CriticalDance Forum

NYCB Dancers on Tour
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Author:  gaeadea [ Tue Oct 08, 2002 5:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Think Dallas is inexpensive? I'm from Oklahoma. I think its just about the cheapest place to live in the states. :)

I keep having this fantasy that if i put on those pointe shoes, ill have a "magic shoes" or "like mike" experience. so far, no luck. :)

<small>[ 10-08-2002, 19:41: Message edited by: gaeadea ]</small>

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Oct 08, 2002 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Matthew asks..."do women still like diamonds?" the shape of engagement and wedding rings coming from the 'right' guy - SURE!!

But, I know someone who fell for a guy, got engaged - and he couldn't afford a diamond ring because he was a university student. But that was ok with her, because she knew that the ring is only the outer manifestation of an inner commitment.

However, years later he bought her a very lovely engagement ring to go with the wedding ring that had already been part of her finger for ten years. The two of them also had other 'warped' values and instead of investing in a diamond engagement ring they bought things like tickets to the Bolshoi (see, this is dance related), even though it meant potatoes for a week. Both the Bolshoi and the guy were a very good investment for the gal.

Now she has the ring, the guy, and the Bolshoi tickets. :)

<small>[ 10-08-2002, 20:31: Message edited by: Basheva ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Tue Oct 08, 2002 6:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Basheva, apparently there are occasionally snowy streets in Santa Fe:

Snow in Santa Fe

Scroll down to "View the Different Seasons in Santa Fe" and click on "Winter." (I'm assuming some of that snow made it to the streets.)

<small>[ 10-08-2002, 20:52: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  Jeff [ Wed Oct 09, 2002 12:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

....and unhitching the horses from the ballerina's carriage and pulling it through the snowy streets....
Gaeadea, don’t listen to those people posting above … if you do, the next thing you know, you and your boyfriend will be yanking the engine from Maria Kowroski’s rental car with a machine hoist and pushing it (its easier to push than to pull, egonomically speaking of course) down the streets of Dallas, thus making our ballerina frantic as she probably declined the optional LDW insurance at the time of rental.

Thank you for the follow up info. It sounds like they performed the entire “Barber Violin Concerto” what a treat! And, Jason Fowler and Ashley Bouder in the 3rd movement (the presto) … I’d like to have seen that. Is “Barber” still in NYCB’s active rep, does anybody know off hand? Come to think of it, anybody know if “Barber” is in any other company’s rep?

And, G, Don’t mind what anybody says about the smilies. :) Or the “point shoe stew” (stinky old pointe shoes in water with carrots, onion, bayleaf … eeeeewwww). I have this really icky 70s tie that once belonged to Daniel Barenboim, the famous symphony conductor. I bought it as part of an orchestra fundraiser when I lived in Philly.

But, please explain what “magic shoes” and “like Mike” means?

P.S. Matthew and Basheva, check me on this … girls like diamonds … and chocolate (not necessarily in that order). On the other hand, guys like Playstation II.

Author:  gaeadea [ Wed Oct 09, 2002 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

"Like Mike" is that aweful kids move where a kid finds Michael Jordan's childhood basketball shoes, and when he puts them on, he can play basketball like a professional. :)

Jeff, ill try to restrain myself from making rediculous displays of affection. You may have to hold me back... :)

Author:  Matthew [ Wed Oct 09, 2002 11:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Isn't there a fairy tale about magic dancing shoes where the dancer dances herself to exhaustion? Hans Christian Anderson?

Author:  djb [ Wed Oct 09, 2002 6:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Yeah...the Blue Shoes...the Red Boots...what was it?

Author:  gaeadea [ Thu Oct 10, 2002 4:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

I remember there was one childrens story about a princess who went dancing every night, and wore out a pair of dancing shoes every night... and no one could figure out where she was going...

and she was like, dancing with the devil or *something*. heck, i dunno. :) It was underground, thats all i can remember

Author:  djb [ Thu Oct 10, 2002 6:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

I know of "The 12 Dancing Princesses," all of whom went dancing at night. Are you thinking of that one? Do trees with leaves of silver and gold ring a bell?

Author:  gaeadea [ Thu Oct 10, 2002 10:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

oh yes! that must be it. i loooved that story. and they had to cross a big lake to get there!

Author:  djb [ Fri Oct 11, 2002 2:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

What is this thread about? I've forgotten.

