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NYCB Spring 2008: Week 9 (Jun24-29)


AmandaNYC

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I haven't posted a review in awhile, mostly just wanting to enjoy the performances without a mind toward writing about them. But, I am still on a high from last night's performance, and so wanted to share why.

I sat through Thou Swell mostly because I had a great seat and was somewhat curious about the latest cast. Much of this season I have grown to appreciate those who were missing more than those who were there. Case in point were the missing Kowroski and Ringer in Thou Swell (well both of them in many other roles). I am happy Arthurs has a had a chance to shine, but both she and Krohn just don't carry to the 2nd ring. There's nothing 'wrong' with their dancing. There just wasn't that extra something that justified them having these starring roles. Krohn keeps getting opportunities, but I still don't see a presence developing.

Borree has been... bothering... me less lately. It may be that I am used to her and have given up on seeing a relaxed neck and beautiful upper body. It may also be that I have grown to appreciate her commitment to what she is doing. She is there 100% and you can tell. I need that from the dancers. They don't need to be an extraverted Bouder. Somogyi has always been more introvered, but I still love her.

Mearns had a great night. I don't always love her, as I find her musicality uneven (one performance she seems to be utterly musical, and then others not so much). But, tonight she seemed to be 'on'. I understand why she was switched from the girl in black into Kistler's role. Mearns has a gorgeous upper body that is necessary here.

Male-wise, I enjoyed Ramasar's chance to be in role that suits his personality and to see JAngle taking to the piano instead of Martins. JAngle has had a wonderful season, really proving himself as lovely solo dancer, and not just the superb partner he always has been.

Prodigal Son-- I came more for deLuz than Gilliland, but was blown away by Gilliland. This was not because she was perfect-- she still has to mature into the role; it was only her debut. I was blown away by how already matured into the role she seemed, though it was only a debut. There was the tension and slight haugtiness and total command. I didn't 'get' everyone's adoration of her until this season. Between this and Piano Pieces, I'm now looking forward to everything she does. As I had suspected, de Luz was at his best in the earlier parts, when he got to express his frustrations and excitement to the fullest. I thought he was weaker... when he was supposed to be weak. He seemed to be playing at being weak rather than actually being weak. I imagine it's hard for a dancer with the passion he has to let himself go and become the feeble disheartened prodigal. I hope it will come with time.

So Brahms-Schoenberg.

My enjoyment of this ballet is very much affected by the casting. I had seen the AStafford/Taylor/Fairchild/Whelan cast last week, and found it much weaker than the one tonight. A. Stafford, as much as I love how far she has come and enjoy her dancing, does not have the lush upper body that is necessary for first mov't. Rutherford, of course, is known for that, and was beautiful. She also has had quite the season.

I want to feel a little heart-broken by what seems like some type of impending doom in 2nd mov't. Taylor (back this season, yay!) gives herself completely, but still seems in her own world, not relating to her partner in the way this mov't calls for. Hyltin, while not Ringer in her early days (tears, every time i saw her do it), also gave herself completely but was also part of a couple.

Veyette continues to impress. He's really come into his own in the last few seasons, relaxing more (we actually see smiles these days) while proving himself a worthy leading man.

My night's highlight was the Mearns/Ramasar 4th mov't. Maybe it was because I wasn't expecting it. Maybe it was because I was very disappointed in the Whelan/Askegaard version. Whatever the reason, Mearns and Ramasar gave themselves over completely to each other, their dancing and the audience, and I let them take me on their ride. Their timing was right on, they had the gypsy tension and... I don't know what else to say. I just fell for them. It felt like the rest of the audience did, too.

Of all the ones who have had great seasons (up to this last week), like Rutherford, JAngle, and many others, I have very much enjoyed Ramasar's season. I have liked him since his SAB Fanfare (Percussion) workshop in 99 when he wasn't a deer in headlights but thoroughly lapped up the role and attention. But, this season I have seen a beauty in his movements, a real care in his dancing and for his partner that I hadn't noticed before. Maybe all the Robbins Celebration rehearsing has done him well. From comments others have made to me, I know I'm not the only one to notice his maturation.

Well, when I do post, I make it a long one!

-amanda

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I agree that Ramasar is improving but still have my doubts about him in classical roles. He tends to hunch his shoulders and let his turn out go. But I did enjoy him in Dances at a Gathering and he does look good with almost any woman. Maybe he is more of a Robbins dancer than a Balanchine one.

