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MCB Program I: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach

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"Bei mir bist du schoen" is a fabulous song, it was the Andrews sisters' breakthrough. THey were Jewish. Ella Fitzgerald did a version with some strong Klesmer allusions, it's wonderful.

There's a huge overlap between German and Yiddish, which is itself a German word ("Judisch")....

"Shane" is also a dialectal German pronunciation of "schoen" -- (cf the 60s American pop song "Danke schane")

Rhinelanders say it that way. My grandfather, who lived in New ORleans, was hte grandson of an ALsatian who landed in NO after fleeing the Franco-Prussian war, and that's how he said "schoen" --

Schoen's Funeral home on Canal st is (was?, not sure if Katrina left it standing) a familiar midtown landmark in New Orleans, and it's pronounced "shane."

"Bei" is also an expression familiar among pople of German or Jewish descent-- as in "how's by you?" (meaning "how are things with you").

But, Jack, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" isn't German. It's Yiddish...

Now, here I had thought Yiddish incorporated some German. Or are we having a little leg-pull? Anyway, as we can hear in the promo clip (around 1:27) the Andrews sisters pronounce it "shane", with the lips un-extended and the mouth open, rather than "shoen" (I have not learned how to type "o-umlaut"), with the lips extended and the mouth not so wide. Does that make it Yiddish, not German?

But as to holding dances in reserve, this is very much a repertory company: Several years ago, when they were adding Sonatine, they had a rash of injuries just before my weekend, and there were about as many substitutions on the list as printed cast, in everything; I got the third cast of Sonatine, even though they usually lead off with first cast on Friday evening, and the performance quality looked like old times in the New York State Theatre (except maybe for a couple of "blank spots" where apparent internal understanding seems to lapse)! (They can play "musical chairs" or any other game that's required.) And in other difficulties, they quickly step into something originally unscheduled but utterly ready to go when you see it.

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This all takes me back: I had a German grandmother who hurried me across the street with, "Let's run! Here comes a maschine!", and we were getting acquainted about the same time as I was beginning my (informal) musical appreciation by picking up some of the songs on my Mom's pop singles, by the Andrews Sisters, among others. I remember "Rum and Coca-Cola" better than "Bei Mir", though. Anyway, fascinating stuff, and a pleasant way to pass the time until we find out how poor Cristian is managing. Thanks to you both.

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Hmm. Does that apply to everything on the program? Or maybe to the program as a whole, like, you begin to enter in to one ballet's world, and along comes another one and makes you disoriented again, so by the end, you're practically dizzy? It wouldn't be the first time I've heard of someone getting that reaction to a mixed bill, but you're not new to that. I don't want to pry or anything, but I'm curious. Maybe it's something that'll resolve itself over time.

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Cristian's response -- feeling "lost"; " ... my total inability to establish some kind of connection with the whole Taylor/Andrews affair." -- raises a question about Company B.

Taylor's ballet is quite culturally specific. It helps to have some familiarity with (or, even better, nostalgia for) the music, dances, and "attitude" of the U.S. homefront during World War II, much of which we know from exposure popular films of the era rather than from direct experience. But is that kind of familiarity really necessary? I've never really thought about that.

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bart..I think it is necessary...or at least it helps a lot. Music and dancing that are very specific to a given culture, talking about its traditions, historic events or even religious values will be definitely easier to enjoy if one comes from the same background. Let's say, for instance, that I would feel way more amused watching something like the next clip-(taken from a dance company performance in Havana, Cuba). Of course, I would have to accept and understand that it will be boring and even hard to digest for many others.

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Taylor's ballet is quite culturally specific. It helps to have some familiarity with (or, even better, nostalgia for) the music, dances, and "attitude" of the U.S. homefront during World War II, much of which we know from exposure popular films of the era rather than from direct experience. But is that kind of familiarity really necessary? I've never really thought about that.

