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

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It was great to see Cristian & Jack on Friday night, I'm so bummed that I won't be able to go to any other performances this weekend, but at least I saw a great one! I pretty much agree with eveything Jack wrote about the performance. Jeanette Delgago is a force of nature! What a generous, open, delightful dancer. Her technique is so strong and in some ways she reminds me of Sofiane Sylve: when she takes a balance, or starts a sequence of pirouettes she is so strong its as if she's planted (in the best way) so it never occurs to you, even for a minute that she might waver in her balance or fall off point. She's a strong, solid dancer with great allegro technique and a very Balanchinean musicality but she also has wonderful port de bras and a lovely lightness to her dancing. The beaming smile might bother me in certain roles, but not in the ones I've seen her in so far.

There were lots of outstanding performances, most notably Catoya in Tchai Pas and Wong in Company B but I also really enjoyed several dancers who have not been favorites of mine. I thought Deanna Seay, Patricia Delgado and Daniel Baker were wonderful in Company B (in fact I thought the whole company was wonderful in it. If they didn't quite reach the level of Taylor's dancers I thought they captured the context and modern dance vernacular much better than ABT did without sacrificing any of the virtuosity).

I also thought they did a great job with Sym 3. I saw Kronenberg and Cox do this several times in NY and wasn't crazy about their interpretation. There were times when they got very flirty and smiley which I found really weird for this piece. This time Kronenberg danced with Guerra and they had a less playful demeanor which I preferred. The other soloists were Wong & Albertson, Penteado & P. Delgado and I thought the whole cast was great.

The thing that I love about this company is that they dance with so much heart, and so many of their dancers manage to combine great technique with great interpretive skills. I remember in the Ballets Russes film one of their ex ballerinas was talking about her students and how their technique was vey strong, but they didn't know how to "be warm". I feel that way about a lot of dancers these days, particularly at ABT. They are my home company and I love them but it seems like at ABT you either get great technique or great interpretive powers, very few of their dancers combine both. Eddie's dancers seeem to have it all.

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(Apologies if my posts suggest that I haven't digested others', but my internet time is restricted these days, so I'm having to write off-line and then post when I get a chance.)

Saturday matinee

Quite a matinee! First, Tricia Albertson gave us a richer Allegro Brillante than Jeannette Delgado last night -- scarcely any smile at all with her face, all with her body, unfailingly clearly detailed within the nuanced and modulated flow, while some of Jeannette D.'s turns seemed blurry, in her more forceful and buoyant performance. Albertson certainly passed the Verdy criterion (see above, Post #48). Her partner was Rolando Serabia, whose part puts him at the centerpiece -- and a fine centerpiece he is -- of one mixed ensemble after another, or the first among equals in the male ensemble, but no real solo, however brief; she gets long, lovely cadenza parts.

We then had a performance of "Tschai Pas" by Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra which was less cool and more sumptuous than Catoya and Penteado had done Friday night. If Catoya and Penteado put me in mind of the Cleveland Orchestra, Kronenberg and Guerra put me in mind of the Philadelphia Orchestra! Both first class, but distinctly different.

Company B saw some cast changes, conspicuously the merely superb, and, credibly dancer-like Ezra Hurwitz for the incredible Alex Wong, who, we gather and hope, suffered only a minor injury; Christie Sciturro, another corps member, whom I never saw in a solo role before, for Deanna Seay ("I Can Dream, Can't I?") and not so satisfying a replacement; and Rebecca King in "Rum and Coca-Cola", who gave a distinctly cooler rendition of it than Jeanette Delgado had. Sciturro remained very much the ballet dancer, I thought, even emphasizing the Tharp-like character of a section in the middle of her number.

Then, Symphony in Three Movements! This ballet always deserves an exclamation point when MCB dances it, but this afternoon, Patricia Delgado, who led it with Renato Pentado, earned one on her own, as she displayed a whole new persona for this ballet, one which very much becomes her. Penteado's dancing was large and clear as always and now also had some heat and intensity in the first movement which was well suited to it.

Saturday evening

Allegro Brillante was again danced by Jeanette Delgado with its resident male principal, Rolando Serabia (I'm not complaining about him!). Since tempos in Balanchine are sometimes matters for discussion today, I'll just add here that I checked this performance (to a recording) at 13 or 14 minutes, as Balanchine says in his "Complete Stories" book.

