CriticalDance Forum

State Street Ballet
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Nov 18, 2000 2:06 am ]
Post subject:  State Street Ballet

Image <P>Elena Filip'yeva and Denis Matvienko<P><BR>The Santa Barbara News-Press tells the story of two Ukranian dancers who nearly didn't make it to guest in Street Ballet's "Giselle": <P> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  Basheva [ Sat Nov 18, 2000 6:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

There have been several efforts in the past to have a ballet company in the Santa Barbara area. I see after a search that the company has been in existence since 1994. I have been to Santa Barbara fairly often in the past - but not since 1994. If I go again I will look them up. <P>It is a very lovely area.

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Apr 10, 2001 6:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

From the Los Angeles Times:<P><B>Fine-Looking State Street Ballet Thrives in Too-Shallow Soil</B><P>By VICTORIA LOOSELEAF<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>There is little doubt that the fine-looking, Santa Barbara-based State Street Ballet, under Rodney Gustafson's artistic direction, is thriving. What they lacked, however, in their "Not So Strictly Ballroom" program at Cal State Northridge on Sunday, was edge, variety and depth. True, the four-piece hommage to the music of the 1940s entertained, but all of the undulating arms, saucy smiles and repetitive footwork--in spite of being crisply executed with a modicum of flair--seem to vanish into thin air. The black-tie costumes also disappointed, especially the men's tuxes, which buried the line of the dancers' bodies.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P> <BR><A HREF=",1419,L-LATimes-Search-X!ArticleDetail-28609,00.html?search_area=Articles&channel=Search" TARGET=_blank>MORE...</A><P>

Author:  Belinda [ Tue Apr 10, 2001 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

Basheva,<P>Santa Barbara is my home town and very lovely, indeed! I was able to watch the State Street Ballet from its inception up until two years back. It was very exciting to have a professional ballet company in town. Santa Barbara is small but supports its arts well--it also has a strong symphony and several solid theater groups. That's part of the reason I love it and wish I could return.<P>I remember State Street Ballet as having many talented and highly committed dancers. In fact, Tracy Julias, now a star at Joffrey, danced there before being lured away to Chicago (boo hoo). I haven't always liked Rodney Gustafson's artistic decisions or his choreography but I'm very proud of this company. I've seen them do some gorgeous work, mostly in shorter showcase-type pieces.<P>By the way, in the interest of promoting Santa Barbara dance, the city hosts a wonderful festival in mid-July. This year it will bring NY choreographer Doug Varone for two weeks and a world premiere! Also, the Santa Barbara Dance Theater, affiliated with the UCSB dance department, is a very strong modern company.<P>All right, enough shameless promotion of the Santa Barbara dance scene!

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Apr 10, 2001 11:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

That's great information Belinda...<P>I so enjoy every time I visit Santa Barbara - the Mission, the zoo, the shopping and strolling on State Street. <P>It is nice to know there is such a vibrant artistic community. I wish it well.

Author:  Jeff [ Fri Oct 26, 2001 8:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

I’d like some help in getting to see State Street Ballet when they appear at the Clubhouse 3 Theater in Laguna Woods Leisure World on November 17, 2001. I’ve admired this company, but I don’t know anybody in Leisure World who might be able to get me in: Hence, this post soliciting help and/or advice.<P>State Street Ballet, a smaller ballet company with headquarters studio in Santa Barbara, has toured the last several years with a production called, “Not So Strictly Ballroom,” which features choreography to vintage music of a bygone era, what some might call a more generous age: “Salute to Sinatra” choreography by Victoria Simon to 6 songs sung by Sinatra (like “That Old Black Magic” and “American Beauty Rose”), “Embraceable You” choreographed by John Henry to music by Gershwin, “B.A.N.D.” choreography by Robert Sund to songs performed by Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole, and Duke Ellington, and “Eight by Benny” choreography by Heinz Pol to 8 songs performed by Benny Goodman.<P>I saw “Ballroom” in Thousand Oaks and at the Redlands Bowl last year and really enjoyed the show. As one can read from the thread, the LA Times critic wasn’t quite so impressed, but I thought the company looked good and the choreography was both exhilarating and interesting. Unfortunately, I don’t remember either “Embraceable You” or “Eight by Benny” well enough to comment. But I have notes to Simon’s “Salute to Sinatra” which resembles Balanchine’s “Who Care’s?” more than Tharp’s “Sinatra Suite.” It is a suite of dances for a small chamber group where pas de deuxs alternate with ensemble work. As I recall, the men are dressed in Fred Astaire tuxes and the women in black evening gowns. The stage is bare except for barstools where the dancers retreat when they’re not dancing. Taking from the “ballroom” theme, the dances emphasize their attention to formal structure and social decorum, but like “Who Care’s?” the choreography betrays both hints of an irony as well as appreciation for the ballroom style.<P>“B.A.N.D.” was my first exposure to Sund’s choreography and I remember thinking “This man’s a genius” and I don’t use the appellation lightly (“Ravelesque” choreographed for Ballet Pacifica only confirms). Sund has a keen eye—very musical—for the expressive potential of even the simplest balletic movement whether in ensemble or solo/demi-soloist variations. It’s hard to imagine any ballet choreographer trumping Paul Taylor’s choreography to “Rum and Coca-Cola” performed by the Andrews Sisters but Sund manages it. Sund makes the songs new by showing the excitement, tension, irony even glamour in them but without resorting to either period clothes or social dance styles (like “Black Tuesday” seen on ABT’s recent tour). As I write this plea for help I realize that its essentially to have an opportunity to see this work. Its so fascinating to watch because of an essentially poetic quality that really is hard to describe.<P>I am clean, well groomed (at least on ballet nights), and polite. Also, I don’t leave my cellphone on when I am at the show nor do I bring candy wrapped in unbelievably crinkly cellophane. If anybody is in a position to help me get in to see State Street Ballet at their Laguna Woods appearance, I’d appreciate it. The e-mail button is above this post.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited November 18, 2001).]

