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Everything posted by miliosr

  1. Some updates: Season 1 co-host Lisa Canning has not been asked back for Season 2. Her replacement is Samantha Harris from the E! channel. Rapper Romeo appears to be out of the competition and has been replaced by Master P. USA Today has a feature on the show in today's edition. George Hamilton has a number of fun quotes in the article. The two-hour premiere is tomorrow night on ABC. The results show is on Friday.
  2. FYI -- Rona Jaffe died this past weekend at the age of 74. The obituary was an interesting read. So strange to see Robert Gottleib quoted in his capacity as her former editor (instead of as the aspish dance critic for the New York Observer.) And I had to agree with the review (quoted in the obit) that "bonbons and chilled blush wine" are the best accompaniment to watching The Best of Everything. Yes, bonbons and chilled blush wine are truly the best of everything!
  3. ITA with everyone else that the article is a mess. It cried out for editing and lots of it. I wonder if the NY Times will cover this. They always manage to find space to discuss turmoil on ABT's board. (Sorry, just a bitter little dig there.) Did anyone else find it amusing that Anne Bass' farewell statement invoked Lincoln Kirstein's memory given that she was (reputedly) at such odds with him in the 80s?
  4. I think Walt Whitman would agree -- "Romance is truly the best of everything!"
  5. He was in Madison last weekend guesting with the Madison Ballet. I didn't go but he got good reviews in the newspapers.
  6. What a timely topic -- I'm reading Daniel Mark Epstein's book Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington! The book is in interesting in many ways, not least because it depicts just how grisly the Civil War really was. (Walt Whitman spent the better part of the war tending to wounded soldiers in DC.) I'm only about halfway through the book at this point but I'm looking forward to the chapter where Epstein discusses how Whitman came to write perhaps his best poem -- "When Lilacs Last In the Dooryard Bloom'd" -- in response to Lincoln's death. (And, yes, I do have other interests besides Dancing With the Stars!) :blush:
  7. ABC has posted the names of the contestants for the next edition of Dancing With the Stars: Tia Carrere - actress Giselle Fernandez - journalist George Hamilton - actor Stacy Keibler - World Wrestling Entertainment star Drew Lachey - former boy band member (and brother of Nick Lachey) Kenny Mayne - ESPN personality Tatum O'Neal - actress Jerry Rice - former NFL wide receiver Lisa Rinna - actress and talk show (Soap Talk) personality Romeo - rapper The show starts January 5th!
  8. This is slightly off-topic but I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison dance program's fall faculty concert last night at which the students performed an excerpt from Jose Limon's A Choreographic Offering. Longtime Limon company dancer and current artistic associate Nina Watt, who is a visiting professor this semester, did the staging. I thought the students performed the piece admirably. While they lacked the kinetic power and sheer breakneck speed of the Limon dancers, they managed to convey the inherent beauty of the dance without seeming overmatched. At the post-performance reception, I had hoped to congratulate Nina Watt on the staging. Unfortunately for me, she was busy chatting with various well wishers most of the time so I never got an opportunity to speak with her. Luckily, I spotted a familiar looking young man standing nearby so I went up to him and introduced myself. As I suspected, it was Raphael Boumaila from the Limon company. He was in town for the performance. We had a fun chat about various Limon-related things. He is just a super nice, polite guy. I think he was surprised that there was someone at the reception who knew a lot about Limon!
  9. bart -- I know what you mean about missing the "old Limon company". While I enjoyed the performances very much, my preference would have been to program a second Limon dance or a Doris Humphrey piece in place of one of the newer works. As the 60th anniversary of the Limon Dance Company approaches in 2006 and the 100th anniversary of Limon's birth looms on the horizon, I imagine there will be a big push to present the Limon and Humphrey classics in the next few years. At least I hope so! One thing I came away with from both performances and Carla Maxwell's chat is that the company members really love the works and enjoy performing them. You don't get the sense that they view the older works as dead weights to be performed out of obligation. I follow the Balanchine and Bournonville discussions on this board (too timid to post on those pages) and I'm always intrigued by the back-and-forth about whether some of the followers really believe in the "true faith" as laid down by the masters. You don't get that sense at all from the Limon followers. I will say that Limon got very, very lucky to have someone like Carla Maxwell on hand at the moment of succession (give or take a few years) because it all could have vanished without a trace.
