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SAB Workshop 2010

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The program for the 2010 School of American Ballet Workshop Performances has been announced:



Music by Igor Stravinsky

Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon


Music by Mikhail Glinka

Choreography by George Balanchine


Music by Emmanuel Chabrier

Choreography by George Balanchine


Saturday, June 5: 2:00 & 8:00 p.m. ($45)

Tuesday, June 8: 7:00 p.m. (benefit performance and dinner/dance)

Tickets go on sale on-line on April 15.


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Any hint, anyone, as to which Valse Fantaisie it is? 1953 (four dancers) or 1967 (six)? Just curious. I'm not a betting man, ordinarily, but for the purposes of Workshop, to give many dancers experience with stage and audience, I'll bet it's the later one. I like it fine, though I like the earlier one revived by Miami City Ballet even more.

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Any hint, anyone, as to which Valse Fantaisie it is? 1953 (four dancers) or 1967 (six)? Just curious. I'm not a betting man, ordinarily, but for the purposes of Workshop, to give many dancers experience with stage and audience, I'll bet it's the later one. I like it fine, though I like the earlier one revived by Miami City Ballet even more.

For what it's worth, on the repertory page of NYCB, they list the 1967 version with a hypen (Valse-Fantaisie)


and the 1953 version without (Valse Fantaisie).


This difference is consistent with the master list of repertory: http://www.nycballet.com/company/rep.html

Now, we just have to wonder if the person who typed up the SAB program was aware of this differentiation! I don't see anything like a news release from SAB that might say more, but presumably that's forthcoming soon.

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I remember seeing Matt Renko and Cameron Dieck in it.

Also Tabitha Rinko-Gay in Leclerq's role; and also, if memory serves, Lola Cooper as the demi (if I remember her name correctly - very talented woman from the Brittany Pollack year who apparently didn't continue dancing).

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liebs- It looks like Lola Cooper is currently listed as an apprentice with Carolina Ballet.

And Valse-Fantaisie was also recently performed at NYCB's Dancer's Choice Gala. If I remember correctly, the ballet featured four female corps dancers and a lead principal couple. I believe this is the version SAB students will perform at workshop this year.

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From the PNB school - good - Peter Boal has a fine eye for dancers and a very beautiful quality of loyalty and support for dancers he either taught or knew when he was on the faculty at SAB or dancing at NYCB. Witness what he did for the careers of Carla Korbes and for Ben Griffiths respectively. Lola Cooper was to my eyes as good as any of the women from her year, and it was a very strong year - not only Brittany Pollack but also Erica Pereira were her contemporaries, though Cooper may have been a bit younger in years. Her best qualities were flow of movement and musicality; she was at that point one of those dancers you'd call a "mover" -- you had to watch her dance through variations and parts to realize what was there. Early that workshop year it seemed she was on a fast track - I remember her learning Square Dance at the same time as Pollack and looking splendid in it; also that year, when they did the New York Board of Ed. lecture demonstrations, she was trotted out to dance Tarantella for the school programs. But it was my impression she lost time to injury that spring just before the workshop and then seemed to drop out of sight. I'm most happy to hear she's still dancing. MP

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Peter Boal has done a superb job promoting his students since his arrival to PNB and PNBS, definately bringing the company and ballet school into the 21st century.

Robert Weiss has also done an excellent job recruiting talent ifor Carolina Ballet in recent years. Two company members in particular come to mind: a female company apprentice, recruited from Vienna State Opera Ballet School and a female corps de ballet member who trained at the English National Ballet School. Second soloist, Jan Burkhard, (a former SAB graduate) also has performed beautifully this season. I look forward to witnessing the future progression of these dancers with Carolina Ballet.

During the recent Picasso program I was somewhat surprised that the artistic director chose, Lola Cooper, a newly hired apprentice, to perform a demi solo and pas de deux during "Harlequins" in lieu of casting this role with a more seasoned dancer.

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(from New York, NY) Maybe it's not really fair to comment on the qualities of the individual student dancers by name in the Spring exhibition performances presented by ballet academies, except to say that in the cast of the SAB Workshops this year, the overall quality is pretty high and the show as a show is a very good one, much as we might expect from this academy, but maybe it's not a bad time to say a few things about the repertory itself.

I don't see Christopher Wheeldon's Scenes de Ballet very often, which is okay, because its device of dividing the stage with a practice barre set up diagonally still seems to me too literal a part of its cute idea of nearly all the action taking place together with its reflection on the opposite side of the stage. I might have liked it better if the barre were imaginary as well as the mirror, which already is. (Like the mirror in Robbins's Afternoon of a Faun, for instance, which instance might have been a reason Wheeldon wanted to do something different.) When the curtain went up on this the first time around, I thought this would be an obstruction, sooner or later, and when Wheeldon hears in a slow trumpet solo music for an adagio pas de deux for older dancers, it has to happen upstage where the barre leaves room for it. (The pas de deux is a little girl's dream of her future, or something, and this is too cute.)

