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NBoC mixed program

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I went yesterday night, and it was excellent. I especially loved Solitaire. The other ballets on the program were Mozartiana and Pastorale. I don't have time to write about it right now, but I'll post my review soon.

Leigh, if you need any info about NBoC or getting around Toronto, feel free to e-mail me!

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Opening Night: Nov. 7, 2001.

It was a beautiful mixed program the NBoC did, showing great range and versatility. A great showcase for the company's talents.

MOZARTIANA ( Balanchine, Tchaikovsky)

Staged by Suzanne Farrell.

Scenery & Costumes from the Boston Ballet.

Mozartiana is such a lovely ballet, in it's music and simple and classical choreography. It was a pleasure to watch Chan Hon Goh and Aleksandar Antonijevic dance. Both share a unity in style and technique, creating a certain harmony. They seemed completely at ease with the steps, and with each other even in the difficult passages. Both have a very light quality to their dancing, and neither ever seemed to come down during the jumps, Aleksandar especially seems to be suspended in the air until the final bow. Chan is perfectly suited to the role. I think working with Suzanne Farrell in the Balanchine ballets has really made a difference for her, every nuance and detail was there, which really made for a great performance. The preghiera (prayer) in the opening was nicely danced, with 4 students of the National Ballet School. Jeremy Ransom was also very enjoyable to watch in the Gigue. He has this intangible sense for capturing an audience with the simplest gesture, port de bras, or change of epaulment. I don't know how he does it!

PASTORALE (Kudelka, Beethoven)

Sets & Costumes: Santo Loquasto

Kudelka's Pastorale is a beautiful company piece, using a large number of dancers in a country setting. There is no distinct narrative, but Kudelka creates an atmosphere of serenity and springtime. It seems like it's about the wealthy city people escaping to the countryside for a moment, while the peasants look on, fascinated by the visitors.

There are no "star" roles, unless you consider the mysterious lady in black who enters after all the other couples. On wednesday, she was danced by Greta Hodgkinson, who was excellent in capturing that mood. She is surrounded by four men, Geon Van der Wyst, Ryan Boorne, William Marrie, and Patrick Lavoie. You don't know who they are or what their relationship is, but there are some gorgeous formations and lifts. They leave and then a series of 4 pas de deux follow. They are 4 couples in different stages of love. Sonia Rodriguez and Ryan Boorne, and Brenda Little and William Marrie were young, a bit shy. Chan Hon Goh and Patrick Lavoie were head-over-heels, and Martine Lamy and Geon van der Wyst portray a mature love like that of an old married couple.

Then we see a gathering of children from the National Ballet School dancing a sort of character/folk section with Victoria Bertram and Tomas Schramek. The kids looked pretty good. It was wise of Kudelka to do this sort of number with them, because if they don't fully point their feet or aren't completely synchronized, it's not as noticeable as in say, Swan Lake Act 2.

A storm follows, and the woman in black is in the centre while all the men- blind folded or masked, leap around her. She's not a witch or anything, but it seems there is some sort of connection between her and darkness/evil.

Most people really loved this one, calling it one of Kudelka's best works, but I thought it dragged on just a bit too long. The dancers were lovely, and the ballet certainly has it's moments but for me it was not very memorable.

SOLITAIRE: A kind of game for one ( MacMillan, Malcolm Arnold).

Restaged by Julie Lincoln.

I just loved this ballet! This was my first time seeing it, so for me it did not seem old or dated at all! The music is captivating in it's own way. Xiao Nan Yu danced the lead girl, and was utterly adorable in her naive, hopeful expressions and many attempts to fit in with the others. I thought the choreography was just brilliant, clever, thoroughly entertaining, it's really made me smile. Stacey Shiori Minagawa was a haughty and self-absorbed Polka girl, a real comical performance. Rex Harrington was Solitaire's pdd man, a charming partner for Xian Nan Yu. The pdd bits were very beautiful, as were the melancholy segments between the various "social games", where she is alone. Yu has such fluid, lyrical movement, and the most gorgeous line. There is one part, where she is holding hands with two corps girls ( a la Theme and Variations) doing a sort of arabesque penchee promenade, that I really loved. Visually, the formations, like when all the corps are in a straight line across the stage,look great. And the colours are perfect. Everyone is in aqua blue and there's Solitaire is this bright orange! Complimentary colours. I adored Xiao Nan Yu in this role, she has such versatility. I've seen her in so many princess roles, it was hard to imagine her being out of place and awkward, but she managed to pull it off!

I enjoyed this program more than the Merry Widow. The company is in great shape for it's 50th anniversary season! It was also neat to be able to see all the principal dancers on one night.

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My daughter and I were at the matinee today (Nov. 11) - what a wonderful show!

Not only was the dancing a treat, as per Paquita's review, but there were some special features that made today very special. After the second intermission there was a film montage by CBC television archives and Norman Campbell. Karen Kain, Veronica Tennant, and one more former NBOC member whose name escapes me at the moment spoke a few words...artistic directors, past and present, were mentioned by name.

In the audience were over 200 former company members, and all were called to the stage following the final curtain call (this included some of my older daughter's teachers, and it was so nice for them)...the stage was full of people and smiles. James Kudelka came out with a boquet of flowers for Celia Franca, and delivered them to her on his knees. Then a cascade of gold balloons rained down on the stage.

After the performance audience members were treated to anniversary cake and coffee. Company members, past and present, were gathering in the lobby to meet and greet patrons. It was a magical experience.

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