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 Post subject: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:01 am 
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Congratulations to principals Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette who were married last weekend:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/fashi ... ?ref=style


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:37 am 
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Gia Kourlas has interviews in Time Out New York with Ashley Bouder and Anthony Huxley.

Ashley Bouder interview

Anthony Huxley interview


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:28 pm 
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There are some new names in the NYCB corps! Welcome to the apprentices who just received their corps contracts:

Lars Nelson
Emily Kitka
Claire Kretzschmar
Spartak Hoxha


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:56 am 
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In the New York Times, Jon Pareles previews "Ocean's Kingdom," the new collaboration between composer Paul McCartney and choreographer Peter Martins.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:00 pm 
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Alastair Macaulay reviews the Tuesday, September 13, 2011 season opening performance of "Swan Lake" for the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:35 am 
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In the New York Times, Kathy Ryan reports on a photo shoot for "Ocean's Kingdom."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:08 am 
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Brian Seibert reviews the Friday, September 16, 2011 performance of the "Balanchine Black & White" program for the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:11 am 
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Leigh Witchel previews "Ocean's Kingdom" for the New York Post.

NY Post


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:38 pm 
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New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
New York, New York

September 15, 17(E)
“Swan Lake”

-- by Jerry Hochman

“Swan Lake” is bulletproof. Once considered by many (including me, after my first viewing eons ago) to be a turgid and somewhat stodgy relic, “Swan Lake” has morphed into an artistic siren. Audiences flock to see it, thanks in large part to the popularity of “Black Swan,” and ballet companies able to present it benefit from the economic stimulus that high ticket prices and full houses provide.

Consequently, any attempt to critically evaluate a “Swan Lake” production – as I am about to do with Peter Martins’s version for New York City Ballet – is doomed to being considered even more irrelevant than usual. But at the risk of being accused of trying to kill the swan that laid the golden egg, “Swan Lake” productions differ in interpretation and artistic vision from company to company, and not all of them are as praiseworthy as others. And as brilliant as the NYCB dancers always are, they are hostage to this production’s misguided concept.

I saw two NYCB “Swan Lake” performances during last week’s sold out run at the David H. Koch Theater (I would have seen more had I been able to rob a few banks): One featuring Sterling Hyltin as Odette/Odile, with Jonathan Stafford as Prince Siegfried; and the other led by Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle. In different ways, each of these performances was a work in progress – partly a result of relative inexperience in the roles, but more a product of the constraints that this production imposes on what the dancers are able to create and communicate to the audience.

My usual complaint with “Swan Lake” productions is that they move too slowly for contemporary sensibilities – or at least my contemporary sensibility. For example, while the ‘court dances’ may display varying degrees of authenticity, to this viewer they often appear stodgy and uninteresting, and they weigh the production down. Similarly, the energizing effect of certain component dances or displays of individual pyrotechnics are frequently numbed by too much interspatial “dead time.” One reason I enjoy American Ballet Theater’s current production as much as I do, even though it takes liberties with more orthodox presentations, is that it moves things along at a much faster pace than do ‘standard’ productions while still maintaining the ballet’s essential style and passion. This NYCB version, however, demonstrates that you should be careful what you wish for. By emphasizing speed and compressing more-or-less the same action into a narrower temporal space, this production transmits a sense of cold angularity that undermines the ballet’s essential Romantic style, creating an air of relative detachment that limits the ability of the audience to become emotionally involved.

Although it was originally choreographed in 1996 for the Royal Danish Ballet, Mr. Martins’s version appears based as much on the one-act “Swan Lake” that George Balanchine created for NYCB in 1951 as on the Petipa/Ivanov benchmark. That is, it is not a ‘new’ creation or reimagining of “Swan Lake” (like Christopher Wheeldon’s superb interweaving of the standard story into a Degas-inspired late 19th Century Parisian ballet studio in the production he created for The Pennsylvania Ballet); rather, it is an effort to make the standard “Swan Lake” more compatible with NYCB style by distilling the story to its physical and emotional essence and eliminating what may be considered to be unnecessary chorographical and decorative baggage.

