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Rite of Spring, etc. (Feb 23/27 '05 mixed bill)


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I'll open this topic, as this program's preview is tonight. The bill consists of the World Premiere of Trey McIntyre's Rite of Spring, Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto & Wheeldon's There Where She Loved.

Have any forum-members attended the open-house rehearsals? Any insights, interesting casting, etc.?

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I'm sure that Ari or Mme. Hermine have already put this on the Links subforum but I'll repeat hre as it relates to this topic:

Today's (Thursday, Feb. 24) issue of the Washington Post has an in-depth article on choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, by Sarah Kauffman. It focused on Wheeldon's setting of his romantic ballet, There Where She Loved, for the Washington Ballet.

Follow the links on: www.washingtonpost.com (the cover page has a link to the article...Ari or Mme. Hermine may have a more direct link, on Links forum).

Did anyone attend last night's preview of this program? I'm going to the 'premiere' tonight.

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I went last night.

So, what to say.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto: I enjoyed it very much, though I'd say the dancing wasn't quite as sharp as we'd see from NYCB. Also there was a moment or two where Runqiao (sp?) Du did some pirouettes that were awful--neither classical nor obviously stylized. It was very odd.

There Where She Loved:

Again, I liked it very much. The live accompaniment added quite a bit (especially relative to the HORRENDOUS recording that was in use during the open rehearsal), and it was a nice touch to have each singer (there were 2) wearing a shawl in a color complimentary to the costumes.

I think it would've been nice to have the words (translated) in the program--I understand just enough German and French, and it made a big difference to know the words.

The last piece, Je ne t'aime pas, was especially moving. We are so used to seeing pas de deux in which there is a love story or a comical element to the dancers' dislike (eg Kitri and Gamache in DonQ). This one was quite different.

Erin Mahoney keeps getting better and better.

Rite of Spring.

Well, it was interesting. There is absolutely none of the "Russian Peasant" element, though there is the "sacrifice" element. What did it have?

As far as I could tell (and am I notoriously bad at following plots), there was a love trapezoid: Hostess loved her (female) assistant; Hostess's Mama loved fiance; all were scandalized by the Hostess-Assistant affair.

The young lady next to me (10-12 years old, I'd guess) piped up at the very end that she would give it an R rating, so I guess it was a bit much for the younger set. IMO the "adult nature" was far more about the violence than the sex. The fiance did dance briefly in just a dance belt, but only after a bit of a strip-tease (honestly, if I hadn't known beforehand, after all the strip tease I half-expected the full monty).

The dancing was good--I especially enjoyed Brianne Bland's (assistant) slicing jumps.

The violent pas de deux, as in There Where She Loved, were moving and disturbing.

The ladies' very long-in-back skirts were wonderful to watch, but I spotted 2 or 3 wipeouts due to the length. Also, the light was a bit harsh and all of the dancers' legs looked very...pasty (not at all fat, but very pale).

I'm glad to have seen it and it was interesting, but I won't be running out to see it a second time this week.

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I saw SVC last weekend, and while the leads did not seem to have Balanchine in their bones, overall it was v. good. I am hoping that tonight will be better and that the performances all weekend will be steely, tensile .....I always picture this work as the cables on a bridge.....

Looking forward to seeing the rest of the program ....I would not advise Rite for younger audience members, frankly. The immediacy of the depiction and subject matter might be rather disturbing. Septime Webre has openly stated this and I hope that parents will heed. The sight of men in dance belts is not the issue, here.

The weather tonight here will not keep the audience away for the premieres, I hope......it is unfortunate that snowstorms always strike on weekends during ballet season---how inconvenient for us!!! :)

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The sight of men in dance belts is not the issue, here.

Agreed. All I could think about while watching this 'Rite of Spring' was "Boris Eifman pays homage to lesbianism." 'Nough said.

'Stravinsky Violin Concerto' was plain awful, with the exception of the zippy male corps in the first movement & the entire corps in the finale (although their constant-flashing-of-teeth faces were disconcerting). The soloists were very third rate; especially upsetting was the relative back-stiffness of the two women. I realize that one of them was a last-minute relacement but...still...this is a professional ballet troupe. How I longed to see the 'plasticity' of a Vishneva or Sologub here (referring to their pliant backs...neither has danced this ballet, that I'm aware). Maybe the weather had affected the soloists.

Wheeldon's 'There Were She Loved' was the saving grace of the night. Vocal and movement 'poetry' united to become an exquisite whole. Love in all of its mutations, joyful and sorrowful. "SCINTILLATING" is the word that describes the 'Spring' pdd by Briane Bland & Jonathan Jordan. Bravi!....BUT a relatively disappointing evening, nonetheless.

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Would anyone tell me where I could find a list of the casting for these performances, including the corps des ballet? Or would someone mind posting? Thanks!

The program had all the cast including the changes.

Sara Ivan was Michele Jimenez's replacement.

IMHO I thought Erin Mahoney was superb in the Balanchine piece and new-comer Brian Corman showed lots of promise. Erin is developing into a true 'Balanchine' dancer with her crisp movement and those lovely long arms and legs. She was also quite good as the Mother in Rite of Spring. Sara Ivan was a bit disappointing, her extensions were good but all the smaller movements were vague and wishy-washy and she looked quite strained. Runqiao Du seemed to be adversely affected by his partner's tension.

