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51 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

It was my first time seeing Scotch Symphony this evening, and Bouder/Gordon’s performance was a bit of a mixed bag (more to come later). I’m mostly familiar with the ballet’s adagio from the Bell Telephone Hour clip of Maria Tallchief, which includes those thrilling tosses of her through the air. Tonight, there were no tosses. Is that standard nowadays? Are the tosses ever done? Tonight the corps boys just lifted Bouder, and then Gordon took her in his arms and lowered her. I must admit I was disappointed not to see them, and I figured Bouder, more than anyone, would be game to be tossed!  

When SFB did it at the City Center Festival they did not do the throw either. Strangely at the SAB workshop a few years ago I remember the throw.

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On 4/24/2019 at 3:33 PM, mille-feuille said:

I've found most Peck that I've seen agreeable but bland, so I was pretty blown away by last night's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes. My favorite Peck works have been Rodeo and Pulcinella Variations; on the other hand, I've found most of his collaborations with Sufjan Stevens forgettable. His only ballet to electronic music that I like is The Times Are Racing. I'd love it if he stuck to orchestral music...!

Those are my two favorites of Peck too.  And I also loved Belles Lettres.  

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Posted (edited)

In tonight's Stravinsky Violin Concerto, violinist Cyrus Beroukhim is amazing.  Beautiful  sound.

Edited by jeff-sh
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Ashley Bouder’s pointe shoes have been getting very squeaky. Has anyone else noticed this? It was very distracting tonight, and I remember it being that way as well in Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto in the winter. I liked Scotch Symphony- I didn’t know I was missing the toss though. Gordon was excellent. Megan Fairchild was also in excellent form tonight in Duo Concertant. It’s my third time seeing the ballet and I don’t particularly like it, but I think she’s given the best performance of it I’ve seen so far. 

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36 minutes ago, Leah said:

Ashley Bouder’s pointe shoes have been getting very squeaky. Has anyone else noticed this? It was very distracting tonight, 

Yes.  I have noticed this too.  The problem started back in the winter season.

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9 hours ago, Leah said:

Ashley Bouder’s pointe shoes have been getting very squeaky. Has anyone else noticed this? It was very distracting tonight, and I remember it being that way as well in Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto in the winter. 

Yes, I'm not usually bothered by shoe noise, but I've never heard such a squeak-fest in my entire ballet-going life. It was super distracting, especially in the adagio. I overall enjoyed Scotch Symphony. It was a very strong debut from Gordon, and his variation in the third movement was spectacular. I'm just not sure I really liked him and Bouder together, especially in the adagio. She's a bit overpowering and, to me, doesn't have the delicacy I'd want to see in that sylph-like role. It made me wonder what Gordon would look like with someone like Indiana Woodward. I did miss the lifts; the music builds to a climax, and I don't think cautiously lowering Bouder to the ground matches it (but I can certainly understand why dancers would forgo such a risky move, especially when the man is dancing the ballet for the first time). Baily Jones matched the positive descriptions of her up-thread; she was joyful, light, delightful. I thought the corps looked great, too. Alec Knight was a standout as one of the two demi-soloists -- every move was done big, with such panache.

I agree with Leah about Meghan Fairchild. Duo Concertante isn't a favorite of mine either, but Fairchild has given some of my favorite performances of it, both tonight and when she danced it in the past with Russell Janzen. Anthony Huxley -- wow -- fast, sharp, so musical. I can find the spotlit ending a bit precious and overly sentimental, but his tenderness in this section was quite beautiful. 

While I would have loved to have seen Peck in Sonatine, I thought the role fit Lovette so well; she sparkled in it. I know some have felt that Lovette has struggled to find rep at NYCB that suits her, but this felt like just the sort of role that brought out the best in her. Garcia was just OK. It definitely suited his abilities better than the high-octane bravura roles that NYCB continues to (inexplicably) cast him in. But his dancing seemed effortful at times, and it looked like he struggled to pull off a decent arabesque. And at times his leg positions were just sloppy. 

A an all-around great performance Stravinksy Violin Concerto. The highlight was Kowroski and Danchig-Waring in the first aria. Both danced like artists at the top of their games. Danchig-Waring looks just as good as before his injury, and Kowroski ... you'd think she were at the zenith of her career, rather than nearing the end. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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3 hours ago, canbelto said:

When SFB did it at the City Center Festival they did not do the throw either. Strangely at the SAB workshop a few years ago I remember the throw.

