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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    ballet goer
  • City**
    New York City
  1. I had a far more positive experience than Abatt. I thought the evening was a delight and I didn't even get to go to the dinner. It started with a film produced by Kristen Sloan that interviewed the dancers, choreographers, Martins and Calatrava. Then Peter gave a little speech and toasted Calatrava and his wife with Aquavit (I think) in honor of Calatrava's Swedish wife. They used to give little bottles to everyone in the audience to also toast whomever. Then they just had little cups of vodka available at intermission. Now nada. Hard times I guess - but it was such a nice gesture. And how much could the bottles cost - and couldn't they get them donated? Then we had the curtain rise on Calatrava's wonderful inventive set and Millipieds choreography. The sole dancer (Suozzi) appears and moves slowly through the set. Then lots more dancers in bright delightful funny interesting colorful outfits. As Abatt stated over the courses of the Ballet he is dressed while the delightful Kathryn Morgan is stripped to a white costume. The movement through the Calatrava arch were well executed. I think Millipied made excellent use of the set. I thoroughly enjoyed the ballet. It was moving and funny at times. And the performances by all the dancers was outstanding. Especially the principals: Suozzi, Kathry Morgan (replacing Janie Taylor at the almost last minute), Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar. After the intermission the Ratmansky piece began. I don't have the time now to go into great detail and I really look forward to seeing this a couple of more times this season. The costumes were colorful - although some of the wigs annoyed me because I had trouble recognizing some of the dancers. But they gave the piece a very historical and/or futuristic appearance. The black wigs on the corps looked like 1920's flappers. The head gear for some of the men looked very futuristic. This ballet is certainly going to be a keeper. It was a bit long but never lagged in interesting structure and dancing. There were comic roles (Jennifer Ringer was a delight in this). Some superb bravura male dancing by Daniel Ulbricht. Robby Fairchild as well as Whalen and Mearns were superb. Abi Stafford and Meghan Fairchild were a delightful pair dancing with Ulbricht. I can't think of anything really negative about this. I look forward to seeing it a couple of more times this season as well as in the future.
  2. The best way is to check the cast posting on the web site. They usually post casts a week or two in advance. Or they try to anyway. The NUT is famous for having switched casts - so you can never be certain who is dancing what when. But the posted castings are still the best source. As for tickets - my guess is that since you want to come in on a weekend it may be harder to get last minute tickets. The other thing you should know about is "Ticket Donations". These are tickets from people who can't use their tickets and they donate them to the company for a tax credit. The tickets are sold in the left side of the lobby starting exactly 30 minutes before curtain time. They will take a check - but no credit card. They operate independently of the box office (and compete with them which is why they aren't allowed to advertise it as much as they should). I am not sure how many they get for the Nut, but I do believe they must get some. They almost always have tickets for non-Nut programs. These are then usually subscriber seats and tend to be some of the best seats. If there is bad weather they are almost guaranteed to have tons of tickets. Good luck.
  3. To each his own. I ONLY like to sit in the first 5 or 6 rows in the center of the orchestra. I know of others who prefer the first ring (which is even more expensive for some reason I can't fathom). I like to see the dancers up close. I have been sitting there for over 40 years and think it is the most exhilarating place to enjoy the ballet. In any case if you are going to see the Nutcracker with kids it will be a wondrous experience for everyone. Enjoy.
  4. Just got our subscription reorder. The good news is that our seats are essentially the same as they were before the reconfiguration of the orchestra. The bad news - first and foremost - the programming. I am not generally a fan of story ballets. So having 6 full length ballets (5 of them story ballets) was a huge disappointment. But I gather that someone in the marketing department must think that these will sell better. If that is the case I would have to support the decision... I personally believe that the company faces huge financial issues in the coming year. I feel that the economic conditions have drastically reduced the corporate and foundation support that was normal in past years. That certainly has to hurt. So whatever is necessary to maintain the company financially healthy is worthwhile at this point. Another issue - but less so for me was the Special new $10 discount for subscribers - what he doesn't mention was that it is after the ticket prices for the center orchestra were raised by $15. A net $5 increase. But these seats are now premium orchestra center seats and I can see charging a bit more for them. I also think the front center section of the First Ring were raised. I think most of the other seats will remain the same price for subscribers after the discount.