In this version, the story is transported from its usual idyllic setting to a cold and dreary mountaintop swan aerie (there’s no ‘lake’ in sight – or at least nothing that looks like a lake) on some strange new world where no dancer has gone before, and whose only connection with earth is that the natives speak Ballet. The omnipresent curtains (act curtain and backdrop) created by Per Kirkeby, reportedly Denmark’s most renowned contemporary artist, feature jagged and elongated white zigzags that look like exaggerated strokes of lightning, which are then spread vertically across various irregularly-shaped blocks of muted colors. [It was a dark and stormy night…] These images, which are replicated on portions of the set and costumes, are striking works of abstract art – as if painted by Thor under the influence of Jackson Pollack. But the dominating ‘electric-charge’ images carry with them a perception of angularity and speed that is mirrored in the choreography.

Act I sets the standard for the piece. [In this production, what is usually referred to as Act I (Prince Siegfried’s castle) and Act II (first white act) are combined as separate scenes in “Act I”, and, similarly, what are usually Acts III and IV are combined as “Act II. To make it easier to follow, the ‘Act’ references here will be to the ‘usual’ four Acts.]

The Prince’s castle (at least, the part of it where the action takes place) is presented in an overall dull brownish tint that appears stark and uninviting, and the dancers are costumed in various shades of the same muted color-blocks (e.g., green, lime-green, turquoise green; brick, dark brick, reddish orange, orange). The Act’s lead male character is not the Prince, or the Prince’s tutor, or the Prince’s friend, but a hyper-kinetic Jester. [The muted color-blocks and the sense of detached intensity brought to mind a vaguely-remembered scene from a “Star Trek” episode where the crew had stumbled onto a dreary world where they were entertained with a ‘court dance’ led by an energetic but dispassionate jester. To my addled mind, it appeared as if Scottie had beamed the scene up from earth to another planet.]

Although it is not unusual for a jester character to appear in “Swan Lake” productions, in this version the Jester is given the lion’s share of the dancing, and he dominates the stage and everyone else on it (including the Prince). The music is conducted at a breakneck speed, which results in the Jester struggling to keep pace, which results in exaggeration to the already dizzying and jagged-edged choreography (appropriate for a jester), all of which reflects and reinforces the sense of angularity conveyed by Mr. Kirkeby’s artwork.

Aside from the Jester, the corps dances and court dances were executed to a similar pace, with the dancers, in typical NYCB style, racing to get to their positions in time. [This is all relative, however. A friend commented that the pace of Act I appeared, at times, to be too slow – maybe a result of the uninspired and repetitive choreography, which comes to life only when rescued by the delightful and talented nascent dancers from the School of American Ballet.]

This stylistic approach carries into Act II. Even allowing for intermittent moderation to allow the leads to briefly emote, the tempo is so fast that there’s little opportunity for character development, and even when the production attempts Romantic style, it looks artificial. For example, to this viewer the ports de bras of the corps dancers at the end of various choreographic phrasing in Act II (when the dancers’ arms are raised overhead, then are moved slightly to the left of the dancers’ torsos, with the dancers’ hands pointed downward from the arms) comes across almost identical to the angular port de bras of the male dancers (in ‘toreador’ pose) in Act III’s Spanish Dance. These positions are not supposed to give the same impression, but in this production’s execution, they appeared to be too closely similar. To the same effect, the corps patterning in the white acts frequently eschews Romantic soft edges for angular images (e.g., patterns that look like angular ‘W’s, rather than smooth ‘U’s).

The production is not without its high points. The Act I Pas de Trois is relatively standard, but those changes that were made from versions I’m more familiar with look good and make stylistic sense. I also liked the patterning that Mr. Martins has provided for the corps in the white acts, even though they may not be appropriately Romantic. And although it suffers at times from unnecessary complexity (e.g., in the ‘second’ solo variation), the Pas de Quatre that replaces one of the character dances in Act III is a highlight of this production (as is Mr. Martins’s superbly crafted “Russian Dance,” which is analogous in effect to “Coffee” in Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”). The ballet’s final image of Odette boureeing offstage while flanked by parallel rows of swans and illuminated by some celestial light, doomed to forever be a swan, is too reminiscent of the final image in “Serenade,” but it is sufficiently gripping, and is considerably more intellectually and visually stimulating than seeing Odette’s suicidal leap onto (presumably) a concealed mattress.

