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 Post subject: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2000 2:39 pm 
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Tobi Tobias sticks the pins into NYCB yet again. The caption reads, 'Need more sad evidence that the once-brilliant City Ballet has lost its luster? This year's Diamond Project should convince you.' Can the Company really be as bad as some folks would like us to believe?<BR> <A HREF="http://www.nymag.com/page.cfm?page_id=3478" TARGET=_blank>http://www.nymag.com/page.cfm?page_id=3478</A> <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Admin (edited April 05, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2000 3:39 pm 
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Yeow! Great photo... but what a disparaging headline. And some choice quotes:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><BR>...despite the richest resources and the most compelling reasons to maintain its former glory, cannot find a viable contemporary identity and is, instead, steadfastly marching down a path to nowhere.<P>The most outrageous entry of the whole lot was Peter Martins's Harmonielehre, to a John Adams score.<BR><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2000 4:40 pm 
I normally find myself in agreement with Tobi Tobias, whom I greatly respect and have learnt from over the years.<BR>Though I've not seen these performances, I see no point in NYCB doing these vacuous new works, and I think the money would have been better spent reviving more Balanchine masterpieces. <P>How ironic that the Kirov is taking more interest in Balanchine, while NYCB is turning its attention to mediocre choreography!<p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited July 05, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2000 7:45 pm 
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I for one prefer more classical ballets being performed by NYCB. I don't necessarily mean old ballets but also new ones based on the classical style. Ballets with style, dignity and technical artistry.<P>Kevin, do you know if Peter Martins has his job for life? I have heard much criticism of him but yet he remains.


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2000 8:28 pm 
I don't think Martins has his job for life, but I recall that his term as director was renewed several years ago. Martins' job was decided by the board of directors, instead of by dance critics. This is why he can survive despite so much criticism.<P>Where are you based, Albrecht, by the way?


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2000 7:46 am 
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I think as long as Peter Martins can raise money, his board will support him. And he does get some say in appointing the board, because last year Leslie Stahl interviewed him and Suzanne Farrell and he said she had agreed to his request to serve on the board. Then she proceeded to prove to the whole audience that she knew absolutely nothing about ballet by the amazingly ignorant comments she made. (Like being amazed that Balanchine called everyone "dear".) And as long as Anna Kisselgoff writes her staggeringly blatant raves the general audience will continue to be hoodwinked. All anyone really has to do is watch other companies do Balanchine (like PNB or Miami City Ballet, or for heaven's sake the Kirov) to know that there is something terribly wrong with the coaching and teaching.


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2000 8:25 am 
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Welcome Manon and many thanks for your thoughts about an important Company which is clearly in a condition that is a concern for you.<P>Sadly I have never seen NYCB, although I have seen some of their finest dancers in London on two occasions, when they camr here in the summer break - Albert Evans and Helene Alexopoulos impressed me in particular. Whilst I could admire the technique of Wendy Whelan, especially in the modern rep. we saw, her body shape does not provide a satisfactory frame for me to enjoy her work fully.<P>Two general points for you to comment on. Firstly, I believe that major companies must commission new work, otherwise there will simply not be any choreographers for the future. Christopher Wheeldon, of whom so much is expected now, would not have had a chance without such schemes. <P>Thus, in general, I am happy that a season such as the Diamond Project should take place. I cannot comment as to whether the number of commissions or the resources applied is appropriate in the case of NYCB. However, inevitably there will be a high percentage of failures. I have a memory that some 75 Balanchine works survive out of a total of more than double that number. The great man did not apparently feel that the remainder were worth reviving. <P>Secondly on performance standards - I get the impression that NYCB perform more work than is comfortable for the Company. However, to maintain a rep of many Balanchine works plus a fair number of Robbins' work plus other work from the back catalogue incl. the classics plus new work, is certainly a tall order. If NYCB adopted as limited a rep. as a huge company such as the Kirov maintain, then it would mean that many Balanchine works would be seen only at very long intervals. <P>How does it seem to you Manon and to others?<BR> <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited July 06, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2000 4:51 pm 
Manon, I agree with you entirely. Stuart, I question your claim that Balanchine thought that the other half of his oeuvre was not worth preserving. Where did you read this from? And even if he thought so, shouldn't posterity do something about those ballets that are in danger of being lost?<P>You remember that Birmingham Royal Ballet just revived this spring Ashton's Dante Sonata. I would expect Peter Martins, if he is a true Balanchinean, to revive more Balanchine ballets.<P>NYCB certainly performs a much larger repertory than it feels comfortable with, but it was the same when Balanchine was alive. So I don't see why it's not possible today.<P>Interestingly NCYB's season at the Edinburgh Festival in August coincides with the last week of the Kirov's Covent Garden season. A pity that the Kirov is not performing "Jewels" or any other Balanchine ballet this time. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited July 07, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2000 8:37 pm 
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Hmm... I have never seen the Kirov live, so I can't compare the two. And I haven't seen NYCB in the past except on video, so I can't make a judgement as to NYCB's standards either.<P>But I have to say I've liked what I've seen of today's NYCB, but maybe that's because they are still a better company than most others. Or does someone disagree with me on this?


