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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2002 2:40 pm 
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Image<BR><fontsize=1>Muriel Maffre in Balanchine's "Rubies"<BR>Photo by Lloyd Englert</fontsize><P>Since we seem to be getting lots of attention drawn to San Francisco Ballet at the moment (see the Othello thread), I thought I'd start a new thread on the ballet company's next program, "Jewels," which is scheduled Macrh 12th through 17th.<P>I may be opening a Pandora's box here but does anyone have any thoughts on casting?


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2002 9:08 am 
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What is the casting? As of this AM it's not on the web site. The Sunday Chronicle did have an ad with photo of Leslie Young, Julie Diana & Lucia Lacarra, the first 2 especially looking gorgeous. Doesn't sound like casting that would get a lot of arguments.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2002 9:00 pm 
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Hello, CD friends. I am looking forward to San Francisco Ballet’s production of “Jewels.” If you are like me—sort of tired of the same old story about Balanchine, “Jewels,” and Arpels—you might find some additional background material interesting.<P>“Jewels”: Transcription of a Panel Interview: New York State Theater 1/5/98<BR>Ballet Review. Summer 1998, p 81—95.<P>This neat little article in “Ballet Review” is apparently from a panel celebrating New York City Ballet’s “Jewels” revival a few years back. Francis Mason interviews dancers linked with the ballet—Conrad Ludlow, Suki Schorer, Edward Villela, and Merrill Ashley. Here are some interesting little tidbits:<P>Mason says that she talked with Betty Cage, who was general manager of NYCB for many years, and learned that “in the back of Balanchine’s mind really was the fact that Arpels might pay for the ballet.” However, they didn’t. What they did do was offer the “New York City Ballet Brooch” for $2500.<P>In fact, the money for the ballet was an issue because it was originally going to be only one of four ballets. But, it kept growing. Betty Cage had said, “Good heavens, what are you doing? We have no money. We have only budgeted for one ballet.” And, the board of directors used to tell her, “Can’t you tell Mr. Balanchine that we have a budget and we have to know in advance what he is going to do so we can raise the money?” Her response was “I could try. But do you want me to tell him that if he doesn’t tell me by the first of January what he’s going to do, I won’t be able to raise a nickel?” That kept the board quiet.<P>The panelists talked about teaching the principal parts:<P>Schorer: “Violette had many stories that she used in connection with performing the role [principal in “Emeralds”]. She said that for her the solo took place in a bedroom. And that when the music repeats, the steps repeat also but they take on more depth, they grow more sensual.”<P>By contrast, Balanchine emphasized the steps:<P>Mason quotes Balanchine—“Don’t analyze, just dance.” Ashley: “He was afraid that if he encouraged us to analyze, we would overdo it, would stop using our bodies expressively and use only our faces.”<P>Conrad on the “Conrad Step”: “In the finale of “Emeralds,” I would come out like gangbusters, after everyone else is onstage. The entrance was just killing me. I would always warm up backstage like mad just to be able to do the finale. So I asked Balanchine, “Please, I can’t move my legs this fast. Can you change these steps?” For some perverse reason he said, “Absolutely not.” I understand that those steps are in the ballet today. They call it “the Conrad step,” and the dancers hate it like I did, I think.”<P>I remember Deborah Jowitt wrote a nice article about “Jewels” too. Mason mentions Tim Scholl discussing “Jewels” in his book, “From Petipa to Balanchine.” I’ll go look if I have a copy …<P>CranDC, I'm not where I can get a look at the ad you mentioned. Which ballet are the dancers costumed for?<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2002 11:28 pm 
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<B>Opening night casting (Tue, March 12th)</B>:<BR> <BR> Conductor: Neal Stulberg <P> <I>Emeralds</I> <BR> Joanna Berman*, Cyril Pierre* <BR> Julie Diana*, Damian Smith* <BR> Catherine Baker*, Sherri LeBlanc*, Parrish Maynard* <P> <I>Rubies</I> <BR> Piano: Michael McGraw <BR> Tina LeBlanc, Gonzalo Garcia* <BR> Muriel Maffre <BR> <BR> <I>Diamonds</I> <BR> Yuan Yuan Tan*, Roman Rykine* <BR> Catherine Baker*, Sherri LeBlanc, Tiekka Schofield*, Leslie Young* <BR> Peter Brandenhoff*, Michael Eaton*, Steven Norman*, Chidozie Nzerem* <BR> <BR> *Denotes premiere in role <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited March 10, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2002 9:52 pm 
