Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×


Senior Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by bart

  1. I agree. I saw Kirland in the early NYCB days and not so much at ABT. Looking back, I consider that a much-missed opportunity.
  2. In intermission conversations at various dance, opera, etc., performances here, the two most common out-of-the-blue cultural questions I've been asked are: (a) what did you think of Dracula (Ballet Florida)? and (b) what did you think of the Da Vinci Code? This, invariably, from people who loved them. I hope there is a spill-over from all this in the form of openness to other forms of both ballet and literature.
  3. bart

    Margot Fonteyn!

    Interesting point, which suggests an ironical possibility. In Fonteyn's day, fewer dancers were considered qualified for parts llike Odette/Odile. Perhaps the large number of technically skilled dancers today means that these great classical parts have to be divvied up among a large pool of dancers -- for reasons of company morale, fan loyalty, etc. More dancers means fewer performances. These dancers will never have the luxury of enough time, enough performances, to develop the role to its fullest.
  4. Seems like an interesting and challenging program, not unlike something Edward Villella might put on at Miami City Ballet. As might, no doubt, other smaller-city companies with high artistic aspirations. Danseur 85, can you give us your impressions of the performances and/or the special challenges of programming for this company with its own, particular audience? Thousands of dance fans attend these regional performances all around the U.S., and companies like Kansas City Ballet deserve to be talked about. Thanks.
  5. bart


    Thanks< Clara 76, for the post. Can you tell us something about the production/ choreography/ etc.? Is it a new or old production? And what part is your son playing? Also: this kind of programming (with 4-5 performances scheduled over a 4-day period) seems to be typical of smaller regional companies. I was wondering how many casts (of principals) they will be presenting?
  6. Thanks, fendrock. You speak for many who rely on regional companies for our regular doses of ballet. We want the best of both worlds: the chance to see new work (to see the dancers and the company test themselves and grow); but also the chance to revisit the familiar, look at it more closely, and allow the dancers to grow into difficult roles (as Leigh says). Maybe the problem at Boston is the ratio of 3 (full-length stories) to 2 (mixed bills). That demands either a lot of investment in large productions, or what seems to be occurring: frequent repetition. Perhaps something so simple as a switch to 2-to-3 would be worth trying. Miami City Ballet, with 4 programs a year, tends to program 1 full-length almost every year, switching recently between the Balanchine Coppelia and Giselle. Villella also constructs full-lenth evenings out of works that were first programmed as one-acters: eg. Neighborhood Ballroom (A Ballet in Four Acts with Epilogue), which follows the character of the Poet from youth to old age through the progress of popular dance forms: waltz, quick-step, fox-trot, mambo, (with epilogue). Helene, thanks for your thoughtful analysis. I wonder this: do ballet companies ever share (rent) productions the way regional opera companies do? (The much maligned Houston Dracula seems to be raking in the rentals.) That way, perhaps Miami could trade its Coppelia to Boston in exchange for something that would not make economic sense to create here? I'm talking here about sets, costumes, lighting plans, etc. Actual choreography could be left to the individual company if they didn't want to import it. Is this done at all? If not, I wonder why not? It has permitted Palm Beach Opera, for instance, to mount its own first rate productions, with its own casts and direction, but using beautiful sets, etc., from the Met, San Francisco, etc.
  7. I always thought myself to be rather firm in my opinions, but as I read the responses of (just to name a few) oberon, kfw, alexandra, nycdog, et al., I find myself waffling. All these variables -- Balanchine v. Martins; creative genius v. very talented administrator; huge company with long performance schedule v. companies with shorter runs of fixed "programs"; memory v. recent experience; nostalgia v. trendiness; feeling v. technique; steps v. movement -- all of them play roles in forming the debate. I see the point(s). The latest exchange between Ari and Helene provoked a fantasy: wouldn't it be nice if someone put together a season (in NYC or someplace more central) of performances of leading Balanchine-derived companies: the ones with a direct link to NYCB when Balanchine was alive. Let the audience observe each over the course of a few months. Make a video record for those not fortunate enough to attend. Any ideas about which companies you would invite? what rules you would insist upon? what repertoire each company might bring? and what you think the results might be?
  8. "Naivete and youth are good things in anaudience, especially for R and J" (Juliet) A lovely thought, which makes me wistful for the very feelings which hooked me at a performance of the Balanchine Swan Lake, Act II, long ago. And, as you say, especially for Romeo and Juliet. Maybe it is possible to observe too critically and analyse too much. Not to mention the way that immediate experience gets corrupted by the effort to apply thoughts and words to employ in discussion -- or even reviews -- later on. West Palm Beach has something called the Russian National Ballet Theatre arriving soon in Sleeping Beauty. I plan on cultivating the "naivete and youth" approach, and leave the pencil at home.
