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Everything posted by miliosr

  1. FYI - USA Today has a feature on John O'Hurley in today's edition. (The New York Times also has a story about the show in the Arts section.) In other news, Dancing With the Stars finished first in last week's ratings with 15.7 million viewers. (The show finished second in the key 18-49 demographic.) A new episode airs tonight on ABC!
  2. Hardly anyone has mentioned this but seeing that grand "old" man of the ballet stage, Frederic Franklin, trodding the boards on last night's broadcast brought a smile to my face. And I'm probably deranged for saying this but I find The Swamp Thing oddly compelling!
  3. My predictive powers fail again but I'm not unhappy about that as Evander was an extremely deserving boot. Based on last night's performances, here are my rankings: 1 Rachel and Jonathan I'm in complete agreement with the judges regarding this pair. Rachel has beautiful posture and extensions and is best able to maintain a stable core. I thought she looked like Cyd Charisse in Singing In the Rain and then Bruno (the judge) said she reminded him of Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller. So great minds think alike. (small gap) 2 John and Charlotte Another strong performance by these two -- just not as strong as prior weeks. I know his facial mannerisms are controversial but I like his melodramatic mugging for the camera. (gap) 3 Joey and Ashly Liked how they performed the dance to the hilt but his posture issues (scrunched shoulders and a tendency to lean forward) undermined the effect. Nice period costume (WWII GI uniform) for Joey but Ashly's lack of a period costume also undercut the effect. 4 Kelly and Alec I like her "never say die" attitude and willingness to persevere in the face of criticism but she is clearly fourth best at this point. Last night's performance was this team's best yet BUT (to quote Kelly herself) "that's not saying much." Note to Alec: You should not choreograph side-by-side passages for the two of you. They only serve to highlight Kelly's weaknesses and not her strengths. (yawning chasm) 5 Evander and Edyta An "A" for effort but it was his time to go. He lacked speed and precision in comparison to the other competitors and he was clearly the weakest celebrity amateur. A fun show although the two hosts need to go and the music selections were an up-and-down affair!
  4. ABC will be reairing last week's episode prior to the live broadcast tonight. For those of you who may not have seen the program but are curious about it, the competition started with six pairs comprised of a celebrity amateur and a professional ballroom dancer (one team was eliminated last week.) Here are the celebrity amateurs in the competition: boxer Evander Holyfield model Rachel Hunter Joe McIntyre (a.k.a. Joey from New Kids on the Block) Kelly Monaco (a.k.a. Sam from General Hospital) John O' Hurley (a.k.a. J. Peterman from Seinfeld) reality TV show fixture Trista Sutter (eliminated last week) Based on last week's dancing, here are my elimination picks for this week: Should Go: Evander or Kelly Will Go: Rachel (The best of the female competitors -- she had ballet training when she was younger -- but I don't think the fan base is there to carry her further in the competition.)
  5. This topic may be too low-brow for this board but is anyone watching Dancing With the Stars on ABC? I think it's quite entertaining, actually. At this point in the competition, I would say the race to first place is between J. Peterman (from Seinfeld) and Joey from New Kids On the Block. (Sam from General Hospital has an outside chance due to all the rabid soap opera fans out there.)
  6. Another source of inspiration would be Carla Maxwell and the tremendous job she and her associates have done with the Limon Dance Company. In addition to preserving and reconstructing the core repertories of Jose Limon and Doris Humphrey, she's functioned as a modern dance conservator by preserving the works of choreographers like Donald McKayle and Daniel Nagrin while adding other dances, new and old, to the repertory. The company is also on a much sounder financial and organizational footing now than it ever was under Limon. Probably the only missing piece to the puzzle is that the LDC hasn't found the kind of Medici-like patron that the Ailey Company has found in Joan Weill. Perhaps the reason the Limon and Ailey companies have achieved "survival after death" (33 years in the case of the former and 16 years (?) in the case of the latter) is that they were true repertory companies (or at least the embryos of ones) while the founders were alive. Since they were never dependent on one choreographers work to feed the company, they had an easier time branching out once the founders were gone. Of course, this begs the question of where the Graham company goes from here if the company is so rooted in the Graham technique, style and all-around reverence of Martha that the company can't branch out. Food for thought . . .
