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  1. For those of us who wonder how dancers are able to figure out what to do (and where to do it) in complicated ensemble numbers: http://balletoman.com/1314-vienna-state-opera-funny-ballet.html#vid
  2. In the very firsts video linked (firsts post), the best part for me is the end. An elaborate preparation for a pirouette followed by the final triumphant pose, but without the actual pirouette. Worthy of Carol Burnett, Dawn French, and other great ballerina wannabes.
  3. Balanchine did this on at least one occasion. I can't remember which ballet but I do remember 10 or so fouettes followed by the ballerina spinning away in a series of chaine turns. It made sense in terms of the music. But the 32-fouette tradition is so entrenched that even I felt let down when it was bypassed.
  4. A deciding factor might be the time and energy that the book group members have to spend. Another might be whether the book is available on Kindle. Copeland (288 pp.) and Ringer (288 pp) are available on Kindle. So is Kavanaugh's Nureyev biography , but that weighs in at 848 pp. Solway (635pp.) is not on Kindle, at least as listed on Amazon. Neither is Daneman's biography of Fonteyn (672 pp.).
  5. leonid17, you write: I can understand where you are coming from. But the effect of this is to create a dichotomy in which "Ballet" (strictly defined) is one one side of the dichotomy and "Everything Else" is on the other. I wonder how useful this is, except to the extent it builds walls around what has been called Academic Classical Ballet. What would you do, for instance, with the large number of "neo-classical" works produced in the 20th century? Though some of these contain only a few deviations from classical ballet, others go much further afield. Many would dispute your broad definition of "Modern Dance," which, if I read your post correctly, you take as a synonym for everything people dance today that is not academic classical ballet. I tend to use "contemporary ballet" as to describe a limited range of dance dance works that are intentionally and organically connected to classical ballet -- steps, line, placement, epaulement -- and for which serious and specifically ballet training is required to dance well. The amount of divergence from classical ballet will vary according to the piece. But the over-all connection has to be visible. cgc's opening post expresses quite well, I think, the most important areas of "extension" that have occurred during the 20th century. The works I've seen by such choreographers as Ratmansky, Wheeldon, Peck, Scarlett, Millepied, and others may vary in quality and interest, and may have a different look from piece to piece. But each connects visibly, respectfully, and even lovingly to the ballet tradition from which the choreographer has emerged. That's a tribute to Classical Ballet. Not a threat to it.
  6. Thank you so much, phrank, for those links. They're educational ... and fun. I've only watched the second video and already I have a much greater respect for the fouette-sequence as an index of differences among ballerinas. Among the American dancers I know best, my preference was for Gillian Murphy (though the sweet face of Cynthia Harvey, caught (oddly) in close-up, brought back nice memories). Tiler Peck is remarkable, considering that multiple fouettes aren't a big part of NYCB's training. So many differences in the details. Doubles or not? If doubles, arms held en avant? or hands on waist? or one arm up, one to the side? Should they try triples, like Ana Sophia Scheller, if the price is a loss of grace and elegance? And then there's speed: some are awfully slow, though these allow for the leg to be extended a la seconde and do have a kind of grandeur if you're good at it. Some are impressively fast, though the price paid may be (as in the case of Zakharova) the impression of floppiness when the moving leg is oding its whipping. Then there's the difference between shorter, more compact ballerinas (eg., Bouder) and tall ballerinas with long legs and arms (eg., Kent). You can see all of this in 9:48 minutes. It's fascinating. For me, the key to the success of the fouette sequence is still the finish. It should be secure (no major adjustment of feet), well-placed in relation to the audience, and should radiate triumph. It should not require the intervention of the partner to provide stability (as in the case of Mathilde Froustey). A surprising number of the dancers in this video managed to accomplish most if not all of these feats. Can't wait for this afternoon when I'll get the chance to watch video #1.
  7. vrsfanatic, I was sort of hoping that my post would lure you into speaking up in defense of Vaganova. One aspect of the Vaganova story that I had forgotten while writing to leonid was the simple fact that ... Vaganova provided a template for what was missing outside Russia, and this was especially important in the years when the Soviet Union was more or less isolated from the larger world culture. You convince me! Let me add my own sincere for Vaganova and all the teachers who keep it alive.
  8. It's been fun rereading this thread, which asked us to to "list as many influential women we could think of who have had a profound impact on ballet in the 20th century." Inevitably, a topic like this leads to accumulation, as posters think of more and more figures who have had importance in the field. So far we have done a commendable job of reminding ourselves about just how many significant women in ballet there have been. Now, leonid suggests a re-focusing or narrowing down of the topic.. This is quite a challenge. The new criteria are that the person have a "truly wide world affect" on ballet as we know it in the 21st century. In other words: an influence that is international, transformational, enduring. About Pavlova, I can't see any doubt. She was ballet to most of the world for a long time. But Vaganova, Valois, and Chase? I find myself wondering. Much of this is my own ignorance, especially as it relates to the influence of the Vaganova method in international ballet training today. I also tend to see, possibly erroneously, Valois and especially Chase as figures of national rather than world influence. But I'm willing to be persuaded (or dissuaded).