Thanks for this. I did find this old Mariinsky video where they don't do the throw, but I like how the ballerina at least falls into his arms. Whatever Bouder/Gordon did looked even more cautious. It looked like the corps men were just passing Bouder off to Gordon.

In looking back at the Tallchief/Eglevsky video, I see that they actually do the throw twice each time, so four times total in the ballet. Does anyone know the story on when this was altered? Were the repeated throws just for TV? I do find the throws very compelling and not just a cheap trick. And they harken back to the ballerinas-on-wires days of Romantic ballet. 

I didn't care at all for the clumsily drawn, too-bright backdrop NYCB is using (it kind of looks like a Romantic-Gothic coloring book). They aren't the Karin von Aroldingen designs from 2009, are they? Her designs look much more monochromatic and abstract:

https://dancetabs.com/2017/06/school-of-american-ballet-workshop-performance-new-york/

*Edited to add: I should have checked the program (duh) regarding the set designs. I guess they've reverted to the Horace Armistead designs.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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11 hours ago, Leah said:

Ashley Bouder’s pointe shoes have been getting very squeaky. Has anyone else noticed this? It was very distracting tonight, and I remember it being that way as well in Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto in the winter.

YES! I couldn't focus on the dancing during her sections of Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 last winter because of her darn shoes!! Thankfully my guests (new to the ballet; I'm always trying to get others hooked!) somehow didn't notice.

Edited by mille-feuille

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in reference to the "throws" in SCOTCH SYMPHONY, all the Balanchine Catalog says is:


<< The daring throw of the ballerina by four men into the arms of the highlander, simulating the flight by wires of the Romantic age, was later eliminated in favor of placing her in his arms.>>

thus no date given.

I recall longtime NYCB-goer Edward Gorey's once noting in conversation that after a mishap with the move that left Maria Tallchief flat on top of a collapsed Erik Bruhn, the throws were no longer done. this being a memory of the past, of course, there's a chance EG's recollection was faulty.

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There is a chapter on Scotch Symphony in Nancy Goldner's "More Balanchine Variations." Might be found in there!

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14 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

A an all-around great performance Stravinksy Violin Concerto. The highlight was Kowroski and Danchig-Waring in the first aria. Both danced like artists at the top of their games. Danchig-Waring looks just as good as before his injury, and Kowroski ... you'd think she were at the zenith of her career, rather than nearing the end. 

Kowroski is miraculous. I don’t think I even noticed Danchig-Waring. She has this powerful, dominating energy that really serves her well in ballets like this and Agon that none of her peers can exactly match.

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Viewing a piece like Oltremare is not exactly what people have in mind when thinking of going to the ballet. In fact, it is a work of contemporary dance instead of a ballet, and it is surprising that NYCB has performed it three years in a row. Nevertheless, its subject matter resonates strongly with some in the audience and is ultimately part of the work's attraction. Even without other reasons, immigration was always and always will be a sensitive subject, since it reflects fundamental aspects of the human condition. Are not all human beings essentially journeyers—through the limitless dimensions of time and space—into the unknown?

Due to vintage photographs, motion pictures, fictional treatments of the topic the massive wave of immigration to the United States during the late 19th and early 20th century—the time period depicted in Mauro Bigonzetti’s Oltremare—looms large in our minds when contemplating the subject. For the vast majority of emigrants leaving their native country during that time extraordinary, daunting risks accompanied whatever promise the journey to America offered. Identifying with the various feelings they likely experienced is not difficult.

My initial bewilderment upon seeing Oltremare dissipated with every subsequent viewing. There is plentiful glamour, style, color showcased at the ballet. This work by Bigonzetti provides an interesting contrast in terms of its choreography, costumes and lusterless overall appearance. And the enthusiasm with which NYCB's dancers have always performed their roles as common people from that period is commendable. Although it may sound sentimental to some, Bruno Moretti's music is touching and effective.

Any criticism regarding the peculiar movement involved in the main pas de deux of Oltremare is offset by how naturally Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle perform it. An earlier pas de deux with Brittany Pollack and Peter Walker, both splendid in their parts, was as moving and superbly executed. Every other dancer in this run also deserves due credit, with an intriguing Lydia Wellington particularly capturing my own attention.

