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Winter 2018


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25 minutes ago, audreydoll said:

Somewhat related... I have a ticket for an upcoming show but am only interested in seeing Namouna, the last ballet on the program.  Will I run into any problem showing up at the second intermission?  I didn't know if ticket-takers were still available that late.  

There are people at the front doors who scan the tickets of those who exit and reenter during intermissions, so I'm sure they can scan you in when you arrive. (You may just have to kick someone out of your seat if anyone's moved in for a better view during the first two parts of the program.)

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 I was there too.  Well danced, but the acting just didn't add up for me. Agreed that there was no chemistry between Woodward and Stanley.  Also agree that Mejia stole the show.  Can't wait to see more of him in everything.

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On 2/21/2018 at 10:59 AM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I enjoyed it too, and so did my husband, who was always thrilled when it was on the program. I'd like to see it on the schedule again, along with Forsythe's Behind the China Dogs, a product of that same American Music Festival.

Ditto on Behind the China Dogs.  Actually the first time I saw it, I didn't care for it, but I began to appreciate it by the second time I saw it.

Edited by NinaFan
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I just saw Romeo and Juliet tonight, and I have to say that apart from Tiler Peck, I thought it was really weak.  It wasn’t so much the dancing and choreography even, as the acting and awkward, jarring staging during what was supposed to be intensely emotional moments.  There were a couple of moments in the duel scene and at Juliet’s death where I was tempted to laugh, and not because I was meant to.  But because the reactions seemed so off, either too nonchalant or too exaggerated, not genuine horror and despair.  And Zachary Catazaro didn’t make much of an impression as Romeo.  HIs characterization seemed generic and perfunctory.  He was better in the scenes with Juliet than the scenes with his companions and the duel, but I really didn’t see him falling in love with Juliet the way I saw how much she loved him in every gesture.   It made me wonder whether NYCB dancers don’t get much acting training since so much of their repertoire doesn’t require this level of acting.  Anyone know whether this is the case?  This is supposed to be an intense, moving ballet, but for me, at least, the emotional component was largely lacking.  (And don’t get me started on the sets and costumes - did they hire an eight grader to make those sets?)

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1 hour ago, minervaave said:

 (And don’t get me started on the sets and costumes - did they hire an eight grader to make those sets?)

The sets and costumes are much disliked -- at least here at Ballet Alert.  I haven't seen this production and have no investment in it (other perhaps than wishing New York City Ballet would leave Romeo and Juliet to the ABTs of the world). But that said, and kidding aside ("an eighth grader"), Per Kirkeby is a respected contemporary artist with a substantial international reputation. Here are some pages the Tate Modern put up for an exhibition of his work a decade ago:

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/kirkeby

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/polymath-our-time

Was he the best choice for this production? Well, from people's reactions, I am guessing not  -- though it does seem a dead certainty Martins didn't go to Kirkeby wanting a luscious Renaissance set. But even allowing for the risk of a disaster, I rather hope the company keeps up its willingness to collaborate with serious contemporary artists now and then.

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14 hours ago, minervaave said:

It made me wonder whether NYCB dancers don’t get much acting training since so much of their repertoire doesn’t require this level of acting.  Anyone know whether this is the case?  This is supposed to be an intense, moving ballet, but for me, at least, the emotional component was largely lacking.

I'm not sure if that's the case, but I don't think you are alone in having these impressions. I think characterization becomes an innate talent for dancers at a company like ABT, where story ballets are their bread and butter. You can see the difference when you compare ABT and NYCB in Fancy Free or Prodigal Son (I find ABT absolutely delightful in the former, though some may argue they go too far with the acting in Prodigal Son). 

I've sometimes been left cold by NYCB dancers' acting abilities in Swan Lake (both the full-length and one-act versions) and, to a lesser degree, Sleeping Beauty. But sometimes it's the choreography itself, or fast pacing, that doesn't really allow room for characterization. 

I agree that I'd like to see NYCB continue to collaborate with visual artists for scenography. I think David Hockeny could be an interesting choice, if the right project came along. 

 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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12 hours ago, Drew said:

But that said, and kidding aside ("an eighth grader"), Per Kirkeby is a respected contemporary artist with a substantial international reputation.

...

But even allowing for the risk of a disaster, I rather hope the company keeps up its willingness to collaborate with serious contemporary artists now and then.