We then had another superb rendition of "Tschai Pas" from Catoya and Penteado which might have been even a little more assured on her part, though, as another of us noted also, there were a couple of the slightest hitches in the coda, where they run across upstage and she gets into the fish-dives. Villella called this a test of virtuosity; okay, but when these virtuosos dance it, it's a lot of fun for us to watch.

(More when I can.)

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Saturday evening, 7th November 2009, continued

Company B was performed by essentially the same cast as Friday evening, with the major absence of Alex Wong; Ezra Hurwitz was satisfying in "Tico Tico" to anyone who didn't know Wong's performance, and earned the good applause he got for it.

Symphony in Three Movements was again led by Kronenberg, wearing a grim expression at the start but dancing sumptuously, and Guerra; Wong was replaced by Baker again, and Allyne Noelle (orange leotard) and Stephen Satterfield substituted tonight for Patricia Delgado and Renato Penteado in last evening's performance.

Sunday matinee, 8th November 2009

Allegro Brillante was led this afternoon by Deanna Seay and Carlos Miguel Guerra (that'll teach me to think somebody has made a part theirs exclusively just because they do it with two partners). As we have pretty much come to expect, everything Seay did was elegantly finished, although still in the present moment (as against the remotely "perfected" rendition we sometimes see elsewhere). However some of her sequences were modified from the versions Jeanette Delgado and Tricia Albertson had shown us earlier this weekend. And Guerra seemed even more present in this way perhaps than Rolando Serabia had, and related more tenderly to his partner.

Alex Wong was cast in the ensemble of four couples in this but I don't believe he appeared. Maybe some one can clear this up. (Daniel Baker, who replaced him in some other roles, was already cast here.)

After the pause, Rolando Serabia was on hand to partner Jeanette Delgado in Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux; I thought he was very fine indeed in this. Delgado was very accomplished technically in this, and her -- really their -- fish dives went very smoothly, but I enjoyed the other two couples more.

Company B saw some more cast changes: Marc Spielberger reprised his role in "Pennsylvania Polka" to replace Michael Sean Breeden and partner Leigh-Ann Esty; Ezra Hurwitz continued to replace Alex Wong, and (soloist) Allyne Noelle replaced Deanna Seay in "I Can Dream, Can't I?" more satisfactorily than (corps member) Christie Sciturro had, though this remained a replacement, not a substitution, which is my way of saying that I doubt MCB has a substitute for Seay. But listed rank doesn't always tell much of the story: Corps member Bradley Dunlap was a very good substitute for Daniel Baker, mainly in "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", catching the Taylor style more consistently, I thought, not only in the large shapes but also in the small, vernacular gestures.

Yet another "Patricia Delgado" led Symphony in Three Movements, this one much more supple than the one we saw in the Saturday matinee, who I think has the more appropriate approach.

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Jack, I love reading your posts. How have the audiences been?

Some thoughts.

-- It's good to see so many corps members getting opportunities, something that Villella seems to be committed to. You name some of the best.

-- Conversely, you also get to see stellar soloists (Wong, Bramaz, Manning, etc.) in corps roles. This must help the younger corps member especially. If you watch (on the MCB Blog pre-performance video) those few seconds of the Allegro Brillante cast beginning the circular skipping before the curtain rises, you'll notice that it's Didier Bramaz who seems to call them to attention, who receaches first for his partner's hand, and who gets the choreography started.

-- Rebecca King is the dancer who shot and put together the MCB Blog video on the preprations leading up to the Miami opening of this program. I notice that other multi-talented younger dancers are also being given opportunities to write and film.

-- Regarding tempi for AB: I'm not surprised that the Allegro Brillante fit Balanchine's time standard so closely. Villella always seems to go for speed when called for. I guess he reckons: If you don't get the chance to dance fast in allegro, how can you ever learn to dance fast well? Also, MCB's speed always makes the adagio passages seem especially weighted and mysterious, by contrast.

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Regarding that last, bart, isn't it often those who have the hardest time with something the ones who best master it? In Prodigal Son (the book!), Villella recounts how hard it was for him in Balanchine's world of pain and magic, and I think his company shows how well he learned from his time there.

Regarding the audiences, they've been typical for Florida, nothing like as enthusiastic as the toughest audience in the country was last January! Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux got lots of applause, for a Broward audience, and Symphony in Three Movements sometimes got extra applause and sometimes had a reduced audience, as though people feared it and slipped away before it began. And as you might expect, many heads were bobbing along with the rhythm in Company B.

