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11 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

Interested to learn that Anna Rose appeared in Tarantella with Sambe in what must have been her role debut  and also in Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux which I think must have been a joint debut and that in both cases they were well received. But if the RB's dancers no longer perform Balanchine as they once did with a heavy foreign accent  that is in large part the result of no longer having such a pronounced house performance style. The more idiomatic Balanchine is perhaps at the cost of a less sure grasp of Ashton's stylistic obsessions and quirks. I had thought that perhaps the Mariinsky's dancers might have had the sense to conform more to the requirements of the choreography when appearing in New York . Did they really cut bits of the choreography in Tchai  as reported ?

Yes, the Russians cut bits of the choreography. It's a star vehicle, so in a certain sense we should expect dancers to tailor it to their particular gifts. Somewhere on Youtube there is a compilation of Balanchine sanctioned (at least in several cases) changes to the male variations. Still, Tereshkina doesn't hop backwards in her variation very long. She took two or three hops and then turned and ran to the corner. She doesn't really gargouillade (Patty McBride didn't either). Kim leapt so high in his variation that he ran out of space and stood smiling in the corner waiting for the music to catch up. He's good looking, the audience didn't seem to mind. The dancers often exited early, leaving the stage empty before their partner's next entrance. They gave a spectacular performance in many ways, but it wasn't really Balanchine, imo, and they weren't terribly connected to each other emotionally... aside from the play acting in the bows.  I heard the couple from the Royal Ballet had a much better version of Tschai Pas that also brought down the house.

Kimin Kim DOES have an spectacular and amazing jump. Truly gasp worthy. But that doesn't make an entire ballet.

I thought the Joffrey showed what a disadvantage it is not to have Balanchine training. 4T has eleven soloist/principal roles and a large corps de ballet. They did an admirable job, but you can't fake or coach your way through ten years of training in a few weeks (I have no idea how long they've had this piece).  Colleen Neary, who staged it, must have had to pick her battles. It was accurate and recognizable as 4T, but the use of space, the off balance moments, many of the leg positions were not Balanchine. A Balanchine attitude has the knee directly behind the hip and the lower leg bent behind the body to the opposite side. It's super crossed over. So is tendu to the front, with the toe ending up even with center of the body (read Merrill Ashley's book). It's extreme, and the dancers, HIS dancers are super pulled up through the hips and middle. The Joffrey dancers haven't mastered that and it makes a difference in the tension and energy of the entire piece. I think the Joffrey cast did a laudable job, the men often stronger than the women, but they also showed just HOW MUCH there is to master in this choreography.

All that said, I really enjoyed it and I think the whole festival is wonderful. I loved the Paris Opera ballet couple in Midsummer PPD. My friends thought it woud have been better programmed before Tschai Pas. Calm you down, then rile you up.

Edited by BalanchineFan
Colleen Neary staged 4T. Not Elyse Borne.

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I saw last night and today’s matinee. It’s been fascinating. One thing I’ve learned is that I like the American companies the best. I enjoy their energetic and forthright quality. SFB’s Divertimento No 15 this afternoon made me so happy, just floating as I left the theatre. Miami City Ballet sparkled in the Glinka pdt, with the beautiful Kleber Rebello getting huge applause. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one before. Why doesn’t NYCB do it more often? I’m already casting it in my mind... Sebastian Villarini-Velez, Indiana Woodward, and... maybe Lauren King?). I also mostly enjoyed the Joffrey in 4Ts, which I thought they attacked with admirable energy.  The four buzzing ladies of Sanguinic especially exemplified this. I thought Sae Eun Park and Hugo Marchand of POB were really lovely in the pdd from Midsummer Night’s Dream. On the other hand, I saw this same couple again today in the pdd from Agon, and I thought it was completely lacking in suspense, tension, and Balanchine style. Also she got into position with the arabesque penchee, then he laid down, totally bypassing the drama of that moment. Finally, Kimin Kim and Tereshkina in Tchaikovsky pdd. Agree with others. Tereshkina was way too studied and tense and took some liberties and did some fudging of the choreography. The piece was totally lacking in the proper spirit of fun and partnership. But Kimin Kim - this is my first viewing of him - lived up to his reputation, with the audience simply laughing at how over the top incredible he was. A fun introduction to him. 