Allowing for the production’s limited opportunity for character development, and its compression of time and space that generally makes the movement quality appear angular, both of the Odette/Odiles I saw danced brilliantly, although not flawlessly.

Ms. Hyltin is one of NYCB’s most versatile dancers. Just when you try to type her as merely another NYCB quicksilver speed demon, which she is, she will dazzle you with her ability to reveal nuances of character not previously seen (in her stage persona as well as in the character she’s portraying). However, this production’s accelerated tempo allowed Ms. Hyltin insufficient opportunity to develop the quality of regal vulnerability necessary to make Odette work as a swan queen with whom the audience could emotionally connect. Ms. Hyltin got it all right (including keeping pace with the orchestra, and her wonderful swan arms), but her speed tended to make the rounded forms look angular (like a squeezed toothpaste tube). On the other hand, Ms. Hyltin used the speed in Act III to accentuate Odile’s sensual allure. She moved so quickly and with such evanescent allure coupled with unyielding attack that poor Siegfried didn’t know what hit him. Overall, and understandably, her performance was much improved over her debut in the role(s), which I saw last season. [As I once inartfully stated to a dancer friend, swans don’t hatch fully grown. The opportunity to see an extraordinary dancer like Ms. Hyltin grow in a role like Odette/Odile over time is a privilege, one which would be a welcome gift from other ballet companies as well (e.g., ABT).]

I doubt that Ms. Reichlen was ever an ugly duckling, but for whatever reason, the stage persona of the swan-like dancer that she now appears to be carries no sense of artifice or superiority: Rather, in whatever she performs, she looks and moves and (when the role permits character development) acts like the goddess next door. But her apparent sweetness can be a double-edged sword. To this viewer’s pleasant surprise, she came across as a natural Odette. Her innate ‘niceness’ allowed her to transmit the sensitivity and despair that the role requires, and that can penetrate a viewer’s heart. Unfortunately, the production did not permit her to effectively ‘milk it’. But as was the case with her Siren in “Prodigal Son,” her Odile lacked the sexual allure essential to make the seduction look convincing (or even like a seduction). [Indeed, the way the scene was staged, it appeared as if she made more of an attempt to seduce the Queen than the Prince (the way to a Prince’s heart is through his mother?).] In order to portray a sexual provocateur, Ms. Reichlen needs to act dangerous, and she’s not there. Yet.

The other characters are less clearly defined. Though not a nonentity, the Prince’s role in this production seems diminished; he’s more of an ‘everyman’ with a dominating mother than a danseur noble. Mr. Stafford and Mr. Angle each performed admirably, partnered unobtrusively, and did no harm. As much as I disliked the role of the Jester, the dancers who portrayed him were super. I preferred Adam Hendrickson at Saturday’s performance to Troy Schumacher, possibly because Mr. Schumacher was better at being annoying, while Mr. Hendrickson toned it down a bit. [But as good as they were, neither could surpass the incomparable Daniel Ulbricht, who I saw dance the role last season.]

Both Janie Taylor (accompanied by Ask La Cour) at Thursday’s performance and Rebecca Krohn (partnered by Amar Ramasar) on Saturday evening sizzled in the Russian Dance, with Ms. Taylor being more seductively intense and Ms. Krohn being more intensely seductive. [Had this viewer’s electrocardiogram been taken, it probably would have mirrored the spikes in Mr. Kirkeby’s artwork.] Lauren King, Ashley Laracey, and Christian Tworzyanski on Thursday, and Ashly Isaacs, Brittany Pollack, and Antonio Carmena on Saturday, gave commendable performances in the Pas de Trois, as did Ms. Krohn, Megan LeCrone, Savannah Lowery, and Chase Finlay, and Ms. Laracey, Erica Pereira, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Gonzalo Garcia, respectively, in the Thursday and Saturday Pas de Quatre. Kaitlyn Gilliland and Justin Peck danced the Hungarian Dance at Thursday’s performance; Georgina Pazcoguin and Craig Hall performed the same roles with more pizazz on Saturday. Ms. Pereira and Lauren Lovette, partnered respectively by Giovanni Villalobos and Allen Peiffer, lit up Thursday’s and Saturday’s Neapolitan Dance – Ms. Pereira with her effervescence, and with Ms. Lovette adding dramatic flair.

