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2005 Spring season Week 1

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Someone in top cardiovascular shape would NEVER be out of breath.  I believe it's not a good thing to be out of breath before an audience it takes the dancer out of their role and makes them too human.

Seeing a dancer out of breath makes dancing look like work, where some feel that ballet should look effortless. Kind of makes you ask yourself, 'Does that dancer smoke?'

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I'd have to say, as much as I hate smoking, I don't believe it has alot to do with it. Maybe some, but not alot. I know many dancers who smoke and breathe easily and then those who don't and breathe heavy. It's more to do with pacing your breathing and learning how to breathe correctly!(which im still working on! :dunno: ) Also allergies, colds and sinus problems play into all of this! I do agree, watch the dancing, but I also agree that I don't want to see gasping on stage!

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Tharp and Robbins collaborated very successfully on Brahms/Handel (which is, strangely, seldom performed), but in 2000 she made a Beethoven ballet that flopped and which has never been seen again.  Perhaps the experience was an unhappy one for her and/or the company.

Getting off topic here, but in "The Creative Habit" Tharp tells the interesting story of how she originally choreographed the ballet to a Beethoven piano sonata (op. 110, I think). When it turned out the sound of the toe shoes overpowered the music, she tried to quickly adapt the same steps to the Seventh Symphony. She gamely admits the ballet was a failure, and takes full responsibility for it.

As it happens, her next ballet, Variations on a Theme of Haydn (to Brahms's score), done for ABT, she considers one of her best. But neither that nor any of her other many ballets for ABT seem to be done very often either. I wonder why, since they're usually a hit with both the audience and the critics.

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The Telegraph reported several years ago that a problem between Tharp and ABT developed over the programming order of one of Tharp ballets (it was the "Modern Masters" program with Morris' Gong and Taylor's Black Tuesday). ABT's position was that they should have the right to decide in what order to present a ballet and Tharp felt insulted. ABT hasn't performed her work since.

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I attended the May 1st matinee, and saw "Who Cares" and "Union Jack." What a fun afternoon at the ballet it was for me! In "Who Cares" Teresa Reichlen made an extremely promising debut as the girl in red. You would have thought she'd been dancing the part for years. As the girl in blue, Alexandra Ansanelli was demurely sweet in "Embraceable You", but showed her steely technique to great effect in "My One and Only". As the man who partners all three girls and does his own solo to "Liza", Philip Neal was just about perfect. His timing, his rhythm, the snap of his fingers - all reminded me of a young Fred Astaire. But Jennifer Ringer as the girl in pink was the real surprise. I saw her dance the part in January, and I knew she'd be radiantly lyrical in "The Man I Love" pas de deux. (And she was.)

But unlike that January 29th performance, this time Ringer really nailed "Fascinatin'

Rhythm" - the quicksilver steps, the dizzying series of turns - they were all there in Ringer's performance on May 1st. (I only wish the audience had been more appreciative of her performance. But the audience was pretty lackluster the whole afternoon. On the whole, they did not seem to realize the great ballets they were seeing.)

I hadn't seen "Union Jack" for several years, but I enjoyed it just as much as ever. I really loved all of it - the calling of the clans, the Costermonger pas de deux, and especiallty the salute to the Royal Navy section. (I know the Royal Navy section contains miltary as well as naval songs, but I think it all works.) All the principals were great - Wendy Whelan, Miranda Weese, Alexandra Ansanelli, Benjamin Millipied, Philip Neal. I was disappointed that Damian Woetzl was replaced by Charles Askegard. I was especially concerned that Askegard was really going to blow the second solo in the Royal Navy section - a part that is owned by Woetzl. But again I was pleasantly surprised. Askegard was pretty good. I still would have preferred to seen Damian in the part. I'm hoping that I'll get to see him dance that solo on June 19th when an excerpt from "Union Jack" is performed during Jock Soto's farewell performance.

I also really enjoyed Maria Kowroski (I'm sure my spelling is off) as the leader of the Wrens (or whatever the chorus line sailors are called). When I first saw Maria in this part, she didn't seem very comfortable. I kept comparing her unfavorably to Suzanne Farrell and Maria Calegari. But now I think she really owns the part. The biggest surprise of the afternoon, though, was how great Nilas Martins was as the Pearly King. It was like I was watching a totally different performer than the chunky Nilas Martins I'm used to. And Martins wasn't just dancing the part - he really created a complete characterization. I think his performance is described best by Mary Cargill in this week's online edition of "Danceview Times".

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