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Sleeping Beauty Reviews, 2007

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She seemed to conduct the conductor -- one of my friends said that the music seemed to flow from her.

You've nailed it, Violin Concerto. It was as if today she set out to show us how to hear Petipa and see Tchaikovsky, all phrasing and musical nuance, turning technique into pure beauty. A polar opposite to her Vishneva-like drama on Tuesday. There is no Bouder Aurora, or rather there are as many as the number of performances she gives. Just in case you need another excuse to see her again...

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She seemed to conduct the conductor -- one of my friends said that the music seemed to flow from her.

You've nailed it, Violin Concerto. It was as if today she set out to show us how to hear Petipa and see Tchaikovsky, all phrasing and musical nuance, turning technique into pure beauty. A polar opposite to her Vishneva-like drama on Tuesday. There is no Bouder Aurora, or rather there are as many as the number of performances she gives. Just in case you need another excuse to see her again...

I hope to write a more complete review tomorrow, but really, Bouder was exquisite. One of the most wonderful things I've ever seen.

My only quibbles, and I realize they ARE quibbles, but in such a fully developed performance as this, they did strike me as off, were the NYCB style arms in pirouettes, and the curtseys. I admit that I detest the broken back foot that NYCB dancers do when they curtsey, but it's acceptable in Balanchine ballets. It is NOT acceptable at the end of a ballet "after petipa" and most certainly not in the middle of one. It is such a little thing, but it did break the mood for me, and was a clear off note.

That said, again, I thought Bouder was amazing, and inhabited the character so marvelously that it was hardly to be believed.

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... They're not sweating the details...

To put it mildly! Here was a killer from the end of the Spell scene. Two young women (at least in this moment I couldn't call them dancers) are having an hilarious chat center stage. Their friend the Princess has just been carted off as good as dead and everyone around them is being frozen in place by a Lilac gone seemingly mad, and they are laughing??? You'd have thought one of them would have pulled out a cell phone. Would that Lilac had gotten to them first.

But Bouder sweats all the details. In the Awakening, after first opening her eyes with instant recognition, she blinked them shut, and opened them again: All was real. On enough for me.

Saw Sleeping Beauty yesterday. I can't believe how technical NYCB is and yet they can't actually dance. If dance is lyricism, poetry, and passion, then what I saw yesterday was not dance. As for the waltz scene in the second act? It was so ridiculously fast it looked like a jig. Bouder is an amazing technician. But it's the precision of a gymnast, not the grace and beauty of a ballerina. Now I know why I don't see city ballet often. A friend had tickets. The scenery and costumes were beautiful, but the choreography? Yikes. Doesn't Martins ever work on the corps lines? Center them? The lines are askew constantly. And there is absolutely no acting. The audiences responses were entirely for Little Red Riding Hood, Puss n Boots, you know, the "characters" that acted a little. Ballet is a medium through which to act and tell a story. Here, the technique has over powered the message and leaves the audience politely applauding when they should be stomping their feet, overcome by beauty, passion, and raw emotion.

Watch an old Russian ballet with Plisetskaya, or Semyonova, or Maximova. Not technicians, as the dancers of today, true. But actresses. People of passion capable of moving one. If I want to see a technician, I can watch the Olympics and see gymnasts. I go to the ballet to see actresses who speak to me through a medium of movement called The Ballet.

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First off, welcome to Ballet Talk, lilimarlene1, and congrats for jumping right into the thick of things. There will always be those who dislike NYCB's aesthetic entirely and those that prefer it. I don't ask that NYCB be the Royal Ballet, but I don't ask that the Royal be NYCB either. The companies have completely different approaches, and it takes me having to switch expectations completely between companies. I'm also one who believes that acting should happen through the dancing, not on top of it, but this is The Sleeping Beauty. Either dispense with the story entirely or if you choose to do story ballets because they sell tickets, admit that you have a duty to communicate the story.

