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MCB Program IV .

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Friday 28. Arsht Center, Miami

Tharp/Costello's "Nightspot"

How should i start Nightspot's review?. Correct, by being sincere . Fact: I didn't like this highly anticipated World Premiere . What happened...?, good question. First, let me highlight some nice stuff. If a face comes to my mind paired with some wonderful electrical dancing tonight, that would be that of Jeremy Cox's solo. Now, If i was to do a fast recounting of this ballet, i wouldn't really know where to start. The story...(Was any, wasn't...? (well, some others figure, I got confused trying to make some sense out of it) .The Latin flavor trying to be exposed by some dancers , like Isanusi's (is he the only one who knows how to dance a guaguanco...?) did little to make things better. The mish-mash of music and rythms was even more confusing. The music changed the whole time ...vals, cabaret-like, ballroom, even rumba and tango with no justified reason. Oh, and meanwhile everyone was spinning and jumping in and out, in and out like there was no tomorrow...continously. Some of the segments remainded me a pseudo-Balanchine bad try. Carlos Guerra, in his last appearance before having surgery, didn't seemed to look up to his regular physical capabilities. Some of his solos did little to make things better. It looked as he was dancing "Giselle" in that hideus red costume. His wife , Jennifer Kronemberg, is still a wonderful thing to look at, no matter what she does onstage...

What a whole mess. Didn't care to much for the whole thing. Maybe mañana I'll change my mind.

I guess I'm still cranky, because after the performance, i realized that my car was almost stolen outside the Center. :) Otherwise, my review could have been probably softer...who knows

Square Dance Tarantella and Sonatine coming next...

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I'm reviewing for Dance Now, so should be brief. I'm afraid that even without having my car nearly stolen I don't have much more affection for Nightspot. This is a work made unfortunately not by the Tharp that choreographed Deuce Coupe, but by the one that made Americans We or Movin' Out. It's an awful lot of money spent on something more appropriate for Broadway.

I've never seen Miami City Ballet at home, so glad for the chance. Square Dance got a very fresh performance. They take the tempos in Balanchine very quickly here - it makes the works seem more immediate and depending on your mood less portentous or less substantial. They also cover a *lot* of space here when they move. The trade-off is balances can be shaky when you're moving that much - as seen in Jeanette Delgado's performance which was mostly a triumph of motion, but sometimes wobbly.

The most interesting variation from what I know is their version of Tarantella - done to piano solo rather than orchestra, also at a sharp, quick tempo. It takes the stuffing out of it and makes it less of the star vehicle it's starting to become. Phrasing is different here - things I know as the end of a phrase happen at the beginning or middle - the dips in second position plie for the woman are in the middle of a phrase and aren't such a big deal. I was also pleased to see Sonatine again. Does anyone know the reason (ownership?) why it's out of rep at NYCB?

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Thanks, Leigh, for the insights and comparisons. You mention sifferences of tempo, phrasing, and presentation that many of us, not deeply familiar with the current New York City Ballet, would not be aware of. I'm glad I'm a Dance Now subscriber and will be patient until your full review appears.

Cristian, -- and other Miamians -- please don't let too much time pass before you share your impressions about the rest of the program. It opens here on Friday and it would be nice to have something in my head to compare with when I see it.

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Cristian, -- and other Miamians -- please don't let too much time pass before you share your impressions about the rest of the program. It opens here on Friday and it would be nice to have something in my head to compare with when I see it.

bart, I want to apologize if i sometimes get delayed on my comments. I'll try to get better at it, i promise... :flowers:

I LOVED "Square Dance", which was also a first timer for me. The quick tempo of the baroque music, the lightness of the dancing, the graciousness of the poses, the simplicity of the set and costumes and among all the beautiful dancing, that of Jeanette Delgado and Jeremy Cox in their solos, was enough to make SD my favorite, second only to Bourree Fantasque which still tops my newly created Balanchine list, and followed by Serenade...(so far). I've always loved watching dancers doing entrechats, and wow, did i get to see a lot of them...Congrats to the Corps again. They showed a nice uniformity which gave the ballet the right feeling.