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Abandon

Since my god daughter has gone on pointe she's had her annual NY ballet visit as soon as school lets out, and we alternate daily performances at ABT and NYCB. Last night's NYCB was her finale for this year. And Sara A. Mearns virtually annihilated all that had come the days before.

Sara first danced B-S Q's Rondo alla Zingarese not long after her triumphant Odette/Odiles; it was, perhaps, her first significant Balanchine role, and even then her play with the rapid changes in tempo gave indication of her very unique musicality. Three months later, in May, 2006, she first partnered Amar Ramasar in this concluding movement. So in this role, as in real life, this is an experienced partnership, and Mr. Ramasar is obviously a partner in whom she must have exceptional trust. For Ms. Mearns threw herself into the music with the most reckless abandon, seeming to yield all control to it, like Farrell at her most daring and free. Surely she was doing Balanchine's steps, for only he could have guided a dancer this wild through such a whirlwind performance. Not that I could see the steps, there was only music, and swimming and swirling and slashing and burning and bursting through it was Balanchine's Dance, so vivid as if one was granted a sight of the master's mind itself.

Thank you, Sara A. Mearns, for last night you gave to me one of the supreme joys of my life. And even more, such inspiration to a young dancer.

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It was very exciting indeed to see Sara Mearns in Brahms 4th. It was so wonderful to see the flavor and steps of this movement danced with the fire, abandon, meatiness and sexiness - all and more - that this role deserves. Not to take anything away from Sara's beauty which is exceptional, but part of the magic and excitment was finally, again, seeing the choreography as it was intended, eg, "full out." (I had been missing like crazy the boldly, stunning Sofiane Sylve in this part).

A special mention should also be made to Stephen Hanna who brilliantly handled the very demanding partnering of the 2nd movement with Sterling Hyltin. Hanna made Hyltin a swirling, diping, twirling, diving miracle of romantic, emotional release. It was breahtaking.

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I haven't posted since the fall. That said, I'm a little surprised at how few folks have posted about the NYCB. I attend 3-4 times a week. I even saw them 4 times in London (I have a British client). Here are my thoughts in general:

** Sara Mearns and Rachel Rutherford need to be promoted right away. So does Tess Reichlen.

** I also thing Amar R. has been excellent this season and should be made a principal.

** Andrew Veyette has been wonderful in almost everything.

** Janie, Janie, Janie. Thank goodness she's back! So glad that Craig Hall is back too.

** Yvonne has been lovely this week (Andrew really has been able to show her off, as he did last night).

** Sean Suozzi needs more parts! He's an outstanding dancer and a former student of Peter Boal's. I'd hate to lose him to PNB.

** Adrian W-D -- not only needs more parts but he should be made a soloist now. He has it all.

** How wonderful to see Ellen Bar dancing again!

** Joaquin was truly brilliant last night. Kaitlyn G-- so great technically - will grow into the dramatic part needed for "The Siren."

** I think that Antonio Carmona would also be a terrific "Prodigal."

** Kudos to Ask La Cour for making "the father" his own (and he's a young, hunky guy in real life!).

** Rebecca Krohn has also been wonderful this season.

** Hopefully Maria K. will be back in full force for the winter season. How wonderful that was Damian's Siren.

** Ashley Bouder -- what can I say about her? She is simple in a league of her own!!

** Jared Angle, Tyler Angle, Philip Neal (who never gets the credit he deserves) all had a great year. Love them all.

** Gonzolo Garcia has grown on me a lot. Kudos to him for all of his improvements!

** Jonathan Stafford -- thank you! What a partner (and nice dancer too).

** I have also enjoyed Abi Stafford this season.

** Megan Fairchild's technical abilities continue to shine.

** A special shout out to our orchestra (and conductors. I don't think Faycal is too fast).

I also enjoy Tiler Peck, Gina P (she also needs to be promoted to soloist), and the entire corps. Sure - -they aren't always in a straight line, but they weren't in Balanchine's day either (he didn't care about that).

Two final things, I cried so hard at Damian's retirement that my eyes are still puffy (I'm still not over Jock retiring! He was my favorite male dancer of the past 20 years).

And Wendy (Whelan) -- I've been attending the NYCB since college (1977) and she is, without a doubt, my favorite dancer ever (and yes, I saw Suzanne, and Merrill, and Patty etc.). I even named one of my dogs after her. She may be 41 but she still looks like a young girl. I hope that she has a very long career (like Kyra). Wendy is uniquely American in her dance.

Oh yes, I'm a true fan -- I recognize that NYCB isn't always perfect, but I'll take their "non-perfection" any day.

