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REVIEWS: NYCB Spring 2007, Weeks 2-3

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the 'happy ending' that's been mentioned here in connection with

what one hears will be part of the production to be choreographed next year by mark morris comes not from a whim of morris's, but from the score and scenario, which differ from what the world has come to know of prokofiev's ROMEO.

the recently discovered prokofiev ms. in morris's hand has other changes as well, so he'll be working w/ prokofiev's original scheme - pre-soviet censors - not some fanciful thinking or arbitrary 'concept.'

So let me get this right: if Prokofiev changes the ending of R&J it's valid, but if Mark Morris does so on his own it's "fanciful thinking" or an "arbitrary 'concept'"? Please say more about this implicit aesthetic judgment (perhaps you're just passing the buck to Prokofiev?), and more about this newly discovered ms. (fascinating!). Can we read about this somewhere?

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didn't mean to be cryptic, but my sense, perhaps wrongly, was that the commentary expressed in this thread implied that morris was making a happy ending b/c of some concept of his own devising.

i have learned through talking with people who know the background to morris's projected production, that the score from which he'll be working is the earlier 1935/37 'original' prokofiev scheme, which differs in a number of ways from the score that we have come to know as 'standard' through the 1938/40 staging(s) of the ballet - i.e. in Brno and in Leningrad - and now at NYCB.

my only point was that morris will be working with a somewhat different score and scheme, all of which relate to prokofiev's thinking, not merely his own.

next year is a prokofiev year at bard in the summer, where morris's ROMEO will have its premiere, i expect there will be any number of articles written in advance of that event. i don't now know of any as yet.

perhaps i'm speaking too soon; i'm most certainly not trying to bash morris. i'm trying to credit what he's doing and not prejudge it.

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I think I've been to all the vodka occasions over the decades, but after the Stravinsky Festival of 1972. when Mr. B and Lincoln cavorted before the curtain and Mr. B invited us to have a hooker on the way out, I can't for the life of me remember what the others were about. Any other geezers out there who remember? It was nice of the Ballet Master in Chief to introduce all the little Ballet Masters last night because except to hard core fans, they are not instantly recognizable. There have been many more glamorous gatherings on the NY State Theater Stage, but glamor isn't everything.

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I watched R + J with a very different background from most of you. I have never seen an R & J production, having never had the desire to see it. I am a very Balanchine/NYCB person, who wants to see all dancing when I go to the ballet. That said, I was going to check out this R + J b/c 1) I volunteer and am so automatically there 1-2 times a week anyway 2) curiosity 3) see the performances of dancers I have watched for years. I was originally dreading it, until the casting came out (Hyltin) and I watched the video on the tragiclovenyc site. My reaction to that video was not a fluke...

I loved Hyltin and R. Fairchild utterly last night. They were completely committed to these parts and heart-breaking in them. They exuded passion and anguish. Those were the types of performances I had always hoped to see in the parts, but was not sure I'd see at NYCB. Other fellow volunteers were as moved as I, so for those of you hestitating about going, go for the chance to have my reaction rather than the ones others have unfortunately have had. It's worth it. These are not performances you get to see everyday.

I certainly felt there were problems with the production, but their performances, to me, outweigh all that. I don't have anything to compare any of it to, so I'm just going on gut reaction. And, my gut reaction was that I was watching two people feel the deepest passion and anguish, not two dancers acting passion and anguish. Fairchild was a revelation. I was not used to see that kind of performance from a male at NYCB (with the exception of, perhaps, Hubbe). He'd put an arm around her, with his palm full extended and the feeling down to the fingertips was palpable (I had noticed that in the video, too). And, Hyltin, as I had expected, abandoned herself to the role.

I am seeing them again next week, and happy to do so.

As for the rest of the production, as I said, it didn't bother as much as it might have had I not been captivated by Hyltin and R. Fairchild, but there were things I liked and didn't like.

Soto, of course, had the noble bearing down. And, he did become momentarily scary during the slap scene. Kistler is not the radiant Darci I have always loved, but I thought she did a commendable job with what she had... until the "death", when I was really moved. Her reaction seemed so real to me. THat mix of denial-- this can't be happening - with anguish and despair.

