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Kennedy Center -- Jewels

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The first Jewels (of three scheduled) was a rather subdued affair, lacking star performances. No one danced badly, but there was no excitement in Emeralds or Diamonds. Rubies, aided by the presence of the seasoned Woetzel and the eager, appropriately cast Ansanelli, came off best, even if the former is really too old for this sort of hijinx. He danced it well, if without his former explosive technique, but looked distinctly long in the tooth for it, especially next to his dewy young ballerina. Ansanelli here has a role that exactly suits her fearless, headlong approach to dancing. Teresa Reichlen, in the second ballerina role, is obviously gifted but lacks a sense of humor.

The ballerinas in Emeralds and Diamonds just didn't have what it takes to make these roles moving. I was especially disappointed in Jenifer Ringer, who I'd thought would be perfectly cast in the Mimi Paul role. She wasn't bad, but I found her too studied in the solo, and perhaps trying too hard to be sophisticated, which is not what this role is all about. Her role is the "jeune fille" counterpart to the womanly Verdy role. Miranda Weese just isn't woman enough for the latter -- she's all dancer, and nothing but a dancer. I did like Antonio Carmena, who substituted without notice for Arch Higgins in the pas de trois.

As for Maria Kowroski, I found myself getting cross with her. She's had three plum ballerina roles in as many days, and while she's danced them impeccably, she's failed to impose herself on any of them. It's not that I sense vacuousness there, or an inability to project. She may be one of those dancers who are in special need of proper coaching. If so, she's in probably the worst company she could be in.

The new sets? I liked Rubies -- simple, elegant, and chic. Emeralds was horribly green. It was hard to see the dancers in their green costumes against such monolithic greeness. Diamonds seemed to take place in the Blue Grotto, when it should obviously be a ballroom setting, but at least the color was right.

I liked Quinn's conducting, especially in Diamonds, which sounded rich and luscious and grand.

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Well, I agree on some things and disagree on others.

I like the new designs. I think the mood is right, the feeling is right, the interplay between costumes and sets is right. I also happen to love green......

Miranda Weese flowed through Emeralds. I think she has either watched Violette et Mr. B. a good deal, or has really thought about/studied the role, as I found her very satisfying in it....for me she is like a river in this: sparkly in some places, limpid, soft and expansive and deep......I really did enjoy her performance tonight. Softest pointe work I've ever seen her do.

Jenifer Ringer was not quite as successful.....she didn't have a night of great dancing, and I expected her to be lovely in this. She seemed disjointed, the movement not expansive or lush or nuanced.......I have a niggling feeling that perhaps I'm out in left field, but she just didn't connect with the music or the role.

Carmena has done the pas de trois before and I found him less jarring in this than previously; he was a little cleaner and less showy......Tinsley and Van Kipnis were bland. Looked prettry, but b o r i n g.

Rubies gave Reichlen the opportunity to perform for the home crowd (she is from northern Virginia) and she seemed a little more energised than usual. I still don't find her doing anything other than the steps and a penche does not equal a performance. I'm not trying to sound harsh, but although she is a pretty dancer, and emploi is certainly in evidence here, I don't think she has a clue about any sort of characterization or personality in the role. I'm hoping it will come with time--I thought she was fine in PC #2 earlier in the season, but a little more fascinatin' rhythm is required here.

Ansanelli was simply beautiful--she didn't hold back, danced full out and dared Woetzel to stay asleep on stage. He actually showed a little pep and facial animation and partnered her better than usual.

Diamonds was Kowrowski in beautiful Odette mode. Yes, she is lovely. No, there wasn't an ounce of mystery in her. I keep waiting for her to unleash....something.....to fling herself into that wonderful unsupported pirouette and make us gasp........

She is very beautiful, but I prefer her in funny mode lately. She's a great comedienne but grandeur is not her strong suit. (I know, I am just disgruntled and missing Whelan....)

Philip Neal was also lovely and danced elegantly as ever.

The house was enthusiastic.....highlights for me were Weese and Ansanelli; the diamonds were not faceted deeply enough to catch all the spectrum of colours.....

Corps looked very good, I thought, especially coming off 2 weeks of Sleeping Beauty and three months without a day off.

Very, very glad to have NYCB in Washiongton-----

the orchestra, by the way, sounded great. Horn players who don't splat. Quinn conducted and led everyone a merry romp through the last section of Diamonds.....perhaps it was meant to be exhilarating! :wink:

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Although I am only a pre-professional student, I had the oppurtunity to attend Jewels last night and I thought I would add my input.

I agree with Ari that Miranda Weese was extremely dead, there was no true feeling in her dancing, just a bunch of steps. I was not overly impressed with Jennifer Ringer either, although she seemed to have the feel of her role more than Weese. I was impressed with Carmena in the pas de trois, his impeccable musicality made his dancing exciting to watch. Over all, I though Emeralds was well danced but not spectacular.

Rubies, on the other hand, was captivating. Alexandra Ansanelli was perfect for the role, and her glittering, precise, sharp technique was wonderful to watch. Her energy was fabulous. Her partner, on the other hand, was nothing fantastic. I also thought Teresa Reichlen did a wonderful job. Her long legs and beautiful extension made her perfect for the role. She might have risked a little more as far as the personality of the role, but I thought over all she was beautiful.

