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Digital Spring Season


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42 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I suspect it may just have been a matter of what they had available to share and what made sense for programming the digital season as a whole.

The company might have chosen one of the Winter 2020 performances of Robbins' Concertino featuring Reichlen, Danchig-Waring, and Furlan, all of whom were terrific. (Watch the video at the link.) Since Concertino is only about 12-15 minutes long, they could have rounded out the program with Ulbricht performing Robbins' A Suite of Dances. It would have been an interesting look at Robbins, and would have given a bit more screen time to some dancers who otherwise weren't featured much. 

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4 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

The company might have chosen one of the Winter 2020 performances of Robbins' Concertino featuring Reichlen, Danchig-Waring, and Furlan, all of whom were terrific. (Watch the video at the link.) Since Concertino is only about 12-15 minutes long, they could have rounded out the program with Ulbricht performing Robbins' A Suite of Dances. It would have been an interesting look at Robbins, and would have given a bit more screen time to some dancers who otherwise weren't featured much. 

That would indeed have been great to see! I’m hoping for a Digital Fall Season.

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Reichlen is constantly cast in actual NYCB seasons. I don't think there's a reason to worry. Kowroski OTOH has been constantly injured since about a year ago and Jared Angle also doesn't dance much. Abi Stafford goes to law school and is really more a part-time dancer.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

I wish they could have given us a Reichlen/Janzen Diamonds. They were so gorgeous together.

They perform the pas de deux at the end of this Works & Process:

 

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4 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

Mearns is the kind of dancer who pours everything into giving the audience MORE. But sometimes she puts the kind of MORE that's appropriate for Walpurgisnacht Ballet—a role for which too much MORE is barely enough—into ballets that call for something different. I don't know if it was due to Farrell's coaching or not, but Mearns' balance of grandeur, expressiveness, and dignity in this Diamonds video was just about perfect.  

This was was the first time I saw Means in "Diamonds".  I have been avoiding it for the reasons you cited above.  I hoped she would get coaching from Farrell--if she did it wasn't apparent to me.  The role calls for a  more refined technique and the facial expressions must go.

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9 minutes ago, atm711 said:

This was was the first time I saw Means in "Diamonds".  I have been avoiding it for the reasons you cited above.  I hoped she would get coaching from Farrell--if she did it wasn't apparent to me.  The role calls for a  more refined technique and the facial expressions must go.

She did get coaching from Farrell. 

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, atm711 said:

This was was the first time I saw Means in "Diamonds".  I have been avoiding it for the reasons you cited above.  I hoped she would get coaching from Farrell--if she did it wasn't apparent to me.  The role calls for a  more refined technique and the facial expressions must go.

I've seen Mearns in Diamonds since her debut in the role many, many seasons ago. Early on, I thought she and the role were a good match and enjoyed her performances. More recently, her dancing in roles like Diamonds, Mozartiana, and Chaconne had gotten so blowsy and overwrought that I found it difficult to watch her. Thus, I was surprised and delighted by the restraint she showed in her recent performances of both Concerto DSCH and Diamonds. I generally prefer Reichlen in the roles the two dancers share (Walpurgisnacht is certainly an exception), but I like the most recent version of Mearns' Diamonds, too, oh-such-sweet-agony face and all.

I dunno—did Farrell have a refined technique? That's not I what I remember about her dancing.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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I probably should have said refined performance rather than technique   But surely in comparison Farrell is ahead  for those viewers who haven’t seen too many interpretations I recommend they watch Farrell in the role and also Ulyana Lopatkina

 

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4 minutes ago, atm711 said:

I probably should have said refined performance rather than technique   

I’m eager to learn more — what makes a “refined performance”?

I’ve seen — on video — both of the performances you mention. I’m curious about what specific qualities constitute refinement.

Edited by nanushka
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I think Reichlen and Kowroski give more orthodox, classical performances of Diamonds but Mearns brings an excitement and speed. I love all three ladies.