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What has been most interesting to me reading about this festival is the wide variation in people's responses to the same performances--and I've found the same variety (and more, for example, regarding the Joffrey) on other social media. One always reads different and even conflicting opinions here at Ballet Alert, but often there is some clear tilt in the overall response--sort of the way in this discussion almost everyone has some criticisms of Tchaikovsky pas de deux as danced by Tereshkina (especially) and Kim--even if someone writes to disagree with that tilt. Or else the opinions fall into two clear "strands" or perspectives (say, responses to the Bolshoi from people who admire Grigorovich and people who don't).  But it's not that often, as far as I remember, to read such a wide and widely swinging variety of responses to so many performances and not easily categorizable responses either since everyone is interested in Balanchine at the least. And where one person's favorite performance is another's worst disaster and yet another person's nice and another person's meh. Perhaps this reveals how strongly people feel about the different ways Balanchine can/should be danced and what they expect from non-NYCB  as well as non-American performances. 

Though there does seem to be something consistently wrong with the City Center stage that so many falls are happening -- Canbelto commented on this on her blog too.

Edited by Drew

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15 hours ago, Drew said:

What has been most interesting to me reading about this festival is the wide variation in people's responses to the same performances--and I've found the same variety (and more, for example, regarding the Joffrey) on other social media. One always reads different and even conflicting opinions here at Ballet Alert [...]

  But it's not that often, as far as I remember, to read such a wide and widely swinging variety of responses to so many performances and not easily categorizable responses either since everyone is interested in Balanchine at the least. And where one person's favorite performance is another's worst disaster and yet another person's nice and another person's meh. Perhaps this reveals how strongly people feel about the different ways Balanchine can/should be danced and what they expect from non-NYCB  as well as non-American performances. 

 Though there does seem to be something consistently wrong with the City Center stage that so many falls are happening -- Canbelto commented on this on her blog too.

I haven’t spoken to any dancers about the floor surface, but I trust it won’t surprise anyone to read my differing opinion of the reason for the slips and falls. I think it’s part and parcel of the occasion; bringing different companies together, a different routine, the excitement of seeing heros or idols up close, the excitement of the unknown. 

The first day of the festival Unity Phelan posted an IG film taken just before company class. The little films disappear after 24 hours, but the excitement in the room was palpable. She highlighted a dancer from another company at the barre, a friend and/or someone whose dancing she admired. After a close up view all the dancers are probably comparing their own interpretations to the dancing of this vast number of other people (even if only subconsciously), changing routines and approaches to movement that were proven by time. The snow globe has been shaken and the flakes now fly. Until they settle anything might happen.

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I attended the Thursday night performance and was so glad to have the opportunity to see such a great array of companies interpreting Balanchine.

Apollo was wonderful and I agree with the others praising Maria Khoreva. I think her enormous success building a following on Instagram and getting in the press has caused some to wonder how much she can really deliver onstage (I did!) but she is a glorious dancer. It’s hard to believe Terpischore is her first major role. She gave such a confident, nuanced, rich interpretation. I really hope we get to see more of her in NYC! 

I thought NYCB were the weakest that night. They just didn’t seem to be giving it their all. I am not a big Abi fan in general, but I love Maria and found even her to be a bit flat. The performance just did not have the sparkle I’ve seen NYCB give it in their home theater. SFB were stronger in their performance of Divertimento—I’d rather see a performance like theirs with energy but a stumble than a performance like NYCB’s which is technically fine but flat.

Anna Rose and Marcelino were fabulous in Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, though. They really both went for it and danced with lots of brio and flair. Anna Rose nailed the backwards hops, and definitely did not play it safe with the fish dives, which provoked gasps and applause from the audience. 

 

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3 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

I haven’t spoken to any dancers about the floor surface, but I trust it won’t surprise anyone to read my differing opinion of the reason for the slips and falls. I think it’s part and parcel of the occasion; bringing different companies together, a different routine, the excitement of seeing heros or idols up close, the excitement of the unknown. 

The first day of the festival Unity Phelan posted an IG film taken just before company class. The little films disappear after 24 hours, but the excitement in the room was palpable. She highlighted a dancer from another company at the barre, a friend and/or someone whose dancing she admired. After a close up view all the dancers are probably comparing their own interpretations to the dancing of this vast number of other people (even if only subconsciously), changing routines and approaches to movement that were proven by time. The snow globe has been shaken and the flakes now fly. Until they settle anything might happen.

