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Jack Reed

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Everything posted by Jack Reed

  1. After eight years, another interview of - or conversation with - Farrell and Emily Fragos, this one about a week old, apparently: https://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2021/08/emily-fragos-in-conversation-with-suzanne-farrell.html (One from 2013 is noted upthread.)
  2. It certainly is still available! Thank you for straightening me out, Kathleen. This stream, like the two companion streams on the Pillow website offering background, also has the advantage for some of us of subtitles in English or French, which the YouTube fragments I checked do not.
  3. Anyone seeing something of interest on this list posted above might well pay closer attention than I did - the first item, Pite’s Body and Soul, originally announced as available through July 15, has already been taken down a day or two early. (The 2017 conversation with Pite and rehearsal excerpts, streamed from the Royal Opera House, remains available on YouTube, along with many short fragments apparently from the POB video scattered about that site.)
  4. I didn’t see it, but as you tell it, Roberta, this is professional marketing, not intended to showcase their balletic abilities, to give us a little free sample of that unusual thing they do to lure us in to see more, but to get us to form positive associations with these young people as people, not as performers, even, and maybe to be relaxed and curious about their main occupation - their careers, their calling, even. In the rainy Pacific Northwest, nice people might plant gardens; how normal. Who could be put off by that? We can relate, and isn’t that what the marketers are trying to archive? In the tropical Southeast, MCB’s publicity videos years ago showed some appealing MCB youngsters on the beach, also like normal people. Nice kids who go to the beach in the afternoon. Very positive. (The website also had 90-second clips of some repertory, to be fair.) But exactly why that’s supposed to attract a paying audience is not clear to me, though, and it doesn’t look like it’s clear to you either. I like your idea of a showcase, or what I’ve heard of about some restaurants which lack business - they put a server on the sidewalk with a tray of samples: Those who like a taste may go in and get a meal. Not relating so much to the staff as people but to what they cook and serve, right? It worked in the 70’s - the morning after an early Dance in America show on PBS, featuring the Joffrey Ballet, it was said that the line at the box office window of the New York City Center theater extended out the door and down the street. Nowadays, if I remember correctly what I read, there’s no ballet on PBS because they think they don’t know how to market it. What did they forget?
  5. The 2013 Ballet Chicago staging rg lists above exists on a good video by them, unlisted on YouTube (no telling for how much longer): My profuse apologies for not having posted here earlier, when you could access it through the Ballet Chicago site at balletchicago.org and find an RSVP button that worked - i.e. that admitted you to a path to the video page. On the other hand, we did talk about it on the 2021 streaming thread: https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/46027-2021-free-streaming-during-covid-19-crisis/ around page 4. Another thing worth mentioning is that this version matches the numbers and their sequence in the notes I made in the mid-'70s, watching Balanchine's NYCB, which the TSFB version, beautiful though it is in other respects, did not, in respect of one number. But I agree with all of those who say this needs to be seen more often, whether in agreement with Mr. B's later thoughts or - not quite. And perhaps finally, in the Zoom chat following this showing, Patricia Blair, who runs the school Ballet Chicago with her husband Dan Duell, revealed the trouble she went to, finding a New York costume shop to make the costumes according to Karinska's designs, at a moderate price. The Ballet Chicago Studio Company typically performs in costumes made by "The Guild of the Golden Needle", believed to be a group of dancers' mothers; these costumes represent an unusual and substantial investment, in other words. I think we have reason to believe we will see them worn again, folks.
  6. Buddy's question is a little old now, but here where we are talking about the last Ballet Chicago Studio Company program, Balanchine's Swan Lake, which is supposed to be available until Friday April 2nd at 7:00 Central Daylight Time, I can say, having just learned it, that four of the soloists there, the four who accompany the Odette in the eighth number, Dana Coons, Meghan Behnke, Devin Johnson, and Taylor Richard, ranged in age from 11-14. The girls in Barocco and Divertimento may be a year or two older. It may also be worth pointing out that the Studio Company carries out the intention of the school that some students perform at a professional level when they are still pre-professional in order to prepare them for professional company experience. You may be wondering how that 11-year-old got into the Studio Company. A friend and her dancing teen-ager were in their studios one day, and she asked that very question, How long does it take to get into the Studio Company: "When. They're. Ready," was the reply we heard. "Time served" has nothing to do with it. You can be 11, if you're good enough. Only if you are good enough.