Perhaps at some point I will grow sufficiently accustomed to this version of “Swan Lake,” to be able to ignore its quirky idiosyncrasies and what, to this viewer, are its poor artistic choices (many more than I can accommodate in this review). But as I wrote initially, “Swan Lake” is bulletproof; any reasonably intelligent mounting of “Swan Lake” is at least as successful as the audience thinks it is, and the audiences at both performances were wildly enthusiastic (allowing for differences in degree between expressions of wild enthusiasm by NYCB audiences and, say, ABT audiences). In the end, perception matters, critical evaluation probably doesn’t, and resistance is futile.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:41 pm 
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I'm fortunate enough to have seen Swan Lake performed by both NYCB and RDB, and my feeling is that it's a prime example of a ballet made for one company that does NOT work well for another company.

It's been a long while seen I've seen NYCB perform "Swan Lake", but I don't believe the versions have any major choreographic or design differences -mostly little tiny variations in choreography and some minor costume variations. What is dramatically different is the way the ballet comes across in Denmark, primarily because the RDB has such a rich history of mime and dance-acting. Though Martins has stripped out a lot of the time, with RDB the story tends to be very strong even so because the RDB dancers make the most of the remaining mime and tell a much richer story through their dancing. I can only imagine how incredible Silja Schandorff and Kenneth Greve - the original cast- were, given their tremendous stage presence and dance skills.

A good example of the differences is the jester. At NYCB he's really a one-note hyperactive entertainer whose purpose is to show off some demi-caractare skills. However, at RDB (cast depending) he really is a much more rounded character, who not only entertains, but subtly often mimics or pokes fun at Siegfried's actions, acting as a foil and providing a bit of foreshadowing. I am extremely fortunate to have seen Morten Eggert perform the role (I think Thomas Lund may have been the original, but I'm not sure), and Eggert creates a fascinating character full of little subtleties. I don't know whether the difference is purely due to the RDB's strong acting/mime tradition or whether there is better/richer coaching at RDB or whether the role was created/has evolved differently.

Danish audiences also seem to have totally different attitudes towards the sets, which seem to be generally reviled in New York. Kirkeby is highly regarded in Denmark, but his style is much more Nordic and modern than is often the taste in the US, so I'm not sure why Martins thought he was a good choice for a production that would end up in NY. Frankly, I'm happy to take the rather stark sets and the plethora of dancing, rather than ABT's more traditional sets, but stodgy ballroom scene divertissements.

What makes Martins' production for me is the ending - I happen to really hate the 'happy' endings because they don't fit the story (ABT's disneyesque ending is horrible). I think Martins' ending makes perfect sense - Siegfried has broken his oath so the lovers cannot be together, but their love is strong enough to kill Von Rotbart. But with his death, the swan maidens are forever trapped by his spell. So the lovers both survive, but forever separate. And the imagery of the white and black swans, and Odette (Odile?) backing off the stage into the beam of light is incredibly powerful.

I might add, that RDB also has the bonus of a perfect setting. They now perform Swan Lake at Operaen, and there's nothing like stepping out at intermission to look over the harbor - and travelling to the theatre by boat!


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:37 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
New York, New York

September 22, 2011
“Ocean’s Kingdom” - World Premiere

-- by Jerry Hochman

Sir Paul has a new career.