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I found the Jowitt. In her 1983 article, “A Gem Remounted” originally in <I>The Village Voice</I>, Deborah Jowitt quotes Lincoln Kirstein:<P>“Kirstein also said that those who watch the ballet frequently “…find that ‘Emeralds’ rather than the bouncier ‘Rubies’ or the panache of ‘Diamonds’ are indeed the most exquisitely set gems of this particular <I>parure</I> At every reappearance of <I>Jewels</I> in the company repertory, I’ve come to feel that more strongly. Four years ago, I pinned the words ‘elegant reverie’ to it; watching the current revival, I wonder if the whole ballet isn’t being dreamed. The two couples, the trio composed of a man and women, stroll through aqueous green landscape of light, through temporary arbors and avenues formed by ten women of the corps, the Fauré music (from <I>Pelleas and Melisande</I> and <I>Shylock</I>) foliating all with a diffuse blur of melody.<P>“It’s a very still ballet. At the beginning, the ensemble stands watching far less active than is customary in Balanchine works. The illusion of drifting is fostered by bourrées, one of the most prominent steps in “Emeralds.” When the ten women make two parallel diagonal lines interlace and separate again, one of the principal couples travels along this shifting path; the woman glides with tiny fluid toesteps, drawing her partner along….Out of the music and dancing, Balanchine not only conjured up romance, but a glade for it to happen in.<P>“Balancées hint at the waltzes of a distant ballroom….The pas de deux with the “wings” is like a dreamily amorous stroll, the woman walking on pointe, holding her partner’s arm, his hand, their path circuitous.”<P>About “Rubies”:<P>“It’s a good thing there’s an intermission to wake people from the glowing dream of “Emeralds,” before “Rubies” sputters and flashes onto the stage.<P>“The passages for the two principal dancers seem to be about difficulty, about people who rambunctiously enjoy not getting on to such a degree that they <I>do</I> get on very well….Their relationship is like a brilliant dance exposé of those relationships Balanchine knew well from his days as a musical comedy choreographer: the two people we know are in love who spend most of the book ranting at and about each other.”<P>About the “Diamonds” pdd:<P>“It [the pdd] always reminds me of something—some old Russian story ballet taken out of its mounting and recut….I thought this is what it would be like afterward, if <I>Swan Lake</I> had a happy ending. She’d be sometimes remembering what it had been like to be a wild swan, and he’d have to remind her that she was a queen now and he loved her. There’s a hint of that strangeness in their very formal, fond relationship. When he kneels, she leans deeply over him in an arabesque and looks into his face, bringing into mind that farewell in <I>Swan Lake</I>, Act II.” (Jowitt 1983 rpt 1985)<P>There’s more, but for me these are the highlights.<P>I’m not sure I see what Jowitt sees in the “Diamonds” pdd, but after seeing NYCB and Miami City Ballet do “Jewels” several times, I agree with her and Kirstein about “Emeralds” somehow being the ballet’s true afterimage in the sense which Croce uses the term. I especially like her finding the scent of Romanticism in the ballet's pastoral allusions.<P>I think Merrill Ashley remembers at Saratoga that at a certain hour right at twilight, the hue of the sky achieves that brilliant green-blue color that is “Emeralds.” I’d love to see that sometime.<P>Thank you for the prelim casting information, Azlan. Delectable.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited March 07, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2002 5:02 pm 
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I was gone all day and am surprised not to see any controversy posted in this thread. Image<P>As a treat for behaving yourselves, here's a short preview in the Chronicle:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Ballet's Triple Crown<P>Octavio Roca, SF Chronicle<P>George Balanchine's "Jewels" has its highly anticipated San Francisco Ballet premiere at the War Memorial Opera House on Tuesday night.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><a href=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/03/10/PK97220.DTL target=_blank>More</a><P>


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2002 11:44 pm 
