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Everything posted by Manhattnik

  1. I'd write Peter Martins a check for $1,000,000, but tell him he had to use it to revive Pan Am Makes the Going Great.
  2. That's the awful thing about video-filmed performances, that you're forced to watch whatever the director wants you to watch. Maybe I don't want my attention directed to facial expressions, overdone or not. When it comes to editing dance for video/film, less is more. I suppose the powers that be didn't want users who might not be familiar with the story to get confused, but they should know it already, and would it've killed PBS to have a quickie synopsis? I'd like to see a Cornejo/Ulbricht Puck dance-off.
  3. Of course, in the "good old days," ABT was just plain old BT. Can someone recall (or look up) when the "American" was added, and why?
  4. While I missed the review of Liebeslieder which Ari cites, I can certainly imagine the POB dancers not quite knowing what to make of it. It's not surprising that many Brits don't think much of Balanchine's A Midsummer's Night Dream, as, I believe, its only recent performance there was PNB's rather awful production. I did think the British reviews of DTH, at least the ones I read, were fairly accurate: that this company just isn't as good as it used to be. I also don't think DTH is the best Balanchine standard-bearer, either. Didn't the British critics go wild over the small group Peter Boal took there a year or so ago? I don't remember how much of their rep was Balanchine, though.
  5. Would it be too arch to add Bruhn and Baryshnikov to the list? Probably. But if I didn't mention them, someone would've. But I have to add Peter Schaufuss. Schaufuss could've done much, much more, although he was supposedly a handful and a half. And let's not forget Jorge Donn. (I know, I know.)
  6. I am hoping that with its incorporation as a legitimate nonprofit organization, "Save the Ballet" can act as a persistant gadfly to the do-nothing SPAC board. At least SPAC board meetings will be open to the public from now on -- I'm sure there will be "Save the Ballet" representatives at each, taking careful count of who can't be bothered to attend. I'm glad the SPAC board dug into its own pockets for $300,000, but where's the fundraising plan? Where's the vision? Where's the endowment just for the ballet? There are so many things a responsible arts organization could be doing, and SPAC isn't. The board is just letting others take the lead. The fact that the board has set well-nigh impossible conditions for the continuation of the ballet at SPAC shows where their heads are really at. I'd like to ask the board what THEY plan to do to assure such attendance; I'm sure the board's only answer will be that it's Saratogians fault if they don't come out in record numbers, and not the boards'. Actually, I know where this board's heads are at, but I shouldn't say in this forum.
  7. I suppose the most (in)famous example of Balanchine's reaction to audience applause came during City Ballet's first Russian tour, when an audience was so taken with Eddie Villella's solo in Donizetti Variations that they brought the performance to a halt with noisy demands for an encore, which Villella and the orchestra's conductor eventually supplied. Needless to say, Balanchine was not pleased, and Villella details in his autobiography the somewhat humiliating way Balanchine got the message across.
  8. I loved it that a few hours (day? weeks? it's a blur) after Merrill Ashley told Ashley Bouder (Ok, this is getting confusing) to make Stars a straight, classical pas de deux, Jacques d'Amboise showed that kinescope of himself and Patricia McBride dancing Stars at the NY State Theater's opening-night gala hamming it up and and mugging to the heavens. And speaking of heavens, how about those times he tossed McBride about 12 feet off the floor for those entrechats? Wow!
  9. I'm still absorbing Merrill Brockway's revelation that Mr. B's favorite TV show was "Wonder Woman." Funny thing is, I can really see it.
  10. Remember in the late sixties and early seventies how so many buildings would mysteriously burn down, and the local joke was that it was because the insurance papers got too hot? Things certainly have changed....
  11. So are you saying the practice died out with the past century, or that you've been watching 19th century dancers? I hear it's all that Foneteyn woman's fault...
  12. Hello, MJ, and welcome to last year. If you find "State Theater" a confusing abbreviation, I'd hate to think what you'd make of how New Yorkers still refer to the Pan Am building, tell you where to hop on the BMT to get where you're going, or blithely ignore that someone in the Roosevelt administration decided Sixth Ave should really be "Avenue of the Americas." And Fashion Avenue? Let's not even go there. Yeah, I miss the telephone exchanges, too, but that's another story. I'm still hoping that my own shorthand for the Time Warner Center, "that monstrosity where the Coliseum used to be" will catch on, but only time will tell. Personally, I think it's just fine that The Times is aware of the differences between American and British spelling and usage, and respects them. Great, even. It's pretentious for Americans to deliberately misspell a word in order to give themselves cachet, or because they think it looks cooler. Perhaps if "Gentleman Johnny" had been a more effective general, we wouldn't have such differences in spelling and usage to vex us.