  9. Jun, you mentioned that ballet tickets are expensive in Japan. I would love to know how prices for a top Japanese company and for New York City Ballet or ABT compare. Also: Japanese dancers have joined major American and European ballet companies. Do you know of Western dancers who are regular company members in Japan? Thanks for posting.
  10. Oberon's post adds balance to the discussion -- and provides plausible reasons to support the idea that NYCB under Peter Martins has expanded and even extended the Balanchine legacy. Thanks. I knew it couldn't all be as dire as some say -- otherwise why would a sophisticated dance audience buy tickets? Query. I don't know how much the NYCB has toured outside the country under Peter Martins. How do Europeans and others view the company? How would THEY answer the question posed by this topic? How would this compare to the reception abroad of other American ballet companies, San Francisco, etc.? (I don't count visits abroad by NYCB guest artists. I'm asking about the company as a whole.)
  11. Gee. Now EVERYBODY is referring to bad dancing -- then and now. Can ANYONE discuss using specific details why they think NYCB remains one of the great companies in the world today and a worthy descendent of those who created it. P.S.: I like kfw's phrase: "relative lack of abandon to be seen on the current company." This meets my own feeling. (Incidentally, lest you think I am some old grouch always yearning for the good old days, I -- like many of your posters -- are still capable of being moved greatly by a variety of current dancers, companies and styles. High regard for the past -- even a little bit of protectiveness -- does not mean one has lost the ability to respond enthusiastically to the present or to look forward to the future.)
  12. There's an interesting and overall positive review by Joan Acocella in this week's New Yorker. (April 4)
  13. The decision by the dancer to retire is made easier if he/she has an alternative career to move into or towards. Thus the importance of programs like Career Transition for Dancers. A small example: I think Balanchine encouraged several dancers towards new careers even during their dancing years: Steve Caras in photography, Susan Pilarre towards teaching, etc.
  14. Thanks, Jack Reed, for allowing me to revisit Fancy Free. (I confess that my favorite Kravis Center seats -- Grand Tier box near stage -- obscured a lot of the stage business, way over on stage left, between the men and the women. So actually you were describing a few things I never even saw.) Also, I was glad to learn that Jeremy Cox and Patricia Delgado got a crack at Faun and did so well. Both these dancers are multitalented, and Villella uses them in an amazing variety of styles.
  15. Leigh may have hit it with the distinction between emphasizing position (recent and current dancing) v. emphasizing movement (older dancers). Fans can admire the former; nostalgics like me can long for the latter. Different priorities, not necessarily better or worse in some ultimate sense.
  16. Many thanks, Hockeyfan228, for such a fantastic answer. Wow!
  17. Anyone have a list of ballet companies in the US that continue to have a live orchestra? Or how they manage to pay for it?
  18. Ari, indeed they did. So, actually, did I, if you call a brief, involuntary, amused chuckle a "laugh". The Poet seems rather the experimenting teenager at that point, faschinated by and toying with the Sleepwalker. At least that's how Carlos Guerra played it, and it worked for me.
  19. It seems to me that those who consider the NYCB to be in decline tend to be more specific and detailed in their criticisms than those who disagree, or who, like Carbro, think it has improved at least in recent years. Partisans of Peter Martins, what do you actually SEE on the stage that makes you so positive about the way the NYCB dances Ballenchine today? What FEELINGS does this dancing evoke in you? Those of us whose local companies are Balanchine influenced (passionately so, in the case of Miami) have a stake in this debate even if we can't get to NY as often as we like.
  20. One difficulty I have with this ongoing and often rather testy debate about whether or not the NYCB has declined/is declining in the Balanchine repertoire is that it would help to have some analysis of specific areas in which the company has or has not changed since the Balanchine days. During an interview published in the latest Dance View, former SAB soloist and current SAB teacher Susan Pilarre, refers to several Balanchinian qualities. Among them are SPEED, LIGHTNESS, ELONGATION ("move big"). I would add, from my own experience of the NYCB in the 1950s-70s, a wonderful theatricality, engagement, and stage presence. (The Martins Swan Lake, as broadcast on PBS several years ago, is certainly the dullest most pro forma version I have ever seen, despite excellent dancing.) It would help those of us not fortunate enough to know all the current dancers and repertoire intimately if posters would refer specifically to WHAT aspects of the current NYCB are worse than/better than/the same then/ or merely different from dancing and staging the Balanchine ballets today as compared to the previous generation.
