The Royal New Zealand Ballet opened its Made to Move repertory evening in Wellington last night with three brand new works including one choreographed by Ethan Stiefel entitled Bier Halle to waltzes by Johann Straus II with Gillian Murphy and Qi Huan in the leads. To mark that occasion along with RNZB's 60th anniversary season, the local Wellington brewer, Garage Project, debuted a new craft beer, Hops on Pointe.
Here are a few of photos from the RNZB FB page of Stiefel's new work. Click to enlarge:
Javier de Frutos choreographed Anatomy of a Passing Cloud to Pacific Island sound clips, and Andrew Simmons created Of Days to music by
Dustin O'Halloran, Ludovico Einaudi and Olafur Arnalds. Here's an Of Days pic from the RNZB website:
and Anatomy of a Passing Cloud:
Meanwhile, it sounds like the new RNZB Giselle feature film is coming together quickly. There has got to be some kind of a trailer in the works, and Haglund will keep his eyes out for it.
Chase Finlay will debut at the Mariinsky Theatre in Apollo on March 10th during the International Stars Gala of the XIII International Ballet Festival. His muses will be Maria Shirinkina, Nadezhda Batoeva, and Viktoria Krasnokutskaya, all from the Mariinsky. He will also participate in the Divertissement section of the program. There is no doubt that the Mariinsky audience will go nuts when they see his Apollo.
There is a saying that the devil is in the details. In Petipa's ballets, particularly The Sleeping Beauty, the devil, God, truth, peril, and all beauty dwell within the details. It takes a smartly skilled ballerina to sort them out, face them down, and ultimately live up to them in order to create Princess Aurora's three phases of development over an evening.
Ana Sophia Scheller began developing her Aurora when she was a 13-year-old student at the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires – the school that produced Julio Bocca, Herman Cornejo, Marianela Nunez, and Paloma Herrera to name a few. She has a video of a childhood performance of one of Aurora's variations here on her YouTube account. Even at that early age when most students are concerned mainly with whether they can hold a leg to the ear or eke out a messy fourth revolution in a pirouette, details were on her mind: the high, high releves as she walked on demi pointe with straight knees, the full phrasing, the elegant use of the backs of her hands, the stretched fingers, the head held royally. While it is a common problem among professional dancers to convey the youthfulness of the 16-year-old Aurora because they are usually much older, here we see 13-year-old Ana filling every musical moment in an effort to convince the audience that she is mature beyond her years.
Last evening, more than a decade after that student performance in Argentina, Ana debuted in the role of Princess Aurora at NYCB opposite Gonzalo Garcia's Prince Désiré with Savannah Lowery as the Lilac Fairy. Never has Haglund been more convinced that Ana is a major ballerina in the making. Major in this generation, perhaps eventually even more important.
In Act I, her Aurora had the butterflies in the stomach that one would expect in a debutante who perhaps was a little surprised to be suddenly presented with four potential husbands from whom to select. She glistened with excitement while mindful of her royal manners. In the Rose Adagio, she was the 16-year-old eager to grow up quickly and to demonstrate with authority that she was ready for all that awaited her. The showy balances eluded her last night; once she leaned back so far that it looked like she might fall off pointe, but the strong arms of her attentive suitors brought her back to her plum line, and by the end of the final promenade Aurora's confidence and determination were renewed. Her variation was filled with beautifully articulated phrases, small footwork, and glorious port de bras. When one sees the importance and grandeur conveyed by holding the body high and keeping the arms low and forward of the body as Ana did last evening, one wonders why any dancer would ever do it any other way.
Haglund was quite unprepared for the beauty of Ana's work in the Vision Scene which turned out to be the favorite part of the evening. Her remote yet soulful yearning for Désiré was touching and his response to the vision was wonderfully believable and heartfelt. There were times when Ana struck an arabesque pose that was so perfectly formed, symmetrical, harmonious, and full of breath that a whiff of Gelsey floated by. We have a major ballerina in the making – one who, quite simply, gets what it is all about.
The grand pas de deux in the final act was marked with beautiful fish poses and celebratory dancing – a fine finish. Gonzalo Garcia was convincing, handsome, and sincere as Prince Désiré throughout the evening. Haglund has seen him dance better with more control over pirouettes and landings from aerial turns, but last night, he was the perfect partner for Ana's Aurora. The lifts in the Vision Scene were among the most magical ever. He made every supported pirouette and pose look perfect.
