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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2004 10:27 am 
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In the Orange County Register, Laura Bleiberg reviews the second program (Serenade, Violin Concerto, Stars & Stripes):

http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2004/10/03/sections/entertainment/et_dance/article_260626.php

and the third program (Polyphonia, Thou Swell, Symphony in C):

http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2004/10/04/sections/entertainment/entertainment/article_262938.php


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2004 10:34 am 
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Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
Things I Learned This Weekend Watching NYCB

1. I could watch Maria Kowroski dance anything.

2. I could watch Darci Kistler dance anything.

3. I could watch Sofiane Sylve dance almost anything. She has impeccable technique, and an imperial bearing (check out that bow!), with a let-them-eat-cake stage presence, but sometimes this was just too much. Her Emeralds on Thursday was a little off-putting because she seemed to barely address the audience and had a cold presence. Along with Rachel Rutherford's mechanical, tense, brittle part in the first couple in Emeralds, it was like wandering into a snooty watch repair shop instead of a snooty perfume store. However, her performance in the grand PDD of Stars and Stripes, as well as the 2nd movement of Symphony in C, fit her to a T. Bringing out the classical underpinnings of Stars and Symphony in C, her regal bearing showed us the clear relation of these pieces (and Balanchine) to the Russian ballet tradition.

4. Balanchine was really a great choreographer. Yes, this is obvious to most people, but the density of quality and variety in his works is pretty mind-boggling when you compare them to what's being made today. At one point, I couldn't believe we were getting any more good stuff in the program, because the previous two pieces were already so good and satisfying.

5. Serenade can really pull your heart strings. Jenifer Ringer's turn as the waltz girl was intense, and I found myself choking up at the end as they carried her off.

6. NYCB has lots of really good dancers coming up. Someone mentioned the wonderful, energetic, generous trio in Emeralds already. Ashley Bouder was perky, energetic, and totally fit the 1st campaign in Stars. Joaquin De Luz in the 3rd movement of Symphony in C was really impressive, especially for his effortless, floating jumps. Teresa Reichlen did really well in as the tall girl in Rubies.

7. It's worth going to the pre-performance talks for these performances, because they had current and past dancers talking about their personal experiences with the pieces we were about to see. Dancers I saw include Miranda Weese, Nikolaj Hubbe, Maria Kowroski, Sean Lavery, and Richard Tanner, as well as Richard Moredock, NYCB conductor and pianist.

(edit)8. Balanchine was right in simplifying sets and costumes. Except for the Rubies set, the Jewels sets were pretty bad as they constricted the stage space, and were distracting. It was almost like an answer to a question no one asked: what are the secret lives of jewels? Well, they dance around underground before we dig them up. The Rubies set worked for me because its black background made the stage seem larger, and its transition from Planet Meatball on top to laser-like vertical red lines drew our visual focus to the dancers, as well as providing a logical transition, as if saying "Here's how earthy rocks become abstracted into a dance." The other sets made me think of more philosophical things, but I don't think sets are supposed to do that. After Jewels, it was a relief to see the plain stages of Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and even the Art Deco lounge of Thou Swell.

More thoughts later, I hope.

--Andre

<small>[ 04 October 2004, 12:44 PM: Message edited by: Andre Yew ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2004 4:25 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
I second Andre about the pre-performance talks. Unfortunately, I skipped them until I learned that it wasn't just the usual dance critic from Canada going over the same old stuff we've only heard about a billion times. Of the ones I sat in for, the company had their own interviewer to talk with a principal dancer and a ballet master. I hope they do the same for their Los Angeles appearances.

O yes, and there were a lot of empty seats at the Sunday 5:30 pm show. We were wondering how many people would show up between 7:45 and 8:00 pm that night.

Don't forget that if you're going this upcoming Wednesday or Friday to LA, the curtain is at 7:30 pm not the usual 8:00 pm.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2004 5:18 pm 
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Andre makes an intersting point about sets which I'd like to muse over for a moment...

When I saw "Thou Swell" I was immediately put off. I couldn't figure out exactly why at first. It's been mentioned already that it had a Carnival Cruise line feel about it. Being from Hollywood I can't help equating my feelings when the curtain rose with those I get when an agent walks into a room. Ones sense of discomfort increases exponentially the longer you're exposed to them, which is about how I reacted as "Swell" unfolded. Yet in concept its not unlike "Stars and Stripes" or even ABT's George Harrison tribute. So I've puzzled about my discomfort since Friday night.

Andre points out that Balanchine wisely avoided the use of set pieces in his ballets which is perhaps why I felt so ill at ease during "Swell." With the trio, singers and elaborate sets, the emphasis became more of production rather than dance. "Stars and Strips" and so many other Balanchine ballets avoid the pitfalls of "production" by stripping set design to it's most basic elements, forcing the viewer to focus on the dancers.

