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Arizona Native

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    balletomane, former dancer, dancer mom
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  1. Loved nearly every minute of it, and my adult daughter, who has also seen a lot of dance and other theater, did, too. We had an interesting discussion, as I would describe it ballet-influenced “modern dance,” while my much-younger daughter saw it as still “ballet.” The cinematic music, written for it, was quite wonderful and appropriately dramatic . We enjoyed the various theatrical devices employed, not commonly used in ballet (Rochester’s “horse” and his aggressive riding style, for instance, were depicted by dancers). All the acting and dancing were excellent. The evocative scenery and drab costuming, while furthering the mood and story line, no doubt contributed to the feeling of “squinting” mentioned above, in the further rows. Especially in a house that large, lightening up the stage would probably have been a good idea, though we were looking through the haze of dream and memory. Stella Abrera’s flirtations to get the attention of Rochester were definitely ballet, appropriately charming, but a bit incongruous in style, as a result. Zimmi Coker had a lot of fun playing Rochester’s young, playful ward. Looking forward to seeing more of her. it was fun to see Aron Bell, whom we had known as a mischievous, athletic, little boy, successfully appear to be 40, not 20, and exhibiting lovely classicism and line. We also enjoyed seeing Julie Kent in the aisles, chatting. As we were leaving, we heard several people say, “That was the best thing I’ve ever seen.” So, there you go.
  2. Haha! Good one, Sandik. Mere human error, this time. The program is incorrect. As Nicolc said, Clara was not in the PNB program. Though I don't doubt that many dancers would love that Hermoine Granger time device, allowing them to be in two places at once!
  3. Wonderful descriptions and review, Jack! Had hoped to go, but have ended up out of town. Looking forward to your next installment.
  4. Ballet Arizona has announced in an email today and in an April 28 Facebook post that long-time fan favorite Kenna Draxton will be retiring in June. The email states a special performance to celebrate her contributions to Ballet Arizona will be Sunday, May 14, at 1 p.m.
  5. He was beautiful. Everyone always goes on about his feet, but for me, it is is port-de-bras that knocks me out. He was having a bit of an "off" turn day, sometimes beginning a little off-kilter, and managed to make even those impressive -- pulling them together, nonetheless, without fail. Jumps, yes. Everything. The stage sometimes seemed a bit too small to contain him. PS. In the Jones review, she's a bit harsh regarding Amber Scott. That wasn't what I saw in the Friday performance. Ms. Scott was impeccable. Wonderful actress dancer who gave a smashing performance.
  6. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for tonight's performance. It is a charming, energetic, and beautiful production. David Hallberg displayed his characteristic immersion and depth, regarding character. There isn't a moment he is anything but fully present as Franz. The Australian Ballet rose fully to the challenge, showing their classical chops. The orchestra was divine. A lovely, lovely evening in one of the world's great theaters. And the best part? Seeing David Hallberg so full of joy. Wishing him all the best.
  7. Today's newspaper adds Michelle Mahwald Vagi to the list of retirees, and notes that there will be a video montage honoring Ms. Hartley and Mr. Zejnati. Ms. Vagi is a graduate of Indiana University, with a major in English, if I remember correctly. She was an especially lovely Dewdrop, with her small frame and delicate, lovely presentation. The Ballet Arizona website has not yet been updated to reflect additions.
  8. Casting link: http://balletaz.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/BAZ0358-Balanchine-Casting-Insert-2015-4.pdf We locals are happy to see the Chelsea Teel is back with the company, after an absence of a couple years, during which she was performing as an aerialist for Cavalia. Previously known as Chelsea Wilcox, Ms. Teel originally came to Ballet Arizona from Kansas City Ballet.
  9. Ballet Arizona sent a mass email dated April 27, 2015, which states the following: Casting has been announced. All Balanchine Last chance to see your favorite retiring dancers perform at Symphony Hall. Join us to celebrate the careers of Paola Hartley, Tzu-Chia Huang, Ilir Shtylla and Astrit Zejnati. Previous emails have referrred only to Ms. Hartley and Mr. Zejnati. With regard to the discussion above -- Ballet Arizona's practice has been to present flowers and make an announcement at the bows for the dancer's final performance, which was quite upsetting to a lot of the lot of the audience. The only exception within my memory, in the Ib Anderson era, was for Yen-Li Chen, many years ago - the 2004 performance referred to in a post above. There was a special retirement performance, with a packed house for it. Ballet Arizona does have a new Executive Director, as well as new folks in other key administrative positions. As Helene notes above, retirement announcements can lead to sell-out performances. It is quite possible that the announcements reflect changes on the business side.
