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Noreen Arnold

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid balletgoer
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    Ontario Canada
  1. I've just remember something else. During the curtain calls Farrell was, of course, brought out for her share of the applause but she left the stage rather abuptly and it seemed to me she was very emotional. Did anyone else notice that?
  2. OK - here’s my two cents on the production. I was going to write earlier but as usual work-load ate up all my time. I was there for opening night as I wanted to see and form an opinion on my own before our own home-grown critics weighed in. I already knew what the American critics thought of the production so my expectations were already coloured by that and I was prepared to be, at the least, underwhelmed. I had a doozy of a question ready for Michael Crabb at the pre-ballet talk, but unfortunately he was cut short by politics - the government coughed up some money and everyone had to be publically grateful for it. Enough said. I was going to ask Crabb, as a critic himself, if he thought our ballerinas suffered so much criticism from the American press last year because some of them just couldn’t get past the image of their own icon, Suzanne Farrell, as Dulcinea. Reading those reviews I wondered if any dancer could have competed with that - well, he might have shot down my theory but I thought it a good question anyway. As for the ballet itself, it certainly isn’t what you would call “light” entertainment and anyone coming to see the traditional Don Q must have wondered if they were in the right theatre. It’s dark, it’s dense, and in many ways, it’s fascinating. So much depends on the dancer playing Don Q - can he get past the footlights the man’s belief in the goodness and nobility of man, his deep and passionate love of Dulcinea and his even more deep and passionate love of God? We have to feel his pain, his confusion and in the end his rapture. Tall order for any non-dancing role and I’d like to say our own Lazlo Surmeyan managed this very well - a role to grow into indeed. I’ve always thought of Farrell as a “cool” dancer - certainly not a cold one, that’s not what I mean - but with an almost otherworldly detachment. And that, I think, is what Balanchine was showing with his Dulcinea. This wonderful, beautiful dream of perfection that was just out of his reach. Heather Ogden managed to give us a hint of this and I would like to see her in the role a few years from now because I think she’s still just scratching the surface. There was no question at all about her dancing abilities particularly in the 2nd act solo that just skimmed along the stage. During the performance I kept thinking about Balanchine and that what was happening on stage told me a great deal about this man - where he came from, what he believed in, what he strived for. I expected the music to be banal - after all, isn’t that what all the critics have told us? We could wish, perhaps, that Balanchine had collaborated with one the great composers of the time on the score, but this one serves it’s purpose well enough and even manages to build to a powerful end. In any case, it’s a step up from Minkas and Drigo! If I sound much too enthusiastic about this Don Q, let me say I did find the narrative and pacing at times draggy - I wanted things to zip along at a quicker pace and there are definite problems with the structure of the ballet. I wanted more dancing and much sooner then it actually came. How Balanchine could have worked in more dancing I don’t know - I just wanted it! The sets and costumes are striking and our own National Ballet workshops have to be commended in their execution. I agree with Crabb’s observation that this production needs to be seen two or three times to get a better overview of what Balanchine is trying to say and I hoped to see Tanya Howard do the role but again, work - dreadful work, nixed those plans. One thing I should mention, I had a non-ballet friend with me on Friday and she found the production absolutely brilliant. She was glad to have heard Michael Crabb’s comments prior to prepare her for what she was about to see - especially the final procession which can be overpowering in it’s affirmation of Christian belief. Crabb mentioned that audiences sometimes “tittered” during this section but I found, viewed as a whole, the ballet prepares you for what is coming.
  3. Oh - then I got it wrong somehow. I was sure the announcement I saw announcing Pereira was replacing Zehr for the competition also said she was replacing her in "Shrew". Perhaps the particular announcement I read was ambiguously worded.
  4. I agree Mom2 - it was a terrific performance! What a season Tina Pereira is having - especially since this was supposed to be Bridgett Zehr's big chance to shine. Pereira wasn't supposed to compete in the Bruhn competition, wasn't supposed to dance the lead in "Shrew" and ended up doing both and rising the challenge spectacularly. Me thinks her days in the corps will end shortly - if Kain doesn't recognize a bona fide star in the making standing right in front of her nose then she should turn in her AD credentials right now. I loved Jason Reilly - too bad we can't have him permanently - but let’s hope he likes us enough to come back on a regular basis to fill out our male ranks. He just took my breath away with those huge grand jete en tournant during his last solo. I’d like to see his Romeo too. I'm looking forward to the mixed program starting Wed. I love "Voluntaries" and by Sunday afternoon (including the Bruhn competition performance) will have managed to see it three times! Unfortunately (even though I love Alex and Greta) it will be the same cast for each show. Oh well.....