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When we first saw There Where She Loved in London, the most striking moment of the two performances I saw was the very beginning, with the second cast - Zenaida Yanowsky was doing the role created by Darcey Bussell, and the curtain goes up on her just standing there. Yanowsky was just superb - the tension in her body already told you so much about who she was. I thought then, and have never had cause to change my mind, that she'd make a wonderful Tudor heroine. Did anyone particularly notice this moment in the Washington production?

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Jane, I need to see my playbill to recall the dancer & the dance in question.

I am curious if the concept/pattern of the casting was changed in DC. In DC, no one dancer had a major role that continued throughout the piece. Most dancers had one major solo or pdd. There were a couple of repeaters.

My question: Did Darcey Bussell dance in only the first piece...or did her 'role' continue? If that is the case, then the casting concept of London was altered for DC, as no one dancer had a starring role. If anything, the 'stars' were the two vocal soloists and piano accompanist...not that the WB dancers did not execute their isolated solos and pdd's beautifully. [They did!]

I could imagine a greater cohesiveness & sense to this work if certain dancers dominated the 'light' portions & other dancers dominated the 'dark' portions. In DC, they were jumbled up, e.g., Jon Jordan danced the bright pdd that I so enjoyed, with Brianne Bland , then Jordan reappeared as one of the the 'bad guys' in the dark portion.

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The advance notices for Rite of Spring -- which I saw Saturday evening with Laura Urgelles (the unwilling fiancee), Erin Mahoney (her mother -- think Mrs. Robinson meets Cruella de Vil) and Brianne Bland (the fiancee's assistant) had led me to expect soemthing outrageous, even raunchy -- oh goody, I thought -- but what the choreography delivered was actually rather coarse and repetitive.

The dancers deserve great praise for making their artistry overcome the unimaginative choreography -- especially Urgelles, who excelled in what was a very demanding evening due to last-minute cast changes.

Brianne Bland created an interestingly ambiguous character for the assistant: hovering worshipfully and then suddenly slicing boldly and decisively across the stage to her employer/lover's aid -- but never in time to be really helpful.

The scary black half-gowns and half-hats on the party guests were great at first, because they conveyed the sort of cold, conformist self-absorbed people the mother had as friends. But I found myself wishing halfway through that some plot device would make them go away.

The dancing in Stravinsky Violin Concerto on Saturday seemed pretty crisp and self-confident to me -- maybe it improved from the earlier evenings, which other posters found wanting.

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Natalia, when I look at my programme I think that the bit where I so admired Yanowsky must have been the beginnning of the Je ne t'aime pas bit rather than of the whole piece - it shows how much that image has dominated my memory!

I think the casting was probably done the same way in London as you're now seeing - there were four main women and four men who split most of the dancing between them. (The one who did Spring was a a girl from the corps de ballet called Alina Cojocaru! )

Incidentally in London the ballet was called There Where She Loves - interesting that he's changed it.

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Ah, I see, Jane. I can picture Darcey Bussell in "Je ne t'aime pas" -- the last piece of the ballet -- & it is indeed a dance filled with tension. [Laura Urguelles danced the very first piece, Chopin's bright "The Wish"....I could not picture Bussell in that.] In DC, Erin Mahoney captured that tension of "Je ne t'aime pas" magnificently. We in the audience all let out a collective breath of "wow" at the end. The mezzo-soprano who sang the 'dark' songs, Shelley Waite -- who bears an amazing resemblance to WB founder Mary Day 20 years ago! -- added so much to the general atmosphere of the ballet.

It was hard to select a favorite part of this ballet, there were so many wonderful moments. I slightly preferred the Chopin "Spring" (Bland/Jordan) to "Je ne t'aime pas" (Mahoney/Du) but it's not a big deal. I also very much enjoyed Brian Corman as the Casanova-like Johnny, dancing to "Surabaya - Johnny" with Maki Onuki, Sona Kharatian & Sara Ivan....but, again, mezzo Shelley Waite contributed at least 50% to my overall enjoyment of that section. Ms Waite is 'da bomb' (as they say)!

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mezzo Shelley Waite contributed at least 50% to my overall enjoyment of that section. Ms Waite is 'da bomb' (as they say)!

...and to boot, she was as sweet as could be when the young lady next to me spotted her scooting away (no longer dressed in gown) and asked for her autograph.

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I saw the show friday night. Sorry this response is so late, but I saw a lot of great things and I'd like to share.

Friday night-

violin concerto- I thought laura urgelles was beautiful. And Maki Onuki also. I liked their interpretations and I enjoyed watching them. The corps looked pretty good, I wasnt wowed, and it certainly wasnt like NYCB, but I liked it.

there where- i thought the singers were a little distracting, but then again they make the ballet, and I loved it anyway. The end pas was just stunning. Erin Mahoney is so elegant and confident in her performance.

rite of spring-My favorite!!!!!!!! Trey is a genius, I have always loved his ballets and this is definitely one of my favorites. The way he uses the dancers, the sets, the costumes, the music, is just amazing. The corps really moved well in the huge black skirts and Erin Mahoney and Laura Urgelles again blew me away. You could really tell how attached to the role they were, and the way they used their bodies was so great to watch. Johnathan Jordan also did well, he was very confident in his movement and was right on. I thought the choreography was great, I know other people here didnt think so, but I think the way Trey puts everything together and just his overall style is so unique and he is such a big part of the dance world today. I wish there was a live orchestra-maybe in a couple of years.-did anyone see the kids gala-i think it was sat. matinee??

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