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MCB Program II. Balanchine/Taylor/Tharp


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From the MCB website...

"MCB’s second program of the season brings to life George Balanchine’s famous words “See the music, hear the dance” with Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, Paul Taylor’s Mercuric Tidings and George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements."

(Yawn in my book), but I will still go tomorrow, I can't help it...I like pointe shoes..(Symphony in three movements)

http://www.miamicityballet.org/event/hear-the-dance-2015-01-11-mat

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I saw the Saturday 8pm peformance. There was a fair amount of attendance, but no where near full. Is this normal for Miami?

I enjoyed Symphony in Three Movements enormously. Mercuric Tidings was fine and I actually enjoyed Nine Sinatra Songs more than I thought I would. The company an orchestra were all on point, but the programming was confusing to me.

I am not sure if this is some pointe shoe-saving strategy, but I dislike that there were two non-ballet ballet pieces. Between Symphony being so modern, Mercuric tidings barefoot, and Sinatra being not realted to ballet at all, I did not feel like I really went to the ballet. I also failed to see how Sinatra fit into the "hear the dance" theme. There are a dozen other ballets that could probably have been a better fit.

Does anyone know what goes into the programming decisions? I am new to south Florida, does MCB always focus so much on modern dance? It's not that I am opposed to Tharp and Taylor pieces but it was too much together.

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I did not feel like I really went to the ballet. I also failed to see how Sinatra fit into the "hear the dance" theme. There are a dozen other ballets that could probably have been a better fit.

Does anyone know what goes into the programming decisions? I am new to south Florida, does MCB always focus so much on modern dance? It's not that I am opposed to Tharp and Taylor pieces but it was too much together.

This company is going downhill. Let me rephrase that. It is becoming "Morphoses", the short lived project of Lopez/Wheeldon. I went to the matinee performance today, and you're right. It doesn't feel AT ALL like going to the ballet.

Welcome to the new Miami City Ballet.

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I plan to see this program in Ft. Lauderdale next month. Symphony in Three Movements is the main draw, so I was delighted to read how much you liked it, writer. (Have you seen MCB's promo clip of that from five years ago? I wonder how what you just saw compared, for energy and attack and vigor and vitality and so on, with that?)

We're in agreement about the less satisfactory programing at MCB currently. If you live in Chicago as I do, you already have a good reason to visit Florida in the wintertime, but I've always planned my winter breaks according to the MCB repertory, making as many as four trips one season several years ago. But this season and last I had to look hard to find one that I thought would do. I like the other two items, too, but this program doesn't "make sense" - they don't go together.

Under Villella there was "modern" sometimes, but usually one Taylor or something between two ballets - real ballets - and one program with one full-length ballet - Giselle or the Petipa Don Quixote, for example - usually at the end of the season. (Conventionally we don't count The Nutcracker in these discussions of season repertory, although I consider Balanchine's among his best and among the best "full-lengths" to be seen anywhere.)

So, yeah, why? What goes into the decisions? As Cristian implies, MCB's new artistic director has her own interests and tastes, different from her predecessor, Edward Villella, and her programing will reflect that. (Also the way the dancers dance, it's starting to look to me, and to Jordan Levin, the Miami Herald's estimable critic, and a credit to one of the country's better newspapers, IMO.) How different remains to be seen. What was "normal for Miami" is a little hard to pin down, and a little beside the point, too.

But I also gather marketing - what marketers think - may enter into it more than it used to. I'm not privy to the decision-making, but I gather some say, "They have to put on what we can sell," and, "We want newbies," - this is not just in the context of MCB - and if they don't think they can sell what people with some developed tastes and preferences like to see, we're not going to see as much of it offered. (As far as I can see, marketers aren't ballet fans, don't look at it from the "consumer" point of view, and sometimes they act as though they don't want us "oldbies" in there.)

(Some MCB publicity pictures I've seen don't cheer me up, either.)

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"They have to put on what we can sell,"

And I tell you what sells in Miami. The ballroom Tharp does, as well as flamenco, salsa and Cirque du Soleil. Miami City Ballet has the Balanchine legacy that Villella brought, but it is a fact that the city has never been/is not/won't ever be identified with the artform, we like it or not. If it is still surviving, it is really a miracle-(and quite coming from an ample dose of stubbornness on Villella's part, aside from his devotion to Balanchine). This miracle is definitely beginning to disappear.

