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PBS Tonight

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So what did everyone think of the ballets tonight? I definitely enjoyed it, and am glad I taped it. I must say my favorite piece was Red Angels, but they were all great! Anyway, I'll wait until the people who really know how to review ballets get on here; everyone on here sounds like a professional dance critic!

Edited for spelling errors.

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Don't worry, all the regular professional dance critics are away at a conference!;)

All I can say about what I saw of last night is "oh, dear!" The Diamond Project is turning out to be the "Lump-of-Coal Project".

From the beginning of "Jeu des Cartes" (Peter really needs to play more poker) to the beginning of "Mercurial Manoeuvres" was revealed a little desert of real choreographic content. I had seen some of these works before, but cumulatively, they were a depressing lot, and struck me especially with the lack of choreographic invention - had you scattered the names of the choreographers randomly about the program you wouldn't have been able to tell, the vocabulary of all was so alike. (It will be awhile before I give pas de chat collé in class again)

Wheeldon, on the other hand, provided the backlash needed. With a fine sense of musicality, he has supplied a ballet with style, wit, classic vocabulary which is varied and supple, and structure! Could this be the Next Hot Thing, this neoclassicism?

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Dissapointing to say the least. Terrific dancing but it all looked the same. I enjoyed the tiny snippet by the french choreographer whose name I won't attempt to spell, I wanted to see more of that. All the other pieces looked mostly like rehashed Balanchine wannabe. Personally I got nothing out of the Wheeldon piece other than Jennifer Ringers lovely performance. Not a terribly interesting use of the stage or patterns for the corps. Mostly move real fast, pose turned in and then battement your leg as high as it will go. Boring.

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Yes, alas, that was Bouder. I hope she knows that Balanchine liked (as much as one can) when dancers fell since it showed they were passionately into their dancing.

Having seen the program twice now (once live on Wed night sans Jeu de Cartes), it's what I feared. The first NYCB showing on PBS in three year giving those who cannot see NYCB live a not so great glimpse at the company. At least the dancing was great. As a regular NYCB goer, I did enjoy the chance to see the range of choreography from the DP in one shot. I found the televised program fascinating for the commentary in between the ballets. And, well, to have Red Angels saved on tape for posterity made it all worthwhile.

Regarding individual performances-- Janie Taylor in JdC showed a joy I am not used to seeing in her. I actually really enjoyed seeing her in this part and seeing that she could have fun on stage.

MVPs for the night: Jock Soto and Benjamin Millepied

(Riggins also danced three times, two of which were in the corps)

Watching the Kistler/Soto Them Twos pas de deux from a far away vantage point and then, last night, close up, made me wonder-- and perhaps this is should be a separate thread-- The piece, regardless of how much we like it, would seem much more appropriate in a smaller venue. I got so much more out of it on TV then I have seeing it from the rings of the NYST. That said, it seems, too often, in choreographing and casting, that the artists forget that the piece is being seens by hundreds who are not in the orchestra or 1st ring. I wonder if anyone ever checks on the ballets from the 3rd or 4th ring...

for now, that's my commentary.


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I hate to say this, but I was bored stiff most of the time. I found myself more interested in a Martha Stewart segment on how to make a sand box on another channel than the ballet. There's too much partnering in these modern ballets, not enough solo work. I thought Them Twos was the biggest yawn; that section with Borre was such a missed opportunity. I liked the Wheeldon best because of Jennifer Ringer's posture and class. Wendy Whelan is nice to watch because she's such a unique talent. The rest was all legs, elbows and a sweaty Jock Soto. And sorry Peter, but Maria Korowski is no Suzanne Farrell.

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I thought Taylor danced JdC much better than I have seen in the past. She seems to have matured some in her dancing, she's more in control.

I liked the Corbert piece and Red Angels.

Beyond that, I was amused at the Martins/Quinn we're flexible with the dancers and then the violinst for Red Angles (whose name I can't recall) saying that you can't change the music for a dancer!

Overall, I thought it cemented my opinion that the Diamond Project is not one of my favorite events.

I felt bad for the corps members, they hardly got any face time and don't get me started on the camera angles, ugh!