  5. We often go to the Studio talks in the Rose Bldg as well as the Monday night programs in the Koch theater. Joan is the best interviewer they have. She has encyclopedic knowledge of ballet. She knows the dancers and know the history of ballet as well. She is often incisive and asks great questions. If you ever get a chance to see her conducting one of these talks - I highly recommend them. I never went to one where I didn't learn a lot - if not about ballet then about the particular dancers, choreographer, conductors etc.
  6. Disclaimer - I generally do not like story ballets (except maybe Slaughter). So we traded in our tickets for Thursdays R+B for Wednesday :-) The issue discussed about the beauty of the dancers is less relevant to me than their ages. You need young dancers to pull it off as far as I am concerned. Seeing an older dancer - no matter how good - doing Juliet just doesn't wash with me. Peter got that one right. I did however watch it on Thrusday night. And the best part of it is some wonderful dancing by Hyltin and Robbie Fairchild as well as the magnificent sword play. Those are real (if dull) swords and the choreography of their duels is amazing. And they never get to do a retake. Errol Flynn never had it so hard... When I saw it 2 years ago, sitting in the front of the orchestra the set was so dreary and dull looking. Everything was so dark. It is better on TV (or from above) where the floor provides some contrast and a little lightness. I also understand why Peter chose this ballet - it is a real money maker for the company as best I can tell. They have invested marketing bucks on it and it must bring in the general public more than a more traditional NYCB program.
  7. Maccauley's article echoed many posts on this board, as well as his own previous articles in the Times. He has written on numerous occasions about his disdain for Kistler, Borree and Nilas Martins. The only point I disagreed with him on was Wendy Whelan. I enjoy watching her in most ballets. She is not as well suited to certain ballets (like Swan Lake), but for the most part she is an exceptional dancer. I agree w. Maccauley that Reichlin was underutilized this season in major roles, and that this was the breakout season for Tiler Peck. I also thought that this was a very good season for Ana Sophia Scheller (she is not mentioned in the article), Robert Fairchild, Tyler Angle and Andrew Veyette. I also thought Maccauley was a bit too harsh on Abi Stafford. I think he has a personal dislike for Whelan for some reason that I can't fathom. She is a wonderful dancer and he has never ever, not once, given her anything but bad reviews. I also think he has a personal vendetta against Martins. Maybe he slighted him in some way. I am not sure why - but the screed in yesterdays Times was just uncalled for. He rarely has anything nice to say about NYCB. At best he doesn't completely trash them. At worst he makes very stupid comments. Like last Spring when he essentially declared that everyone danced Balanchine better than NYCB. Give me a break. I have seen some other companies dance Balanchine (Miami, POB for example) and believe me they are NOT better than NYCB - not even remotely so. Actually not nearly as good. And I can't believe that the Kirov or Royal do a better job as he has stated. I recall him saying the the Royal did something much better than NYCB. NYCB followed the choreography precisely but Royal was more exciting. I can see Balanchine rolling over in his grave.
