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Posts posted by bart

  1. 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.

  2. I'd be happier with a couple of bars of well-timed (and well-executed) fouettés followed a few bars of something else when the music changed.

    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.

  3. 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.).

  4. leonid17, you write:

    Modern dance is modern dance and ballet is an historic art form in itself and rightly described as Academic Classical Ballet.

    Too often we see works described as ballets when they should only be described as "Dance Works."

    Dancing 'en pointe' doesn't make a "Dance Work" a ballet in fact, there is most frequently not a shared identity between the two genres.

    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.

  5. 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. flowers.gif

    Can't wait for this afternoon when I'll get the chance to watch video #1.

  6. 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 ...

    The Europeans had the educational system in place, but they did not have a program of study that had produced continuously dancers of a high caliber as consistently as the Russians.

    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 toot.gif for Vaganova and all the teachers who keep it alive.

  7. 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..

    I would like to refer back to the first post and tighten the title to a somewhat more detached view in the following.

    Internationally speaking I would only include most significantly of all Anna Pavlova, Lucia Chase(Co-Founder of American Ballet Theatre), Ninette de Valois and the Russian Agrippina Vaganova as having had a truly wide world affect upon the 21st century performances of Academic Classical Ballet.

    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).wink1.gif

  8. 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:

    In the end Goliath won, and David has decided to hang up his ballet slippers.


    This has shown that in Spain the Government has no interest in tending its flocks.

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Arriving late to this thread. I'm about to see Program III this weekend. West Side Story should be lots of fun, and it will be great to see the Delgados and Jeremy Cox back on stage. But I confess that I am looking forward most to the revival of Episodes.

    I missed the 1959 performances, the ones which were joined to a very different work by Martha Graham. I suspect I saw Episodes during its first revival, a year or so after that. It's said that Balanchine tailored each "episode" to suit the style and strengths of each principal lady. I once knew those 1959 principals very well, so it occurred to me that it might be interesting to compare that group with another group of dancer's I've come to know well -- MCB's first and second casts.

    The listings below follow this format: NYCB first cast, 1959 -- MCB first cast, 2014 -- MCB second cast.

    Symphony Violette Verdy, Jonathan Watts // Tricia Albertson and Didier Bramaz // Emily Bromberg, Jovani Furlan

    Five Pieces Diana Adams, Jacques d'Amboise // Christie Sciturro, Chase Swatosh // Maya Collins, Neil Marshall

    Concerto Allegra Kent, Nicholas Magallanes // Patricia Delgado, Renato Penteado // Nathalia Arja/ Renan Cerdeiro

    Variations Paul Taylor // Jovani Furlan // Eric Trope

    Ricercata in Six Voices Melissa Hayden, Francisco Moncion // Jennifer Kronenberg, Reyneris Reyes // Sarah McCahill, Ariel Rose

    Adams/Sciturro -- long legs, beautiful line, a sense of gravitas -- makes a lot of sense. Delgado/Kent and Kronenberg/Hayden strike me somehow as right, but I will have to wait to see why I felt that way. Albertson/Bromberg don't recall Verdy to me, but each is a strong neoclassical dancer in the Agon, Four Temperaments mode.

    I'm also impressed at the opportunities Lopez continues to make for lower-ranked dancers, some of them quite young. For example: Jovani Furlan (new to the corps de ballet) and Eric Trope (still an apprentice) in the Paul Taylor role. And, among the more experienced corps members: Christie Sciturro, Maya Collins, Neil Marshall, Chase Swatosh, Ariel Rose,.

    The chance to see Episodes is a rare privilege, it seems to me. I have lots of questions: Will the separate parts somehow cohere into a whole? Will the orchestra do justice to the Webern? Is the Paul Taylor solo as astonishing as we remember it? Will I be able to see something of the 1959 dancers in the current casting? Is the ballet interesting mainly as an artifact, or is it strong enough to take on renewed life in 2014?

    Can't wait until tomorrow.

  13. My apologies for coming to this thread so late. Reading the earlier posts, I've been remembering how kind, patient and supportive Carley was when I first joined this Board. How succinct her writing style was ... how subtle her criticism and warm her praise. I'm not surprised to learn from her obituary that she was also devoted to social justice causes. As someone said earlier, she was a mensch ... a mensch who loved and supported the art of ballet and was able to share this so generously with many friends.

  14. I agree with phrank and Daniel Benton as to the change of tone recently. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a response to consumer criticisms such as those expressed on this Board.

