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Fall Season


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5 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

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.

I think the point of these fall galas is not the choreography.  The entire point is the hope that patrons will pay for the gala dinner to rub elbows with famous fashion designers.  The significance or quality of the choreography is almost an irrelevant afterthought.  These are gimmick galas, concocted by SJ Parker and utilizing her connections in the fashion world.  The most successful was when they had Sir Paul and his fashion designer daughter collaborate with Martins.  That gala made a lot of money.  The Valentino gala also made a ton of money.

Notice that serious ballet choreographers like Ratmansky never participate in the fall fashion gala.

Edited by abatt
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On 9/29/2019 at 2:45 PM, NinaFan said:

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.

So happy to read this post.  Union Jack is one of so many examples of Balanchine's genius on every level - technicality, humor, showmanship, humility, musicality and just plain 'crowd pleasing'. What a treat to see Andy Veyette and Meghan Fairchild dancing together!!!   I have seen every program this season and it's always a pleasure to see this ballet again and again.  It is a celebration of the man (and Rosemary Dunlevy - see photo posting by company members) and his great spirit in his theatre!  Which brings me to the balance of the majority of performances I have seen this season.  And I want to reference Alastair Macaulay's reviews, as well.    NYCB needs to step up their game.  Yes, there have been transitions and the world is also changing.  But Ballet is Ballet.  And greatness is greatness.  And right now there are dancers that are doing a great job but there are problems with many dancers and their technique, their performance quality (or lack of) and this casting the same people night after night.  The theatre is half full more days than not - why go if it's the same dancers and same show - how boring.  The new Liang piece was pleasing - the partnering was very beautiful and danced exceptionally.  But the new Lovette's piece was so bad it's not worth discussing.  Poor Mr. B, in his house.  Why not being in Tywla if you want a woman choreographer - you cannot do better!  To make matter worse, some NYCB dancers are performing with their faces looking like they are angry or scared or in pain or even talking to themselves (Olivia MacKinnon, and they keep casting her up the ladder?? really?) which is a sign of an immature performer!  Alastair questioned the daily training.  Maybe that is it.  But honestly I believe there is no fear of competition to do better.  You can review the casting posting and feel like the administration is going to cast the same people over and over.  So why try harder?  The company has a several corp members whose technique is outstanding and their faces shine every show who are not being cast - Ghaleb Kayali, Christopher Grant, Laine Habony, Isabella LaFriennere, Alton McGill come to mind immediately.  And why are they passed over for featured roles?  There is no doubt the company as a whole is amazing and most definitely ballet has matured over the course of my lifetime.  But NYCB is better than this and should be.  I wish them a great remainder of the season and let's hope we see a quantum leap for Nutcracker season.

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33 minutes ago, abatt said:

I think the point of these fall galas is not the choreography.  The entire point is the hope that patrons will pay for the gala dinner to rub elbows with famous fashion designers.  The significance or quality of the choreography is almost an irrelevant afterthought.  These are gimmick galas, concocted by SJ Parker and utilizing her connections in the fashion world.  The most successful was when they had Sir Paul and his fashion designer daughter collaborate with Martins.  That gala made a lot of money.  The Valentino gala also made a ton of money.

Notice that serious ballet choreographers like Ratmansky never participate in the fall fashion gala.

The closest thing to that level ....  2013 ..... Benjamin Millepied, Angelin Preliicaj

But Robert Binet, Miles Thatcher, Justin Peck, Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa all delivered very well under Peter Martins' expectation.

To me, the expectation has gone to zero.  And you get what you expect.

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On 9/30/2019 at 9:22 AM, NinaFan said:

I kept thinking the same thing throughout their pdd! 

It was truly delightful to see them together dancing and they did not disappoint.  They are both amazing performers and technicians.  What a treat it was!

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35 minutes ago, abatt said:

I think the point of these fall galas is not the choreography.  The entire point is the hope that patrons will pay for the gala dinner to rub elbows with famous fashion designers.  The significance or quality of the choreography is almost an irrelevant afterthought. 

