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SFB 2021 Digital Season


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44 minutes ago, pherank said:

Program 3 stuff...

We get our Joe Walsh fix with Program 3. I really enjoyed watching Aaron Robison and Jen Stahl dance together in Symphony #9 (a casting that I never got to see live). Wei Wang is a standout as well. I need to watch this ballet again to gather my thoughts together and have something specific to say about it, so I'll move on to...

I love Symphony #9 and have seen it  many times at ABT. Ratmansky is not helpful in interviews in explaining any of the symbolism from life in the Soviet Union that seems to be there. I'm hoping the lecture next Wednesday will explore some of that.

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7 hours ago, California said:

I love Symphony #9 and have seen it  many times at ABT. Ratmansky is not helpful in interviews in explaining any of the symbolism from life in the Soviet Union that seems to be there. I'm hoping the lecture next Wednesday will explore some of that.

I know you said you're not a fan of the talking dancers but in Dores Andres' MTA interview, she discussed the narrative behind her role in Symphony #9 and her take on the piece in general.  She is one of the speakers in Wednesday's POV lecture if you want a sneak peek.  It was in the last half of the interview, after they discuss Wooden Dimes.

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8 hours ago, seattle_dancer said:

I know you said you're not a fan of the talking dancers but in Dores Andres' MTA interview, she discussed the narrative behind her role in Symphony #9 and her take on the piece in general.  She is one of the speakers in Wednesday's POV lecture if you want a sneak peek.  It was in the last half of the interview, after they discuss Wooden Dimes.

Thanks for the heads-up. One thing I've understood about life in Communist countries is their fear of being open about anything, because you don't know who you can trust. That was clearly a problem under Stalin. The wonderful film, The Lives of Others, about life in East Germany, is a good illustration of that in more recent  times.  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405094/

I should add that the interviews with dancers that I'm seeing all over have their value, especially the discussions of career preparations, challenges, set-backs, etc. It's good for young dancers and students to hear the realities of this very challenging profession. Interpretations of roles are interesting to me, especially in a nonverbal art form.

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Digital Program #3:

I purchased this one program a while back, primarily for the opportunity to view Possokhov's The Swimmer, which I enjoyed as a grand theatrical concept, more than as a ballet. What a blast - as the composer stated in an extra feature, Possokhov has "...thrown in everything but the kitchen sink..." to show his Americana. What a blast!

I'd already seen and greatly admired Ratmansky's Symphony #9, so no real surprises there, although I noticed some subtle changes between this and the original ABT version; for example, the lead couple no longer points up at the ceiling, after laying down. Anyone else remember the pointing? It really drove home the matter of neighbors upstairs spying on them. 

Am I the only viewer who didn't care much for the Danielle Rowe "film" - as titled - Wooden Dimes? I almost fell asleep, except for the cabaret scene reminiscent of the June Taylor Dancers in those 1960s Jackie Gleason Shows. By the time of the 2nd pdd of Mr & Mrs Fine, I was falling asleep and praying for The Swimmer to stroke into view.  

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1 hour ago, Roberta said:

Digital Program #3:

I purchased this one program a while back, primarily for the opportunity to view Possokhov's The Swimmer, which I enjoyed as a grand theatrical concept, more than as a ballet. What a blast - as the composer stated in an extra feature, Possokhov has "...thrown in everything but the kitchen sink..." to show his Americana. What a blast!

I'd already seen and greatly admired Ratmansky's Symphony #9, so no real surprises there, although I noticed some subtle changes between this and the original ABT version; for example, the lead couple no longer points up at the ceiling, after laying down. Anyone else remember the pointing? It really drove home the matter of neighbors upstairs spying on them. 

Am I the only viewer who didn't care much for the Danielle Rowe "film" - as titled - Wooden Dimes? I almost fell asleep, except for the cabaret scene reminiscent of the June Taylor Dancers in those 1960s Jackie Gleason Shows. By the time of the 2nd pdd of Mr & Mrs Fine, I was falling asleep and praying for The Swimmer to stroke into view.  

