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Victoria Page

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About Victoria Page

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    Ballet Alert!

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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    New York
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  1. Victoria Page

    Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Sofia Bulgaria

    We liked it very much, but had the feeling there was a lot we missed. For example, after one of the performances we spoke with a ballet fan from Sofia who explained that each of the virtues were dressed in one of the Bulgarian national colors, and that all three together were the colors of the Bulgarian flag. It was sort of like watching "Stars and Stripes" without having a background in American culture - you miss a lot of the references even though you don't want to...
  2. I and three friends were able to attend the four performances of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Sofia. As kfw helpfully noted earlier, the program was titled "Balanchine & Farrell: American Ballet for Bulgaria" and included two Balanchine works: "Agon", performed by TSFB members, and a PDD "Divertimento Brillante" (originally part of "Glinkiana") performed by dancers from the National Ballet of Bulgaria. The program also included two works performed by the National Ballet of Bulgaria: "Stepping Stones" by New York choreographer Kathryn Posin and a new ballet "Vardar Suite" by TSFB principal Momchil Mladenov. All New Yorkers, we had heard that Sofia was ballet-friendly but didn't really know what to expect. Happily, the house was packed for every performance except the matinee, and there were standing ovations the first and last nights. "Divertimento Brillante" was in second place on the program, and it was danced by Marta Petkova and Nikola Hadjitanev the first and last nights, Katerina Petrova and Tsetso Ivanov at the matinee and Boryana Petrova and Nikola Hadjitanev the second evening. (May they forgive our transliterations of their names from the Cyrillic program!) Boryana Petrova gave a particularly charming performance, conveying an easy lightness and feeling of joy in the female variation. Testso Ivanov's performance was remarkable as we had heard he is now just 16 years old. Agon was very well received, and was beautifully danced by Momchil Mladenov (back at home and dancing the PDD every performance with Massine-like flair) and Michael Cook (showing a remarkable level of clarity and individuality in every step). Elizabeth Holowchuk made her debut in the PDD looking strong and sure, and Violeta Angelova (a fellow Bulgarian) returned to the Bransle Gay section with a welcome bit of sly flirtatiousness. TSFB members Ian Grosh, Andrew Shore Kaminsky and Kirk Henning danced with energetic yet controlled style, and Amy Brandt and Lauren Stuart displayed the grace and musicality we have come to expect from this uniquely wonderful company. The program opened with "Stepping Stones", Kathryn Posin's athletic and balletic work to Joan Tower's music. The National Ballet of Bulgaria women shone in all four performances of this work, displaying great extensions and strength. The men looked less strong as a group, particularly in partnering. Both NBB men and women looked equally comfortable in "Vardar Suite", however, danced to music by Bulgarian composer Pantcho Vladiguerov. This celebration of Bulgarian folk tradition included a corps on pointe and the female principals in ballet slippers. The ballet reminded us somewhat of "Apollo" but with the hero guided by three lovely ballerinas representing Faith, Hope and Charity (and each dressed in one of the three Bulgarian national colors), and partnered by a fourth ballerina representing Sofia (wisdom).
  3. Thanks so much Jack for posting this - I almost missed it! I'm really looking forward to the pas de deux from Agon and to comparing it to the version we were lucky enough to see in June at Kennedy Center.
  4. Victoria Page

    Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell (for adults)

