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Helene

New York City Ballet Fall Season

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I watched the RB Jewels in Cinema and I didn't think their corps or their tall girl danced Rubies to convince me they were at the same level of neo classical finesse as NYCB, PNB, MCB or AZB.   Of all the European companies, I would expect the Brits to be the best at ballets that are close to musical theatre, but it wasn't the case.  I also think their stage is too small for Diamonds.  But I also thought they danced the most evocative Emeralds that I've ever seen.  

That said, I don't think NYCB dancers would pick up Ashton works tomorrow and be adept at the style 10 weeks later.  Viva la difference!

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First of all "Balanchine style" encompasses a huge range, as does "Robbins style." Dancing Agon is very different from dancing Coppelia, just as dancing Glass Pieces is different from Dances at a Gathering. Second of all very few SAB alumni get jobs with NYCB. Their training is meant to be all-encompassing and they go to all different dance companies around the world. Third of all time didn't stop in 1983 -- NYCB repertoire now has many pieces by contemporary choreographers. 

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14 minutes ago, canbelto said:

First of all "Balanchine style" encompasses a huge range, as does "Robbins style." Dancing Agon is very different from dancing Coppelia, just as dancing Glass Pieces is different from Dances at a Gathering. Second of all very few SAB alumni get jobs with NYCB. Their training is meant to be all-encompassing and they go to all different dance companies around the world. Third of all time didn't stop in 1983 -- NYCB repertoire now has many pieces by contemporary choreographers. 

True ... except for point two.  Very few SAB alumni get jobs with NYCB?   I thought it was more like very many.

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1 minute ago, Marta said:

True ... except for point two.  Very few SAB alumni get jobs with NYCB?   I thought it was more like very many.

Every year NYCB accepts about 4 or 5 apprentices into the company. Some do not get corps contracts. Other graduates go to ballet companies around the country and around the world. It's sort of like how the Vaganova Academy is a feeder school for the Mariinsky but that doesn't mean that Vaganova grads necessarily go into the Mariinsky.

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39 minutes ago, canbelto said:

First of all "Balanchine style" encompasses a huge range, as does "Robbins style." Dancing Agon is very different from dancing Coppelia, just as dancing Glass Pieces is different from Dances at a Gathering. Second of all very few SAB alumni get jobs with NYCB. Their training is meant to be all-encompassing and they go to all different dance companies around the world. Third of all time didn't stop in 1983 -- NYCB repertoire now has many pieces by contemporary choreographers. 

I agree.

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59 minutes ago, Jayne said:

I don't think NYCB dancers would pick up Ashton works tomorrow and be adept at the style 10 weeks later.

Exactly. Given sufficient time and willingness, a City Ballet dancer could adapt to the Ashton (and Tudor) styles. But it wouldn't happen overnight.

35 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Other graduates go to ballet companies . . . around the world.

I wonder what the stats are for School of American Ballet (SAB) placements in foreign companies. When I look at the top ranks of the most prestigious Western European companies (the Dutch National, La Scala, the Paris Opera, the Royal, the Stuttgart), the SAB is barely represented. Only Nikolaj Hubbe's Royal Danish could be said to have a vibrant SAB presence at the top. (And, yes, I realize many of these companies have their own schools. But this just underscores that graduating from SAB is not necessarily a calling card overseas.)

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On 10/11/2018 at 2:23 PM, Tapfan said:

What's wrong with staying in your lane?  It's worked for NYCB all these years. I have  As to the dancers, they didn't become  NYCB dancers because they wanted to dance  Petipa,  Forsythe  or McGregor. 

I certainly have a preferred lane but that doesn't mean that I'm not interested in or curious about anything else. That's exactly why, as I stated in an earlier post, I wish NYCB would experiment more with mixed programs of Balanchine and other choreographers. That's one reason the program - Allegro Brilliant, Easy, Carousel & La Sylphide attracted me. I didn't love all pieces equally, far from it, but I got to see one aspect of what Justin Peck was about.

For the audiences that tend to go for all contemporary works, I think it would be fun to through Agon or 4 T's in there, to give those people a taste of Balanchine.  Maybe I'm alone in looking at it that way, but personally I'd welcome some fresh programming ideas.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Every year NYCB accepts about 4 or 5 apprentices into the company. Some do not get corps contracts. Other graduates go to ballet companies around the country and around the world. It's sort of like how the Vaganova Academy is a feeder school for the Mariinsky but that doesn't mean that Vaganova grads necessarily go into the Mariinsky.