I think this is why a ballet like "Stripes" succeeds where other tributes fail. With the focus firmly on choreography and music, the dance rises to the occassion. By comparison, "Swell" seems burdened by it's "over-produced" values, stifling the choreography.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 10:56 am 
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A review from Art Priromprintr in the USC Daily Trojan:

http://www.dailytrojan.com/news/2004/10/05/Lifestyle/Ballet.Performances.Are.Both.Inspiring.And.Bland-741920.shtml


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 7:18 am 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
The company began the Los Angeles portion of their visit looking better than when they opened in Orange County a week ago. Cracking a hard nut like an opening night is difficult in the best of circumstances but it’d take a crowd with plenty of savoir faire to ease into “Emeralds.” Last night Balanchine’s Gershwin ballet “Who Cares?” was the right choice. The corps in the first two or three numbers seemed a little underrehearsed or under-energized – but nothing a trip or two to Starbucks wouldn’t handle. In the middle section for 5 couples (from “S’ Wonderful” to “Lady Be Good”) Teresa Reichlen and Jonathan Stafford stood out. The “Apollo” section was for Nilas Martins with Jenifer Ringer, Ashley Bouder, and Alexandra Ansanelli. Ringer and Ansanelli, particularly, were strong in the charisma department.

What has happened to black and white Balanchine? Last California tour the company programmed “Agon” a lot. This tour there seems to be more larger scale, neo-classical pieces like “Stars and Stripes,” “Concerto Barocco,” “Symphony in C,” etc.

In any case, Wednesday's "Agon" was terrific. The company turned in an exciting performance. Sebastien Marcovici, Ellen Bar, and Ashley Laracey were “on” with Bar and Laracey seeming to breathe and think as one as if by telepathy. Sofiane Sylve in the second pas de trois fit in well except for when she gave in to the temptation to do some grandstanding by holding a balance or two well beyond the ability of mere mortals – but also making the conductor stretch the music. Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto were amazing in the pas de deux.

“Agon” was a big crowd pleaser tonite and there seemed to be a substantial crowd eager for a standing ovation. I don’t think I’ve ever seen “Agon” get a standing ovation – I love this work but it just doesn’t seem like the standing ovation type of ballet.

“Symphony in C” closed the show in good form with strong performances from all the principals. Again Janie Taylor in the first movement shows that she is one to keep an eye on. Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard in the second movement concentrated on maintaining beautiful form, and I like the icey empress persona of Kowroski’s Adagio. I am always happy to see Megan Fairchild and Benjamin Millepied in the third movement. Carrie Lee Riggins and Arch Higgins took us into the neo-classical, kaleidoscopic, topographic wonderland of the fourth movement and its big finale.

If the company are this strong or stronger, southern California friends won’t want to miss the repeat of this program on Friday.

<small>[ 07 October 2004, 09:25 AM: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 10:50 pm 
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Some great dancing on Thursday night, in at least three of the four ballets on the program.

“Concerto Barocco” is a very satisfying piece choreographically, with the way it sits so perfectly on Bach’s Double Violin Concerto. There’s a swingy undertone to the concerto that Balanchine captures perfectly while at the same time capturing the lyricism of the score on the surface. On Thursday night, it took a bit of time to warm up, but it was again quite satisfying to watch. Yvonne Borree in the principal role was a bit mechanical and cold, but serviceable. Rachel Rutherford was much more alive and was more interesting to watch, especially in the first movement, and James Fayette partnered Boree assuredly. The corps was great in the final movement: there is some great imagery here, including unison hops on point, and traveling patterns, and when done correctly it is wonderful – which it was Thursday. The momentum built to a great conclusion, and again, quite satisfying if not the best performance of the piece. (Looking forward to seeing Kowroski take the lead role on Saturday afternoon).

“Hallelujah Junction” is just very fast, and features a lot of great dancing – if not a lot of great dances. I’m not completely sure what I think of the ballet itself yet; it was interesting, but I don’t instantly like it. However, the dancers in this piece – Jamie Taylor, Sebastien Marcovici, and Benjamin Millepied in the leads, with Ashley Bouder and Megan Fairchild among the ensemble standouts – dance it far more energetically and interestingly than they have danced any other piece through this entire run. Its an interesting conundrum that the best dancing comes out of this piece instead of the more revered Balanchine all over the other programs – perhaps the dancers enjoy having the new work to dance instead of, for NYCB, what would be the same old Balanchine?

Alexandra Ansanelli and Stephen Hanna did “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.” Ansanelli is wonderful – great snaps in arabesque to key points in the music, an easy ability to do pirouettes and look like a serenely spinning top, and a relaxed but assured stage presence. Stephen Hanna partnered very well in the adagio, then showed off some great tricks of his own in the variation & coda. The audience ate up this display of virtuosity from both of them.

