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Everything posted by bart

  1. Why is Suzanne Farrell simpering in this photo? It's nothing like any other Farrell photo I've seen, and certainly nothing like the way she looked in Diamonds. Come to think of it, Patty McBride seems to have caught the mugging bug as well.
  2. I'll always be grateful to the original Ballet Alert, which I stumbled upon by accident during a Google search long ago. . It's perceptive and articulate pieces helped me so much at a time when my love of ballet was waking up from a long slumber.
  3. Stage Right. I agree with you about DanceView. And for the same reasons. Off-topic: What is it about black-and-white photography and dance? Perhaps it's that, without the distraction of color, you can see the structure and the line so much more clearly.
  4. I've known a few people who are fluent in three and even more languages -- but none who could move so quickly and accurately from one to another to another, both listening and speaking. Phenomenal language skill isn't often accompanied by such speed, flexibility, and personality. She was awe-inspiring.
  5. The Winter 2014 edition of DanceView magazine just arrived, with a great cover story with 5 large, well-chosen photos -- Jacques d'Amboise coaching Robert Fairchild, Tiler Peck, Sarah Mearns, and Ana Sophia Scheller in Balanchine's Who Cares? The ballet was created on d'"Amboise, Karen von Aroldingen, Patty McBride, and Marnee Morris. The 5-hour session was part of the Balanchine Foundation "Video Archives" project. Nancy Reynolds, director of the video archives, wrote the story. Highlights include: -- 5 fantastic photos (including the cover) showing d'Amboise dancing (joyfully), observing (with intense focus),and partnering Robert Fairchild (with glee).. -- An image of d'Amboise as a superbly engaged and stimulating teacher: Reynolds writes: " ... after watching his expressive coaching ... , one came away convinced he is ready to take on Lear -- or at the very least an enigmatic character out of Beckett. The range of emotions he portrayed, with body language, mime, and facial expression, was spellbinding." -- One example of d'Amboise methodology: "Although he tries to get the dancers to loosen up and act casual, he can be utterly precise when he wants to be: 'those aren't runs, they're little ronds de jamb with hip swivels,' he says at one point. That brings out the jazz in them." -- And, speaking to Fairchild and Mearns about the "Who Cares?" pdd: "In gliding steps, don't step in between, keep it moving. Step further than you need to and slide slowly. It's like a beautiful caress when you support her. Start the arm movement early so that you're doing a port de bras and you just hook up with her as part of it." -- About "Embraceable You" (Fairchild with Ana Sophia Scheller): This is "a beautiful dance with a sugar lump. It's not about love, it's about a delicious girl to squeeze." -- My favorite is his advice to Sarah Mearns in "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise": "In the air turns a la seconde on the diagonal, he urges her to say "whee" at the top of the jump. She does so, and the effect is exhilarating." Wouldn't it be great to have a teacher in any field who -- at one of the most difficult moments in a set of tasks -- reminds us to have fun ... to say "WHEEEEEE!" Another great thing is to learn that this method actually WORKS. Thanks, DanceView, for bringing us writing and photography as fascinating and illuminating as this.
  6. Alistair Macaulay addresses these issues in his review of this performance, published in today's NY Times. He notes that the Russian approach to such things as "the thrust and musical sharpness of the choreography" is different from tthe original Balanchinian approach. For example: For me, one can notice these differences while still loving the performance. The Bolshoi version differs from the original New York version in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways, but it has the energy and what Macaulay calls "spaciousness", as well as impressive attention to detail, so that the impact is similar to what I remember from long ago. (I exclude the Emeralds, as I mentioned above.) Macaulay focus on the work of two dancers: Macaulay also devotes an entire paragraph to praising Olga Smirnova, the ballerina in "Jewels."
  7. I'm not familiar with these dancers, but my take on this is somewhat different from yours, Helene. Emeralds seemed to me without feeling or atmosphere. For me, the most familiar moments -- the hands variation and the walking pdd -- were a disappointment. The music seemed plodding, somehow, unlike the orchestra's vivid playing of the Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. This Bolshoi Rubies was thrilling in a way that the Mariinsky and POB versions are not. I saw the first NYCB cast several times long ago but have given up wanting to find something that matches the impression they made at that time. If I am honest, I'm not even sure I remember details all that much,though I do continue to have brief visual flashes of Verdy, Paul, Villella, McBride, and Farrell. I do remember the impact made by Jewels that first year, however. This Bolshoi version of Rubies and Diamonds illuminated the choreography and connected with the music in a way that left me happy and satisfied. I agree with you completely about Shipulina -- a magnificent and highly original interpretation -- but give higher marks than yours to the lead couple (Krysanova and Lopatin), and also to the corps and to the costume designer (especially the best Rubies dresses I can recall).. Lopatkin had amazing speed when required, but never lost attention to the details. His body shapes -- especially recurring oriental poses of torso, curved arms and limbs -- were beauttiful. The ARE in the choreography, but are rarely done so exquisitely. Should this role contain elements of the exquisite? Why not? I agree with you that Smirnova brought more than the usual touches of Odette to her performance. Most dancers in this role I've seen are rather bland. (Farrell was mysterious and regally aloof, which is something very different.). Smirnova at times did, as you suggest, seem to be channeling the White Swan, and was more passionate and quick than most I've seen in this role. I loved her, and her cavalier too.
