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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Posts: 351
Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

February 18, 2012 (M)
“Romeo + Juliet”

-- by Jerry Hochman

When I first saw Peter Martins’s new version of “Romeo + Juliet” when it premiered five years ago (yes, it has been that long), I noted in my review that one of the hallmarks of the production was Mr. Martins’s decision to use relative unknown dancers as the leads. And of the three dancers I saw during that first week, the one that pleasantly surprised me most was a dancer not yet even in the corps – Erica Pereira.

Time passes. Ms. Pereira is now a soloist. But some things don’t change. What I observed in Mr. Martins’s new production, the pros and the cons, still ring true to me now – I wouldn’t review it any differently (except perhaps to add a comment about how the sets and costumes look even worse than I remembered). Ms. Pereira, although she’s now more of a ‘ballerina,’ still looks like a teenager. In her early teens. And Mr. Martins is still trying out young dancers who are age-appropriate for the roles. This time, it was a ‘new’ Romeo: Taylor Stanley, whom I had not previously seen, and who is in the corps.

Mr. Stanley is an interesting dancer, and his debut was remarkable. He appeared to this viewer to be very careful, which is understandable under the circumstances, but he has a clean line, moves dynamically, and is a superb partner. I would have preferred it if his lifts were timed to be seamless rather than ‘dead weight’, but this is a minor point, and will likely cure itelf as he grows into the role. Although I never saw him dance, based on photographs I’ve seen Mr. Stanley brings to mind Arthur Mitchell.

The difficulty I had with the performance was not the quality of the dancing, which was exemplary, but the quality of the relationship portrayed. Mr. Stanley came across, to me, as a sweet boy who not only had not fallen in love before, but looked like he’d never seen a girl before (or at least never paid attention if he had). Part of this – perhaps most of it - is Mr. Martins’s conception of the character as a Romeo who’s no Romeo, and of Romeo and Juliet as pure innocents doomed by the violence around them. But with Ms. Pereira looking as youthful as she does (anyone else chosen as Juliet to Mr. Stanley’s Romeo would have come across as a cougar), and Mr. Stanley appearing as wide-eyed innocent as he did, I didn’t sense any passion between them, and Romeo and Juliet as an expression of puppy love didn’t do it for me. [On the other hand, had the passion been adequately displayed, at least to this viewer’s satisfaction, I suspect I would have found it to be inappropriate given that the dancers looked fresh out of junior high.]

But Ms. Pereira and Mr. Stanley picked up the emotional tempo in the second act (which, in this version, begins with the couple’s marriage ceremony), and Ms. Pereira in particular was convincing enough to make me fight back tears. [Then again, for this viewer, I concede that it doesn’t take much.]

Adam Hendrickson was an ebullient and sophisticated Mercutio – a good foil to the innocent Romeo (he’d make a solid Romeo himself) – and Christian Tworzyanski acquitted himself well in his debut as Benvolio. As Tybalt, Joaquin De Luz elevated nastiness to an art form: his Tybalt had no redeeming social value at all – except he could dance really well. And as they did when I saw them in their roles five years ago, Amanda Hankes brought zest and charm to her performance as the Nurse, and Darci Kistler and Jock Soto, as Lady and Lord Capulet, added gravitas to a stage that needed it. Mr. Soto’s wrenching portrayal of a nobleman losing control of his daughter, his family, and his world is alone worth the price of admission.

[I hope to see another R+J next week, and will likely add my comments about that performance to this one. In the mean time (and recognizing that it’s bad form to quote oneself), my prior review of this production is one I would not change or amend. For those interested, a link is attached.]
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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:59 pm 
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Brian Seibert reviews the Friday, February 17, 2012 performance of "Agon," "Fancy Free" and "Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3" for the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:56 am 
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Location: Canada
http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/ ... /?ref=arts

The company's music director, Faycal Karoui, has stepped down, leaving the company searching yet again for musical leadership. However, how little he's been around and the rumors his absence has engendered, I think the NYTimes article doesn't tell the whole story. Clearly he was hired based upon his being able to make a certain time commitment to NYCB, and while I believe the Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn position preceded his NYCB appointment, taking on another position (and then claiming lack of time for NYCB) suggests that NYCB was no longer a priority. To put it mildly...

