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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 7:05 am 
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Posts: 119
Location: So. California
I would like to add a congratulations to Lindy Mandradjieff for her solid performance in "Polyphonia" . She was replacing Ms. Weese and I was glad to see her out in front. We have been watching her since her departure from SFB and glad to know she is dancing well at NYCB!
I tend to agree more with Azlan regarding "Thou Swell". Yes, it was kischy and even repetitious in craft. But I guess I found it enjoyable because I believe much of the Richard Rogers music is a treasure and the band with the duo singers was superb. It did give an outlet for these dancers to move in a different style and even time element. The costuming and sets were drop dead. So for me, just to listen to those wonderful songs was a delightful experience and the dancing was frosting....... ;)


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 12:27 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
The company looks better everyday. Notes on Friday evening's show...

The evening began with resident choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's "Polyphonia," set to piano compositions by Ligeti. This is a deceptively delicate work set on four couples in violet tights dancing on a barren stage under low level lighting. They dance in pairs or trios with a kind of study hall earnestness that is actually kind of encouraging: ballet is not all fun and games. "Polyphonia" seems delicate because of the spare music and the stark neo-classical movement vocabulary but it has the robust compactness. "Polyphonia" might be considered "cutting edge ballet" but it might be in the tail end of modern ballets in the humanist tradition. When so much contemporary ballet seems to have embraced the post-modern free for all of irony, parody, and pastiche (think Mats Ek, Angelin Preljocaj, and Matthew Bourne), "Polyphonia" still believes in the choreographer's ability to fashion Ballet as Art. Wheeldon opens the ballet with the parodic mode (the opening "Desordre" movement where the dancers dance with their own shadows) but for the most part the ballet is neo-classical with little stretches on the idiom here and there. The casting was as follows: Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, Lindy Madradjieff and Edwaard Liang, Faye Arthurs and Jason Fowler, and Alexandra Ansanelli and Craig Hall. Ansanelli and Hall were particularly fine in the "No. 2 Hopp ide Tisztan"). The pianists were Alan Moverman and Susan Walters.

Peter Martins' "Thou Swell" came after the intermission. In this tribute to Richard Rodgers, Martins has assembled a suite of dances for four couples and a small corps. They dance in a make believe musical theater ballroom complete with a central dancefloor over which hangs a gigantic mirror that allows the audience to see the dancers from above. An onstage three piece jazz trio costumed in white tuxedos accompanies singers Debbie Gravitte and Jonathan Dokuchitz. 16 songs of Rodgers and Hart (except for one with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein) bring us men in black tuxes and glamorous women in full length, Hollywood evening gowns. It's like heaven was imagined as the Brown Derby or Chasen's where everybody who was anybody would eventually turn up. It's a George Cukor and Cecil Beaton world where everybody looked like they just won the double header at the races as Ascot.

There was a lot to savor, especially the Rodgers and Hart tunes, and the ballet had this leisure class glow to everything. The choreography for Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard emphasized her pure line suggesting what it might look like if Aurora of "Sleeping Beauty" had awoken in a Golden Age musical. Jenifer Ringer seemed to have fun as the teasing siren in dark satin. James Fayette was her partner. Darci Kistler and Jock Soto were smooth and Yvonne Borree and Nilas Martins did their best to smoulder. I'm afraid, however, "Thou Swell" just didn't do it for me. The costumes looked uncomfortable and unflattering and the design seemed out of sync with the ambitions of the dance. But, I"m happy to take another look at this work, hopefully on Sunday.

I love "Symphony in C" -- its classical purity, masterful ensemble choreography, and excitment. To me, everybody looked in good form. Janie Taylor was great in the first movement with clean, precise pointework. Sofinae Sylve and Stephen Hanna danced the 2nd movement adagio in beautiful form though the amount of effort in the dance showed several times. Megan Fairchild and Benjamin Millepied just about stole the show in the 3rd movement Allegro Vivace -- Millepied's jumps seemed to sing with power and pleasure, and Fairchild seemed in complete command of her considerable technique -- she's not just the "Tarantella" soloist anymore. Carrie Lee Riggins and Arch Higgins looked quite smart and no doubt we'll be seeing more of both.

