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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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    Tel Aviv
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  1. The current exhibition at Design Museum Holon in Israel is The Ball, and it is "concerned with fashion's ability to transport us into a magical world in which anything is possible, if only for one night." A lot like ballet, then 🙂 Besides the slightly OTT text, it's a truly outstanding exhibition which appeals on many levels and to a wide audience. The first main hall is a display of authentic reconstructions of ball gowns in Western civilization through the ages from the 1600's to the 1980's, but the twist is that everything is in white. At first glance, the gallery looks very plain but as soon as you take another look, the immense changes in style and technique are even more obvious than they would be if the clothes were in colour. The second main hall is a display of ball gowns and couture gowns by Israeli designers. Apparently a quarter of the designers at NY Bridal Fashion week are Israeli or former Israelis. This was the most lavish and amazing of the exhibits. The gowns are arranged by colours and it was fascinating to see the difference between one black dress and another. I loved a neoprene zebra stripe painted dress, a wedding dress made our of recycled old wedding dress and a filmy yellow Art Deco style gown inspired by Loie Fuller. In the middle of the hall stand a mannequin couple and every quarter hour the lights dim, music plays and the couple twirl around like Cinderella and Prince Charming or like a couple from a Busby Berkley musical. The third section was a collaboration between a local hatter and pastry chef, each one making artifacts inspired by the other ending up with a room full to the ceiling with a 'pastry' display. My daughters asked when anyone would wear a hat that looks like a plate of macarons with ants crawling over them, so I told them about horse racing at Ascot... I don't know if this exhibition can or will travel, but if it comes around, it's highly recommended. COVID-19 precautions - museums in Israel are obliged to Green Pass regulations, which means anyone over 3 has to show proof of vaccination or negative antigen test. Children ages 3-12 (who can't be vaccinated) are entitled to free tests. Masks are compulsory indoors. There didn't seem to be any issue with compliance. Not everyone agrees with these measures, but I think those people are not likely to come to venues where the rules are enforced.
  2. I read the "exclusive excerpt" in Elle. As an audience member who loves Mr. B's Nutcracker, I'm getting tired of dancers writing how much they hate dancing in it. To be clear, I'm not talking about the racism and being uncomfortable with dancing in 'yellowface', that's understandable. It's just annoying to hear about dancers being bored out of their minds dancing the same thing year after year. It's their job.
  3. I only got to watch the Gala now. It was beautiful, poignant and reminded me so much of what we have lost over the last year and what we have to look forward to. Having a professional director made a huge difference IMHO between this Gala and most other digital offerings. Coppola's cinematography and directorial choices gave it a flow and coherence that turned a 'stream' into a program. Anthony Huxley's solo was amazing. His elegance and virtuosity were breath taking. Unlike most, I enjoyed the location and look of the Liebeslieder excerpt. It was so appropriate to dance in heels and evening clothes in the foyer. I loved the saturated Technicolor aspect of Divertimento (even though it wasn't the best choice for a closer. For one, it was too short 🙂) - almost expected Tiler Peck to come out with red hair like Moira Shearer.
  4. Live performances have just resumed in Israel - and I went to a modern dance performance on Sunday!!! The show was not so great, but who cares? 🙂 Audience members had to present certification that they were vaccinated or recovering from COVID-19 together with photo ID. Compliance was carefully checked by the ushers at the entrance to the theatre. It takes a long time and I don't know how this will be handled at big venues. Seating was less than capacity with some rows left empty, empty chairs, etc. The dancers wore masks during the first section which they started with lights up while the audience was entering. It looked weird especially as they were regular surgical masks and not part of the costumes. Afterwards they removed the masks and danced together, touching each other, rolling over each other, breathing over each other. It was like waking up after a very long hibernation.
  5. I thought "This Land is Your Land" was an odd choice for JLo and doesn't really suit her in terms of style or content - but I totally teared up when she quoted from the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. That came from her heart. Amanda Gorman - she looks like a baby ballerina! I didn't care much for her poem itself (I'm not American) but her poise and presentation were incredible. Also see the generational change between her hairstyle and those of VP Harris and Michelle Obama.
  6. Pherank - you wrote it better than I did... Anyway, as much as I enjoy Fairchild's side-gig, I'm just hoping that I'll be able to see her dance on stage again.
  7. I usually really enjoy these interviews but the interview with Mejia was very disappointing. Fairchild mentions, over and over, how the NYCB dancers are interested in the company's history and Mr. B's legacy but it at no point does she or Mejia explain exactly what part Mejia's father played in this history. The Mr. B. - Suzanne - Paul Mejia triangle is an important and complicated parts of Balanchine's legacy, and it could have been a fascinating discussion. Self-censorship doesn't make for good podcasts.
  8. I watched The Polar Express with my family this weekend. I didn't understand the point of it at all. I've never read the book and I think you have to grow up with the source material. Also found the motion capture animation kind of creepy. Happy Holidays!
  9. On March 12, the Israeli government prohibited all gatherings of over 100 people. That includes 99.9% of all performing arts events, and most venues have announced complete closure until at least the end of the month. On March 12, the Israeli government prohibited all gatherings of over 100 people. That includes 99.9% of all performing arts events, and most venues have announced complete closure until at least the end of the month.