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2000 10:44 pm 
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I'm trying to remember the source, but from memory these are the works that Balanchine made and never revived in his long history at NYCB.<P>I can think of a number of reasons why performing a huge number of works is more difficult now. Firstly the fact of having Balanchine himself cannot be underestimated. <BR>Secondly, I hypothesise that employment conditions have moved on and rehearsal time is probably much more carefully controlled now. For instance when the Martha Graham Company came to the UK for the first time in the 50s or early 60s they were still working on a new piece. So the comapny had class and rehearsed during the day; then performed in the evening; and then changed and went back on stage to work on the new piece until midnight. Difficult to believe that that would happen in the same way today with a major company. <P>I'm really trying to get a discussion going here. I reiterate that I have not seen the Company itself. I am aware that there is probably a greater range of views about NYCB than any other major company in the world.<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited July 07, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2000 4:22 am 
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I think Stewart's argument that in the past things were always done this way (new ballets, lots of ballets) is hidebound and reactionary. Things change, and just because that is the way things were doesn't mean it works now. There has been NO Diamond Project ballet that has lasted, without artificial resusitation, and they have done nothing to develop interesting dancers, they just pile on steps that end up all looking alike. It is not working and it is time to move on and quit living in the past.


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2000 5:47 am 
Manon, I also think that the NYCB dancers deserve better than Diamond Project ballets. I still believe that the Balanchine classics will develop them artistically than new works. New works are necessary, but less so for a company as richly endowed, in terms of its Balanchine heritage, like New York City Ballet. How can a Suzanne Farrell or Kyra Nichols be developed from these Diamond Project ballets, I wonder.


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2000 5:52 am 
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Just to clarify, I have not taken sides on the 'quantity of NYCB ballets' issue to date, but rather balanced the 'seeing regularly the Balanchine rep' argument against the 'perform to perfection' argument. However, to partially come off the fence, I would tend to agree that <u>if</u> the concensus is that the work looks under-rehearsed, then there is a need to reduce the rep. in any one season.<P>Re. the balance of work - I support Michael Kaiser's view of the Royal Ballet. He sees it as a gallery with 3 wings: <P>- the 19th Century classics<BR>- the 20th Century classics with emphasis on Ashton and Macmillan (in the case of the Royal)<BR>- work by living choreographers including new commissions<P>I think this model is also appropriate for other major companies including NYCB. There is a question how resources should be allocated to the 3 wings and I could understand the argument that for NYCB the second should be given pride of place. However I do not think that the third should be 0% for any major company. Current choreography may be often disappointing, but I do not think that ballet choreography is dead and should be laid to rest. <P>Having seen last week his most recent work for the Royal, I'm pleased that Christopher Wheeldon is giving up dancing to concentrate on choreography. But this is the first work by him that I have really enjoyed; he needed the nurturing stage that platforms such as Diamond Project provide, in my view.<P>There is also the point that having new work created on them is life blood for dancers. As for the recent RB 'New Works' season, it can sometimes be in a smaller venue.<P>We say in our preamble that 'dissent from the views of the Moderators is always welcome' and we mean it. Many thanks for your thoughts Manon; looking forward to more.<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited July 07, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2000 11:31 pm 
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Anne Kisselgoff disagrees almost entirely with Tobi Tobias and finds much to admire in the most recent Diamonds Project season. <P>She comments, 'If you don't like to see the steps of the academic idiom recombined in novel ways, then the Diamond Project and the City Ballet are not for you.' <P>I'm now putting on my hard hat.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/00/07/09/news/arts/dance-diamond-adv09.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.nytimes.com/00/07/09/news/arts/dance-diamond-adv09.html</A> <P><BR>Note: If you haven't done so already, you will have to register with the NY Times. If you have cookies set then subsequently you will go straight into the site. The NY Times seems to have relaxed its procedures, so this link should last for a bit longer than previously.<BR> <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: NYCB Diamond Project
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2000 12:04 am 
Hi, Stuart, I know very well that the Diamond Project 'is not for me' even without reading Anna Kisselgoff's comment. I care only about the Balanchine repertory at NYCB, and I would rather see 'the steps of the academic idiom recombined in novel ways' in Balanchine ballets danced by NYCB.<p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited July 09, 2000).]


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