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Subject: "SFB's Programme 2" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2004
Reading Topic #2004
Ann Williams

15-08-01, 12:57 PM (GMT)
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"SFB's Programme 2"
   SFB's programme 2, as seen on Tuesday night, was a truly sparkling collection of mixed delights. Helgi Thomasson's opener'Quartetette' to Dvorak piano music - played by Michael McGraw - was pleasingly classical but was no thriller. It did, though, give four women exquisite separate solos, and all four - Katita Waldo, Lorena Feijoo, Kristin Long and Tina LeBlanc - seized their opportunities. For me, Lorena Feijoo and Kristin Long were the stand-outs, but it was a damn close-run thing. Jens-Jacob Worsaae designed the simple but very flattering knee-length dresses

Christopher Wheeldon's ambtious 'Sea Pictures' followed, choreographed to Edward Elgar's sung score - the mezzo was Diana Moore, who grew in confidence after a wobbly start (interesting to hear a singer 'wobble' rather than see a dancer do the same thing). Wheeldon is a really bold and exciting choreographer who speaks with his own clear voice, but'Sea Pictures', despite it's neat and musical choreography, and despite the freshness of its groupings, seems rather forgettable. It appears to be telling a story of loss at sea (a knowledge of the sung score would undoubtedly have helped here) the rocks and projected seascape background reinforcing this theme. To be fair, it was occasionally very moving and was beautifully danced by the entire cast, Julie Diana, Damian Smith and Yuri Possokhov in particular.

After the interval, Balanchine's 1963 piece, 'Bugaku' burst upon us. I hardly know what to say. I thought it vulgar and cliched in the extreme, yet I loved it. It was vulgar because once again Balanchine got away with making his ballerina split her legs and flash her gusset face-on to the audience (horrible - call the cops, someone) and cliched because Toshiro Mayuzumi's score elicited every possible oriental cliche from Balanchine, from turned-up feet to scurrying humble lines of 'Mikado' lookalikes. But the rigid, beautiful structure and knotty, exquisite patterns of his choreography saved the day, as did the dancers; Yuan Yuan Tan and Cyril Pierre. Tan, trained at the Shanghai Dancing School and the Cranko School in Stuttgart, is the most perfect of dancers, her arms and hands in particular seeming to speak a language of their own. She was so beautiful that she robbed the other dancers of their fair share of attention - it was simply impossible to look away from her. 'Bugaku's story seems to involve a bride and groom being prepared for their wedding night by their respective servants, the central, breathtking pas de deux serving as the consummation of their marriage. Balachine could hardly have been more explicit here, yet despite this, it seemed so beautiful that one wanted it to go on forever. The tall and handsome Cyril Pierre was a strong and worthy partner for Tan and I look forward to seeing him in SFB's other two programmes. The striking and effective design, a bright turquoise space furnished only by what looked like suspended seating was by David Hays, and the 'oriental-effect' tutus were designed by the famous Karinska. The whole made for a stunning theatrical experience.

Jerome Robbins' 'Glass Pieces' ended the programme, and revealed (to me at least) that Robbins is both a poet and a painter of dance. To Philip Glass' pulsating score, Robbins has a line of corps dancers silouhetted against a lighted background while advancing ranks of women and men criss-cross the stage; at times it looked as if there were at least a hundred dancers performing. There is a heart-stopping moment when the men advance with outstretched arms, hands up-raised (this is, strangely, when I thought of Robbins as a painter). There were elements, undoubtedly, of brodway hoofing here but there is no doubting that Robbins is a proper dance architect who builds on classic foundations Muriel Maffre and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba took the leads, and danced joyously, but then so did everyone else on stage. Jean-Pierre's simple staging was effective as were Ben Benson's unfussy but flattering costumes

Thank heaven there's another two SFB programmes to go...

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: SFB's Programme 2 Sally 15-08-01 1
     RE: SFB's Programme 2 James 16-08-01 2
  RE: SFB's Programme 2 Renee Renouf 16-08-01 3
     RE: SFB's Programme 2 eugene merrett 16-08-01 4

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15-08-01, 06:52 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Sally Click to send private message to Sally Click to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: SFB's Programme 2"
In response to message #0

Your review is wonderful!!
I was unable to attend but I do hope that the London balletomanes will continue to enlighten me with their reactions about these exciting pieces which we hardly get to see here!!

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16-08-01, 02:40 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: SFB's Programme 2"
In response to message #1
   I agree with you Ann - it was an excellent programme. Sea Pictures showed what a wonderful sense of theatre Wheeldon has - the fourth song (they are not in the usual order) was especially good. Possokhov, like a young Irek, was the sailor clearly about to die, and remembering his lover. She entered en bouree through the line of the other men, with the subsequent pas de deux of Bolshoiesque power ending suddenely as she ran into the wings; he then died, rolling spectacularly downstage as the music finished. Superb, with the wonderful Joanna Berman very moving as the main woman. She also did a terrific leap off the cliff at the end, sort of a mix of Swan lake and Tosca. Wheeldon is a magnificent talent. Bugaku worked really well, and Tan was indeed spectacularly cool yet passionate, remaining in character through the calls. Glass Pieces was so clever, especially the matching trios for the men in the last movement.

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Renee Renouf

16-08-01, 03:55 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: SFB's Programme 2"
In response to message #0
   Ann, thank you.

I positively chortled at your reaction to Bugaku! It is
so right on! I think I have written elsewhere that the
form in Japan is done solely by men and also in front in
Shinto Shrines on ceremonial and religious occasions.
So you can see how far afield conceptually Balanchine was
to take liberties with the form itself. The other problem,
aside from the distortion of the form, is that the male
dancers work from a lower center and impulse than ballet
dancers do, so it's pretty to make anything plausible.

But it does make me fret that it's so Mikado like and I
think Gilbert and Sullivan were a lot more honest in their
open spoof. Balanchine is simply using it as an excuse for
an elegant and very openly erotic pas de deux.

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eugene merrett

16-08-01, 01:09 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: SFB's Programme 2"
In response to message #3
   Glass Pieces is one of my favorites works of modern dance.

The middle part reminds me a bit of La Bayadere - Shade scene. Does anyone else think so!

It is depressing to see the less then impressive turnout for the SFB.

But part of the reason is the very high ticket prices for a triple bill and the challenging program - perhaps a bit more Balanchine should have been thrown in for more widespread appeal.

But Bravo to the Hochauser for promoting them!

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