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Great Masters of Dance


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I saw the Sarasota Ballet's final program of the season last night. It was called "Great masters of Dance" and included Balanchine (Tarantella, Bugaku), Tudor (The Leaves are Fading), and Ashton (Marguerite and Armand).

Kate Honea and Logan Learned were terrific in Tarantella mastering all the fancy footwork as well as balances, turning attitudes, etc. This piece was added to the other 3 ballets about a month or so ago due to Logan Learned's decision to retire from ballet and study at a university in San Francisco, according to an article. He is young and petite. He delighted Sarasota audiences for 10 years in many roles. His small stature was probably an obstacle to securing a position at a larger company (I am just guessing), because to me his Blue Boy in Les Patineurs, Alain in La Fille Mal Garde and other shows he participated in showed a huge talent. He seemed to love what he was doing and gave his all. At the end of Tarantella during curtain calls Kate Honea hugged him, and it looked like tears came to his eyes. He will be missed in this little gem of a company!!!!

I had never seen The Leaves Are Fading and may need to revisit it. I closed my eyes and dozed several times. Maybe I was still tired with jet lag (I was in Berlin for an opera trip and to see the Berlin Philharmonic) and then drove down to Sarasota yesterday. So the warm Sarasota Opera House, Dvorak's calm music, and the subtle choreography (from what I did see) put me to sleep.

Bugaku was great fun with Ryoko Sadoshima and Lucas Erni in the female and male leads. It actually helped to buy into Balanchine's take on Japan's Imperial Court arts that a Japanese dancer was in the lead role.  Ryoko was beautiful and delicate in the role. Slight wobbles on the difficult balances on one leg as the other leg changed position and went into other steps, but that was a small quibble. Even the very best international dancers might wobble during some of these moments. I do feel that Balanchine did this ballet as an homage to Japan and not to make fun. I think there is an element of respect and awe to the ballet. The various steps of ballet were at times re-imagined so that the Russian attitudes were more bent and squared, more entrechats that landed on one foot (the various numbers that I could not count because they were fast), etc. Lucas Erni was a very handsome lead male, and the entire "ceremony" was dramatic and beautiful. The audience loved it.

The final ballet was Marguerite and Armand, and, in the past, I have considered Sarasota Ballet best at Ashton. However, I felt last night's performance was slightly off from their normal level. Victoria Hulland was a gorgeous Marguerite and acted very well. I had no issues with her. However, I found Ricardo Garziano, who I thought was excellent in other shows in the past, a bit subdued compared to Shklyarov who I have seen in this role. A big whoops moment happened when David Tlaiye (as Armand's father) was dragging Hulland and somehow tripped falling down under her and dropped her at the same time. However, she was being dragged, so it didn't look like she was hurt at all, but he might have hurt himself the way he fell. Some audience members gasped. They recovered as quickly as they could which showed great professionalism. The main problem in the scenery/costumes was that I felt some of the supporting cast looked way too young to have the fake beards and wigs, or else the wigs and beards needed to be improved upon. Not sure, but it did not help you forget it was theatre.

I believe Xander Parish was originally scheduled to dance Armand, but he must have cancelled long ago, because there was no mention of that on the website for months. Overall, the entire evening was a very nice evening. I think I enjoyed Bugaku and Tarantella the most.

There is a restaurant called Mozaic around the corner from Sarasota's opera house which I love. Tiny hole in the wall but great food. Just threw that in for those of you who decide to visit Sarasota.

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On 4/29/2018 at 4:40 PM, Birdsall said:

I saw the Sarasota Ballet's final program of the season last night. It was called "Great masters of Dance" and included Balanchine (Tarantella, Bugaku), Tudor (The Leaves are Fading), and Ashton (Marguerite and Armand).

[...]

I had never seen The Leaves Are Fading and may need to revisit it. I closed my eyes and dozed several times. Maybe I was still tired with jet lag (I was in Berlin for an opera trip and to see the Berlin Philharmonic) and then drove down to Sarasota yesterday. So the warm Sarasota Opera House, Dvorak's calm music, and the subtle choreography (from what I did see) put me to sleep.

Thanks for this report of what sounds a very substantive program. Leaves are Fading was a profound experience with Gelsey Kirkland. I haven't seen it since then--kind of never wanted to because my memories of those performances were so piercing for so many years (sadly a little less so now) , but I have read praise for performances with later casts, and I bet it is worth revisiting as you say even if this first performance didn't make an impression. It is "subtle," but can, in the right performance, also be rewarding.

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Marguerite and Armand was created as a star vehicle and far from typical of his output. There are still many who believe that it should have been left undisturbed after its original cast stopped dancing it which is what Ashton wanted Unfortunately it has become the default Ashton ballet of choice at Covent Garden. It means the company can say it is staging Ashton ballets without having to make too much effort to do so. I don't think that is why Iain Webb has staged it. Mr and Mrs Webb take Ashton very seriously indeed. If only one or other of the directors of the Royal Ballet companies took the man's works as seriously as the Webbs do.

It is said, at present, to be the most frequently revived of Ashton's ballets which I find incredible. Can there really be that many dancers of a certain age in search of a vehicle? While I am willing to believe that there is the occasional performance where the vehicle "goes" there are many when it resolutely refuses to do so.

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On ‎4‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 3:40 PM, Birdsall said:

I had never seen The Leaves Are Fading and may need to revisit it. I closed my eyes and dozed several times. Maybe I was still tired with jet lag (I was in Berlin for an opera trip and to see the Berlin Philharmonic) and then drove down to Sarasota yesterday. So the warm Sarasota Opera House, Dvorak's calm music, and the subtle choreography (from what I did see) put me to sleep.

In her original review of The Leaves Are Fading (at the time of its premiere), Arlene Croce was favorable towards it but thought that it was too long. Revisiting the piece in the mid-80s, Croce wrote that, "he [Antony Tudor] had misjudged the audience's ability to concentrate on intricacies of partnering and other small differences in so many consecutive or simultaneous pas de deux."

 

Edited by miliosr
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On ‎4‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 3:40 PM, Birdsall said:

The main problem in the scenery/costumes was that I felt some of the supporting cast looked way too young to have the fake beards and wigs, or else the wigs and beards needed to be improved upon. Not sure, but it did not help you forget it was theatre.

Carrie Seidman's review in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune contains a photo of the wigs:

http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180428/dance-review-farewell-to-season---and-two-beloved-dancers

The wigs really do look ridiculous.

As to the question of, "Can there really be that many dancers of a certain age in search of a vehicle?," the answer would be 'Yes'. That's why (at least in part) John Cranko's Onegin, Kenneth MacMillan's Manon and John Neumeier's La Dame au camelias are so popular with dancers "of a certain age."

 

 

Edited by miliosr
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