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BALLETNOW - 'Ballet Superstars' in CA for 3 Performances


pherank

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BALLETNOW
July 10-12 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, California

Guest Artistic Directors and American Ballet Theatre principals Roberto Bolle and Herman Cornejo lead an international ensemble of 19 major dancers from 12 countries in three distinctive programs, with many of the dancers performing in Southern California and together for the first time.

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Roberto Bolle and Herman Cornejo's project BALLETNOW opened to an enthusiastic audience this evening at the Music Center. They are both the Artistic Directors and Principal Dancers of this enterprise. BALLETNOW is a three day marathon of pas de deux and solos of familiar, novel and obscure classical and modern pieces featuring a total of 18 dancers, a videographer/"VJ," a jumbotron in the rear of the stage, and canned music. Tonight's program featured ten ballets, ("Les Bourgeois" a solo piece being the eleventh work that was omitted from the program), and nine of the 18 dancers. Parts 1 & 2 consisted of five well known pieces, and the American premiere of "Passage" with choreography by Marco Pelle, with music and video provided by Fabrizio Ferri (our videographer "Fellini" for the evening), and starring Roberto Bolle. The dancers for opening night appeared in this order: Petra Conti, Roberto Bolle, Maria Eichwald, Marijn Rademaker, Lucia Lucarra, Marlon Dino, Maria Kotchetkova, Joan Boada and once again, Roberto Bolle.

Tonight was Bolle's night; Cornejo will be headlining the next two performances. The program began with a celebratory, joyous and bombastic rendition of "Excelsior" pas de deux with choreography by Ugo Dell'Ara after Luigi Manzotti. Petra Conti and Roberto Bolle did the honors. Roberto burst onto the stage with raw power and energy followed shortly thereafter with the precise delicacy and sure technique of Conti. She was bubbly, she was fresh, and she was magnificent in this piece, especially in the difficult adagio and coda. However, this was Bolle's signature piece. He devoured the stage with his form and with his sheer presence. As it turned out, there was much, much more of Bolle's form and presence to come.

Hans Van Manen's "Trois Gnossiennes" pdd was danced by Maria Eichwald and Marijn Rademaker who is a Principal Dancer with Stuttgart Ballet. I've always found this pas de deux to be a contemplative, visual dialogue of Van Manen's choreographic "voice" in a nutshell. They were both rather stilted in their execution, however, as the piece went on they reconciled their style with Van Manen's and it became a thoughtful and beautiful performance. San Francisco Ballet's Maria Kotchetkova and Joan Boada danced a paint-by-numbers rendering of Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux." Boada (who replaced Stuttgart Ballet Principal Dancer, Dinu Tamazlacaru), is a fellow SFB Principal Dancer who was trained at the School of the National Ballet of Cuba. Of the two, he danced a wonderful variation and partnered Kotchetkova ably throughout. Chances are that the two weren't truly comfortable with one another due to the replacement at the last minute noted in the insert. Kotchetkova's best moments were during the speedy variation, however, the show-stopping coda was anti-climatic. Sometimes, there's simply no substitute for a live orchestra in the pit, because they seemed to be struggling to keep up with the brisk tempi of the conductor on the tape.

