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 Post subject: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 6:51 pm 
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Well, I guess it is happening for sure. Ballet San Jose of Silicon Valley, resuscitated from the demised Cleveland San Jose Ballet, will be putting on a show, its first ever under its new name, on Thursday 10/12/00. Here are some preview articles (also posted in the <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000118.html" TARGET=_blank>Issues thread</A> on the creation of this new company).<P><BR>An excerpt from the <A HREF="http://www.mercurycenter.com/premium/arts/docs/ballet10.htm" TARGET=_blank>San Jose Mercury News feature</A>:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The show features three ballets from the past 150 years of the art form, including the company premiere of an excerpt from Auguste Bournonville's ``Napoli,'' George Balanchine's ``Theme and Variations'' and the San Jose premiere of Nahat's ``Moments.'' These ballets, dating from the mid-19th century, the mid-20th and the late 20th, respectively, offer a wide range of movement styles.<P>``I wanted to show off the dancers,'' Nahat says. ``This program really highlights their dancing, their abilities and their diversity. I'm proud to say they're looking scrumptious.''<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR>An excerpt from <A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/10/08/PK96907.DTL" TARGET=_blank>SF Chronicle article</A>:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>...there is a rich dance tradition that is by rights as much San Jose's as it was Cleveland's. There are several other factors: a body of work, including Nahat's own, that has a proven track record with the growing San Jose audience; a troupe with strong personalities that has captured the imagination of dance lovers; a sense that American ballet cannot die here.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR>And from <A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/10/08/PK114953.DTL" TARGET=_blank>Liz Lufkin's editorial</A> in the Sf Chronicle:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>``I think this will be a nice complement to the San Francisco Ballet,'' he says. ``Nahat came from the American Ballet Theatre and worked with Antony Tudor and Agnes de Mille. Helgi Tomasson came from New York City Ballet and worked closely with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Right there you have two radically different traditions of American ballet. We're the only region outside of New York that can boast both.''<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2000 9:39 pm 
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So, the company <I>is</I> real. Ballet San Jose does exist. They proved their existence by dancing on stage tonight.<P>Here are some photos from tonight's program (all photos by R.R. Jones):<P><BR> Image <BR>Dennis Nahat's "Moments"<P><BR> Image <BR>Bournonville's "Napoli"<P><BR> Image <BR>Balanchine's "Theme and Variations"<P><BR>Reviews to follow.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 13, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2000 12:32 pm 
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Here's my two cents' worth:<P><BR>The staff of the Ballet San Jose of Silicon Valley deserves a huge round of applause for pulling off one of the most remarkable feats in the history of dance; creating a major ballet company within a matter of days. Even as the dancers were taking to the stage, issues relating to the running of the company were still being resolved, with audition notices for example being handed out to the media in the press kits. Thankfully, one glaring omission was quickly dealt with – ownership of the name of the new company!<P>However, for what was a historic moment in dance, namely the inaugural performance of this brand new ballet company, the atmosphere at the San Jose Performing Arts Center seemed surrealistic and awkwardly subdued. For one, the dancers aren’t really new to Bay Area dance fans. They are for the most part the same corps of dancers from the demised Cleveland San Jose Ballet (or San Jose Cleveland Ballet, depending on where they perform). Secondly, the promisingly majestic “Celebrations and Ode,” to be danced to a live performance of Beethoven’s revered “Ninth Symphony,” was preempted in advance due to the recent uprooting from Cleveland, for a mixed repertory program with works from three different periods.<P>The oldest of the three works on the program was the Third Act “divertissements” from<BR>“Napoli,” probably the most popular ballet by Auguste Bournonville. “Napoli,” as with most works by this 19th century Danish choreographer is known for its gaiety and lightness, executed through quick footwork and bouncy jumps. The dancers, in particular Raymond Rodriguez as Gennaro, Karen Gabay as Teresina and Ramon Moreno as the second male solo, captured much of the essence of the joy of “Napoli” with sprightliness in their steps and leaps, especially in the concluding tarantella.