I would suspect that either there were financial, personnel and/or artistic issues at NYCB that drove him away, or he was no longer interested in the ballet music world. The latter has certainly been a problem with ballet conductors in the past; running a ballet orchestra - even one with the musical diversity and prestige of the NYCB orchestra - is seen as a lesser achievement in the orchestral world.

It's a shame, because Karoui seemed to raised the level of the orchestra and through force of personality, used the 'intro the music' sessions to increase interest in the company. By all accounts, when he was around, he was a great success. As was his predecessor, who also left after an equally short NYCB career.

The whole situation suggests that NYCB needs to do some serious soul searching, as they both need to seriously consider what they need in a musical director and their current financial/artistic situation. I suspect, given the current financial crunch, the company cannot currently offer the kind of salary that attracted someone at the level of Karoui. Plus, this may be the wake up call the company needs to address the factors in their applicant searches and company that are leading to difficulties in retaining musical directors.

Firstly, one wonders if the company might want to focus on domestic candidates, given that both previous directors departed for reasons directly related to their move from abroad (i.e. family not making the move well, being to far from other musical commitments). Plus, there is a significant cost savings when you aren't having pay for visas and international moving expenses. Domestic candidates may also be more aware of US-style unions and thus better able to deal with the issues that arise as a result.

And, while it may not be a prime issue, I think this is another hint that it's past time for a change in artistic leadership at NYCB. Certainly, continuity is healthy for a ballet company, but Martins is approaching 30 years at the top and I think he's well past his 'best by' date. It's not that he hasn't done some great things for NYCB, but I don't think I'm the only one to think that the company is beginning to get a bit stale around the edges. There's too much reliance on the same old ideas, and a lack of truly fresh ideas to advance the company.
For instance, I adore NYCB's commitment to new choreography, but too many times it's fallen flat because Martins relies heavily on his mediocre (at best) choreography, gimmicks like celebrity costume/set designers which in the long term probably cost more than they bring in, and too many commissions in a short time. Better step back and look at the goals, and focus time and effort on the choreography and rehearsal, while limiting the fancy extras to those cases where they make sense (i.e. a Wheeldon or Ratmansky premiere). Clearly, there will always be pieces that don't end up being long term repertory staples, but NYCB's toss to keep ratio has been getting very high, and too many of the tossers have had considerable set/costumes resources devoted to them.

Never mind the inanity of the new ticket pricing policy which has done more to alienate long term NYCB-goers at a time when NYCB needs income the most. No-one can fault a company for trying to pinch some pennies now, but you make changes in measured, practical increments, and consider your audience above all else. I've never seen a company that managed to so effectively anger and alienate all it's key groups - subscribers, casual ticket purchasers, long term 4th ring devotees etc - at once. And the company, while wanting to expand it's audience, perpetuates a donor program that has some of the highest minimum donations to even get the barest of perks. Meet the dancer programs, receptions, rehearsal privileges etc. that are relatively accessible and open at almost any other company require donations in the hundreds and thousands of dollars at NYCB. Even in the gilded world of NYC, there are far fewer people who can make more than small donations these days.

Anyway, I think NYCB should be strongly considering giving Martins a gala 30th anniversary going away gift of retirement and starting to look for candidates who would bring a breath of fresh air to the company. I think Damian Woetzel (along with his wife Heather Watts) would be a strong candidate, and both Ethan Stiefel and Nikolaj Hübbe are testing the directorship waters abroad. Plus, there's Ratmansky and Wheeldon, as well a number of dancers who are departing the active performing ranks with strong interests and potential. This fresh blood could inject new spark and bring back some faces that Martins has alienated for far too long (Farrell, for one...).

Kate


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:50 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

February 17 (E), 24, 26, 2012
“Interplay,” “Agon,” “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3”
“Donizetti Variations,” “Russian Seasons,” “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3”
“Agon,” “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3”

-- by Jerry Hochman

George Balanchine reportedly once commented that the collaborative relationship that he had with Igor Stravinsky mirrored that between Petipa and Tchaikovsky. In terms of true artistic collaboration – working together with another, concurrently, toward an artistic goal – this is certainly true, and there is no question that Balanchine’s collaboration with Stravinsky yielded seminal works of huge significance in ballet history.