Well, in the best of all possible worlds one might hope that the company could contrive to both rake in the bucks and get a few keepers, too however gimmicky the angle. I've got no real objection to the basic concept, although I wonder from time to time if the designers might benefit from a bit more (ahem, a lot more) guidance from Marc Happel.

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On 9/29/2019 at 6:38 PM, cobweb said:

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. 

I was also there and I think the mood of the corp dancers coming out of the Lovette piece flows in the Sym in C - meaning they know they are on stage in a bad ballet and from experience that dampers the mood for their other performances.  I was disappointed not only in the down mood but the technique as whole was lacking with the younger corp.  Glad to see Ashely Hod back and she shined as 1st movement demi but Olivia MacKinnon was literally in pain or talking to herself the entire time.  I am not sure why that continues?  How could it not?  Sebastian V-V was also amazing and it so great he has also returned from a long injury period.  And Indiana Woodward was missed in the 3rd movement due to being in the LIang piece.  Let's hope we see Sym in C soon in another program with some new dancers.

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19 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

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.

Disclaimer: I am also a Balanchine fan, despite the fact that I'm far from having seen all of his ballets.

So far, in this order: The four temperaments (that's what I'd bring to the desert island), closely followed by Serenade. After those I love Monumentum/Movements, Agon and the fifth place probably goes to Stars & Stripes.

Edited by eduardo
substituted Apollo for Agon! How could I make that mistake?
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2 hours ago, JanLevNYC said:

The closest thing to that level ....  2013 ..... Benjamin Millepied, Angelin Preliicaj

But Robert Binet, Miles Thatcher, Justin Peck, Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa all delivered very well under Peter Martins' expectation.

To me, the expectation has gone to zero.  And you get what you expect.

I think both Abraham's The Runaway and Peck's Pulchinella Variations with their attendant designer togs delivered big time, and I will die on that hill. 😉

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2 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I think both Abraham's The Runaway and Peck's Pulchinella Variations with their attendant designer togs delivered big time, and I will die on that hill. 😉

I haven't seen The Runaway but enjoy and admire Peck's Pulchinella Variations. However, I don't thing the designer designs particularly enhance it. I believe it's a strong enough ballet to survive costumes that may be less than ideal.

 

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16 hours ago, JanLevNYC said:

Olivia MacKinnon, and they keep casting her up the ladder

I'm hoping for the best with MacKinnon's debut in Tchaikovsky PC #2, but it's not clear to me why she was chosen for such an exposed, big opportunity. She often looks effortful and doesn't seem to enjoy herself onstage. Seeing her as one of the four corps in Valse-Fantaisie a couple of times over the past week, all of the other three seem to be more obvious choices for a big opportunity, based on fleetness and crispness of dancing, as well as projecting a radiant joyfulness: Emma von Enck, Alston Macgill, and Kristen Segin. 

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11 hours ago, cobweb said:

I'm hoping for the best with MacKinnon's debut in Tchaikovsky PC #2, but it's not clear to me why she was chosen for such an exposed, big opportunity. She often looks effortful and doesn't seem to enjoy herself onstage. Seeing her as one of the four corps in Valse-Fantaisie a couple of times over the past week, all of the other three seem to be more obvious choices for a big opportunity, based on fleetness and crispness of dancing, as well as projecting a radiant joyfulness: Emma von Enck, Alston Macgill, and Kristen Segin. 

That’s been Lauren Kings spot .... why not Sara Adams, Ashley Hod, Laine Habony?  All three are beautiful performers and strong technicians.  

Edited by JanLevNYC
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On 10/1/2019 at 6:35 PM, eduardo said:

Disclaimer: I am also a Balanchine fan, despite the fact that I'm far from having seen all of his ballets.

So far, in this order: The four temperaments (that's what I'd bring to the desert island), closely followed by Serenade. After those I love Monumentum/Movements, Agon and the fifth place probably goes to Stars & Stripes.

