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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
Punctuation

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

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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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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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6 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 agree - I missed both of those!

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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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