But in a broader sense, collaboration is a partnership, and from this audience member’s point of view, the collaboration between Balanchine and Tchaikovsky, even though not concurrent in time, is as memorable as that between Balanchine and Stravinsky. The first ballet that Balanchine choreographed after immigrating to the United States was to a Tchaikovsky score, “Serenade,” in 1934, and the online Balanchine Catalogue of the Balanchine Trust lists some 40 works that Balanchine created to music by (or inspired by) Tchaikovsky, including such masterworks as “Mozartiana” (originally choreographed in 1933), “Ballet Imperial” (1941; recently presented by Miami City Ballet); “Theme and Variations” (1947, for Ballet Theatre); “Allegro Brillante” (1956); “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” (1960); and “Diamonds” (1967; the concluding facet of “Jewels”).

To those accustomed to Balanchine/Stravinsky black-and-white collaborations, the grandly romantic Tchaikovsky music may seem antithetical to Balanchine’s vision of neo-classical ballet. To this viewer, however, the Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaborations show not only that there is no incompatibility between the Balanchine aesthetic and Tchaikovsky’s grand romanticism, but also that the impact of Balanchine style on Tchaikovsky’s music was an even more stunning accomplishment. The masterpieces that Balanchine choreographed to later Stravinsky scores were independently groundbreaking, but ‘looking different’ was a natural consequence of the score ‘sounding different’. The Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaboration allowed the audience to see music with which they were already familiar and comfortable in a more contemporary visual way.

But that’s an academic discussion for another day. What makes Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaborations special, aside from whatever artistic motivations and expressions they reveal, is that they provide a choreographic vision of Tchaikovsky’s music that audiences love to watch.

Rather than being a cerebral and intellectual collaboration, Balanchine’s artistic relationship with Tchaikovsky is an emotional one to which Balanchine applied his own artistic sensibilities. Balanchine’s collaboration with Stravinsky (particularly later Stravinsky) appeals to an audience’s heads. Balanchine’s collaboration with Tchaikovsky appeals to an audience’s hearts. And while audience response is not the sole measure of the success of a work of art, it is not irrelevant either. With Balanchine/Tchaikovsky, your eyes open wide at the visual feast in front of you. It is not at all unusual to hear a collective ‘aahhhh,’ perhaps a sigh of relief from intellectual rigor, as the curtain rises on “Serenade” or “Ballet Imperial,” or the stage lighting ignites your first view of ‘Diamonds’ or “Theme and Variations.” Seeing theatergoers whistling a happy tune as they exit a theater into some enchanted evening is a fair measure of a Broadway musical’s success and a barometer of its likely transition from being a great artistic accomplishment to being memorable. And when one exits a theater with physical images of musical phrases implanted in one’s brain, as I find myself doing after seeing a Balanchine/Tchaikovsky performance, this is a fair barometer of the dance’s transcendence from being appreciated, to being loved.

Recent New York City Ballet performances that featured a masterpiece choreographed to Stravinsky: “Agon”; and a masterpiece choreographed to Tchaikovsky: “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3,” illustrate what I mean.

“Agon” is a plotless ballet, with no story and little hint of any emotional relationship between the dancers. Although the title of the piece is translated as “The Contest,” the ballet has nothing at all to do with a ‘contest’; and although the components of the ballet are modeled after examples of mid-17th Century French dances (found, according the program notes, in a French dance manual), for the average balletgoer the fact that what is on stage is modeled after Renaissance dances with exotic-sounding names (e.g., Sarabande; Gailliard) is of little significance. But “Agon” has everything to do with a renaissance of looking at movement (and of listening to music: the score is every bit as ‘grand’, in its own way, as are scores by Tchaikovsky).