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Posted (edited)

I'm afraid I also have to give Mearns a "thumbs down," and it surprises me very much to write that. I haven't lived in New York for a very long time, and prior to the "digital season" I hadn't seen New York City Ballet dance Jewels for 6 years. I have seen other companies dance the ballet in the interim, sometimes atrociously. One performance of "Diamonds" ranks as the worst thing I've seen this decade. In any case, the last time I saw "Diamonds" in New York, Sara Mearns was dancing, and I was immensely moved by her. Perhaps for some this was her "overwrought" period, but I adored her passionate performance. So I was really talking up this stream, and was surprised when someone wrote to me that she didn't enjoy the performance, because she found the leads awkward and stiff. I'm in a time zone where it's difficult for me to watch the NYCB streams when they go live, but when I was able to watch the performance I was shocked to find that I agreed. Right from the opening walks, I found Mearns' movement looked brittle and small, and delicate and deliberate doesn't suit her. There wasn't the previous abandon or flow, but there also wasn't crystalline purity or line in its place. Some of the partnering looked a little bumpy. Perhaps Mearns was attempting to take on some of Farrell's suggestions and they hadn't yet been fully absorbed. I don't blame Farrell. Her "Diamonds" sang, and Mearns' body was not singing. The performance seemed to amplify my misgivings about Balanchine's quasi-classical ballets. It reminded me of how much I dislike NYCB arms, with the claws and flapping wrists and absence of classical proportions. I found myself thinking that perhaps I liked French "Diamonds" best after all. Or maybe Mearns doesn't translate to video. Maybe you really just have to "be there" to experience her properly. Or maybe I've fallen out of love with her dancing. :(

Mostly today I'm sorry I wasn't able to see the remainder of this performance.

 

Edited by volcanohunter
typo
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That footage of Kowroski is really beautiful, and very different from Mearns. Kowroski is fluid and articulate in every inch of her body.

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Korowski was really great last spring fwiw. I think I saw the first performance after the Farrell coaching. She brought a very fragile, vulnerable side to the role. 

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31 minutes ago, Leah said:

Korowski was really great last spring fwiw. I think I saw the first performance after the Farrell coaching. She brought a very fragile, vulnerable side to the role. 

Oh yeah she was really great in the spring. Then she got injured towards the end of spring season and wasn't as strong in the fall.

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I missed Kowroski in Diamonds last spring. I read all the good reviews of her performance on here and saw her in the fall. I do prefer her over Mearns in this role, even if she wasn't at her strongest and Mearns was good in this performance. The highlights for me in this performance were Russell Janzen, Laine Habony and seeing Lydia Wellington before she departed NYCB. As JuliaJ noted, I also noticed Janzen's beautiful feet. He was regal in this role with his stature, carriage and long lines. 

I also agree that Daniel Ulbricht is really missing from this digital season. He's too good to not be featured more often! I also think that Ulbricht has the personality and energy to excite new casual viewers who may stumble across the videos.

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4 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

I'm afraid I also have to give Mearns a "thumbs down," and it surprises me very much to write that...

The "awkward and stiff" comment is a head-scratcher for me, but it's always fascinating what people see (or allow ourselves to see based on the situation). There's so much softness, and intention, in much of the PDD that it's impossible for me to read it as 'stiff'. And awkward? No. That would make me think that the partnering was clumsy (I don't see it) or either one of the dancers was having difficulty with the steps (but I don't see that either). I described it before as a 'measured' performance, because the movements appear to me as very controlled and thought out. And your description of Mearn's movements as "brittle and small" was odd to me as well as I have a hard time seeing Mearns as anything but 'solid' (for better or worse) and not physically fragile - though perhaps emotionally fragile, and that's part of her charm for me. She doesn't have long limbs and great flexibility and that's just a given. This is not a stage eating performance, that much is true (and likely because Mearns and Farrell didn't think that was an appropriate approach for the PDD). I assume that's what you meant by small movement. In the later solo variations and partnering there's more opportunity to show buoyancy and speed, and Mearns does it without altering the general character of her performance, which for me, is a good approach. But  it's the later variations where she seems more uneven in this particular performance. I can see her trying to bring clarity to certain movements in the finale but she looks less comfortable doing it. I can't remember exactly where, but there was a comment from Farrell about the need to restore the "facets" of the diamond as they have become rounded (or smoothed?) over time. Mearn's performance here may be her effort to appear more 'faceted'.

