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Everything posted by BalanchineFan

  1. I'm glad to hear that some have found the article has given them food for thought. For me, the context of talking about dancers' weight should include a few facts: 1. The School of American Ballet, where all the women (and most men) at NYCB get their start, is incredibly exclusive. Young dancers are chosen for their body types; smaller body types, smaller frames, and long thin limbs being preferred whatever the dancer's height, along with turn out, arched feet and musicality. Roughly 2,000 students apply each year and only 200 are chosen for the summer session. 100 for the winter session. That's a rejection rate of 90-95%. We're talking about criticizing people who made that cut, that 5%, and then the subsequent yearly cuts, and then also managed to have careers in ballet. We're not discussing a widely attainable physical standard. 2. Disordered eating abounds in order to achieve this "aesthetic." You can like "the look," not like it, think one dancer is too skinny and another too fat, but a very high percentage of these people are doing extreme and unhealthy things (at least at times) to attain "the look." It comes up in interviews all the time. One wanted to get pregnant, but realized she needed 6 weeks of eating disorder treatment in a facility before she could try. Another's hair started to fall out. Another didn't eat enough to make it through rehearsal. Maria Tallchief describes how she, and later Tanaquil LeClerq, would go out to dinner with Balanchine and he would bring an apple, since his wife wasn't going to eat dinner. (Yes, perhaps the meal was post-performance and the woman had already eaten something... but Tallchief writes it was common practice, and something she didn't miss when she stopped being Mrs. Balanchine.) Was it Suzanne Farrell who wrote she ate just the foam from a cappucino? These women were gorgeous, fantastic, legendary ballerinas, but those are not healthy eating habits! 3. Women's size, shape, and condition is often criticized by men to exert control over women. It's a part of our society, from corsets, girdles, brassieres, panty hose and bikinis to indecency laws (historically, only women seem to get arrested for swimwear), the fight for birth control, gynecology, (including gynecologists that wash their hands), and reproductive freedoms. Men have a long history of telling women how to look, how to dress and what women can and cannot do with their bodies. That is my context. I don't think it's right and I don't think bullying about weight has any place in offhand remarks in a ballet review, "sarcastic" or not. Are patrons going to exchange their Nutcracker tickets when they read that someone in the audience found the lead dancers “fat?” I don’t think so, and I don’t see any value in the information. I'm not interested in reading it, no matter what any audience member or critic might say at the time.
  2. It was hard for me to get through Alistair's new piece. It was like reading Thomas Jefferson defending slavery and harping about how hard his life was when it was discovered he got Sally Hemmings pregnant those 6 times. When Alistair started mentioning the women he knew who were fat or anorexic... I just had to stop. It's not about him. His voice is not what has been missing from the conversation. He really doesn't understand. Sorry to hear you have an eating disorder @Balletwannabe and sorry for anyone else dealing with those issues. Some day I may write about my own journey with weight and eating. Do you ever write about it? Does that help?
  3. I had plantar fascitis for several years. Sometimes I’d cry on the street, three blocks from home, unsure how I was going to get back without further injury. It’s hard to get rid of. Attendance isn’t mandatory at the farewells. Why would they all be there?
  4. What I got from the Martins story is that he could have protected the lead dancers from the critics, and had other casting options as it was the start of the season, but he chose not to protect the dancers. For his reasons, I suppose you’d have to ask him. To me, the result seems mean spirited and punitive. Completely in keeping with the behavior Georgina Pazcoquin describes in the Midsummer Nights Dream rehearsal. But there’s no way to know if he knew what the result would be.
  5. Thank you so much for posting this! Also, I saw Merrill Ashley a few weeks ago at In Balanchine's Classroom and that was not her onstage when you asked. I don't know who that woman was, but it was definitely not Merrill Ashley. She is not that gray and her body is a different shape.