<small>[ 02 October 2004, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 6:45 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
After hearing and reading all the disparaging coments and reviews, I was prepared for the worst for the afternoon performance of "Jewels." However or maybe because my expectations were lowered, I was quite entertained and pleased.

Oh, I had quibbles of course and so did several of the more knowledgeable people in the audience. The corps was tight especially in all the details of the choreography usually missing from performances by other companies but they were thumpy and lacked attack especially in "Rubies." Perhaps they were uninspired by lead Yvonne Borree who was missing much of the hip articulation I have come to expect for this ballet.

It was in fact a small injury and "hip articulation" that prevented Nikolaj Hubbe from dancing opposite Borree but Benjamin Millepied, with his boundless energy, was a more than adequate stand-in. Also impressive, although still in need of some polish, was Teresa Reichlen who was extremely sassy as the tall girl.

"Emeralds" was rather subdued, with only Antonio Carmena, as the trio man, really delightful to watch. Sofiane Sylve as the second lead girl was enchanting but somehow the exotic French mysticism she projects seems too much for this ballet. The other leads were adequate.

Maria Kowroski was the standout of the afternoon, from her very first steps in "Diamonds." Opposite Charles Askergard, she was brilliant in technique and beautiful in poise.

<small>[ 03 October 2004, 03:32 AM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 11:53 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
The "Jewels" matinee was much improved from opening night in many regards, but not that opening night was bad per se (though on Saturday afternoon, I noticed that "Diamonds" as a ballet in and of itself, is starting to get humdrum for me). Sofiane Sylve was a marvel in "Emeralds" - very ethereal and off in her own world, though very much in a good way. Rachel Rutherford and Robert Tewsley repeated fine performances from Wednesday night, and the rest of the ensemble gave "Emeralds" much the same wonderful effect from Wednesday. "Rubies" was led by Yvonne Borree and Benjamin Millepied. Borree was unfortunately rather boring in the role, for while each step was executed clearly and cleanly, there was no personality. The lack of character was made especially clear in contrast to Millepied's high flying, raw, and very fun dancing as her partner. Teresa Reichlin again brilliantly gave the tall-girl role sexiness and power. The "Diamonds" corps work was far better than from opening night, but the main attraction was Maria Kowroski in the pas de deux. Partnered ably by Charles Askegard, Kowroski really sparkled in this role; the adagio was breathtaking, and she gets at the aura of the role much better than Whelan (opening night's Diamonds girl) did.

<small>[ 03 October 2004, 01:53 AM: Message edited by: art076 ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 12:16 am 
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Saturday night saw the performance I was expecting and got! It made me believe again in New York City Ballet!

The dancers, every single one of them, from principals to corps, brought the house down with a bravura and exhilaratingly stirring performance of "Stars and Stripes." Ashley Bouder was charming in the First Campaign, Ellen Bar flirted engagingly with the audience in the Second Campaign, Tom Gold's impish exuberance won hearts in the Third Campaign, Alexandra Ansanelli and Damian Woetzel fed off each's other energy and charisma in the Fourth Campaign, and most importantly the corps was tight and crisp throughout.

"Stravinsky Violin Concerto," though not as charming, was also a delight, with even Wendy Whelan expressing a sense of fun. Jock Soto, Yvonne Borree and Nikolaj Hubbe were also on song, as was the corps.

As much as I enjoyed tonight's performance of "Serenade," I hold NYCB to a very high standard for this signature piece of Balanchine. So, I had a few quibbles, namely the lack of complete cohesion in the corps and the tardiness in small details, such as skirts bunching up during turns which did not use to happen (or for that matter, neither in Francia Russell's coaching of the ballet nor at San Francisco Ballet).

<small>[ 03 October 2004, 03:28 AM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 12:46 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 60
Location: Shanghai
I lived in NYC from 1998 to 2000 and saw lots of NYCB. For past 3 years I have been travelling to NYC at least once for 10-days intensive NYCB seasons. I have been too busy at work to go to NYC this year. So I decided at last minute to come to CA for the tour. I have been to all 5 performances so far and will go to 2 more tomorrow. then I will follow them to LA before returning to Shanghai on 11th
I will be going to NYC next Feb. again


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 12:53 am 
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Location: Shanghai
A further note on Azlan's comment on Serenade. Maybe Sofiane was too new in her role. she did not pay enough attention to details. for example if you look at the Maria photo on the cover of the program notes, you will remember that Sofiane didn't bother to raise her leg


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 1:36 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Thank you, jeffsh. I did not notice that about Sylve.

