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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    student, writer, avid balletgoer
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    New York
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  1. Hello, everyone! I found this thread tonight and was interested to read the passages from Doris Humphrey's book. But I have to correct a few things. (1) Giselle actually premiered in 1841, not 1851 — a minor error, for sure, but it immediately calls Doris Humphrey's credibility into question. When you're talking about such a famous ballet, as with any famous work of art, you had better get your facts straight before you start hurling criticism. (2) She really glosses over "hundreds of years" of ballet history. She writes as if ballet remained the same for centuries, and that is simply not true. Ballets were not so formulaic for hundreds of years: their separation from operas was an innovation; the Romantic ballet blanc was an innovation; pointe shoes were an innovation; gymnastic leaps and turns were innovations. The primacy of male ballet dancing also waxed and waned over the years. (3) Moreover, the passage from the book also seems to ignore that classical ballet in Russia was stunted because the Imperial Theaters were such mammoth bureaucratic nightmares. Diaghilev, of course, came to the rescue. Does Ms. Humphrey say any of that in her book?
  2. Go for the second ring center, if you can. I think the third ring is too high, but it's not terrible. Funny ... my first NYCB experience also was a Robbins program, with "Afternoon of a Faun" (Kistler/Woetzel) and "Antique Epigraphs" (Alexopoulos, Nichols et al.) on the bill. I felt like a pilgrim. Buying the tickets online always made the most sense to me. Have a great time. Wish I could go!
  3. Some that haven't been mentioned (I don't think!) include the waltz between the Ballerina and the Moor in "Petrouchka," and two from "Coppélia": "Valse de la poupée" in the second act, and "Valse des heures" in the third act.
  4. Marianna Tcherkassky, with Wes Chapman as Albrecht.
  5. No "Symphony in C" all year, that I could see. Not a very exciting schedule at all. I feel bad for the dancers. Exchange limitations, subscriber confusion and renewal reluctance don't make for large and lively audiences — or fulfilling and satisfying performances. Sounds like a losing situation all around. I guess I won't be returning to the Koch in the foreseeable future. All right ... MAYBE in the fall.
  6. I had suspected there would be negative responses to my post, and I'm glad to see my suspicions were unfounded. Thank you all for the positive comments. I can think of two dancers off the top of my head whose career choices disappointed me: Joaquin de Luz and Sascha Radetsky. They became soloists at ABT at a time when the top male dancers were not only amazingly stellar (Stiefel, Corella and others) but also enjoyed lots of publicity ("Center Stage" and TV specials including "Born to Be Wild" and "Le Corsaire"). To me, it seemed inevitable that de Luz and Radetsky would soon be named principals and step into the major roles in ABT's repertoire. But, for whatever reason — and to my great consternation — it didn't happen. Soon, de Luz made the leap across the plaza, and Radetsky leapt across the pond and back. I won't pretend that I can read their minds and look into their hearts for the reasons for their career choices. I certainly can't do that. But let's just say that dancers' career choices — anyone's career or life choices, really — are probably based on what they perceive to be financial, artistic and/or personal development. I say, more power to them, and the best of luck — I mean merde! — to them as well.
  7. "Moving on to established companies can provide economic security, a home, a guarantee of performance opportunities." Yeah, except when it doesn't. Let's not forget what happened to 11 New York City Ballet dancers last year. No matter what audience members and fans might want, dancers' lives are their own, and they will do what they want. Working in a major ballet company is not for everyone. Max van der Sterre and Katie Bergstrom are two of the dancers who were laid off. As horrible as it must have been at first, they said in interviews with the New York Times that they were happy, in a way, that it happened. "Truth be told," van der Sterre told the Times, "I'm very happy that I'm one of them, because it allows me to do a lot of things that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise." Bergstrom said she was "relieved" it happened. "I want to become just a well-rounded, educated person," she said. "Being with New York City Ballet, and having such a strenuous schedule every day, and having no time to do anything else, practically, makes it really hard." Granted, these situations are different from Danny Tidwell's, because it wasn't their choice to leave. The point is this: Working in a major ballet company is not the end-all, be-all for all dancers, whether or not they have Tidwell's talent, ability and fame. I think it is also fair to say that major ballet companies don't always offer environments conducive for artistic growth for every dancer, even one of Tidwell's caliber. This might be beyond the scope of this thread, but should anyone assume that artistic growth is even a priority for most dancers, or any dancer? How about decent wages? Decent working conditions? Affordable health care?
