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Everything posted by Globetrotter

  1. Last week during my daily run, I got to thinking about Football and Ballet - having season tickets to both. Football is most successful when played as a team game - when players put the team above their personal acclaim. The New England Patriots are thought to be the epitome of team and are competitive every year despite losing almost all their 'star' players. There are many teams with more talent, yet the Patriots seem to get it done. Ballet seems to tolerate teamwork in the corps, but is more interested in cultivating stars. That is, I doubt most dancers work hard not to stand out in the corps. And I may go see a company perform, but am always interested in exactly who is performing. I've traveled a few hours just to see a specific dancer. So, as it is with sports, are some ballet companies more a "team" while others are more "stars? How do you tell? And what is the value of teamwork in ballet?
  2. So much for Stern Grove reviews. I just saw this month's Pointe Magazine with articles on Helgi, The Christensen Brothers and SF Ballet's "Six to Watch." Seems that there's a lot going on in San Francisco.
  3. I wan't able to make this year's stern grove performance and haven't seen and postings about it. Did anyone see it?
  4. Thanks jps for the Robert Gottlieb quote. I've found SFB exactly that way: measured, calculating, precise and polite. I grew up in Saratoga watching NYCB and even as an adolescent found their dancing expansive and demanding to watch. Mr B (as paraphrased by a friend in the company) compared Russians to other dancers in the way they sneeze: "Russians sneeze big and loud, letting it all out. Others sneeze small and polite. We want to dance like Russians sneeze." I always liked that image of dancing like a healthy, big sneeze: organic, cleansing, unembarassed. SFB, by way of Mr. T's coaching, seems to opt for the more restrained and measured performance: polite a'choos of restrained dancing. If I see Yuan Yuan or Nutnaree on their backs slowly unfolding their legs in one more blue-lighted adagio.... Maybe it's just me, but I really like dancing like skiing: always a little bit out of control. Give me a dancer on two feet taking risks with the music, conductor and audience in tow!
  5. Here is the latest from the SFBallet wsebsite: Program 4 Opening Night Tuesday, March 07, 2006 8 pm DYBBUK Conductor: Martin West Baritone: Tim Kroll Bass: Matthew Trevino Sarah Van Patten, Gonzalo Garcia INTERMISSION AFTERNOON OF A FAUN Conductor: Martin West Yuan Yuan Tan*, Ruben Martin* -Pause- OTHER DANCES Piano: Michael McGraw Tina LeBlanc*, Joan Boada* INTERMISSION GLASS PIECES Conductor: Martin West 1st Movement: Ruben Martin*, Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun*, Moises Martin*, Elana Altman*, Hansuke Yamamoto*, Rachel Viselli 2nd Movement: Muriel Maffre, Pierre-François Vilanoba 3rd Movement: Ensemble Wednesday, March 08, 2006 7:30 pm DYBBUK Conductor: Martin West Baritone: Tim Kroll Bass: Matthew Trevino Vanessa Zahorian, Pascal Molat INTERMISSION AFTERNOON OF A FAUN Conductor: Martin West Sarah Van Patten*, Moises Martin* -Pause- OTHER DANCES Piano: Michael McGraw Lorena Feijoo*, Gonzalo Garcia* INTERMISSION GLASS PIECES Conductor: Martin West 1st Movement: Rory Hohenstein*, Brooke Taylor Moore, Moises Martin, Elana Altman, Hansuke Yamamoto, Rachel Viselli 2nd Movement: Katita Waldo, Ruben Martin* 3rd Movement: Ensemble
  6. Well, things haven't turned out as I'd hoped. I haven't been to New York yet, so have missed all those performances. I have seen SFBs Program 2 and 3. My favorites were Apollo and Rodeo - different ends of the dance spectrum to be sure. But both seemed authentic, danced as they were meant to be danced, so that's why I liked them. In a former life I was a professional musician, so was distracted by the music in Magrittomania. I couldn't get my mind off of what the Beethoven should have sounded like, so couldn't pay attention to the ballet. Spring rounds was very well-crafted and danced. It felt like a dance utility - turn it on and one is entertained. Turn it off and it goes away. And like an electric light, when it was turned off, not much remained to remember or discuss. But I was throughally entertained when the dance was in process. Each of Quaternary's sections was very different. I enjoyed how exposed the music and dancing were: A Bach suite for solo cello, a solo electric guitar. The dancers with the guitar (a couple and corps) had many tutti parts (Don't know the dance term) where they initate movement together over music that must have been a nightmare to count. Yet they pulled it off. Blue Rose reminded me of Helgi's ballet to German torch songs (forgot the title). However, rather than tell a story (at least any story I could discern) each movement seemed to stand alone. I need to see this one again, vacause it felt like there was more there than I understood initially. I'm still hoping to get to New York. We'll see.
