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Everything posted by bart

  1. That's fascinating. Sounds like she may have been working with Cuban-trained coaches?. I knew there was something different in this performance, certainly as compared to Catoya's the evening before. But -- not knowing the steps as well as you -- I focused not on steps but on style. One thing I did notice were several grands battements, with the leg ascending explosively but descending more slowly, almost gently. Very lovely. There seemed to be a number of these touches, especially with the relatively soft port de bras. Cristian, maybe you can answer a question I have about Reyneris Reyes' variation. At one point he did multiple, non-travelling tours en l'air -- to the right, then to the left, then right again, then left again. This struck me as being unfamiliar.
  2. Thanks for those corrections, rg. I happened to be listening to the Four "Seasons" on the car radio before returning home to post, and must have had that title on my mind. I did not know Seligman was not responsible for the costumes. A great point. I agree entirely. As to the question of Balanchine's taste -- I guess I was thinking of that when I posted the comparison with the Crazy Horse and similar nightclubs. I wonder how much of Balanchine's taste was formed in Paris in the 30s, and the versions of that which extend to Hollywood and Manhattan in the 40s and 50s.. There's something distinctly "Parisian showgirl" about those costumes for the Firebird. (Though she is more decently covered-up, of course.) Incidentally, do you have any photos of Gelsey Kirkland in The Song of the Nightingale? Another bird. Another high-concept costume, though simpler than the one for Firebird, and rather beautiful as I recall.
  3. I was never impressed by the Chagall (or Chagall-derived) costuming. The "monsters," especially, were poorly done, reminding more than a few of us as trick-or-treaters on Halloween.. But the short tutu for the Firebird, the minimal feathered headdresses various Firebirds wore, and the simple dresses for the Maidens, all had the advantage of allowing you to keep your focus on what the dancers were doing. The Kirkland and the even odder Aroldingen versions -- strange protuberances on hips and buttocks, quirky head-pieces (Lilly Dache on speed?), and the notorious train -- were, it seems to me, as distracting and unsuccessful as were the original Seligmann costumes for Four Seasons [edited to change to "Temperaments," per rg's kind correction below]. Both costumes were kitschy -- retro-chic today; painfully dated tomorrow -- in a Crazy Horse nightclub kind of way. Worse, they violated the line, speed, energy, and required from the Firebird herself, even in the new choreography for Kirkland. The train dragged the eye backwards when Firebird was darting frontwards. The headdresses always seemed in danger of toppling. I can remember at least one performance when the wings or bustles (can't remember which) needed quick and distracting mid-performance adjustment. I love these confections in artist sketches and publicity photos. But on stage? I'm not convinced.
  4. Thanks, Cristian. Not every ballet or balletic style is for everyone. We love what we love. For me, after 4 performances, Duo Concertant remains the most beautiful and best danced work (both casts) on Program II. I don't imagine that most people in the audience would have agreed with me on that. Casting for Euphotic: Turns out there were three rather different casts, as far as the leads are concerned. Scarlett clearly has some favorite dancers, and seems to have allowed them to swap roles. Saturday matinee (which I did NOT see): Sara Esty and Renan Cedeiro were the lead couple (the roles danced opening night by Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello). Leigh-Ann Esty was the allegro female soloist (danced earlier by her sister Sara). Emily Bromberg was the female in the pas de trois (Patricia Delgado on opening night). Sunday matinee -- another set of switches -- Leigh-Ann Esty moved to the lead couple, dancing with Michael Sean Breeden. Zoe Zien took over the allegro soloist role. Tricia Albertson moved into the pas de trois role, as the subject of all that lifting. Each dancer brought his/her own qualities to these parts. My preference was for Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello as the leads, but I was impressed by how well Leigh-Ann Esty and Michael Sean Breeden danced together. Zoe Zien, while lacking Sara Esty's speed and drive, paid special attention to Scarlett's port de bras and body shaping. Tricia Albertson's took a more neutral role in relation toward her partners; her simplicity and lightness actually worked quite well in the pas de trois, possibly even better than Patricia Delgado's richer emotional palatte. Euphotic music: Liebermann's Concerto No 2 is certainly eclectic. There's lots of schmaltz in the first movement. The fourth movement sounds reminds me of a John Williams film score. Music like this doesn't encourage subtlety -- but it does allow for a variety of dance styles. The allegro finale had all 28 performers dancing full out. The audience loved it, just as they love the conclusion to Symphony in Three Movements. I'm not comparing Llieberman/Scarlett to Stravinsky/Balanchine. But each in its own way is provides brillliant dance opportunities. Don Q Pas de Deux. Jeanette Delgado replaced Mary Carmen Catoya on Sunday matinee, dancing with Reyneris Reyes. She has the fire needed for therole, but I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth, plush port de bras, and rather "romantic" approach to the adagio. She had a problem with one of the big balances, but made it up by sustaining the last balance. Just about everything was rock solid, including the fouettes (with doubles and at least one set of triples). A group of students from the Harid Conservatory were in the audience. Their cheers at curtain calls showed how excited and impressed they were. The older folk in the audience, while not so vocal, seemed similarly uplifted.