And a comment about Peter Martins -- there are times (many) that I've disagreed with some of his choices, but I truly think he'd done a wonderful job with NYCB over the years (I sit right in front of him at the ballet. It's fun to listen to what he's saying).

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I also meant to add that I think that Adam Hendrickson (spelling?) has also been very good this season.

And yes, Stephen Hanna too! (as another poster said). Kyle Froman did a nice job last night (along with Antonio) as one of the Prodigal's pals.

Hopefully "Slaughter" will be revived for the winter season so we can see Kyle tap dance again! And just think of the possibilities for the "striptease girl!"

Gina P. would be my first choice (maybe she'll actually be promoted by then). I do have some less than stellar opinions about some of our dancers, but why

waste the time with that? By and large they are a superb group. And it's fun to see real life couples (I know we can't mention names on this board but there are many) dance together. I forgot to mention Sterling H -- she was quite good in "The Concert."

She hasn't danced that much this season but she's been dancing more in the last week or two.

How many of you are going to "Dancers Choice" on Friday night?

I can't wait to go! It should be so much fun!

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I'm back from the Dancers' Emergency Fund "Dancers' Choice" program, and what an evening that was!

After the curtain fell on the opening number (last movement of Rubies, with Bouder, Ulbricht & Bar), Peter Martins recalled Robbins approaching him with the idea of creating the fund, explaining its purpose, and how after Robbins no longer put the evenings together, he (Martins) did, always running a deficit. This year, he decided it was time to start filling the coffers again and handed the job to Jon Stafford.

I have to confess that when I saw the program, the only thing that grabbed me was the premiere of a new work, Monarch, to music by Aaron Severini with choreography by Adam Hendrickson. Others (if they're so inclined) can describe the two-piano score (I liked it), but I think Hendrickson's choreography comes across as a work by an intelligent, disciplined but inexperienced choreographer. Four men are on stage throughout the ballet, and Gretchen Smith, ostensibly representing a butterfly, flutters by. Sean Suozzi captures her long enough for a pas de deux, whose mood I'd describe as playfully subdued. While this is going on, Sean's three buddies are sitting way upstage, knees drawn up and feet flat on the floor. Gretchen exits, the three men resume dancing as Sean rests (only briefly) downstage until the whole casts assembles. There are a few too many passages that go on with four men dancing in a row, more or less en face, but at this point in 21st century ballet, I'm happy to have a not quite enough variety than too much. Never did I find myself thinking that Adam had hit a wall so is now on to something completely different. That approach -- the one he avoided -- drives me bonkers. :clapping:

We were treated to two film clips -- one was an interview with Severini and Hendrickson discussing there collaborations. Severini said that he liked the tension created by using two pianos, something that needs resolution. Hendrickson, quizzically, "It resolves?" Then, enumerating his goals, he cited a desire to create something new, something no one had ever seen before. He wanted to make something the audience would like, and something Aaron would like. At that point, both men seemed a little embarrassed and started to laugh.

The other clip was a montage of today's dancers as wee ones. The siblings Stafford, the siblings Fairchild, (no siblings Angle? :o) , Sara Mearns and Christian Tworzyanski (not sibs but friends since early childhood) Rachel Rutherford, Darci Kistler, Ashley Bouder (smiling but not dancing), and a few others to whom I apologize. This film was fun, but it was almost impossible to hear most of it, since the dancers sometimes dropped their voices (we could easily have done without the musical underscore). I'd love it if they adjusted the audio to make the comments clearer and posted it on the website.

One of the wittier sequences in tonight's program, which I didn't notice when it was merely on paper, was MacDonald of Sleat section of Union Jack followed by the Thunder and Gladiator Regiment of Stars & Stripes. Nine women behind a leader in military-like formation, followed by 12 men behind a leader in military-like formation. Inspired programming!

The house was packed with well-behaved teens who screamed and squealed -- but only as appropriate! :clapping: -- which increased the festive mood exponentially.

So much happened, I may come back later. I know you were there. :cool: What did you think?

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...How many of you are going to "Dancers Choice" on Friday night?

I can't wait to go! It should be so much fun!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dancers' Choice

... and most of it really was so much fun! One might have questioned starting off with the Company's top two virtuosi, Ashley Bouder and Daniel Ulbricht, as the lead couple in Rubies, a sort of "shock and awe" strategy, but NYCB is deep enough to get away with it! Certainly Mr. Ulbricht showed he can out-cast those who make such decisions, and as he spun off stage right, he started so slowly, because of course he built to perhaps the fastest crescendo to exit that I can recall! Ellen Bar was the solo girl, and continued apace with her success earlier this week in B-S Q's first movement.

