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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 7:34 pm 
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Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
I enjoyed Friday night's program more than the Saturday matinee, too. Standouts for me Bouder in Who Cares in Staircase, with a wonderful energy and attack that always makes me smile. Kowroski and Slyve were standouts in Agon. I'm getting used to Slyve's different epaulement, which was interesting in the context of Agon, because the difference made her look more exotic, and I just can't enough of her bow! The men seemed to be having some trouble as some of the steps were blurred or rushed. Speaking of rushed, Symphony in C seemed a bit ragged, especially the corps work. But I again enjoyed Joaquin De Luz's dancing for his energy and generosity --- he looked very happy to be up there doing all those things for us. I didn't like Wendy Whelan's performance in the 2nd movement as much as Sylve's last week in OCPAC, because she didn't exude that imposing, imperial aura that Sylve has in everything, as much as a (surprisingly) girl-next-door, friendly vibe.

For Saturday's matinee, Concerto Barocco started off well enough, and Hallelujah Junction was pretty enjoyable, if for nothing else than to prove how quickly the dancers could move. Benjamin Millepied as the dancer in black had really nice jumps and turns all timed very nicely with the music. The pas de deux for Janie Taylor was really beautiful with some surprising shapes and partnering. But the whole thing seemed a bit soulless and mechanical, as if it were just a big technical demonstration.

Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux followed, and Ansanelli was wonderful in it, especially for her speed and attack. She could project and hold these images of her body while still keeping up with the music. The defining moment for me was seeing a gargouillade pop out of nowhere in the beginning of her variation in the midst of many other steps. I didn't like Stephen Hanna's dancing as much because it seemed heavy, a bit labored, and rushed. His partnering was fine, especially the ending of the coda where he effortlessly catches Ansanelli in a fish pose.

Jerome Robbins's I'm Old Fashioned almost put me to sleep. This piece could perhaps be pulled off with loads of charm, because its choreography isn't interesting enough to stand on its own. The dancing wasn't very interesting, nor did its device of variations on a dance theme of Hayworth and Astaire dance number work very well. You could tell the variations were expansions of individual moments in the original dance number, but the expansions weren't very clever, witty, or musical. Why not watch the movie instead and enjoy that if we're to be given relatively joyless and overly long choreography?

--Andre


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 11:16 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Well, Ed and Andre, you might not have enjoyed Sat night either. While Christopher Wheeldon's "Carnival of the Animals" had its delightful theatrical moments, most of it would have put you to sleep as well. I still haven't made my mind about it but I just don't know if there's any recent version of this ballet that I truly enjoy.

However, both "Serenade" and "Stravinsky Violin Concerto" were worth it. Bouder was a joy to watch as the Russian girl and Kistler was much improved over the Orange County performances. Borree, Whelan, Hubbe and Soto were even better tonight than last week in the latter work.

And, jeffsh, thank you for introducing yourself. Have a safe flight home!


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 12:32 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Hello, CD friends, thanks for putting in your impressions! Here are a few of my own (belated) notes …

Friday evening’s program was a reprise of Wednesday’s and the company is anything looked better. I don’t remember when I’ve enjoyed “Who Cares?” as much … not that everything was perfect but there were strong performances all around. Now that I’ve had a chance to see the full thing a few times, I find myself sort of disappointed that San Francisco Ballet didn’t perform the middle part (the suite of songs for five couples) when they revived it earlier this year. In many ways that middle section (“S’Wonderful” to “Lady Be Good”) seems optional and some of the corps choreography seems sort of weak, but it has its place in the whole scheme of things. The dancers prance, show off, cut in, switch partners, ham it up, etc. If the final section is full of myth making, the middle section is reassuringly egalitarian. It’s like Balanchine saying, that’s us, America dancing, on stage. Once again, I found “Lady Be Good” very watchable with Teresa Reichlen and Jonathan Stafford. Despite a moment when the audience drew their collective breaths in when one of Ansanelli’s pointe shoe ribbons came loose, she, Ashley Bouder, Jenifer Ringer, and Nilas Martins looked good in the final section.

“Agon” was a real crowd pleaser with strong performances again by Sebastien Marcovici, Ellen Bar, and Ashley Laracey in the 1st pas de trois. “Symphony in C” did the honors in closing the evening. Wendy Whelan just about never disappoints though I’ve never thought of her in the 2nd (Adagio) movement, having thought of her more in works of a more contemporary idiom. Her Adagio princess had an independence, a mix of Modern Girl and nascent Girl Power, about her that compelled watching. In the other movements, Janie Taylor showed in the 1st movement that she is one to watch.

On Saturday afternoon, the company programmed in some variety from the Balanchine fare that comprises this Balanchine centenary tour. In addition to Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco” there was Peter Martins’ “Hallelujah Junction” and Jerome Robbins’ “I’m Old Fashioned.”