  7. Is it just me, or are ABT and NYCB seasons including a lot of what SF Ballet is doing this year? Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun, Rodeo, Swan Lake. There might be other ballets but I haven't checked that closely. I was in New York this past weekend and picked up the schedules, noticing that I'd seen a lot of the same programs on the SFBallet website. Given that I travel a lot to New York and San Francisco, I hope I can see the programs performed by different companies - a first for me!
  8. Dirac, You might have no option but to see one performance only. I've called for tickets and was told the entire week was sold out. Oh well. That's what I get for waiting. I'd be interested in hearing reviews from those luckier than me.
  9. I did get to see programs 6 & 7 and enjoyed both very much. I guess I was one of the people cheering Dybbuk and not because it was over. My sense of it was that it wasn't meant to be understood as a story ballet. It was as abstract as a Jasper Johns painting and I don't remember the last time I tried to figure out what one of those 'meant.' I enjoyed it as pure perception and experience. I was truly amazed at the entire program #6. A ballet company that has Symphonic Variations, Dybbuk and Lambarena on the same program and all done well is remarkable. I saw Saturday evening's performance and was amazed to see Nicholas Blanc and Tina LeBlanc at their clean, classical best in Symphonic and then an hour later watch them tear it up in Lambarena. I'd seen the pieces of program 7 separately over the years, so enjoyed the chance to see them together. The more I see Prism the more I like. I think this ballet will stand the test of time. Odd to say, but it has a Concerto Barocco feel about it - the three movements with the intimate second movement adagio and the powerful third. All in all, another great two evenings at the ballet!
  10. I'm travelling again and will land in San Francisco next weekend. I see the new programs 6 & 7 have opened but don't see any reviews here. What's the buzz from the locals on these programs? I'm especially interested in Dybbuk. Being a Bernstein fan, I've never heard the music but know a little of the rocky relationship between Bernstein & Robbins as it was being created. Is this the original Helgi danced or one of the later dance suites Robbins created? Thanks for your views.
  11. Effy, I was lucky enought to see the RDB many times when I had a client in Copenhagen a few years ago during the Aage years. Although there seemed to be a lot of conflict in the company at that time, I thought the dancing was teriffic. From Helgi's Sleeping Beauty to Martins' Hallajula Junction to some modern pieces (I can't remember the names) the company seemed to have the dancers to do it all. Do you feel that that's still the case, or has the company focused on more traditional repetoire?
  12. I saw Nutnaree this summer when the SF Ballet was in London and she looked great: tremendous facility (legs and feet, as they say). I can't wait to see what she does this year. Another SF ballet soloist was hired quite young - Sarah Van Patten. She was picked by John Neumier (sp?) to dance the lead in his Romeo & Juliet at the Royal Danish when she was 16. Helgi was in Copenhagen setting his Sleeping Beauty on the company and saw her perform. He hired her a year later.
  13. Here's a few All Americans from other than NYCB - Royal Danish has Amy Watson, although she is becoming more and more Danish as the years go by. SFB has Brett Bauer, a young, exhuberant corps member who really does look like the boy next door! Sarah Van Patten is all american, but doesn't seem to dance that way. Sarah Lamb at Boston Ballet has many of those qualities but doesn't seem comfortable dancing that way. She's off to The Royal and a more purely classical technique it seems. It seems I've picked out young, pretty dancers as examples of All-americans. Hmmmm.
  14. I was at opening night of Sylvia and thought it was great. Maybe it was because I was expecting more typical Mark Morris (the sense of humor and wry wit) and got a straightforward, almost classical ballet instead. What I liked the most was the general absence of mime - Morris let the dancers dance. Yuan Yuan Tan was Sylvia on Friday and she danced with more animation than I've seen before. She's always so stoic on stage (Chi Lin is perfect for her), but she actually smiled and looked like she was having fun. Gonzalo Garcia was all youthful exuberance as the shepard Amnita. His dancing flowed and although quite bravura in places (3rd act especially) seemed natural and easy. Jamie Garcia (Eros), Yuri Possokhov (Orion) and Muriel Maffre (Diana) all performed expertly. I was especially surprised at Garcia, givne that he's a corps members in a critical role and had no difficulty at all holding his own. Not corps for long, I'd guess. The sets and costumes were also great. I don't think it is possible to have three more different sets on stage in one evening: Pastoral to Subterranian to Olympic, but it worked. The music was well-played but got raggedy here and there. A few funny entrances in the pit led to a few funny steps on the stage, but all in all the orchestra performed well. I liked that SF ballet sprung for the full orchestaration (extra Trombone, sax, etc.). It was well worth it.
