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Tudor/Ashton/Stiefel @ KC - 5/25-27/17


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The troupe's final public program of the season begins tomorrow @ the KennCen. Included will be the World Premiere of Ethan Stiefel's FRONTIER.

 

https://www.washingtonballet.org/performance/2016-2017-season/tudor-ashton-world-premiere

 

As mentioned in another thread, FRONTIER will be presented for free this Saturday afternoon, as part of the JFK 100th Birthday Open House. No tickets required; first-come, first-served at the Opera House. Show begins at 3:15pm.

 

http://www.kennedy-center.org/pages/specialevents/openhouse

 

Note that the free show does not include the Tudor & Ashton works...just the Stiefel but that's still nice. Enjoy.

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The first of the above two links includes a preview of all production aspects of FRONTIER (chor, designs, music). Scroll all the way down for a short film featuring dancers in rehearsal and thoughts from Stiefel...sporting quite a dapper mustache!

 

Again, the link (as above):

 

https://www.washingtonballet.org/performance/2016-2017-season/tudor-ashton-world-premiere

 

a different taste test (a pdd in rehearsal):

 

Lastly, a short discussion with Julie Kent & Ethan Steifel, courtesy of WTOP:

 

 

 

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Just out of the opening night of this program. I'm so tired so will report only the basics:

 

- The best ballet, by far, came last: Ashton's THE DREAM was lovingly performed. A real joy after two extraordinarily dreary ballets...especially the horrendously dull FRONTIER.

 

- "BRAVI!" to three magnificent leading soloists in DREAM: adorable, fleet footed Maki Onuki as Titania; ever-handsome, boldly-moving Brooklyn Mack as Oberon; and my grand star of the night: high-flying bundle of charisma Andile Ndlovu as Puck!!! Kudos, too, to Daniel Roberge as Bottom, particularly his passages on pointe. Crisp, beautiful corps! Gorgeous traditional designs by David Walker, well lit. Overall, THE DREAM was a winner.

 

- The middle work of the night, Tudor's usually-touching JARDIN AUX LILAS, suffered from poor dark lighting and lackadaisical acting. This ballet so depends on well-enunciated gestures, looks, etc. As Caroline, Eunwon Lee displayed lovely arms. Maybe I've been spoiled by so many great casts in the past at ABT, NYTB & elsewhere. 

 

- The night began with the big world premiere in honor of JFK's 100th b'day, FRONTIER, which I can best describe as a light show with movement and a bit of choreography. (Chor. Ethan Stiefel)

 

- The production values - mostly cool lighting effects and a bubble space capsule - were fine for the story of a young female astronaut's assignment in space. Nothing really happens; she goes to space & back. Sarah Steele jumped and jerked around...had a nice lyrical adagio with her husband (always elegant Gian Carlo Perez) prior to blast-off but not much else.

 

- The opening scene for a corps of astronaut trainees featured some marching in place/aerobics moves/jumping jacks. It was odd to see company principals in this...waste of talent.

 

- The saving grace was the gorgeous lyrical score by Adam Crystal (think Glass or Adams). As Balanchine said, we can close our eyes and listen to the music!

 

- Wish I had more to applaud...mostly a real bomb. My bet is that Stiefel had little to do with the total planning process...probably was handed the pretty score & told the theme...but there's only so much he can do with dancers in (mostly) space suits or jumpers. I've read good things about Stiefel's past work and am willing to give him a second chance. :) This time: YAWN!

 

ps - Early publicity on the work hinted at some zip-line or "Foy" flight by the main character but she stayed earthbound. Maybe there were tech glitches & the "Foy Flight" was cancelled? It would have livened things up.

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Sorry, YouOverThere, but gender has nothing to do with this turkey, as the pointes are barely noticeable, as the astronaut   moves across the moon in sumo stance...flat feet, legs apart, occasionally shaking her upper torso as if about to fall, There was more pointe work from Bottom the Donkey in THE DREAM!

 

I am so disappointed. For a beautiful evocation of people in outer space, watch Ashton's sublime MONOTONES II. I almost expected FRONTIER to show a sort of expanded MONOTONES, with beautiful pure dance to the beautiful score...and it is a beautiful score.

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I took in this show last night (Friday), after wasting Thursday evening at the lame Hubble Cantata performance. I agree that Frontier isn't very interesting. I didn't figure out what the audience was supposed to get from it. Having seen a couple of different full versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, I found Ashton's abridged version to be unsatisfying. If you didn't know the story, you wouldn't be able to figure it out by watching his version. Perhaps if I hadn't watched it from the back of the orchestra I would have enjoyed it more. I had what would have been a really great seat IF there hadn't been an EXTREMELY tall person sitting in front of me who blocked my view of the center of the stage, so I relocated to the back at the first intermission. I enjoyed the Tudor piece the most. I did not find it to be poorly lit, even when viewed from the back.