  8. As mentioned before the cost of a corps dancer is not all that different than a principal dancer. The cost of everything from benefits, travel expenses, per-diems, ovetime, etc. is the same for everyone in the Company. And my guess is that makes up a huge portion of the costs for a dancer. Also note that the contract calls for a minimum of 80-85 dancers - so the company can only shrink so much without violating the union contract. I also can't blame Peter Martins for not firing Darci or Nilas. They have had a long tenure with the Company and deserve to exit on their own reasonable timetable. I don't think we should hold there relationship with Martins against them. I can recall Francisco Moncion being an embarrassment before he retired. And a was mentioned before many dancers over the years have been kept on beyond their prime ... some painfully so. While Darci is not what she once was, in the roles she is now dancing I find her still captivating. Nilas doesn't seem to dance any worse than he always did. I think that Martins has done a spectacular job of keeping the Company on sound financial footing. That is certainly no easy task for any arts organization these days. I wish there was a better way than to cut 11 dancers, but I am not sure I know of one that would have such an immediate impact. I wish he could just cut all salaries across the board in the Company say 15% but I doubt if that is an option based on individual and union contracts. I believe that NYCB dancers are for the most part the highest paid in the country. Even the lowliest corps member starts at about $38,000 on a 38 week contract. I believe they can even collect unemployment for the other 14 weeks of the year. And that does not include per-diems (which may actually be spent when on the road - $190/day in Saratog, at least $200/day elsewhere), overtime - which in the past could easily reach $500/week for a corps dancer (it has been drastically reduced as has full orchestra rehearals). And senior corps dancers BASE salery is closer to $72000 for a 38 week season. Principals start at around $93000 for the 38 week season. And according to their tax filing for 2005 fiscal year (the last I could find) no-dancer made as much as $200,000. (The amount paid to the CFO). So none of the dancers are getting wildly rich while all of them have more than livable wages. As they should have. These dancers are for the most part the best we have in the country - and it is nice to see them paid a livable wage. I think nearly all other dancers in this country have much more of a struggle. As do most people in the arts. It would be nice if this country considered the Arts as a more essential part of our culture... but I don't think that will change soon. Hopefully some of the stimulus package will drift down to the Arts community. I also believe there are a number of non-dancer positions open that are not likely to get filled immediately. I am a volunteer with the Company and have seen first hand some operations of the Company that are - to put it gracefully - less than ideal. Hopefully some of that will get looked at now and maybe save some money. I am not sure that will happen but I do hope so. I think the next couple of years are going to be very difficult for all Arts organizations. My guess is that NYCB will remain more than viable. My concern is more for the smaller companies that may not make it at all.
  9. I saw the Ratmansky last Thursday and pretty much agree with Drew. It needs more viewing there was so much going on. The way Whelan was spun around I thought she would get airborne. A very delightful evening. We were also there last night for Brandenburg, In the Night and Opus Jazz. I forgot how much I loved Brandenburg. I haven't time now to give a proper review of last night - maybe later. The one thing that I feel the immediate need to SCREAM is that Alastar McCauley has to be the worst Ballet Reviewer int the history of dance. Actually he is not even that good. In todays paper he essentially says that NYCB danced "Dances at a Gathering" exactly the way Robbins wanted, but that the Royal Ballet was more exciting and gave more dance value. WHAT????? I give up. Have to run.... but what is he thinking?
  10. I also went on Thursday and had a quite different take on Watermill. Unfortunately we have seen this ballet a few previous times (including its premiere). I still don't like it. Its not boring. But it is tedious. If it was maybe 20 minutes long it would be an interesting diversion. But at nearly an hour it is well ... tedious. Most of the people who sit near me and most people that I spoke to felt the same way. One woman, however, did think it was the most beautiful ballet she had ever seen. But that seemed to me to be a rare take on it. I also know feel the same way and many of the regulars didn't show up on Thursday. As for Four Seasons... it is a favorite of mine. Especially the Summer section - seems to me to be the most sensual ballet. Have to run now, more later.
  11. I don't recall seeing Diana Adams in the Siren role in Prodigal, nor Farrell. The best siren I ever saw was Karen Von Aroldingen. She had extraordinary broad shoulders and just looked amazing in the role. She just oozed sexiness and power. I also thought that Darcy did a very good job as well. She also has broad shoulders, sexiness and power. Reichlen was technically fine and I thought she was sexy enough - but her slight long build didn't exude the power that I think is necessary. Her height I thought was a plus. I think the siren needs to tower over and overwhelm the son. I thought Ulbricht was very good in the role. Not Baryshniko, but very good. I think Woetzel also did a great job in the role as well. Unfortunately I don't remember seeing Villella doing the role. I am just reading a wonderful book, Barbara Milberg Fisher's "In Balanchine's Company". She relates this wonderful story about Prodigal. Mr. B. was working on the role with Francisco Moncion (aside - I can't imagine him in this role - after only seeing him perform in the 70s - well past the time he should have retired). But of course this was in the early 1950's. There were a number of dancers watching and Mr. B. related a fantastic story of teaching the original role to Lifar. I wont spoil it as I am too lazy to type in the all the paragraphs needed to explain it - so buy the book - it is worth it for the story on pages 56-57 alone. Or just read that part at your local B&N. I have nothing to do with this book, and I have not finished it - but if you are interested in the very early days of NYCB it is fascinating. Milberg was a soloist with the company. She became a literature professor at City College so the book is very readable. I highly recommend it.