Then came the only unfortunate part of the evening. Out came a familiar figure who id'd himself as Ballet Master in Chief. He talked of the history of Dancer's Emergency Fund Benefits, how they'd all cost so much to do that they invariably lost money. Yet implied that would not be the case this time. I didn't quite understand this point, in that the prior ones were priced same as rep performances, yet for some baffling reason tonight (sold out) was virtually half-price. He then introduced Jon Stafford, who had an endless thank-you list for each of whom we were to give a hand... One could really begin to feel the humid air in the theater until, a quarter hour later, the show came back on with Janie Taylor and Craig Hall, a pairing made in heaven, dancing Martins' Purple. Again, the dancers knew better who should dance together. Would that it had been Robbins' Faun...

Andrew Veyette showed excellent control in a lyric Square Dance solo, followed by Tess Reichlen, in what may not have been only this dancer's choice, as Merrill Ashley wanted her to do it, as reported in the NYTimes Reichlen feature (Jan 3, and still available free on their site). She was beautiful, meriting her curtain calls. Then Robbins' Interplay (Free Play), featuring Giovanni Villalobos, received a lively performance, and was followed by another Robbins excerpt, from Dances at a Gathering, in which Rachel Rutherford positively glowed. The first half ended dramatically with lots of dancers thrilling the crowd with Glass Pieces (3. Akhnaten).

A film of composer Aaron Severini and choreographer Adam Hendrickson preparing and discussing (with lots of happy giggles) the evening's debut piece Flit of Fury - The Monarch. The score itself seemed much at home following the prior Glass composition. Four boys (Robert Fairchild, Sean Suozzi, Allen Peiffer, David Prottas) seemed locked in step, always dancing the same steps, a sense of comfort in being part of a group, until a young lady, Gretchen Smith, appeared. Eventually one boy (Suozzi) broke from the group and a relationship began. Mr. Hendrickson traced the development of the relationship most effectively (the other boys stayed together, motionless on the rear part of the stage). Then suddenly, as he moved forward towards her she ducked into the wings and he fell to the stage. The others came back, dancing (the same) in concern for him. After considerable effort on their part he seemed to rejoin the group. But she returned, and she won him back. There seemed an endless sequence of curtain calls, including the very happy pair of tie-and-suited creators.

This was followed by Martins' Beethoven Romance, a duet for Sara A. Mearns and Stephen Hanna, who brought great romance to the piece. Then Union Jack's MacDonald of Sleat, led by Savannah Lowery, who captured much of the leader's daring with bold lunges to unbalance, left and right. Balanchine excitement continued with the men's section of Stars and Stripes, Troy Schumacher the brilliant leader, bringing the crowd to fevered cheers. Next, a real change of pace, another romantic PdD, but this time with choreography of true intensity, that seems now better than ever: Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvres. Abi Stafford was wonderful, with true expressive changes throughout, and Tyler Angle showed why he may well become the Company's next leading man, combining some of the nobility of Peter Boal with his own charisma: and did his own attention to Ms. Stafford ever focus our eyes on his ballerina! A fabulous partner! This, for me, was the heart of beauty for this evening.

Then came a glorious surprise, a collection of films/videos of company dancers as children. Ashley Bouder at 7 clearly was ready to be an apprentice! Both the Staffords and the Fairchilds were joys, and it was interesting to see that Sara Mearns and Christian Tworzyanski have been dancing together since virtually infancy! So many others, ... I hope this somehow finds its way to YouTube.

The program concluded with the last movement of Symphony in C, the movements casted by the dancers (in order) as Sterling Hyltin/Jared Angle; Rebecca Krohn/Ask la Cour; Megan Fairchild/Antonio Carmena; Tiler Peck/Jason Fowler. Ms. Hyltin, especially, brought such joy, that has been so (comparatively) lacking in the opening movement. In future, in fairness to Mr. Balanchine, how can she not been cast in this?

A terrific show, let's do it again!

We were given a magazine-sized gift of truly remarkable photos by Kyle Froman, including many rows of tutu'd ballerinas lying across rows of the orchestra, levels of jete'ing ballerinas in the Promenade, and many more of dancers having fun throughout the State Theater. Wonderful--Thank you!

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I was there, applauding wildly (even though I'm in my early 50's) to each ballet. Sure, some were better than others. But who cares, really?

