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Jack Reed

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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    Chicago, Illinois, USA

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  1. Jack Reed

    What is "Musicality" in a Dancer?

    I'm looking forward to when I can explore this thread in detail, because what I enjoy seeing most is dancing where the dancer is still exploring how the moves fit the sounds, whether it's her third performance of the role or her thirtieth. This has long been part of my concept of "musicality". But in the meantime, running across my name here in connection with the problem of synchronization of audio to video made me want to remind you of that thread Quiggin recalls (thank you, Quiggin!) where we had a discussion of that which included some steps you can take about the problem, in particular the posts where cantdance and I offer some specific steps for playing "desynchronized" DVDs (and, along the way, emilienne offers an elaborate procedure for permanently correcting the problem in a video saved in your computer!). (I couldn't agree more with those here who point out the difficulty of appreciating a dancer's musicality if the relation in time between her moves and her music has become implausible through technological causes.)
  2. Indeed, Stravinsky conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but not only in his own music, as we would expect, but in that of another Russian, the one he referred to as "The most Russian of us all." Does everyone know of the 1953 recording, from the years Alfred Wallenstein was principal conductor, of Stravinsky's performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 2? You can hear the first movement here: https://www.pristineclassical.com/products/pasc101
  3. A look at the forum shows I've been commenting on this production for thirteen years now. It's a little different each time, and I won't know what changes to report about this year's until I catch up with it, which I surely will. Long story short, I was underwhelmed by the complicated and fussy new Wheeldon version for the Joffrey Ballet last season, and I looked forward to B.C.'s more dancey, more musical approach as an antidote - although to be fair it must be said that as B.C. is primarily a school, one of the best Balanchine-oriented ballet schools in the country, as far as I know, with slightly younger dancers than Joffrey, the seasoned strength in excellence of the professional Joffrey performers - from the top of the large cast right down to the smallest role (and on down into the orchestra pit) is not likely fully matched - B.C.'s values are considerable: This Nutcracker is about dance and music! (It's value for money, too, at $30 a ticket, for adults. They can do this because the dancers are the school's better students and alumni, and the music is from carefully-selected recordings.) And when they dance, they reveal that the line between student and professional can be pretty fuzzy. So check it out: Evening shows are on December 7, 8, 14, and 15 at 7:00, matinees on December 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 2:00, and the Athenaeum Theater is at the intersection of Lincoln, Wellington, and Southport Avenues in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. Want more preview? Helene kindly posted some images here a few years ago, maybe even better, there are some clips up on Vimeo, and the whole first act is up on YouTube: The Party guests arrive: The KIngdom of Snow: https://vimeo.com/247428800 Mirlitons: Waltz of the Flowers: On Ballet Chicago's Nutcracker page there are yet more images (in no particular order). (If you want to control the slide show, click on an image.)
  4. Jack Reed

    Future technology

    Yes, but not in the way you may think. You're another person with taste - evolving or not, as may be - and so you and the people you know keep the old media around because you value what it stores. You think independently of conforming to the principle that what's new is good or desirable because it's new. (And we're dying out, like the dinosaurs did.)
  5. Jack Reed

    Hello from Chicago

    Hello from another Chicagoan, Paulina! Behind every young dancer there's a family! A friend and her dancing daughter, also a Joffrey student, and I will also be at MCB Friday night. There's a lot of dance to see in Chicago, and with two series already, you're obviously up on it. I'm mostly classical ballet myself, but Sunday I will be watching Ballet Folklorico de Mexico with a former member, and the following weekend we'll see the Joffrey Academy Fall Program, where my friend's daughter will dance. May I suggest as an addition to your busy calendar a personal favorite I feel is under-appreciated, our alternate, pre-professional ballet school, Ballet Chicago? More "Balanchine oriented," they put on their home-grown Nutcracker the second and third weekends in December in the Athenaeum theater (as well as mixed repertory in the Harris Theater in mid-May). The musicality of the choreography really suits my sensibilities. It's mostly by Dan Duell and his wife, Patricia Blair, former Balanchine dancers, and there's Balanchine's "Sugar Plum" pas de deux toward the end. Beautifully costumed by a small army of volunteer seamstresses, and at $30 and down - seniors and children pay less - value for money, too. (Helene kindly posted some images of those costumes a few years ago.) Try a different Nutcracker and see how you like it? Sometimes comparing things brings out something you wouldn't have noticed in each of them otherwise.
  6. I wasn't there, but I gather these were a stumble or two and little more. I can not only take some of this in stride, it points up a conundrum about dance I too actually enjoy: We know the people up there on stage are made of the same kind of bone and muscle as we are, sitting out in the dark, watching, but they don't move like anyone else on this planet. Maybe they came from another planet, not like space invaders come to destroy our cities; they came to show us something that makes us happy. As for Mr. B., he was said to take some satisfaction - and give one of his famous sniffs of approval - in a dancer who fell as she exited the stage into the wings next to him, having given her all, and turning her exit into something resembling a baseball player running on a baseline sliding into home plate, rather than holding back and making her whole sequence more pretty. (Don't some of the old videos - I was looking at the Jewels excerpts from Dance in America last night - have more of a go-for-broke quality then we see today?)
  7. Jack Reed

