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Everything posted by Watermill

  1. Well, Jack, if I couldn't be there (dd has stress fracture: Miss Farrell did not want her to risk it healing unproperly) you certainly helped make up for it. Great reports! I was taken aback by the dismissiveness of some of the UK reviews. Having seen two performances at the Kennedy Center last year, I was suprised. Maybe this is just one of those ballets you "get" or don't. It's spiritual and has to be understood on that level. Seemed like a (critics) group agenda to me. Anyway, you certainly gave us a refreshingly posivitive (but still critical) view of the whole run. I remember speaking to some of the company after the KC run who spoke of a magnificent performance by Heather Ogden (the one in which she was dropped) in which she danced with the abandon most associated with Miss Farrell in that role. The word had spread through the company that something special was happening on stage and they had all gathered in the wings to watch Heather "go for it". Any hint of that in Edinburgh? Would have really loved to have seen Natalia M and Goh. I really enjoyed your film analogy. That's why I get those seats! Cheers, Watermill
  2. I have unexpectedly had to cancel my trip to Edinburgh. I am selling two single tickets for Don Q. They are both very good as I purchased them months ago. Mon Aug 28 front row Balcony a little to the side. Tues Aug 29 Orch center row N. PM me if interested.
  3. I'll be there..DD in corps...will see last two performances...Hope to catch two different Dulcineas. Will report in Sept upon return. Cheers, Watermill
  4. One of the area's most influential ballet instructors, Elena Carter Richardson has passed away after a prolonged struggle with cancer. Throughout the tumultuous roller coaster ride years for ballet students at OBT and the Portland Public Schools, she was a serene prescence, providing a focus on excellence that was unmatched. When one thinks of the words "Beloved Teacher", Elena surely comes to mind. I hope others who knew her, as dancer or teacher will post their appreciations. Peace, Elena...you dance in our hearts forever. Obituary from Oregonian
  5. Thanks for keeping us informed, msfifiroxsox. Watermill
  6. Thanks for the quote from Gottlieb, bart. I hope to read it soon. I was so stunned by the beauty and variety of this neglected and much maligned work, that it forced me to remember how some of Mozart's operas, such as the glorious Cosi Fan Tutte lay unperformed through much of the 19th century. If you can imagine hearing that music as it was being rediscovered, that's how I felt "discovering" Balanchine's Don Quixote. I thought it a triumph for Ms. Farrell. ...and I'm sure someone heard a warm chuckle from Mr. B, wherever he is. Watermill
  7. And her sharp opinions of DC ballet are a pleasure to read as well. All the best, Ari. Watermill
  8. No Maria. Just as well...I probably would have burst into tears. And the day I meet Suzanne Farrell I don't even want to think about. Some memories are so perfect they grow crystalline with passing time.
  9. Missed Chris Stowell's opening remarks (and a video clip of his upcoming work) but can report on the rest of the evening: Bart Cook, equally elegant and articulate, spoke of a wide range of subjects, illustrated with some wonderful still photos and two utterly amazing film clips. He began by talking about The Dybbuk, that much of the principal male choreography was shaped on him; how the fighting between Robbins and Bernstein "killed the life" of the piece... Mentioned a revival is in the works. How he felt that Robbins used him so much because of his very "theatrical" training with the Christiansens in Utah gave him a more human, character based kind of dancing. The rivalry between Robbins & Balanchine: how neither one understood what the audience saw in the other's work. That they were both jealous of each other and found the the other to be "an enigma". That Mr. B hired Robbins to provide variety and relief from his own ballets: "You can't eat steak every night". Mr. Cook speculated that a very different group of works would have come from Robbins had he not stayed at NYCB. How autobiographical Watermill was. How Tanaquil le Clerq became furious because she felt it exposed their relationship (!) Robbins' powers of observation: how they informed his dances with everyday drama and gesture. Many photos: Robbins in Prodigal with Tallchief, as Ringmaster, Bart Cook in Glass Pieces lifting Maria Calegari, in the Concert, The Dybbuk. The first film clip was Cook as the Happy Sailor from Fancy Free. Astonishing virtuostic performance with an ease, flow and joy of life I have never seen so strongly in that role. And I've seen some good dancers tackle it. Amusing anecdote about the spacing beween the stools and what happened when the bartender did not move them properly between solos. The second clip was the pas from The Cage with Cook and the predatory Heather Watts. Amazing unity, tension...and again: virtuosity. When the life of the choreography leaps out of an ancient fuzzy videotape, you know the live dance must have been positively explosive. The evening made me most nostalgic for my NYC ballet going years of the 70's and 80's. How inspiring to know that Mr. Cook is passing the torch. He was not just close to the fire: he was the fire. Artist James Buckhouse was amusing and animated ...well, he is an animator. Some interesting insights into the working process of Chris Stowell's new Impending Hour. It sounds positively awful: cobbled together by a visual artist from a vague concept about how rain affects people; Buckhouse will "play" the computer keyboard during the performance; the last element chosen was the music... and yet I find myself excited to see it...come rain or shine.
