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NYCB "Midsummer's ..." Wednesday 6/27

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Great night at NYCB!! I'm not overly fond of Balanchine's version of Midsummer's- it's a bit confusing when it comes to the storyline, and the second act seems like somewhat of an afterthought. However,whatever qualms I have about the production, the dancing was stellar!

As Oberon, Damian Woetzel was properly regal, and put on his usual show during his solo parts. It's interesting, as someone commented in another post, how popular he is with the NYCB crowd, yet you don't hear much about him outside the NY dance world. The only realy glitch occured when Oberon "used" the magic flower on Titania-the flower part had fallen off, so Titania was bewitched by a stem! I assume that normally, the flower part is still attached!!

Jenni Somogyi was fantastic as Hippolyta-great energy in the foutte sequence. I think she got the loudest applause of the first act. Jared Angle made his debut as Titania's cavalier. His partnering was solid, though I think it will be smoother with more experience. And his solo bit was spot on! Unfortunately he did not get a bow-does Titania's cavalier generally not come out for the 1st act bows?

Kudos also to Kipling Houston for an excellent job with the tricky partnering in the role of Bottom. It's one thing to partner, another to do it while wearing an asses head!

The highlight of the night for me (other than seeing Damian dance!) was the 2nd act pas se deux. Phillip Neal and Miranda Weese were outstanding-probably the best I've seen them dance.

All in all, well worth the aggrivation of driving into NYC! I can't wait to see the multitude of debuts on Friday!

Good news-Amar Ramasar has apparently gotten his corps contract. BTW-apprentices now only can stay a maximum of one year before getting a corps contract or being asked to leave.


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Yup..Kipling is still dancing! I saw him last month in Tschaik.third, in the first movement. Looking back at old programs, it turns out that my parents saw Kipling dance the same role back in 1987 or so!! Wow!!! Talk about longetivity...and he still dances well.


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In the future, if you don't want to wait, you can always check recent casting at the NYCB webpage.

Wendy Whelan was Titania, Rachel Rutherford was Hermia and Dena Abergel was Helena.

Yes Neal and Weese did the Act 2 Divertissement PDD.


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Kiplin Houston was *already* dancing with NYCB back in 1977 when I started attending regularly! I think Kyra Nichols and Helene Alexopoulos are the only other active NYCB dancers who have been around as long -- Nichols joined in 1974 and Alexopoulos in 1977 or 78. I'll miss them all when they retire!

Houston danced Lysander on Tuesday night when I attended Dream. I'm also going Friday and Saturday nights in some sort of compare / contrast frenzy, and will try to report back when the dust settles ... Judging from the cast lists, hardly anyone will repeat the same role twice.

Here's the rest of Tuesday's cast:

Titania: D. Kisler

Oberon: P. Boal

Puck: A. Evans

Helena: K. Tracey

Hermia: P. van Kipnis

Lysander: K. Houston

Demetrius: A. Higgins

Hippolyta: J. Somogyi (sub for Meunier -- hope she's not injured again ...)

Theseus: H. Seth (sub for R. Lyon)

Cavalier: C. Askegard

Bottom: J. Fayette

Butterfly: J. Taylor

Divertissement: M. Weese (sub for Whelan) and J. Soto

Andrea Quinn conducted

The house was PACKED, by the way, which surprised me for some reason.

On aa related note: there is an interview with Albert Evans in this week's Time Out NY in which he discusses his fondess for the role of Puck, among other things. He's apparently choreographing something for the next Diamond Project.

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Carla Körbes made an unscheduled debut Thursday night (Darci cancelled). I thought she was sensational -- regal and completely at ease as if she was born to the role. Boal was as impressive as I've seen him recently. And what about those doubles by Jennie Somogyi!

The house was packed last night as well. I got the impression there were a lot of non-regulars.

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I was at last night's performance as well. I agree that Korbes was lovely. She was very youthful in the role, which is a change from the last two times I've seen it performed (Kistler and Whelan.) I do think Korbes needs a bit more polish in her port de bras, but otherwise, she did a wonderful job.

As you said, Boal danced as well as I've seen him dance. And Somogyi, well. . . I can't say enough about her virtuosity and energy. We were also treated to Evans as Puck. He is just stupendous.

There were a lot of substituions last night, not just Kistler. Somogyi danced in place of Meunier, as well. Although I like Meunier, I can't say I was disappointed by Somogyi. And Fayette danced in place of Askegard as the Titania's Cavalier.

All did well, but I wonder what happened -- were people really sick/injured, or was there just a reshuffling for scheduling reasons?

