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Posts posted by Alexandra

  1. This is such sad news, although not completely unexpected. Kathrine came to New York and Washington every autumn to visit several American friends, so I got to know her a bit. I remember many conversations with her about ballet. It would give me shivers, listening to her talk about all the premieres and debuts she had seen -- all in response to my questions, as she was the most modest woman imaginable. Kathrine also wrote for DanceView for several years and her writing was so elegant and so precise that I loved reading her. There are few people writing today at the same level.

    In addition to her professional skills, Kathrine was witty, with an incisive intelligence, fun to talk to and fun to be with. I will miss her.

  2. Leigh Witchel reviews Ballet Arizona's "Napoli."

    Tales of the Danish Southwest

    Ballet Arizona is a medium-sized company, so Andersen stuck with a single cast, except for the lead couple and some of the Act 3 solos. Jillian Barrell and Nayon Iovino seemed more youthful in temperament; Cuban dancers Arianni Martin and Alejandro Mendez more mature. Both pairs had their virtues. Martin did the mime with clear detail, and linked Teresina’s character to Kitri, laughing at her potential suitors before rejecting them. As Gennaro, Mendez was a little less clear (at one point when everyone faced a shrine of the Madonna and bowed their heads in prayer, he angled wrong and prayed to his catch of fish instead) but made up for that in power – bursting through the assembly to enter with a great leap forward. When he threatened Peppo and Giacomo, Teresina’s unwanted suitors, they knew they were in trouble.
  3. Alastair Macaulay reviews Ballet Arizona's new production of "Napoli":

    Ballet Arizona's "Napoli" Embodies a Culture of Exuberance

    The enterprising Ballet Arizona is the first American ensemble to stage this classic. This company has become one of America’s finest — and “Napoli” is like no other ballet. For it is a guide not just to tourist destinations but also to that Italian city’s heartbeat. It celebrates the ebullient openness on which the Neapolitans pride themselves; it shows their abundance of gesture, their intense emotional volatility, their embodiment of what would later be called verismo and their impassioned Catholic piety. No royalty or noblemen here. Leading characters include a fisherman (the hero, Gennaro), a macaroni seller and a lemonade seller.
  4. I just made this post on the danceviewtimes site, but wanted to post it here as well. As many readers know, danceviewtimes was begun as the online reviews supplement to DanceView magazine. DanceView ceased publication with its October issue, and I wrote to subscribers that we would add a blog at danceviewtimes that would include articles appropriate to the magazine. These will include commentary, interviews, features, historical articles and the like.

    I'm very pleased to announce that Tom Phillips has written a piece about the New York City Ballet that seemed the perfect way to begin this new online publication. Here's a link to the DANCEVIEW blog (listed in the DVT Blogs at right). You'll find Tom's piece, Heart and Spleen: Confessions of a Strike-breaker (click the link to go to that piece directly) there.

    An added note: There won't be specific publication dates, and there probably won't be frequent posts. We have an interview on the way, as well as one of Leigh Witchel's excellent reports on the Balanchine Archive Project. I'll post notices in Links when these, and future pieces, are published.

  5. Darci Kistler said this before the Swan Lake segment:

    "My history with this ballet, Swan Lake, was it was my workshop performance, so this is kind of like coming full circle for me. Madame Danilova taught me Odette, the swan queen. Everyone thinks oh, I just did it. No. It's all technique. Everything is thought out and technical and then you have to be spontaneous and you have to let it go....I remember Mr. Balanchine slapping me and telling me "Don't look at ABT, don't look at Makarova. I want you to be young and yourself." So I've tried not to put any of these affectations on the children and let them be their own imagination of what they think a swan is."

    I'm really conflicted about that last sentence.


    I thought she was using Balanchine's approach - don't imitate, just be yourself. Very different from the "set every finger" approach, but from what we read, that was his.
  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this and was very grateful to PBS for showing it. This is a talented class! It's good to remember that these are, well, STUDENTS, and their performances can't be expected to be at the level of 30-year-olds. I thought they were very refreshing, and the zest with which they danced "Western Symphony" is something I'd like to see in a regular season!