<P>Bournonville is also about neatness and precision however and this is where the dancers did not impress, with the female dancers surprisingly more so at fault than the male dancers. In more than a few instances, the soloists and corps were out of precision and exhibited a lack of polish, with a hand dead at the wrist or another with too much flair. Much of this perhaps may be attributed to a lack of rehearsal due to the forced changes in the season’s programming. The music by Edvard Helsted and HS Paulli was performed by a live orchestra conducted by Dwight Oltman. Incidentally, San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson performed in the premiere of “Napoli” at New York City Ballet. One wonders if he will make the trek down the peninsula to catch this production.<P>The same problems the dancers had with “Napoli” plagued George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” as well. This courtly ballet, danced to “Tema con Variazioni” from Tchaikovsky’s “Suite No. 3 for Orchestra,” also requires neatness and precision that the Ballet San Jose corps of dancers seemed lacking on this night, especially in the grand polonaise towards the finale. Fortunately, what was lacking in precision was made up for by Maydee Pena’s elegance and allure. Her combinations of graceful turns and charming expressions in the principal role were a joy to watch.<P>The tendency for bright costumes in the Cleveland San Jose Ballet seems to have been carried over into Ballet San Jose. The male soloists’ costumes, although plebeian in design, were a garish purple in color, taking away from the regality of this work that is supposed to evoke Russian Imperialism. The women’s costumes however, especially the <BR>rich brown tutus of the female corps dancers, provided contrast with the right sense of Imperial courtliness.<P>The evening opened with the West Coast premiere of Artistic Director Dennis Nahat’s “Moments,” an ensemble work danced to Felix Mendelssohn’s “Piano Trio No. 1.” There were a few charming moments in this work, especially in the ensemble movements and in the romantic pas de deux between Gabay and Rodriguez. In a memorable series of backward leaps, Gabay brought her experience to bear by exerting the right degree of gestures to avoid a potentially clumsy-looking sequence. Influenced by a melancholic score, played superbly by the San Jose Chamber Players, the rest of the work felt somber; not exactly the type of dancing one expects for the very first piece in an inaugural show.<P>All in all, the program was entertaining, albeit with some flaws that will surely be fixed over time through additional rehearsals. More importantly, Ballet San Jose of Silicon Valley is a reality and a ballet company that Silicon Valley can be proud of. It also offers a good contrast to the dancing styles and programs offered by the other ballet companies in the Bay Area.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2000 9:10 pm 
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Was the Bournonville in the repertoire of Cleveland San Jose Ballet? Who set it?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 9:21 am 
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Yes, Albrecht, I would like to know that too. I'll ask the company to respond.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 9:33 am 
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Here are the first newspaper reviews:<P><BR><B><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/10/14/DD6410.DTL" TARGET=_blank>Ballet San Jose's Triumphant Debut</A></B><BR>Nahat premieres lovely `Moments'<BR>Octavio Roca, SF Chronicle<P><BR><B><A HREF="http://www.mercurycenter.com/premium/arts/docs/ballet14.htm" TARGET=_blank>First Steps</A></B><BR>Ballet San Jose Makes A Triumphant Debut<BR>Anita Amirrezvani, San Jose Mercury News<P><BR><B><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/2000/10/14/STYLE2963.dtl" TARGET=_blank>Troupe rebounds gamely</A></B><BR>Ballet San Jose impressive in opener 5 weeks after death ofCleveland troupe<BR>Allan Ulrich, SF Examiner<P><BR>[Edited to add SF Examiner review]<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited November 07, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 10:27 am 
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Wilma Salisbury made a special trip out from Cleveland:<P><BR><B><A HREF="http://www.cleveland.com/eventsguide/index.ssf?/eventsguide/arts/features/101400jose.html" TARGET=_blank>Ballet San Jose debuts in new city, but future uncertain</A></B><BR>Wilma Salisbury, Cleveland Plain Dealer


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 11:26 pm 
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Napoli was set by Vivi Flindt, a former dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet. Her husband, Fleming Flindt, was the artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet.<P>The couple also ran the Dallas Ballet before it closed.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 5:58 am 
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I have to agree with Octavio Roca and Azlan that the women were not synchronized as well as the men. I've noticed that at previous SJCB performances. These are good dancers and I wish Dennis Nahat would tighten them up. <P>Generally, I agree with Azlan and the reviewers for the Chronicle and Mercury News. I disagree with Azlan on the costumes where he says (I can't remember how to paste a quote): <P>"The male soloists’ costumes, although plebeian in design, were a garish purple in color, taking away from the regality of this work that is supposed to evoke Russian Imperialism. The women’s costumes however, especially the rich brown tutus of the female corps dancers, provided contrast with the right sense of Imperial courtliness."<P>Dating back to ancient times Tyrian purple has been the distinctive color of royalty in the western world (yellow in China). I thought the brown costumes were drab and out of place against the backdrop.<P>I think the company will look a lot better when the costumes and sets arrive from Cleveland, courtesy of donated trucks. It's amazing and gratifying to see so much support for the new BSJSV (for ballet!).<P>