  15. I saw the opening of program five and was very impressed. I've seen Serenade and Apollo many times and I have to say the work done by Sandra Jennings and Jacques D'amboise in setting these was terriffic! They were very clean, unadorned versions where the choreography was the star. The dancing was very well done, too. Lorena Fiejoo was a bit too strong as Waltz girl - she can't help it, she just is too much for that role. But Sarah Van Patten was magical as the dark angel - flowing and moving but not posturing or acting. This is the first time I've seen Apollo with the original beginning. I liked it, though. Yuan Tuan Tan and Gonzalo Garcia did a fine job as Terpsichore and Apollo. Thanks to Van Patten - I finally understood what Calliope was doing. I'd always found those movements coarse and unconnected, but it all made sense with her doing it. Sorry to say I was still a bit jet lagged so I faded for The Four T's (last on program). I'd never seen it before, so I went back on Sunday to see it fresh. Again - terriffic staging and great dancing! I'm a big fan of Hindemith, so I really enjoyed myself. Also, I was impressed by the orchestra. They sounded great, especially given the demands and range required of these three pieces (Hindemith, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky!). I think I'm next in San Francisco in a month or so, and am looking foward to seeing Mark Morris' Sylvia. I know the music, but don't know anything about this ballet. Is it new?
  16. Sorry to hear about SPAC and the NYCB. I grew up in Saratoga and moved to Boston. Now the Wang center in Boston kicks out Boston Ballet (which was the only major source of revenue during the Wang's early years) and SPAC kicks out NYCB - one of the two arts organizations (Philadelphia Orchestra being the other) that SPAC was build for! Do our organizations have such short memories? I remember when Saratoga was in decline in the 1960s and 70s. The track was a mess. Downtown was pretty seedy. Many of the mansions were rooming houses or boarded up. Skidmore was in its old campus. The bright spot was SPAC (along with Chicken Hatties and Cafe Lena's - but that's another story). And 15 years ago the theater district of Boston was more than a joke - it was a dangerous place to be caught after sundown. The only beacon of refuge was the Wang and its major tenent, Boston Ballet. For over a month every winter, thousands of families made the trip to the Wang, helping build the need for the restaraunts and services now in the area, and paying for the Wang's refurbishment. Turning the Wang or SPAC into vanilla performance houses chasing after a profit denies the vision of An Wang and the original board of SPAC. The question isn't "What can we do to make money?", it's "What should we do to enrich our community?"
  17. Traveling again (hence my nom de plume) I was lucky enough to find myself in San Francisco yesterday in time for the 2pm performance: Paquita, 7 for 8 and Carnival of the Animals. The dancers looked great (second casts mostly), although the corps was still a bit ragged in Paquita. The principles and soloists all did well (forgot who I saw, sorry). Helgi's new ballet requires more than 1 viewing. I found it very structured and classical - few 'emotional moves' (whatever that means), but punctuated with surprising elements here and there. What I found technically most impressive was the way men glided the women around the floor in very smooth, effortless circles. And I mean glided. I've seen this when men drag women across the floor and they always bounce to the step of the man, ruining the illusion. Somehow, these dancers avoided that, making the step seem otherworldly. How do they do that? Finishing out the program was Carnival of the animals. I think this piece has the potential of being the 'Peter and the wolf" of the ballet. The teh choreography is crafted well enough and steps are complex enough to satisfy any adult. Yet the story and characters are simple and entertaining enough to satisfy any child. I expect we'll see this Ballet on many programs of many Ballet companies in the future. All in all, another excellent afternoon at the ballet.
  18. I find Concerto Barocco (especially the second movement) unbelievable. It's as though Bach & Balanchine colaborated at the outset.
  19. I saw a surprising performance on Monday in, of all places, Weston Mass. Happened upon a Balanchine tribute performance danced by Peter Boal, Miranda Weese (NYCB), Sarah Van Patten, Chidoze Nzerem (SFBallet) and members of MassYouth Ballet & Boston Ballet. Apollo, Tchai Pas, Serenade, Waltz of the hours: all done very well. Who knew?
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