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Mark D

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  1. Zerbinetta, I think you have made some some good observations. After my original post my wife and I talked about the ballet on and off all day. As much as we enjoyed the evening and the final pas de deux it is hard to remember any of the choreography or dancing that was particularly notable. When one injects comedic characters like the stepsisters into central roles in a ballet there is always a danger that their presence will distract from the dancing. You may end up with a comedy with some ballet in it, rather than a ballet that has comedic roles. I don't think that Kudelka did this but he certainly comes close to crossing the line. In the end it was still a very enjoyable evening.
  2. We had seen a small preview of the ballet and a discussion with James Kudelka a few weeks ago at the Guggenheim's Works & Process program. Based on that I was not sure how I would feel about this ballet. We saw the performance last night and absolutely loved it. First Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes are two of our favorite dancers and I can't add to anything that has not already been said on this board about both of them. She is so ethereal and delicate a dancer it is a pleasure to watch her. We both loved the pas de deux in the last act. Both stepsisters were hilarious. When denied Prince Charming any man would do. They even went after the conductor, Ormsby Wilkins, when he came on to take his bows. However, MVP has to go to Erica Cornejo as "Her Other Stepsister." She played that comedic role for all it was worth. The ridiculous glasses probably gave her an edge of Carmen Corella. She came out from under the curtain to take her final bow. What is not clear is how much of Erica’s performance was at Kudelka’s direction or of her own inspiration. There appear to have been some in jokes as well. At one point when the Prince is searching the world for Cinderella he ends up in a cold climate. A person (creature?) comes out wearing coat with stripes. My wife pointed out that it was the design of a blanket that used to be sold by the Hudson Bay Company. Even the program was part of the joke. In the synopsis it says about the Prince's ball, "Cinderella's stepsisters were accomplished social climbers and somehow they managed to wangle invitations for themselves." The audience loved it. An aside about audience behavior to give us all some perspective on ABT. I am a big "ssssher" when it comes to talking. I could hear the couple next to us and gave them a big "ssshhh." Usually when you do this people usually keep quiet and nothing more is said. At the intermission the man leaned over an apologized effusively. He explained that they were visiting New York from Sweden and he was so excited about seeing ABT dance that he got carried away. Of course that made me feel a little guilty. However, at the next intermission we had a good conversation about New York and Sweden. We saw Le Corsaire on the 23rd when it was Latin night. We were totally blown away with that performance which has been so adequately described by other people on the board. Last night was another gem. So far ABT is batting 1000 this season. It's a major reason why live in New York.
  3. Today (Dec 2) The Leonard Lopate show, which plays locally in New York on WNYC(93.9 FM and 820 AM at noon), will have the film makers and Freddie Franklin on to talk about the film. I think the interviews are posted later on the Internet as well. Here is the web site: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate
  4. We have been supporters of SAB for several years now and love attending those classes. We too went to the class taught by Jock Soto and as usual were not disappointed. For what it is worth, in introducing the class Kay Mazzo said the Peter Martins was the greatest partner of her generation. Martins told her that Soto was the greatest partner he had ever seen. But then I guess we all know how good Jock is. I have learned a great deal about ballet from attending those classes, but I get more out of it than that. I can remember attending my first class several years ago and watching Suki Schorer teaching a group of 14-15 years olds. As I sat there I kept thinking this is being taught as it has been for years now. It is a fixed point in a changing universe and for me is a refuge from all the turmoil (politics, the war) going on out in the world. There was something very calming and reassuring about it all.
  5. We saw Apollo at Sunday's matinee and were disappointed. Dancers included Steifels, Herrara, Murphy and Riccetto. It was hard for us to put our fingers on the reason why. It simply lacked the elegance and grace of the performances we have seen at NYCB. We don't know whether the music was too fast, the dancing to frenetic or it was just too "bubbly," but it was not the same. The person sitting next to us, whom we did not know, also thought there was something lacking. I hope someone with a more educated eye than I have also saw this performance and can provide greater insight. We loved Rodeo. It is the first time I've seen it as far as I can remember. Xiomara Reyes as the Cowgirl and Jared Matthews from the Corps as the Head Wrangler really stood out. I really enjoy it when a member of the Corps has a chance to show his or her stuff. Matthews generally did not disappoint. However, I'm not sure the tap sequence went as well as it might have. As for Gong. My wife enjoyed it and I didn't. I generally do not relate very well to Mark Morris and accept my wife's occasional judgement that, at times, I am a cultural lout.
