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Everything posted by Helene

  1. I was thinking more of Dieter, Mike Meyers' character on Saturday Night Live, who only thought something was Art if it was very serious, very grave, and dressed in black. I think Dieter would like Agon, but would hate Ballet Imperial.
  2. I guess I find that scary, because people are getting paid to say that Gosh, and think of what they're missing!Do all discussion topics eventually lead to the "high" and "low" art discussion?
  3. In NYC, on the East Coast in general, and from what I've gleaned from San Francisco with its $7500 minimum donation for access to the opera donor lounge, the big arts positions are appointed by Big Arts Boards, are part of the social milieu, and are exclusive and exclusionary in nature. The sheer dollar amount needed to make any kind of splash in NYC is huge. $25,000 will get your name in 2-point type in disappearing ink in a program for a nano-second or two, while in Seattle, for example, it will get your name in big, permanent type on the Symphony or opera house wall. NYC tends to be immune to everything but the big investment bank kind of money, not the run-of-the-mill temporary Microsoft millionaire kind of money, especially when the donor is more interested in where the money is going than in being on the gala committee. My observation, and the anecdotal evidence from my fundraising friends, is that most donors want the most recognition for their contribution, whether it be accolades or business connections or being happy that they can name an auditorium after their parents. (Hence, the cynical saying among fundraisers that they like their donors "rich and dead.") For corporations community involvement is important too, and one can make a greater impact by being the proverbial big fish in the small pond, rather than a drop in the bucket.
  4. Wow, I don't consider Kylian and Neumeier all that similar, even though to me they co-inhabit the same general universe, but I'd never think of putting Forsythe in the same bucket as the other two, or with McMillan for that matter
  5. I thought Jane Simpson was a poster here; I didn't realize she was a critic, critic too.
  6. I read the following in Emma Manning's review of the Paris Opera Ballet in the February 2004 issue (#71) of Dance Europe: My opinion that any performance of Liebeslieder Waltzer that is "emotionally-drenched" and "pack half of War and Peace in every gesture" smells more like Eternity than L'Heure Bleue and is missing the point of the ballet. (Could this be a reason that French critics and audiences didn't like it?) [Edited to attribute this to the correct critic] Zoe Anderson in The Telegraph lambasted Dance Theater of Harlem's Balanchine program, but liked their performance of Return, which I think, having seen it on the same DTH program as Serenade and Apollo, is a fun way to spend 20 minutes, but hardly much to contemplate the moment it ends. In [Edited to attribute this to the correct critic] Ismene Brown's review of Apollo especially, I thought of Balanchine's comment about how he couldn't remain in England, because it's vulgar to be awake. Or perhaps she thinks that the detached "blond god" performances are the only legitimate interpretation of Apollo? I know this is a very small sample, but these three [Edited] made me realize that I almost always discount the British press take on Balanchine, and I wonder whether British critics, apart from Clement Crisp, "get" Balanchine now any more than they did during NYCB's early tours to London. Or are there critics I should read that I've been missing? [Edited to attribute the reviews to the correct critics, with my apologies to both]
  7. I'll be traveling to London in September, and I'd appreciate any recommendations for book shops where I could find dance books and for any new dance books worth having that have been published by British publishers and are unavailable in the US.
  8. Another quote from the Lebrecht piece is, On the music side, that's much to the credit of Tim Page, but on the dance side, Alexandra is one of the critics whom this describes.
  9. Deborah Voigt may have had the last laugh. In the Associated Press review of her 7 Apr 04 recital at Carnegie Hall is the following:
  10. According to Robert Tracy's book, Balanchine's Ballerinas, in the introduction to her Q&A, However, later in the interview section on Marie-Jeanne, the question is: To which her reply is, She then went on to describe her return, at the behest of Lincoln Kirstein, in which she tried to come back too fast, and was injured on tour, at which point she reports Balanchine as saying, But her most important contributions were as a member of Ballet Caravan, where she created the leads in Ballet Imperial and Concerto Barocco, as well as in other choreographer's ballets. And, according to the book, as a guest with the Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo
  11. I only saw it once in 1988, performed by Robert La Fosse, with Valentina Kozlova as Eurydice, Adam Lüders as Dark Angel, Robert Lyon as Apollo, and Diana White as the Leader of the Bacchantes. In 1983, I saw two perfomances, one Winter Season, one Spring Season, both cast with Ib Andersen as Orpheus -- among my all-time favorite performances of anything -- Karin von Aroldingen as Eurydice, Mel Tomlinson as Dark Angel, Christopher Fleming as Apollo, and Florence Fitzgerald (winter) and Victoria Hall (spring) as Leader of the Bacchantes. The next performances I have listed were three (in ten days) in the 1993 Spring Season and one in the 1994 Winter Season, with Nilas Martins as Orpheus, Wendy Whelan as Eurydice -- I remember her being wonderful in this role -- Lüders as Dark Angel, Robert Lyon as Apollo, and Diana White and Teresa Reyes as Leader of the Bacchantes.
