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Mike Gunther

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Dance Fan
  • City**
    Washington, DC
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
  1. So what did you all think of this? I was glad to see that it was such a big hit for the company, although I agree with Sarah Kauffman that it was more of a feel-good ballet than emotionally deep. Not that there's anything wrong with just feeling good! It was a big show with a live band, two singers, a tap-dancer, and full cast augmented from the Studio Company and the School. Lots of Jazz Age razzle-dazzle - that's the element of Fitzgerald's story that obviously inspired Webre. I liked his jazzy, hyper-kinetic steps, and loved watching the company execute them. Other Webre "trademarks" were in evidence too: the goofy slapstick, the pas-de-objects (sofas, tables), and a touching pas-de-romance between Jay Gatsby (Jared Nelson) and Daisy Buchanan (Laura Urgelles, in the perf. I saw; Elizabeth Gaither, in other perfs). Tom Buchanan (Louis R. Torres) was the most fully-developed character. In Fitzgerald he's just a smarmy rich playboy, but Torres and Webre turned him into a red-blooded mensch; poor Gatsby never had a chance. In Webre's imagining, Gatsby is a pure Lost Romantic; the perfect role for Nelson, but Webre's concept never lets us see the Donald-Trump-like-drive and crudity that propells Gatsby into his mansion. In Webre's version, the story's tragic denouement - where George kills Gatsby - is almost like an afterthought. In the Sat. Mat. that I saw, Andile Ndlovu performed a star turn as George (danced by Brooklyn Mack in other perfs.). Flipping around and across the stage after Myrtle's death, his madness was as dramatically believable, and as impressive, as his technique. Equally impressive was Myrtle's (Sona Kharatian) amazing stand on top of half-a-dozen guys! She is over ten feet above the stage at that point, standing completely upright on a "platform" of the men's arms and shoulders, then sl-o-o-w-ly bends 180 degrees backwards to be sl-o-o-w-ly handled back to the floor; an amazing demonstration of choreographic genius, and of the dancers' skill and trust. As for the structure of the ballet, Webre has done a great job of explicating Fitzgerald's complicated plot for the audience. In a way, he's done too good of a job. The cast of characters is taken over literally from the story, although many of them have no essential role here: Nick Caraway is doubled, as narrator and dancer; Jordan Baker appears only as someone for Dancer Nick to partner; and Pamela Buchanan isn't even a plot point. These characters are only literary devices, and do not belong in a dance adaptation. Nick Caraway's narration interrupted the flow of the ballet, and was downright intrusive. And the Louisville Flashback at the beginning of Act II was completely misplaced. It's the beginning of the story, and - in the dance version at least, to unblock the flow - should be the first scene of Act I!
  2. Spartacular! (Thursday performance) Fyi, the Tues./Sunday cast (Ivan Vasiliev, Alexander Volchkov, Nina Kaptsova, Maria Allash) also danced Thurs. Three times in a week, I don't know how they had any legs left. I feel privileged to have seen them. Such leaps, such bounds, such lifts! By both couples - it was just amazing, not only technically but dramatically too. And this rave from somebody who doesn't even like that particular ballet! To me the choreography (except for the above-mentioned leaps, bounds, and lifts) is just 3 hours of mugging. But what can I say - they made me into a believer.
  3. Hi all, Here's a link to the WB's upcoming season, with dancer and AD Septime Webre blogs: http://www.washingtonballet.org/_blog/Septimes_Salon/ Even if you don't follow the Washington Ballet specifically, I think the blogs are worth your attention as an example of good outreach! Personal communication from dancers and choreographers at this level is always welcome... and, I think, good for the company too.
  4. Just you Sat. Mat. the shoes were very quiet. I've always admired the Kirov for their soft-shoe landings.
  5. Thanks for that review! In that performance, I found youngsters Anastasia Kolegova (Aurora) and Anton Korsakov (Prince) more appealing than you did, although I agree that Kolegova was a bit stiff in Act I. I also think Korsakov looked more comfortable in his solo numbers than in his lifts. But they brought off their grand variations in Act III as smooth as silk, so overall I was left with a good impression.
