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7 hours ago, Rosa said:

From English National Ballet

 

Just finished Act I and was really struck by it. Beautiful waltz, lovely pas de trois, the dance of the goblets had me smiling. Wolfgang felt like a full-fledged character, his relationship with the prince endearing. (His reaction to being asked if he wanted to come with Siegfried to hunt was adorable!) Isaac's Siegfried was quite boyish and young before his mother turned everything upside down. The set and lighting was stunning, particularly during his solo, the stage going from dusk to night. I've seen many Act I Siegfried solos, yet never before had his restlessness, unidentifiable yearning felt so tangible.

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Another quick thought about the Isadora Duncan performance video. I mentioned the theme of relating to Nature, which is one that I think about a lot and apparently was very important to her as well. This is a brief but rather interesting discussion of that part of her approach from the beginning of the video.

11:20

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iPL8GtcQDE

There are moments in the video when a dancer does capture this very well. She may be leaves blowing in the breeze or the breeze itself. She be making a connection with the woods behind her or she may do a certain spin that makes an ethereally beautiful expression of  a current of  air.

Added: It's also interesting at times to turn off the music and see how this effects the natural imagery.

Edited by Buddy
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4 hours ago, Buddy said:

Another quick thought about the Isadora Duncan performance video. I mentioned the theme of relating to Nature, which is one that I think about a lot and apparently was very important to her as well. This is a brief but rather interesting discussion of that part of her approach from the beginning of the video.

11:20

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iPL8GtcQDE

There are moments in the video when a dancer does capture this very well. She may be leaves blowing in the breeze or the breeze itself. She be making a connection with the woods behind her or she may do a certain spin that makes an ethereally beautiful expression of  a current of  air.

Added: It's also interesting at times to turn off the music and see how this effects the natural imagery.

They couldn't have asked for a better day to perform. The wildness of the wind added to the performance.

The Mearns solo at 45:20 was her most effective for me (ending with the Loie Fuller-ish arm movements). The range of expression and techniques employed in these particular Duncan dances is fairly narrow though, so there's a certain sameness in this program.

I find the Duncan dances that are more position based - feet flat on the floor, or that work off the floor/ground that tend to be the most dramatic and riveting*. (But I suppose one could argue that such movements aren't really dancing). In general, Duncan's ensemble shapes and forms are pretty basic - not much investigation going on with patterns. No partnering to speak of - an expression of the group/sisterhood and of the individual.

*The Duncan work known as Dance of the Furies displays some of what I mention above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0HHNshYgW8

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Thanks, Pherank.

Could I also call attention to Sara Mearns’ wonderfully professional and ballet-lovely dancing throughout, that sails through the waving trees beyond, and Lori Belilove’s approaching Wagnerian but delightfully loving and captivating ‘dance-theatre’ approaching Kabuki at  53:50.

And when all is said and done   😊

 

 

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San Francisco Ballet streams Cathy Marston's Snowblind today at 2:30pm PST/5:30pm EST

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqmtF30DWO4

CASTING
Ethan Frome, a farmer
Ulrik Birkkjaer

Zeena Frome, his sickly wife
Sarah Van Patten

Mattie Silver, their home help
Mathilde Froustey

The Snow/Neighbors/Farmhands
Ludmila Bizalion, Gabriela Gonzalez, Anatalia Hordov,
Ellen Rose Hummel, Norika Matsuyama, Lauren Parrott,
Elizabeth Powell, Miranda Silveira

Nathaniel Remez, Alexander Reneff-Olson, Henry Sidford,
John-Paul Simoens, Hansuke Yamamoto

 

So lots of Marston going on online.

Edited by pherank
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Wow oh WOW! I was blown away by MCB's Firebird. Everything -- the dancing, costumes, set, music -- was spectacular. 

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I may have missed it, but I haven't heard anyone mention the Mark Morris zoom effort last night. Forgive me if I'm repeating covered ground. An hour long presentation that, for me, was more interesting than satisfying. The always interesting, intelligent, opinionated Mark Morris and his musical director spoke, answered questions from viewers and introduced pieces. The pieces were short. Apparently the 18 dancers in the company were sent music and a movement assignment/response that they could do at home. They filmed themselves and submitted their work. It seems Morris received 70 to 80 submissions from the dancers for each assignment. He and his musical director made choices about what videos to use and in what order. As I said the end products were more interesting that satisfying but I liked that they were looking it as a new way of working. A zoom creation. I believe the hour is now available on Youtube if you look for Mark Morris. Anyone else there?

