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Everything posted by Ambonnay

  1. Reminder that the YAGP NYC Gala for 2011 already has tickets available for purchase, on the City Center website.
  2. Alistair M's review saw the bees in the Waltz of Flowers as being somewhat silly. I actually thought the bees' being on the stage coincided well with the swells in the music, and the bees' role was actually to show the sunniness and the lushness of the ballerinas representing the flowers to be expressed. Interestingly, the four danseurs playing the bees (see the Hallberg/Murphy cast in an earlier post) were not of generally comparable height. The danseurs were chosen more for their skills, I suspect, than for uniformity of general appearance. Tamm danced well, among the bees. What the NYT slideshow photos of the bees didn't show is that they have two long antennae (spelling) on their heads that would vibrate very effectively when the danseurs were moving. The huge goggles over the bees' eyes enhanced the appearance of the bees. A couple of other observations: -- The Kingdom of the Sweets opens with an interesting visual effect. There are scenery grills constituting a decorative metallic gate that initially extends the entire length of the stage and is between the audience and the dancers (initially in the shadows). That gate also constitutes the background of the same scene. When the scene starts, the different performers in the Kingdom of the Sweets are almost like in a huge enclosed cage, from the audience's perspective. The ballerinas from the Waltz of the Flowers then all approach the "gate" separating them from the audience and look out. -- The four life-size dolls presented by Drosselmeyer at the party have small roles in the scene where the Mice are running amok just before their battle with the Nutcracker. They are chased by the mice and hide beneath the tree. Later, some of the dolls participate in the fight against the Mice. The first set of dolls, in very dramatic-looking black and white outfits, danced well. -- I had mixed feelings about some of the portrayals of the national dances. for instance, I appreciate that the Chinese dance has a tradition in Nutcracker performances, but the dancers portraying the Chinese had costumes and a look, and danced in a way, that is based more on the traditional sense of Chinese and Chinese dance. same for the Spanish dance. I wondered whether Ratmansky could have updated some of the national dances. Over the last two years, there has been an article in one of the dance magazines talking about whether classical ballet perceptions of nationality are or are not updated in some performances, and asking whether some stereotypes based on nationality should be addressed more sensitively. -- There is one intermission. The drinks selection leaves a lot to be desired. There is red and white wine, but no Champagne or other sparkling wine. During the premiere evening, lighting effects had large white snowflakes being beamed onto the white walls of the entryway to BAM.
  3. In an earlier post, I mentioned how much I liked "Little Mouse". Not only was that role very well portrayed by a young boy, who got a lot of applause at the end, but also the "Little Mouse" appears throughout the ballet, albeit in short segments sometimes. Like Clara and the Nutcracker (boy), Little Mouse is an integrating character in the ballet and one that, to my knowledge, was introduced to the Nutcracker by Ratmansky with some element of wit. The centrality of the role of Little Mouse is shown by the fact that he is listed in the cast sheet in the same first section as grown up and little Clara and the Nutcracker. I like the wit and "wink wink" humor and whimsical quality in Ratmansky's Nutcracker, of which Little Mouse is an example. Here are some Little Mouse appearances: -- We see Little Mouse for the first time in the kitchen, when he is the very first mouse the audience encounters. He darts into the kitchen, is seen by the cook, and is chased by him or another kitchen person. During this scene, we see the playfulness of Little Mouse and how elusive and quick he is. -- Later, as Clara is leaving the kitchen, Little Mouse and a number of large mice are in the kitchen again. They are standing up on the long kitchen tables, grabbing at sausages that are hanging from the kitchen ceiling and eating from the pots of food on the stove. It is a frenzy of feasting by the mice and they have free reign over the kitchen and are enjoying themselves. -- We see Little Mouse again when Clara comes back down, after she has been asked to go to sleep for the night. She had left the (small) Nutcracker doll on a red seating-type sofa next to the Christmas tree. Little Mouse picks up the doll, sits on the softa, and sort of cuddles the doll, coveting it. When Clara descends the staircase and sees this, she approaches Little Mouse to try to get it back, but then the other mice (bigger ones) arrive. In a way, Little Mouse humanizes the mice population. They are not just villains whose king is later killed by Clara's shoe. Like Clara's naughtiness and desire for presents in Act I, Little Mouse wants the Nutcracker doll too. -- Later on, when the X'Mas tree is large, and before the Rat King is killed, at one point Little Mouse is hoisted above the shoulder or onto the shoulder by the Rat King. It's possible Little Mouse is the Rat King's son or something like that, although we can't tell either way. Here, Little Mouse is triumphant, basking in the military might of the mice. -- Finally, I appreciated how Little Mouse appears late in the Mother Ginger/Polinchinelles portion of the Land of the Sweets. After the Polinchinelles reluctantly go underneath Mother Giner's skirt, they reemerge from it and are followed from Little Mouse, also emerging from the skirt!