  6. I went to Maria's farewell this afternoon. The audience was quite full and if you look on Instagram, many notable former NYCB dancers were planning to attend. Jock Soto, Damian Woetzel, and Robert Fairchild all greeted Maria onstage. Kay Mazzo, Zachary Catazaro, and Savannah Lowery and probably many more were in the audience. The dancing was stellar. Just stellar!! Chaconne looked lovely. Russell Janzen and Maria aced the pas de deux. They have a great connection and it was her one Balanchine-pointe shoe ballet of the evening. Opus 19 with Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia looked beautiful, but has never been one of my favorite ballets. I confess, I dozed a bit. The excerpt from Wheeldon's Danses a Grande Vitesse was spectacular. The corps de ballet began and then Maria entered aloft, in a lift with Tyler Angle carrying her overhead, arms and legs in a narrow X. The duet was well chosen and had some of the most dynamic dancing of the evening. The audience clapped and showed their appreciation nearly every time she appeared onstage. People have written previously about Amaria. I'll say that it improved a bit on second viewing. It seemed to have a bit more substance. There are some recurring gestures that are developed. They dance together, she has a solo, Amar has a solo, they dance together again. In the bows you could see that she was moved, and perhaps struck by the realization that their professional partnership was over. Slaughter was a lot of fun. The audience roared in the coda when she starts high kicking and throwing her hair around. During the bows I think Abi Stafford came out first. Then Unity, Tiler, the rest of the principal women, the principal men, the former principals (Jock Soto wore a suit and... words fail me... a ...ceremonial... bow and train, perhaps. Amazing looking. He was festively dressed for the occasion), Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan (who hugged Abi Stafford) the repertory directors, Stella Abrera, another woman I think was from ABT, ending with Maria's young son and her husband, Martin Harvey. The final curtain call went on for some time. The audience was buzzing with love and appreciation for her long career and many accomplishments. I was thrilled to be there. I think the first dancer to come out with flowers is Abi Stafford, followed by @unityphelan, @tilerpeck, @mfairchild17, @tessreichlen, @shyltin in costume, @saramearns, anthony huxley, jared angle, @andiev1, @dpulbricht , @josephgordon_nycballet_ @adrianclay, @rustlegj and many more. https://www.instagram.com/p/CVJhY7Eg5a4/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
  7. In a lecture dem at the Center for Ballet Arts, Heather Watts described Agon ppd, in part, as "a high wire act" meaning there are a lot of moments that can easily go awry. The same can be said of the pas de trois with the second woman and two men. The woman balances on pointe and the men turn, or change places, or go to the knee. They can easily knock her off. I"m glad Lauren King got a nice solo bow. I would have loved to see her, but I think I've seen La Valse twice this season already, and I don't just love the ballet itself. Brava Lauren King! You'll be missed.
  8. I was wondering that, too. I've only seen Miriam Miller dance the first woman in Agon. I've only seen Teresa Reichlen dance the first woman as well. Maybe this was before my time. Maybe the poster is mistaken. Unity has never done the lead in Agon at NYCB, to my knowlege. (I realize no one asked about her, I have no explanation...) She's done the ppd at Vail. With NYCB she dances the pas de trois with two women. The fanfare music is the same at the beginning of both sections, and perhaps for other sections as well. There's a lot of repeating music in Agon. I'd love to know who's working on these roles and with whom. Ashley Laracey posted recently that she'd had a Midsummer coaching with Patricia Mcbride. Must be on Helena.
  9. I saw Savannah Lowery's last performance with NYCB which included that role in Agon and the second lead in Concerto Barocco. She was so warm and expansive, dancing like a huge hug to the entire audience, just drinking the moment in. She was beautiful in the Bransle Gay. The trio has some tricky moments, too. I know there are a bunch of ballerinas who've been working on the main Agon ppd. Who besides Megan LeCrone dances that second woman's role? Who that's still in the company?
