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Fall Season


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8 hours ago, vipa said:

Thank you Cobweb. I just checked it out. she does look fabulous

I believe she's been out since last April. If I remember correctly, she said in an interview that it was a herniated disc. 

Thank you Vipa for the update on Tiler Peck. 

 

I am so happy to see you all rave about Jovani Furlan! He was always one of my favorites to watch down at Miami City Ballet, and I'm very happy to hear he's transitioned well into NYCB and is doing great already.

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I was blown away by yesterday's matinee. Phelan and Gerrity were particularly fantastic in Kammermusik no. 2, which looked ridiculously hard to dance due to the high speed and complicated timing of the piece. The two women also look alike in height, body type, and hair, so there was an interesting, mirror-like effect when they danced opposite one another. Their long limbs really brought out the jagged lines and inherent geometry in the choreography. 

Union Jack was such a crowd-pleasing spectacle, so it's unfortunate that it doesn't draw huge crowds, although I can see why it might be difficult to market a piece like this. I loved it. Mearns was fierce and on fire as always, and Reichlen was a perfect leader for the leggy WRENS number. 

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3 hours ago, JuliaJ said:

Union Jack was such a crowd-pleasing spectacle, so it's unfortunate that it doesn't draw huge crowds, although I can see why it might be difficult to market a piece like this. I loved it. Mearns was fierce and on fire as always, and Reichlen was a perfect leader for the leggy WRENS number. 

I have seen Union Jack only a few times and always found it a fascinating demonstration of Balanchine's ingenuity. It was considered cheeky at the time of the US Bicentennial, but he had already created Stars and Stripes a decade earlier, so this was a good solution. I'm also amazed that he has so many dancers on stage, especially in the first section, and moves them around so artfully. (His Garland Dance is another with a remarkably huge number of dancers on stage at once.)

I heard a pre-performance talk once about it; they pointed out that no other company has ever performed it, partly (at least) because it requires 74 dancers and few could muster that many, even drawing on apprentices and advanced students. A funny tidbit we were told: the semaphores in the last section were learned by looking at a tape and someone realized quite belatedly that they were using mirror images, creating an entirely different meaning. Legend has it that Baryshnikov performed the middle music hall section on short notice, thus giving rise to the name "Ballet alert" as balletomanes spread the word. (If you were there for that episode, please correct me if I'm wrong on this.)

https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/u/union-jack.aspx

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Is Union Jack the longest plotless work by Balanchine in the repertoire? It certainly felt long. I agree that Mearns and Reichlen were sensational, but for me, there were just too many sections that weren't very interesting, with the Costermonger PDD being the most notable example. Has that section ever actually been funny? It certainly wasn't funny yesterday, and it didn't even elicit very many polite, obligatory chuckles. I admire Balanchine's ingenuity in working with so many dancers, but much of the choreography didn't even feel close to his best work. To me, the ballet felt bloated and dated (and I'm very hesitant to apply the word "dated" to any Balanchine ballet, as they generally hold up so well).

Edited by fondoffouettes
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2 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Is Union Jack the longest plotless work by Balanchine in the repertoire? It certainly felt long. I agree that Mearns and Reichlen were sensational, but for me, there were just too many sections that weren't very interesting, with the Costermonger PDD being the most notable example. Has that section ever actually been funny? It certainly wasn't funny yesterday, and it didn't even elicit very many polite, obligatory chuckles. I admire Balanchine's ingenuity in working with so many dancers, but much of the choreography didn't even feel close to his best work. To me, the ballet felt bloated and dated (and I'm very hesitant to apply the word "dated" to any Balanchine ballet, as they generally hold up so well).

It looks like we could not be on more opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to this ballet.  I've always loved the dancing and the pure spectacle of Union Jack.  I saw the Saturday matinee and it blew me away as usual.   The entire cast was superb and the ballet was danced brilliantly.  None of it felt dated to me.  It’s all pomp and circumstance with a military tattoo a la Balanchine.  These military tattoos still go on today.  As far as the Costermonger pdd, it was never meant to be contemporary.  It’s a take off on 19th century British music hall period piece humor which Balanchine captured perfectly.  But to each his/her own.   I can never get enough of this ballet, and hope it’s not too long before they perform it again.

