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Balanchine Centenary

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On Thursday I saw the opening night performance of PNB's Balanchine Centenary Program (Divertimento #15, Agon, and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. There was a car down on a three-lane street a few blocks from the theater, and traffic was backed up to the highway. I missed the beginning of Divertimento and came in only as the 5th variation (man's) was beginning.

In the Q&A after the performance, Francia Russell said that we had been a good audience. Unlike Speight Jenkins, of Seattle Opera, who says that to all the girls, there seemed to be a note of surprise in Russell's voice. When an audience member said, "That's because we were inspired," Russell described the dress rehearsal as uninspired.

The tone of the performance was apparent by Noelani Pantastico's performance; she dances the killer 6th variation, choreographed for Patricia Wilde. It seemed like she was trying to not fail at this part, rather than dancing it from within. (Conductor Stuart Dameron was trying to murder her with the tempo, which didn't help. This time Stowell didn't shout out to the conductor that it was too fast, as he did in NY during PNB's City Center debut in 1996. This time it might have helped.) Pantastico is a dancer who did not seem nearly as nervous dancing Odette/Odile or Aurora, the two biggest roles of the classical repertoire.

The NY cast had all of the "big guns" -- Hitchen (1st var), Apple (2nd var), Derieux (3rd var), Barker (4th var), and Tobiason (6th var) -- and they danced brilliantly and, seemingly, without nerves. (Apple was noticed by the NY critics in this ballet. All but Barker have retired or left the Company.) Stowell, as evidenced by his outburst, was more nervous than his dancers. As important as those performances were, and I don't mean to suggest that Russell/Stowell have any less respect for the traditional classic repertoire, I get the impression that the Company on the whole knows that this Centenary Celebration program is the most important they have ever done in their lives until this point. (The exception was Louise Nadeau, an experienced performer.) Here was the first ballet in the program, a make or break moment. Of the Opening Night cast, Le Yin breezed through his variation, but it was Mara Vinson who grabbed the opportunity and shone in Melissa Hayden's role. Vinson has danced all her parts this season with a full-bodied approach. No matter how fast the tempi, she seems unperturbed, and dances full out without seeming rushed. This has been a great season so far for her. In the Centenary programs, she's also cast in Hayden's role in the 2nd pas de trois in Agon in the last performance of the season (Sun, 15 Feb 1pm).

From the Second Tier I couldn't see who was making all of the noise, but I suspect these were Company members and dancers from the school, because it sounded like an ABT audience -- cheering, clapping, whistling, and "woofing" after each variation and pas de deux, which ruins the musical transitions, but supported the dancers and willed them on in this difficult ballet. [Edited to add: In the Q&A after the 7 Feb Sat mat., Francia Russell said that 50 members of the touring Dance Theatre of Harlem were in attendance; that certainly explains the enthusiam and professional courtesy. PNB members went to see DTH's Friday performance.] In the way-too-empty nosebleed section, there was audible sighing from everywhere. When I moved to my regular seat in the Gallery Upper after intermission, the sighs during the performance were more pronounced. There was a moment towards the end of the pas de deux in Agon where Barker goes into arabesque penche position, with Stanton lying on the floor, and after the final pulse of the extension, it sounded like the entire Main Floor made a collective sigh. [Edited to take out "develope into penche", which is not the correct move.] Who'd have thought that Divertimento #15 and Agon were ballets that would cause fifty-five-year-olds to "woof" in appreciation, and that Agon with it's difficult 12-tone score would be received as an exciting, even fun ballet?

Barker, who danced the pas de deux from Agon with Stanton in the NY performances, was even better than six years ago. Regardless of the number of roles that Stowell and visiting choreographers have made for her, it is this role that looks like it was choreographed for her. It fits her style, energy, flexibility, control, and body type like a glove, and her smile seems genuine in it. This is the triumphant role of her career.

I think Gibson's performance of the man in the first pas de trois was in the same lofty universe as Boal's. His characterization is less elegant, but more competitive, and there's steely technique and placement behind the softness of his dancing. He makes and connects shapes beautifully.