  10. Another reason to come to this performance, the last of the season -- there are dancers you will not see again, at least not with this company. Ballet Arizona has broken with tradition to officially announce that Paula Hartley and Astrit Zejanti are retiring. Often paired, they will be missed. Anyone who saw their "Sinactra Stories" would not forget it. The two have both a satisfying physical match and a strong emotional chemistry. Thoughout her career with Ballet Arizona, Ms. Hartley has been a "go-to" dancer, performing any and every part, with technique you could take for granted and energy that seemed to increase with the demands of the role and the schedule. Her musicality is such that she can make an audience hear a piece in a new way. We have also appreciated her comedic talents, which put to good use her expressive eyes and her impecable timing. Mr. Zejanti, with his acting skills and beautiful proportions, has been a superb partner, as well as Ballet Arizona's male star -- very much a performer in the dansuer noble tradition. He gives attention to every detail, yet manages to appear spontaneous. While there are others to enjoy for their own reasons, to date there have been no other male dancers to take on that mantle. Wishing all the best to them.
  11. It looks like Ballet Alert folks didn't make it to see "Napoli," which is a shame, as it was *splendid.* The company did an excellent job with the mime. Frankly, Ib Anderson's own mime choreo is reptitive, in the extreme, with slow pacing. This mime was a big improvement (except Act II, which I think was his; it had his feel, in any event; happily, there wasn't much of it, there). The production was absolutely beautiful, with lovely, colorful costumes and operatic scenery and staging. The Third act was breathtaking -- the tarentellas were relentless, fast-paced, and clean. They pulled us right to our feet. I missed Donald Dadey, a former Ballet AZ dancer who filled character roles for them until a couple years ago. His sense of humor is contageous, and he would have been great as the macaroni seller. The parts were well played, but Ballet AZ has always been particularly good at comedy, so "just fine" didn't quite measure up. Such demands! There are many - so many - numerous fast and ground-eating glissades to the side, for instance. Kudos to Ballet AZ dancers, who handled these quite well. It was interesting to see this performance, in all aspects, not excluding its place in ballet history.
  12. Yes, Chris Bianco has both Pizza Bianco, downtown, and Panne Bianco, further north, towards "Central Phoenix," and an easy walk from that B&B. Next door is the hipster cafe, Lux. Bianca's claim to fame is topping one of those serious "best pizza" lists. With all others on the top 10 in NYC. The sandwiches are delicious. They do a great job with fresh mozerella. The menu is quite limited, which is how its fans like it. it is a bit of the proverbial "hole in the wall," with picnic tables out front. The very best brucheta is at Postino. Especially the salmon with capers and pesto. Good question, regarding the overhang. I'll have to pay more attention. Since I tend to avoid that whole section, I'll not hazard a guess. And yes, some dancing, but I'm just lucky to have good knees.
  13. Hi Jack! Hope you'll come to Phoenix. The B&B you have selected is very well placed -- there are several restaurants pretty much right there, on Central: Postino Central, Windsor, and Joy Ride. Just south a couple blocks are several more, and there is one in each direction on Camelback: St. Francis and Southern Rail. All have nice patios, when the weather and the sun are right. Though it is near some main streets, it should be quiet enough. Traffic is already lessened, as our snowbirds fly north, Spring Training ends, and our vacations begin. The colors on the Symphony Hall selection map also represent price - Gold, Silver, and Bronze, so that might be what is throwing you off. As for seats, I'm fond of the last row on the floor, in the center (I think it is 14), but I am able to sit on my legs above heads, if need be. Those who qualify for the handicapped row, just behind, have great seats! I also like the balcony -- any of the first few rows, as the rake is pretty good. On the main floor, I dislike the rows after the break -- probably just a "me" thing, but they feel claustrophobic to me. I would rather be on the sides of the main floor, on an aisle, if possible. If you select the seat you want, it will change color, so it should be clear that you've chosen it. Good luck!
  14. I'll bite, Jack! ; ) Jahna Franziskonis in "Rubies" on Friday night was uncontainable, captivating, and utterly charming. She gave us the speed and smoothness of a cheetah, managing to be both fun and sexy. Yes, we also saw a huge personality -- as befits Rubies' New York City. While such strong individuals can be lacking as partners, not so, here - she proved herself a very nice partner, relatable -- and as quoted above, she fueled him with energy. Her musicality -- love a dancer whose relationship with the music is such that I hear it more clearly, or more fully. She made the jump rope and running sequences, which can be quite awkward and look just plain weird -- fit right in, still dancy. Huge, gorgeous jetes. Petitie, she "dances big," helped by felicitous proportions. It looked as though her part had been choreographed just for her, she danced with ease, and there was not a fraction of a moment that was careless, thrown away or unattended. Did I mention she is just a second year corps member? Bravo, Peter Boal, for casting her. She demonstrated she is ready for prime time.
  15. Agree! He is a luscious mover, who also does well in more contemporary pieces. He was gorgeous in "Off Screen" in the spring. He also has a great flair for comedy. So glad he perservered.
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