People might find it worthwhile to re-read this description of Farrell coaching Diamonds:
https://www.pointemagazine.com/suzanna-farrell-coaching-nycb-2019-2636210412.html

'Along the way Farrell clarified counts and steps—simplifying assemblés that had become embellished, restoring attitudes that had straightened into arabesques, or pointing out musical syncopations that needed more emphasis. A punchy relevé développé in the scherzo, she told Mearns, "should feel more like a yawn," while during a series of promenades in the polonaise, she advised the couple to pause briefly in between each new position. "That had gotten blurred over the years..'

And this one:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/23/arts/dance/suzanne-farrell-new-york-city-ballet.html

'Ms. Kowroski recalled that Ms. Farrell began their first rehearsal by asking her how she saw the two dancers in their pas de deux. “I said I imagined them as king and queen,” she said. “But Suzanne said ‘No, there’s room for vulnerability here.’ That’s changed the whole meaning of it for me.”'

Edited by pherank
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6 hours ago, atm711 said:

This was was the first time I saw Means in "Diamonds".  I have been avoiding it for the reasons you cited above.  I hoped she would get coaching from Farrell--if she did it wasn't apparent to me.  The role calls for a  more refined technique and the facial expressions must go.

Thank you, atm711. I feel better now. I was really looking forward to seeing Mearns in this, having read so much about her in the role, and I was disappointed. 

(Also, I don't think I've seen so little in the way of neck since Claudette Colbert. It did not bother me in her Walpurgisnacht but the emphasis on the upper body and the framing of the head in this pdd kept bringing it to the forefront for me. Of course she is very lovely in other ways.)

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I probably should have said refined performance rather than technique   But surely in comparison Farrell is ahead  for those viewers who haven’t seen too many interpretations I recommend they watch Farrell in the role and also Ulyana Lopatkina

I saw Lopatkina in it live and she was wonderful. 

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8 hours ago, pherank said:

I can see her trying to bring clarity to certain movements in the finale but she looks less comfortable doing it.

This is a very interesting discussion, allowing me to appreciate some nuances that totally escaped me otherwise. Pherank - could you elaborate about your comment here, what do you see Mearns trying to bring clarity to, and how do you discern that, along with her discomfort? Thanks for any further illumination!

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8 minutes ago, abatt said:

Does anyone else find those feathers that are part of the ladies corps costumes in Diamonds distracting. 

 

I get a kick out of them even if they look a bit silly at times. I think they’re supposed to be reminiscent of Imperial Russia.

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9 hours ago, dirac said:

Also, I don't think I've seen so little in the way of neck since Claudette Colbert. It did not bother me in her Walpurgisnacht but the emphasis on the upper body and the framing of the head in this pdd kept bringing it to the forefront for me. Of course she is very lovely in other ways

Mearns is in that club of dancers who are stars despite their bodies, not because of them. 

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Mearns is one of my absolute favorite dancers, but I think you need to see her live to really appreciate her stage presence. She sure doesn't fit the classical ballerina archetype, if that's what you're used to watching. But I prefer her dancing over delicate, spindly Russian types, at least in Balanchine/Robbins/American choreography. Like other great NYCB dancers, she's a one-of-a-kind talent. 

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39 minutes ago, JuliaJ said:

Mearns is one of my absolute favorite dancers, but I think you need to see her live to really appreciate her stage presence. She sure doesn't fit the classical ballerina archetype, if that's what you're used to watching. But I prefer her dancing over delicate, spindly Russian types, at least in Balanchine/Robbins/American choreography. Like other great NYCB dancers, she's a one-of-a-kind talent. 

Agreed, although I think she's also absolutely lovely and her neck is just fine. She creates a special world when she dances. Not of characters but of emotions. And that to me is Balanchine - the distillation of emotion. One example: I went to a lecture demonstration after a performance. I think it was on Balanchine's birthday, when on the Saturday they do a double bill of all-Balanchine and there was a lecture in between. She danced the second movement of Symphony in C - harsh light, practice tutu, starting cold, piano accompaniment - and she just transported us all to another place. She lifted us all to a higher level. 

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Posted (edited)

I don’t have anything intelligent to add, just wanted to say that I loved the performance of Diamonds (and Mearns) and found it soul restoring.   I am so incredibly thankful for NYCB and the digital season.  It has made the last few weeks much more bearable.

Edited by Kaysta
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