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MCB New York City Center


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earlier Macaulay review: His observation that "the whole stage space is lighted up by the human body" recalled for me Edwin Denby's observation sixty years ago or so that Balanchine's choreography has the quality of "luminous spacing". And his remark about this company's "high-density visibility" is most telling, I think.

As for NYCB and ABT dancers in the audience, there were also, as might be expected, retired NYCB dancers of Villella's generation also in attendance, although, having said that, I'm not sure our rules allow me to post their names, nor those of the critics I recognized in the theatre.

Update: Macaulay says, "orchestral accompaniment... is being threatened by the current slump..." We were told last weekend in Fort Lauderdale that that weekend was the last one with an orchestra, for now.

"You heard the scores more clearly for watching." And of course the other side of the truth he speaks is that, as I noticed anyway, we see the dance more vividly for listening, even with the loss of clarity in the recorded sound tracks he points out.

As to Upper Room, as I said previously on the thread discussing the Florida performances, I'm getting a little much of that, so I thought in advance I might be one of the early leavers from this program; but last night I had such a good view of two of my top favorites in the company, Mary Carmen Catoya and Deanna Seay,I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

Seay in particular, and not unusually, looks like her part was made on her, and Catoya's genuine grin coming and going quite naturally in different parts, especially where two boys practically throw her around, made it evident how much she enjoyed those bits; I thought I could see why, too, and that added some extrinsic enjoyment to seeing this ballet, about which I have reservations like those Macaulay gives.

It seems a little contrived to me, although it's hard for me to imagine what would result if a choreographer were to try to apply the method of making what the composer tells them to, when the music ("or whatever it is", as Robert Gottlieb put it in a review of something danced to Glass, IIRC) is Philip Glass's mathematical score. But then, great choreography illuminates its music, as Macaulay says, and I don't think I am going far beyond him to complain that it doesn't happen in Upper Room.

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Saturday matinee, January 24 The company having "settled in" and "found their space", as someone put it to me in the theatre, they're continuing to do what they do, and it seemed more of a shame that this afternoon was the last of Program A. Watching it, I thought, If they were here longer, how high could they take this? They are more and more into it.

In La Valse, I also saw some of the "stiff old man" in Cox's Death, especially when he's partnering Seay, but if there were more, earlier, it would be more effective.

And I love to see how Catoya loves what she does in Upper Room.

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I was happy to have the chance to read Macaulay's piece, kindly Linked by iwatchthecorps. It's rare for a NY reviewer to become as familiar with the indvidual dancers of a regional company has he has become with MCB.

On the whole, I think Macaulay's comments are very much on target. Also -- and more important, to me at least -- Macaulay is giving me new ideas about a company whose dancers I've come to know fairly well (on stage) and feel about almost as though there were my own children.

Jeanette Delgado is the big "growth" story of the past 2 seasons. She was always a firecracker but has developed a much greater range than I would ever have imagined. Her technical control become more and more astonishing, though never at the price of losing emotional involvement and engagement with her fellow dancers the audience. She serves the choreography with passion. It's a real and rare thrill to have the chance to watch a talented dancer in the process of becoming a serious artist.

I'm delighted that Mary Carmen Catoya has gotten such good reviews. Macaulay is right on target in noticing a certain "guarded" quality in some of her dancing. When she lets that go -- as she did in Emeralds last year, and in Upper Room this year -- she can be as astonishing as anyone in American ballet. She, more than anyone, is now the company's "prima ballerina."

Macaulay's reservations about the wonderful Jennifer Kronenberg, whom he's praised highly in the past, made me think he may have been trying to tell her: "You're a beautiful dancer, but it's time to stop coasting and start growing again." The NY press's silence about Alex Wong, the companies best jumper, may be a way of saying the same thing. I'd love to see both of them back on an upward trajectory as artists once more.. It can happen.

His comment on Haiyan Wu's dancing is, unfortunately, quite true of her current dancing. She was a medalllist at Jackson not all that long ago but has not developed beyond that brilliant early start, for whatever reason. Her most satisfying dancing in several years has been in a short but fairly inconsequential pdd of Wheeldon's, Liturgy. I hope she's not forgotten as Villella and the rest of the MCB staff concentrate on developing the potential of so many other promising youngsters.

