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Don Quixote Spring 2018


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On 6/30/2018 at 8:01 PM, canbelto said:

I was at three performances this week: Boylston/Simkin, Shevchenko/Whiteside, and Lane/Cornejo. A comparison of the three casts here:

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2018/06/abts-don-quixotes-chart-path-for-abts.html

I love your detailed review of the the three Don Q's.  I was at these performances as well, and agree with everything you wrote!

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30 minutes ago, Mazurka said:

I think I finally undestand McKenzie’s ukase banning filming - if you could post on youtube brilliant performances by people held back from promotions there would be pressure to change the artistic direction at ABT, while sales would fall for performers  not based on merit. 

How does this policy affect “fresh blood”?  Is it NYC that has such pull that people disregard the difficulty or does hope spring eternal?

Every theater bans filming by audience members, but it appears some theaters are less rigorous in enforcing that (e.g., in Russia?). Why don't both ABT and NYCB record performances and sell somehow as the European and  Russian companies do so routinely? I've never understood that. It sounds like the old Robbins bias: if they can see it on TV or the movies, they won't come to the theater to buy tickets. There are reports that he hated the way ballet  looked in Live from Lincoln Center.

But, of course, he assumes that most ballet lovers can afford to get to NYC and buy tickets, which I find incredibly shortsighted.

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35 minutes ago, Mazurka said:

I think I finally undestand McKenzie’s ukase banning filming - if you could post on youtube brilliant performances by people held back from promotions there would be pressure to change the artistic direction at ABT, while sales would fall for performers  not based on merit. 

How does this policy affect “fresh blood”?  Is it NYC that has such pull that people disregard the difficulty or does hope spring eternal?

No company allows filming of performances by audience members, although I guess in Russia it is tacitly allowed.

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ABT's less commercial release was 2005. It's hard to believe but NYCB has since put out three commercial releases: the Nutcracker (2011), Opus Export Jazz (2010) and Balanchine in Paris (2016).

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ABT did release a documentary by Ric Burns in 2015, but no complete ballets were included. Think of all the extraordinary performances relegated to memory and perhaps archival footage somewhere. If those had been performed at the Royal Ballet or La Scala or Russia, they'd be available for posterity on DVD. 

https://www.amazon.com/American-Masters-Ballet-Theatre-History/dp/B00XBL0KHI/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1530566221&sr=8-6&keywords=american+ballet+theatre+dvd

 

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I am partial to live performances but recently  went (reluctantly)  to a Met opera live in a theater, and it is such a completely different but also rich experience that it merits to see the same production both ways. What is amazing is that it is transmitted all over the world.  

There are transmissions of the Royal Ballet as well as some Russian ones in NY -  has anyone gone to one?

 

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10 minutes ago, Mazurka said:

I am partial to live performances but recently  went (reluctantly)  to a Met opera live in a theater, and it is such a completely different but also rich experience that it merits to see the same production both ways. What is amazing is that it is transmitted all over the world.  

There are transmissions of the Royal Ballet as well as some Russian ones in NY -  has anyone gone to one?

 

I prefer live performances but it is just  not possible to see every ballet I want to see at City Ballet or ABT. I've been to several Bolshoi transmissions and a few RB ones.  Some are great, some not so special, but all were worth seeing.  I love going to the Met when I can, and  also go to several Met in Cinema transmissions a year.  They're not a substitute for being in the Met but  they're wonderful. 

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48 minutes ago, Mazurka said:

 

There are transmissions of the Royal Ballet as well as some Russian ones in NY -  has anyone gone to one?

 

There are transmissions of the Bolshoi and the Royal elsewhere in the country as well--the Bolshoi broadcasts have been posted about and discussed fairly frequently usually in threads listed under the "Ballet videos, Films, Broadcast [etc.]"  category though sometimes under the company category. I live in the Southeast and can only occasionally travel to cities with major ballet companies and I very much enjoy the Bolshoi transmissions I've seen--if I lived in New York, ABT and NYCB transmissions would probably interest me less, though I still would attend Bolshoi and Royal Ballet transmissions. But I also might still attend an ABT or NYCB broadcast to see an alternate cast or experience the occasional close up of dancers that, in the theater, I usually see from fairly far away.

