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Digital Spring Season


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1 hour 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. 

Mearns is very special and unique, but she’s not very capable of subtlety, which I think puts a lot of people off. Last spring she gave for me the two best performances of the year (waltz girl in Serenade, Slaughter on Tenth Ave) and then in the fall the very worst (Green girl in DAAG). I agree she needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated. She’s always at least interesting to watch, which even when she’s not well cast for a role is more than what you can say for certain other members of the company. 

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17 hours ago, canbelto said:

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

One of the things I enjoy about NYCB is the interpretive and stylistic variety its ballerinas bring to some of the repertory's iconic roles. Bouder and Reichlen's Liberty Bells couldn't be more different, but I think they are both valid readings and I for one would be happy to see either again. Ditto Kowroski, Mearns, and Reichlen's Titania. And ditto Hyltin, Gerrity, and Lovette in Stravinsky Violin Concerto (Aria II). Or Stanley and Danchig-Waring's Apollos.

Of course there are misfires—as there were even in Balanchine's day—and there are interpretations that I prefer, but I'm not going to complain about the variety the company's current deep bench can serve up.

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13 hours ago, pherank said:

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.

For example, in the video of Reichlen and Janzen, the opening steps are broad and strongly crossed, despite the tiny stage at the Guggenheim. These days this is the standard approach. Mearns' walk was much smaller, and Janzen adjusted himself to her. Farrell's steps were also quite small, and that looked just fine on her pear-shaped body, but I don't think it works for Mearns, given the "solidity" of her build. I would rather she work to her strengths.

13 hours ago, pherank said:

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..'

I wasn't thinking of the polonaise, but in comparing the partnering in the section that overlaps with the Kowroski-Angle video, it did seem to me that when emphazing positions, Mearns and Janzen slammed to a halt each time, and so the dancing did not appear fluent or effortless. To me Mearns looked too contained this time, with the exception of her head and hands, which she allowed to flop around a bit. I can see how this would come across as awkwardness or lack of refinement.

13 hours ago, dirac said:

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.

Again, looking down a lot in order to appear "vulnerable" probably isn't the best approach for Mearns. She doesn't have Farrell's tiny head and long neck.

What bothered me more, and more in Janzen than in Mearns, was the stiffness in the upper chest. Unlike Kowroski and Angle, whose movement seemed to begin low down in the core and whose arms moved like extensions of their backs, Janzen's arms in particular had a shallow movement quality that didn't seem especially connected to his core. I realize that he probably has a very high center of gravity, but surely so does Kowroski. Mearns and Janzen came nowhere close to the serene control of Kowroski and Angle. Call this modern dancer's bias, but I find it very difficult to enjoy dancers who lack a plush centeredness.

2 hours ago, JuliaJ said:

I prefer her dancing over delicate, spindly Russian types, at least in Balanchine/Robbins/American choreography.

No argument there. Russians were responsible for the atrocious "Diamonds" I've seen in recent years.

Again, I need to emphasize that I came to this stream as someone who's been an evangelist for Mearns in "Diamonds." But I came away disappointed. The sweep and the magic I remember weren't there.

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If you have Amazon Prime Video you have free access to the Mariinsky''s performance of Jewels, which includes Lopatkina in Diamonds.  I don't think there could be two more different body or personality types than Mearns and Lopatkina in Diamonds.

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2 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

For example, in the video of Reichlen and Janzen, the opening steps are broad and strongly crossed, despite the tiny stage at the Guggenheim. These days this is the standard approach. Mearns' walk was much smaller, and Janzen adjusted himself to her. Farrell's steps were also quite small, and that looked just fine on her pear-shaped body, but I don't think it works for Mearns, given the "solidity" of her build. I would rather she work to her strengths.

You can also watch Reichlen and Janzen navigate those opening steps in an "Anatomy of a Dance" video, with a commentary on them by Reichlen. (I believe that this performance would have taken place before Farrell began coaching the role at NYCB.) 

And here's Farrell for comparison:

 

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1 hour ago, abatt said:

If you have Amazon Prime Video you have free access to the Mariinsky''s performance of Jewels, which includes Lopatkina in Diamonds.

You don't even need Amazon Prime. The Mariinsky's Jewels has been on the EuroArts You Tube channel for years. The only confusing bit is that the cover photos for Rubies and Diamonds are switched.

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16 hours ago, dirac said:

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.)