    Job posting for artistic director

    One thing that has concerned me right along is the idea that the Board would choose prematurely - how have the results been with the Gang of Four - led by Stafford? "When ya got a good thing goin', don't mess with it," right? I've heard good things, for example, inviting originators of the Balanchine roles to come and coach and having those invitations accepted. (Not always the case.) And some of the dancers who were coached by originators in Nancy Reynolds' Balanchine Foundation's series have made their debuts, I understand. Still the Chicagoan I was when I saw hundreds of performances of Balanchine's NYCB from 1973 into 1986 (because I had to), I haven't seen these, nor have I seen much of Peter Martins's NYCB, because, ironically in the light of his expressed desires, the Balanchine repertory has looked more like a museum when I have seen it: Better than most companies, but still, it has danced Balanchine's steps but not his ballets. With Mr. B. there reviving and freshening his older repertory, it was a garden, never a museum. (A garden I had to see because if I didn't get a good dose of good dance once in a while, something was missing from my life. Since 1986 or so the old rewards of watching NYCB have been absent, and so have I, mostly, finding them from Villella's MCB and TSFB - not to mention our fine "Balanchine-oriented" school, Ballet Chicago.) I would like to think that that garden might wake up and come back to life, having emerged from its hundred-years' sleep. But beware of formulas, even the idea that it has to be one person, one "Prince Desire'," to do that. Although I would embrace the formula that the artistic side and the fund-raising and administrative side might best be separated: Early in this thread, there was some discussion of this under the guise of a discussion of job names; NYCB flourished with a General Director (Lincoln Kirstein) and three Ballet Masters, listed alphabetically in the program, which suited us Old Audience just fine: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, John Taras. ("Ballet-Master-in-Chief"? Clunky. No style. For something which is all about style? A bad sign.) The AD - or the "AG" - the Artistic Gang - needs space and freedom to attend to the artistic side, and in the day, dear Lincoln's job, we heard, was to go to the skeptics among his stable of contributors, upset sometimes by Mr. B.'s ambitions, and tell them, "Let's keep the guy happy!" Let's give him (them) resources, and freedom. But I don't want to give the impression that I'm against new choreography! Nothing could become classic if no one had done it the first time. Meanwhile, if the current "AG" is tending the garden, if there are green shoots to be seen, leave 'em alone for a while. After all, hasn't the company come through a period when it was directed by some one who thought he was a choreographer? That's harsh, and I want to add right away, that Martins, troubled man, did keep the whole thing going, trying to do both jobs - AD and fund raiser. Good for him!
  8. There's about 1:10 of it on Youtube currently, after a still image of Balanchine rehearsing Union Jack, where, the narrator tells us, Balanchine put some of what he made to that Handel music: And here's an interesting discussion some of us had here about Figure, and what's left of it: https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/34109-balanchine-working-with-dancers-in-the-figure-in-the-carpet/ It appears there's much too little left of that one to revive it. Only the treat of the way NYCB danced then, especially Adams! But there is that entire preview film of the premiere of Don Quixote; if no one fronts the money while Farrell (and some of the dancers she trained in Don Q, like Magnicaballi and Ogden and Mladenov) is still among us, that may be our only source for what we need if we would better comprehend this unique work of Balanchine's art.
  9. How far did you get, kbarber? Before you walked out. I'm just curious, because the first Act, in those days especially, was certainly trying. It picked up considerably in Act II, especially the Divertissements, and the first Scene of Act III, even without Farrell - there's a glimpse of her in the "Elusive Muse" documentary - where the "Dream" turns into a nightmare is, for some of us, a cumulation of much of what has gone before. As Rock points out, above. But the Divertissements needn't have the Spanish court; aren't we good enough? Stage them for us. TSFB staged Mauresque alone; I liked it, like the lady behind me one night in Edinburgh said she did, and it has some of the best music. (Some like the Dream music too.) Here's some discussion provoked by the Edinburgh performances - I trust you are thinking of the Toronto ones a year later - and I'm embarrassed so much of it is from me, but there are some ideas from my betters, some of which, like the idea that IIIi is dependent on previous action, show how unfair extracting a suite would be: https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/21161-sfb-to-perform-don-quixote-at-edinburgh-festival/?do=findComment&comment=189776
  10. Jack Reed

    Season Opening. TPC#2. Concerto Barocco.

