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New Tanner Ballet-- Preview

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The ballet premieres tonight, but I saw a partial rehearsal yesterday. There are dangers in commenting on parts of a ballet when one hasn't seen the whole, so I am going to focus on only the parts:

For those going: try not to be distracted by the costumes. For the two pas de deux I saw (Bouder/Veyette & Korbes/Orza), they seemed quite inappropriate and the men's and women's did not seem to go together. The men look like card dealers-- vest, white shirt, with black arm bands-- and the women are in sherbet-colored tutus, and very odd tutus at that. I think they're playing on the fact that the leads are young, but the tutus are the very short kind and go upwards as they move out from the body. Even the dancers thought them odd.

The Bouder/Veyette pas de deux is quite difficult. Tanner takes advantage of what they're good at and pushes them. Bouder has a lot of jumping (many of those pas de chats with one leg out-- is there another name for them?). In this section you don't really get to see her lyrical gifts. I can't say I'm a fan of all the swimming-like arm movements Tanner has her do soon after her entrance. As for Veyette, I can't help seeing Hubbe everytime I see him, as they do bear quite a resemblance, though not the same passion... yet. But, I do find him an interesting dancer to watch in this piece. The dancing is very jagged, maybe a little jazzy/modern, allowing him to channel his energy quite well.

The Korbes/Orza pas de deux is a dark, adagio. There are definitely beautiful moments. Beyond that... we'll have to wait until after tonight's performance.


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Hey Amanda -

When I was studying, our shorthand term for that sort of pas de chat was "Russian" - we called the pas de chat where both legs came up under you "regular". Sometimes we called a pas de chat ending to a tendu front in plie a "Balanchine" pas de chat. None of these names are canonical of course!

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Thanks, Leigh.

So, I know I wasn't the only Ballet Talker there last night-- what did others think?

I'm going to wait until I see the ballet again tomorrow night before adding much more to what I wrote based on the rehearsal.

I shall say that I think the performances were better than the ballet itself (as often happens with Martins ballets, too).

That Tanner chose young dancers is quite understandable once you hear the music-- very young in tone-- much is playful. Korbes was simply beautiful in the pas de deux. I still don't get much of a vibe off her, but she's young. Taylor was her usual self (I'm restraining myself, b/c I have become quite biased against her way of dancing in recent weeks). If you have a choice of seeing Bouder in this or Firebird or La Source, I'd go with the latter two, as (just as I said in my previous post), this piece really focuses on her jumping and turning ability. I still love watching her, as she is an especially musical and mature dancer for her age, but this just did not use her in way I'd like to see her used in future choreography made on her. Veyette, I thought, came off great-- he nailed some of the difficult turn combinations with which he had problems during rehearsal, and his energy was palpable.

As for the rest of the choreography itself... I leave it to others to describe, esp. until I have seen it again.


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I went Sat. night--I enjoyed this for one sitting. The music helped a lot (Nino Rota). The three pas de deux had some ingenious moments, and I thought all the dancers gave very lively buoyant performances. Of the men, I particularly enjoyed Jared Angle's dancing.

I would be interested in hearing why AmandaNYC feels "biased" against Taylor's dancing, since I myself have been a bit puzzled by her...If sheer oomph is one's criterion for great dancing -- she's pretty terrific, plus she has that springy jump and pouty sex kitten face, but otherwise I don't quite know what to make of her ...

This was my one opportunity to see Bouder in a featured role, and I enjoyed her dancing (and have hopes of someone who might really be able to take over, say, some of Ashley's old roles -- the need for which was in evidence elsewhere on the program). But, in this work, Carla Korbes was the dancer that I was most taken by -- she was the only one of the leading women whose dancing showed some refinement. This may have been an effect of Tanner's showcasing, as Korbes got the one real piece of adagio dancing in the ballet, with elaborated port de bras and gorgeous back-bending poses, but I was impressed.

[ 06-17-2001: Message edited by: Drew ]

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Among the other felicities of the new Tanner was some excellent piano work by Susan Webster.

I particularly enjoyed Carla Körbes performance in the Romanza.

The costumes were done by Carole Divet whom I remember as a corps member from ten or so years ago. She now works in the Costume Dep't. There were a bit garish but I wasn't particularly bothered by them.

After her star turn in the Tanner, Bouder returned to the corps in the pas de cinq of Chaconne where she was joined by Alina Dronova who is so new that she isn't even listed in the corps. Is she an apprentice from the School?

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Stan, Dronova is still an apprentice, at least according the casting sheet posted in the lobby.

And, as for returning to the corps after a star turn, so did Korbes, Veyette, and Orza. The joy that is dancing in NYCB!

Drew, re: Taylor. I actually don't have huge issues when I see her in pieces made on her, as the choreographers seem to recognize what she's good at. But, in other pieces, I find she distorts the choreography too much. In what I had always considered a *throw away* piece-- the jumpy 3rd mov't of Suite No. 3, I took offense. She seemed to be running away from something the whole time. One doesn't get a chance to *see* the steps, as she is already moving onto the next one. I've always looked more for beauty in movement than attack or technical perfection. In Four Seasons, I saw both Carrie Lee Riggins and Taylor in Winter. Riggins had the technique, clear articulation of the choreography, and a lovely flirtatiousness in the role. Taylor just seemed to have the former, which is actually not always evident either (nerves affecting that, I presume). While people say Taylor is fearless, I actually also sense a great deal of fear, nervous energy. If she's not enjoying herself up there, I can't enjoy watching her. Right now, I think Taylor has too much unbridled energy. Maybe I'll like her more when she matures.