I saw Lopatkina in it live and she was wonderful. 

Loved the C.Colbert observation!!. I must look for it when I watch "It Happened One Night" again (for the umpteenth time). Happy to know we are on the same page with Lopatkina.

 

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I think if you Youtube search for "Lopatkina Zelensky Diamonds," the video comes up in 2 parts. I compared the versions years ago, and I think this is a different performance than the one that appears on the Mariinsky DVD. 

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Posted (edited)

Years ago a more recent Lopatkina Diamonds appeared on youtube (I think with Ivanchenko) and it had an extraordinarily distilled quality that I found ....well...hard to put into words...but somehow profound. Unfortunately, it disappeared quickly....

i loved Mearns’s Diamonds when I saw it many moons ago though I heard strong criticisms from others that know more about Balanchine than I and have more exact memories of others (Farrell) in the role — I loved the passion, the power, even (if not especially) the exaggerations. I also enjoyed this televised performance and agree that it was more restrained which has its own beauty.  I admit, though, that I was more ‘wowed’ when I saw her dance live whether because the technology creates a veil between the performance and the viewer or because I preferred the more over-the-top approach she took then  or because she is indeed still absorbing some of the changes Farrell’s coaching brought to the performance and we can expect everything to be more integrated in future....

I also am LOVING this digital season. And as a non New Yorker, I am grateful that it gives me an opportunity to see much that I never would otherwise.

Edited by Drew
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20 hours ago, cobweb said:

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!

Cobweb, on Friday afternoon (Pacific Time) I can re-watch the video and get back to you. Thursday was a day that did not go as planned...

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Watching the Mearns-Janzen Diamonds again, I don't know if it's the way the music was recorded, or just how it's coming out through my computer speakers, but I find the balance of the sections off. The grandeur and mournfulness of the music, as heard in the brass section, seems muted, while the strings are more prominent than I've ever noticed in the theatre. If they do a digital season that's planned as such, I hope they give proper attention to the music. 

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

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Do Not Discuss The Discussion or Each Other

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Perhaps it would be helpful if you explained with some examples what constitutes "discussing the discussion". I have been on this board for years, and maybe I'm just stupid, but I've never understood what is meant by "discussing the discussion", though you use that term as if it were perfectly transparent.

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This was my first time to see Janzen in anything, and I really enjoyed his performance.  His jete manege, and turns in a la seconde were nice and clean, and I enjoyed his "princely" presence. 

I have a question for those of you with great historical knowledge about Balanchine's choreography (which seems to be a lot of you).  About five years ago, I started noticing in video clips that NYCB ballerinas begin their chaine turns with the arms in 2nd and only pull them in to 1st position after the first few rotations.  I think the first person I saw do this was Ashley Bouder in a video of her Dew Drop.  Then I saw a video of Tiler Peck who used the same trick in Tchai Pas (I think), and know I feel like I'm seeing it everywhere.  When/where did this trend start, or was it always present?  I danced with a company whose rep was predominantly Balanchine, and I never saw anyone coached to use their arms this way in chaine turns.  Just curious!

2 minutes ago, kbarber said:

Perhaps it would be helpful if you explained with some examples what constitutes "discussing the discussion". I have been on this board for years, and maybe I'm just stupid, but I've never understood what is meant by "discussing the discussion", though you use that term as if it were perfectly transparent.

Thank you for asking this question!

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19 minutes ago, kbarber said:

Perhaps it would be helpful if you explained with some examples what constitutes "discussing the discussion". I have been on this board for years, and maybe I'm just stupid, but I've never understood what is meant by "discussing the discussion", though you use that term as if it were perfectly transparent.

 

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It's acceptable to ask someone what they mean by something they've posted -- and it's up to them whether or not to respond.  It's acceptable to point out when facts are wrong (citing your source).  It's borderline, but it's also acceptable to ask someone what their source is, if they haven't cited one.  However, they have no obligation to respond.  We can't be everywhere, so if you want the official news policy to be enforced, reporting the post is faster.

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23 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

For example, in the video of Reichlen and Janzen, the opening steps are broad and strongly crossed, despite the tiny stage at the Guggenheim. These days this is the standard approach. Mearns' walk was much smaller, and Janzen adjusted himself to her. Farrell's steps were also quite small, and that looked just fine on her pear-shaped body, but I don't think it works for Mearns, given the "solidity" of her build. I would rather she work to her strengths.