  4. Here is the Synopsis from the playbill: ACT I SCENE I, THE KITCHEN On Christmas Eve, the Stahlbaum kitchen is alive with activity as cooks and housekeepers bustle about preparing for the family's annual holiday party. The Nanny keeps a watchful eye over the Stahlbaum children, Clara and Fritz. Once preparations are done, everyone adjourns to the parlour to greet the guests. Clara turns back as she exits and is startled to see a mouse [My commentary: I think she might see more than one]. She runs to join the others in the dining room. With the kitchen completely empty, more mischievous mice appear and scurry about looking for scraps of the holiday meal. [My commentary: Since the holiday meal's contents may still be in pots and pans, this scene is much more dramatic in the ballet than it sounds. The mice are eating from pots. Many of them stand on the kitchen tables and reach sausages that are hung above the table. This is a very visually arresting scene at the end of Scene I]. Scene 2, THE PARTY The Stahlbaums welcome family and friends to their grand parlor replete with holiday decorations, including a beautiful Christmas tree. The party grows festive with music and dance as Clara's godfather, Drosselmeyer, magically appears. A skilled toymaker always full of the most inventive surprises, Drosselmeyer entertains everyone as he presents four life-sized dolls. However, these dolls cannot be played with, and Clara is disappointed. Then, Drosselmeyer gives Clara a unique nutcracker handsomely dressed as a soldier. Fritz becomes jealous of his sister and rushes at her, snatching the Nutcracker from her and breaking it. A heartbroken Clara looks on as Drosselmeyer repairs the Nutcracker. AS the evening grows late, the guests depart and the Stahlbaum family retires for a long winter night's rest. SCENE 3, THE BATTLE During the night, a sleepy Clara tiptoes back down the staircase in search of her beloved Nutcracker. As the clock strikes midnight, Clara sees Drosselmeyer's face on the clock and becomes distressed by mice scampering into the room from all sides. The Nutcracker tries to help her but is carried away by the mice. Drosselmeyer appears just in time to catch Clara as she faints from fright. As she recovers, Clara sees her house change alll around her. The Christmas tree grows large and wondrous [it actually doesn't "grow" in front of the audience]. The Nutcracker heroically summons the toy soldiers to help fend off the scurrying mice. The fierce Mouse King arrives and engages in a duel with the Nutcracker. Just when it seems the evil Mouse King may be victorius, Clara takes off her shoe and bravely throws it at him, casting a fatal blow. As the mice quickly retreat, the Nutcracker transforms into a young Prince. SCENE 4, THE SNOW The Stahlbaum parlor suddenly becomes quite cold and snowflakes begin to fall. At first, the snow falls gently as if in a waltz, but it builds into a frightful blizzard. Drosselmeyer brings a small sleigh to rescue Clara and the Prince from the freezing snow, and the moonlight guides them on a shining path for their journey over snow-covered hills. ACT II LAND OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY Drosselmeyers navigates the sleigh through the blizzard to safety in the sunny Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her subjects are amazed to learn of clara's bravery in killing the Mouse King and the Fairy commands a festival in honor of Clara, featuring charming dancers from around the world. As the celebration draws to a close, Clara receives her greatest Christmas wish and sees herself transformed into a beautiful Princess to dance in the arms of her Nutcracker Prince. EPILOGUE As the joyous celebration and magic kingdom fade, Clara suddenly finds herself alone in her room on Christmas morning, wondering 'Was this all a dream'?