I used to visit NYCB several times a year (notice I said NYCB and not NYC...) but it got a little old for me and the more I saw the more I was expecting more or maybe I was just getting less...


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 10:21 am 
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Location: So. California
Yes, "Jewels" faired a vast improvement to opening night. I too would have liked Ms. Sylve to lighten her persona in Emeralds and Ms. Rutherford does not have the right perfume for this part. Her demeanor is a bit edgy for me. (Personally, I truly enjoyed the Kirov's performance of Emeralds when they were here. It had a lovely quality.)
Is Emeralds supposed to be danced with such seriousness from the ballerinas? I kept thinking of Violette Verdy and not seeing any of her lightness and French essence out there.
I also adored Antonio Carmena with his infectious smile, charming character and grand elevations. Would like to see more of him in the future. The corps still needs work.

Rubies left me a bit cold rather than hot this time. On Wednesday, Ansanelli gave the short girl role all that stretch and flex in her girlish fashion. At Saturday's matinee, I found Yvonne Bourre possessed a better sexual tone to her dancing. However, the physical flexability was lacking and thus her duets with Ben Millepied lost their edge for me. Millipied performed well as usual. I am skipping over the corps.

OK This does not happen often, but I actually shed tears watching Maria Kowroski and Askergard in Diamonds. I was so moved. It was an inspiring performance particularly by Maria. Their PDD was the most impactive piece of adoring love that I have ever witnessed. And she is technically flawless in this role at this performance. I was in heaven.
She was the star at this Saturday matinee.

Thank you NYCB for bringing such a vast and wonderful rep to Southern California. It was such a pleasure to be able to view so many great ballets, old and new. Please return and don't wait too long. I will try to make it to Los Angeles as I would love to catch performances of Agon and also Wheeldon's new "Carnival of the Animals"
;)


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 5:14 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Fairwind, it looks like we agree on a lot, which really shouldn't be a surprise as those familiar with the company (either from within or without) seem to have the same take.

Yes, Maria Kowroski is indeed very special. After the glowing performance in "Diamonds" Sat afternoon, she turned in another star performance Sunday afternoon, as the Dark Angel in "Serenade." A couple of ex-SAB and NYCB dancers in the crowd were in heaven watching her. It was almost a dream cast for me for this peformance also featured my favorite of all the currently dancing Waltz Girls, Jenifer Ringer. Her waltz had momentum, her movements were lyrical, and her passion and longing were intense. She must be the only Waltz Girl I've seen who does not blink during the upward gaze. The corps could have been a little tighter but I am sure the 12:30pm curtain time did not help (nor did the puny stage at OCPAC!!!!).

I have to confess I tuned out somewhat during "Rubies," having been up till 2am the night before but I was awake enough to know that Alexandra Ansanelli was a far more effective lead than Yvonne Borree from Saturday afternoon. As for the corps, I have to rely on an ex-dancer's opinion that they had more pizzazz than the previous performance.

"Stars and Stripes" featured about the same thrilling cast as Saturday's with the exception of Sofiane Sylve and Stephen Hanna in the pdd, both of which I found wanting in comparison to Ansanelli's and Damian Woetzel's exuberance, with Hanna looking like he had to work at it. Still, the performance brought the house down again, standing ovation and all.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 6:56 pm 
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Location: So. California
This Sofiane Sylve is an interesting addition to NYCB. By this, I think I mean that her dancing has a noticable training difference, which I love. But she is someone I would also like to see dancing some of the classical ballerina roles as well. What would she look like in an ABT production? Would not that be lovely!

