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Alexandra

Shambards

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There's already a comment about Shambards on the Weekly thread (which is fine!) but I thought I'd start a thread for it on its own since it's a world premiere.

What did you think? Hit or miss? Details?

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the many admirable qualities of this piece were, to me, cancelled out by the implication of violence present in "the end" -- the last section of the piece

miranda weese was presented as abused, and worse

what will mr. wheeldon do next? has he said it all yet?

we should have known in advance what to expect in this program and not have been blind-sided on a nice quiet mother's day in nyc

i was so upset that i simply could not stay for some of the afternoon's remaining program

"afternoon of a faun", "kammermusik", and "brahms-schoenberg" preceded by "the end"?

ballet from two different planets, maybe

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Thank you, Charlieloki, for your comments about Shambards. I too was just as upset you and passed on Vienna Waltzes after seeing the new Wheeldon. My post about Shambards is in the weekly comments section. I know that there were several others on Saturday evening who felt the same, and I'm glad you posted.

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To all: I posted a private e-mail to Bobbi, and I hate to sound like Arlene Croce(whom I admire) on not seeing a Bill Jones dance because the content made her queasy, but I/We are passing on Shambards. I am going every Thursday and on many weekends with my wife, but we will be sure to pass on Wheeldon. Come on. I think his "best" was a derivative Carousel dance. The music was already wondefully there. I'll bet that Alexandra and Michael and Leigh and Bobbi and Oberon could make better dances than Wheeldon.

Can I just see "Serenade" every night?

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Weren't the audience just as upset in the Rite of Spring? Perhaps time will mellow views?

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I won't be seeing it til this Thursday, but I am already a little apprehensive...I do not like to see dancers dragging one another unless it is very brief (IN THE NIGHT) or very comic (THE CONCERT). I seem to remember in Tharp's BEETHOVEN FIFTH there was quite a bit of dragging going on and I just kept wondering "Is that all she can think of to do with this music?" I don't like to see dancers on the floor too much unless it is to dream (TWILIGHT COURANTE) or to "expire" (SERENADE), or waking up (MORPHOSES)...I hated seing Darci on the floor in GUIDE TO STRANGE PLACES, she is not a floor-type in my estimation. Nor can I picture the beauteous Miranda being tugged about. Could anyone figure out what point was being made? I read somewhere that Fairchild and Bouder were supposed to represent swords...hmmm...

My question is, what was the audience reaction? Was there booing? Did Christopher take a bow and how was the response?

When I saw the cast announced I was excited as it's all people I like...but now I'm a little skeptical.

So far, POLYPHONIA is Chris's masterpiece, and I like MORPHOSES and MERCURIAL alot, and liked LITURGIE and thought SCENES DE BALLET, VARIATIONS SERIEUSES and CARNIVAL OF ANIMALS were entertaining but nothing to see more than once. I liked CAROUSEL the first time, less so the second.

How do all of you rate Wheeldon's work at NYCB so far?

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I saw it today at the sunday matinee and I would gauge the audience reaction as positive - there seemed to me a fair amount of ooohing and aahing. As far as the amount of dragging, I would say that there is maybe 10 seconds worth at the very end. However, the final movement does seem to fall into the category of a "dance of death," similar to Nijinsky's Rite of Spring or perhaps more closely to Balanchine's La Valse. However, it didn't creep me out or anything, and I found the second movement terrifically Romantic. I guess my feeling is that I found it to be a more abstract work than others are perceiving it.

I would definitely recommend watching it from one of the upper tiers; the choreography depends heavily on floor patterns. One would miss plenty in the orchestra.

Just wanted to do a quick edit after reading bobbi's post in the weekly thread. If I am not mistaken, the third movement was the one where Weese is dragged up the stage, concluding the ballet. I don't at all remember the second movement as being when this happens; it was like a coda to the end. As a result, I'm having a hard time placing the implied violence or abuse people are seeing in this movement. Though I obviously may be transposing movements.

Edited by Big Lee

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Some have been nagging at him for years to "stop being so nice and normal" and "get edgy." "He's middle-aged already and he's only 26," I paraphrase something I read a few years ago.

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The audience was very positive about the Ballet at today's Sunday matinee performance.

The good things about it were, first, what seemed to be a strong musical score, a piano concerto commissioned, I believe, for this. It's rather modern and multi tonal in the first movement, lyrical and Chopin-Debussey-Etude'ish in the second movement, with the third movement being a Highland Reel of sorts into which the Chopin-esque theme intrudes in a rather jarring and, as Wheeldon handled it, visually difficult to comprehend way. On one viewing, at least. Still, it's a strong score which could probably stand on its own.

The performance by Miranda Weese was (I thought) superb, pushing her well beyond her usual type and boundaries, and showing something really rather dark about her, not what you would have imagined. Yes, Weese normally let's go in her dancing (though not as much as she used to -- I remember when she first arrived here seeing a NYC Minute broadcast in which she explained that she listed to Led Zeppelin in her dressing room before performances) but it's usually a very controlled letting go within the classical cannons. Wheeldon stretched this. Not by going human pretzel -- The pas de deux with Soto is not at all like Polyphonia, if anything it reminds one, particularly in some of the draping and balancing of the ballerina by her partner in off balance spins, of the pas de deux Wheeldon made for Faye Arthurs and Craig Hall in Scenes de Ballet. The movement palate is still classical, but the thing is that, though Weese's character is ravished, there are violent moments, and she seems to enjoy being ravished, to cooperate with the violence, to enter into it with surrender and fatality, crossing over to the dark side a bit. Well, the dark side is there, all right. Wheeldon's strength as a choreographer at this point is, I think, his ability to see things in dancers and make dances which call them out.

