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Everything posted by Ambonnay

  1. ABT is bringing Romeo & Juliet and two mixed programmes to the Hong Kong Arts Festival next year. http://www.hk.artsfestival.org/en/programme/201-american-ballet-theatre Dance Gala: Programme 1 21 Feb 7:30pm Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes (Mark Morris/Virgil Thomson) Classical Pas de Deux (2 pieces, to be announced) Shostakovich - Symphony No 9 (Alexei Ratmansky/DmitriShostakovic) Asian Premiere Approx 2 hrs 20 mins incl two intervals Dance Gala: Programme 2 22-23 Feb 7:30pm The Leaves Are Fading (Antony Tudor/Antonin Dvořák) The Moor’s Pavane (José Limón /Henry Purcell) Symphony in C (George Balanchine/Georges Bizet) Approx 2 hrs 10 mins incl two intervals Romeo and Juliet 27 Feb (wed) – 1 Mar (fri) 7:30pm 2-3 Mar (sat-sun) 2:30pm & 7:45pm
  2. Will accept 50%. If the tickets don't go at this price by tomorrow morning, I'll donate the tickets back to ABT.
  3. I think I might have (?) posted the key excerpts from those interviews on this board somewhere, but I unfortunately don't have the time to search to verify that. abatt is right in my book, too.
  4. I don't think Maria is that much taller than Simkin, at least when she is not en pointe. She's relatively petite. That was why she was able to be the dancing double for M Kunis, when S Lane was doubling for N Portman.
  5. Simkins should not be made principal at this time. Ballet is more about jumping and pyrotechnics. It's about refinement and partnering as well, among other things. Not that Simkins couldn't later be a principal, but in my mind no time soon. Also, Simkins' height and build make it difficult for him to pair with any principal ballerina except X Reyes. How is that helping the situation with the insufficient number of male principals to pair the principal ballerinas, particularly when Cornejo is already available to pair Reyes?
  6. I have the following ABT Met season individual tickets for sale, at a 20% discount from face. May 20, 2011 -- Don Quixote with Cojocaru/Carreno, 7:30 pm Parterre Box 11, Seat 3 (front row parterre side box) Face is $80; proposed sale price is $64 May 21, 2011 -- Don Quixote with Semionova/Hallberg, MATINEE at 2:00 pm Orchestra Row B, Seat 14 Face is $107; proposed sale price is $85 Please post a response or e-mail me at ambonnay@live.com if you are interested in one or both tickets.
  7. Tix available at $29. https://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?EID=&showCode=AVI4&BundleCode=&GUID=
  8. I agree on Bolyston. Moreover, her motion also seems to be more "one item after another", instead of an integrated whole where the transitions from move to move are more fluid and better handled. I don't fault Bolyston -- she does have limited performance experience on this piece. However, to say that a corps member has many areas on which to improve in a piece is not to say that she shouldn't be given this opportunity or that she is doing a bad job given her experience. But Bolyston has a lot of areas to improve, and her pairing with such a classicist as Hallberg only, unfortunately for her, highlights those areas.
  9. Is this from Moscow? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE05YrXOc2w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc-bDLXTzzU&feature=related
  10. Some additional snippets of info: I think the Benjamin Millepied premiere piece may have ended up not being performed, for whatever reason(s). Like in a prior year, I saw Cory Stearns in the audience. The overall announcement of each performance was done in an amateurish way. For example, if you are going to say "piece d'occasion", try to pronounce it in a correct French manner. The first Marcelo Gomes piece with the La Scala ballerina dancing herself on stage, but around a violinist who was also performing onstage, left a lot to be desired. I always think that choreography that only looks interesting because the ballerina in this case had an unusually long and wiry (and not traditionally classic) body is probably not the best expression of choregraphy. The violinist was also a problem in this piece. I'm not looking for Gil Shaham or Itzahk Perlman, but at least play without meaningful squeakiness that leaves audience members questioning whether you are bette rthan a recording. The Carreno/Melanie H piece was, as noted above, disappointing. Melanie wore a purplish pink long gown that was attractive, but the piece didn't have a lot of interesting choreography that didn't rely on the lines of the dress and Melanie's long red-tinged hair. The hair actually got in the way of the ballerina being effective, i think.
