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samba38

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  1. What are we in DC, chopped liver? We get ABT before their NY season and a significant amount of the time they are underrehearsed (including the really uneven changed-before-NYC-Swan Lake opening a few years ago). The excuse is that they are warming up for NYC. And now we should make excuses for a sluggish corps and off-the-music dead dancing by Millipied (sp?) in T & V because NYCB comes here after NYC season? Excuse me but the Kennedy Center isn't a school gym in nowheresville. Maybe this is why so many DC dance fans enjoy companies like Miami or PNB or San Francisco which treat a stint in the national capital as a big deal and bring it on. (eek, I'm starting to sound like Bush or a bad cheerleader movie) That said, I do think the company woke up for 4Ts and did fine on Wednesday night in my favorite ballet. Askegard can't help being tall (although he could get a haircut or at least comb the mop which was a distracting mess). I can't assess the quality of "I'm Old Fashioned" since it's so blandly pretty it made me a tad sleepy at the end of a long work day. I like Robbins more edgy. work
  2. There's trouble when the second act costumes and the 1st act character dancers get all the applause. This was one twisted fairy tale and i'll say that it was at least coherent -- if you want to buy in to that vision. I was rooting for the prince to pick the step-mother -- who has truly inventive choreography delivered with a punch (literally). At least I was until I saw the prince who will sweep no one off her feet. No chemistry with Cinderella. No chemistry with the audience. And hampered by idiotic costuming that had him dressed initially like a Good Humor salesman (he arrives with an inexplicable grin, too) and then dashing around with a fanny pack at his waist that pretty much wrecks his line. If you're still going, keep your eye on the fairy at the end. There's a nice little narrative treat there, before you're left to wonder why this couple that's supposed to live happily ever after looks so unhappy.
  3. Thirty years ago Rockwell was a rock music critic for the NYT. In the intervening decades he's covered music and opera, in the US and, I believe in Europe, and moved on to edit the Arts section (so he's been influential in the coverage for a long time, editing Kisselgoff and others). By my lights, this is called having a career -- learning, growing, pursuing different opportunities, enriching one's experiences. I wouldn't disqualify him for failing to lock into his life at any once stage. I note an astute earlier poster who notes that he doesn't say he LIKES crossover, only that it seems to be on the rise. Newspapers' most basic obligation is to cover news -- good news, bad news and change -- so crossover dance needs to be critiqued intelligently as part of the coverage mandate. If he's going to see dancers whereever he finds them, in whatever kind of company, and holding them to standards of artistic integrity, are we supposed to be upset?? I'd hold fire for a year or so to see whether the man has taste, has an inventive eye, and more importantly, can write for not only dance fanatics but the potential "crossover" ticketbuyer who has not attended much dance. Surely the presenters on this board aren't planning to screen their audiences and tell folks who have only bought tickets to, say Riverdance, that they're not welcome at Swan Lake? There's time enough to whack Rockwell on content once there's some to really look at. I'm not mad ofr the patronizing tone in his prose but I can't quibble about the ideas -- yet.
  4. Call it eclectic, call it confused, but whatever it is, even if such a scattershot/market-driven approach to repertoire work for a company, it will not, work for a school. ever. Young dancers need a coherent, consistant syllabus. Pick your fave -- RAD, Vaganova, Balanchine, or Mary Day's brilliant blend of general classical (Day was an extraordinary teacher). But let's hope for the sake of the next generation of WSB dancers that they are not given the same zig-zag approach Webre brings to the company. Frankly, I like what he's done with some -- not most -- works and he's brought some fine dancers to town. If he wants a school that can feed his company, he need only add to a stong clear classical training some excellent technique-based modern training. Horton, Humphrey-Limon, Taylor --- anything but the vaguely Vegas lyrical mush or MTV-drop-and-squat stuff that passes for modern or jazz at some schools. Good modern technique will give the ballet dancers the range they need for contemporary, more athletic choreography.
  5. I can't add to the analysis in many of the posts above but I can thank you all for bringing such interesting insights, particularly Hans's charming critique. I disagree with him 100% but I enjoyed his way of stating his objections. I've always seen 4Ts as simultaneously cerebral and passionate, like a brilliant piece of rhetoric or a Frank Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilboa. While I'm up for a great Giselle or Swan Lake, it's like a candy hangover later (except for the occasional broccoli performance, green and wooden). While a great 4Ts leaves me energized for days.
