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Everything posted by Dale

  1. This is a wonderful thread.. so much to think about. I have to say I've been haunted by the Kirov's reconstruction of Sleepting Beauty ever since I saw it at the Met two years ago. It was facinating to see a ballet with eyes of a different generation. To see a work as it was before TV, films, videos etc... Doug, I really enjoyed your article on SB when I read it in Ballet Review. I can understand why (given the social and political connotations of the time) the mime and certain sumptious portions of Petipas ballets were removed but why were the solos, especially if they were more difficult, changed? And why did Konstantine Sergeyev change Sleeping Beauty? He was considered a very controlling director, did he just want to put "his" stamp on the rep.? And Doug, why did Lacotte not use the noted choreography where it could be found and fill in the rest through memories and his own in-the-style of Petipas choreography? There is more to bringing a ballet back to life than costumes and scenery. Did Lacotte do the same thing with Paquita at POB? James, I think you'll find Zakharova's Aurora interesting. She opened the Kirov's run of the ballet at the Met in 1999 and some of the things she did caused a gasp of astonishment to roll around the theatre -- astonished by the things she could do physically and astonished that she would do it in this ballet. Although I appreciated many aspects of her and Vishneva's perofmances, it was generally considered that Altynai Asylmuratova was all-around the better Aurora. Unfortunately, we did not see Ayupova, who did not perform in New York during the run.
  2. How was Mazzo in the role? Some people thought Farrell danced the role as an extension of the white act of Swan Lake but I never thought she did. To me, it was more about off balance vs. balanced, supported vs. non-supported. Plus the hunt motif and the posible connection to unicorns (Balanchine had shown SF the unicorns at the Clunny Museum and wanted to do a ballet about them for her). I found that, beautiful as their performances were that Kyra Nichols, Ashley and Kistler danced the role a little more straight forward.
  3. I believe that Diamonds was one of the roles that once Farrell returned, the other dancers were slowly taken out of it and through most of the late 70s, Farrell danced it exclusively. After that period, Ashley and others performed it as Farrell became injured. Don Q was another role Mazzo did once Farrell left but when SF came back and the ballet was revived, Farrell danced every performance.
  4. Felurus, the Russians still wear personal jewelry on stage. Last time the Kirov was in town, I had never seen so many diamond rings on so many peasants. Plus, long painted finger nails.
  5. Ann, I think you pronounce it as if it began with a "Z." I saw her last week as one of the shades in La Bayadere. She danced very well, had a nice jump and appeared strong technically. She has a large head -- with a face that resembles Leslie Caron to me -- and doll-like body. I think many found her charming but I don't go in for the "Aren't I just the prettiest thing" way she had of flirting with the audience. But I think that's just my preference for more aloof dancers. I'd be interested in seeing her in other things. She'd probably make a fantastic Blue Bird.
  6. An article from St. Petersburg Times on the Neumeier ballets: http://www.sptimes.ru/archive/times/665/fe...ures/a_3158.htm Personally, I saw ABT do Spring and Fall and found it boring. Lots of bare chested men running around and looking earnest while the woman keep the home fires burning.
  7. Tallchief coached Somogyi in Pas de Dix when JS was still at SAB for the Balanchine Foundation project. I think Balanchine took some older ballets out of the company's rep. because a) he couldn't remember the older ballet and it was easier to just do a new one and B) he often recylcled steps from his older ballets for new ones. However, with no Balanchine around to make new ballets, it would be nice to have more revivals.
  8. Thanks Doug. Nice interview, by the way. I wish NYCB would bring back Pas de Dix. I think Miami City Ballet does it regularly.
  9. There was an interview with Danilova about Balanchine's treatment of Raymonda in Ballet Review about one or two years ago (for some reason I'm thinking it is the one with Julie Kent on the cover). Danilova was asked if she thought it was possible to cobble a full-lenth version with what is left of Balanchine's several works to the music. I don't have the article in front of me but I think AD was not sure whether it was possible.