                                                                                                                             *

Since performances of Judah are scheduled for later in the season, it is especially regrettable that Herman Schmerman—a ballet I am not that familiar with—will not be presented again tonight. Unfortunately, I was able to see the mighty trio of Sara Mearns, Unity Phelan and Brittany Pollack in its first part only once last week. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to tonight’s entire program—another gorgeous performance by Sterling Hyltin in Hallelujah Junction and that transcendent central section of Concerto DSCH with Mearns and Tyler Angle above all.

 

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Last night's gala program had its highs and lows. I'd never seen any of Pam Tanowitz's work before and was very much looking forward to seeing her first work for NYCB. Five minutes in I was thinking "Well, I don't love this, but I don't hate it either".  At about the 10 -15 minute mark I was solidly in the hate camp. I found her choreographic style inscrutable. Why were the dancers performing these ugly steps that were dull, repetitive and almost unmusical - though the music she chose was very difficult. This piece felt like it went on forever.

The Peck was slight and brief, but enjoyable.

I've seen sharper performances of Tchai Ste #3 but even with an occasionally out of sync corps, some flagging energy and less than ideal soloists it was the standout of the evening. I love Garcia, but he is not a virtuoso.  Fairchild looks to be in great shape but she will never be my favorite in T&V. She has the speed, but her arabesque isn't very high and she doesn't stretch them out or hold them very long so the ppd was not as expansive as I like. Laracey, however was simply gorgeous with J. Angle in the waltz and Pereira and Ulbricht were great in the Scherzo. I was particularly surprised at how much I liked Pereira.

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I did not see the performance last night, but I had a similar experience seeing Tanowitz's work for the first time at Martha Graham at the Joyce a few weeks ago. I had high expectations after reading all the hype about her in the press (the ballet world being so desperate for good female choreographers), but I found the piece boring and disjointed. 

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I felt like the Tanowtiz work was boring and overly long.  I couldn't wait for it to end.  The ballet steps were simplistic.  I had never before seen any of her work.

The Peck piece was pleasant enough and brief.

I  liked Garcia in DSCH earlier this season, but he is looking tired and low energy.  His performances in T&V last night and Sonatine earlier in the week were unimpressive.  Were any of his double tours in T&V last landed in proper position?  I don't think so.  Garcia is getting a lot of DeLuz's old roles, but every time I watch Garcia all I can think about was how much better DeLuz was in comparison.

I'm seeing a trend in the new leadership where they are enlisting choreographers who have no understanding or background in ballet.  The Kyle Abraham piece they premiered in the fall also had this issue of being largely a modern dance work, with some very basic ballet steps tossed in.

Hopefully the Tanowitz ballet scheduled to premiere next season will be better.  Hope springs eternal!

Tschai. Suite No 3 was a balm for the soul.  Even though Garcia lacks excellence, all the other perforers were wonderful.  A masterpiece.

Edited by abatt

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Jonothan Stafford and Wendy Whelan spoke again before last night's performance, with Stafford introducing Whelan once more. Whelan's speech was well structured (Jon and I shared this stage for 20 years, but rarely together—the Stravinsky girl/Balanchine boy line—so excited to be exploring a new partnership. Maintain Balanchine and Robbins, and City Ballet's history of cultivating new choreographic talent, etc.) but both were rehearsed and to the point. 

I'm still trying to decide how I feel about "Bright." It was short, fresh, and lively, but I didn't love the music, and felt like I could have used a little more to grab onto in terms of understanding the piece (Peck commented in the Playbill article that it is about people coming and going into our lives, which didn't read to me). I thought the costumes were beautiful but didn't love the open gray stage/background, especially for a cast of only six dancers. Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen did a lovely job, and, based off of Mearns Instagram comments, returning to the piece that Peck first used for her for Fall for Dance in 2013 was an emotional and rewarding experience. 