But hearing is one of Wheeldon's sometime virtues -- the last number sounds like epilogue to me, but I don't see one -- and making his dancers look good at every instant, and having those instants flow one into the next, for cumulative effect, is a more constant one: Everyone on stage looked very good, right through. (Well, in another sense, maybe not one little girl in Saturday evening's performance who apparently missed her cue, so her "reflection" performed by itself for a time.) So even if Scenes weren't an early ballet, it would be cause for us to watch for others from the same hand.

Balanchine's Valse Fantaisie is all perpetuum mobile lightness, and it was helped by clear staging by Suki Schorer. It makes sense to choose the 1967 choreography, for four girls and two principals, for this occasion, instead of the original 1953 one, with three principal women and one man, because the later one gets a few more dancers on stage without requiring as many dancers of as advanced development as the earlier one does.

I thought Mr. B's Bouree Fantasque, or 3/4 of it -- I remember MCB presenting a version with a third movement* -- might have suffered a little in the accompaniment: The opening section doesn't point up the musical wit I think got Balanchine's jokes and perversities going, and so they have to carry themselves; that a boy and girl dancing down a diagonal may bend forward and back oppositely instead of together seems fun enough, as does her kicking the back of his head -- twice -- but to be more set up for this by hearing Chabrier's playfulness better would heighten the fun. Not that this subtle musical business is easy to phrase clearly in the fast tempos Martin West (on loan from SFB) gives.

I think the first music, before the dancing, was a little driven, and the last ("Fete Polonaise") verges on the whipped-up, but here I may be in the embarrassing position of disagreeing not so much with Mr.West but with Susan Pilarre, the excellent stager of Bouree, who I saw at the end of the dress rehearsal (open to supporters of the School) giving West some of the tempos she wanted. I think MCB's tempos were a little bit easier, in fact, and I don't think that faster is always better, without limit, but even if I had some slight problems with these tempos, the dancers didn't seem to!

(Another highlight from the end of the dress rehearsal for me was that Peter Martins spent about a half hour working on the partnering in Bouree; he did this in the center and downstage, audience right, while Pilarre worked with West from the apron. Multiple centers of activity like this often occur at the end. I think of this as the Workshop workshop.)

In what turns out to be the middle movement ("Prelude") of this version, many were struck by a resemblance to Balanchine's La Valse; though there is no "Death" figure or anything, the music is subdued, evocative and mysterious, but remains that way, with no "volcanic" climax; and the principals enter upstage and down, with the corps active in the center, and "find" each other. It doesn't hurt the resemblance either, that the women wear long black gauze skirts over white (like in La Valse). I think both ballets were made in the same year, or nearly.

And then we remember, with some sense of disbelief, that this is all the culmination of several weeks of preparation by a ballet school, presented by teenagers, and not a mature performing company. I don't know how to apply different standards, so I only use one, and these performances measure up really well. Really well.

*Having got home and checked Reynolds's "Repertory in Review", I find nothing about a third movement. I don't know what I got this mixed up with.

*FWIW, the three movements of this ballet turn out to be danced to four pieces of music. That was my confusion.

Edited by Jack Reed
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During the recent Picasso program I was somewhat surprised that the artistic director chose, Lola Cooper, a newly hired apprentice, to perform a demi solo and pas de deux during "Harlequins" in lieu of casting this role with a more seasoned dancer.

arts subscriber, I saw Cooper in 'Harlequins' and also think she's extremely promising.

She is still young and, I believe, will grow tremendously in the next few years--

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I have attended several Carolina Ballet performances since "Picasso" and have been a patron to Carolina ballet for several years. Mr. Weiss has cast Ms. Cooper in various small highlighted roles last season. She has done a lovely job performing each time.

Right or wrong, I believe casting, particularly for highlighted roles, should be determined by company ranking. If an apprentice is given a demi soloist role early in his/ her career then why is he/she not hired at a higher level than the apprentice level to begin with. Why would an artistic director cast a first season apprentice for semi highlighted roles in lieu of choosing a demi soloist? According to Carolina Ballet's web page the company currently lists 3 seasoned female second soloists (Jan Burkhard, Lindsay Purrington, and Erica Sabetini). I guess it is his prerogative. Nevertheless, next season I look forward to observing Ms. Cooper and the other talented members of Carolina Ballet perform in the future.

Just curious, Has Peter Martins announced the 2010-11 apprentices yet for NYC Ballet as the result of the recent SAB Workshop performance?

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It has not been NYCB's custom to announce the appointment of apprentices. Usually we learn of them first from their names as Party Guests, Snowflakes and Flowers in the next run of Nuts, but because of the change of schedule, maybe this year will be different.

There is a handout during rep season that, unlike the Playbill, does list the apprentices. I'll try to remember to pick one up this coming fall.

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