  7. I saw the Paloma Herrera/Marcelo Gomes performance of Giselle on Saturday, May 23. A decent-sized crowd turned out for the matinee show although the house didn't look quite as full as it did last year for the matinee performance of Swan Lake. Still, I would say that 85-90% of the seats on the main floor were taken. Act 1 was - to quote an old saying - a triumph of perspiration over inspiration. The cast got there in the end but I felt like the first act lumbered along more than it should have. Herrera seemd less than convincing to me at times and the chemistry between she and Gomes was adequate but not spectacular. Both dancers danced well (Gomes especially) but they never drew me into their onstage fantasy world. For me, Anna Liceica and Danny Tidwell (in the peasant pas de deux) were the highlight of Act 1. Both dancers danced cleanly and with great expressiveness. Tidwell was particularly effective and proved once again that the bench of talented guys at ABT is as deep as or deeper than those at any other company in the world. Things picked up considerably in Act 2. I'm not sure what happened but all concerned stepped it up in the second act. Herrera and Gomes danced beautifully together and there was much more chemistry in evidence than had been the case in the first act. Herrera seemed more at ease here and her dancing benefited as a result. Gomes was a wonder to behold - tall, handsome and beautifully proportioned. Special mention must go to Michele Wiles as Myrta. I found her somewhat cold last year when I saw her in Swan Lake but I thought this quality worked greatly to her advantage in Giselle. She also danced the part with real ballerina authority - which was a pleasure to see. All in all, I thought it was a very workmanlike (not meant as an insult) production of Giselle. Not the most magical performance of this work you'll ever see in your lifetime but enjoyable enough on its own merits, particularly Act 2.
  8. I attended the Mark Morris Dance Group's performance at Overture Hall in Madison, WI on March 23rd. The program was as follows: My Party (1984) All Fours (2003) Intermission Silhouettes (1999) V (2001) "My Party" kicked things off. I know this work is supposed to be FUN! but I found it grating beyond belief. There was something about the bright smiles plastered on the dancers' faces that rubbed me the wrong way. It was as if they were all saying, "Aren't we being clever?" And my response in my head was, "Not nearly as clever as you think you're being." I also thought the dancing was ragged at times. Having not seen this work before, I'm not sure if an element of raggedness is part of the dance or not. But to me, the dancing looked frenetic -- and not by design. The audience gave this a mild round of applause but no more. "All Fours" reminded me a lot of the Old Masters of the High Modern Dance -- Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Jose Limon. The use of two couples and a chorus contributed to this impression as did the use of falls and floorwork. Seeing Bradon McDonald, a former Limon dancer, handle the various lunges so expertly really made the connection for me. I had mixed feelings about this work as a whole. I thought the second section -- a duet of sorts between McDonald and Craig Biesecker -- was beautiful and, for me, was the highlight of the evening. Overall, though, I didn't think the different sections of the dance cohered very well. I never got a good sense of how the sections were connecting with one another. I'm not sure if this was a performance problem or a problem with the work itself. Another mild round of applause led to the intermission. The mood at the intermission was kind of blah. Being my eavesdropping self, I heard several people in the lobby say that they had seen these works performed better elsewhere. "Silhouettes" got the audience into it a little more. The dancing by Joe Bowie and David Leventhal was relaxed and assured and the dance itself carried on to a reasonably chipper end. Not a major work by any stretch of the imagination but it got a much louder response from the audience than the prior two works had. The evening closed with "V". Let me start out by saying that I hated (and I mean HATED) the colors of the costumes. Graduation day blue and key lime pie green - YUCK! The dance itself was dense but interesting. This was the first large group work of the evening where I thought the dancers were firing on all cylinders. There was an unbound quality to the dancing that was capitivating. I thought the choreography was up-and-down. A sequence where the dancers travelled on all fours nearly put me to sleep. But a subsequent section with the male dancers was as electric as anything I have ever seen. I think I would need to see this dance again to come to a more decisive conclusion about its merits. There was so much going on that I feel like I only absorbed part of it. The audience loved it, though -- it got the biggest hand of any of the works. The evening concluded with the man himself -- Mark Morris -- taking a bow. Interestingly, the audience only got into applauding vigorously when he bounded on stage. Half the audience gave him a standing ovation (and the other half started heading for the exits.) I have to say that, while I appreciated the choreography, admired the dancers and enjoyed the live musical accompaniment, I wasn't blown away by what I saw. Maybe it was an off night but I don't know that I would rush right back to see the company again. Sorry Morris fans!
