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Everything posted by kfw

  1. ... a Robert Greskovic article in the print and online subscriber versions of today's Wall Street Journal. Greskovic takes Stuart Capps ("a young and undistinguished corps de ballet dancer" -- ouch!) to task for coarsening Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker. He trashes Peter Martins' "Burleske" and Eliot Feld's "Organon" and wonders about "possible references to genital organs" in the latter. He likes Christopher Wheeldon's "Polyphonia," thinks its references to masters "come out fresh-faced," and praises the dancers in it. If the light of such dancing shone more often at NYCB, he says, "the result would be a new dawn rising over" -- I like this coming image -- "a confounding twilight."
  2. Alexandra wrote: > Not that Ms. Farrell needs any advice from us, but are there any opinions on this? < As the very last person Ms. Farrell needs advice from, I can safely post some, knowing she won't take it anyhow. I'd rather see her work with highly accomplished dancers. One reason is simply that I don't get to NYC or even the Kennedy Center very often, so I'd like to see top dancers when I do. But the better reason is that I assume the more accomplished a dancer is, the more likely he or she will eventually teach in some capacity. (I know there are exceptions. Rosemary Dunleavey, if I'm not mistaken, never rose very high in the company, but has a unusual gift for remembering choreography). It's bad enough that neither City Ballet or SAB have her teaching all she knows to the dancers who dance Balanchine the most. I hope the dancers she does work with intensively will eventually have the chance to pass on her teaching to many others. Of course this may be shortsighted. Judging from the performances that she's elicited at the Kennedy Center so far, perhaps I should wish for her to work with young, relatively unformed dancers, so she can mold them as Balanchine molded her. But Balanchine had had her for years, and so far she hasn't been given that kind of time with her own dancers. [This message has been edited by kfw (edited March 03, 2001).]
  3. Manhattnik, that would be the Starbucks a couple of blocks to the south, yes? I know Starbucks is just about everywhere now, but they aren't in the State Theatre, surely. It can't be that bad. Yet. Can it?
  4. Who was it, Kirstein, who said Balanchine had no personality per se except when he was working? I wonder if there really isn't much more to be said than what we've heard. He liked to cook, he liked to iron, he slept in a separate bed from Tallchief, and he was capable of temper tantrums when romantically rejected. And such great ballets he could make! LeClerq was long before my time, but just from the film and photo records alone she thrilled and intrigued me more than any other dancer.
  5. I found a place here in Charlottesville that will convert 2 hours of PAL format to VHS for only $10. This is a pricey town, so if it's that cheap here it probably isn't too bad elsewhere.
  6. This thread has made me laugh out loud several times. I find a lot of ballet sexual, that's definitely part of its appeal. But to my mind, to experience a ballet like Agon as being about sex would be like experiencing a poem like "Hero and Leander" as being about sex. It would be to reduce it pathetically. It'd be like reducing true love to sex. The erotic element can't be separated out, but it doesn't predominate. And I've never read the pas de deux of Agon as a stylized sexual encounter, although it wouldn't surprise me if that's what Balanchine had in mind. The thread sent me back to the footage of Farrell and Martins dancing the pas de deux on the video "Peter Martins: A Dancer," and I didn't find Farrell's version of that move the slightest bit lewd.
  7. Bard's Ballerina, I take it you don't like all that droning! This isn't music I'd want to sit down and listen to at home, anymore than I'd put on John King's score for Merce Cunningham's CRWDSPCR all by itself. But I do love the atmosphere it creates for the ballet.
  8. Symphony in 3 Movements was this afternoon's highlight for me. Julia Adam had that wide-eyed and open mouth thing going Thursday night during the first movement of Symphony in C, and I didn't know the name Roman Rykine, so I kept my expectations low as I drove in, but they were wonderful, just wonderful, in the pas de deux. As with bill #1, I had my time and money's worth after the very first ballet. And then Gonzalo Garcia was riveting in Prodigal Son. I first saw that with Barishnikov in Chicago in '79 and I'm sure it'll never make as strong an impression again, but this guy's characterization was very strong. I was struck by the moment when the prodigal first sees the father as he's returning. Garcia was practically doubled up on the floor, knees underneath him, a touch I don't remember seeing before. I liked Yuan Yuan Tan, but I thought she was comparatively one dimensional. I suppose the role itself doesn't allow for much development.
  9. Did anyone catch Miami City Ballet at Wolf Trap about 5 years ago? They did the first and still, IMHO, the best Bugaku I've seen. Douglas Gawralijk (SP?) and Salley Ann Isaacks, the leads, had intensity and personality to spare. What drew me in to that ballet immediately was the music, kitschy as it may be. And because neither the music nor the court ceremony framing the pas de deux are erotic, the eroticism of the pas de deux doesn't strike me as just plain vulgar.