    Bart, I think you've hit on exactly the point - after just one class I had the sense that she's a wonderful teacher. Of course she is unique in her ability to visually demonstrate the steps, but also she was able to correct individual students in a way that didn't discourage or embarrass them (I've had teachers who do both, as probably many have.) It seemed like people felt free to make mistakes, and to feel comfortable, which was remarkable under the circumstances. Partly that was because her sense of humor but partly is was her generous and warm demeanor which really "carried" the class along. It helped that we had a lovely accompanist on the piano. The pianist looked quite familiar to me, but I still can't recall where I've seen her before. As for the combinations, unfortunately she did not teach us "Gettysburg" though she did mention that she needed to create one or more steps free-form that would correspond to the more unusual letters in that combination - I believe "Y" was one of those letters. Apparently her company members were baffled by the inclusion of the "Y" step (what was it exactly and what was it doing there?) until she explained it. The "Y" step she showed us, with both arms raised, looked rather jazzy-looking and reminded me of Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Most of the class fit a standard format, starting at the barre (plies, tendus, ronds de jambe, frappes, etc.). I personally struggled with the grand battements, as every single battement she gave us (front, side, back) started and ended with a tendu. When you're my age you need every bit of energy to get that working leg going! In the center, she gave us a combination that (if memory serves) started to the right: glissade, jete to the right, and then to the left glissade, pas de chat, glissade, jete, and then to the right glissade, pas de chat, ending with a sous-sus. For the jumping combination she just gave us a simple series of changements and echappes, but emphasized carrying the arms softly throughout. I believe she said "no flapping" which made the class (and indeed we were somewhat guilty of some flapping) laugh quite a bit. Please do give the class a try if you're in the DC area. It's not a large class at all - about 25 people.
  5. I recently attended this class and while it looks like the next one - scheduled for February 28 at Kennedy Center - is already "sold out" it's likely there will be another one next fall. I would definitely recommend it, though I'd really prefer, at my rather advanced age, to have been an invisible participant. The class made it much easier to see why the company's dancers perform the way they do. Ms. Farrell gave corrections but always with kindness, a light touch, and a sense of humor. Her sense of humor was one of the markers of the class, which I hadn't expected at all. Demonstrating the start of the tendu combination, she showed a tendu front, tendu side, tendu back, and on the fourth count "just hold and smile that you made it that far". Watching her demonstrate developpes at the barre was also a bit of a revelation - I've never had a teacher demonstrate that step at the barre beginning with her head on her chest and then unfold her head and chest slightly upwards while the leg extends. It was rather like watching a flower unfold, and it reminded me so much of watching her dance full-out years ago. It definitely encouraged me to dance more fully in class (I still take class but on a basic level, and this is a regular class format). For one of the center combinations she taught us a little piece of Theme and Variations, which was quite wonderful as she had the pianist provide the correct music for us (Tschaikovsky's final movement of Suite No. 3 for Orchestra in G Major) She didn't tell us what it was in the beginning, but when she explained (and when we had all had a chance to make a bit of a mess of it) the class breathed a collective sigh of happiness. It seemed most of those present had experienced Theme and Variations, though from an audience perspective. It was encouraging to watch Ms. Farrell, when transposing this series of steps for us to the left side, actually had to think about it for a minute. I felt a bit less clumsy! Another unexpected part of the class was her reference to Louis XIV - not once but twice. I was expecting more Balanchine-history than origins-of-ballet history. Perhaps many teachers think that way but until then I've never heard one express it that clearly in a class setting. Toward the end of the class she emphasized to us how important it is not to get stuck in thinking one particular step usually follows another particular step. She said that to keep the company fresh she was devising combinations based on their next tour destination. She said that one combination she created seemed particularly odd-looking to the dancers, but that when she explained it spelled out G-E-T-T-Y-S-B-U-R-G they understood! I had to travel several hours to attend the class - it was well worth it.
  6. Victoria Page

    Remembering Patricia McBride in performance

    I'm a little surprised that nobody else has mentioned this particular role, so I will. As it has been more than twenty years (yikes!), my memory may well be faulty so please everyone feel free to correct! The role I remember Patricia McBride dancing in almost as vividly as Tchaikovsky PDD is her role as the Pearly Queen. Obviously it's not her greatest role, but she so conveyed a sense of "isn't this great fun to dance" to the audience that I can still visualize it well today. Partially that was the result of her wonderful interaction with and warmth toward whoever her partner was that night (so well described by others above) but partially it was her great big smile, which on others might appear rather un-ballerina-like but on her never did. I used to sit toward the front of the orchestra and remember marveling at how heavy that costume must have been because you could hear it clacking whenever she turned sharply. She never - at least the nights I was there - seemed the least affected or slowed down by it, much less thrown off by the weight of it. It was perhaps that sense of centeredness that, as much as her joy in dancing, I remember best.
  7. http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/bal...rell/backstage/ Perhaps this is not the clearest newsletter layout but it's a good start. There's a link to the company's tour for the Fall/Spring season.