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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:28 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Casting has at long last been posted for the upcoming mixed program. Curiously, I noticed that the below principal and soloist dancers are not scheduled to dance in the Shrew or the mixed fare:

Heather Ogden
Sonia Rodriguez
Jennifer Fournier
Chan Hon Goh
Ryan Boorne

Stephanie Hutchison
Rebekah Rimsay
Julie Hay
Etienne Lavigne
Lisa Robinson
Je-an Salas
Alejandra Perez-Gomez
Dong Hyun Seo
Avinoam Silverman

I realize not everyone is appropriate for all ballets but I do find it very unusual that many of the principals have not been cast in either program. Anybody know what is up?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 3:31 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
I noticed the same just a few minutes ago. Hopefully there will be some sort of explanatory press release soon.

From the casting it LOOKS as though there will be some promotions soon, but I thought the same last year about one dancer in particular and that never happened....

m2


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:58 am 
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Just to change the subject a bit -- does anyone have a sense of how long I can wait before getting tickets to Don Q? There are still things I need to figure out with our schedule, but I am thinking of getting some to the last day, a Sunday matinee. The show was not included in the NBS students' season-subscription, which leads me to believe it will be a hot commodity, but, as I said, I can't commit all those C$ yet til I know more about our schedule that weekend.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:22 am 
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I suggest you phone the National Ballet of Canada's Audience and Donor Services at 416-345-9595. I think you will be okay. I doubt it will be that packed, as it received mixed reviews in North America and horrific reviews when it premiered overseas. I suspect the opener will be sold out – assuming Suzanne Farrell makes an appearance for the Ballet Talk.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:03 am 
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Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:28 pm 
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I made my subscription appearance for the Thursday showing of the Taming of Greta Hodgkinson. She rose above the mediocrity surrounding her as did John Cranko’s choreography over the rather mediocre music of Domenico Scarlatti. For that, he has no one to blame but himself! Stacey Shiori Minagawa and Zdenek Konvalina replaced Tanya Howard along with Patrick Lavoie in the roles of Bianca and Lucentio. Curiously absent from the role of Bianca was Sonia Rodriguez. I fully expected to see her and many other dancers who were ALSO curiously absent. We also had a Ballet Talk replacement for Penelope Reed Doob in the form of the refreshingly exuberant Word Lady: Katherine Barber.

Miss Hodgkinson more than lived up to her self-proclaimed prima ballerina billing with a brilliant comedic performance! BRAVO Greta! On his way out, one fan remarked: “The choreographer sure had a wonderful sense of humour!” Most in attendance enjoyed the show and henceforth I was rather surprised by the mixed reviews the Shrew garnered. John Cranko infused his choreography with a veritable plethora of laughter inducing images. It was a whole lot more fun than the Stratford Festival staged version of this Shakespearian comedy I saw years ago. Certainly not a perfect ballet but good enough. I personally felt like I had just downed a foamy ballet stein of sunshine!

By the way, the National is becoming stingy with their Performance Magazine. They used to leave them in large bins but now you really have to get after an usher to give up the program! How long before they start selling Performance Magazine :?:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:31 am 
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Susan Walker reviews the mixed program. I could not find any other reviews. I doubt the Post will review.

Quote:
Like most elegiac works, Glen Tetley's Voluntaries is both a celebration and a lament. He created the ballet in 1973 in tribute to John Cranko, following the Stuttgart Ballet artistic director's sudden death.

Originally the National Ballet of Canada programmed Voluntaries as a salute to Tetley on his 80th birthday. Sadly, but poignantly, Voluntaries is now a memorial to Tetley following his death on Jan. 26.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:04 am 
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Yikes! This is possibly THE worst review of an NBoC performance I have ever read! Normally I might just shrug it off but this is from Gary Smith, who is more than just a critic, he is a true ballet fan. Smith is one of the few critics I see attend more than just the performance he is reviewing. He is a regular at the ballet.

Quote:
Trouble was, Wednesday night whimsy was tired and obvious, romance was in desperately short supply and the Tetley genius was served sadly by a passionless, emotion-free flight into questionable uplifting grace.

...Tetley's brilliant signature piece Voluntaries ought to have shocked this recalcitrant program into life, but alas musically it was dull, with little attack and energy in the dreary accompaniment from organ soloist Genevieve Soly -- not to mention David Briskin's flaccid National Ballet Orchestra.