"Tarantella" was danced over the three days by Mary Carmen Catoya/Renato Panteado, Tricia Albertson/Alex Wong and finally my favorite cast, Jeanette Delgado/Renato Panteado. Delgado and her endless wide smile gave to the piece a latin flavor that suited very well its folk feeling . Panteado seemed to have more chemistry with her than with Catoya. Wong put some funny accents to it, and Albertson was kind of contained on the role. Yes, the tempo gave it by the pianist was faster than when i've seen it with orchestra, but particularly Delgado/Panteado seemed to be totally comfortable with it.

"Sonatine" , as Leibling said, was cut from the opening night, (why...?). What a beautiful little gem. I absolutely adored its subtle feeling and high doses of lyricism. On Saturday petite Haiyan Wu was like a little bird, fragile and light. On Sunday, beautiful Deanna Seay gave the role more grandeur and nobility.

Looking forward to hear impressions from other Floridians. :)

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I got a second viewing on Sunday as well. I thought Albertson's reticence (paradoxically) looked better in Tarantella than Square Dance. I needed more accenting from her in that role. Delgado in Tarantella is almost overkill. That girl can't dance to a piano solo, she *needs* an orchestra. Deanna Seay was just plain old lovely in Sonatine - a very conversational and subtle performance, and Didier Bramaz partnered her well.

Nightspot? The choreography looks a bit better on a second viewing. But the story's no less dumb. For all the hoohah and fanfare, it's just not a very consequential work.

And thank you to Christian and family for the tours, the hospitality, the Cuban food and tooling around South Beach with the top down!

Now if only my flight would leave MIA . . . Next stop, London!

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I just got around to Alistair Macaulay's review in the NY Times. (See LINKS, April 1).

He agrees with you both, Cristian and Leigh, and in excruciating detail. This made me appreciate all the more his thoughts about the company in its more typical repertory:

I caught the second and third performances of this program. Each of the three Balanchine ballets that preceded "Nightspot," "Square Dance," "Sonatine" and "Tarantella" was danced at a level exemplary by any current standard. When you think how stylistically different these three are, the Miamian achievement becomes more remarkable yet.

In the Balanchine the dancers of "Nightspot" display the subtlety and complexity of which Ms. Tharp deprives them.

The range of MCB's rep is something that those of us who get to see the company regularly can be proud of.

Macaulay singles out a couple of young dancers for special praise: Alex Wong in Tarantella and Jeannette Delgado in Square Dance and Tarantella -- and the only slightly older Jeremy Cox in Sonatine and Square Dance.

Now that I know I don't have to look for hidden modernist genius in Nightspot, I hope I can just sit back, tap my toes on the floor, and enjoy being manipulated by a theater pro. I'm glad that the Tharp/Costello,Mizrahi names will be box office magic no matter what the specialist reviewers say. At the Arsht, Nightspot was greated with "whoops and cheers." Oh well, every company with serious artistic ambitions deserves at least one big hit on the pop front.

For the rest of us, however, it's the "choreographically first rate" Balanchine works on Program IV that provide the real excitement.

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Just got back from my first performance. Square Dance was amazing: elegant, crisp, beautifully danced by all, but especially by Jeremy Cox. Sonatine was lovely and brought out qualities of warmth and lightness in Deanna Seay that I haven't seen beforfe. Tarentella -- Catoya and Penteado -- was brilliant technically and saucy and witty as well.

I actually enjoyed Nightspot, though it's a relatively inconsequential work and far from Tharp's best. I'll have a better grasp on this after viewing it a couple of more times.

Question: is it possible that Tharp has included a rather sly joke at the expense of Balanchine's Prodigal Son.

Among the denizens of the "nightspot" is a "Siren" who flirts with a naive young man. She enters borne aloft like a goddess or the prow of a ship by a group of men. A long flowing cape figures prominently in the action. The Siren tantalizes the young man, tantalizing him and reducing him to prostration and despair. The young man crawls back to his girlfriend (not his father) and is forgiven and consoled.

Sound familiar?

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There's little likelilhood that this is a coincidence. :smilie_mondieu:

Does Tharp give any more parallels to B'chine's Prodigal?

Those are the main details that I recall. The rest is a matter of feel. It just seems allusive, and oddly out of place in this particular work. Concidentally, Tharp's casting choice for the Siren, Jennifer Kronenberg, was a very effective Balanchine Siren back in 2005. Oddly, the Tharp version is not really dveloped as a character and has been given almost no interesting dancing to do.