I knew there was in for trouble when Nakamura danced a rather academic second pas de trois lead. There was nothing wrong per se with the performance, but it did not bode well for Brahms-Schoenberg. Lallone opened the first movement with sweep and panache, and Nakamura, who had danced softly and beautifully in The Nutcracker, had reverted to a jarring "correctness" and a tense upper body. Lallone so ruled the first movement that the main couple was an afterthought instead of a contrast. (I'm really not a Lallone fan usually, but she was fabulous in this role. She dances Rondo alla Zingarese in other performances. We'll see.)

More trouble came in the second movement. Louise Nadeau was radiant, and she created gorgeous shapes in lifts, but to me, she posed too much. A dance photographer would have been in heaven, because he would have made great snapshots, but it was not great dancing. I am dreading seeing her Agon pas de deux.

In the "tall" cast for the third movement, Barker, with a very different style and emphasis, danced softly and elegantly in Allegra Kent's role. Milov was a lovely partner, but seeing such a big, soft dancer in the male solos was disconcerting.

Carrie Imler was a star in the Rondo alla Zingarese movement, and in the best sense: through the fullness of her dancing and the integration of character and movement. (I'm sitting on my hands wanting to talk about her "amplitude," but that was listed as one of the top reviewer descriptions to avoid :) ) Casey Herd was a lot of fun as the male lead. His performance as one of the two men in the second pas de trois in Agon had paled against Jordan Pacitti's, his authoritative partner's, but he was a lot more dynamic in the Brahms. While tall, he's a bit compact nonetheless, and he didn't have d'Amboise's sinuousness that is exploited so well in the choreography. But it was a vivid performance that offset Imler's tour-de-force brilliantly.

Among the corps and demi roles standouts were Rebecca Johnston, who never cheats and gave her corps roles in Divertimento No. 15 clarity and integrity, Karel Cruz, who, luckily for me, was paired with Johnston in the Brahms so I didn't have to split my attention, Nicholas Ade, Jordan Pacitti, and Lucien Postlewaite in both the first and fourth movements of the Brahms, Maria Chapman as the middle girl in the second movement of Brahms and one of the four girls in Agon, and Kara Zimmerman, in the first and third movements of the Brahms.

I'm looking forward to seeing a few more performances of this program. I'm hoping that the dancers have calmed down a bit, that Russell and Stowell approve of their efforts so far, and that Divertimento #15 regains some of its bloom. The dancers are certainly up to it.

Edited by hockeyfan228
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I humbly disagree. I think that it was the opening night cast of Agon who seemed to stumble the most under the burden of trying to carry the "present at the creation" banner of "authenticity" in Balanchine interpretation. The tension was obvious throughout (and not in a good way) and I think that the pas de deux in particular was flat and ineffective. Gibson was good in the first pas de trois, but NOT at all in the category of Boal. I thought that Divertimento No. 15, however, came off fine. The entire ensemble worked well together and Pantastico was brilliant. Brahms-Schoenberg was also generally good, though I felt the costumes were atrocious and distracting (particularly first and third movements). I have never seen tall dancers used in the third movement before, but Barker managed to pull it off. Milov, however, did not register at all in what is often a "surefire" part. Herd needs to work a bit more on projecting a character in the Rondo.

I also attended today's matinee, which I thought was even better. The "tall" cast of Divertimento had a slight edge over the opening night cast. Agon looked more alive. Wevers showed great sensitivity in his partnering of Nadeau in Agon and got Pantastico through an impressive debut (?) in the B-S Intermezzo. Mara Vinson danced with a commanding sense of freedom in the first movement. Even Bold seemed to show a great deal of improvement; he was far more fluid in his upper body than I ever recall seeing.

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Today's matinee was the second performance of the (first) Balanchine Centenary program; the company did not perform Friday night. There was a flier in the program that announced a second Balanchine triple-bill for next fall: Four Temperaments, Prodigal Son, and Symphony in C. In this afternoon's post-performance Q&A, Russell said that PNB intends to celebrate Balanchine throughout 2004. (They will also dance A Midsummer Night's Dream this spring.)

The principals cast for Divertimento No. 15 was completely new this afternoon, and they danced a much calmer performance. Christophe Maraval and Jordan Pacitti danced the "Theme and Variations" men. They were equally strong, although Maraval was more vivid because of his fluid arms, which I think are the best in the Company. If every ballet dancer had an extra ounce of his strong, supple arm movements that frame his face and upper body, the ballet world would be a more aesthetically pleasing place.

