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About Birdsall

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  1. Anna's final scene (throwing herself under a train) was very effective.....very devastating.....her life is basically destroyed......when I read the novel years ago I actually laughed during the chapter she kills herself because Tolstoy is so great at creating a stream of conscious chapter where she views everything as ugly and horrible and you are literally reading about a character losing her mind. I laughed despite the horror of her losing her mind, because she was becoming absurd but you knew why and it was crazy! I think Possokhov conveyed this through movement which was probably a hard thing to do! I would very much enjoy seeing this again one day. But tonight is Richard Strauss' Elektra with Nina Stemme! Can't wait!!!!!!
  2. I just saw the Joffrey's Anna Karenina, and I enjoyed it very much, although it was very serious, much more serious and gloomy than, say, Ratmansky's version. However, the final scene has villagers, Kitty, and Levin very happy living in the traditional way. It is very obvious that Yuri Possokhov knows the novel well. I have seen an opera version and ballet version of this story as well as movies. Rarely does a version seem to put as much weight to Levin's story alongside Anna Karenina's story. I feel Possokhov has come the closest (in less than 2 hours.....an incredible feat!). Tolstoy has so many layers in his novel, that I believe it is basically foolhardy to try to put the novel on stage as an opera or a ballet. Like I said, I think Possokhov did as well as anyone probably can. Of course, the title character is always going to be the part of the story that audiences are most interested in (the doomed love affair). However, Tolstoy's novel could just as well be titled Konstantin Levin!!!! So much of the novel centers around his suffering and love for Kitty and their eventual marriage and their traditional lifestyle and marriage directly contrasts with Anna Karenina's story. Both the choreographer and the composer (Ilya Demutsky) use both modern and traditional choreography/music. This fits with the novel which has tradition and "progress" (industrialization) intertwining. My personal take on the novel is that it is easy to just live traditionally. You fit in, you end up happy, etc. It is very hard to survive change and "progress"......and Anna is a modern woman way before her time and gets crushed (literally and figuratively) by everything. I think the choreography is based on traditional ballet moves but doesn't shy away from modern movement either. Possokhov actually moved me with Anna's plight through movement. I lucked out that my matinee cast was the same as the Opening Night and the cast shown all over the posters around Chicago as well as featured in news articles. I simply chose Sunday matinee because it fit in between a Saturday Traviata and a Monday Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Victoria Jaiani put her heart and soul in the role of Anna Karenina. Fabrice Calmels towered over everyone as her husband. Alberto Velazquez was a handsome Alexey Vronsky. I will try to write more later. I am meeting friends at Russian Tea Time for an early dinner. If you are in Chicago I highly recommend this intense work. It is much more serious and moving then Ratmansky's version (I like many Ratmansky ballets, but I think his Anna Karenina misses the mark completely).
  3. I am seeing Anna Karenina today and will try to post a review.
  4. I don't know. I know who she is and I am not really a musical theater devotee. I consider her ultra famous. Of course, I am 51 years old. I am sure you are right concerning much younger people. However, I suspect all gay men know who she is. If not, their card in the club needs to be revoked.
  5. By the way, all the close ups of the singers showed that Netrebko, Beczala, and Rachvelishvili all had perfectly oval mouths as they sang full throttle, and their tongues did not flap/tremor like many singers today......I consider this a sign of great technique......
  6. I loved it! Golden Age singing from all 3 leads which is rare in 2019! Can't wait to see it in person this coming weekend. Coming up for Aida, Pelleas et Melisande, and Adriana Lecouvreur. I was relieved that Radvanovsky was being replaced in Aida (I want to see the campy, yet glam production one last time before they shelve it in a couple of seasons) , but according to reports the soprano replacing her is even worse! Ugh!!! So Aida will be a mixed bag (and I had expected that even before the new soprano was called in), but very excited to see Pelleas and Adriana......
  7. Okay, I am glad to hear that he didn't cause it.
  8. If the turns that slow down instead of speeding up that you mention were assisted turns (with Parish assisting with finger turns or paddle turns) then the fault is probably Parish. He is notorious for slowing down ballerinas during turns. He's gotten better, but it used to be the second he put his hands on the ballerina she would almost come to a complete stop and occasionally looked like he knocked her off balance. I have seen him doing better recently, but he's still not great at helping the ballerina.
  9. Yes, the restaurants were easy to get into even without a reservation because early September is when the Milanese are away. But from my seats at all the shows the theatre didn’t look empty at all to me. A few seats here and there in some boxes looked vacant but not shockingly empty. So surprised the shows were considered poorly sold.
  10. Yes! It is strange how I suffer for this art, and I am just a $&@ing spectator!!!! LOL We expect dancers to have injuries from time to time, not audience members!!!
