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Roma

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Posts posted by Roma

  1. "it opened in 1933 on the fourth floor of an old building on 59th & Madison."

    I remember reading that it was also Isadora Duncan's studio at one time.

    (One critic/dance historian, who shall remain nameless, even wrote (and published!) that he thought that Serenade, having been created more or less in that space, was obviously very much influenced by Duncan's dancing by way of the lurking spirit (or was it the actual ghost?) of Duncan herself. Apparently, for some minds, too much history is not a healthy thing)

  2. Ok, this may be a tough one.

    Does anyone know to which mazurka the ballerina's solo in Les Sylphides was danced in 1909?

    Cyril Beaumont in his "Complete Book of Ballets" has it as op.33 no.3 (which has, I understand, become the guy's mazurka in Russia).

    I have a Robert Irving recording according to which the girl's mazurka is in D op.33 no.2 and the boy's is in C op.67 no.3 (same as in Reynolds' book)

    So did Beaumont get it wrong? Is it a misprint or was the music changed?

  3. Dale, thank you so much for your comments on Part. It really is amazing how two people can see the same exact performance and take away such drastically different impressions. But that's probably the best part:)

    About Emeralds though. To me it is such a self-contained private world, and that's how it should be danced--as if unaware of the audience. (It's somewhat similar to the adagio of Bizet in this way). Part was very much aware of us watching her, and she showed it. Maybe that's what bothered me most about her performance. But then again, I often think that what we love (or not) about any particular dancer has less to do with his or her dancing, and everything to with his or her, shall we say, more metaphysical qualities. And that's not something one can argue with:).

    The bodice of Pavlenko's tutu, by the way, really was dirty. I decided that Korsuntsov must've forgotten to wash his hands before going out on stage;)

  4. I was there Thursday and Friday.

    Aside from the radiant performances of Ayupova, Pavlenko, and Vishneva, Jewels, though valiantly attempted, was not, as far as I am concerned, a great success. A far cry from the glowing performances given by Miami City Ballet last June. It seems to be a very fragile work, and perhaps the reason the ballets didn’t look quite right is because of who the stagers were. Nothing against Borne, von Aroldingen, and Leland, but Verdy, McBride, and Farrell they are not. Nevertheless, it was a good effort and I think it’s fantastic that the Kirov has it and other Balanchines in their regular repertoire. I just wish that they would import some coaching once in a while, but then I could say the same of NYCB.

    The one thing that I found really annoying was the extensive bowing after the solos—it broke up the flow of the choreography.

    I have to disagree about Part’s performance. I remember being very impressed with her in 1999, not so much in Apollo, but in Symphony in C where she was meltingly beautiful. This week… The two performances of the Mimi Paul part were sorely lacking in, well, just about everything. I don’t think she has the technique to carry it off--she had noticeable trouble in the solo on both nights, and in a ballet that’s all about arms her port de bras lacked any kind of refinement or even shape. There is a gorgeous step in the solo where she does a grand battement and goes down to the knee. It should be executed in one smooth breath and she broke it up into three different segments—up, down, to the knee—and that’s a question of both technique and musicality. And in that sweeping, dreamy solo she was actually flirting with the audience. Did she not hear the music at all? As the ballet went on I found her more and more grating—if she had rolled her eyes any more they would have fallen out of her head.

    Ayupova on the other hand was just perfect. Her phrasing was so sensitive, and there is such a light about her when she dances. I love her, to me she personifies the very best of the Kirov training and style. And those gorgeous "cut from marble" arms…

    Vishneva was excellent on Thursday, but maybe trying a little too hard.

    Of Golub the less said the better. Gumerova in some bizarre way reminds me a little of Ansanelli, and I really enjoyed her delicate legs, but she completely lacked the power appropriate for the Patricia Neary role. She tried to substitute for it by lowering her chin, and looking at the audience from under a furrowed brow in the most menacing way she could manage, which was not very menacing at all. The men.. oh, the men. Both Samodurov and Fadeyev made me wonder why they couldn't tell the difference between subtle wit and the Three Stooges. On Thursday, Samodurov was still in his Don Q. mode, milking the ballet for laughs, and on Friday Fadeyev tried to counter his own delicacy by excessive aggression, going after every movement as if he wanted to strangle it. I found Korsuntsov less objectionable in Diamonds than in Swan Lake, but has he ever heard of plie?