The Toronto Sun reviewer was very impressed but that’s not saying much given the reputation of the Sun.

Quote:
Set to Francis Poulenc's Concerto in G Minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani and performed in front of an exquisite backdrop created in a breathtaking collaboration between set and costume designer Rouben Ter-Arutunian and lighting designer John B. Read, this is a work of monumental beauty. Its artistry is underscored at every turn by organist Genevieve Soly, backed by the always impressive NBOC Orchestra, under the baton of David Briskin...

Stepping in for an ailing Greta Hodgkinson, who was to have been partnered by Aleksandar Antonijevic, an ethereal and haunting Tanya Howard is memorably paired with Kish, returning to the stage in a role far more suited to his developing talents. He brings a sense of deep gravitas to this highly emotive piece.


Double Yikes!! I’m going tonight and Greta Hodgkinson is hurt! Argggg! I switched to Friday just to catch her performance.

Nothing in yet from the Globe & Mail or National Post.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 9:55 am 
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Michael Crabb of the Post actually did make an appearance to review the mixed fare. Curiously, he didn’t really render an opinion. I expect a thumbs up or down or a star rating of some sort. What gives :?:

Quote:
When was the last time you saw a ballet dancer step in a dollop of dung, albeit an imaginary one, or, for that matter, wipe a runny nose on his forearm? It happened on Wednesday night as the National Ballet of Canada launched the final week of its current spring season with the Canadian premiere of A Footstep of Air, a jaunty, even ribald pastorale set to traditional Celtic folk songs by American choreographer Eliot Feld.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:29 am 
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At long last, the story broke about all those missing dancers: 4 of them are expecting….visits from the ballet stork!!!! I assume the other regulars who missed the recent programs must have been injured.

Quote:
For Fournier and Sonia Rodriguez, also a principal dancer, these are second children. For first soloist Stephanie Hutchison and corps de ballet member Andreea Olteanu, they are first babies.

“I can't deny that it isn't disruptive in the middle of a season to lose four dancers. But I'm happy for all of them. I think that artists deserve to have a life as well,” said Karen Kain, the National Ballet's artistic director.

…However, she added that with the ballet's new home at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the company needs more dancers than it has. But the National Ballet can't afford it, she added. “So losing four? Yeah, you feel it.”

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:59 am 
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I just received a call from the National Ballet of Canada trying to pinch me for bucks. It’s their annual membership drive. Given the times for membership events, often in the afternoon, I think they should concentrate on pinching those who are retired or those who pull in millions cheating shareholders, the government, and those who slave for them! Give Lord Conrad Black a call in Chicago, assuming he is not in court, and pinch him for a few bucks!! Good luck.

They’ve almost doubled their ticket prices since the move to the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and they want me to give too. I wouldn’t even have the time to actually attend any of their perks. Call someone who has a lot of idle time on their hands.

I find it all quite galling. For the 2005/2006 season the top season tickets went for $697.50, now they’ll set you back a cool $1,201: $194 short of doubling in price!! I’m seriously thinking of cancelling my subscription, upgrading my television viewing experience and sticking in a ballet DVD! Given all the human rights organizations and hospitals turning their pockets inside out begging for bucks, how can the ballet or any arts organization justify my support? We have some 6.7 billion humans on this blue sphere with approximately half defined as ‘poor.’ Canada is one of the richest nations with an embarrassing abundance of natural resources and yet 1 in 6 children live in poverty according to this website. Should we live for art or should we live to simply exist?

Below are some interesting stats I pulled from Wilkipedia:

Quote:
Even if poverty may be lessening for the world as a whole, it continues to be an enormous problem:
• One third of deaths - some 18 million people a year or 50,000 per day - are due to poverty-related causes. That's 270 million people since 1990, the majority women and children, roughly equal to the population of the US.
• Every year nearly 11 million children die before their fifth birthday.
• In 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day
• 800 million people go to bed hungry every day.


I know this isn’t the forum to change the world so I’ll stop here. If you want to support the National, that’s wonderful. I’m having a difficult time reconciling the numbers. The gentlemen I spoke to told me they’ve had to hire many more dancers to accommodate the increased performances required at the Four Seasons. I decided to crunch the numbers. My 2005/2006 year book tallies up 62 dancers. The NBoC website tallies all of 67 dancers as of today. I did not include apprentices. So, they’ve hired 5 more dancers and for this prices have almost doubled from the Hummingbird Centre to the Four Seasons. Let’s say the average salary for those extra dancers is 47k, that’s an extra cash outlay of just 235k. I know they’ve had to increase performance dates and no doubt the rent at the Four Seasons is quite high but doubling prices is a bit much for me.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:44 am 
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I probably would not have posted anything had the gentlemen who called me for a donation not behaved like a professional telemarketer working for a commission and reading from a well prepared script! Tip #1: When you call someone try to at least sound a little engaging and don’t prattle on for the 1st 2 minutes reading from your Karen Kain approved script. So pathetic….