  11. I saw this program at the Kravis this weekend. I actually wasn’t planning to go down south for this but have the week off and visited a friend. Saturday night had Simone Messmer, Ashley Knox, and Jovani Furlan in Concerto Barocco. It has taken me time to warm up to Messmer. She was hired and immediately treated like the star of the company getting all major roles and all Opening Nights when there were dancers who I felt were better still not getting major roles. However, last season I enjoyed Messmer a lot more, and in Concerto Barocco I really loved what she was doing especially in the elegant 2nd movement. She now seems to be a solid member of the company who is hardworking and fitting in on stage as part of the ensemble. She no longer exudes a diva attitude on stage and seems humble and committed to the choreography. Jovani Furlan partnered her well too. There are so many lifts and he did them well. Ashley Knox was also great. Company B is fun, and even moving at times, as CubanMiamiBoy says above. The standouts were Jovani Furlan’s “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!” And Alexander Peters in “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”... Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of my favorite Balanchine ballets, and MCB did it justice and some. I saw multiple performances last time they did it so was glad I got to see it again with it’s intricate patterns of people weaving in and around (and not just when the main male moves the corps). It was nice to see Jeanette Delgado back with the company with her megawatt smile. She toned the smile down for this elegant and serious work but it came through at times. My favorite moment is how she did the chaine turns, sped them up, and ended in arabesque near the wings. She would fit in at NYCB...my favorite moment in Diamonds is when the female does almost the same thing (chaine turns that suddenly go at breakneck speed....my experiences at NYCB is that this is how they dance it whereas MCB disappointed me a little in that moment when they did Diamonds). Anyway, Delgado did the turns great! Renato Penteado was replaced by Rainer Krenstetter who did well. He is always elegant. Nathalie Arja brought her unending supply of energy to the 2nd female. She is actually the most exciting dancer at MCB because she seems full of love for the dance. I returned for Sunday’s matinee. In Concerto Barocco Katia Carranza was replaced by Simone Messmer. Jennifer Lauren also danced. Reyneris Reyes was replaced with Jovani Furlan. All did wonderfully just like the night before. Company B had basically the same cast with Furlan and Peters being the standouts again, although this time I liked Ellen Grocki’s sexy “Rum and Coca-Cola” more than the previous night. Helen Ruiz was also very moving in “There Will Never Be Another You.” Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 featured Tricia Albertson, Renato Cerdeiro (who was in the audience the previous night), and Ashley Knox. This cast was great too. My only little quibble was that Albertson didn’t speed up the chaine turns the way I like, but she was wonderful in everything else. I actually thought I was going to miss this show but glad I went. The simple, yet elegant Concerto Barocco and breathtaking Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 with a fun Company B sandwiched in between was a great programming idea. As I left I got out on the wrong floor in the parking garage, realized it, turned quickly around and started walking back to the stairs forgetting I had just walked over a wide curb thing in the middle of the garage, so I tripped on it and went flying flat on my face. I am okay but scraped lip, palms, and knees. Basically, a reminder to watch where you are walking in the Kravis parking lot!!! They did have the sides painted yellow, but I was literally right beside it and had just stepped off but confused that I didn’t see my car so my mind was elsewhere. If you know the Kravis you know how crazy the parking garage can be as everyone leaves (older people can’t move except when leaving the ballet for their cars...then suddenly they are 20 years old), but take your time!!!! Don’t get hurt!
  12. I have to say that I found Parish's Apollo very boyish too, which I did not like. He looked and acted like the type of boy who sits at the front of the class eager to answer every question the teacher asks, and who would always color within the lines when given a coloring sheet. His acting was disappointing even his acting through movement especially his strumming arms at the beginning. It looked like a rehearsal for him, in my opinion, instead of a professional performance....like he's still learning the role and is just not up to the task. He also had trouble with the women linking arms and turning. At the Mariinsky he used to be a weak partner, but he has improved slowly over time, but he's still a weak partner at times. I like him best when he dances by himself and the focus is on dancing and not any acting. For me personally Apollo needs more command of the stage. I liked all 3 Vaganova grads to varying degrees, but I agree that Khoreva seemed to take her role more seriously. I feel Apollo is a mismatch to Parish's personality and wish they had sent someone else like Stepin.
  13. So far I have seen 2 out of the 3 shows I have tickets for....on paper this sounded like a great idea (various companies paying homage to Balanchine), but so far in reality a bit disappointing. So far I feel the best Balanchine style (not counting NYCB) was exhibited by Miami City Ballet (despite a mistake by one of the women). I think it is important that other companies do Balanchine and I do think his choreography shines through even with different company styles, but it does sometimes look “off”.....my biggest disappointment has been the Paris Opera Ballet dancers in Midsummer PDD....
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