I am partial to Alexandra Dickson's clean technique and unexaggerated, classic positions. I found her arms strangely rectangular in the first variation (Kent's) solo, though -- is that really the way the choreography goes? -- but they were soft again during her pas de deux, which was full of her usual graciousness. Barker danced the third variation (Adams'), and while I wouldn't quite call it fussy, it seemed as if she felt she had to add or comment to the movement. While Barker shares Adams' height, the shape of her legs is very different than the films and photos I've seen of Adams, and her approach was a bit rococco, and for me, not very satisfying.

Two young corps dancers made their debuts in the ballet. Stacy Lowenberg danced the second variation (Hayden's) in a warm, direct style, with very clear shapes and positions in both the solo and the pas de deux. Maria Chapman in the fourth variation (LeClerq's) was a great stroke of casting: LeClerq's dancing has been called "witty," and I found that NYCB dancers often tried to impost wit on her roles. The wonderful thing about Chapman's performance was she played it straight, and by doing so, the wit was clearly conveyed by the juxtapositions in the choreography. These were great debuts in very difficult roles.

Kaori Nakamura's evil twin, who danced the first movement of the Brahms on Thursday, was nowhere in sight this afternoon in the sixth variation, which, of all the roles, is the once most condusive to a heavy technical approach. Instead, as she started her variation, her upper body remained soft and open, while her legs performed miracles of speed and precision. Later in the solo there's a section where both her arms and legs change position in rapid succession, which she performed with quicksilver lightness. I feel privileged to have seen see her; it was a "brought tears to my eyes" GREAT performance, and tears don't come that easily to me.

In Agon, Noelani Pantastico, who danced the second pas de trois, looked grave; she must have been concentrating and counting furiously, because I've never seen that expression on her face before. She got the first audience "gasp" in the ballet during her unsupported balances in the opening to the pas de trois, which she danced with Amazon Men Christophe Maraval and Oleg Gourboulev. It can not be easy to look powerful next to these two men who move big, but she did match their energy and remain the focus of the movement.

I'm not a fan of Louise Nadeau's. The pas de deux she danced with Olivier Wevers suffered from the type of bobbles that take away from the sense of invinceability and one-upmanship; these were not the kind of mistakes that felt like the dancers were on the brink, which I've seen blend into the roles effectively. It wasn't a particularly interesting performance on her part, and while it had a few mannerisms, like emphasizing how far she could splay her legs, nonetheless, towards the end I started to think this was better than Darcey Bussell's exaggerated attempt during the Balanching Celebration in 1993. I thought too soon: she went into the arabesque penche at the end of the pas de deux, and proceed to reach her nose to her leg -- a la Farrell in Symphony in C -- and then sickled her neck so that her head started to move behind her standing leg, as her face turned a shade of scarlet. This "trick" was too much to bear. :green: If Mara Vinson weren't making her debut as the second lead next Sunday, I would sit out the ballet rather then watch Nadeau dance this again, but instead, I plan to close my eyes and listen to the music.

Vinson did make a stunning debut this afternoon in the first movement of Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet; her dancing was just what the movement needed: big, clear, and calm -- a mature portrayal for such a young woman -- not to mention those lovely feet. Whether she was alone on stage, alone with her partner, Batkhurel Bold, or dancing amidst the corps, she remained the focus of the ballet, even when Ariana Lallone -- terrific again -- was onstage. The first movement is quite long, with a lot of musical development, and the audience grew at bit restless. While the second soloist gets a lot of sweeping movements and big jumps, the female lead's role is more subtle and tempered, and it's a rather thankless one.

Noelani Pantastico and Olivier Wevers danced the second movement and provided the second stunner in a row: she portrayed a joyous, romantic woman, and he, through his eyes and attention, was an ardent lover. The sweep and passion in their dancing was breathtaking, and they were supported by lovely performances by Kylee Kitchens, Maria Chapman, and Stacy Lowenberg. When he danced with the three women after Pantastico's first solo, he looked like he was telling her best friend, and her sister, and her cousin how happy he was, and it was very disconcerting when he ran offstage after Maria Chapman! Out came Pantastico again, radiating the sunniness that was so characteristic of Patricia McBride, who created the role.