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I thought the dancers were all wonderful - I did see a few little things that I didn't care for so much like an occaisonal un-pointed foot and stick-straight arms, but overall they were very impressive, especially their abillity to move so fast. Jeu de Cartes was probably my least favorite piece and my favorite was Red Angels. Chiaroscuro (sp?) was very pretty; I enjoyed watching that. And I also really enjoyed Ancient Airs and Dances. I found this piece to be more inspiring than most of the others. Red Angels excited me the most - the music was wonderful and the dancing was too. I'll rewind my tape and watch that one again today. Mercurial Manoeuvres was also really wonderful - I almost always love Wheeldon's choreography. I didn't particularly enjoy Viola Alone because, in agreement with everyone else, I felt that many of the pieces looked just like the others, and this as one of them. I can't even remember very much from it. The piece by the French choreographer was extremely unusual, but somehow it kept me interested and I was always anxious to see what they were going to do next. Benjamin Millipied was really impressive, as was Wendy Whelan. Janie Taylor seems strong to me, but I only saw her crack an occaisonal smile to show that she was enjoying herself. Then again, many dancers don't smile; I guess it just depends on their stage personality. I must say Kowroski has wonderful extensions, especially her arabesques. And Jennifer Ringer has a really delightful stage personality and is fun to watch. She seems really carefree and happy. I felt awful for Bouder - the timing couldn't have been worse (national tv, etc.) But she has really wonderful, powerful jumps. Rachel Rutherford and Alexandra Ansanelli impressed me - I don't know why; I guess I just liked the way they moved! And Jock Soto and Nilolaj Hubbe were wonderful as always. So overall, I enjoyed getting to see a rare glimpse of the company, and did enjoy many of the pieces. But some I could have done without; these ballet looked too much alike. Some of the pieces didn't showcase the dancers' abilities very well. And I would have like to see more solos withing the dances.

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Wow -- this is a tough crowd! I'm not a fan of the Diamond project (although I like the idea of it), and I'm less of a fan of ballet on television. I just don't think it translates well, particularly without costumes and sets. So I didn't have high expectations. Having said that, I thought the company acquitted itself quite well. The dancing was very good. The interviews and backstage stuff was well put together, and provided interesting insights. Martins, I thought, came across very well, despite Beverly Sills fawning, etc. At the very least, he comes across as someone who is willing to put himself on the line, let the chips fall where they may.

Some of the ballets that were presented -- Ancient Airs and Dances, Mercurial Manoeuvres, and Red Angels -- have been among the very few that I've liked in the past. Despite being a jazz fan, I've detested Them Twos. I don't like score or the choreography. Neverthless, I agree the Kistler/Soto pdd was much more successful on television than at the NYST. I had the same thought as Amanda and find it interesting. Is it this piece, in particular, or is it a bigger issue about ballet, how it relays intimacy to the audience and how it holds -- or doesn't hold -- the stage.

I'd also agree that many of the pieces look similar, and it is one reason I really hate to see a full night of Diamond project ballets. (I think it is much more appealling to set them in a regular repertory evening.) But why is it that they look so much alike?

The most obvious reasons are lack of costumes and set and the fact that they usually employ fewer dancers, But it seems to be more than that, and because I'm not an expert in choregraphy I can't really put my finger on it.

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For me Red Angels was the standout. Dove had a wonderful sense of juxtaposition...what a loss...

Aside from enjoying the dancing, I liked bits and pieces of many of the works, but was left wondering why choreographers can't/won't use a 'choreographic editor', much like authors make use of? It often appears that few have the ability to edit and tighten their work. How and when to use repetition, cutting the extraneous, etc. are all skills that most of the choreographers appeared to lack. Several of these works could really shine with some editing.

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Justafan, to answer your question on choreography, it appears to me that the contemporary choreographers, at least most of them, seem to have a very limited movement vocabulary. It all looks the same because it is all the same. Gimmicky, quirky, whatever, in order to try and make it look different, but it all comes down to still looking the same. (I am not speaking specifically of last night's performance, as I have not seen it all yet, only bits and pieces, none of which attracted my interest enough to make me settle down and watch it. I did not see the last hour at all.)

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I only watched about the first 1.5 hours, but it does all look the same. Martins definately does not have the talent Balanchine has, and it seems a lot of the choreographers in the Diamond Project are more interested in being Balanchine II then being themselves.