  9. The credits do list who did the filming and (in some cases) when the dances were filmed. For instance, the documentary features beautifully filmed footage of staged-for-the-camera performances of "The Moor's Pavane" and "Missa Brevis" from (I think) 1965. "The Moor's Pavane" is especially interesting because it reunites the "classic" cast (Limon, Hoving, Koner, Jones) ten years after they were filmed in the performance of the same work that appears on the Three Modern Dance Classics DVD. The credits state that this was a public broadcasting production of some sort. I would have to go back and reread the credits but I think every attempt was made to notate the source material. Postscript: I checked the credits and the footage of "The Moor's Pavane" and "Missa Brevis" is from Festival of the Arts: The Dance Theatre of Jose Limon (1965). Jack Dubin directed and Thirteen/WNET provided the footage.
  10. I had the opportunity to purchase the Jose Limon documentary Limon: A Life Beyond Words on DVD recently and I would heartily recommend it. The DVD was pricey ($55) but worth it for the many filmed performance excerpts it contains. If you are a Limon fan, you will enjoy the footage from the different periods of the Limon Dance Company. The documentary itself moves along at a brisk pace (about 70 minutes) and includes interviews with just about everyone you would want to hear from (i.e. Betty Jones, Pauline Koner, Lucas Hoving, etc.) Nothing too much new is said although there are brief but interesting discussions of Limon's departure from the Doris Humphrey/Charles Weidman company in the early-'40s and his belief that he had nothing in common with the postmodern dance of the early-60s. I ordered my copy through a link I was sent in an e-mail from the Limon company. I am assuming you can order directly from the company or the Limon Institute but I am not positive about that.
  11. It looks like my local public television station won't be broadcasting the Limon special. For anyone in the Florida area, the Limon company will be making the following appearances in January: Jan. 14-15 - Art and Culture Center, Hollywood, FL Jan. 18-19 - Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center, Key West, FL Jan. 21-22 - Duncan Theater, Lake Worth, FL Jan. 23 - King Center for the Performing Arts, Melbourne, FL Jan. 25 - Branscomb Auditorium, Lakeland, FL And I'm STILL puzzled by the absence of any Humphrey pieces during the Joyce season!
  12. Here are the two programs from the Limon Dance Company's upcoming season (September 21-October 3) at The Joyce: Program A: The Unsung (Limon) Extreme Beauty (Susanne Linke) (world premiere) Concerto Six Twenty-Two (Lar Lubovitch) (company premiere) Program B: Evening Song (Jiri Kylian) Chaconne (Limon) Angelitos Negros (Donald McKayle) (company premiere) Phantasy Quintet (Adam Hougland) Psalm (Limon) While I admire how they've morphed into a true modern dance repertory company, I guess I'm puzzled at the absence of anything by Doris Humphrey. (And it looks like they're giving "The Moor's Pavane" a rest as well.)
