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Everything posted by jonellew

  1. I've taken my three-year-old to several performances, but she is a much better audience member when we see mixed bills of contemporary works than ballet. This could be because the mixed bill is easier for her attention span to handle, because of her preference, or because the ballets we've taken her to have not been very good. We recently took her to see Ballet Austin's Nutcracker, and by the second act she wanted to lie on the floor under her seat. I couldn't blame her; in fact I considered joining her. Really, I think we would do better to wait another year or so before taking her to dance performances, but sometimes it's just easier to take her along.
  2. How I wish I could cite brilliant live performance as my segue into ballet! As a teenage student in Colorado, I saw limited live performances but watched a VHS of the Makarova A&E Ballerina special almost almost every night, and it was the advanced students from the Mariinsky school and the Royal Ballet school, to be honest, who were my idols. And images of Maximova in library books. I also had a VHS of the Asylmuratova/Royal Ballet Bayadere, which I loved for Asylmuratova, secondly for Mukhamedov, and thirdly for Bussell.
  3. Big Range Austin, a two-weekend contemporary/indie dance festival here in ATX, begins 6/5. I think the sister festival in Houston started last week. I'll be seeing all four programs in Austin, but none in Houston. Anyone else going to either festival? http://www.bigrangeaustin.org/ http://www.bigrange.org/
  4. Just based on these clips and interviews from rehearsal, this one seems more interesting: "'Collision' of Dance and Disability" in the NYT.
  5. Austin: KLRU 18, May 24th, 2:00 pm followed by Ballet Austin's Hamlet, on the same channel, at 4:30 pm!
  6. Me, too! I've always pronounced it "in my head" with the "t," and luckily, Merriam-Webster confirms that this is correct. Phew. Thanks, SanderO, for the definitions—I loved the description of Gorey as an example. Sadly, I haven't settled in a city that supports a true balletomane lifestyle. So I'm not, according to that definition. But if circumstances were different, I think I could be.
  7. Thanks for these. I think this was my favorite. I don't understand most of the French but am so glad I caught the words of the awed audience member (the woman who brought her husband): "La reve de ma vie."
  8. Thank you all for your thoughts and comparisons, both technical and non. I don't have any experiences to proffer (we have an HD-ready TV, but I don't have an HD videos). I've seen glimpses of sports in HDTV (we're in the U.S. and a few channels are available in HD )and could see how the experience of viewing dance might be enhanced. (Even though I think that sometimes a low-quality bootleg on YouTube transports me to the theatre most effectively). I can see how usual stage makeup might be overkill in HD—whenever we watch Saturday Night Live in HD, I always notice how the gleam in Seth Myers' eyeballs is picked up in Weekend Update. It's a bit distracting. I'll certainly look for the HD format in the next dance video I purchase, though.
  9. I had this experience when I recently saw the main Ailey company on tour here in Austin (they did a narrative something with Sweet Honey and the Rock that seemed like a didactic children's ballet and the 1971 Suite Otis in addition to Revelations). I have also experienced this recently at Ballet Austin. I do try to focus just on the dancers, but it doesn't usually make for a fun evening. It was especially difficult at the recent Ballet Austin double bill in which the dancers were utilized wonderfully in a Nicolo Fonte work in the first half and then, I felt, thrown into a cheesy muck in the Stephen Mills work in the second half. Helene, I love how you've enumerated your reaction. Here's mine from a recent blog post (though this reaction was to mediocre dancers, as well): Cycle of grief over poorly used stage time: 1. Disappointment. (Well, this kind of sucks.) 2. Boredom. (I wonder when this theater was renovated.) 3. Denial. (Maybe it's not that bad. Please, let me find something interesting onstage!) 4. Offended. (I can't believe I paid for this! Do they think the audience is stupid? I should just leave.) 5. Disappointment. (This just makes me sad. Oh no, really, a standing ovation?) We get this a lot in Austin in contemporary dance. There are lots of interesting independent choreographers, but most of the good dancers move away.
  10. Yes, they we just in Austin. (My more complete thoughts are here: http://circumscribe.blogspot.com/2009/03/q...american.html.) Not sure what the program is in Miami, but here it was something with Sweet Honey in the Rock, a 1971 pink blah to Otis Redding, and Revelations. It's best if you try to be a good history student and think of Revelations in the context of the 1960s, when it was created, but the first section and the "Fix Me, Jesus" sections still resonated for me. Good dancers, too.
