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Leah

Digital Spring Season

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2 hours ago, Helene said:

Cook -- full disclosure, one of my favorite dancers ever

You're hardly alone in this assessment. :bow:

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9 minutes ago, pherank said:

Is this on her Instagram page? Or someone else's?

If she is "live" on Instagram, you will see a "live" icon underneath her bio picture, and I think an animated border around the picture.

So far can't find it.

https://www.instagram.com/wendyw/

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4 hours ago, eduardo said:

I do realize this is not an easy question, and it would probably be asked somewhere else, but honestly I am not sure where. I read in these forums critical opinions about the lack of Balanchine style in different companies when dancing his ballets. I think that is often said in the case of ABT. Unfortunately, I don't think I am able to really notice that. so perhaps I might get some clues about what reveals that style or any other way to understand better what people mean?

I can't add much to the excellent comments provided by Helene, California, Pherank, et al.  One thing I've found helpful is picking a Balanchine ballet that lots of companies perform—e.g., Jewels— searching for it on YouTube, and then comparing what it looks like when filtered through a variety of styles, starting with NYCB or another Balanchine-based company if you can.  (With the caveat that a video is never as good as being in the theater, and it may not be a very good record of that particular performance, dancer, or company.) 

A few years ago I put together a compilation of a couple dozen ballerinas from about a half-dozen different companies performing Violette Verdy's great solo from Tchaikovsky pas de Deux. I'm not sure it's the solo I necessarily would have chosen for this exercise, but it does offer the opportunity of starting with the role's originator and then watching what happens when the role gets "translated" from company to company and from generation to generation.

Here's the link: 

 

 

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And here she is again, hopeful 'En Permanence.'  Above all, remember to keep the body "Smiling."  😊

 

 

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Thank you all for your replies. I find all of them interesting and helpful.

What Pherank wrote took me to something else I also read in the forums: musicality of dancers, also an elusive topic for me :dunno:

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14 minutes ago, eduardo said:

Thank you all for your replies. I find all of them interesting and helpful.

What Pherank wrote took me to something else I also read in the forums: musicality of dancers, also an elusive topic for me :dunno:

Difficult for many dancers, too.  ;)

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, vipa said:

I agree sohalia. Peck ability to show musical nuance was on full display - see the music indeed. I also particularly enjoyed Woodward, she brought a wonderful wit and clarity to the roll that I rarely see in Calliope.

I realized I missed a whole bunch of words in my original message. For some reason I was writing and it posted automatically (I type a little too fast sometimes), and I just went in to edit the end of a sentence without reading the full message.

Anyways, yes Woodward was so lovely! Granted, this is my first time seeing this ballet so I don't have any point of comparison for how Calliope is/should be performed, but I really loved her interpretation of it. She definitely portrayed what I would imagine a muse would be: playful yet assertive, and eloquent.

And yes, Tiler Peck is really out of this world. I think I'm going to start off my morning watching it all again 😌

Edited by sohalia

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Woodward is one of my favorite dancers, along with Stanley and Peck. Not so warm on Pollack... she was mostly good but there were a few moments when her lack of "centerness" and fluidity stood out next to her fellow dancers, especially since Peck and Woodward move in a similar manner and also happen to look alike. Really lovely performance overall; I'm so pleased to be able to see it now since I didn't catch it last January. Thank you NYCB!

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This was my first time seeing Apollo in its entirety, and I hope to watch it again today before it gets taken down. I love how Balanchine pairs formality with more casual movements-- I felt like I could see flicks of jazz and champagne mixed in with the classicism.

This is a great role for Peck. Her natural ebullience makes those showy ingenue roles perfect for her, but her Terpsichore was authoritative and a little secretive. It was nice to see her really hold back that character and find a maturity that her other roles don't naturally lend her, I'd love to see her challenged with other roles that go even farther against type.

I agree with all the compliments for Woodward, she found humor and depth in her solo- loved watching her recover from the exhaustion falls. I've never had strong feelings one way or the other about Pollack, but she needed more flexibility in her back to really get the most out of those off kilter battements en pointe.