  10. Giving this a "bump" in case any area ballet fans missed it. If my rehearsal gets out on time, I'll try to report on the discussion. Martha Ullman West's Oregonian article certainly whets the appetite for In the Night Watermill
  11. Just a reminder to ballet fans: this should be a fascinating evening: Bart Cook is one of the leading repetituers of George Balanchine's and Jerome Robbins' work. He was a principal during the golden 1980's at NYCB. He dances Drosselmeier in the NYCB Video of the Nutcracker. Truly rabid ballet fans will show up on the chance that wife Maria Calegari has accompanied him to our fair city. And it's FREE! Dance Talks with Christopher Stowell, James Buckhouse and répétiteur Bart Cook, 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, Winningstad Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway., (reservations recommended), 503-227-0977, ext. 213, free Watermill
  12. You're right, perky, especially since there has not been a dance honor since Baryshnikov's in 2000. (I'm categorizing Chita Rivera as a Broadway performer) I would have thought Ms. Farrell's extroardinarily generous teaching schedule and company directorship in addition to her dancing would have sealed this by now. Perhaps if her Don Q makes the splash it should we'll see her up in the balcony along with ...let's see.... the way things have been going... Adam Sandler, David Letterman, Dolly Parton...and Burt Reynolds! As the KC Honors continue to poop out (or should I say "pop" out?) I find myself no longer wondering whether Ms. Farrell is worthy of one, but instead: are they are worthy of her?
  13. John Rockwell may consider his first article “throat clearing”, but in this radio interview he chokes. Equally offensive and defensive, Rockwell reminded me of a fighter climbing into an opponent–less ring: he looked a little silly swinging at the air. Shadow boxing has its uses, but one doesn’t throw the arms up in triumph at a non-existent knock-out. Look at the wall: the shadow seems to have also won. I was shocked at his opening salvo, "Hitler was wrong." A call for a broad yet disciplined adherence to the classical aesthetic is in what way similar to Hitler's brutally forced policy of racial purity? Of course Hitler was wrong. But Mr. Rockwell is also wrong to so badly mistake the playing field this discussion is set in. It's like he showed up to play polo driving a tank. Talk about being overly defensive. Next came “mongrelization”, with Schaefer, in a lap-se, as lap dog. Oh, swell: let's have symphonies begin hiring jazz players and ballet companies bring in tap dancers and why not feature untrained pop voices at the Met? Why not? Because these are disciplines as well as art forms, They take a life time of training. It is quite naïve to think that a blending of various forms of dance could strengthen any of the individual forms. In my 35 years of observation, I’d say it mostly weakens them. Ballet dancers are the greyhounds of the dance world. You don't ask them to herd sheep. Well, you can ask…but you’ll end up with a lot of dead sheep. “Miscegenation”: Another bizarre twist of vocabulary. (Uttered quite frequently for some strange reason, as if this was a handle on the whole complex situation for him.) The man is certainly free to use whatever analogies he wants but what is this constant allusion to racial mixing? I find it either highly inappropriate or just not thought out on the level I would expect from the chief dance critic of the NYT. In an earlier post, someone