4T was my first favorite Balanchine ballet. I still LOVE it but there’s something about the Dance in America film with Merrill Ashley that is unmatchable. Writing that, however, I remember another spectacular film with Patricia Wilde dancing Sanguinic. YouTubers take note.

Liebesleider Waltzer is my newest favorite. I saw it for the first time a few years ago. It’s one of the few ballets (or theatrical experiences of any kind, honestly) where I’m sad that it has to come to an end. (Robbins’ DAAG and Goldberg also hit me that way)

Agon  

Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto #2 or Symphony in C or Symphony in Three Mov’ts or... Mozartiana... or Midsummer

AND “whichever Balanchine ballet I’m currently watching.”

 

 

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12 hours ago, cobweb said:

I'm hoping for the best with MacKinnon's debut in Tchaikovsky PC #2, but it's not clear to me why she was chosen for such an exposed, big opportunity. She often looks effortful and doesn't seem to enjoy herself onstage. Seeing her as one of the four corps in Valse-Fantaisie a couple of times over the past week, all of the other three seem to be more obvious choices for a big opportunity, based on fleetness and crispness of dancing, as well as projecting a radiant joyfulness: Emma von Enck, Alston Macgill, and Kristen Segin. 

I agree.  I was able to catch last Friday night and it was painful to watch MacKinnons expressions all through Symphony in C.  I don’t find the technique there, as well.  I was also able to see the Sunday matinee and Valse Fantasisie was just lovely.  I plan on catching that with Indiana Woodard and am so excited.  

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12 hours ago, JanLevNYC said:

That’s been Lauren Kings spot .... why not Sara Adams, Ashley Hod, Laine Habony?  All three are beautiful performers and strong technicians.  

Lauren King is  cast as the demi soloist in Tchai PC, in the cast that has Mearns and  Janzen.  It is LeCrone who is not dancing the part this year, presumably because LeCrone is cast in Serenade on the same program.

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On 10/1/2019 at 4:51 PM, JanLevNYC said:

And right now there are dancers that are doing a great job but there are problems with many dancers and their technique, their performance quality (or lack of) and this casting the same people night after night.  The theatre is half full more days than not - why go if it's the same dancers and same show - how boring.  The new Liang piece was pleasing - the partnering was very beautiful and danced exceptionally.  But the new Lovette's piece was so bad it's not worth discussing.  Poor Mr. B, in his house.  Why not being in Tywla if you want a woman choreographer - you cannot do better!  To make matter worse, some NYCB dancers are performing with their faces looking like they are angry or scared or in pain or even talking to themselves (Olivia MacKinnon, and they keep casting her up the ladder?? really?) which is a sign of an immature performer!  Alastair questioned the daily training.  Maybe that is it.  But honestly I believe there is no fear of competition to do better.  You can review the casting posting and feel like the administration is going to cast the same people over and over.  So why try harder?  The company has a several corp members whose technique is outstanding and their faces shine every show who are not being cast - Ghaleb Kayali, Christopher Grant, Laine Habony, Isabella LaFriennere, Alton McGill come to mind immediately.  And why are they passed over for featured roles?  There is no doubt the company as a whole is amazing and most definitely ballet has matured over the course of my lifetime.  But NYCB is better than this and should be.  I wish them a great remainder of the season and let's hope we see a quantum leap for Nutcracker season.

I haven't noticed any issues with technique.  Obviously some dancers have always been better than others, but as a whole the dancers appear to be in top form.    I prefer some dancers over others, but don't we all.  I keep seeing my least favorite female principal this season, but at least she is mixed in with far superior dancers. 

As far as outstanding corps members getting a shot at featured roles...let's hope the new leadership gives them ample opportunities.  Martins did this all the time with promising corps and apprentices, so I certainly hope the practice continues.

My only gripe is that the same rep is being repeated way too much.   Starting with this fall season, I see them performing the same program as much as five times in a four week season.  In the past, a particular program was never danced more than three times per season.  So this may be why you're getting bored, and why the theater is less full this season.  

 

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2 minutes ago, angel4830 said:

Is Tiler Peck injured?  She is supposed to dance in Dallas right after Thanksgiving (Nutcracker), but she has been missing this season.