The genius of “Agon,” to this viewer, is that even though there’s no emotional interaction in the usual sense, the dancers are not moving merely as bodies in space – there’s a relationship of some sort between them that tells a ‘story’ without any semblance of plot – just by the structure and balance of the ballet, and the tension created by the physical interaction of the dancers’ bodies. It is a sublimely circular piece, with a distinct beginning, middle, and end, where the end harkens back visually to the ballet’s beginning.

When “Agon” is performed as well as it was last Saturday and again this afternoon, it is a stunning experience. Megan LeCrone has proven herself to be the stereotypical tall, lean and angular Balanchine/Stravinsky dancer, and her performance in “Agon” last Saturday, her debut in the role, provided another example of her growing facility. This afternoon, Teresa Reichlen danced the role with added majesty. Sean Suozzi on Saturday and Andrew Veyette this afternoon were first rate in all the sections in which they danced, with Mr. Suozzi showing a bit more crispness and passion. And the support provided by Amanda Hankes, Ashley Laracey, Rebecca Krohn, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Daniel Appelbaum was superlative. But Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar, at last Saturday’s performance, were off the critical chart. For a pas de deux without emotional content, they generated enough electricity to light the theater. Ms. Kowroski by now is a well-known quantity, and superlatives are expected at every performance. But Mr. Ramasar seems underappreciated. Over the past several seasons he has proved himself to be an exceptional partner and superb technician and stage presence. He deserves more attention, and acclaim, than he gets. Their performance, together with the others mentioned, made last Saturday’s performance of “Agon” one of the finest that this viewer has seen.

But notwithstanding the choreographic ingenuity and the brilliance of the performances, “Agon” remains, to this viewer, a cerebral work that is appreciated (thoroughly) rather than loved. Good for an evening’s conversation, but not a work I’d daydream about.

“Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3,” on the other hand, is more than just stimulating company. It is a ballet to take back home with you.

“Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3” may appear, at first viewing, like two independent and somewhat contradictory ballets that were grafted together of incompatible parts to form an uncomfortable whole. But to this viewer, “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3” is a triumphantly cohesive and coherent whole, and a piece that represents a synthesis of the romanticism and the grandeur of the Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaboration.

The movements that together comprise the first of the ballet’s two apparently separate parts (‘Elegie’, ‘Valse Melancolique’, and ‘Scherzo’) can be seen as idealized representations of pure sensuality. Except for one male dancer in each section (each costumed like a stereotypical poet/dreamer), the movements are populated entirely by women wearing long, gossamer, chiffon-like dance skirts (with different muted pastel colors for each section). The action takes place behind a scrim, and the stage is lit as if by moonlight. The girls’ long hair, which is down in all three sections, responds to every body movement in tandem with the girls’ diaphanous skirts as they dance Balanchine’s lush, sweeping choreography to Tchaikovsky’s lush, sweeping score. These three movements together may be the most dreamily sensual in ballet. As if to wink at the audience, and at Tchaikovsky, Balanchine even has the lead poet in the ‘Elegie’ section gently drag one of his hands across each of the girls’ long tresses as he searches among them for the girl of his dreams.

But these three movements, although visually similar and different from the final movement, are more than just sensual. Balanchine has crafted a clear a progression from one to the other as they lead to ‘Tema Con Variazioni’ (‘Theme and Variations’) all in the context of the grand Romantic Russian ballet, updated. ‘Elegie,’ in which the poet/daydreamer searches for his idealized woman much as Prince Siegfried searches for Odette, has perhaps the most emotional content, and is representative of dream sequences common to Romantic ballets (distilled a la Balanchine, of course). ‘Valse Melancolique’, danced by the girls in ballet slippers (after having been barefoot in ‘Elegie’) is a more intricate, moody, and varied section choreographically (and musically): a little dream, a little drama. And ‘Scherzo’, while still danced by the girls with long hair and gossamer skirts, is danced in toe shoes and at top speed, with the most difficult-looking choreography and the least emotional gloss. ‘Theme and Variations’, though it stands on its own (and looks different from the other three sections), is the ‘final‘ progression – no more emotional content than is provided naturally in the pas de deux, and fully classical in appearance, from tutus to toe shoes. And the entire piece is tied together as a tribute to ‘Tchaikovskian’ Russian grandeur by the majestic illuminated chandeliers (nearly hidden in the Romantic cloud-haze of the first three movements; clear as a bell in “Theme”) that watch over the entire piece like inanimate imperial fairy godmothers.

