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Quiggin

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    balletgoer
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    San Francisco
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  1. Thanks, Drew, for your thoughts on the case, esp this –
  2. What's interesting to me are the parallels between the formality of mailed letters and the casualness of email. A seal on a letter has to be broken (or possibly steamed and resealed) whereas an email is often opened without a password (as mine are set up). With big bright screens and clear sans serif typefaces an email can be seen and read at some distance on a bus or train whereas a letter is much harder to "over"-read, especially when written in old-fashioned cursive hand. In the old days people would occasionally forward letters of another correspondent without their permission (which I used to find a bit shocking), while today it's rather easy to forward or cut and paste parts of an email. Plus there's invisible "blind carbon copy" forwarding, which is used much more often now than in the carbon copy days. To counter this, law firms ususally post a prohibition against content-forwarding at the bottom of all emails and may also assert some sort of copyright protection. So it would seem that emails are a much more informal and open form – closer perhaps to a postcard than to a letter – and in practice the prohibitions about redissemination less stict than in the old days – unless accompanied by a formal claim of privacy of content.
  3. Thanks, pherank, for the Panero Justin Peck analysis. Maybe Peck's ballets are more dramatically successful when he uses more traditional music scores, such as Aaron Copeland's for Rodeo, which give him a stronger structure to lock into. And thanks, Terez, for your observations on Hurry Up – and Joseph Walsh's naturalness and being a kind of "natural" in the ballet. With the Millepied Appasionata, by borrowing from Ratmansky's Russian Seasons and Balanchine's sublime Liebeslieder Valzer, it does open up some questions about the whys of the borrowing. When say Picasso or Matisse borrow/"steal" from Cezanne or Van Gogh, they build on the implications of the devices or motifs that they felt weren't completely developed in the original (often turning them on their heads) and the resulting art work ends up saying something fresh and new. I don't think that happened here.
  4. Enjoyed Program 2 last night. Thought Isabella DeVivo and Julia Rowe came closest to Balanchine in Divertimento #15, especially the quirky torsion bar twist movements, in an overall good performance. (The first movement variations are always so strange, as if the dancer is doing two superimposed variations at once that only coincide here and there, and in the andante the dancers seem to be sculpting out invisible, off-fulcrum private spaces.) What I did find distracting is that the dancers smiled so broadly in parts which are supposed to be relatively quiet and introspective. Pianists don't smile while they play Mozart inner movements – should dancers? Lots of clean, spirited dancing in the Milleppied/Beethoven Appassionata and nice to see Jaime Garcia Castilla in good form after a hiatus of some months. But the production seemed like a odd combination of stories and effects from Russian Seasons – primary colored costumes in the first movement, white bridal clothes in the second – and Liebeslieder Walzes – women's hair let free in the last movement, change from point shoes to flats. But the progression of narratives didn't seem to develop as clearly as they do in the originals. Hurry Up seemed less compelling on third viewing but sections still stood out. Was still thinking of Mozart from earlier in the evening I guess.
  5. I think Joan Acocella could have said that Balanchine was a giant of 20th century ballet, much as Bach was for music in the 18th, which to me would have been more in keeping with relatively straight reportage of the rest of the piece – and leave it at that. As far a Gogol's range, I think it was Doestovsky who said "we all came out of Gogol's Overcoat." I was also thinking of Wolf's musicality, the conterpoint of singer and pianist, the unique flavor of his work – somewhat like the odd flavor of the slow movement of Divertimento #15 (being performed here in SF this week), with its strange stop and go step patterns and rather bizarre overhead lifts. In general I was trying to link Balanchine with artists of some modesty and unique world view, rather than the biggest and best. It is odd though that Balanchine's stature often seems to have to be justified by dance writers whereas someone like Merce Cunningham's doesn't.