“I’m Old Fashioned” started off as a crowd pleaser (people enjoyed seeing Fred Astaire up there in an old fashioned movie), but the ballet began to bore me later on. Some quaint humor here and there, but the dancing all moves rather slowly, especially in comparison to the three other pieces on tonight’s program. Serviceable dancing all around, though nothing too spectacular to mention: Maria Kowroski, Rachel Rutherford, Jenifer Ringer, Jared Angle, Arch Higgins, and Nikolaj Hubbe were the principals.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 12:33 am 
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I enjoyed Friday night's program very much, especially Ringer and Ansanelli in "Who Cares," Fairchild in "Symphony in C," and Kowroski, Soto and Sylve in "Agon." However, I thought the corps in "Who Cares?" was a little ragged, no?


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 10:48 am 
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I have to agree, the corps was looking not much better than they did in Orange County. When compared to older members of the company they seem to lack something in artistry the more experience dancers exude. One corps member caught my attention last night and in Orange County, Jonathan Stafford. He has a nice presence and respectable technique and there's something about him that shows a potential to grow artistically.

I also liked Stephen Hanna last night. Dancing with Jason Fowler, a beautiful and emotional dancer, Hanna also showed potential for artistic expansion.

Okay, Azlan, you mentioned to me last night I always seem to pick out the men. Time for me to come clean... It's easier for me to pick them out in pieces I've never seen before (especially something like Symphony in C), because the women look so much alike. Since I don't like watching videos or DVDs of dance I have almost no exposure to NYC Ballet. When all those women are on stage with their hair pulled back in identical costumes, it's hard for me to tell them apart. Being in the "nose-bleed" seats didn't help either.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 10:54 am 
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And to show I don't just notice the men...

Art and I were talking about Wendy Whelan after the show. Her performance in Symphony in C was the first time I've been able to fully appreciate her talents. When I've seen her before I thought her subdued but last night changed that opinion. I was much more aware of the deliberate way she times her port de bras and how well she holds herself. Her body is extremely fluid and she uses it to the fullest with, stretching and holding poses to the last possible moment working with the music. Her musicality is wonderful.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 12:11 pm 
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My husband and I were in those nose-bleed seats and got engaged last year buy the chandeleers! (I'm just a little giddy about that) For those of you who were at last nights performance, how did you like that save with those ribbons!? This was my first NYCB performance and realy did not have anything to compare it to. I will say that I was very impressed. Agon was my favorite last night. I do not remember which female danced in the pas das deux, but from the nose-bleed seats I could really see all her back muscles and was in awe over all the body mechanics. This is something that I have noticed with other companys, but really stood out to me last night. She was really beautifully fit! As a bodyworker I wanted to give her a Massage! I know that this sounds strange but I could see and name the muscles on her back!


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 12:13 pm 
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Location: Estonia
Quote:
Troupe Movement

by SYLVIANE GOLD
the New York Times

If armies travel on their stomachs, dance companies travel on their feet: shoes figure prominently among the 24 tons of sets, costumes and equipment the New York City Ballet is carrying on its current three-week tour.
more


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 4:25 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
happymagill, you must be talking about Maria Kowroski. She is a feast for the eyes from any section of the house.

And that was Alexandra Ansanelli whose ribbons came undone.

<small>[ 09 October 2004, 06:26 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 4:29 pm 
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The Saturday matinee performance was a bit of a snoozer... with Peter Martins' "Hallelujah Junction" and Jerome Robbins' "I'm Old Fashioned" almost putting me to sleep... but it was a treat to see Kowroski, Ringer and Rutherford in ballgowns in the latter work.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 5:11 pm 
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I was considering buying a last minute ticket to see the Saturday evening show but Saturday's matinee left me feeling so empty I decided enough was enough. I've seen many of the Southern California performances and I have to say the overall memory is going to be one of wanting more, more energy, more precision, more passion... My roommate said it pretty nicely on the way out of the theater today. He said it was like whoever should be sitting at the back watching each performance and taking notes hadn't bothered to come to town with the rest of the company. I loved individual dancers and felt there were some great moments, but the tour as a whole felt flat.

This afternoon saw some nice performances and a particularly beautiful Tschaikovsky Pas De Deux with Alexandra Ansanelli. Stephen Hanna was a little rocky partnering but they worked very well together. Ansanelli is simply beautiful to watch.

I also liked Janie Taylor in Hallelujah Junction. Benjamin Millepied was in his element in this piece as well. This is only the second Martins piece I've seen (Thou Swell in OCPAC was the other one). I enjoyed the piece far more then Swell but would have liked to have seen it on it's own, not mixed with Balanchine works. Appearing on the same bill as Concerto Barocco, Junction seemed less inventive and less organic to the music. But I still enjoyed it and would like to see it again.

Sadly, Old Fashioned fell flat. The program credits Nikolaj Hubbe as one of the male leads but it looked more like Nilas Martins dancing from where I sat. Whomever it was had little passion for the choreography, marking their way through the music.

But I will take away one vivid memory from the entire tour. Seeing the older dancers was a remarkable and eye-opening experience. They move as if driven by something deep in their hearts. It seemed to rise through them, reaching out to the furthest reaches of the theater. I think I learned more about dance by watching some of them move for a handful of minutes than I have from anyone else. That alone was worth all the performances here in Southern California.


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