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Spring Gala on Live at Lincoln Center


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Just a reminder that PBS will be broadcasting NYCB's spring gala on "Live at Lincoln Center." It also will be shown outside in the quad. Oddly, the gala begins at 7:30pm, but the broadcast does not go on until 8pm. I don't know if pbs is skipping anything or if we have Janet Jackson and her left breast to thank for a 30-minute tape delay :shrug: I hope everybody will post their impressions.

Here's the program.

Fanfare for a New Theater: RAYMOND MASE and NEIL BALM, Trumpets

None But The Lonely Heart: PLACIDO DOMINGO+, Tenor, CARTER BREY+, Cello

Harlequinade (excerpt): Students from the School of American Ballet

Duo Concertant: BORREE, BOAL [Lin+, Grant]

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet: WHELAN, WOETZEL

Liebeslieder Walzer: KISTLER, RINGER, NICHOLS, WEESE NEAL, HЬBBE, J. ANGLE, SOTO [Moredock, Walters]

Concerto Barocco: KOWROSKI, RUTHERFORD, FAYETTE [shaham+, Anthony+]

The Man I Love: ANSANELLI*, MARTINS [Marsalis+, Trumpet]

Vienna Waltzes: RUTHERFORD, EVANS, A. STAFFORD, MILLEPIED, EDGE, GOLD, TINSLEY, HIGGINS, NICHOLS, ASKEGARD

Film Highlights: NARRATED BY SUSAN STROMAN+

Here are the run times:

Harlequinade (parts) 8m

Duo Concertant 11m

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (4th mvt) 12m

Liebeslieder Walzer (parts) 22m

Concerto Barocco (parts) 9m

The Man I Love 7m

Vienna Waltzes (final movement) 14m

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Oh yay!!! thanks so much for posting this. I had no idea that it would be broadcast on PBS. I would have missed this if you hadn't posted. Get to leave work early and set up the old VCR.... :D

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For anyone in or around NYC, they will also be telecasting the program out on the plaza outside the theater. Free for the public. I just hope it does thunderstorm while people are out there.

-amanda

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Of all things, to have an indifferently shot and rather chaotically directed performance show me things that I have not seen in years in familiar ballets, or indeed things I have NEVER seen before! Although the "hommage" format is, to me, tiresome, and tends to be an ill-assorted chain of curiosa, this performance demonstrated the life and liveliness of Balanchine choreography that I have missed so much in recent years.

I'm exceedingly partial to my original memory of the children's divertissements in "Harlequinade", if only because among the Little Harlequins in the original production were Nanette Glushak, Meg Gordon, Gelsey Kirkland, and Colleen Neary! The material has been added to over the years, and sometimes not to the betterment of the production. This is not the fault of the young dancers of the School of American Ballet, but Balanchine himself. Too many cookings spoiled the broth. I must however, comment that the material danced by the Little Scaramouches is really better than the stuff for their adult counterparts, and the kids did as nice a job with that as I've ever seen.

Something struck me during the performance of "Duo Concertante" that I hadn't seen in years - that of the choreography looking like settled inevitability on the music. Great choreography does that. The watcher sees, and says, "Of course! Nothing else could possibly go there!"

Even when it was new, "Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet" seemed to be made with spices that had gone stale. The last movement has, except on rare occasions, been a dutiful exercise exuding tiredness. Tonight, somebody bought some fresh paprika, and the movement looks better than I've ever seen it.

Seen without the ball gown and heeled slipper section, "Liebeslieder Walzer" came across as one of Balanchine's great story ballets. Story, what story? There was again the sense of inevitability, the very rightness of the steps and the tension and sweep of the pas de deux, one after another. But what story? What story do you see? It is Chekhov danced, where the manner and the manners are as important as the delivery. Indeed, seeing these performances, the mysticism of some of Balanchine's statements about his ballets drops off, replaced by clarity. He spoke of "Serenade" and why the girls are arranged as they are at curtain-rise. "Because I have seventeen." Kabalistic numerology and mystery are superseded. It must be that way because there are seventeen!

After fifty-what-seven? years, I honestly believe that people are finally finding out how to dance "Concerto Barocco". The overall effect of the Largo, though was spoiled by what looked like capricious video mixing, and odd selection of camera. This was to get worse.