  5. [ Heh, I'm heading up from the warm weather here in Phoenix, AZ! I'll be seeing my friend who's about to graduate from the School. I've got Orch Row N 19,20. How good are those seats? -goro- Well I'm Row Q, seat 8 so you are just a few rows in front of me and to the right. I have a left aisle seat and my view of the stage is perfect. Good luck with yours......and I echo Moms2 request, bring some warm weather - please!
  6. If Zehr is not dancing at all next month the injury could be serious. I was impressed with her dancing during the Fall season and I wish her a speedy recovery. I have my seat for the competition and its a good one - I'm looking forward to the event!
  7. I was there on Sunday and was profoundly moved by “Song of the Earth.” I didn’t see any of the other casts so I have no comparisons to make, but I thought Jennifer Fournier wonderful in the role. I’ve read about the ballet but this was my first viewing and perhaps it’s my own age, and the fact that I’ve lately lost people close to me, but the concept that death is our companion all through life - a shadow perhaps or a mirror image of us - was deeply moving. I’m not sure exactly why I was so personally effected; I can only admit that I was. I can understand why it’s considered one of MacMillan’s master works. I would like to have seen it again, perhaps with Rodriguez in the main role. I saw “Gloria” many years ago when the Royal Ballet came to Toronto and was completely blown away by the ballet. I rushed out the next day to buy tickets for another performance. Jennifer Penny, Julian Hosking and Wayne Eagling were the dancers for those performances and I can remember all these years later just how wonderful they were. That last moment of the ballet when the lone soldier stands at the top of the trench and looks back at the audience and then drops out of sight was chilling....it made palpable the sense of loss, of countless young lives destroyed. A whole generation gone. When the National Ballet scheduled the ballet several years ago, I told all my friends they just had to see it because it was so great. But when the company performed it the ballet just didn’t have the same impact for me. I’m not sure if the coaching was faulty or if the dancers just didn’t get it. Perhaps the music and the history resonates more deeply with the British and the Royal Ballet dancers could feel a real emotional attachement to it. Who knows.
  8. I was there Friday night as well to see Sonia Rodriguez and Alek Antonijevic and it’s wonderful how the partnership between these two has developed. They obviously love dancing together and at the end Alex gave Sonia his bouquet of flowers and dropped to his knee to kiss her hand. She in turn laid both bouquets on the stage in tribute to the conductor (or the orchestra in whole perhaps.) Sonia is so quick and fast - an extremely light dancer but in no way lightweight! Her Act 1 solo, where she flirts in turn with each suitor, was particularly impressive with multi-turn pirouettes absolutely perfect...not a wobble in sight. Her technique is quite impressive and as usual, she is a joy to watch. As for Alek what can one say other then he is a dancer still in his prime and brings all his experience and stagecraft to every performance. It’s hard to show much character development in a role like this, but he manages to convey both the careless arrogance of a young prince and the loneliness inherent in his lofty position. I’ve always detested Nureyev’s choreography for the big Act 11 sole for the prince - it just doesn’t flow...all that “embroidery” on every step - but Alek did it as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. I had a “rush” seat and it was very good. I was a little concerned about being so far over to the left but the angle of the stage gives an excellent view and the arm chairs are very comfortable. I highly recommend them.