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It's the end of the season - by this point substitutions are rife, and they are usually injury.

quoting Barnes on the Tuesday night performance with Andrea Quinn conducting:

She has conducted for City Ballet before, but now, just returned from pregnancy leave, she takes up her new appointment with a speed, zest and brilliance that promises lively times ahead for the dancers and the orchestra.

Translation: According to the dancers, the ballet clocked in at 7 minutes under normal timing, five of them in the first act. I don't think it allowed them to give value to the choreography in Act I.

[ 06-29-2001: Message edited by: Leigh Witchel ]

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I hope all you New Yorkers have picked up on the fact that scheduling "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this week may not be a coincidence. It IS Midsummer Night this weekend. Glad Sankt Hans Aften.

Perhaps speeding batons are part of the Misdummer Madness/Magic.

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As we sat down for the Tuesday night performance, I saw that Andrea Quinn was conducting, and I said to my friend, "Oh good! We'll be out of here by ten."

Once again, Quinn contributed to my musical education. A year ago, I learned from her that much of the score of Swan Lake was, in fact, written by John Philip Sousa. Now I know that the ever-versatile Sousa also composed incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The mind boggles at the thought of Quinn conducting Stars and Stripes. I have this nightmare vision of the men in Rifle Regiment scattering around the stage like bowling pins while attempting those mulitiple double-tours.

When the curtain came down (despite the spritely pace, it was a heavenly performance), I turned to my friend and said, "OK, what time is it?"


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...not to mention "spritely" pace! It really must have been a fine performance, with all those elves and fairies in it, to put you in such a punning mood, Manhattnik! I'm glad.

Thanks for debunking Barnes, Leigh.

[ 06-29-2001: Message edited by: Jack Reed ]

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Just back from Friday night's performance...

Fiorato conducted, so it didn't end til after 10pm :D)

It was interesting seeing Millipied and Korbes as compared to the more-than-a-decade-older Woetzel and Whelan. I think that the younger dancers give the roles a slightly different dynamic (if that makes any sense). Tonight Titania and Oberon seemed more like quarreling lovers-younger and less experienced, as compared to Wednesday night's dignified married couple having a disagreement.

Millipied did a fine job, though he simplified some of the steps (most noticabley, at the end of Oberon's first act solos, only doing a single tour or whatever that move is called). I also thought some of the timing in the "arguement scene" was a tad off-Whelan and Woetzel were more convincing. Nonetheless, I am excited by Millipied's dancing (and looks :)), and hope he sticks around at NYCB.

James Fayette did a great job as Titania's Cavalier-an excellent choice to help out a new Titania. You won't find a nicer and more solid dancer than Fayette. I wonder if this is why he danced the role last night with Korbes.

Adam Hendrickson made a delightful debut as Puck! I thought his mime was excellent, and his body is suited for the leaps and bounds. He also "flew" higher at end-on Wednesday Puck didn't appear to get very high. He seems to be following in the footsteps of Tom Gold, as does Daniel Ulbricht.

The rest of the dancers were fine, but not quite up to the level of Wednesday's cast (or energy). Whelan and Soto were solid in the Act 2 pas de deux, though the lovely ending was marred by a cell phone ringing (ARRRGHH...I swear that one rings during every performance...are people deaf....stupid....!!!!). Soto looks like he is carrying a bit more weight now, and not quite as quick, though still a wonderful partner. The costume does not flatter his build either.

Other good debuts included Stuart Capps as one of the two lovers (I can't remember which) and Alexandra Ansanelli as Helena. Jared Angle danced well, but seemed to being a having a bad wig day...I kept waiting for the whole thing to come off.

Also, the pivotal Act 1 scene in the fog didn't come off as well tonight. The dry ice fog appeared patchy, which detracted from the mysterious-foggy look, and the timing seemed not quite right. And Blascovich's Hippolyta wasn't as all out at Somogyi's.

OK....now I realize that the flower is supposed to be "deflowered" when Oberon waked up Titania. Oops...

One final question about a bit of plot. At the end of the pas de deux with Titania and her Cavalier, she and the Cavalier duck behind her "throne", presumabley to hide from Puck. However, they go behind the chair before Puck arrives, and do it rather casually, looking around carefully before going behind the chair. At first, I thought it seemed like they were ducking out of sight for a quick kiss...though I'm told it's merely to hide from Puck. Has anyone else interpreted it this way....?


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As I'm out of town, I'd love it if anyone has news about the rest of the weekend's performances -- Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday. Did anyone go?

One thing that has I'm recollecting clearly, after attending Tuesday and Wednesday night, was how well the kids performed and how well Gabrielle Whittle appeared to have coached them.