  6. I thought the article was a good summary of what happened at City Ballet – and almost a roll call of many of the discussion points here at Ballet Alert. What struck me as a wrong note was her attempt at assessing Balanchine's status in the arts (which always for some reason dance writers seem to need to defend and polish), as "a kind of poetic force that made people, when they saw his ballets, think about their lives differently, more seriously". That seemed subjective and very personal – almost like a religious conversion – and out of character with the tone of the rest of the piece. Balanchine was a fairly modest man, and instead of comparing himself to Tolstoy, as Acocella does, he might have said ETA Hoffmann or Gogol. (And maybe Hugo Wolf instead of Bach.)
  7. Like PeggyR, I've always had difficulty with the lighting in Hurry Up – very hard time looking through it to the dancing. But there have been a series of works at the Opera House, Scarlett's, Wheeldon's, others, that have had the similarly aggressively audience-facing, seachlight lighting, so Justin Peck's ballet isn't breaking any annoying new ground here. What's troubling for me with Justin Peck ballets is the boy-meets-girl-in-a-crowd moment out of West Side Story fulcrum where the crowd and the background freezes and a pas begins. What I do like about Peck is his handling of groups, his sense of dance as architecture, his witty arrangement of its modules. You see the whole and the parts working together. Anyway Hurry Up isn't a great piece but it has it pleasures (when you can see them)
  8. Callihroe is a latist Hellenistic novel, a first century BC form, when Greek art had lost its way with too much fullness as we're taught in school, and they're proposing to superimpose a 500 BC classical ideal over it – which should be very strange. I read a couple of that group of novels once and they seemed like soap operas or prototypes for Richardson novels. (Daphne and Chloe was like a Stephen Boyd Cinemascope version of a Sappho fragment.) Ratmansky's new project could turn out to be something like a Pre-Raphaelite ballet or a series of Puvis de Chavannes paintings. Not exactly advancing the art. Added: Actually the novels were fun to read, my response was colored by my disappointment that Ratmansky is not doing a contemporary work.
  9. Another factor is that Hurry Up, We're Dreaming got good notices in the press both in Unbound and more recently in the Gala, so maybe the Ballet regretted not giving it a second run. Good press notices seemed to have helped get the full Shostakovich Trilogy a second season. Probably a relink, but in this recent Chronicle interview Justin Peck talks about how he likes to work with the company. (Also likes to watch the Warriors, so maybe there are some Steph Curry moves and screens in Dreaming... Or maybe Kerr and the Warriors watch old tapes of John Clifford in Rubies?) https://www.sfchronicle.com/performance/article/Choreographer-Justin-Peck-brings-his-old-and-his-12500115.php?cmpid=gsa-sfgate-result
  10. Two clips from Agnes Varda's Cleo from 5 to 7, 1961. Cleo and Demy's Lola were big art house hits in the US for Legrand, well before Cherbourg and Man and a Woman (which was then considered less good). Even Pauline Kael was a fan of Cleo. Michel Legrand at piano, with Corinne Marchand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdjskdSjzhw
  11. My friends all commented on how musical, with what great phrasing, Misa Kuranaga was in the Tomasson Soirees Musicales piece. Benjamin Freemantle looked terrific in a unique take on all the intricate twists and turns of the Agon pas de trois, alongside Jennifer Stahl and Wanting Zhao. But the Stravinsky score was conducted so politely and so without any of its requisite sass that it didn't give the dancers the support and strong beats they needed to really top off some of the effects, as when the three dancers bump shoulders at the end. The Lander Etudes excerpt was brilliant fun – with a kind of wonderful excercise book spilling out on diagonals – and with Sasha de Sola, Aaron Robison and the reinstated Ulrich Birkkjaer all in great form. I also liked the first pas in Hurry Up (despite the overly contrasty lighting) and how refreshingly clean-cut and decisive the choreography was – though with some of the Peck ballets I find there gets to a bit too much of boy meets girl for the first time business. Anyway I enjoyed it all, though as Dreamer said it was more low keyed than in the past. And I noticed the audience itself was a bit more subdued in manner and dress – fewer eye-catching dresses, fewer long trains to be cafeful of stepping on. But the spirit was still there in this difficult time.
