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Everything posted by Haglund's

  1. Saturday evening: Sorry folks, I preferred the slower pace of Serenade last night, regardless of whatever takes place at NYCB or any of its clone companies. I can't recall ever enjoying a Serenade more. The slowness may not have been conducive to forcing bright fluorestan-like technique, but it sure enhanced a dramatic element that is impaired in other versions. And before anyone gets too bent out of shape over the tempo, note the obnoxious and over-bearing notes repeated three times in the evening's program. Below Serenade, Rubies and Ballet Imperial casting appears: "The performance of ___, a Balanchine Ballet, is presented by arrangement with The George Balanchine Trust and has been produced in accordance with the Balanchine Style and Balanchine Technique Service standards established and provided by the Trust" with all of those registered trademark symbols. Good grief! Once is enough. They ought to rephrase it to indicate that the Balanchine Trust is proud that the Kirov has chosen to dance its works. Kondaurova was magnificent and really made the audience snap to attention whenever she came on stage. Those shoulders are both one of her greatest assets and also a bit of a problem when her neck starts to sink into them. But her go-for-it-bedamned-this-small-stage performance was thrilling. Osmolkina - what a darling! A breezy, no-floor-for-me little whisp of a dancer who flew out on stage and just dared everyone not to immediately love her. The corps, from my vantage in the Grand Tier side, looked beautiful, certainly more cohesive and singular in voice than what we're accustomed to seeing at NYCB. Once in a while a line was off, but off is the standard elsewhere. I really wonder how Peter Martins could sit front and center Friday night and watch the Kirov masterfully execute port de bras and not realize that it's a better world. What a relief to see Novikova in Rubies instead of Somova. And you know, she did remind me a bit of McBride. It was that feeling of an always good girl stepping out to be slightly naughty quality that was originally appealing about this piece. Unfortunately, castings here and elsewhere have evolved over the years that seem intent on emphasizing cheapness and it oftentimes comes off making Rubies look like Woolworth jewelry. Not last night! However, in the same breath, I have to agree with all of Natalia's comments about Gonchar. Like atm711, I prefer Ballet Imperial in tutus. It comes off looking more "imperial". The Karinska costumes need updating and they looked a bit weird with such huge tiaras. Lopatkina was gorgeous last night. Very responsive to the music. I would pay to watch her cross the sidewalk. I wonder where she goes spiritually when on stage. She is definitely somewhere else and I almost feel like I'm intruding when I watch her. But Zelensky - a disappointment. Maybe I was too distracted by his weirdly outlined lips and eye makeup. Beats were not what I'd hoped to see. A couple of good sized leaps on the diagonal. But all in all, I was watching someone whose brightness has passed. The two demis - Selina and Ivanova were lovely. Selina continues to be my new found treasure.
  2. A few all-over-the-place thoughts: Most arts organizations, even small ones, are probably trying the business thing of writing 5 and 10 year plans, even though the plans may be more like plans of hope and vision than systematic business plans. Trying to run arts entities as businesses rather than simply running them like organizations is relatively recent – 1980’s-ish. It corresponds with the professionalization of corporate philanthropy. Prior to around that period, corporate contributions most often reflected the personal biases of CEOs and senior executives and really didn’t reflect any formal corporate commitment or philosophy. Once professional development and philanthropy people began to infiltrate the corporate sector and it became obvious how corporate brand alignment with certain causes or organizations could be beneficial (e.g. milk industry supports osteoporosis organizations), more money flowed into the arts but with it came expectations of responsible spending and achievement of results – just like in the corporate sector. So in a relatively short time of two or three decades, things have gotten better when it comes to the arts managing their business affairs, because there is more money at stake. But there are still many which are managed like a sinking ship where they are just so busy mopping up water that they can’t focus on plugging the leak. Often you’ll find a founder at the helm. Unfortunately, the commercial value of the arts enjoys a higher place than the personal and social value in our country. That’s just the way we are, sadly. We expose our kids to the arts so that they’ll be well-rounded, get into better schools, earn greater incomes. That is what some parents deem as enriching the lives of their children with the arts. I recall way back in the 1960s or 70s there was a piece in the back of a Saturday Review which was written by Arthur Schlessinger about why the public should support the arts, financially and as participants. His point was that our civilization is not going to be remembered by the size of its arsenal or armies, but will be remembered through its literature, music, photography, dance, etc. Somehow, that argument, which could be viewed as a political argument for supporting the arts, just hasn’t been as successful as it should have been.
  3. I look forward to reading the current issue if I am able to find one to buy. One aspect of ABT’s business management that has been troublesome since Michael Kaiser left is the company’s unwillingness or inability to invest meaningfully in a broad-based advertising campaign that is focused NOT on their core audience and not necessarily on new audiences, but that huge in-between group that has been to the ballet in the past, knows a little bit about it, but has been spending money to go to the opera instead or to Jazz at Lincoln Center or the theater or other entertainment and needs to be pulled back into the ballet. The Met Opera’s campaigns under Peter Gelb’s influence have been genius. He knows how to create crazy, nonstop talk and excitement about a production and thereby pull back in the wide based audience. It doesn’t matter if a production is slammed by the critics, seats are filled just because of the glorious advertising. It’s understandable how with limited funds, it would be difficult to sell the idea of spending money on major advertising instead of refurbishing costumes or sets or on rehearsal time. That’s where I would call on my board members to help create solutions and opportunities for huge advertising displays that would make ABT look like the most exciting and hottest thing going on in New York during the spring. Marketing is an ABT weakness and could be strengthened by a major board member or two with that expertise and those types of resources available.