In another sense, “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3” is a progression and a synthesis of Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaborative style. The ‘Elegy’ section is a direct descendant of “Serenade.” The movement quality is the same; the style is the same, and the hands-outstretched, palms out posture stopping the dreamer from approaching, look like out-takes from “Serenade.” The ‘Theme and Variations’ movement is a direct descendant of “Ballet Imperial.” “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3” brings both prongs of the Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaboration together.

And then there’s the piece itself, particularly “Theme.” The score, obviously, is a magnificent development of variations on a musical theme. Balanchine choreographed his own ‘Theme and Variations’ to Tchaikovsky’s ‘Theme and Variations’, not merely mimicking the musical phrases, but developing them choreographically. Every movement phrasing is repeated, with different variations. Arabesques to the left, followed by arabesques to the right; partnered pirouettes where the ballerina turns by herself held by her partner, then her partner circles her as she stands in place. You see it once, you see it again, and then you see a variation, and then you see it again, and then another variation, and so on. It is an extraordinary piece of work that one doesn’t fully appreciate until one sees the interwoven tapestry that Balanchine created as a series of variations on a theme. The first time I realized the nature of what I was seeing (it took awhile; as I’ve written previously, I’m a little slow), it was an epiphany.

Each of the three performances I saw of “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3” last week were of the highest caliber, and when distinctions are drawn, they are, with rare exception, personal preference. In ‘Elegie’, Sara Means was a possessed, driven, and somewhat distracted object of desire. Teresa Reichlen, in her debut in the role on Friday, was a more sympathetic image; a dream worth losing yourself in, or worth diving off a cliff for. In one performance, Ms. Reichlen’s portrayal became the standard by which I will measure other performances. Ask la Cour was the stalwart, if somewhat befuddled dreamer, at each performance. Both Janie Taylor and Rebecca Krohn were memorable as the lead in ‘Valse Melancolique’. But as much as I appreciated the stunning clarity of Ms. Taylor’s work, Ms. Krohn, in her debut in the role on Friday, was nothing short of spectacular. Not only was her execution clear as crystal, her natural, unforced sensuality added a measure of warmth to the segment as a whole. Jared Angle was the ardent suitor in all performances. In the ‘Scherzo’ section, Ana Sophia Scheller and Erica Pereira (in her debut in the role on Friday) were both superb. Ms. Scheller gave a more complete portrayal, but I found Ms. Pereira to be a bit more unexpectedly exciting to watch. Her performance appeared more of an effort, while Ms. Scheller showed no sign of such strain, but it was thrilling to watch Ms. Pereira dance as if she were shot out of a cannon. Antonio Carmena accompanied Ms. Scheller at both of her performances; Daniel Ulbricht added more fuel to the fire as Ms. Pereira’s partner at Friday’s performance. As you may have gathered, Friday’s performance, with three superlative debuts, was quite remarkable.

I hold ‘Theme and Variations’ to very high standards. Between ABT and NYCB, I have seen it performed by extraordinary dancers. [The two versions are essentially identical, except NYCB’s is performed at a much faster pace.] The three NYCB performances I saw in the past week were all commendable. Tiler Peck nails everything she does, and her “Theme” this afternoon was no exception; her performance was the most confidant of the three I saw (the other two being Megan Fairchild last Saturday and Ashley Bouder on Friday – both of whom were as competent, just not quite as securely comfortable looking as Ms. Peck). But in “Theme,” the lead danseur is as critical, if not more so, than the lead ballerina, and he must be completely on the mark with every step, as well as partner superbly, in order for the piece to look its best. Unfortunately, Ms. Peck’s partner, Gonzalo Garcia, was not up to her standard, struggling to keep pace, and being slightly, but frequently and noticeably, behind the beat. Joaquin De Luz also struggled to keep pace, but, as he used to do as the Golden Idol in “La Bayadere” with ABT, he met the challenge. On the other hand, Andrew Veyette, partnering Ms. Bouder, was superb. He hit every mark effortlessly, partnered unobtrusively, and looked in complete command. And I must acknowledge the contribution of Clotilde Otranto at the latter two performances: in her hands, the NYCB orchestra was energized, set a blistering pace, and sounded as magnificent as the dancers looked.