  5. I also attended the premiere of the Nutcracker. I liked this Nutcracker, but only until the (very late) point where the danseur (Hallberg on this evening) mimes professing his love for the "grown up" Clara (Murphy) and asking her to marry him. When she mimes agreement, the Sugar Plum Fairy brings out a ring and Hallberg puts a kitschy-looking wedding short veil (not covering Murphy's face) on Murphy. Starting from that point, the beauty of the Grand PDD of the ballet was halted and the ballet went downhill as the different performers in the earlier portion of the Act II Kingdom of the Sweets parade out to greet Clara and her Prince. Still, a 95 percent enjoyable ballet, and a Nutcracker that, like Kevin M suggested, is unlike others I have seen. In my mind, different in a good way. After Hallberg and Murphy and the younger versions of them, the best portrayal in the ballet was of "Little Mouse". This is played by a young boy danseur who had a mouse head on all ballet. He was in a white leotard and was the only "child" mouse in the ballet. First of all, Little Mouse had thin arms and thin legs and looked very cute. Second, he was precocious and expressive and a lot of fun to watch. As noted by abatt, David Koch and Kevin M spoke before the show. David K donated $2.5M. Initially, he was going to donate the entire cost of the ballet, but, when the actual cost was twice that estimated, other donors were relied upon. Hallberg was especially clean, technically strong and lyrical in the Grand PDD. Murphy was wonderful too, and the two paired beautifully. One lift seemed more difficult than the other lifts performed. Hallberg used what seemed like one hand to support the entire body of Murphy held by Hallberg above his head. This pair was technically very accomplished, but also relating to each other on stage beautifully. Hallberg is continuing to do a great job with showing expression through his body, and of course his lines are stunning. His costume was a gorgeous white jacket with two rows of large shiny buttons, and white leotards. The below omits most of the children (sorry, typing time limited around the holiday season): Clara -- Catherine Hurlin (nice performance; looked like a young Gillian Murphy might) The Nutcracker Boy -- Tyler Maloney (handsome; didn't go overboard in portrayal; had nice lines) Clara, The Princess -- Gillian Murphy (danced very beautifully) Nutcracker, The Prince -- David Hallberg ( what can I say but there was literally no room for improvement in his performance to my mind) Drosselmeyer -- Victor Barbee (played to be more the esoteric and slightly goofy inventor rather than a more menacing Drosselmeyer version) Nanny/Sugar Plum Fairy -- Zhong-Jing Fang (not a dancing role) Little Mouse -- Justin Souriau-Levine ( outstanding) Fritz -- Kai Monroe THE KITCHEN Butler -- Alexi Agoudine Cook -- Julio Bragado-Young (with orange wig and some flair) Maids -- Kelley Boyd and Luciana Paris Mr. Stahlbaum -- Roddy Doble (good character depiction) Mrs. Stahlbaum -- Nicole Curry THE PARTY Columbine -- Gemma Bond Harlequin -- Craig Salstein Recruit-- Luis Ribagorda Canteen Keeper -- Meaghan Hinkis Grandmother -- Marian Butler Grandfather -- Roman Zhurbin (in another "older" role that was well-portrayed) Two Aunts -- Jessica Saund and Sarah Smith Parents -- EY Ahn, A Ettala, N Graniero, E Mertz, K Potter, C Shevchecnko, G Davis, G DeLong, T Eason, J Gorak, A Hammoudi, C Royal Children -- not typed in, sorry THE BATTLE Mouse King -- Thomas Forster Mice -- A Agoudine, J Bragado-Young, G Davis, G DeLong, T Eason, A Harroudi, M Illyin, V Krauchenka, J Phillips, Jose SEbastian, S Stewart, E Tamm Tiny Soldiers -- not typed in SNOW SCENE Snowflakes -- Many of the corps ballerinas, including I Boylston, R Pavam, C Shevchecnko, L Underwood, K Uphoff THE KINGDOM OF THE SWEETS Majordomo -- Alexei Agoudine Nutcracker's Sisters -- Isabella Boylston, Melanie Hamrick, Yuriko Kajiya, Simone Messmer, Leann Understood Little Fairies -- not typed in Pages -- not typed in Arabians -- Sascha Radetsky and Nicole Curry, Isadora Loyola, Kelley Potter and Devon Teuscher Spanish -- Maria Riccetto and Jared Matthews, Jessica Saund and Alexandre Hammoudi Chinese -- Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin Russians -- Mikhail Ilyin, Craig Salstein, Arron Scott Mother Ginger -- Kenneth Easter Polinchinelles -- not typed in Flowers -- Many of the corps ballerinas, including R Pavam, C Shevchenko, K Uphoff Bees -- Thomas Forster, Daniel Mantel, Luis Ribagorda, Eric Tamm (they danced well) Hee Seo was absent from the ballet. I wonder if she is still injured?