mentioned Clive Barnes. We in the theatre had to put up with Barnes’ wildly inconsistent NYT theatre reviews for years until he was relegated to forced cheerleading at a tabloid. This Rockwell situation reminds me of how Barnes, after the smash hit Hair, got on a crusade for integrating pop or rock into Broadway musicals. This agenda lasted a couple of years and resulted in some of the worst shows ever to darken a Broadway theater, most notably the back to back disasters Dude and Via Galactica. This foolish stance also resulted in the box office failures of some very worthy musicals because they did not mongrelize or miscegenate in accord with Mr. Barnes times or Times. And guess what? He eventually dropped the agenda and life went on. Quality mostly rose to the top. Junk mostly sunk. I find Rockwell's first few reviews well written and appreciative. I don't expect, with his generalist background, to receive much elucidation on the finer points of dance, especially ballet. Happily, we have BalletAlert for that. I think he will not do much harm. I also think the Times could have done much better. Watermill
  14. Wagner's lush classical layered chords have little analogous kinship with "crossover ballet" as I understand the use of the phrase in this discussion. Comparison to the weak watered down pop-classical work of Lloyd-Webber would be more to the point...which elicits new cascades of shudders. Congratulations to Alexandra & Leigh (and all who sent letters) for "belling the cat"!
  15. Austin Laurent is the other dancer you must be thinking of. He became a NYCB company member in 2003. Also from that same generation is Jessica Wyatt who was a Joffrey company member. More recent Ms. Gutierrez trained dancers moving into the professional ranks are Amanda Weingarten apprentice MCB, Marika Anderson, apprentice NYCB and Leann Underwood, OBT company. Haydee just moved into the new studios built for her at the new Patel Conservatory at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. URL=http://www.patelconservatory.org/dance/cbtp.htm]http://www.patelconservatory.org/dance/cbtp.htm[/url] She is still one of the top teachers in the U.S., with a professional placement percentage that is among the highest.
  16. Giving this topic a bit of a bump, hoping that there are a few other OBT goers who might share their NUTCRACKER views before it all fades into the recent past. After all, it is the big story ballet of the year. What do you think: does Christopher Stowell have this company positioned for a big ballet? If so, what would you like to see? How about La Bayadere? Gavin Larsen as Nikiya, Alison Roper as Gamzatti? Would enjoy Kester Cotton as the Bronze Idol!
  17. Oh, I hope my jottings did not give the impression of a "bad" performance. It was just a tremendously, bewildering mix of the good, the bad and the sloppy. Gavin, Yuka and the individual dancers mentioned above were worth the price. BTW: I visited the OBT site and took a look at a few of the different casts. So much shifting around in the corps: no wonder things get ragged at the edges. I also think OBT is trying out apprentices and students in roles that will stretch them, which is a good idea in theory, but... I fully expect, as Christopher Stowell increases the quality of other programs, this Nut will be a hard one to crack. The child-oriented first act, the relatively few soloists of quality, the small company, the limited budget, etc. I'm sure they'll keep trying to improve it, but it's going to take time.
