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REVIEWS: NYCB Spring 2007, Weeks 2-3

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If it ain't broke don't fix it...

Talk about tampering with a classic. How about putting 'modern, who knows what' dancing, which is maybe what it was at the time, to "Mozart" !! That's exactly what George Balanchine in my mind did with his ""Andante from Divertimento No. 15". What a masterpiece it is !! I'm watching it over and over again on my video.

What's my point ? I'm not sure. Maybe relative to this discussion I'm trying to say that you can do just about anything in art if it's beautiful and it works. To my eye at the moment George Balanchine not only tried everything he could--he made it work. Amazing !!

Without trying to make a complete 'spectacle' of myself you NYCB lovers are witnessing someone who is just discovering the depth of the incredible world of George Balanchine and the dancers associated with him and trying not to explode all over the written page. It might be an interesting thing to observe.

Sincere respect to those of you are carrying on a serious discussion here at the moment.

Cheers !

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You guys are tempting me. Next Saturday matinee is sold out, I'm expecting a repairman in the morning, but I guess I'll have to tempt fate and beg, borrow, or steal at the door to see this.

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if it's beautiful and it works

Yes, that's the whole point. To borrow from Shakespeare's Touchstone, "much virtue in if."

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Can an amazing classic work be made better with something new added in? Why not? The problem is that when you take a very powerful classic work and try to rework it.. you have a steep hill to climb and every decision made is compared to the classic benchmark. So we look at costumes or sets... or the re working of the plot, the score, the libretto and ask.... what have we gained? What have we lost?

And the answer is...?

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For me, the answer is in the dancing.

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Well, Mr. Macaulay of the Times was not pleased. He really ripped Per Kirkeby for backdrop, costumes and set. But he was kind to the young dancers.

I saw the very young Kathryn Morgan, and beautiful Kathryn Morgan, and the only thing I disliked was Tybalt's costume.

I love Darci's legs.

I think some of you much smarter than I balletomanes have been reading too much Gottlieb..

I'm heading back on Thursday too see Tiler.

Jim

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I saw the very young Kathryn Morgan, and beautiful Kathryn Morgan, and the only thing I disliked was Tybalt's costume.

I love Darci's legs.

I think some of you much smarter than I balletomanes have been reading too much Gottlieb..

I'm heading back on Thursday too see Tiler.

Jim

If the implication is that some here are just dry-as-dust intellectuals who are incapable of enjoying something beautiful for the sheer pleasure of it, I don't think that comment is justified. Fact is, no one in the press so far (I have yet to read Gottlieb) has given this production a strongly positive review, and most of the praise both here and in the press has gone to the appealing young dancers rather than to the choreographer or designer.

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DanceViewTimes did something rather fascinating: publishing reviews of 3 different casts by 3 of their regular reviewrs.

Gay Morris (Hylton/Fairchild) is the most positive, finding "many good things" and singling out the sets and costumes for praise.

Susan Reiter (Peck/Suozzi) offers a more mixed review, but finds the production "serviceable and ugly" with a number of lost opportkunities.

And Mary Cargill (Morgan/Ozra) is most skeptical about the project. Her conclusion: "In NYCB's math Romeo + Juliet may equal boffo box office, but it also adds up to an artistic zero."

Here's a LINK to All Three DanceViewTimes Reviews -- a chance to read them side by side and to compare !!!

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I am by no means a balletomane and have only been attending regular for 4 or 5 seasons... My presence on BT is to be able to learn more about what I am seeing and what I find so often stunningly beautiful. I was very excited about this production, but was disappointed even with little to compare to except my recollection of the ABT production with Herrera and Hallberg. One doesn't have to be a balletomane to respond to the sets, costumes and how the ballet follows Shakespeare... or how effectively his central themes are presented.

The fight scenes were impressive but not ballet... so in the end there was precious little ballet and lots of other distractions. I don't see this production as a success. It wasn't a disaster... but it was a let down. I liked reading the 3 reviews in DanceView... which in total seem to capture the experience we had. It should be interesting to see the ABT's version in a few weeks again.

