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New York City Ballet Fall Season


Helene

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On 10/13/2018 at 3:55 PM, Helene said:

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.

 

I'm of the opinion that creating new work is what keeps artists growing. Having the choreographer and the dancer in the room together is what makes a ballet company different from an art museum. This conversation also brings to mind Balanchine's famous advice to young choreographers. I'll have to paraphrase but it was something like:

You want to be a choreographer? Make a ballet. Then make another one, then another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and then maybe you'll make a good ballet.

The point is that Balanchine's expected ratio was about 10 meh ballets to one good one. I understand not all audiences will want to be in on the growing process, but others love that. I love Balanchine ballets, but I find the experience of watching them dull if the dancers aren't challenged by working with living choreographers. When I see people dance Petipa it bores me to tears. It's so slow, the vision of women is so stilted and artificial. NYCB is about the artistic spirit of creation, about finding something new, expanding the art form, as well as keeping the Balanchine/Robbins rep alive. 

Do any of the 'Balanchine/Robbins only" proponents prefer to watch films of Balanchine and Robbins ballets (and not come to the theater)? You can see the original casts and if the film quality is good those performances have the benefit of being coached by the choreographers themselves.  Anyway, I'm rambling.

I think there have been a lot of "keepers" among the new ballets. Helene mentions Year of the Rabbit, After the Rain ppd, and Polyphonia. I would add Everywhere We Go, Rodeo, and Times Are Racing. I don't know if other companies are performing them, but maybe it's just because they don't have enough dancers. Another judge of a successful new ballet is whether a young/beginning choreographer gets new opportunities to choreograph. Lauren Lovette made a new piece for ABT 2, I believe. I think that's a very positive step.  I don't think many other ballet companies are able to develop ballet choreographers.

 

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Just now, Leah said:

The farewell performance was wonderful. I’ve only been in NYC for two seasons but De Luz quickly became one of my favorites. I didn’t particularly care for Todos Buenos Aires as a ballet. It was however well done and everyone on stage was dancing with pure emotion. It was a good closer for the day.

Peter Martins attended with Amar Ramasar and Alexa Maxwell, and I thought he’d appear on stage at the end but he did not. I also didn’t see Justin Peck either (he didn’t come on with the rest of the artistic team). Other than them and Fairchild I didn’t recognize anyone other than the current dancers on stage. Who was the person with the Spanish flag, and who was the woman in green who kissed him?

The person with the Spanish flag was Gonzalo Garcia and the woman in green is his girlfriend.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon's performance. The program was well chosen to show off de Luz's versatility, star power, and technical ability. He and Tiler were glorious in T&V, seemingly sailing through the choreography with ease, pleasingly affectionate with each other, and projecting up to the rafters. Concerto Barocco suffered a little by comparison, pleasant enough but wan (although I loved Janzen). I don't believe I've seen A Suite of Dances before. I found it charming, but my feeling is that it takes someone like de Luz to make it worthwhile, totally giving himself over to the movement and with with a big enough stage presence to carry the audience along. Also never seen Todos Buenos Aires before. I won't miss it if I never see it again, but it was entertaining to see people like Andrew Veyette dancing with a Spanish flair, and again, well chosen to showcase de Luz. The sendoff was heartening. I was wondering if Peter Martins would make an appearance, but no. From where I was sitting I had trouble seeing the faces of those who came onstage to say goodbye, so if any of you can identify more of them (besides the current dancers, of course), I'd be curious to know who more of them were. 

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The De Luz farewell was great fun. He has more energy, pizzazz, technique, and charisma then any of the other men dancing at today’s performance. He and Tiler Peck were joyous in T&V. I also liked the playful solo with the cellist. He can certainly command the stage by himself. Too bad he is retiring, the company still needs him in light of the current situation. Hopefully the new promotions will help fill some casting holes. 

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24 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

The point is that Balanchine's expected ratio was about 10 meh ballets to one good one.

I disagree:  I once went through the entire Balanchine Catalogue, and after removing the pieces d'occasions, the redos, the works for operas, plays, musical theater, and movies, and other pieces that weren't part of ballet programs, the number of surviving ballets is quite extraordinary, especially given how prolific he was, and of the ones that are still performed, I think very few of them are meh.  Some are stronger than the others, some are problematic, and some are in a style that some people just don't like, but that doesn't make them meh.  Balanchine had a very high hit rate, in my opinion.  His experiments were when he was a student, and he had a lot of practice making short ballets for the opera, both in Europe and at the Metropolitan Opera for a couple of years.

I'm not arguing against new works; I'm arguing against expecting works at the same level as the average Balanchine ballet.  And when new works are performed next to masterworks, they tend not to hold up well, but when they do, it's a bonus.

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Women: Maria, Sara, Ashley, Tess (who picks him up), Abi, Lauren, Sterling, Tiler, Megan

Men: Andy, Ask, Jared, Taylor, Tyler, Adrian (in the boot), Daniel, Russell, Joe, Anthony, Gonzalo (with the flag).

The interim team of Jonathan Stafford, Rebecca Krohn and Craig Hall came out together. Justin was missing.

Then Robbie Fairchild came out.

Joaquin's dad.

Girlfriend (woman in green).