Another parallel comes to mind -- though I doubt Tharp intended it or that she would be flattered by it. This morning, out of the blue, images of Massine's Beau Danube popped into mind. (I've only seen it on video.) Could Nightspot be a Beau Danube for the early 200s?

Each piece is light, somewhat frivolous, with lots and lots of dancing and rushing about. Each has choreography of the sort that is set TO the music rather than seems to emerge from it. Each uses familiar stereotyped characters and gives us dramatic situations which are not at all dramatic in effect. Each has a happy ending. Tharp's, in fact, seems to have two happy endings. For some reason, after the couples have all been reconciled and you assume that it's over, there's a kind of coda in which the Siren's boyfriend returns, spins and jumps some more. This is followed by another brief, and dramatically anti-climactic vision of of the happy couples.

If Tharp is playing Massine here, Costello is giving us a mildly hip contemporary version of one of those generic, hybridized Minkus/Pugni/Drigo scores, though with a mostly (but not entirely) Latin beat. I agree with Cristian's comment that the score seemed to be a "mishmash" of different dance styles. It's as if Costello wrote the parts and someone else put them in order and stiched them, aimlessly, together.

Nightspot is not profound. It's not dark, complex, richly textured, or particularly emotionally involving. It's not even, as Macaulay pionts out, particularly relective of ts own musical score. On the other hand, it's fun -- and it gives the dancers a chance to move at high speed and in a variety of directions. it is no more superficial than some of 19th-century, Third Act classical divertisssements I have seen. It's an entertainment, as were they. And it does have a a remarkable amount of classical ballet choreography on point, something I never expected. What WERE you thinking, Twyla Tharp?

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Went to the first weekend of Program IV last weekend and have just now had time to sit down and write. We saw the program twice, first on Friday and again on Sunday. It was a very different audience from the premier to the Sunday matinee audience. Friday being a very social group in tuxes and gowns to Sunday's less formal, casual manner and attire.

I've seen all the ballets on the program before except Sonatine. Though very lovely, it was just too slow moving for me. I caught myself thinking of what we where doing after the show instead of focusing on the piece. Not a good sign. Have always liked Tarantella, but who wouldn't with that music and slap happy choreography? Square dance I prefer with the added dimension of the "caller." The last time I saw it done that way was by The Joffrey at the Kennedy Center years ago. It was very well executed with what MCB is becoming known for, their lyrical signature.

As for Nightspot. I did not expect a boadway type production with a story. However, I have to say it took a second viewing on Sunday (with orchestra seats) to develop a better perspective and opinion. I liked it. As bart may have said earlier, it was a pop piece and MCB can and should have those too. I actually liked the music though it was at times alittle rough in it's flow. The dancers were, as always, the ultimate performers giving it 110%. I too felt the long flowing red fabric reminiscent of Prodigal. However, it took on it's own quality, particularly when the male corp placed it over themselves looking somewhat like an undulating blood vessel, adding to the red hot theme carried out in costumes, lighting, and music.

Several in our party, not frequent attendees of ballet, loved it! One commented that it was the best they had ever seen. I couldn't go that far. I have many other ballets which come to mind when I think of the best I've ever seen. Like bart, I found it very entertaining. It definitely served as a much needed catalyst for bringing in new audience members. MCB, like most ballet companies, have to think of ways to attract and build their audience. Tharp's Nightspot provides that attraction well. We have to also note that the audience gave a standing ovation at each performance, often getting to their feet before bows even got underway.

I'd say it was a magical milestone for the company and they should be proud.

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I'm just back from performance #2. I enjoyed Nightspot even more the second time. I'd be tempted to call it "charming." THARP'S NEW WORK "CHARMING" SAYS BALLET TALK. Kiss of death at the box office?