"Passage" received it's U.S. premiere with Bolle quite simply dancing with and for himself, in a modern work interacting with a video of himself. The video showed him running in the rain in a maze by himself. Suddenly, he steps "out" of the video and is center stage with the jumbotron behind him, and continues a long monologue to the gentle music of Fabrizio Ferri. At first it's a solo, and then a short angst-ridden pas de deux in the video begins and then Fabrizio presses the 'pause' button so that Bolle can continue the rest of the solo IRL. Essentially, "Passage" is a solo interrupted by a pas de deux on film that's paused, in order to complete the solo. Bolle expanded this concept as a new way to watch and experience dance in "Prototype," which received it's West Coast premiere. The concept for "Prototype" is the dancer himself. The choreography is by Massimiliano Volpini, with music by Piero Salvatori, realized by Fausto Dase and Sartoria Farani with visual effects and video editing by Xchanges VFX. This work takes up where "Passage" leaves off, with a cyber visual of Bolle's body, which becomes "data" that is digitally dissected before our eyes - his muscles, sinew, skeleton and brain. He becomes a computer program of himself in the video. Once again, he is center stage, dancing as the mirror image of himself, in sync with the film on the jumbotron behind him. We see him present various positions and combinations from class with the terms being flashed on the screen as he executes them, while Fabrizio calls the steps like a ballet master. We have entered Bolle's mind at this point because we can see his brain rotating on the screen as does this mini class. Then, we see him dance snippets (with the film), from "Swan Lake," the dual with Tybalt from Act 2's conclusion of "Romeo & Juliet," and Albrecht's entrance in Act 2 of "Giselle." The scenery from each of these ballets is deleted on the screen behind him as he quickly goes from one ballet to the next. The difference between this work and "Passage's" finale is that instead of a pas de deux left on 'pause,' Bolle dances with Bolle and he becomes a pas de trois, then a pas de quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit until there is an army of Bolles dancing behind him mirroring each of his moves onstage. How does this end? He turns his back to the audience and raises his hand and wipes away everything on screen, and everything in the theatre immediately goes dark and the jumbotron "monitor" seemingly crashes.

"Affi" was danced by Marijn Rademaker with choreography by Marco Goecke and music by Johnny Cash. The choreography was rendered mainly with the dancer's back to the audience. It consisted of sustained shaking, running around the stage, more body tremors and waves, pedestrian steps and a lot of finger wagging to three seemingly endless songs by Johnny Cash. There was a brief intermission between the first and second song, where Rademaker, (or was is it Johnny?), whistles Brahms' lullaby ("Go To Sleep"), acapella, with his back to the audience, posing with his index fingers pointing upwards, like a male acrobat in the Chinese Dance from "Nutcracker." I think that this piece shouldn't have been included in the program and that another work, (I hesitate to state "any"), but another work other than this would have done justice to Marijn Rademaker and the program. The cancelled "Les Bourgeois" with the indisposed Dinu Tamazlacaru, with choreography by Ben Van Cauwenbergh, and music by Jacque Brel would have been a good fit here.

"Borderlands" with choreography by Wayne MacGregor gave us Kotchetkova with Henry Sidford. It was another modern work that IMO was infinitely more successful and interesting than "Affi." Kotchetkova was more comfortable here than in the Balanchine, luxuriating in MacGregor's intricate contortions with consummate grace and emotion. Sidford has been a member of San Francisco Ballet since 2012 and he partnered Kotchetkova wonderfully. His confidence, techinique and assurance were that which makes one sit up and notice: Remember his name.

Maria Eichwald and Roberto Bolle returned in "Mono Lisa," another offering which was absolutely wonderful and a crowd pleaser. They were both stellar in this pas de deux. This work, which is quite difficult especially with the lifts and dizzying swings of the ballerina, IMO outshone the MacGregor work both in invention and ingenious maneuvers. The work was danced to the sound of an old manual typewriter pecking out 4/4 time, (as the pre-performance lecturer informed us). The fact that this was the instrument for the pdd, was astonishing as it was the sole accompaniment to the dancers. It was danced with no musical cues whatsoever and each beat was jam packed with intricate steps and lifts. They were both magnificent.

I've saved the best couple for last: Lucia Lacarra and her husband Marlon Dino who are both Principal Dancers with the Munich's Bayerisches Staatsballett. They danced two wonderful and familiar pas de deux, Neumeier's "Lady of the Camellias" from Act 3, and "Three Preludes" by Ben Stevenson, with music by Rachmaninov, and a barre. Theirs' is a tender, loving and excellent partnership. They truly move and breathe as one flesh. Both pieces were danced with such feeling, such romance and such drama (in the case of the Neumeier out of context), that it felt like we lived with them through the full length work in just a few minutes. During and immediately following the conclusion of these pas de deux, the tension in the theatre could be cut with a knife, then the audience went wild.

