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MCB Program III

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From the MCB website.

"Promethean Fire In[sic] this powerful transcendent piece, as has been suggested, Paul Taylor's response to 9/11? Set to Leopold Stokowski's magnificent orchestral transcriptions of Bach, it has everywhere been hailed as a masterpiece. "The best new dance I've seen in ages." (The Washington Post)

Also in Program III is Nine Sinatra Songs and Scotch Symphony".

Scheduled Dates

Adrienne Arsht Center: February 11-13, 2011

Kravis Center: March 4-6, 2011

Broward Center: March 11-13, 2011


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"Promethean Fire" is one of Paul Taylor's greatest, in my opinion, but it isn't ballet/done for a ballet company, and it will be interesting to hear how MCB performs it.

It was presented on Great Performances/Dance in America by Paul Taylor's company (along with Black Tuesday), which is not available on DVD:



Leads are Patrick Corbin and Lisa Viola.

Here is a link to Gia Korlas' essay on the Great Performances site:


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Thanks Helene for those clips. As it is well known by now, I'm not a fan of modern dance, but I AM a huge fan of the grand, unsubtled bombastic orchestrations of Stokowski!! :clapping: I wonder if this piece's music will be played live. If so, I have an huge pro in my favor. On the other side, I must admit that the clips show a very interesting choreography...way more than those of Tharp, for which Villella seems to be so fond of...

Will see...will report back. :thumbsup:

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Helene, I'm very grateful for the video of Promethean Fire. What a magnificent work it is.

I can see why this is one of the pieces that Taylor is willing to license for performance by ballet companies. MCB can dance the steps and make the movements, I am sure. The challenge will be do to them with the weight and force of Taylor's own dancers. So far, they've done a couple of Taylor works -- Funny Papers, Mercuric Tidings, Company B -- that are very different from this one.

When I imagine MCB dancing Promethean Fire I visualize higher, lighter jumps; more graceful and elegant arm gestures; possiblyi some difficulty maintaining the sustained intensity (the almost ritualistic feel) of of the piece. As someone who does not know Taylor's company well (I've seen them perform only twice) this does not bother me as much as it will those who know Taylor better. A serious question, however, is the matter of who can dance the leads. Corbin and Viola have a hypnotic intensity. I can't think of any MCB dancers -- much less a partnership -- who have this quality.

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Not even Kronenberg and Trividic? Individually they're both able to have much effect while standing still, or nearly - remember her Siren? (I'm relying on your report of his Poet. And your report sounds like they had a good partnership in Sonnambula)

Thanks Helene for those clips. As it is well known by now, I'm not a fan of modern dance, but I AM a huge fan of the grand, unsubtle bombastic orchestrations of Stokowski!! :clapping: I wonder if this piece's music will be played live. If so, I have an huge pro in my favor. On the other side, I must admit that the clips show a very interesting choreography...way more than those of Tharp, for which Villella seems to be so fond of...

Will see...will report back. :thumbsup:

The one time I've seen this piece, it was Taylor's company. Unfortunately, my reactions to Stokowski's orchestrations are opposite to Cristian's - though he uses the right adjectives! - and I felt that time that maybe Taylor was actually mocking what he felt was bloated overreaction to the attacks, if indeed the dance had some connection. So, thanks, Helene, for those clips: Reviewing the dances - or what we can see of them through the busy camera-work - and becoming inured to Stokowski's bloated orchestrations through repetition, I'm already beginning to see more in the piece, and to think better of it. Whether MCB can give it the weight it needs remains to be seen. Funny Papers and Company B looked like Taylor lite - not a bad time, but not the whole game, either.

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Does anyone know why Taylor chose the Stowkoski orchestrations? It gives a quality of weightiness to the piece which contrasts (interestingly, It think) with the force of some of the movement. So I like it HERE, while not ever wishing to hear it without dancing on the stage.

Balanchine would have chosen a more conventional sprightly orchestration, increasing the sense of speed and even effortlessness.

I imagine that MCB's results will end up somewhere in the middle.

Kronenberg and Trividic? Great idea !!! My feeling is that she has lost some of that gorgeous amplitude that I loved in when I first saw her, possibly as a result of being partnered so often with Guerra, a smaller-scale dancer. Maybe it's time for those old qualities to be encouraged via different casting. :thumbsup:

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...and what about the "Nine Sinatra's Songs"...? :dunno:

They've done this at least twice before: in 2004 and 2008. For me, it's a lovely showcase for dancers, and therefore really worth attending multiple performances with different casting. Tharp's choreography, especially the loveliest, can be hard to hold onto, so it helps to focus on what individual dancers are able to do with it.

