NYC Ballet Fans, part 2

kwanfan1818

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More Orpheus:

I got an email from the Massachusetts Review announcing that Mark Franko is writing about NYCB again. His article dated today starts with a discussion about current leadership, then to Orpheus and the question of content vs. performance:

http://massreview.org/node/7347
 

Spun Silver

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It pains me to read about the decline and fall of Orpheus because when I used to see it, lo! these many years ago, it was still wonderfully effective, though not often done. I'm trying to remember the cast. It may have been Martins and von Aroldingen, but I wouldn't swear to it. It's Stravinsky's most beautiful ballet score as well, for me.

I appreciate Franko's point about the need to revive the "modernist," experimental aspect of Balanchine's work from its current "smothering...in classicism." I wonder if another part of the problem is that dancers share in the general ignorance of our time, and perhaps take Balanchine's emphasis on abstraction too narrowly, forgetting his many dramatic ballets. Probably neither dancers nor audience are familiar with the Orpheus myth at all. I suspect his Don Quixote, if revived today, would fail as well. Maybe it's happening to A Midsummer Night's Dream too? I don't think the power of these ballets can be communicated without a direct or indirect understanding of the myths they represent or the stories they tell. Perhaps dancers who worked with Balanchine himself didn't need to read the stories because he was there to communicate their meaning to the dancers through the choreography. But now at third or fourth hand, that method doesn't seem to work. I hope it's not too late to bring those ballets back. I'm glad they have advocates like Franko.
 
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Rob

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In 2 weeks I see Washington Ballet's new Sleeping Beauty staged by Kent/Barbee. Then in April, Wash Ballet presents 3 world premieres:
Choreography Clifton Brown, Dancer/Choreographer
Music by Gioachino Rossini, Cello and Bass Duet
Choreography Gemma Bond, Corps de Ballet, American Ballet Theatre
Music by Henry Purcell, Sonatas and Songs
Choreography Marcelo Gomes, Principal Guest Artist and Choreographer
Antonín Leopold Dvořák, American Quartet

NYCB is at KenCen in April. I am seeing:
Easy (Bernstein/Peck)
In the Night (Chopin/Robbins)
The Runaway (Muhly, West, Jay-Z, Blake, add. artists/Abraham)
SOMETHING TO DANCE ABOUT Jerome Robbins, Broadway at the Ballet (Bernstein, Bock, Gould, Rodgers, Styne/Robbins, direction and musical staging by Carlyle)

Then Mariinsky Corsaire:
Medora: Ekaterina Kondaurova
Conrad: Andrei Yermakov
Gulnara: May Nagahisa
Ali: Vladimir Shklyarov
Lankedem: Philipp Stepin

After that, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Miami City Ballet share a week long engagement. Each company performs alone 2-3 times, then they share 1 night. I have tickets to DTH, but I would like to see both.

If anyone is looking at a trip to DC, first two weeks in April you could see Wash Ballet, NYCB, and Mariinsky.
 

kwanfan1818

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Elisa Kreisinger hosts a podcast called "Strong Opinions Loosely Held," and she interviewed Joan Ryan, author of "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes," and Isabella Boylston in the episode "The Problem with Perfect."
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/refinery29/strong-opinions-loosely-held/e/57852861

Ryan speaks more about gymnastics than figure skating, but there is some about skating. Riesinger and Boylston talk a bit about Sergei Polunin, and Kreisinger overestimates his importance as a dancer, IMO.
 

emason

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Yesterday I took the train down to Philadelphia to join some friends at the matinee of Pennsylvania Ballet's new production of Giselle. After it was over one friend pronounced it 'charmless' and I have to agree. I lay the blame squarely on Sterling Baca. To the best of my recollection this is the first time I've seen him in anything and I was shocked by what a cipher his Albrecht was. He wasn't the super-cad of a Nureyev or a Malakhov and he wasn't the young puppy genuinely in love (I'm thinking Frank Augustyn was like that IIRC). Baca was just meh. I've lost count of how many Giselles I've seen in the last 45 years and this was the first time I ever wondered what she saw in the guy. I enjoyed Dayesi Torriente's Giselle, but this was just not a super afternoon at the ballet. I'll give the company the benefit of the doubt and assume we just happened to hit an off afternoon which could happen to anyone. (It didn't help that Baca annoyed me by doing some rather unexciting entrechats in the second act when I prefer brises at that moment; I just think they fit the plot line better.). The whole thing was ABT lite in my humble opinion.
 