Looking at him in this medium, I have to ask, "what's the matter with Nilas Martins?" But not to the same purpose that others ask the same words. Martins is a thoroughly acceptable dancer, a house danseur, sort of the way Anthony Blum was. You'd never mistake his performances for Nureyev's, or for that matter Villella's, but then he never asked you to. His performance of "The Man I Love" pas de deux with Alexandra Ansanelli revealed him as a sensitive and stable partner, a thoroughly reliable chap, but the whole excerpt was marred by cutting away to Wynton Marsalis playing the trumpet. Now look, you people, this is a performance of ballet!

Perhaps the greatest surprise, even shock, to me came in the last work, the "Rosenkavalier" waltzes from "Vienna Waltzes". There was an astonishing poignancy in this music, as it kept returning to Baron Ochs' waltz song, "Ohne mich" (without me). It went from a grand sweeping waltzing ballroom to an metaphor for mortality. We are now without Balanchine. As in "La Valse" is death as melodrama, the "Rosenkavalier" ballroom is a swooning place where in the midst of life we are in death. Sobering, unsettling, and ultimately, soothing.

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As Dale said, the program in the theater was scheduled to start at 7:30, and after seeing the show on TV tonight I'm confused as to what the people in the theater saw. And I'm even more confused about what I saw.

There was no intermission on TV, but there wasn't enough content to fill the alloted two hours. So they played the tape of Placido Domingo singing "None But the Lonely Heart" again. This was a weird way to start the gala and it was even weirder for the home audience to hear it again when just a few minutes earlier host Martin Bookspan had promised delights presumably denied the live audience. At the very start of the broadcast an appearance by Baryshnikov was announced. It didn't materialize. And a lot of the footage of Balanchine was recycled from the PBS special of 1983 which was rebroadcast a while back. Sarah Jessica Parker's appearance seemed pointless once Misha didn't show up. I love Wynton Marsalis, but I prefer "The Man I Love" without him. As a matter of fact, the "concept" of the other Lincoln Center constituents paying homage to Balanchine didn't work, in my opinion.

The NYCB dancers did their usual wonderful work, but the broadcast as a whole had me ready for one of those hookers Mr. B used to promise us. A shot of vodka, that is.

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FF, what you saw was what we (inside NYST) got. I did not miss the intermission one bit -- the program flew by. And, I agree that wonderful musician that he is, Marsalis corrupted the pdd -- putting the musical accents in places that didn't fit the dancing.

We got the films redux, as well, projected on a screen mounted on a curtain downstage, making the image totally visible to those at the top of the 4th Ring. (Thank you, whoever thought of that, since in the past, projections were on a screen further upstage, giving 4th Ringers a decapitated view!)

While the dancing was absolutely superlative (exc. Darci falling off pointe, for which my heart broke on her behalf), the program itself was really . . . is "bizarre" going too far? A lot of Brahms, a smidge of Stravinsky, the only Tchaikovsky being sung (not danced), and perhaps the least accessible Balanchine being offered this season (the Liebeslieder Pt. 2 excerpts). Still, I had a blast, was glad I was there for this very special evening and look forward to playing back the tape.

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Duo Concertant and Liebeslieder were the highlights for me. What a treat to see Kistler, Ringer, Nichols and Weese performing together. My disappointment was Korowski's Barocco--she danced this the same way she performs Diamonds--there is simply too much emoting and thrusting back of her head......and I will never get used to those white leotards. Sarah Jessica Parker was certainly the belle of the ball---what with her change of dresses (3 or 4) and her precarious coiffures. I could have done without the 'special guests' and had more dancing.

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I haven't yet watched my tape of the evening. Yes, the programming was odd - while I'm happy to see all of it, it does seem to be things that were already being danced rather than a well-thought out program that represents Balanchine's works. It would have been nice to have some dancing to Tschaikovsky or one complete ballet. I wish Duo would have continued to the end (even if the first non-dancing section of music was cut).

It's hard not to think of Farrell and D'Amboise in the finale of Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. Or of Monique Meunier, but I thought it was the best I've seen Whelan dance it. You could tell she and Woetzel really went for it. Duo also was strong. Without seeing the tape, I'm pretty sure Borree comes off better close up than from the 4th ring, where she sometimes has a hard time projecting. And Boal was simply the music incarnate.

I thought the children in Harlequinade were better drilled tonight than in the Winter and were fearless in the face of cameras. Very cute. I have to disagree with you Mel, I think the adult Scaramouches have some exalted choreography, only it gets swallowed up by the rest of the ballet.