  12. Julio Bocca is touring with his troupe, Ballet Argentino, and they are now in Seattle. The program started with a pas de deux to Barber's Adagio for Strings. I have to admit that I only think of JFK's funeral when it's played, regardless of the choregraphy. Since it wasn't listed in the program, I can only say that Bocca was the man, that both dancers wore medium blue unitards, that there was severe "mood" lighting, that the choreography looked a bit generic, and that they danced it very well. Next was Le Corsaire pas de deux. There are four dancers other than Bocca who are listed at the top of the troupe. Two of them, Rosana Perez and Hernan Piquin danced in this piece. Piquin looked like a taller Rudy Galindo, and was a bit brooding. Despite this, he had nice, light rhythm in his turns and really nice form and extension in his jumps. He looked rather exotic in the part. Perez' dancing was strange: while she projected really well, and she had lovely feet, her turnout was limited and whenever she turned, supported or solo, she looked more like a top, with her legs tilted outward and her pelvis making a wide circle. The turns weren't off the axis like Farrell's; she somehow managed to look centered over her toes, but it looked so odd. The lighting was harsh, as if all the electricity saved in the first piece was used to light the second. Last in the first half of the program was Maurico Wainrot's Desde Lejos, with music by Wim Mertens. Apart from the opening of the piece for all of the dancers, both the music sounded and the choreography looked derivative, the music in the style of Phillip Glass and Steven Reich, and the dance in Nacho Duato's Arenal and Jardi Tancat vein, with occasional bursts of Jiri Killian. Not that it mattered, because the company looked fantastic in the piece and danced it with brio and conviction. Cecilia Figaredo was Julio Bocca's partner in the pas de deux (second and second-to-last movements), and even when he was given an occasional virtuoso burst, she still managed to hold my attention, and to me, matched his charisma. She didn't have just energy, she had spirit. The second half was Ana Maria Stekelman's The Man in the Red Tie, and, for the first time in a long time, I am really stumped. I thought it was a hoot, and I mean that in the best sense, but I'm not sure if it's a good piece. I think it's great that the title role, danced by Bocca, is the straight man, and apart from the Eifmann-like prologue, where the evil Marchand makes the Man in the Red Tie paint himself to death , he is actually the tertiary character, after Marchand and The Woman, brilliantly performed by Jean Francois Casanovas and danced by Cecilia Figaredo. The male ensemble, clad in Blue Ties, is of equal importance. I think it got better immediately after Stekelman dropped the Eifmanisms and established her own voice, which happened in Act I, in the Art Gallery scene, although the unusual and mesmerizing hand and arm movements she gave to Marchand were evident from the beginning. Because of the Marchand character, there was a lot of mime, and, happily the troupe didn't fall into the trap of acting instead of miming. There were several dream scenes, including one that culminated in a sex scene from the woman's dream point of view, and unlike Eifmann, she did not turn it into a nightmare. Definitely not a first date ballet. On the other hand, Julio Bocca at nearly 40 is in the age-appropriate dream object category The projections of paintings by Antonio Segui and the lighting by Roberto Traferri were terrific and partners in the production. I don't know if Bocca partnered Figaredo in the opening ballet, but his partnering looked like a dream in every ballet in which he danced. Meany Hall isn't a large theater, and the seating is fairly close to the stage, and everything he did looked smooth as silk. He should be proud of this Company. He has a group of really good men who seem to be looking up to him and dancing to his high standards, and there's one shorter, dark-haired man who is superb. (Unfortunately, that's about as specific as saying the blond boy in the corps of the Royal Danish Ballet, but the only way I could distinguish him is that in the finale of Desde Lejos, he and his partner danced in the back row behind Bocca and Figaredo.) Not that the women aren't wonderful, but seeing two Companies in a week with great men -- Ballet Argentino and San Francisco Ballet -- made a vivid impression on me. I'm so used to women dominating.
  13. Silvy, I would suggest that you check the disks you want to buy. The original reason for having multiple regions for DVD is for Hollywood movie distribution -- i.e., to restrict Europe from buying the DVD's before the film reaches the theaters. However, many disks I have for ballet and foreign movies are "multi-region" and can be played on most DVD players, because there's no marketing reason to restrict them. All of my ballet, opera, and classical DVD's play on my standard Samsung DVD player, as well as region 1 restricted disks. If you're planning to get DVD's from all regions and some of them are restricted, you can either: a. Get a region-free DVD player or region-free DVD software to play disks from your PC. The downside to region-free DVD players is that the manufacturers keep coming up with new ways to restrict regions, so at a certain point, the player may not work on new disks. b. Get an inexpensive DVD player to play non-restricted and your regional DVD's, and software to play the other region on your PC. DVD software usually makes you lock in a region, giving you several times to reset the region (around five). I have my PC set to the European region, so if I want to watch a restricted Euro-region DVD, I run it from the DVD drive on my PC.