  12. Nice program this year. Of course I'm always interested in seeing Rubies and Agon (though "soloists to be announced" is a bit inauspicious). I did like Peck's Hurry Up We're Dreaming but hopefully the lighting will be brighter this time around so there'll be more of it. Alastair Macaulay listed Dreaming in his NYT Best of 2018 but it seemed to have lost out in the Unbound cut for reprise in 2019, so this is a bit of compensation. I liked Aaron Robison very much in Violin Concerto and Urik Birkkjaer in the Chairman Dances male duet and Snowbound last year, so I'm looking forward to seeing them both in the Lander Etudes. Looking over old programs I realize Birkkjaer had danced here in 2011 when he was a member of the Royal Danish Ballet in Sylphide and Bournonville Variations at Zellerbach, so this will be something of old turf for him. Harald Lander in rehearsal with Toni Lander and Erik Bruhn (music begins at the 3 minute mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3dkd5dC5oI
  13. Amy Reusch: Fedor Lopukhov, whose ballets Balanchine appeared in and was influenced by, was critical of the way Petipa treated Tchaikovsky and may have been Macaulay's source. Lopukhov thought that Petipa didn't understand the full complexity and color of Tchaikovsky's music as it was played in violin/piano reductions. Lopukhov (cited out of sequence): more here in Lopukhov's writings: https://books.google.com/books?id=50voOBEhZCsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=fyodor+lopukhov+petipa&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-mprog9_fAhUOlKwKHddnBFsQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=tchaikovsky&f=false
  14. Actually from the beginning Alfred Barr had a strict program in place – like an Arthur Murray dance chart – for how the Modern would evolve, with key paintings in place. (You could say that the Cezanne bather was its Apollo, the savage Les Demoiselles D'Avignon its Serenade.) Currently, PS 1, housed in a former Swingline stapler factory, is MoMA's venue for its scrappier offerings. It'd be interesting to see what kinds of Alfred Barr-like outline for City Ballet's past and future the prospective candidates for AD would imagine and construct – especially those of Damian Woetzel and Lourdes Lopez. Steve Wolfe's painting of the Barr chart: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81386
  15. Drew: It'd be awful to lose it as a choreographer's tool, as a contrasting device. Wasn't it originally invented to distinguish the quick from the dead in Giselle? Regarding Diaghilev, Don Q, etc I find it fascinating that when Balanchine first came to the US, Kirstein promoted him as a revolutionary choreographer who would break with all the conventions, break down the procenium, apply Brechtian techniques (: his "Seven Deadly Sins"). That Balanchine's main influence was not Marius Petipa but Kaisan Goleizovsky, and that, disturbed by “the atrophy of the leftovers of the Imperial Theatre, “ Balanchine “risked expulsion” to produce his own experimetntal choreography. And that in Paris, "the choreographer struggled against the bourgeois decadence of Diaghilev's last period and still managed to create notable works." (Making Ballet American: Modernism Before and Beyond Balanchine, Andrea Harris.) After WWII needing State Department funds earmarked for anti-communitist groups, Kirstein re-presented Balanchine no longer as a student of Goleizovsky and the Soviet avant garde, but instead claimed that it was Petipa and Lev Ivanov who were “in this blood.” (Harris). But Kirstein was twice right – compare Symphony in C with the Goleizovsky/New Ballet-like Four Temperaments in 1947. So Balanchine and maybe all modern ballet dance is founded over the precipitous schism, and dialogue, between pre- and post- Russian Revolution art. * Has a new lead critic been announced? Roslyn Sulcas has been writting about "other cultural matters," most recently a long article on a long, quarter mile piece by Robert Rauschenberg at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/24/arts/design/rauschenberg-quarter-mile-mural-lacma.html
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