If we had to have that bit of Liebeslieder Walzer - it was just enough, and until that blip by Kistler, I thought we were getting an inspired performance. A few seasons ago, we got bits and pieces from the first section at a gala and it just didn't work as an excerpt. Concerto Barocco, for me, seemed a bit off. It had an unsettled feeling, whereas it is supposed to feel like heaven. However, it got the biggest ovation of the night, so maybe it was just me and I'll feel differently after seeing it on tape.

I agree about Marsalis, he should have played straight melody. His riffing not only was distracting, but, as noted, it changed the rhythms and harmonies and effected the feeling of the dancing. I was wondering how they would film that, anticipating the cameras would pan to Marsalis rather than the dancers. Too bad, Ansanelli gave a very passionate reading. Vienna Waltzes was rousing as always, and although we've already got a gala with this at the close, it's a good piece to get everybody out there.

Speaking of distracting, I thought Parker should have taken it easy with the dress changes, this isn't the VH1 Fashion awards. And did you notice how Peter Martins forced her to the center of the bows? She seemed as if she wanted to stay at the end of the line.

I'm listning to the tape as I write, and I think one of the things that's confusing is that you have Bookspan narrating and Parker narrating. Parker's words are sometimes joined in mid-sentance. Too many cooks. And why did they have Stroman narrate the film clips? Since when is she a Balanchine expert? I'd rather they had either somebody who was closer to Balanchine, or a professional voice (this is something Klein could have done). And how embarrassing for Klein, who actually said Bernstein when he meant Balanchine.

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I pretty much agree with the sentiments above; it was a little strange. I definitely found it odd that, as mentioned above, Peter Martins seemed to think Sarah Jessica Parker was some reverential figure in the history of the NYCB. Juxtaposing Balanchine and Kirstein toasting to Stravinsky and SJP, Martins and Kevin Kline, two of whom are at best only marginally involved in NYCB seemed misjudged. Martins and Fiorato I think would have been the best choice possible, given the circumstances.

I thought Concerto Barocco came off well, and Duo Concertante was, for me, the highlight of the night. I had seen it before from 4th tier a-b, but it came off better for me up close on video. It is really a kind of masterpiece, something I had not appreciated before.

Also at the beginning there were these quick comments by NYCB dancers like "It's wonderful," "It's fantastic," and then finally Martins saying "It's Balanchine." I thought these were just some quick out takes from longer interviews that we were going to see later, and I was sorry that never came to be.

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The Concerto Barocco excerpt was actually one of my favorite parts of the program - but I've always enjoyed Barocco. I think it was the one piece on the program that showed Balanchine in the mode that people are most likely to encounter him with ballet companies across the country - that is, his more straightforward ballets that are up on pointe and look most classical are the ones that seem to keep popping up on Balanchine programs. I did also enjoy Kowroski in the main role; wish we could have seen more of it!

I do agree, though, that the overall programming was a bit odd. The latter half of the program seemed to be loaded with slow pieces (slow musically), which took momentum out of the program - plus all slow pieces, as beautiful as they are, don't read so well one after another on television. Great to see the excerpts that we saw though, just wish they weren't clumped together the way they would. Agree that they should have perhaps put more thought into giving the television audience a more well rounded view of Balanchine's works. The interludes were a bit odd, with the switching between all the "special guests" and the awkward speeches.

Overall, though, I felt most of the dancing was very well filmed and inteligently shot. Who says that a "live off the stage" capturing of dance can't capture dance well? Glad to see NYCB on tv...

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I just did a quick watch of the gala and I think Kirk Browning's direction was awful. Duo came off very well, but the Brahms-Schoenberg had too much of the "dancing matchsticks" Balanchine hated. Browning should have listened to his producer, Goberman, who said at a seminar recently that when it comes to broadcast live dance, the most important thing is the stars. It's all well and good to want to get the corps in, but not during Whelan's solo, please. In an effort to show "more" we offten got long shots of solos and close shots of dancers standing around. Concerto Barroco and Liebeslieder were better, although the beautiful slides across the floor in CB finished with the last one off camera because the director wanted to include the corps. That's admirable, but it's more important to see the slides. And sometimes the tips of the pointe shoes were cut off. I would have thought that filming Der Rosenkavalier twice before for PBS (pretty well, too) would mean we would get some better direction. Nope, it was the worst shot thing on the program, especially after Nichols left the stage and the other principal dancers came on. The cameras were all over the place. We got at least five good shots of the down left corner with nobody there. Balanchine once asked the Dance in America director, Merrill Brockway (one of the best in the business), "Will you trust the dance?" According to Brockway, Mr. B repeated the question several times. Browning did not trust the dance. Please, PBS, bring back Matthew Diamond, who did the 1993 Balanchine Celebration (I mean, I love the Gilmore Girls, Matthew, but ballet needs you).

