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Steve Keeley

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. This move can also be seen in Gamzatti's variation in the pas de deux of "La Bayadere." its proper name is grand fouetté relevé en tournant en dedans. Here is the description of the move from the "Ballet CD-ROM": And I agree with Gia that Michelle Wiles did them beautifully, with a clean stop at each attitude before launching into the next grand battement. ~Steve
  2. First of all, a plug for the home team: the ballerinas in "Being John Malkovich" were all from San Diego's California Ballet. Discovering this company is one of the joys of having moved here. The movie version of "Chicago" has just been released on DVD. The role of Hunyak (the Hungarian-speaking and only innocent member of the "Six Merry Murderesses") is played by Ekaterina Chtchelkanova (aka Ekaterina (Katya)Schelkanova or Shelkanova). She was trained at the Vaganova Institute, danced as a soloist with the Kirov before joining ABT as a corps member in 1995. Some of us have fond memories of her as a soloist with ABT. She can also be seen on film as one of the four little swans in the Swan Lake excerpt from "Center Stage." Since leaving ABT she's been a guest principal with several regional companies and the last I heard she was in the ensemble of Tharp's "Movin' Out" on Broadway. In the hyper-aggresive "Cell Block Tango" number in "Chicago" her segment stands out for being lyrical and balletic, finishing with a graceful penchee. It's interesting that among all these jazz dancers they used a ballerina to represent the innocent (and tragic) character. According to director Rob Marshall, she was also quite daring. The character gets hanged twice; once in a realistic scene and also in a vaudville representation where she dives off a platform with a noose around her waist. Katya insisted on taking both drops herself rather than using a stunt double. ~Steve
  3. My reaction is pretty much the same as Victoria's. It was a fairly painless hour and a half of television, but I'm glad I didn't go to the bother and expense of seeing this at a theater. The choregraphy was modern with just a few flourishes of ballet tacked on. At some points, such as when Iago is expressing his angst, it was so cliche'd it verged on parody. The music was portentious but largely empty of content and was forgotten as soon as it ended. The dancers were wonderful, giving the choreography far better than it deserved. Yuan Yuan Tan alone made this worth watching. ~Steve
  4. I do tend to focus most of my attention on the women... Friday night's Solor was Nikolay Tsiskaridze and Saturday afternoon's Solor was Sergei Filin. Both gave strong performances, and I couldn't say which I preferred. Friday night's Bronze Idol, Morihiro Ivata, was very impressive with strong and clean movements. Denis Medvedev on Saturday was not as precise.
  5. I was at the Friday night and Saturday afternoon performances. La Bayadere is my favorite full-length ballet and I loved both performances. The corps was sigh-inducing in it's uniformity, placement and stylistic integrity. The female leads on Friday (Galina Stepanenko as Nikiya and Maria Alexandrova as Gamzatti) were the stronger of the casts, although Saturday's women (Anna Antonicheva and Maria Allash) were also quite good. The choreographic additions, I assume by Grigorovich, often verged on silly. Gamzatti is attended by a group of fan-bearing slave girls whose dance looks like it was intended for circus clowns. (These were ecstatically happy slaves.) The Golden Idol was also attended by a fan club of what seemed like teenage groupies. The choreography for these girls would have looked entirely in place if performed by the fans in a road company of "Bye Bye Birdie." Fortunately, the bulk of the familiar choreography was left intact, with none of the fussy flourishes that Nureyev threw into his production. I missed the pesky little girls in the Manu (pitcher) dance though. I was happy to see that Nikiya's second act solo included the "hootchie kootch" section; I've always been a sucker for that part. The sets are nowhere near as opulent as POB's or the Universal Ballet's. To my eyes they looked a lot like the sets for the Makarova production. The interesting aspect of this production was the LACK of scenery for the shades scene; the stage was bare and the ramp, which consisted of a straight section across and two ramps down, was all black. Nothing to see here but the dancers. As far as I was concerned, they were all I needed to see. A sort of epilogue was added after the shades scene where Solor goes to the temple alone and it collapses around him (apparently leaving him unharmed but still distraught). This part was pretty much unnecessary.