Author:  Jeff [ Sun Nov 18, 2001 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

A late post but hopefully informative.<P>State Street Ballet 11/16/01 at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs.<P>“Heartland” began with a humorous song and fiddle number performed by Peter Feldmann accompanied by one of the dancers on the guitar. Then the ballet proper began to a taped compilation of bluegrass numbers. Setting dance to regional music amounts to a virtual subgenre within ballet (all those mazurkas, czardas, etc) and still remains a fruitful area for contemporary dance makers. Think of Balanchine’s “Western Symphony,” Taylor-Corbett’s “Celts,” Marks’ “Sargeant Early’s Dream” all seen in San Francisco Ballet’s recent rep. Mark Morris even has a country western dance number in his rep though it isn’t a ballet piece (it’s amazing what that man can do). Now, the choice of bluegrass music was a special treat since I had grown up with bluegrass on WAMU so the depth and variety of the genre doesn’t come as a surprise—more than bluegrass of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” or “I Saw the Light” –middle aged men in straw hats and denim, fiddles and banjos, but 2 steps, waltzes, and gospel songs that resonate with the imagination of an agrarian land not of an idealized pastoral (“Coppelia”) but of combines, diesel, and American Harvester.<P>Gustafson doesn’t want to appropriate the folk idiom; it is all ballet steps. For the most part it stuck to familiar ground—boys and girls rival good naturedly but with plenty of pluck for each other’s attention. Kathryn Petak, costumed in a red top and short skirt, played the only named character, “Spitfire,” the plucky Ballet Bad Girl to Olga Tchekachova’s Good Girl dressed in white and blue farmer’s daughter dress. They hiss, they smolder, they dance, all but one step away from a catfight-- Gamzatti and Nikiya as farmer’s daughters. For all the good, clean fun of high extensions, petite batterie, and even some fouettes, however, the most memorable section was the all girls’ dance to a gospel song sung a capella by Allison Krauss. In its search for formal clarity and purity of execution, this section clearly restates the ritual almost sacramental dimension of ballet expressed not as a highly refined aesthetic object (like the pas de deux) but as the defining history for an entire community. There is an amazing affinity with parts of Ailey’s “Revelations” or Tharp’s “Shaker Songs.”<P>“B.A.N.D.” is a suite of dances for 10 dancers set to music by The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Duke Ellington. To see “B.A.N.D.” is not to revisit the vintage era—that is the forté of Victoria Simon’s “Salute to Sinatra” represented by the excerpt, “Where Are You?” a pas de deux for Olga Tschekachova and Gary McKenzie. To paraphrase from Michael Breitwieser on the jazz-like quality of the great novel of the vintage age, “The Great Gatsby,” jazz willfully sets aside fidelity to its point of origin, it liberates cultural matter, puts it into motion. Sund starts with jazz—Ellington, I think—not the Big Band sound of the wireless, but the “cool” sound of high modernism. The ballet opens with the dancers prowling in small groups, a dream of Paris or Berlin boulevardiers. They gaze out at the audience coolly and self-aware of the curious and controlling gaze—their own and the audience’s. In “Rum and Coca-Cola,” three girls have all the fun as they slink and tease the boys who, rebuffed, slink and tease on their own. Choreographic meaning accretes around cultural matter like the Bing Crosby songs—not with the jazzy paw hands and raked lines of Balanchine’s “Rubies,” but with a concern for formal invention that seems almost rococo. When it seems that the most impressive ballets are being choreographed by those from the modern dance tradition (I’m thinking Tharp and Morris), I find it encouraging that Sund is from ballet.<P>The final work, “Nuevo Tango,” by William Soleau to music of Astor Piazolla, brings us back to ground made familiar by Hans van Manen “Five Tangos” and others. Like the other choreographers on the program, Soleau’s steps are ballet with only occasional allusions to the popular idiom. The music is exciting, reflective, tense with hint of danger. At times its almost like gladiatorial combat—though the dance alternates between pas de deux and group sections, the five pairs of dancers never leave the stage. When they’re not dancing, they’re perched or posed on barstools around the stage, waiting their turn in the arena—perhaps it repeats the familiar scene of dancers at the barre looking at each other and those in the center of the studio wondering who’s the best. The dancers looked good—it’s obvious that they believe in the ballet, but it doesn’t quite come up to “Five Tangos.” Paraphrasing Croce on Robbins’ choreographic tribute to Astaire in “Pennies from Heaven,” the ballet expresses a clear vision of tango’s possibilities but with no particular insight into its tradition.<P>Though seeming to be unlikely programming, take away moments of the evening went to “Heartland” and “B.A.N.D.” Clearly, State Street Ballet is a young company on the move with an enviable repertory that makes the most of its dancers. I am often intrigued by what a small Sund work like “B.A.N.D.” or “Ravesque” (in Ballet Pacifica’s rep) would look like on a big company overflowing with talented and ambitious dancers. Just as great string quartets do not orchestrate well, I’m not sure that the result would be better because “B.A.N.D.” and “Heartland” realize the potential of chamber ballet. Southern California may not be able to field a D.W. Griffith sized “Nutcracker” but in a sense, it doesn’t need to. I certainly hope to see this company again, soon.<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Nov 19, 2001 6:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