I'll can't forget Deanna Seay and Mikhail Nikitine in All the Way, or Kronenberg (with Guerra) in One for My Baby. Haiyan Wu was especially lovely in several of the songs, in different casts. So were Callie Manning and Didier Bramaz in Strangers in the Night.

If you have Arlene Croce's Writing in the Dark, make sure you read (or reread) her chapter on "Tharp's Sinatra," based on Tharp's own company performing the work in 1984.

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An interesting video interview with Patrick Corbiin (one of the dancers from whom Promethean Fire was created), who has been down to Miami to set the work for the MCB. Interviewer is Kris Kramer.

Corbin mentions that this is the first time the work has been staged outside the company. Since it has never been out of rep at Paul Taylor Dance Company, Corbin had to put the written record of steps, etc., together working with current dancers, videos, etc. Usually this prep process takes about 3 months, he tells us. This time, because there was "no template to work from," it took 5 months and he wasn't really finished writing things down at the time he flew down to Miami.

The interview includes brief clips from the rehearsal, incluiding the concluding pas de deux. I recognized Yann Trividic but could not identify the woman he was dancing with.


And here's a video by MCB dancer Rebecca King (from her blog, Tendus Under a Palm Tree). It shows a very rough EARLY rehearsal of the piece -- as the dancers learn how to pile their bodies one on top of another. Corbin tries manfully to help them to arrange themselves. The tall dancer in the pink sweat pants is Yann Trividic..


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Is Trividic the man who rises from the heap and raises the woman in red and black? I thought she might be Albertson.

Yeah, getting ballet dancers, those creatures who customarily inhabit the air over the stage, to heap themselves on it would take some study...

But this is one of the things I find remarkable in Taylor. I think it's his Dante Sonata, performed, incidentally, to music (by Ligeti) for a small, unorchestrated organ, which begins and ends, IIRC, with a downstage heap across the stage, but these piles of bodies of his can be remarkably articulate - or at least articulated, with different dancers' limbs or heads standing out, artfully complementing each other - when you'd expect them to be inexpressive masses. (I've seen less expressive ballet choreographies, with dancers on their feet but clumped together into an inarticulate mass.)

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Yes, Jack, that's Trividic. I too had the feeling the womanmight be Albertson. Her body type and the quality of of the way she moves are so different from Viola's, however, that I was sure that my visual impression must be wrong. It might be interesting to see her in such an untypical role.

Regarding the construction of the "pile": I like your word "articulated." I watched the PTDC video several times to see just how carefully the "piling on" is constructed and performed. Corbin, for example, makes a bridge to protect those under him, and you can see the muscles of his arms being used to hold up those above him. I would imagine this would take quite a while to learn to do.

All the Paul Taylor Dance Company dancers seem quite physically strong, even solid -- a look that few young ballet dancers have (or know how to project).

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Just came from opening night. Well well...let's see. Full house-(always a good thing)- some furs in view -(it's cold for Miami...61 degreees tonight)-and a good seat- (orchestra right, 10th row, first outer seat...YES!).

Scotch Symphony was very nice. At first I was trying to make sense of the whole thing, but I gave up after a while. Too many questions, you see...who's the "demi girl"..? Why are those scotchmen being so protective of the sylph...even mean-looking? Why is the sylph mentioned in the programme as a "real girl" as opposed to a mere spirit...? Why are the women wearing sylph-like costumes with that black thing on top...? Are they sylphs too...or human beings...? And on and on. After realizing that there were no answers for all those questions- (and some more)-, I started just to relax, "watch" the ballet and enjoy the dancing -(No, I still don't need that "Oh dear...go home, drink some little wine and read some fairy tales" response...at least no yet. :wink: ). The Sylph was Katia Carranza, and "James" -( :cool: )-Renato Panteado. Carranza was beautiful to watch and she wore the romantic tutu with conviction. Panteado partnered her very nicely too and threw some attractive steps here and there. But honestly, the highlight of this performance for me was definitely Miss Leigh-Ann Esty as the “demi girl”-(can I call her Effie…?). Miss Esty- (just as her twin sister Sara)-is one of those dancers that radiates lots of energy and convincement in whatever role she is in, and I always enjoy her vitality and high-spirited demeanor onstage. Brava!

The sylph wasn’t thrown from her men to James- (as in the Tallchief/Eglevsky video)-; she was merely passed over to him. I wish they had kept the more effective older step though. The romantic PDD was lovely to watch, but I didn’t really see that much of a love story-(if this is the original intention, or if this is just the dancers’ choice of interpretation I don’t know).