    Diamonds. Maybe Vaziev decided that his ballerinas are as rare a breed as yellow diamonds-- thus the brown-gold tutus ;) It bothered me a little on Thursday, but on Friday I didn’t even notice—I just couldn’t take my eyes off Pavlenko. From the second she stepped out on stage, I knew this was going to be very special. Technically and musically flawless she danced with such passion and such sincere joy (smiling to herself a little after difficult passages in the solos), with every bit of feminine grandeur the role requires -- it just left me breathless. Sensational--on a completely different plane of existence than anyone else on stage that evening. I am so sorry I missed her in Emeralds and Rubies but at least I got to see her in La Bayadere. For me she has been the greatest soloist delight and discovery of this season (And Ayupova, of course, but I’ve loved her for years)

    On Thursday, Zakharova flowed beautifully through the shapes of the pas de deux, but again it looked like her brain wasn’t connected to the rest of her body. And what was going on with that permagrin in the variations and finale? She was smiling so much, I was afraid she’d hurt herself. And the extensions… In the very first supported developpe it looked as if she was going to stop her leg shoulder high—I almost let out a little sigh of relief—but no, up and up it went until she nearly hit herself in the head. A friend once called her La Radiostantsia, and was she ever right :).

  5. Well, I went to the Saturday matinee hoping to see Pavlenko in SL. Alas, it was not to be. She was there to be sure, behind Zakharova as a demi soloist swan.

    I had seen Zakharova’s Diamonds, and thought her quite great in the role—the first dancer ever to make me not think of Farrell while watching her. The musicality, amplitude, and fluidity of her dancing created an impression of melting grandeur. She was a bit distant perhaps, but the overall effect was one of almost majestic brilliance. (The “almost” is for her hideous, touch-your-nose-with-your-foot grand battements in the finale). I was ready to concede that her years of apprenticeship as a freakishly twisty automation were finally ending and here was a unique and gifted artist ready to emerge. I expected great things from her Swan Lake. And indeed, except for those Eiffel Tower extensions that made me cringe and squirm in my seat (may be it’s a nervous tick, and she can’t help herself?), her dancing was impeccable. But half way through Act II pas de deux I had to ask—is there anyone in there, inside that grotesquely gorgeous body of hers? Because she did not infuse her movement with any sense of drama, dignity, or nobility (as Manhattnik said earlier), after a while even her musicality began to look like affectation. Every effect seemed diligently rehearsed, and I did not for a second lose the sense that this was Svetlana Zakharova beautifully executing this or that step. It lent her portrayal a certain falseness. Perhaps she still lacks somewhat in imagination-- it just does not seem to me that she has the ability to conjure up worlds with her dancing. I could not believe in her Odette the way I believed Nina A or Lopatkina (who is on maternity leave) or Maria Kowroski in this role.

    SZ fared far better as the Black Swan. She was probably one of the best Odiles I had ever seen—malicious, seductive, technically dazzling, perfect. A bit girlish perhaps, but it worked. She seduced the prince, the audience, and she very nearly seduced me into liking her ;).

    Korsuntsov is very elegant, but has little presence, and I could care less whether he was or wasn’t on the stage throughout most of the evening. I would love to see Fadeyev in this role—his soft-spoken, poetic, pliant elegance should be very fitting here, in a way it might not have been for Solor.

    Natalia Sologub was interesting in the pas de trois, and as a swan. She has such an aggressive, almost angry quality—I can’t imagine her as Aurora, though she must be very well suited to the “modern” repertory.

    How great was it to see the national dances performed as if they were an integral part of the ballet (which of course they are, except I couldn’t figure out where they fit in dramatically), and not as throwaway parts. I love that the Russians perform even corny and kitschy parts with such complete conviction, and without any apologies, that it lends the pieces value that perhaps they do not deserve (not talking about the character dances here, but in general). Mercuriev stood out in the Spanish—beautiful feet, and some appropriate fire.

    The corps deserves all the praise they receive and much more. It was an incredible privilege to watch them in Swan Lake and La Bayadere this past week. Ditto for the orchestra, by far the best ballet orchestra I have heard. And I found it rather interesting that they adjust to what the dancer is doing on stage, not the other way around.

    As far as the production itself—yes, it lacks a dramatic focus; yes, the ending is ridiculous, especially the ripped wing= writhing death part, but it doesn’t really bother me for a couple of reasons. One being that I have seen it many times and it isn't so jarring anymore. The other reason being-- I have never seen a full-length coherent Swan Lake, and I can’t help but find the lack of Freudian excesses in this one very refreshing. Plus any ending other than Balanchine’s seems ludicrous to me, and I am never completely happy watching a Swan Lake other than his.