There's definitely a cultural component here and on it hinges how the piece communicates with it's audiences. I don't think it's necessary to have that culture as part of one's background, but the viewer has to be able to meet it part way. I can think of theater/dance groups I've seen from cultures very different from my own such as Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, the Moiseyev troup, Kabuki, Noh theater. I didn't have a lot to go on in advance but you have to

accept that the culture and background is different and be prepared to let it "take over" you. And they can succeed, I remember a performance of the Noh at the Met in the 70s and the audience was spellbound.

But clearly the "home" culture to these types of forms "gets" the fullest, most complete version of the groups' impact.

Almost all performing arts forms require a "suspension of disbelief", they are not realistic and so you have to accept that they are communicating in a non realistic way, whether they are declaiming, dancing, or singing to get their point across to their audiences. I think the actual forms themselves are also a part of this. And these are often based on culture. Even something as basic as ballet (for us here on this board) involves the need to surrender to the form itself and sometimes the culture also.

To flip the coin, I find it amazing how much appeal there is for opera and ballet in the East Asia countries such as China, Japan, Korea, etc. Obviously this is very foreign culturally ;it's not for every individual but certainly has built an audience. I have videos of opera performances by Italian troups in Japan from the late 50s on. It's actually a very terrific coincidence. Because technology has been so advanced in Japan since the post WWII period, the technology to telecast and preserve videos was available. And because the Japanese were so nuts for opera, many performances were taped . These are the major video records of a lot of Italian opera with many of the post war stars in much greater variety than in the West.

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Ok people. Friday afternoon came and here I was, rushing as usual llike a madman after work to get to the Arsht Center in time through the traffic-(which wasn't that bad, thank God). I didn't have tickets, so I went to the sales window to find a VERY pleasant surprise, which was the announcing of a 30% off all tickets if bought at least an hour before the performance . Naturally, I had checked the website to see the ticket situation just before getting on my way to the theater, so I did as always...I bought a couple of the cheapest tickets available-(my mom would join me)-which with the extra 30% discount were 12 bucks each one-(great deal, right...?). Of course, the tickets were for the upper level-(5th)-of the Arsht Center, all the way to the back...and of course too, I ended up seating in 3rd row orchestra center...thanks to the always helpful habit to stay standing on an isle of the orchestra sides, so I can spot empty seats after the doors are closed, lights are going off and everyone is seated already.(It takes just a quick, good eye to spot the seats in a couple of seconds). As usual, the few empty seats I noticed were in the most expensive area...those which are harder to sell...orchestra center, first three rows. Old habits from my Havana days...and they certainly die hard...but hey...they work!! :wink: ).

So Villella came out and did some small talk, mostly thanking some patrons for their contribution to the company. It was a brief speech, and off he went out of sight.

Now the music started...and still...no orchestra...(damn...that canned music again! :wallbash: ). Anyway... here are my humble impressions from the three days.


AB on Friday was just perfection, which was materialized in the amazing dancing of Jeanette "Hurricane" Delgado and Rolandito Sarabia :) . OMG, OMG, OMG!!!...I strongly doubt that any other cast in this ballet will ever top what I saw here, which was the most fluid, strong, made in heaven-(with a touch of hell)-partnership I've ever witnessed since...I don't know...probably since Sarabita was dancing 10 years ago in Havana with Lorna Feijoo. What can I say...? One HAD to be there to see Delgado's nailed, stronger than ever turns, her attack, her AMPLITUDE. People...SHE WAS LITERALLY EATING THE STAGE!!! She was a demon...sweating profusely...and I just couldn't believe the beauty and strenght of her dancing...every one of her defined muscles popping out at every second. She threw herself with conviction in Sarabita's arms...she KNEW that he was there for her. I had seen AB before...but to be honest...I KNEW that I was watching it FOR REAL now...for the first time. Sarabita looks sharper...more interested...it's like if Delgado has made him believe in himself and his old stardom days all over again. He was radiant...he has lost weight...his epaulement is impressive...and his eyes were all for his ballerina. He made sure TO SHOW HER...he was smiling and he looked very happy...and the audience noticed. His movements still talk about Siegfried, Albretch and Solor...but that's him...and by now I'm used to it.