She's been out since last spring with a herniated disc.

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1 hour ago, NinaFan said:

My only gripe is that the same rep is being repeated way too much.   Starting with this fall season, I see them performing the same program as much as five times in a four week season.  In the past, a particular program was never danced more than three times per season.  So this may be why you're getting bored, and why the theater is less full this season.  

 

Agreed.  Coming from out of town, I was able to make it to a number of performances this fall (will write about them soon!), but Spring 2020 is slim pickings.  There's a few programs I'd like to see but they're not scheduled near enough together for a single trip.  

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Not only do spectacular scenes with a crowded stage in opera and ballet reflect inescapable realities of mass society and civilization, they also—ironically—contribute substantively (through contrast) to our understanding and appreciation of—human intimacy! Depending on their placement and function in a work, the accompanying music, and their handling in a given production, such scenes can be anything but tedious or pointless. One need not be enamored of militarism or nationalism, or hunger for military parades in order to deem the entire first section of Balanchine's Union Jack—along with the ballet’s glorious finale—thrilling. The intervening "Costermonger Pas de Deux" and "Royal Navy" segments, on the other hand, provide lighter fare.

One cast of the ballet this fall consisted of dancers reprising their roles, and included Gonzalo Garcia, Tyler Angle, Abi Stafford, Jared Angle, Sterling Hyltin, Sara Mearns and Teresa Reichlen. On Tuesday evening, the performance featured Amar Ramasar, Andrew Veyette, Lauren King, Ask la Cour, Brittany Pollack, Unity Phelan and Ashley Bouder—with all but Veyette and Bouder debuting! Both casts were fantastic, so although I could attend this program only twice and would have had no issue viewing either again, I am glad how everything panned out. As befitted her vast stage experience and prominent artistic ambitions, Mearns in "MacDonald of Sleat" was more assertive than the blossoming and gentler Phelan. All the same, the latter's debut in the role was enchanting. Another key difference was the discrepancy in height between the lead women in "Wrens". Certainly the imposing Reichlen dazzled with her striking figure and legs. Nevertheless, Bouder herself looked marvelous in the costume and displayed her consummate craft in the role.

Considering that it is a weaker section, how enjoyable the "Costermonger Pas de Deux" proved to be at both performances! Like true professionals, Megan Fairchild as the Pearly Queen and Andrew Veyette as the Pearly King set aside any personal differences to deliciously re-enact their roles on Sunday afternoon. Just as was the case with Lauren King in “Green Montgomerie” and Brittany Pollack in “Dress MacDonald”, it surprised me that Daniel Ulbricht’s rendition of the role of the Pearly King was a debut—although, of course, this ballet is not presented often. Best of all, Lauren Lovette was at once hilarious and utterly charming in her buoyant, splendid debut as the Pearly Queen.

My complete absorption in the performances and choreography of the program's preceding ballet, Kammermusik No. 2, similarly surprised me, since it is not a favorite. Most of the dancers—Emilie Gerrity, Peter Walker, Unity Phelan and Jovani Furlan on Sunday; Abi Stafford, Joseph Gordon, Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen on Tuesday—were new to their roles. The way Balanchine in this peculiar piece blended dancing by eight male corps members to the unusual material for the soloists is fascinating. Even though I have seen Kammermusik No. 2 many times, these performances made me feel it is a work whose ingenuity and particular beauty I am in the process of discovering.

That nine-minute ballet of sheer musical and choreographic loveliness titled Valse-Fantaisie begun the program. Having seen it only once before this past spring, Sunday afternoon's performance set the stage for an enthralling one Tuesday with Indiana Woodward and Roman Mejia as the scintillating leads.

 

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1 hour ago, Royal Blue said:

Best of all, Lauren Lovette was at once hilarious and utterly charming in her buoyant, splendid debut as the Pearly Queen.

Totally agree, Royal Blue. Lovette breathed new life into this piece, lively, authentic, and delightfully comedic. Looked great in the hat, and great use of her eyes. 

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