It was one of the most enjoyable and entertaining evenings at NYCB (ever). I sat right near Darci (clapping so hard that I was afraid her hands were going to fall off:;)

and Peter, Nikolaj Hubbe, Chris Wheeldon and a bunch of current and former and current NYCB dancers. How fun! I'm not one to speak to the dancers (I don't want to intrude) but it was hard not to compliment them (and I did). Kyle Froman must be one of the nicest guys on earth. And I send special kudos to Peter

Martins. I know that's he gets some flack on the boards and in the press, but I think he's done an incredible job with the company all of these years.

I really liked Adam H's and Aaron S. ballet (gorgeous music) -- it was especially rewarding to see Sean Suozzi (a favorite) in a major role and dancing beautifully. Other standouts: Janie Tayor, Jared and Tyler Angle, Ashley Bouder (when isn't she a standout?), Tess Reichlen, Sara Mearns and Stephen Hanna, Abi Stafford, Megan Fairchild, Andrew Veyette, Ask la Cour,

Amar Ramasar (another favorite), Tiler Peck, Adrian W-D (this man needs to be promoted to a soloist!), Austin Laurent, Amanda Hankes, Craig Hall (a stunning dancer), Danny

Ulbricht, Ellen Bar, Robbie Fairchild, Allen Pfeiffer, David Prottas, Antonio Carmena, Georgoina Pazcoquin (she too needs a promotion!), Christian Tworzyanksi,

Troy Schumcaher, Giaovanni Villalabos, Justin Peck (for his always joyful dancing), Henry Seth (who should have been a NYCB "star"). Savannah Lowery (in "my" Wendy's part in Union Jack), and the entire corp (who knew that Gretchen Smith was so great? I didn't until last night).

Kudos also to Maurice Kaplow, Kurt Nikkanen, Steven Back and Stephen Gosling (the outstanding pianists in "The Monarch"), Richard Moredock (wonderful!),

, and Kristin Sloan for the films. Also, if you haven't seen Kyle Froman's special photos from last night (in a program but also in a book) it's a "must" to

get it. He is a truly talented photographer (his "other" book -- published earlier this year is also excellent).

Another note: "Beethoven's Romance" (Martins); "Purple" (also Martins) and Mercurial Manoeuvres (Wheeldon) were especially welcome: I can't recall the last time these ballets were presented in either an excerpt or a full scale rivial. I think it's time!

I don't know Ms. Arlene C. Cooper -- the extraordinary patron at NYC -- but thanks to her generousity, we have the opportunity to attend this, and other NYCB programs. In fact, thanks to all the Benefactors and Contributors for last night.

I head back to the State Theatre for the last three performances this season (until Saratoga).

Please excuse whatever typos are in this post! I'm too tired (every being on such a NYBC) high to do more than spell-check.

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Just to start:

This was an event that would have been well worth while even if most things had not gone so well. Drb has already covered the least successful aspect of the evening quite successfully, that is, the 15 minutes of speechifying between Peter Martins and Jonathan Stafford, and put his finger on the odd discrepancy between previous benefits that had lost money while this one was expected to make money with tickets at half price. Hopefully NYCB has worked all this out with the accountants, and perhaps the Silent Auction was expected to draw enough donors with deep pockets to have turned the tide. The other slightly off-putting admission on Martins's part was that he insisted the dancers choose works from City Ballet's existing repertory. Why, really? What if Andrew Veyette wants nothing more than to dance Death from The Green Table (hey, you never know)? Should he be denied? And if the dancers could only choose from existing NYCB repertory, how come we got a world premiere from the team of Hendrickson and Severini? Ours is not to reason why.

That said, much of the dancing was on a very high level, even though ironically - given NYCB's range of some 238 ballets - quite a few ballets chosen were the same fare one could see in many a recent season: Jewels, Symphony in C, Square Dance, Dances at a Gathering, Union Jack, Stars and Stripes - nothing very unusual there. The opening sequence matched Daniel Ulbricht with Ashley Bouder and Ellen Bar in one movement from Rubies, and although technically they were all impressive - especially Danny's accelerating pirouette exit to stage right - I didn't sense the kind of chemistry between the two principals that I had when seeing Ashley dance this role with Benjamin Millepied. Male-female chemistry was much more in evidence in three pas de deux that provided the emotional intensity of the evening: first Janie Taylor and Craig Hall in Martins's Purple, then Sara Mearns and Stephen Hanna in the Martins Beethoven Romance, and last but perhaps best of all, Abi Stafford and Tyler Angle in the slow movement from Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvres, the "lesser-known" ballet I would most want to see again.