On Saturday the situation wasn't the same. We had Tricia Albertson dancing again with Sarabita...but I'm afraid to report that I don't recall that much of it-(aside from the fact that I didn't make notes). All I know is that Albertson still projects this VERY contained aura..distant...even cold. I mean...she is a dancer with a beautiful line...and I remember liking her a lot a while ago in Rubies-(well...she danced it with Jeremy Cox, which used to show her really well)-but now what I saw was a self contained dancer...with clean technique, but with little "duende"-(bart...I know that at least you know what I'm talking about by using this word). I wonder if the situation should be the other way around...in which Mr.B would rather favored this impersonal approach over Delgado's passional one. Well...in any case, I'm not Mr. B, as we all may have noticed...

On Sunday the same exact thing happened, now with Deanna Seay-(an old times favorite of mine...a beautiful dancer with a perfect line). Perhaps Carlos Miguel Guerra wasn't the best choice to partner her. Honestly...I quite didn't get into it. Or perhaps the memories of Delgado/Sarabita were still too fresh...who knows. I also remember Seay shining while dancing with Sarabita in the past-(particularly in "Pas de Dix" and "Swan Lake"...two roles in which Rolandito looked very comfortable). Now Seay seemed sort of lost...and Guerra wasn't enough to save the performance. He should be left alone with his wife Jennifer, which usually makes up for a good formula/outcome-(but not in this Program, as I will note later).


TPDD started on the upper level on Friday. I was very excited, with high expectations, as this would be the first time in 8 years since I saw this great PDD for the last time, back in Havana. In this first performance we had Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Panteado. They danced the adagio beautifully. This two have always looked good together, and they seem to know each other's bodies really well. Then Panteado danced his variation with such brilliance that I couldn't contain my whistling at the end of it-(yes...I love to whistle to a pyrotechnic variation...again: old habits die really hard :P ). I mean...his landings in perfect 5th position...his nailed pirouettes, his POWERFUL JUMP!!...if Sarabita is THE partner of this company, Panteado is THE technician. Now, everything was fine…’till then, when Catoya came out for her variation, and…I wasn’t completely pleased with it. Yes, she was doing her best to be charming and all…but I couldn’t feel the sharpness that this variation requires…the right ACCENTS that makes it so unique. A while ago we were discussing in another thread that now deceased clip on Youtube of the 10 ballerinas dancing this variation, and all I can say is that Lorna Feijoo-(whom I saw dancing it live...with Sarabita, BTW)-is definitely my standard, and a hard one to surpass, I’m afraid. Catoya also had problems keeping her leg up on that series of backward sautees , and later on she didn’t speed up enough the final series of pirouettes/piques/chainees. Also, those characteristic broken wrists during the piques were missing. She opted for a more classical approach, maybe less risqué for her…

The coda had some problems too. Either Catoya was a bit nervous, or Panteado didn’t give her enough space to throw herself on him with amplitude during those usually breathless fish dives. They were a bit shaky…and later on Catoya even fell off pointe.

On Saturday, the honors were given to Jennifer Kronemberg and Carlos Guerra. They usually dance well together, but this time I noticed some irregularities, like her being way off center in some supported turns-(his fault…?). His variation was the best moment of the whole Pas, and he was very clean and sharp-(still, the memories of the magnificent Panteado the night before were still too fresh, so do the math…). Now, the real problem came when it was time for her variation-(and also at the coda). For some reason, Kronemberg decided to try some face mannerisms that I had NEVER seen on her before…those “ta-daah!” gestures at the end of a difficult step, trying TOO HARD to enhance them. It was awkward, as she kept repeating them all along her variation and even more during the coda. At some point I could even swear that I actually HEARD her making some noises…(I was really close to the stage). In general, the audience liked the Pas, particularly Guerra's dancing, who received much more applauses than Kronemberg-(mine among them).