We appreciate hearing about your impressions of these ballets - good, bad, or indifferent. There's a lot of darkness in the stage setting for Wooden Dimes - I could see that putting someone to sleep.   ;)

Re: Symphony #9 - I remember seeing some of the original casts performing this work at SFB, but I don't have a memory of the dancers pointing at the ceiling. I can't say for certain, but Ratmansky may have decided to drop that gesture for some reason.

Re: Swimmer, this quote from the program guide is worth reading:

Cheever’s The Swimmer is a surrealistic story of a man
who “swims home” through his neighbors’ pools, only
to find his own home—and his entire life—gone. Within
the context of this idea of a man “swimming home,”
Possokhov weaves together images, moments, and
settings from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, London’s
Martin Eden, Hopper’s Nighthawks, Nichols’ film The
Graduate
, and Nabokov’s Lolita. These works highlight
what Possokhov loves most about American culture—the
1960s, in particular—from a non-American point of view.
Scene changes happen with the aid of film sequences,
which reflect Possokhov’s love of the art form and give
a nod to Hollywood, another American icon.

In the ballet’s last movement, we see the Swimmer
multiplied in 15 men: “It’s him, all of them,” Possokhov
says—one man’s emotions, magnified. The men dance
with the fluidity and weightlessness that come with
immersion in water, yet there’s ferocity too. “It’s like
a kind of confession,” Possokhov says. That mad
dance is a “last song, last scream, last swim,” he says.
“It’s our scream.”

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12 minutes ago, pherank said:

Re: Symphony #9 - I remember seeing some of the original casts performing this work at SFB, but I don't have a memory of the dancers pointing at the ceiling. I can't say for certain, but Ratmansky may have decided to drop that gesture for some reason.

This review of the ABT premiere in 2012 at City Center does mention Gomes pointing to the ceiling at that point. Note also that the costumes have been redesigned so they have fewer busy patterns:

Ms. Semionova and Mr. Gomes lie down, as if to sleep, and yet the timing is amusing. They descend to the floor in abrupt sections, bit by bit. And no sooner do they lie there than Mr. Gomes raises a finger: he's signaling, "Wait." 

https://www.portalentretextos.com.br/post/o-amazonense-marcelo-gomes-em-symphony-9

Here's a photo of the original costumes in 2012: 426366_10151408965294505_1953876628_n.jp

Edited by California
additional photo
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On 3/6/2021 at 6:19 PM, pherank said:

We appreciate hearing about your impressions of these ballets - good, bad, or indifferent. There's a lot of darkness in the stage setting for Wooden Dimes - I could see that putting someone to sleep.   😉

Re: Symphony #9 - I remember seeing some of the original casts performing this work at SFB, but I don't have a memory of the dancers pointing at the ceiling. I can't say for certain, but Ratmansky may have decided to drop that gesture for some reason.

Re: Swimmer, this quote from the program guide is worth reading:

Cheever’s The Swimmer is a surrealistic story of a man
who “swims home” through his neighbors’ pools, only
to find his own home—and his entire life—gone. Within
the context of this idea of a man “swimming home,”
Possokhov weaves together images, moments, and
settings from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, London’s
Martin Eden, Hopper’s Nighthawks, Nichols’ film The
Graduate
, and Nabokov’s Lolita. These works highlight
what Possokhov loves most about American culture—the
1960s, in particular—from a non-American point of view.
Scene changes happen with the aid of film sequences,
which reflect Possokhov’s love of the art form and give
a nod to Hollywood, another American icon.

In the ballet’s last movement, we see the Swimmer
multiplied in 15 men: “It’s him, all of them,” Possokhov
says—one man’s emotions, magnified. The men dance
with the fluidity and weightlessness that come with
immersion in water, yet there’s ferocity too. “It’s like
a kind of confession,” Possokhov says. That mad
dance is a “last song, last scream, last swim,” he says.
“It’s our scream.”