De Luz was ideal for Tybalt among the men I have read are cast. He is a little older and more experienced with full lengths, and I think it showed. I was not watching De Luz but Tybalt. Ulbricht, was to an extent, still Ulbricht, but it worked because his character fits his personality, at least as far as I remember from reading the play. J. Stafford, as Paris, I thought the weakest of them all. There was no presence at all. It's a tiny part, but the others so stepped up the plate, that I was hoping he would to. But, he's very academic in his approach to roles, so I didn't think it was great casting in the first place.

Choreography-wise, as I have said, I have no comparisons. I just know what seemed off. What seemed off to me were the jets vs. sharks scenes. And, yes I say that because even most of the darker and darker haired girls were Montagues. Yes, there were two blondes thrown in, but it did give me pause to see most of the fairer dancers as Capulets and most of the darker as Montagues. But, that wasn't my real problem. It looks like (not sure it truly was) too much of the corps 'acting' was left to improv, and they didn't know what to do. The first encounter, in the very beginning looked downright amateurish when watching all the different women and men of both groups go at each other. Chaotic in not a good way. The scene where the deaths happen was a bit better, but, again, I was distracted by the 'acting' of the corps. I know they have not been schooled in this and rarely are called on to do it. I don't fault them. I just wish those scenes were less distracting.

I am happy with the cuts Martins made because there was already too much non-dancing performing in this production for my tastes, since I have already admitted to little patience there. I don't know how other productions deal with the main Capulet dance theme, but the choreography given to that theme could not possibly match the Prokofiev score. But, maybe there could have been a closer match between the imposing, ominous sound with the courtly dance. Or, maybe the disconnect was supposed to be there-- whereby they're dancing without knowledge of what's about to happen but the music hints at it. I don't know if others have read the music like that, but that main music has always seemed like that to me.

I am, alas, not seeing any other casts except Peck/Suozzi because of other commitments. But, maybe it's better for me to have Hyltin/Fairchild lingering in my head.

-amanda

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:)

I think I've been to all the vodka occasions over the decades, but after the Stravinsky Festival of 1972. when Mr. B and Lincoln cavorted before the curtain and Mr. B invited us to have a hooker on the way out, I can't for the life of me remember what the others were about. Any other geezers out there who remember
Thanks, FF, for welcoming me so warmly to geezerhood, a state better acknowledged sooner than later.

Didn't we toast Tchaikovsky for his 1981 festival? I think that was the one when, being as close to a non-drinker as a non-dry can be, I took my shot from the lobby table, threw it down my throat in the style of Mr. B and Lincoln, and proceeded to nearly trip off the curb en route home. :wacko:

Then, for the first Balanchine festival, either at its start or for the Dinner with Balanchine grand finale, we were given little airline-style vodka bottles. Mine resides still in my freezer. :P

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Mr B's 100th birthday, Jan 22 2004 - along with a zakouski of cake.

Did you know that Jewel of Russia is the official vodka of NYCB? :)

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I think I've been to all the vodka occasions over the decades, but after the Stravinsky Festival of 1972. when Mr. B and Lincoln cavorted before the curtain and Mr. B invited us to have a hooker on the way out, I can't for the life of me remember what the others were about. Any other geezers out there who remember? It was nice of the Ballet Master in Chief to introduce all the little Ballet Masters last night because except to hard core fans, they are not instantly recognizable. There have been many more glamorous gatherings on the NY State Theater Stage, but glamor isn't everything.

The last time NYCB was on Live from Lincoln Center, for the celebration of Balanchine's 100th Birthday, if memory serves, they showed film of the Stravinsky Celebration toast, and then Martins and Kevin Kline followed suit. Didn't Martins and Kirstein also toast at the televised celebration in '93?

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The last time NYCB was on Live from Lincoln Center, for the celebration of Balanchine's 100th Birthday, if memory serves, they showed film of the Stravinsky Celebration toast, and then Martins and Kevin Kline followed suit. Didn't Martins and Kirstein also toast at the televised celebration in '93?
Yes. We were given little bottles of absolut vodka and a plastic shot glass for the toast. Baryshnikov came out with a tray for Martins and Kirstein, and tried to sneak off stage, but Martins pulled him back for the company bows. Martins explained the difference between the polite way (forgot what words he used) and "Balanchine's way" (he mimed downing it in one gulp), and there's film of a woman in the audience following his instructions.

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Did you know that Jewel of Russia is the official vodka of NYCB? :)

Strange, why do we no longer see the Alexandrite movement in Jewels?

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Strange, why do we no longer see the Alexandrite movement in Jewels?