Sunday matinee showed again Catoya and Panteado. This time things went smoother…Catoya looked quite lovely, and the fish dives were done with more attack . Panteado was, again, STUNNING…(No…I don’t get tired to repeat myself on this. He really deserves it, THAT good he was)

Post’s Coda:

I know that Symphony in Three Movements is missing here…but I have to be honest, as I’ve always been. I don’t understand it…I don’t know what’s up with all that power-walking and running onstage. I’m sorry about it guys, but I can’t talk about what I can’t still identify. The only time I ever saw this ballet, I was captivated by the score, beautifully played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Now that all I had was some canned music, it wasn’t the same at all.

About Company B. well…I think I talked about it already. Jack…poor Cristian is still lost in space…:dunno:

Hope to have done my best here, guys…

See ya!!

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for the first time. Sarabita looks sharper...more interested...it's like if Delgado has made him believe again in himself and his old days of stardom. He was radiant...he has lost weight...his epaulement is impressive...and his eyes were all for his ballerina. He made sure TO SHOW HER...he was smiling and he looked very happy...and the audience noticed. His movements still talk about Siegfried, Albretch and Solor...but that's him...and by now I'm used to it.
This is good news indeed. Sarabia's reticence and frequent absences since joining MCB -- perhaps compounded, as you say, by a lack of interest -- have been one of the big disappointments of the past few years. He was wonderful in Diamonds and in bits and pieces, but -- somehow -- it never came together.

I've had the chance to follow Jeanette Delgado since here arrival at the company as, I believe, an apprentice. From Day One she was noticeable for passion, effort, and -- as emilienne says about her performance a few weeks ago in In the Upper Room ...

Her body radiated tension, as if trying to contain anarchy within its limits as it fought to get out everywhere.
One of the joys of the past couple of seasons has been the opportunity to watch her develop maturity, artistry, and range as well. I love your summary:
Delgado's nailed, stronger than ever turns, her attack, her amplitude. People...SHE WAS LITERALLY EATING THE STAGE!!! She was a demon...sweating profusely...and I just couldn't believe the beauty and strength of her dancing...every one of her defined muscles popping out at every second.
"Allegro" and "brilliante" are indeed her strengths.

I can't wait until the weekend of Nov 13 for the chance to see them both.

I am always in awe of posters like Cristian and Helene who seem capable of noticing everything -- AND remembering it. Your notes, Cristian, will be on my mind as I approach the performances in a couple of weeks. I'll especially be looking for Penteado. I think I may have underrated him. Next time I will look more closely.

Re: Symphony in Three Movements. Who were danced the principle roles in the various performances you saw. I recall Kronenberg/Guerra, Albertson/Wong, and Carranza/Cox dancing in this.

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The only time I ever saw this ballet, I was captivated by the score, beautifully played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Now that all I had was some canned music, it wasn’t the same at all.


When I read that, I thought, So near and yet so far!, because my main "method" watching Balanchine is to listen and see how they dance what they hear -- No, I didn't drop a word there, I didn't mean to say, "how they dance to what they hear"; what I see is dancing the music's instruction, at each moment, there's no rehearsal, no "choreography" involved.

(Yes, yes, I know, and I'll say, lest someone rush in to explain how it's really prepared, that I know about the training, the choreographing, the rehearsal, all of that, but at the moment I am witnessing a performance, that knowledge is there, way in the back of my mind, just adding an aura of wonder -- "How can this be? No improvisation could be so good for so long!" -- because sometimes you don't want the "explanation". It brings down the experience. As Farrell says sometimes when she's telling us about ballet, quoting Mr. B., "You don't ask a rose to explain itself.")

