[In a dark Tblisi cafe after the Ananiashvili gala]
Listen, Sergei. When you get to our clinic, just wink and tell them it's yours.... No, not both eyes, just one.... What do you mean you "don't want to rehearse"? You wanna end up with a soloist contract - keep messing with me.
The Scottish Ballet's new production of Tennessee Williams'A Streetcar Named Desire just got another fabulous review from London's Evening Standard which called it "florid, poetic, poisonously beautiful" and "everything you could want of Tennessee Williams." Tama Barry, the leading principal dancer who portrays Stanley, is being compared to Marlon Brando, and the Artistic Director Ashley Page's bright idea of attaching a real theater director to the production team is being called a "template for how to tell a story in dance." Hope this company and production are on somebody's radar on this side of the Atlantic.
This photo in the Evening Standard is uncredited, but oh what a picture. Click on it for full size.
A little refresh & update on live-streams and screenings:
Wednesday 4/25 @ 8PM (EDT) – Ballet Next will live-stream its event at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center on its website: http://www.balletnext.com/ Performers will be Michele Wiles, Charles Askegard, Kristi Boone, Misty Copeland, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Georgina Pazcoguin. They will dance choreography by Brian Reeder, Askegard, and Margo Sappington.
Friday 4/27 @ 3PM & 7PM– the movie Joffrey – Mavericks of Dance opens a run of several days at Cinema Village in New York. Former Joffrey company members and Dance Magazine's Wendy Perron will host several Q&A sessions on selected dates. You can purchase tickets in advance here. A list of upcoming screenings in other cities can be found here.
Sunday & Monday 4/29-30 @ 7:30PM (EDT) – The Guggenheim's Works & Process Series presents a preview program of ABT's Spring Season at the Met Opera House which focuses on the characters at the hearts of the ballets including an excerpt from Firebird performed by Misty Copeland. The program will be live-streamed both nights at: http://www.ustream.tv/worksandprocess
ABT soloist Maria Riccetto will join Julio Bocca's company, Ballet Nacional del Sodre, in Uruguay as a Primera Bailarina Invitada (Guest Principal Ballerina) for a year beginning August 1st. Thereafter she will return to ABT.
Congratulations to beautiful Maria. But Honey, don't come back without an ABT principal contract. McKenzie is screwing with the senior soloists, trying to clear the way for lesser dancers and lesser guest artists while at the same time complaining that he doesn't have enough corps dancers and has to insert student dancers from the school. He's screwing with the senior soloists big time. Walk out and don't look back. You are too beautiful, too talented, and too wasted by ABT.
NYCB opens its spring season on May 1st with a terrific week that includes Firebird, Concerto Barocco, Kammermusik No. 2, Serenade and more.
The first week's casting is up. Tuesday's opening night will present Janie Taylor, Ashley Bouder, Rebecca Krohn, Jonathan Stafford, and Ask La Cour in Serenade. Sara Mearns, Teresa Reichlen, Jared Angle, and Adrian Danchig-Waring will make their Serenade debuts on Friday evening. The first Firebird of the season will be performed on Wednesday by Maria Kowroski; Ashley Bouder burns it up on Saturday night. Kammermuski No. 2 fields two brand-new-never-before-seen casts during the week. And look out! Tiler Peck & Joaquin De Luz and Ana Sophia Scheller & Gonzalo Garcia will be delivering their Tschaikovsky PdDs on Wednesday and Saturday evenings respectively.
Manon PdD, Swan Lake Act I PdD, Swan Lake Act II PdD, Flames of Paris PdD, Don Q PdD – my goodness, ABT's opening night gala looks like Fall for Dance except that the tickets aren't $10. Oh wait, there will be students from the school in recital, too, making the whole night a little more like the Youth America Grand Prix.
Not even Honorary Chair Michelle Obama and her husband could save this gala. The only thing that could possibly save this gala would be an appearance by Bill Clinton - and that's kind of unlikely to happen. However, he did perform a very fine warmup act for Tony Bennett last year at the Met. How great it would be for Bill Clinton to come out on stage and give a warm lecture about the unethical, unpatriotic, unappealing practice of outsourcing job opportunities to foreign workers and of course shaking his finger. That would be good. That would be worth seeing. Otherwise, not. So, it will not be old Haglund who you hear booing McKenzie when he shuffles out on stage in his shineless shoes to make the annual case of what a great job he's doing when we all know he should have been fired years ago for wasting the company's human capital.
