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New York City Ballet 2021 Season


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1 hour ago, cobweb said:

I'm with you, vipa! I did subscribe, but when I look through the offerings I'm disappointed... not a good way to feel when heading back after a year and a half. Where are the Balanchine specialties, rarities, and delights? Isn't that what most of the audience has been pining for?

I'm with Vipa too.  I want more Balanchine, more Robbins, more Ratmansky.  Don't hate me but I don't want more Peck for a while.

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I can definitely sit through Peck's Pulcinella Variations in between Serenade and Glass Pieces, and I'm looking forward to seeing Ratmansky's Namouna again, but the other fall programs I can take or leave. Gems like Agon and Slaughter on 10th Avenue appear again in winter/spring. Seems like a risky move to put the Bell and Miller commissions on the same program, since neither are tried-and-tested ballet choreographers (reminds me of something ABT would do for poorly programmed fall season). I'd like to see Western Symphony but may wait to hear reports of the new pieces before committing to that program. Would like to see Chaconne but Rotunda is on the same program... meh. (I do like, or in some cases really like, some Justin Peck ballets but not that one.)

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Posted (edited)

Huh. I really like Peck's Rotunda. The only work on the Fall 2021 schedule that I could live without is Western Symphony. For the first time in a long time there isn't a program on the schedule that I'd dismiss as a clunker to be avoided at all costs, and I'll try to see Namouna more than once. I'm going to guess that Monumentum / Movements may be my last chance to see Ask la Cour and that Opus 19 / The Dreamer may be my last chance to see Lauren Lovette on a regular program since both dancers are retiring during the Fall 2021 season. Since I like both of those ballets and both of those dancers in those ballets, I'll show up if they're cast and I can get a ticket.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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Posted (edited)

I too liked Rotunda – at least in video form. One of the differences between the more conservative Picasso and advanced Matisse is that Matisse, at least in work until 1917, then after 1937, uses a kind of centrifugal dispersal of objects (Red Room, Moorish Cafe, Piano Lesson)  where what is happening at the edges is as exciting as the middle. This strategy was a big influence on the painters of New York School of the 1950s.

To me Justin Peck uses space, and combinations of dancers, in a constantly refreshing and non-hierarchial way. As did Ratmansky in his recent ABT Bernstein Divertimento and Trisha Brown in her 2002 Geometry of Quiet, just streamed in the Joyce spring series. With some of these works it's as if each section of the stage – like an Excel grid – has a different operational value assigned to it. This is what distinguishes Cubism and modernism from the work of the 19th century and can make contemporary dance so thrilling.

Also re Rotunda, Gonzalo Garcia's solo was both dramatically satisfying, as well as, with its twists and turns, sculpturally (:Jessica Stockholder, Helio Oiticica) exciting to watch.

Better to see works like these rather than the self-assignments Balanchine did to pay the bills?

Edited by Quiggin
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I only got to watch the Gala now. It was beautiful, poignant and reminded me so much of what we have lost over the last year and what we have to look forward to.

Having a professional director made a huge difference IMHO between this Gala and most other digital offerings. Coppola's cinematography and directorial choices gave it a flow and coherence that turned a 'stream' into a program.

Anthony Huxley's solo was amazing. His elegance and virtuosity were breath taking.

Unlike most, I enjoyed the location and look of the Liebeslieder excerpt. It was so appropriate to dance in heels and evening clothes in the foyer.

I loved the saturated Technicolor aspect of Divertimento (even though it wasn't the best choice for a closer. For one, it was too short 🙂) - almost expected Tiler Peck to come out with red hair like Moira Shearer.

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On 5/12/2021 at 9:52 PM, vipa said:

I've been ignoring the idea of renewing my NYCB subscription, for a number of reasons, laziness included. I got an actual mailing today and looked through it. Some things bother me. Correct me if I've made factual errors. 

It seems they re doing Symphony in C on opening night and not again. Am I correct? Why rehearse for one show? Slaughter is on two different programs. I don't mind seeing it, occasionally but don't want to see it several times a year. There is a strong focus on new choreography. I know this is a particular love of Wendy Whelan's. I don't want NYCB to be a museum, however I do want it to remain unique. They do the Balanchine rep like no other company. Do I really need to see NYCB do so many works that other companies could do as well or better?

