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Sarasota @ Joyce Aug. 2018

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It was certainly a pleasure to see Marcelo Gomes performing once again on a New York stage.  But more than that, the Sarasota Ballet offered one of the best programmed performances I've seen a some time.  The ballets were thoughtfully selected and beautifully performed by everyone.  If ABT had programmed their fall season with as much taste and finesse, they'd have no trouble selling tickets.  We need more Ashton in our lives, not less!  Bravo to the Sarasota Ballet!

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21 hours ago, cobweb said:

ITA with NinaFan about today’s matinee, especially Monotones, which I found magnetic and moving. I am enjoying these performances so much that I am eyeing airfare to Sarasota.  I saw Les Patineurs once before, many years ago as a teenager. Can’t remember where - perhaps on one of the occasional trips to NYC, or more likely, some touring company that came through my area circa 1980. That one long-ago performance left an indelible impression. I was looking very forward to today’s excerpt and it did not disappoint except for being way too short to satisfy my eagerness. When the three dancers ran offstage I was hoping this was just a prelude to solo variations... but alas! So maybe to Sarasota to see the full length in December. Maybe. Meanwhile thoroughly enjoying the clean clean style and thorough preparation these dancers show, along with a fascinating rep that is almost entirely unknown to me. On to tonight!

ETA OT: racking my memory and a quick internet search indicates it must have been the Joffrey I saw doing that memorable Les Patineurs so many years ago. I saw them on tour in my out-of-the-way area, and I wore my Joffrey t-shirt till it fell apart. 

I was also hoping for more when they finished and ran off stage.  ABT revived Les Patineurs a while back with a young Angel Corella.  Angel really looked as though he was skating on ice with his gorgeous spins. 

I ran into a couple of friends at the performance yesterday, and one of them also remembered Les Patineurs at ABT.  She said that Angel AND Stiefel both danced the role.    While it could have been the Joffrey, could it have been ABT that you remember?  

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Yes, I remember it.  It was years ago, and Stiefel was wonderful as the boy in blue.  Gillian Murphy (I think she may have been a soloist then, but maybe she was in the corps) was phenomenal as one of the girls in red.  (with all the turns)

Edited by cargill

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It is too bad that Logan Learned left Sarasota Ballet , or you would have seen something great in Patineurs (I think he left to pursue studies in something besides ballet). The company said, "Goodbye" to him by inserting Tarantella into a program last year. He will probably be the best Blue Boy from Les Patineurs that I will ever see in my lifetime. He was fabulous in everything he did. Unfortunately, he was petite so he was limited in the roles he could take on, but the roles he did take on......he owned them.....

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Thanks for the interest, NinaFan! As I racked my memory I had the sense it was the Joffrey, and I know I saw and loved them on tour, whereas I don’t think ABT came through on tour during that period. Also, from the clips on YouTube it’s the Joffrey version I seem to recall, not the ABT version. In any case, watching the clips has made me realize anew what a delightful piece this is. I can imagine Corella and Stiefel were both beyond charming. In the old ABT video on YouTube, Fernando Bujones is incredible. He is listed as the Boy in Green. But this looks like the same role as Boy in Blue? (I haven’t watched the entire clips so I wonder if I’m missing something.)

Edited by cobweb
Autocorrect mishap

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9 minutes ago, cobweb said:

In the old ABT video on YouTube, Fernando Bujones is incredible. He is listed as the Boy in Green. But this looks old like the same role as Boy in Blue? (I haven’t watched the entire clips so I wonder if I’m missing something.)

I went to ABT often in the Seventies and have vivid memories of Bujones in it Les Patineurs. I believe it was the same role as the boy in blue.

Meanwhile, it was such a pleasure to see multiple performances of Monotones danced so well in a small, intimate theater. My only quibble was that on opening night Ryoko Sadoshima was extremely wobbly in Monotones 1. She was better at subsequent performances but to me she was always the weak link. I can imagine how difficult those long sustained balances are but the rest of her M1 cast - Samantha Benoit and Thomas Giugovaz  as well as the entire second cast - Kate Honea, Katelyn May and Nicolas Moreno - performed them beautifully. I especially liked the 2nd cast and wish they had performed it more often.