  6. I saw Tuesday evening and Wednesday matinee performances.

    Vishneva is a beautiful dancer, and I have always liked her in the past, but Nikya is just not her role. She is much too earthy for it--I was half expecting her to pull out a fan, and break out in a Don Q variation. Also, at times, she seemed more than a little mannered--all that chest arching, and so on. The ballet as a whole didn't come together around her. Fadeyev was a poetic, if meek Solor. Perhaps he and Pavlenko would have made a better match.

    Daria was simply stunning yesterday, and I thought her portrayal very convincing, deeply felt, well thought-out, and most importantly--completely honest. I am so looking forward to her Swan Lake this Saturday. Samodurov was her somewhat coarse Solor, but then he is somewhat coarse in every role. He is a good jumper though--doubles of everything, to the knee, thank you very much. The little old ladies around me discussed this ability of his loudly and at length throughout his variation. Glad they enjoyed it, but just because they can't hear, doesn't mean no one else can.

    As far as the production itself... I did enjoy the first two acts very much. I don't mind that it was off pointe--it gives the ballet a little variety, and underscores the hierarchy (i.e. only princesses and priestesses deserve toe shoes;)) The Shades act was just amazing, I can watch them forever, and from the Grand Tier the scrim created a misty effect, so it worked for me:). It was so beautiful in fact that on Tuesday I left before the last act, because I wanted to carry away that vision.

    All that said, having the grand pas in act IV is completely anticlimactic, and the scenes in which Nikya's shade appears in "the real world" simply don't work. The dancers looked very uncomfortable in the pas de deux a trois, or whatever you want to call it, of the grand pas. All of a sudden, Nikya turns into this psycho ex-girlfriend, who even in death can't leave the poor guy alone. All that was missing was a boiled stuffed rabbit, sorry, tiger.

    Nevertheless it was really interesting to see this ballet closer to the way it was conceived, and realize that most changes that have been made, have been for the better.

    (The costumes and wigs, for the Shades especially, were gorgeous. I'd keep them, and go back to 1941;))

    The reception at both performances was rather tepid except after principles' variations and the Shades. On Wednesday, the dancers took their final bows in a nearly empty theater. The few of us that remained gave them a standing ovation. It was so sad.

  7. Juliet, I agree with you. Eifman and Farrell are definitely mutually exclusive, though I am sure she will figure hugely in his "life of Balanchine" ballet.

    Martins is very skilled at saying all the right things (ie "This is Balanchine's House, blah, blah, blah"), but he was never a believer--he simply wanted the director's chair. If Balanchine ever mistreated him, he has avenged himself well, and perhaps there is some of that in commissioning Eifman. I can't explain inviting that bombast in any other way. And when he does come, Martins will say, " here is a choreographer from Balanchine's native city. Like Balanchine he is an innovator; how else can we honor a great choreographer but with a new ballet, blah, blah, blah". Kisselgoff will clap like a happy little seal over at the Times.

    It's too depressing. :(

  8. Jeannie, when cast changes happen due to injuries they are always regrettable, but is something we accept as inevitable. Swapping dancers between dates or daytimes, in order to take away “the privilege of the first night” from one and give it to the other, and so on, after casting has been announced and tickets bought accordingly, is simply rude. The reason it happens so often with Russian companies is that at home, the percentage of their income that comes from ticket sales is so meager that they don’t really care about their audience. ABT knows principle casting five months in advance, but in the Kirov company politics take precedence over such trivialities as the audience’s desire to know who they are paying their money to see. I remember one particular time in St. Petersburg-- Makhalina was scheduled to dance Swan Lake. It was posted all over town about a week in advance. As I sat down and opened my program, I learned to my infinite dismay that a Tatiana Serova was to grace the stage that night as Odette/Odile. It’s not that Makhalina was injured; it’s just that her name filled the house for Serova who is a second soloist and couldn’t turn to save her life, pretty as she was. Kind of ingenious now that I think about it.

    As far as I am concerned there is no excuse for treating the audience in such a cavalier manner.

  9. We can argue about the merits of the article for a long time, but I think that there is a larger point that Homans was trying to make. We were left a legacy, which is our cultural heritage, and we seem to be so ready and willing to put it aside and to erect something new in it’s place.