(More later tonight, on Hendrickson/Severini, Savannah and Troy, and Kyle Froman's photobook.)

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Continuing on a high from Friday night's performance (I enjoyed the speeches. I felt they were heartfelt and made everyone seem

excited, honest and a little overwhelmed with the audience's excellent response. How nice!), and then the Sat. mat. (also very good), yesterday's closing performance was one for the books. Not so much for the ballets themselves (Brahms/Handel is not a personal favorite, and I think that Goldberg --- which I love - could be shortening by a good 15 minutes. I thought that when I first saw it decades ago too) but for how the NYCB takes a problem -- in this case either an

"illness or an injury" -- the dreaded white piece of paper in the program -- of Gonzolo Garcia in Goldberg Variations-- and literally made lemonade out of lemons.

Instead of Wendy Whelan just having one partner (she was to dance with Garcia), she had two of them! Benjamin Millepied (who has, sadly, been out much of this season)

was her primary partner -- they were gorgeous together. But when it came time, near the end, when the guys show off their stuff, Robbie

Fairchild came out and substituted for Ben. He did the incredible jumps, spins and turns required for that part. After this, Wendy came back on stage with Ben, in the same costume as Robbie, and they finished the ballet. At the curtain, both men came out to bow with the wonderous Wendy. It was delightful and well

received throughout the theatre. Just a little two weeks until Saratoga! (I'm going for 4 performances).

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Klavier -- Is it possible Martins insisted the dancers choose work from the NYCB repertory because of the cost of acquiring the right to perform other ballets? That would seem reasonable to me if the goal is to raise money...

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I'm guessing that part of the reason that Jon Stafford was asked to choose from the NYCB rep -- besides the major cost of paying for the rights

to use an "outside" ballet, was because practice time was limited. Most of our dancers have some familiarity with the NYCB ballets, and so they could jump right in (pun intended).

But it's a good point, Klavier, about the idea of a dancer wishing to do an another ballet outside of NYCB's.

It would be fun to find out what non-NYCB dances are are most coveted by our company.

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I'm guessing that part of the reason that Jon Stafford was asked to choose from the NYCB rep -- besides the major cost of paying for the rights

to use an "outside" ballet, was because practice time was limited. Most of our dancers have some familiarity with the NYCB ballets, and so they could jump right in (pun intended).

But it's a good point, Klavier, about the idea of a dancer wishing to do an another ballet outside of NYCB's.

It would be fun to find out what non-NYCB dances are are most coveted by our company.

One is Giselle, of course, as Ms. Bouder has stated in more than one published interview. I'm not sure to whom one would pay for rights to perform a PdD, but your point about limited practice time (and even more the need for serious expert coaching) would probably apply to that role! I really don't mind the restriction to NYCB's rep, there is enough there for a century's programming, but was puzzled that their most prized choreographer of late, Alexei Ratmansky, was not included. Still, the event was so wonderful that I'm not about to gripe: what is important is that this time the tradition isn't interrupted for another two decades.

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An abridged version of the video that was shown at the DEF gala on the preparation of the new Severini-Hendrickson work is (and has been for a little while, apparently) up on YouTube. If you weren't at the performance, you'll probably enjoy it. As is the rule with NYCB's videos, you don't see much of the actual choreography, but you get a bit of the music, and it's always fun seeing the dancers at work and to hear their ideas.

I hope the company decides to add the other video -- the one of the dancers as children.

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Klavier -- Is it possible Martins insisted the dancers choose work from the NYCB repertory because of the cost of acquiring the right to perform other ballets? That would seem reasonable to me if the goal is to raise money...

Entirely possible, perfectly reasonable, and that thought had not occurred to me (nor did Martins make that point). But to continue, one of the nicer aspects of the evening is that a number of the younger people were given a chance to take the spotlight, and I'd like to think the absence of many of the principals (Evans, Whelan, Millepied, Borree, N. Martins, DeLuz, Askegard, Kowroski) might have been intended for them to give more attention to their less high-ranking colleagues. And so we saw relatively unfamiliar talent like Troy Schumacher and Gretchen Smith in featured roles, along with many more conspicuous names. And of course if everybody had danced we'd be all going home at 1 in the morning, and all the profits would be eaten up by time and a half for the orchestra and stagehands.