It does seem worth pointing out (without intending to suggest that Drew was unmindful of the point) that the skill set of a successful scenic designer for a dance production is not one that every (many? most?) serious contemporary artist who otherwise doesn't work in that medium is going to possess. When choosing such an artist, I think it would be essential to keep that in mind, and to look for one who not only creates the type of work that could translate to effective scenic designs but also who is adaptable enough to create work that does work in that very different medium.

In other words, being a respected serious contemporary artist is not a sufficient qualification for success as a scenic designer. (That probably goes without saying, though.)

Edited by nanushka
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34 minutes ago, nanushka said:

It does seem worth pointing out (without intending to suggest that Drew was unmindful of the point) that the skill set of a successful scenic designer for a dance production is not one that every (many? most?) serious contemporary artist who otherwise doesn't work in that medium is going to possess. When choosing such an artist, I think it would be essential to keep that in mind, and to look for one who not only creates the type of work that could translate to effective scenic designs but also who is adaptable enough to create work that does work in that very different medium.

In other words, being a respected serious contemporary artist is not a sufficient qualification for success as a scenic designer. (That probably goes without saying, though.)

It reminds me of those fashion galas where famous fashion designers design costumes for the dancers and it's obvious they haven't a clue how a ballet dancer needs to move or how those designs will play out over the footlights. The worst was a fuzzy red Valentino concoction that would have looked great on the runway but looked horrible on Sara Mearns.

Edited by canbelto
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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

It does seem worth pointing out (without intending to suggest that Drew was unmindful of the point) that the skill set of a successful scenic designer for a dance production is not one that every (many? most?) serious contemporary artists who otherwise don't work in that medium is going to possess. When choosing such an artist, I think it would be essential to keep that in mind, and to look for one who not only creates the type of work that could translate to effective scenic designs but also who is intelligent and adaptable enough to create work that does work in that very different medium.

In other words, being a respected serious contemporary artist is not a sufficient qualification for success as a scenic designer. (That probably goes without saying, though.)

Yes, I think so too.  (I guess at times there is room for debate as to who fits the bill and maybe the occasional experiment. At least when budgets allow.)  

In that regard, at least, Kirkeby was a known theatrical entity to Martins when he collaborated with him on Romeo and Juliet, as they had already collaborated on Swan Lake. It seems fair to assume Martins was not dis-satisfied with what Kirkeby had done for the earlier production and considered him a good choice partly on that basis

 

Edited by Drew
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20 hours ago, minervaave said:

I just saw Romeo and Juliet tonight, and I have to say that apart from Tiler Peck, I thought it was really weak.  It wasn’t so much the dancing and choreography even, as the acting and awkward, jarring staging during what was supposed to be intensely emotional moments.  There were a couple of moments in the duel scene and at Juliet’s death where I was tempted to laugh, and not because I was meant to.  But because the reactions seemed so off, either too nonchalant or too exaggerated, not genuine horror and despair.  And Zachary Catazaro didn’t make much of an impression as Romeo.  HIs characterization seemed generic and perfunctory.  He was better in the scenes with Juliet than the scenes with his companions and the duel, but I really didn’t see him falling in love with Juliet the way I saw how much she loved him in every gesture.   It made me wonder whether NYCB dancers don’t get much acting training since so much of their repertoire doesn’t require this level of acting.  Anyone know whether this is the case?  This is supposed to be an intense, moving ballet, but for me, at least, the emotional component was largely lacking.  (And don’t get me started on the sets and costumes - did they hire an eight grader to make those sets?)

I saw R&J last night (Thursday) and I did find some parts lacking. I know in story Ballets the parents are just there to guide the narrative/give the female lead someone to react to but I wish Lord and Lady Capulette had more to work with.  I think the fact that their choreography is “point, take Juliette aside, point, take Paris aside, repeat” doesn’t create a very engageing performance.

What stood out most for me was how young/inexperienced the cast looked during village scenes with Daniel Ulbricht; he has a wonderful stage presence and his experience and confidence really stuck out in those scenes with the younger corpes.  I was very impressed with Alec Knight, he appears to be really growing as a dancer.  