  8. Hmmm ... lemme open iTunes ... OK! Don't get me wrong: I love all of Tchaikovsky's ballet scores (and other selections of his music used in ballets) and so many others, but here are some selections (sorry, I know there are more than five) that have not been mentioned many times: Delibes: Thème slave varié, from "Coppélia," act 1 — aka "the friends' dance" My favorite part is the last variation, when, in some versions, Swanhilda performs two strings of brisés, and later, a bunch of sprightly rétirés. Delibes: Scene, in act 2, right after Chanson à boire, when Coppélius brings out Swanhilda in disguise and is fooled into thinking Coppélia is coming to life. The theme, probably meant to represent Coppélia (or naiveté itself), was introduced at the beginning of the prélude with horns, but here is played by strings, a couple of octaves higher. Passages like these make me think that "Coppélia" carries more dramatic weight than many people believe. Delibes: Danse de la bacchante, from "Sylvia," act 2 So exotic and sensual. What a marvelous solo Ashton choreographed for Fonteyn! Tcherepnin: Allegro ma non troppo, from "Paquita" Probably inserted sometime after the original Minkus score was completed and performed in the 1850s. Tchaikovsky might have been inspired by this — consciously or not — and wrote the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" based on it. Does anyone agree? Maybe there's some historical evidence to that effect. Stravinsky: In Petrouchka's Booth, from "Petrouchka" Really sad, when Petrouchka explains to the audience that the Charlatan abuses him. Stravinsky: Supplication of the Firebird, from "Firebird" So much emotion, so early in the ballet. Borodin: Polovstian Dances, from "Prince Igor" I'll never forget the moment, sitting in the Kennedy Center in 2005, when I realized that's the music we often used in class for ronds de jambe. Gottschalk: Grande Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, used in Balanchine's "Tarantella" I think I saw that ballet when I was 5 or 6 at a summer arts festival in my hometown. Somehow I got a tape of the music and played it endlessly, it seems. I almost completely forgot about it, but in college, I was reminded of how much I loved it when I heard it on the radio in someone's office. Serendipitous moments like that almost make me a believer! Speaking of all things spiritual ... to my knowledge, ballet scores by Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky are considered to be the greatest. In my opinion, the reason for that is obvious: The music engenders a profoundly, spiritually moving experience within the balletgoer. (Many times, this music is performed in concert halls, with no dance performance included.) Still, scores by "lesser" ballet composers (including some composers who never knew their music would be used for ballet) can be just as spiritually moving — for me, anyway — whether or not the music is coupled with dancing. That said, I've avoided any full-length "Don Quixote," perhaps stupidly, because the score, in its entirety, seems unpalatable for two hours of listening. I think it would exhaust me in a bad way — not in a satisfying way, like "The Sleeping Beauty" or "Swan Lake" do. I think someone said basically the same thing about Glazunov's "Raymonda." Still, I think I should give "Don Q" and "Raymonda" a chance one of these seasons.
  9. Do you mean that the production of Giselle as a whole was particularly horrible, or that Kirkland's performance was particularly horrible?
  10. Great to see all of the media coverage of this event. Don't miss the video here: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/07/16/wo...ry5166905.shtml Lots of photos here: http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=11721 I've also seen coverage on bbc.co.uk and from the Associated Press, which I believe is what The Miami Herald ran. Can we agree that this event has repercussions not only in the ballet world? Isn't this a perfect example of how dance can build bridges that transcend nationality, politics and language?
  11. Thank you for your reply, sz.
  12. It's good to hear you enjoyed her performance in such a role as the Lilac Fairy. So important to look regal and powerful ... yet benevolent and serene. I'm glad to hear you think she pulled it off.
  13. I saw Wiles in the summer of 2005 doing the Black Swan Pas de Deux. I don't remember who partnered her. It might have been her debut in the role as a sort of tryout for the full-length version. I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by both her upper body (mostly) and her legs (at times). She didn't seem to be very strong in her upper body. While I understand that not necessarily every dancer has very defined arm and back muscles well, they're almost necessary in a role such as Odile, aren't they? Her arms, while in correct and pleasing positions, seemed practically lifeless. The image I remember most distinctly from that performance was her wobbling in an attitude derrière pose, her back knee dipping down at times. Odile just can't look like that. Odile must be completely self-assured, razor-sharp and crystal-clear. Right? Here are some considerations in addition to some that I mentioned above: 1. She was a soloist then and probably didn't have much experience dancing roles such as Odile. 2. She was probably very nervous to be performing Odile. 3. She hadn't performed the beginning of the ballet that night as a warm-up. 4. I shouldn't judge a dancer from one short performance from so long ago. 5. Maybe she was relatively inexperienced with that particular partner. To sum it up, I was disappointed, and consequently, I avoid buying tickets for performances she's dancing in. It's horrible that I feel this way — and that I've admitted it publicly — but it's true! Here are some of my questions: 1. Does anyone agree with any of my opinions? Have you seen what I've seen? 2. Has she gotten better since then? 3. Does anyone think that perhaps the bureaucracy at ABT has failed her? 4. Has she perhaps not gotten the support and coaching she's needed? 5. Am I being too harsh? 6. Could this simply be a case of miscasting? (If so, that's hardly her fault.) 7. Should I bother seeing her again? I think she's dancing "Sylvia" with Roberto Bolle this summer. While I'd love to see him, I'm not sure I want to take the chance at her disappointing me again. Truth be told, I want to like her. Please help me understand her better.
  14. What don't you like about the costumes? And wouldn't they be slightly different according to the companies that perform the ballet?
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