  21. As an aside to this topic: During his Sunday Miami City Ballet pre-curtain talk, Edward Villella responded to a question about how to expand male interest in ballet: "It's an effort to get men to think of us as terrifically refined athletes. Perhaps it would help if we had scores."
  22. Another thoughtfully balanced program put together by Edward Villella: (in order) Paul Taylor's rather balletic 1981 "Arden Court"; Balanchine's "La Sonnambula" (originally "Night Shadow," 1944 for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo); and "Ballet Imperial" (1941, for American Ballet Caravan). I saw two castsd soloists, Saturday evening and Sunday matinee. The show moves on to Fort Lauderdale next weekend, to end the company's 19th season. ARDEN COURT. I haven't seen much Paul Taylor, but what I recollect was not as incredibly air-borne as this, and I was surprised by the variety of ballet steps (especially leaps) integrated into the dance. This struck me as very Balanchinian, though that may be due to the Miami company's always improving Balanchine qualities of speed, lightness, and the seamless connection of steps. William Boyce's bouncy baroque music added to this impression. Six men are the stars. The three women have little to do. The men are in constant motion, very high energy -- the women seem to be there to observe, interrupt, support, and engage in dancing of a distinctly lesser level of interest than that which is given to the men. I was really impressed by the dancing of soloists Didier Bramaz and Jeremy Cox, and corps member Marc Spielberger -- each of whom danced in all three of the ballets on Sunday. A small dancer, Alexandre Dufaur, was also a standout. All four had great energy, enthusiasm, extension grace and style -- completely inhabiting their roles. Among the company's principals, only Renato Penteado fit comfortably into the ensemble and style. Carlos Guerra, who often does The Prince, seemed a bit out of place and was possibly underrehearsed as to positioning, steps, etc. Isanusi Garcia-Rodrigues brought a broody, panther-like quality to this, as to all his roles, which was interesting if not completely apppriate. Garcia-Rodriques always commands the stage, which doesn't really work in a piece like this. Villella, in his pre-curtain talk, referred to the vast rose that forms the backdrop of the setting, and suggested that the dancers might be seen as skipping, jumping, completely kinetic insects in human form. The ending was very impressive: a long pathway of light emerged, crossing the stage diagonally. The men tore across the stage again and again in a variety of leaps (of which grand jete was actually the simplest). No concluding pose -- the curtain drops as the leaping continues. Incidentally, Villella mentioned that, in his opinion, ballet dancers can handle about 20% of Taylor's work, with the other 80% not really appropriate. LA SONNAMBULA. What a strange ballet this is -- kind of an insight in what the highly dramatic story ballets of the Diaghelev days might have provided. But look closely at the pas de deux between the Poet and the Sleepwalker, and at the corps work during the ballroom dances, and you'll see some of the choreographic originality we're familiar with in later Balanchine. Allegra Kent, for whom Balanchine revived the ballet in 1958, came to Miami to coach the dancers. Edward Villella talked about "suppressed and clandestine love". The Baron's masqued ball seems to be not much more than a place meet someone for sex. The formal dances must have been intended suggest a contrast between the conventionality of the dances and the hothouse seediness of the situation. The young and rather wholesome Miami dancers have a way to go before they can express THAT. For instance, the Coquette is an odd character. She has to pass quickly from posing as the Baron's mistress-hostess, to experiencing sudden passion (always pronounced pass-ee-OWN ni these situations) within a few seconds of the Poet's arrival at the ball, to intense but hardly coquettish dancing with the Poet, to jealous rage, to a sudden, spontaneous act of revenge. Not easy to do. Carllie Manning, one of the purest dancers in the company, reacted sharply at her first glimpse of the poet, making me think that she recognized him as a previous lover. That at least provided a reason for her strong reaction. Her Poet was Carlos Garcia, quite elegant, but not yet able to convey deep feeling, so the pas de deux tended to be reduced to a ballroom dance with plenty of swirling of skirts. The second Coquette, Patricia Delgado, was more passionate, but also had to dance with a Poet who knew the steps but not the poetry. Haiyan Wu's Sleepwalker was soft, fragile, and incredibly dazed. As she bourreed across the stage, her white gauze sleeves fluttered behind her like some exotic moth. I preferred Jennifer Kronenberg's more substantial and powerful presence -- as well has her facial expression which, although completely still, expressed passion and loss, rather than gently dazed. She's a dancer who