Jodie Thomas and Le Yin danced the third movement. They physically resemble Kent and Villella, but, unfortunately, she was often obscured from my side of the orchestra by Melanie Skinner, one of the tallest women in the Company, who with Chalnessa Eames and Alexandra Dickson, danced the three soloists, parallelling the three women in the second movement. Thomas started out stiffly in the opening partnering, but her solo was soft and light, and she retained these qualities until the end of the movement, including when she was partnered.

Much of the first three movements reminds me of A Midsummer Night's Dream in feeling and temperament, if not steps: the young lovers in the second movement resembling Hermia (another McBride role) and Lysander, the female lead in the "Andante" as Titania, and in the first movement, the second soloist a more civilized version of Hippolyta -- both roles created for Gloria Govrin and danced at PNB by Lallone -- and the leads having more than a touch of the second act pas de deux.

Imler and Herd were as fantastic in the "Rondo alla Zingarese" as they were on Thursday. Four young dancers staked out four major roles in the Balanchine cannon in the Brahms, and another three made impressive debuts as leads in Agon and Divertimento No. 15. It occurred to me that apart from NYCB, I don't know any other company that could cast eleven major Balanchine female roles with such success in three ballets, using only three principal dancers, having trained all but three, and with only one dancer -- Pantastico -- dancing more than one role.

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Thanks for the posts, hockeyfan and Nyala! Allegro, did you come down? You promised us a post!! Sandik, did you see this program? Doug? Other Seattlites (Seattleans???)

We've never had as many posts as we'd like in this forum; PNB is one of our most important companies and we'd like to keep up with what they're doing. I would like to post a reminder, as we do from time to time: please remember that dancers read these boards. We want everyone to give us his or her honest opinion, but we'd ask you to phrase what you post so that, if you suddenly turned around and found the dancer or his mother standing behind you, no one would be hurt or embarrassed!!

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Tonight's performance of Divertimento # 15 had two debuts according to the posted cast list on the PNB website, one of which, Kylee Kitchens', was confirmed by Francia Russell in the post-performance Q&A. The performances of all three ballets had a different feel than the last two times I saw them, most specifically in the Mozart.

Tempe Ostergren was quick and charming in her solo, in which she reminded me of Roma Sosenko (retired NYCB). In the pas de deux, she looked a little corps-like -- ex., stopping in a position that was meant to blend with other couples -- but she's young and that should go away with more experience. Lowenberg's solo was strangely phrased tonight: it was like phone messages in which words are pre-recorded and strung together, getting the pronunciation right, but not the phrasing. On the other hand, she was more elegant in the pas de deux than last week, when she was superb, showing even more legato phrasing. Chapman again was magical in LeClerq's role

Kylee Kitchens made her debut in the 3rd variation, Adams' role. She had a small bobble at the end of her solo, and a partnering mishap in the opening of the pas de deux in which she was facing upstage instead of downstage after some supported turns. She seemed nervous, and this isn't a surprise, since she follows Barker and Nadeau in this role. But in this case, anatomy was destiny: she has long, straight legs and Adams' clean line. The role is a work in progress for her, but this was a gallant debut for a young, elegant dancer. I found her performance the most interesting of the three, because she didn't impose anything on the role, but captured the essence of the movement with integrity. It's such a shame that she won't get another chance to dance the role this year; I hope her success will give her more opportunities like this one. Brava to her!

Unless she substituted for someone else last Saturday or last night, this was also Imler's debut dancing the sixth variation. There were phrases I liked better when Nakamura performed them, as well as general finish in the movements, but Imler gave a very different kind of performance than I had seen in the program -- she played with the music almost as counterpoint, as if she were hearing the it for the first time and was responding to it, and she danced the pas de deux with abandon. Bold has partnered Imler in many major roles now, including Swan Lake, and she dances as if she doesn't need to look at him or anticipate him: she just assumes he'll be there and goes headlong into the movement. Her gamble paid off every time. She had enough time in the solo to play with it, despite the tempi, and the dynamic changes made it looked like a fresh piece of choreography. This was a variation on the casting to date: young dancers anchored by the youngest principal woman, instead of an experience veteran, and it was well-balanced with five very different, but complementary, young dancers.