I'd listened to the music for Bartok Ballet (thank you to @DC Export, the playlists are wonderful and so helpful!), and was intrigued to see what Tanowitz would do with such a complex piece of music. I didn't have the same negative response that some others on the board had, but I wished I'd seen more of Pam Tanowitz' work so that I had a better understanding of how this piece fits within her oeuvre. Though I was intrigued by many of its component parts (Indiana Woodward, all four men in the piece (Daniel Applebaum, Kennard Henson, Devin Alberda, and Jonothan Fahoury, the mazurka-esque group section, the use of the proscenium/the back of the stage/the wings, etc.), the piece was long and didn't quite come together for me. I enjoyed the gender neutrality of the costumes (leotards with black and gold shimmering tunic-esque tops transition into bright gold)—pointe shoes are the only distinguisher between the male and female costumes—and after looking at the pictures of the costumes NYCB posted to Instagram with Gretchen Smith and sitting up high with a great perspective of the entire theater, it was fascinating to think about how they referenced the space. In terms of choreography, it was very grounded compared to anything I can recall seeing at NYCB, and the choreography had some very staunch anti-balletic elements (a relaxed arm at the dancer's side in turns, most notably, but arms behind the dancer's head, too). Even though it didn't fully come together for me, I was impressed by Tanowitz's ability to revisit motifs and evoke them through subtle references to their previous use. I appreciated the legibility of the piece's presentation  (in terms of structure and presentation), which, especially upon viewing the piece for a second time, might allow me to dig into the choreography a bit more. I believe this is Tanowitz's first time incorporating pointe work, but I thought it worked well with the piece. 

Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 was a lovely way to round out the evening. Tess Reichlen and Adrian Danchig-Waring were beautiful in the Elegie, though the corps of that section felt the least unified to me. I was impressed by Ashley Laracey and Erica Pereira (who has been looking absolutely fantastic recently, and historically wasn't someone I'd go out of my way to see) in the second and third sections (respectively). Megan Fairchild and Gonzalo Garcia's culminating T&V wasn't as majestic as it can be. I thought Fairchild did a nice job, but it didn't have the sharpness or fluidity that make that role so magical to me. In particular, the moments where she taps the box of her shoe in some of the low lifts really stuck out to me—I honestly thought she'd put her foot down or tripped. Like Abatt said, Garcia just didn't look as clean as De Luz did in this sort of role, and it wasn't my favorite last night. Lydia Wellington was one of the demi-soloists, and I was curious when I saw the demi-soloist roster for T&V, but she and Gretchen Smith (who also looked great in Bartok) were lovely. 

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I wrote a review for bachtrack about the spring gala that hasn't been published yet but I agree about the disappointment with Tanowitz's work. I thought the Bartok String Quartet had a lot of possibilities but Tanowitz didn't seem to know what to do with the dancers. I can't remember a ballet with so much movement with so little to actually remember.

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I didn't see the Tanowitz/Bartok ballet so reading the diverging points of view is intriguing. I read that it's her first time choreographing point work .  I saw her Goldberg Variations and thought it was terrific.  Four Quartets got even more favorable reviews.  I'm curious to see more of her dances.  

I don't understand why Garcia is cast in De Luz's repertory or in any ballet requiring virtuosity and fast feet.  

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On 4/18/2019 at 8:38 AM, Leah said:

I see that Western Symphony only has 3 couples listed. I know that NYC ballet doesn’t usually include the third movement. The only full performance I’ve seen of the piece is the MCB version on YouTube which does the complete version.

How does NYCB treat the finale when the four couples come out? Is the choreography modified for just the three couples or does some random couple come out of nowhere at the end?

 

 

The Third Movement is treated as a run on.  The both male/female role is performed by a corp member - usually a stepping stone.  Last time NYCB had WS on the rep Harrison Coll and Laine Habony were the 3rd Mov runs ons.  They basically jumped in pre-finale and in the finale.  They were adorable!  And obviously Harrison Coll has jumped up as soloist!  Hopefully we will see more of Laine Habony this season.  I missed the Gala last night but I saw in video clips she was on Megan's right hand in Theme and Variations.

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13 hours ago, abatt said:

I'm seeing a trend in the new leadership where they are enlisting choreographers who have no understanding or background in ballet.  The Kyle Abraham piece they premiered in the fall also had this issue of being largely a modern dance work, with some very basic ballet steps tossed in.

 

One of the things I liked best about Martins' leadership was his commitment to inviting choreographers who had some real relationship to ballet--not necessarily an exclusive relationship to ballet, but some knowledge or background with it. I suppose that was bound to end at some point, because there are so few good ballet choreographers (and as we all know, most premiers in all dance traditions are mediocre or worse) -- but it really felt important that NYCB, unlike several other major ballet companies seeking new choreography, remained genuinely ballet-centric.

