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Mixed Bill, May 13/17 '09

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Did anybody else attend this mixed bill? I caught one of the last performances, yesterday afternoon at 1pm.

We were treated to a 'game' attempt at Balanchine's Rubies with Sona Kharatian especially effective as the Tall Girl. Alas, the leading pair -- Maki Onuki and ???? substituting for Jonathan Jordan -- was too short and seemed to be going through the motions in the pdd. Likewise, the corps did not quite capture the essence of the piece. [Perhaps the normally-fantastic Onuki was rattled by a sudden partner substitution?]

Wunderland -- A sexy new ballet by Edwaard Liang for five couples, set to Phillip Glass string quartets. It's a ballet of lovely moments that seems a tad too long. While it could use some judicious editing -- e.g., eliminating one of the small-group segments -- the two leading pas de deux were gorgeous and the effect of falling snow (more like a blizzard) brought 'ahs' from the audience. The languid 2nd pdd was particularly beautiful, as essayed by Elizabeth Gaither and Jared Nelson. The ballet received an 'instant standing ovation' from practically everybody in the audience.

The Cuban-flavored Juanita y Alicia, Webre's first opus for the WB 10 years ago, made a welcome reappearance to close the bill. The nostalgic pdd Dos Gardenias was the best I've seen, with the size difference between Rui Huang and Luis R. Torres allowing for easy lifting and smoothness. On the other hand, Norton Fantinel cannot yet quite match the high-flying antics of now-retired WB dancer, Jason Hartley, in El Carretero. The live salsa band, Sin Miedo, provided sizzling live music.

A smallish but enthusiastic audience filled the Orchestra level of the Harman Theater, a new downtown facility that is ideal for these sorts of intimate programs.

p.s. - I am guessing, from the photos of dancers in the playbill, that the leading man in Rubies was Lucas Segovia. Could somebody else who was there on Sunday afternoon please confirm? I missed the substitution-announcement over the loudspeaker.

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Thanks, Natalia, I was wondering how Rubies went there. When I learned recently (too recently) about the WB performances, I thought I might try to see the first few and then head back to Chicago for Ballet Chicago Studio Company's run of three. But the planes were nearly full, and the airlines were charging accordingly, and the hotels had no space, for love nor money, apparently, exactly during that time. (What else was going on in DC last week?) Checking this forum, I wondered about posts, because it's not very active.

So, I wonder what the problem was. Rubies is pretty extraordinary, I think; maybe it was too big a jump from what WB is more accustomed to doing? I gather there was a lot of talent in on the preparation; but maybe time was short? Yes, last-minute partner changes can bring an air of caution, when these roles call for throwing caution to the wind. (BTW, the original cast, McBride and Villella, who set the standard in my experience, were on the short side, as far as that goes.)

Too bad, it can be a lot of fun. I had fun watching BCSC's four (and a half) times, including a full run-through the weekend before, and shortly I'll be trying to find some adequate words to describe what I saw.

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....What else was going on in DC last week....

It was "graduation weekend" for many universities in the city! I finally figured it out myself.

Believe me, Jack - the WB prepared and Villella and McBride even came in for some final coaching. I cannot make excuses for the corps, which are thoroughly trained in the quick American style; however, their leg-lines are not particularly "long and lean" and I am used to seeing NYCB or Kirov-Mariinsky ladies standing in a row, all ultra-long legs. Not so here. I've been spoiled by the best, perhaps. The 'leading couple' (Villella/McBride roles) was, IMO, "doomed" by the unusually stocky-muscular physique of the male. Villella was not (is not) tall but always presented 'long lines'. The male who I saw barely achieved 90 degrees in his stocky-pudgy arabesques. The 3rd-section's "run of the boys" was pathetically bad because of the leading male. Sorry to be blunt but I had to give an explanation. Onuki was simply not shown-off by him; I took refuge in admiring her gorgeously-arched feet during the otherwise-unfortunate pdd.

On the positive side: Sona Kharatian, the "tall girl" soloist, could most definitely hold her own with NYCB, Miami, Pacific NW, Kirov-Mariinsky, etc. due to BOTH her long-lean looks (not ultra-skinny at all but the "look of long") and superlative technique.

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Thanks for the details, Natalia. It looks like we may have got the better rendition in Chicago after all, not least because our lead couple had experience in the role, and they're both well-proportioned; where she was a little short for him, this had been adjusted.

It reads like your lead man, whoever he is, was an example of the apparently over-developed male who looks like he has overdone the weight-lifting. You're right, Villella's many virtues included fine, long line. Our main problem was the small stage, smaller than the New York City Center, for example, and I don't think the BCSC dancers could "let themselves out" nearly all the way without somebody getting hurt.

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