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4 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Is Union Jack the longest plotless work by Balanchine in the repertoire? It certainly felt long. I agree that Mearns and Reichlen were sensational, but for me, there were just too many sections that weren't very interesting, with the Costermonger PDD being the most notable example. Has that section ever actually been funny? It certainly wasn't funny yesterday, and it didn't even elicit very many polite, obligatory chuckles. I admire Balanchine's ingenuity in working with so many dancers, but much of the choreography didn't even feel close to his best work. To me, the ballet felt bloated and dated (and I'm very hesitant to apply the word "dated" to any Balanchine ballet, as they generally hold up so well).

The military tattoo is such a particular type of choreography and music - it's definitely a love it or hate it kind of thing. Or maybe that's 'love it, or be bored by it'.  ;)
There are few things more purposefully traditional than military events and ceremonies, so if that's not your cup of tea, it's going to be painful. (Even with Balanchine putting his own spin on the spectacle.)

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Seeing the Costermonger pdd performed with so well by Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette and knowing that they went through a painful divorce—and have obviously come out on the other side—certainly added subtext and humor, and a bit of pathos!  Fairchild has terrific comic flair. 

I loved seeing this cast in Union Jack. Reichlin, Hyltin, Mearns and Tyler Angle were standouts this afternoon. 

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I was at the Friday night performance of Opus 19/the Dreamer, new Lovette, new Liang, and Symphony in C. I've been mulling over my thoughts about the new pieces. I found the Liang piece derivative, but pleasant and very watchable. It's not anything great, but I could see it again and enjoy it. As for the Lovette piece, I can see she's exploring ideas about gender and ballet, a timely and welcome endeavor. But the message is muddled. Take the tutus. They are split open in the front, and pull up sharply in back, exposing the rear end. I can't quite tell how to take this. Is it meant to be shocking? Humorous? Doing something crazy just for the sake up making a statement that this is different? All I get is that she's taking a starting point, say traditional norms, and opposing it - rather than presenting new ideas, or ideas towards some new vision.  I also found it overwrought generally. Even if the message were clearer, as a dance piece I didn't find it very pleasing. Would hesitate to see again. Great use of Georgina Pazcoguin, though. 

In Opus 19/the Dreamer, Gonzalo Garcia looked as good as one could possibly look in his white unitard. His earthy, charismatic presence and great port de bras, along with a shimmering Sterling Hyltin, made a good case for this piece. 

Symphony in C always livens things up. I felt like I've seen more sparkling performances, or maybe it was just a heaviness in my mood after a ho-hum reaction to the two new pieces (which I was hoping to like more). Still, I left with a smile. 

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29 minutes ago, cobweb said:

. Take the tutus. They are split open in the front, and pull up sharply in back, exposing the rear end. I can't quite tell how to take this. Is it meant to be shocking? Humorous? Doing something crazy just for the sake up making a statement that this is different? All I get is that she's taking a starting point, say traditional norms, and opposing it - rather than presenting new ideas, or ideas towards some new vision.  I also found it overwrought generally. Even if the message were clearer, as a dance piece I didn't find it very pleasing. Would hesitate to see again. Great use of Georgina Pazcoguin, though. 

Thanks for the review Cobweb. When I saw the Lovette piece, I didn't know what make of the costumes and even thought them silly. Then I saw an interview with Lovette in which she said that the costumes were something of a surprise to her, and sent her in a different direction choreographically. That reminded me that the fall season has the fashion designer tie-in. I believe it's a Sarah Jessica Parker innovation that keeps going, in which a fashion designer is assigned to a choreographer. The extent to which they work together seems to vary. If the fashion gimmick brings in a lot of interest, donor dollars and ticket sales that's fine. If it no longer serves that function it should be dropped, because it doesn't serve the ballets particularly well. 

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36 minutes ago, vipa said:

Thanks for the review Cobweb. When I saw the Lovette piece, I didn't know what make of the costumes and even thought them silly. Then I saw an interview with Lovette in which she said that the costumes were something of a surprise to her, and sent her in a different direction choreographically. That reminded me that the fall season has the fashion designer tie-in. I believe it's a Sarah Jessica Parker innovation that keeps going, in which a fashion designer is assigned to a choreographer. The extent to which they work together seems to vary. If the fashion gimmick brings in a lot of interest, donor dollars and ticket sales that's fine. If it no longer serves that function it should be dropped, because it doesn't serve the ballets particularly well. 

Thanks vipa. I wasn't taking into account the celebrity fashion designer angle. If I were a choreographer who was presented with those tutus by my assigned costume designer (and I had to use them), I would have taken a comedic route. They could work very well in a piece with a lighter tone.  

