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MCB Program I


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I feel this was not a good programming. Fancy Free and Viscera were just very weak selections, and the white compression of B's SL-(don't know how to put it in a different way)-is, by now and like it or not, not "enough Swan Lake". It looks more like a mid century curiosity. We need Jewels-(the whole thing)-back...Ballet Imperial, Theme and Variations...even Valse Fantaisie, which I enjoyed tremendously. Please, please...Lourdes...STOP putting so much weight on modern or pointe-less numbers!!

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I can't comment on this program or these performances. But I would like to say something about two of the ballets that have come in for some criticism--which are both works that I admire hugely.

I consider Fancy Free one of Robbins' best ballets (I know it was his first). It has a fantastic score too. Call it a 'character ballet' if you like. Danced well it is a proven crowd pleaser. In decades past it was a regular at ABT. Now both ABT and NYCB dance it--that is, it's a living part of the repertory and has been since it was first danced. That Fancy Free is not to all tastes is fair enough, and I have no idea how MCB danced it. But it's a major work that has had a long life in the history of American Ballet. Character ballets of this kind are not my favorite rep, but I like Fancy Free, I enjoy it and, more importantly perhaps, I think it's worthy of respect.

As for Balanchine's Swan Lake, it is "not enough" Swan Lake for anyone who only enjoys seeing the full length Swan Lake. I have always loved this distillation/combination of the two white acts...I would never want to lose the full-length Swan Lake (though I might want to lose most productions of it available today), but I dont' think this is a zero sum game, though I recognize that most companies have to make a choice. For a largely neo-classical company Balanchine's version seems to me potentially the right choice. It also has a number of distinctive choreographic elements, and I'm delighted by NYCB's decision to keep Balanchine's one act version in its rep even after mounting a full length production--and so preserving Balanchine's particular 'take' on the ballet, a take that still has power to move (to move me certainly) well into the 21st century.

Could MCB mount a plausible full-length Swan Lake? Maybe...and maybe one day it will.

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