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Everything posted by Drew

  1. Lots to chew on in the above comments ... nice to see most of them are pretty sanguine.
  2. Ashton's oeuvre may not be quite as large or wide-ranging as Balanchine's --it's hard to know in part because of the way it has been handled since his death, but it's a substantial oeuvre that includes a number of masterpieces plus other secondary but still very fine works. Even the greatest of these ballets are not danced as regularly by the Royal Ballet as one would imagine. Seasons go by without the company staging even one of his full length works, and more than a decade has gone by without other important works being brought to the stage. In the meanwhile, the company treats Macmillan on a par with Ashton if not indeed as someone who super-cedes Ashton in shaping their style and approach, and major Macmillan seems to be more regularly performed than major Ashton. (My "side" has long since lost this battle, so I suppose I should give it up...but the defeat still baffles me.) I personally thought Macmillan's influence was all over Scarlett's Swan Lake--which I saw live--and also all over his Frankenstein, which I only saw on tape. From my perspective, It's as if Robbins became the most dominant force and influence at NYCB; I know people love Robbins' work, and some probably enjoy it more than Balanchine's--it certainly has influenced choreographers such as Peck--but does the company, as an institution, consider him more important to its history than Balanchine? I don't think so. @Ashtonfan has written on this site about how the Royal Ballet was not founded by De Valois to be a "museum, " which is why premiers etc. are so important, but also making it harder to keep up "heritage" work in repertory, especially as the repertory grows. (I hope I've summarized correctly.) But the idea that Ashton's work wouldn't be a priority for the Royal--as much as Petipa in St. Petersburg or Bournonville in Copenhagen (I know, I know--that's not faring too well either) or...Balanchine in New York has been dismaying to me. His works are revived, but much less often than one would imagine--whole seasons pass by with next to nothing or, most recently, "oh, in the Linbury studio there's a little heritage evening for the ballet nerds. You can see Ashton there." (I exaggerate the tone, but not by much.) In the meanwhile, details of Ashton's style have been lost: looking at old videos, reading testimony of older ballet-goers, and occasionally even my own pale memories, give an idea how much. Now, arguably, the change in style is inevitable and has happened at NYCB with Balanchine as well, but Ashton's ballets are not quite so hardy as Balanchine's and perhaps suffer still more under mis-handling. (@Helene has said this in the past.) As recently as a few years ago, I was seeing better and/or as strong performances of The Dream at ABT as I was seeing not long after at the Royal. Some may want to argue with me about that, but that is my view of it at least with regards to the principals and soloists (most of whom have now left or retired from ABT or are about to retire). Now lots of great things are happening at the Royal--they have fabulous dancers and some fabulous productions, and they are, without a doubt, one of the world's great companies. And a recent revival of Ashton's Enigma Variations generated some very positive reports. But I think there has hardly been a season in recent memory where Sarasota Ballet wasn't doing more for Ashton than his home company -- [Premiers are important. My ballet going passion was partly reignited this century by seeing Namouna at NYCB! But even if I put aside the original context of my comments in this thread (which was what I want to see NYCB dance in the immediate post-pandemic), I have to admit that the idea that New York City Ballet doesn't now have a duty to its past which it didn't when Balanchine founded it seems to me wrongheaded. And I don't think that's at all controversial. Nobody on this thread is saying "dump Balanchine" just as nobody is saying "Dump premiers." But ballets can be lost; heritages can be run aground; dancers' techniques can change in ways that impact their (neo)classical dancing etc. That's why the Ashton example seems pertinent to me. Anyway, it's a longer topic...]
  3. That's a lovely example. Nor are we in as quite as much disagreement as you imagine; much better if one can guide the corps de ballet as Legat says she does at the Mikhailovsky. (I will add, though, that when I saw the Mikhailovsky in Giselle and Flames of Paris at the Koch theater in New York, I did not see a classical corps de ballet that was comparable to the Bolshoi's.)
  4. That’s a wonderful perspective. I admit I don’t find Vaziev inhuman (at least not what we saw) and I don’t believe that anyone who isn’t preternaturally tough could run the Bolshoi for long. I also doubt getting yelled at is the cruelest thing that happens to dancers. There may be better ways to discipline a corps—let’s hope so—though none of them are likely to be gentle. Was glad to see Filin acknowledged and thanked a couple of times including by Smirnova.
  5. I had a chance to watch more of the Bolshoi video--was that Chenchikova coaching Denisova as Aurora? I looked at the photos on the website and in photos she seems the only coach with those bangs. I ask because she came across as very caring and supportive even as she was working adamantly on certain details. I found myself really liking her, or at least, her way of conducting the rehearsal. Anyway--if someone knows, I'd be curious (perhaps @volcanohunter?)....I found it almost unbearable to watch Allash coach Smirnova and Skvortsov because she was wearing her mask incorrectly--but that says nothing to what kind of coach she is! The dancers were beautiful to watch. Vaziev was a like a parody of the ballet martinet--it's as if he reads the criticisms of him that appear every World Ballet Day (at least on English-language websites) and decides to double down when the next World Ballet Day comes around. I have to add that his take-down of the young woman who wore a black tutu to snowflake rehearsal rather reminded me of the sort of thing one of my ballet teachers might have said to a student he thought was trying to stand out inappropriately. He was, at any rate, not wrong in what he said to the dancers about the importance of getting the timing right etc. If Bolshoi watchers think the corps de ballet standards are up, I guess he must have something to do with it...
  6. Drew