I like this ballet and what's wrong with Act II being almost totally a divertissement? First -- Clive Barnes to the contrary who cares -- it's not correct that the action is entirely complete after Act I. The wedding is still to come, ceremonious as that is. And even if Act II was nothing but an entertainment, how does that differ from Sleeping Beauty Final Act? Wedding and Dances, that's all.

[ 07-01-2001: Message edited by: Michael1 ]

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Well, I had quite the full Midsummer's week, having attending 2 working rehearsals (W & Th) and 3 performances (Th, Sat eve, Sun). Some of my impressions are similar to others.

Titania: Korbes was just beautiful. In rehearsal, Leland (who is fun to watch in her role as ballet mistress) was trying to get Korbes to move bigger and more dramatically. She wasn't quite there yet during rehearsal. But, then, that night, wow. She's one of those dancers who seem to make time slow down when I watch them-- they so carefully articulate the movement and push through the air. Gorgeous. Whelan still has more fun in the role, but Korbes has years to discover news things in the role.

Oberon: On Sat. night I think Woetzel gave an uncharacteristically *off* performance. I still can't quite put my finger on what was wrong, but there wasn't that usual energy and polish. The audience seemed to notice, too, as he got no applause as he left stage each time during the scherzo (unlike Boal and Millipied). Boal is always a joy to watch, though I must admit I have enjoyed his performances in other ballets these last two seasons much more than his Oberon. He can have rigidity in his upper body sometimes, and here it came out too much for my tastes. Of course, Millipied can also seem less of a pure classical dancer at times, too. But, it didn't seem to both me here. He really went for broke on Sunday with a clear interpretation of the role-- his Oberon was a spoiled, fiesty king.

Puck- Even now the image of Evans sword-fighting with glee and mischievousness (he jogs, tilting his head from side to side, with a huge smile on his face) makes me laugh. It is hard for me to watch anyone else in the role, as he IS Puck to me.

I did, however, enjoy Hendrickson in rehearsal (I didn't see her perfs).

Bottom- I just loved Ritter. He also fully inhabits his role.

The lovers-- I can't even articulate how horrid I thought K. Tracey was. I have never thought her that graceful a dancers, but whatever grace she had she lost in an effort to be dramatic. Helena is difficult role to do, as it calls for big, rougher movements than that of Hermia, but Abergel in perf and Ansanelli in rehearsal both seemed to balance grace with drama. Rutherford was her usual gorgeous, graceful self as Hermia-- in the 2nd act, I really felt like I was at her wedding, she was so joyous. I am a van Kipnis fan, provided it's the right role. I still see her as more Hippolyta than Hermia-- She still did a nice job as Hermia, but she seems too strong to me. I don't pick up the vulnerable vibe from her, though I think of Hermia in that way. I tend to pay less attention to the men, as they also have less of a dance role. In his role here, too, I loved Ritter. And, also Higgins.

Hippolyta: I only so Blascovich in a short reheasal, so don't want to comment. As for Somogyi, well, wow. The power in that body just never ceases to amaze me. That she can be a forceful Amazon in one ballet, and a soft ballerina in another (say, Brahm-S Quartet) just floors me.

Butterfly: I'm prejudiced here as I saw Taylor and Bouder, of whom I have polar opposite opinions. I can say that Taylor was fine in the role, still too fluttery and not enough beauty (more moth-like than butterfly?). In her debut, Bouder had trouble with her attitude turns, but she had a better handle on it on Sat eve. Both Taylor and Bouder are extremely high jumpers-- you'd think Bouder was using a trampoline. I think Taylor's fail to impress me as much for the same reason her dancing, as whole, doesn't impress me-- her grand jete seems like a step to getting to the next step. Bouder's has power (she reminds me of Somogyi a lot) and seems suspended in air. Taylor is also quite introverted-- it still seems like it's all about getting through some sort of test, as opposed to expressing oneself and enjoying the moment-- which, two other butterflies do quite well, though they don't have the jumping height--- Edge and Walker (both whom I saw in reheasal). Watching them, Butterfly is not so much about the flying as joy and beauty (Bouder's has joy and beauty, too).

Titania's Cavalier-- On a show-must-go-on note, Korbes' curly hair piece fell off during her pas de deux on Sunday. A little later, Fayette gracefully scooped it up and, as he ran near the wings, threw it off. A true cavalier. On dancing notes, both her and Angle were, as usual, gallant partners to their mistresses.

Divertissement: I have not always enjoyed Weese in romantic adagio's (e.g., Mercurial...), but she was stunning here. Like Korbes as Titania, time slowed down here, too-- I couldn't take my eyes away). What I would give to see Ringer and Hubbe do this role!

