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Everything posted by bart

  1. My Lord, I didin't realize that a brief reference to "sitting forward in my seat" would provoke so much ... er .... negative response. Actually, it's quite thrilling to think of all the powerful emotions that can be engendered at the ballet. Kind of like what happens in the course of the Green Table. Maybe I should rephrase, since I am certainly aware and respectful of the sight-lines of people behind me. I "avoid slouching" in the seat.
  2. Sounds like a frustrating disappointment for you -- so I'm glad you liked the performance so much. I assume your sister is an infrequent -- or possibly even an unwilling -- ballet goer. Your post raises an interesting question for those of us who are passionate about the art. How DO we maintain the level of attention and emotional involvement necessary to see and appreciate everything we know is being put on the stage in front of us? Even in the best performances --- and sometimes the ones I've most looked forward to -- there are times when I find myself wandering off into some lateral dream world of steps, music, color, shopping lists, tomorrow's business, etc Or, that dreadful experience of finding you can't stop thinking about some mannerism or oddity about the third swan from the left. Or -- comparing the performance with something I saw in the past, for me a very dangerous distraction from what I am actually seeing now. This always begins with what is on stage but slowly pull me away from it. Some of the things that work for me include: getting a good night's sleep, doing some some prior research, and sitting forward in my seat. I also find it very helpful to be with someone who expects to talk about (and listen, too) the ballet at intermission or on the drive home.
  3. Jack, I wish I had liked this Nutcracker better, especially since my first exposure to the Balanchine version long, long, long ago is still very vividly impressed in my visual memory. And the slowly rising, quivering Christmas tree is still a brillliant touch. (Even when it once got stuck on the old City Center stage, requiring the entire production to come to a halt.) Going back over my cast sheets -- I also need to scribble reactions -- I find that I was especially touched by the use of children as Marie (Christina Ibarra), Drosselmeier's nephew (Rafael Ibarra) and Fritz. They were wonderful, as were the other children at the party and the poor, hard-working Bunny later on. I find that I circled (in soloist roles) Renato Penteado, Mary Carmen Catoya, Tricia Albertson (Dew Drop), Patricia Delgado and Callie Manning as having made an special impression on me. The Sugar Plum Fairy in the performance I saw was Jennifer Kronenberg, who always impresses me with her strong, graceful presence. Recorded music for this is an even bigger downer than for ordinary programs.
  4. Great question, treefrog. I'm looking forward to the responses. And thanks for the links. When I was young in the 60s I remember an Arpino ballet set to what I guess you would call rock music. It took the form of a stylized anti-war protest. My friends and I thought it was v-e-r-y cool, and I recall thinking: so ballet can be political, too. This was about the time the Joffrey revived The Green Table. After a while the Balanchine aesthetic reclaimed me -- but I still have a fondness for what the Joffrey was capable of putting on the stage in those turbulent days.
  5. I've jujst had the chance to read Merrill Ashley's Dancing for Balanchine. She returns frequently to the question of Balanchine's classes (pros and cons), and ends the book with the situation that existed just after his death. Merrill makes an interesting point, which seems apropos to this topic: "The debate on the old versus the new seems to have obscured the obvious fact that everyone stands to gain when the Company dances well. Without good dancing, there will be no preservation of Balanchine's ballets as we have grown accustomed to seeing them, and choreographers will be handicapped in their future creative efforts." (N.B.: dancing "well," to Ashley, seems to relate to Balanchine's unique requirements, which are described and illustrated vividly throughout the book.) "If the great example of Balanchine's ceaseless efforts to instruct and inspire is not followed, we may awaken one day only to find that although we have resolved satisfactorily the issue of the proper balance of ballets [b's versus new choreography] we will no longer have the dancers we need to dance those ballets. Then we may find that Balanchine's masterpieces look dull and stale ..." The Company will then have a choice: either to respond with quick-fix efforts to make the ballets look interesting (and the result will be either visible strain, as dancers who are out of their depth try to do the steps well, or 'acting' to cover up a lack of skill), or to add more and more new ballets to the reportory ... The ultimate irony would be if the Company, in the name of some spurious creativity, produced new ballet after ballet, all the while turing its back on its glorious past, the past that still lives today [1984] in a few of its dancers." It seems that the criiticisms of Croce, Acocella, and othes are pre-figured in this 20-year old warning, which sounds eerily like a prospectus for much of the Diamond Project. Those who believe that there is a problem with NYCB's current policy re coaching will find some support here, too. On the other hand, it's clear from the large number of fervent fans who post on this site, that NYCB still has the power to demand the same high level of adoration that it always had. Much of this is thanks to the enthusiasm generated by individual dancers. The question is: what exactly is being adored? and is it the same thing that was being adored a generation ago?