When P.M. and Kirkeby restage Jewels, the Alexandrite will take the place of both

Emeralds and Rubies - thus changing the Ballet to two streamlined acts.

After one intermission Diamonds will be restaged and renamed Cubic Zirconia.

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Google in "prokofiev romeo and juliet happy ending" and go for it !

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Egad! Vincent Crummels and the Infant Prodigy strike again!

It's nice to know that Marxist-Leninist Realism was good for something. Or maybe it was just that since they supplied a happy ending for Swan Lake, they had to take away a happy ending for this ballet.

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In fairness to this discussion in his autobiography Prokofiev apparently called the happy ending a "bit of barbarism". (but is this really the last word ? Someone doing more research might come up with something interesting.)

http://www.balletmet.org/Notes/ROMEOAND.HTM

Scroll down about half way to above...

"World Events of 1938..."

In his autobiography Prokofiev writes, "There was quite a fuss at the time about our attempts to give Romeo and Juliet a happy ending - in the last act Romeo arrives a minute earlier, finds Juliet alive and everything ends well. The reasons for this bit of barbarism were purely choreographic: living people can dance, the dying cannot.....But what really caused me to change my mind about the whole thing was a remark someone made to me about the ballet: ‘Strictly speaking, your music does not express any real joy at the end.’ That was quite true. After several conferences with the choreographers, it was found that the tragic ending could be expressed in the dance and in due time the music for that ending was written."

[added--"Scroll down about half way" to above"...]

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I followed Buddy's excellent directions and Googled up the following press release (1/25/07) from the Mark Morris Dance Group:

Rome and Julie Happy Endling

Prokofiev conceived the ballet in 1935 in collaboration with innovative Soviet dramatist Sergei Radlov, who re-imagined the familiar tragedy as a struggle for the right to love by young, strong, and progressive people battling against feudal traditions and feudal outlooks on marriage and family. Much of Prokofiev's score addresses the theme of love's transcendence over oppression. However, in a radical gesture that caused a scandal in the Soviet ballet circles, Prokofiev and Radlov gave the ballet a happy ending. In the final scene, Juliet rouses from her potion-induced sleep just as Romeo begins to conclude that she has died. The two lovers express their feelings of relief and joy in a final dance. The music represents the two lovers willing away their world - the Verona square and palace - and entering another, greater one.
Like Odette and Siegfried wafting off together to a better place?

Incidentally, earlier this evening I saw Ballet Florida's version Prokofiev's "The Stone Flower." Katerina descends, with the aid of a Spirit, to the underground realm of the Queen of the Mountain. She attempts to free her lover Danilo, and the two of them finally receive the Queen's permission to leave. Katerina and Danilo escape to freedom through a crowd of joyfully bouncing rocks. Upon reaching the surface of the earth, they are welcomed by a chorus of similarly bouncing matryoshka dolls -- :huepfen024: :huepfen024: . The two young lovers acknowledge the colorful matryoshkas, stand on a rock, and wave their hands graciously -- rather like members of the British Royal family :):wacko: -- as the curtain decends. All in the last few minutes of the ballet, I should add. Now THAT'S a happy ending. :P

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You know, there's a good reason why, on the other board, we have a blanket prohibition on discussing weight loss: Here is a golden opportunity for people to go up to Annandale and laugh their backsides off. First, Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending - I don't care who does it, it's a fershtoonkener idea; second, Mark Morris choreographing in ballet vocabulary. If he doesn't and decides to work in his accustomed mouvement trouvé, it will be a third stimulation to the risible.

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Incidentally, earlier this evening I saw Ballet Florida's version Prokofiev's "The Stone Flower."
(Co)Incidentally :wacko: , Ch. 13 just finished a showing of West Side Story. For all its flaws -- and they become more conspicuous with each viewing -- I rather enjoyed the second half, which was when I turned in. If "enjoyed" is the right word. Far preferable to the version of the same story at the NYST this week past and week coming.

:) It's a Bernstein fest! Candide (with Chenoweth) now! 'Bye!