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Overall, I liked the broadcast very much and enjoyed seeing NYCB dance these Balanchine ballets. My favorite was Liebeslieder Walzer, and I enjoyed the other excerpts as well, with the exception of The Man I love. When the camera was on Ansanelli and Martins, they were very good, but I must agree about Marsalis, not only didn't I like the camera focusing on him and not the dancers, but his playing jazz-style with a classical orchestra was jarring. The Vienna Waltzes piece was good, but since it had already been filmed, it would have been better, in my opinion, if they did a different large-ensemble ballet. Perhaps Symphony In C? Just a suggestion. I also would have liked it more if they had done away with most of the video clips of Balanchine, those having appeared in previous documentaries, and done more ballets or more complete versions of the ballets they did do. Still, it's nice to get some quality ballet on TV for a change.

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Hey, maybe there is something to this television stuff after all. :~>

A few very preliminary notes on the show--it was broadcast in Motown beginning at 10:30 PM EDT.

--Sarah Jessica Parker as hostess. Quite a change from Beverly Sills, who was shown on the Live from Lincoln Center web site as the hostess. Parker and Matthew Broderick must be one of the reigning arts couples in NYC, so it makes sense. SJP looked and sounded good. None of her gowns were horrible--I think she had wore three. The green one was OK, the LBD was a LBD, the ballgown at the end of the night might not have been the very best choice.

--Domingo sounded very baritonal. Not the notes as such, although the Tchiavoksy song must have been transposed specifically for him, but his timbre and tone were almost completely devoid of any characteristics of the tenor voice. His musicianship and phrasing are still as good as can be. But why does it always have to be Placido? There are a lot of Russian speaking singers that appear at the Met and who live in or close to NYC. It couldn't be that the organizers thought he would be a big draw--they would have sold just as many tickets if I had sung it accompanied by an organ grinder's monkey.

Duo Concertante -- Peter Boal is a very attractive man. Not speaking of his ability as a dancer--I will leave that to those who know something--but he is quite handsome and virile looking. A very small but nice touch was that Lin, the violinist, used a black towel under his chin. White always looks kind of tacky.

The Met and New York City Opera were properly represented. The NYCO especially so with the quartet of singers. I missed the names, but the soprano has glistening high notes and a good tone. The bass (whose name I can't quite recall)--I think he is Armenian or Georgian--sounded great. Gil Shahan and Adelle Anthony seemed dead solid perfect playing from the pit for Concerto Barocco. They looked like they were having a good time, also. Kevin Kline's appearance for the Lincoln Center Theater seemed tacked on, (especially the bit with the vodka) but it is always good to see him.

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Domingo has always had a short top, and now he's nearing the end of his (singing) career he has NO top...the night before this gala he ran out of gas at the end of Act I WALKURE at the Met. But it is still a nice, burnished sound and I thought he & Carter Brey did a lovely job.

Sills hurt her ankle a couple weeks ago, so I guess she didn't want to hobble out.

I enjoyed the dancing; I was especially taken with Darci (I didn't notice her going off-pointe), Wendy, Ringer & Peter Boal. And I thought Nilas and Yvonne Borree, those two dancers everyone seems to love to hate, were excellent...

I would have omitted Parker, Kline & Stroman and just had Peter host the evening...and I do wish that they could have had a clip of Kyra and Darci and Peter Boal, the three remaining dancers who actually worked with Mr.B, just talk about him briefly.

But overall it was fun...the dancing says it all.

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The actors who obviously know little about ballet; the frequent cut away shots in the first few minutes to the Plaza where people were trying to watch what we were trying to watch; the dull cliches used to tell Balanchine's story (the clips were nice); the predictable but still painful overuse of superlatives and of superlatives modifying superlatives; the distracting suspense over whether the camera would cut off the dancers' feet . . . when they weren't dancing, I was cringing.