“Ocean’s Kingdom,” New York City Ballet’s new addition to the repertoire, choreographed to a commissioned score of the same name by Paul McCartney, had its world premiere tonight. The good news is that Mr. McCartney has composed a flat out fabulous work of art, a score that echoes in the mind and the heart long after the performance ends. The music is everything that audiences expect ballet music to be: it is lush, melodic, dramatic, danceable, and it clearly tells the story that Sir Paul wanted told (he wrote the libretto as well). I thought I heard echoes of early Stravinsky, a little French and Russian Romantic, and a little Asian influence, but the piece stands on its own. While some might consider it retro program music, I thought it was wonderful; a gift not only to NYCB, but to anyone interested in beautiful music.

The ballet is another matter. I would like to be able to say that it was as wonderful as the music, but where the various points of emphasis and stylistic musical patterns in Mr. McCartney’s composition came together as a unified work, “Ocean’s Kingdom” the ballet, to this viewer, took the same points of emphasis and musical patterns and created a mixture of disparate parts that failed to mesh into a cohesive whole.

The “Ocean’s Kingdom” premiere provided the occasion for NYCB’s Fall Gala, and it appeared as if most of the audience had been invitees to the pre-performance cocktail party on the David H. Koch Theater mezzanine, and/or to the post-performance festivities adjacent to the theater. If there was a ‘theme’ to the Gala this year, it was Mr. McCartney himself, who was celebrated and honored and welcomed into the ballet world by adoring upper crust fans and closet Beatlemaniacs. .

“Ocean’s Kingdom” was the only ballet on the program, but the evening began with a brief introduction to, and celebration of, Mr. McCartney’s composition. Led by NYCB’s Music Director, Faycal Karoui, the NYCB orchestra played excerpts from the new score, each of which was preceded by laudatory explanations of each excerpt’s significance in the ballet. Initially, Mr. Karoui’s fawning praise of Mr. McCartney and his music seemed sycophantic, but it quickly became apparent that the gushing was well-deserved admiration, and it quickly became equally apparent that the audience leaned back in their seats, collectively smiled, and knew they were in for a treat.

“Ocean’s Kingdom” is short (less than an hour in length), and is divided into four ‘scenes’ corresponding to the four movements of the score and the four parts of Mr. McCartney’s fairy/folk tale story. King Ocean (a minor role in the piece) has this daughter, Princess Honorata. They live in an underwater kingdom populated by handmaidens, water maidens, and courtiers – and a character named Scala who is ‘in charge’ of the handmaidens (she’s a combination chaperone and wicked witch). One day their idyllic waterworld is invaded by a rowdy tribe of strangely dressed earth people (called Terra Punks), who are ruled by King Terra, who (very aggressively) invites the ocean people to a ‘grand ball,’ which I suppose was an offer the ocean people couldn’t refuse. [One accepts on faith that there has been prior contact between the ocean kingdom people and the earth kingdom people (though the earth people “intrude” on the ocean people – according to the program notes), that each can breathe in the other’s atmosphere, and that one kingdom is a brief walking, or swimming, distance from the other. This is a fairy tale, after all.]

King Terra is accompanied on this visit by his younger brother, Prince Stone, and Prince Stone and Princess Honorata fall in love with each other. [There’s no hint of the Prince being from the wrong side of the beach – the only persons who have a problem with the Princess and Prince falling in love are King Terra, who covets the Princess himself, and Scala, who’s just naturally nasty.]

In the second scene (the second movement in Mr. McCartney’s piece), the ocean people arrive at the ‘grand hall of Dance’ and have a ball, with entertainment provided by exotic dancers (no, not that kind of exotic dancer) apparently from other earth tribes. But as the scene ends, King Terra and Scala, who have conspired together (King Terra because he wants Princess Honorata for himself; Scala because she’s, well, naturally nasty] kidnap Princess Honorata. The third movement begins with the Princess imprisoned. Prince Stone tries to rescue her, but fails. However, he and the Princess convince Scala that she’s made a really bad mistake. Scala repents, sees that Honorata and Stone (next TV season’s police drama series?) really love each other, and frees them. In the last scene (the last movement), Scala fights off King Terra and the Terrables by creating a storm that kills them, but the storm kills her as well. Princess Honorata and Prince Stone return to the ocean kingdom, and live happily ever after, with Scala’s spirit watching over them.