  9. I don’t have time for many details but last night was a terrific opening of the first season in the new opera house. First off - my seat is wonderful...clear view down to the stage and so close I feel I could reach out and touch the dancers. Banish the booster cushion forever! (At least from this seat anyway) Karen Kain looked lovely in a black and gold ball gown and Veronica Tennant was gorgeous - trim and slim in a refit of her Juliet costume - the one she wore in her last performance. I saw Augustyn and Martine Lamy but did not see where the other special guests were - looked everywhere for Celia Franca but no luck. OK - dancing. Greta Hodgkinson was everything you could ask for as Aurora. Perhaps the big final balances in the Rose Adage were not carried off with as much elan as she would have liked but she got through them just fine and then she was off like a rocket. Her technique to so solid, so secure - she can dance above it...or at least make it look like she does. There was such joy in her performance. And of course because she has danced Aurora so many times she knows how to pace herself to get through. Guillaume Cote continues to impress although at this point he doesn’t quite bring the same polish that Antonijevic, at his best, has in the big classical roles - but he’s catching up fast that’s for sure. Stacey Shiori Minagawa and Keiichi Hirano almost stole the show with the their Blue Birds. Keiichi’s elevation is astounding and reminds me of the glory days of Kevin Pugh and before him Frank Augustyn who were both brilliant in the role. I’m so glad Stacey will get a performance as Aurora and I don’t intend to miss it. I think she will be delightful. The audience was very receptive and enthusiastic - to the point of actually breaking out in applause if someone did a particularly spectacular move. I think there were quite a few “non-Ballet” people in the audience because I’ve never experienced applause during a solo before. One note of warning though. Watch your step as you exit your row as there is a sharp diagonal dip in the floor that’s rather tricky. I almost went down on my tush the first time I exited my seat!
  10. I was at the NBoC Gala in June and our seats were Ring Three (or Four...I forget which), about the 4th row I think and slightly off centre and we had serious sight line problems. The seats (at least where we were) are not staggered and the drop between rows not sufficient to give you a clear view over the head/shoulders of the person in front. I'm only 5' so I always expect to have difficulties, but the tallest of my group (5'10") also could not see the stage over the head of the lady in front of him. There were reports that some patrons on the main floor also complained that they had obscured sight lines as well. My subscription ticket is an aisle set on the main floor and I'm hoping that will give me a good view down to the stage - I'll find out for sure on Nov. 9th. Actually I'm going to the Oct. 23 preview along with a couple of friends and we're going to try out a number of locations.....put the tallest people in front and see if we can see! It's quite maddening isn't it....we wait so long for an Opera House and the experts can't get the sight lines right. I have no problem seeing the stage at the Premier Dance Theatre or Stratford's Festival Theatre - if those designers got it right why couldn't these fellows? On the other hand, the accoustics really are wonderful - the Ballet orchestra never sounded so good. And I really like the "feel" of the house - it's soft and warm, very inviting.
  11. Could be a few reasons why no "Water" Ballet this summer - a number of dancers will be performing at the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauver and also going to Scotland with the Farrell company for her Don Q so there might not be enough time or dancers to do the waterfront season. Who knows....too bad though as it was always something to look forward to at the end of the summer. November is a looong way away.
  12. Not so good in the 3rd Ring where I was. We were slightly off centre and all four seats had a blocked view of the stage....the head and shoulders of the person in front took out the complete centre section. We ranged in height from 5" (me) to 5'10" and even the tallest fellow could not see. Makes me a little apprehensive for the coming season.
  13. The opening sequence could be staged better. I like the "dream" concept but using adults down on their knees acting like dolls just seems strange. Now if Kudelka used children instead I think it would work much better....charming instead of weird! I have to add that I personally love this production of Cinderella and have seen it many times since that first opening night.
  14. Well, so much for my hopes for Joshua Grant. According to the lastest update Grant, Nathaniel Kozlow, Daisuke Ohno, Erin Richardson and Kanako Sakamoto are all leaving the National Ballet to "pursue other interests" - oh well!
  15. I was obviously having a “seniors” moment when I posted last week - it was the Prokofiev Festival, not Stravinski, and Grant danced with Ogden, not Howard! Some people should not be allowed to wonder down memory lanes alone..... However, I still see Grant as a possible Romeo and I still would like to see Howard as Juliet. There’s something about Grant that gives the impression (to me anyway) of a romantic hero waiting to get out. My opinion only - but I’m sticking to it. I remember years (decades) ago discussing James Kudelka with a teacher from the National Ballet School and voicing the opinion that he should dance more with Veronica Tennant and they should do R & J together. My opinion was based solely on his Paris to her Juliet performances but I was intrigued at how similar their response to music was and also the intense focus and sense of drama both had on stage. Also, he was also a very good partner. My observation was pooh-poohed at the time - but at one of the Gala’s (remember when we actually had them?) they danced a short pas de deux together and this lady sought me out during the intermission to say she could now see exactly what I was talking about. With so many additional performances in the Opera House we can only hope to see a number of new dancers debut in the big roles. Sleeping Beauty is the first one up - let’s hope Kain is daring in her casting!
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