Still…this is a ballet that I could definitely come to appreciate/like, but not to love, I think.

Something on "Promethean Fire" tomorrow- (will go back for a second view with friends and my mom)

Edited to add: I didn’t stay for Tharp’s.

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THANK YOU, Helene, for posting this.

I've seen a lot of Taylor, but never seen this before.

I think Miami COULD do htis -- but the attack, the weight, will have to be tremendous, and not what ballet dancers are used to.

The piece is tremendous They actually match up to the art-deco histrionics of Stokowski's version of this sublime piece -- -- it's all there in Bach, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is not for sissies, it's flat-out GOthic!

but iut's hard not to picture the opening of Fantasia as he conducts this, and the abstract light show that accompanies the music seems to have influenced Taylor's imagination quite a lot here, in the pelting way the dancers attack your field of vision.

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02/12 Evening performance.

NSS- :icon8:

Will elaborate when I'm back from the beach...Lovely day today! :yahoo:

It IS a great sunny day down here, isn't it? (Just came back from a very interesting student performance of modern dance -- including 2 lovely short pieces by Anna Sokolow -- at FAU.)

So, Cristian, do I get the feeling you DIDN'T enjoy Nine Sinatra Songs? :wink:

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts -- including the reasons for your :icon8: on the Tharp.

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NSS- :icon8:

Will elaborate when I'm back from the beach...Lovely day today! :yahoo:

When you're subscribed to a thread to get email notification, the smilies don't show, only the code.

I had to check the actual post to see what "icon8" was :lol:

Hope you have a great day at the beach!

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Hope you have a great day at the beach!

Thanks Helene. It was a gorgeous day. The water is still cold, but nothing like a good swimming session in winter time! -(that's my other passion, BTW...is there a SwimmingTalk.com by any chance..? :thumbsup: )

Anyway...back to Program III...


Having such a limited understanding/acceptance/knowledge of modern/contemporary dancing, I'm very pleased to report that I enjoyed Taylor's piece more than what I expected. I mean...the formula can't go wrong. First of all you have Stokowski's blatant, unashamed transcription as a musical background, tragic sounding and everything. Here goes 50% to the likeness side. A very simple, but effective costume design where everyone looks great-("while in doubt, wear black")-, emphasizing the V shapes of the dancers' upper bodies, males and females, and enhancing their muscularity, plus a wonderfully designed lighting scheme with changing shades and spot lights in the right places/moments and then you have another 20 % on the good. Finally, a very pleasant choreography with fluid combinations and symmetric constructions WITHOUT HAVING TO MAKE THE DANCERS LOOK GROTESQUE WITH RIDICULOUS STEPS and voila!...you have the tutu/pointe-dependent guy enthusiastically clapping at curtain calls.

Yann Trividic danced the lead both on Friday and Saturday night, alternating with Tricia Albertson-(loved her here!)-on the first night and with Mary Carmen Catoya-(welcome back, girl!)- last night. Very intelligent thinking. Albertson and Catoya are both petite dancers-(Catoya the smallest of them all)- and Trividic is the tallest, more solid bailarin of the company, meaning that he was able to manage both of them as if they were feathers. No shaky lifts, no cheating...nothing. He did a great job. In general the whole company was wonderful here. Usually contemporary choreographies are so crazy and "free" looking that one would never guess in between all the floor rolling, running and confusion if they are doing something wrong or even if they are improvising...(that happened to me while watching the Cunningham's company...I realized that they all could had been doing whatever they pleased and I would had never realized...and I don't like that...I like to feel somehow "in control" even as a watching entity.)

Anyway...two thumbs up here!

"Nine Sinatra's Songs" definitely has an audience here which indentifies itself with it. The cheering and applause of the elderly sector of the audience was too obvious and loud to ignore, so if it collects the dollars we need to be able to see T&V, then go for it Eddie...

The disco ball was to much though...

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Just returned from the Friday evening performance (11th March) in Ft. Lauderdale. I didn't think I'd ever say that the hit of the evening for me was "One for My Baby" in Nine Sinatra Songs, but the way Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra pulled off the "labyrinthine acrobatic choreography," as Croce aptly describes this number, with its "slithers, blind leaps, tipsy-daisy lifts, and ass-over-heels floorwork," made it the funniest, driest-witty drunken pas de deux in my experience since the one in Christensen's Filling Station, from the '30s, which Ballet West showed in Chicago many years ago. And made it better, Tharp being the choreographer she is, compared to Christensen. But that's how it turned out.