    There was an example that I kept thinking of throughout the discussion about details. There is a video at the NYPL of Maria Tallchief coaching Peter Boal and Judith Fugate in Scotch Symphony. Both knew the choreography very well, but Tallchief was just not happy with the way it looked and kept saying to Fugate (Boal was perfect) "this is not the way I did it, this doesn’t look right, feel right." And she would adjust one detail after another and suddenly the steps came alive, and became vibrant and meaningful in a way that they have not been at NYCB for a long time. There is a diagonal in the pdd where the girl is lifted in sissones. Fugate kept doing them from pointe, and Tallchief kept saying that something was wrong. Finally, she realized that she never did this movement on pointe, and the whole phrase took on a completely different look and meaning. It was as if she took the dust off. And almost at every correction Fugate would say that this was the way she always did it. The point is of course that an experienced stager, who knows instinctively what Balanchine would have wanted, will know which details are important and which are not, and even how much freedom to allow any particular dancer, to make the ballet look as if it indeed has heartbeat.

    Farrell has said that if she doesn’t do in rehearsal as Balanchine would have wished, she can’t sleep at night. I doubt very much that The Ultimate Authority loses any sleep over any of Balanchine’s repertory. Yes, things could be a lot worse, but one only needs to look at MCB, at their beautifully resonant stagings to see how much better things could be.

    Why are we so prepared to accept this “inevitable” change in the way Balanchine’s ballets look? NYCB is not a workshop for new choreography, it is not A choreographer’s company, it was ONE choreographer’s company. And what does it mean to be a museum company? Having a core repertory and taking care of it? When the next Choreographer comes along he will have his own company and train his own dancers. Balanchine's ballets are still the reason for this company's existence, and they should be meticulously coached by people who knew/danced them best while they are still with us.

  10. We can argue about the merits of the article for a long time, but I think that there is a larger point that Homans was trying to make. We were left a legacy, which is our cultural heritage, and we seem to be so ready and willing to put it aside and to erect something new in it’s place.

    There was an example that I kept thinking of throughout the discussion about details. There is a video at the NYPL of Maria Tallchief coaching Peter Boal and Judith Fugate in Scotch Symphony. Both knew the choreography very well, but Tallchief was just not happy with the way it looked and kept saying to Fugate (Boal was perfect) "this is not the way I did it, this doesn’t look right, feel right." And she would adjust one detail after another and suddenly the steps came alive, and became vibrant and meaningful in a way that they have not been at NYCB for a long time. There is a diagonal in the pdd where the girl is lifted in sissones. Fugate kept doing them from pointe, and Tallchief kept saying that something was wrong. Finally, she realized that she never did this movement on pointe, and the whole phrase took on a completely different look and meaning. It was as if she took the dust off. And almost at every correction Fugate would say that this was the way she always did it. The point is of course that an experienced stager, who knows instinctively what Balanchine would have wanted, will know which details are important and which are not, and even how much freedom to allow any particular dancer, to make the ballet look as if it indeed has heartbeat.

    Farrell has said that if she doesn’t do in rehearsal as Balanchine would have wished, she can’t sleep at night. I doubt very much that The Ultimate Authority loses any sleep over any of Balanchine’s repertory. Yes, things could be a lot worse, but one only needs to look at MCB, at their beautifully resonant stagings to see how much better things could be.

    Why are we so prepared to accept this “inevitable” change in the way Balanchine’s ballets look? NYCB is not a workshop for new choreography, it is not A choreographer’s company, it was ONE choreographer’s company. And what does it mean to be a museum company? Having a core repertory and taking care of it? When the next Choreographer comes along he will have his own company and train his own dancers. Balanchine's ballets are still the reason for this company's existence, and they should be meticulously coached by people who knew/danced them best while they are still with us.

  11. Well, apparently there was plenty of booing, hissing, stomping and screaming at the Bolshoi Theatre during the Benois de la Danse Gala last Saturday. When one of the ballets up for The Best New Choreography (or some such thing), a piece by Belgian Jan Fabre (sp?), called something like "My movements are as lonely as stray dogs", turned out to be a prolonged session of, I don't quite know how to put it, self-love, complete with drooling, screaming, and actual stuffed dogs (don't ask), the audience erupted in loud boos, began to stomp it's feet, screams of "get off the stage", "Shame", "Shame, Grigorovich" (it's basically his show) were heard, and the Minister of Culture actually walked out, as did many other people.

    The second scandal of the evening occurred when it was announced that the much reviled Anastasia Volochkova was being presented with the Benois de la Danse prize for the Best Female Performance (for her turn as Odette-Odile in Grigorovich's Swan Lake). The entire audience fell into a deafening silence and then again came the booing, the stomping, and screams of protest.

    Aurelie Dupont (the co-winner of the dubious prize) was greeted by loud cheers, bravas, and very vigorous applause.

    The other nominees were Kirov's Svetlana Zakharova and Natalia Sologub.

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