I thought both of the  Monotones 2 casts were wonderful. I was convinced that I preferred the Amy Wood cast till I saw the Hulland cast again on Saturday night and they just blew me away.

My other quibble was with the choice of rep. Program A started with Monotones followed by the Graziano Symphony of Sorrows and then Wheeldon's There Where She Loved. The last 2 pieces were much too similar for me. Both were to music that included sung lyrics (in Polish & German) and both were episodic. While the Wheeldon had some lightness in the Chopin sections they were both pretty gloomy. The program would have benefited greatly from the inclusion of something lighter and of different structure in place of one of them. Something like the full length Les Patineurs, or Rodeo, or some Bournonoville, all of which are in their rep.

Program B was so much better, starting with the Wheeldon, followed by Monotones and ending with the Ashton Diverts. It really made a difference having something upbeat on the program. I was disappointed that the extract from Les Patineurs was so short, but Thais and Two Pigeons were divine. And it so wonderful to see Marcelo on stage again!

Back to the rep. Over 7 performances they performed only 4 ballets (counting the diverts as one ballet). They performed Monotones and the Wheeldon on EVERY PROGRAM.

Even granting that Monotones is a masterpiece and I can see it every night for a month without being bored, I wish they had brought just one more piece. I'm sure they had their reasons - cost, stage size etc. but having the Wheeldon on one program and the Graziano on the other with a different ballet rounding out Program A would have made for a much more rewarding experience.

 

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I too was baffled about some aspects of the rep. Why have two different programs that are basically so similar? They could have left the Graziano at home (IMHO) and just done Program B, or as suggested, bring one more piece and vary the programs more. 

Also, after seeing the Wheeldon piece four times I developed some reservations. I can totally see its value for showcasing a bunch of dancers, but it’s gloomy, and please, less partnering, more dancing. 

Ryoko Sadoshima also has some very noticeable wobbling difficulties in Thais this afternoon. 

I envy those of you who saw Bujones in Les Patineurs! And I’m sorry to hear that Sarasota has lost another great interpreter of the role. 

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10 minutes ago, nysusan said:

Meanwhile, it was such a pleasure to see multiple performances of Monotones danced so well in a small, intimate theater. My only quibble was that on opening night Ryoko Sadoshima was extremely wobbly in Monotones 1. She was better at subsequent performances but to me she was always the weak link. I can imagine how difficult those long sustained balances are but the rest of her M1 cast - Samantha Benoit and Thomas Giugovaz  as well as the entire second cast - Kate Honea, Katelyn May and Nicolas Moreno - performed them beautifully. I especially liked the 2nd cast and wish they had performed it more often.

 

Goodness, she must have been pretty wobbly on opening night if what I saw was an improvement.   I found her to be very wobbly Saturday afternoon.   No doubt that the balances are difficult, but it did take away from the performance.   Everything else was a pure joy to watch.

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For me the highlight of the week, aside from seeing Marcelo Gomes again, was falling in love with Monotones. I had seen it once before, a few years ago with ABT at the Former State Theatre, but it totally failed to make a mark on me - because the hall was too big for it, I was in a bad mood or distracted that night, who knows why. I gather it’s usually done with full orchestra (?). To me the piano was just perfect. What a timeless, beautiful piece. I know I could see it many many times and still find new aspects and depth in it. 

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9 hours ago, laurel said:

If ABT had programmed their fall season with as much taste and finesse, they'd have no trouble selling tickets.  We need more Ashton in our lives, not less!  Bravo to the Sarasota Ballet!

Cross-referencing the discussion on another thread about who might succeed Peter Martins and Kevin McKenzie... maybe when the ABT job comes open Iain Webb will apply. 😃

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21 hours ago, cobweb said:

For me the highlight of the week, aside from seeing Marcelo Gomes again, was falling in love with Monotones. I had seen it once before, a few years ago with ABT at the Former State Theatre, but it totally failed to make a mark on me - because the hall was too big for it, I was in a bad mood or distracted that night, who knows why. I gather it’s usually done with full orchestra (?). To me the piano was just perfect. What a timeless, beautiful piece. I know I could see it many many times and still find new aspects and depth in it. 