  14. Toller Cranston was there in Dortmund to be inducted into the Figure Skating Hall of Fame during a 5pm ceremony between the Original Dance and the Men's Final. He did a a lot of subversive slinking around the stadium, and was a favorite Jumbotron target. No outrageous outfits that I could see, and little decolletage, which was rather disappointing. I was kind of hoping he'd be in d'Artagnon mode. I travelled with a group, and we were split into the big one in the VIP section in boxes on the ice near the official ISU box, and we plebes in the first tier above that, on the opposite end of the side facing the judges. I saw that at first Cranston sat in one of the ISU boxes close to our VIP group, but bus conversation revealed that someone someone was pestering him there, and after his induction, he was reseated behind the judges, on the other side of the rink! I missed the actual induction ceremony for a bit of star gazing. Our section was next to the skater's section; at ground level was the backstage entrance for the skaters. There was a half-level about ten feet from the ground that provided a wonderful perch from which to watch the skaters as they came and went. Since it was right after the original dance, I was on the lookout for the dance teams. Belbin and Agosto came through with 100-watt smiles and patiently signed autographs and posed for pictures. Denkova and Staviyski looked a bit sad; she's much more delicate-looking in person. Winkler and Lohse were swarmed; he's got a very cute bad boy look, and she's quite beautiful. Staviyski was very attractive in person, but low-key. Roman Kostomarov, who was understandably pleased with his placement, was standing by, talking and signing and taking pictures, and even from behind, he emitted the star quality like a nuclear reactor. Both he and Lohse are film star material. In dance, Winkler and Lohse were really on in every phase. Denkova and Staviyski melted the ice in their Midnight Blues Compulsory Dance, were spectacular in the contrasts of Blues and Rock in the Original Dance, and had such achingly beautiful flow and edges in the Free Dance, it was almost painful to watch. The crowd was firmly behind them, and the only thing that saved the judges, who threw out a couple of 6.0's to them to keep the wolves away, was the entrance of Winkler and Lohse. Otherwise, the judges might have had reason to fear the crowd, because it was clear from the marks that they were ready to crown Navka/Kostomarov, on whom they bestowed about nine 6.0's. The judges threw 6.0's around in Dortmund as if they were perishable goods. It would be ironic if the Russian Federation manages to squelch CoP adoption until after the 2005 Worlds in Moscow.
  15. Plushenko caught an edge going around the curve preparing for his 3Loop, which was the only jump he had in the last 1/3 of his program. I was disappointed in seeing Plushenko's Nijinsky program live, because there were several quiet/rest stops that are TV friendly, but that don't carry in the arena, especially from the other side of the rink with his back to us. But for the first time in a long time, he had height and a proper landing and runout on the 2Loop at the end of his 4Toe/3Toe/2Loop combination at the beginning -- right in front of us -- and a textbook perfect 3A. He also did a 4Toe that was so easy we thought it was a triple. I thought that he had sort of popped out of the landing of his usual 3Axel/3Toe combination, only to find that although the 3Axel wasn't landed well, the 1/2 turn was deliberate to set up to the inside edge take-off of a 3Flip. His jump content was overwhelming, if front-loaded, and his straightline footwork was awesome. But not as awesome as the 1000 step straightline sequence he did in his first exhibition program, which was a tour de force. In the quali round Plushenko gave a near-perfect performance of last year's "St. Petersburg 300" program. Joubert's program was a bit more well-balanced, but even though Plushenko doesn't always get great form on his spins, they are varied and creative, and Joubert, like his idol Yagudin, sticks to pretty basic sit spins. What was so impressive seeing this program live is the tension and drama he brought to it, and small details that are not telegenic, like the ripples that went through his back and shoulders to the underlying pulse of the music. Perhaps 85% of his program came across on TV. Lindemann was really wonderful -- he had great speed without sacrificing flow, his ice coverage was superb, and his edges were fabulous. He was more than a jumping bean, not that he's any slouch with the jumps: his technique is generally fine and he gets great height and spinning rhythm on them. Lambiel had better choreography in the LP, and his spin positions were amazing, but his jump technique is sloppy. I'm not sure he had a single landing that wasn't scratchy, atilt, and/or low, and among those great spins were some not-so-great travels. And when his energy is on full-throttle, like it was in the LP, he tends to go toward the flat of his blade; you could hear his stroking from across the rink. By contrast, in his quali round, where he did his "Gypsy Dance" program, his energy was more controlled, and he really danced through his program and was poignantly lyrical, with better basic skating. Under properly marked