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 Post subject: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2000 7:43 pm 
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This thread picks up from the <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000353.html" TARGET=_blank>Diablo Ballet Season Opening Preview discussion</A>.<P><BR> Image <BR>Assoc AD Nikolai Kabaniaev as <I>Apollo</I>. He also created<BR>the rock ballet <I>Pas de Quatre et Pas de Six</I> on the night's program.<BR>Photo by Ashraf<P><BR>A review from our new SF-based writer, <B>Karen Drozda</B>:<P><BR><B>Diablo Ballet SF Debut!</B><P>And it's about time. Many of us San Franciscans have always thought that the prodigious talent and creativity of Diablo Ballet was wasted on Walnut Creek (although East Bay dance fans probably disagree). My only regret this time is that they had only two performances at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which definitely does not allow enough time for word to get around about how great the show was.<P>It was an evening of firsts; the first Diablo performance of the season, the first Diablo Ballet performance in San Francisco, the West Coast premiere of <I>Touched</I>, and the first indoor performance of dancer Richard Marsden with Diablo Ballet who has just joined from New York City Ballet.<BR> <BR>First on the program was <I>Touched</I> by innovative young choreographer Trey McIntyre, currently resident choreographer of Oregon Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet. Starting with a completely dark stage, the dancers used flashlights switched in time to the music, to highlight first a face, then a moving body part, then an invisible spin. Dark movements alternated with lighted movements, which made the darkness richer as we saw flashes of things that we had seen entirely lit in a previous movement. <P>It sounds facile, but it worked for me. McIntyre opposed elements of dark and light, conservative and radical, controlled and exuberant, into a coherent whole. Opposing elements played an irreverent game of approach, retreat, conflict, and resolution that struck sympathetic chords with the audience. Christopher Young and Karyn Lee Connell led the opposing groups of dancers to a poignant resolution.<P>Balanchine's <I>Apollo</I> followed, and made us wonder whether McIntyre had been consciously using elements from the <I>Apollo</I> in his <I>Touched</I>. The juxtaposition of these two pieces made us see the classical elements of the more modern piece and the modern elements of the more classical.<P>The stage set for <I>Apollo</I> was stark and costuming severe, setting off the sculptural qualities of the dancers' bodies. Nikolai Kabaniaev was a majestic <I>Apollo</I> with complete command of the role. Those of us who are familiar with his dancing style might have missed the joy and exuberance that he normally brings to roles. Rumor has it that he was injured and barely able to dance, which would explain the lack of sparkle. <P>Given that the choreography was brilliant overall, one part seemed a little bit odd. There is a sequence where <I>Apollo</I> does a very strange stuttering duck-walk on his heels. It makes a shocking break in character, when all his other movements were majestic and masterful. It must be some oddity of Balanchine's that I simply don't understand.<P>Tina Kay Bohnstedt's Terpsichore in a final pas de deux with Nikolai Kabaniaev's <I>Apollo</I> was lyrical with uninterrupted classical grace and sculptural poses, fulfilling our desire for a beautiful climax and resolution.<P>Wrapping up the program was Nikolai Kabaniaev's <I>Pas de Quatre et Pas de Six</I>, first performed in Walnut Creek in 1997. It features a collaboration between the choreographer and composer Michael Bemesderfer, who designed the computer-enhanced sounds to accompany the dancers' movements. We see four ballerinas in classic white tutu and leotard dance to music that includes long percussive sequences, industrial machinery sounds, and whispered stuttering vocals. The movements of the dancers correspond to the music and contrast their pristine costumes. <P>We feel concern for the fragility and innocence of the ballerinas who dance seemingly unaware of the apocalyptic message within the music and the predatory approach of the male dancers. The dancers and the music form two accepted but unrelated artforms that inhabit the same performance with lyrical but disquieting strangeness. <P>Diablo Ballet once again satisfied my desire for enthusiastically-danced and innovative ballet that held my interest from start to finish.<P><BR><I>Edited by <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/whoweare/aezaddin.html" TARGET=_blank>Azlan Ezaddin</A>.<P>Editor's note: This review will be copied to our Reviews page in a week.</I><p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited September 18, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2000 4:58 am 
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Here's a review by Blair Tindall of the Contra Costa Times:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>A dazzling, unstoppable dance triumph visits from a nearby city -- another San Francisco troupe's appearance at the Dean Lesher Regional Center in Walnut Creek, perhaps? No, this time the pointe shoe was on the other foot, with Contra Costa County's own ballet company bringing down the house in the city with a wildly enthusiastic welcome.<P>...<P>The tony dance company, which bursts with talent from the Kirov and New York City Ballet companies to name a few, seemed to catch Saturday night's San Francisco crowd at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts off-guard with its refinement, gutsiness and attitude.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><B>This link is now broken</B><P>More to follow as they are published.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 28, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2000 10:00 am 
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The performance was very enjoyable, although I wasn't specially touched by the first number in the program. It was innovative, but it didn't do it for me. Somehow the idea of 'darkness' and 'dancing' (i.e. visual) don't blend. I wanted to SEE the dancers, not the music, so I was happy when I could finally see them ! The choreography was crisp and very descriptive of the music and all the dancers did a nice job at keeping those jazzy steps right on the music.<BR>Apollo was the best I've seen of Diablo... I guess because the dancers were hurt, this added a sense of honest seriousness that is imperative in a piece like Apollo.<BR>The closing number would definetly change your perception of 'ballerinas'; I enjoyed the contrast of music and dance and viceversa. The addition of the two male dancers at the end wrapped it up with a powerful spin. We left Yerba Buena very satisfied with the experience and look forward to more... Thank you Diablo for inviting us to such a treat !!!<BR>Quelddy & Richie


