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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2002 2:00 am 
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<BR><B>Judith Mackrell<BR>Saturday July 6, 2002<BR>The Guardian </B><P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Hurrah for Balanchine. America's great choreographic treasure is a godsend for a US ballet company needing to impress a British audience - and Pacific Northwest Ballet had some impressing to do, after opening its Sadler's Wells season with the badly judged stinker Silver Lining, the first of two programmes. We Brits do love Balanchine, and PNB's choice of Divertimento no 15 as the opener for its second programme seemed certain to be a witty, lyrical treat. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/reviews/story/0,3604,750374,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>more</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2002 4:06 am 
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Michael LL - according to "The Oxford Dictionary of Dance" by Debra Craine and Judith Mackrell the premiere dates are as follows:<P>Divertimento No. 15 - Balanchine, premiered on May 31st, 1956 by NYCB at American Shakespeare Festival Theater, Stratford, Connecticut. Its New York premiere was December 19th, 1956 at New York State Theater.<P>Birthday Offering - Ashton, premiered May 5th, 1956 by Sadler's Wells Ballet at Covent Garden.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2002 11:22 pm 
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An interesting and positive review of the Mixed Bill by <A HREF="http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/2866.html" TARGET=_blank><B>Ann Williams on ballet.co</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2002 12:44 am 
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Review of both The Mixed Bill and Silver Linings in the Observer.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Though PNB's performers come in all shapes and sizes, they are uniformly well-trained in a quintessentially American ballet style. They cover the ground with eager speed, legs and feet rebounding with the power of coiled springs. This is the technique that Balanchine developed for his choreography, softened by PNB's rounded arms and wrists. Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, the company's directors (and teachers) for the past 25 years, have instilled a decorum that other school-of-Balanchine dancers often ignore. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.observer.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,750666,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2002 11:19 pm 
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Clement Crisp's take on the Mixed Bill. He liked Divertimento No. 15 but wasn't so keen on the other pieces.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>So, huzzahs for Pacific Northwest Ballet which opened its second London programme on Wednesday night with this miracle. And more cheers for the devotion showed by its cast. Without the technical fine-tuning we know with New York City Ballet, this troupe's dancers dealt honourably with a masterwork. The spirit of the piece is 18th-century courtly, with elegance of spirit and manners the key. The artists took it in their spirited stride, and chief honours must go to Patricia Barker and Jeffrey Stanton, both taking secure command of their prodigious variations; and to Carrie Imler, demonstrating an unfailing bravura in her allegro solo and making light of every demand. She had, the evening before, been the victim of Silver Lining, and looked like an agitated concierge. Here she was revealed as a fine dancer. There is a barmy and unnecessary set: this just needs a cyclorama and the life-blood of its cast.<P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://search.ft.com/search/article.html?id=020708000305&query=dance&vsc_appId=totalSearch&state=Form" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited July 08, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2002 11:56 pm 
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Leaving aside Clement Crisp's strong views on dance forms (I would have fallen off my chair if he had enjoyed "Jardi") his comments on some of the music are intriguing. He detests the Adams and the Catalan songs, both of which I will look for on CD as i enjoyed them so much. Both are a huge improvement on Minkus in my view. I take heart that the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra players were also impressed with the Adams and one who had heard the Catalan songs found them very emotive.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2002 6:20 am 
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PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET <BR>Sadler’s Wells, 2 – 6 July 2002<P><BR>by Luciana Brett<P><BR>‘Less is more’ seems to be an alien concept for the Seattle-based Pacific Northwest Ballet. In their work there is no shortage of dazzling leaps, bold turns and rapid footwork, but the almost frenzied display of technique allows little time for subtle or intricate delivery. At least this was the case for much of the mixed bill on Wednesday night.<P>Directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell had put together an impressive line up of choreographers: George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, Peter Martins and Nacho Duato. The opening piece, Balanchine’s ‘Divertimento no 15’, danced to the music of the young Mozart, raised great expectations. Ms Russell was one of the first ballet masters chosen by Balanchine to stage his works and has been responsible, over the years, for over 100 Balanchine ballets. But this current version seemed a strange sort of confection. Balanchine was famous for his serene and understated ballets, yet ‘Divertimento no 15’ appeared forced and somewhat prim, both in the costumes and movement. <P>Pastel coloured leotards, tiaras and stiff tutus looked fussy and cluttered up the elegance and purity of his choreography. And then there was the question of the dancers’ expressivity. Balanchine’s goal was ‘purified gesture’, whereby an inner expression of joy would surface from the movement itself. The dancers’ fixed smiles, therefore, seemed out of place.