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Snail

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

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  1. Hi Buddy, It’s hard to describe the costumes so I found a picture here. It’s the top picture. You can see the dancers are in red and blue costumes. Strong primary colors. You can also see one of the backdrops. Perhaps you can see there’s something about the women’s costumes that made me think of the handmaid’s tale... I found it all very intriguing. I wish I could see it again! A fascinating piece. Our seats are second row center so we are right behind the conductor (an excellent conductor) and we could see the harmonica soloist directly and head on. A remarkable piece of music with real wizardry in the harmonica. http://artsatl.com/review-glamorous-inventive-bach-broadway-closes-atlanta-ballet-season/
  2. Hi all, Thank you, Drew, for this detailed report. We also found the Concerto Armonico the most compelling piece of the evening (We went for the evening performance, so we always seem to see different performances from you). The music by itself is highly compelling -- it is a very rich composition and a very interesting one, not to mention the virtuosity on the harmonica, which is a kind of rare thing to hear and witness. The ballet is very creative and intriguing. I like very much the overall visual aesthetic of it with the abstract expressionist art (yes, Miro / Rothko... exactly) and the costumes. There is a very mysterious air to the whole thing that kind of draws you in -- at times lighthearted but at times almost sinister. At one point I thought of the Handmaid's Tale for some reason! It's almost like watching a drama unfold in some strange distant future or other world. And I also felt that I would like and actually need to see this ballet one or two more times to really form a full judgment of it -- not because I don't know whether I like it or not (I do), but because it seems to have a certain depth and multiple layers to it. I certainly do not feel like I understood it at all from a first watching. I would very much like to see this be done more and taken up more by other companies. We liked Who Cares? the least. On the surface this one should really be a crowd-pleaser with the Gershwin music and the feel-good vibe, but it fell flat for us. Probably that is down to two things -- the pared-down nature of the actual performance as you mention, and also a certain lack of energy and power in the dancing. As I mentioned in the other thread, I haven't been impressed the last few times I've seen Atlanta Ballet do Balanchine. In fact, the last two Balanchine performances have been the weakest (in my humble opinion) or among the weakest from the past two seasons. I did like 7 for 8, though. It is the first time I'm seeing it. Setting ballet to Bach is simply brilliant. I found it very elegant, and I liked the way the dances repeat structurally in a way that mirrors the way sections of classical music repeat (particularly music of Bach's era). I found the piece very compelling and beautifully done. The lighting did not disturb me -- it was atmospheric and seemed suited to the more restrained / baroque music and dancing. But again, the Concerto Armonico was certainly the stand-out.
  3. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing your experience also. I am happy that Nedvegin is leaning back towards classical/neo-classical, but I really appreciate the inclusion of new works and modern works also. This past weekend I thought was very good also, especially the 7 for 8 with the Bach, which is sublimely beautiful, and the final piece -- the world premiere of the Concerto Armonico -- which is quite a remarkable piece both of music and ballet. I feel like I would need to watch and hear that piece at least twice more to get a concept of it. The middle piece, despite being a crowd pleaser with Gershwin's music, was the least compelling for me. The few recent times I've seen the Atlanta Ballet attempt Balanchine, it just hasn't come off in my opinion.
  4. Just wanted to leave a note on the "Tu Tu" program that's taking place this weekend at Atlanta Ballet. It starts with Stanton Welch's "Tu Tu", followed by the world premiere of "blink" by longtime former Atlanta Ballet principal Tara Lee, and ends with the very fun and innovative "Minus 16" by Ohad Naharin. We went to see this last evening (opening night for this program) and were blown away. Never having seen anything on the program before, I didn't know what to expect, but each piece was magnificent. Stanton Welch's "Tu Tu" seems to me to be a kind of personal love song to ballet. The opening and overall structure reminded me of Ashton's "Sinfonietta" with a very energetic first movement followed by a stunningly beautiful slow movement and then a fast and again more lighthearted finale. It was the second movement that amazed me the most. A solo ballerina slowly emerges from darkness and seems to reflect on her career as a ballerina with tenderness and sadness. The mood of this piece was masterfully created. It was beautifully and touchingly expressive. After such a wonderful first ballet, I wasn't sure the next piece would be able to compare well, but it was similarly stunning. Tara Lee is unquestionably a very gifted choreographer and I look forward to her future works. This piece featured live piano (the other two are to pre-recorded music). The music is very fast for most of the piece, and the dancers move quickly, often performing very short vignettes. The piece builds in emotional intensity, with the configurations of the dancers becoming much more complex towards the end (reminiscent of some of Balanchine's body-sculptures with multiple figures). I found it very emotional and moving towards the end, very powerful. Then it ends with a spectacular and fun climax that absolutely delighted the audience. Upon its conclusion, Tara Lee came to the stage to join the dancers and was greeted with a standing ovation. Well, we surely thought nothing could top that, but we were wrong. Like the other pieces, I knew nothing about "Minus 16." We returned from our intermission, took our seats, and were bemused to see a man in a baggy suit and hat standing on stage in front of the curtain, twitching slightly. Over time, his twiches became more intense and it became clear that he was actually dancing (sort of). Then the curtain came up, but the house lights were still on. He danced more, hilariously and acrobatically, and the entire audience was rapt in delight. (This was Jared Tan, by the way, but most of the people sitting around me weren't even sure if he was a member of the ballet company or if he was just some guy who wandered on stage!). He was absolutely phenomenal. Then one by one other dances joined him, all twitching and dancing. It is impossible (for me) to describe this piece, but it is incredible and was performed so well. The powerful second act features the dancers in a large semi circle sitting on chairs, wearing suits that they slowly take off piece by piece, depicting powerful acts of (self-) violence to hard-hitting Israeli music. It made me think of Plisetskaya's Bolero. Several more very innovative dances followed. Then the dancers left the stage and entered the audience to pick members of the audience to join them on stage. This is where things went really wild. Each dancer had a partner, and they proceeded to do cha cha and swing dance all over the stage with the audience members, with the crowd going wild with delight. It's like the entire place became one big party. It was so much fun and there was so much positive energy in the building. When the piece finally ended, people couldn't stop clapping and there was an amazing buzz all around. I've been to a few stunning performances, but this was the most fun and overall aesthetic enjoyment I've had going to the ballet since the very first time my mind was blown by ballet seeing Sleeping Beauty in the Vienna Opera House some 20+ years ago (my first real eye-opening introduction to the beauty of ballet). I just want to end by saying I was wondering how the Atlanta Ballet would manage under Nedvegin and the turn to more classical and neo-classical pieces, when they've been so good with contemporary pieces. I am no expert but this evening suggested to me that they can do both under him. It seems to me that those who favor more contemporary pieces and were concerned about this should have little to fear.
  5. I also went to the opening night performance and agree entirely with your assessment, KWalsh. We found it quite delightful: a nice mixture of comedy, fun dancing, technique, nice sets and costumes and a live orchestra. I personally felt the second half was somewhat stronger than the first, and many in my section seemed to agree. This performance seems like a good sign of things to come regarding the new direction of the company. As someone who likes the classical and Balanchine, as well as most things Russian, I’m happy (although I did very much like the contemporary pieces I saw last season also). There was a standing ovation so it seems the Atlanta public is on board?
  6. Snail