In the corps, I noticed Brittany Reid's dancing and energy for the first time; she danced fully, even when she was upstage, facing backwards.

Agon featured another wonderful performance by Barker -- alas, the last time I will see her in this role this year -- and a performance by Pantastico of "Bransle Gay" that was even better than her debut in the role. She, like Imler, played with the steps, and it was breathtaking to watch. It is great to see these two young women take ownership of these great roles.

Jordan Pacitti was noteworthy as one of the two men in the second pas de trois. I hope that the next time Agon is revived that he is given a chance at the first pas de trois role.

Nakamura danced the first movement of Brahms Schoenberg Quartet with much more ease and fluidity than on Opening Night. Her upper body was soft, and her legwork was relaxed and clearer. It was a lovely performance, but she and Stanton didn't quite create the perfumed world that Vinson and Bold did last week. Imler danced the second lead on a grand scale, matching the energy and sweep of the four corps men with their big jumps.

Nadeau and Maraval danced the second movement, and I could once again indulge in Maraval's beautiful arms. In the Q&A after the performance, one attendee said that Nadeau looked like she was floating. Russell said that the reason was that Maraval was such a good partner, but then went on to say that Nadeau was a "dream to partner" and that all the men in the company want to partner her. [so even if I can't say anything nice about her dancing, I can quote other people that I respect saying nice things about her and her dancing.]

Barker gave another understated, luminous performance in the third movement, this time with Batkhurel Bold, who with his big, flexible jumps, beats, and rhythmic double tours gave the solo its due. Melanie Skinner's dancing as one of the three demisoloists was unusually soft and radiant. This was in striking contrast to her performance in the first pas de trois in Agon, in which she could have blended right in with Renee Estopinal and Wilhemina Frankfurt or any of the tall, spiky leotard ballet girls from NYCB in the '70's and '80's who specialized in the role. I wish she had been given an opportunity for a try at the Agon pas de deux. This has been a wonderful program for her; I'm sorry I missed her in Divertimento.

Lallone and Milov danced the fourth movement. Milov has that fantastic character dancing background from his Eastern European training, and this most self-effacing dancer, even in La Corsaire, got a personality transplant, and became the gypsy king. Yowza! Lallone started with her arms akimbo, and I thought she was going to match him, and that it would become Agon, the Sequel, but then she went all Kitri on me! Still it was a fun, dynamic performance.

If only PNB could dance this program for another week!

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The last performance of this program was this afternoon, and in many ways it was my favorite of the four I saw. There were other individual performers that I may have liked equally well or better, but, specifically in Divertimento and the first movement of Brahms-Schoenberg, it was the difference between being at a buffet and picking five favorite things with different tastes and textures that are complementary, and eating a wonderful Thai curry on the second day, after the spices have blended together.

Except for the "Theme" men, the cast for Divertimento was the same as on Opening Night. Jordan Pacitti was paired with Paul Gibson; this was the first time I'd seen Gibson in the role. I think the pairing was more effective, given their relative sizes, than Pacitti with Maraval, who is quite a bit taller. Gibson and Mara Vinson were beautifully matched in the first pas de deux, and Jodie Thomas seemed much more relaxed and open in the fourth.

The revelation was Pantastico. She seemed nervous on the Opening Night, but this afternoon she defined her space and had enough time, and all of the movements flowered. She was luminous in the pas de deux as well as the solo. But at the same time, her performance blended beautifully with the others, to create a whole garden, in which no color or perfume overwhelmed the others. She was magnifico and fantastico and all of the other "co's."

I'm glad I got to see Gibson again in the first pas de trois of Agon, but the real treat was Mara Vinson's debut in the second pas de trois, who put an individual stamp on the "Bransle Gay" solo. I was happy to see the timing restored to the very end, where the catch and final pose was done right on the music.

According to Francia Russell in the post-performance Q&A, the head touch to knee in the pas de deux was in the choreography. (She didn't mention the head behind the knee, but that's another story.) According to Russell, the pas de deux performed today by Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wevers "got the essence of what Mr. B wanted," and the audience rewarded the performance with a huge ovation.