  13. Per sandik's point, Deborah Jowitt wrote about the "survival after death" experience in the New York Times in 1998. Here's the relevant quote as it pertains to the Limon Dance Company: These companies might well take heart from the example of the Jose Limon Dance Company: hanging in there can pay off. Twenty-six years after the death of its founder, the company is healthier than it was during the latter part of his life, in good part because of smart decisions by Ms. Maxwell, a strong staff that includes Mark Jones, executive director; Norton Owen, the institute director, and Donald McKayle, artistic mentor and resident choreographer, plus a collegial atmosphere. After paying off a deficit that Mr. Jones refers to as "horrific," the company has operated in the black for five years. Recently, prestigious grants have come its way. Presenters who believed (correctly) that post-modernism had passed Limon by and (incorrectly) that the repertory must be old-fashioned are coming around. The company has bookings through 2001. The 1997-98 season gives the dancers 37 weeks of work.
  14. Based on what I saw at Kaatsbaan, I would have to say that the Limon Company is a success story in terms of preserving its Limon repertory (and the Humphrey/Limon technique more generally.) It's a pity the company doesn't get more credit/mention in the dance press for their achievement. I would prefer reading about a heritage company that has maintained its artistic inheritance at a very high level to reading endless, repetitive attacks on companies that (allegedly) haven't (i.e. NYCB and the Balanchine repertory.) I suppose the relative absence of press scrutiny may work to the company's advantage in that they can go about their business without getting emeshed in the kind of debates that have engulfed other companies.
  15. I attended the Limon Company's performance at Kaatsbaan on June 26th. The program began with Carla Maxwell making brief remarks to the sold-out audience about the first two pieces on the program: Etude (2002) and Chaconne (1942). Maxwell explained that she developed Etude as a kind of introduction to Jose Limon's movement themes (the program notes cited Psalm and Dances for Isadora as the primary inspirations.) Kristen Foote performed the dance well-enough and it served its purpose as a gentle introduction to Limon. Things took a major step up with Roxane D'Orleans Juste's performance of Chaconne. I thought this was a beautiful dance and she performed it to the hilt. Strangely enough, with her costume and pulled-back hair, she reminded me of Limon, even though they couldn't be more dissimilar in their body types. Carla Maxwell returned for another brief introduction of the next two dances on the program: The Unsung (1970) and Extreme Beauty (2004 - sneak preview). She mentioned how she had commissioned Susanne Linke to develop a dance for the Limon women that would be a companion piece to the all-male The Unsung. I have to say that The Unsung blew me away. I had never seen it before but I was awed by the sheer movement invention in this dance. The seven Limon men were extraordinary in this. It's said that ABT has the strongest contingent of male dancers anywhere but I have to say that, based on what I saw, the Limon Company's male dancers are in a sterling condition at the moment. At this point, it was time for the intermission and a little star-watching - Kevin McKenzie and Martine van Hamel were in the house! OK - on to Extreme Beauty. I'll try not to be too harsh on this as Carla Maxwell said this was a "work in progress". That being said, I had a number of objections to this piece and they are fairly severe. First, it was far too long with too many dead stretches where nothing of great interest happened. (Someone might want to remind Susanne Linke of Doris Humphrey's maxim: "All dances are too long") My second objection is that the dance took FOREVER to get going. The dancers started out at the back of the stage and took interminable baby steps toward the audience. Then they walked to the back of the stage and repeated this same sequence all over again! Linke lost the audience right there. The third objection I had is that the first three (of four) sections contained in the dance were insufficiently differentiated from one another. I had a hard time distinguishing these sections (listed in the program as The Burden, Flying Eros and The Initiation.) The music, by Gyorgy Kurtag and Salvatore Sciarrino, was no help as it provided no helpful clues as to what differentiated the sections. Having said all that, I quite liked the fourth section - Extreme Beauties. Through a series of stage actions, Roxane D'Orleans Juste comes to wear a makeshift wedding gown and the other dancers don spherical bridesmaid skirts and proceed to engage in a frenzied, patterned dance until the dance comes to its conclusion. I quite liked this part and can only hope that Linke will expand on this section of the dance. To be fair to Linke, though, there was loud applause from some members of the audience at the conclusion of the dance and I overheard one member of the audience proclaiming it "brilliant" on the way out. So there you go! Overall, I very much enjoyed the Limon dances and dancers. I would have liked to have seen a Humphrey piece on the program but that was a minor quibble. I give full marks to Carla Maxwell for maintaining the Limon repertory in such excellent condition.