  5. I agree with Drew. It never worked, what with those pannier-like hip ornaments, the uncooperative train, and the strange headpiece looking like something from Pierre Lunaire. The contrast with the previous simple tutu, worn by Tallchief and others, was striking.
  6. Sorry I missed you, Birdsall. My usual box-mates weren't there, so I was feeling a little like Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, sitting alone, leaning over the stage, imagining a private performance just for me. Weird but fun. I'm glad our impressions on each piece coincide so well, since it usually takes me a couple of viewings to start to feel confident about what I think I have actually seen. About the Don Q pdd: Catoya and Penteado are the best classical (in the sense of "19th-century classical") dancers in the company. Unlike dancers who focus on a handful of roles, both of them are actually good at Balanchine and other choreographers. More, they seem to delight in dancing different kinds of choreography. Neither was trained in Balanchine, though they do take Balanchine-based classes every day, which would tend to support speed, clarity, and energy. Certain stylistic characteristics -- like the use of the back you mention -- are not part of this day-by-day training -- and may get left out or fudged. It's a trade-off.
  7. Program II finally made it to the Kravis Center. I was so absorbed at the opening night that I wanted to write something quickly, though I have a couple of more performances to go. By the way, Alistair Macaulay will be in West Palm Beach for the rest of the run, so we'll have a chance to read his thoughts in the NY Times. Divertimento No. 15. This was the work I was looking forward to most, even though MCB has performed it as recently as 2010. It's a ballet which needs dancers who can do the steps, but -- more important -- dancers who can move swiftly through its intricate and constantly changing patterns and groupings. That plays to MCB's strengths; few companies have that collegial quality of looking like the dancers actually relish dancing with each other. This time around, however, the company's casting seems to be focusing on the premiere of Liam Scarlett's new ballet. The Scarlett -- like Divertimento -- requires every dancer to be moving, thinking, interacting constantly. Which may explain which the Divertimento cast, heavy on relatively inexperienced women for the corps, never quite came together. Several of the women's solos seemed formless and meandering. There were exceptions to this: Jeanette Delgado, extraordinarily focused and dancing with intensity and an inner light that brought the piece to life whenever she was on stage; Didier Bramaz, surely one of the most effortlessly graceful of MCB's men and one of the best partners; and the very promising Nathalia Arja.and Michaael Sean Breeden. Duo Concertant: I saw this at the premiere at the Stravinsky Festival but, sadly, remember only two elements which were entirely new to me: the opening, with the two dancers standing and listening to the pianist and violinist paying the first movement; and the final movement, with its intriguing use of mime and spotlights. Of Kay Mazzo and Peter Martins actually dancing, I can recall nothing, though I do recall Martins and other women dancing this later on, especially Suzanne Farrell. I've always loved the work, and never so much as last night. For me, Patricia Delgado and Renan Cedeiro danced one of the finest, most moving and mesmerizing Duo Concertants I have seen. They made the think: this is actually a great love pas de deux. Love of music; love of dancing; a complex changing love relationship between two people. They experiment and sometimes play with the music. They banter, they show off to each other, they become lovers, they part, they come together (or do they?) Several times, they are drawn back to the piano several times reminding it that everything is based in the music. This is the finest, most complete performance I've seen from Patricia Delgado. For me, she is even better in this than her Juliet (in Neumeier's version). Cedeiro has suddenly become a mature, intense performer and excellent Balanchine dancer (eg., the solo in the Gigue, with its sudden shifts in direction and energy). Don Quixote pas de deux. Sometimes I think that I know this one well enough actually to demonstrate the choreography myself. The familiar music immediately conjures up the images, and I confess that this creates a certain ho-hum factor for me, even when danced by specialists. Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado may not have the technical perfection they once had. (There were a couple of bobbles.) But they actually DANCE their parts You never have the sense that they are, as so many other dancers, just performing tricks. They actually are what they are supposed to be in this ballet, young lovers dancing at their wedding, realating to each other as well as to the audience. As in Duo Concertant, though in a different manner, these characters love each other and express that through their joy in dancing. Euphotic (pronounced you-FOE-tik, as I learned from MCB dancer Rebecca King during an excellent pre-performance interview.) Scarlett is the real thing. He's innovative, creates unforgettable images, uses his dancers well, and relates directly and in a complex way to the music. He never seems to be stringing together random steps or imposing an arbitrary vision on the score, which sometimes happens with other contemporary ballet choreographers. His piece for MCB last year, Viscera, was set to Lowell Liebermann's First Piano Concerto. This one is set to Lieberman's Second, a very different work. "Euphotic" relates to the effect of sunlight on water and the changes in light as it penetrates to greater depth. The stage design reflects this: four panels give the impression of looking into an vast undersea acquarium -- with shades of honey and apricot at the top, darkening to deep blue at the bottom. As the curtain rises (to music dominated by up and down runs on the piano, giving the impression of running water), the cast -- dressed in shades of blue -- are kneeling, backs to audience, looking at the water. Jeannette Delgado -- in rich honey yellow -- emerges upstage and bourrees toards us. She is joined by Kleber Rebello, also in yellow. The music has an eerie, flowing quality; so does the dancing. There is an important solo roll for a woman -- the astonishing Sara Esty; several female demi-soloists; an an intricate Pas de Trois for two men and a woman. Each of these featured dancers wears blue with subtle hints of yellow. The corps (1o women; 4 men) is all in blue. I am slow to grasp everything going on in work I've never seen, so I'll need to watch closely at several more performances before my feelings about Euphotic become settled. The point is, I think, that I actually WANT to see this several more times. A couple of thoughts: (1) Jeanette Delgado and Klerber Rebello are astonishing. The dancing seems incredibly difficult. Rebello, for instance, has a menage in which amazing vertical jumps and turns are so integrated into horizontal movement, and occucr so rapidlyl, that you hardly have time to notice just how much he is doing. Delgado brings intensity and character to every movement. She carries an inner spotllight -- a kind of clarity -- that would allow you to focus on her even if she weren't wearing yellow. 2) Movements for the corps -- sometimes in unison, sometimes highly individualized -- were complex but completely integrated into the piece. Often they reflected, with slight variations, what the soloists had just done ... or were about to do. The use of the floor was a complex as Balanchine's in Divertimento. Everyone I gave my eye to was completely present in their dancing. The whole was the sum of the parts ... and more. A great job by everyone on stage. (3) One criticism: Sometimes a choreographer can be too inventive. The Pas de Trois -- danced admirably by Patricia Delgado, Yann Trividic, and Neil Marshall -- is an example of this. The choreography is mostly about lifts. In this case, those lifts were so numerous, varied, complicated and ambitious, that they actually worked against the music and became, in a strange way, cumbersome and intrusive. They were nicely performed, but de trop. Scarlett should have toned them down. But there are worse things to say about a choreographer than that he is "too inventive" and needs to self-edit. Scarlett's pluses and promise vastly outweigh everything else. He is musical, serious, capable of humor and drama, able to handle one dancer or 28 with equal skill. Not bad for someone who is only 26 years old and at the beginning of his career.
  8. bart

    Tanaquil Le Clercq

    Adam Cooper danced the Poet too. My impression is that this was part of a series of Ashton revivals by the Royal.
  9. We already have a thread on this topic on the Paris Ballet Forum, so I am closing this one. Please go to
  10. [MOD BEANIE ON: I've just changed the thread title to reflect this new- -- and astonishing -- news. I'll leave it to others to decided whether we need a new thread. In the meantime: PLEASE CONTINUE TO POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE. MOD BEANIE OFF] My first response when I read the NY Times article: Well, he DOES speak French! Haven't been able to move beyond this for a while.