    New to ballet

    Welcome Dave! I would advise you to trust your own responses--if you are collecting and watching ballets on DVD then obviously you are appreciating what you are seeing. And when you find something especially moving or beautiful you probably ask your self why? Or if it resembles another performance you especially liked--and what the resemblance was? You may have noticed you like a certain kind of dancer or a certain kind of choreography etc. It's not that one can't learn more technically about what one is watching--of course one can--but one doesn't have to study ballet to gain insight into what the art form is doing.... (There are some books written for newcomers to ballet. Unfortunately I'm not really up-to-date on that. I did listen to parts of Laura Jacobs Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet on audible--and liked some of it a lot and some of it not at all! (But the book wasn't really aimed at an old ballet-goer so my reaction may not be a fair gauge.) A very respected critic named Robert Greskovic wrote a book called Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet. Unfortunately, I haven't read it so I can't weigh in...but I bet it is worth a look.)
  7. Nobody is saying “no new ballets please” ....I (and most others posting here) know some fair part of the history of the company and I personally have admired many new works premiered at NYCB. And I spent years on this site defending the Diamond project in the teeth of the vast majority of knowledgeable NYCB fans posting who were understandably fed up with the inconsistent quality of the new commissions. But the next live performance I see will, at earliest, be a year and half out from the last live one I saw and, for NYCB, two years. For practical reasons probably longer. Other than attending performances of my local company (good in some things, but not yet a world class company or close to it) I will have to buy a plane ticket and book a hotel—so I hope I can be forgiven if Four Temperaments or Serenade is higher on my wish-list than new commissions from modern dance choreographers and revivals of works by Martins. (Quiggin just posted again as I was typing. A deep discussion of NYCB history and its possible relation to the company’s future is always welcome and obviously pertinent when the ur-topic is the digital season. I still think it not unreasonable to be especially looking forward to Balanchine post pandemic and post digital. If I were to enter a more far-reaching discussion about the company’s future, then I would add I also do not think it alarmist to prefer NYCB not treat Balanchine as the Royal Ballet treats Ashton....which has had an absolutely deleterious effect on the Ashton repertory.)
  8. Absolutely--if there is anything I would love to see when I return to live ballet performances it is classical ballet repertory I can sink my teeth into --with Balanchine at top of the list at NYCB and by some measure... (Oh...I guess that since people were talking about Steadfast Tin Soldier up above, I'll specify, major Balanchine. I've seen Steadfast Tin Soldier a handful of times including the recently televised cast and, way back when, Mcbride and Baryshnikov. It's the very rare Balanchine ballet of which I can say that a few times is enough for me.)
  9. Have only been able to watch a few fragments --all very enjoyable (including the excerpts of the Gracheva company class at the Bolshoi and a bit of Vetrov's.) I also found Lantratov and Turazashvilli's interview with Denis Savin quite charming. (As dazzling as it has been to watch the very professional Novikova year after year play interpreter to the dancers and their coaches etc. seeing a soloist with the company able to play that role was pretty dazzling in itself.) I also enjoyed the rehearsal footage of Tereshkina with Kunakova -- a ballerina I remember from the Kirov tours of the Reagan era and into the eighties...
  10. Sad news....may she rest in peace.
  11. Great news about Denis Savin! I think I've pretty much exclusively seen him on video--but what a memorable artist. Always --
  12. Drew

    Simone Messmer

    Very glad she is with a company again. Hope she finds it a fulfilling place to work!
  13. It's kind of you to ask -- if you can figure out how to send it via the message function inside Ballet Alert, then that would be great. But if you can't, please don't worry. I enjoyed just reading your description of seeing the snippet of Abraham's work with Calvin Royal III!
  14. Sounds wonderful--was the snippet on Instagram? (Various youtube searches didn't seem to turn this up.)
  15. Wow! or, rather, once again.... shudder ....
  16. I had missed this news. Thank you for passing it along. Ivanova has been an exceptionally lovely presence at the Mariinsky--I join you in wishing her a wonderful next chapter....
  17. I was thinking of Wheeldon’s Variations Sérieuses....I think it dropped out of the rep so people don’t remember it much...,
  18. Welcome @TheAccidentalBalletomane — rapturous” is a perfect word for how wonderful ballet can be. I think many of us are mourning the loss of live performances. Next year in the theater!
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