  13. Perhaps it was too much to hope for, but I wanted to see some of the Joffrey I've missed so much: Robert Joffrey's exquisite collection of historical gems rescued, however fleetingly, from the dustbin of history. Perhaps the current Joffrey still has some of delights in its repertory, but I strongly doubt it. I really didn't expect to see Parade, The Green Table, Jazz Calendar, Big City, New York Export, Opus Jazz, but some hint of ballet as part of an long and noble tradition would've been welcome. What symbolism one might see in the inclusion of the bit from La Vivandiere as backdrop (and reason for?) a veteran dancer's career-ending (in the real world -- it's glossed over in the movie), I'll leave to the imagination. Old-fashioned ballet as damaging? (Heck, had those Arpino clips gone on longer, I'd have busted a few tendons just watching. What has the guy got against plies, anyhow?) Instead all we got was Arpino's relentless perkiness, and other "modern" ballets which presented little more than catchy facades. Arpino's work was useful back when; it set a counterpoint for Joffrey's catholic collecting, and, as such, was less objectionable. Presented as the centerpiece of the Joffrey's current rep, the Arpino I saw (espcially Suite Saint Saens) just set my teeth on edge, like arriving at the State Theater back when hoping to see Suzanne and getting Heather. Without rewriting my original bit about this ballet, I found the cynicism very, very disturbing, and, as has been noted, Altman's cinema verite approach covers a multitude of sins. This is, in many ways, a very conventional backstage romance story, and also young kid (Ruby Keeler, Neve, whomever) makes good. Also, I find it really hard to believe that a dancer's boyfriend could run out onstage as Campbell's did at the end of Blue Snake without getting tackled by a few security guards.
  14. Let's not forget that when the Kirov last visited New York, Daria Pavlenko danced the Mimi Paul role in Emeralds and the Pat Neary one in Rubies on the same night (and did a fine job of each), and was even grander the next night in the Farrell role in Diamonds. I'm not sure what this says about emploi, other than that a truly extraordinary dancer can transcend its limitations.
  15. Somehow, Nijinsky's sturm und drang puts me in mind of Mark Twain: "Ignorant people think it's the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use." The problem, well, one of them, I have with Nijinsky is that, once you get past the shiny surface, it's all based on received wisdom. Nijinsky looks like he's having a toothache, so he must be Suffering for his Art. Neumeier sends Nijinsky's characters crashing into each other, so it must be a Brilliant Juxtaposition. Soldiers are made to look like mental patients, or is it the other way around? Aha! Nijinsky was going insane within just as Europe itself was going mad in WWI! War is crazy? No, really? Neumeier presents cliche after cliche dressed up as profundity. I'm not so sure the divide here is between formalism and theatricality, or whatever. I think it's between good theater, and bad theater, and Nijinsky is, for reasons many have noted, bad theater. Here's one definition of received wisdom, culled from an intensive Google search:
  16. With a really good Lilac, it hardly matters if she's placed dead center, and with a really mediocre one, it also hardly matters.
  17. And in The Saratogian. I really love this quote from a SPAC board member: Sad but true. You can't help but wonder at a board which decides to do fundraising for the ballet AFTER it's already decided there's no money to be found. Also, SPAC's estimates of the amount of money it loses on the ballet every summer keep on going up and up. Funny how that works.
  18. As this columnist from the Times Union observes, it looks like the SPAC board is running for cover: I liked this bit even better:
  19. I remember Lou Piniella would say that he liked it when fans yelled out his name, because even if they were booing, it still sounded like they were yelling his name. Of course, nobody boos (much) at City Ballet, or I'd imagine Paul Boos might've felt the same way.
  20. Hockeyfan, I like your point about Balanchine's work not usually hitting you over the head with its meaning, so that it can be interpreted on many levels. If I want to look at Vienna Waltzes (or Liebeslieder) and see pretty waltzing and nothing more, that's fine. But there's a lot more there to be noticed, and I think that's a lot of what Balanchine meant about educating his audience, to actually see and analyze what's going on before them. (Or Tudor, or Ashton, for that matter.) I would perhaps have enjoyed Nijinsky more (well, at all) if there had been something below, or beyond, the surface, but there wasn't, and the whole ballet was little more than an animated program note, with little depth, and less subtlety. When Neumeier re-enacted Le Spectre de la Rose, with Diaghilev as the "girl" in the chair, I had some hopes that Neumeier might be about to ascend to the rarified heights of kitsch which Bejart and Eifman scale so easily (Oh, how I wanted that "chorus" of guys in tuxes to start tap-dancing!), but, alas, it was not to be. I also wished I'd seen Bejart's Nijinksy, Clown of God. From what little I've read, it must've been a real barn-burner. Can anyone compare and contrast?