Stanley was excellent. Felt that we could really see the growth of a youth into a God and his second solo really wow'd us. It looks like he freezes in midair at times and we were really impressed by how he ate up the space. He is not a tall man, but he made great use of expansive arms and jumps. 10/10 would see again.

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It was great to see Apollo again, and I'm glad to get the chance to re-see Taylor Stanley in it. I thought he was an obvious natural fit for Apollo, but I didn't love his performance when I saw it last year (possibly this very performance). I enjoy it more now - he looks fabulous, his hands so incredibly expressive, making beautiful shapes. I think he still has room to grow in the internal workings of Apollo, I didn't see the growth and to me it feels a little empty. But, a beautiful performance all around and I'm very appreciative!

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22 hours ago, bluejean said:

I have a special love for Apollo.  It's easily in my top five favorite Balanchine ballets, and I was even cast in the role of Apollo's mother with a company which performed the birth scene. (Has NYCB performed that scene in recent history at all?  I'm not sure.)  Anyway, I thought this cast was truly lovely.  The three muses complimented one another nicely, and I absolutely loved Taylor Stanley as Apollo.  I love his movement quality and use of the space.  I found him to be... not really commanding in the way that others cast in this role might be... but more dynamic somehow.  I would love to see him in this role again, especially with the chance to smooth out of some of the tough partnering moments, as others have mentioned.  In particular, during the "team of horses" step shortly before the final section, I couldn't take my eyes off Stanley.  I honestly don't think I've ever watched Apollo during this step before; I usually watch the muses here, but something about Stanley's movement was just fabulous.  I couldn't look away.

I love that you mentioned the "team of horses" section as I found Taylor Stanley to be so enthralling that my eyes were riveted on him.  What a wonderful debut!  

After watching Patricia Barker dance the Polyhymnia role, I found Brittany Pollack to be a bit lacking in her variation.  Barker's jumps were much more explosive and powerful.  With that being said, I still enjoyed Brittany.  In fact, all of the dancers were fantastic in this performance.

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Posted (edited)

Taylor Stanley's portrayal of Apollo is distinct and technically impressive. Musical. Fast, smooth and articulate. I liked his attention to port-de-bras and hand articulations. Even though there were a few moments when I thought, "I'd rather not see the movement approached that way", it all looked organic and true to Stanley. So it worked. His was a performance all of a piece.

Our first view of Stanley begins with his wonderfully fluid 'windmill' arm sequence. At that point he's the picture of confidence and capability. What that doesn't do for me is set up the notion that he's a youth, or newly born, and inexperienced and ignorant of the world. That's one of a number of issues I have with this shortened version of Apollo - the narrative gets a little garbled, especially if the dancers choose to play up certain aspects of their character's persona or 'personality' at particular times, while holding back and sticking to a more abstract presentation at other points of the ballet. I need to see consistency to really be convinced of what I'm watching (or to give the cast the benefit of the doubt).

Of the three Muses, Woodward (Calliope) imparts the most personality to her character, but it's almost too much for me because we don't get the same amount of distinct personality from the other representations. It's that consistency thing - I need to see a balanced presentation all around. It's not so much that anyone is wrong in their interpretation, it's just that the 'director' doesn't seem to be imposing any one approach on the production. It's more of a "you should dance it the way that feels right to you" kind of thing. The A.D. and/or répétiteur should, imo, be telling the cast how they want the roles to be approached, as a collection of characters, but I don't feel anyone is doing that here. There's no Mr. B to say, "No, dear".

Pollack's Polyhymnia variation is totally competent though unexciting. But has there ever been a 'riveting' Polyhymnia variation? It's pretty thankless choreography when a woman has to dance about holding her forefinger to her lips the whole time.  😉 At least she's given the "outburst" to act out at the end of the variation. That adds some humor and drama to what is for me the least interesting of the variations. ECat mentioned that "Barker's jumps were much more explosive and powerful" and that would be one way to add distinction to the variation.