  11. I've been thinking about the ways we view dance onscreen. I don't know a whole lot about the technology of high definition TV/video, and I haven't seen any dance in HD, but I suspect that it would improve the experience of viewing dance onscreen. I'm wondering if this technology is being used yet by TV stations and video producers who show/film dance. Have you seen dance in HD? How was the experience enhanced from non-HD viewing? Thanks!
  12. Thanks, Bart, for identifying the interviewer and offering some excerpts, as well as placing the interview in a time context. I was wondering how old it was. I remember her—clearly from Apollo a few years ago, in the corps of La Bayadere before that, and as a student (she was perfect in Diana and Acteon)—as a dancer who could, at her best, be so open. It seems so natural for her that she seemed to really have the ability to free herself from the technique. I believe I can see why the exactitude of the Russian style might hinder that. But I think that very few dancers really have that degree of talent—it's almost as if she were already born with ballet technique, so she was working on another level. (Of course, since I haven't seen her in a while I may not have any idea what I'm talking about!) Anyway, I truly hope this new way of working is serving her well. Also, it may be interesting to note that she was in Sizova's class at the Kirov Academy. Sizova always seemed like the least hard and unforgiving of all the teachers, in my own experience, and the most nurturing of the artistic side, though she passed on her incredible technique as well. I think Langlois did a great job with the interview, but if there had been more space/time I wish he could have asked about Sizova as a teacher in particular.
  13. The current Ballet Review has a great interview with Wiles. It's not available online, but she discusses big changes that she's been making in her approach, how she now views Vaganova training and the Kirov Academy style of training as perhaps not so great for her, her work with David Howard, and how easy it s to get "lost" inside the ranks of ABT. I found her ideas to be quite mature, honest, and fascinating. I haven't seen her onstage in several years, unfortunately, so I can't compare the ideas in the interview with anything onstage. I'd love to read about the experiences of those who've been to see her recently.
  14. I know there is at least one video of ballet bloopers out there—does anyone know of it? It may be a Russian video. I remember it had lots of uninteresting falls and such, but also things like a dancer doing a circle of jete en tournant and getting wound up in a curtain and having to stop to move backward and unwind himself before continuing on.
  15. In a Colorado Ballet performance of Nutcracker some years ago, the guy dancing the Nutcracker was doing his mime at the beginning of the second act when some sort of backdrop cloth fell from the flies onto his head. It took a few minutes of panicked searching for him to get out—it looked like one of those bagism pieces for a minute. It must have been pretty terrifying, I guess, because he looked furious once he got if off and threw it offstage! Unfortunately, I am a sucker for surprising physical comedy and have never thought this was anything but hilarious. I hope he now looks back on the incident with humor.
  16. I agree. Did you happen to see Dustin Wills' play Ophelia here in Austin at the Blue Theater last year? Another great treatment, I think, that uses this same kind of device to tell in the first person Ophelia's story using five characters: Ophelia in love, (I am missing two here), Ophelia undone, and Ophelia in water. When I saw it, I remember saying it was the best thing I had seen onstage in a long time.
  17. Yay, another Austin voice! I agree with you, dancer100, that Hamlet is one of Mills' best works to date (I haven't seen everything, but I'm guessing the best). I know it has been performed by several other Western/Midwestern, medium-sized companies (Dayton, Milwaukee, and I forget where else), and I think that testifies to the appropriateness of its scope and size. Not sure if there are any more Texans on BT, but maybe others have seen the ballet on other companies. Anyone?
  18. Hi, Pointe 1432! Thanks for reminding me that I haven't gotten around to posting my thoughts on this ballet. In fact I liked it. I wish there had been a longer run so I could have seen it again. I saw the Sunday performance, and I thought Ashley Lynn was a touching, beautiful Ophelia and Frank Shott was suited to Hamlet. I had done a lot of research on this ballet, so I knew what to expect as far as the streamlined storyline and contemporary decor, but I was happy to see how it came together onstage. I found the ballet nice and concise, perfect for a company like Ballet Austin, and the effects and lighting were interesting. I especially like the dual projection of what looked like viscous red ooze as a background near the end of the ballet. Also, the fencing scene seemed done well and a nice touch of action for the audiences, especially since there isn't a lot of virtuosity in the choreography. Finally, I was touched that the scene for Ophelia's death translated the part of the play that describes her death: the passage talks about how her garments "bore her up" for awhile but then "heavy with their drink,/ pulled the poor wretch from melodious lay/ to muddy death," and at the end of the scene in Mills' ballet, Ophelia is stripped of her clothes. It seems apparent that, at that moment, she is dead, free from the weight of her soaked dress and everything else wordly. I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts on this ballet. Had you seen it both in 2000 and 2004?