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I don’t follow NYCB nearly as closely as others here, but I’ve always felt that Wendy Whelan was most beautiful when in tandem with Christopher Wheeldon. She did some of the loveliest ‘lyrical’ dancing that I’ve seen, somewhat akin to what I love so much at the Mariinsky. Now it appears that Jonathan Stafford will more or less take charge of the Balanchine/Robbins part of the repertoire, certainly the essence of the company, and Wendy Whelan will oversee, more or less, new commissions. With the return, hopefully on a long term basis, of Suzanne Farrell, the Balanchine repertoire should be enriched and entrenched significantly.

I’ve gone so far as to call Wendy Whelan’s work with Christopher Wheeldon to be post-Balanchine or what I would hope to see a lot more of. It’s just so lovely. Maybe she’ll pursue this direction in the new works that she ‘commissions.’ Even better, maybe she’ll do some of her own creating in the spirit of her collaborations with Christopher Wheeldon.

Added:

Or in contrast to what Kathleen has just posted -- 'Post-Balanchine' Balanchine from a more 'Lyrical' side of the spectrum. 

 

Edited by Buddy
"Added" added

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6 hours ago, Drew said:

One of the things I liked best about Martins' leadership was his commitment to inviting choreographers who had some real relationship to ballet--not necessarily an exclusive relationship to ballet, but some knowledge or background with it. 

Well, there is a Cunningham work in NYCB's repertory (Summerspace) and Balanchine himself invited Martha Graham to collaborate with him on Episodes.  I'd consider some of Martins' choices to be further removed from the ballet mothership than Cunningham—or Tanowitz, for that matter, who is in a clear line of descent from Cunningham. On the evidence of The Runaway, I'd say Kyle Abraham was more intrigued by the potential of classical ballet vocabulary as exemplified by the NYCB dancers he worked with, than, say, Angelin Preljocaj. (To be clear, I don't much mind that NYCB has commissioned works by Preljocaj; Spectral Evidence is a cherished guilty pleasure and I delight in an occaisional La Stravaganza hate-watch. But enough with the Bigonzetti already. I can't even hate-watch Oltremare.) 

I won't see Tanowitz' new work for NYCB until next weekend, but I have seen a lot of Tanowitz and to my eye, she doesn't just know the steps (and she does know the steps), she's also alert to their potential as a vocabulary. Here are some excerpts of previous work she's presented with ballet dancers you know, plus and excerpt from Goldberg Variations, with members from her own company. When I look at works like these, I see a choreographer who is more than open to the possibilities of ballet's vocabulary, and not just its wham-pow effects (like extreme extensions, blinding speed, and pretzel partnering).

Here's an excerpt from Day for Night for Vail with Joseph Gordon, Calvin Royall III, and Gretchen Smith:

 

Here's Solo for Patricia with Patricia Delgado: ETA: Solo for Patricia is followed by another Tanowitz work, Entr'acte, which looks a bit more Merce-y, but is very much in line with Tanowitz' work.

Here's Blueprint, also with Delgado as well as two dancers from Tanowitz' company:

 

And finally, an excerpt from Goldberg Variations

 

 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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Choreography has melted into the contemporary genre, and there is a smaller pool of modern, let alone ballet-centric modern choreographers, from whom to choose. 

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Thanks @Kathleen O'Connell  for the links to Tanowitz’s work. Obviously to comment on her ballet in particular I would need to see it. 

And though it is hardly consistent of me, I admit I am thrilled the company is reviving Summerspace even if I doubt I will get to see it...Cunningham fills me with the kind of pleasure I get from Balanchine,

The thought that...

2 hours ago, Helene said:

Choreography has melted into the contemporary genre, and there is a smaller pool of modern, let alone ballet-centric modern choreographers, from whom to choose. 

...is probably a part of what vaguely concerns me. (Even when using pointe work and turn out, some of what Atlanta Ballet has recently pitched as neoclassical looks a lot more like contemporary/eclectic to me.) 

To put things in another way I thought Millepied’s comment about POB being the greatest contemporary dance company in the world was pretty stinging. But it may be that this is just shaking my head at the future, or even at the present, which is rather pointless when it comes to the arts. Obviously NYCB —the version of it I love—needs to be a home for new choreography.  

(On the other end: I have little interest in seeing NYCB dance Giselle and I sometimes think that could happen too ....and I know R&J is there to make money, but I wish it didn’t have to be.)

Edited by Drew
Missing words/typos

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