  18. Sorry to be posting this so after the fact, but this holiday season set a new standard in frantic but festive family fare. Fortunately, I did take some notes during and after the Wed Dec 22 performance. I was quite disappointed in the overall sloppiness of this year’s production, especially amongst the students. I know that one can only demand so much from young people, but these are supposed to be the best dance students in the area. While most of them were just fine, at every moment several were out of step, out of time, out of placement or just plain out of it. Patrons paying $80 and families of 4 paying $200 are expecting professional management of the entire cast. There were moments during the first act when I thought I was at one of the local community dance studio Nutcrackers, where unison is a fleeting option. My sense is that the young dancers are not being polished, that someone is saying, “OK, that’s as far as we can go". This, of course, has always and will always be unacceptable in ballet. That’s what makes ballet so special: we ask for perfection, even from students. This evening’s Marie was Miss Juniper Jenkins. She danced with good technique and acted the role very well. Page Finlay as Harlequin and Ansa Deguchi as Columbine showed clear, clean details, brimming with felicitous goodwill. The Toy Soldier was the surprise of the night: apprentice Steven Houser “arrived” with a near perfect solo, complete with clean entrechat-six. I had to check the program to see who the guest pro was. What a wonderful surprise to find it was this apprentice! Also a relief to find Kevin Poe’s Drosselmeier had softened from last year’s evil stalker. One actually thought him warmly eccentric, not dangerous. Sorry I missed Christopher Stowell in the role. Sad to say, the Snowflakes, picking up where they left off last year, continue to exhibit a lack of cohesiveness. Much good dancing to lovely choreography, especially the individual efforts of Valerie Limbrunner, Candace Bouchard, Ansa Deguchi, and Leann Underwood. But again: evidence of badly needed polishing, finishing: that extra 5% that puts it all together. All in all, this first act left me cold…and it wasn’t just the wintry weather on stage. The Flowers were lovely, more together than Snow. Valerie Limbrunner & Candace Bouchard nicely leading the corps, bursting with energetic jettes. Miss Limbrunner showing impressive, thorough technique. Alison Roper very solid (if somewhat stolid) as Dewdrop. The Marzipan Shepherdesses were right out an 18th Century Fragonard: all Rococo charm and grace. Led by Yuko Iino, her every turn landed so softly. Musically perfect. Mother Ginger way over the top, which I hadn’t thought possible. The Polichinelles were the best student group performance of the evening. Poor Karl Vakili as Candy Cane…either conductor Niel DePonte had an early dinner reservation or Karl asked him to pick up the tempo (Two years ago a dancer made that mistake and ended up in the wings in tears). Not even the Flash could have danced that inhuman tempo. Fortunately, Mr. Balanchine, who knew when to bring forth a delirious dancing climax to make one forget whatever faults preceded, gives us a gorgeous pas de deux with thrilling codas and a big company finish. Gavin Larsen was positively breathtaking as Sugarplum. Even though not a technically perfect performance (a couple of turns were two-footed in landing), she held the audience in rapturous silence. It helped that Artur Sultanov’s partnering was the best that I’ve seen from him. When the entire Land of Sweets cast enters and begins to turn with arms in fifth and the little boat makes its way across the stage, there is an innocent joy that fills the theatre. Nutcracker magic: there’s nothing quite like it, is there? Grumpy Grouse-ings: OK, I know how expensive this whole thing is. And I hear that upper level students were not provided with pointe shoes for the first time this year. (By the way, that translates into over $400 it cost one family to see their daughter perform.) So I don’t expect there to be money for any major set changes. Therefore, I'm prepared for the party set to remain dark, cheerless, murder-mystery murky and CandyLand to be Flower-Power lurid. But if there is one thing I would change, it would be that discount tree. It grows only slightly faster than a toe nail from 12 feet to a very unspectacular 20 foot height. Meanwhile, Tchaikovsky is describing a world wonder folk-miracle. Very under-whelming. After all, Oregon is the Christmas tree capital of the world. Our Nutcracker tree should at least rise to the occasion. Only in Nut-Land… …could the bed, during it’s own variation, pull a wheelie, the front end rising up a good two feet. Made me want to see a drag race of all the Nut-beds. …could Marie, after carefully aiming her slipper from less than 6 feet away, miss the 8 foot tall, 5 foot wide Mouse King and actually hit the Nutcracker who was behind it. Not even Pedro Martinez could manage that. Happy New Year! Watermill
  19. Hi, BW: Having seen NYCB's production many years ago as well as OBT's, I'd say there's not much comparison except when OBT's better soloists are shining brightly through Mr. B's second act choreography. But why should there be? Last time I checked, NYCB's annual budget was north of 50 million. OBT's is south of 5. As a NYC & Boston ballet goer for many years, I really got the cultural bends when I moved here. If your niece has made a similar move, she's probably going through the same. Tell her to hang in there: Christopher Stowell's accomplishments at OBT have been nearly miraculous...except for the Nutcracker. Let's give him some time to gather the money for a better production. I'll try to submit my thoughts on the performance I saw when time permits. Would love to hear other opinions! Watermill
  20. Sorry I missed this post, dancelova: So firstly: welcome ! Secondly, I was not able to attend but did hear good things about this event. Please continue to help me spread the word of the exciting new changes at OBT. Enjoy the Nutcracker! Watermill
  21. Marvelous! It has the "asymmetry within symmetry" and the "movement within stillness" choreographers, stage directors and even photographers long to (but rarely succeed to) achieve. Thanks yet again, rg.