That seems a very likely explanation as well...

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I agree with BalanchineFan’s analysis. I do not follow the dancers on social media but I have imagined it must be an exciting week for the dancers. I picture the wings being crowded as the dancers watch the performances. 

I splurged for one of the few remaining tickets for the final performance. For the other two performances I saw, I sat in the top balcony. I don’t think I’ve ever been up there before, but I’d gladly sit there again. It’s very steep which makes for great sight lines for short people such as myself. Also it’s surprisingly close to the stage - much, much closer to the stage than the top balconies at  the Koch and the opera house. It was a great new angle to see familiar pieces like 4T’s. 

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I was there Wednesday and Thursday nights. Wednesday I was in the rear mezzanine and on Thursday I was 4th row center orchestra. My overall observations from the two nights:

NYCB: First a caveat -- I love NYCB, they are my favorite company and I go to see them several times a year. That being said, I felt their performances were not their best. The corps de ballet in both Symphony in C and Concerto Barocco were rock stars -- really together and expressive and energetic.  The principals, on the other hand, were mostly not up to their usual standard. Tiler Peck was as musical as ever, and I generally love her, but her ports de bras have become so wild with her hands flapping all over the place. I think she needs to reign it in.   Sara Mearns did stumble quite noticeably in Symph in C and seemed very nervous and shaky afterwards. The Angle brothers, as much as I love them when they are partnering ballerinas, looked very out of shape when they were dancing solo and were not able to execute the choreography at a principal dancer level, especially when compared to the outstanding principal men from the other companies. Ashley Bouder seemed to phone it in -- I expected her jumps to be really high and energetic and they were not. In Barocco, Maria Kowroski seemed very brittle throughout and Abi Stafford's incessant smiling was really distracting and out of place. 

MCB: Serenade is such a beautiful masterpiece, it's always a pleasure to see it, no matter who is dancing it. MCB did a good job with it, the corps was well rehearsed and the principals were up to the task. Simone Messmer was a star, I thought. I found her dancing to be really expressive and her performance to be moving.

SFB: I saw SFB do Divertimento No. 15. This is just a really solid company -- their technique is solid, their principals are reliable but there are no stars in the group. Francis Chung was the closest to reaching stellar level -- she executed a section of the ballet that is so very fast and she did it with great aplomb.

Royal Ballet: The two dancers, Anna Rose O'Sullivan and Marcelino Sambe', were among my personal favorites over the two nights. Their Tarantella was so confident and so full of fun. Their Tschaikovsky Pas was stupendous! Technically they were superb and they were able to convey a wonderful sense of daring (those fish dives!!!) and fun. Loved them!

Marinsky:  Tschaikovsky Pas was interesting -- Tereshkina and Kimin were very old-world in their approach. The long, dramatic bows were out of place and seemed a bit weird in context. She was very much the old-world ballerina -- very gracious and elegant -- the likes of which we do not see that often in America anymore. Kimin's jumps were amazing, but I didn't think they were so much better than Sambe's which were just as awe-inspiring in my opinion. I have mixed feelings about Apollo. All four dancers were obviously extremely talented, especially Xander Parrish and Maria Khoreva (whom I think is future star), but the facial expressions and the "acting" were not necessary and seemed really wrong to me. Not only that, but the facial expressions (alternately smiling and serious) did not seemed to be tied to any particular moment or motion, they seemed arbitrary and purposeless. Khoreva was the only dancer who seemed to understand the context of the ballet and her facial expressions were in sync with what she was dancing. Parrish's interpretation of Apollo was extremely boyish and young which I found confusing. But he is a beautiful dancer and I enjoyed watching him.

Lastly, never have I seen so many dancers stumble, slip or fall! I think there must have been problems with the floors -- slippery spots perhaps?  