  7. Welcome, AshtonFan, and thank you for that very incisive post! As you note, casting is so important, and (in the little RB dancing of Ashton we see over here) often the casting looks, well, alphabetical. Some years ago, I started reading the term Heritage Ballets ("We must preserve our Heritage Ballets," or, more usually, "We'll have one Heritage Ballet program a year"). I thought that was a terrible idea. It dumps them all into a little barrel labeled Heritage Works, and they are no longer part of the repertory, just ballets that Must be done so that we keep our heritage. Which is, I would think, one sure way of losing the Heritage.

  8. Was the lowering of the retirement age at the Royal Danish Ballet primarily a cost-saving measure?

    I was told so. "We have 20 girls over 40," as I heard people say in the early '90s. (And the plan had been in the works for a long time.) I think the same thing happened to several European companies. The Russian companies used to have hordes of middle-aged character dancers, some of them stars.

  9. In DC, Liz Lerman had (perhaps still has) a company for 65+ dancers for at least 30 years. She did some ery interesting pieces, using those dancers with younger ones -- example, an old woman remembering her young lover who, I think, had been killed in war; or a young man interacting with his old, dying father. (I only saw both of these works once, years and years ago, so my memory of plot/pretext may be inexact.)

    Here's an article:


    Also, until recently, ballet companies kept dancers on the roster until they were 50, often for mime roles, but also for character parts that included dancing (like Bournonville's trolls in "A Folk Tale").

  10. Thanks to all of you -- that sounds so inadequate, but it's deeply felt.

    I wanted to add that we've removed the DanceView website (www.danceview.org) I hope this summer I will have time to put some of the pieces, especially the interviews, up either in its own subsidiary blog at www.danceviewtimes.com, or as part of that site.

  11. Thank you for this, Anne.

    It's good to see how well J'aime Crandall is doing at the RDB. She was at Dutch National Ballet for several years and I never read about her there. It seems that Hubbe saw something in her and gave her chances, and it's worked wonderfully.

  12. The original costumes for "Concerto Barocco" weren't polka dot, of course. And there are some ballets that are changed after their premieres (including "La sylphide," by Bournonville) but there's a point when the designs become The Designs.

    Re the new Bournonville productions, several of my Danish friends have put it this way -- "Of course we want something new, but then he should do something new!!!"

  13. A question for those who've seen the production. How do they handle the way Bournonville used costume changes (the plaid) to tell the story? I've always thought it was the perfect answers to Balanchine's "There are no mothers-in-law in ballet." There are here. Effy wears one plaid at the beginning, changes into James's clan's plaid for the wedding, and then appears wearing Gurn's clan's plaid in the little scene that tells James that yes, she's married. How do they handle that in this production?

  14. Thank you, Jane -- I look forward to hearing what you thought of the other cast, and whether the production changes.

    Kathleen, I agree completely. What would we say if someone changed Concerto Barocco's costumes to, oh, bright pink polka dot 1950s dresses and give the man two virtuoso solos because they couldn't dance back then (as everyone knows). Much less turn it into a story.

    'La Sylphide" is the surviving poster child of Romantic ballet -- the love of nature, the contrast between the freedom of the forest and the closed indoors, the local color of far away Scotland, the hero longing for something he doesn't have, the supernatural. I think the changes Hubbe is making to Bournonville bother me the most because the balletmaster in Copenhagen (at least the Danish ones) think of their role as preserving their heritage, in all senses of the word. They use their people (rather than trying to bring in perfect bodies) and they feel it's important to preserve the ballets AND MAKE THEM LIVE. I've wondered if that latter demand is one that can't currently be met.

  15. Thank you so much, Anne! It's wonderful to have such a detailed view of a new production. It doesn't sound as though it has much to do with the Romantic era -- love of nature and all that. I look forward to reading you too, Jane, and to hearing reports of subsequent casts.

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