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14 minutes ago, vipa said:

I may have missed it, but I haven't heard anyone mention the Mark Morris zoom effort last night. Forgive me if I'm repeating covered ground. An hour long presentation that, for me, was more interesting than satisfying. The always interesting, intelligent, opinionated Mark Morris and his musical director spoke, answered questions from viewers and introduced pieces. The pieces were short. Apparently the 18 dancers in the company were sent music and a movement assignment/response that they could do at home. They filmed themselves and submitted their work. It seems Morris received 70 to 80 submissions from the dancers for each assignment. He and his musical director made choices about what videos to use and in what order. As I said the end products were more interesting that satisfying but I liked that they were looking it as a new way of working. A zoom creation. I believe the hour is now available on Youtube if you look for Mark Morris. Anyone else there?

Thanks for the heads up, Vipa.

Is this the video?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLHnwcllAzc

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52 minutes ago, Rosa said:

Wow oh WOW! I was blown away by MCB's Firebird. Everything -- the dancing, costumes, set, music -- was spectacular. 

I had the opposite reaction. I mean, I love the ballet, and ironically Lourdes Lopez was one of my favorites in performing the lead role. First, I think the re-costuming is just off. The firebird now looks like one of the failed experiments Balanchine had. The big feathered tail just seemed to get in the way with a lot of the partnering. The shiny material, which I guess was supposed to convey fire, just looked a little cheap. The color scheme for the rest was ... I know MCB has started trying to make these Balanchine productions more of their own by tailoring them to its "tropical" location. I just don't think it works. I didn't think their Midsummer worked thematically. And I don't think it works here - why are women in a tropical place wearing Russian-style tiaras? I also was surprised at some of the choices in the choreography. The firebird's last solo seemed to have accents and exaggerations missing from Maria Tallchief's interpretation and the subsequent productions at NYCB. And finally, they did not include the small children at the end (is the thought that they are servants and the ballet seems to be promoting child labor?) and the princess did not wear a different gown. I'll have to watch it again and maybe move past these visual things. I feel almost churlish to complain since I am so happy MCB allowed the video to be seen for free. 

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I did, although I haven't rewatched the first piece, Lonely Waltz, yet, where there were technical issues live.  Neither the follow-up email nor the YouTube video description shows an expire date for the video.

I thought it was fascinating hearing Morris and Fowler describe how they and Sam Black got the instructions to the dancers and watched and edited the submissions; from 18 dancers they got scores for each piece.  

I particularly liked Lonely Tango, because I'm a sucker for bathtubs.

Here's the video:

 

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3 hours ago, Dale said:

I had the opposite reaction. I mean, I love the ballet, and ironically Lourdes Lopez was one of my favorites in performing the lead role. First, I think the re-costuming is just off. The firebird now looks like one of the failed experiments Balanchine had. The big feathered tail just seemed to get in the way with a lot of the partnering. The shiny material, which I guess was supposed to convey fire, just looked a little cheap. The color scheme for the rest was ... I know MCB has started trying to make these Balanchine productions more of their own by tailoring them to its "tropical" location. I just don't think it works. I didn't think their Midsummer worked thematically. And I don't think it works here - why are women in a tropical place wearing Russian-style tiaras? I also was surprised at some of the choices in the choreography. The firebird's last solo seemed to have accents and exaggerations missing from Maria Tallchief's interpretation and the subsequent productions at NYCB. And finally, they did not include the small children at the end (is the thought that they are servants and the ballet seems to be promoting child labor?) and the princess did not wear a different gown. I'll have to watch it again and maybe move past these visual things. I feel almost churlish to complain since I am so happy MCB allowed the video to be seen for free. 

I had a somewhat similar reaction to the ballet - not the company. The dancers were fine in their roles, and looking well rehearsed. My issues are more with the ballet itself.

Fokine's version is simply a masterpiece of mimetic storytelling and characterization. The Ivan and Firebird PDD is one of the great examples of 20th century choreography. Balanchine tweaks the original choreography in various ways to suit himself, but I'm not one of the people who thinks there's any improvement over the original, or even a particularly interesting reassessment taking place. For me, Firebird is not one of Balanchine's masterworks. It's more of an homage to one of his choreographic heroes: 'It's The Firebird, but it's shorter! More compact!'   Sigh.

I find much of the mime and choreography for Ivan, and the ensemble cast to be quite dull. And this is a surprise given Balanchine's personal experience as a character dancer. I think it's fair to say this is another Balanchine ballet in which the woman's role is supreme, and the man is mostly there to be useful for any partnering steps. It's a real missed opportunity, in comparison with, say, A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which all the details are carefully thought through.

The Firebird's headpiece is obviously too long because it keeps getting in the way of the Arja's arms, and Swatosh (Ivan) has to be careful not to get stuck in the face. It also vibrates about, which may have been the intention (it adds to the nervousness of the Firebird's movements), but I found that to be pretty distracting. Not sure how that headpiece passed the approval process.

I wasn't too crazy about the flags that appear in the ceremony during the finale. Something aesthetically off about them. And Balanchine's decision to have everyone stand in a long line on a flat platform just doesn't command much attention. The recent Mariinsky version employed a ramp that the ensemble ascends towards the heights of the city, which was a nice touch. I'm not sure where that idea came from, but it is an improvement over past stagings.