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I'm a little curious about the upset over the rep. All three of those ballets premiered under Villella. The last time the Taylor was programmed, it appeared next to one of Edward's ballroom ballets, so swap that out for the Tharp ballroom piece and you have a near identical program. Not a single Morphoses choreographer, other than Wheeldon himself, has been programmed by Lopez. Are we romanticizing the Edward days a bit or is a change in the style/dancing making us grumpy about things that might not otherwise bother us?

Jordan's writing is more hit or miss for me, and I can't help but feel she's looking for something she's supposed to be seeing. She sometimes finishes what appears to be a highly flattering paragraph on a very negative note, so it can be confusing what her actual opinion is.

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It's really sad to hear that the company's Balanchine is slipping, but I'd go see them anyhow, even in this program, if they'd just come some place close. They used to bring a program or two to the D.C. area every year, but with the exception of a Charlottesville appearance in 2007, they haven't been here since 2004. I suppose there is no money for touring. What a pity.

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I'm a little curious about the upset over the rep.

...

Not a single Morphoses choreographer, other than Wheeldon himself, has been programmed by Lopez. Are we romanticizing the Edward days a bit or is a change in the style/dancing making us grumpy about things that might not otherwise bother us?

...

[Jordan Levin] sometimes finishes what appears to be a highly flattering paragraph on a very negative note, so it can be confusing what her actual opinion is.

"The rep" for this program or for this season? We have three Balanchines this season all together. (Plus his The Nutcracker, which I'm not too proud to admit I sometimes take for granted.) I'm not well acquainted with the details of Morphoses repertory, other than that it was mostly fresh-made on those dancers, right?

And I'd like to go on record as not being opposed to the work of living choreographers; it's just that my experience with them has more often been disappointing than with some older artists who have passed from the scene personally, whether their art has or not. The current ones often seem to be chasing after concepts, like current cultural trends or fashions in dance, and I happen to enjoy most dancing that offers the appearance that the dancers are doing what the music tells them to do. What it tells them right now.

Balanchine and some others build in that possibility. (Although it's still possible to rehearse his ballets to the point of perfect routine. Or routine perfection? That tends to bore me, either way you put it.)

"Others" including, not incidentally, Mr. Wheeldon sometimes, whose Polyphonia I watched my usual way, to see how the dancers heard their music, gave me a good time last season.

Maybe it's both that we miss Villella's programming to some extent and we miss the style of the dancing under his direction. (Polyphonia seemed to me the best - most freshly - danced item on that program last season. For me, the others suffered from what bothers Levin; in my words, smooth clarity and not so much "blood.") Villella put on programs that didn't draw me, like the Petipa "Don Q" or his own ballroom project or a couple of Jimmy Gamonet's ballets I'd rather forget.

If Levin seems mixed up, I think it's because she has lots to say in a short review, contrasting the old MCB and the new - she regrets the loss of urgency, edge and power in "Movements" (as she calls it; we called it "Symphony Three" back in the day, when "Movements" denoted a different ballet, FWIW), criticizing the newer smoothness in that and Sinatra, while praising the benefits of the company's precision and clarity in Mercuric Tidings. She's writing about two companies with the same name.

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Well, they're going to be in Vancouver BC later in the spring, in an all-Balanchine program -- I'm hoping to get up there and see them.

I wonder whether their Balanchine will look as vital as PNB's Jewels did in Seattle in October.

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Well, they're going to be in Vancouver BC later in the spring, in an all-Balanchine program -- I'm hoping to get up there and see them.

I wonder whether their Balanchine will look as vital as PNB's Jewels did in Seattle in October.

Fingers crossed -- they're doing Serenade, Symphony in Three, and Ballo.

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I enjoyed Symphony in Three Movements. Compared to the clips it looked better this year. I have never seen it peformed by NYCB. Is is signifigantly better?

I didn't dislike any ballet I saw on Saturday, just the programming.

For the short time I have been in Miami, I think the company may actually benefit from doing some more classical works for ticket sales. People in Miami unfortunately are not as cultured as other places. Their idea of going to the ballet is Nutcracker, Swan Lake and pretty much ends there. Personally, I would be content with mostly Balanchine programming. Amongst my co-workers (which all have graduate degrees in my field) only one had even heard the name Balanchine. When they heard I was going to the ballet they could not get past that there was not plot and no tutus involved.