The mass email advertisement for the gala going around is a hoot. It features a big picture of Diana Vishneva in Swan Lake even though she has been pulled from dancing Swan Lake.
The mass email says the program features "an astonishing 15 principal dancers in highlights from the 2012 season." It doesn't say 15 ABT principals - that's because McKenzie has gone out and borrowed a third of the "astonishing" list in order to try to astonish everyone including himself. What would truly astonish everyone would be if McKenzie gave ABT's senior soloists the spotlights and opportunities they deserve. Now that would be astonishing.
It would be nice to see Sarah Lane in a Swan Lake PdD or actually featured in anything. Angel Corella has such respect for her artistry and abilities that he has offered her a future with Barcelona Ballet that would allow her to split her time between his company and ABT. Haglund hopes she takes it even though McKenzie will make her suffer more for it. See the last paragraph of this link.
And just asking – why are Manon, Flames of Paris, and Don Q PdDs being referred to as highlights from the 2012 season? Is the actual 2012 season so boring that a preview has to be supplemented with fake entries?
This is really piss-poor planning. But since the big donors probably don't embarrass themselves by going to the Fall for Dance programs and snatching $10 tickets away from the masses who really need that kind of economic support, they'll probably enjoy the gala evening and think that they're getting their money's worth.
There are about a hundred scattered seats still available for Barcelona Ballet's final performance Friday night at 8PM. This young company really hit full stride tonight. Wow, did the dancers look great!
So handsome in all three pieces tonight. Vera, Virellles, Robison, Radev, Iseda, Corella(s), Hirata, Calderon, Omori, Casa sold it big time. Stepping into the Blue PdD in the Bruch Violin Concerto for the first time during this week, Maria Jose Sales and corpsman Jonatan Diaz were dazzling. Pálpito sizzled!
Bruch Violin Concerto No.1 has got to be this company's signature ballet. They should perform it everywhere they go.
Don't miss the chance to see Barcelona Ballet!
It looks like City Center has opened the Balcony seating for ticket sales for the final performance tonight!
The Barcelona Ballet returned to New York's City Center on Tuesday night with a new name, a new cohesiveness in style, new choreography, and the treasured brilliant energy of its star director, Angel Corella. This is not to say that there weren't a few problems that need to be discussed. But overall, the company, formerly known as Corella Ballet Castilla y Leon, gave a performance that showed that its artistic growth and development continue from its root structure up through the branches to the blossoming ends of its limbs.
The program opened with what was for Haglund the highlight of the evening, Clark Tippet's Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 which was created in 1987. The City Center stage is too small to display the grandness of Tippet's designs but it's large enough to make clear that the future lost a major choreographic voice when Tippet died in 1992 from AIDS at the age of 37. He really knew how to build a choreographic phrase to bring out the beauty and drama of the music.
The Barcelona Ballet dancers soared in the Bruch and displayed tidy, beautifully curved feet and legs along with unaffected and graceful port de bras. If Angel Corella can achieve this degree of harmony and style among a collection of dancers trained in a multitude of styles from schools all over the world, imagine the greatness that is on the horizon for this company when it begins producing dancers in its own school which will soon open in Figueres, Spain.
Yuka Iseda, substituting for Kazuko Omon, with Kirill Radev displayed sublime elegance and perfect coordination in the Aqua PdD. Ana Calderon and Aaron Robison in the Red PdD tugged and pulled and challenged each other with quick changes of direction and (intentionally) off-balance maneuvers. Carmen Corella and Dayron Vera in the Blue PdD were the calm and collected lovers simply enjoying the moment. Momoko Hirata and Alejandro Virelles rose to the challenges of the allegro in the Pink PdD. Virelles pulled off the successive double pirouettes with the changing arm positions with ease. All of the soloists were wonderful, but the outstanding corps de ballet was the main attraction in this ballet. A few opening night nerves were in play that included an unintentional sit-down and some difficult adjustments to the small stage, but the piece taken as a whole looked very, very pretty. The women's tutus, originally designed by Dain Marcus, were simply lovely for their layers of color and the way in which the backs were slightly longer and fuller than the fronts which gave them a trailing effect when the dancers moved.