  11. Tonight's YAGP was horrible overall, with mediocre to downright nastily poor performances by almost everybody, except for the following: > Viegnsay Valdes (National Ballet of Cuba) and Ivan Vasiliev (Bolshoi) Don Quixote [Grand] Pas de Deux This was the first time I had seen I Vasiliev live. His leaps and turns and many other movements are so imbued with power. He is a very lively and animated dancer, with a great deal of energy and aplomb, if not as much finesse as I prefer in a danseur. A truly memorable experience with Vasiliev dancing at the very end of the evening. The ballerina Valdes did well as well, and made it a point to hold her balances during the PDD for much longer than normal. > Thomas Forster (ABT corps) and Rubinald Pronk (Dutch National Ballet) Live Piano Performance by Conrad Tao Ami -- World Premiere choreo: Marcelo Gomes music: Chopin One of two world premieres of pieces choreographed by ABT principal Gomes (the other being "Paganini" with music by the same, performed by Francesca Podini of La Scala with a live violin accompaniment on stage). I liked this piece. There are two spotlights on a largely darkish stage. Two men are moving acrobatically and artistically, in a somewhat synchronized way but at many times with individual differences in extension or body placement. The overarching theme could be either an angst-ridden romance between the two danseurs or a theme of competition. I liked the dancing and I liked the ambiguity in what the piece was portraying. Of course "ami" denotes friend in French, so the romantic component was possible (although a romantic friend would be "petit ami" in colloquial French). > Yuan Yuan Tan and Anthony Spaulding (SF Ballet) Diving into the Lilacs; choreo Yuri Possokhov; music Tchaikovsky I've seen Tan in this piece before in NY. She had nice lines like the last time. Other than that and a decent "Stars of tomorrow" piece by the Students from Beijing Dance Academy called "Point and Line" (choreo Zhang Di Sha; music Wen Zi), the rest of the performances were poor or worse than that. Particularly autrocious were Myriam Ould-Braham and Karl Paquette of the Paris Opera Ballet, performing "Delibes suite" (NY premiere; choreo Jose Martinez; music Fado Portuges) and the stopping of the recorded music midway through the "Grand Defile" large cast performance at the end of Act I when all the YAGP 2011 finalists were performing. Fortunate I saw Vasiliev perform live for the first time.
  12. There is now more info on the 2011 gala: "Featuring the stars of: Jose Manuel Carreno (American Ballet Theatre) Thomas Forster (American Ballet Theatre) Ivan Vasiliev (Bolshoi Ballet) Rubinald Pronk (Dutch National Ballet) Gallim Dance Yekaterina Kondaurova (Mariinsky Ballet) Tiler Peck (New York City Ballet) Tyler Angle (New York City Ballet) Daniel Ulbricht (New York City Ballet) Yuan Yuan Tan (San Francisco Ballet) Anthony Spaulding (San Francisco Ballet) Roderick George (Theater Basel) And WORLD PREMIERES by ABTs Marcelo Gomes and NYCBs Benjamin Millepied" (I wonder whether this refers to Gomes as choreographer?) http://yagp.org/gala/yagp_gala_2011_index.html
  13. This is one of the Manhattan venues for Don Quixote: http://us.bigcinemas.com/ Please select "Try out our Express Box Office" on the upper right of the screen. The relevant theater is "NY -- Big Cinemas Manhattan". Once a user then selects the date, she can go and reserve a ticket for $25 (total $26) by inputting credit card information. The viewing starts at 11 am and, like a theater, provides first come, first served seating.
  14. I have typed the Bright Stream's synopsis of Act I (of II) from the Kennedy Center program. Perhaps, if there is interest, other members could type in Act II. Act I SCENE 1: Early Afternoon. It is autumn in the steppes of the North Caucasus. Zina, a local amusements organizer, buries her head in a book while her husband, Pyotr, tries to distract her, inducing the others to share in his efforts -- Gavrilych, the collective farm activist; Galya, the schoolgirl, with her friends; and two dacha dwellers, an eldery man and his anxious-to-be-younger-than-she is wife. They await the arrival of a train carrying a brigade of famous artists to take part in the harvest festival. AFter they arrive, Zina hails the ballet dancer [sic; I think this should say the ballerina]; they recognize each other as old friends from ballet school. Zina introduces the ballerina to her husband who, dazzled, begins to court the ballerina as Zina becomes increasingly jealous. Scene 2: Twilight. Field workers from the Bright Stream collective farm greet the artists with an improvised celebration. The artists distribute gifts to the collective's best workers: a gramophone for Gavrilych and a silk dress for the best milkmaid. The grey-haired "inspectors of quality" and Gavrilych break into a dance and force the late-arriving dacha dwellers to join the merriment with an ancient Chaconne. An amateur group organized by Zina continues the celebration lead [sic] by the milkmaid and the tractor driver. As the merriment increases, Gavrilych winds up his new gramophone and asks the guests artists to dance. The acordionist joins the dancing with the schoolgirl Galya, and young field workers from Kuban and the Caucasus burst into a spirited, warlike dance. As the revelers pause for refreshments, the old dacha dweller whispers in the visiting ballerina's ear that he would like to see her again, and his wife makes a similar proposal to the ballerina's partner. Meanwhile, Pyotr goes off with the ballerina. Distraught, Zina starts to cry, and the young people, together with Gavrilych, try to calm her down until the ballerina returns and assures Zina that she has no intention of flirting with Pyotr. She suggests that Zina tells the young people that she too used to be a dancer. Zina agrees and the two friends dance together provoking general astonishment. The ballerina proposes that a joke be played on Pyotr and the unfaithful old dacha dwellers: she will dress up in her partner's costume and go and meet the anxious-to-be-younger-than-she-is dacha dweller; her partner, made up as a female dancer, shall rendezvous with the old dacha dweller; and Zina, dressed in the ballerina's costume, shall go to meet Pyotr.
