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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 6:36 pm 
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Despite bad reviews, the February run of Swan Lake for the NBoC has SOLD OUT according to a print ad in the Toronto Star today. I actually read this whiles enjoying my pancake breakfast listening to a Classical 96 radio commercial for Swan Lake! I guess the National didn’t have time to pull the commercials. Fret not, there may be a few seats remaining courtesy of subscribers returning tickets.

Part of the reason for the sell out can be attributed to the National offering half off seats to readers of Now Magazine. Plus, there are only 3 performances. I suspect the National will do the same for the Four Seasons assuming us working folk can’t afford to shell out for a 50% increase in tickets.

I unearthed a rather unflattering review by Alexandra Tomalonis of the Danceview Times when the NBoC visited Washington. For those who have accused Michael Goldbarth of being overly critical of James Kudelka, think again!

Quote:
Occasionally in these troubled times, friends will read the news, sigh and say, “Maybe it’s time to move to Canada.” A tempting thought. But, then, they haven’t seen the National Ballet of Canada’s “Swan Lake.”


Tomalonis ends her review with the below:

Quote:
There were some strong female soloists, especially Stephanie Hutchison as Wench, but the corps was not impressive. Karen Kain, the new Artistic Director, beloved star during the company's glory days, has some work to do.

Kudelka has choreographed some fine one-act works (I’ve not seen his original full-length ballets, such as “The Contract,” so I can’t compare) and had the company brought a mixed bill, it would undoubtedly have made a better impression, but this is one ballet that is For Home Consumption Only.


Talk about not holding anything back! Yikes!! :shock:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 7:10 pm 
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As I reported on the pages of CD Saturday, Swan Lake SOLD OUT for the National this past weekend. What they conveniently neglect to mention in their press release is the fact the sell out was benefited by a half price offering to readers of NOW Magazine. The National also offered savings to readers of Eye Magazine.

Despite the attendance, I refuse to change my review! Next season there will be no February ballet. Will fans hold out until March break to get their fill of ballet? Some Canadians flee to Florida in March. The Spring program will be pushed back to June. Looking into my Crystal Ball I see the below attendance figures for next year’s subscriber programs.

The Sleeping Beauty = 95%

Song of the Earth & Symphony in C = 90% :( It’s a shame this program will only receive 6 performance dates compared to 14 for Sleeping Beauty. :?

The Taming of the Shrew = 80%

A Footstep of Air & Opus 19/The Dreamer & Voluntaries = 65%

Balanchine’s Don Quixote = 80%

The Four Seasons, Polyphonia & New Work by Matjash Mrozewski = 75%

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 7:43 pm 
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Click HERE for information on the when, how, and where of auditioning for the National Ballet of Canada. The National currently has a roster of 69. They will be looking to add between 10 to 20 dancers with the move to the Four Seasons. I suspect it will be on the higher end, as there is always some movement with dancers moving on, retiring, or not having their contracts renewed.

I see the NBoC filling out the extra principals required through guest principals when needed. Does anyone have the home phone number for Roberto Bolle? I know of a few female fans who would love to critique his ballet technique on and OFF the stage! :lol:

Will Suzanne Farrell come out of retirement to dance in the Four Seasons? Will Rex Harrington come out of retirement to dance as a Man for All Seasons? Will Karen Kain come out of retirement to dance in the Four Seasons? I think you’ll also see Evelyn Hart as a coach or dancer. The answers to ALL of the above is YES if my Crystal Ball is clear. 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 7:47 pm 
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In case anybody was wondering, I see Karen Kain, Suzanne Farrell, and Evelyn Hart dancing the Winter character role in the Four Seasons. I hope Karen Kain has a few surprises for the new theatre. Think of the audience reaction if Rex Harrington should return without being listed in the casting. No doubt we may also see Martine Lamy as Carabosse. Primo Ballerino Roberto Bolle is a must to bolster the boys for Sleeping Beauty.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:29 pm 
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Veteran Dance Scribe Susan Walker reviews the Opening Night of Jewels:

Quote:
Heather Ogden was sublime in the most prominent female role, partnering Patrick Lavoie. She was gossamer-light, as she seemed to float on the music. Rebekah Rimsay and Etienne Lavigne were impressive as the second couple, as were Tanya Howard, Alejandra Perez-Gomez and Keiichi Hirano in the pas de trois.

...“Diamonds” takes the evening to the realm of pure imagination, a moment when 34 dancers in jewel-encrusted white become the music, as Balanchine intended, that we see.



In other news…. It’s official, Guillaume Côté and Burnise Silvius are SplitsVille. I imagine Mr. Côté will have little trouble finding a new princess in his life.

Quote:
It’s the day after Valentine's Day and the man who many in the country's dance world believe could be ballet's next romantic heartthrob is telling me he's not in love.

“The romantic in me has sort of died,” chuckles Guillaume Côté, mere days before stepping onto the stage as the prince in Swan Lake.

