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January 27, 2023


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I was at the performance of Firebird on Tuesday and completely agree. I have always admired Ms. Hod's upper body and port de bras (especially as Sugarplum Fairy this Nutcracker cycle) and portraying birdlike qualities came so naturally. She was stunning, the music was stunning, and I have/had Sleeping Beauty on my mind so her second solo reminded me of the Lilac Fairy coming to put all the kingdom to sleep. Manifesting great things for her for the Sleeping Beauty run.

I'm very sad to hear your reports about Copland Dance Episodes, but I will likely still attend. I'm very curious about the Jeffrey Gibson panel. I don't really understand why that was commissioned instead of a more intricate set design. I personally love whenever there's something other than a mono-color background (the sets for Jewels springs to mind as a nice backdrop for a non-story ballet). Regardless, looking forward to hearing that music performed live and I really enjoyed the NYCB orchestra feature that the NYT put out recently!

I will be boycotting Peck's new work. Appalachian Spring was commissioned by Congress to be Martha Graham and Aaron Copland's joint and singular vision of America. It is a celebration of the end of WWII. It is meant to be performed with black dancers who dared to brave the segregationist South and Japanese Americans who escaped internment. To be narcissistic enough to choreograph over such a masterpiece is frankly racist and unpatriotic.

Also is it not disturbing to any other women that a straight white man insists on revising the most famous 20th century works by female choreographers? First, Agnes de Mille's Rodeo and now this? Why isn't he tackling anything by Ashton or Merce? No balls or creativity I guess

Also haglund, you forgot to mention that Miss Graham championed Native American rights and Appalachian Spring is the culmination of her belief in the freedom of the western frontier. And the most famous bit of Appalachian Spring (Simple Gifts) was only added because Copland saud Martha introduced him to Shaker music.

Thank you, Akiko, for your important observations including that Peck has choreographed over top the works of the two most important female choreographers of the 20th century.

Some valid points, but I have to disagree about the use of previously commissioned music.

This has always been a common theme in the arts, particularly if you think back to the 1960's, when musicians of all varieties were covering each other's music - much of it no less culturally important than this.

I also object to another commenter referring to this as 'racist' and railing against 'straight White men'. With all due respect, that is absolutely bigoted in and of itself. If only we could hold the entire world this accountable.

It boggles the mind why Peck chose this music. All it does is force comparisons between he and Graham and DeMille and he comes out the loser.

Hi Haglund, I went and attended Copland Episodes last night. I can't comment on the music and entwined choreographic history as I'm ignorant on the subject, but overall I did enjoy my evening as did my companion.

That said, I do want to know what the definition of a "full-length" ballet is. I feel like Copland Episodes was heavily promoted as the first non-narrative full-length since Jewels. However, the 76 minutes or so was only one act, and I felt like the ballet was artificially elongated to serve as a standalone piece. With some editing it could have come down to 40-50 minutes and could complement another ballet as a double-bill quite well (I'm thinking like the Episodes-Vienna Waltzes double bill). Additionally, I felt that there was a strong, even overt, narrative in the piece, something Jewels affirmatively lacks unless you really read into the Diamonds pas. To me, it didn't take much effort to read a story into the ballet, so I think it might've been more interesting and artistically compelling for Mr. Peck to explicitly write out a story for the audience. I don't think it should've been left to our imaginations.

I agree about the narrative within the ballet, and I think the four dancers (Nadon, Stanley, Peck & Chan) were definitely trying to create and impart the idea of a story. Why in the world would Peck & NYCB go out of their ways to hype this as the first non-narrative full-length ballet since Jewels and intentionally build expectations that would never be met and simply REMIND US of how much we miss Jewels?

Zachary; As best a I can recall, The Goldberg Variations runs 10 or so minutes longer than this new Peck and is always done as part of a double bill. I suspect they will do that for the Peck in the future too; it's just they had publicized and made a big deal of the new Peck as being full length and didn't know maybe until it was too late how short it really was.

Haglund, do you know why Ashley Bouder is not being cast in any ballets? My understanding is she's no longer injured. Thx

I believe she is still recovering from a medical procedure on her foot.

I love Copland's music and was really looking forward to the new Peck. Actually, when I received a promotweet from NYCB I wrote back and asked if they could reveal which Copland music was being used, so I could listen to it. Never heard a thing. Then read the Litton interview where he said when Peck said he wanted to use Copland music he (Litton) had sent over some music for Peck to listen to. AHA, I thought, so Litton with his vast knowledge of Copland is helping identify some little known or under-appreciated works. Hmm, I thought, maybe "El Salon Mexico,"" Danzon Cubano," "Short Symphony," or even some of his many movie scores (including "THe Heiress," for which he won an Oscar).

Good grief. This week, in trying to refresh my memory on what is in ABT's repertoire, I went to their online archive. Yes, "Appalachian Spring," "Rodeo" and "Billy the Kid" are all there. But so are two other works set to Copland that I'd never heard of -- "Polyandrion" and "Hamlet Connotations." Both were presented in the 70s. "Polyandrion" was choreographed by Tomm Ruud and set to Copland's "Dance Symphony." "Hamlet Connotations" was choreographed by Christopher Newton and set to Copland's "Piano Variations," "Connotations for Orchestra," and selections from "Piano Fantasy." This second work also had a cast that included Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Marcia Haydee, Erik Bruhn and William Carter.I think it was that type of work I had expected of Peck -- something that combined music from different Copland works. But certainly not the most well known ones, the ones that he used.

To add insult to injury, one of my favorite NYCB principals gushed on social media about how great this experience was, how terrific was this music she'd never heard before (huh?), how terrific it was to be dancing with dancers she hadn't seen since SAB. I had (obviously incorrectly) assumed an experienced dancer would have already heard music like Appalachian Spring. I also wonder, given so much recent commentary on who is and who isn't being cast or promoted or whatever, if, given how happy all the principals are to be dancing with the corps as equals, maybe NYCB should consider doing what very few companies still do -- have no ranks, everyone just a "dancer" or "artist." Whoever is dancing the lead best in rehearsals this week gets to do that role. Whoever dances best in a season gets the highest pay next year. No "tenure" for anyone.

Had thought I might see this in spring season. But now not sure I want to pay full price for roughly 2/3 of a program. So will maybe wait until they present it with something else.

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