  10. As promised, I'll try to set down the remarks Carla Maxwell made during her post-performance Q&A with the audience on November 2nd. (I didn't take notes so my apologies to Ms. Maxwell if I'm misquoting her.) The first (and best) question dealt with running a heritage company. Specifically, the person asking the question wanted to know Maxwell's thoughts about preserving a technique and canon of dances without becoming mired in the past. Maxwell replied that she sees her mission as twofold: preserving the core repertory of the past and commissioning new works. She said that it is important for the dancers to dance the Limon works regularly because they represent the technical and artistic foundation of the company and they provide the dancers with an opportunity to find artistic meaning in the present from works of the past. (I'm paraphrasing here.) Maxwell also said, though, that it's not enough for the company's dancers to dance the older works -- they need to work with contemporary choreographers and have the experience of having new work built on them. When commissioning new works, she said she looks for works that will sit comfortably with the heritage works. She mentioned that she looks for choreographers who have a strong sense of musicality and who share Limon's "philosophy of theater". When asked about the importance of music to the Limon company, Maxwell made a number of very interesting comments. She said that Limon considered dancing and music to be indispensible to one another and that music was more than mere accompaniment to a dance. She said that Limon was a very fine musician and that he believed a dancer could never be great unless he or she was "a great musician" (by which I think she meant highly musical.) She continued by saying that Limon "drilled into them" the importance of internalizing the music so that, if there was a problem with an orchestra or recording during a performance, the dancers would be able to continue regardless if there was music or not. Maxwell talked about how Limon died quite young (64) relative to his contemporaries and how, after his death, the dancers had to figure out all by themselves how to preserve the dances, technique and company as this had never happened before with a modern dance company. She said that it took "14 years" -- 1972 to 1986 -- before they really got a handle on things. (I believe it took 14 years for the Limon Foundation to secure the rights to his works -- they weren't mentioned in his will!) There were other questions of a more narrow nature. One individual inquired about the Day of the Dead and another inquired about the Jiri Kylian piece. Maxwell was happy to hear from the second questioner that Evening Songs looked like it could have been choreographed for the company. (It wasn't.) She said that the Lar Lubovitch piece Concerto Six Twenty-Two was another piece the company had added to its repertory recently and that they had had positive feedback to that addition as well. I think I've set down the most memorable comments from the chat. It was well worth sticking around for -- Carla Maxwell was very insightful and had a great deal to say that would be of use to both ballet and modern dance companies wrestling with how to preserve a heritage repertory without becoming a dusty old museum.
  11. carbro -- You raise some excellent points in your e-mail and Carla Maxwell addressed many of them during her post-performance Q&A session. When I have some free time, I will try to summarize her remarks at length because she had some thoughtful things to say about running a company once the founders have died. (In regard to the programming decision to include only one Limon work, Maxwell herself said that this was an out-of-the-ordinary programming decision. She said her usual practice is to include two Limon works on any bill and then fill in the rest of the program with new commissions and/or existing works from the repertory. In this case, I think the absence of a second Limon work was solely a function of having two new works on hand that she wanted to road test.)
  12. I'm back from my jaunt to DC to see the Limon Dance Company at the Kennedy Center. I attended both performances (on the 2nd and 3rd) and here are a few thoughts on what I saw (the programs were the same both nights): Evening Songs (Jiri Kylian) The program opened with this brief, lovely piece for seven dancers set to beautiful choral music by Dvorak. While Jiri Kylian created the dance for the Nederlands Dance Theater in 1987 and does not employ the Limon technique in the dance, the tone and style of the piece are so perfectly suited to the Limon dancers that it looks like it could have been created for them. (Someone mentioned this to company director Carla Maxwell during a post-performance Q&A session with the audience and she was thrilled to hear this.) Not much more to say other than this was a nice way to start off the evening. The Ubiquitous Elephant (Jonathan Riedel) Company member Jonathan Reidel's The Ubiquitous Elephant had its premiere on the 2nd. To say that this piece represents a real departure for the Limon company is putting it mildly! The piece is based on a work by Edward Gorey, where a "creature" (according to Maxwell in the post-performance chat) arrives at a family's doorstep and stays for seventeen years. In the Riedel version, the "creature" is now a "guest" (well-played by Francisco Ruvalcaba) who arrives at the doorstep and upsets the delicate routines of a five-member family. I say this piece is a real departure for the company because there is almost no dancing to it but plenty of broad comedy and Three Stooges-style pratfalls. For a company not known for having a sense of humor, who knew there were so many budding comedians/comediennes in the ranks? After all was said and done, I was neutral about this piece. The absence of dancing and the broad comedy just weren't my thing. My companion, however, loved it and it was his favorite piece of the four presented. My own feeling is that this was the right dance for the wrong company -- it seemed out of place with the rest of the repertory. The company I could see doing this piece is the Mark Morris troupe -- it would be perfect for their galumphing style. Suite from A Choreographic Offering (Jose Limon, after Doris