Rereading the NY Times review and several others, I think the problem that some people have with this piece is that it is NOT what they think a Tharp work -- especially one dealing with the Miami club scene -- ought to be. Were critics looking for hard-driving stomping, or "serious" Tharp, or social commentary, or something, and therefore disoriented by what Tharp actually produced? The world Tharp -- not a noted club-goer herself -- has imagined is surprising gentle, slightly daffy, violent only on a playground level (tiffs and macho posturing), full of flirtations and momentary snits. It draws heavily on imagery from a gentler pop culture past. There's no booze, no drugs, no serious violence. A bouncer behaves like an avuncular assistant principal at the 8th grade prom. Key characters show great kindness. People are looking for fun in a way that reminds me of sock hops more than contemporary nightclubs -- and some are looking for true love.

A second viewing brought a few more reminders of (homages to?) other works..

(1) The Siren and her man are nightclub entertainers. At one point they perform and then pass sthe hat. Think Fellini doing vaudeville. Think Nino Rota in his oompah, hurdy-gurdy mode. Kurt Weill without the bite.

(2) Then there's the fight scene between the protagonist and the Siren's boyfriend. Think Robbins. Think Riff and Bernardo in "West Side Story" without knives and without any serious injury being done.

I agree with justdoit about the effectiveness of the crimson cape. Maneuvered and manipulated by the corps men, it takes on different forms (snake, ocean waves, body wrap, barrier). It holds the eye and stays in the mind, although it does distract from dancing going on elsewhere on the stage.

As to the decor: a dark, mostly back background with changing spots and other kinds of lighting that illuminated the dancing and helped focus your attention without being distracting. No show-off light effects, thank goodness. I liked the Mizrahi costumes, almsot all in a variety of reds and fuschias. The tones are warm -- not the abrasive darker or super-bright tones one might expect from a contemporary club setting -- and the variations from costume to costume are suble. They show the dancing body well. They suggest a kind of daffy eccentericity rather than super-cool trendiness. Again: not what one would have expected.

Several in our party, not frequent attendees of ballet, loved it! One commented that it was the best they had ever seen. [ ... ] MCB, like most ballet companies, have to think of ways to attract and build their audience. Tharp's Nightspot provides that attraction well. We have to also note that the audience gave a standing ovation at each performance, often getting to their feet before bows even got underway.

I'd say it was a magical milestone for the company and they should be proud.

I agree both with you and with your friends. I hope that this attracts new audiences and keeps bringing them back.

These relative newcomers might be surprised to learn just how much classical ballet Tharp is giving them.

Here are just a few of many possible examples:

Katia Carranza, sweet and touching in romantic tutu and carriying a Kitri fan, leaps (classical grand jete) into the wings with Romantic two-arms-in-front Giselle port de bras. (I forget the name.)

Carlos Guerra spends time thinking about the new girl while doodling through combinations of assembles, pirouettes, etc., all with impeccable port de bras.

His sidekick, Jeremy Cox, mimics kick-boxing while performing grands battements with perfectly pointed feet.

Calllie Manning, stunning as the rejected girlfriend, unfolds long, perfectly formed arabseques when she's not arguing with Guerra and ocassionally pushing him around to get him to straighten out his life.

The villain (or ringmaster), Isanusi Garcia-Rodrizuez, whips off powerful pirouttes a la seconde, barrel turns, etc. It's a thrilling performance with the best dancing he's done since coming to MCB.

These are not isolated examples. Long sections are almost entirely classical ballet with an overlay of contemporary pop gesture, movement, and attitude.

Nightspot ends up giving the audience big swatches of BALLET dancing performed by very talented clasically trained dancers. Of course the piece contains a number of other movement styles, especially in the early Latin dancing phase and during Fosse knockoff that has Jennifer Kronenberg doing Chorus Line with a derby tipped forward over her brow. AAs the piece progresses, libretto, choreography, and even Costello's music morph gradually into an old-fashioned story ballet. By the end, all the couples are reconciled. Order (that quality so much loved by the Tsars) is restored. I know that I'm exagerrating, but doesn't that sound just a bit like Petipa?

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More on Nightspot (third viewing): Casting DOES make a difference. To make a piece like this work as drama -- rather than as a stringing together of hihg-energy dance numbers -- you must project belief and commitment in what you are doing. All-or-nothing performers are required. The Sunday cast had such performers.

The change with the biggest impact was Rolando Sarabia in the central role. Patricia Delgado replaced Kronenberg's role as the character I think of as "the Siren." Mary Carmen Catoya and Daniel Baker replaced the excellent Katia Carranza and Jeremy Cox as the sidekick couple.