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I am by no means a balletomane and have only been attending regular for 4 or 5 seasons... My presence on BT is to be able to learn more about what I am seeing and what I find so often stunningly beautiful. I was very excited about this production, but was disappointed even with little to compare to except my recollection of the ABT production with Herrera and Hallberg. One doesn't have to be a balletomane to respond to the sets, costumes and how the ballet follows Shakespeare... or how effectively his central themes are presented.

The fight scenes were impressive but not ballet... so in the end there was precious little ballet and lots of other distractions. I don't see this production as a success. It wasn't a disaster... but it was a let down. I liked reading the 3 reviews in DanceView... which in total seem to capture the experience we had. It should be interesting to see the ABT's version in a few weeks again.

Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff are not always faithful to their Shakespearean originals, but they work superbly well on their own terms. I'm not necessarily concerned that the Romeo ballet doesn't follow Shakespeare, so long as it succeeds on its own merits. Of this I'm somewhat skeptical - but seeing the raves given here to Erica Pereira, I will try (Romeo/Benvolio-like; in Shakespeare at least, Mercutio - who is the Prince's kinsman, not a Montague - was in fact invited to that masked ball) to crash that party this Saturday afternoon.

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DanceViewTimes did something rather fascinating: publishing reviews of 3 different casts byi 3 of their regular reviewrs.

Gay Morris (Hylton/Fairchild) is the most positive, finding "many good things" and singling out the sets and costumes for praise.

Susan Reiter (Peck/Suozzi) offers a more mixed review, but finds the production "serviceable and ugly" with a number of lost opportkunities.

And Mary Cargill (Morgan/Ozra) is most skeptical about the project. Her conclusion: "In NYCB's math Romeo + Juliet may equal boffo box office, but it also adds up to an artistic zero."

Here's a LINK to All Three DanceViewTimes Reviews -- a chance to read them side by side and to compare !!!

Ms. Cargill out-Gottliebs Gottlieb:

even Tybalt (Tyler Angle, who in a better world would be a natural Romeo) did the same jumps and beats as everyone else. He just scowled a lot, probably because he was not happy at having to dress like a bright yellow ducky.

The mandolin dance had real children, but also no dramatic sense. Prokofiev wrote it as part of a wedding celebration, and the innocent and happy young couple show Romeo the bright future he thinks will be his, until the tragic fight destroys everything. Martins has done away with this dramatic contrast, and a group of young ballet students (the smallest one barely as big as the mandolin he carries) appear out of nowhere in a calculated, gratuitous, and meaningless show of cuteness

I do recall saying similar things here myself. :beg:

--

A quick update this morning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/arts/dan...e.html?ref=arts

Mr. Macaulay has bravely sat through all four casts for this new production. (Good thing he didn't have to buy his own tickets!) And some surprising news concerning recent promotions. Is Robbie Fairchild really ready for soloist after less than one year in the corps and only one major role? Assuming Macaulay's information is accurate and complete, did a very talented, more seasoned dancer like Sean Suozzi deserve to be passed over yet once more? But be that as it may, one thing I'll say is that the Times seems to have found a new chief dance critic worth one's reading and one's respect.

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Alister Macauley has interesting review in Today's New York Times Arts section. He focuses completely on the dancing, choreography and compares three casts and was silent on the sets and costuming. The DanceView reviews were by three different reviewers of 3 casts, this is one reviewer seeing three consecutive performance of different casts.

Seeing three or 4 casts perform in short order surely would be illuminating ... but it's a job and someone has to do it. Aside from revealing the differences the casts bring to the performances... there are the similarities.. that is what I would assume to be the choreographer/ballet master's main intentions about the roles would emerge... sort of the basic essentials of the parts.

This Spring we intend to see two ABT Manons in the same week... different casts.. and this will be a first for me. Do many BT members attend multiple performances of the same work in short order? It's a luxury, but something which I think worthwhile in seeing more about a ballet. What say you?

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. . . one thing I'll say is that the Times seems to have found a new chief dance critic worth one's reading and one's respect.

You can say that again! After beautifully describing how different dancers bring different qualities to their Romeos even in the opening steps, Macaulay writes

If you don’t love dance, it must sound daft that an off-kilter quality here, an upward glance there can make you see the touch of the poet that any true Romeo should have. But if you do, you know how such moments can open up meanings, revealing artistry and art itself.