    As to "aesthetic and artistic concepts" -- Macaulay has always been focused on these. I've always seen him as a pedagogue at heart who uses the performance he is reviewing as his raw material for drawing and illustrating larger conclusions about the art. This goes back to his work with the Times Literary Supplement before coming to New York. (I'm not familiar with his Financial Times reviews.)

    His strong points as a dance writer are, as far as I'm concerned,

    (a) his ability to see movement clearly and in detail, and find precise, understandable words to describe what he has seen, and

    (b) discussing individual dancers (not always the stars) in specific performances as a way to illustrate his larger concepts.. Sometimes, as in the recent review of the opening night Concerto Barocco, he focuses on a group like "the corps" instead of individuals.

    We're fortunate that the NY Times allows him, and its other dance writers, so much space and latitude, not to mention what appears to be a rather generous travel budget. I wish other general print media were willing/able to do the same.

  15. Re: having to step into an unfamiliar role at short notice. Tiler Peck (NYCB) recounts the following experience, in an interview conducted by Michael Popkin (DanceView, winter 2014):

    I got my corps contract very soon after being an apprentice because I learned roles really quickly. .... On my very first tour, I remember somebody went out of Stars and Stripes and they asked me, "Do you know it? And I thought I did because Suki Schorer had taught the girls' short regiment in variations class but I didn't realize that there was a whole finale. So I said, "Yeah, I know it," but it was the last ballet on the program and they had to teach me the conclusion right after company class that morning and then during the first two ballets before I went out and did it. So I think they learned I was quick and I got nine ballets in four months and every time somebody went out they threw me in.

    Clearly, being a quick study is a plus as you are on your way up. Later in the interview, Peck mentions that she didn't get stage fright, "so [that] was one thing they didn't have to worry about.." Another very useful talent.

  16. Thanks, rg, I seemed to have missed the information that Lost Illusions is a remake of a Soviet era ballet. I'm glad to know this now. Balzac, for some reason, always was a favorite of the Soviets, possibly because his humans are so strongly controlled by economic circumstances ("material conditions," as Marx puts it). So, with Balzac, you can have sex, despicable rich people, gorgeous sets, and the glamour of wealth and power (ultimately false and destroying), all of it consistent with Marxian analysis.

  17. Sorry to double post, but I don't seem to be able to add new material after a quote box when using the "edit" function.'

    Just wanted to add something re Peck/Fairchild "The Man I Love." Possibly their performance has gained something from the coaching session with Jacques d'Amboise, reported in detail in the winter edition of Dance View and discussed here on a another thread.

  18. Here's a video of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo doing Gaite Parisienne. It's a compilation of scenes shot over the period 1945-54, with sound taken from a 1954 performance. Cast is headed by: Alexandra Danilova, Frederick Franklin, and Leon Danielian. The sound quality is not good, and most of the shots are definitely amateur, but it gives you a sense of what this looked like in performance at the time, including the frequent freneticism of both Massine's choreography and Offenbach's music.

  19. Is this a problem of the distributing firms? Down here in south Florida, Emerging Cinemas -- which distributes the Bolshoi films -- doesn't seem to have developed a strong theater network. Jewels last Sunday was available only in one small cinema in my county, or at least as far as I could tell after time-consuming internet searches. On the other hand, the Royal's Giselle -- distributed by Fandango, which also distributes Met HD/Live down here and therefore already must have a large mailing list -- got good theater placement in two multiplexes, theaters which already do a good business with Met HD/Live. One's less than two miles from our house! (Performance time here is 7:00 Monday evening.)

    Getting back to Lost Illusions: it will be great to see Vishneva again. Also, I'm a Balzac fan, so am very much looking forward to what Ratmansky was able to preserve from the complicated and dense story lines and vast cast of characters in Lost Illusions. Based on the cast list, he seems to have deleted two of the most important characters in the novel, a best friend and his sister who represent the good influences that are a big part of his early proviincial life but then are dropped by him when he hits Paris. The original Lucien is an aspiring poet who turns into a literary hack. It probably makes more sense presenting him as a composer, as Ratmansky does, since there is little visual or musical interest in watching someone miming scribbling at his desk.

  20. I never heard of either Maurice Seymour, but some of the ballet images are familiar. I love this one of Rosella Hightower. Not a beautiful pose, but it's an image that conveys so much about how many parts of the body are enlisted to create a simple ballet movement.


    What is she doing in this photo? First I thought: "beginning a pirouette." But that doesn't seem right. Can it just be a studio pose?

    Thanks, sandik, for adding making me aware of a new (to me) name in ballet. "Maurice Seymour(s)". I won't forget that.

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