So, Cristian, you were captivated by Stravinsky's music at one time, and less so now when it was filtered through recording and reproduction, but I think the music is the way into this ballet as it is with all of Mr. B's ballets (although some of them may have some other elements). With this ballet especially, the music is the way in, and it sounds like you almost got there.

Sometimes I think the interesting comments Villella makes about the ballets he presents are potentially a little distracting from this main thing, for viewers not already plugged into this approach, fascinating though they are for those who have already begun their acquaintance with the ballets. (What else is he to do? I think it's hard to give a music-appreciation run-down in a few minutes, although I'd like to hear an over-over-acheiver like Villella try, if he himself thought it was a good idea.)

Anyway, maybe you'll try "Symphony Three" again someday, and leave out the "military" references, if you haven't already, and listen, listen through the bad reproduction if necessary. For me, the power-walking and running and so on is the dancers' response to the energy and momentum in what they hear, just as -- to give another example -- the three lead girls downstage to our right in the last movement have a little game of seeing who can put their foot into the space between them and then get it out before another girl's foot goes in* -- fast, little moves instructed by the bassoons playing short notes at small pitch intervals, in other words, crowding each other in their sound-space -- all by Stravinsky's instructions.

*I misremembered this -- they actually face us, standing side by side, so there's no competition for space, no "game", but the movement, as so often with Balanchine seems instructed by the music at the moment, but, as always with Balanchine, in my view of it, there is the sense that no improvisation could be so good for so long.

Edited by Jack Reed
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Rebecca King's 9-minute video, posted on the MCB blog, shows the preparations for opening night and a little bit of back stage action during the performance.


Unless you follow the company and know most of the dancers by sight, you might be somewhat confused as to exactly what is going on. (Dancers are identified by first names only. I definitely suggest adding last names next time they post such a video.)

Ms. King seems to have gone for My Space informality. It is, after all, a first effort -- and one definitely worth expanding and professionalizing as the season goes on.

By the way, the dread hand of the copyright police seems to be at work. The longest snippet of actual choreography is only 2 seconds long.

Highlights for me: a view of the really vast back-stage area of the Arsht Center -- stage hands laying down amazingly flexible strips of white marley for Allegro Brillante -- the AB cast just before the curtain rises, and then preparing for and taking their curtain calls at the end (good distance shot of Jeanette Delgado and Roland Sarabia) -- and lovely (and smiling!) Callie Manning emerging from a big green costume trunk.

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I'm in for the run! I hope to be at all four performances. (Yeah, I know, "hopeless addict", right?) It's only Company B I expect less from, having seen Taylor's company (although not in that) as recently as 1st October, and usually finding ballet-dancers' rendition lighter in effect. The clips of MCB in this on Youtube bear this out, although they date from many weeks ago, I suppose.

I'd be glad to meet other BTers, and may be recognized by my pink face and blue eyes more than by my white hair, which is pretty common in the BCPA. I'll be sitting in the middle of row T or Q, and Friday night I may put on a dark suit (opening night!), other times a sport coat and slacks.

Cristian, I'll try to remember to look for you!

Hey, mira! How did find out that casting in advance?

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... the AB cast just before the curtain rises ...
... by which time, as we all know, they've already been dancing for a couple minutes. :wink:

(For those who are unfamiliar with Allegro Brillante, the curtain rises well into the music, and we see the dancers not in an opening tableau, but dancing happily along. It's truly a brilliant moment.)

I envy our SoFla members, and would myself choose to stay for Company B. Company B originally premiered at Houston Ballet as a commissioned work, if I remember correctly, so Taylor choreographed it with ballet dancers in mind. That said, I think his works look better on his company, where it benefits from not only the weighted quality of his dancers but more importantly, a deep understanding of his intentions, allowing them to convey complex emotional subtlety. Company B is great Taylor, and if MCB fails to deliver it 100% in its first season (as even Taylor's own dancers did), I'd expect it to have plenty of redeeming value.