CoP, Lindemann would have made up in proper technique what Lambiel made up in base score difficulty. So would quadless Johnny Weir. From watching him on TV, I had no idea that the quality of his skating would be palpable. In his first World Championships, he put down three, nearly flawless programs. (I counted a tight landing on his quali 3A/3T, catching his freeleg heel on the landing of his 3F (?) in the SP, and a travel in a spin.) On the whole, he has the best jump technique of any man in skating, with flow and speed going in and matchless form in his landings and flow-out. Although he doesn't have the greatest height in the bunch, according to CoP, nearly all of his jumps were +2/+3 quality. He also landed 3Axel/3Toe and 3Lutz/3Toe combos in his "Dr. Zhivago" program (quali and LP), and, at least this year, there is only a .5 differential in base scores between 3A/3T and 4T/3T, which Weir would have made up in Grade of Execution. He has beautiful flow around the ice, and wonderful carriage. The only other time I thought "John Curry" while watching a male skater before when when I first saw Urmanov, because his carriage and technique would have enabled him to do anything, but he didn't have the vision or taste to fulfill his vast potential. I think that Weir's the man. Lindemann skated a brilliant, character-filled short program; I would have placed him above Joubert, who gave a good, but not best performance of the great "Time" program. Lindemann, by the way, is tiny: he stood next to Cohen during the post-Exhibition bows, and he looked about two inches taller than she. Joubert perched about six rows behind us in the civilian section instead of the skaters' section during much of the early competition, and he did not look particularly happy; I suspect he was demoralized after his quali round, which I think he should have won, and this may have been the reason for his sub-par (for him) performance in the short program. Michael Weiss was deadly boring in all three rounds. Five of the final six men blew off the roof of the stadium; Weiss was the only one to skate a lukewarm program to a lukewarm response. Sadly, Savoie, such a fine all-around skater, was undermarked in all of his rounds, and Ivan Dinev, who is a wonderful skater, couldn't put three good rounds together, although he had many brilliant moments in each program. Klimkin's injury -- a torn hamstring -- was the most depressing event of the week. He was superb, if not flawless, in his quali round, and his "Swan Lake" program is beautiful, even though he couldn't land his jumps well. Unless he doesn't have time to put together another short program for next season, I don't know that we'll see it again, since he did it because his late coach, Igor Russakov, chose it for him before he died after a long fight with leukemia, and Klimkin skated it as a tribute to Russakov. (He's now training with Kudriatsev.) There's a woman in Finland who has taken the Finnish Eurosport broadcast and created zipped Windows Media Player files of many of the skates. Her website, SomeBodyElsesLife has three programs available for download at any given time. She changes them when she has time. She's not really a figure skating fan, and at this point, I'm not sure she's sure why she's doing this or for how much longer it will last. The WMP files are tiny, but they are a treasure trove. I go to her site every day to see what's up. (I'm still waiting for TiVo to release software that will allow their files to be saved so that they can be played on PC's.) To download, go to one of the highlighted programs and right-click on the "Online" link in the far right column. Choose Save Target As from the menu and save to your hard drive. From there, if you have Windows Media Player and Winzip (comes with many versions of Windows), the file will unzip and come up in a WMP window when you click on it. Please do not select "Open" as this could take down her site if enough people do it at once.
  16. I just received a newsletter from the Ballet Arizona volunteer corps, and the front page is an interview with Artistic Director Ib Andersen about a new full-length ballet he is creating, to be performed this coming weekend (9-11 April). According to the interview, it will be a 2+ hour ballet, with music ranging from 13th century Catalan composer Alfonzo X el Sabio, Marin Marais, a sequence of rain and thunder, "sort of to connect and to break up the pieces," then two Hungarian Dances by Brahms, a Berlioz overture (Act I), a movement of Schubert's Opus 100 quintet (Act II), and the rest was TBD as of the interview (not dated). He started choreographing it last fall. According to Andersen, "Is there a story? No, not really, but in the first act there is one person who is the link through the ballet. There is no linear story, but the ballet is about past, present, future, it's about people" "Well, it has been cooking in my mind for seven years. I have always wanted to work out this idea. I have always wanted to work out this idea. Normally you would choose just one composer, but this ballet has many, so this is very different. Also it jumps in atmosphere from one thing to another. "Inspiration? It is not biographic, it is not about me, but it arises out of the life I have lived, what I have seen, what I know." Is anyone planning to see this?