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I followed Buddy's excellent directions and Googled up the following press release (1/25/07) from the Mark Morris Dance Group:

Rome and Julie Happy Endling

Prokofiev conceived the ballet in 1935 in collaboration with innovative Soviet dramatist Sergei Radlov, who re-imagined the familiar tragedy as a struggle for the right to love by young, strong, and progressive people battling against feudal traditions and feudal outlooks on marriage and family. Much of Prokofiev's score addresses the theme of love's transcendence over oppression. However, in a radical gesture that caused a scandal in the Soviet ballet circles, Prokofiev and Radlov gave the ballet a happy ending. In the final scene, Juliet rouses from her potion-induced sleep just as Romeo begins to conclude that she has died. The two lovers express their feelings of relief and joy in a final dance. The music represents the two lovers willing away their world - the Verona square and palace - and entering another, greater one.
Like Odette and Siegfried wafting off together to a better place?

Interesting, bart. Thank you.

[spelling error corrected]

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My point

It's nice to know that Marxist-Leninist Realism was good for something. Or maybe it was just that since they supplied a happy ending for Swan Lake, they had to take away a happy ending for this ballet.

exactly.

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If it ain't broke don't fix it... Why don't these new fangled choreographers commission an score and libretto which may be similar to some classic...After all there are only so many basic love story plots... and not mess with something which is iconic in our culture?

I suppose they can create buzz by exploiting the expectations of the audience... get them into the theater and show them how THEY see it.

Sure there is ego dripping in these efforts.. and these creative people do get the glory or suffer the indignities of crushing reviews.

One special appeal of ballet.. that is classic story line ballet.. is that it is like looking at a renaissance painting... a time capsule so to speak. We do appreciate new visions, but we don't like.. at least many of us... going to see the Bard and end up seeing Tennessee Williams take on what the Shakespeare could, should have done with his story.

There is surely a place for using classical "techniques" in modern dance productions... but why mess with something that doesn't need fixing. This applies to the plot as well as the sets and costumes. At the rate we are going we will see a future R+J about the Klingons and the whomevers (sorry I don't know this stuff) in a great outer space feud of civilizations.... danced with classical ballet choreography... all aimed at the "new generation". No?

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Peiffer+Pereira

"...that is when she knew."

Having seen the casting posted I knew that I would have to go four times, as the Juliets all seemed right, and they are what ballet is. Well, there was one I didn't know of but others told me enough. So that's the one we saw this afternoon. Well, in a certain way we didn't see her. We saw the rarest of things, a partnership. Partnerships, the kind I mean, as for example Ferri/Bocca, don't grow over time, but happen as the Big Bang, created all at once at the beginning of its time. As Ferri described (translated on a thread under Dancers). And as Vishneva/Malakhov. She an accidental teenage sub on a North American tour. And it seems so important to her that she appears to tell of it in every interview she gives. "Two Half Souls..."

A hint of something else, when Allen Peiffer comes out sort of moonstruck-looking and we prepare to get mad at Peter Martins for not having Rosaline. He didn't have that kind of look. Well then, what's his story? I think he was anticipating that Ball, that he even might have dreamt that night of that girl he'd only seen from a distance.

Meanwhile Mama Darci and Dena Abergel were prepping Erica Pereira for her debut. Of course Erica was the rookie among the Juliets, and I sensed a double dimension in Darci's playing. You could really hear her kisses as she gently stroked her double daughter's hand. How important as well as beautiful Darci is in this teen-Juliet version. Well, if Erica was nervous it never showed. Later, when Juliet entered followed by Nurse Dena, the nurse's fall wasn't a comic pratfall, and you didn't wonder if there'd been an accident, it seemed another company member being extra kind and concerned for the debutante dancer.

As Erica danced her way through the ball scene one learned some things about this newest ballerina. Of course all these Juliets can dance and jump and all. In her case there was something in the hands. The wrists were incidental, the hands moved as if from somewhere in her back, perfect harmony with the arms, extending them, amplifying the music. What a challenge for Allen, having to dance between such technical whizzes as Daniel Ulbricht and Antonio Carmena. He survived, nobly. Once their bodies found themselves where their eyes wanted to be you didn't need a story (although they told it well).

The Balcony Scene. Wherever the choreography took them they were never apart. The eyes sometimes made the connection, but even those weren't needed. Chemistry, of course. But even more the more that once you've seen it in a partnership, the more you hope it will sometimes happen again. And so you keep on buying ballet tickets. That invisible link, that belies this title's + sign. This sum is greater than its very considerable parts. The kind of math that makes this choreography right and whole. Yes, he can lift, and yes they make the wind sweep.