Excuse me but I was not indifferent. Two were excellent - one previously known (the Ratmansky) and another much-read about, on my wish-list for a while (The Swimmer). I loved both, let's be clear. However, one was truly awful - not just dull and dark.  Unappealing music, undeveloped characters (we barely saw the Director, Tiit Helimets), poor editorial choices, etc. Just an excuse to make yet another create-in-place film. I would never pay to see this in a regular theater, even if reworked for a normal stage. 

 

I later paid to see the earlier Program 2, just before the closing date. I enjoyed that one immensely, especially Morris' Sandpaper Ballet. What fun - a real tour de force for the full ensemble! On my to-see-live list whenever that may happen. 

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27 minutes ago, Roberta said:

Excuse me but I was not indifferent.

I'm not sure what you are reacting to here.

"We appreciate hearing about your impressions of these ballets - good, bad, or indifferent"
-- semantically this just means that we appreciate what you have to say, whether you liked the ballet(s), didn't like them or were bored, etc. All responses to the ballets are welcome (within the forum rules of course).

I wish more people would comment on the programs.

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49 minutes ago, pherank said:

I wish more people would comment on the programs.

I have been biting my tongue... I wanted to like Symphony #9, but something just kept rubbing me wrong. Not sure what it is yet (the dancing is great! But the theme and music just didn't work for me). Thoroughly enjoyed Swimmer. Joseph Walsh is great, and the story of him dipping into pool after pool.. Hokey but in a nostalgic kind of way. 

Wooden Dimes, though.... I love Sarah Van Patten. But that film just doesn't do her justice. The video capture was so dark, and often I had to make sure my screen's brightness was up (and I'm fairly young). Only because I had read the program notes did I get the importance of the supporting characters (Tiit, Madison, Dores, etc.). The extras in the story itself seemed to get lost in translation. And I felt like I often missed the grandness that should have been there (such a stark stage set with lots of close shots). 

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41 minutes ago, PeggyTulle said:

I have been biting my tongue... I wanted to like Symphony #9, but something just kept rubbing me wrong. Not sure what it is yet (the dancing is great! But the theme and music just didn't work for me). Thoroughly enjoyed Swimmer. Joseph Walsh is great, and the story of him dipping into pool after pool.. Hokey but in a nostalgic kind of way. 

Wooden Dimes, though.... I love Sarah Van Patten. But that film just doesn't do her justice. The video capture was so dark, and often I had to make sure my screen's brightness was up (and I'm fairly young). Only because I had read the program notes did I get the importance of the supporting characters (Tiit, Madison, Dores, etc.). The extras in the story itself seemed to get lost in translation. And I felt like I often missed the grandness that should have been there (such a stark stage set with lots of close shots). 

No reason to bite your tongue, PeggyTulle.  😉   First of all, Shostakovich's music isn't for everyone. I wouldn't say that I'm a major fan of Mr. DSCH, but there's always sections of music that I do enjoy, and I often like the concept behind the musical passages. Part of what I appreciate about Ratmansky's ballet is how inspired Ratmansky is by the music and how it informs all these little details in the choreography. That level of attention to the music, the composer's themes, and life story, is really rare in ballet - Balanchine and Ratmansky (and maybe Mark Morris?) are the main proponents of that approach. So even if particular themes aren't my favorites - or the music itself - I still find I have to award Symphony No. 9 high marks. But that's just me.

I agree that the WD videography is too dark. I have a feeling that the end result is mostly due to quarantine restrictions, not so much lack of vision or inspiration. WD as a narrative just looks incomplete to me. So is WD going to be made into a stage ballet? That's something I don't know. Maybe it's a one off film.

Edited by pherank
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On 3/12/2021 at 4:44 PM, pherank said:

  First of all, Shostakovich's music isn't for everyone. I wouldn't say that I'm a major fan of Mr. DSCH, but there's always sections of music that I do enjoy, and I often like the concept behind the musical passages. Part of what I appreciate about Ratmansky's ballet is how inspired Ratmansky is by the music and how it informs all these little details in the choreography. That level of attention to the music, the composer's themes, and life story, is really rare in ballet - Balanchine and Ratmansky (and maybe Mark Morris?) are the main proponents of that approach. So even if particular themes aren't my favorites - or the music itself - I still find I have to award Symphony No. 9 high marks. But that's just me.

