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 Post subject: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 12:29 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
First impressions.<P>Well, a mixed evening at Oakland Ballet. I was really looking forward to seeing Fokine's "Les Sylphides" but...<P>I think it commendable for Oakland Ballet to perform classic, non-Balanchine works. However, I kept thinking how I would love to see a performance of this ballet done with more finesse. There also seemed to be too many members in the company who just plain weren't good enough for a work like this, to put it bluntly. In a ballet like "Les Sylphides" where the costumes focus attention on the feet, it was almost unbearable to watch if you are a ballet afficionado (an exception being Erin Yarbrough). The Oakland audience seemed to lap it all up though.<P>However, the company looked great in the two contemporary works: Val Caniparoli's "Bow Out," a jazzy ballet with lots of arches and curves that reminded me a little of Paul Taylor's "Cloven Kingdom" and Caniparoli's own "Slow" for SFB; and Robert Moses' "Union Fraternal," danced to a commissioned Caribbean score by John Santos. Again, the audience seemed to enjoy the Latin flavor and, admittedly, there were moments of brilliant athletic partnering but I found the work longish and the music a little disappointing. I suspect this work would look much better on the choreographer's own company, Robert Moses 'Kin.<P>But then again, this is just my humble opinion and after watching a dozen dance performances in the last couple weeks or so, who's to say I'm not turning into a bitter critic? Image<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited November 11, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 7:19 am 
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Azlan - though I have never seen this company - it is my opinion that it will, as time goes on, become more and more difficult to find Les Sylphides done as it should be done.<P>I think that as modern choreography becomes more and more a part of the bone and sinew of ballet dancers - the truly classical works will look more and more "pasted on". It will no longer be part of their inheritance. Rehearsal doesn't quite do it.<P> It has been a very long time since I have seen Pas de Quatre danced as it should be danced. Most dance companies don't even assay it any longer. It is more than just classic steps and poses. The essence is being lost.<P>A good example of this was often evident in the past when a non-Danish company danced Bournonville - it didn't look as if it came "from the inside" as when the Danish Royal Ballet did it. <P>It is less noticeable when something like "Don Quixote grande pas de deux" is danced - it is quick, exciting, a bravura piece (but even there the sauciness is being lost many times). But when a piece like "Les Sylphides" is danced - well then every nuance is so exposed - so very crystaline - then we see the skeleton is not there, just the empty dress. In my opinion.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 8:46 am 
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Basheva, you may have a point there. What is sad is that Oakland Ballet used to be a very good classical company, with full professional dancers on 30+ week contracts. Now they're down to something like 19 weeks max. It's hard to attract good talent with such a short contract.<P>Here's a well written article by Blair Tindall that illustrates some of the issues facing Oakland Ballet:<P><B><A HREF="http://www.contracostatimes.com/timeout/stories_feattop/x5cinderella_20001105.htm" TARGET=_blank>Dancing as fast as they can</A></B><BR><I>Behind the on-stage magic, ballet companies scramble hard to put on their shows</I><BR>By Blair Tindall, Contra Costa Times


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 5:11 pm 
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Yeah, quite a professional difference between those two companies, isn't it? While Oakland offers contracts that are 19 weeks max forcing their dancers to find other work, Diablo offers 30 weeks min so that according to the article their dancers can guest in Nutcracker and other seasonal performances.<P>I think DavidH with his professional eye can comment better on the resulting difference in quality between these two companies.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited November 11, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 7:59 am 
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Blair Tindall and I seem to be of the same mind about this program by Oakland Ballet:<P><BR><B><A HREF="http://www.contracostatimes.com/timeout/stories_feattop/x13oakballet_20001113.htm" TARGET=_blank>Company shines with take-chance pieces</A></B><BR>Oakland Ballet is at its best with innovative works, while not quite hitting the spot with a classic <BR>By Blair Tindall, Contra Costa Times


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 10:33 am 
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Azlan,<BR>I will comment when I have some time. 19 week contract??? Yikes!


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 10:41 am 
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Maybe I've just been dying to see Les Sylphides in the flesh, but Oakland's production didn't seem *atrocious* to me. Yes, the body types were disconcertingly diverse and some of the dancers came off as too hammy, but many others did capture a lot of the delicacy and softness of line called for. Perhaps I was just in an overly forgiving mood? As for the pointe work, for me it seemed to capture a distinct style--definitely not articulated but soft (I don't think I heard a single shoe hit the floor in the entire production). I wonder if this difference in pointe work was intentional?<P>I think Robert Moses had too much work cut out for him given the schizophrenic nature of the score he had to work with. And only three of Oakland's dancers, by my count, were able to adapt to his style. Caniporali's Bow Out was a real treat.


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 11:28 am 
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Thank you for your opinion, Belinda, and welcome. I think your sentiments about "Les Sylphides" are congruous with the majority of the audience, from the applause I heard on Friday night.<P>Here however is yet another review that seems to support the notion that Oakland Ballet could have done better with "Les Sylphides." Could the critics be wrong? Image<P><BR><B><A HREF="http://examiner.com/001113/1113oakland.html" TARGET=_blank>A meditation on Danzón</A></B><BR>Moses premiere highlights Oakland Ballet program<BR>By Allan Ulrich, SF Examiner


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 11:43 am 
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And, oh, let me clarify I didn't think the work was *atrocious*, only that it lacked the finesse one usually associates with this Romantic work. I didn't really mind the differing body types either -- it was the technique with the feet that I had most issues with.


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2000 12:00 pm 
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Another review with the opposite view of "Les Sylphides":<P><BR><B><A HREF="http://www0.mercurycenter.com/premium/arts/docs/oakland14.htm" TARGET=_blank>Oakland Ballet poised after season of turmoil</A></B><BR>BY ANITA AMIRREZVANI, San Jose Mercury News


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2000 6:19 pm 
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I don't get those comments either, Grace, or the Les Syl review from Amirrezvani. Most of us have thrown our hands up in the air as far as our SF Bay Area critics go (the exception being a few new writers who are bringing a breath of fresh air to the scene).


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 Post subject: Re: Oakland Ballet's Prog 3, including "Les Sylphides"
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2000 2:02 pm 
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This review is old but it's an <I>interesting</I> read:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B><A HREF="http://www.eastbayexpress.com/archive/111700/performreva_111700.html" TARGET=_blank>Too Long at the Smorgasbord</A></B><BR>By Ann Murphy, East Bay Express<BR> <BR>Change is often regarded as a villain, and the fight against change can have a fierce, deep quality, as fierce as the instinct to survive. Last Friday night at the Paramount Theatre, a battle against changing the status quo seemed underway, and the night had all the chaos and uncertainty of the recent elections. And it brought up the same question the country’s asking: Who’s running this show?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><B><A HREF="http://www.eastbayexpress.com/archive/111700/performreva_111700.html" TARGET=_blank>More</A></B>


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