Savannah Lowery's Lilac Fairy was stately and authoritative. Troy Schumacher's brise vole diagonal in the Bluebird variation was absolutely brilliant. Taylor Stanley's Puss in Boots to Sarah Villwock's White Cat was deliciously detailed and fabulously danced. Rebecca Krohn's Diamond was flawless in its cut and clarity; her grand jetes to a stopped arabesque were perfect. Jared Angle's Gold was both good and less so. He's always impressive when he takes off but Jared's jumps don't seem to get to the end of his feet very often, which is to say, he's not using them fully.
The H.H. Pump Bump Award is bestowed upon our newest Petiparina, Ana Sophia Scheller, for the brilliant and starry light of her debut as Aurora.
Here is the full casting for ABT's first two performances of Symphony in C in Hong Kong as it appears in the performance program. It may help us speculate about who we'll see in the secondary casting come spring. It's good to see Blaine Hoven repaired, recovered, back in the line-up, and dancing with the lovely Christine Shevchenko. The demi-soloists in the First and Fourth Movements look promising. Fingers crossed that we get to see Stella Abrera in the First Movement in Washington DC – at least.
There seem to be more than a few new ballet books coming our way in 2013.
Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT Elena Tchernichova, Joel Lobenthal, Joseph Brodsky Scheduled for release in May and can be pre-ordered at Amazon with a discount.
The book is the personal story of Elena Tchernichova, the Kirov ballerina who devoted twelve years to coaching ABT's artists including Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Natalia Makarova, and Alexander Godunov (the guy in the mirror):
The French School of Classical Ballet: The First Year of Training Vanina Wilson Scheduled for release in August and can be pre-ordered at Amazon with a discount.
This is a thirty-three week training manual that covers the syllabus of "the French school" without claiming an association with POB, except for the mention that the author studied with masters of POB and its school.
This is photography book, and the images have been captured by a First Artist of the company. There seems to be a slight difference in the title on the jacket and Amazon's title record, but they'll figure it all out for you if you place a pre-order.
The Making of Markova: Diaghilev's Baby Ballerina to Groundbreaking Icon Tina Sutton Scheduled for release in August and can be pre-ordered at Amazon with a discount.
The author had unprecedented access to Dame Alicia Markova's intimate journals and correspondence. The book has 60 photographs.
Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer Elizabeth Kendall Scheduled for release in July and can be pre-ordered at Amazon with a discount.
This book is described as the first dual biography of the early lives of two key figures
in Russian ballet: famed choreographer George Balanchine and his close
childhood friend and extraordinary ballerina Liidia (Lidochka) Ivanova.
Anna Pavlova: Twentieth Century Ballerina Jane Pritchard and Caroline Hamilton Scheduled to be released on March 12th but is still at this moment available at Amazon as a pre-order with a discount.
He will be only the third jury chairman in the history of the quadrennial competition established in 1979 and which next convenes in June of 2014. The first chairman was Robert Joffrey, and the second was Bruce Marks.
Villella told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper that in the past he had hired dancers right off the stage during the competition. In addition to serving as the jury chairman, he will teach classes and engage the public on behalf of the USA IBC.
The international competition is open to dancers from 15 to 18 years old and 19 to 26 years old. In 2010, competitors and audience members from around the world pumped about $10.2 million into the Jackson and surrounding area economies, according to a University of Mississippi study.
He or she had better get installed fast, judging from the immediate and fast decline in the quality of the dance criticism.
Macaulay on PNB's first night: "All levels of the theater were full" – really, Alastair? Eyewitness reports are that the first night was shamefully under-attended with nearly no one in the upper level. This isn't the first time that Macaulay has blatantly misreported about a performance in order to improperly promote the artists.
And there he goes again, mocking the audience members who, unlike himself, have true knowledge of what they are seeing on stage: "the temptation is to rush immediately into dancer comparisons. Can its
Carla be as good as our Maria and Sterling? How does its Seth compare to
our Chase and Robbie?"
The absolute best thing that the new NYT Culture Editor could do is to completely eliminate all of the current writers on dance and go with stringers. It would save the paper money, and readers would have a 50/50 chance of getting more professional reporting. That's a much better chance than we have now.