  6. What happened to all the Southern California posters here? The Bolshoi just concluded a run of "La Bayadere" at Costa Mesa and there haven't been any comments. Didn't anybody attend?
  7. Thanks, Leigh! This is happy news indeed. I'll be checking the PA Ballet board looking forward to reading news of this beautiful and exciting dancer.
  8. The first name that springs to my mind when I hear the words "dancer's dancer" is Fred Astaire. ~Steve
  9. Perhaps the piece is by Andrei Ballanchivadze, Georgi's composer brother. ~Steve
  10. Perhaps the piece is by Andrei Ballanchivadze, Georgi's composer brother. ~Steve
  11. Over the past few years, I've gone through many favorite dancers, but while others have risen to the top and later dropped back down off the list, Susan Jaffe has always remained among my top 3. I'm going to miss her. ~Steve
  12. I also found towns called Swan Lake in Idaho, Montana and Nebraska. William Byrd Park in Richmond, VA has a lake called Swan Lake. In Canada, there are lakes called Swan Lake in Manitoba and Yukon Territory. Manitoba also has a town called Swan Lake (nowhere near the lake of that name). Saskatchewan has a set of lakes called Swan Lakes. There is also a lake by that name in Victoria, Australia. ~Steve
  13. Actually, ABT was in San Diego not Orange County. This was the first time in 15 years that ABT has been here, and since I've made my home in San Diego for the last 4 years this was an exciting event for me. Usually, I have to make the 75 minute drive up to Costa Mesa to see any major company. I had feared that the terrible events of the past week would put a damper on the performances, but the opposite happened; after four days of immersion in the horror of the attacks in NYC and Arlington, the audience was immensely relieved to have the chance to turn away for a moment and revel in the beauty of ballet. The three performances were for enthusiastic and joyous crowds. Due to the company's late arrival and the lack of a conductor, Friday night's performance was to recorded music. The program was Clark Tippet's "Bruch Violin Concerto," Paul Taylor's "Black Tuesday," and Natalie Weir's "Jabula." "Bruch" is a pleasant enough piece and was nicely danced, especially considering what the dancers went through to get here. "Black Tuesday" was appropriate, since it depicted New Yorkers making the most of a bad situation. While it has darker overtones, these were lost in the mood of the crowd (and perhaps the dancers) and it came off as a fun piece. "Jabula" received an energetic performance, and although it's just a piece of faux-tribal claptrap IMO, the crowd seemed to enjoy its propulsive momentum. The glories of the visit were the two performances of "Giselle." Much appreciation is owed to PNB's Stewart Kershaw for driving down from Seattle to conduct. Both performances were absolutely gorgeous, with the corps performing remarkably together and with a convincing romantic softness. Saturday night's cast was led by Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel, with Ethan Brown as Hilarion, Gillian Murphy as Myrta and Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo in the Peasant Pas de Deux. Sunday afternoon's performance starred Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Belotserkovsky, with Ethan Brown again, Carmen Corella as Myrta and Anna Liceica and Marcelo Gomes in the Peasant Pas de Deux. I'm far too lazy to go into a comparison of the two casts and really didn't make note of the details while watching, preferring to just watch and let the performances carry me along. Both casts, in their different ways, completely transported me into "Giselle's" world, and made their characters live for me and move me. By Sunday evening, the dark mood of mingled sadness, horror, anger and hate that had taken hold of me on Tuesday morning had finally been washed away. Humanity is capable of ugliness and beauty, but in time the ugly deeds become something to read about in history books and shake our heads over; remote events. The beauty remains a living part of us and those who survive us. ~Steve [ 09-18-2001: Message edited by: Steve Keeley ]
  14. Mark Dendy also did a version of "Swan Lake" for a company in Germany that was set in the White House and, in the Siegfried role, featured a philandering president. ~Steve
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