Every dancer in both casts danced wonderfully, and the ensemble made the many speedy shifts in movement style and energy-level and style quite effective. But the Sarabia/Delgado cast electrified (and made sense of) the story in a way the earlier cast had not. This makes a big difference when you're performing what is essentially a piece of "ballet theater."

Sarabia is a real star. He has the presence, stagecraft, strong technique, and machismo -- in other words, the weight -- to dominate the stage. He knows what it is to enter a room believing that he owns it -- and convincing you as well. He gave Carrie Manning a love interest to respond to. The beautiful and occasionally over-severe ice prince became warmer and more passionate. (Sarabia does seem to have this effect on all his women partners. Catoya and Seay were transformed in Jewels and Nutcracker, surrendering a bit emotionally and becoming stronger performers as a result.) The interactions between Manning and Sarabia became more complex. You could understand completely why Sarabia decided in the end to come home to Manning, and why Manning melted when she realized that was doing so.

Here's just one example of how Tharp uses ballet steps to advance the story. After his difficulties, the Sarabia character is on his way to learning the lesson of sticking to the woman who loves you. He begins a solo in which the bravura steps become signs of growing self-confidence, especially a series of pirouettes a la seconde that grow faster and more intense. His pirouettes completed, (and allowing time for a huge hand from the audience) Sarabia registers a self-satisfaction. "Hey, I'm back on form." Immediately afterwards, the Siren enters with her partner/pimp and is offered to him again. Sarabia things about it for a few seconds, smiles, and turns her down with a gentle wave of the hand. Those pirouettes helped make this possible.

Delgado's performance was a big surprise to me and quite an expansion of her range. It had an electricity and allure, a knowingness about sex and power, and an intensity that made Sarabia's fascination with her completely understandable. She made the most of basically unteresting choreography for the character and gave it an entirely new look. Some silly shoulder shrugs (put in by Tharp to suggest a that the character is a naughty girl) are both witty and genuinely enticing. You have to watch her, which was not the case witih Kronenberg, a dancer who in other kinds of roles is mesmerisisng.

Catoya and Daniel Baker were fast, charming, technically exciting on a new level for their parts. Every move had clarity and energy. It made me want to see more of them together. Catoya, is the fastest, most classical principal in the company. Here, she was a young kid. (Not unlike her remarkable, joyful Tarantella in an earlier performance.) Last season, Baker was picked by Tharp for a feature role in In the Upper Room. He's was an Apprentice at the time. Definitely a dancer to keep watching.

More on the various casts of Square Dance, Sonatine, and Tarantella later. Generally, however, my reaction to that portion of the program was :P

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...the Sarabia/Delgado cast electrified (and made sense of) the story in a way the earlier cast had not. This makes a big difference when you're performing what is essentially a piece of "ballet theater."

Sarabia is a real star. He has the presence, stagecraft, strong technique, and machismo -- in other words, the weight -- to dominate the stage. He knows what it is to enter a room believing that he owns it -- and convincing you as well.

Grrr...why wasn't Sarabita cast for the Miami performances...?!?! :P

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Grrr...why wasn't Sarabita cast for the Miami performances...?!?! :wallbash:
Villella pursues the strict old-line no-star NYCB policy. I wonder how Sarabia will eventually fit in. I have never had a chance to see him in an ensemble piece or in anything neoclassical -- Agon, for instance. He's also been absent or under-represented in several programs. At least one of these situations was an injury, perhaps more. I should add that his brother, soloist Daniel Sarabia, appeared in the second cast as well, dancing with greater freedom and intensity than I've noticed before.

MCB's corps, enhanced by coryphees and apprentices, is the best I've seen in 7 seasons. So is the sense of well-oiled ensemble. This paid off in Square Dance , a ballet in which the corps works extra hard, often duplicating the fast movements of the principals, or playing follow the leader a beat or two later. The corps was a real star here. Whoever is working with them knows how to pass on the Balanchine gift. They had speed, sharpness, precision, energy, and the ability to move about the complicated stage patterns fearlessly and accurately. Every one I saw seemed to be thrilled to be there.

