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Everything posted by pherank

  1. pherank

    Maria Kochetkova

    I have to think this has a lot to do with her inability to freelance during quarantine - I give her a year or two.
  2. Wow - 2 casts of all four Program 1 ballets? I was just thinking how nice it would be to see multiple casts for some of the ballet I've been streaming.
  3. From the NYT - the Pam Tanowitz quarantine diary is fun reading: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/31/arts/dance/pam-tanowitz-quarantine-diary.html At 9 a.m., I open my door to two police, two border force guys and a hotel guard. I say, “Wow, I need five guards to check out?” And they laugh and say, “We heard you were trouble.”
  4. More (seemingly effortless) partnering techniques with Tiit Helimets and Misa Kuranaga: https://www.instagram.com/p/CND6DoMHOUi/
  5. SFB has posted a short class excerpt on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/530923083/9018e4d1f7 It's more Ricardo Bustamante than class 😉 but it's still fun to see the dancers moving around together in the same room. And SFB is raising funds as they "reinvent for the digital world". https://give.sfballet.org/campaign/reinvention/c301306
  6. Some great photos of Julien MacKay and Nikisha Fogo taken by Julien's brother Nicholas: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNDZGdNrHgw/
  7. Celebrate The Future Of Ballet Together Thursday, June 17, 2021 | At Home 6 Pm Dinner At Virtual Tables 7 Pm Event Program https://www.sfballet.org/support-us/special-events/sf-ballet-school-virtual-festival/
  8. Yo-Yo Ma on Firing Line with Margaret Hoover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYh7q9u8BZI
  9. The PDD is danced by everyone. There was a film of Yuan Yuan Tan and Damien Smith dancing the PDD by the seaside that was popular. You might find it interesting to know this about Whelan: According to Wheeldon, the pas de deux was created within three rehearsals. The female dancer wears flat shoes instead of pointe shoes, which Whelan was initially "miffed and confused" about as she had never been off pointe in any New York City Ballet performance, and she later recalled thinking Wheeldon was making her "walk like an old lady", but later realized "exactly the opposite of that. It has so many images that are meaningful to me. It's so simple, and yet there's so much love in it." Wheeldon encouraged dancers to interpret the pas de deux in their own ways, and said the worst thing dancers could do is to "act" it. [Wikipedia] I didn't realize that the original PDD 2nd cast was Sofiane Sylve and Edwaard Liang.
  10. Not to belabour the point... 😉 In the NYT article about McKenzie's upcoming retirement there's a statement that relates to the 'dance on film' discussion: 'Although he had been thinking about retiring, McKenzie said, the pandemic influenced his decision “to some degree.” When it hit, he realized that creative activity would move online. “We are dealing with a medium that I don’t really like,” he said, “but which we are going to have to rely on a lot in the future.” He added: “It needs someone who likes the medium and believes in its value.”' It wouldn't surprise me if most every sitting A.D. at the large companies has little interest in digital media. But unfortunately that tends to mean that these A.D.'s are not very good advocates for their own art form when forced to work with videographers. They don't know how to defend their turf, and are more than willing to compromise and hold their tongues when camera shots, edits, audio, lighting, even locals, are not presenting a ballet in the best way possible. It's common to hear statements like, "what we're doing here is a collaborative work". Unfortunately, those "collaborative" projects so often seem to skew towards the visual art effects, and the fact that there is a dance to present merely becomes a "point of departure". I guess I'm just surprised that the A.D. never seems to have lists of MUST HAVES and DON'T DO's - after all, the dance company is paying for the project.
  11. Thanks, Josette - I'm not sure why I missed RB. Anyway, I updated the list above.
  12. I know I've harped on the often poor cinematography choices made for dance films, so for me, it's good to see someone in a highly visible position (like Gia Kourlas) call out these problems. It may be the only way to get the film/video communities to start addressing the issue - or at least start having a conversation about it.
  13. I found out about this rather late - Conversations on Dance talk with Mind Luke, Principal Guest Conductor at SFB and now the Principal Conductor of the Nashville Ballet: https://conversationsondancepod.com/2020/09/25/ming-luke/ It's quite interesting to hear about ballet from the conductor's point of view.
  14. That's a problem that many people share. 😉 And then there's the people who have management skills but lack an interesting artistic vision. Your question about Ratmansky is an interesting one. I hope he does have some say in this selection because he's the one person on hand with experience of both sides of the equation. I just don't think he's likely to want the A.D. position on a permanent basis.
  15. Makes sense given Mr. B's particular approach in Barocco. Goldner: "In Barocco the pas de deux is breathtakingly beautiful, but unlike almost all other Balanchine duets, it has no romantic overtones. Many observers have noted this special purity, and one reason is that Balanchine wanted to keep his mind on the score. Another reason, I think, for the absence of love feelings in the duet is that he was more interested in the family unit of ten than in the man/woman relationship." Goldner's essays are the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, Google Books will not display any individual pages of Goldner's Balanchine Variations. So I have to type out a quote from the Concerto Barocco piece so that people can see what the text is like... "The last section is not as motif-laden. I'd say it's the most exciting musically. This is the "bebop" section, with one group moving in a BE-bop accent while the other counters with be-BOP. The syncopation reaches its acme in another iconic moment: the women hop on pointe while their arms quickly move up and down on consecutive beats. As if this rhythmic teaser were not enough, Balanchine adds frosting by having the group hop into different patterns, like moving panels. These are moments of total joy, compounded by a bit of mathematical mysteriousness. What in hell are the musical cues that tell the dancers when to lower their arms and raise them again? I have seen my fair share of Baroccos and was never able to figure it out. One day, Merrill Ashley led me into the inner sanctum of the passage and told me on which counts the dancers move. It's so simple I'm embarrassed to pass it on to the reader as if it were classified material, but here it is anyway: one group lowers their arms on count three, and the other on count four. It's not easy to do, however. Just after Merrill revealed the secret code, I took the bus home and practiced my ports de bras en route. So engrossed, and confused, did I become in the project that I missed my bus stop by a mile."