Saturday night, though, I think I had a couple of tourists next to me who spoke with a light accent, possibly German, who had an unusually good time: At the second intermission, after Company B, he turned to me and remarked with a smile, "The recession comes to the ballet. No scenery." "Yes", I said, "and they're just playing old records." They laughed, and he said, "Their clothes must have come from a second-hand shop." "Out of date," I agreed. Plainly, they were in a good mood, and I'm not sure whether hearing the Andrews Sisters or watching the dancers had done more for them. Then after Symphony in Three Movements he asked me who the choreographer was. (Interesting that he knew the word but not the name, I thought.) "George Balanchine." "It's a great ballet. It was a great performance." I agreed!

And as nearly always, people asked me as I was scribbling away, sometimes turning on the light in my pen if the lights had gone down before I recorded the cast changes, whether I was a critic, and that gave me a chance to say, "No, just a fan. This increases my concentration. I found out that the more you put into it the more you get out." (Many people don't even read their programs, or read them at the wrong time, like during the performance.)

Which reminds me of another exchange during another season. The little lady next to me, very dressed up, permed, bejeweled, wanted to tell me her likes and dislikes. She added to the latter list, "Stravinsky. No. Not at all." Knowing that the first ballet was Apollo, I wondered how this was going to go. Afterward, I asked, "How did you like that?" "Loved it!" "The music too?" "Loved everything about it!" (big smile) So, did I tell her, read your program, lady! Noo waay!

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Here are my impressions on the Broward performances. I will divide the post in three, to connect them with the beginning of the Palm Beach performances

Allegro Brillante

On Friday, the cast was the same as in Miami. Allegro Brillante was danced by Jeanette and Sarabita...and it was just that...BRILLANTE. Not the flawless/too-impeccable Sarabita from Havana 1999, but one with a stronger sense of what a true cavalier is supposed to do with his woman...support her, show her, be attentive to her...be THERE for her, which made Jeanette FLY with all the freedom she needed....fearless as she should be...the stage her kingdom. They also danced it on Saturday night. Now, on Sunday I was happy-(and surprised)- to get to see my first MCB favorite dancing the ballerina role: Miss Deanna Seay, which was paired-(not wisely, IMO)-with Carlos Guerra. What an interesting rendition did Miss Seay gave of AB!! This is a ballerina that has mastered to the limits that "beyond technique" area, pretty much as Sarabita. Like him, her movements and footwork are not that pyrotechnic...she is not as ballistic as, let's say, Delgado, but ooh...her UPPER BODY...is just a master work. Seay is a ballerina that pretty much just SPEAKS with her arms...showing an impeccable port de bras...as delicate and fluid as it can be. Her projection has become very grand, regal...with a marked princess-like presence. I have studied her line in detail , not only onstage, but backstage and even while teaching class, and she does posess-(or have aquired with her many years of experience I bet)-a particular "serene", effortless look..with an impressive epaulement that talks a lot about what a real ballerina should LOOK like. Her approach to the choreography was simplified, but very enjoyable . To me she is, if not the biggest company technician, the most beautiful, ladylike dancer that Villella has. Watching her as she looked stunningly elegant in her first pose of AB made me think of how wonderful would be, at this point of her career and with the new qualities that she has aquired, to be able to see her dancing something like "Chopiniana"...before she retires for good. As I said, Guerra was chosed to be her partner, which looked kind of awkward, since I'm pretty much used to see him partnering his wife. Guerra is a bailarin that does not take too many risks, basically offering what is expected from technique and interpretation...no more, no less. He is the reliable dancer...the boy that can dance everything, and looks good either as a Petipa prince, a Villella ballroom character or a Tharp running device...Actually, he is one of the VERY FEW top rank dancers of this company whom I would be satisfied to see as a Siegfried or an Albrecht...(something that can't be said of all of them). He did his best partnering Seay, but didn't look quite as comfortable as when he dances with his wife-(Kronemberg). Seay NEEDED to be paired with Sarabita, as it has been in the past with excellent results.

