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Subject: "Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/..." Archived thread - Read only
 
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AnnWilliams

06-07-02, 07:30 PM (GMT)
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"Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
 
   It would be an understatement to say that the critics have not been kind to Pacific Northwest Ballet this time around; they have been savage. Their first programme, the full-length 'Silver Lining' was torn limb from limb and left for dead, and as a result even a couple of semi-enthuisiastic reviews for their second programme at Sadler's Wells failed to fill the house last night - the rows of empty seats must have been a depressing sight for the unfortunate dancers. But, as it turned out, they did well.

Surprisingly, the programme opened with Balanchine's 'Divertimento No. 15' (to Mozart's Divertmento in B-flat major) - I had assumed that such a significant piece would close the programme. Sitting just two rows from the stage, I could see that the leading dancers were, to begin with at least, very nervous. Obviously the bad reviews had got to them Fixed, tense smiles were everywhere until the 'theme and variations' second movement, when the soloists danced their pieces with poise and confidence. Outstanding here - if I've got the names right - were Mara Vinson's second variation and Melanie Skinner's fourth variation. The dancing was not uniformly diamond sharp throughout the rest of the piece, but I thought that on the whole the PNB dancers revealed this unfamiliar Balanchine piece clearly enough to illuminate its brilliance and to make us marvel again at his genius . I only regretted that I was sitting too close to the stage and too low down to appreciate the miraculous patterns of the piece. I think the truly great choreographers - Petipa, Balanchine, Ashton - need to be viewed from above to fully appreciate their designs, just as intricately planted gardens need to be seen from above to get their full effect.

The 'Corsaire' pas de trois followed, briskly danced by Kaori Nakamura, Le Yin and the tall and handsome Astrit Zejnati, a product of the National Ballet School of Albania. Despite the technical competence (just) of the three performers, the piece failed to sparkle into real brilliance; it probably says much that I focussed on Victoria McFall's subtle costume designs - muted mustard and maroon and, for the bare-chested fellow with the feather, rich dark blue velvet pantaloons instead of the naff turquoise or powder-blue satin pants we've had to put up with for years.

Nacho Duarto's 'Jardi Tancat' opened in silence, the barefoot dancers bending and swaying to an unheard but visible rhythm. The music, when it started, was vocal - Maria del Mar Bonet sang a strongly Catalan (?) flavoured score; and women in long skirts swept and bent across the stage. It was the usual Spanish Thing, but somehow it was more genuine and more enjoyable than either of the two Duarto pieces recently performed by the Royal Ballet. Impossible to identify any of the dancers here, though the programme notes their names, among them Ariana Lallone, whom I greatly admired in Balanchine's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' last time PNB were here.

Peter Martins' pleasing 'Fearful Symmetries' to John Adams' driving percussive score closed the evening, and the orchestra, under Stewart Kershaw's baton, did it more than justice. I loved the piece, repetitive though it admittedly was, and I suspect that this was the piece the dancers most enjoyed performing. Again Melanie Skinner stood out - a calm, confident and technically accomplished woman, she was a pleasure to watch and I found it difficult to look elsewhere, although the men - sorry, I can't identify any of them - all did well here. Martins brought the dancers on in wave after wave, the women somtimes lifted, sometimes carried by the men, but with a sense of tension and drama that equalled the urgency of the music. I loved the way the stage was sometimes left empty, so that you wondered what was to come next - a soloist? A pas-de-deux? A trio? It worked, as did Stephen Rubin's limpid fuscia and lilac costumes

I just hope that PNB's dancers will go home to Seattle with unbowed heads. They are perhaps least to blame for the critical battering the company has taken here.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... PhilipBadmin 07-07-02 1
     RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Robert 08-07-02 2
         RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... MAB 09-07-02 3
         RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Annelieseagain 09-07-02 4
             RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Robert 11-07-02 5
                 RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Paul A 11-07-02 6
                     RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Robert 12-07-02 7
                         RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Paul A 15-07-02 10
                     RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Annelieseagain 12-07-02 8
                         RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Flight 13-07-02 9
                             RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 ... Lynette H 15-07-02 11

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PhilipBadmin

07-07-02, 09:10 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #0
 
   I'm really sorry not to have enough time to write detailed reviews on the two programmes I saw by the PNB last week. My headline would have been - "Will the real PNB please stand up?"

Briefly - Silver Lining was awful. The music was samey, the choreography even more so. The dancing was occasionally passable (Olivier Wevers is exempt from any of this criticism), but the level of partnering was abysmal - dangerously so at times. It was a self-indugence of grand proportion and so sugary in places I worried about my diet.

So, with a grim countenance, I braved the mixed programme on Thursday, hoping that world-class choreography would remove at least two of the major weaknesses of Tuesday evening. I was not quite alone in turning up, but not too far off. I've been to quieter evenings at Sadlers, but not many. In fact, the programme I had left behind in the cloakroom two days earlier was still there!
Ann covered all the pieces above, but my own feeling was that Divertimento was tentatively danced, possibly through nervousness but also through lack of technique of the highest order, which leaves a dancer unable to convey the emotions of the piece in question. It was a great piece, competantly danced.

Then we had Duato's Jardi Tancat and suddenly it all became very confusing. This was remarkable - of course, the choreography is first class, extremely involving and thought provoking. Quite how the RB missed some of Duato's many nuances is a a question for them and their rehearsal schedule. Personally I enjoyed the two pieces they did recently, but it is a hard task, this of taking on pieces designed specifically for other companies who have a very individual style. Are you trying to sing a respectable cover (why bother unless you take it in a different direction?), re-interpret it altogether (not Forsythe of course!) or simply imitate it to widen access to the piece.