2 Left Feet, I feel sorry that “Hallelujah Junction” and “Thou Swell” are the only 2 Martins work you’ve seen. I’m not sure the Martins/Adams combination comes quite up to the same level as Balanchine/Stravinsky, but one has to admit that there is an affinity. Hey, at least it’s not another ballet set to Philip Glass. “Fearful Symmetries” which the company toured to Orange County a few years ago was truly amazing. I also like “A Schubertiad” and “Waltz Project” (which I saw done by San Francisco Ballet ... these aren't to Adams btw) and so on (I even liked “Harmonielehre” which is to an Adams composition). Janie Taylor, Sebastien Marcovici, and Benjamin Millepied looked fab in “Hallelujah Junction.”

“Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux” was a real crowd pleaser not least because of Alexandra Ansanelli’s charming stage persona. “I’m Old Fashioned” is a problematic work to say the least but was in every way superior to the Martins’ homage to the glamorous world of the Hollywood musical golden age of the 1930s. It’s structure (a theme and variations) is somewhat preachy, to be sure, but at least its choreography can stand up to its score. Moreover, the breadth of musical theatre dance references and its filmic strategies should suffice to keep the intelligentsia buzzing if nothing else. Rachel Rutherford was beautiful in yellow and Maria Kowroski in red.

I’m sorry I haven’t time to write up notes for Saturday evening’s performance which I enjoyed immensely. But, I was very impressed by Wheeldon’s “Carnival of the Animals” which shows his skill in the modern, rhetorical arts of choreographic irony, parody, and pastiche, particularly in his treatment of older dance forms. Perhaps there is nothing new under the sun but that doesn’t imply that there aren’t new ways of saying them.

<small>[ 11 October 2004, 12:47 AM: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 12:24 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Ashley Bouder debuted in "Serenade" on Saturday night, in the role of the Russain girl. It was a wonderful performance, with her dancing so effortlessly musical, assured, and secure. She was light as a feather, and the music really did seem to carry her along as though she were a sail in the wind. But what was also remarkable was how she snapped into every pose fully and with great detail; it wasn't a half arabesque because the music was so fast, it was a complete picture and it looked so effortless. Her two other principals on Saturday, Darci Kistler and Sofiane Sylve, looked a bit less effortless. Kistler, as the girl who falls down, seems to be reaching many limitations as her career grows longer, and though she had the right temperment for "Serenade" - something which I noted last week - on second viewing, her technical limitations looked odd in comparison to everyone around her. Sylve, in the Dark Angel role, doesn't seem right for "Serenade." Her eternally cool demeanor fights against the effortlessness of the choreography, and in her dancing, you can definetly see her preparations for each step - they don't flow quickly and easily as, say, Bouder's for example. While Sylve is able to incorporate this into other ballets such as "Agon," it works to her disadvantage here. On the whole, however, a decent "Serenade" from the corps, but of course Ashely Bouder was the highlight.

"Stravinsky Violin Concerto" was the same cast as last week, and a similarly fun performance.

"Carnival of the Animals" was cute, but I didn't take to it. Some interesting choreography here and there from Wheeldon, e.g. the pas de deux for the boy's mother, and the dance for the fossil ballerinas. On the whole, however, I found the narrative a stretch, and the set up distracting and cumbersome. I should note I've never seen a "Carnival of the Animals" before, so maybe the ballet itself is like this - there doesn't seem to be too much in the score to provide transitions between the various animals that come and go in the ballet.

Friday night's "Agon" was very good, with Maria Kowroski in the pas de deux. Personally, I prefer Kowroski to Whelan, who did the pas de deux on Wednesday. Whelan's very extreme physical attributes at times made the acrobatics of the pas de deux look freakish, whereas Kowroski looked a bit more human in the role. Sylve again impressed in the second pas de trois.

In "Symphony in C," Whelan did the second movement this time, and again, I personally liked Kowroski on Wednesday and Sylve last week in the role. Whelan has her own special qualities - the fluidness of her dancing being one of them - but I preferred Kowroski and Sylve's projection of stately personality in that role more than Whelan's comparative cleanliness.

Saturday afternoon was indeed a downer. "Concerto Barocco" seemed subdued, and Kowroski did the adagio movement quite adequately but I felt no spark. The main highlight of the afternoon was "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" with Alexandra Ansanelli and Stephen Hanna. "Hallelujah Junction" was a repeat of Thursday, and because I was so tired, I decided to skip out of "I'm Old Fashioned" this time around - though, according to reports above, I didn't miss much...


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 4:43 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 60
Location: Shanghai
thanks, Azlan. great talking to you guys.
it's a long flight from Shanghai, but I am glad I did this
will go to NYC next Feb. anyone will join me?


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 8:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
I enjoyed NYCB's closing performance this Sunday. Serenade had last week's excellent cast of Ringer dancing the Waltz Girl, Kowroski, the Dark Angel, and Taylor, the Russian girl. All three did an excellent job, despite an early slip and fall by Ringer, though Ringer did not bring as much intensity to her dancing as she did last week. I was not impressed by Nilas Martins's labored, heavy dancing. Zippora Karz revealed an interesting story about the ending of Serenade from an interview with Balanchine in her preview talk: Balanchine says the Dark Angel is a man's fate which hangs over him wherever he goes. He meets a woman, but his fate lies in a different direction, and he has to leave her behind. Apparently, he never told any of this to his dancers.