  10. I guess I did find Polyphonia derivative. As Leigh mentions, not only does CW make references to Agon and Episodes but also to Martins' River of Light and Esctatic Orange. I had a real feeling of been there, done that better. It wasn't that the dances weren't well crafted, Wheeldon is very talented, or expertly danced. There were even a few nice touches for me, like Somogyi's waltz number or Ansanelli's solo and duet with Craig Hall. Leigh said that Scotch Symphony is a departure for NYCB. Well, I'd disagree (think La Sonnambula, Serenade, Union Jack etc...). And I think that's one of the probelms with Wheeldon's ballet. He's produced your typical NYCB "leotard ballet." I think that the succeeding generations of choreographers have lost a few of Balanchine's lessons. One being that just because a ballet is abstract that it is not without meaning. If post-modern ballet comments on the music, Wheeldon never shows me why he's chosen Ligeti, why these particular pieces, why the contruction that he's chosen. All that twisting and contorting in the Wheelan section...then I look at some of the simple ideas that Balanchine has used in Scotch Symphony. The way the lovers stand together and corps men and women create a sort of trestle over the lead couple with their arms as they reach towards each other. Or when in La Source the soloist and the corp women bourree backward with their arms outstretched. It happens only for a bar or two but it seems so easy but unexpected.
  11. Of course, I've never seen her dance live, only on tapes. She was wonderful in Western Symphony (so chic) and Concerto Barocco. But her artistry and wit will live on in such ballets as La Valse, 4 Ts, the Concert, and Symphonie Concertane. [This message has been edited by Dale (edited January 01, 2001).]
  12. The following is a review of the Conrad book from the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/leisure/arts...2100430,FF.html
  13. New York magazine had a small sidebar about this about two weeks ago. It said that there were two books, the Christine Conrad book, "Jerome Robbins: That Broadway Man, That Ballet Man." Evidently Conrad had access to Robbins' papers and personal items. Another book, "Dance with Demons" by Greg Lawrence is expected to come out some time in 2001. This book is supposed to be more gossipy. Wasn't Lawrence married to Gelsey Kirkland and co-wrote her two books?
  14. Be wary of the Perlmutter book. I've read in several ballet journals that the book is filled with errors and the author makes personal judgments about ballets she could not possibly have seen. However, I've always wanted to read it. At the risk of seeming catty, wasn't Laing at one time married to Diana Adams?
  15. I saw the same performance as Drew. I agree with him about Herrera, she was just miscast. I found myself trying to like her performance as I thought she was doing her best in a bad situation. But she really doesn't have the right body type or temperment for this role. She's really is more of a soubrette than dramatic dancer. Maybe, Sandra Brown -- one of ABT's best dramatic dancers -- should have been cast instead. Besides, I prefer (and I think Balanchine intended) for the Siren to be taller than the Prodigal with an elongated line. Felia Doubrovska was the original Siren and chosen for her height and long legs. On the whole, I enjoyed Corella in the early portions of the ballet, when he could be exuberant but Stiefel was better as the humliated Prodigal. I wonder if it wasn't in the coaching that didn't translate when it came to creating the image of the boat (as Drew mentioned) because Julie Kent didn't get it quite right either. Neither ballerina seemed to arch quite enough and the goon holding the cape didn't get it in "flying sail" formation quick enough. Murphy was a joy in Theme and Variations, really showing off her schooling under Melissa Hayden. Yes, she seemed a little distant in the pas de deux but I've noticed many younger dancers have that problem because they're so used to dancing alone, especially the technical whiz kids such as Jennie Somogyi, who admitted she was just getting used to being partnered. Perhaps, Murphy is going through the same thing. She'll get more than enough chances, I'm sure, as she's scheduled to dance Theme quite a bit as well as Swan Lake and Don Q during ABT's summer season at the Met. Again, I agree with Drew in regards to Belotserkovsky. I thought he was a little stop-and-go during his first solo, showing the preparation for every turn. But I like that he's getting these roles and perhaps he'll work harder to gain the technical expertise this role needs. I never took Etudes that seriously but Dvorovenko changed that on Wednesday night. She was really lovely -- floating and flirty during the "romantic" section and brilliant with her wide variety of turns and jumps. Picone was his elegant self while I've seen Gomes dance the hand-snapping part a little bit better but he was fine.