Um, back to the subject, sorry.
Here, with Jardi Tancat, the PNB (admittedly only 6 of them) elevated itself to being a real professional dance company and not some semi-pro outfit you couldn't take too seriously and thus criticise too harshly. There was passion, subtlety and bags of drama. The dancing was good, not Nacional standard of course, but quite good enough to convey the piece to the very receptive and enthusiastic (and relieved?) audience. Particular praise to Ariana Lallone and Kaori Nakamura for showing that, while the PNB's talent doesn't extend foreever, it exists in real measure in a few.

Then we had Le Corsair which Ann commented on accurately, and finally Fearful Symmetries which sparked in fits and starts but I enjoyed it and went home quite happy, a marked improvement in my mood from 2 hours previously.

OK, so it's just as well I don't have time to write more as that seems like plenty of text! Mind you, I had to suppress a large amount of vitriol after Silver Lining so maybe it's just as well!


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Robert

08-07-02, 11:10 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #1
 
   I was sorry to see so many bad reviews of PNW Ballet at Sadlers Wells. I was also sad to see such a poor attendance, it must have been very disheartening for the dancers wondered what the reason for it was, I hope it was not because of the current wave of anti-Americanism. The mixed bill that I saw on Friday did not deserve such bad criticism or poor houses. I hope it does not put them off coming again.
I often feel completely out of step with both the ballet fans and the critics. I can see Ballanchine is clever but I do not warm to his choreography, I also think that Karinska’s costumes make the girls look long bodied .I am a great admirer of Mozart but it does not dance easily.
Despite the critics I loved The Corsair, the dancing was bold and exiting and the costumes were good. The Duarte was like all Duarte and danced to canned music but it did come over much better than the Royal Ballet Duarte, nothing special but good if you like that sort of thing and well danced. I was not looking forward to the Peter Martins thing (John Adams music, no plot) but I was completely won over, I thought it was very exciting, good to look at and the music sounded both dramatic and good to dance to.
I met an old friend who has not been for some time, he liked it, my wife liked it, her sister liked it, she also loved the other show too, so what are the critics on about?


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MAB

09-07-02, 09:53 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #2
 
  
>was also sad to see
>such a poor attendance, it
>must have been very disheartening
>for the dancers wondered what
>the reason for it was,
>I hope it was not
>because of the current wave
>of anti-Americanism.


It was certainly not due to anti Americanism as the Alvin Ailey Co the week before sold out completely, with only returns available. I agree PNB deserved better audiences though.


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Annelieseagain

09-07-02, 11:56 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #2
 
   >I often feel completely out of
>step with both the
>ballet fans and the critics.
>I can see Ballanchine is
>clever but I do not
>warm to his choreography,

>I am a great
>admirer of Mozart but it
>does not dance easily.

Well, on these two counts you're in step with me! (actually not even too sure Balanchine is clever - a bit repetitive and a lot of it is all port de bras, no footwork)


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Robert

11-07-02, 04:23 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #4
 
   Gosh
I thought that Katherine Kanter and I were the only people who did not appreciate Mr. Ballanchine.


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Paul A

11-07-02, 05:12 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #5
 
   It took me at least 15 years to "get" Balanchine. It's a cerebral kind of pleasure usually, physical sometimes, that often appears soulless. But head and shoulders above his successors.


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Robert

12-07-02, 00:01 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #6
 
   I have now been trying for fifty years, no luck yet.


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Paul A

15-07-02, 09:20 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #7
 
   >I have now been trying for
>fifty years, no luck yet.
>


It was actually seeing Symphony in C in New York that converted me. They had that spring in how they left the stage that gave their movements such bounce and energy (I know it's much remarked on but I hadn't seen it till then but it did make sense of how the choreography sits on the music).

You don't get a wow from Agon?


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Annelieseagain

12-07-02, 04:45 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #6
 
   Funny, I liked his stuff at first but have started to find it very bland and repetitive.


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Flight

13-07-02, 02:07 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #8
 
   I've only ever seen two pieces but liked them straight away!


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Lynette H

15-07-02, 04:15 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadlers' Wells: Programme 2 - 5/7/02"
In response to message #9
 
   PNB certainly looked more impressive in the mixed bill than in Silver Lining, but still not as impressive as they did a few years back in A Midsummer Night's Dream. There seem to have been a few changes in personnel since then (left or injured ? I'm not sure) , and the company didn't look as polished overall as they did on the previous visit.

Still a mystery why the mixed bill sold so poorly. There wasn't much publicity - I did see one poster for Silver Lining which mentions a mixed bill in small letters, but doesn't say what it contained. And there were no special offers from Sadlers either - it didn't seem to get pushed hard. But it still sold much worse than say, Houston Ballet's mixed bill last year. The only thing I can suggest is a certain sense of London emptying out already - the tubes seem quieter now, and there's a sense of holidays starting.

The Balanchine was very pleasing to watch, even if the dancers appeared a little nervous and uncertain to begin with. A very handsome piece. The audience in general seemed to prefer the Duarto piece, or perhaps it was just a question of them getting warmed up.

I don't think you should do the Corsaire pas de trois unless you can absolutely nail it - unless you have, say, a Carlos Acosta handy who can really stun the audience. I don't think the PNB cast were quite on top of it with the Ali, for example having plenty of force but not much smoothness or control. Kaori Nakamura has some interesting party pieces in her fouttees ( some doubles, great varieties of speed, some done with a completely straight leg.

Martin's choreography for Fearful Symmetries is full of energy (and energetically delivered by the cast). But it does get repetitive, and I found myself thinking that I prefered Ashley Page's version. One of the dancers in this - I think it's Jonathan Poretta - really caught the eye.


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