  8. Oh, details, please! Filin, who was wearing large dark glasses, looked good. (So did his glasses.) His manner of speaking seemed a bit stilted, but you couldn't fault his obvious pride in the production and in the dancers. While Ekaterina Shipulina (Tall Girl from Rubies) was responding to a question, Filin reached over to the bottom of her mike and gently edged it closer to her mouth, so she could be better heard. He had noticed that she was holding it too low. I know that there has been speculation after the acid attack about the extent of damage to his vision. His kind and unobtrusive attempt to help out Shipulina suggests that he could see both her and the microphone quite well. I haven't been paying all that much attention to the Bolshoi in recent years, and know almost none of the dancers anymore. But this vibrant, beautifully danced performance of Rubies and Diamonds (not so much Emeralds) makes me look forward to seeing more.
  9. Novikova just interviewed Sergei Filin, on stage after a wonderful Rubies
  10. Dancers seem to love telling stories about this particular experience, especially at companies like NYCB where it seemed (seems?) to happen quite a lot. In my experience, these stories are always told with humor, even relish, and are much enjoyed by all. In retrospect, the most difficult experiences can take on a glow of pride and pleasure for those who have survived them.
  11. I agree with dirac: "A very good interview." Thanks, vipa. It was worth taking the time to watch it all the way through. Ashley is intelligent, articulate, and very charming. I was struck by something she said about Balanchine's willingness (at times) to adjust his choreography to suit the strengths and weaknesses of different dancers: It's good to know that coaches and advocates like Ashley, those who actually worked with Balanchine in the creation and performance of his choreography, are still around. I guess it's time to re-read Dancing for Balanchine
  12. I'd be interested in hearing more about Balanchine's approach to (and relative interest) in port de bras. Was he less interested in this than in other aspects of the body? Did he give it less time in class? My impression is that it was precisely with port de bras that you find the most individual variation at NYCB in the 50s and 60s, especially among his principal dancers. Tallchief's upper body looked nothing like LeClercq's; Hayden's nothing like Adams; etc. Looking at the many still photos from this period, it's impossible not to notice how much variation in port de bras there is in the corps. Of course, this may partly be because they were were being snapped when they were at slightly different positions in a complex movement.. But I have a clear memory of how out of sync the arms/hands (and upper body generally) looked among the corps in numerous performances of Swan Lake (Acts II/IV.) Certainly they look, in Michael's phrased, relatively uncomposed. On the plus side, they look more spontaneous than Russian performance from the same era. On the other hand, I recall early ffilm of the corps in the Waltz of the Flowers, and later inf Symphony in C, in which the arms seemed perfectly fine -- still varying a bit from individual to indivual, but not in a distracting way.
  13. It's interesting that mnmom and Stage Right both mention thoughts about possible injuries first of all. The possibility of injury -- with the consequent need for time off, rehab, and slow regaining of form -- is a fact of life in all companies. Yet ballet dancing demands a look of insouciance -- something that is the opposite of looking as if you are careful. 5 senior dancers have been out with injuries this season in the company i follow most closely. A couple of these are noted for going all-for-broke in everything they do on stage. It must be extraordinarily difficult to keep in balance the natural wish to avoid injury and the personal artistic impulse to give everything you have. Another thing: dancing in a company is a collegial experience. Dancers have to collaborate. What's more, they have to look as though they enjoy and even adore working with one another. Yet each dancer is in a sense competing with every other dancer -- for casting opportunities, publicity opportunities, and for one's job itself. Budget cut-backs, the emergence of newer, younger dancers, etc., are part of this. I guess all corporate jobs have these particular tension too, but it must be especially difficult in a world in which you are so often being scrutinized by the public.
