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A new, more inclusive and heterogeneous kind of gala?

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Marga has posted the following in the LINKS forum:

Paula Citron's review for the Globe & Mail of Solomon and Nadia Tencer's annual ballet gala:

Stars of the 21st Century Ballet Gala


"There was a change this year in the repertoire and it is good news. The Tencers are starting to push buttons. Rather than an endless parade of Russian classic warhorse pas de deux, there were only two, (Le Corsaire and Don Quixote), both performed by Alina Somova and Leonid Sarafanov of the Kirov Ballet. The rest of the pieces (except for one piece of flamenco exotica) were, for the most part, edgy contemporary ballet."

The review reminded me a lot of my evening at the Miami International Ballet Festival, even including some of the companies and dancers represented, as well as a decidedly mixed bag of choreography. (That was the gala where the headliner, Rasta Thomas, did a strange 3-minute dance to the Flight of the Bumblebee.)

What do you think about this new approach to the choreography and styles presented at galas? Are you a modernizer, or would you stick with the tried and true classical favorites?

What -- and whom -- would YOU include in a gala if you had the power? (Living dancers only, if possible.)

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I'm intriqued by this post and its questions. I couldn't possibly answer. I don't know enough to even try but cannot wait to read other "fantasy" programs. I have a question, however. Could you tell me more about Rasta's Bumblebee piece?


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To be honest, mouse, I'd forgotten the details about Thomas's actual dance. This was the West Palm Beach program. To be fair, Thomas was also scheduled to dance Le Corsaire pas de deux with Adiarys Almeida in Miami the next evening. I did not see that performance, but I assume it was the real and complete thing.

Here's something from the original post last September:

The headliner for West Palm was Rasta Thomas -- so there should have some excitement. You might expect. However ... read on.

Thomas received virtually the ONLY publicity for the event here (an interview with him in the Palm Beach Post) so possibly some of the younger people in the audience were there for him. He performed a clever and energetically executed non-dance to "Flight of the Bumblebee" -- approximately 3 minutes worth of action (a man swallows a bumblebee and reacts). There were roars from one section of the audience (I guess he is a media star). But those I talked to were in a state of shock about the almost insulting brevity of his appearance.

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The problem with heterogenous galas is similar to the problem I recall from when I was young and had an even larger appetite than I do now. I went to a buffet and for some stupid reason I was determined I was going to get my money's worth out of it, pound for pound. At supermarket prices. After washing down my zesty herring and canned corn with some nice chocolate pudding (and several other intervening culinary atrocities hereby omitted for the sake of sensitive stomachs) I barely made it back to my room from queasiness.

Great performances aren't a buffet. They're a planned meal.

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mouse, I think Thomas's "Bumblebee" piece is something Vladimir Angelov made for him when he was a student -- for a competition.

On galas, the mixture of dance styles isn't new. Back in the goodolddays, the stars would often do a contemporary, or specially-made piece, in addition to the belovedoldchestnut that made them famous. But there was a sense of planning, an overall idea and sense of balance.

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I think Alexandra has her finger on the right point -- we don't see much in the way of "gala" performances here, but like all of us, I've seen many mixed rep shows, which is essentially what a gala is. You can certainly combine all kinds of styles and types of dance on a single program, but you need to pay attention to the development and flow of the whole thing. In a way, it's like a set from a club DJ, who mixes and samples from many different sources, but has an eye and ear on the overall affect.

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