Kuddos to the other dancers during the three performances: On Friday Amanda Weingarten/Stephen Satterfiel, Cindy Huan/Didier Bramaz, Allynne Noelle with a substitution for Quenedit-(am I right Jack...?) and Nicole Stalker/Yang Zou. On Saturday Weingarten/Ezra Hurwitz, Callie Manning/Didier Bramaz, Noelle/Quenedit's substitution and Nicole Stalker/Neil Marshal. On Sunday Zoe Zien, Daniel Baker, Leigh-Ann Esty-(with a substitution for Alex Wong, which I can't recall)-, Sara Esty/Michael Breeden Ashley Knox/Daniel Sarabia.


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Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux

I have my own standards for this piece, which includes a shameless display of pure, sweat driven technique-(ok to call it tasteless, vulgar, pyrotechnic, gymnastics/cirquish-related and so on...),particularly for the male variation and the coda. Right after the adagio is over, I don't want to see any more subtleness or anything that is not the total desire of the dancers to make the audience gasp . Was this the original Balanchine approach...? Maybe yes...maybe not, but that's how I got to know this PDD, and hence, anything different from that looks suspiciously bland on my eyes.

But, enough of my monologue, and on with the performances. Friday and Saturday there were Catoya and Panteado who took the challenge, which they both did very well during the adagio. Catoya looked very cute, precise, as clean as she could be...her movements picture perfect, with the right accents here and there...a very studied, MUSICAL approach...that's the word. Panteado knows her, and she never looks better that when he's her partner. Now, the great stuff started when Panteado came for his variation. What a GREAT variation!! His pirouettes are spotless, his fifth position landings breathless...beautiful tours en l'air. His final kneeling landing just down to the second along with last note of the score. He couldn't get that variation any better...on both nights. Great. Now, Catoya's approach was more careful...she did show more control over the choreography than in Miami-(like the final series of sautees), but I wish she could have sped up a little more her final sequence of pirouettes/piquees/chainees. She chose to be very careful about it, and that subtracted weight to the usually spectacular ending of the variation. Wrists are still not as broken as I like to see them here...but in general she did comply with all the steps, if not with the right pacing-(or at least right to me, IMO). Now, the biggest problem came during the coda, which started just great...Panteado's brisé volées were magnificent, and so on...and then...here they were: the fish dives. I think there's a mix of factors for which these famous dives didn't work here. Catoya didn't look all that confident in that that she wasn't going to brake her face on the floor, and then Panteado didn't separate himself enough from here so she could have plenty of room to run and throw herself with the proper amplitude. End of the story. In general, they were very well liked, and I enjoyed a lot their interpretation.

...but then, Sunday matinee came,and guess who's in the program to dance the PDD...Oooh yes...my two stars: Hurricane Delgado and Sarabita. That was a surprise, as they did not danced it in Miami. OMG...I won't go over and over about this two, which I've done several times on this board. Jeanette just can't contain herself-(and she shouldn't for God's sake!)-and Sarabita just went back ten years ago and was, once more and for some precious minutes-his old astonishing self. Long live this partnership!

And Jack...weren't this time the fish dives just AS DARING AS THEY SHOULD BE?...I mean...she reminded me that old Lepeshinskaya's clip on Youtube...or even the stories I've heard when Alonso used to just jump in the darkness of her blindness being completely sure that the clock precise Youskevitch was right there where she KNEW he would be...not a millimeter out of his place.

That's when one just realize what makes a GREAT PARTNER. Now, people...That was THE TPDD to see..

Coming up...Company B-(yes...I will review it a bit...let's see how bad I am... he,he :P )

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Thanks, Christian, for the review of Tchai pas.

I've seen a tape of the original version, at the NYPL collection, from the Bell Telephone Hour or some other old TV show, with Villella and Verdy, and many of these features you love were there then -- though in fact nobody does Verdy's series of en dedans turns in attitude any more, maybe some of your Cubans could -- they were just amazing, every time she came around the corner she smiled and it was like the sun coming out every time, just amazingly fresh like a force of nature. That's what ought to be there-- and the dives need to be fearless, and the accelerating pique turns need to take our heads off with the mounting exhilaration. I thin that's ALL supposed to be there.

I wish you'd seen Kyra Nichols do it -- the timing was thrilling, the ease amazing, the bravery just miraculous, and the sense of humor just this side of hilarity. Real allegria. She did the dives in her own way -- they were swimming-pool dives, with the legs together, feel pointed in palallel, like Esther Williams -- somehow they were much funnier that way, rather than going into the position with one knee bent like in Sleeping Beauty -- the lines expressed the energy so clearly, and he just stopped her in mid-air in that position. the picture of fearlessness and eagerness.

