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Kowroski and Ramasar to perform with BalletNext - Feb 2019


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Kowroski fans may be interested to hear she will be appearing in London in a gala at the Coliseum on 7th April.  The other US dancer on the bill is Marcelo Gomes.  We rarely get to see American dancers in London, particularly from NYCB, my ticket is already booked.

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I just came back from the opening night.  It seems that Kowroski is only dancing a short pas de deux by Mauro Bigonzetti "Bachground" with Amar Ramasar (both are only doing this short less than 8 minute piece in the program).  Also Kowroski is only dancing on Thursday and Friday.  Tonight Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday Amar is partnering Michele Wiles.

A note on the program:  Michele Wiles has been a visiting professor of dance at University of Utah.  Except for the three veterans Kowroski, Wiles and Ramasar, the rest of the Ballet Next company is currently made up of undergraduate ballet students from the University of Utah - all female.  There are four pieces on the program which has less than an hour of dancing though with intermissions, scene changes, etc. it is over an hour and twenty minutes or so.  Two pieces are choreographed by Michele Wiles.  The other two pieces are by Bigonzetti who has worked with Ballet Next for several years now.  The second and third pieces are choreographed by Bigonzetti to the music of Vivaldi and  J.S. Bach.

In my unprofessional but frank opinion, Ms. Wiles is a mediocre choreographer at best.  Her vocabulary is basically a series of poses with repetitive classical steps in between.  Wiles is experimenting with some fussy ideas about epaulement and elaborate arm and hand gestures probably taken from Indian or Asian dance styles.  It looks "pretty" and "cute" and not in a good way.  The whole program evokes a small regional college dance department recital which is what it is in fact.

None of the dancers displayed virtuoso technique and only a few could finish their combinations cleanly.  No one majorly screwed up but they looked like well-drilled students doing their best, not professional dancers.  Among the daisies and dandelions there was one long-stemmed rose who could do well in a professional ballet company - her name is Danielle Dreis.  http://www.balletnext.com/danielle-dreis

Unfortunately, Michele Wiles no longer is the lean, svelte technically strong ballerina we remember from ABT in the late nineties and aughts.  Wiles had her first baby, a girl, in February 2017.  https://www.pointemagazine.com/michele-wiles-ballet-next-2541884028.html  This is definitely a post pregnancy body and that of a middle-aged woman.   Wiles' body has thickened in the middle and dancing beside Danielle Dreis and all the young girls in the first ballet made for an unflattering contrast.   All the stretching and the bending in the Bigonzetti pas de deux put a cruel spotlight on her paunch and lack of fluid flexibility.  (I also have a paunch and am thick waisted and have not had a baby!  However, I am not dancing classical ballet in a black leotard onstage before a paying audience.) . Wiles danced the undemanding choreography with passable technique but a loss of plasticity and grace. 

Try to see Kowroski on Thursday and Friday as she is the same age or older than Wiles is but has perfect lines and is in excellent physical shape.  Amar looked good shirtless and he still has technique but his role consists mainly of partnering the ballerina.  There was no negative reaction to Amar's presence onstage despite all the negative #metoo publicity he has recently gotten - the audience welcomed him.  Amar did a good job with Wiles but due to her physical shape it looked like hard work and heavy lifting for both of them.

The first piece was a world premiere with choreography by Wiles to the music of Haydn entitled "Birds of a Feather".  This one had the Asian looking hand gestures and some twee posturing for the ballerinas with off center classical steps in between.  It was forgettable and not all the ballerinas finished pirouettes cleanly and not every dancer was in sync.  The second piece "La Follia" with choreography by Bigonzetti to a Vivaldi quartet was a pas de deux for two ballerinas in black leotards - Danielle Dreis and Juliana Godlewski.  Dreis had markedly better technique and cleaner lines than Godlewski - your eye stayed on her throughout.  But they were not well matched and again their phrasing and movements did not sync.  The third piece was "Bachground" which was a pas de deux between a man and a woman and it was professional but derivative.  It was like a hundred other pas de deuxs you have seen before with the man manipulating the woman's body and twisting her into various positions to the music of Bach.  I didn't stay for the last piece which was danced by the Utah college girls instead using the intermission break to take French leave.  That was a 2018 work choreographed by Wiles called "Hey Wait" to a jazz score by Tom Harrell.  

Again, if you want to see Amar he is only dancing in one short piece with uninteresting choreography where he mainly partners.  If you want to see Maria Kowroski go on Thursday and Friday.  If you want to see Michele Wiles, stick with your memories of her at ABT fifteen or twenty years ago.