Peck's representation of Terpsichore exists in the middle ground between the other two characterizations: not too dramatic, not too academic. Just right? It relates well to Diana Adam's version. I kind of want all three of the Muses to occupy this middle ground and feel cohesive as a group during their solo variations. But I labor under my memory of the Muses in Greek literature - they are essentially forces of nature (or concept). The Muses never had personalities or personas as do the Olympian gods who emotionally behave no differently than us 'lowly' human beings. Balanchine gives them a bit more individuality in Apollo than I recall ever noticing within the Greek myths. [Correct me if I'm wrong]

The heel walk in this version [at 9:39] is too Chaplinesque for my taste. The 1960 film version, for example, was somehow more tender.

[at 25:49] The Muses' handclap is missing (instead they thrust their hands towards Apollo) and I think that is a shame because the handclap is a one of the more humorous and effective dramatic moments of the ballet.

If one thing makes the 1960 TV version of Apollo great, it is the even-handed, balanced feel of the characterizations. If any role is given more emphasis, or appears more out-sized, it is the role of Apollo. But that's for good reason since the ballet is titled, Apollo. But overall, nothing was jarring in the presentation.

I'll have to watch the Stanley version again in a few days to see if any of my impressions change...

Edited by pherank

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Stanley's performance is also fascinating without sound.

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Apollo is an amazing work of art. Hard to believe that it is 92 years old!

I loved Stanley. I see a lot of similarities with the photos of Nijinsky in Afternoon of a Faun - that intense, other-worldly look - and I wonder whether the original Apollo looked more like Stanley than the typical tall blond Peter Martins type. 

Since I am off on a tangent, did Balanchine ever choreograph Rite of Spring? If not, I wonder why not 🙂

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Serge Lifar was the original Apollo and Prodigal Son.  Definitely not a tall blond:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serge_Lifar

Lew Christensen was Balanchine's first American Apollo (1937(.  Blond, at least when young, and he always looked tall to me in photos, but while a beautiful guy, especially in a series of George Platt Lynes ballet photos, definitely not a Peter Martins type:  his early performance background was in vaudeville, with his brother Harold.  In Striking a Balance, he said he and Harold "always wanted to get into a ballet company," but he also said, "See, I started dancing when I was seventeen."  So no formal schooling in one of the greatest ballet schools in one of the greatest ballet styles and traditions.  You can see the much more casual technique for men in his time:  Christensen's photo in Newman's book is of him holding his instrument over his head.  In the shot he's not really turned out with either leg, and his raised foot was flat.  But Apollo comes through loud and clear, just from that still.  (I can't find a photo credit.)

But then d'Amboise and a wider range of dancers were cast by Balanchine.  Martins, in face, came in as a guest to dance Apollo when d'Amboise was injured on tour, and Balanchine needed someone to partner Farrell.  Martins learned it in Denmark from Henning Kronstam, who was also not a tall blond.  (From his interview in Striking a Balance.)

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Petra said:

Since I am off on a tangent, did Balanchine ever choreograph Rite of Spring? If not, I wonder why not 🙂

Coincidentally, the 1960 Montreal TV broadcast of Apollo was accompanied by a short interview (conducted in French) with Balanchine, and he was asked the following question:

Q: May I ask you why no one, since 1941, has attempted to do a Rite of Spring, possibly Stravinsky's masterpiece?

A: Well, it had been done before my time...Yes, several people did it.
I must tell you: it is impossible to assemble the huge orchestra the piece requires. You also need a big theater, as it requires 110 musicians. That is very expensive and the ballet is poor [in funds].
If you wanted to hire all the musicians that are needed, you'd never find the money...That's the reason why."

Likely this was not the only reason Balanchine didn't want to work with the Rite score. He may even have felt that Nijinsky's ballet was iconic and he didn't want to get into a competition with Nijinsky. I'm not sure if it is recorded what Balanchine felt about the original ballet.