For the first few minutes it looked as if “Ocean’s Kingdom” was going to be a classic marriage of music and ballet, but “Ocean’s Kingdom” the ballet lost its artistic cohesion halfway through the first movement. The ballet opened to an underwater scene, essentially blue costumes bathed in bluish light. I found the costumes, created by Stella McCartney, to be a delightful combination of lovely and cute. But the movement quality became repetitious rather quickly (unlike the music). The water maidens, for example, seemed to repeat the same arm movements – arms extended and alternately flowing up and down, perhaps intended to be the equivalent of treading water – whenever they framed the action.

The earth people would have to move differently from the ocean people. But did they have to look like Native Americans (with war paint/tattoos) doing a war dance, with a leader sporting a Mohawk and dancing like an antelope? Perhaps so – this is a ‘fairy tale, and exaggerated styles go with the territory. But based on first viewing, to this viewer it went too far – particularly with the costumes. The lead entertainer (Daniel Ulbricht) and his cohorts were outfitted in brightly colored tie-dyed uniforms that looked a little late 60s San Francisco, and a little Ringling Brothers. Worse, the characters identified as “Drunken Lords,” wore what might be described as multi-patterned zoot suits, and moved like inebriated hulks. I liked the “Exotic Couple” (beautifully danced by Megan LeCrone and Craig Hall), but the choreography looked like it had been imported from a different ballet, and the bright yellow unitards made the couple look like visiting canaries. [Perhaps these ‘entertainers’ were supposed to be the equivalent of character dancers in classic Romantic ballets (and the repetitious corps movement to be analogous to the way the corps in a Romantic ballet frames the action – if so, it didn’t work.]

The glue that holds “Ocean’s Kingdom” together is the relationship between Princess Honorata and Prince Stone. Each Movement included at least one duet between them; maybe two (I lost count). But except for the initial duet, each of them seemed to be choreographed with similar movement quality and danced at the same moderate decibel level. That is, there was growing love, but not enough of it; and there was passion, but not enough of it, and there was intensity, but very little of it. Had the interaction worked, the ballet would have worked.

All this being said, the ballet is not without commendable scenes. In particular, the opening scene in the Third Movement is stunning. The prison bars behind which Honorata is confined consist of streaming bars of light, which can easily (but no less dramatically) be penetrated as the scene develops. Kudos to Mark Stanley for his usual brilliant lighting throughout). Though a bit too realistic-looking, the scene of the moon slowly rising behind the lovers at the beginning of the Fourth Movement is striking. [It could also have led one to believe that the action took place on some distant planet rather than on earth. The program notes describe King Terra and his companions as “intruders from an earthly kingdom,” and there is no hint that the action takes place on some other part of the universe. But this scene, coupled with the ‘red sky’ that bathed the Terra tribe at the beginning of the Second Movement and the over-the-top costumes, might support an interpretation, and a modification to the program notes, to expand the geographic parameters of the story to ‘any planet’.]

As Princess Honorata and Prince Stone, Sara Mearns and Robert Fairchild danced beautifully together, and looked great, as they always do, but they appeared more restrained by the choreography than they should have been. Amar Ramasar’s King Tetra was an appropriately aggressive and vigorous king of the earth people. But Georgina Pazcoguin as Scala had the most acting to do, and even though the character changes allegiances and personality traits much too quickly, and is somewhat Disneyesque, she was the most dynamic dancer/actor in the piece.

If future tweaking is considered, which often occurs following a ballet’s premiere (and is not an unknown development in NYCB’s history), some time spent examining the relationship between King Terra and Prince Stone might be helpful (as presented now; older and younger brothers are independent characters who seem to have no relationship with each other beyond what is matter-of-factly stated in the story’s synopsis). Was there some history of jealousy between them? Did Stone confront his brother about his interest in or abduction of Honorata? Similarly, some explanation for Scala’s actions could be explored choreographically. Why did she betray Honorata? Did she harbor some resentment against King Ocean? .Exploring these aspects of the story would add texture to the piece, and the music allows for it – by replacing one of the tribal dances, or one of the love duets, or allowing the conflicting emotions to span both musical expressions when the score moves from one such expression to the other.

