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Everything posted by EAW

  1. I saw him in the Pas de Quatre and remember clearly his unaffected clarity and beauty of line. As these photos partly show, he exemplified a high standard of English male classicism. Very sad news.
  2. WQXR used to have another excellent program called "Music at First Hearing" -- a panel of 3 music critics (occasionally a musician among them) would listen to and "judge" parts or all of a couple of new recordings, without being told who was performing until after they delivered their verdicts. It was really interesting to hear the different "takes" and seeing how they matched up with either received wisdom or the critics' previous opinions about the artists. And, yes, George Jellinek's show was pretty wonderful - it was really sad hearing his final broadcast, which ended poignantly with the "farewell" section of Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony. I confess I haven't listened much to the station lately - too many short, lightweight pieces and too much grade B Baroque "elevator" music. I hope things change for the better.
  3. Gelsey Kirkland's feet may have been good, strong and well-arched, but, with their large, prominent heels they also looked quite idiosyncratic - one long-time observer likened them to "baked potatoes wrapped in foil." Disagree mightily about Sylvie Guillem "raising the bar" for any aspect of ballet - she did raise her legs up a lot, for sure.
  4. Welsely, I wish I could agree with you, but that's not the way I've seen it. Kistler WAS a great jumper and HAD a huge arabesque - before her terrible early injury and subsequent difficulties. Does anyone remember her in one of the Raymonda Variations, in the Scherzo of Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3, as Dew Drop? As the power and range of her lower body diminished, she compensated more and more by playing up the loveliness of her upper body and arms and her general charm. Her performance of Monumentum pro Gesualdo, for example, turned the ballet into a sweet, pitiful shadow of what it had been with Suzanne Farrell. The last time I saw Darci, which was a few seasons ago, she showed some still-reliable turns and lots of arm-waving; it was painful to recall what had been lost. I hope her farewell performance is a wonderful event, but I consider her career a tragedy overall.
  5. My reaction was very similar to yours, and I was also disappointed at exactly that moment when I thought Osipova would astonish - the leaps across the stage during the reel. I'm not sure she couldn't reproduce the effect Kirkland had, of skimming and barely touching the floor, but she seemed not to have been told this was an effect to strive for. You're right about Simkin, too - he had the character of Gurn down, but the dancing was not pleasing or fully under control. And, yes, Misty Copeland was beautiful in Airs.
  6. Don't agree about Airs - always a wonderful work, though not, it's true, meant for grand-opera-house dimensions. Is there anything more ravishing than the music Taylor chose for the final section (the "Good Dreams" sequence from Alcina), which he set with such beautiful, apt simplicity? Cornejo was an excellent and moving James (you're right about the occasional sense of strain, more in the attitude efface poses that punctuate his vibrant jumps and beats than in those airborne movements themselves). Osipova was wonderful in many ways - fantastically high, light jumps, touching and credible mime, a musical flow to everything she did - but I don't think this role suits her all that well. She's a vibrant, powerful dancer, careful and reined in here. Raffa was very good as Madge.
  7. Barbara, your impression is correct. Alastair (who, as I have "disclosed" in other posts, is a friend) told me that he wished he had more space for this review. I'm not sure that even with a higher word count he would have made the Veronika Part fan-atics happy, but I think he would have at least mentioned her.
  8. I haven't seen any choreography by Neumeier that I would describe as either musical or expressive. His ballets have a certain "attitude" and can give dancers a good workout, I guess, but poetic experiences they ain't. I haven't seen his Sylvia and cringe at the thought, but I'd give it a try if I could.
  9. Can someone please explain how ballets such as Mozartiana, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sonatine,Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3 and Coppelia exemplify the High Modernist phase of Balanchine's last 25 years?
  10. Gosh, some of these posts are depressing. Monotony? Balanchine's ballets are as monotonous as the music he chose - in other words, NOT. I can't help remembering and paraphrasing the late Clive Barnes on the subject of La Bayadere: if you don't like Balanchine you don't like ballet.