Maybe I'm just an old fogey but I want more Balanchine rep, and more careful programing of the works.

Needless to say I'm not convinced a subscription is a good idea this go-round.

I wonder if Symphony in C is appearing so that Maria K can have one last go.  She was SO beautiful in the PDD the last time it ran.

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On 5/7/2021 at 12:42 PM, nanushka said:

I had similar thoughts about the DaaG excerpt, actually. (And I teared up as well!) When Duo Concertante was filmed with a very frontal orientation, I thought, "Ok, good, the 360 approach was fine for that first piece but I hope we don't go back to that."

I also tend to sit to the side — primarily due to cost, but I similarly appreciate the oblique view. And when I see multiple casts of the same show, it can be interesting to try both sides (though I tend to be most comfortable audience left, for whatever reason).

Audience left is closest to the ladies room, which always has a line at intermission. I tend to sit on the left to be able to dash in before the line forms. I know it's mundane, Nanushka, but I had to wonder if that played a part in your decision making.

I agree that having a professional film director added to the entire event. The dancers introducing the evening seemed so much more at ease, for one. I loved the program, but also, it's like I'm starving to see NYCB. I've been NYCB deprived. The film style added to DaaG and Liebeslieder, imo. They are such intimate pieces that it seemed entirely appropriate, necessary even. I found myself wondering what the new Peck solo would be like, particularly the climax, without the camera circling the dancer.

The new Solo aside, I've seen all of this repertory multiple times. I loved the moments after they performed, Ashley Bouder with her hands on her knees catching her breath. The Divertimento cast bursting into laughs, hugs and congratulations at the end. It's some of what I miss about being able to see them rehearse. All the dancers are so good that, without that break, without the change in demeanor, it's easy to forget just how difficult the dancing is.

I love this company so much. I can't wait to get back into the audience. I'm so glad SAB is doing a workshop, too.

PS, there's a film available to donors of Karin von Aroldingen coaching Who Cares? and Suite #3. Has anyone been able to see it? Tess Reichlen and Robert Fairchild dance Who Cares? I miss his dancing at NYCB so much. Sara Mearns and Ask LaCour dance Suite #3. I know I've posted derogatory things about that ballet, but seeing Karin coach it is well worth it. I can see why the dancers rave about her, all energy, focus and enthusiasm. So supportive and respectful. And what a depth of knowlege!

Edited by BalanchineFan
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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Donors to NYCB? 

I got that email and am one of their Friends, but I don't know where the cut-off was.

ABT has some perks on-line called "On Demand" at $240 Friends minimum. It does include some nice things, like the Manon they released last year (was that only to Friends?) with Ferri and Bolle in 2007; Swan Lake with Park and Whiteside (filmed in Australia in 2014); Lady of the Camellias (2010, with Kent, Hallberg, Murphy); ABT at Vail; three things from the Guggenheim Works & Process (ABT 75th anniversary), and a series of interviews (Ballet Banter).

San Francisco Ballet has an elaborate series of things for Friends at various levels.

I do think they all need to do this. Ordinarily, Friends would be invited to open rehearsals, etc. a huge perk for some of us.

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I'm just getting around to watching the Gala. I like the concept and certainly, as filmed dance goes, I've seen a lot worse. I thought the Liebeslieder Walzer excerpt fared the best, beautiful in that setting. And it was just delightful to see the Divertimento segment, chock-full of my favorite dancers, looking terrific. But I just can't work up much enthusiasm for more ballet on video. Bring on the season! But why, after that teaser, is Divertimento No. 15 not on the schedule until the spring? 

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I continue to like the Liebeslieder Walzer very much. For me, it's one of the finest that I've seen of the video offerings. The filming and setting are very artistic. Like at least one other poster, I also find the natural lighting contrast rather strong at times, but the intent is good and if you can penetrate this the shadow and light work very artistically and the emotion and beauty of the performance are very touching.
 