  21. I think it was a great debut for Bouder. Yes, she did have that unfortunate bobble in the Rose Adagio (she's not the first City Ballet dancer to have trouble there, nor will she be the last, I'm sure), but so what? Although it looked like she had a few butterflies to deal with in places in the first act, she also looked sparkling and strong. Her Vision scene was lovely, and her pas de deux magnificent. Bouder's great technical strength has been often remarked upon, but she's also one of the most sensitive and subtle dancers in the company, musically. In her first act solo, where she does the ever-faster backward steps, plieing and tenduing on alternate feet while arching her arms through a bit overhead port de bras, she clearly showed how thise steps should progress, starting slowly then ever-so-subtly faster, as yet another one of Petipa's "growing and blossoming" images. Bouder left a clear impression of this enchainement's shape, as well as its purpose. She played with the timing of each step, not blindly following Quinn's baton, nor blithely ignoring it, but with just enough variance to give this often-awkward combination breath and life. I thought her facial expressions were lovely, and her teen-age flirtations with the Princes both charming and appropriate. As for the rest, Woetzel partnered Bouder well, but phoned in his own solos, looking sloppy and cavalier even for him. Kowroski delivered the Lilac Fairy's mime clearly enough, but when she's not displaying her gorgeous line, she's often weak and sketchy. I've seen her Lilac three times so far, and she's never been able to cleanly hit that pirouette-into-tendu-plie pose without some unfortunate wobbles. I loved Nichols' subtle and graceful Carabosse, who looked to me like a snake just waiting for the right moments to strike, and strike hard. Edge's and Gold's Bluebird pas was not one for the ages, or even the moment. I loved Carla Körbes' Countess, finally giving up on Woetzel's sulking Prince with a "well, whatever" shrug of her shoulders. I don't recall hearing any boos at all.
  22. I don't know if this article from the Albany Times Union was in the links section, but it's worth mentioning both for the comments of Christopher Ramsey, director of external affairs of NYCB, and, with perhaps more import for the future, those of a spokesman for State Senator Joseph Bruno, who represents the Capital District, and, as leader of the State Senate, is one of the most powerful figures in New York politics. I would not want to incur Mr. Bruno's displeasure, as the article implies Chesbrough may have done: As Senator Bruno's website says, "Please feel free to contact Senator Bruno at the following offices:" Albany Office Room 909 Legislative Office Building Albany, NY 12247 (518) 455-3191 District Office 368 Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 (518)-583-1001 And/or email him using this form. Apparently his office has already been deluged with calls complaining of SPAC's decision to get rid of City Ballet. It might not be a bad idea for members of the public to be on hand when Bruno does meet with Chesbrough, to let Bruno know just what the public thinks of Chesbrough and his decisions. The ballet has been a big feather in the District's cap, and perhaps this loss won't go unchallenged in Albany. Also, this article in Albany's Metroland magazine by Mae Banner, longtime dance writer for The Saratogian (which has been oddly passive in its coverage of this debacle, printing not one single anti-Chesbrough letter, and leaving the investigative reporting to the Times-Union, and Banner). Among other interesting points, she reveals that according to Chesbrough, only about half of SPAC's board was present at the meeting where they "unanimously" voted to support Chesbrough's outsing of NYCB. I'll bet Peter Martins' invite got lost in the mail. I wonder about the others'? I also wonder what Marylou Whitney, who resigned from the SPAC board because she disagreed with Chesbrough's more-money-for-less-work compensation, has to say about all this.
  23. I did, and wished I hadn't. It was two hours out of my life I'll never see again.
  24. De Luz is good-looking, can act (some), and can jump and turn. Given that he spent most of his career at ABT doing The Golden Idol and the like, he's adapted more to the City Ballet esthetic than I'd thought he would. He certainly has a long way to go; as noted, compared with his raffish first act, his third act became increasingly coarse and hard-sell. He partnered Fairchild far better than he did when I saw them do the Nutcracker pas together, where there were some truly frightening gaffes, but it would've been hard for him to do worse. He still isn't a great partner, and I was a little shocked to see that Fairchild looms so over him when she's on point that he couldn't reach her hand when she held her arms in fifth en haute. She had to hold one hand a bit down and to the side for him. It didn't look pretty, and couldn't have helped her balances at all. At least they didn't have to spackle the over the holes I thought his heels would leave in the stage after his solos, but I'm still amazed at how a guy who can't weigh all that much manages to land like a sack of bricks time and time again. Let's hope the other short guys in the company who jump and turn don't start to look on him as a role model!
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