The same couple led Scotch Symphony, and while Guerra was fine, I think I've seen planes of existence more differentiated in the "Sylph" role than Kronenberg showed tonight - when they dance together, they're together, but there are moments when she is inaccessibly surrounded by men when some dancers in the "Sylph" role have regarded the mere mortal seeking her with some interest but little human warmth, to describe one manifestation of this. The nature of this woman moves back and forth, in other words, between a fantastic creature and an everyday one. Or it has these different sides. So while this was a fine opener, as Villella claimed for it in his pre-performance remarks, it could have had more dimension. (Not Kronenbrg's own fault necessarily, to be fair; as always, it's a matter of what the dancer supplies, in addition to what her preparation supplies her with.) Leigh-Ann Estey was the Kilt Girl in the first movement, and I think the role needs a bouncier treatment.

Promethean Fire, led by Tricia Albertson and Yann Trividic, still seems obscure to me, which certainly doesn't mean it's not good - that could just as well mean it's quite good indeed. (It's sometimes to the credit of a work that "getting it" it is not an easy transition from other work by the same artist.) The lightness of these ballet dancers' rendition, compared to the power and weight of the Taylor dancers' movement I first saw in it a few years ago probably doesn't help me, and the dimness of the lighting sometimes, for example in most of the middle section, doesn't, either. (The Taylor company's performance also had some lighting changes, but less extreme, I think.)

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Back now from the Saturday matinee (12th March). Mary Carmen Catoya, in Promethean Fire with Yann Trividic - their shortest woman with their tallest man, I believe - carried the program for me: Everything she does is just so complete, clear, and unaffected, and concentrating on one of the leads is not a bad way into a ballet, I think. If she does this again, I may become something of a fan of "Fire" - everybody calls it Promethean, but I'm going against the grain - but so far I'm enjoying the company's performances of it, or at least hers without really "getting it." (I still think Taylor's dancers in part one in the PBS video on YouTube shows more effective dancing, as though they were bearing much weight but not letting compromise their line or speed; MCB looks unloaded, light, but I would not argue against MCB's doing it. cf. bart's comment about this in Post #13, above.)

The weightless softness Albertson showed earlier in the season made her a logical choice for some Scotch Symphonys, and that quality paid off handsomely in the second movement this afternoon, although I'm not sure Kronenberg didn't animate the last movement better, if Albertson realizes the other-ness of the "Sylph" character more extensively. For one thing, in the two moments where the "James" runs across and back downstage, Albertson regards him with something like the academic interest of a spirit leading him on. (I want to add that her softness appears to be like the tactile kind, not the optical kind - there's nothing fuzzy about her dancing!)

Nine Sinatra Songs was not quite the repeat of last night it might have been. Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra performed "One For My Baby" again, making it look just about nuts, which is contradictorily why it looks like they own it - witness where he crouches toward us and she clambers up on him as though too ploughed to grasp more than her objective, never mind the means to reach it. But Nathalia Anja, with Andrei Chagas, was just superb in "Something Stupid" for her clarity in realizing the witty missed-signals substance of this dance. Last night it had been Albertson; it looks like this earthy stuff is not so much her level as the rarified plane of the supernatural.

Edited by Jack Reed
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This evening's performance (Saturday 12th March) did a lot for my appreciation of the program - I had a seat smack on the center line, usually a big help for me, and watching Kronenberg in Scotch it came to me that she was warmer and more passionate than any Sylph (and more animated than Albertson had been), and that the way to enjoy her big, beautiful performance was just to forget about most of the Sylph stuff - there is some built into the choreography, to be sure - and so I did, and had the best time with Scotch so far this weekend. And Nathalia Arja's Kilt Girl, or whatever she's called, who leads the first movement of this ballet, was the best, most bouncy, of those on view here so far.

Albertson was back in Promethean Fire, and danced like one of the large ensemble who perform this ballet, rather than like the unique inhabitant of it Catoya had been, except of course that her part is the largest for any woman; and the ballet was effective this way for me through this and a similar approach to the one that worked so well in Scotch - forget about the disaster references and look at it as more abstract. Not entirely, but just notice the inescapable references and otherwise watch its relation to its music, and so on. So while this performance lacked Catoya's transcendent and transcending presence - she seems to me to raise the ballet by her presence within it - it was more moving as an abstraction, if its degree of abstraction is variable over its running time.

Finally Nine Sinatra Songs is beginning to wear on me a little, although Kronenberg and Guerra again made "One for My Baby" very effective, and Albertson's unfailing spot-on timing from beginning to end made "Something Stupid" the sharply-observed comedy it is, even if her characterization was less full than Arja's had been.

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