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I think Miss Leigh's explaination of the choreographic similarites summed things up well! It's kind of like that "lets all be different together" attitude. I do wish there had been a little more variety though; surely not all the Diamond Project pieces look so similar...?

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Jeu de Cartes, with its gaudy new costumes, is too busy a ballet to look good on television. I could imagine thousands of viewers tuning out a couple of minutes through it. What I couldn't imagine was that at least one would be heading for Martha Stewart's sandbox.

Some of the excerpts after the first intermission came off rather well, I thought, notably Red Angels and Ancient Airs and Dances. The latter is a very good ballet which should be seen in its entirety. Starting off Them Twos with the "Horror" section made no sense, but the dancers looked good as they did throughout the night. Chiaroscuro looked okay but looks better in the theater. The snippet from Viola Alone was fine and a snippet is all I can take from La Stravaganza, by Angelin Preljocaj. As I said on the booing-at-the-ballet thread, I felt like booing it in 1997 but didn't, and now I'm sorry, because they're bringing it back.

Before the second intermission last night, it's true that everything was looking very much alike -- but some of that was because we were seeing excerpts. I've seen all these works in their entirety, and they don't look as much alike as they did on the broadcast. Even an evening of excerpts from the Tchaikovsky repertory would start looking alike after a while.

Mercurial Maneouvres is not my favorite Wheeldon ballet, but it deserves to be seen under better conditions and not at the end of such a long night -- one hour too long, IMO. Incidentally, a friend of mine says that was Lindy Mandradjieff, not Ashley Bouder, who fell down. I couldn't tell.

I love Andrea Quinn's conducting, and she talks just like Julie Andrews. Maurice Kaplow and guest conductor Robert Sadin were fine. But it's too bad NYCB couldn't have found find a spot on the show for their venerable principal condoctor, Hugo Fiorato.

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Returning to the appearance of the dancers for a moment, I must say that I was appalled, if not shocked, by the failures in technique which have made major inroads into the standard of the company, corps, soloists, and principals alike. Sloppy finishes, bad fifth positions, and poor epaulement are now endemic to this company, and I was trained Balanchine! It was very disappointing.

Normally, I take falls as just something that happens, and count them neither one way nor the other, but Bouder's fall caused me to think, momentarily: "Ah, is that why classicism doesn't occur on this program; this company can't handle it anymore!" Now THAT was a shock, that thought!

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My video ran out just after the first intermission:( I wasn't home so I missed the rest of the program. Do you think it will be released on video? I'm coming to NYC in late June, maybe I could check their gift shop or the Ballet Company boutique? From your posts it doesn't sound like it was the greatest program, but I'm still curious... would I be better off just buying a Balanchine library video instead?

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Farell Fan, this is exactly the thought that I had... thousands of people tuning out during the first few minutes.

I didn't tune out but recorded the whole thing instead and was rewarded with ancient airs and dances and a few other beautiful segments. I was a little shy about making any comments on it since I didn't enjoy much of it... but now that I have read everyones comments I see that my impressions are not too different from everyone else. That is encouraging since I am so new this.

I was very pleased to see a very fine perfomance of a portion of Swan Lake in Buckingham palace at the Queens celebration just two days later. Now, that HAD some viewers... I don't think many people tuned out of that one. It was a wonderful celebration and a very nice showcase for ballet. Really wonderful.. Speaking of cards, I think the Queen really trumped the New York performance, although it was quite interesting for me to see the New York Balet company for the very first time. Very interesting to see what they are doing, so I am grateful to PBS for that.

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I saw the program, and really enjoyed Red Angels as well as mercurial manouevres. Although Ashley Bouder fell in MM, I thought she was a beautiful dancer, and loved the stretched, full of energy lines she has. There were some other sections of the ballets that I enjoyed, but found myself slightly bored as well. I must say that I cringe at the sight of Jock Soto. The man has absolutely no expression, and doesnt seem to care on his appearance on stage, I dont care if you are the best partner in the company(which he is very good, but I dont believe the best) Ive seen non dancers lift girls for shows, but who would put a football player on State Theatre's stage? I think it is time for him to move on. I rewatched the tape the other day...and incidentally fast forwarded the tape every time he was on stage, I couldnt bear to watch him.

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