  10. Stars of American Ballet is a pick-up group of NYCB dancers organized by Daniel Ulbricht. They're currently touring Israel and I saw them last night at the Herzeliya Performing Arts Center. Bottom line: it was a fantastic evening. Slightly more in detail : First up was "In the Night". I have complicated feelings about this ballet. I find Robbins' choreography is an acquired taste, and it took me a while to get used to the style. I love the spareness of the movement and Robbins' ability to create a definite sense of time and place but there are also all sorts of quirks that make the ballet look dated. The first couple were a little tentative compared to the other two, but maybe that's part of the choreography. Unity Phelan as the 3rd woman, the tempestuous one, was amazing. Next ballet was 'Les Lutins', a trio choreographed by Johann Kobborg to gypsy-style music. It's a virtuosic crowd-pleaser originally made for Alina Cojocaru, Sergei Polunin and Steven McCrae and I was prepared to dismiss it as a cheesy gala dance. But the dancers especially Ulbricht, but also Sebastian Villarini and Brittany Pollack, danced with such grace and flair, making all the jumps and turns look so effortless and they were so charismatic in their faux-competition of virtuosity that I was totally sucked into the ballet and it was so enjoyable. The second half of the program was made up of three dances. After the Rain is a beautiful duet. Miriam Miller was outstanding but I wasn't as impressed by Jared Angle. The performance was surprisingly different from the version available online. Maybe because the online version is in memory and honor of 9/11, but also because Miller is much younger than Maria Kowroski who dances in the online version, last night's performance was more vital, and instead of having an elegiac quality, I thought of Adam and Eve starting a new life after the fall. Diamonds pas de deux was the weakest section of the evening. The transition from live chamber music to recorded orchestral music was jarring, and IMHO an adagio pas de deux taken out of context is a bit of a drag. That said, Teresa Reichlen and Ask La Cour were incredibly glamorous and regal. The finale was Who Cares? This was my first time seeing it so I'm not sure if this was the full ballet or if it was redacted, but it was so good! The whole cast was spectacular but since this was the only ballet Megan Fairchild danced in last night, I'll just say that she moved so fast her hair tumbled out of her bun. 12 dancers, 1 pianist, 1 violinist - and so much joy!
  11. Jan, the reason I commented on the racial makeup of the company is because it was a comment made by a naive teenager. These are issues that many of her generation are very sensitive to - regardless of their own skin colour or privilege. Of course it begins with danxe education, and I wouldn't like dancers to be promoted on a quota system. However unlike most world-class companies in the West, almost all NYCB dancers are American. That in itself is unusual. The USA is a diverse country and as of 2019 that isn't reflected in NYCB. But please go back to discussing the season. It seems like this is a great Fall Season at NYCB.
  12. I agree, but the juxtaposition seemed unfair. Nanushka - thanks for the info. Now I realky wish I could see Union Jack again.
  13. I attended the 10/01 performance. I hadn't seen NYCB in NYC for eleven years, so it was a special evening for me. Happily, it didn't disappoint. Not even my youngest daughter falling asleep halfway through Union Jack and lying on my arm for half an hour could dim my joy at the all-Balanchine program, especially since each work was better than the previous one. Valse-Fantasie was ok as an opening work. The dancers were great and if I hadn't read that it was Roman Mejia's debut, I would never have known that. He looked as secure as if he had danced it a dozen times already. I loved Kammermusik No. 2 much more. The inventiveness of the male corps (although why do they get a front-curtain bow when the demis in Valse-Fantasie do not??), the mirror-yet-not-mirror images of the soloists. This is the modernist ballet I've been craving for a long time. I loved the severity of Abi Stafford. Reichlen was almost too leggy and graceful for the part (I know, just shoot me...). And Union Jack (at least, the first two parts) was divine. I am one of those that find the first part very profound. The Busby Berkeley-esque soldiers dancing on into infinity can be interpreted in more than one way, and each member of the audience can consider what it means to be a patriot and to serve one's country. My only complaint is that the headgear made it very hard to identify dancers. The Costermonger part was lovely - I'd never seen Lauren Lovette before and both she and Daniel Ulbricht are fantastic actors. It was funny and moving, just like the best comedies. Interesting that the 'theatrical' section is danced on a bare stage and the other sections have proper backdrops. I didn't get the last part. Most of it was too Gene Kelly and On The Town, and not Royal Navy enough. And finally - the first thing my middle daughter said during intermission, after the first two ballets, was "why are all the dancers white?" After 3 days of running around Manhattan, and seeing people of every possible skin colour, the lack of diversity was striking. Union Jack was more balanced but right now the make-up of this company does not reflect the city it represents so well.
  14. Who is dancing MacDonald of Sleat in the other cast? Is that Ashley Bouder's role? I'll be at the Oct. 1 performance. I haven't been in the US for over 10 years, and I'm so excited. I can only get to one NYCB show, and I'm so glad it's this all-Balanchine, well-balanced, million featured dancers program!
  15. Tanzteater Wuppertal toured Israel last fall, and I saw them in Pina Bausch's Masurca Fogo, a work created specifically for EXPO 1998 in Lisbon. The dancers are all beautiful and were very committed to the piece, but it was clear even to a casual observer like myself that the company cannot survive solely on Bausch's work. For example, although Masurca Fogo had lovely sections in it, the idea that a foreign company can come to another country, have a residence and create a work representative of the host country sounds rather patronizing in 2019. I think things were different in 1998, and although I haven't visited Lisbon, I think most European capitals have changed quite a lot in the past 20 years. That said, Pina Bausch is much loved here and the company is returning this October, this time with the classic Carnations.
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