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Jack Reed

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About 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

    ABT and Celebrity Cruises

    This news seems like a "death knell" to you? I have a hunch you're right, but I don't know. Maybe you could elaborate a little. A death knell for the art of dance? Or mainly for ballet as we know it and love it? How so?
  2. They seem to have given up for today, Thursday, so I'm not sure what the "live" part of the term "livestream" means if it's a day old, but never mind, let's see what we can see. (I doubt they sent their audience home, not to mention their dancers, just because of "technical difficulties", so the actual event must already have taken place by now.) There's a statement of intentions in the live-chat thread on the relevant Instagram page: pacificnorthwestballet @annae.wgn yes, it will be available on YouTube for one month afterwards. That's one month from tomorrow, the 25th, as far as I can tell.
  3. Ballet - a little of it - returns to PBS' Great Performances. How long has it been? Or have there been other PBS opera broadcasts with ballet inserted? At any rate, the 30-seond tease might give a better idea of the ballet part than the 3-minute excerpt; both linked on this page: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/orphee-et-eurydice-lyric-opera-of-chicago-joffrey-ballet-about-the-opera/9204/ Choreography by John Neumier, who directs the production; TV direction by Matthew Diamond. (Neither of these gentlemen are among my personal favorites, but I've set my recorder anyway for the 9:00 PM broadcast on Friday the 18th. Here in Chicago, there is a rebroadcast scheduled the following Sunday, the 20th (at 3:00 AM).)
  4. I'm with the Balanchine fans here, not least because his respects the story, but mostly because I most enjoy dancing when I see what I hear - and Mr. B. gave us more of that than anybody whose choreography I've seen. I think it's one of his greatest ballets, because you can see right along how he hears Tchaikovsky's instructions. Unfortunately, the last time I saw a really good realization of it was in 2011, when Villella's MCB danced it Ft. Lauderdale, just a week after the NYCB broadcast on PBS, which did no one much credit - neither NYCB nor PBS. (By contrast, the 1993 Warner Brothers video of NYCB is worth having for Kyra Nichols' Dewdrop alone, not to mention Emile Ardolino's excellent directing, which lets us see the performance unusually well.) A couple of years ago I saw three productions - the new Wheeldon one for the Joffrey Ballet, which was another disappointment for someone who remembers how well Wheeldon heard Ligetti's music in Polyphonia. (Alastair Macaulay's review in the Times says most of what I think abut that one better than I can.) But the old Joffrey one - which I thought was by Joffrey himself, although someone here credits Gerald Arpino - which I saw only in a one-hour version on our local PBS station, frustrated me for looking "deaf" - it told the story, but in movement unaware of most the specific and enlivening guidance Tchaikovsky provides. And then PNB's new production of the Balanchine choreography, with costumes and other effects, like a projected animation on the curtain to give the audience something mundane to think about - a comic herd of large mice galloping across the yard and up the steps through the open front doors - instead of letting Tchaikovsky transport them to the world of Balanchine's ballet, which subtracted from the potential. Not to mention some tired-looking principals in a few of the five casts I saw late in the season, though some, like Noelani Pantastico, Lindsi Dec, and their partners, brought their parts to transcendent life. But listening as I watched, the choreography was always magnificent. I heard better for watching closely. You thought they moved according to what they heard. Back home, the Ballet Chicago production turned out to provide the most satisfaction, even though B.C. is "only" a very good school, with enough top students now not to include guests (although Simone Messmer was welcomed a few years ago, on her way to San Francisco, apparently). The Sugar Plum pas de deux is the surviving Balanchine one, a serviceable Cavalier variation having been made by Artistic Director Daniel Duell, and placed as the penultimate number; a lovely, musically aware Snow scene - including a pas de deux adagio to the Pine Forest music - having been choreographed by his partner in running the school and in life, Patricia Blair; and the other numbers also choreographed with musical sensitivity by Duell and also, in the new, dancey Battle scene, partly by Ted Seymour. Not only that, the look of the costumes, including the way they move, enhanced the dancing too - I had issues with the other two productions on this point. And the dancers generally look like they were still exploring how their moves fit the sounds we all heard - naturally for them, students that they are, not so common elsewhere, where the emphasis is more on polish and perfection - B.C.'s dancing often has some of that immediacy I enjoy. These two, really, are my favorite "Nuts"; they easily displace the two Joffrey ones in my affections. I do remember positively a Ballet West production, by one of the Christensen brothers, which I saw on television. Other than that fact, I can't remember much about it, but I mention it because it was on television, and therefor there may be a record of it lurking somewhere. And then there's Mark Morris's "The Hard Nut". Usually I enjoy watching how Morris hears, but I can't gt anywhere with this one.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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
  7. 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.)
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. 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?)
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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.