It's as if Balanchine knew with this pas de deux and Nutcracker that so many different dancers were going to perform it that all had to look good in it, no matter their style or look. Where am I going with this? Well, as much as I was nearly heartbroken that I wouldn't get to see my beloved Kistler yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised by Borree's performance. The choreography wins out here- I was able to see beyond her... style... and glean some enjoyment from seeing one of the most beautiful pas de deuxes (is that the plural) ever made. On another crazy performance note, Martins fell-- and it wasn't one of those landing on one knee and touching the stage with a hand to keep balance slight falls. This was a trying to recover unsuccesfully and landing on one's tushy type. The hair falling and tushy landing seemed to make perfect bookends to the performance.

On a general note about the ballet-- every year when I see the schedule, I always seem to lament that I'd be missing out on other repertory for a week of MND. Then, I see it, again, and am reminded what a piece of genius it is. I, who dread full-length ballets, love this one. Balanchine tells the story WITH DANCE, very little walking around, and with great drama and humor. No matter how many times I see it, I cannot help but laugh when Bottom looks up at the audience, while holding Titania. Or the 4-in-a-row brush-offs that the lovers give to the unrequited ones.

And, I agree that the 2nd act is no more an add-on than Sleeping Beauty. In the 2nd act, we do get performances by the three wedding couples, and a journey back to the forest at the end. The divertissement pas de deux has a magical, unearthly quality to it, fitting perfectly into the theme of the night.

I so wish Balanchine had created more full-length story ballets-- I might actually see more of them. There seems to be an irony here in that Balanchine, who is known for his plotless leotard ballets, created my favorite full-length ballets (Nutcracker and MND). Well, whatever genre he chose, he inhabited fully as reflected in his ballets.

Alas, five more months until I see NYCB again!!! Where are my Balanchine videos?....


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Well, this topic is getting old but I'm just back and want to at least tell my favorite castings for the week. This is one of my favorite ballets by the way and I did also see PNB on TV but didn't watch through the end b/c it was so NOT like watching it in the theatre. So here are my favorites:

Titania: Kistler, but Korbes is beautiful!

Oberon: Boal, always

Puck: Evans, nobody like him

Divert: Whelan, Soto

Hippolyta: Somogyi

Butterfly: Taylor, whose fast feet were perfect for Quinn's conducting!

the lovers: Ansanelli, Rutherford, Marcovici, Angle (different casts)

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Woetzel must have been off on Saturday, because I noticed the exact opposite thing about the applause during the week. On Wednesday, Woetzel got applause every time he left the stage (and sometimes when he entered), but on Friday Millipied received no applause at all.


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Interesting than Woetzel was off on Sat. I saw him rehearsing alone onstage on Fri. aft. Just the rehearsal pianist and an electric rendition of the scherzo, proceeded by some beautiful pirouettes and followed by the coda from Tchai. Pas. A memorable experience.

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Some afterthoughts and reactions to Amanda a week later:

De gustibus non disputandum est, I enjoyed Kathleen Tracey's performance of Helena very much on Tuesday night. I thought her rendition of the part had good clarity and detail, and that she presented a good, long, flowing line in the costume (with its high bodice and floor length skirt). She has always had a lovely flow into arabesque and that also came through nicely in this part, in the passages where she arabesques and kisses demetrius repeatedly, then runs forward and does it again.

She did not make me forget Riolama Lorenzo in this role, all the same. Rio was great Helena. Probably I'll never see as good.

And I loved Pascale van Kipnis's Hermia. Of the two female lovers, this is the ballerina role and Pascale is very ballerina. I agree she would make a wonderful Titania. I'm thinking the reason she's been scarce this year is still the after effect of last year's injury. It may have been more severe than I thought. Just speculation. But I'd love an explanation for why she's been so little cast which was rational.

I thought Jennie Somogyi had problems handling the bow in both performances I saw. (Dancing with props must be quite an arcane skill, it deserves a thread all its own). She has often remarked how she

has problems with her arms, or had them

in her training, that they'd tend to be all over the place, and the bow accented this. I've seen this performed on other occasions when the bow is held aloft in the pirouettes forming a very beautiful line.

I loved the force of Jennie's fouettes, though, and how very high she had her working leg -- I've never seen fouettes done with the working leg so lifted. Even more, I loved her in the Second Act wedding pdd, and the march forward that precedes it. Her turn out is so beautiful in that pace forward, and the final 180 degree extension at the end of the pdd, with one hand almost

on her hip and her body gracefully effaced just a little bit, and with the other arm extended high, was just breathtaking. I'll remember that for a long time.

Still, I wonder why Meunier didn't dance. I note she's still cast in a few things in Saratoga.

It's funny how performances age and gain savour in recollection. These two have a great perfume a week later.

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