    Olga Smirnova

    Buddy, thank you for these excellent comments. It is good to hear from someone who admires and appreciates both Zakharova and Smirnova. Also, you write so beautifully about the way you experience each dancer and the effect they create. It is indeed very subtle things that we appreciate and that create that impression of grace, elegance, power and beauty. Expressiveness is indeed something I am always looking for and hoping for in a dancer.
  7. Snail

    Olga Smirnova

    This is exactly how I felt too. She looks a bit unconventional as Aurora, and I didn't warm to her immediately. I also felt she did (as Eddienono said) lack in confidence a bit early in the performance until she found her footing. But towards the end I was completely taken in. Perhaps, Eddienono, it's just a matter of personal taste. I have seen the Bolshoi's "Sleeping Beauty" disc with Zakharova and couldn't connect with her in that role (I like her much more as Nikiya on their recording of that ballet). Then again I am not a huge fan of Zakharova. I am one of those in the camp that finds her technically gifted but a bit cold, distant, and sometimes lacking in dynamism. I found I could connect with the dynamism and energy of Smirnova. As a non-expert and non-dancer, for me the dancers I like either have a soft elegance and grace, an exciting dynamism, or (rarely, but ideally) both. I would say Smirnova falls much more on the dynamism side. To me, her final dances were quite thrilling.
  8. Snail