As the piece ended and the NYCB audience delivered its usual appreciative and celebratory sitting ovation, I could hear audience members humming phrases from ‘Theme’ as they exited the theater.

“Agon” and “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3” were not the only ballets on the three programs discussed, but I have already commented on the others in prior reviews, or will do so in a subsequent review. However, I must briefly reference the cast change in “Russian Seasons” at Friday’s performance (debuts were the previous night). As good as was the performance of “Russian Seasons” that I saw previously this season, to this viewer Friday’s cast looked superior. The credit goes to Robert Fairchild, Abi Stafford (dancing a different role in the piece than she did previously), Lauren Lovette, and particularly Rebecca Krohn and Georgina Pazcoquin. Together they made an already brilliant piece look even better, with more technical clarity and less apparent effort and embellishment..

Sunday’s performance marked the end of NYCB’s winter season. In the spring, NYCB plans to present both “Serenade” and “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3,” as well as the “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.” Be still my heart.



corrected for spelling erros and - yes - I knew it was Odette and not Odile that I was referring to.


Last edited by balletomaniac on Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:42 pm 
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Kate – I posted the review above before I saw your post.

A few brief comments (I’ve been underwater, and don’t have time for greater elaboration).

Re: the conductor issue: It used to be that there was one conductor per evening; now, there are multiple conductors assigned to any single program. I don’t know the rationale for this (lighten the load on one conductor? assign one conductor to a particular piece of music?), but it seems unnecessary to me. Two would be sufficient, and would free up some funds.

I don’t know what NYCB will be looking for in a new music director (in terms of credentials), but in terms of being able to bring out the best in the orchestra, they already have some capable candidates. I highlighted Clotilde Otranto in the review above, and didn’t mention the conductor of the other ‘suite no. 3’ performance for a reason. I don’t usually pay much attention to conductors unless I happen to be seated behind him/her, or unless there’s a noticeable problem. There was a noticeable problem with the conducting of the other performance of Theme (for NYCB, it was too slow – but he was a guest conductor, so he gets a pass). But Ms. Otranto’s conducting brought the orchestra to life – and I’ve felt that with other performances she’s conducted. And having your stage view blocked would never be an issue. So all other things being equal, she’d be a good choice. [I never really minded having my view blocked by Robert Irving – sometimes he was as entertaining as the performance on stage.] Andrew Sill, the current Assistant Music Director, did a fine job with the ‘See the Music’ presentation prior to the Feb. 18 performance, and I had no complaints with respect to his conducting of “Interplay”. So if they’re looking for a PR person as much as a conductor, Mr. Sill would appear to be a fine choice. [I’ve never heard Ms. Otranto speak, so I don’t know if she’d be able to fill that role.]

I agree with you about ticket pricing. But this isn’t just a NYCB issue – and I’d rather have stable pricing (if they don’t sell, the pricing will eventually have to adjust to demand) than the ‘flexible’ ticket pricing that some companies have adopted where ticket prices seem to change day to day depending on demand. I think the practice should be illegal. [Incidentally, for what it’s worth, the recent NYCB performances I saw appeared from my vantage point to have been to nearly full houses. They could have papered the house, but it didn’t look that way.]

With respect to donation perks – I can’t speak to how many open rehearsals are offered, or opportunities to ‘meet the dancers’ (which from what I’ve seen are usually packaged as separate money-making events). But the dancer panel discussion I recently wrote about, and the open ‘company class’, were free events, and were filled to capacity.