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6 hours ago, NinaFan said:

I can never get enough of this ballet, and hope it’s not too long before they perform it again.

Thank you NinaFan, I feel the same!

Today's audience seemed very appreciative and enthusiastic about Union Jack, with an extra curtain call. In MacDonald of Sleat, the regiment was more in unison than yesterday, but I guess it's a piece where unison isn't the point. The problem, if that's the right word, is that Sara Mearns is so powerful and so fit, the other ladies make a weak impression next to her.

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9 hours ago, California said:

 

 

9 hours ago, California said:

I heard a pre-performance talk once about it; they pointed out that no other company has ever performed it, partly (at least) because it requires 74 dancers and few could muster that many, even drawing on apprentices and advanced students. A funny tidbit we were told: the semaphores in the last section were learned by looking at a tape and someone realized quite belatedly that they were using mirror images, creating an entirely different meaning. Legend has it that Baryshnikov performed the middle music hall section on short notice, thus giving rise to the name "Ballet alert" as balletomanes spread the word. (If you were there for that episode, please correct me if I'm wrong on this.)

https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/u/union-jack.aspx

I remember seeing Baryshnikov do the role, with McBride I think, but weren't Sarah Leland and Bart Cook the creators of the roles?

And, yes, they were hilarious. Even the 9th or 10th time.

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10 minutes ago, zerbinetta said:

I remember seeing Baryshnikov do the role, with McBride I think, but weren't Sarah Leland and Bart Cook the creators of the roles?

The roles were created on McBride and her husband, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux (not sure of the spelling).

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2 minutes ago, lmspear said:

The roles were created on McBride and her husband, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux (not sure of the spelling).

Thanks fo this.

I guess I remember Bart and Sally so well because they were so very funny. And did it for years. No one else, IMO, has ever lived up to their performances.

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I had never seen Kammermusik and I would go again this week if I could afford it. Saw it yesterday. And was fascinated and astounded by Union Jack. I loved it! The gravity of the “Tattoos?”  was so moving to me. And surprising that City Ballet could move so slowly!  ( not really....they can do anything!) 

Edited by macnellie
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Even though I think the Farrell sections are the weakest* in Union Jack. it is in my top five favorite Balanchine ballets, and I've been thrilled to read reports about it.

*In my opinion, the first is too soft to follow Macdonald of Sleat, which should only be followed by a complete change, and the music was used better in the short clip we have from The Figure in the Carpet, and the second because, while Balanchine was endlessly fascinated by Farrell's vamping, I think it's a yard (or two) too long.

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15 hours ago, Peg said:

Seeing the Costermonger pdd performed with so well by Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette and knowing that they went through a painful divorce—and have obviously come out on the other side—certainly added subtext and humor, and a bit of pathos!  Fairchild has terrific comic flair.

I kept thinking the same thing throughout their pdd! 

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50 minutes ago, macnellie said:

And was fascinated and astounded by Union Jack. I loved it! The gravity of the “Tattoos?”  was so moving to me.

macnellie, this was my experience exactly the first time I saw Union Jack. At the time I was new to NYCB and had no idea about the rep, and was just buying tickets at random, not knowing what to expect. I was dumbfounded as the tattoo unfolded. It's an experience I'll never forget. And thanks for using the word "gravity" to describe it. I was going with "fierce," but "gravity" feels more right. The solemnity of the final procession, as they exit the stage and the spell comes to an end, leaves me forlorn. They march off into eternity, they will march on forever, out of my sight and grasp, while I am left here in the flawed, distracting real world. 

Not defending the Costermonger pdd, it does get tedious and I wish they would bring the little girls on sooner to liven it up, but yesterday it did get what seemed like some genuine laughs. 

51 minutes ago, Helene said:

Union Jack. it is in my top five favorite Balanchine ballets,

Glad to hear, Helene! Top five favorite Balanchine ballets... that's a tough one, but same for me with Union Jack. 

OT. Another time I was buying tickets at random with no idea what to expect was when I was first getting into opera. I bought a ticket for an opera totally unknown to me, by the name of "Rigoletto." Somehow I had the idea it would be a comedy. I kept waiting for it to get funny, till the very end when Rigoletto opens the sack. Um... 

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

Even though I think the Farrell sections are the weakest* in Union Jack. it is in my top five favorite Balanchine ballets, and I've been thrilled to read reports about it.

 

30 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Glad to hear, Helene! Top five favorite Balanchine ballets... that's a tough one, but same for me with Union Jack. 