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:15 pm 
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I started Friday evening with dinner at Amadeus, a Viennese restaurant just down the street from the Four Seasons. The Schnitzel was acceptable however the small portions of veal and red skin potatoes were unacceptable. I decided to top off dinner with a slice of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) and instead was served some kind of chocolate cake. It was good but I wanted Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. It was closing in on 7:30 so I really had no choice. The service was rather slow and the meal a tad too expensive. They did not do Mozart proud. At least they could have played some of his music! Off to the ballet….

The 1st piece (A Footstep of Air) had 00.00% business being presented on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Given the small cast required, simplistic theme, and even more simplistic choreography it belonged on a much smaller stage: Think Premiere Dance Theatre. The Irish and Scottish folk songs were not my slice of cake.

The 2nd piece by Jerome Robbins (Opus 19/The Dreamer) was more enjoyable taste wise but I expected more. It was passable for filler and nothing more. I switched my Thursday subscription seat to see Greta Hodgkinson perform in this ballet and unfortunately she could not perform for an undisclosed reason.

The finale (Voluntaries), a tribute to the late John Cranko by Glen Tetley, lacked precision and the emotion I expected from the entire ensemble for a choreographer who has given so much to the National Ballet of Canada. Without naming names I will state that I noticed a few slips and quite a few thud landings. I did enjoy Tanya Howard’s performance and I hope she’s promoted to 1st soloist. Every time I see this ballet I am reminded of the Carrousel scenes from the movie, ‘Logan’s Run.’

I expected so much more with the National also dancing in tribute to Glen Tetley, who passed away a little over a month ago at the age of 80 from cancer. John Cranko died tragically on a flight back from Philadelphia to Stuttgart by choking on his own vomit after he had taken a mild sleeping pill. He was only 45.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:35 am 
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I attended yesterday afternoon.

While I didn't go for lunch/brunch beforehand, I did go to the ballet talk. Now that was a mistake! I usually can't say that Ballet Talks bore me, but this one did. I think Penelope Reed-Doob must have been searching pretty deeply for things to say. It was not well organized, well presented, or for that matter informative.

Footsteps of Air was an - interesting choice. Not one I would have chosen as AD, but there you go. I am not sure I agree about the simplistic choreography, Michael. Perhaps the steps were simple, but the music was VERY fast paced and some of the lifts (particularly with the three boys) very challenging. Those dancers were working!! It was nice to see some of the dancers I've watched over the years get some good stage time - Robert Stephen is one, James Leja another.

Opus 19/Dreamer was quite good, and certainly a stark contrast from Footsteps of Air. Howard was lovely as usual (when ARE they going to promote her, anyway)? Konvolina must have read my earlier posts and found a good hairstylist - he was looking much better yesterday!!

I have to say that I enjoyed Voluntaries more yesterday than I did at the Erik bruhn competition. I don't agree about the lack of emotion, Michael - but perhaps I saw a different cast? At Erik Bruhn there were a few mis-steps, particularly amongst the corps, but these weren't noticeable yesterday.

m2


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:41 am 
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Penelope Reed-Doob is a colossal bore for me! She has to lighten up. Too often she approaches everything from an historian perspective when most people attending the Ballet Talk simply want to be entertained whiles learning a little something of what they are going to see.

Ever since I asked Glen Tetley about who his muse was for Alice (Kimberly Glasco) the Q & A portion of the Ballet Talk was cancelled. PRD mentioned every other dancer in the cast for the exception of Kimberly Glasco. It was such a hoot to see her face turn stark white as soon as I brought up the contribution Miss Glasco brought to the role. Tetley was obviously extremely pleased with her performance, as he was quite effusive in his praise of Miss Glasco.

Penelope Reed-Doob has to let her hair down and have some fun. FAT CHANCE that will happen anytime in this lifetime! I’m glad you enjoyed the mixed program more than the esteemed Gary Smith and myself!!

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