A little later at intermission I mentioned how moved I was at that moment when he lifted her just a few inches, both facing forward, he leaning back very slightly, so her back folded warmly across his chest. You could sense her back's feeling his body. Of course, being a person she would. But Erica the dancer gave it significance. My little ballerina said back to me that is when she knew, she felt his heart and it was true. Of course ballerinas get lifted so she'd know, and also she noted that he would not feel her heart from that position. So we needed that note scene right away, so he'd know too.

Even though in much of the second half one was on stage when the other one wasn't, they always danced as a pair. We may not know where or how, but they'd told us so with their first act. And when the story line let them be together, we were honored to see the unseeable, that higher place of harmony where partnerships dwell. Hopefully NYCB will be such a place for this one.

A selling point for this production was the chance to be there when a star is born. Who expected something rarer, a double star? In the universe, such pairs encircle each other almost forever. Casting directors, aware! The universe does not tolerate breaking the laws of physics..

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Today's (5/6/07) Matinee of R&J

A huge, standing ovation of bravas to Erica Pereira! Exactly the way today's matinee ended. This R&J production is so ugly, a ghastly uninventive mess, esp Act 1..... But Erica managed to keep the audience enthralled with her beautiful, innocent, fresh, young rose of absolutely wonderful dancing, long lines, and fine acting ability.

Or maybe she wasn't acting.... It all seemed so "her".... And I SO LOVED that I couldn't always tell if she was acting.... Of course, dying, love at first sight, were acted, and with such naturalness.... What I'm referring to is her heartfelt responses to the circumstances, and people on stage, in the story. Erica's overwhelmed reactions to dramatic events in her so young a life,...her confusion..., the innocence.... These qualities seemed to come from deep within her soul, her goodness, rather than played out towards the audience in "acting" a part.... A very "real," breath-taking performance from Erica today. Totally surprised and delighted me. If Peter wanted genuine beauty AND innocence.... he got it 200% with Pereira....

Danny Ulbricht, as Mercutio, was also absolutely brilliant. What an excellent actor he is... on top of his amazing dancing technique. And Danny's sword fighting scenes were the best I've seen in years on stage, since the very brief run of B'way's Three Muskateers.

Too bad the overall production is so ugly.... Choreographically, it is Peter's worst yet....

But another surprise! Oh boy! I had the opportunity to chat a bit with Alastair MaCaulay today!! Can't wait to read his review for this performance... Poor guy, had to watch Peter's R&J at least twice now.... I thought MaCaulay was too kind (and he wasn't) about R&J's opening night... Still I love, love, love MaCaulay's reviews, and after years and years I am finally looking forward to what the NYTimes via MaCaulay will say next.

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drb, thank you for the wonderful review of Peiffer+Pereira. I'm glad it was such a good performance. :)

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drb, I can't really come close to your description but...

Erica Pereira made that ballet for me. Yes, I know her but I clearly was not the only one who felt that way in New York State Theatre today. She was astoundingly wonderful. Ethereal as a dancer - perfect, lovely, light as a feather, graceful and completely natural in her performance. It didn't seem like a performance - it seemed real.

As an actress - well, let me just tell you that people were crying. CRYING! She was amazing. She could be child like, in the beginning, and then shy, while when she became a young woman in love - it was as though it was all happening right then and there. It was completely believable and breathtaking. Everyone around us was talking about her and asking who she was...

I wish I had the words to describe her performance properly. Erica's Juliet was compelling in all ways - as an actress she was excellent while her dancing was breathtaking. The young man who played Romeo, Allen Peiffer, was well cast - his acting was very good in the second act. To me in the balcony scene it was so clear that they were in love. Their pas de deux was so lovely - I wish I could have filmed it.

The critics may not like Martin's actual ballet (and there were parts that I did not like either...some of the costumes (not all, thankfully) were really not attractive and the set was very sort of expressionist/simplistic style... It served it's purpose OK...but when the second act started it didn't matter what the set was - your eyes were on the two young lovers who were clearly and desperately in love.... The death scene was very moving... When it was over, there were standing ovations...bravos....curtain calls. It was a real success for Erica. I really hope that some of the press covered it because you'd have to be blind not to see her astounding talent. She was so truly outstanding because of the combination of her acting and the amazing quality of lightness to her dancing. All you could say was "Wow." She took your breath away.

My appologies to the other dancers who stood out, particularly Daniel Ulbricht - my heart was too stolen tonight to talk about anyone else.

Brava Erica and congratulations to Peter Martins for picking her to dance this role!

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