I did not find the Ballet offensive. I would see it again to see the duet for Weese and Soto. Also Carla Korbes in the First Movement. But that's about it. I did not find it particularly successful or meaningful and there is also a great deal that is just plain trite and hackneyed, particularly the faux "modernism" of the First Movement. I thought the last movement, the Scotch dance, the least successful. The reentry of Weese and Soto into that movement seemed particularly absurd. What the hell were they doing there?

But what I found objectionable, oddly enough, is not what those who wrote above, whose opinions and whose sensibilities I certainly very much respect, objected to. I actually found the pas de deux for Weese and Soto to be the strongest and the best part of the Ballet.

If you were a young choreographer, and your models were Macmillan, on the one hand, and Balanchine, on the other, you could create something like this, particularly if you hackneyed up the costumes and lighting. A dimly lit and badly costumed Symphony in Three Movements meets the "Psycho-Sexo-Drama" (thanks Mel) of Mayerling. Voila.

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First let me say I adore Christopher Wheeldon, my absolute favorite is "Mesmerics". So you realize what I say is most probably prejudiced.

The reviews in the papers seem to be very positive for the most part. I would love to see it. I do hope it comes to DC soon, since I can't get up to NY anytime in the near future. I find Chris' work to be some of the most lyrical being made today. From what I have read the name Shambards is taken from a poem by Edwin Muir (see Star-ledger review 5/10/04) where Muir refers to Burns and Scott as "sham bards of a sham nation" So that perhaps explains the vision for the dance.

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Can I amend an opinion I made in a post? Last night I went for a second helping of Shambards. And this time I very much enjoyed the Miranda and Jock duet -- with the exception of course of the last fling of Miranda on the floor. I don't know whether it was a question of perspective -- literally. On premiere night I was in the orchestra but last night -- from the Second Ring -- the duet did not look as violent as on opening night. (Could it have been toned down, or have I become inured to this sort of thing?) In any event, there was some stunningly original partnering with several Ashton-esque moments, which I did not pick up on when I first saw it. There was still the end of the duet when Miranda is tossed on the floor, which I still don't like, but even that seemed not to last as long as I thought it did. Maybe I'm over the shock; however, the dragging of Miranda by one arm at the end of the ballet remains offensive to me, but from the Second Ring it doesn't look as painful to her. Go figure.

The program ended with Union Jack. Great fun. Boy, does ballet stand the test of time: both ballet newbies and ballet lovers can enjoy this ballet. By the way, this time the donkey didn't stick around to misbehave: he dropped the two kids off and quickly skedaldled off stage, tearing a bit of the scenery in the process. Maybe doing two performances in one day wasn't in his contract!!

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I saw SHAMBARDS Saturday night. I admit being biased ahread of time because I like both Wheeldon's choreography and MacMillan's music. Never mind Boris Eifman: James MacMillan is the big coup for a festive season.

Would it be reading too much into things by suggesting that SHAMBARDS is a radical deconstruction of the nicities of both classical ballet and traditional Scottish tunes? Was this ballet a ritual ending with a sacrafice? The lighting, choreography, music, and forest backdrop suggested so. SHAMBARDS reminded me of the disturbing world depicted in "new" Scottish literature and film (i.e., TRAINSPOTTING, NEW ADAM, HOW LATE IT WAS...HOW LATE, Michel Faber's UNDER THE SKIN). Were Wheeldon and MacMillan adding to the trend, or taking a sideswipe at BRAVEHEART? It would be interested to know if the music or the ballet came first, or if SHAMBARDS was created in tandem.

I don't like violence in ballet either. If my "theory" isn't correct about SHAMBARDS being a highland rite, then I don't see the need for seeing another ballerina (particularly Miranda Weese) victimized on-stage. Ms. Kisselgoff was outraged (I'm paraphrasing her words) by it in SHAMBARDS but said NOTHING when Darci Kistler was raped on-stage for no reason in HARMONIELEHRE (an orchestral masterpiece that deserves better than the pseudo-Massine/William Blake garbage "ballet" it got). Another time there was applause instead of silence was at a Diamond Project gala when the "smart" set thought Prajolac's (I know...spelling) ballet ending w/Emily Coates smashed to pieces was brilliant.

SHAMBARDS has plenty of inspired moments. Wheeldon's corps choreography, particularly for the men, keeps getting more exciting. His "dances in a circle" are the best. The "End's" dual pairings of Ulbricht/De Luz and Boulder/Fairchild were outstanding. How I wish I could attempt to dance like those 2 women. :rolleyes: Had it not been for the "tacked-on" (?) ending, this section could stand alone from the rest of the ballet.

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I do indeed believe that Wheeldon has been cited as saying it has to do somewhat with phony pholklore like Braveheart, and the modern-day "Druids". Sham-bards, you know.

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An interview/feature with James MacMillan in Saturday's Glasgow Herald will, I think, explain a great deal about Shambards.

This is the 'print' version of the interview (just click 'OK' to get rid of the dialogue box!).

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