<P>Unfortunately this exaggerated stage presence was carried over into Petipa’s ‘Le Corsaire Pas de Trois’ and Peter Martin’s ‘Fearful Symmetries’. In the Corsaire both principles, Paticia Barker and Stanko Milov, and soloist Casey Herd, flaunted their skills. Their jumps got bigger, their turns faster, and the finish to every phrase more ostentatious. It certainly worked wonders as a crowd-pleaser.<BR> <BR>However, behind the showy leaps and pirouettes of most of the programme lay a true gem. ‘Jardi Tancat’, created by the Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato was the first work to have a sense of honesty and integrity. The PNB looked like another company entirely as they performed to the Catalan folk songs of Maria del Mar Bonet. It was striking how utterly convincing they were in their transition from classical ballet to contemporary dance. Normally a classical dancer finds it difficult to release their upper back and neck, but the PNB took to the movement like ducks to water.<P>The piece is based on the hardship Spanish farmers have to endure when working on their arid land; and the dancers interpreted it with sensitivity and intelligence. Both the men and women danced barefoot. The men wore simple trousers and shirts, the women, long, plain dresses. Their bodies shifted effortlessly from rhythmic repetition, as they stamped their feet against the floor to the music’s beating drums, to wild and free gestures, their heads thrown back and their spines rippling.<BR> <BR>‘Jardi Tancat’ is a beautiful and touching piece of choreography in which every movement was telling, and no fireworks to the audience were necessary. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2002 6:43 am 
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Wow, quite a bit of diversity of opinion on this repertory! It's endlessly interesting to me how much individual's opinions on ballets are swayed quite considerably by personal musical tastes, reactions to costumes, and philosophies of stage presence. (smiling dancers, not smiling dancers, etc) As I've often said, I feel that often reviews tell us more about the critic than the actual piece. It's kind of a "Rorschach (sp) blot" of the aesthetic psyche, so to speak. For example, some folks LOVED the music for "Jardi Tancat", so consequently, they reacted well to the overall piece. One question: Did the dancers really dance barefoot in "Jardi"? Oftentimes, it appears they are, but upon closer inspection, they are wearing flesh colored soft ballet slippers. It is VERY difficult and unusual for ballet dancers, especially women, to dance completely barefoot. The calluses on the bottom of the feet which develop from barefoot dancing, are very counter-productive for dancing in pointe shoes. Also, the feet "spread" or flatten out when barefoot, and then cannot be squeezed into pointe shoes. Anyone know? Netherlands Dance Theatre often appear to be dancing barefoot, for example, but again, usually have on some kind of ballet or soft slipper.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2002 11:41 am 
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I am going to quote, with permission, an opinion from Nigel Grant who operates the DTOL website. He went and saw the Mixed Bill and he has made a general comment about technicalities and performance which I find very interesting.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>You'll notice that I haven't said anything about the dancers. I am not a technical person, and I have to say I don't enjoy the obsession which many in the dance profession have with technicalities. At the intervals in this performance, many of the audience were discussing the companies' and the dancers' performances, in terms of "over arched backs", "the wrong programme for these dancers" and the like. Am I alone in wondering whether the dance industry is more concerned with these technical issues than with communicating with its audience? Surely this is an art form. Its purpose is to communicate the choreographers' intent; nothing more, nothing less. To me, technique is only an issue if it detracts from that purpose.<P>Traditional ballet audiences seem to think it's all for them, in some kind of introspective way. But ballet needs to attract new audiences, without dumbing down to do so. For me, the typical ballet audience does more to discourage new ballet-goers than any other part of the industry. By its language and demeanour, it erects barriers and is not welcoming.<BR><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Nigel has asked me to make clear that these are his personal views and not those of DTOL as a whole. <P>I have to say I agree with his opinions to a certain extent. We can get wound up on technicalities rather than just sitting back and enjoying the whole piece and its intentions. However if we do not appreciate the nuances of technique then why would it be necessary for a dancer to train for so many years. My feeling is if as a critic or audience meber you are having to dissect technique for something to talk about in the performance then the piece may well have failed in it's aims - if we are totally absorbed in a performance then surely the good technique is a given that just blends in to all the other performance aspects.<P><BR>Nigel's comment about audiences is also a good one. I know many people who are not traditional ballet goers who probably would have enjoyed Silver Linings for example but who probably would have been put off by some of the ghastly reviews it received.<P>What are others views?<p>[This message has been edited by Joanne (edited July 08, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2002 12:08 pm 