Good dance writing gives me the shivers. Or to put it another way and play with a phrase, sometimes a few well-chosen words are as good as a picture. As someone who doesn't get to New York more than once or twice a year, it's such a pleasure to read a writer who can help me imagine what's happening onstage.

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>Do many BT members attend multiple performances of the same work in

>short order?

It's a luxury for sure... and a great learning experience - comparing performances within the same season.

To answer your question, yes, I definitely will see pieces I love, or dancers I love in special ballets, several times, and maybe for all the performances in each season. But then that's where I want to be... whenever I can...

However, even though I wanted to, there was no way I could stomach seeing several performances of Peter's R&J... This production makes me sick to my stomach... literally. It's such a waste of resources... So much time and money were spent on this crayola box of crap... and it looks as though it was created under a couple of weeks.... (except for the fine attention that went into the excellent sword fighting....it's very dangerous and difficult... it was obviously staged by someone who knows how very well.)

On another thread somebody asked why ballerinas (and males too) who are obviously getting rusty (old) for their demands keep dancing the same parts in the Balanchine/Robbins ballets under Peter's regime.... Well, the most simple answer is that if you put somebody new into a ballet, it takes much more rehearsal time to get that ballet ready for performance.... R&J was/IS Peter's priority....

As for R. Fairchild versus Suozzi's promotion..... I love both dancers, but R. Fairchild is a more diverse dancer, and more of a romantic lead.

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Do many BT members attend multiple performances of the same work in short order? It's a luxury, but something which I think worthwhile in seeing more about a ballet. What say you?

Hi, Sander.

I once saw all seven performances of Ratmansky's Cinderella in Washington DC. Each one seemed different. The joy of this series, more than the production itself, was to see two performances by Diana Vishneva, which were among the best that I have ever seen.

I am high on beginner's energy. Four years of ballet watching only, but if I'm going to travel far off somewhere I want to see as much as possible. This is also where a large part of my extra money goes. If it for seeing such wonderful performances and helping to support the artists I don't regret a cent of it.

[some changes to the text made several minutes later, but the sentiment stays the same]

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I agree about the excellence of Alistair Macauley. Now I'm looking forward to reading Robert Gottlieb. Tomorrow perhaps?

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As for R. Fairchild versus Suozzi's promotion..... I love both dancers, but R. Fairchild is a more diverse dancer...

Is he really? I'll grant you Fairchild has the "romantic lead" dimension (if Sean were an actor or singer, he'd be more a great Tony in West Side Story - Romeo as a feisty kid from the streets), but Suozzi has shown a good deal of range in a variety of featured roles: e.g., Melancholic in 4Ts, Sarabande-Step in Agon, Romeo, Puck, Russian Seasons, Puss in Boots, doubtless more. Has Fairchild matched that?

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A dancer can dance a wide range of roles but I don't think that makes him diverse. It's whether he is successful in those wide of range of roles that would make him diverse.

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Could I quickly add my name to the list of those who think that Alistair Macauley's latest review of Romeo and Juliet is a very observant, well thought out, well expressed and sympathetic commentary.

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I don't think the reviews in DVTimes are of any use at all in compairing the three casts. We are really compairing reviewers. Mr. Macaulay's comparison of the four (three in photos, since one cast had its photo for the premiere review) casts would of course be colored by his taste, as well as his overall feelings about the production. But at least he's already given us his stand on Romeo and Juliet overall, and that version by Mr. Martins in particular. So we may see his comparisons in context.

I still have one more cast to go, yet even then compairing casts would still be problematic for me. The first cast I saw was of course during my first sight of the production, so I had to pay attention to things like the set, colors, costumes, story-telling choices, choreography... I go to enjoy what I see, so much of my first experience is to learn what I should filter out, to find what I need to see more clearly next time, and to be sure to look somewhere where something seems to have happened that I missed by looking elsewhere the first time around. By the third time everything I don't care about is pretty much invisible and I can get down to what matters (to me): in a story ballet that would be the story the dancers are telling, which takes huge precedence over anything in a libretto or score or source. A story in dance matters only in so much as dancing is telling more (surely something wordless, even nameless) than what can be told by other means.