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I think the lack of (I don't want to use the word acting because that sometimes seems to mean acting instead of dancing) narrative is part of this production. A flaw. And I like this production, although the 1890/1999 Kirov production has me seeing all SBs with awakened eyes. An example is Blue Bird pdd - Mary Cargill in her recent DVT review explains how Peter Martins' choreography doesn't show how Princess Florine is under Blue Bird's spell:

"The Bluebird pas de deux was danced by Sterling Hyltin and Daniel Ulbricht in their debuts. Again it is too fast for all of the demi-caractère subtleties to register — the Bluebird has captured Princess Florine, and is controlling her. The little hand to the ear gestures of Florine show her listening to his commands and following his lead; the choreography should not be just a series of unconnected flutters."

Little things like this are glossed over, making the production just a little bit shallow. However, these things are fixable, but Martins seldom seems to make adjustments once a ballet is mounted.

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First off, welcome to Ballet Talk, lilimarlene1, and congrats for jumping right into the thick of things. There will always be those who dislike NYCB's aesthetic entirely and those that prefer it. I don't ask that NYCB be the Royal Ballet, but I don't ask that the Royal be NYCB either. The companies have completely different approaches, and it takes me having to switch expectations completely between companies. I'm also one who believes that acting should happen through the dancing, not on top of it, but this is The Sleeping Beauty. Either dispense with the story entirely or if you choose to do story ballets because they sell tickets, admit that you have a duty to communicate the story.

Dear Leigh Wichel

Why is it that I have got the impression you expect the Royal Ballet to perform Balanchine ballets in the manner/aesthetic of NYCB?

I thought the idea of a neo-classical company dancing an academic classical ballet odd but then I realised they probably would't try to dance it any other way than their company aesthetics.

None of the reviews I have read point out that it is some distance away from Petipa's Sleeping Beauty especially as the fairy's are named as are the leading characters. Until Lilimarlene1 mentioned it, I did not realise that there was any sort of pecularity about the production being turned into a neo-classical ballet. But after Matthew Bourne, what is one to expect? Please don't answer that.

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Why is it that I have got the impression you expect the Royal Ballet to perform Balanchine ballets in the manner/aesthetic of NYCB?

None of the reviews I have read point out that it is some distance away from Petipa's Sleeping Beauty especially as the fairy's are named as are the leading characters. Until Lilimarlene1 mentioned it, I did not realise that there was any sort of pecularity about the production being turned into a neo-classical ballet. But after Matthew Bourne, what is one to expect? Please don't answer that.

I can't answer that question because it's an incorrect impression :blush:

I've written previously both here and elsewhere that there is "non-Balanchine" and "anti-Balanchine." When POB and the Mariinsky do Balanchine; they dance it with their local accent. It's not as done in NYC, but what they do in a "non-Balanchine" style is still valid. What I've seen the Royal do of Balanchine has two qualities - the dancers are firmly on balance all the time and they dance under themselves. I don't mind a local accent, but this is "anti-Balanchine" - the local way of dancing is antithetical to the choreography. It's no longer a local accent. It's wrong. Of course, I look forward to the day NYCB dances Symphonic Variations; I'm sure I would gouge out my eyeballs with sharpened sticks.

The Martins Beauty is over 15 years old so in general, the discussion the greater import of the production itself happened a long while back. Most published reviews will concentrate primarily on the individual dancers as a matter of editorial policy.

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Personally, I find Martins' production of Sleeping Beauty wholly strange. In his attempt to reinvente the classic, he loses the beauty of a traditional Petipa story ballet (the mime which carries the plot, the delicacy and nuance of each gesture -- like the Princess Florine's flutterings, and the classical ballerina who reigns over the entire production). These flaws are mainly drawn from inherent characterists of NYCB. How can the fairies, jewels, and divertissment dances show refinement and convey emotional depth if there is no coaching? (A perennial problem with the company). And how can Martins expect to cast young up-and-comers in leading roles, which essentially epitomize classical ballet, when they not only have little to no guidance but also lack the rock-solid classical technique necessary for one of the pinnacle parts in the classical repertory? Sterling Hyltin, for example, performed admirably -- she got through it, and with legs and feet as elegant as hers, even when her stamina began failing her, she still looked quite pretty. But she is not strong enough for a part of this magnitude and there seemed to be many others who were passed over in her stead -- why not Miranda Weese? Or Abi Stafford? Both surely have the technical prowess to pull off such a role.