  6. Makarova Fan, you reminded me about the adagio in Spartacus. Such compelling music and (as you say) truly incredible lifts. A wonderful expression of yearning. I'd be glad to try to partner you as Phrygia, but would base my peformance on, and work out in a gym for 5-10 years to achieve the body type of, Irek Mukhamedov. Could we leave town before the end? Maybe jete off to the Greeke isles? What happens to us otherwise is extremely depressing. I wonder whether dancers, concentrating so intently on achieving the illusion of ease, feel anything llieke the emotions that we in the audience are experiencing as we watch them.
  7. Danseur85, thanks for the great review. I always get a lot out of hearing dancers talk about performances they've seen. I bet a lot of readers will be very interested in your comments about Sarah Lane's role debut.
  8. Looking at the company roster on the Joffrey website, it seems that company is aiming towards diversity not only in terms of color, but the way it seems to hire from schools and programs widely, casting its net all over the country. Anyone know about the Joffrey recruiting program?
  9. Thanks, Treefrog, for this link. I wish all major American companies would honor their history and tradition as well. The NYCB site is particularly backward in this regard, given its incredible past achievements and development.
  10. Just watched a video of Don Quixote (State Perm Ballet) in which Nina Ananiashvili performs 32 of the fastest fouettes I've ever seen -- all the time moving in a perfectly straight line down stage center. This is only one of the marvels of speed and technique in this performance. Based on this and other video viewings, she strikes me as one of the fastest, strongest, most technically marvellous bravura dancers I've seen. However, when I turned to "Dancer" posts for the past few years, I found only one topic with her name in the title. And that contained only 3 posts. I know Ananiashvili has guested with NYCB and been a principal with ABT, in addition to dancing with the Bolshoi and numerous other companies. She stars in a large number of videos. Yet there is a relative silence about her on Ballet Talk, which puzzles me. I'd really like to know what people think of her dancing, and what other performances you remember.
  11. Thank you, Danceintheblood, for your report, which shows that the old "aesthetic" argument in favor of lily-white (or at least pale) classical ballet is still alive, at least in Australia. If your aunt is correct, and this is artistic policy, shame on the Australian Ballet Company. This is the same argument raised frequentlyat the time of Balanchine's integration of NYCB with Arthur Mitchell -- and which has finally ceased to be respectable in this country. Red tutus are things. No human values are violated by requiring that a professional dancer wear that a color. Skin color, on the other hand, is a human quality that cannot be changed (unless we're going to require white make up was done earlier in the 20th century). There is NO "purely aesthetic viewpoint" possible, given the damaging history of the world as regards to "racial" distinctions. It's time for fans of classical ballet to get over it, as others have in virtually every other area of artistic performance, worklife, education, and so many other formerly segregated fields.
  12. Doug -- Thanks for the link. The program as outlined in the DanceChance web page is impressive. I especially like the emphasis on the child's own interest, but also on evaluation of the student's "promise" (an auditioning process and regular evaluations), as well as input from families and teachers. I've observed informally some programs in suburban Long Island, and believe me they are much more haphazard than that, and sometimes fail by trying not to address the issue of talent and promise. This is a program that appears to be getting excellent results, and which deserves all the support from the community that it can get.
  13. Just did my 9th class, which ended with sautes from (and to) fifth -- chagements -- with toes pointed down during elevation. What a thrill -- felt like 12 years old. We even essayed entrechats, which so far seems to be a single heel click, for me. Made me want to be a LOT younger and able to dance the finale to Ballet Imperial (full costume) where everyone is jumping up and down and up and down, world without end. Jacqueline, why those parts? Daniil, what makes the Bejart so "goregeous" and such a stand out for you?
  14. The lataest Miami Insider Newsletter reports: "The repertoire includes 13 pieces performed by 25 dancers and will feature excerpts from classical ballets like La Sylphide, La Bayadere, and La Fille Mal Gardee; more contemporary works like Chiaroscuro, a ballet by Lynn Taylor-Corbett, and also ballets choreographed by Miami City Ballet dancers Stephen Satterfield, Cassia Philips, Marc Speilberger, and Kristin D'Addario." "Not only will audiences be able to see the dancers up close in a studio environment but they will also hae the chance to meet the dancers. Each performance will be followed by a wine and cheese reception after the show and the Saturday night performance will include a party with the dancers with food, drinks, and dancing." I hope some of our members will be able to post their responses and/or reviews.
  15. Currently there's another thread in this forum, "why is ballet so pale." Discussion has meandered here and there, but the focus recently turned towards positive actions that ballet companies have taken (can take) to increase participation in ballet among non-traditional groups of young people, especially young people of color. One poster has participated in Boston Ballet outreach programs in inner-city schools, aimed at making students aware both of the art and the opportunities to dance that ballet provides, as well as increasing the diversity of audiences. What are YOUR favorite companies doing (or not doing) to spread the word about ballet into diverse communities? What would you like to see them doing? And why?