I hope this wasn't too harsh. I tried to be constructive in explaining what bothers me.

As for the Tanner ballet, I actually enjoyed it much more on the second viewing-- I really like the music, there's a bit of a sense of humor to it-- too bad it doesn't seem to be available on a recording. I agree that the real star turn is by Korbes. Tanner knows what's going to make this young, leggy dancer look gorgeous, and he makes sure to put in plenty of such poses and combinations.

And, while I said I enjoyed the ballet, I don't think it nearly a masterpiece. But, that's ok. Certain parts of it work well, while others just don't seem to work-- for example, in the opening movement, it seemed overly chaotic with the principals moving through a crowd of corps. Even on the second viewing, I was waiting for dancers to bump into each other.

It's an enjoyable, fluffy showcase for the young ones.


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I saw Tanner’s new ballet, “Soirée,” on Saturday evening, June 16. OK, I liked it for what it was – a high voltage showcase for the hot young talents of the moment. (If I get a chance, I will try to post at least a summary of my impressions.) But here’s what troubled me (she said, getting very cranky): where was the new ballet for the established and in many cases sadly underutilized talent on the NYCB roster? Is *no one* interested in making a ballet for Albert Evans or Monique Muenier? (Is anyone even interested in casting them anymore? Good Lord! I’d rush over to State Theater just to watch them walk across the stage in their practice clothes.) These are just two examples (glaring, in my opinion) at the principal level, but one could draw up a list at the soloist and corps levels, too. Pascale van Kipnis? Eight minutes of Andrew Veyette was ok, but really, at this point in their respective careers I’d rather have eight minutes of Alexander Ritter. Eva Natanya? Carrie Lee Riggins? (Although I think the latter two have gotten a few small things.) And I’d like to see someone make at least a little bit of a fuss over corps stalwarts such as Amanda Edge, Pauline Golbin, and Elizabeth Walker; on some very dismal NYCB evenings when absolutely nothing that any of the principal dancers was doing was worth watching, their care and commitment alone made the trek to State Theater worthwhile. I’m sure many variables go into casting new ballets – who’s healthy, who can be released from the rehearsal schedule, and of course, who is interesting and technically accomplished enough as a dancer – and lord knows a ballet company shouldn’t be run on a seniority system like the civil service -- but sometimes the omissions really are puzzling, at least to a non-professional like me. For a while now, NYCB seems to have been casting on the barbell system -- very, very junior dancers and very, very senior dancers (neither always up to the task) get used a lot, and a whole swath in the middle is left to lie fallow. (If any of the professionals out there can enlighten me, please do!)

Oh, and re Janie Taylor: after “Soirée” my husband described her dancing as “flying glass” (which he meant as a compliment in the context of the ballet he’d just seen).

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First, I'll back up any sentiment that questions why Evans and Meunier are so undercast at NYCB. At least Evans had a few performances of Cortege recently. Meunier went three weeks without a single performance. She should have taken over for Kowroski in Episodes, not Korbes. At least she's going to be doing a few Midsummers. (And I'd also like to add the name of Saskia Beskow, a corps dancer, to the mix. I don't know why she's never gotten more than one or two solo things [mostly in the evening-length Swan Lake or Nutcracker]. She's a very strong dancer and is just stunning to look at).

Anyway, back to the ballet. Although Tanner's ballets won't change the world, I have always find them to be at least interesting, make the dancers look good and beautifully dressed. I loved this ballet's costumes, they reminded me of those push-up popsicles :)

And it was good to see the young men get a chance at leading roles, ones that hopefully will prepare them for bigger roles in the future. Because unlike their female counterparts, the new men find it difficult to crack into Peter Martins' rotation. Martins is very willing to throw first-year corps dancers (talented as they are) into the lead role of some of Balanchine's hardest ballets (but never into his own as the cancellation of serveral of Martins' ballets this year has shown), he is very hesitant to try out new men, save Jared Angle. Charles Askegard deserves a medal this season for the way he's partnered simply everyone all the time recently. But he doesn't need to carry the load alone --Fayette could be used more often, in addition to Fowler and Higgins. And would it hurt to try Marcovici in a few more things. He should have had a shot at Prodigal Son by now, although I'm glad to see him cast in Square Dances for a second time.

Rant over, back to the performance. I thought the women came off extremely strong in the Tanner piece, but I can understand some people's reservations about Taylor. Although I loved her in La Valse, she is a bit stronger overall in pieces made for her. In Divert. #15 earlier this season, she seemed a little stiff, mostly in the upper body, and can appear, I don't exactly how to put it, sort of out of control. Or operating all on the same speed/volumn. There is a lack of building or crafting a performance from her. But I'm sure this will come in time, she's still so young.

Taylor was very pretty in the last ballet of the evening, Harmonielehre. She danced as if she had no bones and was just an apparition. The last movement, with the corps women barefoot, Fayette holding that little girl, and the strange curtains overhead, was very eerie.

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