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Tammy Spadina

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    parent and fan
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  1. Thanks to Lucie for the excellent review. As a lapsed member of this forum, I had also written a note about the Sunday matinee of Genius 2, but in the end didn't post it. Why ? Because I don't want to participate in a forum that continues -- as in the past -- to include supercilious remarks about fellow audience members. If forum members want to promote interest in ballet in general, and the Washington Ballet in particular, they might reflect on whether it furthers that goal to label an audience as odd because it includes older people and first-timers, and to assert -- via mind-reading ? -- that it didn't know what to make of a performance. We all pay the same price for the ticket, we all like ballet, and there's no entrance exam to attend a performance. Those odd, old people who make distracting noises will be needed help support organizations like the Washington Ballet through what is bound to be a very difficult coming few years.
  2. Okay, let's see if anyone has encountered this before: At a Nutcracker performance recently (professional - ie $75 ticket price) a middle-aged lady near me was murmuring loudly and without stopping -- a continuous drone of sound. When I asked her to knock it off, she said she was describing the performance to her elderly mother, who was blind. I was stunned. Is there such a concept as ballet for the blind ?
  3. Re Morphoses -- It is not Wheeldon who is an arachnophobe, it was Ligeti. Mr. Wheeldon mentioned this in his fascinating chat for fans at the WB studio on last Monday evening, and Septime Webre was referring to this. Mr Wheeldon said he first became aware of Ligeti through his score for the movie Eyes Wide Shut, then listened to his complete oeuvre, and of course has gone on to make several ballets to Ligeti's music. Ligeti died just a year ago, btw.
  4. Friday night's performance also generated a cheering SO and at least a dozen bows for In the Upper Room, a work ideally suited to the WB's ensemble capabilities and into which the dancers poured tremendous verve and skill. I haven't seen WB dance better. Luis Torres again -- as Natalia observed him do on opening night - danced as if he were the happiest person alive. Earlier in the evenening, in "In the Night", I had mentally been calling the first two pairs "Puppy Love Couple" (the girlish lavender costume didn't help) and "Dignified Couple" -- then Luis Torres and Sona Kharatian woke the whole thing up as "Passionate Couple". A great night for Luis Torres. As for Oui/Non - I thought Karen Akers sang all the songs - whether funny, flirty or world-weary - in the same, rather sterile, way. Perhaps the need to project from the back of the stage prevented her from conveying emotion as she might in a cabaret setting. This sameness also afflicted some of the dances, with the exception of the fun one with -- in this performance -- Maki Onuki as the girl tossed around by three men.
  5. Washington Ballet subscribers have just received a card to say that the first perf of the season ( a mixed bill) has been pushed back from late Sept. to late Oct. Anybody know what is happening ?
  6. In Kyrgyzstan they usually just refer to her by her first name. There is an attractive ballet/opera house in the centre of Bishkek (the capital), and I understand there are occasionally ballet performances -- which is rather miraculous since the country is very poor. Bibisara's photo and bio are displayed, along with other performing artists, in the foyer of the opera house. At the opera house I saw part of a variety show for International Womens Day, which featured a dramatic reading in Russian, a tenor, and local kid pianists. Almost certainly there was dance too but the hall was so overcrowded I couldn't stay. It seemed that the people were very enthusiastic about the arts; Traviata was coming up the next day.
  7. On a recent trip to Kyrgyzstan, which was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, I discovered that the ballerina and teacher Bibisara Beishenaliyeva is one of their nationally revered figures. There is a big statue of her in a tutu in the middle of the capital, her portrait is on a banknote, and the original of that portrait is in the national museum. Everyone seemed to know about her. She did not dance with Soviet ballets, but only with Kyrgyz companies. Apparently she had a prominent admirer who followed all her work slavishly, and his portrait seems to be next to hers in the museum. I was told her performing career ended after a partner dropped her. She died young, as her dates reveal, but she was a renowned teacher. Are there any other ballet personages on banknotes ? Or in sclupture (besides Degas of course ) ? From a UNESCO document I found on Google: In 1944, after performing the part of Cholpon in the Kyrgyz national ballet “Cholpon” (Morning Star in the Kyrgyz language) Bubusara Beishenalieva became a Prima Ballerina of the Kyrgyz ballet. Namely this ballet part exposed the unique talent of the young ballerina and gave start to her dizzy professional growth. The perfect ballet technique, extreme performing lightness, flying jumps, unique plasticity, expressiveness of dancing, harmony – all this was the result of not only her talent but of her painstaking work as well. Bubusara Beishenalieva was not only the first great Kyrgyz ballerina, she was also a genius dramatic actress, on stage, she lived the life of her characters. Beishenalieva performed a whole gallery of manifold and highly artistic ballet parts which belong to the treasury and “golden fonds” of world ballet art. Bubusara Beishenalieva propagated professional choreographic art, glorified Kyrgyz ballet abroad, participated in the Kyrgyz musical art decades and danced on the famous stages of the world. She formed a ballet troupe of the Kyrgyz Opera and Ballet Theatre, worked with young actors transferring them her skills and knowledge, she was a Professor of the Kyrgyz National Ballet School. Among her students were famous masters of stage who still dance in various theatres of the world.