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2000 8:42 pm 
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Greetings All,<P>First, let me say that I know next to nothing about dance (or Dance, if you will). My previous exposure has been to see the Nutcracker live, which I don't consider to be ballet in the truer definition as much as I consider it to be a tradition. Much like Honeybaked(tm) hams during Holidays, it can be great, but there is that pre-prepared aspect to it.<P>With this in mind, I am left wondering if I happened to see the same show that some of the some of these reviewers attended. To the best of my recollection Ms. Tina Kay Bohnstedt was a scratch (sorry, it's a hockey term) in favor of Ms. Lauren Jonas. And yet two of the reviews specifically mention Ms. Bohnstedt's performance. I don't know if that reflects positively or negatively on Ms. Jonas' dancing.<P>As for the Examiner review. I was rather taken aback by the smallness of the writer and the lack of what I would consider to be professional courtesy. As someone who probably couldn't spell tutu correctly (and probably didn't), I could care less about the political intrigue involving the previous co-artistic director. If you are going to review a performance, reveiw the performance. If you want to write an expose (imagine there is an accent on that last 'e'), terrific. But pick one and stick to it.<P>Well, having offended most everyone--including anyone ever associated with a Nutcracker production--let me give my personal review.<P>Touched - Interesting, and in neither a good or bad sense. Not what I expected as "ballet." More of my assumptions of what "jazz" dance might be like. I loved the music. And while the costuming of the second half took a bit to get used to, I appreciated the light tone.<P>Apollo - Umm...dry. Perhaps having some idea of the background would have given me more to grasp. This is what I expect ballet to be, but it seemed to lack some spark.<P>Pas de Quatre and Pas de Six - (I hope I got that right) I certainly did not get out of it what some other folks did (Apocolypse and concerns for the dancers were nowhere near my mind) but I perked up for it.<P>Overall, I had a good time, and I thought it served as a good introductory sampler of the possibilities of ballet.<P>Thanks for your patience,<BR> Bob/Red<P>------------------<BR>"Learn from the Past.<BR> Prepare for the Future.<BR> Act in the Present."<BR> -the Rogue Wolf<P>[This message has been edited by Rogue Wolf (edited September 18, 2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by Rogue Wolf (edited September 18, 2000).]

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"Learn from the Past.<BR> Prepare for the Future.<BR> Act in the Present."<BR> -the Rogue Wolf<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2000 8:51 pm 
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Thanks, Rogue Wolf, for your comments and welcome.<P>As for Bohnstedt, she was replaced by Lauren Jonas only in two of the movements in "Touched." Bohnstedt danced the first movement of "Touched" as well as all of "Apollo."<P>As for the review by Allan Ulrich, I too am appalled by his reference to the Third Reich. It simply does not belong in a dance review.


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2000 11:25 pm 
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But here's the thing, Grace, the writer chose not to call to task SFB who avoids mentioning Michael Smuin as a past co-AD. This is a double standard.<P>Additionally, in a past review, he made a statement along the lines that Diablo Ballet should never perform in SF, territory of the past AD. That sounds like a veiled threat to me. Coincidentally, in this past review, he actually gave the company high marks for their "Apollo" which he thought equalled that of NYCB. The only difference now is that it's performed in SF instead of the East Bay.<P>Also, according to the company, the past AD was only there for a little over a year and he had an associate AD; therefore his contribution may not have been that significant. The fact that his name is not mentioned in the history of the company may have been an oversight and is not cause for the writer to compare the company to Nazis and for him to spend a few paragraphs bitterly attacking both the company as well as his fellow writers for not sharing his cause in defending the past AD. I might have made the same commment but in a more appropriate tone sans the Nazi remark.<P>BTW, I believe this writer was banned once from reviewing another company due to inappropriate comments he made in a review.<P>So, Grace, there are more facts here than is in the review.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 04, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2000 4:50 am 
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Quoted from Grace - "well, of course there are! but a reader of the review only has that to go on - that's my point "<P>That was actually my point as well, but more from someone who would want to know if I would enjoy the performance or not. I can understand comments on the choreography, the music, the stage dressing and even the lighting. And, yes, the input of the current AD. I think the fact that there was a previous co-AD that could have possibly improved on the performance might be a valid point, but worthy only of a line or two and not the source of a diatribe.<P>In the end, I think it was a matter of proportion, and I think the writer lost his sense of it.<P>Enjoy,<BR> Bob/"Red"<P>------------------<BR>"Learn from the Past.<BR> Prepare for the Future.<BR> Act in the Present."<BR> -the Rogue Wolf