Good point, you're right.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Every year NYCB accepts about 4 or 5 apprentices into the company. Some do not get corps contracts. Other graduates go to ballet companies around the country and around the world. It's sort of like how the Vaganova Academy is a feeder school for the Mariinsky but that doesn't mean that Vaganova grads necessarily go into the Mariinsky.

According to the SAB website

Quote

Approximately 20 advanced students receive contracts with major professional dance companies each year. In addition to NYCB, where alumni of the School comprise ninety-six percent of the current company roster, SAB students go on to dance for Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Danish Ballet, among many others. 

So unless there is a huge bumper crop, the large majority of professional track students who dance professionally do not get hired by NYCB.  Those 20 don't include professional track students who pursue school or other employment.  I haven't been able to find class size on the website.

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16 hours ago, NinaFan said:

 To say NYCB dancers can’t switch between styles is really selling the dancers short.   It’s the other way round in that dancers from other companies often have difficulty dancing Balanchine properly

 

I'm not talking about switching from Balanchine to Robbins. SAB trains their dancers to dance both.  I'm talking about  switching from the NYCB style to Petipa or the more adventuresome contemporary dance makers.   It's not that NYCB dancers don't have the ability to dance classical ballet, or to perform really weird stuff.   It's  that doing so isn't part of their mission,  so why would they be good at something they almost never do?  And no, Justin Peck isn't really weird stuff.  And neither is Ratmansky

The average City Ballet patron may hate the way POB dances Jewels - I personally prefer their version to New York's - but I'd bet that POB is better at dancing Jewels than City Ballet is at dancing Don Q or In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, or Manon or Chroma. And my point isn't to make an argument as to the merits of anyone dancing Don Q. It's about being able to see a good production if that's what you want to see. 

I also disagree that only NYCB can properly perform Balanchine. His works are masterpieces like Shakespeare that can be interpreted in any number of ways that are "correct."  For instance, some ballet fans with informed opinions felt that  DTH used to perform Concerto Barocco better than NYCB. 

 

 

  

Edited by Tapfan

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1 hour ago, Tapfan said:

I'm not talking about switching from Balanchine to Robbins. SAB trains their dancers to dance both.  I'm talking about  switching from the NYCB style to Petipa or the more adventuresome contemporary dance makers. 

I also disagree that only NYCB can properly perform Balanchine. His works are masterpieces like Shakespeare that can be interpreted in any number of ways that are "correct."  For instance, some ballet fans with informed opinions felt that  DTH used to perform Concerto Barocco better than NYCB.  

Yes, I understood that you were not talking about switching between Balanchine and Robbins.  

And I never said that only NYCB can properly perform Balanchine. 

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3 hours ago, Tapfan said:

I'm not talking about switching from Balanchine to Robbins. SAB trains their dancers to dance both.  I'm talking about  switching from the NYCB style to Petipa or the more adventuresome contemporary dance makers.   It's not that NYCB dancers don't have the ability to dance classical ballet, or to perform really weird stuff.   It's  that doing so isn't part of their mission,  so why would they be good at something they almost never do?  And no, Justin Peck isn't really weird stuff.  And neither is Ratmansky

The average City Ballet patron may hate the way POB dances Jewels - I personally prefer their version to New York's - but I'd bet that POB is better at dancing Jewels than City Ballet is at dancing Don Q or In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, or Manon or Chroma. And my point isn't to make an argument as to the merits of anyone dancing Don Q. It's about being able to see a good production if that's what you want to see. 

Looks like some of us will have  to disagree about the versatility if NYCB dancers. I believe they are incredibly versatile. I think it should also be noted that for most NYCB dancers SAB serves as a finishing school. A dancer attends a summer intensive for one or more summers and then is in SAB for approx. 1 to 3 school years, before becoming an apprentice. (There are the exceptions of a few dances who go through SAB from the age of 8). These dancers got their foundational training elsewhere, training that often included tap, jazz and other forms of dance.  As with any group of dancers some NYCB dancers are more versatile than others, but on the whole, I think they are super adaptable. 

.

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Sorry NinaFan. I shouldn't have specified your words. 

I mean to answer the frequently expressed opinion that  only City Ballet can dance Balanchine "properly" but conversely, City Ballet can dance anything and everything when they don't want to dance everything nor have they  EVER  been tasked with doing so. 