  6. http://www.nasdaq.com/marketsite/marketsite-events-detail.aspx?fn=201012-open12212010.txt See the fourth photo from the left. I think the ballerina in the weird turban on the left of the photo, with the medium turquoise outfit, could potentially be the Sugar Plum Fairy character in the ABT Nutcracker. The reason is that the recent ABT brochure with the three corps ballerinas dressed in white on the front cover, shows a close-up picture inside of the bodice/waist area of the SPF's costume. It really looks like the same area of this person's costume.
  7. Alistair M's annual "thought" piece is in today's NYTimes. Excepts follow: "When it comes to purest classicism, however, our current exemplar is male: David Hallberg. In Ballet Theater's 'Sleeping Beauty' his line, his stance, his phrasing all epitomized the ideal. In Ashton's 'Dream' he found choreography that inflamed him, and the 'Orpheus' Blest [sic] Spirit solo that he danced in 'Kings of the Dance' ... was a revelation of Elysian grace.... with Mr. Hallberg we watch history in the making: male style is taken to new heights." Even though Alistair M mentions both Hallberg and Osipova in his piece, one glaring omission in terms of the review of the NY dance year that has passed is that Alistair apparently may not have attended the Hallberg/Osipova Romeo & Juliet. Otherwise, he probably could have included that performance in 2010's notable developments described in this article.
  8. I received a full-color, multi-page brochure from ABT. There is a two-page piece on the Nutcracker, which I excerpt below: "first scene set in the kitchen ... Of the 19th-century household where children watch the preparations for the Christmas eve meal. And it is in the kitchen were we first encounter ... the mice!" "If the [mice] are vivid, they remain whimsical: a celebrated painting of the pot-bellied Napoleon by the painter Jacques-Louis David served as inspiration for Hudson's design of an elegantly (sic) frock coat-attired, corpulent Mouse King." "... ABT's new staging offers some twists and surprises. In the first act, the Christmas tree in the parlor grows at the enchanted hour to expansive dimensions as in other productions, but the parlor also accommodates a chair that amplifies to towering proportions and from which Clara watches the battle between the opposing forces. In the second act, four dancing bumblebees join in the 'Waltz of the Flowers'. Perhaps most significantly, young Clara and the Nutcracker in the first act are transformed into Clara, on the brink of young adulthood, and the Nutcracker Prince. Together, they dance the ballet's climactic pas de deux to Tchaikovsky's sweeping music...." The article also contains a photo of details from the Sugar Plum Fairy's costume. It looks like the bodice is a light turqouise cloth material that contains prints of red and pink roses. The bodice is laced up using what seems to be light yellow string in the back.
  9. Videos on ABT Nutcracker: http://www.abt.org/performances/nutcrackervideos.asp
  10. The Tues Dec 28 ticket has been taken. Only the Wed Dec 29 ticket remains. I'll still be able to report on the ABT Nutcracker. Just an earlier performance, before I have to leave on a trip.