Author:  Jeff [ Sat Oct 12, 2002 11:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Djb, here, let me remind you-- a first pass at notes on this run:

“A Celebration of Ballet”
With Dancers from the New York City Ballet
Lensic Theater, Santa Fe
October 11 and 12, 2002

For some reason, touring units of the big companies remind me of a military operation. Are they foraging parties … small units sent out into the wilderness to fend on their own until needed for the subscription season of set piece battles (is there a better term for the annual “Nutcracker”)? … living off the land on whatever sustenance they can find and with whatever discipline they can maintain? Or, are they like full size cavalry raids with their own armor and artillery support, spreading their army’s name far and wide as they cover themselves with glory?

The “Dancers from the New York City Ballet” turn out to be something in between. As promised by the Lensic Theater, the “Dancers from the New York City Ballet” turn out to be a touring group of 17 company dancers—a generous helping of principals, soloists, and corps dancers (or, rather, 16 dancers -- as a soloist was absent resulting in several substitutions).

The program was as follows:

“Allegro Brillante” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine)
“In the Night” (Chopin/Robbins)
“Agon” pas de deux (Stravinsky/Balanchine)
“Who Cares?” excerpts (Gershwin orch. Kay/Balanchine), essentially the last half of the full thing

“Allegro Brillante” never one of my favorite neo-classical works served as a sort of overture. Wendy Whelan (substituting for Alexandra Ansanelli), Jared Angle, and an corps of 8 wielded what I imagine is pristine NYCB technique—speed, attack, line—as if to put everybody on notice that this show won’t be another “Swan Lake” to sleep through.

“In the Night” alone made it worth the trip. If the bright smiles, √©lan, and pointe work of “Allegro” told the audience to sit up and take notice, “Night” shows us why. This work is not of the tradition of mythopoesis, but of the lyric mode where every little gesture matters—Rachel Rutherford’s embrace of Sebastien Marcovici in the 1st nocturne, a glance between Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard in the 2nd, a pout and a shake of the head by Jenifer Ringer in the 3rd. I thought Rachel Rutherford particularly beautiful in her violet tutu. Charles Askegard’s partnering continues to grown on me.

The “Agon” pas de deux seemed a little perfunctory on Friday but became an arena of dangerous desire on Saturday. Wendy Whelan and Nikolaj Hubbe danced both evenings.

Excerpts from “Who Cares?” What happened to the girls’ glamorous Karinska costumes? I’m trying to have an open mind and not object to change simply because it is change. But, Ben Benson’s costumes look like satiny leotards with short, stringy, frilly salsa skirts. And, the little ornaments at the right shoulder strap and at the waistline on the left look like holiday ornaments that got sat upon.

The dancing improved greatly between Friday and Saturday. It was as if the dancers went out shopping and all found some objet d’art thing they really wanted (plausible given the density of the galleries by the Lensic). Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette gave a nicely nuanced performance, especially on Saturday. Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard in “Who Cares?” They had the glam, but not the steely kind of late, alcholic nights in Manhattan with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, George M. Cohan, & etc. But of ballet dancers rising to the height of their profession.

Marcia Segal, I think, had the right idea when she wrote of “Who Cares?” remembering the world of Astaire and Rogers:

“Who Cares” is another happy save. With its Gershwin songs, cheerleader costumes, and jazzy-balletic movement it could so easily be pure kitsch. But it isn’t because it’s quite serious about the well-bred sweetness of the dancing that thousands of little girls in the thirties absorbed from Fred Astaire movies and mediocre dancing schools. They didn’t become more glamorous, only more like the girl next door. More lovable.” (1971)

Though one may wish to argue to what extent do these works by Balanchine and Robbins dating between 1956 and 1970 really celebrate the richness of the balletic art, the evening was neither dumbed down nor excessively ambitious. As I left I overheard more than one promise to make it to New York city to see the full company.

Author:  Basheva [ Sun Oct 13, 2002 7:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Great review, Jeff. I really enjoyed reading this one. Sounds like the advance party of the 'cavalry' convinced the outlanders that the big city is worth a visit to see the main company.

Thank you, Jeff.

Author:  Jeff [ Sun Oct 13, 2002 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Thank you, Basheva, I've had a wondeful time out here.

A few more thoughts after a night’s reflection …

Dancers from the New York City Ballet
“A Celebration of Dance”
Lensic Theater, Santa Fe

The limitations of a small company tour notwithstanding these performances were really (in the Gaeadea’s rating system), “5 Smiley” affairs.