  9. Thanks for the link to the Vanitatis story, Helene. It brought back memories of the long struggle Corella has had in his effort to create what was originally planned as a national classical ballet company for Spain. He began with so much passion and aspiration. But the timing was bad -- just as the Spanish economy was collapsing. Much of the story was chronicled here on Ballet Alert by members like 4mrdncr and CarolinaM. I love the article's opening line: And: It's sad but understandable that Corella is disillusioned -- and fed up -- by the experience. I hope that, after his farewell performances in A+A in Barcelona, he will be find a place and opportunities that better fit what he is so capable of doing.
  10. bart


    It's so good to hear your voice again, leonid. Welcome back.
  11. I confess I wasn't looking forward to this is much as the other programs this season. Don Q done in a way that is "not quite right" can be tedious. Fortunately, the opening night cast -- performing on sets provided by ABT that are a big improvement on what I remember from the past -- swept away my hesitancy. Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado were brilliant as Kitri and Basilio, with Catoya dancing better than ever, in my opinion. Catoya's characterization of Kitri hasn't changed much since the last time MCB did this a couple of years ago, except in the sense that seems to be freer, warmer, more spontaneous. It is in the classical sections -- the Act II Dream Scene and the grand pas de deux at the end of Act III -- that her clarity, speed, musicality, and confidence were so striking. And what amazing balances. Penteado was just as good. He's such a consistent classical dancer that I sometimes forget just how brilliant he is. Catoya and Penteado are a dream couple in this kind of work. This production succeeds in two areas where previous MCB efforts been problematic. Both have to do with "Spanishness." Movement quality and humor here seem genuine and organic to the score and libretto, not cultural caricature which occurs too often even on the most eminent stages. Friday night highlights for me include .... -- Jennifer Kronenberg (Mercedes) and Reyneris Reyes (Espada). Kronenberg, like Catoya, is back from maternity leave. Mercedes, as she dances it, is a ballerina role: sensuous, glamorous, with a hint of sly humor and the assurance that comes from knowing just how alluring she is. Reyes has the enormous advantage of Cuban training, which no doubt included watching and performing many, many, many Don Q's. When it comes to stylish male swagger, generous partnering, and the ability to make difficult dancing seem easy, he's the real thing. -- Sara Esty 's Cupid. This season Esty has had the chance to demonstrate her versality in a variety of big roles. . It's fascinating to watch her return to the kind of speedy, cheerful, soubrettish classical dancing in which she first caught everyone's eye. . The Dream scene, my favorite section of the ballet, was beautifully danced by Esty, Catoya, Christie Sciturro, and the women of the corps. Ashley Knox's variation as the "Lead Bridesmaid" in Act III. Several of the senior members of the male corps -- Michael Sean Breeden, Bradley Dunlop, Neil Marshall -- who danced with conviction and intensity. Often i notice, even in the greatest companies, a loss of concentration and energy in the back rows of big classical ensembles. Not with these guys. The other, newer members of the corps seemed to pick up energy from them. Andrei Chagas's Sancho Panza. One of the worst features of this production in the past has been to turn Sancho into a cartoon figure; Chagas got the humor, but also the humanity. There are three separate casts during the Kravis Center run. Saturday matinee: Jennifer Lauren and new principal Kleber Rebello, back from an injury. Saturday night: Natalia Arja and Renan Cedeiro. Sunday matinee: the return of Catoya and Penteado. I'm sorry I'll miss Lauren/Rebello, but very glad to be able to catch the other performances.