Edited by FauxPas
typos, wrong attribution
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FauxPas - Thank you for your detailed review. 

I am so disappointed to hear that Maria is not dancing on Saturday as I already ordered tickets.   I'm not sure if I'll bother to go after reading your description of a very lumbered pdd, and only partnering work for Amar.  I can't make it Thursday or Friday.   The press release I read said Amar and Maria were dancing together for this engagement.  I assumed it was a short piece, but it was worth it to see them together again.  False advertising not to have said that it was only some performances.   I did wonder how Maria could be there all week, but I never checked the NYCB casting.  At least I'll be seeing her next week at NYCB.  

It sounds like there are two intermissions with one right before Amar's pdd with Wiles?   Thanks.

 

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After Amar danced, the woman next to me said rather loudly, “well, I was wondering how I would feel seeing him onstage. It’s official: I miss him.” 

I concur. I went for Amar. Faux Pas’ take on the evening is a fair one, but I expected college student dancers and I don’t hold that or Michele Wiles’ age and body shape against her. It was in the press release. They are well trained and prepared college students.

I went for Amar and I plan to be there again if he dances anywhere in the greater NYC area. I love his dancing and he looked great. 

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On 3/7/2019 at 7:43 PM, BalanchineFan said:

After Amar danced, the woman next to me said rather loudly, “well, I was wondering how I would feel seeing him onstage. It’s official: I miss him.” 

I concur. I went for Amar. Faux Pas’ take on the evening is a fair one, but I expected college student dancers and I don’t hold that or Michele Wiles’ age and body shape against her. It was in the press release. They are well trained and prepared college students.

I went for Amar and I plan to be there again if he dances anywhere in the greater NYC area. I love his dancing and he looked great. 

I also was fortunate to see Amar and I miss watching him dance.  I wish, as the elder, he would have spoken up and nipped that texting situation in the bud as a leader.  Hopefully he will return to the states full-time soon and we will all be the luckier for it!

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

For Simkin, it's a homecoming, since he grew up in Germany.

I'm eagerly awaiting the Berlin State Opera Ballet schedule for 2019-20. Simkin did Ratmansky's Bayadere reconstruction and I hope he'll do it again next year. Kochetkova is also guesting with them this year, judging from her very active Instagram.

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18 hours ago, California said:

I'm eagerly awaiting the Berlin State Opera Ballet schedule for 2019-20. Simkin did Ratmansky's Bayadere reconstruction and I hope he'll do it again next year. Kochetkova is also guesting with them this year, judging from her very active Instagram.

Here it is, just announced. La Bayadere is in the repertoire. 

https://www.staatsballett-berlin.de/en/spielplan/01-09-2019/

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7 minutes ago, California said:

Thank you! That reconstruction is on my to-do list. I have a hunch they won't bring it to North America. Has that company ever been to North America? 

Not sure they have come to North America yet, they did come to Japan twice when Malakhov was AD, and also has toured to some Asian cities. 

I also wish I could see that Ratmansky reconstruction of La Bayadere. 

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On 4/1/2019 at 12:22 PM, volcanohunter said:

Catazaro is performing other roles in Munich as well: "Diamonds," the Gladiator in Spartacus, the Duke in Lady of the Camellias.

Interesting. I do think he's perhaps well suited to those non-Balanchine roles. Not quite sure he has the power for Spartacus but he could leverage his looks...

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8 hours ago, bcash said:

Interesting. I do think he's perhaps well suited to those non-Balanchine roles. Not quite sure he has the power for Spartacus but he could leverage his looks...

The Gladiator in Spartacus is a small role, and the dancer's face is completely covered. The helmet doesn't come off until he's been killed, so if Catazaro is going to leverage his looks, it will have to be his body, which is pretty exposed. Gremin in Onegin, of course, is a partnering role. The Count in Lady of the Camellias is basically a non-dancing role. So up to this point, only "Diamonds" has been a substantial dancing role.

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On 4/12/2019 at 2:05 AM, volcanohunter said:

The Gladiator in Spartacus is a small role, and the dancer's face is completely covered. The helmet doesn't come off until he's been killed, so if Catazaro is going to leverage his looks, it will have to be his body, which is pretty exposed. Gremin in Onegin, of course, is a partnering role. The Count in Lady of the Camellias is basically a non-dancing role. So up to this point, only "Diamonds" has been a substantial dancing role.

Interesting info on the rep. I'm not familiar with it. I would say that Catazaro has the body for the Gladiator, and even with the helmet he would be leveraging his looks 🤗.

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