  11. bart

    Tanaquil Le Clercq

    My favorites are the two very strange shots from Illuminations. I've never seen them before. They are so much better than the standard stage shots one sees in ballet books. For an example o the same episode, shot on stage, see 113 of Repertory in Review. In the middle photo, LeClercq looks alarmingly like ... Alicia Alonso. Not the look one would expect from a character called "Sacred Love." Love the Hayden , Magallanes shot. Strangely, Hayden (Profane Love) wears one pointe shoe with the other foot left bare. Sacred Love wears a PAIR of pointe shoes -- as one would expect from a proper classical choreographer. From Rep. in Review: `Nancy Reynolds -- and Lincoln Kirstein -- write so much about Illuminations, which I've never seen.. I wish I could have made it to the 1967 revival, with Mimi Paul in LeClercq's role, Nina Fedorova danced it too.
  12. A question to those of you who know the intricacies of the current Russian Ballet world. What do you think about Alexei Ratmansky's comment that the pathologies of the Bolshoi are wrapped up in the power of the claque and the influence of the media? It's sad and astonishing to see that people work themselves up to such extremes of hate and rage, all in the name of "art." Ratmansky is well out of it.
  13. This sounds like something a collector of Balanchiniana can't do without. Here's the AMAZON LINK Reminder to everyone: Don't forget that you can order directly from Amazon by clicking the box at the bottom of each Ballet Alert page. That way Ballet Alert earns a small share from each sale, which helps us remain on-line. I have just cllicked and put this book it in my Cart. Thanks, Neryssa, for the Heads Up..
  14. Thank you, Tara, for your post. Another thread was started shortly before yours, so it might make sense for everyone who wishes to join the discussion to do so HERE
  15. I agree with innopac: this looks like it would be fun to watch. Quiggan, the "look" in the trailer reminds me more of Fellini (in La Dolce Vita mode) than Hockney. Those nuns seated on the plane, for example. Cinderellais' ballgown and the silver flats are very late-50s high school promwear. I played this on my tablet, so the sound may have been distorted: but has there been some reorchestrating going on? The famous waltz during the ball scene seemed to be scored differently from what I recall. More Weill-like? To fit the manic quality of some of the dancing? The corps (and the sisters) reminded me of something the inmates at Charenton (in Marat Sade) might have dreamed up. In a good sense, I mean.
  16. I listened selectively to this, including a section talking about the dangers of set design for, among other shows, Spiderman on Broadway and Met's Ring Cycle ("the machine"). She comments: "Sets don't have building inspectors." From my own very limited experience backstage in a large theater, it was the proliferation of large electrical cables, lying across the floor in the most unexpected places, that surprised me the most. Special effects like pyrotechnics, and clearly dangerous stage business like the dancer/angel who had to fly high above the floor, were handled with great care and attention. But those electrical cables were just there, all the time. You had to memorize the locations and make sure to skip over them while scurrying from one part of backstage to another.
  17. I am truly sorry, Cristian, that your experience of this Program has been so negative and (clearly) difficult for you. I regret it if I came across as a censor on this. Of course, you, I, and everyone on Ballet Alert must be free to write about what we think and feel about performances. No one is obliged to be positive here. I find, however, that even negative reviews can be very helpful to the readers -- if they are specific as to the whats, hows and whys. If describing a complete evening is a chore, can you give us the details of some of the smaller aspects of performance, choreography, design, music, or whatever you think might help us understand what the performance was like for you. I'd especially love to get your thoughts on Don Q pdd and the dancers who performed it. By the way, here is Jordan Levin's review in the Miami Herald: Miami City Ballet Brings Explosive Energy, Intensity
  18. How many documentaries about an artist allow the abused ex-wife to have her say. A "mad man" indeed.
  19. Acteon is a Greek hunter. The costumes I've seen have been simple material, not so decorated as the costume in rg's photo, which has a vaguely "oriental" (Turkish, Persian etc.) look.. That positioning of the arms also looks oriental. Somewhere I've seen that before, but can't recall where.