  10. I love After the Rain, practically every time. The rest of the ballet was quite different. I saw it years ago, but it's also possible that I get it confused with Wheeldon's Polyphonia. I think the costumes were similar to that ballet, three couples in dark wine, burgundy or purple, very different from the costumes for the pdd and the two sections do not share any dancers that I remember.
  11. I don't think Abi Stafford has a public facing IG account (correct me if I'm wrong), so there will be no info on that front.
  12. I think they're just trying to stay in business.
  13. When Abi retired, Jon and Wendy did not come out and give her the traditional flowers. Jon and Wendy did do so for both Ask and Lauren, which makes me think Abi's retirement might not have been very cordial behind the scenes. With all the masks are you certain they didn't come out? It can be hard to recognize people onstage masked.
  14. It's interesting how people read different things into the same article. To me, Abi is talking about life in a big, competitive ballet company, not about any particular administration. She mentions how Peter Martins brought up a panic attack she'd had years later as proof she wasn't "reliable." She didn't only talk about the new regime. I run for exercise. I am not fast, and have no desire to be fast. I signed up once to run the Midnight Run in Central Park. 4,000-10,000 people do it every New Year's Eve. Participants are not arranged according to their times. I had the feeling that every last person was passing me by, and so ran faster than I could really manage. I'd look behind myself and be shocked there were still people back there, but somehow I couldn't slow down. Large groups are competitive by design. I've danced in other choreographers' dance companies and I have also self-produced. There is nothing like the satisfaction of producing an evening of your own choosing. Deciding which roles you want, which pieces to produce or create. Which direction to go in, rather than having ANYONE else make those decisions for you. It's inspiring and the accomplishment can really boost your self worth. Seeing all the people you brought together doing their work, bringing your decisions to light. When I look at Lauren Lovette's IG post and see Wendy Whelan's encouraging words I wonder if Wendy provided inspiration to Lovette as a ballerina who went on to produce, rather than as someone who was an obstacle. Just my own opinion based on my own artistic journey and experience. Oh, and I'm ALL FOR THE RETURN OF THE SANDWICHES!
  15. To me, It seems like oversimplification to assume Lovette is talking about a particular person or administration prompting her retirement from NYCB. In her conversations with Megan Fairchild and on IG, Lovette often talked about trying to find her own path, not judging herself, finding and nurturing her own mode of expression. She's also talked about how she has struggled with body image, perfectionism and the idea that she has to be super skinny and flat chested to perform. The artistic pursuits may not easily align with a large ballet company with its own artistic mission, and the other issues abound in the ballet world in general. Also, if she wants to choreograph more, NYCB has too many performances for her to easily do that without running herself ragged. She talked about treasuring the time she spent improvising in her studio in NJ during the pandemic. I think she must have realized how much that could sustain her artistically. I can't wait to see what she does next. She put together an evening of her own work this July, Why it Matters, with sponsorship from Chanel. She has a non-profit. Maybe she'll start her own company.
  16. NYCB doesn’t have to promote anyone, nor do they need a set number of principals or soloists. They have always had corps members perform leading roles when needed or according to artistic choice. Actually, forget the corps! Miriam Miller, Alston MacGill, and KJ Takahashi (and probably others) had leading roles while APPRENTICES. So did Kathryn Morgan back in her day, iirc. Whether we like it or not, this is not a company that is stuck on hierarchy and it’s an art form that favors the young. They can promote anyone at any time. Maybe they think It keeps the dancers on their toes. Maybe it’s the way Balanchine did it. Certainly, with injuries and the like, they can’t know exactly what they’re going to need until they need it. and I’m sure they don’t want to repeat the situation with Chase Finlay, who's still the youngest male principal in the history of NYCB. It’s a cautionary tale. highlights from tonight: Tiler and Gonzalo in other dances. Lauren lovette and Preston Chamblee and After the Rain - the crowd went wild. People were sobbing. Maria and Amar in Agon. All told, a great night of ballet
  17. THANK YOU! I love this. I know a few people are disappointed there weren't more promotions, but the news AS IT IS, brings tears of joy to my eyes, even days after the events. There is something about promoting dancers in small groups, particularly to principal, that allows each of them to shine and have their moment of ascendancy. Unity Phelan and Indiana Woodward are really coming into their own, developing their artistry and becoming ballerinas with an indelible, individual mark on the art form, an individual point of view and approach to the repertory. My opinion is that the recognition would be reduced if they were promoted in a group of 15 or even six. It would seem less like a crowning moment. All three dancers have made a mark on the NYCB repertory and have been cast up above their pay grade consistently since well before the pandemic. Seriously, I've got tears of joy for all involved! Those are few and far between in these days.