  15. One of the conceptual themes in The Bright Stream is duality, particularly the duality that is formed when one compares reality with a given character's perception of reality. So, initially Zina's husband is drawn to "the ballerina" (ie Murphy in the first cast), but does not know that Zina used to be a ballinera. Each dacha dweller is fooled by the impersonation of the person that he or she thinks he or she, respectively, is interested in. The ballerina and the ballet dancer imitate one another, in costume as well as with respect to certain dance steps. There is, as previously noted, the duality of Zina and the ballerina dancing together the same moves when they have masks on. There is Zina's peasant community, contrasted with the more glamorous traveling dancers who arrive in town. The visitors only superficially seem more glamorous, including initially to Zina's husband, when in reality the peasant community is very vibrant with characters, relationships among them, activity and desires (whether fulfilled or not). Zina's past as a ballerina is more sophisticated than anybody else in her community, including her husband, knew. The duality of men and women. How one doesn't always focus on what one has, and aspires towards another based on how one perceives that other person. This theme of duality adds a nice touch to what is largely a comedic ballet.
  16. The highlight of Hallberg's role was of course his character's impersonation of the ballerina. He wears a wreath adorned with orange flowers in his hair, but has no female makeup. He wears a dress that has the bustier area presumably slightly stuffed. Pointe shoes. A Giselle Wili like white dress. Even though Hallberg looks tall on stage, in his regular roles he doesn't come across as having a large frame commensurate with his height; his body ordinarily comes across as slim and well-proportioned for a danseur. But when Hallberg dons his ballerina costume, part of the comedy is how manly he looks -- you notice his broad shoulders, his strong legs (I think his large frame was mentioned in the Washington Post review (?)). I found Hallberg's facial expressions to be a quite exaggerated. That might be because I was sitting quite close to the stage, and Hallberg's expressions needed to be that way for all audience members to be able to view them. I thought that Hallberg's portrayal during the "Sylphide" portion of the ballet wasn't what I would have expected from him. Given the normally lyrical and elegant nature of his dancing, I would have hoped to have seen those "normal for Hallberg" qualities expressed in some portions of his impersonation of the ballerina, e.g., when he is dancing en pointe. I don't think that Hallberg needed to emphasize the akwardness of the ballet dancer (male) mimicking a female dancer throughout or highlight his large body and its physicality durig all phases of such mimicking. In some ways, I was looking forward to Hallberg playing this role because I have found Hallberg's "normal" dancing to be so gorgeous, and his hand and feet so expressive, that sometimes he seems more elegant and "gorgeous" than the ballerina whom he is pairing. Hallberg could have made use of those qualities, so intrinsic to his own dancing, to try for a more nuanced, and less "slapstick", version of his ballet dancer (male) mimicking the ballerina. I appreciate that Hallberg has to adhere to Ratmansky's instructions with respect to choreography. However, I suspect that there was a little bit of room for interpretation and I was slightly disappointed that Hallberg/Ratmansky adopted a more "taking a large male dancer and making him look silly and obviously out of place" approach, instead of an approach saying "we have a danseur whose dancing is so pleasing that in some respects it already had the beauty of female ballet dancing and let's see how we can exploit those intrinsic qualities". Despite the above, I wouldn't have wanted to see anybody but Hallberg in the role he had. And I thought Hallberg was fabulous. Just not fabulous in the way I would have hoped. My own thoughts on the costumes -- I thought the costumes were appropriate for the characters included in this ballet. A lot of the corps were dressed as villagers in the former Soviet Union. That does not cry out for elaborately ornate costumes. The costumes that were selected had enough color -- just not bright vibrant colors in general, except for the Milkmaid's bright red dress and one of the dresses worn by the female dacha dweller. For example, there was nothing wrong with Lane's crisp white hat, matching the white parts of her dress against a medium brown (but a nice full brown) material for her dress. She looked crisp. Some of the female villagers had white tank top type tops on, with full skirts in browns and similar hues. What is wrong with that ensemble for a Soviet villager? The ensemble looked slightly modern, and was appropriate for the characters shown.