    Olga Smirnova

    Just saw Olga Smirnova in the Bolshoi Sleeping Beauty cinema broadcast. It was our first time seeing her and we were so impressed. We thought she was a bit unsteady at first and took a little bit of time to find her feet. That happened pretty quickly, though, and by the end of the ballet she was full of confidence and on fire. Her final dances were electrifying -- incredible power, precision and speed. A very dynamic performance -- at times she kind of made me think of Plisetskaya just in terms of dynamism, power and energy. We are definitely fans of hers now. Also really liked Stepanova as the Lilac Fairy -- she has such elegance, grace and femininity, and also Semyon Chudin was wonderful as the Prince, and the male Bluebird -- I didn't catch his name -- but he was terrific. I was a bit surprised at how low-quality the video feed was. Is that normal? I was expecting something in high definition.
  9. That's great to know. Thanks! It's odd because on the amazon page for this DVD, vol. 1, it says under "Editorial Reviews": Quick Shipping !!! New And Sealed !!! This Disc WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. A multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player is request to view it in USA/Canada. Please Review Description.
  10. When you look on Amazon, there are warnings that this DVD (Balanchine in Montreal) series may not play on DVD players in the US. Can anyone confirm/disconfirm this? I'd love to order them if I can play them...
  11. Hi Drew, Thanks for sharing this. I saw Atlanta Ballet's production of The Nutcracker just over a week ago. It was my first time seeing the Atlanta Ballet, and I was quite impressed. Even though I (wrongly) assumed most people there would be families doing the Nutcracker for the holiday season and wouldn't really know the company well, the deep appreciation for Welker was palpable. He was applauded upon his entrance and received a deep and continuous ovation at the curtain call. His pas de deux in the second movement was the highlight of the night. (Although Saho Kumagai was also excellent as Marya). It's interesting to read that he's retiring not for ballet reasons, but so that he can take a few courses to finish his Bachelor's degree!
  12. Snail

