CriticalDance Forum

Boston Ballet Sleeping Beauty 2005
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Author:  ncgnet [ Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:59 am ]
Post subject:  Boston Ballet Sleeping Beauty 2005

From Jeffrey Gantz in the Boston Phoenix:
London calling
Boston Ballet’s ‘Royal’ Sleeping Beauty
....As current artistic director Mikko Nissinen explains, however, the ballet’s genealogical tree also has an English branch — Covent Garden opened in 1946 with The Sleeping Beauty and in 1949 took the ballet, with Margot Fonteyn, on its first American tour. In 1992, Boston Ballet acquired David Walker’s Royal Ballet sets and costumes for what was a Russian-oriented production; now Nissinen is reuniting the Royal’s choreography, with work by Ninette de Valois and Frederick Ashton, with those sets and costumes.

Author:  ncgnet [ Sun May 01, 2005 7:24 am ]
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From Christine Temin in the Boston Globe: Click here
In the repertory, no rest for ‘Sleeping Beauty’
A contemporary generation of dancers recreates “Beauty” as Boston Ballet ends its season with performances of the classic this Thursday through May 15 at the Wang Theatre. Boston will field three Auroras: principal dancers Lorna Feijoo and Larissa Ponomarenko, who have danced the role before, and soloist Romi Beppu, who will be promoted to principal this autumn and is making her debut in the “Beauty” lead.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun May 01, 2005 12:17 pm ]
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I am half-tempted to make a weekend trip to Boston...

Author:  Azlan [ Tue May 03, 2005 7:35 pm ]
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Even more tempted... (yes, ncgnet, I am checking my schedule). Check out this press release:

Boston Ballet Announces Guest Artist Patricia Barker to Perform in The Sleeping Beauty

(BOSTON, MA)-Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announced today that Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer Patricia Barker will appear as a guest artist in the Company’s upcoming production of The Sleeping Beauty (at The Wang Theatre, May 5-15, 2005). Barker will dance the role of the Lilac Fairy in five performances in place of Boston Ballet Soloist Karine Seneca who recently sustained an injury. more

Author:  ncgnet [ Thu May 05, 2005 7:13 am ]
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From Theodore Bale in the Boston Herald:
Ballet’s fairy tale production comes true
Considered by many to be the supreme classical ballet, “Sleeping Beauty” boasts choreography by the great master Marius Petipa and a thrilling score by Tchaikovsky. Nissinen decided it was time to bring “Beauty” back for a 10-day run at the Wang Theatre, starting tonight and continuing through May 15.
Unlike Swedish choreographer Mats Ek, Nissinen isn’t looking to overhaul the ballet and place it in an ironic contemporary setting. He’s secured English ballerina Patricia Ruanne to stage the work here, and his version is a careful synthesis of English, Russian and French traditions.

Author:  ncgnet [ Fri May 06, 2005 8:22 am ]
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From Theodore Bale in the Boston Herald: Click here
‘Beauty’ won’t put you to sleep
Last night’s performance of “Sleeping Beauty” at the Wang Theatre completes the trilogy of the great Petipa/Tchaikovsky ballets that began last year in Boston with Nissinen’s elegant “Swan Lake” and continued in December with his completely overhauled “Nutcracker.”
Like those productions, “Sleeping Beauty” is understated and direct.

And from Christine Temin in the Boston Globe: Click here
Boston Ballet performs a radiant ‘Beauty’
With Tchaikovsky’s finest ballet score, Marius Petipa’s most eloquent choreography, and numerous solo opportunities for dancers not playing leading roles, “The Sleeping Beauty” is the greatest challenge in the classical repertory. Boston Ballet met and conquered that challenge last night, in the most luminous performance of “Beauty” I’ve seen the company give in its 41-year history.

(Azlan - got your bags packed yet?)

Author:  ncgnet [ Thu May 12, 2005 7:57 am ]
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We saw the production last Saturday, and were impressed with its overall beauty and with Lorna's dancing.... here are some professional reviews from today's papers.

From Christine Temin in the Boston Globe: Click here
‘Beauty’ dazzles with three distinct lead dancers
In Boston’s “Beauty,” three company dancers -- Lorna Feijoo, Larissa Ponomarenko, and Romi Beppu -- played the leading role of Aurora last week, and all will dance it again tonight through Sunday. They’ve already demonstrated that the company now has a trio of in-house ballerinas capable not only of sailing through the steps but also of creating distinctly different characters while remaining within the framework of a Russian-British version of the classic. This is remarkable.

And from Jeffrey Gantz in the Boston Phoenix: Click here
Finding equilibrium
Boston Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty
Like any company that performs The Sleeping Beauty, Boston Ballet has to find a balance between explaining the world to us (art) and protecting us from it (entertainment). The company’s previous three presentations, in 1993, 1996, and 2001, balanced between London and St. Petersburg, marrying sets and costumes it had acquired from the Royal Ballet with Petipa’s choreography as staged by Anna-Marie Holmes. The current production reunites those sets and costumes with the Ninette de Valois’s staging for the Royal, which descends from Nicholas Sergeyev’s 1939 production with additions by Valois and Frederick Ashton.