All companies have baked-in and shifting strengths and weaknesses. 

Edited by Tapfan

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All companies do indeed have their baked-in strengths and weaknesses but these strengths and weaknesses shift over time. It's not in a static state. For instance in the 1950's if anyone would have said that the Royal Ballet would one day struggle with Ashton ballets people would have said "Nonsense!" Yet from what I've seen the Royal Ballet nowadays performs MacMillan at a much more consistent quality than Ashton. 

Likewise the POB is getting loud complaints nowadays that the classical arm of their repertoire is in tatters as the company shifts increasingly towards contemporary works. No one would have said this in the days of, say, Laurent Hilaire and Elisabeth Maurin.

When was the last time you actually saw NYCB in something other than Balanchine than Robbins? From what I've observed the company has become more versatile in the last 15 years or so but there are now some dancers in the company who struggle with both Balanchine and Robbins. 

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On 10/13/2018 at 11:47 AM, vipa said:

Looks like some of us will have  to disagree about the versatility if NYCB dancers. I believe they are incredibly versatile. I think it should also be noted that for most NYCB dancers SAB serves as a finishing school. A dancer attends a summer intensive for one or more summers and then is in SAB for approx. 1 to 3 school years, before becoming an apprentice. (There are the exceptions of a few dances who go through SAB from the age of 8). These dancers got their foundational training elsewhere, training that often included tap, jazz and other forms of dance.  As with any group of dancers some NYCB dancers are more versatile than others, but on the whole, I think they are super adaptable. 

.

What you're describing is true of almost all dancers who train in North America and end up at a major company where their feeder school serves as a finishing school.  If that training background means NYCB dancers can automatically  dance anything, then wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that someone who has come up through the schools at say Houston or San Francisco can just as easily dance Balanchine and get it right?  They're all well-trained dancers. Yet  merely hearing the name Houston Ballet  would have some people saying, "They're going to butcher Balanchine."

Once again, I'm not saying NYCB dancers don't have the ability to dance classically or to do cutting edge contemporary, I'm saying that as professionals, they don't have the opportunity because it's not why the company exists.  Why is it hard to believe that being in a company that frequently dances Forsythe or Pina Bausch would make you better at it than a company that dances them on rare occasions?

They may be well-trained but if I want to see Bausch, the first company I think of isn't City Ballet.  And if I want to see some Robert Garland, I don't look to the Bolshoi.  Can anyone picture the Mariinsky even thinking about trying the piece Michelle Dorrance is setting on ABT ? Of course not because it's too far out of their cultural and national frame of reference. 

Yes, that's an extreme example, but it illustrates my point that all companies no matter how well-trained have strengths and weaknesses. 

I simply disagree with the assertion by so many of it's fans that  "NYCB can dance anything, but we choose not to because everything other than Balanchine and Robbins is beneath us and we can spend only so much time slumming.

It's this kind of fan attitude that makes me think of City Ballet as the New York Yankees of Ballet, real easy for non-NYCB fans to hate.    And George Balanchine is to Ballet what Bear Bryant is to college football, a long-dead great that lots of unscrupulous  people live on. 

Edited by Tapfan

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I just spent some time in the Jerome Robbins exhibition at the Performing Arts library. There is some archival footage including Kay Mazzo and John Jones in Afternoon of a Faun. Makes me sorry I missed seeing it last week, especially with the new casting (Kennard Henson, Lauren Lovette, Joseph Gordon). If anyone saw it, I’d love a report. 

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What I'm hearing is that the new choreography at NYCB isn't worth many views and doesn't hold up to the masterworks, which is not surprising, since few choreographers have had a hit/stick rate like Balanchine, Robbins, Macmillan, Ashton, and Tudor, at least when their primary and secondary companies were committed to training and performing them.  With Ratmansky, it's harder to tell what his stick rate will be with ABT: it seems to be stronger at NYCB and other companies for whom he has choreographed, and, in the case of Concerto DSCH, among a number of other companies; his focus now seems primarily on Petipa reconstructions at companies that have the money and the commitment.  Enthusiasm for Peck and Wheeldon seems to be among the companies outside NYCB for whom they created one or two works, which also isn't a shock, since NYCB is/has been their labs, and most experiments aren't that successful or groundbreaking but are steps going forward, and the ones that are the ones that have been are performed by other companies, like "Year of the Rabbit," "After the Rain Pas de Deux," and "Polyphonia," and have had legs.  