Symphony #9 is by far my favorite of the SFB digital programming so far and, indeed, it's what made me decide to buy the series. Ratmansky has had a few clunkers (The Tempest), but most of his work has very imaginative and challenging choreography that's interesting in any piece. For the Shostakovich pieces from the 1930s, it's a glimmer of understanding for those of us in the west to what life was like in Stalinist Russia for artists of all kinds -- the Trilogy, Bright Stream, Bolt (which I've only seen on DVD). We know that Stalin was a great ballet lover and kept a heavy hand on the ballet companies, something we don't grasp in the west.

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SFB has posted a short video of Danielle Rowe talking about creating Wooden Dimes [turn player volume on]

https://www.instagram.com/p/CMxkPLMB7AM/

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3zP17BNFbU

And now that I've watched Swimmer a few more times...

The first few times that I saw Swimmer as an audience member - and was treated to the footage of Yuri Possokhov thrashing about in the pool - I thought it was kind of odd for him to be interjecting himself physically (well, virtually) into the ballet. But now that I've poured over various Yuri statements about the creation of the ballet I can see the importance of his appearance. This isn't a ballet about Cheever's Swimmer or a Bildungsroman, as much as it is a kind of artistic fever-dream with Yuri's favorite American art and literature references arising as scenes in his dream. Now, it's obvious to me just how personal this ballet is, which may be why it seems to work even though we tend to feel it shouldn't given that various scenes and music appear unpredictably without a traditional narrative buildup.

The part of me that searches for a narrative structure wishes the "House to Hollywood" section had materialized as the swimmer plunks down into a comfy chair to watch TV, or enters a cinema after work (the Hollywood dance sequence being what the swimmer is seeing on the screen rather than something that is happening to him). Similarly, the various book references like Lolita could be introduced by the swimmer picking up a book and becoming engrossed in it. But these kinds of narrative cues don't work as well if the idea is to watch someone's dream state. When seen as one man's dream of American culture, Swimmer does actually make its own kind of sense.

Edited by pherank
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I watched the interview with Wooden Dime's composer Jim Stephenson and found that to be educational and entertaining. That lead me to rewatch WD and focus on the music and its relationship to the story and choreography...

I find the musical score's arrangement to be cinematic to a fault, and that doesn't work so well with the existing contemporary ballet choreography. The first PDD is all atmosphere but I can't detect much of a pulse to dance to. This approach is used again in the solo variations and other PDD's. Although an obvious, literal "beat" often isn't necessary, both the dancers and the audience members tend to react better to any music that starts the body moving (feet tapping, body swaying, whatever). The Busby Berkeley sequence does not have music that fits the chosen visual theme. The actual music relates to other musical themes in the work, but it doesn't remind me of a Berkeley dance number in, say, Gold Diggers of 1933, or 42nd Street. It's not reminiscent of vaudeville either. And as the other scenes, the pulse of the music is faint and often disappears - atmospherics are more important in this score than an actual driving pulse. There are brief sections of jazz, but essentially a jazz devoid of soul and grittiness. Again, it's all "atmosphere", but unfortunately the emotion is mostly diluted and robbed of its rhythmic qualities. So what we get is a melancholic flavor to most of the scenes even when that may not have been intentional.

Edited by pherank
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Is anyone else having an issue signing on to purchase access? I have tried several times, with different credit cards, and I keep getting a message saying there was an issue with completing the payment and I should refresh the page. No luck with three different credit cards! 

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9 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Is anyone else having an issue signing on to purchase access? I have tried several times, with different credit cards, and I keep getting a message saying there was an issue with completing the payment and I should refresh the page. No luck with three different credit cards! 