We are fortunate to now have a critic with the skill to sort the figure from the ground so effectively that he can make such comparisons.

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Regarding promotions - wait for an official announcement. The fat lady has not yet sung.

The information I supplied was taken from a published article by the chief critic of the New York Times.

And I'm delighted to wipe all the egg off my face, 'cause the fat lady has weighed in, and Sean got his promotion after all. As did Craig Hall, and Sterling Hyltin and Daniel Ulbricht are now principals. Way to go, guys!! :pinch::thanks::clapping:

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Mr. Macaulay's comparison of the four (three in photos, since one cast had its photo for the premiere review) casts would of course be colored by his taste, as well as his overall feelings about the production. But at least he's already given us his stand on Romeo and Juliet overall, and that version by Mr. Martins in particular. So we may see his comparisons in context.

I'm a multiple performance person, and I tend to focus primarily on the production as a whole -- and on "context" -- , so I appreciate this aspect of Macauley's reviews. I also like the way he is able to put a piece in historical context and discuss it in larger aesthetic terms. He simply knows more than most reviewers, but does not pound one over the head with excess knowledge. He's no show-off.

I'm able to focus on details more in the second or subsequent viewing. That's partly because I'm actually looking for them. My memory, not precise or highly detailed, starts to anticipate movements or interactions that it knows are coming. It's also here that I find myself able to compare the specific movements -- small or broad -- that go into making up the performances of different dancers. Macaulay seems equally good with both background and detail. I agree very much with drb's comment:

We are fortunate to now have a critic with the skill to sort the figure from the ground so effectively that he can make such comparisons.

I know that most readers of dance reviews expect brief summaries and evaluatiaons of the work of the key dancers. Often this is the least well done part of a review, especially vulnerable to the same old adjectives, analogies, and cliches. Macaulay, however, strikes me as a highly original and inventive writer. He often focuses on specific detals --small things that tell us a great deal.

For instance, hree is Macauley's comparison of 2 of the Romeos:

Robert Fairchild, the first-cast Romeo and a lyrical type, brings a fantasy quality to the pirouettes, as if his mood were tilting him blithely, voluptuously, off-center. Seth Orza, the third-cast Romeo, with a more virile presence, gives a new inflection to the preceding arabesques by looking up at his raised hand (and past it to the sky) with a note of innocent ardor. If you don’t love dance, it must sound daft that an off-kilter quality here, an upward glance there can make you see the touch of the poet that any true Romeo should have. But if you do, you know how such moments can open up meanings, revealing artistry and art itself.

Or the following, about Tiler Peck is a dancer I've never seen. I can't speak as to the accuracy of Macaulay's opinions about her. But this short paragraph evokes brilliantly the complexity experience of watching looking very closely at a dancer who seems to generate strong feelings among viewers:

By comparison, Tiler Peck, a strong dancer who tends to smile too fiercely at the audience, starts out too polished as Juliet, even glassy. But she has a feeling for the limelight, and the story, knocking the smile off her face, leads her to apply her intensity anew. Her dance texture has the richest glow of any of these Juliets; she has the most force defying her father; and it is she who brings the most darkness to Juliet’s eventual despair.

The paragraph leads you along through negatives, which are metamophosed in a few words into great advantages for a dancer who is obviously more interesting than she looks at first. Brilliant stuff -- and the only review I've read so far which actually makes me wish I had been there at that particular moment and for that particular dancer.

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Lucky those with tickets to Wednesday night, the Juliet Mr. Macaulay saved for last in his review. He had kind words for each Juliet, but I feel he gave his best for Kathryn Morgan. I just reread good ole' Clive Barnes's review of last fall's gala. Do these critics get casting way in advance, or what? Anyway, he ends his prescient review with a discusion of Carousel:

The girl - one of nature's Juliets - was 18-year-old Kathryn Morgan, from the School of American Ballet. Although a standout at the school performance last June, she's virtually unknown to the public, and Tuesday made a star-glazed debut.

If not pushed too far too soon, potentially she could be one of the most fascinating presences to emerge from the company school since the days of Gelsey Kirkland.

Watch out for her in the future, as I trust will New York City Ballet.

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