My Muse finally inspired me enough to post my reflections on the R&Js I attended this past Thursday and Friday Evening.
It’s official, the National Ballet of Canada is in a recession! Rex Harrington
was left to his lonesome for BOTH Ballet Talks I attended-Not that his ego
couldn’t handle it. Rex reminisced about dancing with many ballerinas who have bourréed their way into the history books: Carla Fracci, Evelyn Hart, Veronica Tenant, and of course, Karen Kain. Usually they have a host like Michael Crabb to ask questions or spark new conversation. I just didn’t think it fair to leave him up there all alone. He experienced a case of dry throat and lost his train of thought a few times. BTW: There were no Ballet Notes programs available. More evidence the current bank and government manufactured economic crisis has hit the National. Note: A lot of companies will go bankrupt as a result creating dangerous monopolies as the competition is wiped out.
FYI for Rex:
John Cranko did not pass away in a plane crash; he passed away while asleep on a flight from Philadelphia to Stuttgart. He had taken a sleeping sedative (chloral hydrate) and choked on his own vomit. At the time, many newspapers falsely assumed he had taken his own life because of previous battles with depression and alcohol. There have also been reports Cranko perished in a plane crash. Rex probably read the plane crash story and somehow it stuck in his head-Not someone you want to sit behind if you value an unobstructed view of the stage!
Curiously, there was no mention of his partnership with Kimberly Glasco. Obviously, Rex Harrington does not read CD, as otherwise he would have read about how Cranko passed away in my R&J review from 2006.
To his credit, he acknowledged late comers who sat behind him, who most ignore. That’s enough of the Ballet Talk; onto my critique of R&J.
Kate mentioned issues with the lighting (not enough of it). I could see everything from my view in front row A of Ring 3. I did use opera glasses for many variations. For moi Sonia Rodriguez & Zdenek Konvalina along with the pairing of Chan Hon Goh & Aleksandar Antonijevic just didn’t summon the raw spring of youth generated by the Heather Ogden/Guillaume Côté duet I’ve seen over the years. Double AA gave an amazing performance considering he is getting up there in ballerino years. He may look like the fountain of youth on stage but I’m willing to wager he emerged late Saturday morning with quite a few aches and groans! Hon Goh and AA obviously gave a more mature performance than the youthful Konvalina and getting up there in ballerina years Rodriguez.
From my view of the stage, neither partnership worked. Hon Goh evoked images of an aunt to her love struck Romeo and sadly Sonia Rodriguez, as lovely as she is evoked images of an older sister to her goo-goo eyed Romeo. Next go around, I’m sure we’ll see Bridgett Zehr play his Juliet. There will be no more R&Js for Chan Hon Goh (retiring) and AA plus Sonia Rodriguez, who are approaching the winter stage of their careers at the Four Seasons. I admit it; I am a spoiled ballet fan who needs to see his FAVs. It was the difference between apple pie with whipped cream and without! Unfortunately, the dates were not convenient for me to partake of the Ogden/Côté parfait and hence I suffered.
Fortunately, Piotr Stanczyk stepped up to alleviate some of my suffering with a show stealing performance as Romeo’s good buddy Mercutio. He has quite a heavy dance load to move the story along in a supporting role. Stanczyk really took charge on stage and thus inspired quite a few well earned BRAVOS!
As for the choreography, I love the Cranko version and it fits like the proverbial glove onto the National Ballet of Canada. And yes Kate, I have seen other versions of R&J. For example: I’ve watched the Kenneth MacMillan Teatro Alla Scala DVD version with Angel Corella and Alessandra Ferri. Not every company boasts a 70 plus roster. Try touring with the MacMillan edition. All hail John Cranko! It really is a shame he passed away at such an early age: 45.
Now I’m going to break a ballet critic’s unwritten rule and extend kudos and bravi galore to an unnamed dancer in the ballet program: Antonella Martinelli! She created such beauty on stage, always in character, dancing as if she was living her sweet dream; I couldn’t help but divert my orbs
to her when I should have been watching the main action on stage! Martinelli evokes memories
of the silent screen actress Louise Brooks,
in that you immediately pick her out of a crowd. If only the National could somehow capture her ‘je ne sais quoi’ and bottle this living work of art! I admit it; I am a victim of her ballerina magnetism.
Below is a review of Antonella Martinelli from ‘An Italian Straw Hat.’
“One dancer who I was quite smitten over danced and silent acted with such ebullience I noticed her all the way from the corps de ballet. The apple of my eye radiated a Snow White/Betty Boop/Charleston Girl kind of beauty. Perhaps she was a new dancer recently hired from another company, a call up from the National Ballet School, or contracted to fill out casting. Sadly, I have no idea who this beauty is? I cannot critique her ballet dancing as her role just called for watching the story unfold on stage and do some waltzing. She was often paired with Alejandra Perez-Gomez. Kudos to the mystery brunette for always staying in character and so obviously enjoying her time on stage.”
There you have it; an undiscovered talent, at long last discovered! I hope Mrs. K gives her some soloist roles like the pussy cat in Sleeping Beauty, a chocolate in the Nutcracker, or filly for An Italian Straw Hat. She looks like she would be a great Kitri for Don Quixote. We’ll have to wait and see what the future has in store for this delicious silent screen beauty.
The time has come to bid adieu to the cobwebs of ballerina antiquity and make way for the sweet dew of youth!