You may have had the bad luck of trying to purchase when many other people got the exact same idea.  ;)

Definitely clear your browser cache and restart the browser - you may want to wait 15 minutes to see if things clear up. I had issues with the PNB website when I tried to purchase a ticket there, so no one's immune.

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14 minutes ago, canbelto said:

That Emeralds was really lovely. One of the loveliest filmed performances of Emeralds I've ever seen. Misa Kuranga was beautiful.

I agree - a very nice film, and the dancing is solid throughout. The only oddity that I recall was Angelo Greco, master of pirouettes, muffing a couple of his pirouettes. But I guess there was no good way to re-shoot that portion since it leads directly into a Corps dance. The camerawork was mostly excellent, but I think there was a few points where the Corps dancers were disappearing out of the frame.

I need a chance to rewatch Jewels tomorrow so that I can write  up my impressions...

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10 hours ago, canbelto said:

That Emeralds was really lovely. One of the loveliest filmed performances of Emeralds I've ever seen.

 

10 hours ago, pherank said:

I agree - a very nice film,

The camerawork was mostly excellent,

I had the opposite reaction to the camerawork for Emeralds. I found it static and inert, and it took me out of the actual performance. Fairly or not, I couldn't help but compare it mentally to the extraordinary film of Suite en Blanc that the Royal Swedish Ballet has been streaming with its "you are on the stage" quality. (Yes, I understand the filming conditions were different.)

I enjoyed Rubies more, mostly due to Mathilde Froustey and Pascal Molat  (Froustey in particular brought a Folies Bergere showgirl quality to it.)

Haven't watched Diamonds yet.

Edited by miliosr
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5 hours ago, miliosr said:

 

I had the opposite reaction to the camerawork for Emeralds. I found it static and inert, and it took me out of the actual performance. Fairly or not, I couldn't help but compare it mentally to the extraordinary film of Suite en Blanc that the Royal Swedish Ballet has been streaming with its "you are on the stage" quality. (Yes, I understand the filming conditions were different.)

My basic rule (as a viewer) is pretty simple - any camerawork or editing that obscures the choreography or dancers is a fail. The fact that the techniques employed might be more 'cinematic' don't really excuse the obfuscation of the art form known as dance. The fact is, if I'm sitting in seat D-102 in the opera house my view IS static. If I'm in the balcony my view is still static. That's life in the theatre audience.

The choreography of the camera could be made to be really complex, but that's not the choreography of Balanchine. And that's not anything that the dancers are bringing to the stage. The viewer might get to see some interesting new things from an overhead camera shot, for instance - that could enhance our appreciation of the choreography in small doses. I just wouldn't want to see lots of that happening - my normal preference would be to view dancers from the front. The "you are on the stage" quality is a whole different deal. More film experimentation that likely does not provide a good view of the overall performance. I haven't watched the RSB video so I can't say for sure what worked and what didn't.

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My general impressions of Jewels...

Emeralds looked very well rehearsed. It was interesting to see an Emeralds cast with so many smiling faces - normally I would think of that as "un-Balanchine" but I can forgive the dancers their joy at being able to dance together on stage in the middle of a pandemic - sans masks. Wona Park and Julia Rowe both wear big smiles throughout their TDD and look lovely doing it.

Kuranaga and Greco continue to be an ideal partnership. Greco had some uncharacteristic trouble with his pirouettes during the solo variation, but Angelo is good at laughing it off and quickly moving on. The group dance that followed was wonderful. No quibbles there. Kuranaga always looks extraordinarily well rehearsed - there's nothing left to chance here.

For me, Sasha Mukhamedov's solo variation was a standout in this production. Loved her upper body movements and hands. A minor thing that caught my attention - Mukhamedov and Robison's PDD "clock" movements were a bit too stiff for me -  I would like to feel a wisp of mystery and metaphor about these motions. References to clocks ticking are references to time and time past. Nostalgia and sentiment are what's important here. Otherwise, I thought they looked good together.