First performances can be deceiving on many levels – the company may not have settled into it, for example, or my physical position in the theater might have skewed the way the ballet presented. Perhaps it just takes some getting used to. Regardless, “Ocean’s Kingdom” is worth seeing, even if you may not yet be able to see the music, to hear the first of what may hopefully be many ballet scores by Sir Paul McCartney.


Last edited by balletomaniac on Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:41 am 
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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/24/arts/ ... l?ref=arts

I'm not a big fan of Macaulay's, but here I think he absolutely on target. Frankly, it's a disgrace that the company continues to indulge in Martins' mediocre choreographic talents - it's been decades since he's produced anything that has contributed to the company's repertoire in a lasting way. Yet his choreography has been placed front and centre at just about every gala for years.

Not least given the company's financial issues, It's time for the board stop these vanity productions, and insist that Martins' bring in competent choreographers, or base galas around established productions. I have no problem with bringing in Paul McCartney - the publicity alone has probably greatly helped the company - but they've now got an $800,000 ballet that will probably get dropped from the repertoire post haste. Imagine what might have happened if they'd brought in Wheeldon or Ratmansky or one of a number of other innovative choreographers out there - they could have had something quite magnificent.

To be bluntly honest, it's past time for the Board to request that Martins' make a dignified exit. I can't think any of any other ballet company that's had someone in charge for so long - not that longevity is a bad thing, but new blood is badly needed. The company has been struggling economically recently, and Martins' seems to be exercising a lot of bad judgement either in his decisions or not standing up to poor Board decisions. The list ranges from his drunk driving arrest (an incident that would have resulted in prompt termination from just about any other job), to a litany of expensive, poorly costumed choreorographic nightmares, and now a new pricing system that has alienated huge swathes of loyal ballet goers.

I think there are a number of good candidates for the position who could take the company in a new direction and infuse some new inspiration. Top on the list - and his name has been tossed around before - is Damian Woetzel, who seems to be drawing nothing but raves for his directorship at the Vail Dance Festival. Woetzel has also developed into a talented dance-educator who can talk up ballet & ballet history to just about any crowd, and - so far as I know - he's remained on good terms with his former company-mates and with choreographers like Wheeldon, as well as being one of the main promoters of the Robbins' repertory. A big plus is that his own choreographic ambitions seem to be minimal, and he's shown his talents more in organizational and promotional aspects. Though, given Woetzel's rather outspoken liberalism, I could see some serious friction with the Koch side of ABT. I suspect Woetzel was probably quite horrified by a Tea Party name being splattered across the NYS Theatre!

I don't think Wheeldon himself has shown enough desire to deal with the organizational aspects to run such a company, but I wonder if Hübbe could eventually be lured back across the ocean. Or does Jock Soto have such ambitions? I also wonder, despite supposed long term contracts, whether Alexei Ratmansky would drop ABT if offered the whole kit-n-kaboodle at NYCB. Though, I think he's probably had enough of directorial politics, and would resist any contract that limits his freelance choreographic opportunities. And what about Ethan Stiefel - could his directorship at the RNZ Ballet be a trial run for larger things. I get the impression he's shown talent in organization based on the programs he's run in Cape Cod (?) and at the NCSA. Plus, he's familiar with NYCB and the repertoire, and I suspect, would like to come back to NY/ the US on a more permanent basis, given that most of his family and GIllian's are in the US, so NY would be a more natural place to be if they want to eventually to retire from performing and possibly start a family.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:41 pm 
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Apollinaire Scherr reviews the "Balanchine Black and White" program for The Financial Times.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Melissa Whitworth reviews "Ocean's Kingdom" for The Telegraph.

The Telegraph

James C. Taylor reviews the production for the Los Angeles Times.

LA Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet - post Saratoga and Fall 2011
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:57 pm 
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Robert Johnson reviews "Ocean's Kingdom" for the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

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