  14. Thanks, brokenwing. I was there for Program I and saw all casts. Somehow I never got around to posting about it, though I loved the programming and was thrilled by most of what I saw on stage. Program I was the first we've seem planned entirely by Lourdes Lopez -- 2 major Balanchines and what some people consider Christopher Wheeldon's most successful work. Key dancers were out due to injury or, in one case, maternity leave. I can't imagine what it must have been like for a mid-sized company to have to start its season without four key principals Catoya, the 2 Delgados, and Rebello, What MCB pulled together was a miracle and a major achievement. In his review of Program II, Alistair Macaulay mentions that the replacements "flourished." This was true of Program I as well. This is not the place to go into detail about Program I. But what astonishes me is the way in which so many of the dancers seemed to grow -- literally expanding and giving off greater light -- in response to the challenge of roles that might not originally have been planned for them. There's clearly a company style, a company esprit. This was a cohesive company, dancing its way beautifully -- and generously: to the audience and to each other -- through three very different works.
  15. These podcast interviews are very well done. Congratulations, mnmom. I can see that they would interest and inspire students and young professional dancers, but -- based on my first episode -- they also have the potential to be addictive to ballet fans like me. I recommend clicking the "Ballet Podcast Show Notes" tab at the top of the page, which gives you a list of all the interviews in the series. (There are 25 so far.) I clicked Dylan Gutierrez, a young, articulate Joffrey dancer I have actually seen dance, and was captivated by both the questions and the answers. Coming up next for me -- Tiits Helimets and then Megan Fairchild.
  16. I won't have the chance to see this program until the weekend of the 31st, but I'm looking forward to it even more keenly now that the reviews from Miami are coming in. (Thanks, dirac, for the Links). I see the variety of programing as a plus, though of course MCB must remain (and will remain, according to Lourdes Lopez) basically a Balanchine (and to a lesser extent, a Robbins) company. First, from Jordan Levin -- a long-time and astute observer of MCB -- in the Miami Herald: Rich program reveals Miami City Ballet's strengths, weaknesses And from Alistair Macaulay -- who also knows the company rather well -- in the NY Times: Keeping Their Eyes on the Score: At Miami City Ballet Edward Villella's Tenets Live On Both reviews are largely positive and convey a sense of excitement, though Levin feels that Concerto Barocco is not danced now with the "urgency" it once was, and Macaulay has no respect for Jardi Tancat. One of the sadnesses of the season so far has been the absence due to injury of Jeanette Delgado and Patricia Delgado, Kleber Rebello, and Callie Manning, and the absence due to maternity leave of Mary Carmen Catoya. The good news is that Rebello, Manning, and Catoya are now dancing again. Can't wait to see the Delgados back in form again.. Among the joys of the season has been the from maternity leave of Jennifer Kronenberg (thrilling in Serenade in Program I, and praised by Jordan Levin for Jardi Tancat in Program II), and the new opportunities given to Tricia Albertson, Nathalia Arja, Jennifer Lauren, Sara Esty, and guest artist Katia Carranza. Another joy: the wonderful work of the corps, from Ballo della Regina, through Nutcracker (Snow Scene; Waltz of the Flowers), and -- according to Macaulay -- in Concerto Barocco as well: .
  17. bart


    Yes, I can imagine Osipova bringing cheekiness, attack, and spontaneity to this role. I'm trying to recall Patty McBride's performances. She was pretty close to being Villella's equal in those qualities. Since then, there's sometimes been a blandness in the performances of the woman's role I've seen. It's as though the male lead is still encouraged to be strong and risk-taking in Rubies, and to dance all out, but the lead woman is not. I can't imagine Osipova putting up with that.
  18. bart

    Mathilde Froustey

    Watching the video, and reading the interview, makes me think this is a dancer I'd like to follow. (Possibly because her head, and the way it sits upon the neck, remind me of a former NYCB favorite of mine, Kay Mazzo.) The Nutcracker pdd was fascinating: parts lovely and subtle, parts that seem just to be sketched in. Possibly this is due to something phrank has noted: On the whole, I wish (along with Quiggin) for her "not to pick up an international look." Her movement style, phrasing, and self-presentation reflect her training, but also her body and temperament. It might be a good idea, however, to work on torso flexibility; the lovely arm movements seem to be emerging a too-stolid central core. A very interesting dancer. I wonder where her career will take her. P.S. Recent threads from San Francisco -- with the generous supply of links and visuals -- are giving the rest of us a lot of material to be envious about. Thanks to all of you who post there.