  16. Of course, but that hasn't changed the process of hiring and roster announcements for the coming year for many companies. Contracts continue to be offered and signed. And everyone hopes for the best...
  17. There's not much upside for Ratmansky, so I would be genuinely shocked if he interviewed for either the ABT or SFB positions. Personally, I want him to continue creating ballets since there are so few in the present day able to create on his level. Trying to be an A.D. and a choreographer at the same time doesn't work well in the present day. Too many responsibilities. I'm not sure that McKenzie is the only reason Lane isn't at ABT. She hasn't signed on with any other companies, isn't that right? Is she even looking?
  18. Charles M. Joseph's Stravinsky & Balanchine is more approachable and full of great analysis of the Balanchine/Stravinsky ballets. Non-technical references to Balanchine's "musicality" are fairly common - most don't happen to be very illuminating though. Elizabeth Kattner-Ulrich's dissertation, The Early Life and Works of George Balanchine (1913-1928), gives background on Balanchine's early choreographic influences. That is available as a PDF online (and it is quite readable). Lincoln Kirstein's writings did have occasional references to Balanchine's 'musical' approach. I recommend reading Thirty Years of The New York City Ballet. Here's a passage that Kirstein quotes from Slonimsky [Balanchine: The Early Years]: "Balanchine did not succeed in finishing the Conservatory. But nevertheless… became an accomplished musician—and not only a pianist. He attended classes of harmony, studied counterpoint and composition, wrote music, and most often improvised easily and quickly, as if drawing from innumerable prepared ideas. He wrote compositions for piano and dance, for recitation to music, and for voice…Working in the theater, Balanchine frequently tried his hand at the violin, the French horn, the drums, and the trumpet. And always he mastered the music despite the difficulties of quickly learning any new instrument. Judging from the recollections of ballet artists of the older generation, the compositions of Balanchine were somewhat lacking in originality…It is worth noting that he rarely composed dances to his own music, but most often used the works of composers of the nineteenth century and the beginning of this one…In any case, Balanchine in those years made himself into a professional musician within the ballet theater; this to a large extent determined the character and direction of his creative work in the future." (Slonimsky 1991, 33-34) Lynn Garafola's article, Arc de Triomphe also touches on 'musicality': 'Of greater critical interest was the American-made Serenade. Here was a ballet that was "pure dance," and for many it was a revelation. Among them was Rene Jouglet, who reviewed the ballet for es Nouvelles Litteraires: "Serenade ... is a masterstroke. From the moment the curtain rises, one is transported and amazed . .. [by the] motionless ensemble, of incredible purity of line .. . [and] absolute lack of ornamentation . .. . "Then the group comes to life ... to flowing, bounding, stirring, soaring life in all its diversity and multiplicity, the fruit of an architecture continually composed, decomposed, and recomposed, of thought perpetually the master of wit, ... the whole resting on a classical basis. Suddenly one perceives that it is unnecessary to resort to inventions more or less preposterous, to arts more or less related, that the richest and most moving choreography lies [in itself] .... It is a great lesson." Other critics analyzed the relationship of the choreography and music. "Music offers the framework," wrote one, "But it would be inexact to say that it acts as the pretext. On the contrary, music here is the text that dictates to the choreographer his inspiration without the help of any literature, without the intervention of an argument .... One can easily imagine to what admirable use he would put a fugue or chorale of Bach.' That kind of thing doesn't tell me much, however. I personally like to see some real analysis. I do recommend reading Nancy Goldner's essay on Concerto Barocco in Balanchine Variations (it's a short piece and non-technical).
  19. SFB's recent IG posting definitely seems to express that they remain on good terms with Kim Olivier: "Join us for a toast to ballets Swimmer, Wooden Dimes, and Symphony #9, as Program 03 closing night is Wednesday March 24! Our very own Kimberly Marie Olivier (@mulattaballerina) recreated an iconic moment of her "Bathing Beauties" role in Yuri Possokhov's Swimmer during her artist in residency @palmheightsgc | @palmheightsathletics. Visit the link in bio for drink recipes 🍸 including the signature Swimmer cocktail, originally served at the San Francisco restaurant Jardinière on opening night in 2015, recreated here in tribute by @mulattaballerina and @tillies, and fondly recalled by composer Shinji Eshima of @sfballetorch." https://www.instagram.com/p/CMx49DUrJ2O/
  20. I watched the interview with Wooden Dime's composer Jim Stephenson and found that to be educational and entertaining. That lead me to rewatch WD and focus on the music and its relationship to the story and choreography... I find the musical score's arrangement to be cinematic to a fault, and that doesn't work so well with the existing contemporary ballet choreography. The first PDD is all atmosphere but I can't detect much of a pulse to dance to. This approach is used again in the solo variations and other PDD's. Although an obvious, literal "beat" often isn't necessary, both the dancers and the audience members tend to react better to any music that starts the body moving (feet tapping, body swaying, whatever). The Busby Berkeley sequence does not have music that fits the chosen visual theme. The actual music relates to other musical themes in the work, but it doesn't remind me of a Berkeley dance number in, say, Gold Diggers of 1933, or 42nd Street. It's not reminiscent of vaudeville either. And as the other scenes, the pulse of the music is faint and often disappears - atmospherics are more important in this score than an actual driving pulse. There are brief sections of jazz, but essentially a jazz devoid of soul and grittiness. Again, it's all "atmosphere", but unfortunately the emotion is mostly diluted and robbed of its rhythmic qualities. So what we get is a melancholic flavor to most of the scenes even when that may not have been intentional.
  21. I wondered about that - this year long hiatus has me confused. Do we have a list of roster changes for 2020?
  22. A couple other dancers that are missing from the roster: Emma Rubinowitz and Ami Yuki
  23. pherank

