Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

North Carolina Dance Theater: Works & Process

Recommended Posts

Lourdes Lopez, the program's moderator, welcomed the audience and considered Balanchine's legacy, some aspects of which are choreography, music, style and most of all, generosity of spirit (which was illustrated by Balanchine's view that dancers, to exist, need ballets, and his willingness to give his to anyone who asked. He had said, "If I charged money, I'd be a millionaire!") She said these were lessons he passed on, by example, to all of his dancers. She then introduced two inheritors of that example, of North Carolina Dance Theater's Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Artistic Director and Patricia McBride.

The presentation proper opened with first pas de trois; the woman's variation from the second pas de trois, and the Pas de Deux from Agon.

LL asked why J-PB left Paris Opera. He said that he felt he'd achieved all that was available to him in that company, that he'd be able to continue to develop at NYCB. He noted that much of today's new choreography is very dark, but Balanchine's is filled with light and joy.

PMcB noted that dancers continue to grow in Balanchine. After nearly 50 years, Agon still looks new. B'chine left a whole repertory that will educate dancers for generations to come. At the time he was working on Agon, he was going from studio to studio, working simultaneously on Stars & Stripes, Square Dance and one more ballet (which McB couldn't remember, and my Reynolds books are just beyond arm's reach [it's taken me this long to sit down and transcribe these notes, I'm not about to interrupt for a small detail like that, the point of his versatility and fecundity already having been made :D]) McB smiled as she recalled two- and three-hour classes, filled with attention to details such as articulating the feet. B'chine "did not want to see zombies." She also recalled being taught her roles by the reigning ballerinas -- Janet Reed taught her the Second Movement in Western and the Third Movement in Symphony in C. Others who taught her were Melissa Hayden and Diana Adams. She noted that this was a huge advantage over the way things work now, when ballet masters teach the roles they never danced. She noted, "I worked from age 16 to when I was an old bag." No one seeing her now would agree that she's yet reached old-baghood.

McBride runs the junior company, an important way to gauge whether a dancer can succeed in the senior company. Jean-Pierre noted that you can audition a dancer or watch a video, but you never know if you're seeing someone on a bad day or at an unusual best. This way, you can evaluate each dancer over time and in different kinds of works and know whether they will have the right stuff and a good chemistry with the company.

Lourdes noted that Balanchine is now trademarked and wondered what, with different productions being staged by different ballet masters all over the world, the trademark signified. Bonnefoux said that while there are some variants in how people teach the ballets, the essential qualities are constant. For example, musicality is paramount; high energy, nuances of phrasing, getting up and over the pointes. One aspect of the musicality is dancing ahead of the music, so the dancer can phrase with the feeling of energy coming through the steps.

Dancers Rebecca Carmazzi and Uri Sands then danced the pas de deux from Stars and Stripes.

When the discussion resumed, Lourdes noted that Jean-Pierre had been bopping all the way through Stars and warned, "Never sit next to a dancer when you watch this -- they can't sit still."

Jean-Pierre described his role as an educator. You need to teach the dancers, and you need to teach your audience. The central point of dancing is communicating joy -- people don't come to the theater expecting to be bored.

You build an audience through outreach -- going to the schools to interest students, and you retain an audience by being consistent. Jean-Pierre has also added works reflecting local culture.

The company's roster of 18 limits its repertory, but the five members of the junior company and sometimes students from the NCDT's school augment the corps for larger ballets, such as The Four Temperaments. With a large heirarchical company, you have a uniformity. In a smaller company, the dancers' individuality comes to the fore. He likes working with a smaller company. NCDT is the only company in town, so he has a special obligation to his dancers to challenge them. The company has worked with choreographer Alonzo King, with whom it has a close relationship.

The company presents five or six programs each year. It shares a large theater with the symphony and also uses a 400-seat theater for the second company (run by McB), comprising three women and two men.

In addition to the Balanchine excerpts, the company presented Bonnefoux' lyrical duet, "I'm With You" (music by local singer Christine Kane), and tap dancing excerpts from his "Shindig," (country tunes by Greasy Beans and Bill Monroe) and Alonzo King's Map (music by Arvo Part).

The dancers were well trained and exemplified the values of musicality and energy cited by Bonnefoux. I must single out Daniel Wiley (Agon pd3, I'm With You, Map), of the extraordinarily expressive torso; and the petite firecracker Rebecca Carmazzi (Agon variation, Liberty Bell and Shindig). Nicholle Rochelle, a dark haired beauty (Agon pd3, I'm With You) seems to be the company's resident goddess and Uri Sands (Agon pdd, El Capitain, Map) the noble partner.

Whew! Better late than never! :yahoo:

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...