The middle piece on last night's program was Christopher Wheeldon's For 4 which he made for the Kings of the Dance in 2006. It was not a good programming choice for a couple of reasons. First, it followed the much better crafted Bruch Violin Concerto No.1 by Tippet, and it showed Wheeldon's lack of focus and his reliance on arbitrary quirks as filler when his creativity got stuck. Second, the original interpreters (Corella, Ethan Stiefel, Johan Kobborg, and Nikolay Tsiskaridze) carried the weak choreography on their famous backs and bolstered it with their huge well-known stage personalities and their abilities to wrestle any movement to the mat for a win. The four gentlemen in the performance last night, who were unknown to most of us, couldn't make For 4 fly despite their obvious technical talents. But it certainly wasn't their fault.
The world premiere of Pálpito concluded the program. Choreographed by Flamenco specialists Angel Rojas & Carlos Rodriquez, who direct the Nuevo Ballet Espanol, to a commissioned musical and vocal composition by Hector Gonzalez, the dance incorporated different Spanish dance styles into the balletic vocabulary. From the synopsis in the Playbill:
"The story of Pálpito is about the main character who is trying to free himself from the strings that have him bound to his former role of a dancer and that keep him from advancing into the mature role in his spirit with tranquility and peace, allowing his heart to beat with a new force and inspiration preparing him to discover new horizons."
Vicente Solar's inventive and extremely colorful costumes combined elements of traditional Spanish Flamenco designs with balletic tutus to good effect. The central character, danced by Corella, transitioned throughout the piece from formal black and white attire with ruffled shirt to gradually discarding the ruffles and confining jacket to finally emerge renewed in traditional Spanish costume. His choreography, intense and contemporary, was framed by light on the stage floor. Sometimes he followed the straight path of the beam. Sometimes he reeled on a grid of light beneath his feet. Finally, he arrived rested, relieved, and at peace on his knees in a circle of light. The lighting design on the floor is important to moving the story along and may not have been in full view by those in the most forward section of the orchestra.
Perhaps Pálpito was a little self-indulgent. It's not a piece that the company could present without Angel. It is his story. It is his inner torment about giving up what has brought him our love and admiration so that he can create something greater and bigger - for us. Okay, go ahead, but let us have our grief.
Haglund was so happy to see Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 again that he's going back tonight and Friday. It's like finding lost treasure. And to see it in such fine condition after all these years – the company deserves our thanks and a black Spanish lace Pump Bump Award for the dancers who breathed such life into it:
American Ballet Theatre continues promoting it's inferior guest dancers while giving its own talented women soloists the short shrift. The company cannot bring itself to acknowledge the extraordinary achievements of its soloists at other major companies by updating their biographies. Why hasn't Sarah Lane's biography been updated to include her major role as Odette/Odile with Barcelona Ballet? Why hasn't Stella Abrera been credited with her string of appearances starring as Aurora in Sleeping Beautyfor the Royal New Zealand Ballet? Why hasn't Maria Riccetto been acknowledged for performing Medora in Le Corsaire for Julio Bocca's Sodre Ballet in Uruguay?
So while ABT is ignoring its soloists' international achievements, it is promoting its inferior guest dancers by referring its internet traffic to a gross spread in Vogue Magazine that trumpets that the guest dancers "are bringing their passion and poise to the New York stage." Isn't it a damn shame that they're not bringing balletic line, aesthetic, and classicism with them, too.
Want to see some balletic line, aesthetic, and classicism of real homegrown dancers who ABT has ignored in addition to the above examples? Here's a little example that in 3 1/2 minutes in an extremely small space manages to tell a whole story with class, integrity, and without gross gymnastic tricks.
These are the artists who ABT should be promoting.