The other major flaw the production highlighted was the weakness of NYCB's male contingent. Jonathan Stafford as Prince Desire?? He has neither the technical ability (to say he flagged by the end of his variation is an understatment) nor the emotional depth and imagination for this part. But this problem was seen at all levels of the company. Stephen Hanna, as Gold, was also severly lacking in techincal refinement. And some of the corps boys (especially the fairy cavaliers) seemed to be struggling greatly as well.

However, the flip side is that no other company could even attempt to perform Beauty at this tempo. The speed and clairty in the women's footwork is unparalleled in the dance world. The fairy variations are performed at break-neck speed and most of them were able to keep up. Whether the produciton could benefit from a slightly more luxurious tempo is hardly a question, but it was impressive none the less.

And as to the Royal Ballet dancing Balanchine, they too have their own inherent idiosyncracies that hinder the performance. However, because of the strict rules of the Balanchine Trust, each ballet is set by a repiteur who at least attempts to bring the proper attack, style, and dynamics to such neo-classical works, while when NYCB dances the "classics" there is no such classical counterpart.

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You go to the movies, not the ballet, to see actresses.
I've seen very few movies in which the actresses "who speak to me through a medium of movement called The Ballet." Almost all of those are movies in which there are ballet dancers.
And as to the Royal Ballet dancing Balanchine, they too have their own inherent idiosyncracies that hinder the performance. However, because of the strict rules of the Balanchine Trust, each ballet is set by a repiteur who at least attempts to bring the proper attack, style, and dynamics to such neo-classical works, while when NYCB dances the "classics" there is no such classical counterpart.
This a very important point in my opinion. Any company can perform their version of the great classics without permission or coaching in the classical or romantic styles. I think one of the few exceptions is the modern classic, Les Sylphides (Chopiniana), which is controlled by the Folkines.

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So I went to see the Saturday Matinee with Bouder.

I've never seen the NYCB production before, and can't remember the last time I saw ABT do it--I believe its been out of active rep for quite some time.

First by way of general comments:

I thought the costumes and sets were beautiful throughout (I wasnt crazy about those for the last act jewels however, esp emeralds and Rubies)

I believe someone suggested breaking it differently--so that the intermission occurs prior to the Hunt--I think this would be a great improvement. It makes much more sense story-wise, as it is now, all the story is in the first half, which spans over a hundred years, and the 2nd act is dancing with no plot development at all.

Act I

The Christening

I wasn't terribly impressed here. I love these variations and did not think anyone did a great job with them.

This is the one place where I thought the tempi may really have been a problem. Not that the dancers couldn't keep up, but the idea of these variations is that they are all supposed to be distinct. Some are lightning fast, others more legato. The differences became a bit blurred i thought, by a uniformly quick speed.

More importantly the dancers all looked stiff and uncomfortable to me--I know they are supposed to be sharp, but they didn't look comfortable at all. I thought the variations done later by Ruby and Emeralds had the sharp sparkling attack that was totally missing in these variations. (I know Ana Sophia Scheller was in both, but I found her much improved in the latter).

The Spell

Ashley Bouder was fantastic! I saw someone complain she was a mere technician. I'm an ABT person, not a city ballet one, but I couldn't disagree more. She didn't appear nervous about the rose adagio--she totally inhabited the role of a 16 yo excited about her birthday and trying to size up her suitors. I was completely enchanted.

there were a few bobbles in her performance (I'm including her entire performance here instead of breaking it up btween acts), but they didn't detract at all. I can not agree with the poster above who called the 2nd fishdive a minor bobble however. They *really* messed it up. But it didnt hurt the performance as a whole, and their recovery was admirable.

As I posted late last night, I just wish someone would tell her not to do that awkward NYCB curtsey in Sleeping Beauty, it jars. And also the pulled in/crossed pirouette arms were a modern touch in what was otherwise a classy and classic performance, easy to fix!