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Michael Phelan, BayDance.com


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 6:50 am 
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I think Grace is right - purple is a royal color. As I understand it, that is because it was a difficult dye to fabricate and the sumptuary laws gave purple that status. <P>From the few performances I have seen of Bournonville done by companies other than the Royal Danish - the choreography usually looks pasted on the dancers. They don't quite get the complete mood. Bournonville needs to come from inside the dancers, bred in their bones, so to speak. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 10:38 am 
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A reply to a few points:<P>I received a response from the ballet company that Vivi Flindt did indeed stage "Napoli" (thank you, Ballet Fan, for beating me to Albrecht's question). This work is new to the repertoire of this company (or the previous CSJB company). Also, someone at the company described Flindt as a "great lady." I wish I could have met her.<P>As for my comments in regards to the purple costumes, I was comparing it to the versions I've seen at NYCB and SFB. Those, with the right blends of rich colors and ornate frills and furbelows, looked majestic. The BSJ costumes were plain (think jumpsuits) and shiny purple, making the dancers look like Eddie Murphy-wannabes at a disco (well, maybe not quite that bad). This however could be related to the trucking issue Michael eluded to (the actual costumes may still be en-route). By comparison to these purple costumes, the frilly brown tutus and tiaras were almost a relief.<P>Octavia Roca is well known for liking Dennis Nahat's style.<P>Anita Amirrezvani sometimes has a perspective different from the other critics.<P>The artistic management of the company remains the same. The Cleveland staff and board however are no longer in existence; it was this side of the operations that ran out of money. The San Jose staff and board, backed by the Mayor's office, are raising the additional funding required for the rest of the season. I believe they have a very good chance of succeeding (housing however will be remain a huge issue).<P>Nahat's productions tend to be theatrical, with spectacular sets and costumes, so I guess he does have expensive tastes. However, the spectacular productions sell tickets in San Jose.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 15, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 10:45 am 
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And, oh, I agree completely with Roca's comments on Ramon Moreno. This dancer, if it weren't for his diminutive size, would have been a bigger star. He was a thrilling Puck in last season's "Midsummer Night's Dream" by Nahat and practically stole the show from the other leads.<P>However, when dancing in ensemble, his flair was just a little bit too much. His theatrical sense, in the ending of "Napoli" for example, was perfect but not compatible with the other male dancers.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2000 1:49 pm 
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I am pleased that this company had a ready-made life support system, particularly in view of the financial troubles that currently beset several other U.S. companies. Perhaps one day the dancers will better recognize and appreciate their good fortune, once they overcome the current pain of forced relocation.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2000 8:15 pm 
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Grace,<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>so i take it you don't particularly side with any one of these critics in their comments?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Bay Area critics come in many shapes and forms... There is a science developing here as to how each will react to a particular performance; sometimes it's as much fun as watching the actual performance...<P>Let's just say most people I talked to already knew what Roca's review would read like. And several had wild guesses as to what Amirrezvani would come up with this time.<P>Alright, alright, I'm being cynical (After all, critics should be able to take it as well as they dish it). I am happy that we have all these critics in the Bay Area that write about dance.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 16, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet San Jose's Inaugural Performances
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2000 4:36 pm 
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Please note everyone: Grace made the above comment, not me. I have to be sure everyone understands this... I have to sit next to these illustrious critics! Image


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