In other performances of Brahms-Schoenberg, the first movement second lead had been danced on a huge scale by Lallone and Imler. Stacy Lowenberg, in a debut in the role, took a very different approach, and her elegance was the perfect balance to Nakamura and Stanton's lead couple. Lowenberg was very much of the same world as the leads, and it gave unity to movement.

Pantastico and Wevers in the second movement and Imler in the fourth were terrific again. So were Barker and Bold, but there was something more rich about this afternoon's performance of the movement; the transitions appeared more vivid and the movement built wonderfully until the end.

Alexandra Dickson was replaced in Divertimento and Agon on Friday night, but it looked liked she danced as one of the three demis in third movement of Brahms-Schoenberg; this afternoon she was replaced in the Brahms, the only role for which she was cast. I hope everything's okay.

All of the dancers may not have gotten every role they wanted or many performances of the roles that they did get, but it was a remarkable feat of casting. Of all the principals and soloists, only Oleg Gorboulev (second pas de trois, Agon) had one role; all of the rest had at least two principal or featured roles. As did Mara Vinson, Stacey Lowenberg, Kylee Kitchens, Jordan Pacitti, and Maria Chapman from the corps.

It was a tough program for the men in the corps; only Brahms-Schoenberg had a males corps, with four dancers in the first and eight dancers in the fourth movement. I hope that the next time around, Karel Cruz gets a shot at the male lead in the fourth movement of Brahms-Schoenberg, partnering up with Carrie Imler.

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Well, this is from the first Saturday evening performance.


There were several excellent performances I didn't have room to comment on, particularly Carrie Imler, who has a natural gravity to her dancing -- it's very full and finished. She swept through the soloist role in the first section of the Brahms, making me like it much more than I actually do. Louise Nadeau did seem to have a couple of uncertain moments in the second movement, but they appeared to come from a physical impulsiveness that was very appropriate to the part -- she was swept away by the moment.

The solos in Divert 15 were full of women who are on the brink of big things in their dancing, and it was a treat to see them reach out for those moments. In the post-show Q&A, Russell and Stowell both said that they would promote several of them if there were funds available. Since they just announced that they will be retiring at the end of next season I've been mulling over their tenure here, and thinking about their willingness to nurture dancers over a long haul. Right now, after a few retirements from the principal rank over the last couple years, it's more noticeable, but it occurs to me that it's always been going on.

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Sunday, February 15th

I think that HockeyFan has said it all...and I am glad that he pointed out Francia Russel's point regarding the penche in Agon. I for one was spellbound during Louise and Oliver's pas de deux, I think they almost made me forget about the choreography that I was watching...almost.

I never look forward to seeing Divertimento--its sweet, its nice, its Divertimento. As a dancer and teacher I watch the dancers on stage and lover what they are doing, appreciating all the detail they put it. As a choreographer I watch it and think, 'wow, that Balanchine really knows his craft, gosh durn it...check out that canon.' It's all very nice, but I never get excited about it. Afterwards I'm grateful for the two-dollar coffee bar in the lobby.

Then I see Agon...for the first time, ever. I see it, and as an artist I despair. It's just that good.

I've always known it was a masterpiece, I've just never seen it before. I couldn't even begin to pick it apart it my mind while watching it. I couldn't begin to understand what made it so great, I just had to sit there in awe of it all. It's been along time since I was hit with the enormity of Balanchine's talent, I guess I needed a wake up call...and I got it.

I didn't hardly register Brahms-Schoenberg for the first three movements, my brain was still reeling from Agon. Somewhere in my head I thought 'oh pretty' during sections...but that was about it. Until the last section of course, then I thought 'oh fun, I wanna do me some character again.'

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I understand what you are saying Leigh, but I don't think that I can bring myself to truly LIKE this ballet. Appreciating it is another thing, and I do. It's one that I've been able to see throughout the different points of my life, and while now I can look at it from an academic standpoint and stand in amazement at how Balanchine was able to create it...I still don't like it. It would be a great piece to watch for a composition class and write a paper on, there's just so much there, but it leaves my heart indifferent.