  22. Anyone attend the final performances? Would love to hear from some local ballet goers. I think we are witnessing West Coast dance history in the making, on a par with Tomasson's arrival at SFB and Russell/Stowell's ascendance at PNB. Am I nuts? Please share. Watermill
  23. Friday Oct 15 The upper level of the company showed its depth tonight as Kathi Martuza and Gavin Larsen switched roles and improved the first two offerings, while a shuffling of the rest of the company made for some fairly uneven work. Remember, this is a relatively small company undertaking an ambitious program: it will show its thinness as the second cast mounts the stage. An interesting reversal of quality in Concerto Barocco. The corps was half apprentice, which made for a more youthful, inexperienced attack. They certainly had their fine moments, but things became more ragged as the unforgiving tempo built. Whenever I see this piece I am reminded that Bach meant this for fingers flying over the closely arranged keys of a harpsichord. Only a madman like Balanchine would ask the entire human body to describe such a flurry of sixteenth notes. The other half of the reversal was the performance by Gavin Larsen in the main soloist role, solidly partnered by the always reliable Matthew Boyes. Her speed, line and extension were made for this piece. You can almost see sparks flying from the tips of those long fingers. Further Farrell-like moments of cool brilliance as she inhabited the music with a strange aching joy. As hockeyfan wrote: Both harp and angel at the same time! I must be in ballet heaven. The highlight of the evening. Orpheus Portrait: As often happens, what a difference a cast makes! Whereas Sultanov/Larsen had a more noble, almost dutiful husband/wife relationship, Kathi Martuza and Paul De Strooper were far more erotic. With her Olympic athlete’s physique, Ms. Martuza’s shade kept a foot in this world unlike Ms. Larsen’s more otherworldly ghost who was all spectral breath. Softest dancing yet from Ms. Martuza: Lyrical, giving, unashamedly erotic. She continues to impress me with her range. The fact that I wanted the short post mortem section to go on longer is evidence of how much more I felt this couple’s connection and de Strooper’s anguish over his loss. Also, thanks to this second viewing, I became aware of some fine choreography in this work by Kent Stowell. Lac du Cygnes/Trois: Some cast changes held up well; some didn’t. Holly Zimmerman introduced herself to Portland as a sparkling Russian. In other national dances, a couple of male apprentices were overmatched by the material. I agree with hockeyfan on the exuberant qualities of Alison Roper’s Odile. As always, this very presentational performer excelled when strength was called for. But Odile is a role of subtle nuance and I felt she suffered from comparison with Ms. Iino. Also, may I say, having now watched both Odiles come up awkwardly short on these blasted fouettes, that I would be thrilled to see them substituted with an interesting do-able grouping of chaines, piques and pirouettes a la Plisetskaya. Afraid I'll have to part company with you on Artur Sultanov as Siegfried, hockeyfan. He continues to be just plain inconsistent. I feel like I’m watching him learn to partner on the job. I wish I could have felt his acting more but for me much of his character work had too much empty posturing to it. I agree that his solo left much to be desired. I would have thought a second cast of Cotton/Larsen to have been the obvious choice. But I also understand the need to have Ms. Larsen available for the other pieces. Then again: To have a mixed program which includes the third act of Swan Lake is so ambitious an undertaking that I truly must forgive the shortcomings and applaud Christopher Stowell for his courage to once again ask this new, still forming company to reach way beyond itself and come up with magic; which, in fits and starts, it does. I keep thinking of Ms. Larsen’s fingertips: Sparks…lots of sparks. Watermill
  24. This paragraph is from the Oregonian's website: For a 4 million dollar budget, the surplus is small but the fact that there is a surplus is evidence of excellent management. The subscription increase is huge. Nothing can match this vote of confidence from dance fans. Wow! Watermill
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