Jeremy Cox, I think, deserves more attention and understanding than he sometimes gets from audiences and critics. He's a versastile and fascinating dancer who can do anything, but not always the way you expect it. He's also the male dancer I most look forward to seeing on stage: he's so full of depth and surprises. Macaulay nails his unique value: "Mr. Cox -- dancing in five of six ballets, perhaps the hardest worker of a hard-working company -- is a true stylist in each." I wish NYC had had the chance to see him in Mercuric Tidings.

Macaulay goes out of his way to praise Patricia Delgado, Jeanette's older sister -- " ... she can catch the audience's heart from her first entry and hold it." I confess that I have not experienced this myself. Not yet anyway. But I really respect Macaulay. So I'll be looking at Patricia closely and with hope when MCB dances Don Quixote.

I'll also be looking with renewed interest at Yang Zou. Macaulay writes: "I am haunted by Yang Zou (who partnered Patricia Delgado) in the long-phrased solo [from "La Valse"] where, again and again, he turns, then kneels and swirls his upper body in a helpless continuum, giving us a first image of the ballroom's fatal vortex." Zou is a lovely and increasingly confident dancer. It's clear he deserves more attention.

These years watching MCB closely has shown me that dancers can grow in surprising ways. It's also showing me that audiences -- me in particular -- can grow, too. There's a collaboration that develops between "fan" and "company." When that process works well, both sides benefit.

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Just a quick comment to endorse Macaulay's review of the second program right across the board -- I was there, too, of course, and I'm very impressed and glad that his points are "spot on" and all he said is in fine perspective: He emphasizes what needs to be emphasized. I'm not sure what his writing time is; more than the hour and a half The New York Times once allowed its drama critics, but to this deliberate fellow his speed is impressive, too.

As for Wong, not even knowing about the press silence bart refers to, I ran in to him at a reception last night and... Whoops! That was private conversation, I can't post that! Let's just say that when I saw his air turns and other tricks in Fox Trot last weekend I thought, Oh, the company whizz kid! But then I saw him here in Symphony in C and I thought, Miami City Ballet boy. Does everything!

And now I'm going to run to the theatre for the last performance, all too soon. But hey, it's ben six, instead of four, like in Broward!

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Jack, I hope I didn't give the impression that there was a conspiracy of silence. It's just that the press focused its attentions elsewhere. Wong is super-talented. I wrote about him a lot on BT when he first arrived. But not recently. He should be moving into -- and/or being groomed for -- larger and more complex (even deeper) solo roles.

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A glowing review, indeed. Thanks, cahill. I should add that it's by Nancy Dalva.

Robert Gottllieb, The Observer's dance critic, is closely involved with the Miami City Ballet, and has therefore recused himself in favor of Nancy Dalva, who has written about dance for The New Yorker, The New York Times and 2wice.
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This is an interesting review in the Observer. I believe this picture is also from the archives.

Villella's Heroic Homecoming: Miami Burnishes Balanchine

Actually the photo is current, shot by a photographer shooting for The Miami Herald to accompany reviews of MCBallet's New York City Center season. The Observer went to some pains to acquire it, bless their hearts. While many papers do use only provided photos, others use a mix of their own and provided (New York Times), favoring their own whenever possible. If companies do not hold photo shoots (frequently part of a final dress rehearsal), obviously there won't be current photos.

Oh. I wrote the review (for those who don't know my old nom de web.)

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Aha! And is that the City Center stage then, Nanatchka? If so, I think it might be the only picture of it published so far. It strikes me as very apt that it shows MCB's magnificent ensemble; while Balanchine-trained ballet-watchers in New York expressed reservations about some principals in some roles, IIRC they've written (or spoken, in the case of personal contacts) only praise for the corps. "Like City Ballet -- I mean, in the old days!" was typical. "In the old days", a few corps members I met would complain, "Nobody knows who we are," and MCB's corps may feel the same way, but the reception these performances got from an audience who knows and appreciates the dancing it sees should buoy them up. They deserve to be.

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