I don’t know if Zachary Catazaro will ever be an extremely emotive actor, I think he’ll always be more subdued.  Who has Tiler typically performed with in this role?  Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to a new partnership.  I will say I have spent the past few days in the Virtue/Moire ice danceing wormhole, which will taint your idea of how infatuated love should look on stage.

I thought the worst part of the ballet was ‘Juliette’s friends’.  I think it was a combination of bad choreography and where I was sitting in the orchestra but both their dances looked very sloppy to me.  Does anyone else have thoughts on those brief scenes?

 

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25 minutes ago, FITTB85 said:

I know in story Ballets the parents are just there to guide the narrative/give the female lead someone to react to but I wish Lord and Lady Capulette had more to work with.  I think the fact that their choreography is “point, take Juliette aside, point, take Paris aside, repeat” doesn’t create a very engageing performance.

In Macmillan's R&J, the Capulet parents especially can often have a decent impact and a decent degree of individuality, if performed by the right dancers/actors.

Edited by nanushka
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3 hours ago, FITTB85 said:

I saw R&J last night (Thursday) and I did find some parts lacking. I know in story Ballets the parents are just there to guide the narrative/give the female lead someone to react to but I wish Lord and Lady Capulette had more to work with.  I think the fact that their choreography is “point, take Juliette aside, point, take Paris aside, repeat” doesn’t create a very engageing performance.

What stood out most for me was how young/inexperienced the cast looked during village scenes with Daniel Ulbricht; he has a wonderful stage presence and his experience and confidence really stuck out in those scenes with the younger corpes.  I was very impressed with Alec Knight, he appears to be really growing as a dancer.  

I don’t know if Zachary Catazaro will ever be an extremely emotive actor, I think he’ll always be more subdued.  Who has Tiler typically performed with in this role?  Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to a new partnership.  I will say I have spent the past few days in the Virtue/Moire ice danceing wormhole, which will taint your idea of how infatuated love should look on stage.

I thought the worst part of the ballet was ‘Juliette’s friends’.  I think it was a combination of bad choreography and where I was sitting in the orchestra but both their dances looked very sloppy to me.  Does anyone else have thoughts on those brief scenes?

 

During the last run two years ago Peck also danced R&J with Catazaro. Their partnership in this isn't brand new.

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Despite criticism regarding weaknesses in its plot and characterization, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet will forever remain one of the world's most powerful and moving love stories. This is due partly to the incomparable author's imagery and poetry, and partly to the proven willingness of the eponymous characters to go to the limit for each other. In this work, the young playwright broaches issues perplexing lovers far more experienced and sophisticated than Romeo and Juliet. 

By allowing my emotions and thoughts to be guided primarily by a combination of Sergei Prokofiev's glorious score and Tiler Peck's performing brilliance, on Thursday evening I became as immersed as I am capable of being in NYCB's Romeo + Juliet. There are some beautiful moments occasionally to be found in the choreography (mostly involving Juliet); however, NYCB's dancers generally are trapped in a feeble and uninspired production. Considering this, particularly Zachary Catazaro as Romeo, Savannah Lowery as Lady Capulet, Daniel Ulbricht as Mercutio and Sebastian Villarini-Velez as Tybalt all contributed effective performances. 

In her debut as Juliet on Wednesday evening, Indiana Woodward was as lovely as one would expect. Although Taylor Stanley is an appealing Romeo, I agree with previous comments about the lack of chemistry between the two. Does that matter though in this production?

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2 hours ago, Royal Blue said:

Does that matter though in this production?

I can't imagine it ever not mattering in any production of R&J, no matter the choreographer. I guess the question might be whether this production impedes a sense of chemistry between the leads. Not sure that's the case; just throwing it out there as a question.

I don't love the MacMillan as a whole -- though I cherish the many incredible moments -- but it's a ballet I'll go to when I know the leads are strong dramatically and have good chemistry. 

1 hour ago, canbelto said:

This is a general rule about Tiler Peck: despite her amazing abilities as a dancer she's not a great actress and I've rarely seen her have chemistry with any of her partners. 

Do you think this carries over to plotless ballets? I found it hard to articulate why I found her disappointing -- and not technically in any way -- in Apollo. There was just some sort of aura or mystique missing. I find her presence rather sunny and surface-level. And I'm saying this as someone who LOVES her and thinks she's an incredible artist. I'm eager to see her in just about anything. 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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3 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

 

Do you think this carries over to plotless ballets? I found it hard to articulate why I found her disappointing -- and not technically in any way -- in Apollo. There was just some sort of aura or mystique missing. I find her presence rather sunny and surface-level. And I'm saying this as someone who LOVES her and thinks she's an incredible artist. I'm eager to see her in just about anything. 

