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Nat. Ballet of Canada at Kennedy Center

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Hmm. Shows you how little attention I've paid to things over the years. I only go to see the dancers that I truly love in the lead roles. I don't spend any time at all "analyzing" - I just go to enjoy dance. And I guess it is for that reason that I hadn't realized the bad taste that Kudelka's work seems to leave in many mouths. What's funny, is that I often find myself thinking, "so what" to many of the things that reviewers point out as being weaknesses in his productions. Interesting.

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sparklesocks raises something I've been thinking about while reading the reactions above and thinking about my reaction to the 2 shows I saw at the Kennedy Center last week. When one sees a ballet by a visiting company, especially a company that one has rarely or never seen before, one can comment and focus upon (at least!) two aspects of the performance(s): the company and its dancers and dancing, and the production itself.

I was totally wowed by the company. I would be happy to watch them just walk around and spend an entire evening doing arabesques (one reviewer somewhere said that the choreography was repetititve and had too many arabesques, which reminded me of nothing so much as the line in the movie "Amadeus" where Salieri says a piece by Mozart has "too many notes".)

That said, I can definitely see the points made by the posters here who already know the company and were more focused on the production, which was rather odd.

All in all, I would probably have been happier to see them in a traditional Swan Lake, although (plot aside) I loved the extended male corps work in the first act, probably because it's so very rare to see so much good dancing by a male corps.

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sparklesocks and koshka have raised an interesting point. I've noticed that often -- particularly in the New York City Ballet discussions of (for instance) the controversial Martins Swan Lake -- there seem to be two parallel discussions going on: production (which is constant) and dancers (which are often seen as existing on a night-by-night basis). Poeple tend to post about one or the other rather than the interaction of the two.

I tend to see myself as being with sparklesocks on this. I love dancing, and am willing to put up with a great variety of production and interpretation, unless it's really out of line. And I'm glad to read koshka's tribute to the NBofC dancers, who sometimes have seemed tarnished by the same brush used against Kudelka. Or -- sadder -- -hardly mentioned at all.

Maybe this should be a topic on another thread: in a classic like Swan Lake -- or any ballet, for that matter -- which matters most to you, the production/interpretation/etc/ or the dancing?

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Being a relative newcomer to these NBoC discussions, I have to say that one thing that's hitting me is the amount of Kudelka-bashing that's going on nowadays. Has it always been this way, or is it part of some "good-bye" ritual where what was previously considered acceptable (or even genius) is now being reassessed and found lacking? Or was there a point at which his work did change? I'm not saying that people's perceptions now are at all invalid, but I'm confused as to how a choreographer whose work seems lately to be universally reviled ever lasted in the job as long as he did.

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The response to Four Seasons was very positive in general. Kudelka's works that have been most criticized here are classics -- Swan Lake and Firebird -- and full lengths -- like The Contract.

I know that in Seattle, I loved nearly all of Kent Stowell's full-lengths, but not so much his one-act ballets. Perhaps Kudelka's strength is the opposite.

Regular NBoC-goers, please weigh in.

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Maybe this should be a topic on another thread:  in a classic like Swan Lake -- or any ballet, for that matter -- which matters most to you, the production/interpretation/etc/ or the dancing?

We did have a related thread once, and I believe Alexandra put up a poll. I can't remember the exact wording, but the general question was about whether the biggest draw for us as individuals is the dancer or the particular dance. Perhaps someone else can remember where that thread is. I don't have time to search for it any longer at the moment.

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Yes, there is the seed of a good, general discussion about what we see when we see particular dancers (familiar or not) in particular stagings (ditto).

I couldn't find the old thread, either, kfw. We can discuss the Kennedy Center performances here, but I'll open a new thread for a broader discussion of the dancer-from-the-dance conundrum with no specific context.

Editing to add: A link to the new thread.

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NBoC audiences tend to divide themselves into two camps. There are those who find his ballets (or at least his reinterpretations of classics) generally unoriginal and dark. There are those who call him a genius and the best thing that ever happened to Canadian ballets. I wouldn't say that the "Kudelka-bashing" is a new phenomenon. It existed well before his retirement from the role of AD. However, perhaps those who dislike his work were less vocal when he was in the powerful position of AD.

Canadian critics also seem to have mixed opinions about Kudelka. His most recent full-length "An Italian Straw Hat" was not particularly well-received. His Swan Lake got raves from the National Post- but they also funded part of the production. The Globe and Mail was initially quite negative when SL premiered in 1999, partly because in the Kim Glasco Affair they sided with the ballerina. Some argue she was fired because she voiced concern over the budget of Kudelka's SL. The Globe's dance critic, Paula Citron, now works with the NBoC conducting ballet talks and writing program notes. Her reviews of Kudelka's ballets are sometimes over the top with praise. She wrote that Balanchine's choreography looked "elementary" next to Kudelka's compex steps :wink:

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