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Here is Arlene Croce from “A Balanchine Triptych”:<P>“It’s true that <I>Jewels</I> isn’t about jewels…Even as a metaphor, <I>Jewels</I> doesn’t quite work. By 1967, Balanchine’s style had evolved beyond the kaleidoscopic manipulation of strict classical forms for which he was chiefly known. He was less interested in the chiseled severity of footwork than in the weight and shape of the body as it posed or plunged in cubic space…<P>“Yet “jewel” imagery is not neglected; it depends on where you sit. From high in the house, the loops, strands, and pendants that emerge in the changing pattern of the corps may be seen in all three ballets. The weakest choreography of the evening is the section that comes the closest to foursquare geometrical precision—the opening of “Diamonds”….From orchestra or first-ring level, it is boring to look at—a plodding ensemble waltz that lasts forever. Seen from above, it shows you diamonds, diamonds, diamonds. This is Balanchine as Busby Berkeley, thinking up ways to eat up space on the new State Theater stage.<P>“Balanchine took his titular metaphor seriously enough, but he took even more seriously another kind of imagery—one that seems to have come to him from the imaginary world of ballet….”Emeralds” and “Diamonds” are each a conflation of <I>Swan Lake</I> and <I>Raymonda</I>; they bring back the medieval pageantry and chivalry of those ballets, complete with their glow of post-Wagnerian mythomania. “Rubies” is a sharp (not to say malicious) commentary on the anachronistic survival of the myth into the twentieth century…Both “Emeralds” and “Diamonds” are about queens and the courts they rule; in “Rubies” the royalty is like that of a deck of cards; and it is all part and parcel of the toy kingdom of ballet.”<P>“But even a casual glance at <I>Jewels</I> shows it to be composed not of three unrelated ballets but of two matching panels and a flagrantly dissonant middle panel, which, however, keeps a connection with the two others by extending and upending their formal logic. Without “Rubies,” Balanchine must have reasoned, <I>Jewels</I> would be a bland evening…. “Rubies” refracts instead of reflecting; it does its job in the total scheme of things, and it may be the evening’s masterwork.” (1983 rpt 1987)<P>There’s more, but I especially like how Croce sets “Emeralds” and “Diamonds” in the context of a kind of medieval world view. But not the medieval of mead halls, Lancasterian vs. Yorkist mayhem, or the Black Death: sordid affairs all. I think she’s talking of the world of beautifully illuminated parchment, <I>Morte D’Arthur</I>, possibly Agincourt. <P>Yet, I’m not sure that I see as strongly as Croce does that those 2 ballets share so similar a spirit. There is an ease about both ballets and an esteem for the past that “Rubies” doesn’t share. It’s there in the grace, carriage, and deportment. Its smooth movements speak of etiquette and <I>noblesse</I>; its emotions of nostalgia, romance, even a hint of regret.<P>But, if “Emeralds” is an “elegant reverie,” it is certainly a private one. In the second movement, “Fileuse: Andantino,” with a secret smile the ballerina shows us first one hand than the other. It’s a game only for two.<P>By contrast, “Diamonds” is all pageantry. Even in the grand “Diamonds” pas de deux Jowitt sees royalty—Odette and Siegfried—and not, say, Franz and Swanilda. Even if the corps’ Busby Berkelely patterns aren’t really distant kin of <I>Ballet Comique de al Reine</I> and the <I>Salle Bourbon</I>, they share an affinity, the same braggart spirit—these dancers are our company … enjoy.<P>“Rubies” however sets the others off. Sparks fly and the pas de deux does smolder—but not as Jowitt might suggest with the panache of Howard Hawks or Preston Sturges. In the first movement, “Presto,” is there really the pressured speech of “His Girl Friday”? Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell?<P>Perhaps “Rubies” has an affinity for the spirit of word games and riddles. Not literally of course, because nobody’s asking anything. It’s just there might be a challenge and almost a dare in the way the soloist ballerina’s arms and legs are manipulated by the corps men, or is it the other way around?<P>These are just my random thoughts before the show. I’ve often thought of Vanessa Zahorian as dancing “Rubies” and Joanna Berman in “Emeralds.” How nice to see them cast so.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2002 5:51 am 
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Ah - Le Mort d'Arthur.....<P>Tristan, Tristan who so loved Isolde...a love duet that was a jewel.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2002 3:12 pm 
