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MCB Program II. Balanchine, Robbins, Ratmansky, Wheeldon

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I went to today's matinee of this program.  It opened on Friday, but I had to work both Friday and Saturday nigh shifts, so today when I came back from work in the morning I stayed awake to go see this.

I'm Old Fashioned. Robbins.

Never seen it before.  A balletic tribute to a Fred Astaire's ballroom-style number with Rita Hayworth that is played in a huge screen onstage before the dancers take center. I found it cute, although somehow repetitive at some point, very much in the way of "Dances at a Gathering", with combinations and more combinations of dancers doing similar stuff onstage.  A couple of male variations looked like cut outs from West Side Story.  My mom loved it, as anything Americana, telling me that it reminded her of the films she used to watch as a kid.  As the 90% of the theater population today sort of fell under that age range and older, I guess people felt quite identified with the soul of this piece.  At the end the whole ensemble takes the stage all dressed as Fred and Rita while the clip plays again on the screen and the dancers double up doing the same choreo until the end, when they turn around to wave good bye to the marching off onscreen couple,

The Bitter Earth. Wheeldon

I have seen a few pieces by Wheeldon and nothing I can remember has been  particularly interesting.  I thought this would be the case too, as it is usually with me and anything too contemporary-(there was a quote by the late Mel Johnson that would describe my distaste, but it would be too politically incorrect 😉 ).  Anyhow...this was not the scenario this time.  The piece is a short pdd, and it had its big share of gymnastics, but still managed to look smooth and soothing, with the big help of Dinah Washington's soulful 1960's voice.  Quite romantic and even somber and sad at times, it was danced by Ashley Knox and Carlos Quenedit-(ex Cuban National Ballet dancer). 

Tschaikovsky PDD. Balanchine

Always a winner.  always a show stopper.  Doesn't it pick your curiosity on how the original choreo within Swan Lake might had looked like,...?

Anyhow, the fish dives were daring-(real throwing, body extended with legs together, face almost touching the floor)- the  and the tempo was fast.  The dancers, Jennifer Lauren and my favorite Kleber Rebello did a beautiful job. Bravi.

Symphonic Dances. Ratmansky.

Only the middle section with the tuxedo like costumes for the men and the bright colored tunics for the women actually does something for me. The rest quite bores me, so I usually close my eyes and listen to the Rachmaninoff score.


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It has occurred to me more than one time that Ratmansky has taken a lot of inspiration from the post Diaghilev Ballet Russes era style when creating many of his pieces. For instance, this clip from Massine's "Les Presages" seems to be a cut out of Alexei's "Symphonic Dances".


Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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I'm a bit late, but I thought I'd share my impressions from a few weeks ago.  All in all a great night at the ballet.

I’m Old Fashioned: This was fine.  It was a long piece, repetitive, and reminded me so much of Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, which incidentally MCB will dance in the upcoming program, and Martins’ Thou Swell. My grandma loved it—it was far and away her favorite piece of the night, so I gather MCB knows its demographic.  A red headed man in a principal role really got the style, perhaps Alexander Peters.  This piece reminded my grandma of a scene in the movie Flying Down to Rio where women dance on the wings of the plane.  Lucky for us, I found it on Youtube.  I enjoyed the video very much so will share the link.

This Bitter Earth:  Mesmerizing.  I can’t say anything more, since I was basically entranced during the entire piece.  The dancers were Emily Bromberg and Rainer Krenstetter.

Tschai Pas:  Dynamic as always.  The fish dives were so daring it looked like Katia Carranza was at risk of falling out of Carlos Quenedit’s arms.  Carranza interspersed her fouttées with piqué soutenus, which looked particularly sparkly.

Symphonic Dances (Ratmansky): I may have ranted about Ratmansky’s choreography on this blog before.  If so, I apologize for the following.  Symphonic Dances has three parts: a drab first section, a carnival-esque middle, and a drab finale.  I couldn’t begin identify any dancers.  The first section was my favorite, if you can call it a favorite.  Least hated may be a more accurate description.  It had the most interesting, least twee, and least disturbing choreography, and didn’t seem to go on forever.  

The second section.  Oh my.  I never asked to see a ballet about long lost twins.  Well here it is!  The beginning has two woman in blue in the spotlight run to the middle of the stage, throw out an arm as if to embrace, but there’s this ~invisible force~ so they can’t touch.  The spotlight and twins disappear and the stage turns into a carnival of dancers in bright colors with a black background reminiscent of Moulin Rouge or Brazil.  Then that goes away and the twins come back, still separated by the invisible force.  The back and forth between Moulin Rouge and twins happens, I don’t know, five times.  At some point the twins break the force and hold hands and dance together. Yay them.  How lovely.  That was sarcasm.

Third section.  We’re back to drab costumes.  But now women are writhing on the floor in the fetal position with men standing above them holding one hand.  Multiple couples are doing this thing on stage simultaneously.  I have many questions, but particularly: why? Why is this happening? What am I seeing? In the program Ratmansky says he “want(s) the audience to leave with the images and feelings that the movement gives them.”  Well, I have a lot of images and feelings about this ballet.  I know I said it was a great night in the ballet, but honestly as many feelings as I have about Symphonic Dances, it certainly was entertaining!  It’s rare I still need to rant about anything artistic days let alone weeks after viewing.

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On 1/29/2020 at 11:57 PM, Emma said:

Tschai Pas:  Dynamic as always.  The fish dives were so daring it looked like Katia Carranza was at risk of falling out of Carlos Quenedit’s arms.  

I agree. I went to see the program for the second time at Broward and got her in this-(I first got Jenniffer Lauren un Miami). Carranza is old school MCB ...from that generation of dancers who were taught the variations the way Villella danced them or remembered being danced by his ballerinas...and back when he would demonstrate it all. His input is priceless, as many aspects and details of his stagings are from that NYCB golden period of 50's/60's, and before Balanchine made changes in many of his works. Eddie always had the green light to stage stuff the way he had dances them. And I hope Lourdes doesn't go away with all this.

Please bring back Eddie's staging of "Valse Fantaisie 1953" !

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15 hours ago, wonderwall said:

I can’t find where casting is listed on MCB’s website—did Kathryn Morgan perform?

On the program page, under 'Discover More', you can click on the dates to see casting. She did one performance of I'm Old Fashioned for some sort of special event. And she's scheduled to dance Nine Sinatra Songs Feb 22 and 23. 

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12 hours ago, LadyCap said:

On the program page, under 'Discover More', you can click on the dates to see casting. She did one performance of I'm Old Fashioned for some sort of special event. And she's scheduled to dance Nine Sinatra Songs Feb 22 and 23. 

Just as with "Slaughter..". Heels shoes, and two of them long gowns.  🤔

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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