In any case, it baffles me that ABT and NYCB don't do more livestreams as well as broadcasts etc. though I assume they have looked into it...perhaps the issue is sorting out rights and royalties with all the parties involved?? But would they really LOSE local audiences? and not gain new fans and audiences for their tours? I gather not everyone is convinced the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcasts have been good for building audiences in the way expected, but then the data does not seem decisive--perhaps the current decline in audiences would have been worse without the broadcasts (?): https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/hd-broadcasts-once-the-future-of-opera-are-now-seen-by-some-as-its-demise/2016/07/14/d5763340-3406-11e6-8758-d58e76e11b12_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f7ef79806b3e

I have mostly enjoyed the ballet broadcasts I have seen and wish they were scheduled so I could see more.  And, living outside NY, I would race to attend ABT and NYCB broadcasts if they existed. Of course, the broadcast experience IS very different from the live experience--and not all the camera work is ideal. I will say that I find seeing an HD broadcast in a movie theater on a giant screen considerably more satisfying than watching on one's computer or even on a large television set.  Somehow more of the glamor and larger-than-life character of theater performances comes through--probably just because of the large screen.  Though these broadcasts can certainly become the basis for DVDs that are valuable too.  Well, we can hope the situation changes...

Edited by Drew
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2 hours ago, aurora said:

No company allows filming of performances by audience members, although I guess in Russia it is tacitly allowed.

It varies in Russia from theater to theater. The Mariinsky seems more likely to turn a blind eye. The Bolshoi is more draconian in keeping amateur film off the internet. Once a YouTube video of the Bolshoi appears on an online forum such as this one, its days are numbered. 

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5 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

Stearns was utterly fantastic as His Friend in The Moor's Pavane years ago. He was paired opposite Zhurbin as The Moor. Their sparing was electric and I was shocked at how good he was. That was the only time I saw him come alive and actually inhabit a character, with real visible emotion. So, he's obviously got it in him. Why can't/doesn't he harness that for everything else that he does? He shouldn't need someone like Zhurbin to play off of.

It's "funny" you mention the great success Stearns had in The Moor's Pavane because the Iago part is much more of an "actor-dancer" part than a "dancer-dancer" part. Even though Stearns "is very handsome, has perfect ballet proportions, and a beautiful ballet line" (in other words, the perfect prince), perhaps the villainous parts bring something out in him. Or maybe it was the confluence of the part, the co-star (Zhurbin as The Moor) and a stager from the Limon foundation who demanded a lot from him.

5 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

That said, I do appreciate the fact that they've both been reliable and dependable and are the MVP's for this season. With the male principal situation being that it is that many of us have written about ad nauseum, imagine if even one of them hadn't been around?

As Arlene Croce once wrote about the Graham company: "Under the circumstances is how things are done in the theater."

5 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

I don't think that would necessarily have translated into ABT giving Forster or Hoven a chance at a leading role (or maybe it would have if Stearns/Whiteside had gotten injured at the last minute, but then how much rehearsal time would they have had, and they'd still be judged on a less-than-great performance?).

Do we all remember several years ago when Stearns had to drop out of Theme and Variations? ABT had weeks to prepare someone in-house to replace Stearns. Instead, they borrowed Andrew Veyette from the company across the plaza, which delighted City Ballet fans but contributed to the crash in ABT company morale that so many dancers, past and present, have discussed.

Edited by miliosr
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22 hours ago, NinaFan said:

I had trouble seeing Part dance Swan Lake with anyone other than Gomes, so I do understand.  But Whiteside did an excellent job in Swan Lake with Shevchenko this year.  You may want to give him another try rather than missing out of on some pretty exciting debuts/performances.

Yes, NinaFan, I agree with you. As you say, I can't imagine missing out on "some pretty exciting debut/performances" just because someone doesn't like Whiteside. Last Friday, I was very disappointed by Hee Seo's performance in Don Q. Not that she was bad or anything, but I just don't think Kitri is the right role for her. Whiteside, on the other hand, really saved the evening for me (and Christine Shevchenko, too, as Mercedes). I thought he was excellent in Don Q. I never saw Whiteside's appeal... until this year. I've seen him in a lot of performances this season (yes, he was excellent in Swan Lake, too) and I now have a newfound respect for his versatility.

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18 hours ago, miliosr said:

Do we all remember several years ago when Stearns had to drop out of Theme and Variations? ABT had weeks to prepare someone in-house to replace Stearns. Instead, they borrowed Andrew Veyette from the company across the plaza, which delighted City Ballet fans but contributed to the crash in ABT company morale that so many dancers, past and present, have discussed.

ABT has absolutely no business dancing Balanchine in the first place. I have never seen an ABT attempt at Balanchine that wasn't an unmitigated disaster.

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12 minutes ago, canbelto said:

ABT has absolutely no business dancing Balanchine in the first place. I have never seen an ABT attempt at Balanchine that wasn't an unmitigated disaster.