I think of all the people who're doing it now the one I'd most like to see is Lorna Feijoo. -- that video of her that used to be up on YT....

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Hardly anything could be added to that wonderful evocation of Nichols in Tchaik Pas,

except perhaps that to bravery and virtuosity and humor she added candor and

utter honesty. I also saw Feijoo do it, as well as Ashley, and both were as dazzling

as one could wish, but aside from that tape of Verdy and Villella (and the other

montage of Hayden, Verdy, McBride, etc, which was shown on a PBS Balanchine

special--remarkable in every way) Nichols is still my favorite. I imagine Delgado

is marvelous in it, judging from her Tarantella...

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When I attended the four performances in the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, I heard most of Villella's introductory discussion and his answers to questions afterward. His plan -- he used notes this time -- was pretty much the same each time, but different ways of putting things always seem to occur to him; these ballets are fresh to him, as they are to his dancers, evidently, judging by what we see when they dance, and I've tried to meld the different versions from my (very sketchy!) notes. I don't reproduce the smoothness and fluency of his delivery though, and so I refer you to the promotional videos in the MCB channel on Youtube, which Cristian posted in Post #1, brief though they are, for that quality.

Highlights from Edward Villella's commentary for Program I

There are lots of diversions easy to obtain, but this is not so easy to get, especially in difficult times; it's hard to put on , so we're grateful for all of you for being here.

I prefer a balanced, varied program, I get a kick out of allowing our dancers to work in those seven to ten styles we can dance.

Allegro Brillante was on our very first program. It represents 19th Century classicism. We began 24 years ago with Allegro Brillante because we were going to be a classical company and a Balanchine company. George Balanchine could choreograph in every area. Balanchine grew up just after the Tchaikovky era. He was influenced by Petipa, but followed a very independent line [of development]. A 20th Century genius re-interpreted what a 19th Century genius provided. We had the best of both centuries: Balanchine was known for his neo-classical works, but here's where he's coming from. Neoclassical motivation from a distant century. Russian bigness, American speed. Windswept. Flowing skirts. Balanchine represented 20th Century things, new, sharp, quick. No set: You step back, listen, and you saw.

Music, choreography, dancers. George Balanchine made this ballet in three days. He was a god! What's it about? He shows us all his background in 18 (sic) minutes. As the curtain goes up, four couples are already dancing! Very witty. Are the principal couple our host and hostess? There's no scenery to show a house. Well... there's an invitation into a manner and style about moving. An introduction to classical dance. "See the music."

We [dancers] are proficient at some things and not others, so other ballets [appeal accordingly], but Allegro Brillante appeals to everyone.

Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. The story's not apocryphal, but bang on: Jealous ballerinas. Swan Lake premiered in two cities, and the Moscow ballerina insisted on new music for her, different from the St. Petersburg ballerina, and the new music became "Black Swan", and the earlier music was lost until 1953. This is much more challenging than Don Quixote or Corsaire [pas de deux]. This is light, airy, without heavy Bolshoi ornaments. [For example], we land in plie': A downward accent is Bolshoi; upward, Bournonville and 20th Century - you move on as you land, so the landing is not an ending but a beginning, to go on from.

It's typically Balanchine; not soppy. Distanced elegance about women, less emotional involvement between the two. Romantic, but not emotional. A period type of piece, but a 20th Century sensibility.

Company B: Paul Taylor was modern dance; he has classical sensibility, but it's not his main focus. We have more Taylor than any other ballet company. We want the most complicated art to present simply... Men going off to war, the women they left behind. This ballet evokes the '40's with gestures of the times worked in, the frivolity and delight of the Andrews Sisters, and social dancing. Oh, it's an anti-war ballet, undeneath.

What's the difference between modern and ballet? We land from a jump with plie'. In modern, accent is "down" and thick, it's hard on the thighs. We have more precise, formal placement, every part of our body; modern is more free-form.

You're going to have fun.

Symphony in Three Movements. Modernism. Stravinsky's sensibility affected by a terrible time, WWII. Neoclassic abstract choreography. Abstract - I mean by that, reducing large ideas to their essences and making them poetic.

I remember terror: We had to count, we couldn't hear the rhythms. We had a one-hour orchestra rehearsal the day of the performance, and then the curtain went up.