  4. Friday evening's Fokine/Etudes program: Chopiniana was again mesmerizing thanks to Osmolkina and Selina and a focused corps. Selina is gifted in so many ways and lovingly respectful of every Fokine gesture and glance. (She, too, wears the nail extensions (as do several corps members), but her's are less immodest and a natural color as opposed to Somova's which rival those worn by working girls hanging out in front of any housing project in Brooklyn.) Selina's Valse was beyond lovely in its lightness. Soundless jumps when the orchestra was at its quietest. Breathing balances that beautifully filled the music. Oh how I hope to see her Giselle one day. Osmolkina was just as wonderful as the first night that I saw her. Her poet, Ivanchenko, picked her up and lifted her over his head like she was made of paper - effortlessly and to great effect. But he was unimpressive otherwise. I was surprised at how inarticulate his double cabrioles were. Granted, they are not supposed to be huge, but they should be defined. Bolshakova was okay but a bit overdone in some of her movements and in her pained facial expression. Le Spectre de la Rose, again was Selina at her finest. Even more engaging and magical than the first night. Kolb's rose had improved lightness and virtuosity from the first night, but I continue to be bothered by the way he dances with his mouth opened. A little of that goes a long way. The emotional connection between the two dancers was far more evident last night than on the first night. Selina seemed to draw this out of him with her own warmth and fantasy. Lopatkina's Dying Swan once again overwhelmed the audience with 3 1/2 minutes of crushing sadness, beauty, and dignity. Her ovation lasted longer than her dancing. So, which Somova showed up for Etudes last night? All of them! Every time her inner-editor looked the other way, Sybil emerged from Somova. Surprisingly, her strongest and most authentic dancing came during the Romantic skirt part. She certainly does have a special quality in her upper body which must be what the Kirov powers hope will evolve into greatness. On the other hand . . .ugh (with amplified exasperation). To her credit, she managed to moderate the extensions except for the first couple. She has rather unremarkable feet, by Kirov standards, so maybe throwing her leg to her ear is to compensate for that. We'll let the therapists figure that out. Again to her credit and great effort, there were only two instances of mugging grins at the audience. But, some of what I saw last night was highly disturbing: the hops on point with the leg developpeing to the back resulted in the most (and worst) open hip second postion arabesque I've ever seen under a tutu. Sitting in the third row of the Grand Tier on the far side, I simply could not believe how hideous her line was. Her fouttees were odd if not seizure-like. She fell off point during some of the partnering, but I could not tell whose fault that was. She employs a sway back when walks that hurts to watch. Sarafanov and Fadeev were okay with some very good moments in the brissee voles and barrel turns. The corps performance was very good, but hampered by the small stage. The opening and dramatically lit-in-the-dark tendues at barre were astonishingly beautiful. The degages as well. The ronde jambe en l'air were almost perfection, but for one person who was off on the continuous single ronde jambe. It hurt to watch simply because everyone else was so perfect. During the opening segment, there were a couple of flubs at the center barre on the battment clouche, but all in all, the barre work was admirable. The current roster of Kirov men at City Center is dancing at late 1980's standards, which is to say, good but not world class. There were some substitutions of less challenging choreography, and I was disappointed not to see the repeated entrechat quatre or six and double tours near the end. We got extra passe-type sautes instead. The diagonal work of both men and women was good but didn't build to the hoped for intensity. Most likely, Etudes suffered from initial adjusting to the small stage. Hopefully, by Sunday, the dancers will be delivering a blow-out performance
  5. In today's news, John Milne, who with his wife gave $1 million toward ABT's Sleeping Beauty, has had fraud charges filed against him by the SEC.
  6. Me, too. I'm not going to go anywhere near complaining about this fall program. It appears to be fairly ambitious, and it won't be an easy sell. I think we have to take McKenzie at his word when he says, as quoted in the Washington Post last week, that he cannot afford to do more of Tudor's works than he presently has planned. After all, did anyone else notice in that press release the absence of a major corporate sponsor for the fall season? It could get a lot worse before it gets better -- I mean, how many more of the arts world's primary sponsors are going to end up before Congress for chastisement or even in jail?
  7. Yana Selina may be my new favorite. Such modesty and beauty right down to the tips of her fingers. Her warmth radiated all the way back to (unfortunately) row Q in the rear mezz. Sylphides was lovely, if a bit cramped. Anton Korsakov made a concentrated effort with the steps but did not add much depth to the poet. When I trained my power binocs on him, he seemed quite young. Kolb in Spectre didn't sweep me into the fantasy, but Selina sure did. Kolb has this interesting and sometimes seductive animal quality about his dancing that was extremely appealing in Scheherazade, but it didn't work for me in Spectre. Selina, on the other hand, was simply magical. Such beautiful arms and hands that were so perfectly Fokine. It was only the second time that I'd seen a live performance of The Dying Swan, and oh my, Lopatkina made me a believer. She created some stunning images most notably upstage with her back to the audience and arms raised and twisted above her head. Having watched plenty of videos of this piece, I'd prepared myself for some over-the-top death scene, but it never came. Lopatkina was truly beautiful in every aspect. She got the most sustained audience reaction of the evening.
  8. I wonder if the tatoos and the bulking up of the upper body are, in part, a response or reaction to his perception of others' perceptions of his vocation. Some group of men will always be picked on by some other group of men for purposes of elevating one group over another. If it's not ballet dancers, it's sailors. If it's not sailors, it's chefs or beret sporting painters.
  9. R.I.P. We know your work will continue as you coax the balletic angels - "Jazz hands, please!"
  10. I hope that BT on Tour will be able to send someone for Alexandra Ansanelli's Juliet on June 12th. Given her proclivity for drama and abandonment, she can be expected to go right to the edge with this role. I just hope Watson is ready for it!
  11. Haglund's

