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Subject: "New York visitors" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #213
Reading Topic #213
Ann Williams

07-08-99, 08:19 PM (GMT)
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"New York visitors"
 
   The 'New York Ballet Stars' programme at the Royal Festival Hall on Friday opened with Balanchine's 'Allegro Brillante' to Tchaikovsky's Piano concerto No. 3. The programme notes state that Balanchine said of this piece ... 'it contains everything I know about classical ballet in 13 minutes' yet it seemed curiously restrained and even a little dull, despite Paloma Herrera's luscious dancing, Philip Neal's generous partnering and excellently disciplined corps work.

But things got better, because the next item on the programme was Karole Armitage's sad but witty 'Life Story' to the Thomas Ades 'Life Story Opus 8b'. Ades' bittersweet score was sung brilliantly by the soprano Mary Carewe. Armitage, meanwhile, provided some searing choreography for the two 'lovers' Wendy Whelan and Albert Evans. According to the sung score (based on a Tennesee Williams poem) the piece is meant to represent a post-coital pair, previously unknown to each other, trying to tell each other their life stories. (In the poem it all ends in death by fire in a hotel room caused by one of the lovers falling asleep with a lighted cigrarette between their lips. It happens). Armitage has provided some gloriously athletic and fun choreography for Evans and the remarkable Wendy Whelan, who has a tensile strength, speed, grace and flexibility that marks her out from any other current ballerina. She's just stunning. Her body, I know, displeases some, but here it was covered in a large shirt and she looked damn good to me. As for Armitage's muscular and pared-down choreography, it may have taken some of its references from Forsythe, but was none the worse for that.

The oddly-named 'Concerto Six Twenty-Two Pas de Deux' to the Mozart Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra followed, choreographed by Lar Lubovich for two men. It seemed a tasteful homeoerotic piece without a hint of campery. Two chaps (Peter Boal and Sebastien Marcovicci) dressed in what looked like cricket flannels tenderly lifted and turned each other. Lubovich paid homage to Balanchine with a beautiful linking of arms and hands that perhaps only a Balanchine aficionado (which I am) would recognise.

And then of course to the divine 'Agon' pdd, danced by Maria Koworski and Albert Evans. Koworski (only 23, I'm told) is another extraordinary dancer. (I have her on video doing the Russian dance from the NYCB's new 'Swan Lake' and I've played that particular part of the tape so many times that it's practically worn out!) I always, though, have a problem with this Balanchine pdd. Why did he make the ballerina do such explicit in-your-face leg splits, both in the air, and worse, on her back, lying on the ground? We will never know, I suppose. Once again, a dead genius gets away with politically-incorrect stuff. Nevertheless, this pdd remains a piece of sublime choreographic architecture, capable of surprising every time it is seen.

The evening ended with Balanchine's unknown (to me) 'Rubies', choreographed to Stravinsky's Capricio for Piano & Orchestra. The jazzy fun of the choreography didn't hide its strict classicism, which gave yet another opportunity to Boal, Kowroski and Whelan to dazzle us with their immaculately honed techniques. Are there better dancers on the planet? Undoubtedly, but the coicidence of their talents and Balanchine's made for a memorable experience. I am thinking back to the Kirov's Balanchine programme in New York last month; they simply lacked the experience to bring half the glamour and excitement that these NYCB dancers brought last night to the three Balanchine pieces on view. We were privileged indeed.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: New York visitors Eugene Merrett 08-08-99 2
     RE: New York visitors Jeannie 16-08-99 15
  RE: New York visitors Bruce Wall 08-08-99 3
     RE: New York visitors Ann Williams 08-08-99 4
         RE: New York visitors Eugene Merrett 08-08-99 5
  RE: New York visitors felursus 13-08-99 6
     RE: New York visitors Bruce Madmin 13-08-99 7
         RE: New York visitors Eugene Merrettt 13-08-99 8
             RE: New York visitors Juliet 15-08-99 9
                 RE: New York visitors Kevin Ng 15-08-99 10
                     RE: New York visitors Eugene 15-08-99 11
                         RE: New York visitors Ann Williams 15-08-99 12
                             RE: New York visitors Jane 15-08-99 13
                             RE: New York visitors eugene 15-08-99 14

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Eugene Merrett

08-08-99, 12:47 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #0
 
   Thanks for your excellent review. Is there a video of NYCB Swan Lake commercially available? Jeannie made me a copy but I accidently recorded over half of it with Law and Order.

I will be in Florida next month for my vacation (via NYC to do some shopping) so if it is available I can get it!


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Jeannie

16-08-99, 11:27 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #2
 
   Eugene - You mean, you taped over the "original" recording that I asked my mum do for you the night of the telecast? How sad. I know how it feels. I think that we've all done that at some time or another. Next time I'll remove the little plastic square on the corner, which impedes recording over the tape. In fact, I suggest that everybody immediately run to their respective collections & break off the little squares so that this doesn't happen to you. Take care & I hope you find a replacement copy as I cannot easily record from NTSC to NTSC at home. - Jeannie