  12. I saw this in the company of a former dancer, current teacher whose parents were actually present at the premiere performance back in 1946. She remembers hearing them often refer to how impressive that was -- the sense of a return to light, hope, a sense of plenty. It was good to have the chance to see this reconstruction and to try to imagine what it must have seemed like to those who had survived and triumphed after so many years of War. My friend and I were both in agreement with ksk04's evaluation of the performances. The Lilac Fairy was not only "very miscast," but -- in my estimation -- astonishingly miscast. Her frequent reappearances were actually ratherjarring in terms of the style and mood of the ballet. Her stiffness (smile, neck, head, shoulders) made her seem uncomfortable, even nervous, when she should be confident and serene. Since this is a restoration of the 1946 production that starred Margot Fonteyn, I would have thought that the director would have chosen his Aurora with some reference to Fonteyn's stage personality. Sarah Lamb spoke eloquently during the pre-performance video about about the challenges of conveying the character of Aurora, but then proceeded to dance one of the more calculated (i.e.,not conveying spontaneity) performances of this role that I've seen. The camera was not flattering to her fixed smile or to her balances in the Rose Adagio I thought she was best -- and appeared most at ease -- in the Vision Scene, which requires technique without the bother of having to project or sustain a character. I also agree with ksk04's assessment of McCrae, a plausible and sympathetic Prince. He's a very interesting dancer who I'd definitely like to see again.. I was completely captivated by Yuhui Choe's Princess Florine and, like ksk04, wished that she had been the Lilac Fairy. I'd even go further and wish that she had been the Aurora. Valentino Zucchetti's Bluebird was fascinating, too; what an interesting body type and exotic face. Kristen McNally was, as ksk04 says, an exciting Carabosse, right up there with unforgettable male dancers -- Helpmann, Dowell -- in the same role. She radiated energy and brought life to what was occasionally a rather staid pageant. When, at the end, she was swallowed down into the stage, I found myself regretting that I would not see her again.
  13. I loved the programming this weekend, although a number of people in the audience were vocal about not enjoying the "modern" qualities of Episodes, especially the Webern score. For this audience segment, what came next -- Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and West Side Story Suite -- seems to have saved the day. A almost people I saw seemed to be walking jauntily and smiling as they left the hall. Episodes -- a work I've been looking forward to all season -- got first-class, often thrilling performances by both casts. Highlights for me -- Tricia Albertson in the first Section (Symphony) partnered elegantly by Didier Bramaz. This section comes across as ritual: pure, cool, aristocratic, profoundly unfamiliar. Albertson is having a great season, dancing very well in both classical and neo-classical principal roles, and this was her best performance so far. In the second cast, Emily Bromberg and Jovani Furlan, both corps members, were slightly less cool and abstract but equally effective. Also: Eric Trope, a first-year company dancer, was outstanding in the Paul Taylor solo. Balanchine is said to have suggested that Paul Taylor think of this as a "fly in a glass of milk." Trope captured the sense of moving through something viscous, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. I loved the way he punctuated his sinuous body-shaping with bursts of energy, impulsive and almost involuntary gestures.The details were clearly etched but never distracted from the arc of the larger movements. What a debut! Also: Jennifer Kronenberg and Reyneris Reyes in the final section, Ricercata in Six Voices. At this point the music changes and becomes warmer, more conventionally "beautiful," ,more recognizably humane. This the big number of the ballet -- with 14 corps joining the principals. Kronenberg danced it as the ballerina role it is. Her Mona Lisa smile expressed pleasure in the music and in what she was doing, as I imagine Melissa Hayden would have done at the premiere. I noticed that a couple of the sulking anti-modernists seated in my section responded warmly to this section, something I attribute to Kronenberg generous dancing and to her cavalier Reyes just as much as to the beautiful Webern arrangement of Bach's fugue. I was excited to see that Mary Carmen Catoya was dancing Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux on Sunday. Catoya is returning from maternity leave, but why on earth did they put her in the second cast? Dancing with her regular partner Renato Penteado, she was superb. Better than ever, I think. Catoya still has all the old technique but seems to have acquired an element of insouciance of spirit that I don't recall seeing before. I was impressed by MCB's boldness in taking on West Side Story Suite. NYCB probably does it better, but they have twice as many dancers (and potential singers) to choose from. This was a stretch for Miami and in almost every way a big success. Tops for me were; -- the men, in the rumble scenes-- Jeanette Delgado's firecracker Anita in the first cast, quite different from Sara Esty's (usually the sweet and perky one, with the big smile) a feisty, impassioned, sardonic, street-smart, though not particularly Latina Anita. -- the use of sound effects (whistle, siren) to suggest the police and the almost ritualistic response of all the dancers to these sounds. After the death of Bernardo and Riff, when the siren sounded, all the men faced the curtain in ranks, Jets and Sharks mixed together, heads lowered, arms outstretched and moving downward, as the curtain fell. -- and right after that, the way the stage was suddenly flooded with light as the concluding "Somewhere" ballet began. It's a magical conclusion, though sentimentalized. It's an ostentatiously feel-good happy ending -- and why not? I had some difficulties accepting the downplaying of the the Tony and Maria story, though Emily Bromberg and (especially) Jovani Furlan were touchingly innocent and youthful lovers.
  14. Thanks for the correction, mira. I misremembered something I read in the press about his selection for the Taylor solo. Looking forward to seeing him on Sunday.
  15. I had forgotten that he was with NYCB for a short time. Did anyone see him there? Symphony In C seems a great fit but I would love to know how deeply he went into the other NYCB rep.
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