  11. The Guggenheim Works & Process presentation on the ABT Nutcracker has excerpts linked below: http://www.youtube.com/worksandprocess
  12. The current issue of Pointe has an article on the ABT Nutcracker entitled "Bittersweet Fairy Tale", by Elizabeth Kendall. It is based on a discussion with Ratmansky from a few months ago. Some excerpts follow: -- "A tall order: to make a Nutcracker that's light enough for children and dark enough for adults; pure enough to be classical, surprising enough to be new." -- "His new snow scene won't be the usual witty benediction, but instead, 'a bit dangerous, not sweet.' His first-act party scene won't be 'all hobbyhorses and frilly petticoats, not quite as warm as usual.'" -- "And he wants to deepen the grand pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier .... The music for that pas de deux seems to him 'strangely unrelated' to the action taht comes before. 'It adds a lot of dramatic color to quitea light story. For me it sounds like Tchaikovsky's painful look back on the beautiful ties of childhood and growing up. Like looking from a distance.'" Query whether the grand PDD is between the grown up Clara and the cavalier, or the SPF and him as described? There is a SPF in the new Nutcracker, but she is not played by the lead ballerina.
  13. On Hallberg imitating a ballerina in Bright Stream, NT doesn't really mimic the pointe work. I wonder if a male principal dancer could do that kind of thing, or whether it is specific to the training for a ballerina? Separately, the front of the current brochure has a picture of Gillian that seems different from her prior pictures not only due to the lack of makeup, but also by the weight she appears to have lost if the picture is not airbrushed.
  14. I haven't received any responses on the above Nutcracker tickets, so I'll take 50% of face for either instead of 70%. Please PM me, or e-mail me at ambonnay@live.com, if you are interested in taking over either ticket.
  15. I am selling two ABT Nutcracker tickets (BAM venue) which I will not be able to use. Each ticket will be sold for 70% of face. (1) One ticket in Prime Orchestra, 7 pm Tues Dec 28 Current principal cast indicated: Hallberg/Murphy Seat A13 (note this is a row that is very close to the stage -- potential buyers should evaluate whether they like that positioning) Face was $95, so ticket being sold for $66 (2) One ticket in Orchestra Partial View, 7 pm Wed Dec 29 Current cast indicated: Herrera/C Stearns Seat A29 This is a partial view seat and VERY much to the side of the venue in a row that is very close to the stage Face was $30, so ticket being sold for $21 Please send a private message to me if you are interested in either ticket. I will not be able to check my PMs every day during this period, so kindly be patient for a reply.
  16. I think part of the reason that this performance fell short of selling out, even though it was a single performance run at NJPAC, is that the ballets included are so duplicative of programs done in NYC last year. I think many NJ residents who have more than a passing interest in ballet and the ABT would travel into Manhattan for performances they want to see, and will have already seen much of the program. I don't know what the rationale is beind presenting such a comparable program to those done in the recent past in NYC. I remember that part of the reason that Seven Sonatas and the Millepied work were chosen last year was that the stage at the non-Met Opera, Lincoln Center venue was a bit smaller than the typical ABT venue. So could it be that the NJPAC stage is also somewhat smaller?
  17. I attended the first two pieces performed by ABT at the NJPAC last evening. Company B was fine. Gillian Murphy was, as usual, participating and did well. S Messmer always does pretty well in that piece, as does M Copeland. Sasha R had his usual longish solo piece, which could have used more facial expressiveness (this is something I notice about Sasha R in almost every piece I have seen him in) and some more height in his jumps. Company B was accompanied by pre-recorded music. "Seven Sonatas" was quite beautifully danced, with the first team for that piece participating except that J Kent was replaced by Shevchenko. Shevchenko danced very well, particularly her "main" portion of the piece with Hallberg. Hallberg was lyrical , astute to details with the way his hands, feet, arms and legs are positioned as usual. In the last year or year and a half, I have noticed Hallberg's expression of emotion for the ballerina accompanying him a lot better (not that that was not fine with him before). Here, even in a piece that did not have a storyline per se, Hallberg was able to communicate beautifully with his facial expressions and the way he held Shevchenko or the other ballerinas, the way his body moved and was responsive to theirs. I think, in the last year to eighteen months, Hallberg has addressed the main area (acting) where he was initially not as excellent as in other areas. As some readers know, I always enjoyed watching Hallberg and choose performances based on his participation. So, saying that he has improved is already working off of a very high level of performance, in my eyes. There was live piano accompaniment to Seven Sonatas. The performance was not sold out. Maybe 85% attendance, although the Orchestra seats were sold to a greater extent than that overall number. The NJPAC intermissions involved vendors of clothing, jewelry and purses set up to encourage attendees to make purchases. I appreciate this type of commercial activity may generate rental revenue for NJPAC, but it does not add to the ambiance of attending a dance performance. The beverages available during intermission left a lot to be desired. For example, no champagne was available -- only Prosecco. Also, we were given a generic November program for NJPAC that, at least to me, did not appear to contain even a page devoted to what the evening's program was. A note on transportation: Time (5-10 minutes) has to be allowed to get from the "core" part of Penn Station underneath Madison Square Garden on the Seventh Ave. side to get to the NJ Path area. One can either use the underground walkways constituting part of Penn Station, or walk above ground. The NJ Path is actually on the "island" in the road right in front of Macy's. That is the case despite the NJ Path station being called "New York Penn Station".