I know MCB did Jewels several years back. The company is at 50 dances now, is this a possibility next season?

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They could easily do 2 balanchine story ballets: Midsummer Night's Dream and Coppelia. They wouldn't have to build sets, they could rent them from Pennsylvania Ballet (Midsummer) or any variety of company for Coppelia.

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They could easily do 2 balanchine story ballets: Midsummer Night's Dream and Coppelia. They wouldn't have to build sets, they could rent them from Pennsylvania Ballet (Midsummer) or any variety of company for Coppelia.

Forgive my ignorance -- do they already have those in their rep?

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Friday evening 6 February in Broward Center for the Performing Arts

A woman near me in the aisle after George Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements, to Igor Stravinsky's music, had seen what I saw but responded differently. "I was inspired," she said. "It was like ballet class." But "class" is preparation, sometimes pretty routine exercises repeated over and over, to strengthen the dancers' bodies and technique, their ability to realize something more. This was a performance in the theater, the purpose for which technique is developed, but that aim, that further realization of dance, was missing. Also scanted was the punch and strong phrasing in the music I had heard in the composer's last recording in the afternoon in preparation for attending the evening's show (although at least the tempos were pretty close) - admittedly a tough standard, but one well approximated by the performances I began attending in the ballet's first years in the 70s.

Still, watching these drily etched movement phrases, each one finished before the next one begun as though the dancers could stop almost anywhere, without much sense of inevitable flow into the next phrase, one could still admire how the dance is constructed in relation to its music, as in a demonstration - at least when you can see the dancers. Although the lighting design for the second dance, Paul Taylor's Mercuric Tidings, is credited in the program to Jennifer Tipton, and therefore might supposedly be original, the slow second number was in half light. (Nevertheless, this buoyant little ballet to parts of some early Schubert symphonies brought a lot of the center section of the audience to their feet at the end.)

It was in "One For My Baby (and One More For the Road)", the third of Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs that closed the program that robust continuity was manifest in the dancing, in this drunken-duet entertainment which Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra have made a specialty of and which drew a lot of chuckles from those in the audience who had stayed for it. (The couple are featured in this on the cover of the program.) And Mary Carmen Catoya's elegantly expansive dancing was recognizable in the sixth song, "All the Way," with Reyneris Reyes.

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I saw the Saturday night program in Broward. I saw the program in Miami in January and I actaully enjoyed it more the second time around.

I appreciated Mercuic Tidings and Nine Sinatra Songs. Symphony in Three Movements was as good as the last time. There was a last minute casting switch for the first couple. It was supposed to be Natalie Araja. I still enjoyed the ballet immensely and I understand the hype.

The only issue I have still was the progrmaming. I enjoy each ballet, but all three together did not make me feel like I went to the ballet.

I will be at program three next week. Should feel more like the ballet with Carmen and Allego Brillante.

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I saw nearly all four shows in Broward, and I also liked the program a little better after the first one - I'm still disappointed, but adjusting. Symphony in Three Movements is a great ballet, even just analyzed, and a familiar face in the Saturday evening crowd, an amateur musician, was fascinated by the "rests" (in the musical sense), the very short silences or breaks throughout the music. I also had some satisfaction seeing Mercuric Tidings this way, although it was another occasion to notice Taylor's vocabulary is rather smaller than Balanchine's, and I thought the greater weight of effect Taylor's own dancers give his dances would have helped. Or is it also that only Symphony Three is danced on pointe?

I like Frank Sinatra's music too, but it gets old faster than the other two, and so I cut the end of the Saturday matinee - I agree that the three pieces don't contribute to a sense of any whole, valuable as they are individually (or not).

But I returned in the evening especially to see Catoya's second performance in "All the Way", and thought it "larger" than Friday evening. (With the ensemble's reprise of "My Way", her only appearances this weekend.) Patricia Delgado's Sunday afternoon turn in that number was very creditable, more full than most of the dancing on view this weekend, if not so implicative as Catoya's; and Kronenberg, too: She had two very disparate roles Sunday afternoon: Second couple - the largest part - in Symphony Three, where she looked masterly, utterly at home, most of the time, and like a stranger at a couple of instants, looking up or around - and a reprise of "One For My Baby."

Nathalia Arja was absent all weekend, subbed by Nicole Stalker in Symphony in Three Movements and Emily Bromberg in Mercuric Tidings.

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