  10. Alexandra, I was suprised program #1 worked so well too. Ditto for Agon and the Four T's together. But is Rubies supposed to be the Cheetos in that analogy? I'm not sure what I'd compare it to offhand, but it would something invigorating. A tonic. I saw #3 tonight, and to my relatively untrained eye the overall level of technique was lower than last week, and the number of especially interesting dance personalities was considerably lower. Still I loved it all. Serenade is a ballet that I'm never too excited about seeing one more time beforehand, and that bowls me over every time. No, it didn't have the mystery it sometimes does, but it still moved me. I'm really sorry I missed Yuan Yuan Tan in Bugaku. I could see that, as you say, the principals didn't oversell this one, but I'm wondering what those hand nuances and restored details were. It was amusing -- it's always amusing during that ballet -- to hear the murmurs from people seeing it for the first time. In Symphony in C, the men impressed me more than the women overall, but I found Feijoo and Lacarra most interesting among the women. That ballet is always the evening's closer, of course, and it's so full of steps it's always more than I can take in! I suppose that's true for most anyone, that's one of it's glories, but I find my attention coming and going. I get satiated and have to force myself to focus instead of just letting it all wash over me. I love the way it builds and builds.
  11. Barb, thanks for that information. And I'll go see them as long as they perform, they have a wonderful spirit Mel, I wouldn't seriously think to critique Pyotr Tchaikovsky or George Balanchine, no siree! But your comments are ironic because of course Balanchine did rearrange the order of movements in Mozartiana. In the suite as written, the Preghiera is 3rd. In any case, it isn't the music for the Gigue that jars me, it's the choreography. Maybe I should go back and read and think about Croce on this, she has some explanation for who that guy is and what his relation to the other principals is. But I don't! Thanks for your thoughts though.
  12. Jeannie, I get the impression Samba38 was merely making a comparison to a fellow fan with strong favorites, no insult intended. As for me, I wouldn't call you names, but every time I check this thread and see you haven't yet posted one of your typically detailed reviews that I always look forward to, I do mutter underneath my breath.
  13. I saw this program Thursday night. It was only my 3rd viewing of Mozartiana and the first time I’d seen Ananiashvili, and I'll cherish the memory of her performance. The corps was strong and lovely too,and it was moving to reflect on what this dance might have meant to Balanchine. I do wonder what the Gigue is doing in the ballet though. Does it make intuitive sense there to everyone else? The first time I saw the ballet was when Farrell staged it here in '95 with Susan Jaffe and Peter Boal in the leads and a Washington Ballet dancer whose name escapes me dancing the Gigue. Both ballet and performances were everything I’d expected and more. A few longtime balletomanes in the seats behind us were less than impressed by Jaffe’s performance, and I know she had an ice princess reputation for quite a while. I’m wondering if any Ballet Alert members saw this performance and what you thought. For me it was a very beautiful introduction to that ballet, and the ballet itself would be a strong contender for my desert island list, no matter how short the list. The wit in Rubies, in both music and choreography , was the perfect chaser for the gravity and joy of Mozartiana. It’s a laugh out loud (quietly) ballet for me, right from the opening tableau, and thanks to the fine folks who took time to review it here, my expectations for the lead couple were relatively low and easily exceeded. And Isaacs ... wow! Blink once and it’s “how’d that leg get up there?!” Except for the male solo on the NYCB Balanchine Celebration video, this was the first time I’d seen Square Dance. I’m glad this was more or less the original staging, and maybe it would have grown on me with repeated viewings, but I found the calling distracting. I probably expected too much from the caller, especially since this was probably new to the ballet. But his timing didn’t seem especially sharp or musical, and for my taste the calls tended towards the cutesy. I took square dance lessons years ago and had a lot of fun, but I like my Balanchine straight. “Election return” rhymed with “intern” does NOT improve it. On the other hand, the Joffrey was impresive, and while the male solo may not be of a piece with the rest of the ballet, it is to my taste the most beautiful piece of choreography for a man I know of. It was sad to see Franklin Gamero and Illiana Lopez struggling a bit in Stars and Stripes, they’ve always made such a wonderful couple. The rest of the company made up for them though, especially Paige Fullerton. Saturday night in the Sanguinic section of the Four T’s, Gamero was in better form. I’d only seen the whole of Stars and Stripes once before, and was happily unprepared for the baton flying out of the wings in the First Campaign and the goofy 90 degree pivots the men make marching offstage in the 3rd. And as in Rubies, the Miami City Ballet dancers looked like they were having a whale of a time.