  7. The only reference to costume changes in Nancy Reynolds' Balanchine Catalog was the 1964 one for the move to the State Theater; I even searched the page for the word black, but it didn't come up.
  8. For what it's worth, I don't remember anything being said about the black costumes being Mr. B's idea from the time I saw it. Alain Vaes's design was a Martins innovation, as far as I know, though as far as I know, Mr. B. could have said something about it in his last, long decline. (Martins was said to be practically commuting from the State Theater to Roosevelt Hospital, a few blocks away, where Balanchine was dying, for advice.) Probably better not to speculate on that; better to treat skeptically reports of his unrealized ideas. In general, he drew on his past, his heritage, but as his Swan Lake exemplifies, if it wasn't right in one way or another, he'd change it, or try to. Notice Reynolds says in the Catalogue entry I linked to that he restored something at the end he had removed - that tells us something about his continuing thinking; the ending of Swan Lake is a problem for many stagers. Of his Swan Lake, he was reported at the time I was seeing it - not in the 50's, but in the mid-'70's - to have said about it, "I've got all the cholesterol out." (With the accent on the last syllable!)
  9. "[S]o Balanchine!" Yes, yes. The real thing, to this old man. "That's the way it was." Regarding the Zoom material, I'm afraid we may be out of luck; I think those are strictly live. (The red "Recording" dot I've seen in the upper left corner of a Zoom meeting was not on, so BC may not have a recording themselves.) But regarding Reynolds, yes, Repertory in Review is copyright 1977, but the redoubtable Nancy Reynolds is research director of The George Balanchine Foundation, which publishes and updates the Balanchine Catalog; its main entry on Swan Lake has more recent material, including two references to stagings by Ballet Chicago (in 2013, a performance of which we saw here, and in 2018); there's a lot of information there covering his changes. (Personally, I'm among those who consider this source scrupulous compared to the more casual NYCB website.)
  10. Agreeing with both statements; correct me, but I think that on the rare occasion when NYCB does this short version, they use the new costumes - the corps in black - and an augmented corps at that, so that the clarity of Mr. B's designs - his "luminous clarity" I believe Edwin Denby called it once, not just here but generally in Balanchine's works - is lost. Black is the least visible color, and the stage looked clotted when I saw this revision many years ago. So this restoration is wonderful - literally full of wonders - as you say. But more than that, there may be a number here that's not done too often. California, did you stay for the Zoom discussion afterward? I didn't quite get Dan Duell's remark about a number Sandra Jennings suggested, during their negotiations, that they might include because it wasn't done much. Or was she referring to the whole suite? I saw some of his versions of this a lot in the 70's, when Violette Verdy was alternating with Melssa Hayden, and even visited the Royal's production once when it was next door at the Met. I was surprised at how many of their "white" sequences were familiar from Mr. B's production - every other one it seemed, in places; he had replaced a duller one with something more luminous, leaving in what suited him. They said they worked from Sergeyev's notebooks, so we may see here a lot of Ivanov.
  11. I passed your question about dancers' ages along to B.C., and I'll post if and when I hear back. I think you want to know how old they were when they performed in these videos, but in the meantime, I gather that the oldest members of the B.C. Studio Company are mostly pre-collegiate; since these videos were shot, one has gone on to Harvard, another divides her time between B.C. and Northwestern, which she chose partly for its proximity to B.C., I think, as well as family - behind every dance student, there's a family, as far as I know, a very close one, which reminds me - have I mentioned that the majority of their costumes are made by "The Guild of the Golden Needle," a group of the students' mothers? I'm curious about when those "compilations of Balanchine's own company" you've seen were shot. In the late '80's NYCB changed radically in the view of many of us in his audience, and a lot of us, called "Old Audience" by the NYCB marketing department, stopped attending regularly - or at all - because it didn't do anything for us anymore. But I try not to miss any of B.C.'s shows, on stage or on screen, because to a considerable extent I do get what I feel I have to have now and then, from them. (I'll admit that being able to sleep in my own bed is a plus.) Without trying to describe what it is, it looks here like we may both perceive that authentic performance quality, although I don't know if you had much experience watching his company in the theater when Balanchine was there. Other performers today may offer us (most of) Balanchine's steps and moves, coordinated with the music at each instant, and that can be rewarding to see, but in my experience the Ballet Chicago Studio Company makes them more clearly visible, makes more clearly visible their organic relationship to that music, than some professional companies (with older dancers).