Of course, some of the dancers took off-stage roles too as their contributions to the evening. Among the most conspicuous was Kyle Froman, who already has published a refreshingly candid photobook of a day in the life of a dancer, with Martins's evident approval. As we all walked into the theatre, each of the four entryways was populated not only by a ticket taker (I usually give mine to the amiable short bald fellow at orchestra right) but by a boy and girl apprentice or corps members who delivered us a booklet of Kyle's latest photos. These are more self-consciously arty than the candids in his earlier book, but some of the images are striking indeed: most notably, two dozen ballerinas all in white lying face up (in what looks like an agonizing position) along the plush red-lined seats at the rear of the orchestra section, with one more female dancer sitting more normally in the first ring. Accompanying this is a caption from Jerome Robbins, "Wait a minute. These are people. They're not objects" - highly ironic, as "objects" are exactly what the photo conveys, with minimal individualization among these dancers and a pose no normal person would ever take voluntarily. Or perhaps the implication is: "Don't conclude too readily that these are just beautiful objects. Each one has a personality you don't know or see." The caption makes a decidedly odd photograph look tantalizingly ambiguous.

(I'll stop here and post before continuing.)

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I thought the Hendrickson/Severini ballet was a well-crafted if not strikingly individual effort. Aaron Severini's music is more notable for motoric energy than lyricism; I can't say it struck me as particularly memorable in itself, but it did move the action along - musique dansante for our 21st century. The lighting and staging were quite effective - a red-orange background with the two black grand pianos (expertly played, Stephen Gosling being one of the best-known performers of modern piano music working in NY today) situated facing the rear wall, and the four boys clad in black. Was it a coincidence that three of these four were Romeos from last year's extravaganza (Seth Orza having departed)? Don't know, but the plot seemed to involve Sean Suozzi (a personal favorite or mine) breaking away from his buddies to be drawn into romance, then losing the girl, then getting her again. I rather liked the ballet without being overwhelmed (and please don't ask me what the title means), but more charming was the little film of Adam and Aaron shown before their piece started.

And certainly one of the higher points of the night was the other little film showing NYCB stars when they were very young. The Fairchild and Stafford siblings, the team of Sara Mearns and Christian Tworzyanski (who knew they were an item at age 10?), and more. Although I couldn't catch all the words, it was very funny and sweet, and led naturally into that finale of finales, the Bizet Symphony - after which everybody who had taken part that evening (Peter Martins conspicuously absent) crowded the stage and we all got out about 10 minutes to 11.

Leaving the theater, I spotted a few rows behind me a certain well-known, tall, blond, American danseur noble who plies his trade at the other opera house 90 degrees from the State, and I wondered if an evening showing such initiative on the dancers' parts and overall warmth of feeling between dancers and audience could have taken place at ABT. Or, for that matter, at NYCB if Balanchine had still been around. For this, I think we have to thank the sometimes maligned Peter Martins as much as anybody.

(Back tomorrow to talk about the Goldberg Variations.)

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Leaving the theater, I spotted a few rows behind me a certain well-known, tall, blond, American danseur noble who plies his trade at the other opera house 90 degrees from the State, and I wondered if an evening showing such initiative on the dancers' parts and overall warmth of feeling between dancers and audience could have taken place at ABT. Or, for that matter, at NYCB if Balanchine had still been around. For this, I think we have to thank the sometimes maligned Peter Martins as much as anybody.

I think the first Dancers' Emergency Fund Benefits were held when Balanchine was still alive. Someone please correct me if I'm mistaken.

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Leaving the theater, I spotted a few rows behind me a certain well-known, tall, blond, American danseur noble who plies his trade at the other opera house 90 degrees from the State, and I wondered if an evening showing such initiative on the dancers' parts and overall warmth of feeling between dancers and audience could have taken place at ABT. Or, for that matter, at NYCB if Balanchine had still been around. For this, I think we have to thank the sometimes maligned Peter Martins as much as anybody.

I think the first Dancers' Emergency Fund Benefits were held when Balanchine was still alive. Someone please correct me if I'm mistaken.

Undoubtedly true. My point was that this was the first to be a "dancer's choice" ("an evening showing such initiative on the dancers' parts").

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The first Dancers' Emergency Fund program was held on February 24, 1985. There were a total of ten, held annually, the last in 1994. In his speech, the Ballet Master in Chief said they'd been money-losers. I don't quite understand the full meaning of this, but would assume that it did NOT mean that each resulted in a DROP in funds available for dancers.

In 1995 the benefit was replaced by a program in which new dancers assumed roles in the Company's rep. In a few subsequent years the NYCB Volunteers apparently held some functions to help the Fund.

The above information was obtained by a search in the archives of the newspaper of record, the NY Times, that carefully gave the number in its report on each program.

