so can you tell which one I loathed? However, it was the favorite of the eight-year-old sitting near me. Mobile (choreography Tomm Ruud/music Aram Khachaturian) was visually stunning and contemplative. Reminiscent of a piece by MOMIX or Pilobolus, it featured one man and two women in ever-changing counterbalanced poses. Lovely; like a palate cleanser. Balanchine’s Hand of Fate pas de deux from Cotillon closed the first half. Though perfectly ably danced by Victoria Jaiani and Thomas Nicholas, it felt like what it was: a snippet from a longer piece. Lacking any context – and having arrived too late to read the program notes -- we were left scratching our heads. Our party agreed we wanted to see more of those gorgeous women in the colorful costumes: who were they, and where did they go? (Those of you who have ‘known’ me since the start of my ballet journey will, I hope, understand my satisfaction at having actually identified this as Balanchine in the opening movements.) The entirety of the second half was taken up by Le Sacre du Printemps. Or, nearly the entirety. We actually were treated to a video introduction. How weird is that? It was actually very well done, if a bit self-congratulory and hyperbolic (Ashley Wheater saying something like “this dancer literally sacrifices herself by dancing to exhaustion – which, of course, every dancer does in every performance.”). My guest, who had never seen Sacre before, found the introduction helpful, both in interpreting the action and explaining the deviation from classical dance. She said she understood how such a warning – for that’s what it really was – would forestall, if not riots, at least customers leaving unhappy and feeling cheated. I thought it was also useful to reveal that the choreography is a re-creation, a best guess, and to put the ballet in historical context vis a vis the Ballet Russes. I liked the dance. I liked the interweavings and counterpositionings of the different groups and their different movement sets. Hard to call it ballet, but very satisfying at some core level.
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