  6. Actually, I thought she had a cold demeanor because, isn't this the kingdom of the shades? Isn't she a ghost? So to me, potentially wallowing in ignorance on this ballet plot, cold worked. But kiddo wasn't buying this. Which raises a question: When presenting a scene from a larger story ballet, how much context is required? Does it take on different meanings? Or is it like looking at just one painting from a tryptich. Perhaps, suddenly, you see it differently, notice things you hadn't before or find that it loses power -- even though the object itself is unchanged. Another observation: I wonder if anyone but me thought there was a odd choreographic unity in the end to the three different works -- a night of angles and edges and zig-zags. Even with all the Graham-esque contractions in "Sea of Troubles" there was nothing soft or circular, delicate or even fatly robust about the three works. This is not a criticism in my book, mind you. Extremes have their appeal to me.
  7. I'm not a source for unbiased views on Miami City, my favorite company, or 4Ts, my favorite ballet, so take with liberal salt that I thought they owned the evening. They had some advantages -- --a work of genius to perform. --a work that fit perfectly on the small stage and required no scenery or costumes (a major problem for other companies in the 2-week fest and the earlier ABT collision course with the Concert Hall stage) -- the right dancers in the right roles. I must have seen Yann Trividec before. He's not new to the company. But in this role he rises to stellar attention -- a muscial dancer with a sinuous body. Merrill in Choleric (as usual, no program along so I'm mangling spellings) had a commanding presence that initially startles but then works very well. Now, to make one amendment to my staging, costume complaints -- "Sea of Troubles" was performed before a narrow web of suspended fabric set just off center. There was never anything symetrical about the barefoot ballet. The women also wore exquisitely draped taupe dresses that took on their own life. Those two qualities were the most interesting part of the ballet. Otherwise, I'd call it "Swamp of Incest", I'd like to know how Ophelia breathes with what appears to be a giant baggie over her head 1/3 of the time, and I'd warn people there's a reason it's rarely staged. Of course it might fare better with a modern-dance audience, not the blue/grey/champagne hair opening night crowd where I heard more than one person muttering "their feet were so dirty..." On the Kirov, mixed response at my house. I wasn't wowed (too few dancers and it's not kosher without a ramp) but enjoyed it (maybe because the man didn't wink and mug and milk applause after every leap a la ABT). But maybe this reveals my ignorance. Kiddo was savage! Her view: "His tacky blue K-Mart costume left blue sweat stains all down the side of the ballerina's costume. She was dispassionate, cold and uninteresting. There were more legs shaking on the entry than in my summer ABT SI presentation. If I can dance that without wobbling, I expect the Kirov corps to do it. " Let's be charitable and hope they get their legs under them after the opening night "shake-out". Lastly, my envy to those who will see those performances this week with Deanna Seay, MCB rising star, in 4Ts. I think her cerebral brilliance will suit it and I'm sorry she wasn't in the opening night cast. I'm tempted to go again just to see her but... Limon Company is upstairs at KC with their beautiful and moving Moors Pavane so I'm going to head that way if I can tonight or Friday. I've only see this performed by them once (albeit on in the intriguing setting of Riverside Church in NYC) so I'm curious about seeing it on stage.
  8. I'd be interested in other aBT-viewers comments on whether the misdirection of talented men (see earlier thread on the Kaufman story on McKenzie and the pyrotechnic trend) is interfering with character development in roles. Will we have a string of young Romeos who, since this is not a jump/turn/jump role have inadequate dramatic range, while the supporting roles like Mercutio are all turned into grinning tops, regardless of circumstance.
  9. Oh please, can we chill here? It sounds more to me like over-the-top newspaper reporting than over-the-top parenting. These baby ballet classes are a fancy-dress version of creative movement. Of course they don't get discipline and technique, kids aren't ready for it until they are 8 anyway. So what do they get for going here instead of---- suzuki violin, tot gymnastics, baby soccer or for that matter vacation bible school or the mommy-and-me play classes that ran rampant in every church/synagogue community center when my kiddo was that age? Exposure to some of the world's best music (music they may never hear at home), the delight of indulging in fantasy play and having the grownups applaud your imagination, rhythmic movement, cooperative movement, and the base line for ettiquette that many parents utterly fail to teach because they imagine their darling is too very special to be polite. So maybe one in 50 will turn up at a place that teaches ballet when they are six, and spend two more years working on the essentials of posture, politeness and musicality before serious technique begins at age 8. And maybe many of the rest --and their bill-paying, ticket-buying parents -- will turn up some day in the audience with warm anticipation for a evening at the ballet. Maybe your ballet...