    Veronika Part

    I wonder about the possibilities of Veronika dancing with Roberto Bolle, either guesting at the RB or La Scala or with Bolle's travelling group. It might be beneficial to both of them.
  12. Haglund's

    Veronika Part

    ABT should have been doing Bayadere or Corsaire given the earthquakes and typoons at that time in Japan. Irina Dvorovenko's and Max Berloserkovsky's website shows that ABT will return to Tokyo and Biwako with Swan Lake and something else in mid-July. Hope for calmer weather and steadier feet. I wish Veronika well wherever she ends up. She obviously has not reached her peak, and needs a lot of additional opportunities to do so. But, it doesn't seem to be working for her to view herself as a sad victim who isn't receiving all the the help and attention which she deserves or the victim when others receive casting opportunities that she would like to have. Hopefully she will shrug this off at her new company and focus on delivering the strength and beauty that we know are within her.
  13. Haglund's

    Veronika Part

    Julie has in the past done Don Q. - I think even a few years ago in Tokyo - but my point was that she is not a current Kitri because the company has dancers who are much more suitable for the role. Reyes performed Swan Lake in another company, but not ABT, because there are principals who are more strongly suited for the role. A dancer's employer may not view her capabilities as she views them; so, unless the dancer is self-producing, she has to follow management's decisions or leave.
  14. Haglund's