Author:  fromthebalcony [ Thu May 12, 2005 8:43 am ]
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Interesting review by Gantz. I don't think we saw the same shows. By the way, Barker substituted the fouettes for the correct choreography that Atkins did. Barker faltered on her mime, while Atkins executed it perfectly. I will admit that Barker was beautiful, I felt no connection with her, nor did I feel she connected with anyone on stage. That could be that she's a guest and not part of the company. I much preferred Atkins. In addition, the Breadcrumb fairy had no temps de fleche in her solo. The only temps de fleche done was by all the fairies when they were partnered by their cavaliers. The first cast fairies were much more fairy-like, while the other casts seemed somewhat contrived. Beppu was beautiful as Aurora. Fejoo was just plain amazing. What was very touching was to have Elizabeth Olds, Nissinen's assistant, play the Queen. You could almost see her cheering on Beppu as she debuted this role. It was a nice touch to the mother/daughter relationship.

Author:  Azlan [ Thu May 12, 2005 11:51 am ]
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ncgnet wrote:
Azlan - got your bags packed yet?


I think I'll have to give this one a miss. The reviews have been interesting.

fromthebalcony, I like Melanie Atkins a lot -- in fact, I think I was more impressed by her than some of the principal dancers in the previous program. She has an earnestness quality about her on top of her talents. As I didn't see the performance, I can't comment on the comparison with Barker. However, what I can say is that they are very different dancers.

Author:  fromthebalcony [ Thu May 12, 2005 4:30 pm ]
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Azlan, you are right. They are very different dancers. Melanie always appears to give her dancing everything she has - earnestness is a good word for it. I would say that about Beppu, too. I do realize that everyone sees things differently, and, of course, I am not a ballet critic. One of the other major differences of opinion I had with Gantz was the cohesiveness he saw between Bluebird Ben Griffiths and Princess Florine Misa Kuranaga. Each danced their individuals parts beautifully, but together I didn't feel that they blended well. Kuranaga is a lovely dancer, and Griffiths - well, his technique is gorgeous. (His turn-out should be the envy of everyone. You can certainly see Peter Boal's influence in him.) I just have a problem when Kuranaga is partnered. She can't be denied in the solos, but she doesn't connect well when being partnered.

I understand what Gantz says about the company at the end of his review. I think what people must realize is that most of the dancers in this company are fairly new, not only to the company, but to each other. It appears as if Nissinen now has a corps group of people that he is working with, and the audience needs to give it a little time for them all to gel. I know the company under former directors was a very close-knit company, but as some of those people have left, and continue to leave, the new members will have to form those relationships that help to make the company work well together on stage. In addition, he has quite a young group doing some really key roles. It has been wonderful to see those dancers as they have matured this year. I, personally, have enjoyed that aspect.

All in all, this Beauty is worthwhile.

Author:  S. E. Arnold [ Sun May 15, 2005 12:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Review: Sleeping Beauty, Boston Ballet, May 7, 2005

The Valkyrie Reflex in Sleeping Beauty

(Tchaikovsky liked, for example, the “Ride of the Valkyries”)
“Tchaikovsky’s Ballets,” R. J. Wiley, 1997, p.36

“… Lilac, who was more Valkyrie than Fairy…”
“Sleeping Beauty,” Tim Scholl, 2004, p.54

Now transpose, if you will, the spinning fury of sound that embodies Bold Brunnhilde’s Team in Act III, scene one, of Wagner’s Die Valkure into the Prologue of Sleeping Beauty. Call it: Lilac’s Chorus. (Set to the selections from Ride of the Valkyries)

(Because it is a private picture, the the music for the lyrics could not be included. The lyrics are:
9/8, in b, Lively and forte, we have/ Gifts for the baby/ Gifts for the baby/ Gifts for the baby/She is a Beauty. Second line same music: We are the divine light. We have the foresight./ We have the right might / to shape her destiny.

On the hojotoho music sing: We are not fairies./ We are the reflex/ the shining reflex- of the/ Valkyries.....)

Urged by the tantalizing idea that the “true genealogy” of Sleeping Beauty’s Fairy Band is more Valkyrie than Fairy one searched for and found in Helen Damico’s “The Valkyrie Reflex in Old English Literature” and Leslie A. Donovan’s, “The valkyrie reflex in J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” evidence that supports Scholl’s claim.

Valkyries, as Damico notes and Wagner’s familiar and beloved Brunnhilde and her sisters illustrate have “the peculiar characteristic to be both destructive and benevolent.” In their destructive aspect, Damico described the valkyries as “fierce, elemental beings,” and that the word, walcyrge, in Old English and, valkyrja, in Old Norse means “chooser of the slain.” Additionally, in the age of the Beowulf poet, the poetic use of ‘valkyrie’ typically referred to malevolent, destructive, corrupt beings associated with slaughter. Yet, it is their ability to both choose and deliver the slain that anoints the valkyries with a kind of divinity. Although, they possess the power to fashion human destinies, they weave with thread and fabric already made. In this in between capacity, the valkyries function as the impossible middle term in the wistful logic that means to connect the transient with the eternal world. Moreover, the qualities of foresight and might necessary to shape destinies are the hinge that fastens the malevolent to the benevolent valkyrie.