(Nota Bene: I HATE the bow, but don't mind that style of arms--it was just wrong in this context)

I wasn't overly impressed with Hankes as the Lilac Fairy--She was fine, but she didn't have much presence.

Act II

I don't want to comment on this whole act, it'll take me all day.

I thought the cats were fantastic, Florine and Bluebird soso--they certainly didn't steal the show as that variation can

I was confused by the Jewels--is this a peter martins thing?

I cant say for sure how ABT did it, but I know the old Royal version i have has only 2 girls, not 3, and there was music interpolated here (that for Gold and Diamond) that I didn't recognize. I wasn't loving that.

Maybe I'm confused here--I'd like to hear other opinions.

I did think both Scheller and Peck were excellent in these roles, and had all the verve and sparkle that was lacking in the Act I fairy variations.

Bouder just stole the show however, I would love to see her in more classics. She was really something else. She fully inhabited the role and her musicality, the way she stretched things out with her arms and her breathing, was really extraordinary.

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I went to the Friday night performance starring Wendy Whelan & Nicolai Hubbe. Whelan was much, much better than I had anticipated -- very secure technically although the Rose Adagio balances were not held very long. Her solos in every act were spot-on. As NYCB's ultimate neo-classicist ballerina, she is not the ideal Aurora, yet she left a positive impression. Hubbe remains an elegant, ideal Desire.

The highlight of the night, for me, was Andrew Veyette's spectacular Bluebird. This young lad soars! Second highlight: Rachel Piskin's sparkling & secure Fairy Canari. The lowlight - alas, there were too many. Every Prologue Fairy minus Piskin's Canari faltered...some embarrasingly so. Sorry but Alina Dronova's Princess Florine was a mess. General comment/question: does the SAB teach proper bouree'ing? With the exception of Piskin, it appeared that each solo prologue fairy could not properly stand up on point (the feet were not straight up & down but embarrasingly sickled) & bouree across the stage. Some ladies looked like little girls trying out pointe shoes for the first time. [For a while, I wondered if the rosin box was missing and/or if the stage had not been properly prepared, i.e., too slippery? Then Wendy Whelan came on & it was apparent that we could not blame the floor.]

General Positive Comment: I had not seen this production 'live' since Ringer's 'Mothers Day Debut' ca 1999 and what a gorgeous production it is. With the exception of the Kirov-Mariinsky's new-old 1890 version, NYCB's is the most gorgeous production around, with such vibrant sets and costumes! I would rank the current POB 'Rococco Beauty' sets & costumes in 3rd place. Sorry but the Royal Ballet's blah attempt to recreate 1946 does not even register in my top-10 current productions, on the design end (although I admire the current RB production's choreography & restoration of the traditional dances). I wonder how the sets/costumes of ABT's new production will rank? I hope that ABT takes a bold & bright approach, rather than safe-and-bland. We will see.

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I believe someone suggested breaking it differently--so that the intermission occurs prior to the Hunt--I think this would be a great improvement. It makes much more sense story-wise, as it is now, all the story is in the first half, which spans over a hundred years, and the 2nd act is dancing with no plot development at all.

Perhaps Peter Martins was thinking of Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream when he determined the narrative flow.

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I believe someone suggested breaking it differently--so that the intermission occurs prior to the Hunt--I think this would be a great improvement. It makes much more sense story-wise, as it is now, all the story is in the first half, which spans over a hundred years, and the 2nd act is dancing with no plot development at all.

Speaking as a Manhattanite a relatively short subway ride away from Lincoln Center, I think putting the break between The Spell and The Vision (and adding back about 15 minutes of music) would make for better theater. However, speaking as a former commuter who often had one eye on her watch, one on the train schedule and another on the agenda for the next morning’s crack of dawn conference call, putting the break after the vision scene does allow one to see a good chunk of the ballet and make a graceful exit, thus avoiding a disruptive and indecorous scramble for the last train out to the ‘burbs. As abbreviated as is it, Martins' Beauty is still too long for some commutes.