It has the greatest beginning of any ballet, startling simplicity, a line of girls in white and ponytails, later reassembled. "The home front" and "the war front". Pique' turns - one foot on pointe - Balanchine said, "radar". The power walk - mechanized vehicles. Helicopters; explosions [late, where the corps girls throw their arms up, IIRC], searchlights. There are war images, but you don't have to know, just listen and watch. In the pas de deux, there's suppressed sexuality.

Classical ballet is so analyzed and thorough; you can cross over to almost anything else. Company class includes syncopation.

Q & A: How do we maintain our repertory? We like to have people who have danced the work and remember it. As Balanchine said, it's taught body to body but also mind to mind.

Why do some dancers have favorite ballets? There are different kinds of challenge, depending on the dancer. What we're terrific at, or not. Balanchine always put us in a style or period where we looked good. I liked jumps and turns -- Symphony in Three Movements wasn't full out dancing: It was mental work! Terrifying!

More tours? We may be going to California in two years; we're talking. Go to Las Vegas? My wife won't let me. [laughter]

Was my daughter Crista with New York City Ballet? Never; she's ballet mistress here.

Do Miss Julie ? We have to consider what ballets we have, to surround it with.

How is South Beach? Going strong until 5 AM, I guess. [laughter] Miami Beach has been generous to us, it's our home; Miami has yet to give us a dollar.

What are Nutcracker snowflakes made of so they're not slippery? Chemically-treated paper.

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Regarding Symphony in Three Movements, Balanchine writes, in "Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets", that

"... Choreographers combine movement and the ones I arranged for this music follow no story line or narrative. They try to catch the music and do not, I hope, lean on it, using it instead for support and time frame. If I were to relate that a boy and sixteen girls begin the ballet, that would not be very interesting, or that a girl in purple dances with eight others to music for clarinet, piano and strings soon follows. What is really interesting is the complexity and variety of the music, from the propulsive drive and thrust of the vigorous opening (which also closes the ballet) to the developed use, almost like a concerto, of the piano in the first movement, the harp in the second and the two together in the finale.

"The central movement, Andante, is a pas de deux. One writer has called this a 'strangely quiet, sensuous, meditative interlude with a pronounced Eastern tinge.' I had not thought of that but paraphrasing Stravinsky, how and in what form the things of this world are impressed upon my dance is not for me to say. ..."

The reference to Stravinsky's words is helpful. In the notes with Sony's release of Stravinsky's last recording of this music, he is quoted as follows, in part:

"The Symphony was written [between 1942 and 1945] under the impression of world events. I will not say that it expresses my feelings about them, but only that, without participation of what I think of as my will, they excited my musical imagination...

... in some inexplicable way a musical reaction to the newsreels and documentaries I had seen...

"... [it] is not programmatic. Composers combine notes. That is all. How and in what form the things of this world are impressed upon their music is not for them to say."

I think what these two artists are saying, they say to us to get us to listen (and to watch, too, in Balanchine's case); what Balanchine said to Villella he might have said to him for a slightly different purpose, maybe to give him something to hold on to in relating to his new role and not look like he felt lost in it: "... I couldn't really hear the music and couldn't count it. To this day I have trouble with this music." (Prodigal Son, Villella's 1992 autobiography)

So his performer's point of view gives Villella's remarks a little different emphasis -- "subjective" versus "objective", if you want -- but hearing Villella relate Balanchine's metaphors is fascinating; it puts us on those folding chairs with our backs to the studio mirror you see sometimes in pictures of Balanchine at work in rehearsal.

(Sometimes I've heard Balanchine quoted as applying the term "Balinese" to the pas de deux, and looking in Prodigal Son, I got the "Balinese" connection better: "[T]he word conjured up exactly what he wanted: Asian gods with many arms and legs." Watching the ballet, I've noticed a couple of places in the pas de deux where the man stands behind his partner, they each extend an arm to the side and with the other, join hands in front of her, and so on, and it's not obvious to me which arm belongs to whom: Here's Mr. B's "Asian god".)

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I think some people enjoyed Symphony in Three Movements when the Cleveland Orchestra was in the pit but not now when they hear a recording. This came back to me after I listened yesterday to the recording Stravinsky made of that music. It's so eloquently controlled and inflected, so clearly balanced it would be a great credit to a conductor of any age, let alone one age 79. Everything you hear "makes sense". It's a much better performance than the one MCB uses. I don't know which that is, but more importantly I don't know why they don't use the Stravinsky one. It has a second advantage in that it's recorded pretty "close" as was more the fashion in the early 60s than today, in other words, there's less "hall" sound on the recording, and so if it were played in a big room like the theatres MCB performs in, it would mostly have only that theatre's reverberation to blur the sound, not two acoustics one added to the other, which may be too much.