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"Learn from the Past.<BR> Prepare for the Future.<BR> Act in the Present."<BR> -the Rogue Wolf<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2000 5:28 am 
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This review by Octavio Roca in the SF Chronicle brings us back to a proper dance review. I guess it shows us how critics can form very different opinions of the same performance:<P><BR>Octavio Roca, SF Chronicle<BR><B><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/09/19/DD59153.DTL&type=performance" TARGET=_blank>Diablo's Kabaniaev Radiant in `Apollo' --<BR>Dancer brings energy to opening night</A></B>


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2000 2:01 pm 
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Wow! I can't believe that Alan Ulrich and Octavio Roca saw the same performance! Ulrich sounded as though his bitterness about the former AD somehow colored his impression of the current performance. The history of a ballet company's AD is interesting, but harping on this takes away from the real courage and talent that we saw in the dancers that night.<P>By the way, did anybody else notice that the orchestra was out of tune? Perhaps I was too entranced by the dancers to notice the egregious errors of the orchestra.


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2000 3:48 pm 
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Honestly, I haven't been entirely impressed by the performance of the orchestra. They are a little inconsistent; sometimes I have been pleasantly surprised and at other times disappointed. However, Diablo is the only other company in the Bay Area besides SFB that uses a live orchestra. From what I understand there are not very many companies in the US that use live music.


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 10:20 pm 
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The facts by the readers who wrote to the editor may be questionnable. From what I understand, both are friends of Pech. Notice that even Ulrich claimed that Pech was only there for two years, not three. The ballet company recorded his tenure as being only about a year. So, the facts, including Pech's actual duties, remain elusive.<P>I also think there is a fair bit of hyperbole in the letters to the editors by Pech's friends. With emotions running high, it's difficult to know who to trust with the right facts.<P>But what a messy affair this is when a departing AD and the Board President have a falling out and one or both are too stubborn, immature or egotistical to come to terms with the situation. Sigh. What is also sad is that it detracts from a memorable ballet performance in San Francisco. Other than the one review in the SF Examiner, which is the minor of the two SF dailies, the other reviews have been positive and glowing.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 04, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 10:31 pm 
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I've been told by the company that Pech's tenure was discussed in the interviews for the preview pieces. No information was withheld. It was the writers themselves who omitted mention of Pech, for their own reasons.<P>Also, past articles about the company in Dance Magazine have omitted mention of Pech. As I recall, he wrote at least one letter of protest to the magazine.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited September 25, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 8:26 am 
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To repeat my statements above, the facts, including services and payment, cited by the letters to the Pink are in question. The actual dates and contracts don't bear the facts out. As I understand it, a letter is being prepared, in response to these letters, stating that Pech was hired by the founders and received a full salary for all his duties beginning Feb 1, 1994. His first show was in March 1994. He resigned abruptly in June 1995; his duties with the company ended then. Prior to the formation of the company, Pech, while a fulltime student at the SF Conservatory, met with the founders about once a week to offer suggestions, beginning May or June 1993. During his single-season tenure as AD, he shared artistic roles with the current AD. He also taught class and was one of several choreographers. He was however not involved with the administration of the company, which became the role of the current AD.<P>I don't know how companies are built in the US and how payment is arranged during the formative years but since there is doubt as to the facts cited by the letters to the Pink, perhaps it's best we wait until this letter is published, with actual dates, contracts etc. I think the situation will be much more clear then.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited September 25, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 8:47 pm 
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Okay folks, here is where people get a little annoyed with me...<P>WHY DOES ANY OF THIS MATTER?<P>The article that spawned this thread was purported to be a review of a performance. Unless I have missed somethings, which is probable, I have yet to be able to concretely connect Mr. Pech to the performance that was being reviewed...other than the fact that he was NOT involved. Basing my argument on the fact that he was not involved in any stage of this particular production, the fact that he was not mentioned is immaterial. <P>My condolences to the company for having to atone for sins not committed.<P>And I am done...for the evening.<BR>Bob/"Red"<P>------------------<BR>"Learn from the Past.<BR> Prepare for the Future.<BR> Act in the Present."<BR> -the Rogue Wolf

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"Learn from the Past.<BR> Prepare for the Future.<BR> Act in the Present."<BR> -the Rogue Wolf<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Diablo Ballet Season Opener Review
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 4:25 pm 
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Hey, Rogue Wolf. Good question. This discussion does not pertain to the actual ballet performance.<P>However, a discussion such as this is inevitable when there is perceived injustice. Personally, I feel that the healing process needs to begin with honesty and then compromise. There is obviously still very strong bitterness here on *both* sides. It is very unfortunate that this has continued for so long, with neither side giving an inch, when it appears to some that neither may be entirely innocent. With facts so contradictory, surely both can't be right...


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