And yes, Azlan, I was cooing through "Serenade" when Maria was on stage..oh my,again. And yet frustrated re: the corps. Like my mom always said - "Practice Practice Practice" No more said.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 6:57 pm 
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Sorry, my post came up twice. I must have double clicked? :eek:

<small>[ 03 October 2004, 09:55 PM: Message edited by: Fairwind ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 9:21 pm 
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Interesting comment about Sylve in ABT, Fairwind (I hope we see more of your comments from LA).

Also, do you think Hanna forgot his cap in the finale of "Stars and Stripes" or is it just optional?

And why was Kistler bunching up her skirt prior to being lifted in "Serenade" Sat afternoon? And was my observation correct that Ringer not only arched backwards sooner but also much further in the performance Sun afternoon?


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 10:10 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Hello, a few belated notes for Saturday’s evening performance …

“Serenade” opened the evening and the programming of this most elemental of ballets must have been a no-brainer for a Balanchine centennial tour. Balanchine did many things for the balletic art, but of them perhaps one of the most important was to transmit the heritage of the past in a form that could endure the strains of modernity. While it is tempting while watching the stark, neo-classical black and white ballets to consider Balanchine a watershed in the development of ballet, but that would be unfair to many of his works.

It has been pointed out of music that the great composers (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, etc) whose innovations called into being new musical movements could also be considered transitional figures who summed up the period before them even as they moved the musical art into new areas. “Serenade” was the first work Balanchine composed in America, and is indeed plotless and foregrounds academic form as raison d’etre but I wonder if in its hints of romance and nostalgia if there is less a departure than a summation of the romantic strains in the balletic theater which Balanchine inherited.

The ballet looked better tonite than on Thursday. Smoother and more atmospheric, I think. The principals, as I recall (don’t have my cast sheet since I’m on campus – feel free to correct me, guys) were Darci Kistler, Sofiane Sylve, Janie Taylor, Charles Askegard, and Stephen Hanna. I especially noticed Janie Taylor.

“Stravinsky Violin Concerto” was good the other night and on Saturday evening was if you can imagine it, even better. Though the tension is still there in the two Aria pas de deux, it’s not of the gladiatorial arena as in some productions. San Francisco Ballet’s performances earlier this year seemed to have been either calculating or reverential in comparison as if the Centennial marked the passage of a work from the repertory into the museum. New York City Ballet seems to have a different kind of affinity which I can’t quite put my finger on. Like the composition to which it is danced, the ballet is neoclassical but there are vestigial folk elements as if Stravinsky himself didn’t take himself too seriously. Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto danced Aria I and Yvonne Borree and Nikolaj Hubbe danced Aria II.

“Stars and Stripes” is such a kitschy, enjoyable ballet it’s tempting to try to make more of it than ever intended. It would be amusing to think of Balanchine deciding to be patriotic not by transforming the academic dance associated with the feudal society of European nobility but by assimilating it so completely it became positively red, white, and blue. Perhaps it’s an index of its astute showmanship that it makes patriotism look fun in a society where patriotism tends to look mandatory. It even makes virtuoso academic choreography look fun without looking Old World.

Ashley Bouder leading the Corcoran Cadets (1st movement) was a charmer and Ellen Bar leading the Rifle Regiment (2nd movement) was cast as an unobtainable (or at least forbiddingly tall) head cheerleader to Tom Gold’s Thunder and Gladiator team captain. Alexandra Anasanelli and Damian Woetzel’s pas de deux in Liberty Bell and El Capitan was a charmer, and again in the final movement, “Stars and Stripes,” the troops came, they saw, they conquered.

As I recall, Maurice Kaplow conducted.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 10:39 pm 
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Location: So. California
RE: "Stravinsky Violin Concerto"......
I likened the Russian element of the piece to a Picasso painting! Stripping down to the bareness of plain practice clothes and dancing detached phrases of movement that were remeniscent of Balanchine's native land with a mechanical new world dynamic.....an amazing ballet and genius choreography as well as the musical composition itself!.
RE: Darcy Kistler. in Serenade.....
On Thursday, I also noticed the top of her foot was blood stained and that she had her ribbons so loose that I thought her shoes would fall off during Serenade! She had problems with her skirt flying in her face as well. Her dancing looks more 'thought out" than I remember in years past........

<small>[ 04 October 2004, 12:46 AM: Message edited by: Fairwind ]</small>


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