  6. We too attended Ligeti-Wheeldon event at the Miller Theater. I cannot add much to harpergroup's comments about the ballets. They pretty much sum up my own feelings. The dancers were absolutely superb. I always fear that Whelan or Bouder will disappoint me some day. It never happens. I do want to add to the warning about the balcony. My sight line was framed by a railing that cut off the front part of the stage and two heads that cut off the sides of the stage. As they plan to have many more dance events everyone should try to get seats in the orchestra. Now to one of the male dancers. While the dancers were warming up I kept thinking that I recognized Jason Fowler from somewhere. My wife and I are both sure we saw him as a student in an SAB class only a few years ago. He stood out from the rest of the male dancers in the class because of his size and muscularity. Yet his bio says he has been in the corps since 1996. Does he have a younger twin (joke) brother? Or, do they occasionally put a "ringer" into the classes to impress the supporters of the school?
  7. My fondest memory of Ansanelli is New Year's Eve 2003 when she gave a great demonstration of her charisma. As most of you know the dancers have traditionally used that performance of the Nutcracker to pull a prank on one of the dancers. That night she was dancing Dew Drop and the company picked on her. In the finale one of the Teas dropped her wig on the stage as she came out. She charged down the stage, scooped up the wig and held it up to the audience like a trophy. She continued dancing with the wig in her hand. As she leapt off the stage she threw it in the air. The audience just loved it. It may be unrealistisc, but my wife and I hope ABT picks her up so can continue to watch her dance.
  8. For drb. Don't get me wrong I think Murphy danced this ballet extremely well. We are big fans of hers. That's why we went out of the way to get tickets for that performance. I'm in no position say it was her greatest performance ever as we only really noticed her last fall at City Center. (Too much time at New York City Ballet and not enough with ABT) We look forward to seeing a lot more of her. That said, I just found something lacking that I saw in Don Q and Le Corsaire earlier in the season. I'm just not sure that Carreno is the best partner for her. For example, I saw Don Q with Paloma Herrera and Angel Corella early in the season. Herrara has a lot of critics but I found the performance really stunning for two reasons. First, I think she is dancing better. Second, the chemistry between her and Corella (they have been dancing together for at least ten years) to be absolutely magnetic. It made the ballet for me. I realize it is a different ballet, but that chemistry I think is important in any ballet. Let's both agree we all look forward to seeing more of her.
  9. My wife and I saw Friday night's performance of Swan Lake with Gillian Murphy (Odette-Odile), Joe Carreno (Siegfried) Marcelo Gomes (Third Act von Rothbart) and Herman Cornejo (Benno). I was somewhat suprised to see a review of the performance by John Rockwell in Saturday's Times. Talk about fast turn around. As I am always suspicious of the motives of critics, I wondered if two-thirds of the review had been written even before the performance. I was wrong. Even more, I generally agreed with the review. See the Links section for the review. We went specifically to see Gillian Murphy. While she and Carreno danced with well it was somewhat of a flat performance. There was very little chemistry between the two of them. Unlike Rockwell I do think her Odette was done really well. Rockwell is correct that Gomes stood out in the Third Act and the audience recognized it with the amount of applause he received. It was not only his dancing but his mime as well. The point has been made before and I agree that he does evil roles really well. I also agree with Rockwell that Cornejo's dancing was a pleasure to watch. As for the two swans danced by Part and Corello. See the review but they were totally out of sync. This comes under the category of "stuff happens." I am sure they were both frustrated and embarassed. However, I'm also sure a few years from now they will both laugh and say "Let me tell you about the time ....."