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The casting permutations are giving me a headache:<P><B>Wednesday, 13 Mar, Evening - 7:30 pm</B> <P> Conductor: Neal Stulberg <P> <I>Emeralds</I> <BR> Lorena Feijoo*, Yuri Possokhov* <BR> Katita Waldo*, Stephen Legate* <BR> Tiekka Schofield*, Leslie Young*, Sergio Torrado* <P> <I>Rubies</I> <BR> Piano: Michael McGraw <BR> Vanessa Zahorian*, Guennadi Nedviguine* <BR> Muriel Maffre <P> <I>Diamonds</I> <BR> Lucia Lacarra*, Cyril Pierre* <BR> Dalene Bramer*, Kathleen Martuza*, Nicole Starbuck*, Rachel Viselli* <BR> Jason Davis*, Zachary Hench*, Ruben Martin*, Sergio Torrado* <P> *Denotes premiere in role<P>------------------------------------------<BR> <BR> <BR><B>Thursday, 14 Mar, Evening - 8:00 pm</B> <P> Conductor: Neal Stulberg <BR> <BR> <I>Emeralds</I> <BR> Joanna Berman, Cyril Pierre <BR> Muriel Maffre*, Benjamin Pierce* <BR> Catherine Baker, Sherri LeBlanc, Parrish Maynard <P> <I>Rubies</I> <BR> Piano : Michael McGraw <BR> Lorena Feijoo*, Yuri Possokhov* <BR> Yuan Yuan Tan <P> <I>Diamonds</I> <BR> Julie Diana*, Vadim Solomakha* <BR> Dalene Bramer, Kathleen Martuza, Nicole Starbuck, Rachel Viselli <BR> Jason Davis, Zachary Hench, Sergio Torrado, Ruben Martin <BR> <BR> *Denotes premiere in role


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2002 2:24 pm 
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Casting is now posted for all performances:<BR> <A HREF="http://www.sfballet.org/performances/casting/" TARGET=_blank>http://www.sfballet.org/performances/casting/</A>


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2002 11:20 pm 
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<B>Quick impressions of opening night</B>:<P>"Rubies" - Wow! Sexy. Gonzalo Garcia was great. Muriel Maffre was very good. Tina LeBlanc was also good but not sexy enough for me. The corps was quite good. This isn't surprising as they've done this ballet before.<P>"Diamonds" - Suprisingly quite good. Yuan Yuan Tan and Roman Rykine were spellbounding. And the corps was nearly perfect.<P>"Emeralds" - They got the steps but it'll take a while for them to capture the essence of this ballet. The mood wasn't there. Joanna Berman was however scrumptious to look at. And of course there was a certain male dancer who although was a great partner, just didn't quite pull off the solo 100%.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited March 13, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2002 10:47 am 
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I concur with all said above but would add:<P>Rubies: The tempo seemed slow, but maybe I'm used to NYCB breakneck tempos.<P>Diamonds: The corps successfully avoided a trainwreck in the forth movement, but not without some tense moments.<P>Emeralds: I just love this music. It's wonderful to see a choreographer use the music to it's fullest potential.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2002 11:13 am 
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Yeah, I do agree about the tempo for "Rubies" but it did pick up some.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2002 10:06 pm 
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<B>Second night impressions:</B><P>"Emeralds" - They still didn't get it but this time a couple of the principals were also guilty of not projecting the right mood. Too sprightly for this subtle ballet.<P>"Rubies" - Oh, Vanessa Zahorian. So young. So beautiful. A mishap near the beginning however got the audience's attention for the wrong reason. Still, much preferable to LeBlanc. But what happened to Guennadi Nedviguine? He used to have so much energy. And, oh, Dalene Bramer in the corps is one to watch -- clean technique, with a definite presence.<P>"Diamonds" - Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre looked so regal and glamorous. But, um, which ballet were they dancing? The program notes said "Diamonds" and the costumes looked like they came from "Diamonds" but the choreography seemed different to me. The steps were quite different from last night's performance or any other performance of "Diamonds" I've seen. Hmm, maybe it was <B>Improv Night</B> at the Ballet.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited March 20, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet 2002 - 'Jewels'
PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2002 8:53 am 
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And, oh, I forgot to add that almost all the shoes squeaked like crazy in "Diamonds" Tuesday night. It drove me nuts!


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