I still shudder remembering evenings of “Stars of the [*fill in blank*]” type shows. These evenings were completely hyperglycemic, carb rush affairs where one’s head is hammered into jelly by a seeming endless succession of pas de deux —Sleeping Beauty pdd, White Swan pdd, Black Swan pdd, Nutcracker pdd, etc etc etc. One wonders if careful scholarship can trace Isadora Duncan’s and Martha Graham’s sweeping rejection of the dans d’Ecole directly to one too many of these evenings.

But, naturally, with a small company and budgetary constraints, something must be left behind. Even if this company brought neither orchestra nor sets nor fancy costumes, what they did bring was more important – intelligent programming.

The evening began with Balanchine’s “Allegro Brillante.” This ballet is the evening’s nod to the world of the Imperial Russian Court ballet. It is the world of elegant white tutus that look a little uncomfortable, brittle if brilliant pointe work, and hierarchical ensemble choreography. “Allegro” is also the closest the evening comes to offering what in balletic terms might be the set piece battle – its there in the concerto’s formally organized structure of introduction-melody-development-cadenza-coda, etc.

Balanchine shows why the third concerto is so neglected – it takes a particularly well polished glamour to shine. I was looking forward to Alexandra Ansanelli, but was not sorry to see Wendy Whelan substituted. She smoothed over some of the flintier passages (such as the little diagonal run on pointe that always seems like a lame studio combination) while maintaining the attack that says, “This is why I’m here!” Jared Angle’s partnering looked less secure than what I’ve seen on the State Theater stage; moreover, Balanchine allows the cavalier few chances to shine. The supporting ensemble looked like they might have been back in NYC—that is to say, somewhat grim and determined. They were Glenn Keenan, Abi Stafford, Janie Taylor, Jennifer Tinsley, Jason Fowler, Stephen Hanna, Sebastien Marcovici, and Jonathan Stafford.

“In the Night”
Music—4 Nocturnes by Chopin; Chor—Jerome Robbins; Costumes—Anthony Dowell; Lighting—Jennifer Tipton (executed Perry Silvey).

“In the Night” was clearly the most inspired programming choice. Set to 4 of Chopin’s very beautiful Nocturnes, “Night” solves very niftily the live vs. canned music dilemma of the touring group. Full company tours have enough difficulty arranging suitable orchestral accompaniment much less touring units. Taped music is the reality for most small companies.

Though I would rather see D of NYCB to taped music than not at all, at first I couldn’t help feel … oh, a sense of innocence lost, I suppose … In a perfect universe, Wendy Whelan would never have to dance to taped music. Chris Tucker’s immortal words from a recent Jacky Chan movie came to mind – “Nothing but silk touches this skin …”

However, if music is the heart of dance, then this “In the Night” had a living, beating heart – in its live music by pianist, Nancy McDill. Her playing was warm and assured, reflecting the performance onstage.

“In the Night” is one of my favorite ballets in the sub-genre of chamber music ballets. If the piano concerto form of “Allegro” claims the public dimension and the declamatory voice, the chamber form aspires to nothing less than the personal and its vocative mode is lyric. Its time is interior time measured not by public and social events but by heart beats and private glances.

Choreographed a year after “Dances at a Gathering,” critics have suggested that “In the Night” is its sequel – the youthful camaraderie and flirtations of “Dances” replaced by the mature romance and struggles of an adult love. The boys and girls of “Dances” seem carefree and classless by their simple costumes, the suggestion of an outdoors space in which they gather, the choreography’s care not to seem formally structured.

By contrast, the costumes of “In the Night” are inflected by class and the choreography seems lightly mannered. Rachel Rutherford is particularly beautiful in her tutu of flowing violet tulle. With the clean lines of their waistcoats, ruffled shirts, and aristocratic cravats, Sebastien Marcovici and James Fayette seem like all the amiable young men who marry all the deserving younger sisters in a Dickensian universe. Charles Askegard drew the hussar’s role in the first Opus 55 Nocturne (Robbins-o-manes, don’t hesitate to correct me on details – the Program Notes didn’t specify which nocturnes).

However, maybe its just me, but I imagine these dancers show us some ineffable nocturnal enchantment just a few minutes beyond the event horizon of Balanchine’s “Liebeslieder Walzer” – that is, just a few minutes beyond the end of the Brahms. Its as if we followed them out onto the carefully groomed grounds of a palatial manor. It’s wrong to see a Dickensian world which is urban; perhaps Austenian or Meridithean would be better.