  12. Agree with Quiggin about that Ballo. Not the least of the enjoyment for me was Ashley's own joy in what they did for her. (And for what they all did for us, in another sense.) Also agree that NYCB's ability to give us Balanchine's Balanchine anymore has faded - through neglect, I'd say. (In the theater if not on screen Farrell's work with them a couple of years ago restored a lot of it to a few of his ballets.) So, some archive videos from them were also wonderful to see, the Midsummer Night's Dream from 1986, at least the last act of Coppelia from 1978, and best of all of these, the Vienna Waltzes - Mozartiana - Who Cares? one from 1983. But the streaming is still going on, right? (Ballet Chicago's is. They're my "home team." Some companies will surely continue to do more.) Isn't this contest a little premature?
  13. This is a big subject, and two thoughts come to me at the moment. The trivial one is that Ballet Chicago, run by Dan Duell and Patricia Blair is not exactly the Chicago Ballet - or the Chicago City Ballet, to be precise, whose artistic director was Maria Tallchief - although the earlier Chicago company company was in the same vein, directed by Balanchine dancers (besides Tallchief, Paul Mejia) in his "manner and style" (to quote a phrase used by yet another of the Balanchine "diaspora" who directed a company, Edward Villella). But as to the Balanchine manner and style - I think he wanted from his performers a continuing, not yet complete (non finito), evolving realization of how the movement and the music relate, not a completely perfected performance of a role. Martins, when he came along (and surprisingly), complained that Balanchine would "throw on" a ballet which, after several performances, was "a little all right," evidently looking at first under-rehearsed to Martins. (Surprisingly, that Balanchine didn't seem to know this would happen if the company were in Martins's hands.) But in "throwing on" a ballet, wasn't Balanchine leaving it to the dancers to make the changes of the moment? He knew his dancers, of course. Balanchine put this clearly enough on the occasion when he said, "Never mind perfect. Perfect is boring." (It would help to know the occasion.) Perfect is not boring to everyone, of course, but that was part of his credo, and it speaks to the freshness we see in the young dancers of our school here, Ballet Chicago. Did it speak to the "manner and style" of the younger dancers Balanchine picked for Palais de cristal in Paris in 1947? Didn't he want dancers who were more open to his direction than the older ones, more set in their ways? We can only speculate, but rather than rework a ballet to suit, say, the Mariinsky company, I think he would more likely try to find dancers in St. Petersburg who were already the most suitable for some of his repertory and also more able to be adapted to it. Maybe younger ones. (I gather something like this happens when the Balanchine Trust sends someone to stage a Balanchine ballet and discovers, on watching class, that they're not suited to it, but better suited to another one instead.)
  14. I don't know anything about company class as it's given at NYCB now, but back in the day it emerged that Balanchine was likely to give whatever he thought the company needed. There was the famous (or maybe infamous) instance of one class where he gave battement tendu, a movement he regarded as basic, for an hour - the dancers, so my friends, some of whom worked for the company or who knew dancers, told me, came out complaining that their legs felt like they were going to drop off. Nor did I ever have the experience of seeing class at MCB, but it looks like from what you say that Villella had more of a set pattern. Whatever it was, it worked, and his company gave me more of what I needed than Peter Martins's NYCB did. But Balanchine himself made a point of extending the dancers toward extremes - fast and slow, for example - so they could do anything, and I would expect that today from those who got it from him, in New York, more at SAB (where Balanchine's dancers teach), than at NYCB, run by dancers who matured under Martins, wherever they may have started. This shows some more of the value of these Ballet Chicago performances. They offer another kind of Balanchine, more authentic, I'd say.
  15. That's the kind of life and enjoyment we got every night (and twice on weekend afternoons) from Balanchine's New York City Ballet, only more so, as the dancers were a little older, a little longer in their development under his supervision, and so, a little stronger than these Ballet Chicago dancers. A member of what NYCB's marketing department called the "Old Audience" in the mid '80's, I saw hundreds of performances of his company between January 1973 and May 1986, because I had to: I had figured out around 1970, when NYCB stopped coming to Chicago for a week in Summer, that something was missing from my life, and that I might find it in New York. It's partly because these Ballet-Chicago dancer-students are students, but I think it's also because of their teaching from dancers who danced for Balanchine (or for Villella, or Farrell), that, even though they are secure in their steps and moves, they continue to explore how these movements fit what they hear. At any rate, that's the way it looks. That's fresh life, that gives enjoyment, otherwise it's dry. And rare, on stage anymore. And it may be - we speculate on this sometimes - why a forthright dancer, Messmer, keeps moving on, wanting to dance Balanchine, wanting to find an environment like he provided to grow and be nurtured in. And to nurture others in that way: She is often listed among the teachers in B.C.'s Summer programs.
  16. Jack Reed