Sad irony here, as T&V was choreographed for ABT by Balanchine. 

I'm also curious about why ABT did the reconstruction from notation of Symphonie Concertante, as it originated with SAB and Ballet Society. Was there a performing history at NYCB? Were they not interested in a reconstruction?

https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/s/symphonie-concertante.aspx

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Personally, as a Balanchine lover, I think many of his works (including T&V) are great enough to withstand even imperfect realization by a suboptimal ensemble. I’ll gladly take the opportunity to see a live performance of one of his better works even under such conditions, and will get much pleasure even from those “unmitigated disasters.” There’s so much to see in them, and I’ll never see enough.

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26 minutes ago, Rock said:

Even Sonnambula and Prodigal canbelto?

 

I've never seen ABT dance Sonnambula. I saw them dance Prodigal a few years ago and it was quite frankly awful. ABT doesn't have the on-the-note musicality that Balanchine demands, and unlike other companies I've seen dance Balanchine (for instance, the Bolshoi dance Diamonds, etc) they couldn't adapt their company style and mix it with the Balanchine style. 

A Symphony in C a few years ago was a disgrace. 

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The only time I saw ABT dance La Sonnambula was a pre-recorded performance on PBS with Baryshnikov and when he was still AD.  I don't recall ever seeing ABT dance La Sonnamula in performance. As far as Prodigal Son, Apollo, Mozartiana etc, I would much prefer to watch NYCB where Balanchine is performed with the solid integrity it deserves.

Edited by NinaFan
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2 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

As far as Prodigal Son, Apollo, Mozartiana etc, I would much prefer to watch NYCB where Balanchine is performed with the solid integrity it deserves.

This I wholeheartedly agree with.

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Just now, NinaFan said:

  As far as Prodigal Son, Apollo, Mozartiana etc, I would much prefer to watch NYCB where Balanchine is performed with the solid integrity it deserves.

Well, when it comes to Mozartiana I vastly prefer Shevchenko to Mearns. The role's particular requirements — not the least among them wit — are simply not in Mearns' gift, as riveting as she can be in other (especially non-Balanchine) roles. 

 

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33 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

The only time I saw ABT dance La Sonnambula was a pre-recorded performance on PBS with Baryshnikov and when he was still AD.  

It was broadcast in 1980, with Baryshnikov as the Poet and Ferri as the Sleepwalker, in the "Great Performances" series on PBS. I don't believe it was ever released commercially, but it's likely you could see it at the NYPL Dance Collection.

https://www.mercecunningham.org/film-media/media-detail/params/mediaID/84/

At least from this site, it was broadcast in 1987 and Cunningham's Duet (the other piece shown) was made in 1980.

Edited by California
correction
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3 minutes ago, California said:

It was broadcast in 1980, with Baryshnikov as the Poet and Ferri as the Sleepwalker, in the "Great Performances" series on PBS. I don't believe it was ever released commercially, but it's likely you could see it at the NYPL Dance Collection.

https://www.mercecunningham.org/film-media/media-detail/params/mediaID/84/

It's also on YouTube, or was not too long ago. I won't post it here, for fear that could jeopardize its remaining up.

Edited to add:  I just checked; search for "Balanchine Sonnambula" and it shows up.

Edited by nanushka
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16 minutes ago, nanushka said:

It couldn't have been that early. Julie Kent is in it, and although she's quite young, she's definitely not 11!

Correction -- at least from the Merce Cunningham link (above) it was broadcast in 1987. Duets was made in 1980.

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5 hours ago, California said:

I'm also curious about why ABT did the reconstruction from notation of Symphonie Concertante, as it originated with SAB and Ballet Society. Was there a performing history at NYCB? Were they not interested in a reconstruction?

https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/s/symphonie-concertante.aspx

Arlene Croce, who had very mixed feelings about ABT's reconstruction of Symphonie Concertante, had the following to say in 1983:

"Symphonie Concertante was unaccountably dropped in 1952 and forgotten for thirty years."

And:

"Is there something the matter with trying to revive a ballet as complex as Symphonie Concertante from notation with no other memory aid and no authority on hand to settle all-important matters of style?"

And:

"Ballet Theatre enlisted several Balanchine associates in its preparations, and at one time or another Tanaquil LeClerq, Maria Tallchief, and Diana Adams were invited to have a look. (LeClerq, who originated the 'violin' role in a student performance, in 1945, and danced it in repertory opposite Tallchief or Adams, had never seen the ballet before -- she'd always been in it.) Even for the remarkably retentive memories of dancers, thirty years is a long time."

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