  17. This past weekend I travelled to San Francisco to see two performances each of Balanchine Centennial programs 5 & 6. I had returned from Dortmund earlier in the week after attending the World Figure Skating Championships, and I've just finished reading Joy Goodwin's book, The Second Mark, about the three pairs vying for the 2002 Olympic gold medal, so my head is swarming with dancing and figure skating. The last time I saw SF Ballet was when I was working extensively in the Bay Area, and I was looking forward to seeing dancers such as Katita Waldo, Yuri Possokhov, Julie Diana, and Muriel Maffre again. Casting for these programs was stocked with principal dancers; only three -- Hench, Long, Nedviguine -- were not cast this weekend. Sarah van Patten was one of two female soloist to appear in principal roles (Calliope, Marnee Morris' role in Who Cares, and Dark Angel in Serenade). Sherri LeBlanc as Choleric was the other, and corps member Rachel Viselli and soloist Ruben Martin were cast in Who Cares?. Corps men Moises Martin (Waltz Man in Serenade), Jaime Garcia Castilla (Melancholic) and Rory Hohenstein, substituting for an injured Damien Smith as Phlegmatic, were also cast. I went to the "Meet the Artists" Q&A before the Friday evening performance, and it was cut short because of an emergency rehearsal for the Serenade corps. This may account for the mishaps in the corps during the actual performance, because there were several times where the unison was noticeably off, and the corps didn't breathe together. (The stage seemed a bit small for the corps in Serenade, with a few dancing in the wings at times.) Julie Diana danced Waltz Girl with lovely grace and quiet pathos and no dramatic imposition or story. In this performance, I thought that Tina LeBlanc emphasized the petit allegro rather than the sweep of Russian Girl, until the last movement, when she flew into Vadim Solomakha's waiting arms. I was so looking forward to seeing Katita Waldo, but she looked underpowered in the first movement, and, as in her other roles this weekend, seemed to be adding some strangely baroque flourishes with her hands and wrists, which is the opposite of how I remember her. Vadim Solomakha was affecting as Fate Man, in his ability to convey tension in his poses and the tableaux with the three women. Sunday afternoon's performance was a marked contrast to Friday night's; on Sunday, I thought the corps were dead on. Music Director Andrew Mogrelia conducted the orchestra masterfully; notable was the way they built the end of the opening phrase, where the women in first position bend backwards with their arms in high fifth. That this would be a very different performance was obvious from the moment Lorena Feijoo stepped onto the stage, a sheer ball of energy and will, and the corps mirrored her energy, as if they were on an adventure. From her performance in The Man I Love the day before I was expecting a lot of acting, but saw none until she was on the floor after the Dark Angel led Fate Man into the wings, and she lowered her head in resignation. If anything, her Waltz Girl wasn't particularly aware of the tragic fate ahead of her, until the end of the third movement. I've never seen a performance of this part quite like it, and I understand why people would say that she was too much for the role, because she wasn't of the world I usually associate with the ballet. LeBlanc, in a terrific performance, balanced the allegro and the sweep in a different performance than on Friday night, and it was a just a great moment when she danced amidst the four "Big Swans" in the first movement and they matched her, as when she danced the opening of the third movement with the "Little Swans." Sarah van Patten gave a marvelous performance of Dark Angel; she's got broad shoulders and muscles, yet she's a lush dancer, all cream and flow. (She reminds me a bit of Meunier.) I would have preferred to see Legate's and Vilanoba's roles switched: Legate gave a fine classical performance of Fate Man, but I felt he was more of a partner than a protagonist, while Vilanoba, a perfectly fine Waltz Man, seemed to have more of Fate Man's sensibility. But, maybe that was because he was paired with Madonna as Waltz Girl As one of the minority of people who suffers from jet lag badly when travelling West, I was not happy when it hit during Apollo. Seeing the complete version for the second time in the last couple of months -- the first when Dance Theater of Harlem toured Seattle -- made me realize how much I love the complete version, especially the birth, the unswaddling, and Apollo's first lute lesson from the handmaidens, which Pauli Magierek and Gonzalo Garcia performed brilliantly. Unfortunately, I started to fade during Apollo's lute scene. In my semi-daze, Sarah van Patten impressed me most as Calliope. Vanessa Zahorian seemed a bit subdued as Polyhymnia, but I chalked this up to my altered state. Yuan Yuan Tan, whom I loved in Lubovitch's Othello, looked spiky to me, and perhaps it was her musculature that made her performance looked a bit forced. The strangest thing was that Apollo, who had faced the Calliope and Polyhymnia from his stool, and had, basically frozen them out so that they skulked away, sat staring at the audience during Terpsichore's