    Veronika Part

    What a mistake she is making. I will miss her performances, too. But where is she going to find a major company that will make her its star, give her all the rehearsal time she believes she needs, give her one or two tall partners who she can rely on exclusively, and focus on selecting rep that makes her look good? The article referenced above is certainly sympathetic to Veronika's difficult and stalled journey at ABT, but hasn't some of this been experienced by a lot of other dancers there who have managed to overcome issues of language learning, opening a bank account and grasping "politics"? ABT is a company made stronger by its immigrants, all of whom have had to learn English, learn how to open a bank account, learn how to excel under less than optimal rehearsal conditions, etc., and embrace enthusiastically other forms of dance and choreography. Everyone isn't good at everything. We don't see Murphy as Giselle, we don't see Kent as Kitri, we don't see Reyes as Odette/Odile. I don't see Veronika excelling in major MacMillan dramatic works, but she has every right to try to convince a major company to let her try if that is what she needs to feel fulfilled. She should stay in New York, I say selfishly, and work out the problems. She has a lot of support here, more than any other place.
  15. Fang - beautiful! It may just seem that she's plateaued due to casting, and yes, the unflattering costumes have been unfair. She's obviously a unique talent with a dramatic undercurrent that needs organizing and refining. She is perfect material for Gelsey to work with. Fang may be one of those dancers who we just have to be patient with and watch develop slowly but steadily. With regard to the new Tharp piece, it may be of interest of some to look at the costumer's website. Here is Norma Kamali's site. Some of her designs look pretty sassy. And I second the comments about Abrera. Her Cinderella last year was a breakout performance, and I suspect that her Giselle with Hallberg this year will be the beginning of an extraordinary journey for the two of them in this ballet. I am so excited. But back to the all-important campaign - People, we need promotions, don't we? We have set an agenda, and The Time for Change is Now! Results not rhetoric. Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow. Ooops.
  16. That's what I'm talkin' about!!! Yes, Barbara! And I add to your appeal promotions for Veronika Part, Sascha Radetsky, and Hee Seo. Come on People, we can do it. And while we're trying, we should take a moment to look at the article that came out in today's New York Magazine which previews the new Tharp piece for the spring Met season. The Elfman music was described as THUMPING and WILDLY PERCUSSIVE! I am so ready to see these people dancing again. So ready.
  17. ABT's website has been updated to include new corps members Gemma Bond (Royal Ballet), Mikhail Ilyin (Miami City Ballet), Amanda McGuigan (Ballet du Rhin), Elina Miettinen (Finnish National Ballet), and Lauren Post (apprentice). I'm starting a campaign, powered by Hope, to get some principal promotions in March in time for the Met season. Let us come together, People, to inspire the leadership of ABT to do what is right, to do what we need, to give us the Changes we want. (applause, more applause, and still more applause).
  18. If you order through the above referenced link, you'll be charged $100 for the book. Barnes and Noble is offering it for an online price of $80 and a member price of $72. Amazon.com is offering it for $63 and if you preorder (as of today anyway), you get an extra 5% discount plus free shipping. Amazon reports the current release date to be April 29th.
  19. Britney is a fair topic for any outrageous, less than tasteful stage production. Anything other than that would make her look like something she's not. If Mark Morris choreographed his homage to Britney, we would say "Naughty naughty Mark", laugh, and go buy a ticket. So what's so different about Rambert beating him to the punch? . Britney evolving from an out-of-control, spoiled juvenile with no boundaries to an out-of-control, spoiled adult with no boundaries surprises few. But the mental illness thing is suspect and seems a last ditch effort by parents to finally do some parenting. And of course, the media is great for creating outrageous, less than accurate pictures and copy for its tabloids. Recall the much publicized Schaufuss ballet about Princess Diana that villified Camilla, the Queen, and others in caricature. Not in great taste, either. This and the Britney ballet exemplify how our generation is fond of dumbing down art. Every creative act is not art, but chances are a lot of people will buy tickets to see it.
  20. ABT's website was updated awhile back to include Joseph Phillips. That's great news! One more North Carolina School of the Arts trained dancer at ABT. It seems there are about 7 or 8 now: Phillips, Riccetto, G. Murphy, M. Murphy, Hoven, Bragado-Young, Stappas and Waldrep in ABT II. NCSA seems to be quite the feeding line to ABT these days.
  21. Perhaps off-topic, but Mayerling is a ballet that we desperately need to see from ABT. Given the dramatic depth of the company at the moment, it is nearly a crime that this ballet is not in its repertory. Attention: Bring us Mayerling for the 2009 Season!!
  22. Britney the Ballet aka "Meltdown" will be performed by the Rambert Dance Company tonight! Not kidding. Here's the link to Reuter's.
  23. You can go home again! Sean Stewart has returned to ABT. Wow. I've thought about this dancer every spring season since he left in 2002. He's been off doing contemporary work, but my recollection of him is of his reliable, non-showy, crystaline classical technique. This is wonderful!
  24. Some changes up on the ABT website: Cornejo has been replaced by Carreno (dancing with Reyes), while Stiefel will now dance with Kent.
  25. A superb idea! Since Caroline Kennedy is the Honorary ABT Chairman of the Board, one would think that there is a logical path for moving this idea along. Does anyone know how candidates are proposed?
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