 

 

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I have to say that I found Parish's Apollo very boyish too, which I did not like. He looked and acted like the type of boy who sits at the front of the class eager to answer every question the teacher asks, and who would always color within the lines when given a coloring sheet. His acting was disappointing even his acting through movement especially his strumming arms at the beginning. It looked like a rehearsal for him, in my opinion, instead of a professional performance....like he's still learning the role and is just not up to the task. He also had trouble with the women linking arms and turning. At the Mariinsky he used to be a weak partner, but he has improved slowly over time, but he's still a weak partner at times. I like him best when he dances by himself and the focus is on dancing and not any acting. For me personally Apollo needs more command of the stage. I liked all 3 Vaganova grads to varying degrees, but I agree that Khoreva seemed to take her role more seriously. I feel Apollo is a mismatch to Parish's personality and wish they had sent someone else like Stepin.

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On 11/3/2018 at 12:01 PM, cargill said:

She certainly cut the pas de chat in her solo, just before the fouettes--or at least just barely indicated it.

Yeah, it was barely indicated this afternoon. And in this manege, for the turns where the ballerina kicks out her leg at 90 degrees or less, Tereshkina decided to kick her leg much higher, and it looked unattractive. Overall, it was a pretty unpleasant performance, lacking lightness, musicality and wit. Kim provided the bravura dancing we've seen only rarely from NYCB's men in this role in recent years; I kind of felt the audience was overly reactive to Kim, but to each his own. 

On 11/3/2018 at 5:38 PM, Birdsall said:

on paper this sounded like a great idea (various companies paying homage to Balanchine), but so far in reality a bit disappointing. 

2

I kind of agree. I wish I'd put the money toward NYCB tickets instead. I only went to this afternoon's performance, and the Joffrey Four Temperaments was just meh; it really lacked the sharp, taut quality that the ballet requires. And it didn't look like a great fit on some of the corp members, either. The Tchai Pas had the issues already mentioned by others, and the Midsummer Night PDD was a pleasantly forgettable performance. The highlight of the afternoon was Symphonie Concertante; it was great to see this somewhat neglected work, and the ladies of ABT must have really settled into it because they looked like a relaxed, cohesive whole. The principal trio was excellent, and it must be a killer for the women; they are onstage so much. Is it in the same league as a work like Divertimento No. 15? No, but think it's a lovely piece, and one that deserves to be performed more often. It's fun to think of all the great lead female pairings that could happen at NYCB.

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31 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I kind of agree. I wish I'd put the money toward NYCB tickets instead. I only went to this afternoon's performance, and the Joffrey Four Temperaments was just meh; it really lacked the sharp, taut quality that the ballet requires. And it didn't look like a great fit on some of the corp members, either. The Tchai Pas had the issues already mentioned by others, and the Midsummer Night PDD was a pleasantly forgettable performance. The highlight of the afternoon was Symphonie Concertante; it was great to see this somewhat neglected work, and the ladies of ABT must have really settled into it because they looked like a relaxed, cohesive whole. The principal trio was excellent, and it must be a killer for the women; they are onstage so much. Is it in the same league as a work like Divertimento No. 15? No, but think it's a lovely piece, and one that deserves to be performed more often. It's fun to think of all the great lead female pairings that could happen at NYCB.

I think it might have worked better in the summer when most companies are not having a season and then we could have had a more substantial sampling from, say, the Mariinsky, POB or Royal Ballet. But as it is their companies are having really busy seasons and so they would only send over a small group (or in the case of POB or Royal only two dancers). 

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... and as noted up-thread, there are very varied reactions to these programs. I saw the Joffrey do Four Temperaments three times (Friday night, Saturday matinee, and today matinee). I liked it very much. They had attack and commitment, and they looked plenty capable to me. Notably, they have a bunch of strong men. Never having seen these dancers before, it's hard to single any out, but I liked today's Melancholic, Phlegmatic, and Sanguinic men, as well as Choleric. The Sanguinic woman on Friday night and today was unfortunately lacking in the forceful presence needed for this role, but I found the corps women were fierce. 

Symphonie Concertante. I am pretty unfamiliar with this piece, having seen it a few times the last time ABT did it, like maybe 12 years ago. After so many glowing reviews on here, from the ABT season and last night, I was eager to see it, but I just could not get into it. Not sure why. But I'll try again next time and hope I can connect to it more, since so many here love it. 