solo, as if he were a masked figure in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. I didn't get a sense that he was imagining Terpsichore's solo at all from the expression on his face; that he chose her seemed a puzzle. It reminded me of figure skating whem the skaters phone in their performance, and the judges phone in their scores. I really faded after the pas de deux. I was lucky that the only cast that was the same twice all weekend was for Apollo, so I was able to see it fully awake on Sunday afternoon. van Patten was brilliant again, and Zahorian more vivid, and they both shined in the entire final sections after the pas de deux. My impression of Tan didn't change, unfortunately; I still didn't see much shape to her solo or pas de deux. Garcia gave a complete performance, changing from the yowling infant to the virile and commanding young god through his ascent and final pose. Four Temperaments was the last ballet on the program, which went from the culmination of the seeds of Balanchine's work in America to the pinacle of the Ballet Russe, to the first full masterpiece made in America. I suddenly had a welcome burst of energy as Hindemith's music began. Emily Ambuul and Aaron Orza danced the first theme softly, but directly, followed by Elana Altman and Brett Bauer's emphatic second theme. Bauer, a classical stylist, impressed me a lot with fine line and balance, here and in the corps in Stravinsky Violin Concernto and as one of the soloist men in Who Cares, even if he's not really a jazz man. Leslie Young, partnerered by Moises Martin, was rather introverted in the third theme; I've been spoiled by Heather Watts' and Stephanie Saland's elastic strength in the role. On Friday night, Pascal Molat's Melancholic was an morphing contrast between extension and contraction, while Jaime Garcia Castilla's on Sunday was all back and legs with a rather hollow center, which made him look a bit Gumbyesque. In Sanguinic Katita Waldo (Friday) and Julie Diana took contrastic approaches; Waldo tried for big movement, while Diana moved softly, but neither approach had a lot of impact until their solo. Both women were partnered by Stephen Legate, who danced with the energy that his partners didn't project. When Yuri Possokhov entered the stage on Friday night as Phlegmatic, my first thought was that he's dancing Melancholic! He then proceeded to give the most unusually phrased performance with the most unexpected dynamics that I've ever seen in the role. He managed to have a sort of undulating movement to his shoulders, arms and back, like the membranes of a squid as it swins, that made the whole performance look a bit as if it was underwater. I was mesmerized by his interpretation. I remember from performances in the mid-late 90's that he was a fine dancer, but this performance blew me away, clearly one of the highlights of the weekend. Rory Hohenstein gave a rather gentle performance on Sunday. The contrast in Choleric's between Muriel Maffre on Friday and Sherri LeBlanc on Sunday was great, but both gave throughly convincing interpretations: Maffre, tall and imposing and taking no prisoners, and LeBlanc in a vortex of motion that had me squinting to see if it were really she and not Lorena Feijoo! The corps was terrific throughout the entire ballet. Square Dance opened Program 6. In the afternoon, Vanessa Zahorian and Nicolas Blanc danced the leads. Watching Zahorian was like watching the Lilac Fairy dance the ballet. It was so not allegro. I felt like I was watching a visiting artist dance the ballet, and then I read in the program that she was an apprentice at the Kirov; maybe that was it. There were many nice moments in her performance, but also a couple of show-offy moments that marred it. For example, during the adagio, she did a Cynthia Gregory like balance, which broke the musical phrase. Later she performed a quadruple pirouette, but got stuck in passe and couldn't exit it properly. I only had to look to her left to see the energy and joy in the film of Patricia Wilde embodied by corps member Megan Low, who also shined as one of the demis in Who Cares? and one of the four girls in the opening of the third movement of Serenade. Blanc was terrific as a partner in the group dances, but I was disappointed in his rendition of the great solo. To me it should be like Yo Yo Ma playing Meditation from Thais, with the undertones of the deep cello strings resonant in the opposing movement of the front knee in plie and the back stretch. I thought Blanc was a bit static, but it's an extremely difficult solo to perfect. In the evening performance, Tina LeBlanc was simply glorious. What linked her bright, fast, clean allegro to the legato phrasing in the adagio was the clarity of her movements, perfectly tempered to the musical phrase. Such a grown-up performance by a dancer in her prime Boada was also fine as a partner and in the body of the ballet, but I thought his performance of the solo focused on the extremes and the ends, rather than the transitions. I wonder what direction Bart Cook gave the men as he staged the work, since the solo was made on him. The corps was again magnificent and danced as one. Square Dance is one of the handful of ballet that I want to start over again as soon as it is finished. What