canbelto

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Yesterday I took the train down to Philadelphia to join some friends at the matinee of Pennsylvania Ballet's new production of Giselle. After it was over one friend pronounced it 'charmless' and I have to agree. I lay the blame squarely on Sterling Baca. To the best of my recollection this is the first time I've seen him in anything and I was shocked by what a cipher his Albrecht was. He wasn't the super-cad of a Nureyev or a Malakhov and he wasn't the young puppy genuinely in love (I'm thinking Frank Augustyn was like that IIRC). Baca was just meh. I've lost count of how many Giselles I've seen in the last 45 years and this was the first time I ever wondered what she saw in the guy. I enjoyed Dayesi Torriente's Giselle, but this was just not a super afternoon at the ballet. I'll give the company the benefit of the doubt and assume we just happened to hit an off afternoon which could happen to anyone. (It didn't help that Baca annoyed me by doing some rather unexciting entrechats in the second act when I prefer brises at that moment; I just think they fit the plot line better.). The whole thing was ABT lite in my humble opinion.
Angel Corella has really pushed Baca to stardom. At ABT he was in the corps and he left ABT to become a principal at Pennsylvania Ballet. Most of the dancers who were there before Corella have either retired or been let go. Ian Hussey is I think the last PA Ballet vet and he's retiring at the end of the season ... at the ripe old age of 33. So if the dancers seem unformed it might be because all of them have been pushed very hard within a few short years to dancing everything.
 

emason

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Thanks for your answer, canbelto. I also saw their Corsaire a few seasons ago and I noticed something then and I noticed it this time too, this time with Baca. I complained after the Corsaire that some of the men strolled very casually onto the stage and then struck their poses and got into character. They didn’t project character from the beginning. Baca did that too; he was just walking at one point in the middle of the first act, not striding with authority like a danseur noble. I just found it all underwhelming. I hope things improve.
 

sharsk8s

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I live in NY and want to see a ballet for the first time. Does anyone have any recommendations?
 

Spun Silver

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I live in NY and want to see a ballet for the first time. Does anyone have any recommendations?
I'd recommend Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream at NYC Ballet in May - read the play first if you can, then you'll really appreciate the wit of the choreography. The entire plot is told in the first act, and then the second act is wedding festivities, crowned by one of the loveliest pas de deux ever. Alternatively, you can't live without seeing Swan Lake! ABT is doing it in June. Others here can tell you which casts to see and avoid. Enjoy!
 

sharsk8s

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Well here's my wrapup of the NYCB winter season.
Second the recommendations for Midsummer's Night Dream.
https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2019/03/a-review-of-nycb-at-bachtrack-winter.html
I'd recommend Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream at NYC Ballet in May - read the play first if you can, then you'll really appreciate the wit of the choreography. The entire plot is told in the first act, and then the second act is wedding festivities, crowned by one of the loveliest pas de deux ever. Alternatively, you can't live without seeing Swan Lake! ABT is doing it in June. Others here can tell you which casts to see and avoid. Enjoy!
Thank you both! Very helpful. Really looking forward to going!
 

Yehudi

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I would start with the classics first. If you are not bothered by the non-PC elements of 19th century ballet, I would check out Corsaire, especially as the amazing Brooklyn Mack will be performing as a guest artist. Swan Lake is Swan Lake.

I personally would also try to see anything Gabe Stone Shayer is in. He is just a delight.
 

sharsk8s

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I would start with the classics first. If you are not bothered by the non-PC elements of 19th century ballet, I would check out Corsaire, especially as the amazing Brooklyn Mack will be performing as a guest artist. Swan Lake is Swan Lake.

I personally would also try to see anything Gabe Stone Shayer is in. He is just a delight.
What do you mean by "non-PC"? And thank you very much for your recommendations!
 

mackiecat

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@sharsk8s nor sure how old you are but NYCB has a $30 for under 30 program. In addition only the purchaser needs to be under 30 and can buy two ticketd
 
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Rob

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Raise the Red Lantern was wonderful by the way. Excellent technique, very dramatic, great sets/costumes.
 

kwanfan1818

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What do you mean by "non-PC"? And thank you very much for your recommendations!
There's a miserly, hooked-nosed guardian (of the heroine), Isaac Lanquedem, who sells her to Seyd-Pasha, and at one ha-ha point is shaken down and gold coins fall out of his hat. If there was any question, from the English-language synopsis on the Bolshoi Ballet's English-language website,

Catching sight of Isaac, who leads in Medora, Seyd-Pasha is overjoyed. Medora begs Seyd-Pasha to grant her her freedom but, seeing that he is unrelenting, complains of cruel treatment by her guardian; Seyd-Pasha orders the eunuch to send the Jew packing
ABT's production may play down the anti-Semitism or eliminate it.

In addition, there is a harem and the feisty slave who loves Seyd-Pasha, who realizes he owns a good thing.

That said, Jardin Anime in the second act is one of the most beautiful tutu scenes in all of classical ballet.
 

emason

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I'm just now home from ABT's Le Corsaire. OK, Brooklyn Mack fans, he and Daniil Simkin went jump for jump. I thought Mack was a little rough in the first act; I'm guessing it was due to nerves, as this was a big debut for Mack, but by the second act he was fine. The Conrad, Medora, Ali pas de trois in the 2nd Act brought down the house.

As for all the chatter about Thomas Forster deserving a promotion: he does, but so does Blaine Hoven. His Lankendem, especially Act I, was terrific, and I believe tonight was his debut in that role. Arron Scott was an OK Birbanto, but I'm holding out hopes for tomorrow's matinee when Ribagorda does that role. I'll report more tomorrow, because that will be Mack's big turn as Ali and surely you all want to know about that.
 

canbelto

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I was there last night. The review should show up on bachtrack soon, but I agree Brooklyn Mack had a very successful debut.
 

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