 

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On 5/25/2017 at 10:32 PM, Natalia said:

Maybe I've been spoiled by so many great casts in the past at ABT, NYTB & elsewhere. 

 

 

I haven't seen this program (yet -- perhaps I might grab a ticket for tomorrow's mat), but I've been feeling this way for the last two programs (Forsythe/Peck/Kylian and Allegro Brillante/Seven Sonatas/Sinatra).  One the one hand, I like that the Washington Ballet is moving in new direction and bringing mixed bills from a variety of choreographers to DC.  We mostly get full lengths at the Kennedy Center.  On the other hand, Washington is not far from NY and this programming feels (and IMO is danced) like ABT-lite.  I understand Julie Kent had very little time to design the season and while I appreciate the dancing I was not exceedingly impressed.  I miss how innovative and different the programming for the Washington Ballet was under Webre.  This feels like an extended ABT fall season instead of something all its own.

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1 hour ago, Emma said:

 

I haven't seen this program (yet -- perhaps I might grab a ticket for tomorrow's mat), 

 

I am not aware of any matinee performances other than a (apparently) free performance of Frontier Saturday afternoon (there also apparently is a free open rehearsal).

 

Julie Kent has leaned heavily on her ABT past to get through this season. Given the short time that she had to put everything together, I don't have a problem with that. Hopefully, she will branch out and forge her own style as she gets more comfortable in the job.

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3 hours ago, Emma said:

 

I haven't seen this program (yet -- perhaps I might grab a ticket for tomorrow's mat), but I've been feeling this way for the last two programs (Forsythe/Peck/Kylian and Allegro Brillante/Seven Sonatas/Sinatra).  One the one hand, I like that the Washington Ballet is moving in new direction and bringing mixed bills from a variety of choreographers to DC.  We mostly get full lengths at the Kennedy Center.  On the other hand, Washington is not far from NY and this programming feels (and IMO is danced) like ABT-lite.  I understand Julie Kent had very little time to design the season and while I appreciate the dancing I was not exceedingly impressed.  I miss how innovative and different the programming for the Washington Ballet was under Webre.  This feels like an extended ABT fall season instead of something all its own.

 

I think it's very interesting the different reactions the change in repertory direction elicits. I thought Webre's programming was sort of "poor man's NYCB." While I think he did wonders in revitalizing the dancers, his mixed bills tended to favor unremarkable contemporary pieces, very few of which I can recall anything about now, and which I generally appreciated more for the dancing than for the choreography. For example, last season there was a Bowie/Queen evening—a great concept—but the ballets themselves were not memorable. At any rate, Kent has specifically stated her goal is to move the company towards a more classical rep. 

 

I like the concept for Frontier (the set design and lighting are amazing, the music is interesting), but the choreography is incredibly boring! The astronaut's solo on the planet seems to consist of only 5 steps repeated over and over. I would encourage Stiefel to keep the concept, but rework the choreography.

 

In terms of Friday night's cast, Venus Villa lacks the innate introspectiveness necessary for Caroline in Lilac Garden—the quality that made Kent, and above all Amanda McKerrow, so great in Tudor's ballets. Tudor isn't just about acting. Eunwon Lee and Gian Carlo Perez were absolutely beautiful in The Dream—although it was really Andile Ndlovu who stole the show as Puck. 

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5 hours ago, YouOverThere said:

At the finale, it was announced that Morgann Rose is retiring.

 

Sad. I've noticed this season - not just the current run - that she's one of several "Septime's veterans" being under-utilized in the current season. Also odd that Rolando Sarabia, new to the company this season, was totally absent from the playbills of not only the current program but also the March mixed bill at the Harman Theater (InCreases, etc.). Maybe he danced in the April programs, which I missed?

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2 hours ago, Natalia said:

 

 Also odd that Rolando Sarabia, new to the company this season, was totally absent from the playbills of not only the current program but also the March mixed bill at the Harman Theater (InCreases, etc.). Maybe he danced in the April programs, which I missed?

 

Rolando Sarabia was injured (some sort of wrist injury). 

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Thanks. Too bad. Other than his Black Swan pdd at the 40th-Anniv gala, I haven't been able to catch Sarabia in  anything of consequence. Same thing happened when he was w/ Miami, ie, many injuries & I rarely saw him whenever I visited. Saw him only as Von Rothbart in Balanchine SL. Maybe 2017/2018 will be the lucky season for Sarabia?

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I'm sad about Morgann Rose.  I haven't seen her dance much but I loved her in Tharp's Sinatra piece.  She was fiery and sassy and really got Tharp -- by far my favorite dancer in the piece.

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Morgann Rose was the longest tenured member of the company, joining it 16 years ago, which means she was with Septime Webre all but the first 2 years of his directorship. She was one of at most two dancers in the company that were involved in Septime's Nutcracker from the first year and was pressed into duty this year in helping to stage it.

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