  16. Jeannie pretty much covered it. I think if you just ask for the Aiwa multi-system, the store will know which one you're talking about. Another convenience was that the Aiwa hooked up to my 15-year-old TV. A couple of the others, like the euro VCR/converter package, wouldn't work with a TV that required coaxial cables, such as mine. Now, dubbing has brought on an entirely different problems. I finally found the solution by making the cable box the go-between my old VCR and the new one (but as I did, the old VCR died).
  17. I don't know whether Stiefel and Kent were miscast, but I don't think it was a ballet that was really "gala" fare. It did not go over well with the audience, which makes me wonder what sort of ballet enthusiasm goes into donating large sums of money (thank god they do, no matter what the motives). This is not a new ballet but a masterpiece. Anyway... Sleepting Beautie pdd (jaffe, Malakhov) -- Personally, I think this works better coming at the end of a four hour ballet rather than the beginning of a gala. Jaffe was a little unsteady while Malakhov seemed purposely to avoid the gala technical fireworks for a more musical approach. Black Swan pdd (Dvorovenko/Belotserkovsky) --I've got to agree with Michael, it was the highlight of the night. Unfortunately, about 1 minute into the peice, the ushers decided to let in about 20 highrollers, who were trying to get to their front-section seats, causing many of the plebs in the back (where I was sitting) to start screaming, "Sit down, sit down" as if that would help. Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky rose above the fray. They danced this not as a showcase but placed it emotionally in context of the ballet -- she was seductive (especially with her eyes and legs) and he was besotted. I've got to mention her beautiful turnout, which just opens everything to the eye. Tschiak pas -- I like the the pairing of Herrera and Gomes. However, I think it will take a little time to grow. There were moments which I really enjoyed myself and everything seemed right but other times when I thought the dancers ignored the music or just didn't seem to find their center. It's difficult to explain. The way Paloma danced made me think that perhaps she's over coached. She didn't look mannered but never quite comfortable in her own skin. Ashley Tuttle and Angel Corrella did look comfortable in their skins. Everything about their dancing in the Grand pdd from the Nutcracker was easy and smooth. Theme and Variations finale only whetted my appetite to see Gillian Murphy dance the complete ballet. As Michael mentioned, Ekaterina Shelkanova was very crisp as one of the demi-soloists. In fact, I thought all the four demis (Shelkanova, Brown, Konobyeva, and Tamara Barden) were very good. And it was nice to see Picone back on stage. Prodigal Son -- First off, I thought Stiefel's hair deserved its own billing. It was long and out of control and distracting in the opening scene but Stiefel got the Prodigal's frustration with home life and desire to see the world. However, the dances with the group of bald goons seemed sketchy. Knowing how Stiefel likes to build on a characterization, I hope things get better by the time I see him in this role later in the run. I was worried how Kent would attempt the role of the Siren. Would she go sexpot out of control, supermodel, ice queen? She was more like an alien and it worked for her. Her face was a complete mask, no emotion. And her long line was used to good effect. And she coped with a snag with the cape very well. When she crouched down to hide under the cape, it completely slid off her, leaving her exposed as she undid the cap so the Prodigal can pull it off her. So she just, with elaborate hand movements, ripped the velcro. Stiefel definitely nailed the suffering part at the end. He was very moving but not overwrought.