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12 hours ago, California said:

I do think they all need to do this. Ordinarily, Friends would be invited to open rehearsals, etc. a huge perk for some of us.

It's surely been a challenging year for arts fundraising. There's the difficulty of cultivating and maintaining an audience when the theater is shuttered, compounded by the difficulty of maintaining a donor base when you can't hold public events like galas or can't offer opportunities to get close to the organization (and other donors) like open rehearsals or lecture / demos and the like. 

I wonder if companies will keep the digital perks once the pandemic is behind us? 

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I'm not sure if it's a perk, and I don't know how long it will last, but this year (for 2021-22)  PNB is offering digital with all full-season subs, an all-digital sub, and a partial Spring sub with optional Fall digital add-on. The latter is pandemic-related and timing-based, but PNB has long had partial season subs, usually focus on post-Nutcracker and full-lengths or family subs.

PNB also has two studio programs that are relatively low-cost, but tickets are limited, and they usually run from 5:30-7pm, which is not always doable for commuters.  (Similarly, the 6-7pm lecture before final, open dress.) Examples have been Doug Fullington's stupendous reconstruction studies and the Jewels coaching sessions with d'Amboise and Villella, as well as tour previews.  These are filmed, and excepts sometimes shown on YouTube, but, in full, they might be able to be monetized individually and/or offered as a series and/or offered to donors.  

It's so hard to say how much digital might cannibalize in-theater revenues, but I would pay full price to see some of the NYCB retirement performances, for example, which will sell out, or a "make your own" digital sub, where you pay for access to X performances and choose among them, and I wouldn't care if they were available only after the last live show. (I've given up trying to follow NYCB's program/subscription construction.)

 

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44 minutes ago, Helene said:

...

It's so hard to say how much digital might cannibalize in-theater revenues, but I would pay full price to see some of the NYCB retirement performances, for example, which will sell out, or a "make your own" digital sub, where you pay for access to X performances and choose among them, and I wouldn't care if they were available only after the last live show. (I've given up trying to follow NYCB's program/subscription construction.)

 

So much of this depends on the technical capabilities in the theater. PNB, NYCB, and the Met all have that. Will they use it? I hope we are past the view of Jerome Robbins so long ago that ballet looked terrible on TV and people should come to the theater. Many can't do that for whatever reason and clearly many are willing to pay for digital performances. That's new data we didn't have pre-pandemic -- how much people will pay and for what.

I commented on the announcement of the Sarasota Ballet season for 2021-22 that there were a few things I'd like to see -- but not enough to travel to Sarasota.

A professional society I work with has been running virtual conferences during the pandemic and a recent survey of membership suggests they want some to continue. International travel limitations and lack of travel funds account for much of this. Now that everybody knows what a Zoom conference is like, they'll want it to continue for some things. You can't go home again, as they say! 2019 isn't coming back unchanged.

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Posted (edited)
<<<<  23 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

PS, there's a film available to donors of Karin von Aroldingen coaching Who Cares? and Suite #3.

Donors to NYCB? >>>

 

Sorry for the poorly worded post. I should have said "Donors to NYCB have access to a film of Karin von Aroldingen coaching Who Cares? and Suite #3 for the GBTrust." 

This past year NYCB has had a number of online events for donors, and/or seminars... one was with Silas Farley interviewing former NYCB dancers (Patricia McBride). I remember an event about The Concert with Stephanie Saland and Sterling Hyltin (they both danced the woman with the hat) ... a seminar on Jerome Robbins' West Side Story with Jenifer Ringer and Nancy Ticotin (who took over for Debbie Allen in the 1980 revival and taught the work when NYCB first did the WSS Suite). Some events were good, other's ... meh. They may have charged for them. They had a title... Ballet Connoisseurship...  maybe that was it. They are best when they get a performer (or a former performer) to moderate them. Silas is quite good. IMO, they shouldn't depend on the people who work in the development office for that, not when they've got access to stars with personalities like Jenifer Ringer, Nancy Ticotin, Patricia McBride, etc. Real artists of depth and experience who have something to say. Sometimes you'd be sitting on Zoom waiting for an office worker to badly explain the history of something you already knew, watching the stars nod along, silently for 15 minutes before they got a chance to talk.