Another interesting review, Jeff, thank you.<P>You mention the choreographer of "Sund" - but I didn't catch a first name - did I miss it? Would that be Erling Sund? He was a teacher in San Diego for many years, and I was wondering if this is the same person.

Author:  Jeff [ Mon Nov 19, 2001 6:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

Oops. I've admired Robert Sund's "Ravelesque," "Carmen," and "B.A.N.D." so much I just took it for granted everybody knew the name.<P>The bio in the program gives his credentials as former soloist for San Francisco Ballet and Emmy award winning choreographer.

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Feb 25, 2002 6:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

From the Los Angeles Times:<P><B>State Street Ballet's Dancers Got That Swing</B><P>By JENNIFER FISHER, Special to The Times<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Many people don't expect a lot from ballet--just line, form and mild-mannered but lively musicality--and this is what State Street Ballet succeeded in bringing Saturday night to Cal State L.A.'s Luckman Fine Arts Complex, with their "Ballroom: A Salute to the Swing Era." <BR> The Santa Barbara-based company has steadily accumulated dancers with strong technical and lyrical skills and seems to specialize in bright, virtuosic, people-pleasing ballets. Its swing-era salute was also a tribute to beautifully placed curves and far-flung limbs that often came to rest in dramatic lighting (by Lloyd Sobel).<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF=",1419,L-LATimes-Theater-X!ArticleDetail-52057,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A>

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Feb 25, 2002 10:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

Image <P>I am most intrigued by this young company. Checking out their website, it looks like founding AD Rodney Gustafson (former ABT) has collected quite an array of dancers from California and Russia.<P>Check out their website: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A><P>Belinda, any comments?<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited February 25, 2002).]

Author:  Karin [ Fri Mar 01, 2002 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

I too really like SB! Out of curiosity, are there other Gauchos in this group?<P>Karin

Author:  Andre Yew [ Thu Jul 04, 2002 12:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

I just received subscriber information for State Street Ballet based in Santa Barbara, California, and one of the three quotations from critics in their brochure is from Jeff's post above!<P>"State Street Ballet is a young company on the move with an enviable repertory that makes the most of its dancers.<BR> 2002"<P>If anyone's interested, there are four shows this year: Robert Sund's Taming of the Shrew, set in the 1950s; State Street Ballet's Nutcracker set in 1930s Hollywood; Love Songs, a collection of American dances to do with love (perhaps with Spirit of the Rose as well according to the rumor mill); and Romeo and Juliet with the Santa Barbara Symphony to mark the 50th anniversary of Prokoviev's death, and part of a week-long Prokoviev festival next year.<P>--Andre<BR>

Author:  Jeff [ Wed Aug 14, 2002 9:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

Andre, a belated thanks for demonstrating that somebody reads my ballet notes on occasion.

I'm beating the bushes to see if anybody know where State Street Ballet will be performing August 24 when they are scheduled to appear in Lake Arrowhead, California. I'd love to see them there, but I need to know where to show up. I promise I'll post my notes.

Or, if I promise not to inflict my notes on the public, will some nice person tell me where to call for tickets?

Also, as a southern California resident, I notice with interest that the company will be within driving distance:

October 25 at Palmdale Playhouse, Palmdale

October 26 at the Curtis Theater in Brea

December 1 at North County Coalition for the Arts, Brawley (I'm not sure if Brawley counts as driving distance since I'm not sure where Brawley is)

April 5, 2003 at the Palm Springs Desert Museum in Palm Springs (where I saw them last)

April 14 to 15, 2003 at the MacCullum Theater in Palm Desert

April 26, 2003 at Cal State Northridge (can go by Abe's Diner which is close by)

May 3, 2003 at Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa.

<small>[ 08-17-2002, 10:31: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>

Author:  Basheva [ Thu Aug 15, 2002 4:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: State Street Ballet

At the site for the ballet company it says "Ballroom" in Lake Arrowhead. However, if that is not entirely explanatory - there is an e-mail contact.

Here is the link to the site - left hand menu gives e-mail address:

State Street Ballet

...and several phone numbers are given.

Please consider this post as a carrot for sharing your notes, Jeff :)

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