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May 06, 2021

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“Let’s go!” indeed!

ABT’s going...on the road, on an old-fashioned bus tour across the USA! Nice flashback to their roots.

Hopefully NYCB will stay closer to home in summer.

I actually enjoyed the NYCB Gala film by Coppola, even though I’m usually not a fan of little excerpts. In this case, the film was like a beautiful poem about renewal. How moving was the transition from b&w to color for the final DIVERTIMENTO NO. 15 segment?! The sight of the gold curtain going up brought a lump to my throat.

Remember - we're all desperate to see live ballet on a stage. These days I'm less of a balletomane and more of a balletowhore who will take it any way, any time, any place and even fake my enjoyment if I have to.

That said, NYCB's gala film satisfied as a documentary although I am so tired of the cliched closeups of bags and shelves of pointe shoes, racks of tutus, the rosin box, etc. I guess we can thank Coppola for not stooping to showing a ballerina or two walking around with toe shoes with ribbons slung over the shoulder.

Gonzalo's excerpt was a treat because his depth of expression was much more readable than I usually experience from the back of the rings. There were moments where I suddenly saw similarities in his movement and expression to Megan Fairchild's artistry. I guess that's no surprise considering the many years they have danced together.

The filming of Duo Concertant was unflattering to Bouder who is still not where she should be physically. No amount of grinning and eyebrow activity will cover that up. The dancing was effortful, not light the way it was intended (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgd4-3hWuX8 )

I truly enjoyed the excerpt from Liebeslieder Walzer. In some respects I found the setting on the Promenade more compelling than the traditional stage setting. Both dancers were simply superb. I had to watch this part a few times.

Peck's solo for Huxley, though a bit long and repetitive, was pretty easy to watch. Barber's Adagio for Strings has over the years become a staple at funerals and has been used multiple times for movie scores. Oliver Stone used it to amplify the excruciating terror of war in Platoon. For that reason, we come to associate it with sadness rather than the sheer beauty of the notes and phrases. I thought Huxley filled the music brilliantly without over-stuffing it. I have truly missed seeing him on the stage over this past year.

The Divertimento No 15 was fresh and a sight for sore eyes. I thought the film failed to capture the full beauty and rich color of the costumes which are among my favorite at NYCB. (Maybe I just need to tinker with my laptop's color.) I set that little quibble aside so as to enjoy watching so many of my favorite dancers on the stage at one time.

I loved it!

Pretty much everything said here speaks for me but allow me a couple of two-penny observations:

"although I am so tired of the cliched closeups of bags and shelves of pointe shoes, racks of tutus, the rosin box, etc"

I'm not. I've seen four million ballet documentaries and I never tire of seeing racks of tutus. Also, Coppola was setting a scene for younger folks who may not have seen four million ballet docos so it's not a tired cliche for them.

I thought the problem with DC was the the lighting. That lighting would have made the buffest, fittest ballerina in history look lumpy. Coppola was after a hyper-contemporary industrial black-and-white stark realism but geez, this is a promo piece for a ballet company and its great dancers, not a Warhol movie with fake "superstars."

There is a compromise between documentary-style realism and glamor. This went well over the line.

What distracted me: Bouder's jiggly standing leg in the opening sequence of tendus to the side, at 10:40. The knee of her standing leg juts out to her left as the leg extends. I checked it against the Mazzo/Martins version and didn't see that. Am I being petty? Maybe, but I couldn't stop looking at that knee.

Otherwise I loved it. My favorite part was the unabashed joy of the dancers when the curtain came down after Divertimento. I know that this breaks the illusion but I'd love to see more of this in documentaries.

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