It definitely carried over to a ballet like La Sonnambula where she was technically perfect but didn't have that mystery. This extended to her perfectly straightened hair -- it just didn't look like she had been locked up in an attic. She also doesn't quite do it for me as Pink Girl in DAAG. It's plotless but she exudes such strength that in those quieter moments like when the Pink Girl draws a rainbow in the sky I didn't quite see that rainbow come to life. 

And I say this as someone who could probably watch her dance Allegro Brillante, Piano Concerto #2, Dewdrop, and many other roles for the rest of my life. 

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32 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I can't imagine it ever not mattering in any production of R&J, no matter the choreographer. I guess the question might be whether this production impedes a sense of chemistry between the leads. Not sure that's the case; just throwing it out there as a question.

I don't love the MacMillan as a whole -- though I cherish the many incredible moments -- but it's a ballet I'll go to when I know the leads are strong dramatically and have good chemistry. 

Do you think this carries over to plotless ballets? I found it hard to articulate why I found her disappointing -- and not technically in any way -- in Apollo. There was just some sort of aura or mystique missing. I find her presence rather sunny and surface-level. And I'm saying this as someone who LOVES her and thinks she's an incredible artist. I'm eager to see her in just about anything. 

I have never loved the MacMillan R&J but would still see it with two terrific leads.  I haven't seen Tiler Peck in Martins' R&J, but I did see her in Apollo and was disappointed.  I love her dancing too but as you say, some elusive quality was missing.  I also prefer that  Terpsichore be danced by a taller woman; as someone here said, we like to see a more "goddess=like" dancer, e.g., Farrell, Kowroski, Reichlen.

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On 2/24/2018 at 12:19 PM, canbelto said:

This is a general rule about Tiler Peck: despite her amazing abilities as a dancer she's not a great actress and I've rarely seen her have chemistry with any of her partners. 

No doubt you may be right. Nevertheless, —a high school English teacher had me read in class on assignment a part from a scene in a famous American play. At around that period—for the first and only time—I cheated on a chemistry exam. Two embarrassing moments! Unfortunately, my grasp of neither acting nor chemistry has improved over the years. So, from my lowly station, the "Little Dancer" is a giant in both fields. I specifically referred to her "performing brilliance" because I thought she acted convincingly Thursday evening as well. Moreover, she is routinely marvelous in pas de deux, no matter who she is dancing with. Finally, she has mastered the capacity to create a perfect rapport—chemistry—with the audience. And I mean this in the purest, most innocent sense. Sara Mearns and Tiler Peck are two ballerinas who can easily make me almost forget that I am watching a performance at a theater. In other words, through their artistry in ballet they transform choreography—no matter how abstract—into something real

Although I would have no problem seeing her again in La Sonnambula, Ms. Peck looks too wholesome for that role. However, we will just have to disagree about her turns as the Pink Girl in Dances at a Gathering and Terpsichore ("delight in dancing") in Apollo. Of course, I understand that others prefer a taller woman for the latter part, and I respect, admire and love both Maria Kowroski and Teresa Reichlen. (Also, I imagine that Suzanne Farrell was a great ballerina.)

 

On 2/24/2018 at 1:43 PM, fondoffouettes said:

I guess the question might be whether this production impedes a sense of chemistry between the leads. Not sure that's the case; just throwing it out there as a question.

I don't love the MacMillan as a whole -- though I cherish the many incredible moments -- but it's a ballet I'll go to when I know the leads are strong dramatically and have good chemistry. 

In my opinion, it does—although that is not the only reason there may not be chemistry between the leads, nor does it categorically preclude it. A previous poster understandably ridiculed the sets and costumes. However, notwithstanding the fact that many ballet-goers may dislike MacMillan’s version, it is in every respect superior to Martins’ Romeo + Juliet

I am not really familiar with the current principal dancers at ABT. They should be better in the full-length, narrative ballets than their counterparts at NYCB, since ABT focuses in that genre. Sadly, I am not sure currently that is even the case.

 

 

Edited by Royal Blue
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