I found interesting in the male casting for Stravinsky Violin Concerto is that the men who danced the Aria I gave the cooler, more detached performances that I associated with Peter Martins in Aria II, and that the Aria II men showed the tension and vivacity that Bart Cook used to show in Aria I. (Cook and Maria Calegari did the staging.) In the evening cast Maffre and Tan were cast strangely together. In the program notes to 4T's, Nancy Goldner writes that the dancers asked Balanchine, "if they were supposed to be worms or insects." (The answer was "no.") That's the best way I could describe Maffre's and Tan's performances in the ballet, as even the Farrell role in Movements for Orchestra never looked as alien as the two female leads did in this ballet. Pierre-Francois Vilanoba and Damian Smith were wonderfully contrasting in the two arias, partnering the praying mantises. By contrast I think Lorena Feijoo and Julie Diana were perfectly cast and matched in the afternoon performance. Feijoo's energy, dynamism, and range were breathtaking, and her performance was in marked contrast to the clear elegance Diana brought to her role. Possokhov started off rather detached in the opening Toccata, and built his performance slowly over the course of the ballet, while Vadim Solomakha was vibrant from beginning to end. The final practically exploded, between the principals and the excellent corps and the dynamic interpretation and impeccable playing of violinist Roy Malan. This performance was 20 minutes of Ballet Heaven for me. Who Cares? is not my favorite ballet, and I had discussion thread with myself trying to decide what ballet I would like to have seen it its place. I was glad that the soloists' pas de deux were cut; usually by the time the principals come on, I'm pretty dazed. Luckily I was lucid, because following that great performance of Stravinsky Violin Concerto came Tina LeBlanc in "The Man I Love" pas de deux. One thing that always struck me about Joffrey performances I saw years ago that was reinforced when I saw The Company, is that the best dancers in the Company danced everything as if it were a masterpiece, and they didn't need to add anything extraneous. I think this piece of the Joffrey is still with Tina LeBlanc, because she is one of the few non-NYCB dancers who find the passion in Patricia McBride's role through the steps and the shapes, not through acting. Her "Fascinating Rhythm" was superb, too. She is such a complete dancer. Lorena Feijoo, by contrast, imposed so much pseudo glam on the role in the evening that I though JLo had suddenly materialized on the stage of War Memorial, and it wasn't pretty. Her "Fascinatin' Rhythm" was near perfection below the shoulders, but she seemed to not know what to do with her arms. I know that Vanessa Zahorian can turn -- she did fouette to an easy triple transitioning perfectly to other turns and an en dedans quadruple pirouette during "My One and Only," but I would have switched her and Feijoo in the casting. Sarah van Patten was wonderful in the turning role, and a nice contrast to LeBlanc. I don't think that either Rachel Viselli (matinee) or Katita Waldo (evening) were successful in Karin von Aroldingen's role. I found Waldo a little fussy and mannered -- maybe I am just too used to Lopez and Melinda Roy and Hall and Whelan -- and Viselli was just sunk in "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" when conductor Richard Bernas slowed down inexplicably as she started her beat sequence, and she never quite recovered. The generally excellent orchestra floundered in the Gershwin arrangements; the orchestra and piano soloist never quite meshed under either conductor. Ruben Martin was the more flamboyant man, but he did a pelvic movement in "Liza" that looked neither Balanchine nor Gershwin. Legate danced more in the Sean Lavery vein, and was quite fine, both as a soloist and as a partner. In her book The Second Mark author Joy Goodwin quotes Olympic pairs gold medalist and skating coach Oleg Vasiliev as saying that, "In the Soviet Union, the system made the skater," as he noted the last great pair created by the system and the system's great coach Moskvina, Berezhnaia and Sikuharlidze. Watching Lorena Feijoo and remembering her sister Lorna, who I saw dance Giselle with the National Ballet of Cuba, and thinking of the recent influx of Cuban dancers into the US, I wondered if Alicia Alonso, through her system, is, perhaps, the greatest dancer-maker of the late 20th century?
  18. In Merrill Ashley's memoir she said that Balanchine often paid attention to dancers when other choreographers showcased their gifts. (In her case it was a Jacques D'Amboise ballet.) Perhaps this foray into Boal's world will get Suozzi more recognition.
  19. Although most of the Balanchine Celebration performances were concentrated in the 2003-04 season, many around Balanchine's birthday in January, the entire year of 2004 is fair game to celebrate. Pacific Northwest Ballet, for example, is producing a second program in the fall of 2004, during the 2004-05 season, and it will be interesting to see the rep listed for next season for other companies as well. There are a limited number of approved stagers around, and I think they would be more accessible next season.