Speaking of intensity, Yvonnne Borree brought a different kind of intensity and energy to her role in Stravinsky Violin Concerto. At times she appeared to be shaking --- was it nerves, a long night, or something else? Whatever it was, there seemed to be more daring, on-the-edge dancing than in her previous performances here. As usual, Sylve did a fine job in Aria I, and the corps was "on" for the last movement.

I went into Carnival of the Animals expecting to hate it, especially after reading all the comments here. As it turns out, it wasn't that bad. The best parts were Borree's cute kangaroo, the charming turtle can-can dance, Lithgow's turn as a giant waltzer in drag, and by far the highlight of the whole piece, the autumnal Dying Swan danced by Christine Redpath, tinged with just enough regret and melancholy to make it more interesting than the purely saccharin pieces that preceded it. I think that was the problem with this work: it appealed too much to children and didn't have enough complexity to keep adults very interested. Everything was too cut-and-dry, and there wasn't enough ambiguity to engage our brains. Add to this the brief music segments, and most of the dances just didn't have enough time to develop something interesting.

--Andre


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 1:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
Many of us who saw NYCB in SoCal raved about Sofiane Sylve. I was going through some old posts about her on another forum, and found a short video of her performing something like 7 turns out of a fouette turn:

Sofiane Sylve turning

For best playback, right click on the link and download it with "Save Target As" to your local computer first.

I think we all liked her for her expressive dancing, and she was obviously technically able, but I just didn't know how able!

If the link doesn't work, because they seem to have moved the video about in the last few years, go to the dancers page, select Principal dancers, and click on Sofiane's link on the Dutch National Ballet's site:

http://www.het-nationale-ballet.nl

--Andre

<small>[ 12 October 2004, 03:46 PM: Message edited by: Andre Yew ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 2:17 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 119
Location: So. California
That was some video clip....thanks Andre!
wow......I believe I counted 7 pirouettes out of those fouettes also. What is interesting is Sylve is now dancing with NYCB and as I remember Mr Balanchine was not interested in multiple turns ....only the musicality of turning......so let's send her over to ABT where we might see more of these classical skills put to use! :D

<small>[ 12 October 2004, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: Fairwind ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 2:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:01 pm
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Location: So. California
<small>[ 12 October 2004, 06:06 PM: Message edited by: Fairwind ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 4:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 457
Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Don't try that at home, folks, video taken of trained professionals ...

I think Selma Jeanne Cohen has an essay in "Next Week, Swan Lake" about the uses of virtuosity where she describes a vaudeville dancer who could do 23 turns on pointe from a single preparation. Of course the dancer had a stainless steel ball bearing embedded in her pointe shoe so it's not quite the same thing.

Somewhere I too read that Balanchine was against too many turns, saying something like: "two [turns] maybe three or audience start to count..." I guess the dancers are supposed to count and not us.

<small>[ 13 October 2004, 08:36 AM: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:18 pm 
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I imagine that this discussion may be going astray from the subject, but it's interesting to me that ballet technique has, for the most part, not increased its technological content, as have many other human physical endeavors. The exception of course is better sports medicine, diet, etc. that allow dancers to last longer, and dance very difficult choreography (though the Rose Adagio and other classic pieces are still very difficult). And Gaynor Mindens, too, I guess.

I'm not sure Balanchine would have disapproved of more turns or generally increased technical skills, especially since dancers who worked with him say that as he found dancers could do more, he choreographed more for them, trying to push the limits of ballet. If he were still around, I would bet that given his general choreographic resourcefulness, if an average professional ballet dancer could consistently pull off clean 7-turn pirouettes, we'd be seeing an interesting piece with a lot of turns, and it would probably be musically beautiful and tasteful.

--Andre


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 6:24 pm 
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Location: So. California
Yes, Andre, I agree!
I do remember years ago having a teacher who danced for Balanchine. She would tell us stories about how he would use her in his ballets where he needed a 'turner'......she could do any turn imaginable! She was a great teacher for learning turns as well :D


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:41 am 
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Wow - those turns are truly beautiful. And notice how (seemingly) effortlessly she pulls them off!!


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 1:46 pm 
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I've watched the video a few more times (OK, a lot more times!), and I think I'm more impressed now with her composure, balance, speed, epaulement, and arms in the first piece with the lime-green saucer tutu (Forsythe's "The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude"?), though the turns are still just as impressive, especially since one of my teachers had been telling me forever that you don't need the arms to generate the torque for turning.

--Andre


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - Southern California 2004
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2002 11:01 pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by Andre Yew:
one of my teachers had been telling me forever that you don't need the arms to generate the torque for turning.
Arms are useful, Andre, but you don't need to show how they work. (smile)

Think

<small>[ 14 October 2004, 11:59 PM: Message edited by: Thinkerbell ]</small>


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