Unfortunately, I really didn't like the orchestral arrangement of the finale. That was just harsh. There's relatively little going on with the ensemble at that point (aside from the children running back and forth), so it's all about the music. Presumably that's the way Balanchine wanted it, but then it's so very important for the grandeur of Stravinsky's finale score to be on full display, and the MCB orchestra didn't make magic for me.

I am glad to have gotten the chance to see the production though.

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4 hours ago, pherank said:

...For me, Firebird is not one of Balanchine's masterworks. It's more of an homage to one of his choreographic heroes: 'It's The Firebird, but it's shorter! More compact!'   Sigh....

,,,Unfortunately, I really didn't like the orchestral arrangement of the finale. That was just harsh. There's relatively little going on with the ensemble at that point (aside from the children running back and forth), so it's all about the music. Presumably that's the way Balanchine wanted it, but then it's so very important for the grandeur of Stravinsky's finale score to be on full display, and the MCB orchestra didn't make magic for me.

My understanding is that the copyright on the original Firebird score (1910) had expired. Stravinsky came up with the Firebird Suite with a new copyright and Balanchine used that so his friend Stravinsky could continue to get royalties on the performance. I can't seem to find on-line documentation of this, unfortunately, but it makes sense.

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I haven't researched the issue, but in one of his filmed interviews, I remember Stravinsky blaming the Russian government for not being a signatory to the relevant agreements. The impression was that he never earned royalties from the original Firebird score. I would also be grateful for more information on this matter if anyone has it.

In any case, some more Stravinsky. Scottish Ballet in Christopher Hampson's The Rite of Spring.

 

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9 hours ago, Dale said:

I had the opposite reaction. I mean, I love the ballet, and ironically Lourdes Lopez was one of my favorites in performing the lead role. First, I think the re-costuming is just off. The firebird now looks like one of the failed experiments Balanchine had. The big feathered tail just seemed to get in the way with a lot of the partnering. The shiny material, which I guess was supposed to convey fire, just looked a little cheap. The color scheme for the rest was ... I know MCB has started trying to make these Balanchine productions more of their own by tailoring them to its "tropical" location. I just don't think it works. I didn't think their Midsummer worked thematically. And I don't think it works here - why are women in a tropical place wearing Russian-style tiaras? I also was surprised at some of the choices in the choreography. The firebird's last solo seemed to have accents and exaggerations missing from Maria Tallchief's interpretation and the subsequent productions at NYCB. And finally, they did not include the small children at the end (is the thought that they are servants and the ballet seems to be promoting child labor?) and the princess did not wear a different gown. I'll have to watch it again and maybe move past these visual things. I feel almost churlish to complain since I am so happy MCB allowed the video to be seen for free. 

I agree. The overall cheapness and tackiness of the designs ruined it for me. Maybe I've been spoiled by the NYCB's gorgeous Marc Chagall designs? I know that Miami's designer is of Russian heritage but since when does Tsar Ivan wear a YELLOW coat? And a latex-looking unitard, with strategic feathers, on the Firebird? When the scrim rose to reveal the final tableau with the cheapened version of NYCB's flags I just :jawdrop: in disbelief. I also didn't care for Miami's over-reliance in projections, at the expense of traditional sets. These wonderful dancers deserved to be seen in better light. At least we'll be seeing this company in other streams in the coming weeks.

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1 hour ago, Roberta said:

And a latex-looking unitard, with strategic feathers, on the Firebird?

All I could think of was the East Village's famous The Baroness, where everyone goes for their latex looks. (And everyone includes Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.) That chalkboard "You Need LATEX" sign is always out in front, rain or shine, to lure you in if the window displays don't. 

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7 hours ago, pherank said:

I wasn't too crazy about the flags that appear in the ceremony during the finale. Something aesthetically off about them. And Balanchine's decision to have everyone stand in a long line on a flat platform just doesn't command much attention. The recent Mariinsky version employed a ramp that the ensemble ascends towards the heights of the city, which was a nice touch. I'm not sure where that idea came from, but it is an improvement over past stagings.

This isn't quite how NYCB does the production (which was a revival in 1985 of the version done for Tallchief). The corps dance in front of the scrim (Chagall's, of course) to give time for the last set change) and then we get the tableau in all of the artist's glory. And rather than static, Balanchine uses stage craft.  As the music swells, the lights get bright, brighter, brightest until all that color is saturated. The stage fills with people, including the monsters. And when the brass section comes in one last time, the young children come running in with platters of food and drink, racing to and fro as the music is whipped into one last frenzy. The main couple move forward, with some of the children holding on to the Princess's train (she's wearing the most magnificent blood red jeweled dress with a long train. I believe the curtain comes down and then back up so we get one last glimpse of it all. 

6a00e39823a901883301bb0943c9b8970d-pi

 

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