  20. Francisco Moncion was the warmest, most sympathetic Drosselmeyer that I've seen at NYCB.
  21. I don't want PNB to go mostly modern -- I think that would be tragic -- but I wouldn't mind a piece thrown in every year, if only for the dancers to work with interesting people. Some of the dancers have talked about training extensively in modern dance through their early to mid-teens, and they might do justice to some of the modern pieces. The Company does a wonderful job with Nacho Duato's Jardi Tancat. (The music itself is worth going to the performance.) I think it was Julie Tobiason's best role, and that the dance world lost a great modern dancer when she turned to ballet. Maynard Stewart was superb in it, too. I think that there are some PNB dancers who take to Forsythe like a fish to water. If PNB were to perform Tudor, I think that another niche of dancers in the Company would be cast. The Leaves Are Fading isn't my favorite Tudor, but it might work for the Company. Paul Gibson has done a few works for the school, but I don't think PNB has been a great lab for developing choregraphers. San Francisco Ballet has developed at least three in recent years (Julia Adam, Yuri Possoukov, Christopher Stowell). Kent Stowell has been prolific, but as he said, he choregraphed the full length works because the Company need them, and having a resident stager and choreographer made it cheaper to do new works. An Artistic Director who is not as prolific will have to go outside to fill the new work "quota."
  22. I spoke too soon. I just read that Carolyn Carlsson choreographed a ballet performed by POB, so the beginning of my wish list for a new PNB artistic director would be: Carlsson Mark Morris, preferably a new work, although I wonder what the company would do with Dido Twyla Tharp, not because I think her ballet works are her best work, but because it would be an experience for the dancers Karole Armitage Graham, maybe Diversion of Angels DeMille's Rodeo, Fall River Legend Kudelka. I kind of liked Julie Kent's section of Cruel World Robbins More Tudor and Forsythe
  23. My top 5 (not in order): Premiere of Liebeslieder Walzer, primarily for Verdi and Ludlow (Talk about greed!) Tanaquil LeClerq in Symphony in C (2nd movement) Lew Christensen in Apollo Henning Kronstam in Apollo Premiere of Agon (More greed!) Next 5 (not in order): Farell with Balanchine in Don Quixote Tallchief with Moncion in Firebird Plitsetskaya in Swan Lake Bruhn -- I have to defer to people who saw him to tell me what role I should choose. I want the best one, because I'm greedy! Marie-Jeanne in Ballet Imperial. (Hard choice between that and Concerto Barocco)
  24. I don't like dancers who pose for the snapshot, exaggerate extreme positions, and milk applause. To me the opposite are dancers who move with the "as written" musical phrase and impulse. This is probably why I never liked Nureyev, even when he was young with brilliant technique. I also don't like dancers who go for big effects at the expense of line and balance, or who sacrifice mobility in their arms, backs, and necks for leg and foot speed. I prefer cool to theatrical, but detached and unengaged is bad. Then there are dancers who have a quirk that goes against my grain -- for example, Nichol Hlinka used to make me crazy by hunching her shoulders and starting at her feet until her last years of dancing, when she stopped, and I loved her. The rest aren't quite rational, but I chalk this up to the opposite of the Quaker phrase that Nancy Reynolds used to describe Antoinette Sibley: [the dancer] did not speak to my condition.
  25. Helene

    Patricia McBride

    I didn't see McBride live until she returned to the company after the birth of her daughter when she was in her late 30's. By then she was no longer dancing the virtuouso roles like Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, Theme and Variations, Four Seasons, Allegro Brilliante, Tarantella (at least not often), roles which NYCB histories and memoirs and reviews record her as having danced brilliantly. Lincoln Kirstein said that she "saved" NYCB during Farrell's absence from '68-'74. Her technique was somewhat diminished in the last four years of her career, but I can't remember her ever dancing without energy or a sense of the stage space or the other dancers on it. I did see her perform in some of her original roles -- she was hysterically funny in "Costermongers" in Union Jack, delightful in Who Cares ("The Man I Love" and "Fascinatin' Rhythm"), Scotch Symphony, Vienna Waltzes, and Rubies, strong in Opus 19/The Dreamer, and lovely in Baiser de la Fee and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (2nd movement). She was also a radiant Sugar Plum Fairy in the first performance of Balanchine's Nutcracker that I ever saw, a tough Novice in The Cage, moving in Liebeslieder Walzer (Hayden's role, one she took over soon after the premiere in 1960), and lovely in Sonatine (created for Verdy). The only roles I didn't love her in were Valse Triste (Martins), Pavane, Shadows (a 1986 Bonnefous piece), and the "classical" role in Cortege Hongrois, mostly because, except for the latter, I don't really like any of these ballets. I envy those who saw her in her prime. For me, the way I remember her is at her last performance, which ended with the piano solo from Harlequinade. It was the humble bow at the end that was the perfect gesture, and the audience clapped and screamed and threw flowers, many with tears running down their faces.
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