  12. I like the idea that the company is driven by the Works and not the Dancers. The post the casting at least the week before on the web site and in the lobby. We have 2 subscriptions (both Thursdays night series) and often buy extra tickets or end up trading in tickets if we have a conflict or will be out of town. We might purchase some extra tickets to see a favorite ballerina (Maria Kowroski currently) dance in something new or special. But that is not usually the driving force - the ballets are. I will want to see anyone at NYCB dancing Agon. Or 4T's. Or mostly any of the Balanchine and Robbins works. I would also do that for some Martins work (Barber Violin Concerto for example) and certainly most of Wheldon and many of the other young and new choreographers that have most recently been shown (Elo for example). Not that I don't have my favorite dancers. But the driving force is always the ballet, not the dancer. That is always a secondary consideration - as I think it should be. ABT is much different in that they promote their star system and people go to see specific principal dancers much more than at NYCB. Also, ABT does mostly full length evening story ballets (which I am not particularly fond of) and you are pretty much stuck with the specific stars for the entire evening. At NYCB they usually have many shorter ballets and have many of their principal dancers performing on any given evening. That is part of the joy. And an even bigger joy is seeing a young dancer being given a principals role. It happens many times every season - and that can be as much fun and as enjoyable as seeing one of the principals. They have often plucked dancers out of the corps to do major principal roles. I believe Sara Mearns dance the principal role in Swan Lake while she was a corps dancer. And they had chosen a young SAB student to dance Julliet in R&J! Unfortunately she was injured and a young corps dancer had to take her place. I can recall many dancers who as corps members danced in principal roles - eventually becoming soloists and then principals. In fact I would guess that is true of all of the principal dancers. Young dancers at NYCB seem to be given a chance to strut their stuff. And I love that about the company.
  13. I was also up high in the fourth ring and with my poor eyesight and my wife forgetting the opera glasses... I really couldn't see faces. That being said I have to agree with most of the posters about the evening. It was really quite wonderful. The highlights for me were of course Whelan and Evens in Liturgy. They were really fantastic. And Maria and Woetzel seemed to be having a ball and were dancing full out. What a great first half it was. And it sure sent everyone to intermission with big smiles on their faces. The second half was - well less interesting. The Overture to Rusian and Ludmilla was ... well ... an overture. I thought Grazioso deserves to come back. It was really a tour de force for the three male dancers. I had a lot of trouble seeing who's who from where I sat... mainly just being able to identify Veyette as he is taller than the other two. The final piece A Life for the Tsar was a lovely staged piece d'occassion (sp?). The patterns were lovely and to see that many dancers on the stage at one time was breathtaking. It made sitting up high worthwhile. There were about 150 dancers on stage - it seemed like everyone from the corps to the principals as wall as tons of students from SAB. And another 25 opera singers. Quite the spectaacle.
  14. hbl

    Ashley Bouder

    I am/was a huge Merrill Ashley fan. Any time she did Ballo - I was thrilled with her speed and clarity. It would make any evening memorable. She was my second favorite all time dancer (after Farrell). I don't see a small dancer doing Diamonds. I don't remember Ashley doing it. It was made for Farrell and only Korowski has come close to her in that ballet in my very humble opinion. I think the long limbs are critical to Diamonds beauty. Not that Bouder couldn't dance the roll divinely - but her shorter limbs will not be as enthralling to me as Kowroski. I would love to see Reichlin do it. She would be ideal in terms of long leggedness. I am not so sure about Mearns. I am not a huge Mearns fan (yet). I like thin leggy dancers ... always have. Farrell, Ashley, Watts, Whalen, Korowski and now Reichlin.
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