  18. There was a post on Unity Phelan's IG stories, it's just disappeared, that said the dancers who were promoted would all be performing "tonight" in Western Symphony. I wish I had taken a screen shot picture. the thing that confused me was that it also seemed to say something about Joseph Gordon being promoted, which happened ages ago. But I think it mentioned him because he had a debut in Western Symphony Wed night. Both Phelan and Mejia are so, so deserving of their promotions. Beautiful dancers, great positive attitudes. I thought she spoke very well when interviewed about the Andrea Miller piece in the fountain last fall. They seem to be on an upward trajectory. I look forward to seeing them both develop as artists. I bet they were a fantastic couple at the end of Western Symphony. Did anyone see it?
  19. Thank you for noting the casting change @cobweb I've been hoping to see them together for ages! First he left for Carousel on Broadway, then he broke his arm when he returned. Then he left for Broadway again to do WSS. Amar was fabulous the last time I saw him in Agon, god knows how many years ago that was. Maybe they're being given a few perfomances to prepare for Maria's farewell. [guess not, that program is up now]. I particularly love a moment where the four men walk upstage in a zig zag. Amar seems to come to life each time they change directions. I find it astounding the way many dancers can do the same exact choreography and your eyes are drawn to one dancer more than another. In unison movement certain dancers can make more of a simple change of direction without disturbing the unison. On 10/8 it says Ramasar is replacing Angle in Agon.
  20. I love Mira Nadon in the clip. I saw her dance it live before the pandemic. In her proportions she reminds me of Suzanne Farrell a bit. The look nothing like each other in the face, and are quite different as stage personalities, but Nadon has a daring onstage that I remember from Farrell as well. I suppose a lot of NYCB dancers have that same daring, dynamic contrast, a go-for-broke physicality alternating with delicate movements. It's a great clip. I'm not sure I really appreciated Movements before. Now I look forward to seeing it again. Nadon is also great in the tall girl role in Rubies.
  21. Here are my thoughts on the Icons and Innovator program. New choreography, along with dancers, is the bones of a dance company and very challenging t to find. I agree with Vipa, that new works should showcase NYCB dancers and be distinct from work a choreographer would make for another company. In the Playbill interview about his new piece for Kowroski and Ramasar, Amaria, Bigonzetti emphasized the relationship he has built with these two dancers over the years. The piece was created over Zoom and he never would, or could, have done it without that relationship and their shared past experiences to drawn on. I see the two other new works for NYCB in their Fall 2021 season in this vein. I would add that another benefit of new work is to develop and reveal a new aspect of dancers we already know, to expand their artistry and for the choreographer to begin to develop this relationship. This theme is repeated in the documentary, In Balanchine’s Classroom; how well he knew his dancers. He saw them in class or rehearsal nearly every day for years on end, many since they were young students at SAB. He wanted to bring out their gifts and challenge them to improve their weaknesses. I believe it was a factor driving his choreography. Another factor was his formation and training, both at the Imperial School in Russia and with Diaghilev. In both places, music (often commissioned specifically for ballet), and contributions from the leading artists of the day (scenery and costumes) also played a part. All of these elements contribute to a rich and creative artistic environment. sky to hold by Andrea Miller and Suspended Animation by Sidra Bell are ballets building on a relationship between those two choreographers, the dancers, NYCB and its audience. sky to hold begins with dancers running in fog, their legs barely visible. There are formations that create undulations, groups swirl into clumps lifting one dancer overhead, then dissolving like waves. The narrative, Sara Mearns as a storm and Taylor Stanley as a seed that come