  20. Cristian, I love the the way personal taste and experience color the way we think about things. For example, it seems to me that -- of the three items on Program II -- it is the Don Q pas de deux that has been most over-performed both by MCB and in the world generally. But ... that's the sort of difference of preference that makes life interesting. And Divertimento No.15 .... "cute"? I'm one of those who is looking forward to this ballet most of all, even though the company performed this only 2 years ago. It's imaginative, sunny, intricately designed, and beautiful on so many levels. With roles for 8 principal-level soloists, it's a work that shows MCB's depth of talent -- along with their ability to convey the joy of cooperation, comradeship, on stage. These are dancers who relate naturally and spontaneously to one another on stage, and DNo15 needs that. Duo Concertant . One challenge is that the piece demands good dance actors, especially in the opening, - when they stand at the piano and listen, occasionally moving almost imperceptibly to the music. This choreography could almost be considered a kind of anti-DonQ. If Don Q is the warhorse, where the point is comparing the manner in which different casts perform well-known steps and attitudes, Duo Concertant needs dancers who can create the sense that they are somehow improvising their dancing as they go alone. It's not easy to do this plausibly. Re: Liam Scarlett's new work -- The MCB Facebook page has some excellent still photos of Zoe Zien. Zien looks serene maintaining beautiful line as she is held and lifted by her four cavalliers. The title -- Euphotic -- suggests an undersea world, which to me brings up images of the inhabitants of a coral reef. Some mysterious, some stately, some darting to and fro. Looking at the cast list above ... Jeanette Delgado -- Kleber Rebello Sara Esty Yann Trividic -- Patricia Delgado -- Carlos Guerra . Euphotic is set to Lowell Liebermann's Piano Concerto No. 2. (Viscera was set to No. 1.) The four movements are labelled as follows: I. Allegro Moderato 2. Presto 3. Adagio. 4. Allegro. I'm already imagining the dancers for each movement. The Zien photos look like they come from the Adagio. When watching a work that is new to me, I always enjoy arriving at the theater with fantasies about what it will be like. Of course, I am often wrong about my preconceptions. So I have to be willing to make very quick mental adjustments. Flexibility is a useful quality both for audiences and adagio dancers.
  21. This performance -- or at least these clips -- may not be fair to Ms. Kochetkova, who has to play off a fairly clueless Albrecht, an generic Bathilde, and a group of villagers who seem to be phoning in their emotional responses from a variety of distant locations. The clips are short, and the second clip especially is undercut by the inability of the camera to let us see crucial dramatic action at stage right. This makes it especially hard to generalize about the performance. Kochethova is remarkably tiny in comparison to the other main characters on stage, which made me want to root for her. Instead of using her physical fragility to make Giselle more interesting, she seems to imagine Giselle as emotionally pallid and lacking in emotional intensity. Cristian and Quiggan both refer to the many different kinds of Giselle over the generations. I've seen great, heartbreaking performances, and I've also seen dancers who perform these two bits without conviction, or in an affected manner, or by over-playing to the crowd. But this is the first time that I've seen someone apparently choosing to tamp down her character to the point of blandness. Giselle as village mouse might be a nice way to start Act I -- but to end it that way? In a mad scene? Perhaps it came across differently on stage.
  22. I felt the same by the end of the clip. Those last three lifts, after the music becomes still, just before they leave the stage. One high, the other higher, and the third (because it would be impossible to go higher), longer and extended forward. What is usually one of the nicer but not particularly memorable parts of the Nutcracker suddenly became heart-breakingly beautiful. What is it about some young performers, that they can achieve this kind of effect even before their technical training is complete? A peripheral question: Is "Ksenia" the same name that one often sees transliterated as "Xenia"?
  23. Jerome Robbins' homage was very well done. His gentle, carefully modulated tone is surprising considering his reputation for sarcasm and rage, currently the topic of another thread. Jacques d'Amboise was charming and funny. I was looking forward to the chance to see Kistler's Odette one more time. I'm puzzled by this performance. It seemed rote, even slightly mechanical. I'm hoping my eyes deceived me on this, because I have glowing memories of a very different Darci onstage.
  24. Thanks for your report, Birdsall. What did you think of the Bouder-Ulbricht pairing in Flames of Paris? (I'm always curious when NYCB dancers venture outside their usual repertoire.)
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