  8. At Friday night's performance, the principals were Heather Ogden and Nehemiah Kish as Seigfried. Ogden danced exceedingly well, with liquid arms, but she frowned the whole way through even when she was supposed to be falling in love. The corps was ill-served by the choreography. A lot of times especially in the first scene, it first seemed that they were drastically out of sync, but gradually we realized that it was unevenness in the choreography that made it look that way. Actually the dancing throughout was fine. During the court scene, Siegfried left the stage during most of the second and third divertissements - or perhaps it was the third and fourth ? - so the ladies were performing to an empty chair. (Stool, actually.) Since no other posters have mentioned this, I suppose it must have been some technical or shoe-type problem on that evening. I for one liked the scenery of the lakeside reeds and rushes and hay bales. It looked like the southern end of Lake Winnipeg and fostered an interpretation of Rothbart as protector of nature.
  9. NPR aired a comprehensive story on Wash Ballet's labour troubles, reported by Elizabeth Blair. The link is below. The story includes sound bites from the Board chair, the articitic director and Chip Coleman, a dancer, among others. Performing Arts Washington Ballet's Labor Problems Jar Dance World by Elizabeth Blair Weekend Edition - Saturday, January 7, 2006 · Ballet companies around the country are watching a strike at the Washington Ballet with anxiety. The dancers' union feels an overly demanding work schedule is causing injuries, and union reps are pushing to organize companies around the country. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5134322
  10. here's a 'cross-over review' from the Washington Post's restaurant critic's on-line chat today " Washington, D.C.: If you were selecting a restaurant in the vicinity of the Kennedy Center before a performance, which one would you choose and why? Tom Sietsema: Just blocks from the KC, Notti Bianche at 824 New Hampshire Ave. does a terrific job with its food and wine. I like being able to walk off a bit of my dinner before sitting down to a couple hours of "Carmen" (Wow, what a fabulous ballet performance! Bravo, Septime!) or whatever else you happen to be taking in."
  11. Friday evening's performance of Nine Sinatra Songs got a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation. To our eyes, there was a big difference between the most of the pairs who "got it" and those few who seemed to be dancing in a foreign language. Maki Onuki, Jonathan Jordan, and Sona Kharatian are probably too young to have even heard of Sinatra but they definitely 'got it'. Carmen with Michelle Jimenez also got a deservedly favourable response. Thanks to her well-rounded characterization, I found myself gripped by the plot even though I knew how it all turns out. The dancers were clearly having fun with the stool-thumping, ole-shouting scene in the bar. In Serenade, the dancer in our group noted the lack of proper foot-pointing that was also mentioned in the WaPo review. I found myself admiring the saturated lighting, which I guess says something about the dancing. But overall, an energetic and satisfying program. From the stage. Septime Weber mentioned their recent tour in Dominican Republic, which he said was very successful and sold out. I don't know what they performed and haven't seen it written about.
  12. Until last night I thought that the ultimate oxymoron was "low-carb bread" but Suzanne Farrell's Don Quixote presents us with "low-dance ballet". Not only was there very little dancing -- perhaps 15 minutes in a two-hour performance -- but half of that dancing was invisible, because it was underneath head-to-toe velvet gowns, or, in the case of the men in Act three, hampered by stiff ruched collars, long sleeves, and worst of all, the puffy turkish bedroom slippers with curlicue toes that Nehemiah Kish had to risk his limbs and dignity to dance in in Act 2. All the pageantry and mime and symbolism could have nonetheless worked -- if the production had succeeded in portraying the complex relationships between Don Q, his religion, Dulcinea and the power establishment that constitute the story. Even the loooong -- I mean really really long -- hallucinatory procession at Don Q's deathbed could work, but only if we had already appreciated his tragic delusions. But this was not at all conveyed in the preceding 2.5 acts. In fact, the vision of the scary knight with a swinging axe resolving into what was really just a windmill -- a brilliant piece of stage craft -- did a better job than the actor in conveying Don Q's state of mind. There was some superb dancing by Sonia Rodriguez, Shannon Parsley, Erin Mahoney, NAtalia Magnicaballi and Runqiao Du in the the third Act, but since all of the dancing takes the form of divertissements and variations, the dancers can't create much in the way of relationships or spark. It was sort of academic, with the exception of Sonia Rodriquez' moving final variation which brings us back to the main story. The word for Nabokov's score is cheesy. It's not that it's dissonant or clanging -- it's that it's so OBVIOUS and predictable. Around us in the audience there were bail-outs after the second intermission and a tepid reaction at the end. Only the principals and some of the soloists took bows; the corps was nowhere to be seen. It was odd. By the way, I do think it would be better if those of you who are ballet experts could try avoid looking down your noses at us "just plain folks" and caricaturing other peoples' taste. We pay the same $60 per seat as you do and we like ballet just as much. (Although not this particular ballet...)