  17. Drew -- I was seated in Row G, which ended up being the first row because the orchestra is between the stage and my row. I was able to see the feet, but note that was from Row G. I didn't even feel like I had to turn my head particularly high to see. I also couldn't tell G was the first row from the "generic" seating chart for the venue I was shown on the Kennedy Center website. Hence, I was pleasantly surprised, as I like to be close to the dancers.
  18. I was at the Saturday evening performance of "The Bright Stream". I liked the ballet a lot, although I thought Hallberg's depiction of "La Sylphide", even though excellent, lacked subtle nuances and went for more slapstick-type physical and facial expression humor. That could have been what Ratmansky contemplated for the Ballet Dancer role, but I don't know whether that is the case one way or another. That being said, Hallberg and Murphy were both again excellent in their roles. More on that in a separate post. Zina -- Herrera Pyotr, Zina's husband -- Gomes Ballerina -- Murphy Ballet Dancer -- Hallberg Accordion Player -- Radetsky Old Dacha Dweller -- V Barbee Dacha Dweller -- M van Hamel Gavrilych -- R Zhurbin Galya-- S Lane Milkmaid -- M Copeland Tractor Driver -- J Matthews Highlanders -- A Hammoudi and others, including B Hoven Fieldworkesr from Kuban -- A Scott and others Zina's friends -- N Curry, L Underwood and others Waltz -- various female corps members Old Men -- certain male corps members Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky Staged by Tatiana Ramansky Libretto by Adrian Piotrovsky and Fyodor Lopukhov Music by Dmitri Shostakovich ("The Bright Stream, Op. 39") Scenery by Ilya Utkin Costumes by Elena Markovskaya Lighting by Brad Fields The Kennedy Center venue is beautiful, including when the off-white outside of this impressive-looking building is lit by lights in an already dark evening. I sat in the middle-right side of the front row of the orchestra section. The view was excellent. As Zina, Herrera danced the best I have seen her, without some of the upper body unexpressivness and upper body stiffness that I sometimes find in her work. Zina's husband in the performance, Gomes, was a good character fit for him as well. A less serious delivery, but appropriate portrayal of that character. Radetsky, Zhurbin and Lane were effective as well. Zhurbin is continuing to get roles that involve characters much more mature than Zhurbin's own age reflects. He continues to do a very good job with them, although some of the roles he has occupied (eg Lord Montague, Lord Capulet) are non-dancing. This is a ballet with a lot of activity in most scenes. It almost takes a second viewing of the same cast to appreciate many things. I feel like my understanding of the ballet after this first viewing only scratched the surface. I liked the simplicity of the scenery. The costumes were nice and crisp-looking, without being unduly embellished. The costumes that could have been better were Murphy's and Hallberg's "initial" costumes. Murphy had on a navy and white French-looking knit hat. Hallberg's costume, with a navy beret-type hat, and navy ensemble, reminded me a bit of his costume as the fiance in Ratmansky-choreographed On The Dneiper. The duo's initial costumes looked kind of French-styled. The scenery, costumes and the dancers created a definite sense of time and place. The ballet choreography was witty and animated. I liked it, and I thought the four ABT principals were all effective in their respective roles. In a comedy-plot-inspired ballet, it can sometimes be a fine line between a performance that just straddles the line, but falls on the right side of it, which I thought this performance was, and a performance that is "too" over-the-top that it is almost farce-like. I particularly liked the scenes with Hallberg posing as a ballerina and the scene, towards the end of the performance, where Herrera and Murphy are dressed in identical off-white, flowy dresses with tank-type tops. Each has a grey/black mask covering her eyes. They dance similar steps. This is the scene where Zina's past of having been a ballerina is revealed to most of the remainder of the cast. Having two principal ballerinas dance comparable steps at the same time is a nice part of the choreography.
  19. I'm attending the Saturday evening performance of Bright Stream with Herrera, Gomes, Murphy, Hallberg Of course I'd be glad to report back to the group. Looking forward to some time at the National Gallery, then a visit to the Citronelle lounge for a cocktail, and dinner at Citronelle, to lead up to the Kennedy Center performance. It'll be my first visit to the performance venue.