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Bruce Wall

08-08-99, 12:50 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #0
 
   I just want to second how refreshing it was -- from a balletic (well, neo-balletic) perspective, to see the NYC programme, which I happily did twice during the latter part of this week. What was even more refreshing was to see the audience respond wholly to the dance and the music. No pauses here for the shifting of the scenery. No applause at the curtain rise because of luxuriant projections. What projected was the dance. It did so 'through' the music, not 'on' it as was Balanchine's specific wish. After the rigours of, say, the second act of Ondine -- 'that's right, dear, just sway a little more to the right. Now stop and pose. Excellent!' -- it was a sufficiently strong breath of fresh air to right anyone's wilting ballast. I agree about Philip Neal -- an example of fine partnering in the sometimes fuzzy extreme with Paloma -- (sorry, but it's just all those memories of Merrill Ashley creeping in) -- Peter Boal, Albert Evans, Maria, Jenny and Wendy -- were all natural embodiments of the score. 'These ballets don't have stories, do they?' the lady next to me said. 'They do,' I replied. The story is the music. It was. It gloriously was. We were all on equal footing here. No need to pick through the programme to trying to comprehend the plot. Your eyes, your ears, your mind and, yes, your heart were well and truly fed.


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Ann Williams

08-08-99, 04:31 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #3
 
   Eugene

Thanks for your comments - and thanks too Bruce for 'seconding' me so vividly.

Eugene, my recording of the NYCB Swan Lake was one my sister made for me (I have a new video machine which accepts the US system) so no, I don't think it is commercially available yet. I am perfectly happy to lend you my recording,but it isn't very high quality (I love it to bits, though).

Ann


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Eugene Merrett

08-08-99, 09:37 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #4
 
   Thanks for your kind offer. The NYCB Swan Lake was not well received by the critics but I really liked its danced focus approach which is so in keeping with the NYCB values.

Please see my review of it in the June/May magazine.


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felursus

13-08-99, 00:50 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #0
 
   FYI, Rubies is the middle movement of a 3-act Balanchine ballet called "Jewels." The first act is "Emeralds" set to music by Faure and the last is "Diamonds" set to music by Tchaikovsky. I don't have a programme handy, as everything in my flat is all topsy-turvy due to an impending onslaught of painters, so I can't provide an accurate history of this work. The original casting (if I remember correctly) featured Violette Verdy in Emeralds, Patricia McBride in Rubies and Suzanne Farrell in Diamonds. It is usually performed in its entirety by the NYCB and is a popular programme item because of its variety of music and choreographic styles.


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Bruce Madmin

13-08-99, 08:47 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #6
 
   >The original casting (if I remember
>correctly) featured Violette Verdy in Emeralds,
>Patricia McBride in Rubies and Suzanne
>Farrell in Diamonds.

According to my "boys own book" of Balanchine ballets, your memory is excellent! The only other names I have heard of are Edward Villella and Patricia Neary who were in Rubbies as well.

I'd love to see the complete Jewlels (live) I have to say.


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Eugene Merrettt

13-08-99, 11:33 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #7
 
   To be honest I felt that Jewels in one night was a bit too much. It really is 3 different plotless ballets with no sets etc.

Also with exception of the Stravinksy the music is not all that appropriate. The Faure (emeralds) is rather unexciting and soft. The Tchaikovsky Symphony 3 is rather brooding (the same music as in Anatasia without the first movement). It does not have the excitement at the end like Symphony in C or Theme and Variations!

I much preferred as seperate works in the evening!


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Juliet

15-08-99, 03:40 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #8
 
   Well, all I can say is that we see things differently and leave it at that.

For many of us, Jewels is a masterpiece of counterpoint: mood, musical idioms, dance technique and expression. I find the music entirely appropriate, to be as understated about this as I can! And to say that the length of Jewels is a little much and then to sit through Goldberg Variations as a favourite ballet? Well, we all choose our own poison...


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Kevin Ng

15-08-99, 11:43 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #9
 
   Juliet, I agree with you. "Jewels" is a major masterpiece of Balanchine. Eugene, the Polonaise ending of "Diamonds" is as exciting as "Symphony in C" and "Theme and Variations" that you mentioned.

Kyra Nichols is divine in "Diamonds". It's been a long time since I last saw her in New York in this role, in 1991. But I read an excellent review of her in this ballet last year.


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Eugene

15-08-99, 12:32 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #10
 
   I always like to have one plot ballet in a triple bill. The Royal ballet are good at this! Jewels in my view is a rather low key event. When performed all in one night- there is too much dancing to absorb without the cohesion that a plot gives to the ballet.

Goldberg Variation is not as long as Jewels - but it does have no break and last close to 90 minutes. But since I know the music, the ballet has structure to me. If I did not know the music I think I would find it very hard going because one does not know where you are in it. Are you in the middle, towards the end? - it becomes rather a rather uncohesive and rambling work. I would not recommend Goldberg to anyone who is not familiar with the music.

I think plotless ballets should not last more then 30 minutes unless it uses a single music work ( a symphony, concerto etc). The music can give the ballet cohesion and structure to allow it to be longer.


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Ann Williams

15-08-99, 01:58 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #11
 
   Does anyone know if 'Jewels' is available on video? Either the whole or any of the three pieces?


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Jane

15-08-99, 06:54 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #12
 
   There is a video of NYCB, dating back to the early 80s, which has most (possibly all?) of Emeralds, some of Rubies, and the pas de deux from Diamonds (with Farrell and Martins) - I don't know if it was ever available commercially, but some people have 'off-air' copies I expect.


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eugene

15-08-99, 09:19 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: New York visitors"
In response to message #13
 
   Emeralds is available from the NYCB web site. It is in NTSC format so you will need a multi system machine


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