Just my humble opinion. Still, I stayed until the end every time.

Edited by BalanchineFan
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I was sent access to the von Aroldingen coaching session and would like to watch it, but it was only up for like 48 hours and unfortunately I've been traveling this weekend so I can't get it in. Wish it was available for just a tad longer, that's not really enough!

The Ballet Connoisseurship program is run by SAB. I sprang for a program this spring, on Walpurgisnacht Ballet, with James Steichen as the speaker and Kyra Nichols too. There were some interesting nuggets but I was not inspired to attend again unfortunately. I think coaching sessions are a lot more engaging than hearing dancers reminisce about Mr. B. Coaching is alive and fresh, whereas at this point dancers who knew Mr. B have probably rehashed their reminiscences a thousand times, and it gets a little stale. 

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16 hours ago, Helene said:

It's so hard to say how much digital might cannibalize in-theater revenues, but I would pay full price to see some of the NYCB retirement performances, for example, which will sell out, or a "make your own" digital sub, where you pay for access to X performances and choose among them, and I wouldn't care if they were available only after the last live show. (I've given up trying to follow NYCB's program/subscription construction.)

 

 

I think the cannibalization notion may well turn out to be another needless fear. Sports are televised 24-7 and fans still go to the games (and pay truly outrageous prices for seats). Once the companies figure out how to make a steady stream of income from digital releases, they won't want to loose that revenue stream.

 

8 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:
They are best when they get a performer (or a former performer) to moderate them. Silas is quite good. IMO, they shouldn't depend on the people who work in the development office for that, not when they've got access to stars with personalities like Jenifer Ringer, Nancy Ticotin, Patricia McBride, etc. Real artists of depth and experience who have something to say. Sometimes you'd be sitting on Zoom waiting for an office worker to badly explain the history of something you already knew, watching the stars nod along, silently for 15 minutes before they got a chance to talk.

Yes, there's a lot of that going on.  ;)
All these presentations should get better with time.
 

5 hours ago, cobweb said:

I think coaching sessions are a lot more engaging than hearing dancers reminisce about Mr. B. Coaching is alive and fresh, whereas at this point dancers who knew Mr. B have probably rehashed their reminiscences a thousand times, and it gets a little stale. 

Totally agree with BalanchineFan and Cobweb. Perhaps we're not average audience members, but I just don't need endless superficial comments about Balanchine. Coaching and rehearsals are much more interesting, and to the point. One of the things I liked about The Barre Project: Blake Works II was seeing something of how Forsythe worked with the dancers (even over Zoom). Listening to a staff member reading a bunch of bio notes would not be the same.

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9 hours ago, cobweb said:

The Ballet Connoisseurship program is run by SAB. I sprang for a program this spring, on Walpurgisnacht Ballet, with James Steichen as the speaker and Kyra Nichols too. There were some interesting nuggets but I was not inspired to attend again unfortunately. I think coaching sessions are a lot more engaging than hearing dancers reminisce about Mr. B. Coaching is alive and fresh, whereas at this point dancers who knew Mr. B have probably rehashed their reminiscences a thousand times, and it gets a little stale. 

The Ballet Connoisseuship series is $25 a session - ouch! https://sab.org/ballet-connoisseurship/

If that had been a perk of membership with SAB (or NYCB), I might have ventured a look, but I skipped all of them. No offense to the dancers and others who participated in this and other programs, but I'm not very interested in listening to talking dancers. Coaching sessions and rehearsals are much more interesting to learn about some of the details and refinements in performance that I otherwise might not notice. The Ballet Banter interviews at ABT for Friends are pretty boring and I have skipped most of those, too. I suppose some find them worthwhile and the companies are finding their way in what to present on-line, so okay. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, pherank said:

I think the cannibalization notion may well turn out to be another needless fear. Sports are televised 24-7 and fans still go to the games (and pay truly outrageous prices for seats). Once the companies figure out how to make a steady stream of income from digital releases, they won't want to loose that revenue stream.