Diamonds had its beautiful moments and its shaky moments. I thought the corps was a little rough at times, somewhat dead with not much clarity. As for Kowroski, the pas de deux was absolutely gorgeous. I thought she had such a presence and elegance that made the pas exceptionally beautiful. Her legs and feet are just gorgeous. One of the things that made the pas so beautiful was Philip Neal and way he partnered Kowroski. He has such a grace and elegance about his dancing. I thought toward the end of the ballet Kowroski looked a little dead, you could tell she was getting tired and she didn't put quite enough effort into it.

Over all I enjoyed the performance very much and thought that there were some outstanding perfomances. I too am so glad that NYCB is back in Washington.

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I thought Weese was wonderful in Emeralds; I didn't find her dull at all. Beautiful, beautiful arms, the best I've seen since Verdy. I didn't know she could be so soft.

I liked "Rubies" too -- I've never warmed to Woetzel, but did like him here, and the role suited Ansanelli more than anything I've seen her do. She's definitely in the McBride line (as opposed to dancing the role as Watts did).

I'd like to see Kowroski in the "walking solo" in Emeralds; I think she's more suited to that than "Diamonds." Beautiful line, but no glow. The corps in "Diamonds," especially at the beginning, was quite weak. That used to be danced by senior corps, the company powerhouses.

Overall, it's the corps I've been disappointed in the most. Some productions are more burnished than others, I like some dancers more than others; that's not a change. But I can see, in the corps, what New Yorkers have been complaining about. They're not as sharp, they're not as fast, they're not as strong -- in SOME ballets. It's been especially noticeable in "Diamonds" and "Concerto Barocco" to me.

I'm on the "I hate the designs!" side. Especially "emeralds." It's too specific for me. Rubies is okay, Diamonds looks like the first draft of a stage set for a Disney movie. Harvey's first set was the best.

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I envy all you for being able to see this production.


do you think the corps is becoming weaker because of the training at the school level? Or is it just not a priority? If so, why?

That's one of my pet peeves too. If everyone's on stage dancing the same choreography, they better all be hitting the same lines at the same time!

I remember being drilled on staying together in class by our wonderful Russian teacher, who demanded that we move together during center work-so help me we did or else!! I think it really helped me when I was in the corps because I could hear her voice in my head!! :wink:

Clara :)

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Clara, yours is a very logical question, but I can't answer it, I'm afraid.

It isn't that they're not together, it's that they're just not dancing with the stretch and strength that they once had, not dancing each step to the fullest. That's one thing missing, for me, and the other is that the edge isn't there. It was in "Rubies," but not in "Concerto Barocco." They looked....dutiful. I'd look to company class and rehearsal before I'd worry about the school, but that's only a guess. I'd say it was because they were tired after the New York season, but others have noticed this as well.

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Thank you Alexandra.

I can't imagine having to dance their schedule. I suppose it's a good thing that they have so many corps to draw upon. Sometimes I wonder if that may be the reason some dancers don't get promoted-they're too good at corps! :D

It might be interesting to ask how many teachers in their school are using actual counts to music as opposed to using "ya, ta da da" etc.

I personally believe in counts. I think that's the only way to get a corps to dance together.

Clara :)

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There is a respectable school of opinion which argues that what matters in a corps is not so much precise uniformity in the sense of counts and spacing, of everyone doing everything right at the same instant --

As, instead, uniformity in the sense of style of movement, training, placement, bodily development as rigorously imposed by the training of a great academy --

And that what matters more than counts, etc. in pieces like Barocco or Diamonds, are the accents and musical responses, the interpetive qualities of the corps de ballet and company in dancing the piece.

I've had the feeling, in reading this thread, and having watched Diamonds and Barocco at NYCB this winter, that it is the latter senses that the critics may be talking about?

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I saw the Sunday matinee, with a different cast from Friday's in Emeralds and Rubies. Good in spots, could have been snappier in others. I was quite taken with van Kipnis in Emeralds (she has really great feet, and her attacks were right on), and Weese+Hubbe in Rubies. The corps I mostly didn't notice... too bad, since in Balanchine the corps is as much the "star" as the principals.

Generally I had hoped for more pizzazz from this company, like I remember from 20 years ago. Granted they must have been tired at the end of the week here at the end of the season there. I also thought some of it could have been due to the orchestra's surprisingly bland playing. Live music should inject energy into the dance, and I didn't feel that happening here.

As for the sets, while I thought they were kind of cheezy, the audience was enraptured... oohs, aahs, applause at the beginning of every act... go figure.

By the way I was really happy to see a full house on Sunday afternoon. This seems to augur well for the company's popularity. It's great to have them back!

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Michael -- yes, I think you're right. It's not about the corps being together (as I wrote above) but "uniformity in the sense of style of movement, training, placement, bodily development" as you wrote. And as Mike Gunther said, "in Balanchine the corps is as much the "star" as the principals."

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