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The advantages of a programme titled only ‘Mixed Bill’ are these: first, the audience may not have preconceptions or expectations, so a production may feel freed from the pressure of needing to live up to them; second, a company can concentrate of presenting exciting snippets without having to ruminate and wrestle over the details of narrative or coherence within an evening’s performance; and third, you can pretty much guarantee that there’ll be something in there to please everyone. <P>Certainly, PNB’s programme as presented on Friday night was broadranging in terms of the styles of work presented and the atmosphere sought to be created. The order of the programme had undergone a re-jigging from the beginning of the week, so the classical and traditional pieces, Balanchine’s Divertimento # 15 and the Pas de Trois from Petipa’s La Corsaire, started the evening chronologically, to be followed by Nacho Duato’s Jardi Tancat and Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries. The diversity of the programme and of the choreographic styles was a challenge for the company, but they convincingly managed to stay on top of each the pieces. <P>Balanchine is cheeky and quick-witted, and the piece, true to his title, cannot fail to divert an audience. The geometry of the spacing, the witty dialogue between different dancers’ simultaneous but opposing movement, and the constant shifting and interweaving of new numbers and patternings of bodies on the stage, makes for an eye-catching half hour. The dancers were well regimented, so the overall clarity and precision of movement was impressive, and the sharp phrasing, complex footwork and neat allegro, especially from the men, emphasised. <P>The excerpt from Petipa’s La Corsaire reminded us that at its historical root, ballet served as an opportunity for spectacle. The Pas de Trois aimed to wow the audience with classic virtuoso performance. So there was no bandying around with storyline, characterisation or motivation here, just a cut to the chase: powerful, macho grand allegro from the Arabian Nights-garbed men duelling for the attention of the thirty-two double fouetté-ing Indian princess heroine. Admittedly, there is little opportunity for interesting or profound relationships to develop within an excerpt of this length, so the focus was very much on the technique of the dancers. Again, the company ballet masters and mistresses have these dancers spotlessly in control; the three dancers had an impressive clarity and tightness to their movement.<P>The company followed with the two modern pieces, Jardi Tancat and Fearless Symmetries, which represented a stylist turnaround to the evening. Yet, the focus of the work somehow remained the same. PNB is obviously primarily a ballet company and both pieces were made for dancers trained as ballet technicians. Within this context, ‘contemporary’ pieces only work by subverting an already rigorous and defined vocabulary of classical ballet, which immediately limits the range of the body’s potential available to be played with in movement by the choreographer. <P>The meaning of Jardi Tancat rests somewhere between the haunting Spanish wails of Maria Mar Bonet whose music forms a basis to the piece, the desolate and irregular wooden stakes which surround and define the space of the stage, and the breathy, expanded flow of the choreography for the three male and three female dancers. Meaning is frequently ambiguous, often inarticulable and usually communicated on a non-cerebral level. So, when the dancers’ focus in a piece like this, with such potential to touch hearts, is so external, partly through choreographic definition, party through artistic decision, there is no space for the internal, emotional life of a dancing character to come alive and move an audience. Like the piece before it and the piece after it, which saw the dancers in a combination of reds, pinks and oranges whirring round the stage like humbugs shaken up in a jar, physical spectacle is prioritised over emotional credibility. <P><BR>PNB have a lightness and a sharpness to all their work that is a great credit,<BR>yet in this programme, without a pervasive sense of a more human empathy,<BR>I found it hard to relate to the work on anything more profound than a visual<BR>level.<P><P>------------------<BR>lootie bibby

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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2002 12:57 pm 
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Lootie bibby, thank you for your succinct comments. You stated your point of view so clearly. I especically enjoyed your comments about "Divertimento". I don't often think of Balanchine's "tiara" pieces (classical) as being witty, but the way you explained it, I really could visualize the 'give and take' betwixt and between the dancers. Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2002 3:25 am 
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Trina - Clement Crisp said the dancers were all "barefoot" in "Jardi Tancat" and Judith Mackrell of The Guardian said, while praising the performance, that the dancers were "with bare feet" but I am pretty sure that they were not. I have looked back over my notes of the performance and saw that they were wearing soft flesh-tone ballet shoes.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2002 4:10 am 
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I think Emma is right about the shoes. The first couple of minutes of this ballet are danced without music and the sound of bare feet on a stage makes a very distinct sound.<P>Not all the critics were negative though, John Percival gives an excellent review of the triple bill in todays Independent (sorry, failed to find a link) and reviewed Silver Lining yesterday in equally positive terms.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2002 12:41 pm 
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Here is the link to The Independent review. It must have come during today as it wasn't there when I checked the papers first thing this morning.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>A tumult of movement to match a cascade of sound: that is Fearful Symmetries, the work that provides the climax of Pacific Northwest Ballet's second London programme. Several choreographers have been drawn to John Adams's tempestuous score, but Peter Martins's approach suits the music particularly well. He mounted it for his own New York City Ballet in 1990, when the music was still quite new, and PNB first danced it last year.<P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/theatre/reviews/story.jsp?story=313419" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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