  16. Thanks, rolande, for your post. It is good to hear some positive remarks about what can be done to change the current situation. I appreciate the insights into Boston Ballet's outreach program. I wish all companies -- especially smaller companies, who often do not have huge performance demands and should be looking for all sorts of alternative venues -- would make this part of their mission. And not only to inner-city schools. More and more kids of all sorts of social background are being deprived of the arts. Iin my experience, performance by even a few magnificently trained ballet dancers is always captivating to young people, even if the kids are initiall uncomfortable or even dismissive. All kids can appreciate the physical difficulty of ballet, and the artistry involved in performing well. They also benefit from the lessons about the dedication and hard work needed to produce art, glamour, and illusion. This could also be a way to get Ballet Guilds, and even major contributors with social consciences, involved. Bringing a few reporters and photographers along on these excursions would be great publicity. Scholarship tickets to productions could help fill seats and also bring much-needed vivacity and variety to the audience, something often needed as hard-core ballet goers become increasingly gray. I also agree with your advice about auditions: "You''ll never know if you don't try." Negative self-fulfilling prophecies certainly play their role in keeping people back. Good luck in your new endeavors! This seems to me to be so important that I am going to start another topic (in Anyhthing Goes) asking for input about what outreach activities ather ballet companies are undertaking in their cities.
  17. After a (needed) night's sleep -- and after re-reading previous posts and learning what that "magic number" really means -- I find I am transformed into a sanguine. Has anyone actually danced both Choleric and Sanguine at diferent stages of her career? Alternatively, is there a fifth humour comparable to Schizophrenic?
  18. Interesting posts. There seem to be a number of reasons -- economic, aesthetic, physiological -- for point shoe selection. How about company policy? In professional companies you are familiar with, what's the policy re (a) quanity of point shoes provided to dancers and frequency of replacing them, and (b) choice of manufacturer or style?
  19. Choleric as well! What a shock. It seems that about half-way through I started switching from B to A answers. But a career path as a Crusader! The absurdity of it all makes me feel ... so ... choleric.
  20. Clive Barnes, in May's Dance Magazine, raises a question about Fokine's ballets: "Were they a much-applauded passing fancy, or are they for all time?" Barnes mentions that ABT will perform new productions of four of his ballets this spring: Les Sylphides, Petrouchka, Spectre de la Rose, and Polovtsian Dances, all of which I've seen either on the stage (Sylphides, Petrouchka) or on video (all four, in French and Russian versions). I understand Fokine's place in dance history. But I confess to being largely unmoved by his work in performance. There's something about the style, aesthetic, and story-telling that connects more as historical pageant (like revivals of baroque dancing) rather than something immediate and in the present. I concentrate on memories (or video images) of stars like Alicia Alonso -- or on exciting individual dancers in more contemporary productions. I don't seem to be able to appreciate the whole. At least from what I've seen so far. What do Ballet Talk people think about Fokine in performance today? I'd especially like to hear specific details of performances you have seen -- and (hey!) it's ok for those of you familiar with the work of the smaller companies to respond, too. What worked and did not work for you? Which of Fokine's ballet's are "for all time" and why?
  21. Ari, thanks for the clarification. I can certainly see that this would be dear to many people's hearts. especially the association with faithfulness to Petipa's original approach.
  22. Ditto regarding the thanks. This book was a constant companion in my efforts to re-educate myself about ballet after a long hiatus. The detailed descriptions of key ballets really helped me to "see" my videos in an entirely new light. And, after that, to see dancing on the stage in a much richer manner.
  23. Thanks, sz. That's the sort of insight that I find only on Ballet Talk. Also, it's great to know that there were so many huge smiles as people left the theater. That is still one of the most important "aesthetic" criteria for me, when it comes to what I value about a visit to the ballet. I hope you'll continue to post your impressions and reviews.
  24. I agree -- a well-thought-out season. Makes me envious. But, regarding the original Messel designs: am I correct in thinking that this is the version that we see on film with the young Margot Fonteyn? (Don't know the date, but it's the one that is always shown in Fonteyn documentaries. My copy was videotaped from TV long ago and has no credits.) If so, what is so great about this look? I am impressed that people are so delighted to see it return -- but the posts sos far contain almost nothing specific about what elements of the production/ sets/ costumes/ etc./ are admirable --or why. (This question intruded into the thread on bad costuming, when several people mentioned the entire current production as something they destested). Once again: will someone be specific about what makes the Messel designs so worth restoring?
  25. Hockeyfan228, thanks for this information. It reminds me that individual performances are affected by many variables. Your points about (a) this cast's continuity with Balanchine and (b) the specific circumstances under which the performance took place are well taken.
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