I feel I ought to get their names on record: Leigh-Ann Esty, Sara Esty, Kyra Homeres, Ashley Knox, Jennifer Lauren, Zoe Zien, Daniel Baker, Neil Marshall (alternating with soloist Didier Bramaz), Michael Sean Breeden, Alexandre Dufaur, Stephen Satterfield, Marc Spielberger. :clapping:

In the lead roles, the frequent partnership of Patricia Alberson and Jeremy Cox were on top of their game. Alberston led the other women like an big sister who knows how to do everything just a little bit better. Albertson strikes me as an intelligent dancer. She seems to know why she's doing what she's doing. She has speed, but I especially like the slow part of the pas de deux, with its elegance and wonderful arm movements and expressive Balanchine wrists.

Villella coached the dancers. In his curtain-raiser, he stressed the formality, courtliness, and what he called "baroque" that this ballet demands. Cox, especially, learned the lesson well. He danced his solo adagio -- the part danced to Corelli's Sarabande -- in an almost dreamlike fashion, completely absorbed in the movement of arms, bending of back, and dramatic lunges into th stage. It's a wonderful solo, and Cox brought depth and a kind of introspective grandeur to it.

My favorite cast for Sonatine was Deanna Seay and Didier Bramaz. I wouldn't have thought of Seay -- with her seriousness and intensity -- for a role like this. But she brought great warmth and maturity to it. She sailed serenely over and through the rivulets of sound in Ravel's piano score.

I saw three casts in Tarantella. Mary Carmen Catoya was as fast, precise, spritely, and technically pure as anyone could be, and Renato Penteado -- sporting a red bandana on his head and an appealing hint of a beard -- danced more freely and effortlessly than I've ever seen him. Jeanette Delgado joined Penteado the next night: big smile, big moves, big speed, and lots of joy Alex Wong, dancing with Tricia Albertson, seemed to be having the time of his life. There was perhaps little too much adolescent mugging, but he reminded me of the Italian street boy quality that Villella himself brought to it. I'd like to see what he does with this part in a couple of years.

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In case you missed it in the Wednesday, April 9, Links, dirac has posted Robert Greskovic's insightful and generally quite positive review of the MCB performances at West Palm Beach. Greskovic helps put the piece in context:

Ms. Tharp has re-entered the ballet arena with some of her recent Broadway theatrics in tow.

Those of you who live in the big ballet capitals get the chance to compare your thoughts to those of major reviewers on an almost daily basis. In Florida this is very, very, very rare. So it was good to have Greskovic here.

Macaulay's piece focused at length on his quarrels with Tharp's use (or misuse) of the music, leaving relatively little space to discuss what he actually saw. Greskovic respects Tharp's "meticulous craft." He gets quickly to the heart of the problem with the score itself:

... [T]he evident craft of "Nightspot" doesn't carry the work from start to finish. Mr. Costello's score changes, but it rarely climaxes; it includes nothing like the punctuational pacing that gives Broadway shows their bite, accent, and impact. Ms. Tharp's cannily constructed intermediate flashes of dance highpoints and artful groupings aren't readily supported by the score, and the ballet's momentum can become diffuse.

Greskovic also had the chance to compare the two dancers playing the lead. To learn more about the excellent Rolando Sarabia and what Greskovic thought of his performance, please click below and read the entire review.


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I actually made it to Fort Lauderdale last night for the performance (a whirlwind trip; the night before, I saw NY Theater Ballet do Tudor, and I live in PHILADELPHIA. Don't ask.) I'm not going to add to the discussion of Nightspot b/c I disliked it very much along lines already discussed, and I just get cranky thinking about all that money thrown around. I'm allergic to hype too, I guess.

So: Square Dance. Last night's cast was Tricia Albertson and Jeremy Cox. I generally thought she was technically very good but, as I often feel about Louise Nadeau at PNB, I wish there was a bit more confidence there. She revealed some tiredness in her echappes and gargouillades at the end, but that's understandable with, as Leigh noted, those fast tempos, which I generally appreciated. Cox was also technically secure, but I like my Square Dance man to have a bit more gravitas (a tempo problem too?)--so I guess I'm disagreeing with Bart a bit there. There was some weirdness in the couple's transition from the 1st movement into the first pdd--the hand giving/taking/bowing didn't really make sense, and it should, at least gesturally; it looked arbitrary. The corps was pretty much always great, precise but also playful, as it should be--although one corps woman needs to tone down the extra-dance gesturing/flirting with the audience a bit--she looked demented sometimes, esp. when she was standing on the sidelines (the whole corps does lots of gesturing when they are standing still, which looked a bit strange at times). But yes, they seem excellently rehearsed. Being a Philadelphian, it's a real eye-opener, as I don't think PA Ballet's Balanchine is up to this level.