    Hello

    Thanks -- we just attended our second performance of Sarasota Ballet and I posted a report in the forum for them. We certainly appreciate living within driving distance!
  13. Last month my wife and I drove down from Atlanta and saw our first two performances of the Sarasota Ballet, which were of the Balanchine/Ashton/Tudor program. The highlight was Balanchine’s Apollo, danced on opening night with Ricardo Rhodes in the lead male role. It was done excellently and beautifully, and Rhodes’s elegance really impressed us. The Ashton Sinfonietta was quite good, quite energetic with very colorful costumes. The middle movement, which is slow and very interesting, and involves a sole female dancer being carried aloft and moved around by five men, was perhaps not quite as smooth as one might have hoped for. I believe Ellen Overstreet was the female, but the men surrounding her couldn’t quite move her about with the kind of ease that the choreography calls for. The final movement was energetic and fun, and again Rhodes was the standout, kind of pulling the whole movement together through his charisma on stage. The final piece was Tudor’s Gala Performance. This was the least interesting. Although it’s kind of funny in some ways, the dancing is hard to attend to due to all the “silliness.” Of course the music is quite wonderful, as it opens with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto. All the music was live with the Sarasota Orchestra and a live pianist for the piano concerto, which was great. Still, the Tudor was entertaining. The whole evening was worth it if just for the Apollo, and we went back two days later to catch the Sunday matinee. There, Edward Gonzalez danced the main role in Apollo. He didn’t quite have the grace and charisma that Rhodes has. There’s one section where Apollo has to carry two of the muses backwards: Rhodes does this effortlessly and gracefully, whereas Gonzalez did appear to struggle more with the unthankable task of carrying two women, one under each arm. He also didn’t quite do as good as job in the Ashton in holding things together, but he danced quite competently. In general we were very impressed by this ballet company’s performances! Last night and tonight, we saw the Sarasota Ballet perform Balanchine’s Jewels. I have never seen this ballet live—only the Paris Ballet version on video which only somewhat gave me a sense of what it is about. I understand and appreciate it much more now having seen it live. On opening night I sat in the third row. When the curtain went up, the audience gasped at the beauty of the costumes and staging (despite how simple the staging is). The dancers were all arrayed in the most elegant of outfits—and this same reaction happened at the beginning of Rubies and Diamonds. The lighting was magnificent to highlight the beauty on stage. Emeralds was danced remarkably well by Victoria Hulland and Ellen Overstreet, who were partnered by Edward Barnes and Edward Gonzalez respectively. Both of the women danced very well—Hulland with more seriousness and experience, Overstreet with more youth and lightness in her dancing. The trio of Xavier Nunez, Ryoko Sadoshima and Elizabeth Sykes were competent but not as magical. The ending, however, when all three groups come together, was quite remarkable. There is a real sadness in the final movement—of loss, parting, ageing, death—and it really came across. When the three men are left alone and the women have departed and the men make the slow final raking movement with their arms—it was really moving and powerful. You can really see Balanchine’s genius in being able to communicate feeling without a clear story or staging. I love the choreography in Emeralds but think it’s a very difficult piece to pull off successfully, because it is subtle. To me, it talks of relationships, of ageing, of maturity, and finally of parting and loss. They did an excellent job in showing how Balanchine’s genius can convey emotion through movement and music alone, even without other cues. The second piece, Rubies, was similarly very good. This movement I feel is easier to appreciate. It’s more dynamic; the dancing is fun and sexy. Here Kate Honea did an excellent job in the main role with Kristianne Kleine very good as the tall girl. Honea was ably paired by Alex Harrison. Again, wonderful costumes that brought audience applause. Even though the previous two pieces were very good, the final piece, Diamonds, was the best perhaps. Here Danielle Brown and Ricardo Rhodes took the main roles, and their dance together was sublime. Brown managed to convey great emotion through her facial expressions. Her dance was very precise, elegant, measured. Rhodes partnered her wonderfully. He has an elegance and ease about his dancing and a beauty to his lines and jumps that the other male dancers at Sarasota Ballet cannot quite compete with, and you can tell that the audience loves him. There is a kind of expectation they have when he steps on stage that they are going to see something special, and he rarely disappoints. The Tchaikovsky music is so wonderful in this (all the music is great in Jewels) and builds and builds, until the final chord, when the audience broke into great applause, leading to a standing ovation and many calls of “bravo!” All in all a wonderful performance. Well, to make things better, because my wife got the flu and couldn’t attend that evening, the staff at the ballet very kindly changed her ticket to the following day. Not only that, but when I returned with her, they gave me a free ticket to sit beside her! That is remarkable customer service. We were a bit concerned that the Saturday matinee would not live up to the opening night’s performance, since the casting is different. But actually, although Emeralds was not quite as solid as the previous night’s, we had nothing to fear. Kate Hone and Kristianne Kleine did an admirable job in Emeralds, but perhaps with not quite the magic that Hulland and Overstreet had managed, and the men were not quite as strong. Rubies, however, with Ricardo Rhodes and Hulland, was a lot of fun, although Amy Wood was not quite as successful in the role of the tall girl as Kleine had been. She actually danced very well but seemed perhaps a bit nervous or tentative in the beginning, and also her physique is more “standard” which I think is perhaps a disadvantage in that role, where it pays to stand out. The standout again, however, was Diamonds, with Overstreet and Gonzalez in the main roles. In the beautiful pas-de-deux of Diamonds, which is so reminiscent of Swan Lake, Overstreet, a junior principal, was simply magnificent and breathtaking. As mentioned, we have seen her perform a few times before, but here she really hit it out of the park. Her expressions were so wonderful, her movements very elegant, gracious, and everything looked easy. She has that litheness that gives the strong impression of youth and innocence, while still maintaining precision. I told my wife before the performance, “I really like this girl – I think she’s got incredible talent and is going to be a great dancer.” Well, she sure showed it. There was fantastic applause for her and the whole Diamonds lot, and again a standing ovation. Director Ian Webb must have been likewise impressed, as he came out during the curtain call with the microphone and announced, holding the hands of Overstreet and Gonzalez, “Meet your new Sarasota Ballet Principle Dancers!” So what a great way to cap a perfect afternoon, being able to witness the promotion of these very talented dancers. And my admiration for Sarasota Ballet continues to increase!
  14. Snail

    Hello

    Hi everyone, Just saying hi as this is my first post. I have benefited from many interesting posts and discussions here. Just getting back into watching ballet after a long hiatus, and enjoyed the Balanchine/Ashton production this weekend at Sarasota Ballet, which was very good. All the best!
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