  10. We saw the Fokine ballets on Saturday night. I am a hopless romantic but I still consider Les Sylphides one of the most beautiful of ballets. The audience gave a very audible sigh of disappointment when told that Maria Riccetto would be taking Julie Kent's place. However by the time the performance was over she had won the audience over. The Corps, which appeared so ragged in Sylvia, was in very good shape. David Hallberg was superb as were Yriko Kajiya and Melanie Hamrick. I had a hard time relating to Petrouchka. The crowd is so busy that I found it distracting at times. I enjoyed it but kept thinking of its historical significance as much as the quality of the dancing. I must say it is amazing to see Frederic Franklin out there at his age. I heard him give a talk a few months ago and he is still very mentally alert and fascinating to listen to. Aside from accidently backing into the chair early in the ballet Carlos Acosta danced the role of the Rose very well. He had that fluid look that seems to be so critical to that role. Maria Riccetto was the young girl and danced her part extremely well. My wife and I both agree we are going to look for her in the future. We both enjoyed Polovtsian Dances. As someone has already said a bit kitschy but the dancing was wonderful and Carreno and Boone did a fine job. I agree the soloist was not particularly notable but I don;t think it took away from the ballet. I was somewhat puzzled when one of the warriors fell on his behind. It is not so much the falling as was the fact that they did not seem to be doing anything particularly difficult at the time. All in all a great evening.
  11. I hade not heard this Robbins story before and have not heard it since. I think the issues between Balanchine and Kirsten stemmed from Kirsten wanting to be another Diaghilev. Balanchine thought Diaghilev had been too controlling and wanted to keep Kirsten at a distance. Gottlieb goes into this a little bit in his book on Balanchine.
  12. This talk was given at the Graduate Center of City University (The old Altman's Dept Store building) I need to find my notes on this event but at this late hour the most notable part of this conversation that I can remember occurred when Jacques d'Amboise got a little chatty about Lincoln Kirsten's private life and some of the politics in the company in the late 40s and early 50s. It was the first time I became aware that all was not love and kisses between Balanchine and Kirsten. He also suggested that Robbins wanted to take over the company at that time. Peter Martins did explain that some ballets are not performed today because Balanchine did not want them performed again. He said he did not always agree with Balanchine on which ballets were worth performing again. Arthur Mitchell and Merrill Ashley spent some time talking about the uniqueness of Balanchine's choreography. Not anything that would suprise any of the people who read this board regularly. It was not the most memorable conversation.
  13. My wife and I saw Jacques d'Amboise's talk as well and are very glad we did not miss it. He was alternately amusing, informative, humble and very moving. He is 70 now and you get the sense that he has no pretensions at all. With him what you see is what you get. He is particularly proud of what he has done with his work with kids and The National Dance Institute. I hope it was taped as well and urge everyone to see it if it turns up on the NYCB website. He talked about his memoir and the fact that he was late. If I heard him properly, he said it was possible that it might not ever get done. I don't think he meant that literally and, if last night was a sample of what is in the book, I look forward to reading it.
  14. BW, my wife forwarded it to me from work while looking for something else. I'm not sure where she found it. I, rather naively, assumed it would be covered in the press today. It looks like Ari has found the only coverage so far.
  15. Here are the results of a study on the economic impact of dance in New York City done by Dance/NYC which was released today. Dance generates more than $400M a year: study by Miriam Kreinin Souccar Dance generates more than $400 million a year in economic activity for New York City, according to the first-ever study to look at the art form's local economic impact. According to a report released today by trade association Dance/NYC, the direct and indirect economic impact of dance in the city totals $415.7 million a year. That includes a total of $135.4 million spent by dance audiences on tickets and other items, such as food, travel, lodging and merchandise. Another $121 million was spent by dance organizations in the city, with the greatest portion going toward $80 million in salaries. The model used to calculate the total impact included estimates of employment stimulated by the industry and tax impacts. The 80-page report, which was conducted by AMS Planning & Research, was based on data collected from 41 dance companies and presenters based in New York City, ranging from the New York City Ballet to small companies such as Tap Fusion, as well as audience surveys. "With more dancers, choreographers, dance companies, performances and audiences than anywhere else in the world, New York City is clearly the dance capital of the world. Yet there has been amazingly little statistical analysis of the resulting economic impact on the city," said Robert Yesselman, executive director of Dance/NYC, in a press conference Tuesday. Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc
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