Humphrey) This, to me, was the absolute highlight of both evenings. In her Friday Washington Post review of the Wednesday night performance, Sarah Kaufman thought the dancers looked "tired" and the choreography looked "a bit dated." I would disagree -- vehemently!!! Not only did the dancers look energized and dynamic but I went away both nights thinking that this piece could have been choreographed yesterday. It is that contemporary looking. I was in awe of the magnificent spirals and suspensions and how the dance continually dissolved and reconstituted itself in a variety of different patterns. It was as if I was watching a human kaleidoscope. I have very little negative to say about this piece other than there were a few moments where the dancers were fighting to maintain unsupported balances. Also, the dance looked a little cramped on the smaller stage of the Terrace Theater. This dance cries out to be performed on an opera house stage. Still, these are minor quibbles. This dance was tremendous. (Intermission) Recordare (Remember) (Lar Lubovitch) The final dance of the evening was another new commission (from Lar Luvovitch.) The dance takes as its theme the Day of the Dead, a Mexican celebration in which the living welcome home the souls of the departed. In some respects, this was another departure for the company as many of the various tales, in which the living and the dead (in skeleton masks) co-mingle, had strong comedic aspects to them. Unlike the Riedel piece, though, this work has long stretches of dancing which utilize Limon technique. I had mixed feelings about this dance. I liked the homage to Limon's native Mexico and the production -- set, props, costumes -- were marvelous. Again, the Limon dancers (and particularly Roel Seeber) displayed a real flair for physical comedy and Francisco Ruvalcaba was obviously having a ball as a Death-like figure in a skeleton costume. Where the dance lost me was in what the individual tales were meant to add up to (if they were meant to add up to anything at all.) All of the sketches were diverting and the time (roughly thirty minutes) flew by. I just didn't know what I was supposed to be taking from it. My companion, who has spent time in Mexico, liked it but he too was perplexed by what it all meant. All told, though, I had a splendid time both nights. I came away from my trip mildly concerned that the company may be trying to move in too many different directions at once. Even big companies with long repertory seasons (like City Ballet) have trouble finding the right balance between old works and new ones. For a smaller company like the Limon company, it's that much harder to try so many different things at once without sacrificing something (i.e. Doris Humphrey -- the only Humphrey on the bill was Limon's paraphrased tribute to her.) Still, my overall impression of the company was highly favorable. They are a living rebuke to those who (like Terry Teachout) maintain that modern dancers can only do one thing and that the underlying technique is a dead technique once the founder passes away. On the contrary, the Limon troupe showed that the dancers can perform pieces that utilize other techniques (as in the Kylian dance) and that the Limon technique is vibrant enough that other choreographers (like Lubovitch) can employ it to useful effect. I'll be seeing them again in February when they are performing at Duke so I'll have another report then. Maybe seeing Recordare again will help me to better understand what it is I saw the first two times!
  13. The second season of Dancing with the Stars will premiere on January 5th on ABC. The new season will be eight weeks in duration (compared to the six week run in Season 1.) The miliosr report will return (in all its sequined, spangly glory) then!
  14. I checked the credits (in very small print!) and the dancers are: Kenneth Easter, Alexandre Hammoudi, Danny Tidwell, Travis Wall and Cindy Welik. It should tell you something about the photography that I never would have guessed Hammoudi was one of the featured dancers. And he's someone I've been keeping any eye on as an up-and-comer!
  15. The latest issue of Flaunt magazine (arty fashion magazine) contains a twelve page photo shoot with dancers from ABT. Don't get too excited, though. The photos are so self-consciously "arty" that I couldn't recognize most of the dancers (with the exception of now ex-ABT dancer Danny Tidwell.) And the clothes aren't particularly glamorous, either -- the dancers are hawking jeans, basically. Still, if you're an ABT completist, you might want to check this one out.
  16. My latest Limon E-News bulletin arrived this week and, according to the company, they have commissioned two new works for the Fall season. Lar Lubovich has choreographed Recordare which will feature the full company and draws inspiration from Limon's native Mexico and the Day of the Dead. Recordare will premiere in Boston on October 29. Company member Jonathan Riedel choreographed the second new work, Unfortunate Etiquette. The bulletin states that this work is inspired by the writings and illustrations of Edward Gorey. Unfortunate Etiquette will premiere in Washington on November 2.
  17. I purchased the filmed version of Giselle w/ Carla Fracci and Erik Bruhn recently and, while I found it quite marvelous as a whole, I found some of the directorial decisions odd to the point of eccentricity (and, in the case of the peasant pas de deux, well beyond it.) If you've seen the DVD you'll know what I mean -- cutaways during dance sequences to close-ups of nondancing characters eating fruit or cheese, dancers filmed through (closed!) windows of cottages, dancers filmed in the background while two nondancing characters are chatting in the foreground, etc. These bizarre filmmaking decisions are especially noticeable in the peasant pas de deux. Ted Kivitt's first solo is marred by excessive cutaways and strange compositional choices. It's a shame, too, because what you can see of his dancing is quite wonderful. Kivitt should have sued the director for malpractice! If you're an ABT fan, I would heartily recommend this DVD as it really stands on its own as a film and it's chock full of great dancers from one of ABT's golden ages. Just be prepared for some very disorienting directorial choices!