    "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto Number Two"? What are they trying to do, get the classical-music crowd interested in ballet? Here I thought ballet marketing was all about getting people to like what nice kids dancers are in their private lives, or not so private... Like, they go on the beach like ordinary young people. Will wonders never cease? But the reason Villella gave - I think someone asked him about that at one of his pre-performance talks - was that "Ballet Imperial" was an easier name to sell. But this is a nice bit of programming, on paper, better than the one announced for here in Chicago next month.
  11. Jack Reed

    "Watching ballet through a #MeToo lens"

    Well put. The sad thing about this reaction against art is how it impoverishes the spectator's experience. I feel for those who may recoil from some art - Paul Taylor's Big Bertha has scared the daylights out of me, for example, to give a poor example in our context here - for whatever reason. But art is not literal, like the everyday world; what we see and hear or whatever is representational. It represents a world of the artist's conception, and our experience is enlarged - we are changed, maybe permanently - by our encounter. I wish people could leave their socio-political formulas at the door and have some fresh experiences. Yes, I care that the game goes a little far, and feel some relief when the girl finally gets her purse back. That's part of what I came in for. Thank you, Jerry and Lenny, for showing us these kids - imaginary but believable. If a show won't let us suspend disbelief, it's not much of a trip anywhere. But we have to be willing to go.
  12. Jack Reed

    Maurice Bejart at the Opera and Elsewhere

    I agree that he did, Mashinka. IIRC, Bejart said of her, in that documentary Helene mentions, "I knew she was from Balanchine and would go to Balanchine, but I could see the music in that body," or words to that effect. I think some indication of what he saw in that body may be seen in the 1966 video, pretty well shot by Italian television, of Bejart's Romeo et Juiliette (to the Berlioz score); just now, there are 10 or 15 minutes of excerpts of it on Youtube, and the whole thing has been for sale on Amazon. Personally, I have a good time with that video, the first two acts of the music long having been a favorite, although the third act, not so much. (Similarly, Bejart, as you may hear on that sound track.)
  13. This really does deserve a new topic, Rock. Look in the upper right corner of this page for the phrase "Start new topic" in faint gray print - easy to miss - just left of the bold, dark "Reply to this topic" button. Don't worry about repeating yourself there. Go ahead, get people's attention!
  14. Jack Reed

    Paul Taylor 1930-2018 (merged)

    Gottlieb may be right - he usually is - but my casual consultation of Taylor's company's tour-stop list over the years, just checking to see whether my provincial city, Chicago, were mentioned, brought up more French cities than American, some seasons. So I'm surprised by his claim. This season, there seems to be about as many stops in China (this November) as in America, and there are a few in Germany and Italy. That's more important to me than an isolated Taylor work or two performed by dancers to whom - or "on" whom - may look a little alien. (Edward Villella's MCB performed a couple, but they were like that. Nothing like so fully realized as by his own dancers.)
  15. Jack Reed


    Significantly, to judge from the publication dates in 2011 and 2008, these three clips (five posts above) are of MCB while Villella was still running it! And I would say, having seen hundreds of performances of NYCB while Balanchine was still running it, and just beyond, from 1973 into 1986, that your use of the word "probably" is well advised, Buddy. To my eyes, both these "Balanchine" companies are less likable recently than when they danced for their respective founders. Villella's company gave me much the same satisfactions as Balanchine's had; and these clips of it are very satisfying too. Like the videos of Balanchine's company made when he was supervising it, and shortly after his death. Many other good points here too. It's good to try to catch experience in words that fit - you get the experience stronger when they do fit - and important to keep Balanchine's words in context - sometimes the context of a particular dancer, yes, and sometimes more in general. I don't think he wanted theatricality - usually - but he wanted the dance to be inhabited. That's partly why he chose who he chose to dance in the first place and to revive a ballet later. But this thread is mainly about the Mariinsky's Balanchine, and, to be truthful, right now I can't remember seeing any, on screen or, here in Chicago where I still live, on stage. (My limited experience leads me to think that authenticity in Balanchine performance is in decline.)