  19. It's true that I imagine they probably did sell at least a few tickets to their upcoming shows, so I see what you mean, carbro. Still, I think the lobby, as other mentioned, is a much better place for this kind of advertising. OMG, a Whataburger (that's a fast-food chain, for all those not in Texas) ad would have sent me straight back to the box office demanding my money back! I saw the Sunday performance only, unfortunately. I would have like to see it more than once. This also had me thinking of another pre-show ritual that bothered me (though, it retrospect, it is not as bothersome as the commercials). I went to see the Stanislavsky Ballet on tour once—it may have been in Denver or Boston—and the orchestra played the national anthems of both Russia and the U.S. before starting in on Don Q. I was quite incensed at the time—for me, it seemed like "church" and state should have been separated, i.e., the state not revered in my "church," the theater. In retrospect, though, it wasn't all that bad, and I should have been appreciative that the company toured with an orchestra at all.
  20. Last weekend I went to see Ballet Austin's production of Stephen Mills' Hamlet, which I was anticipating very much since it has had considerable success since the 2000 premiere, and which I actually did enjoy. However, I did not enjoy the commercials that were played on a screen on a scrim before the performance. The advertisements were like previews at the movies: two "trailers" for the company's upcoming shows and an advertisement for the school. While I understand that this may in fact sell tickets, I just can't accept it. It totally broke the atmosphere and broke the "our world—blackout—their world" transition that is, in my opinion, the splendor of the proscenium theater. (To make strange stranger, people down in the orchestra applauded when the commercials were over.) I can't imagine this happening at the Met! Wouldn't people completely freak out? I'm just wondering whether anyone has seen this type of advertising elsewhere.
  21. Ballet Austin is reviving this work next month. I haven't seen it, but from what I can tell, big contemporary ballets like it are Mills' strong suit. Does anyone who has seen it have any thoughts? I know it has been performed by several other companies in the U.S. besides Ballet Austin.
  22. Sorry to read this. I was a student at the Kirov Academy from 1995-97, and I remember Ralph as a kind, familial presence in a sometimes cold environment and as benevolent distributor of pointe shoes and videotapes of academy performances.
  23. This clip was already fascinating, but after reading this I need to watch it again! Thanks for enlightening.
  24. This reminded me of a funny story: After stopping dancing professionally, I worked at a small and busy coffee shop as a college student. There were tight quarters behind the counter, and I realized that often I would reach or dart past someone a coworker without a second thought and the coworker would step back with a "Whoa!" I guess I was invading the personal space. But when another dancer began working there, we talked about it and realized that we were both doing it, probably because when you are dancing in a piece and you need to get from point A to point B by a certain musical cue, you just go, cutting through people however necessary. You don't worry about brushing someone's arm and saying "sorry," "excuse me." Our coworkers did comment on how gracefully we reached for the mocha syrup and poured the coffee, though. It became a little choreography: turn, reach, cup, sleeve, pour, lid, turn.
  25. Thank you, ajg, for the information about the lack of tympanists. That makes sense, and I figured as much, but the lack of live orchestra was just so unfortunate for Episodes, I thought. This is interesting because in the book Balanchine's Stories of the Great Ballets, Balanchine (w/ Francis Mason) writes the following of Episodes: "Some people watching this part [Five Pieces] of the ballet in the theatre laugh a little. That is, here at home, not on our tours of Europe or Russia. I sometimes think Americans feel obliged to laugh too much when there is not much reason to." Any thoughts? I agree that Americans are freer to smile and laugh and that carries over into their (our) reactions to art. Nothing wrong with it, except that maybe others perceive it as disrespectful or not taking things seriously. There were a few moments where I did smile, myself, but I don't remember that any of them were in the Five Pieces section.
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