  16. Farrell Fan's experience shows that some companies (or at least their audiences) are not especially receptive to Balanchine's dances and their importation. I still say that ABT's time and energy would be better spent preserving neglected treasures from its own repertory rather than investing time and energy in staging all-Balanchine programs. Sorry Balanchine fans!
  17. None. I would much prefer for ABT to revive something we never see (and may never see again) -- like Antony Tudor's "Romeo and Juliet" -- than for them to stage more Balanchine works.
  18. FYI -- The Limon Company will be performing at Kaatsbaan in Tivoli, NY on 06/26 at 7:30 pm and 06/27 at 2:30 pm.
  19. Thanks for the details nysusan! I hope to stumble across a copy at some point. I have seen photos from that gala in other books and it looks like it was quite the event. (I especially like the photo in one of Anton Dolin's books where Makarova and (I think) Ted Kivitt are leading the stars from yesteryear in a curtain call.)
  20. Thanks for the replies. I'm interested in that period in ABT's history but wasn't aware that this particular booklet existed.
  21. Is anyone familiar with the ABT 35th Anniversary Gala booklet from 1975? (It was part of the Dance Horizons Spotlight Series.) From what I can gather, it consisted of 24 pages (with photos by Louis Peres and Dina Makarova and text by Agnes de Mille and Lucia Chase.) I haven't had any luck finding a used copy on the Web and was wondering if anyone knew anything about it.
  22. Does anyone know what the Limon Dance Company is up to these days? They did a short season in California in January but, to my knowledge, nothing since. I check the Web site from time-to-time but it doesn't look like there are any performances scheduled until summer (at Kaatsbaan in upstate NY) and fall (at The Joyce). Anyone have any information?
  23. You're welcome nysusan! I hope I didn't sound too harsh about Wiles. Her performance was fine -- it just paled in comparison to Hallberg's. Seeing him, I was reminded of (I think) Arlene Croce's comment about a dancer having "a center stage radiance that cannot be taught." Boy, does Hallberg have IT!
  24. I attended the 03/27 performance of Swan Lake w/ David Hallberg and Michele Wiles. (This was the truncated, "family friendly" performance.) Overall, I was favorably impressed by ABT's version of Swan Lake. The corps was "together" (or at least much more so than what I was expecting given all the negative remarks I had read on this board) and the soloists performed well. I could have lived without some of the costumes (particularly on the male dancers) but it wasn't a major thing for me. And I kind of liked The Swamp Thing! Anyway, on to what everyone wants to know -- Hallberg and Wiles. I may disappoint some people with what I'm about to say but I thought Hallberg far outperformed Wiles. Or, maybe a better way to put it is that he "outpresenced" her. They both danced absolutely correctly in a technical sense. It's just that you could feel his charisma all the way back to where I was sitting (about half way back on the main floor) and she didn't register in the same way. In fact, whenever they were together on stage, I found my eye drifting toward him instead of her because he was just SO charismatic. So, while the overall performance was fine, I did feel that a curious imbalance occurred where he was projecting up to the rafters (but not in a vulgar or clownish way) and she wasn't projecting much past the first few rows. One more thing: The movie Weatherman with Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine was filming across the street from the Opera House that day. Since I got to the Opera House a little early, I found a nice vantage point to watch the filming while I waited -- which happened to be in front of the stage door. So, there was an added bonus of seeing various ABT dancers step outside for some fresh air or a cigarette break!
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