He also performs in this week’s Balanchine ballets: Jewels and a mixed program that includes his lead role in Apollo.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:32 pm 
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wish I could volunteer for Mr. Cote, as I adore his dancing, but I don't think my husband would appreciate this gesture!!

Will see the show Sunday mat. Anyone else?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:45 pm 
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Quote:
wish I could volunteer for Mr. Cote,


Not even a quickie pas deux? :lol:

I may attend Sunday’s matinée to see Heather Ogden’s emerald.

John Coulbourn enjoyed Jewels – Perhaps a little too much. He wrote the ballet started off with Rubies and not Emeralds.

Quote:
Rubies, which opens the evening, could be considered an homage to the legacy of French classicism, set as it is to the music of Gabriel Fauré, while Rubies, which follows, has a distinct American edge to it, highlighted by the music of Igor Stravinsky.

…The minute they hit the stage, they shed all the hours of hard work that go into making a good dancer and instead embrace the sense of play that marks a great one.

If Jewels is indeed a treasury of Balanchine’s genius, then on this night, Diamonds was, without a doubt, its crowning glory.


Michael Crabb is slowly beginning to appreciate the talents of the very lovely Heather Ogden! Though somewhat restrained in his prose, he obviously enjoyed her performance!!

Quote:
If Balanchine had had the good fortune to set eyes on Heather Ogden he would have instantly been on his knees. Ogden, the lead in “Emeralds,” has a natural affinity for his choreography that is as much visceral as thoughtful. She quite simply gets what he’s all about and never lards a performance with phony emotion. She lets the steps, transmuted through her expressive body, do their business.


I could not agree more! I made my appearance for Miss Ogden’s ruby last night and I’m happy to report she absolutley glowed. There’s always a buzz before, during, and after her time on stage. She certainly takes advantage of every precious moment. Heather Ogden is the crowning jewel for the National Ballet of Canada!

Crabb goes on to share an interesting story about the ballet’s choreogapher and his penchant for giving.

Quote:
Balanchine, notoriously, was quite the lady’s man. In a more forgiving and less litigious age than ours, he was wont to give his favourite ballerinas different perfumes so he could sniff their location around the theatre. “Ballet,” he once famously declared, “is woman.” Jewels can therefore also be read as personal love letters to the lustrous ballerinas for whom he created the work.


Paula Citron committed a ballet sin daring to criticise perhaps the greatest choreography of past, present, and future!

Quote:
Not every choreography by the great Russian/American master George Balanchine is perfect. (I can hear the howls of Balanchine fanatics over this heresy, but I remain unapologetic.) His full-evening Jewels is a case in point. No matter how well the work is performed--and the National Ballet of Canada gives the piece a very fine showing--there is no way to get around its uneven quality.


Obviously, Miss Citron is unaware who the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Heaven is!

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The big problem is that the sassy Rubies, the middle section of the triptych, outstrips its fellows by a country mile. It is, as a result, the most popular of the three and the most performed independently.


Very true but did you ever think Mr. B did this on purpose to make Rubies standout all the more? In my view he choreographed the personality of the gems to perfection.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:23 pm 
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Why is it that Rubies is not available on DVD? NYCB filmed Diamonds and Emeralds but no Rubies! Does anyone know of Rubies or the full production of Jewels on DVD? I own the partial version from NYCB. Rubies is certainly more enjoyable and as Paula Citron stated the more played piece.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 11:32 am 
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John Coulbourn reviews the Balanchine Triple Bill.

Quote:
If Cote managed to shake off Sanguine with ease, then so too did Kish manage to rise above the Phlegmatic when he returned to the stage in Theme And Variations, set to the music of Tchaikovsky and redolent of the glory days of Imperial Russian Ballet.

In a pairing with Ogden that was almost as potent as the explosive Cote/Yu combo, Kish further establishes himself as one of the emerging stars of the company.

An accomplished and confident partner, Kish now only needs to work on establishing a connection with that partner that rises above the choreography -- and the lovely, icy Ogden has already done a lot to lure him in.


Seasoned Dance Writer Susan Walker also reviewed the triple bill. I have yet to find a review from the Globe & Mail or the National Post. I did see Michael Crabb at the ballet but no review. What gives?

Quote:
Here Nehemiah Kish and Heather Ogden achieved the best partnering of the evening in a stunning pas de deux. Each difficult lift and turn flowed effortlessly from the preceding action. The ballet is structured as 12 variations, as a corps of 12 women dancers, ever ascending in their classical tutus, make different mathematical combinations.


I shall post my thoughts when and if my Muse inspires me.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2006 9:43 am 
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Paula Citron waited until the Saturday edition of the Globe & Mail to weigh in on the mixed program.

Quote:
“Finally, the company as a whole is looking strong, disciplined and even. There is talent in the ranks and talent at the top. In terms of a company ensemble, the National right now has to be in the top tier of ballet companies in the world.”