  11. It seems to me that what Kaufman is saying is that artistically, following Balanchine is only going to take us so far. Many of Balanchine's creations are quite dazzling the first few times one sees them, but after that, his conventional choreographic devices start to wear on one, and there is frequently not much else there to support them. (His formulaic 'homage to Petipa' tutu ballets come to mind.) Couldn't disagree more - Raymonda Variations, for example, is an endlessly enthralling "homage to Petipa" that uses "conventional" steps in wonderfully witty, surprising and brilliant ways. I could watch it every night. Do agree that "following" Balanchine is pointless, in the sense of copying superficial aspects of his art without substance of ones own.
  12. Can't believe we have to read yet another one of those "Balanchine ruined ballet" pieces that crop up every so often...this has to be one of the most useless of the lot. It's significant that Ms. Kaufman mentions the "visual" and "musical" joys of Balanchine choreography and dancing, but clearly that combination of the visual/physical and musical holds no drama for her. Edwin Denby once wrote that to be susceptible to poetic values in dance one had to be sensitive to both poetry and dance - these don't seem to be Kaufman's cup of tea. It's fine that she doesn't care for Balanchine, but does she really think she's going to convince anyone to share her narrow view? I think Balanchine's plot to take over the world's stages from beyond the grave will keep working in spite of her......
  13. The recording of the complete Swan Lake conducted by Charles Dutoit with the Montreal Symphony includes the music Balanchine used for the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. I believe the Bonynge and Lanchbery versions have the music, too, but I am 100% sure about Dutoit on Decca.
  14. I remember a televised performance of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Heather Watts dancing something from Rubies in the East Room of the White House. (And I do hope I'm not mis-remembering!) No, you are not misremembering. They performed the Rubies duet for President Carter. Patricia McBride was there, too, and danced the Act One Harlequinade pas de deux with Baryshnikov; they had a coda and solos, too (the only video souvenir of that magical lullaby Balanchine choreographed for her in Act Two), and some local kids offered a few of the enchanting children's dances. I'm with you about La Fleming, but if she could help jump-start some kind of revival of the arts at the White House, more power to her.
  15. I'm with you on Glazunov and Raymonda. To my eyes and ears, the recently released DVD of the Kirov/Sergeyev production with Irina Kolpakova in glorious form wins hands down - it's a dream from start to finish. I haven't seen either the complete Semenyaka or Bessmertnova versions, but, judging from several excerpts, the visual quality of the later DVD seems considerably better. It would be wonderful to have the various Balanchine works derived from Raymonda on DVD -- the heavenly Raymonda Variations above all, but any of them, please. I also love Harlequinade; it's one of Balanchine's most touching and nostalgic tributes to his bygone Maryinsky past. Anything from this - including the bits once performed on TV by Baryshnikov, McBride and a group of children at the Carter White House - would be a joy to revisit.
  16. I suggest you go back and reread the article. In the sentence you mention, Macaulay is describing the choreography, not the performance, so it is appropriate for him to say what the woman always does at this point as opposed to what a particular dancer did that night. Whatever you think of Macaulay as a critic, you do yourself no favors by broadcasting your misunderstanding here.
  17. EAW


    Thanks for the clips, but I don't find them convincing. What helps make a ballet a ballet isn't how many steps or how much pointework there is, but how the movement and action relate to the music. That pas de deux in front of the Christmas tree is very nice and the dancers look good, but it appears trivial and is dwarfed by Tchaikovsky's soaring music - a huge crescendo written to support what Balanchine used it for, the magically growing tree and crashing together of the giant window panes. This is a great BALLET moment; no quantity or quality of jumps, turns and lifts can touch it. If Balanchine had made nothing but Act One of The Nutcracker, he'd still be Balanchine.