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Thanks for those posts, Jack. I've printed them out to reread while preparing for this weekend's performances at West Palm. One quick thought before I go out: Villella said "Miami Beach has been generous to us, it's our home." He also expressed his gratitude to Miami Beach in his opening comments before the Open Barre performances last weekend. As to "Maimi has yet to give us a dollar," all I can say is: :):blink::dunno::wub:

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Before the West Palm Beach running start, I just want to add a couple of thoughts to the performances of Company B from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, basically focused on the dancers. Even with my inability to "get" Taylor's work, due to the several times I got to see it, made me go for certain dancers in in some roles more than others. So here I go:

"Bei Mir Bist Du Schon". It is a full cast display, BUT...Deanna Seay's characterization caught my eye during her brief solos...which didn't happen with Allynne Noelle when she danced the role.

"Pennsylvania Polka". The Esty sisters alternated in this piece with Marc Spielberger, who danced it in all the performances. Loved him in it...

"Tico Tico". Alex Wong was the favored dancer here, according to the audience's response...giving the character a sort of clownish interpretation, which people seemed to enjoy a lot, judging from the general enthusiastic laughing...(NOT ME INCLUDED... not my thing, I must say...). Ezra Hurwitz' toned down one worked way better for me...

"Oh Johnny Oh Johnny". Daniel Sarabia was good at it...but I preferred Stephen Satterfield...I don't even know why...(maybe he gave more soul to the role...?)

"I Can Dream...Can't I...?" Well...this VERY ambiguous piece-(which I would love to get some background about, if anybody here would be so kind to)-was Deanna Seay's COMPLETELY. Miss Noelle proceeded with a softer, cuter approach...which looked sort of cold, compared to Seay's story telling one...

"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy". Oh...that was Daniel Baker...he really got all those boogie movements...along with that nice full blond hair...

"Rum and Coke". Jeannette Delgado. How wouldn't she get it right...? She's personifying the very Cuban national drink...the Cuba Libre!!! :wink:

I'm doing this relaying on memory-(didn't write anything down)-so whatever is missing here, means that it didn't make that much of an impression in my less than perfect mind.

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West Palm Beach.

I made it for the Sunday matinee-(1:00 pm...!! usually my breakfast time :D ). Never been there before, but the one hour driving from Miami was fine. Unpredictable Miss I-95 was in a beautiful mood...generous and happy-(thank you dear!!).

The Kravis Center is a nice bright theater...warmer than the monolithic Miami's Arsht.

The cast was the same one as that from Broward's Sunday one. Kuddos again to Seay's elegant AB, Delgado/Sarabita's impeccable TPDD and everyone else, including the corps, from CB and SITM.

Highlight of the day; I FINALLY GOT TO MEET MR. BART!! -(Hey there pal :huh: ). I also had the pleasure to see Mr. and Mrs. Iwatchthecorps.-(hi there also! :thumbsup: ). Me, my mom and my girlfriend had a great time.

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It was indeed a pleasure to meet Cristian and Iwatchthecorps. The Kravis is a lovely house -- the most beautiful, I think, of the halls in which MCB performs. Iwatchthecorps, you've been in all four theaters. What do you think? Cristian, you've now been in 3 of the theaters, how about you?

A great weekend, all in all, which certainly confirmed nysusan's comment earlier in this thread:

The thing that I love about this company is that they dance with so much heart, and so many of their dancers manage to combine great technique with great interpretive skills.

A couple of the regulars who have subscription seats near mine referred to "they have so much energy," "they seem to love what they are dancing," etc. These are people who have seen a lot of ballet in their lives, but not so much as to get involved in quibbling and comparing. The Devil may be in the details. But I'm glad that that MCB's audience gets the Big Picture as well.