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Alexandra...I want to say "thank you" for your wise advice when people are posting comments. I am Jonathan Porretta's mom and many times have felt I would like to reach out to negative crititical comments . That is precisely why I haven't frequented such sites in the past year or so. However it has been brought to my attention about the many negative comments most recently. These are all professional dancers. Each is amazing and beautiful. I was priveleged to see them perform this past Thursday night and Saturday night. They are an amazing company. I would like to let you know that I heard much buzzing...ALL POSITIVE. There was a man...quite known in the ballet world...in his 60's...from New York City, he was just gushing about PNB!! He had never seen any company perform with such feeling, precise movement and technique as PNB. I enjoy sitting back and listening to the audience comments...incognito. It has always been an experience that is POSITIVE and APPRECIATED. What a great eclectic group of fine, beautiful dancers. The energy is one of beauty and delight when you are near them! What a blessing to have the privelage and honor of knowing each individual artist! I am looking forward to the next rep with great anticipation. I will post you after the next rep!

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Soloistmom - the words are appreciated.

At the same time, I need to remind everyone out there (and I am speaking as an artist myself) that this is a site for audience members. Period. We don't want people feeling unable to speak. If you hated a performance, you should be able to say it here.

If someone came on and posted honestly that they loathed my work and they thought one of my concerts was the worst they had ever seen, you bet I'd be depressed for a few weeks. I can get that depressed even after good reviews! But in public, there's nothing to say, as long as they were there, were factually accurate and did not have an ulterior motive.

Alexandra's right in saying that we should remember that the people that we talk about read what you're writing. That's why my posts are signed. And personally, if I hated something I'd remain silent. Just like you, I'm talking about my friends and "family", and that makes us behave differently. But there needs to be a balance, there's no discussion if people don't feel they can discuss freely, and in the end, I think every artist would agree that we'd rather take our lumps in a free discussion with excited and passionate fans than have people afraid to talk because they feel they have to say they liked everything.

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I agree with Leigh and would certainly hope that no-one misinterprets Alexandra as asking Ballet Talkers never to post anything negative. Her point, I think, was that criticism should be constructive and should take into consideration that dancers do have feelings and do read these posts. I, for one, come to these forums to see how others respond to performances I've enjoyed and would hate to think people were stifling their true responses for fear of offending.

While I share soloistmom's opinion that PNB is a fantastic, world-class company, that the Balanchine Centenary was incredible, and that our dancers are amazing, I don't think they have quite achieved perfection yet. In fact, I don't think ANY human endeavor has. While I myself would not post anything negative about any dancer's performance (both because my technical knowledge of ballet is very limited and because I am, admittedly, biased), I always appreciate reading others' comments on the company, both positive and negative. These are very different from personal attacks, and often give me a deeper understanding and appreciation of what I've seen.

Everyone's response is unique. What one audience member might see as an incredible, technically flawless performance might be seen by another as lacking emotion. Both might be correct. It is these differing points of view which make for interesting discussion in forums such as this. The worst thing that could happen would be for all of us to post nothing more thoughtful than "I loved it! It was perfect!"

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Thanks, Dave! No, no. I'm absolutely not saying "don't you dare say anything negative!" Not at all. We want people to post their honest opinions, pro or con. Otherwise, there's no point in having a discussion group. We put up the "dancers read this board" reminder from time to time because often people forget that. We'd prefer that people wouldn't post things like "his entrechats are as hideous as his jug ears," say (not that anyone has done that on this thread) and would also remind dancers or their mothers that if reading "I didn't care at all for John Doe's performance in Apollo. He doesn't have the technique for it, and he's the company's jester so I can't imagine why they'd cast him in the part" is a "personal attack" in your eyes, then it's best not to read these boards.

Enough said on this subject -- back to the performances!

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A girlfriend and I made the trek from Vancouver, BC, for the February 7th matinee. I have been too busy to post on my impression of the day (not for lack of trying :sweating: ), but I will post later tonight once I have the program in front of me.

Soloistmom--please don't stop posting and checking in here. It's important to have as many perspectives represented on this board as possible!!!!



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Hi, Allegfan! I hope you'll tell us about what you saw. If so, please start another thread on this forum.

I'm going to close this thread -- we'd like to have discussion on the PERFORMANCES rather than the posters or discussing the discussion. Anyone with more to say on these performances, please feel free to start another thread. We'd like to hear from you. Any and all views (and posters!) welcome here.

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