 

Yes, there's a lot of that going on.  😉
All these presentations should get better with time.
 

Totally agree with BalanchineFan and Cobweb. Perhaps we're not average audience members, but I just don't need endless superficial comments about Balanchine. Coaching and rehearsals are much more interesting, and to the point. One of the things I liked about The Barre Project: Blake Works II was seeing something of how Forsythe worked with the dancers (even over Zoom). Listening to a staff member reading a bunch of bio notes would not be the same.

Not all coaches are equally adept, however. The von Aroldingen sessions were surprising for what she brought to it. She really focused in on the dancers and the dance, as it should be. Certain others (not generally people who worked for NYCB as repertory directors) seemed to view the coaching as an opportunity to talk about themselves, what they did when they were performing, the importance of their own lives, almost entirely ignoring the dancers in the room and the current possibilities for the ballet.

and you're reminding me that the Blake Project is something I paid for, and missed the streaming window. Never saw it.

Edited by BalanchineFan
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6 hours ago, pherank said:

I think the cannibalization notion may well turn out to be another needless fear. Sports are televised 24-7 and fans still go to the games (and pay truly outrageous prices for seats). Once the companies figure out how to make a steady stream of income from digital releases, they won't want to loose that revenue stream.

It very well may:  Speight Jenkins often said that new technologies were met with fear and trepidation that it would mean the end of opera, and no one would come to the theater, and, in each case, this was wrong, including the fear that Met in HD would put local companies out of business because for under $30, you could hear Netrebko and Kaufmann.  Similarly with VHS/DVD and film. 

However, in the case of the demographics of the audience for ballet, which are similar, if not the same, as opera, but entirely different than sports or film audiences, and a pandemic, it isn't clear whether the audience will come back into a theater or feel enough loyalty to the institutions to pay premium prices and that there is enough new audience who will pay half the cost of a physical sub for a digital subscription to make up the difference.  Some companies I think will get a nation-wide and potentially world-wide audience. Others, not so much, even if they have the equipment.  But there are companies like PNB who are taking the chance.

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So I did manage to watch part of the von Aroldingen coaching sessions last night before it went offline. We're treated to von Aroldingen working with Teresa Reichlen and Robert Fairchild on Who Cares? Reichlen looked stunning, impossibly lithe and with incredible expressive legs, while Fairchild's form and charisma made me miss him badly. Then onto the "Elegie" section of Tschai Suite #3, with Sara Mearns and Ask LaCour. Here I only watched a few minutes, so can't really comment. I enjoyed seeing von Aroldingen. But as someone new to the "ballet coaching" genre, the one I found most illuminating was Merrill Ashley with Tiler Peck in last summer's City Center Studio 5 series. The more specific and hands-on the coach is, the more illuminating I find it. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

and you're reminding me that the Blake Project is something I paid for, and missed the streaming window. Never saw it.

This is why I would pony up for an all-arts streaming service with a deep, deep catalogue of performances that stay up for at least a six-month to one-year window. The roster of companies and performers needs to reach further than the usual suspects; the performances on offer need to be more than what's already available on DVD. Services like Medici and Marquee tend to feature (Euro-centric) material that's already available on physical media. What I'm talking about is a service that might offer, say, four San Francisco Ballet performances captured live during the current season. For "San Francisco Ballet" fill in any company or venue that you like: the Paul Taylor Dance Company on tour, The Joyce, The Park Avenue Armory, Seattle's On the Boards (which does have its own TV service), or some random little company you never heard of but are now a fan of because you stumbled across it while surfing the catalogue.  

I'm really not interested in paying $25 a pop for a digital presentation with a limited viewing window: video just can't match the visceral thrill of seeing something live in the theater (that's why people still show up at ballparks to sit in the bleachers even though they'd get a closer view of the action on TV) nor does ephemerality add to the experience of watching something on a small screen the way it does when you're watching something live and in person and you know its happening NOW and won't happen again.

ETA: if it's a big enough consortium with some public / foundation support the licensing and union issues could be negotiated in a way that's fair to all concerned.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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