Fortunately, I loved the dancing throughout, especially the excerpts of Liebeslieder, which I've never seen in the theater.

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I really missed Suzanne Farrell. For me her absence was almost painful given such an important occasion. Just imagine what she would have said about Balanchine instead of the hackneyed stuff spoken by SJP, Kline and Wasserstein. The still of Farrell dancing Don Q with Balanchine was like rubbing salt in a open wound.

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I think at this point, Farrell coming to NYCB is too much to ask for. She's moved on. But there are other Balanchine dancers, ones that live in New York - Allegra Kent, Jacques d'Amboise or Karin von Aroldingen (she was the dancer closest to Mr. B at the end of his life). Or, as somebody else wrote, Hugo Fiorato. The problem is with that is "the public" (aka, the non-ballet watching, casual viewers PBS and NYCB hope to claim) will not know them. And if PBS and NYCB want to sell this (as it was done with the 1993 gala), they want Sarah Jessica Parker up front.

MakarovaFan, you are right about the photo of Farrell and Mr. B in Don Q. - there was an audiable sigh in the audience when that photo went up.

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in my humble opinion, galas are pretty much a non-event - dancewise and otherwise.

i did feel that the dancing and the music in last night's performance were not always in sync, which made me very uneasy at times.

except for that of the splendid kyra nichols, none of the dancing was beyond nycb's usual level.

someone should remark on the sj parker-c bushnell-c askegard connection.

to have a pop kind of host, who mainly was a fashion show, dishonored the event - marketing, marketing, marketing ruled.

does anyone recall "diamond night at the met", where margot fonteyn hosted an event for a disabled cellist?

ms. fonteyn wore an orangey-red full-length sheath gown, very simple lines, with a sensational diamond tiara: a real class act, vocally and visually, for a marvelous series of performances.

my personal tribute to mr. balanchine at 100 consisted of attending many screenings of him and his company at the museum of television and radio -- tears were shed there.

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It was broadcast at 9:00 pm our time which is 10:00pm New York time, not exactly LIVE is it!

First, Thank You to the powers that be for including an excerpt from Liebeslieder in the program. I've never seen the ballet, only read about it in books and eagerly soaked up the comments the BA posters have made about it recently. So it was a real thrill for me to see it. I completely fell in love with it and long to see the whole ballet soon. I was moved to tears by the Ringer/Hubbe pas de deux.

Duo Concertant was nicely danced by both Boal and Borree, however she seems to carry a lot of tension in her face and neck. She did seem to loosen up a a little as the ballet went on.

Loved Ansanelli in The Man I Love. She twinkles! But I did throw a shoe at the TV in frustration as the camera kept on Marsalis instead of the dancers.

Thought that important people from Mr. B's life should have narrated the clips, Barbara Horgan, Eddie Bigelow, his dancers. It would have been more poignant.

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"in my humble opinion, galas are pretty much a non-event - dancewise and otherwise."

In that case, your criticism seems somewhat harsh.

"i did feel that the dancing and the music in last night's performance were not always in sync, which made me very uneasy at times."

Very possibly, but with the variety of conductors and lack of rehearsal, I thought everyone did remarkably well (except the horns, but we're used to that, alas.)

"except for that of the splendid kyra nichols, none of the dancing was beyond nycb's usual level."

I disagree. I thought everyone looked remarkably energised. And NYCB's "usual level" is not chopped liver....

"someone should remark on the sj parker-c bushnell-c askegard connection."

Why? This is a ballet board. Their lives are their personal lives and this is not the arena for airing gossip. Besides, who cares?

"to have a pop kind of host, who mainly was a fashion show, dishonored the event - marketing, marketing, marketing ruled."

Marketing rules most things of this nature. Ms. Parker attended SAB, has been a public advocate of ballet for years, and was the best possible choice to combine television and ballet spheres....at least she puts her money where her mouth is. I thought she was articulate and charming. The changing of dresses and hairstyles was, perhaps, not the best choice, but I thought she did a good job. (Susan Stroman, while undeniably talented, was the odd choice, for my money....)

"my personal tribute to mr. balanchine at 100 consisted of attending many screenings of him and his company at the museum of television and radio -- tears were shed there. "

I think many of us have been indulging in private tributes to him this year, some happy memories, some sad, but all of them grateful to him for giving us such beauty.

I think the filming of last night's performance was very badly done, although most of the performances were beautiful.....at least it was an opportunity to have ballet on television.....

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