  20. I think there should be a certain alertness to not giving less tall ballerinas opportunities just because there is a less tall male soloist or male principal who need partners (ie Simkins and Cornejo). That was how ABT ended up with a Reyes who doesn't dance material roles, in many instances, with anybody other than Cornejo and who, in my mind, falls somewhat below the standard for an ABT principal ballerina (although that standard is not met by certain other ABT principal ballerinas as well). If Kajiya, Lane and Riccetto get roles that, absent the height of these ballerinas, would be accorded to other soloists or corp members by merit, then is it right to prioritize finding a partner for short men over the advancement and development of other ballerinas? Why don't the taller women who might now be losing opportunities get priority and, when they get roles, cause non-short men to be cast next to them? Why the male development focus? Why shouldn't Simkins be given more roles that don't require female pairing per se or that don't involve him being the "lead" danseur (eg Ali the Slave; Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream; )? Allowing men who can only pair one or two principals or soloists mainly also has detrimental effects on other men in the company, who have to take on more roles with all the non-short ballerinas. Hence, the recent inability of Cornejo to carry the load in the way that Hallberg/Gomes and even Stearns have. Note I am not talking about men who are slightly on the less tall side, like Corella, who can still pair a number of ballerinas. I am talking about cornejo and Simkins. A related issue is why ballet adheres to the traditions that that male danseur is expected to be taller than the ballerina. Is that something that audiences should reconsider?
  21. I'm not saying that Cory couldn't develop into an ABT-male-principal-calliber dancer, but in my mind only he is not yet there. Stearns' deficiencies are glaring particularly when his performances are compared to those of other principal danseurs at ABT. I for one think this promotion is undeserved.
  22. http://www.facebook.com/pages/abtsm-/170738003877#!/notes/american-ballet-theatre/polina-semionova-to-appear-as-guest-artist-with-american-ballet-theatre-for-2011/10150116510635027 P Semionova to perform two ballets opposite Hallberg as part of the Met 2011 season.
  23. Some areas of the Nutcracker that could be looked at, for potential improvement: -- As noted in my first post on this ballet, the kitschy wedding scene should be reconsidered. -- As mentioned by other members, one does not see the Christmas tree grow, which is fine. However, the "large" tree is represented by just large sections of tree that the audience is supposed to assume are the bottom portion of a much larger tree. Given the US tradition associating the Nutcracker with Christmas, greater attention should be paid to this portion of the scenery. Overall, the scenery and costume design was excellent, but this was one exception. -- On a more substantive note, the dance in the Kingdom of the Sweets by the Nutcracker's sisters does not seem to flow with the rest of the performances in the Kingdom. It is not a national dance, and has no echoing of, or any other identifiable relationship with, any other part of the ballet. I suppose its role could have been to showcase soloist ballerinas and aspiring soloist corps members. However, it needs to be integrated with the rest of the ballet much more. Second, the reference to the Nutcracker's sisters on the program should be considered. The Nutcracker boy has no interaction with these women. Third, the light green costumes, with matching light green top hats, should be revised. They don't make sense in the ballet. Fourth, the dance steps have no apparent meaning and should be significantly revised. -- While one gets the impression that the SPF is the leader of the Kingdom of the Sweets, she is often accompanied, particularly in the beginning of Act II, by a middle-aged man with a long beard and a costume that is Middle-Eastern in inspiration. This is the "Majordomo" character. I don't see the need for this male danseur accompanying the SPF. -- The S Radetsky (Arabian) portion of the Kingdom of the Sweets should be considered for reworking. Even though the piece involves the four ballerinas walking off on their own in the end, apparently, relinquishing (at least temporarily) their interest in the danseur, early portions of the piece show the four women literally swooning and falling head over heels for the danseur and the danseur not giving them a lot of respect. In today's world, Ratmansky should take the opportunity to present a Nutcracker, particularly when viewed by young girls in the audience, that does better than what was portrayed. I appreciate gender stereotypes are not uncommon in ballet, but that does not mean that Ratmansky has to highlight this one. -- See my discussion above re: certain potential national stereotypes for the national dances. -- A short dance by the Grandmother and Grandfather characters during the party scene seemed amusing to the audience, and is parodied quickly by one of the maids as they call it an evening before Clara descends the stairs. While the short dance seemed to attract some audience laughs, I thought it was an overly easy way to do so and the time required for the short dance should be considered for other things. I wouldn't suggest any adjustment to the choreography involving the "grown up" Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. It was very special, and beautifully danced by Hallberg and Murphy.
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