The final ensemble dances looked wonderful - as much as I could see. At one point the shot framing crops out too much of the Corps in favor of the soloists. We all know why there are closeups of the soloists, but these are Balanchine ballets and the choreography for the Corps dancers is well thought out and weaves its own spell on the audience. Over relying on closeups cuts various dancers out of the picture. Do they deserve that? When we lose sight of the Corps dancers it's diminishing the effect of the choreography.

This was the happiest Emeralds I think I've ever seen. But that seemed to deprive the 'elegiac' ending of its haunting quality (for me). I realized that the crowd noises at the end must have been taken from the ballet that proceeded Rubies in the original program (I'm too lazy to figure out what that was).

Rubies: For sassy and sensual dancing, it's hard to beat Mathilde Froustey. Froustey mentioned online that "it was my first show ever of this ballet" so I can't be too critical. I wish we could have seen how this role developed for her with more rehearsing and coaching. Alas, the 2020 season disappeared on us all.  Her foil/partner Pascal Molat radiated the appropriate amount of charisma, energy and enthusiasm. All the playful prancing about felt genuine and unforced. WanTing Zhao was elegant and commanding in the Tall Girl role.

In Rubies, Mathilde tended to eschew angular movements for luxurious, "feline" gestures. I do love her ultra pliable, curving upper body movements. Not being an SAB trained dancer though, she doesn't have the speed and articulation in the legs that I would normally want to see in this role. But she radiates charm here and connects well with her partner - that's important here. Lot's of great eye contact and believable chemistry.

Speaking of eye contact and chemistry, we come to Diamonds...

I wouldn't actually have thought of De Sola and Helimets as an ideal partnership, but this was certainly a great pairing on that day. Like the Emeralds performance, Diamonds was really solid throughout. It was great to see Lauren Strongin and Koto Ishihara dance again, and in choreography that suited them both.

Sasha De Sola needed to be entrancing in the lead role, and that is exactly what we got. As with Emeralds, there was arguably more expression employed than we are used to with these roles, but really, who cares? Sasha danced with much feeling, and her expressions appeared to be genuine. Eye contact between the leads was handled well throughout the PDD's. I've seen a few Diamonds performances in which the leads appeared so serious and focused that the performance was just about nailing the steps. Others have written about the gravitas inherent in the Diamond PDD roles, but there is also a kind of courtship taking place - it just happens to be a mannered, aristocratic courtship. It may be mild, but it's there. Diamonds works best when the 'romantic' chemistry between the leads has an organic, unforced quality. I think we get that here.

The ever reliable Tiit Helimets presented another master class in partnering. The lifts and assists all looked so effortless and the positions perfect. If I had a quibble it was with his solo variations - they struck me as standard fare - I would have liked to have seen more energy and sparkle in those jumps and pirouettes, making them truly 'virtuoso'.

While watching the first section of Diamonds I found myself thinking what an excellent 'archive film' this was from a cinematography standpoint. But I kind of jinxed myself because the framing choices used in the last portion of the Finale were disappointing - the camera stays tight on Sasha And Tiit for the final section and we miss out on the larger patterns being created by the Corps. Also, the head-on camera positioning tends to foreshorten the images so we just don't see the depth of the Corps configurations. A few changes in camera perspective normally wouldn't hurt. In Diamonds, SFB's camera operators do use full shots (entire body visible) throughout for the soloists, but in the last portion of the finale the Corps dancers on the sides of the stage tend to get cropped out of the frame. Not really the best choice for a stage filling finale. It's an archival film capture however - it comes with obligatory "guy's head that pops up in front of the camera during curtain call" - and the reason for this film's existence is different from the need to capture Emeralds for an online digital audience. It normally would serve a different purpose.

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5 hours ago, The Traveling Ballerina said:

@pherank, I loved reading your comments about the performance and we took away many similar feelings as can be read here in my review. Historically, Rubies is my favorite section but this time around, I was a tad underwhelmed mostly due to Froustey's interpretation and - as you mention - her lack of articulation. All around, though, I enjoyed the production. 