The evening ended with giant selfies of each of the dancers that performed, with their names on the jumbotron, the last of course, being Bolle winking at us The soundtrack for this was Drigo's coda from "Talisman" pas de deux. The pre-performance lecturer spoke to us about what to expect from this evening's performance. She told us that, "...you will see ballet interact with video and vice versa, and ballet can't get more 'now' than video." BALLETNOW's first night was on the whole enjoyable, with some frustrating moments, but mainly a celebration of Roberto Bolle, the dancer and the man. I believe that what Bolle presented was ballet's very first Selfie Gala.

*(Edited to correct typo for the ballet "Mono Lisa").

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Thanks for this very detailed report. Baryshnikov did a piece called "Years Later," by Benjamin Mille piedmont in 2009, dancing with video of himself when very young. Sounds like Bolle has picked up on that theme. (The auto correct on this tablet refuses to let me spell the choreographer's name!)

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"Sidford has been a member of San Francisco Ballet since 2012 and he partnered Kotchetkova wonderfully. His confidence, techinique and assurance were that which makes one sit up and notice: Remember his name."

As soon as I heard that Kochetkova was being paired with Sidford, I wondered - How did that come about? But you may have supplied a big part of the answer. Perhaps when Kochetkova announced that she was looking for a partner for this event, one of the unavailable soloists suggested giving Sidford a chance.

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Marijn Rademaker was a principal with Stuttgart Ballet, he now dances with Het Nationale.

Dinu Tamazlacaru is a principal with Berlin State Ballet, not with Stuttgart.

The pdd by Itzik Galili is called "Mono Lisa", not "Mona Lisa".

And there are people who adore "Äffi" tiphat.gif

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Marijn Rademaker was a principal with Stuttgart Ballet, he now dances with Het Nationale.

Dinu Tamazlacaru is a principal with Berlin State Ballet, not with Stuttgart.

The pdd by Itzik Galili is called "Mono Lisa", not "Mona Lisa".

And there are people who adore "Äffi" tiphat.gif

Thank you Fosca for the corretions. Re Marijn Rademaker, his bio states that "...upon graduating from the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague in 2000 he joined the Stuttgart Ballet and was promoted to Principal in 2006." It then went on to state that he "... has guested with Het Nationale," and other companies, but failed to mention that he is currently in the company. The culprits are the Los Angeles Music Center's "Performance Magazine" souvenir program publishers who didn't do their due diligence. As for "Affi" ... to each his own tiphat.gif .

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Is the magazine in charge of writing bios? I would doubt they do more than try to hunt down bios from the performers or companies, who are expected to submit the bios. Bio writing is one of the subjects for which Kiyon Gaines sought mentors for the choreographers in PNB's "Next Step" program.

If the performers/companies don't respond and/or they are last-minute substitutes, I would guess that it's a last-minute scramble by the staff to get something in the program.

We recently had a discussion about Matthew Golding, whose bio on matthewgolding.com does not mention that he danced with Angel Corella's company between ABT and Het National (sic) Ballet. His Royal Ballet bio leverages the one on his website.

http://www.roh.org.uk/people/matthew-golding

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Bios are a difficult thing -- if you're doing something where you've gathered together a group of disparate people from all kinds of places, you often find yourself rewriting/editing a wildly varied bunch of text to make it into some kind of consistent piece. If you've got the time and talent for that kind of ghostwriting it's great, but I think we can all agree that lots of organizations do not!

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I've saved the best couple for last: Lucia Lacarra and her husband Marlon Dino who are both Principal Dancers with the Munich's Bayerisches Staatsballett. ...

I have only ever seen Lacarra once...at a gala many years ago, dancing a couple of lyrical pas de deux--I no longer even remember exactly what they were, though one may have been by Maillot. I remember finding her breathtakingly beautiful and poignant. I was desperately hoping to see more of her. No such luck...Thanks for your report on this event.

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