can convey feeling and real life even in repose. The pas de deux between Poet and Sleepwalker included a series of moves, beautifuly done by both pairs, where the Poet gently pushed the boureeing Sleepwalker, manipulated her leg up to arabesque and down again, and experimented with what she would do if he lay his leg or arm on the floor in her path. (She pauses briefly, then steps over.) Great stuff. As for the divertiseements, Luis Serrano's and (especially) Mikhail Ilyin's Harlequins were actually funny. The "Oriental Pas de Deux" was fascinating -- with coiled, angular movements quite at odds with the usual sinuous. slitherings that usually are meant to convey the orient in ballet. Mary Carmen Catoya and Jeremy Cox captured this beautifully. As for the famous ending: both Poets died a well as you can when you haven't really been stabbed. Most impressive to me was the highly stylized, stunned grief of the dancers at the ball, joined at that point the dancers from the divertissement. The Sleepwalker receives the body of the poet and has only a few seconds to walk backwards, carrying him into the tower. The appearance of the Sleepwalker's candle in the tower windows -- and its progress behind a scrim towards the moon -- simply did not work. This was bloodless death with very little transfiguration. The Saturday night audience seemed puzzled and rather lukewarm in applause. The Sunday audience gave the dancers a big hand, but also seemed reserved about the ballet. BALLET IMPERIAL. Villalla said that he tries to select new additions for the company's rep "just in advance" of their ability to do it. Friends of his involved with the Balanchine Trust apparantly tried to dissuade him from Ballet Imperial, saying his dancers weren't ready for it. But he felt that it was a chance to tackle something "just beyond a grasp" and reach for a new "horizon of achievement." Villella obviously loves this piece, one of the "quintesssential classical ballets of all time" as well as one of the most difficult. These older, bravura Balachine neoclassical works seem to suit the company very well -- Symphony in C, Ballo della Regina. The dancers started working on it last August, andhe ballet certainly ended the program on a high. The two lead pairs were a study in contrasts, each very effective in their own way. Saturday night Mary Carmen Catoya, smallish and technically brilliant dancer, was paired with Renato Penteado, who has similar qualities. They were dynamos of of technique and spirit -- jumps, turns, especially demanding for the women. It was about the steps (great steps though they were), and there may have been a little less of the "imperial" in this couple than the choreography allows for. Tricia Albertson and Mikhail Ilyin looked the part of an imperial couple and could handle all the movements. Alberton has always struck me as a risk taker. As a result she is always growing, always interesting. There were a few off-balances and positions that had to be ever so slightly corrected after the landing -- but the effect was always dramatic, grand, yet human. I checked Bernard Taper's book on Balanchine, which discusses Balanchine's own setting of this ballet on Sadlers Wells in 1949. Margo Fonteyn was the lead in the first cast; Moira Shearer in the second. Citing Shearer's memoirs, Taper writes:: "[balanchine] didn't want the ballerina dancing straight classicism -- not straight up and down, as for "Swan Lake" or "Sleeping Beauty." He wanted a diagonal angling of the body that would look dangerous, as if the dancer were taking risks and must surely fall. Fonteyn never achieved that look." For me, Albertson did. The ending is exciting: 30 dancers in ranks, facing the audiences, soloists in the front, jumping, jumping, jumping in unison. I had to look up the names of some of the jumps: assembles, multiple entrechats, jete battus, you name it. Thrilling!
  23. Height seems less important IMO than leanness, good proportions, and a quality of ranginess -- the ability to reach out into space with arms and legs. Also depends on the part. Danili's reference to Roberto Bolle made me think of a video of Giselle (La Scala, Ferri) where Massimo Massu as Albrecht and Bolle in the peasant pas de deux (no peasant, he) made a stunning impression. A recent viewing of Sonnambula, with a rather bulky and short Poet, didn't work at all, though the dancer in question is excellent.
  24. Ditto. One of the great things about this forum is the chance to learn from people of wide and deep experience and knowledge. Thanks.
  25. Zerbinetta's characterization of the different kinds of noise made by pointe shoes made me think of the 1989 State Perm Ballet performance of Swan Lake with Nina Ananiashvili (Kultur video). This was definitely of the Thud Thud Clomp and Bam variety. Nothing like watching a group of willowy white swans and thinking of German troops goosestepping into Warsaw. Very bizarre -- and kind of sad. Is this really a Russian tradition, or a left-over of Soviet-era shoddy manufacture and poverty?
  • Create New...