By the time Martins’ version of Beauty premiered, I had moved to the city, but a part of me cheered his attempt to craft a commuter-friendly evening of theater – the part that had never seen the last act of any number of things live. It doesn’t quite work (the two performances I saw this year seemed unduly rushed) but I appreciate the effort nonetheless.

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....Martins’ version of Beauty ....a part of me cheered his attempt to craft a commuter-friendly evening of theater ...

Well-said from the American point of view. However, it's nice that in some societies (St. Petersburg, Russia, for example), the working folk who *do* take trolleys & buses back home after the four-hour 1890 Sleeping Beauty & other long Mariinsky classics stay through to the end, without complaints. Perhaps they have more understanding ("culture-friendly") bosses in the office?

Perhaps the shortening of classical ballets in America may also have to do with the management's wish to finish a performance within union workers' basic hours, so as not to pay overtime? This may be the sole reason why ABT's presentation of Ashton's 'Sylvia' combined two of the acts, to make for a shorter evening with only one intermission. Ah, the practical bottom-line needs of modern life!

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However, speaking as a former commuter who often had one eye on her watch, one on the train schedule and another on the agenda for the next morning’s crack of dawn conference call, putting the break after the vision scene does allow one to see a good chunk of the ballet and make a graceful exit, thus avoiding a disruptive and indecorous scramble for the last train out to the ‘burbs. As abbreviated as is it, Martins' Beauty is still too long for some commutes.

By the time Martins’ version of Beauty premiered, I had moved to the city, but a part of me cheered his attempt to craft a commuter-friendly evening of theater – the part that had never seen the last act of any number of things live. It doesn’t quite work (the two performances I saw this year seemed unduly rushed) but I appreciate the effort nonetheless.

It doesn't quite work because he cut it too much.

If you don't have time to see a ballet and have to leave early because you have something to do first thing in the morning, maybe you should opt to go see the ballet on the weekends, even a matinee, so that you can (or could, I know you live in manhattan now) see the entire work.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but when you get ballet tickets, you have some idea of how long the ballet lasts--and should be able to commit to it.

I live in brooklyn, and it often takes me up to an hour to get home, but that's how it works--I don't expect others to deal with truncated ballets or ones where the intermission is oddly placed, so that it suits me.

And I'm not unsympathetic to the pains of a commute--I do a 2 hr each way reverse commute 2-3 days a week--I know how much 'fun' commuting is ;)

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Did anyone see the second performances of the season's two Aurora debutantes Saturday night and Sunday matinee? Both Megan Fairchild and Sterling Hyltin gave promising first tries, but we know how often second performances by dancers in this company can make their firsts look like dress rehearsals in comparison (are they dress rehearsals?). And as week 1 showed, new blood is desperately needed.

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We are certainly covering many, many issues here, from scheduling to aesthetics, to content to style. I for one really appreciate the wide-ranging comments. Of course, (as always) I have a few myself:

For the commuters -- I don't think that the compression of the ballet has anything to do with commuter schedules -- again, look to Balanchine's Midsummer's Night's Dream

for precedent. The "bow" to commuters, etc. was in the Tuesday and then Wednesday 7:30 p.m. start times. Just in terms of the length of the 1st act, I would agree to move the intermission -- I also think it makes more narrative sense....although you could argue that it makes the boat ride seem longer when it is divided.

I very much appreciate Dale's explanation of the Bluebird pdd, and reference to Mary Cargill, since I really know next to nothing about the background of these classical ballets:

Mary Cargill in her recent DVT review explains how Peter Martins' choreography doesn't show how Princess Florine is under Blue Bird's spell:

"The Bluebird pas de deux was danced by Sterling Hyltin and Daniel Ulbricht in their debuts. Again it is too fast for all of the demi-caractère subtleties to register — the Bluebird has captured Princess Florine, and is controlling her. The little hand to the ear gestures of Florine show her listening to his commands and following his lead; the choreography should not be just a series of unconnected flutters."

I wonder if it is because of how few people are so familiar with the background. I saw an old "Ballet Alert" page on the Wedding guests, and where in the history of fairy tales they come from. I don't have the link handy, though.