  6. I don't know (or have forgotten) if "reviews" go here or under the company forums? Anybody?
  7. I saw him Thurs. night, partnered with Julie Kent. Rocked my world. Those two were so in tune with everything (music, choreography, each other) that they weren't just "in the flow," they were the flow. It was like they were spontaneously creating the whole dance. Oh, and Herman Cornejo as Mercutio was no slouch either. Maybe one reason the ABT brought R&J back so soon is that they knew they could deliver a peak experience with it. I'm still reliving this performance in my mind. Absolutely unforgettable. Thank you, thank you ABT!
  8. Natalia (or anyone), do you know which lady - must have been either Maria Kowroski or Abi Stafford, I guess - partnered Stephen Hanna in the middle section of Concerto Barocco? I really loved their performance on Sat. afternoon.
  9. Sorry to jump on this late, but isn't it premature until we see the results in living dance? If the Trust idea doesn't work, that will be obvious as different companies try and fail to put across this choreography. But if I was a dancer, which I'm not, jeez I'd at least like to try. To me, it's just too great to fossilize inside some video dance museum... especially for an audience fifty years from now that will see it live or not at all. Just my 2 cents.
  10. Is there a permanent BAM (Bad Audience Member) thread? If not, maybe there should be. I've been told to sit down, in the middle of a standing ovation... chewed out, when I poked awake a snoring patron... swatted, when I tapped somebody's tinkling wrist bracelets... And nah, I'm not perfect either
  11. Thanks so much, Hans, for this review! I saw the same performance, and share your generous feelings about Cojocaru and Kobborg - and you are right, MacMillan needs superb casting like this to make his ballets come alive - in truth I would have been happy to see M repeated, with exactly the same cast. May I also praise Gary Avis as the reprehensible Gaoler, in a truly memorable character performance that, for me, absolutely "sold" the Third Act. Cervera's Lescaut, for me, is another memorable performance. In MacMillan's concept I suppose that he is an evil character, a brother who is so depraved that he pimps out his own sister. However, Cervera danced so well, and with such explosive joy in his character, that he almost tilted me over to "the dark side" - more importantly, he made it possible to understand how Manon, Des Grieux, and even Monsieur G.M. could have fallen under his spell. I hope that folks will share their reviews of the other performances, with different casts. Had I to do it all over again, I would have seen every one of them.
  12. Chroma: Federico Bonelli, Mara Galeazzi, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Ludovic Ondiviela, Tamara Rojo, Eric Underwood, Jonathan Watkins, Edward Watson DGV (Tue): Cindy Jourdain (sub. for Lauren Cuthbertson), Leanne Benjamin, Marianela Nunez, Mara Galeazzi, Eric Underwood, Edward Watson, Gary Avis, Federico Bonelli DGV (Wed): Cindy Jourdain (sub. for Zenaida Yanowsky), Laura Morera, Marianela Nunez, Mara Galeazzi, Eric Underwood, Steven McRae, Gary Avis, Federico Bonelli
  13. Can anybody explain the program notes (by choreographer McGregor) for Chroma? e.g. "... the body can behave as a frequency of color - in freedom from white." ??? I think we need some notes for the notes . Enjoyed the dance, though.
  14. Right on! My question when thinking about going to a performance is usually the same as my answer: "why *not*?"
  15. I caught the WB Studio Company's Sun. Matinee at the Black Rock Center For The Arts in Germantown, MD. For those that aren't familiar with them, the WB Studio Company is a pre-professional "bridge" to the full Washington Ballet that supplies dancers to WB performances and also puts on its own performances, as they did this weekend. The program: Zzzap!, a silly new ballet by Brian Reeder that reimagines ballet school as a superhero training facility (!?) -- Carolina Neves, Andile Ndlovu, Alexandra Pera, Christina Schifano, Kirsten Wicklund PDD from Don Q -- Yuka Oyoshi, Kensuke Yorozu PDD from Le Corsaire -- Alexandra Pera, Andile Ndlovu Who Cares? (Balanchine/Gershwin) -- Jasmin Dwyer, Carolina Neves, Yuka Oyoshi, Kensuke Yorozu The performance I saw on Sunday was fine. I was impressed by their technical preparation and execution, as well as their character work, which I guess is no surprise since these folks have already won/placed in numerous competitions just to get to this point in their careers. Some need to work on their "stage smiles," while others got it just right. They are dancing the same program (alternating roles) next week in DC, well worth seeing imho. I left with a big "non-stage" smile on my face.
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