On the applause meter, Alex Wong is clearly the audience favorite, followed closely by Jeanette Delgado, and the male variation in Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (especially Renato Penteado and Rolando Sarabia). Both were superb. Wong, dancing to Tico Tico in Company B, defied the laws of physics and managed to convey the frantic quality and even desperation of his character. Delgado danced EVERYTHING as though the roles ahd been made for her: one of the most perfectly finished Allegro Brillantes I ever recall; a star-quality Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, which actually even had her partner Rolando Sarabia (a rather reserved performer) smiling; and a fluid Rum and Coca Cola which made you think she had actually been reared and trained to dance in Trinidad. Delgado even took a corps part in the Stravinsky -- as did fellow principal Tricia Albertson, who at one point was dancing with a student apprentice as a partner. This kind of flexibility.

But there were many highlights.

-- The programming/ wonderfully constructed, with something (high level, of course) for everyone.

-- Casting: Villella moved his principals around and gave young corps members important opportunities. You have to see multiple performances to get a sense of the talent/depth of this company.

-- About the younger dancers. Neil Marshall: funny and authoritative in Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny. He wore nerdy horn rims and was full of himself, as the lyrics call for. The girls swooned, as a preened, toyed with their affections, and finally ran off with all the girls in full pursuit. Rebecca King's Rum and Coca Cola was lovely -- flirtatious, a little on the innocent side (considering the lyrics), and just the kind of girl those young guys would be rolling on the floor to get close to. The fluency of her movement wasn't Caribbean, but it was perfect in the context: an American coed dancing in a Latin style, as so many of them actually did in those days. All the student apprentices (and, I suspect, regular students) in the corps for Symphony in 3 Movements: The ballet is demanding and very hard to dance. The girls in white set the tone in the beginning, and you can't have a weak performer there any more than you can have in the Kingdom of the Shades scene in Bayadere. They were all impressive. I could pick out a couple of apprentice boys who did even more cmoplicated work in the Stravinsky and the Taylor. Fernan Cerdeiro and Alexandre Ferreira from Brasil. I think they've been here less than year, but they held the stage as though they'd danced this choreography all their lives. I wish I could have identified some of the girls. Amanda Weingarten -- dancing with Didier Bramaz in There Will Never Be Another You -- was touching and lovely. Bramaz will soon be off to war. Weingarten and he seem to know each other well, but there's reserve and sadness as wlll as intimacy. Towards the end he backs away and joins a line of slowly marching soldiers at the rear of the stage. She kneels, looking out over the audience, expressing loss and emptiness without even moving. Later, when the next number begins, she is slowly absorbed back into corps to dance the emotionally quite complex Bei Mir Bist Du Schon. It's a rich performance by both dancers, made even richer by their restraint and dignity.

-- The interplay of joy and deep sadness in Company B. It doesn't always hold together, but --after three performances -- I was in tears. Deanna Seay's performance in I Can Dream, Can't I? was one of the loveliest things I've ever seen her do. The cast has 6 girls, 6 boys -- the Seay character is the 13th, and is often alone when not dancing with the other girls. The fact that she is a bit older than the others makes the characterization even more touching. Two men appear in silhouette marching in slow motion off to battle. Time stopped -- the energetic youthfulness of the ballet stopped. It was a revelation.

-- More on Company B. I had never seen this before. I can see why it's such a crowd-pleasure, and there is much that is brilliantly done. Some of the bravura upbeat numbers began to get a little tiresome by my third viewing. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy -- danced with energy and film-star charisma by Daniel Baker -- runs out of choreographic steam in the second half, as though Taylor couldn't think of anything more to say. Jumping, spinning, grinning, and posing are marvelous when they are in the service of a good idea -- but can seem empty when they continue on and on for their own sake.

-- Symphony in Three Movements. For me, a great, great work. The pas de deux in the second movement is, right now and for the time being, my favorite pas de deux in ballet. It's obviously hard, but it demands a fluidity, sublety, and other-worldliness that make it (to me) closer to Swan Lake pdd than to most of Balanchine. Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra were astonishing. Control, fluency, mood, delicacy, attention to sculptural details: it was beautifullyi done and (for me at least) the most deeply moving part of the performances I saw.

A number of principles and soloists -- as wlll as long, lanky corps member Stephen Satterfield -- stood out in the lead parts in the Stravinsky. What complicated choreography they have. Villella said, in one of his pre-performance talks, that his classes are "rhythmic," which works for this kind of work. My head is still full of images of the way the Stravinsky leads moved to, on, and sometimes perfectly "off" the music. Villella talks about "watching the music." This powerful Symphony in 3 Movements was a textbook example of how that miracle can be achieved.

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