At the Sunday Matinee, Sterling Hyltin did her second Aurora, and was very lovely as the character, and quite competant technically, which ain't too damn bad. She has a ways to go in terms of breadth of expression, stamina (shepherding of energy and how it shows on her face), breathing, and security -- as balletchic101 says, but that's natural, isn't it. I disagree with balletchic101 about Jonathan Stafford, I thought he was elegant with an excellent line, was very expressive. He maintained his energy and technique through his final variation. I (and, it seemed, the rest of the audience) thought that Alina Dronova was an excellent Florine (and she has beautiful feet) and that Andrew Veyette excelled as the Bluebird -- his line, his beats, his elevation were all superb, as Natalia says. Again, Amar and Lauren King were delightful as the cats.

Being a Balanchine watcher who has always favored the Stravinsky ballets (Thursday!!!), I can hardly believe it, but I'd love to see even more performances of Sleeping Beauty!

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However, speaking as a former commuter who often had one eye on her watch, one on the train schedule and another on the agenda for the next morning’s crack of dawn conference call, putting the break after the vision scene does allow one to see a good chunk of the ballet and make a graceful exit, thus avoiding a disruptive and indecorous scramble for the last train out to the ‘burbs. As abbreviated as is it, Martins' Beauty is still too long for some commutes.

By the time Martins’ version of Beauty premiered, I had moved to the city, but a part of me cheered his attempt to craft a commuter-friendly evening of theater – the part that had never seen the last act of any number of things live. It doesn’t quite work (the two performances I saw this year seemed unduly rushed) but I appreciate the effort nonetheless.

It doesn't quite work because he cut it too much.

If you don't have time to see a ballet and have to leave early because you have something to do first thing in the morning, maybe you should opt to go see the ballet on the weekends, even a matinee, so that you can (or could, I know you live in manhattan now) see the entire work.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but when you get ballet tickets, you have some idea of how long the ballet lasts--and should be able to commit to it.

I live in brooklyn, and it often takes me up to an hour to get home, but that's how it works--I don't expect others to deal with truncated ballets or ones where the intermission is oddly placed, so that it suits me.

And I'm not unsympathetic to the pains of a commute--I do a 2 hr each way reverse commute 2-3 days a week--I know how much 'fun' commuting is ;)

I'm straying off topic here – apologies! The issue with commuting isn’t so much the time it takes as it is the timetable: if the last train or bus leaves at 10:20 (as mine did), you’re not going to be able to stay until the end, period. No level of commitment can overcome the iron rule of the last bus to [fill in your destination here]. It was the thing I resented most about commuting, not the time it took (although I resented that too, and resented getting up at 5:00 am every morning even more.) Matinees are not always an option. If the choice is between 2/3 of Margot Fonteyn dancing on Wednesday evening and a whole Sheesno Fonteyn on Saturday afternoon – well, I know how I’d do the math. In any event, it’s a performance, not a sacred ceremony: Zeus does not hurl thunderbolts if you leave before the end. (Provided that you don't climb over eight people to get to the aisle, of course ... in which case may Medusa's glare turn you to stone.) Should every ballet, opera, concert or play be condensed to the Reader’s Digest version to accommodate commuters? Of course not. But the rigors of bridge-and-tunnel life are a reality for many ballet-, opera-, and concert-goers and their families: a nod to them from time-to-time is OK by me, especially if it gets people into the theater and puts dance in front of them. I have the luxury of a Manhattan apartment, no kids, a very indulgent husband, and flextime, but not everyone does. And didn't Balanchine himself rejigger some of his ballets (Chaconne and Diamonds, e.g.) to shoe-horn them into Dance in America's format and onto TV?

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The issue with commuting isn’t so much the time it takes as it is the timetable: if the last train or bus leaves at 10:20 (as mine did), you’re not going to be able to stay until the end, period. No level of commitment can overcome the iron rule of the last bus to [fill in your destination here].
You're bringing back memories of my New Jersey commutes, and a tangential reminder of how if I missed the 10:10pm train to Freeport on Sunday night, it was nearly an hour wait in Penn Station back in the day when the entire building was a smoking section, and there was no place to sit. What we do to see great art!