When I first started paying attention to ballet, and specific ballets, Rubies was naturally one that made a big impression on me. Emeralds probably the least of the three. But as time has gone on Emeralds and Diamonds have risen in my estimation.

Mathilde would be the first person to say that she's not a Balanchine dancer (and worry about having to perform in a Balanchine work). But she's been a standout in Serenade, for example, because she has the artistic ability and enthusiasm. It's just a matter of proper training and rehearsal - or the lack of - for dancers at this level. It's never going to be easy for a company (other than NYCB) to just turn on the Balanchine technique for a single program and then go back to the myriad other choreographies in the repertoire. SFB is lucky to have Tomasson around to poke his head in and say, "that's not quite right, it was meant to be done this way...". Most companies don't even have that. I'm giving SFB high marks on this program partly based on their ability to dance so many different kinds of choreography convincingly, in the same season. I read Rachel Howard's review of this program yesterday, and she seemed to imply that this matinee performance was Sasha De Sola's debut in the role. That's one impressive debut.

P.S. - I felt like I should have said more about WanTing in the Tall Girl role, but TG doesn't really involve a lot of dancing - it's more about presentation. Either the presentation has the right look and character or it doesn't, I suppose. The various male roles in these ballets need more mention but I ran out of steam.  😉

Edited by pherank
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@The Traveling Ballerina  I tend to altogether avoid Mathilde Froustey because of the “lack of tightness in musicality”—as you mention in your review—as well as general weariness with her speed and articulation (as @pherank mentioned). The phrase “floppy feet” has been mentioned to me about her before, and I can’t say I disagree. 

But my issue with her performance here reminds me of Robert Gottlieb’s polarizing review of The Paris Opera Ballet’s performance of Emeralds during the 50th Anniversary performance of Jewels in 2017 at the Koch:

“The French style is elegant, suave, glamorous—and self-conscious. “Look how my beautiful foot is arched!” “What about this gorgeous arabesque?” And the foot is beautiful, and the arabesque is gorgeous. But Balanchine is about the music, about the subtleties of phrasing, not about narcissistic self-presentation.”

“Narcissistic self-presentation” is harsher than I would put it, but isn’t too far from how I feel about her dancing. I’m reminded of an interview with Froustey when she was relatively new to the company. She said she’d look around the room and feel intimidated; so-and-so was such a good turner, so-and-so had jumps for day, but eventually she realized she was special because she was…French? Which. Fine. I’m sure if you’re a fan of hers that’s both true and charming. If you’re a bit more apprehensive, as I admit am, it’s very grating to watch a dancer push their self-appointed je ne sais quoi—especially in Balanchine. 

But! That’s the thing about San Francisco Ballet: Any bone I have to pick with a dancer’s self-conscious interpretation doesn’t matter because the rest of the company is truly stellar. I can’t say enough nice things about Misa Kuranaga, Angelo Greco, Wanting Zhao, and especially Sasha De Sola and Tiit Helimets. And pherank, you said it was Sasha De Sola's debut in Diamonds? If so, it’s a very impressive one. 

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48 minutes ago, Syzygy said:

That’s the thing about San Francisco Ballet: Any bone I have to pick with a dancer’s self-conscious interpretation doesn’t matter because the rest of the company is truly stellar. I can’t say enough nice things about Misa Kuranaga, Angelo Greco, Wanting Zhao, and especially Sasha De Sola and Tiit Helimets. And pherank, you said it was Sasha De Sola's debut in Diamonds? If so, it’s a very impressive one. 

Yes, at SFB if you don't love one dancer, look to their right or left - you'll probably see something very different.

We're not supposed to be linking to professional reviews here, but to quote Howard:
'The performance of “Diamonds” capping this cobbled-across-time “Jewels” is really special. I say that personally because I remember being at the 2017 Sunday matinee when Sasha De Sola made her debut opposite Tiit Helimets.'
(The date of this archived performance was Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 2pm)

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