OT. Another time I was buying tickets at random with no idea what to expect was when I was first getting into opera. I bought a ticket for an opera totally unknown to me, by the name of "Rigoletto." Somehow I had the idea it would be a comedy. I kept waiting for it to get funny, till the very end when Rigoletto opens the sack. Um... 

Helene and cobweb - Union Jack is one of my favorite Balanchine ballets as well.   Western Symphony and Stars and Stripes also make it to my top tier.  

cobweb - My very first opera was Rigoletto!  My dad had recommended it as a starter opera, so I figured how bad could it be....

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On 9/29/2019 at 8:23 PM, vipa said:

Thanks for the review Cobweb. When I saw the Lovette piece, I didn't know what make of the costumes and even thought them silly. Then I saw an interview with Lovette in which she said that the costumes were something of a surprise to her, and sent her in a different direction choreographically. That reminded me that the fall season has the fashion designer tie-in. I believe it's a Sarah Jessica Parker innovation that keeps going, in which a fashion designer is assigned to a choreographer. The extent to which they work together seems to vary. If the fashion gimmick brings in a lot of interest, donor dollars and ticket sales that's fine. If it no longer serves that function it should be dropped, because it doesn't serve the ballets particularly well. 

The fashion gala was covered by local television (NY1) and there will probably be pictures of SJP in her lovely hot pink gown in People, US and all those celebrity magazines. I think the choreographic results from the Fashion/Costume gala have been quite low so far. Kyle Abraham's The Runaway was the only ballet I've seen where the costumes were outrageous, didn't hamper the dancing, and actually added an element to his choreography. Most often the costumes are hideous and hide the dancers. (Liam Scarlett, hello there!) The entire concept seems founded on a faulty principle -that clothing designers can come to understand the needs of dancing onstage in a weeks long process - something that ballet costume designers study in depth and detail and takes YEARS to master.

I also hope they get good press, donor interest and ticket sales from it, because it's no way to make a ballet.

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13 hours ago, Helene said:

Even though I think the Farrell sections are the weakest* in Union Jack. it is in my top five favorite Balanchine ballets, and I've been thrilled to read reports about it.

*In my opinion, the first is too soft to follow Macdonald of Sleat, which should only be followed by a complete change, and the music was used better in the short clip we have from The Figure in the Carpet, and the second because, while Balanchine was endlessly fascinated by Farrell's vamping, I think it's a yard (or two) too long.

I'm curious, what are your top five favorite Balanchine ballets? I enjoyed Union Jack immensely (it wasn't terribly different from what I expected) but I'd probably place it somewhere in my top twenty.

Edited by BalanchineFan
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11 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

Kyle Abraham's The Runaway was the only ballet I've seen where the costumes were outrageous, didn't hamper the dancing, and actually added an element to his choreography. Most often the costumes are hideous and hide the dancers.

I agree that the Fashion Gala model hasn't delivered a ton brilliant costuming, although, to be fair, it hasn't delivered a ton of brilliant choreography either. That being said, a few collaborations worked out pretty well. In addition to The Runaway (Kyle Abraham / Giles Deacon):

Spectral Evidence - Angelin Preljocaj / Olivier Theyskens (2013)

Neverwhere - Benjamin Millepied / Iris Van Herpen (2013) 

Funérailles - Liam Scarlett / Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen (2014)

New Blood - Justin Peck / Humberto Leon (2015) [Not a Fashion Gala ballet, but Peck's The Times are Racing also had costumes by Humberto Leon.]

ten in seven - Peter Walker / Jason Wu (2016)

Pulcinella Variations - Justin Peck / Tsumori Chisato (2017)

Not Our Fate - Lauren Lovette / Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of MONSE and Oscar de la Renta (2017)

Not all of these are top-drawer ballets, but I'd argue that the costumes added something to the whole. I suspect I could find a few more to add to the list, and there have been a couple of near-misses, too. 

ETA: I saw Neverwhere a couple of seasons ago when it was revived without Van Herpen's brilliant costumes and while I wouldn't go so far as to say it was nothing without them, they definitely added an element of theater that it just doesn't have as a leotard ballet. Kind of the reverse of Balanchine's Four Temperaments.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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13 hours ago, Helene said:

Liebeslieder Walzer, Symphony in C, Union Jack, Episodes, and, as Arlene Croce put it, "the one I'm watching."

LOL! What a perfect answer. Any Balanchine list that doesn’t include “the one I’m watching “ is incomplete. 

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