I could not find a mention in the archives for a Dancers' Emergency Fund for ABT, but seem to recall writing a check for same just a few years ago. Does anyone know more re ABT in this regard? I would imagine it might be harder, for a company without its own theater.

Added 12:53 AM:

A web search led to finding the following statement in a Columbia University report on Dancers' Career Transition:

ABT dancers also have access to their own

Dancers Emergency Fund, which was created in 1984.

The fund is an account supervised by an elected commit-

tee of ABT dancers. Although the fund does not provide

specific grants for career transition, it is available to ABT

dancers facing hardships, including those that may lead

to accelerated career transition, such as a serious injury.

The annual sale of dancers’ autographed pointe shoes is

the primary source of funding for the fund.

This report may be of interest in itself:

http://www.tc.columbia.edu/centers/rcac/pd...llReport_14.pdf

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This may not be fair to those who haven't seen the booklet of Froman's photos (eight photos of dancers, mostly two-page spreads), but I have to say I found it very disturbing. In most of the pics, the dancers were totally dehumanized. One photo shows 26 women in various white short tutus and tiaras (Swan Lake, Symphony in C, Diamonds, Bugaku and one or two I don't recognize), stretched out in sou-sous, arms en haut, on their backs across the seats of the orchestra level, ankles on the seatback ahead, waists on the seat in the next row, wrists on the seat backs of the row above. They are 26 copies of the ballerina figurine in little girls' first jewelry boxes.

Seated alone in the first ring in a casual pose is Rachel Piskin(?) (also in white tutu) as the sole human element.

Across the top of the photo is a quote from Robbins, "Wait a minute. These are people. They're not objects." The photo and the quote are mutually hostile.

This doesn't mean I don't respect Froman's obvious talent and fertile imagination. The photos pack a solid visual punch. But the obectification of his subjects/colleagues seems exploitative to me. It has the vague whiff of pornography. It's not a matter of talent but of taste.

I'm rereading before posting, wondering if I'm being overly harsh, and while some are certain to disagree with me, I think not. Add reply

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This may not be fair to those who haven't seen the booklet of Froman's photos (eight photos of dancers, mostly two-page spreads), but I have to say I found it very disturbing. In most of the pics, the dancers were totally dehumanized. One photo shows 26 women in various white short tutus and tiaras (Swan Lake, Symphony in C, Diamonds, Bugaku and one or two I don't recognize), stretched out in sou-sous, arms en haut, on their backs across the seats of the orchestra level, ankles on the seatback ahead, waists on the seat in the next row, wrists on the seat backs of the row above. They are 26 copies of the ballerina figurine in little girls' first jewelry boxes.

Seated alone in the first ring in a casual pose is Rachel Piskin(?) (also in white tutu) as the sole human element.

Across the top of the photo is a quote from Robbins, "Wait a minute. These are people. They're not objects." The photo and the quote are mutually hostile.

This doesn't mean I don't respect Froman's obvious talent and fertile imagination. The photos pack a solid visual punch. But the obectification of his subjects/colleagues seems exploitative to me. It has the vague whiff of pornography. It's not a matter of talent but of taste.

I'm rereading before posting, wondering if I'm being overly harsh, and while some are certain to disagree with me, I think not. Add reply

Carbro, did you see my comment on this photo in one of my previous posts?

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I thought that overall these photos were coldly dehumanizing rather than joyfully celebrating the beauty that comes from observing highly skilled ballet dancers. Froman could have taken pictures of the rehearsals for this event and created something more interesting/memorable. Imagine dancers with faces and dance movements!

I'm also in agreement with Lobenthal's review of that benefit evening in The NYSun.

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I found the photos to be incredibly inventive (especially the one with the girl's hair flowing down outside of the State Theatre on the cover. Also I love the photo that shows the girls leaping in the first and second ring lobbies), creative (enjoyed the variety in tutus in the audience spot, itself quite spectacular), beautiful, interesting and all and all a wonderful piece of work.

I didn't find them dehumanizing, or disturbing in the least. And as for pornographic - except for the fact that our NYCB men have bodies that are works of art (as do many of the women), I see nothing racy about showing them off (don't they do they in each ballet anyway)? Still, what's special about art (and I do include Kyle's photos as art) is that it starts conversations, and often differences of opinion. I'm not sure if we're allowed to put links to other blogs here but there is one in particular that has Kyle's photos (he gave permission. He's a very nice guy in person) on it.

If you are interested, please ask the moderators for my email address and I'll send you the link.

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