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(For those who are unfamiliar with Allegro Brillante, the curtain rises well into the music, and we see the dancers not in an opening tableau, but dancing happily along. It's truly a brilliant moment.)
I actually found myself wondering, a propos our discussions of what happens to unauthorized video nowadays: is choreography performed BEFORE the curtain rises still protected by copyright?

If so, I report to the Balanchine people that the blog video contained a full 4 seconds of that lovely hand-in-hand skipping and jumping around the stage. :wink:

Have fun tonight in Fort Lauderdale, everyone.

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Thanks to carbro for that bit of history and elaboration on my very thoughts. I'll certainly be staying for Company B, and not just because I enjoy hearing the Andrews sisters again! "Less" was my word, not "nothing"! But, speaking of history, this is not MCB's first season for Company B, FWIW; no premieres this season, as an economy measure. No problem for me; after 24 years, they have a rich repertory, IMO.

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I've just returned from opening night of the Broward CPA run, and here are my impressions as I come down off the energy of the evening and head toward a crash in bed:

Allegro Brillante

Jeannette Delgado's dancing just gets stronger and stronger -- in the best sense, no hint of crudeness here -- so I'm hardly bothered by the family smile, which is not so out of place in this upbeat little ballet anyway. Rolando Serabia is a very fine partner for her but otherwise pretty much disappears, into the male ensemble especially: Does he even have a solo? Balanchine says (in Balanchine's Complete Stories) "her cavalier also has his important part" but it didn't stick in my mind this evening. Delgado has her part right though:

"There's a lot of strong, broad dancing spaced in very little time. The gestures have to be big, ample, spacious, and they have to look free... If the ballerina is afraid that it will not produce enough of an effect by itself, if she feels she has to compensate by telling the audience that it is hard, a false drama is created. It should be left alone, and it should be danced with passion but with happiness. It's quintessentially Russian in its best possible meaning -- a great, romantic, beautiful plastic piece."

Violette Verdy said that, quoted in Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review, and Delgado looked like she intuited all of it from somewhere. That made for a really superb performance.

Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux

Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado stirred a comparison in the back of my mind: Watching just these two in this gave me some of the same kind of satisfaction I get hearing the whole Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez. It wasn't just the easy clarity but the luxuriant mastery of what they did that gently and deeply delighted. Sure it's a virtuoso show piece. With this cast, it's a lovely, charming, beautiful little ballet.

Company B

I've been quibbling about this, and the apparently insuperable shortcomings of a performance of this by a ballet company, with its dancers' inherent lightness, resulting to some extent from their "more precise and formal placement" (quoting Edward Villella's introduction this evening), but there is for me an overriding reason for this company to perform it: The company looks good in it. Very good. The whole ensemble, right through, I think, although I needed a little adjustment to their flavor of Taylor early on. Some individuals stood out, earning their exposed roles: Alex Wong in "Tico Tico" (or maybe it was a 3D Pixar simulation we saw, seamlessly, impossibly changing ways of moving, but I doubt there is enough microprocessor power yet available to account for that element of inner understanding that contained these remarkable phenomena into a whole, continuous dance, and so it must have a real person, as credited); Deanna Seay in "I Can Dream, Can't I?", who especially seemed to me to have left behind so much of that precision and formality Villella spoke of for a more free-form way of moving, without leaving behind any legibility with it; Daniel Baker, for mostly just boogying his way through "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"; and Jeanette Delgado in "Rum and Coca-Cola".

Symphony in Three Movements, led by Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, more or less (this is a corps ballet; there are two corps, in fact) came at the end of a varied and full evening and swept all before it.

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Jack, your comment about Seay reminds me of the way she threw herself one of the Stomper roles in Upper Room. It was an amazing transformation and very effective. One virtue of programming a variety of dance styles is the often unexpected range you discover in certain dancers. :wink:

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