As for Mr. Martins – I agree and disagree. And I think I addressed this once before. I agree that the new choreography has been problematic. But, aside from Wheeldon and Ratmansky, how many recent successes have there been? More importantly, I disagree with your evaluation of the state of NYCB in general. What you wrote may have been accurate several years ago, but there has been a significant change in the past few years. I seriously doubt that anyone would now claim that another company dances Balanchine better than they do (as good as – maybe – I’m thinking NYCB-South; but better? I doubt it). But it’s not just Balanchine. With rare exception, the dancing has been at a very high level across the board. And it seems (I don’t know this for a fact) that the NYCB dancers are being allowed greater opportunity to add personal nuances to roles that used to be considered set in stone. I see variations from dancer to dancer, not just in ability, but in texture and nuance. Perhaps it has always been this way, but it seems to me to be more apparent now. In this respect, Mr. Martins’s stewardship deserves to be credited.

More importantly, at least to me, with other companies I can pick a dancer out from the corps (as I have a nasty habit of doing), and then never see her being anything more than window dressing for years. It’s hard to grow into a role when there’s no opportunity given to dance it. With NYCB (granted it’s a different rep), casting chances are taken, dancers get a chance to grow, and audiences have the opportunity to watch them grow. If nurturing dancers isn’t important for nurturing audiences (I think it is), it is certainly important for nurturing a ballet company.

I think a more critical issue is what will happen with MCB after next year. [I alluded to that in the MCB review I wrote last month.] Do you think the candidates you mention would be interested in moving South?

- Jerry


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:17 am 
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Hi Kate and Jerry. Thanks for the interesting discussion. I haven't had a chance to get into it in detail but will try to do so.

Jerry, I noticed your mentioning that you like seeing the dancers expressing themselves more. Suzanne Farrell has stated that she also encourages her dancers to be themselves and not to copy her. George Balanchine, I believe, often felt the same.

George Balanchine also stated that after he was gone his works would never be performed the same. When I see the Mariinsky and the Miami City Ballet perform the same work by him, as equally good as I think that they are, I would barely recognize them as being the same creation.

I've watched an interesting and charming internet video of Frederick Ashton returning at approximately the age of 80 to coach a restaging of his "The Dream." He often tells his dancers how he wishes something to be 'returned' to his personal intentions. Then you can see Anthony Dowell, who Ashton was giving these instructions to, passing it on to his students, and the look is already different again.

Jerry, you also mentioned giving the NYCB dancers as much of a chance to develop as possible. At the Miami City Ballet, Edward Villella has said that of the large number of works that the MCB performs, with only thirty to forty dancers, there are always Five casts available for any given work. He really likes giving his dancers a chance to do everything and he feels that they love it and grow noticeably as performers.

One other thing that I love about the Miami City Ballet dancers is that as much as they look like a pick up group of nice kids from the neighborhood, they are amazingly talented. I'm not sure how they do it, but more power to them.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:37 am 
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Thanks for another great review, Jerry. I once again have to say how lucky I think that you are to be able to see these great performances.

You also have ABT next door, and although I know that you have certain feelings about its importing of stars, I do think that it's a great opportunity to see some of the very best from other parts of the world.

My mind wanders. It settles on Gillian Murphy. I suppose that your depthfully felt descriptions of some of the star performances that you've just seen sets it off. I'm thinking of both your interest in seeing ABT develop it's 'own' dancers and what I see from another part of the world.

Gillian Murphy has been a part of both, for me. I saw her perform an eye opening Swan Lake, my first ABT performance, in Detroit and then another less than a year later at the Mariinsky Festival. There she was a different human being. Something/someone seems to have told her that she had to make that step beyond. She did magnificently ! She continued to do so in New York and twice again in London. In my mind she not only represented the best of ABT's 'own', but she had become a Phenomenon of the World. I was actually keeping a comparative list of her and Veronika Part's Swan Lakes. Just trying to say that, I believe, through Gillian Murphy's ABT Swan Lakes I was able to see both of our ideals for ABT. And these thoughts stems, somehow, from your enthusiasm for what you saw at *New York City* Ballet last week.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet: 2012 Winter Season
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:49 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:02 pm
Posts: 1510
Location: USA-Switzerland
Teresa Reichlen and Daniel Ulbricht will be leading off the Mariinsky Festival, March 22, in "The Prodigal Son".

Great news !


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