Much European contemporary ballet -- that's 40 years worth at this point -- has never been to the taste of NYCB audiences whose eyes have been honed by neoclassicism.  And that's aside from the main challenge that NYCB faces, which is that its rep is so vast every season -- no other major company in the world comes close, not the Royal Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, the two-venue Paris Opera Ballet, Dutch National Ballet  -- that they don't even have the rehearsal and coaching time for what they have, let alone time to workshop new styles and dedicate company classes in the lead-up to them, even if that's not a deep dive much of anywhere in North America.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that a lot of dancing has to happen via shorthand, that the dancers tend to slot into what they know, which is a cycle in itself, and given the strain of different styles on their bodies, they need to be self-protecting to be standing in any way by season's end.  Paris Opera Ballet has long been described as being two companies within a company, with the contemporary branch and the classical/neoclassical branch, and there had been much hair-pulling about appointing etoiles who were primarily in the contemporary branch.  NYCB wouldn't have that luxury, even if it wanted to go in that direction.  The closest it got was having a tight group of hand-picked Robbins dancers when he was still alive.

 

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On 10/13/2018 at 2:55 PM, Helene said:

Much European contemporary ballet -- that's 40 years worth at this point -- has never been to the taste of NYCB audiences whose eyes have been honed by neoclassicism.  And that's aside from the main challenge that NYCB faces, which is that its rep is so vast every season -- no other major company in the world comes close, not the Royal Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, the two-venue Paris Opera Ballet, Dutch National Ballet  -- that they don't even have the rehearsal and coaching time for what they have, let alone time to workshop new styles and dedicate company classes in the lead-up to them, even if that's not a deep dive much of anywhere in North America.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that a lot of dancing has to happen via shorthand, that the dancers tend to slot into what they know, which is a cycle in itself, and given the strain of different styles on their bodies, they need to be self-protecting to be standing in any way by season's end.  Paris Opera Ballet has long been described as being two companies within a company, with the contemporary branch and the classical/neoclassical branch, and there had been much hair-pulling about appointing etoiles who were primarily in the contemporary branch.  NYCB wouldn't have that luxury, even if it wanted to go in that direction.  The closest it got was having a tight group of hand-picked Robbins dancers when he was still alive.

 

Excellent points.

Edited by Tapfan

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Well tonight was apparently Giovanni Villalobos' last appearance with the company because he got a solo bow at the end of "West Side Story Suite" and he brought out a flag of Puerto Rico and the dancers cheered heartily for him.

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22 hours ago, cobweb said:

I just spent some time in the Jerome Robbins exhibition at the Performing Arts library. There is some archival footage including Kay Mazzo and John Jones in Afternoon of a Faun. Makes me sorry I missed seeing it last week, especially with the new casting (Kennard Henson, Lauren Lovette, Joseph Gordon). If anyone saw it, I’d love a report. 

I saw Sterling Hyltin and Joseph Gordon in Afternoon of a Faun on Saturday, and they were absolutely mesmerizing!  I’ve seen the ballet many times, but it’s been a while.  Sterling and Joe were so immersed in themselves, the imaginary mirror and their movements, that I genuinely felt like a fly on the wall.  It was just so natural that I felt like a voyeur!  Fabulous performance!

I remember seeing the ballet performed at another company some years ago, and it felt forced…like I was watching two dancers acting.  Yesterday was just the opposite. 

Kudos to both dancers, and congrats to Gordon on his promotion!

Edited by NinaFan

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I was at the Joachim final performance. I can't write much now, but it was a glorious event. Theme and Variations was wonderful. The partnering totally lovely and his double tour/pirouette series was great. He started beaming after the 2nd tour and the audience started applauding before he finished. All-in-all a much appreciated, feel good event. 

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On 10/12/2018 at 2:41 PM, Rick said:

Curious that no one has posted about Prodigal Son on Wednesday night with Joaquin de Luz and Maria Kowroski. It was so amazing. I didn't think that the partnering would work due to the difference in their height but Joaquin seemed so young, vulnerable, and powerless against Maria's femme fatale siren. I'll definitely be there on Sunday for joaquin's farewell.

Prodigal Son is supposed to have a height discrepancy. The Siren wears that crazy tall hat, dances primarily on pointe and the Son crouches (wide bent legs) throughout most of their dancing together. She's chillingly dominant, as per the choreography. Why did you think it would pose a problem?

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