  10. ABT can make several modifications if they step on it -- change the make-up, work with the lighting design, and sorry to say, get rid of the supers. There are at least 10 supers roaming and packing the corners of the stage -- including one fellow hauling a pig carcass. Their costumes are bulky (ugly, too) and they have no where to go when the dancers need to move. I know this is a tradition, that the talented young folks and old friends who get these posts have a blast doing this but ABT's obligation is to the audience. Now, I have to add nice stuff i forgot although I should be slapped silly for forgetting Frederick Franklin as a luminous, frail and riveting friar. What a treat! Ferri was a laser beam of emotions from her huge eyes to her perfect feet. The brunettes all faired best under the lights (and they didn't have horrid headgear) so you could enjoy Ethan Brown's powerful Tybalt, De Luz's fearless Mercutio, and the intriguing promise -- no dancing just promising posture but that's the choreographer -- of the fellow playing the denied suitor, Carlos I-don't-have-my-Program., with a sense of arrogance and menace. Alas, Boca was pretty beige. I've seen him better. His whole performance was in his legs.
  11. I had hoped to write about ABT's opening night in DC but I find that the collision between the company and the staging is too overpowering. The Kennedy Center Opera House is under renovation so the plan is to present dance in the Concert Hall. Bad idea for a full-length narrative ballet. How many ways did it defeat the best efforts of Ferri and Boca? Let me count the ways. Most strikes go against KC -- Hamburgers under the heat lamps at McDonalds have kinder lighting. I could read my program easily in the full glare of the lights and I was in Row P. But the greater problem is that this is a hall meant for sound, not for sight. Laura Bush in the rear balcony could hear every toe shoe thwack, I have no doubt. When Georgina Parkinson thrashes her chest and pounds the floor in grief over Tybalt, you fear that the next sound you hear will be her wrist snapping. The stage is cramped and they were practically colliding with one another. Or tripping. Almost everyone tripped, however, costume or not so I'd wonder about that flooring too. Worst of all... with the orchestra arrayed across the back of the stage and no screening, you have dozens of little lamps for each musician plus you have, mid stage, the standing conductor. It's hard to concentrate on Ethan Brown/Tubalt dispatching the valient Joaquin De Luz/Mercutio when there's this fellow in the middle of the scene, his white collar glowing, his little pink hands (he had the best lighting) signaling every downbeat before you saw it performed, and his face when he would frantically glance back to check on the dancers whereabouts. For ABt's share of the blame, why are all the dancers in paste white make-up and turbans that made them look uniformly homely with most of the corps loaded up in billowing brocades like couches on tiptoe. Only the harlots in three identical hideous wigs and Juliet get to have hair. One tiny super where's some overpowering thing on her head that must have been a cabbage in a prior life. Can they reconsider the lighting nad the make-up and let us try to concentrate on the performance not the staging? This is a challenging setting and I[m sure KC isn't happy either but I hope modifications are made in time for those who come later in the week.
  12. Genius and good character are no more or less likely to mix than genius and bad character -- and jerks with no talent at all. For every great human artist -- Yo Yo Ma comes to mind -- there are people whose company you would shun and people whose personality you simply don't care about. Would you do a kindness/character screen on the best heart surgeon in town if you really needed his talents?
  13. hmmm. well, I do have some experience (like 30 years) with interviewing... but I've been lucky. I have not done it from the delicate position of a specialty publication but with the powerful access of a major daily at my back. Generally, people will talk to a major daily even if they don't like what we ask. And we have the freedom to hone in on them. (It was in a published interview with the late critic Laurie Horn, for The Miami Herald, that Gelsey Kirkland first publically admitted her cocaine use. ) But I can see where that can be a challenge for a niche publication where a key source in a snit could cut off availibility if they were displeased with how things went in the interview or in print. So I stand by my point. I want to know what McKenzie says to all this. And I want him questioned by someone serious like you or Sarah who will know when/if he's weasel around. Her problem isn't McKenzie playing elusive, it's The Post -- and other major dailies that seem to view criticism as a brief "they danced pretty" summary -- making it difficult to get space for ideas about art as well as personality. You and Sarah are able to wedge their brains open more often these days. Keep on the pressure. Audiences deserve these strong-minded stories.
  14. So, Alexandra, can you get an interview with Kevin for Ballet Alert on these points. Maybe Kaufman will pose these interesting points raised above with McKenzie as an advance feature interview before the Feb. 18 opening. I can be had for cheap thrills -- for a time -- but it worries me that the next generation audience doesn't know these are cheap thrills. There's a parallel here to today's Kisselgoff review of the latest Graham company performance where technique -- the essential Graham was blurred or deliberately distorted. Quite fascinating.
  15. I, for one, would be interested in an interview/rebuttal from McKenzie. Kaufman casually tosses in toward the end that he is doing possibly lasting damage to the arts by an emphasis on "tricks" over technique, athleticism over artistry. Now, having last seen ABT in the flamboyant Corsaire where tricks are the point of the evening, it's fun, like having dessert for breakfast -- not something you want as a dailydiet. But I don't see enough of ABT to have an educated opinion on this. I hope those who do will jump in on this.
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