    Simone Messmer

    Way to go, friends! I want to thank pherank for his compliment, but the report of my expertise was exaggerated, to paraphrase one of my favorite American writers. I'm glad canbelto filled in; that's what makes BalletAlert! true to its origin, a circle (online now) of ballet lovers cluing each other in. But in that ancient New Yorker piece, Arlene Croce refers at the end to "the audience": If it weren't for us, there'd be no one there except the audience. I'd like to bring the more general audience in too, and I'm glad for reports of difficulties with access that I can bring to the attention of B.C.'s administration.
  17. Jack Reed

    Simone Messmer

    Ballet Chicago is a school; their Studio Company is the best of them.
  18. Jack Reed

    Simone Messmer

    cobweb and nanushka, according to the program we get with access, the Barocco cast is indeed lead by Messmer, Nina Montalbano, and Jordan Nelson, and as I saw both programs in the Harris Theater here in Chicago, I can testify the date was May 11, 2019, though I'm not sure whether we are getting the matinee or evening show. Adding a little more testimony, in case you'd like it: https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/44785-2019-spring-repertory-may-11-in-the-harris-theater-choreography-by-duell-seymour-balanchine/ (Scroll down. Barocco concluded the program.)
  19. Jack Reed

    Simone Messmer

    Here's a link to my post on the 2021 Free Streaming Video thread about that: https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/46027-2021-free-streaming-during-covid-19-crisis/?do=findComment&comment=432076 (Would any of you like to express a preference for seeing that whole post embedded here, which is the current default of our board software, rather than follow the link, which conserves our resources, I believe?)
  20. Ballet Chicago's Virtual Spring Season, February 27 - March 28, 2021 Ballet Chicago, a fine local school run by Daniel Duell, who danced in Balanchine's NYCB, and his wife, Patricia Blair, who danced in the Eglevsky Ballet on Long Island when Edward Villella was "Artistic Advisor," has put together seven programs, compiled from their archive videos, going as far back as 1998, I believe. One program, observing Black History month, is already underway: The programs are available on Zoom and YouTube, starting on a weekend and running through the following week. Some look a little short, about 30-45 minutes. Here's a special link to that first program, where Duell's own Ellington Suite begins at 24:54, and which is supposed to be on YouTube until 7 PM Friday March 5: https://youtu.be/T5Pq3pwomJ0 Here's a link to their February Newsletter, with details about halfway down the page, including buttons to click to take you to the video or to contribute, which is optional. Note that you can watch the videos for nothing, although, ballet school that they are, they do ask for donations, like, $20 per show. Good ballet school that they are, they're to my taste in ballet, even in their "house-made" dances, because I like to see what I hear, and they're seriously pre-professional about their training; I wouldn't bother with them myself otherwise: https://www.balletchicago.org/so/62NVBYLGC?languageTag=en&cid=7d2d89cb-b5a9-40e3-90e2-17e08a9c0818#/main And some of the repertory is of the best, in my opinion: Note that the second program consists of two Balanchine ballets, Concerto Barocco, to Bach's "Concerto for Two Violins" and Divertimento No.15, to (most of) Mozart's Divertimento in Bb for Horn and Strings, K. 287; the sixth one concludes with (most of) his Gershwin ballet, Who Cares?, and the seventh with his half-hour distillation, based mostly on the original Acts II and IV, of Swan Lake. (These performances by the Ballet Chicago Studio Company meet the standards of the Balanchine Trust and are presented with their permission. They took place in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in downtown Chicago.) The more "in house" programs four, five and six have some narrative dances by Artistic Director Dan Duell, Hansel and Gretel, and B.C.'s Resident Choreographer Ted Seymour; in program five Seymour uses much of Beethoven's music for "The Creatures of Prometheus," rarely choreographed, with another ballet to Ravel's homage to an older composer, "Le Tombeau de Couperin". The quality of the video is bound to vary from piece to piece, reflecting Ballet Chicago's tight budget and our times, but I hope you find enough to enjoy.
  21. Agreeing with what Kathleen O'Connell said about No Fixed Points, I add only that it has lately reappeared in paperback, at only $35, as against $60 for the clothbound version - when Yale University Press actually had it in stock, that is: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300259322/no-fixed-points I infer that the content is the original, from 2003, including 200 illustrations.