It was hard for me (and I imagine for others in the NYC audience) to see dancers I'm totally unfamiliar with, do roles that I associate with particular dancers. This was especially true for Tchaikovsky pas de deux. I have a vision of Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz, and also that sweet video on the NYCB website where Tiler talks about the ballet (see the videos at her dancer profile). Tereshkina and Kim were totally different. Heavy makeup to the point of bizarre, and old-world grand manners. Sure, I suppose part of the point of this festival was to show how Balanchine is carried out around the world, but the grand manners/mannerisms, and milking the audience for applause, just seemed out of place in modern New York City. Still, it was great fun to see Kimin Kim. His effortless ease is wonderful to see. 

As for the Agon pas de deux, I see Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar. The couple from POB, Sae Eun Park and Hugo Marchand, were woefully unsuited to this piece. On the other hand, I saw them do the pas de deux from Midsummer Night's Dream twice, and I loved it. Wanting to see them do this piece again, was part of why I splurged on a ticket for the final performance. They were exquisite. 

Something notable I've learned, that I did not know about myself before, is that I really like ballet as performed by American companies. As beautiful as the Russian and the French schools may be (I did not see the Royal Ballet), I relate more immediately to the forthright American style, and I particularly enjoyed seeing Miami City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Joffrey.

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55 minutes ago, cobweb said:

... and as noted up-thread, there are very varied reactions to these programs. [...]

Sure, I suppose part of the point of this festival was to show how Balanchine is carried out around the world, but the grand manners/mannerisms, and milking the audience for applause, just seemed out of place in modern New York City. Still, it was great fun to see Kimin Kim. His effortless ease is wonderful to see. 

As for the Agon pas de deux, I see Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar. The couple from POB, Sae Eun Park and Hugo Marchand, were woefully unsuited to this piece. On the other hand, I saw them do the pas de deux from Midsummer Night's Dream twice, and I loved it. Wanting to see them do this piece again, was part of why I splurged on a ticket for the final performance. They were exquisite. 

Something notable I've learned, that I did not know about myself before, is that I really like ballet as performed by American companies. As beautiful as the Russian and the French schools may be (I did not see the Royal Ballet), I relate more immediately to the forthright American style, and I particularly enjoyed seeing Miami City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Joffrey.

I thought the POB couple performed Agon PPD well enough, but something else struck me about the whole thing. NYCB tends to have taller women. Most of the foreign companies have women that are short and tiny. Sae Eun Park, is an example. Hugo Marchand had to duck under her leg in arabesque when he was on one knee. I've only seen the woman's leg sail over her partner. Agon should be danced by a taller woman, or at least a couple that are more closely matched in size. There's another section where the man supports the woman under the arms as she does a series of splits, two or three times going upstage on alternating diagonals, twice coming downstage. Marchand was so much taller that her pelvis couldn't reach the ground. Do these companies have enough tall women for Balanchine rep?

Edited by BalanchineFan

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6 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

I thought the POB couple performed Agon PPD well enough, but something else struck me about the whole thing. NYCB tends to have taller women. Most of the foreign companies have women that are short and tiny. Sae Eun Park, is an example. Hugo Marchand had to duck under her leg in arabesque when he was on one knee. I've only seen the woman's leg sail over her partner. Agon should be danced by a taller woman, or at least a couple that are more closely matched in size. There's another section where the man supports the woman under the arms as she does a series of splits, two or three times going upstage on alternating diagonals, twice coming downstage. Marchand was so much taller that her pelvis couldn't reach the ground. Do these companies have enough tall women for Balanchine rep?

I don't think it's a matter of Park being short so much as Marchand is really tall (6'5").

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It's been a few weeks since these performances, but I find myself still thinking about the Joffrey's Four Temperaments. Maybe because I saw it three times in as many days, and maybe it struck me in a fresh way because the performers were entirely new to me, but I find it's really stayed in my mind. Two details that stand out, that I haven't noticed before while watching NYCB: at the end of the third theme, when the man is holding the woman curled up before him, and she stretches out her legs as they exit the stage - as they executed this and exited, they both also rolled their heads way back - perfectly timed - as if to leave part of them behind on the stage, as if to prolong the parting? I hadn't noticed this detail before, and it keeps playing in my mind. Another detail was the exit of Phlegmatic and the four ladies. At NYCB, I seem to recall all five exiting in one batch (someone correct me if I'm misremembering this). The Joffrey's version had the four women rushing off as I'm used to, but Phlegmatic holds back, then extends his hand, reaching forward, exiting in the same searching way that he entered. 

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