  18. Just to answer Alexandra's question, I have what is called a "multi-system" vcr. It reads/shows at least six different variations of PAL, Amiercan, and Japanese output. Like some, I was under the false impression that you could just get a PAL vcr and be able to watch my tapes from Britain and Russia. But that was not true, you need a converter so your tv can take the PAL output in. Plus, you need a TV that is compatable or new enough to go with the converter. It was a mess (involving lots of wires etc...) However, I bit the bullet and bought the "multi-system" VCR about 2 years ago at one of two places in Manhattan that carry the thing. It's made by Aiwa and at the risk of sounding tacky (but I want people interested to know how much to expect to spend), I'll reveal that it cost with tax around $800.00. So it's not cheap. A month after buying it at J&R, I saw it at another store for $600. Considering VCRs can be sold for as low as $79, it was a pretty big investment for this poor writer. But it does make buying VHS tapes from other countries easier.
  19. There are tons of copies of the (longer)Balanchine book at The Strand in New York City. I believe they do business over the web too.
  20. Well, I have experienced many of the above distractions and, have to admit, that I'm the type that gets really annoyed. I always say something. My friend who attends the ballet with me always says, "Who are you going after tonight?" or "They always sit next to you." Just last week during of the first night of the new Mahdaviani at NYCB, two couples with two daughters were sitting behind me. During the first ballet, the teenage girls were laughing throughout. I tried to ignore it. From their conversations during the intermission, I gathered they were tourists who came to the ballet just so they could say, "Well, we saw something at Lincoln Center. We experienced culture." Nothing wrong with that but during the premiere, the girls started up again, and added sluping noises to their repertoire. I had thrown a few polite shhhes their way but finally during a break in the action turned around and said, "You might not be interested in what goes on stage but I am. Could you please tell your daughters to be quiet." Well, that was the kiss of death. Now all six of them were giggling and snickering and making comments. Happily, two ballets were enough culture for them and they left before Fearful Symmetries. The point is, if you forget yourself and somebody has to ask you to be quite, just do it. Everybody slips. But the comments and the fights are just irritating and make even more noise. And I wish people would investigate before going to something like the ballet or opera. An evening of Episodes, Sonatas and Interludes, Summerspace, and Chaconne might not be the program to take very young children, or ballet neophytes. Oh, I'd also like to add toe-tappers, whistlers, and hummers to my list of enemies at the ballet. Along with those who undo wrappers during the pas de deux (if they must, do it quickly and possibly during applause for a solo or something). And those who have a comment for every new tutu they see. [This message has been edited by Dale (edited June 27, 2000).]
  21. I don't think I wrote that they shouldn't. Balanchine changed steps to suit dancers many times. My arguement is that just because a dancer is comfortable with a slow tempo, markings and the intent of the choreographer (especially one whose creations are wedded so to the music) should not be ignored. In the "Balanchine Lives" documentary, the dancers learning Theme and Variations said they forced themselves to stay with the tempo and not slow things down. Not ever dancer or singer is suited to ever part. And a dancer doesn't have to change a ballet just because it was made on another. And while Opera does feature changes (high notes brought down etc..), instrumental music really does not (except for the odd case). Very rarely. I've listened to several different recordings of, for example, Beethoven's 9th, and, yes, different conductors do have different interpretations, but they don't change notes or turn a largo into an allegro (again, I add, not very often). You mentioned that changes are not usually made by the orchestra. Well, isn't the corp de ballet sort of like the players of the orchestra? The example I used had the corps complaining about a change Isabel Fokine wanted to make. In the past, I played Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorsky but orchestrated by Ravel. This is the popular version. But Leonard Slatkin was researching all the other (over 70 he told us) orchestrations of the piano piece. So he had us play one by some Russian guy (sorry, I forgot his name). At no time did the tuba player stand up and complain that the bass clarinet now had his solo. Or the trumpet player go up to Slatkin and say, "Well, Maestro. I've always played the solo at the opening, and even though this guy gave it to the flute, we've always done it the other way." We might have thought it but we did as we were told. Bringing this back to the Kirov thread -- Andrei, you made a good point about the corps dancers. (And Eric, don't be so picky [This message has been edited by Dale (edited May 15, 2000).]