As expected, attendance was average for both Jewels and Mr. B’s Masterworks. For Opening Night this past Wednesday, I estimated the house to be about 75% full. What will happen when they move to the new theatre with ticket prices goosed by 50%?

I loved Jewels but the mixed fare left me a little flat. I’ve been exposed to Apollo too much. I don’t consider the Four Temperaments one of Balanchine’s greater works. Theme and Variations was the highlight of the evening for me along with Heather Ogden who was brilliant. You never catch her thinking on stage. She’s always in character looking like she was born to dance.

I have yet to hear from Michael Crabb?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:51 am 
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Click HERE for casting of ‘An Italian Straw Hat.’ This super fluffy and frothy ballet will make its debut in Ottawa March 23 to 25. It has its moments with some very creative choreography but comedy is not easy-Worth seeing once.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 9:08 am 
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Martin Knelman dropped a bombshell in today’s edition of the Toronto Star revealing that the National Ballet of Canada is not officially a tenant for their new home: The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Yikes! I thought this was a done deal all signed, sealed, and delivered!

Quote:
Just three months before both companies pop champagne corks and celebrate the opening of the Four Seasons with a series of gala evenings in June, no contract has been signed giving the ballet company the right to occupy the premises owned and operated by the opera company.

At issue: conflicting aspirations of the ballet company, which wants the right to make the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts its permanent home in perpetuity, and those of the opera company, which wants the right to grow and expand in the future.

Behind these competing dreams of glory lurks the undeniable reality that the opera company is negotiating as the landlord and operator of the facility while the ballet company finds itself in the role of tenant.

…These masters of movement clearly zigged when they should have zagged. And now they’re learning the hard way that when it comes to opera houses, ownership does have its privileges.


Mr. Knelman failed to note renting has already affected the NBoC in a negative way. As I posted on the pages of CD in early February:

Quote:
Interestingly there will be no February ballet and the usual April/May ballets have been pushed back to June. Sadly, the NBoC has to take 2nd seat to the Canadian Opera Company.

…Too bad they may lose some fans with their increased ticket prices along with a 4 month subscription ballet gap from November to March.


It appears Opera Czar Richard Bradshaw is allowing his ego to get the better of him and the National. I personally don’t believe Toronto can support both the opera and ballet occupying two separate buildings. Sure the opera is hot now, that doesn’t mean the fans will be there a decade from today. I don’t believe there is much cross over between the 2. You’re either a ballet fan or an opera fan. I don’t know of anyone myself who actually subscribes to both. Tip to Richard Bradshaw: Share your toy with the National Ballet of Canada. If the National decides to build its own home, you’ll be scrambling to fill the venue. There is only so much entertainment dollar to squeeze. Bottom line: Toronto has and always will be home to the Toronto Maple Leafs!

I don’t believe the 2 sides are dumb enough not to come to an agreement but if they don’t, where will the National show off their tutus next season? Will the Hummingbird Centre allow them back in? Will the National refund subscribers for the 50% increase in ticket prices? I can’t believe the ink has not been spilt on the contract. Egad, what unpleasant memories ‘The Contract’ conjures up. :(

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:19 pm 
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I’d love to know why Richard Bradshaw gets to pull the strings? 56 of the 181 million dollar cost of the Four Seasons will be funded from the public purse. It would figure the ballet and opera would be in conflict. I hope this battle doesn’t end with the Fat Lady singing! :lol: The opera has size on its side but the National has Karen Kain in its corner. I see Mrs. K knocking out Sir Richard Bradshaw in the last round! :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:47 am 
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The NBoC finally made it official and named David Brisken as Music Director and Principal Conductor effective September of 2006.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:38 pm 
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Karen Kain talks about her career and Mr. K's straw hat upsetting the morality standards in Ottawa! Can that even be possible with Ottawa home to the Parliament of Canada? :roll:

Despite the National’s self-proclaimed steamy PG-rating for ‘An Italian Straw Hat,’ fret not; you can bring the kids along. Anybody in high school will survive the subtle hints of sexuality without being scarred for life. In fact, the ballet is pretty tame compared to what high schoolers have no doubt discovered by googling for ‘sex.’

Quote:
“It’s like a love affair,” gushes Kain of her long relationship with the company. “I mean, ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a part of the National Ballet. It’s one of our most important cultural institutions. To have had the career that I did with them, and now to be artistic director, I just feel blessed. It’s a joy to come to work every day. I know these people, and I trust them. The support is wonderful. They’re like family.”

…This is no pristine romance a la Swan Lake: Dancer Rebekah Rimsay has bluntly said she gets to do a lot of humping. The non-stop bow-chicka-bow-bow between Rimsay’s character Virginie and her boyfriend Felix has resulted in what may be the only PG-13 rating ever handed to a ballet: the NAC website actually warns that the show is “not suitable for young children.”

…“What I love about this institution, and what makes me so proud, is that you can go to a performance and see the young students, the professionals and the mature, veteran artists all on the same stage,” she says. “There's this sense of legacy. I love that I can still contribute to that.”

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