  18. Conspiracy for or against what, may I ask? While Somova is clearly - as Colin Powell recently said about Sarah Palin - a polarizing figure, I think a more balanced approach is necessary. I was horrified by her at first, both in some video clips (especially an awkward, messy Aurora) and onstage in a cold, hard, brutal Don Q pas de deux, the one performance of hers I caught during the company's last New York season. Having heard reports of her doing better in Ballet Imperial from reliable sources, I decided not to write her off completely. Watching further videos (including excerpts from a complete Don Quixote, Balanchine's Diamonds and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux), I see her differently now. There's a tendency to gawkiness and going for extremes that may or may not diminish over time, but I think in the right roles she can be charming. The Tchaikovsky adagio, in particular, is bold, free, fluid and really lovely. She may not be a fully finished dancer - yet - but major talent, potential and an undeniable degree of accomplishment are already there. (Plus, I have to hand it to her for even attempting, in the Tchaik Pas coda, Suzanne Farrell's sequence alternating fouette turns and rapid pique steps - not a complete success but, again, a bold and winning move.)
  19. Another downside of these productions is that, for reasons of touring, the children's parts are all danced by adults. This is really straining the original production concept. It strains credibility as well; grown-up ballet dancers, no matter how well-costumed or directed, look forced and phony playing children. Gelsey Kirkland in that old ABT production was no exception.
  20. As the only full length role she was to create, it is no surprise that she should wax so enthusiastically. The ballet is history and it is her history. At the premier both she and Anthony Dowell were a revelation. Already a most respected and very popular partnership, it was in a way a crowning glory to their career and a personal success only to be compared with their earlier creation of the leading roles in Ashton's "The Dream" The thing is, much of the role was actually choreographed on Penney. Sibley was either ill or injured during the creation of Manon, and MacMillan seemed to view Penney as the Royal's rising ballerina. (She inspired quite a bit of his work.) Penney has spoken of her dismay and disappointment when the premier was given to Sibley, but think back to Romeo & Juliet, danced first by Fonteyn and Nureyev though it "belonged" to Seymour and Gable - another example of the formerly rigid pecking order at the Royal Ballet.
  21. Whoever dances Manon, she needs to be a supreme actress who, most importantly, can act young. I wouldn't call Jennifer Penney, on whom MacMillan created a good deal of Manon, any great shakes as an actress, but she was able to create a touching, seductive character through the delicacy and beauty of her dancing -- isn't that what the art of ballet is about?
  22. I actually kind of disagree with that because when Maya Plisetskaya first performed in the West in 1959, Western audiences were totally awed by her really flexible arm movements that mimicked a bird's wing in both The Dying Swan and Swan Lake. Yes, her bird imitations were amazing and world-famous, but to me they're more like stunts than organic parts of Swan Lake. I prefer the high-flying, death-defying Maya of Laurencia and Don Quixote.
  23. --it's almost like watching a real swan stretch and move its head. Reminds me of another great line from Arlene Croce: "If it's swans you want, go to the zoo." Doesn't the poignancy and intensity of the lakeside scene, especially the pas de deux, come from the fact that right now Odette and her court are temporarily released from being swans, that they're struggling and suffering young women? I find ballerinas who emphasize the swan moves less convincing than those who let the occasional birdlike passages just flow with the rest of their choreography.
  24. Single best Odette/Odile I ever saw: Natalia Makarova in her only appearance with ABT in New York 35 summers ago. Arlene Croce wrote about it as a truly great performance. Makarova had a public falling-out with Nureyev earlier that summer (caused, I believe, by a literal fall, a partnering mishap) and there was a sizeable pro-Rudy contingent in the New York State Theater who loudly booed her first entrance. It seems she may have prepared for that, mentally and technically. This was Makarova at her simplest, largest and purest - amazingly clear, fluid, expressive dancing unflawed by calculated and self-dramatizing effects (and supported superbly by Ivan Nagy). Her Odile, too, seduced Siegfried (and us) through beauty, not the crude vamping one often sees. I haven't forgotten it and hope I never will.
  25. EAW

    Gelsey Kirkland

    a subsequent, early role with impressive display of her elevation was Dew Drop in NUTCRACKER. GK made fleet and high-flying work of its challenges. if mem. serves Robbins capitalized on her strong jump in SCHERZO FANTASTIQUE. RG, you type faster than I do. I was about to cite those same roles - Dew Drop and the Stravinsky - that showcased her brilliant jump. The loss of that jump was among the several tragedies of her career, in my opinion.
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