OK. I've watched "small steps" and "big steps" versions of the opening measures of the Diamonds pas de deux about a gazillion times now, and I think I'm firmly in the "small steps" camp, regardless of who the dancers are. (I'm also chagrined that I never noticed the difference before, but now that it's been pointed out, I can't unsee it. But that's a good thing, so many thanks, volcanohunter!)  To me the "small steps" version suggests a kind of intimacy, as if this royal encounter were taking place in a private realm, rather than in front of the whole court. I think it adds to the perfume of the whole pas, though of course one's mileage may vary.

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No two Sara Mearns performances are ever alike. I've seen her do the diagonal with large grand steps as well. She's an unpredictable but very thrilling dancer that way.

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4 hours ago, nicolezly said:

The most interesting Diamonds pdd footage I have seen lately are that of Myriam Ould-Braham:

 

 

 

 

She is beautiful !

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Posted (edited)
On 5/21/2020 at 12:10 PM, Leah said:

Mearns is very special and unique, but she’s not very capable of subtlety, which I think puts a lot of people off. Last spring she gave for me the two best performances of the year (waltz girl in Serenade, Slaughter on Tenth Ave) and then in the fall the very worst (Green girl in DAAG). I agree she needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated. She’s always at least interesting to watch, which even when she’s not well cast for a role is more than what you can say for certain other members of the company. 

I love Sara Mearns' dancing as well. I've seen her subtlety in Mozartiana. She is the picture of simplicity, rising on pointe with bourreés straight down the center of the stage. I'm scratching my head at this entire thread. I find it hard to believe we were watching the same Diamonds, though sometimes the ballet itself is just not one of my favorites.

I also love her boldness in Walpurgisnacht.

Edited by BalanchineFan
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5 hours ago, cobweb said:

Watching the Mearns-Janzen Diamonds again, I don't know if it's the way the music was recorded, or just how it's coming out through my computer speakers, but I find the balance of the sections off. The grandeur and mournfulness of the music, as heard in the brass section, seems muted, while the strings are more prominent than I've ever noticed in the theatre. If they do a digital season that's planned as such, I hope they give proper attention to the music. 

It could be an issue with the platform you're using. If you have Apple TV and YouTube, I suggest using it to view the season. The sound is better and more synchronized with the movement. I had some trouble with pages loading when I watched the digital season via Facebook on my computer. Everything was off, or it would freeze and then speed up to catch up. Ughh.

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1 minute ago, BalanchineFan said:

I love Sara Mearns' dancing as well. I've seen her subtlety in Mozartiana. She is the picture of simplicity, rising on pointe with bourreés straight down the center of the stage. I'm scratching my head at this entire thread. I find it hard to believe we were watching the same Diamonds, though sometimes the ballet itself is just not one of my favorites.

I also love her boldness in Walpurghisnacht.

I do love her in Mozartiana as well, and that’s a role people here seem to dislike for her. I wouldn’t call it subtle though, she brings a dramatic intensity to it that others don’t. Anyway, I’m always excited to see her on the casting sheet, just to see what she’ll do.

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Sitting her enjoying the online streaming of Diamonds one last time, I am in continual awe of Sara Mearns lack of circumscription, leaving everything she has on the stage.  I love Teresa Reichlan, equally as well for the same reasons.   But we can only have one ballerina this go around.  Russell Janzen is a handsome, generous partner and he could only be proud of this performance.

And not to leave out the corps de ballet, their effort was stellar with great energy and synchronistic delicacy.  I do miss Lydia Wellington!  I also am a huge fan of Laine Habony.  Her smile is not innocent or childlike but one of a mature performer, showing us yearning and passion greatly matched by big wonderful movements with speed and musicality (she is 5'7" and should be doing tall girl roles).  I love her hands!  Reminds me of stories about Balanchine saying "imagine a big jewel on your finger, weighing it down".   Jaqueline Bologna also has that same resplendent presence.  I missed seeing Aaron Sanz in this airing.   Another regal performer in Diamonds past.

And now to wait for tonight's new program!

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On 5/20/2020 at 3:05 PM, Dale said:

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

 

Thank you for this Dale. What a great evening. Having played in orchestra as a child I always appreciate Litton's perspective, and the dancing is glorious. It's amazing to see Reichlen and Janzen, such long, tall dancers, negotiate the small space with such amplitude.

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