I'm in total agreement.  I used to try to avoid the ballet at ABT, but Sarasota Ballet really did the ballet justice.  I can't remember if it's usually done with full orchestra, but I loved it with the piano.

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15 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

I'm in total agreement.  I used to try to avoid the ballet at ABT, but Sarasota Ballet really did the ballet justice.  I can't remember if it's usually done with full orchestra, but I loved it with the piano.

it is usually done with a full orchestra, which gives the music a more lush feeling. But the solo piano version seemed just right at the Joyce.

The first time I saw it was during the Ashton festival at the Met maybe 10 years ago.  The Joffrey did it and I fell in love with it instantly! I agree that ABT did it poorly, in fact I think they were OKish in Monotones II, but really terrible in Monotones I. I think all of their Ashton has suffered since they lost Georgina Parkinson.

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On 8/19/2018 at 9:40 PM, cobweb said:

Cross-referencing the discussion on another thread about who might succeed Peter Martins and Kevin McKenzie... maybe when the ABT job comes open Iain Webb will apply. 😃

It’s probably more likely that Webb may go to Birmingham Royal Ballet, although it would be sad for Sarasota if that happens.

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 If only that were likely. I think that followers of both Royal Ballet companies would be ecstatic if Webb were to become Birmingham's AD. Unfortunately I don't think that it is very likely that Webb will apply as he seems to be very content where he is. With Webb at Birmingham the artistic directors of both the Royal Ballet Covent Garden and English National Ballet would face real artistic competition. Not only would we have an artistic director who actually cares about the Ashton repertory, knows how to stage his works and will stage them rather than merely paying lip service to his importance to his company but Birmingham would have one who would be more likely to stage new works and works from the company's extensive back catalogue than endless Bintley revivals. With some of the other potential candidates I can think of we would probably end up with something far too close to a continuation of the current Bintley regime for artistic comfort. 

Edited by Ashton Fan

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Would it have been preferable for the Sarasota Ballet to have brought here one other ballet from their repertory instead of offering There Where She Loved a whopping seven times? Absolutely. That is not, however, the case with Monotones: its inclusion in every performance is what made this visit to New York City glorious and unforgettable! The importance of music in ballet can hardly be exaggerated. Ashton’s marvelous choreography (particularly in part II) makes Satie’s sublime music—transcribed for the orchestra or played on the piano—appear a score that had been specially commissioned. Whenever such beautiful sound and movement are wedded as harmoniously magic for the spectator typically ensues at the ballet. Of relatively brief duration, Monotones seems like a work that will always leave whoever truly appreciates it hankering for repeat viewings. Since it was the final performance of the run, I actually found the delightful Divertissements a tad anticlimactic after Monotones II on Sunday afternoon.

Except for the lovely Ryoko Sadoshima who was experiencing some difficulties, the rest of the Sarasota Ballet's dancers acquitted themselves handsomely during the week. With splendid performances in four key roles, Victoria Hulland distinguished herself and was particularly impressive.

 

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I totally agree about the beautiful music of Monotones, and its unique fit with the ballet Ashton choreographed. I was interested that they hired NYCB pianist Cameron Grant for the engagement. Does he play for them in Sarasota, too? It can't have been cheap to engage him for the week of performances and whatever rehearsal period they had, but IMHO totally worth it. His playing (and, I'd add, the singers in the Wheeldon piece) was so beautiful - I've found segments of the music drifting through my mind for days now. 

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On 8/21/2018 at 2:36 PM, cobweb said:

I totally agree about the beautiful music of Monotones, and its unique fit with the ballet Ashton choreographed. I was interested that they hired NYCB pianist Cameron Grant for the engagement. Does he play for them in Sarasota, too? It can't have been cheap to engage him for the week of performances and whatever rehearsal period they had, but IMHO totally worth it. His playing (and, I'd add, the singers in the Wheeldon piece) was so beautiful - I've found segments of the music drifting through my mind for days now. 

Zara Baroyan is the pianist for Sarasota Ballet.  The conductor is Ormsby Wilkins.  

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