Maria Riccetto and Blaine Hoven 2010 Avery Fisher Hall.
Story ballets are all the rage. They're bubbling and brewing everywhere. The whiny abstractionists are either climbing on board or fading away. It is a joint-wrenching choice for some of them.
TheScottish Ballet just premiered its version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire to major critical praise. Directed by native New Yorker, Nancy Meckler, who works out of the U.K., and contemporary choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa in her debut dabbling in narrative dance, Streetcar was conceived by outgoing AD Ashley Page. The Telegraph critic just reported that "The result is a brilliantly bold and sensitive ballet which is full of memorable set pieces."
Here's a little promo blurb. While there appears to be some of the "same old same old splitzy stuff" going on, at about 50 secs into the video, check out the leap, lift, and lighting of "Stella" bending her back over "Stanley's" shoulder - steamy:
Several months ago, Haglund caught a performance of Satellite Ballet in the Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center and was wowed by the efforts of directors Troy Schumacher and Kevin Draper along with the dancers (from NYCB), musicians, and designers. Satellite Ballet and Collective is a serious collaborative model that workshops it productions in Michigan before presenting them on major stages.
In the works and hopefully for the October 2012 performance in NYC is a new "Ballet and Song Cycle" which the group describes as:
Set in New York, it's the story of a young woman who meets a thief who has collected her past and offers it to her in exchange for her future.
Hooked. Totally. Would love to see it produced at BAC.
Venti Petrov, whose ballet El Cid was received so well last year, has thrown himself head-first into another intriguing story for the Lumiere Ballet's performance on April 28 at Baruch Performing Arts Center's Mason Hall. DEAR NADEZHDA is a one-act ballet based on the story of Tchaikovsky and the woman who loved him.
From the company:
Between 1877 & 1890, composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky and reclusive patron of the arts Nadezhda von Meck sent each other nearly 700 letters. Nadezhda supported Tchaikovsky financially for 13 years, but stipulated that they were never to meet. DEAR NADEZHDA brings to life this complex and passionate epistolary relationship -- a virtual romance between an artist and a fervent admirer. It is set to a score by Tchaikovsky and features a company of 14 dancers including Oksana Maslova (Moscow Ballet, Connecticut Ballet) as Nadezhda, Tanner Schwartz (Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet), Lauren King (New York City Ballet), Alexander Tressor (New York City Ballet, Connecticut Ballet), Cassandra Trenary, Steven Melendez (New York Theatre Ballet), Ariane Mahler, Jocelyn Delifer, Jeremy Canade, Aina Tadokoro, Tracy Finch (Ballet NY, Connecticut Ballet), and Carrie Walsh (Royal Danish Ballet, Corella Ballet).
Also on the program will be several divertissements choreographed by Petrov including: • Soul in Captivity: As the table turns, the master falls prey to his victim. Music by E. Lalo. Danced by Nicole Graniero (American Ballet Theatre), Tanner Schwartz, Carrie Walsh and Aina Tadokoro • Patent Pending: A crash dummy decides to take his life into his own hands. Set to Leroy Anderson’s famed typewriter music. Danced by Anton Kandaurov (Moscow Ballet, Connecticut Ballet). • The Butterfly: One day in a life of beauty. Music by A. Dvorak. Danced by Lauren King. • Harlequinade: Based on the characters of La Commedia dell’Arte, this piece depicts the heartbroken and ever so hopeful Harlequin in his attempt to attract Columbine’s attention. Set to original music by Michael Zeiger. Danced by Cassandra Trenary and Steven Melendez. • Liebestraum: Two people have just fallen in love and explore their nascent feelings for each other. Music by Franz Liszt. Danced by Oksana Maslova and Anton Kandaurov.
Tickets are available by calling 212-352-3101 or through www.TheaterMania.com.
Vegetable, Animal, and Mineral
Dances Patrelle will present GILBERT & SULLIVAN, The Ballet! at the Dicapo Theatre (184 E. 76th St.) May 3-6. Haglund saw this last year, and it was a hoot! Francis Patrelle has put together a revue of The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore and inserted his own imaginative reading of what went on behind the scenes to get these original productions on the stage.