  22. With this kind of thing going on, this seems the right thread after all to post in about Ballet Chicago's streaming Nutcracker compilations. They're not free, no, and the video quality is variable, but Ballet Chicago is a good, serious school, and, plainly, everybody connected with it knows better than to present a disaster like the one GretchenStar writes about. I've already linked just above to my other post in its original timidly chosen location, but here again is the link to some video of one of their most popular scenes: https://vimeo.com/247428800
  23. We have a thread for free streaming professional company performances and another for professional streaming Nutcrackers "all in one place", but technically, Ballet Chicago is a ballet school, a very good one, IMHO, one which puts on some very satisfying performances, including an annual Nutcracker mostly of their own invention - well, most of what I like about it is that they follow Tchaikovsky's directions very well - so I offer a post in this place. (And part of the invention on view is 3/4 of the pas de deux attributed to George Balanchine, by permission of the Balanchine Trust, placed all together near the end of Act II, with a male variation made by AD Daniel Duell, an alum of Balanchine's NYCB.) Now they offer three (or four, they're still at work on them) compilations from the best casts over the years since 2005. Here's a link to their schedule and casting. You'll notice some repetition of programs, but no big-name guest stars. (None needed. This may not be SAB, but it is a serious school.) The names of the top of the school - the Ballet Chicago Studio Company - are here too, in case you try one or two of these and want to know, who was that? At least, I hope that happens: https://www.balletchicago.org/casting And here's where you can buy tickets - actually, a link sent to your email in-box, along with a password. Do click the start time at least two hours early to make the transaction online, or otherwise, call the box office: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/1033697 I've posted on and off over the years about BC farther down the page for this forum, with background and images and links to some video, but here's a link to a video of their Snow scene, a hit of the production (choreographed by Patricia Blair, Dan's partner in life and art, formerly with the Eglevsky Ballet when Edward Villella was Artistic Advisor): https://vimeo.com/247428800
  24. I happen to share Hogmel's taste, or preference, only I developed it in the theater. The NYCB video programs recently shown, one ending with the last act of Coppelia, another with Mozartiana in the middle, and especially the one of Chaconne posted on Kurt Froman's YouTube channel (which some of us old fans consider the best Farrell-Martins performance on screen - or, maybe, ever), all from the 70's and early 80's, also do more for me than anything NYCB or most other companies attempting Balanchine do lately, for that matter. I saw hundreds of performances of his company (i.e. not Peter Martins's company) from early 1973 through early 1986, because I had to: Not that I was paid to "cover" it - no one would pay me, I'm not that good a writer! - but because I felt in the late 60's by which time NYCB stopped visiting Chicago (where I still live), that something was missing from my life, and I figured out around 1970 what it was: Their dancing; and so I soon started visiting New York, to be restored. There were lots of us "Old Audience", and in the mid-80's, Pete Martins had adjusted the dancing to something that might be described as affectless; still, a good performance of a Balanchine ballet will show how the movement answers to - or sometimes leads - the musical sounds, which he did better and more often than most, IMHO, but by the '85-'86 season, most of us decamped, and NYCB's marketers had to find "New Audience". (The recent video ending with Coppelia Act III began with examples of Martin's NYCB's more recent dancing.) I hope Hogmel and others who are interested in this comparison are aware of some other documentation of Balanchine's company and his way of having his ballets danced: There are the two "Choreography by Balanchine" DVD's, some with video technical problems the four earlier VHS editions didn't have; the video of Robert Schumann's Davidsbuendlertaenze; the hard-to-find 1965 film of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the even-harder-to-see film from the same time of Balanchine's Don Quixote, and some others I'm probably forgetting.
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