His mom (woman in pink).

That's all I could recognize.

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canbelto, thank you for posting that video. Wish I could have been there. So glad I got to see him and Peck in Tschai Pas a few weeks ago. What a career. He's obviously much loved. Apparently, he's going to be teaching at ABT's school and at the Studio Company. I'll be looking forward to seeing what else he does next.

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If Adrian D-W isn’t even putting weight on the foot right now, a recovery in time for the winter season seems unlikely.

I think there will need to be at least two new Apollos. I’d be surprised if Stanley were cast, only because he’s so different from the physical type they usually cast. But maybe part of that was Martins casting men who were cut from the same mold as he. 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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11 hours ago, Emma said:

I'd love to see Stanley as Apollo

Totally. With his unique stage magnetism and his ability to etch out astonishingly clear forms, I think has the makings of a very memorable Apollo. He may be against type, but to me this is a no-brainer. 

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9 hours ago, canbelto said:

I think Harrison Ball might get tapped for Apollo. He definitely has the "look" and is making a good comeback after a long injury.

I agree about Ball, but I don't think Apollo needs necessarily to have a "look."

Although for a very long time Martins tended to cast blonds as Apollo (and tall or at least "princely" blonds when he could get them), it has always struck me as a pretty porous role that could be open to just about any dancer with the requisite stamina, technique, and presence. If it can be deemed to accommodate dancers as different as Peter Boal, Nikolai Hübbe, Nilas Martins, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Igor Zelensky — Apollos from the Martins era who are alike mostly in being blond — it would seem to be pretty capacious.  (Among them, only N. Martins didn't bring something unique to the role. ) 

I'd like to see both Ball  and Gordon in Apollo — and yes, I would indeed crawl over broken glass on my hands and knees to see Taylor Stanley take it on. (But I'm a Stanley fangirl. I'd show up to watch him walk across the stage in his practice clothes.) I think the role might be a useful challenge for Janzen as well. (And it would have the added benefit of maybe, just maybe, giving us a Reichlen Terpsichore.) 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am SO happy that Joe Gordon was promoted to principal; I have been devouring his dancing this season. Well-deserved. I think he would make a wonderful Apollo.

Also, hooray for Mira Nadon being taken into the corps! I have loved watching her.

I too was in the audience for Joaquin's farewell. I was thrilled by the high level of dancing in all works. Todo Buenos Aires was such a forgettable ballet, but I did think it was appropriate for the occasion. (Aside: how nice it is to have so few Martins works being programmed nowadays! I believe the only upcoming one is Hallelujah Junction, which is one of his I actually like.)

What a short but sweet season this was. On to Nutcracker!

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

I think Barber violin concerto is being done on the spring. I’ve heard good things about that one though so far the only Martins I’ve liked is Fearful Symmetries.

I saw Barber Violin Concerto when it premiered with the original cast of Merrill Ashley, Adam Luders, and guest modern dancers Kate Johnson and David Parsons.  NYCB's own dancers have since taken on the modern dancer roles, and they're just as good as Kate and David.  This is an example of how well NYCB dancers adapt to other styles.  In my opinion, it's a clever "keeper" ballet, with some funny moments.

Edited by NinaFan
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47 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I don't have an issue with Martins' Sleeping Beauty or La Sylphide. I think both of them work well with the company.

I pretty much agree; I only really have an issue with the pacing of his Sleeping Beauty, not the choreography itself. But of course these are the two full-lengths in which you see the least of his stamp as a choreographer, especially Sylphide, for which he only has a "staged by" credit. 

But yeah, I'm not sad about the reduced number of Martins originals this season. It seems like the interim leaders have been smart about which ones are worth saving.

Edited by fondoffouettes
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16 minutes ago, canbelto said:

For those who were curious, Robert Fairchild did make a return to bid Joaquin farewell and he and Tiler Peck were onstage together.

Aha! THAT'S who that was! Who was the woman in pink who greeted Joaquin last and danced with him at the end? Was it his mother?

What a beautiful program. De Luz is such a wonderful dancer and I hope everything goes well for him.

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16 hours ago, Helene said:

I disagree:  I once went through the entire Balanchine Catalogue, and after removing the pieces d'occasions, the redos, the works for operas, plays, musical theater, and movies, and other pieces that weren't part of ballet programs, the number of surviving ballets is quite extraordinary, especially given how prolific he was, and of the ones that are still performed, I think very few of them are meh.  Some are stronger than the others, some are problematic, and some are in a style that some people just don't like, but that doesn't make them meh.  Balanchine had a very high hit rate, in my opinion.  His experiments were when he was a student, and he had a lot of practice making short ballets for the opera, both in Europe and at the Metropolitan Opera for a couple of years.

I'm not arguing against new works; I'm arguing against expecting works at the same level as the average Balanchine ballet.  And when new works are performed next to masterworks, they tend not to hold up well, but when they do, it's a bonus.

Hey, you're not disagreeing with me! Balanchine said it. Maybe the 10-1 ratio was meant for the person he was speaking to. For someone who choreographed very quickly Mr. B may have wanted to emphasize the work that goes into it. I've read that he spent a great deal of time learning the music he was choreographing to, playing it, analyzing, etc.

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