  13. I saw Sunday's matinee with Brianne Bland and Jonathan Jordan. Bland's dancing was crisp and compact, as always, and a pleasure to watch. She somehow packs a lot of dancing into a small space. She and Jordan didn't convey the "We're in love and we don't care who knows it" bliss that Jimenez and Du portrayed on Tuesday in the pdd -- rather, they always seemed a little worried about what they were getting into. A different, but reasonable, interpretation. She started out suitably innocent -- getting betrothed to boring old Paris (one hardly recognized the actually not-boring Chip Coleman) seemed like a pretty good idea to her at first - but she spurned him convincingly once she'd experienced the real thing. Jordan's lifts made me nervous a couple of times. Brian Corman was menacing and powerful as Tybalt. All the men's roles were energetically yet precisely danced, as other posters have mentioned. Top notch ensemble work by Romeo and his two buddies. The street scenes and ball scenes were compelling - crisp and character-ful dancing going on wherever you look -- notably the commedia dell'arte troupe including Maki Onuki in their authentic-looking harlequin type costumes. Overall a moving production that showcased very good dancing.
  14. On Tuesday night, at the gala to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Washington School of Ballet, they performed two excerpts from Romeo and Juliet -- a ball scene and the balcony pdd -- with Michelle Jimenez and Runqiao Du, who I gather also danced last night at the preview. Michelle danced great , and what was striking was how she conveyed unalloyed, even delerious, joy of being in love. There wasn't any dark or ominous note of trouble to come. Runqiao's partnering was very strong and confidence-building. He was head-over-heels too, but in a slighter older-and-wiser way. The ball scene featured richly coloured costumes, bizarre yet appropriate headresses, and a comical solo by Jason Hartley -- sorry I don't know the name of the role. The gala also featured an excerpt from Wheeldon's There Where She Loved, with the same two incandescent , spine-tingling sopranos who performed when TWSL was programmed in February. It was fabulous to see this work again -- Brianne Bland danced well. JAred Nelson is back from Boston Ballet - not sure whether to stay or only temporarily -- and it was good to see him back with his surfer guy looks. HE will also be doing Romeo, I understand. Jason HArtley closed the evening to thunderous applause with the Trey McIntyre solo piece set to Etta James, "It's a quarter to three..." Sorry, I don't have the program. The non-dance part of the gala was mercifully short: Baryshnikov was given the "Mary Day award" and made a short speech alluding to inadequate funding for arts education. Miss Day (the founder of WSB) was not present but was the subject of numerous paeans. Chelsea Clinton gave a gracious and self-deprecating little speech about what ballet education had meant to her and to others who don't end up making a career of it. It was a pretty good evening as these things go; I hope the black-tie crowd gave them lots of money.
  15. The advance notices for Rite of Spring -- which I saw Saturday evening with Laura Urgelles (the unwilling fiancee), Erin Mahoney (her mother -- think Mrs. Robinson meets Cruella de Vil) and Brianne Bland (the fiancee's assistant) had led me to expect soemthing outrageous, even raunchy -- oh goody, I thought -- but what the choreography delivered was actually rather coarse and repetitive. The dancers deserve great praise for making their artistry overcome the unimaginative choreography -- especially Urgelles, who excelled in what was a very demanding evening due to last-minute cast changes. Brianne Bland created an interestingly ambiguous character for the assistant: hovering worshipfully and then suddenly slicing boldly and decisively across the stage to her employer/lover's aid -- but never in time to be really helpful. The scary black half-gowns and half-hats on the party guests were great at first, because they conveyed the sort of cold, conformist self-absorbed people the mother had as friends. But I found myself wishing halfway through that some plot device would make them go away. The dancing in Stravinsky Violin Concerto on Saturday seemed pretty crisp and self-confident to me -- maybe it improved from the earlier evenings, which other posters found wanting.
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