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31/03/03 - Israel Ballet - Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center

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This was a triple bill, with Balanchine's 'The Four Temperaments' opening. Wow, what a way to start. This is the first time I've seen it, and it just blew me (and my companions) away. What tremndous choreographic invention - every step on its own seemed so original and unexpected and almost counterintuitive -yet each step seemed to move inevitablly into the next - at the end, there is a sense of completeness about the composition. I have no way of comparing this performance to any other. I thought the dancers danced very well considering this is not their 'natural tongue' at all. It's a very 'Russian' company - at least half the dancers are from the CIS and I assume most of the others have been trained by Russian teachers. Only Choleric was underpowered which made the tremendous imapct of the finale too surprising than I thought it should be.

The 2nd ballet was a world premiere by teh company's artistic director, Bertha Yampolsky titled 'Optimus' to music by Elgar. As I have yet to enjoy any of Yampolksy's original ballets, I came prepared to dislike this piece, and I wasn't disappointed. In the program notes, Yampolsky wrote that at this time of chaos she wanted to bring some harmony and optimism into the world. She failed in her self-appointed task: I was not cheered by the sight of one woman floating around in a nightgown and long black hair nor by the other dozen dancers who wore red and black leotards rolling around a very dim stage.

The closing ballet was 'Bach Division' by Krystof Pastor to music by.... I saw this ballet last year too, (I think it was a world premier then) and it was enjoyable this time too, however it soemtimes looked too much like an aerobics class and not a ballet.

Also, 3 completely abstract ballets (unless they are all of 'Four Temerpaments' caliber) is a boring program. Please, Bertha, think of a more interesting program next time.

A final comment - There were supposed to be 4 performances of this program this week. I know that at least 2 were cancelled due to a combination of funding cuts and the war/security situation. I was very glad to have supported the Israel Ballet in these times which are difficult for all, but not least for the arts.

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Thank you so much for posting this, GWTW. This is a company about which I know nothing, so I'm especially grateful to be able to read about it.

It was also terrific to read someone's first reaction to "The Four Temperaments." That, with "Les Noces," are two of the most "modern" ballets I know. I always get a chill, thinking of how it must have struck its original audience. (I have to say that an underpowered Choleric is a frightening thought....)

I agree with you on three abstract works on a program -- unless they're first rate -- can leave one wanting something more.

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