  18. I got an e-mail from NJPAC saying this, relevant to members who are attending the Saturday performance: "American Ballet Theatre has advised NJPAC that there will be no late seating for their performance on November 20. Once doors are closed at 8:00pm, ticket holders outside Prudential Hall will be seated at the next intermission which is approximately 35 minutes later. There also will be no late seating for those who fail to return from intermissions before the doors close. Furthermore, please be aware that there is an event at the Prudential Center that evening at 7:30pm which will most likely impact your travel time if arriving by motor vehicle."
  19. Seo must be injured. Shevchenko has now replaced Seo for the NJPAC performance this Saturday. Previously, Seo was the first listed ballerina for this Saturday's Seven Sonatas performance. Seven Sonatas C. Shevchenko X. Reyes S. Abrera D. Hallberg H. Cornejo G. Saveliev
  20. abatt -- My point about Murphy wasn't specific to her having been cast previously or not in Seven Sonatas. I should have been more clear. I meant they are continuing to develop Hee Seo and give her some plum roles, which is an approach that is understandable given how they might need an additional principal in the next few years and given the likelihood of Gililan spending some of her time (at least) in New Zealand.
  21. Casting is out for NJPAC. Not surprisingly given Gillian's time to be spent in New Zealand (however much she tries to fulfill ABT commitments), Hee Seo is being showcased. Newark, New Jersey Company B Company Seven Sonatas H. Seo X. Reyes S. Abrera D. Hallberg H. Cornejo G. Saveliev Everything Doesn't Happen at Once I. Boylston M. Gomes
  22. Can anybody provide some info on where the Mezz at BAM "hangs over" the Orchestra (ie at what row of the Orchestra would you find the first row of the Mezz above it)? Thanks
  23. The trio is performing this Sunday at Lincoln Center. I was planning to attend, and can report. http://nyphil.org/attend/season/index.cfm?page=eventDetail&eventNum=2132&performanceNum=3590&seasonNum=10&effortcode=lcorg1011
  24. Certain other things I now recall from the Guggenheim Nutcracker discussion are below: -- At one point, Ratmansky says that the snowflakes get "aggressive". The young Clara and the Nutcracker prince get knocked around by some snowflakes and there is a sense of activity surrounding how the snowflakes are (ie they almost become collectively a character in the ballet). This was demonstrated a bit during the Guggenheim discussion. -- Ratmansky indicated that the Rat King will be shown with seven heads, as in the original. The Rat King will correspondingly have seven tails. The rats will largely be white, some with yellowish teeth. They are supposed to look somewhat scary. -- When Ratmansky was coaching Daniil S, at one point Ratmansky asked Daniil to not jump so high, so as to coordinate better with the timing of the music (and presumably land faster). I thought that was amusing. -- Ormsby noted he had just returned from Cuba, where he had been very well treated. Barbara -- Sorry, I didn't focus on the Spanish dance, so I couldn't answer your question. All -- Did anybody attend the Monday performance, with Veronika Part being coached by Ratmansky?
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