Perhaps, my favorite moment is the one in the last Nocturne, the Opus 9, I believe, when first the women, then the men first see and acknowledge each other. A nod, a little bow at the waist. For a moment, it seems as if the women are going to talk -- about garden parties, perhaps, or the men about horses; but, in the lyric universe of this ballet, the intrusion of the real is tenuous and the ballet ends with each couples swept back up into their private reveries. Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard in the 2nd nocturne had eyes only for each other. Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette in the 3rd nocturne played the coquette and the hapless swain but with that subtext that spells the spell of love underneath all.

“Who Cares?” (Excerpts)
Music—Gershwin Songbook orchestrated by Hershey Kay (9 songs); chor—Balanchine; Costumes—Ben Benson

The D from NYCB presented roughly the second half of the complete “Who Cares?” from “The Man I Love” to the final “I Got Rhythm” (roughly what is covered in the excellent Balanchine Celebration video). Again, inspired programming wins as this suite of dances provides chances for brilliant solo variations and some romantic duets. Yet, the suite is unified by the Gershwin score and by Balanchine’s insistence on classical movement rather than upon reliance on non-balletic dance forms that the music might suggest.

Especially enjoyable were Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard in “Who Cares?” substituting for Wendy Whelan and James Fayette. Kowroski infuses in her dancing a soloists’s hunger with a principal’s confidence, though one notices that she is looking younger than ever (and, this despite sharing the stage with such babies as Abi Stafford and Glenn Keenan).

Speaking of Keenan who danced “My One and Only,” it was suggested of Tina Leblanc in the “Rubies” seen as part of San Francisco Ballet’s “Jewels,” “not enough hip action.” This could have applied here as well. But, her technique seemed clean and fresh. In a sense, the soloist variations for “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” also seemed as if Janie Taylor (Friday) or Abi Stafford (Saturday) could use a little of the local chili peppers (to—as the immortal Emeril says, “kick it up a notch!”). Both dancers seemed too young for this role as if they got down pat the steps and the gestures but not exactly how to put the “oomph” in there. Or, how to put the “scorch” in “scorch your butt.”

Nikolaj Hubbe’s “Liza” showed plenty of show biz pizzazz. In fact, maybe a little too much … as if he was in danger of forgetting that this is ballet and not, in fact, a show number. But, with the way Balanchine gives the soloist what looks like a soft shoe number and some parts that beg for hamming, who could blame him?

The duets, “The Man I Love” for Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette and “Embraceable You” for Jennifer Tinsley and Jared Angle (Friday) or Rachel Rutherford and Jason Fowler (Saturday), really anchored this abridged “Who Cares?” While Kowroski’s and Askegard’s “Who Cares?” really was the pinnacle. But, all in all this was a very enjoyable performance—one that does credit to the full “Who Cares?” I still remember seeing by the full company in New York a while back.

A final note about the Lensic Theater. It’s a cozy but plush theater located at the western end of San Francisco just a few blocks from the Plaza. It’s small, looks as if it seats less than 1500—for southern California audiences, about the size of the Irvine Barclay or the Alex in Glendale. The house looked completely sold and the audience enthusiastic.

<small>[ 10-14-2002, 09:58: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>

Author:  Jeff [ Mon Oct 14, 2002 1:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Dancers on Tour

Having only recently returned from Santa Fe (meaning having part of the commute back home to reflect), I feel sort of bad suggesting that some of the soloists weren’t quite ready for their variations in “Who Cares?” As if I thought they hadn’t rehearsed enough …

Thinking back on Janie Taylor’s “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” and a final look at Glenn Keenan’s “My One and Only,” reminds me of the way Balanchine always emphasized an ultimate belief in the steps rather than in ‘acting’ or mannerisms. I sense that both soloists do believe in the steps—there was a conviction and a purity (a purity almost bordering on innocence, which is why I think I got confused) that was refreshing. And, I have no doubt, both soloists have in fact scorched plenty of butts…

Basheva’s comment about the ‘outlanders’ who would like the big city reminded me that the reverse is often true.

I don’t know exactly if the D from NYCB have ‘covered themselves with glory,’ but I know that I have come home covered with the smell of freshly roasted chili peppers. On a whim, I bought half a bushel of freshly roasted peppers (for chili verde) from a street vendor on Cerrillos, put it in my bag, and now everything is permeated with this wonderful smell. Santa Fe is definitely on my list for repeat visits, NYCB or no.

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