  22. Intuviel, I abhor bad tempi in any company or performance. And I love museums too. Unfortunately, Petipa doesn't have an active foundation to preserve his works, but Balanchine, Tudor and Robbins do. And if a representative goes to a company to mount one of the trusts' ballets, then I think they have a right to ask or insist on the proper performance practice of those ballets, including the tempi. Having read articles, attended symposium, and seen documentaries with coaches for the Balanchine and Robbins trusts, I can say they sound sensitive to artists' needs without sacrificing the ballets. So when Francia Russell goes to St. Petersburg to teach Svetlana Zakahova Apollo and says that she was difficult, I'll take her word for it. And while we've touched on this topic, as a musician, I find it interesting that people in ballet think nothing of changing choreography or tempos to suit themselves ("Well, the choreographer would want me to look good, right?") while in music that just doesn't usually happen. I just couln't go up to the conductor and say, "You know that high B in the horn solo in Beethoven's 7th? We'll high notes aren't my specialty. I'm going to take it down an octave. And those trills in the Academic Overture? I don't do trills so well, so I'm doing arpeggios. I've got my own version of the solo in Tchiak 5 too." I'm sorry, I'd have been replaced. Now, I'm not saying changes are never made in the music world or ballet should be the same way, but could you imagine a La Boheme where Mimi doesn't die at the end but goes off with the doctor? [This message has been edited by Dale (edited May 15, 2000).]
  23. I've also read interviews with coaches from the Balanchine Trust talk about the difficulties in mounting productions at the Kirov. Not just the ever-changing casts and politics but the dancers' stubbornness to do something a different way. In an interview in Ballet Review a few years ago, one the Kirov's own ballet coaches spoke about how difficult it was in trying to get the dancers to observe the proper tempos in Symphony in C, saying "Our ballerinas are ladies of leasure." And yes, I would at least try what Isabel Fokine was asking for. Just because you've done something for 100 years one way doesn't mean it is the right way. If I suddenly had a new Editor in Chief, who wanted copy to have a different style than the one we were using I'd have to go with the new style. I would have to respect his/her authority no matter if I was the second coming of Red Smith. If the Kirov's brass thought Fokine was worthy enough to come in and teach a different interpretation of a ballet, than as a dancer I might complain a little privately with my fellow dancers but I'd act professionally and listen to what she had to say. [This message has been edited by Dale (edited May 14, 2000).]
  24. I agree with you Marc that the Kirov should not chuck all of its heritage to turn into NYCB-East but I don't agree about Apollo. Do the Kirov dancers get tired of dancing Giselle until they drop? Or Swan Lake? No, they always say the more they perform a part, the greater their understanding becomes etc... Well, Zelensky has said that dancing Apollo is one of his greatest joys, and never fails to renew his love of ballet. I'm sure other artists feel the same way. Of course, with your knowledge of the troupe I will usually defer to you, but after watching the Kirov dancers' reaction to I. Fokine, I have come to the conclusion that they are extremely set in their ways and loath to try anything new that might push them to extend themselves. And while it is true, NYCB does not perform Jacobson or Zakhovov, they do put on at least two new ballets a season (around four a year), and without debating the merits of said choreography, they do try. ABT has tried Duato and Graham. I'm definitely not for a homogenizing of ballet companies and the jack-of-all-trades-master-none style rep, I do think companies can expand their base of ballets without betraying their style. I mean, the Kirov is being asked to perform Jewels, not Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir! Marc wrote: "As shocking as it may sound to you, but it does occur that dancers consider a ballet like "Apollo" an unbearable, dated bore." Maybe what they don't like is being told that they can't change steps to suit themselves and perform at whatever tempo they like (usually a dirge) no matter what the composers' markings are. [This message has been edited by Dale (edited May 14, 2000).]
  25. Marc, is there any validity to the Vishneva rumor? It would be interesting to get to see her so often at ABT (but maybe not so good for her growth as a dancer).
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