    Maria Kochetkova

    A day ago I happened to look at her page, noticing that she hadn't been updating at the usual rate. Having just learned about Megan Fairchild's illness, I wondered if MK might have gotten sick too. Let's hope they both have a relatively easy time with the virus and don't become "long haulers".
  24. YYT working on the same movement as above with Tiit Helimets: https://www.instagram.com/p/CMv6sLNhSBb/
  25. SFB has posted a short video of Danielle Rowe talking about creating Wooden Dimes [turn player volume on] https://www.instagram.com/p/CMxkPLMB7AM/ YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3zP17BNFbU And now that I've watched Swimmer a few more times... The first few times that I saw Swimmer as an audience member - and was treated to the footage of Yuri Possokhov thrashing about in the pool - I thought it was kind of odd for him to be interjecting himself physically (well, virtually) into the ballet. But now that I've poured over various Yuri statements about the creation of the ballet I can see the importance of his appearance. This isn't a ballet about Cheever's Swimmer or a Bildungsroman, as much as it is a kind of artistic fever-dream with Yuri's favorite American art and literature references arising as scenes in his dream. Now, it's obvious to me just how personal this ballet is, which may be why it seems to work even though we tend to feel it shouldn't given that various scenes and music appear unpredictably without a traditional narrative buildup. The part of me that searches for a narrative structure wishes the "House to Hollywood" section had materialized as the swimmer plunks down into a comfy chair to watch TV, or enters a cinema after work (the Hollywood dance sequence being what the swimmer is seeing on the screen rather than something that is happening to him). Similarly, the various book references like Lolita could be introduced by the swimmer picking up a book and becoming engrossed in it. But these kinds of narrative cues don't work as well if the idea is to watch someone's dream state. When seen as one man's dream of American culture, Swimmer does actually make its own kind of sense.
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