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Did anyone see the second performances of the season's two Aurora debutantes Saturday night and Sunday matinee? Both Megan Fairchild and Sterling Hyltin gave promising first tries, but we know how often second performances by dancers in this company can make their firsts look like dress rehearsals in comparison (are they dress rehearsals?). And as week 1 showed, new blood is desparately needed.

I attended the second performance of Fairchild's Aurora and have to say I was thoroughly impressed. I haven't seen any of the other NYCB Auroras so can't be sure if she did well in comparison, and the only other viewing experiences I've had with Sleeping Beauty are Houston Ballet's version and various videos. That being said, I loved how unobtrusive her dancing was, and she simply let the choreography speak for itself. There were no unsightly extensions to speak of and Fairchild maintained a classical form. The modesty of her dancing was not something I expected from a City Ballet ballerina.

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"The Bluebird pas de deux was danced by Sterling Hyltin and Daniel Ulbricht in their debuts. Again it is too fast for all of the demi-caractère subtleties to register — the Bluebird has captured Princess Florine, and is controlling her. The little hand to the ear gestures of Florine show her listening to his commands and following his lead; the choreography should not be just a series of unconnected flutters."

Unless there's a wholly different version of the story, I have to question that synopsis. In the version I know, the Bluebird is a young king in love with Florine; the evil queen her stepmother has had him transformed into a bluebird for seven years in revenge for his refusal to marry the queen's ugly daughter, and has had Florine imprisoned in a tower. The "little hand to the ear gestures" by Florine are more likely her listening to his song as they lament her imprisonment and his metamorphosis. When the queen finds out the lovers have been communicating, she has the bird's tree festooned with daggers and razors for him to cut his feet. Needless to say, after unimaginable tribulations for all concerned good triumphs at the end and Truitonne, the ugly daughter who looks like a trout (truite) is permanently transformed into a sow (truie).

The same review quoted by Dale continues: "Ulbricht's Bluebird was certainly on the right track and he caught a certain inhuman menace in the choreography... the emphasis was on the power downwards, which gave his dancing an unusual and powerful character." Again, unless an entirely different story from the one I know is being used, this sounds like a mischaracterization of the story's elegant young king.

You may read the entire story here; it is a masterly French tale by Mme. D'Aulnoy:

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors...2/bluebird.html

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The issue with commuting isn’t so much the time it takes as it is the timetable: if the last train or bus leaves at 10:20 (as mine did), you’re not going to be able to stay until the end, period. No level of commitment can overcome the iron rule of the last bus to [fill in your destination here].

You're bringing back memories of my New Jersey commutes, and a tangential reminder of how if I missed the 10:10pm train to Freeport on Sunday night, it was nearly an hour wait in Penn Station back in the day when the entire building was a smoking section, and there was no place to sit. What we do to see great art!

This provides a very good explanation for why so many people from the suburbs drive into the city.

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.... I (and, it seemed, the rest of the audience) thought that Alina Dronova was an excellent Florine (and she has beautiful feet) ...

Ms Dronova does have beautiful feet but they were alarmingly unstable last Friday. 'Rest of audience'...?Hmmm...you must have polled your section of the house, not where I was sitting. (wink)

The Martins version of the Florine solo is full of arm flapping at the start & other embellishments. I've seen this version several times in the past, so I'm not referring to the odd choreography when I state that Ms Dronova was, quite simply, a weak Florine.

Alina Dronova has impressed me in many other ballets -- such as 'Russian Seasons' last spring -- but not in classical variations. Different strokes for different folks. Nothing wrong with that. :clapping:

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The same review quoted by Dale continues: "Ulbricht's Bluebird was certainly on the right track and he caught a certain inhuman menace in the choreography... the emphasis was on the power downwards, which gave his dancing an unusual and powerful character." Again, unless an entirely different story from the one I know is being used, this sounds like a mischaracterization of the story's elegant young king.

In the Royal Ballet's late and unlamented Makarova production I noticed a trend towards the Killer Bluebird - I've always seen him as a friendly, helpful sort of bird and am glad to see that in the new production he seems to have reverted to that.

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