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Nine Sinatra Songs program


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I have seen a few of Matt Neenan's works for PABallet and he is extremely talented. "Le Travail" was commissioned to honor the very special Degas exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in February of 2003. His piece was more than a mere novelty parallel. His staging of Dega like creatures gave an interesting perspective of the class-driven society of 19th century Paris. The colors and designs he painted were abstracted and somewhat distant. I liked his movement choices as he seems able to stay within his classical training but departs with his own inventiveness of design and phrasing. In last years "The Crossed Line" Matt gave a more personal and intimate showing of modern relationships in love and friendships. Again, his movement was unique and enhanced his thematic material with interesting and lovely movement ideas. His work is always pleasing to me and I seem to grasp where he is going and enjoy the journey. Other strengths to these pieces were the designs of costumes, sets and lighting. They set up the visuals nicely for each work. However, the music in "Le Travail" was too austere and severe for me. In "The Crossed Line", Chopin worked well with the intimacy but went on too long and should have been edited IMO.

I look forward to seeing Matt's newest ballet entitled " 11:11" And I can say that the PABallet dancers always shine when dancing his choreography! And I do think Matty is a choreographer to watch for......

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Thank you, socalgal, for the information on Neenan. Here's the official release:

Pennsylvania Ballet Presents the Company Premiere of Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs

January 3, 2005



Program includes Peter Martin’s The Waltz Project and

the world premiere of 11:11 by Pennsylvania Ballet member Matthew Neenan

February 2 – 6 at the Merriam Theater

Pennsylvania Ballet presents the Company premiere of Nine Sinatra Songs, choreographed by Tony Award winner Twyla Tharp, on a program that includes Peter Martin’s The Waltz Project and the world premiere 11:11 by Pennsylvania Ballet member Matthew Neenan February 2 through 6 at the Merriam Theatre.

Single tickets, priced $18.50 to $70.50, are available beginning January 4 by calling 215-336-2000 or by visiting www.paballet.org. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling 215-551-7000, extension 1219 or 1212.

Nine Sinatra Songs is a show-stopping tribute to Frank Sinatra, with classic ballroom dance moves and costumes originally designed by Oscar de la Renta. Couples explore the complexities of the male-female bond as they dance to hits like “Strangers in the Night,” “That’s Life” and “My Way.” Each one of the nine songs has its own musical and dance/theater character, ranging from a close couple in late-night rapport to a couple engrossed in a battle of wits and maneuvers. First performed by Twyla Tharp Dance in 1982, this Company premiere is the first piece by Ms. Tharp to be added to Pennsylvania Ballet’s repertoire.

Peter Martin’s The Waltz Project, which was originally choreographed for New York City Ballet and was staged by New York City Ballet Assistant Ballet Master Russell Kaiser (brother of Pennsylvania Ballet Artistic Director Roy Kaiser), is based on a group of waltzes published in 1978 and recorded in 1981 by composers Robert Moran (a Philadelphian) and Robert Helps. Each of the 10 sequences used in this ballet are short, like the waltzes, and display jazzy and acrobatic moments interwoven with classic pointe work and ballet steps. The ambience is moody and reminiscent of Jerome Robbins. Pennsylvania Ballet first performed The Waltz Project in March 2002 to glowing reviews.

The program will also include the world premiere of 11:11 by Pennsylvania Ballet member Matthew Neenan, choreographed to the music of popular singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright. With earth-tone costumes designed by Principal Dancer Martha Chamberlain, the six-song work will be performed with a cast of 20 to such songs as “Vibrate,” “Poses” and “Oh What a World.”

The presentation of this ballet was made possible through the generosity of Penny and Bob Fox.

Founded in 1963 by Balanchine student Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the nation’s leading ballet companies. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Company’s annual local season features six productions of classic favorites and new works, including the Philadelphia holiday tradition, The Nutcracker. For more information, call 215-551-7000 or visit www.paballet.org.

Second Program of the 2004-2005 Season:

Nine Sinatra Songs (Twyla Tharp, choreographer; Music: Songs sung by Frank Sinatra)

The Waltz Project (Peter Martins, choreographer; Music by various composers)

11:11 (Matthew Neenan, choreographer; Music by Rufus Wainwright)

Merriam Theater

Wednesday, February 2 at 8 p.m.

Thursday, February 3 at 8 p.m.

Friday, February 4 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, February 5 at 2 and 8 p.m.

Sunday, February 6 at 2 p.m.

Single tickets, priced $18.50 to $70.50, are available beginning January 4 by calling 215-336-2000 or by visiting www.paballet.org. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling 215-551-7000, extension 1212.

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From what I have been told, it will be set by Elaine Kudo (sp.?) This is the first time this wonderful Tharp piece has been performed at PABallet. I remember seeing Kudo perform it with Baryshnikov for ABT. Didn't she also dance with Twyla Tharp's own company at one time?

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They are all ppd, but there may be an opening and finale that is a group dance - don't remember that. Each ppd is about an aspect of love or the male female relationship.

My favorite has always been "That's Life" - a kind of apache dance that ends in an unbelievable catch. It has to be seen to be believed. It was always spectacularly performed by Tom Rawe in the early.

You leave the theatre happy after this piece and I love the de la Renta cocktail dress costumes.

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Hubbard Street did it with the colored De La Renta gowns.

The two "group" sections come, if I remember, in the middle and at the end, and they're not so much "group" as multiple pas de deux on stage. They come to the "I Did It My Way" song, which frankly, I could live without ever hearing again. The apache dance that is the last PDD is exciting, but there are some other nice pas in the work as well.

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Thanks for all the info, Amy, Carbro and Hockeyfan! It will be interesting to see how the ballet will play now as many of these old Sinatra tunes having been over-used for various commercial venues. It was so fresh when I first encountered this piece....and the partnering in the pdd's was thrilling. Not sure if I will be catching this PAB showing, so I hope that those of you who do will report here!

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9 Sinatra Songs will be interesting because it showcases so many partnerships... I wanted to mention to Purely Ballet that there are no pointe shoes in these pas de deux.

I hope to hear reviews of Matthew Neenan's new work. He's been given a lot of exposure by PA Ballet. They would seem to think we have a new ballet choreographer worth nurturing in him.

I'd love to see a documentary on the new ballet choreographer talent out there. If only PBS were living up to it's potential!

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Here's some promotions related to this program:

Special Nine Sinatra Songs Events and Promotions

January 11, 2005

Skate with Sinatra at the Blue Cross RiverRink

Saturday, January 22, 6-8 p.m.

Join us under the stars for a spin around the rink to the romantic music of the "Chairman of the Board." You could go home with a special Nine Sintra Songs prize pack containing two tickets to see Pennsylvania Ballet's production of Twyla Tharps' Nine Sinatra Songs, dinner for two at the Capital Grille and some other great items.

Admission is $6 and skate rental is $3. For more information call 215-925-7465 or visit www.riverrink.com.

National Wear Red Day

Friday, February 4, 8 p.m.

Pennsylvania Ballet partners with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about heart disease. We invite audience members to wear red to this performance to show their support for the cause. Audience members spotted wearing red will be chosen at random to receive prizes.

For more information on how you can prevent heart disease, please visit the American Heart Association www.americanheart.org.

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So John Rockwell of the NYTimes came to Philly to review this program.......what an interesting surprise! Although unable to attend this show, I was given a far clearer picture from the Kraus review than from Rockwell's. Did anyone else see the show or is anyone going this weekend? Would love to hear more......it seems that Neenan's 11:11 was a wonderful success!

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