  14. Vary quick impressions. We just got in, I'm wiped out, but happily so. Divertimento #15 by the Farrell company last year was a taste of heaven. Neither my wife and I trust our perceptions enough to say if it was the dancing or our fatigue tonight, but something seemed lacking. Chan Hon Goh (4th variation) stood out for her beautiful turns. Poor Christina Fagundes took a fall during her solo. We were sorry to Askegard didn't dance. We've seen Miami City dance Agon with more energy. The pas de deux was the exception, it was Jennifer Kronenberg and Eric Quillere tonight, they had the chemistry and the technique. We'd seen Miami City dance Tarantella live and McBride and Villella dance it on video and never cared for it all that much, and for our money -- this will probably ruin my credibility for good, and I should know better than to compare a live experience to video, but .... -- I'll take tonight's Joffrey performance, we loved it. Maia Wilkins couldn't match McBride's quickness, but she had the charm, and Calvin Kitten reminded me of a young Villella. Of course I never _saw_ the young Villella, but I'm sticking with this opinion! The Four T's -- Miami City is always impressive in this, they catch the style better City Ballet has in my experience.
  15. At the final evening performance of "Suzanne Farrell Stages Balanchine at the Kennedy Center in 95(?), a woman near the back of the main floor brought a baby in with her. Of course it started crying -- I remember an enraged woman hissing "get that baby out of here!" But mother and child stayed put. Someone complained to an usher during intermission, but at the end of the intermission she snuck into a seat further down. This time, I went for an usher. I wish theaters would get tough -- if a cell phone goes off during a performance and an ussher can see whose it is, toss the bum out during the break. But I suppose it'll never happen.
  16. Kirstein's "30 Years" is wonderful for its insider perspective on company history, and fascinating for Kirstein's unique writing style and vocabulary. As someone who missed City Ballet's "glory years," I thoroughly enjoyed reading Garis and discovering the company through his eyes. The book also has photos I hadn't seen elsewhere. Then again the conceit out of which he writes -- the idea that he can fathom the workings of Balanchine's mind -- really is conceited (not that I blame him for trying, or that it isn't fascinating conjecture), and there are other places too where he sounds arrogant, like in his snobby dismissal of Dances at a Gathering. I love having all the different memories and points of view in the Mason compilation, and with its short chapters it makes convenient bedtime reading!
  17. Manhattanik, as good as it is to read your reviews here, I do believe in a better world you'd be a longtime ballet critic for the NY Times or some general interest national rag. But you oughta see the Kennedy Center at Christmastime, when they put a big red bow around it. Ken
  18. Giannina wrote: "I wish I could see Liebeslieder the way Leigh sees it." Me too, although I'd settle for seeing it at all! I know Liebeslieder has been compared to Davidsbunderlertanze, which I did see once, and without having any idea beforehand what I was in for. It's not something I would have expected to like a lot had I known, but it absolutely thrilled me, and I have a feeling that the cast I saw (this was '91) wasn't among the best. So .... Leigh, Manhattanik, anyone, I guess Davidsbundlertanze is not supposed to be in the same league as Liebeslieder, but how would you compare the "perfume" of two ballets? Does the Schumann lend itself to characterizations as rich as the Brahms? By my side as I write I have the video, which features, if I’m not mistaken, three of the four original couples. Memories and impressions of that original cast would be most welcome! Ken
  19. Thanks, Ed, for bringing back wonderful memories of Chicago's Auditorium Theatre. I love the place for its beauty, its acoustics, and all the thrilling, eye-opening performances I saw there. I too came to ballet there in the early 70's. At the urging of friends I had taken a humanities class in my senior year of high school. The teachers of the course brought in a local ballet school teacher to prep us on the history of dance, and though I had very few mental images to help me follow the lecture, I was intrigued. A few nights later, in that same gallery Ed remembers (angle of sight line to stage approximately 80 degrees!) we saw the Joffrey Ballet perform "Trinity," Arpino's piece on Daedalus and Icarus, and "The Green Table." I remember classmates mocking certain movements, but I was intrigued again; much of what I saw didn't move me or even make a lot of sense to me, but the theater of it was captivating. As soon as I could the next day, I went to the school library to read the newspaper reviews -- the same impulse that now makes me an avid reader of Ballet Alert! Over the the next 7 years, sometimes with friends or dates, sometimes alone, I saw ABT and the Royal Danish Ballet at the Civic Opera House, and went back often to the Auditorium Theatre for the Joffrey, Alvin Ailey, and Twyla Tharp. When NYCB came in ...'78 or '79, I was between jobs and basically broke, but I bought $6 gallery seats for 2 consecutive nights and the following matinee, took the train in from the Western suburbs, and with little food and little sleep, saw (not from gallery seats!) all sorts of things I dearly wish I could see again with my now more knowledgeable eyes. I've long wanted to thank that Glen Ellyn ballet instructor. I hope you're reading! Ken Wilson
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