  19. And let's not forget those who are attracted to this new form of instrument (dancer's body; singer's voice; etc.), and who are inspired to create new work (sometimes world-changing work) for them. Balanchine was inspired in this way by Le Clercq, Adams, Kent. Calas' career was not about new work, though it did foster a revival of operas in the bel canto rep that had been allowed to languish unproduced and unrespected. She also benefited from the support of conductors, directors and designers who recognized something remarkable and unique about her, and who created productions that showcased her originality.
  20. Thanks for that, phrank. Seeing d'Amboise, Ash, and others who knew and danced with Le Clercq, will be wonderful. I like the title, "Afternoon of a Faun." The Faun is usually the boy. Here the Fawn, of course, will be LeClercq. Every memoir of NYC in that era (those that include her) paints a fascinating and admiring picture. A regret of mine is that, if I ever saw her dance, I was too young and untutored to know who she was. Carbro writes: One of the problems about obtaining permissions is that it is burdensome even to determine, let alone get in touch with, those who might conceivably HAVE a claim to rights. This includes unions, reps of choreographers, photographers, designers, heirs, etc. Then there are the legal costs. The budgets of documentaries like this -- even if part of the American Masters franchise -- rarely go that far.
  21. Thanks, Swanilda8 and Nanarina, for your reports. I remember seeing Le Parc at the Met in the 90s, We were living out of town at that time. I had to be picky about what to get tickets for, since it would mean a very late drive home after the show. POB turned out to be a fortuitous choice. The strange (to me) movement quality and phrasing -- sometimes beautifully in sync with the music, at other times beautifully out of sync-- made me wish that I could see it several times. I do remember vividly the long kiss as the woman is swung out in circles and the man walks backward and around the stage. I'd love to see this again and I suspect that the Dupont/Le Riche cast is the one I'd go for now, if I could.
  22. I've just gotten word that WNET (Channel 13, NYC) will be broadcasting the documentary "Steven Caras: See Them Dance." -- Sunday, Jan. 19 (1:30 p,m,). Repeated on: Tues Jan. 21 (4:00 a.m.) I saw this at a special showing at the Kravis Center (West Palm Beach) last year. The audience of dance fans (many from New York, including quite a few who lived through the Balanchine years) was enthralled, and quite emotional. Since then, the documentary has been broadcast on many PBS stations around the country, but not until now in NYC, where Caras danced with New York City Ballet from 1969-83, later becoming one of the most important dance photographers in the country. I'll bet almost everyone on Ballet Alert! knows at least some of his work, especially the image of Mr. Balanchine taking his last solo curtain call ("Last Bow"). The promotional material describes the documentary as "profiling Caras' personal journey of challenges and triumphs in the world of ballet at a time when men pursuing dance rarely escaped unscathed. In spite of bullying at school and rejection at home, ... his perseverence paid off, With only three years of formal training, Caras was personally invited to joing New York City Ballet at 18 by its founder, the legendary George Balanchine who became his mentor -- first as a dancer and later as a photographer." The focus is on the personal story and on the photography, largely because of difficulties of getting rights to extended performance videos of Balanchine's and Robbins's work. Those with a NYCB video collection can find Caras dancing the First Theme at the start of Four Temperaments. That's part of the Dance in America series "Choreography by Balanchine" (performed, I think, in 1976 or 77).
  23. From Judith Flanders' review of the Royal Ballet's (Carlos Acosta's) new production of Don Quixote, in the Times:Literary Supplement.
  24. Clicking that box is the way I ordered it -- as well as the new Markova biography. Every little bit helps keep Ballet Alert on line and technologically up to date. Thanks, kfw, for reminding us.
  25. About Daniel's nomination of Allegra Kent ("a true artist"): I don't think many remember just what an extraodinary and original dancer Kent was, or the impact she made on stage especially in the late 50s and early 60s.. Coincidentally, I'm just reading Robert Gottlieb's review (in NY Review of Books) of Elena Tchernichova's memoirs. Tchernichova, then a young dancer at the Kirov, saw Kent dance the Sleepwalker in Balanchine's La Sonnambula when NYCB came to Leningrad in 1962: Tchernichova's experience of Balanchine's company changed her life. "By the time Balanchine was gone, 'I was ready to follow him to New York.'" Eventuallyi, she was able to get an exit permit and arrived in NYC in 1976. This is where the connection with Harkness comes in. Among her first jobs in NYC was to work privately with her old friend and schoolmate Natalia Makarova, often in the Harkness studies. After that, she went to ABT. The book, Elena Tchernichova with Joel Lobenthal, Dancing on Water: a Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT, is available from Northeastern University Press.
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