In Sleeping Beauty, the wrathful fate Carabosse weaves for Aurora fits with a malevolent valkyrie’s characteristic reaction to personal slight. Additionally, her sudden and violent gatecrashing of Aurora’s christening and the helplessness- valkyries had the power to fetter wills- of the humans before her resonates, comically, with the attack by Grendel’s Mother, a malevolent valkyrie of the first order, upon Heorot. And while the thunder and lightening that heralds the entrance of Carabosse has become a clichéd signifier for evil, the elements of fire, wind, and water that compose that herald nevertheless describe aspects of a malevolent valkyrie’s natural habitat. Further, the ‘bind- her- save- her- for- later’ sort of fate Carabosse visits upon Aurora anticipates the spider-like habits of Tolkein’s malevolent valkyrie, Shelob. And while Shelob little resembles Grendel’s Mother, they both bare claws. Missing, alas, from the Boston Ballet Sleeping Beauty, which is the 1977 revival of De Valois’ 1946 production after Sergeyev’s 1939 production with additional choreography by Sir Fredrick Ashton, is Carabosse clawing great tufts of hair out of the scalp of the hapless Catalabutte. Yet, her bold attack on King Florestan’s Palace and willing engagement in single combat with superior numbers of benevolent valkyries grants Carabosse a dark heroic majesty. Fortunate, however, for the buck-passing King Florestan, Lilac’s bright power deflects the lethal thrust of Aurora’s fate and challenges the willful violence of Carabosse.

In addition to showing the wisdom of her life shaping powers, Lilac’s actions in the Prologue also reflect such benevolent or in Damico’s term, courtly valkyrie characteristics as nobility, serving an important ceremonial function, and the presentation of telling gifts; and given that the ceremony is a christening of a possible future queen, the courtly valkyrie’s championing of social continuity. And like Tolkein’s Galadriel, Lilac and her sisters possess extreme beauty and depending on the production of Sleeping Beauty Lilac is associated, if not synonymous, with light. In addition to the affective projection of light and beauty in the décor and costumes by David Walker and the lighting design by Mikki Kunttu, one hears Lilac’s light in the music Tchaikovosky wrote for her and sees her radiance personified by her ‘attendants.’ One has in mind productions of Sleeping Beauty where the Finale curtain falls, as if in amen, as Lilac with her attendants arrayed around her softly move in place on pointe with gentle, undulating arms. Such productions underscore the courtly valkyrie’s dominate feature, the radiant light manifest by her benevolent power, and appropriately honors her divinity. In contrast, in the De Valois production the curtain closes with the stage stuffed full with the King, Queen, Wedding Guests, and Fairy Tale characters; and Lilac poses alone, on the floor, and at the feet of Aurora and Prince Florimund. One takes this sort of Finale as a reflex of Nietzsche’s pronouncement, “God is Dead.”

As a critical overlay of Sleeping Beauty, however, the Valkyrie Reflex makes the independence of its primary female characters, Lilac and Carabosse, plain. Additionally, this critical view offers an account for the otherwise embarrassing, for this viewer, glorification of the cavaliers in the Prologue. If Lilac and her sister Fairies are, for example, reflective of the ferocious battle-maidens depicted by Wagner, then the cavaliers are reflective of the ‘chosen’ warriors they have recently slaughtered. Alternately, the celebration of the chosen cavalier conforms to the commitment made by the bride/benevolent type of valkyrie. Additionally, Lilac’s actions in Act II are also consistent with those of a benevolent Valkyrie. For example, Lilac has clearly chosen Florimund as well as guiding him to Aurora; and, in some productions but missing in this one, she presents him with a sword, instructs him on its use, encourages brave action, and then protects him, a la Brunnhilde to Sigmund, in his combat with and defeat of Carabosse.

Setting the Valkyries aside and whatever crow one has to pick over the conceptual details of this production, the performances of Sleep Beauty given by the orchestra and dancers of the Boston Ballet on Saturday, May 7, were ever up, bright, and engaging.

But, one must ask, why does Lilac go through all of the trouble to arrange this particular marriage? This question is even more puzzling given the era- in many productions it is the late 18th century- she brings Aurora into. One thinks, however, that it may be an act of self- preservation. For example, if Aurora and Florimund survive the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, their offspring will be the artists and scholars of the 19th century that free the Valkyries to ride again.

Author:  ncgnet [ Thu May 19, 2005 7:14 am ]
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From Jeffrey Gantz in the Boston Phoenix:
Second chances - The Sleeping Beauty’s final weekend, and Pollyana Ribeiro’s farewell
.... Boston Ballet has never had an abundance of technical superstars, but it has been blessed with artists, and since former artistic director Bruce Marks arrived in 1986, if not before, the company has consistently sent out second, third, and even fourth casts worth seeing.

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