  18. FYI -- Kelly Monaco and John O'Hurley will be returning for a "dance-off" rematch on September 20, with a results show planned for two days later. Only the public vote will count this time. The miliosr report will be sitting this one out as (a) I don't like "do-overs" in Dancing With the Stars any more than I like them in figure skating, and (b) I don't want to lend any encouragement to ABC's obvious desire to overair the show. See you when Season 2 returns!
  19. I hope they do one (or more) pieces by Doris Humphrey. I would like to see for myself what all the fuss was about!
  20. Loved her as Miss Ellie! Many of her Dallas castmates were quoted in today's USA Today and, apparently, she became something of a recluse after Dallas ended. The paper quotes Victoria Principal (Pamela Barnes Ewing) as saying that she tried to see Bel Geddes several times in the intervening years but that she (Bel Geddes) preferred to remain reclusive. It's been a bad year for Dallas fans -- didn't Howard Keel (who played Miss Ellie's second husband, Clayton Farlow) die this year as well?
  21. FYI -- there is a new set of short books out dealing with American choreographers. I picked up the Limon book and the back cover states that the other choreographers in the series are Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Agnes DeMille, Bob Fosse, Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp. While the books appear to be geared toward a younger reader (if the Limon book is any indication), I thought the Limon book made for a decent primer on Humphrey-Limon, regardless of age. And there was a great photo on p. 42 of Limon, Lucia Chase, Alicia Markova and Jerome Robbins receiving their Dance Magazine awards in 1958. It made me think that the old time religion ain't what it used to be . . .
  22. Are any of our DC posters planning to attend the Limon Dance Company's performances at the Kennedy Center in November? I bought my tickets for the 2nd and 3rd so I will be posting reviews regardless.
  23. Oh dirac, romance is still the best of everything! I would encourage anyone who's interested in this film to read the Vanity Fair article which dirac references as it contains many interesting facts. For instance, the novel depicted five "girls": Caroline (Hope Lange), Gregg (Suzy Parker), April (Diane Baker), Barbara (Martha Hyer) and Mary Agnes (Sue Carson). Apparently, test audiences didn't like the stories involving Barbara and Mary Agnes so the director cut many of their scenes. In the case of Barbara, this causes a strange imbalance in the movie. While the movie sets up her romantic travails, she disappears from the movie about two-thirds of the way through and there is no resolution to her problem. (She is in love with a married man.) A scene was filmed at the Museum of Modern Art resolving everything but that scene was cut. The article also has much to say about Joan Crawford's involvement in the film. Her supporting role as Amanda Farrow was something of a comedown for her as it was her first supporting role. She took the part because her then-husband -- the president of Pepsi-Cola -- had just died and she was experiencing a cash flow problem. The article has many interesting anecdotes about her (i.e. how she demanded that the set be kept at freezing temperatures.) Suzy Parker's Gregg does come unglued over the course of the movie and she does go rummaging through Louis Jourdan's garbage before her untimely demise (death by stiletto caught in a fire escape!) I actually think Parker is good in the part but I found it implausible that someone who looks like Parker does in the movie would be slaving away in the typing pool at Fabian Publishing or would be unable to find another man once Louis Jourdan gives her the heavo-ho.
  24. Rona Jaffe makes some interesting insights about the making of the film on the commentary track. Having not read the book on which the film is based, it was helpful to hear her point out instances where the book and the film diverged. In particular, Jaffe points out that the ending in the film (with Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd) is different from what appears in the book. (Truth be told, though, I preferred the film ending to Jaffe's description of what happens in the book.)
  25. Has anyone ever seen the 1959 film The Best of Everything? I bought the recently released DVD after hearing good things about it and I have to say I was quite taken with it. [For those who haven't seen it, The Best of Everything depicts the lives and loves of "three girls in the city," played by Hope Lange, Suzy Parker and Diane Baker. The trio all work at a publishing company in New York City and their tyrannical boss is played by none other than Joan Crawford.] While the film is melodramatic in parts (i.e the scene with Diane Baker in her hospital bed), it is also very engaging in terms of the various problems the three leads must confront: the 50s choice of having to choose between career and marriage, confronting sexual harassment (which doesn't even have a name yet in the movie) at work, etc. Some of the content may seem dated or purely of historical interest but certain themes (like the notion that casual "hook-ups" between men and women prove destructive for both) are just as relevant today (if not more so.) Even if you're not interested in the movie's themes, any fan of that era will love the clothes, hair, apartments, etc. Pay special attention to how Hope Lange dresses to go to the "casual" company picnic. By today's standards (or lack of such), she looks like she's going to a semi-formal event! The DVD comes with a very informative commentary with Rona Jaffe (who wrote the book on which the film is based) and a film historian. Highly recommended!
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