together, didn’t particularly hold my attention, but the stage pictures were beautiful and the dancing, particularly by Stanley and, the duet between India Bradley and (I believe) Sebastien Villarini-Velez was mesmerizing and revealing. India Bradley is developing into a tantalizing, long-legged creature. Mearns, her long hair glued down and trailing behind her, dancing with the hard ferocity of her stormy character, was partnered by Chun Wei Chan (he cuts quite a figure with his shirt off) and then by several men, including Preston Chamblee, with breathtaking lifts where she spun in the air before being caught. In another section she bourrées surrounded by the women in the cast, who float away and towards her, also bourree-ing on pointe, as if she is the center of a beating heart. The periodic appearance of a mylar backdrop probably had something to do with the narrative but was unclear and undeveloped. There is a tender duet for Stanly and Mearns before they are swept away from each other. The composer, Lido Pimienta, wearing a lovely yellow gown in keeping with the other costumes, was also guest vocalist. Suspended Animation was quieter in mood and movement. The costumes were neon colors and fanciful shapes. Again, there were set elements that seemed extraneous and underdeveloped; sheer black nets upstage right and left that isolated certain dancers from the others for a time. There was a lot of isolation in this piece. Harrison Ball and Teresa Reichlen onstage dancing separately, ignoring each other until she exits. The section I loved most was for Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley. It comes late in the ballet, and she has doffed her lampshade headpiece and poofy, green coat, appearing only in a sparkly leotard, bare legs and pointe shoes. She is almost unrecognizable (to this viewer, anyway) from the woman who ably leads the Tschaikovsky tutu ballets; a new sinuous, modern, searing and searching Megan Fairchild. Has she ever done The Cage? This is a new side of her to be explored further. I wish the Costume Gala would lead to more repeat designers. Can't they learn how to create costumes that work for dance, that reveal the body, or the movement? The costume element is too spectacular and too much a one-off novelty. In the ballets, though they are not always fully realized and developed, something is percolating, creativity and growth abound. I’m interested to see where the choreography leads. The costumes, beautiful as they are, not so much. Where is Diaghilev when you need him?
  22. There's a void. I think he's incredibly talented, quite skilled and deserving, but there was also a void and he stepped into it. Now everyone has to have a Peck.
  23. I also loved the longer film of the piece Peck did for SF Ballet, In the Countenance of Kings. Saying someone is the heir to Balanchine or Robbins is just newspaper copy. It has nothing to do with an artist's work, their value, etc. I wouldn't blame or judge a choreographer for the nice things unimaginative writers try to say about them. Ballet companies need new works by "new" choreographers and, particularly with large companies, finding them has always, always, always been a huge problem. As for Twyla Tharp, Push Comes to Shove, In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs and The Golden Section (from The Catherine Wheel) are fabulous ballets and just need equally fabulous dancers (and Tharp coaching) to perform them. If they don't "last" it's because dancers can't be found to do the off balance work and articulate through their spines. I also like Brahms-Handel, a ballet from the .... late 80's/early 90's, iirc, choreographed by Tharp and Jerome Robbins. NYCB should give that another look. I'd love to see it again.
  24. Wasn't there someting in the objectionable translation about a "lump of snow" sliding down a mountainside? In I was A Dancer, Jacques d'amboise quotes Balanchine objecting to that part of the translation from Pushkin's original Russian. Google Balanchine + "lump of snow" and you can see an excerpt of Jacques book (if you don't already have it). Gliba snegovaya.. or something like that. Jacques says a sheet of snow would have been more accurate. It comes at a particularly significant dramatic moment.
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