Tarentella: I missed the orchestra; the piano, way upstage, sounded far away. Not sure the lead woman (Delgado) always piqued on straight knees, but clearly she's a powerhouse--in line to do Don Q, no? I like the way she pulls into pirouettes, very powerful. (Still, it's hard to get Bouder out of my mind from last summer's performance at Saratoga.) And Penteado was certainly up to the task.

Sonatine was new to me, so I had nothing to compare it to. I thought Mary Carmen Catoya was pretty wonderful. Yet I couldn't help wishing that she and her partner, Alex Wong, were a bit more sophisticated in their approach, somehow--they lacked a certain maturity, esp. Wong, that the dance seemed to call for. Have to see it again, though, to be sure.

By the way, I spotted Acocella there. I wonder if she will write about MCB somewhere? (she just wrote in the NYker last week, so we know it'll be a long time before she writes there again).

I hope I can come for a longer visit next time!

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I hope I can come for a longer visit next time!
Me too. Thanks, Ray, for adding your voice to the comments on MCB's new program.

Another excellent review is Susan Reiter's from DanceviewTimes, whose mostly positive about the Tharp piece while in no way considering it major Tharp.

"Nightspot" is both juicily entertaining and caustically honest about the nastier games people play in the pursuit of love. It's an extravagantly overripe eyeful, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. The MCB dancers deliver vivid portrayals, plunging expansively into Tharp's demands. But what's missing is the sense of her taking classical dance into bold new territory, shaking it up and revealing it anew -- as she has done in her finest and most enduring works for ballet companies.
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I've been a minority here in saying that I more or less enjoyed Nightspot, especially with Sarabia in the lead. (I seem to be the only person on BT and in the reviewing community to have seen him.). However ... I've just read Leigh Witchel's review in the Summer Dance Now. He's persuaded me to change my mind about the value of producing this piece.

For example: Here's Leigh discussing the huge investment in this work --

Sometimes a white elephant is red. [... ]The company trumpeted a $1,000,000 grant to underwite a single ballet. [ ... ] What Miami City Ballet got for the money was unmemorable and inconsequential; a dance made not by the Tharp that choreographed shrewed commentaries on pop culture such as Deuce Coupe, but by the Tharp that decided to feather her nest by churning out pop culture instead.

And here's Leigh putting all that money and effort in perspective:

Befitting its reputation, the company got a much higher return on its investment from Balanchine. Square Dance [...] Sonatine [ ... ] Tarentella [... ]
Looking at it in terms of comparison, I could not agree more.

I also liked the way some of the Nightspot's story-telling absurdities are nailed. (I was much too indulgent about this, it seems to me now.)

After Guerra was seduced by Kronenberg, beaten up by Garcia-Rodriques and then rejected by Kronenberg, Manning forgave Gueerra and took him back. So what else is new? Carranza came out with a fan and a Tango generale ensued. Not that tangos usually involve fans, but this was less about anthropology and more about applause.

One more quote, which captures the conventionality of some of the choreography, something which puzzled me and which led me to assume (incorrectly) that some sort of gentle parody was intended.

Tharp's work for women on pointe is competent but surprisingly orthodox. Tharp has never really figured out ballet vocaulary for women; she's most comfortable choreographing for men. When women put on pointe shoes, Tharp heads to the classroom.

I wonder what the future is for Nightspot. With a pit orchestra and an onstage pop/rock band it would be expensive and complicated to tour with live music. On the other hand, the Costello score was probably composed with recording in mind, so using a dvd might be just as effective. And what about those Mizrahi costumes? To Leigh, they "look as if he lifted them from his workout line for Target stores (perhaps the one he did in 1987), then dipped them in a vat of red dye and a ttacked them with a Bedazzler"? Oh well, they'd probably pack well.

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