Edited by pherank

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I really like Peter Martins’ Apollo, at least from what I’ve seen on video. Am I in the minority? I thought Stanley’s interpretation also looked of a god already grown up for that matter. He seemed to dominate the Muses on stage, more so than when I saw Chase Finlay do the role—and he’s probably the closest in looks of the modern Apollos to Martins, not including Nilas.

Anyway, I will probably watch Apollo three or four more times today before it gets removed. Stanley seems to get better and better each time I watch. (I also want to just mention one time that he is another dancer that has never been allowed to dance Siegfried. I’ll drop it now.)

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Posted (edited)
On 4/30/2020 at 12:14 PM, cobweb said:

I enjoy it more now - he looks fabulous, his hands so incredibly expressive, making beautiful shapes. 

Yes! His hands were gorgeous. His dancing was so incisive and expressive throughout; he really accented details that I haven't noticed before. 

I'm not sure we would have ever seen an Apollo from Stanley if Martins had remained in control of the company, so I'm especially grateful to be able to watch this performance, if only on video. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

Yes! His hands were gorgeous. His dancing was so incisive and expressive throughout; he really accented details that I haven't noticed before. 

I'm not sure we would have ever seen an Apollo from Stanley if Martins had remained in control of the company, so I'm especially grateful to be able to watch this performance, if only on video. 

Part of the reason Stanley got the chance to dance Apollo was that Finlay and Catazaro were no longer in the company, and Adrian was injured during the run of Apollo.   I thought Adrian did a great job a few years ago in this role, and I hope he  can dance it again during the next revival.  I also hope that one day Joseph Gordon will get this role.

Edited by abatt

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

I really like Peter Martins’ Apollo, at least from what I’ve seen on video. Am I in the minority?

Not at all.  Apollo was a signature role for Martins.  I was amused and disappointed that Craig Hall never mentioned Peter Martins in his list of great Apollo's in the history of NYCB.  I guess Hall was instructed not to mention the name Peter Martins.

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I liked Taylor Stanley's performance and think it worked almost as a monologue as he developed aspects of the role. It had many strengths. Of past performances I like the video of Farrell and Martins, their slight self-absorption and concentration makes it work well – maybe the best for me. Also liked Ib Andersen's Apollo which he did for his farewell performance, it had a very nice almost improvised quality.

Apollo the ballet always has some problems for me, too many stops and starts and potentially empty places – and getting to the props and having them lying at the back of stage. These seem to get more emphasis when viewed in filmed or videoed form. It may work better on smaller stages than New York State Theater – at City Center or the orginals Diaghilev used in Paris. It seems in character like a highly stylized Art Deco work, a bit too high art.

Apollo may not have been the obvious representative of Balanchine's work for Diaghilev until the 1950s – in earlier years the Gods Go A-Begging and La Chatte were given higher ratings. (Apollo  was also less revolutionary than Parade or Mercure.)

As far as the muses (there was a question above), there were nine and they were goddesses, the daughters of Memory. One or two overlapped with the Sirens (Peitho) and could be both beneficient or harmful. The characteristics of gods was a bit unstable in ancient Greece, varying from city to city, Apollo of Athens being honored for different things than say Apollo of Epidaurus. Diaghilev's Apollo was the Apollon/World of Art movement he was a part of around 1909. Taylor Stanley's Apollo also may be a local god, the Apollo of Lincoln Center, or the Apollo of Lincoln Kirstein (who wanted to see the ballet revived) as much as, or even more so than of George Balanchine, who was a bit ambivalent about him.

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10 minutes ago, abatt said:

I guess Hall was instructed not to mention the name Peter Martins.

My guess is that he wasn't instructed to leave our Martins' name.  Martins is listed in the credits right under the founders.

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True, but having Martins' name roll by on a long list of credits is not as "in your face" as having him mentioned and singled out as an exemplary past dancer in an introductory remark to a ballet.  Personally, I stopped watching as soon as the curtain came down to avoid watching the credit lists.  I think lots of people skip the credit lists.

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