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February 18, 2023


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Saw it tonight with Fairchild and Gordon, and Korowski as Carabosse. I've always had a problem with the pacing although you have to be a real classical ballet connisseur to fully appreciate a traditional production that is not only paced more realistically but doesn't suffer some of the cuts this production has made. A lot of the ancillary narrative has been dispensed with, which is OK if you want to make this ballet more appealing to a general audience. But to get that first half curtain down in a little over an hour, you give up a lot - especially musically. You won't miss the traditional opening of Act I if you never see it. And I long ago gave up on the opening dances of Act II. At least the traditional choreography has been retained, and Act III moves nicely. I appreciate the retention of the presto at the end which is frequently dispensed with. But what I cannot stomach is the tasteless and disrespectful destruction of the panorama - the most beautiful transition passage in the score, which has been cut and musically rearranged - to provide an easy place to have an intermission. I went because I hadn't seen this production in many years and I knew the orchestra would do an outstanding job on the score (at least what was not cut).

Yeah, I'm afraid you hit the nail on its head. This SB wasn't created for those who already love the SB ballet. It was created for a general audience who is only familiar with SB from 77 pages of Perrault or 75 minutes from Disney. This audience would not sit through a three or four hour SB as Europeans are accustomed to doing. Sometimes I've wondered how the musicians and conductors feel about the musical cuts and whether it pains them as much as it pains us--or perhaps more.

Please refresh my memory. It seems like the SB in America (I haven't seen NYCB's production.) used to be three hours long, maybe longer with intermissions. Now most productions are two hours. When did that change? Around 2000? Why, because of audience changes in attention span? Such a shame for all of us.

Hi, Georgiann. Don't have an answer for you. Ratmansky's newest production for ABT ran 2.9 hours (178 mins) during its first year. It didn't fly by when seated in the theater either.

I suspect SB's length has been an issue for a long time. Remember when it was popular to program a SB Suite of Dances as a substitute for the whole thing? The full length with no cuts requires great patience on the part of the audience member. A lot of the country, especially here in NY, doesn't possess that kind of patience.

Hi Haglund, I saw the Friday evening and Saturday matinee performances.

Regarding the male Gold variation, it appeared that whoever danced it on Saturday omitted the turning sequence that Coll did in his variation.

I agree with you - Megan Lecrone had a remarkable stage presence as Carabosse. Even sitting in the third to last row of the Fourth Ring, her energy was palpable.

I very much enjoyed Ms. Phelan's Aurora debut yesterday, however, I really wish that she was also given the chance to dance Lilac Fairy which leads me to a general thought. After watching both performances I think I was most impacted by how involved the Lilac Fairy is within the ballet. In other productions she feels more like the MC of the story, but here she seemed like an active participant with a stake in the outcome. Just my impressions!

Hi, Zachary. ITA that Unity Phelan, with her natural calm and serenity, would make a lovely Lilac Fairy.

I stopped going to NYCB's SB and SL(and R+J though this isn't a Petipa) a long ago after a number of disappointments. It always felt like a Chuck e Cheese drive through experience for me coupled with rushed tempi, caroonish acting and bad miming(I don't blame the dancers since lack of tutoring and rehersal time isn't their fault). Even my non balletomane friends felt the dancing and pacing was frantic. An earlier poster already pointed out the criminally butchered score. I guess they had to make the sacrifice to cut the performance time short... I find it annoying that they actually slow down the tempo of Tchai Piano concerto to comply with the dancers. Can't they do the same for the Petipa rep? All I could see is how relieved the dancers looked after each variations.

With the appointment of Ratmansky as their artish in residence, maybe the dancers can learn how to carry themselves properly in a classical rep. Tatiana(I'm assuming she's coming with Alexei) is an exceptional character dancer and still has better carriage than all NYCB dancers. I still vividly remember how elegant she was in ABT's SB and Harlequinade.

Tulle, Ratmansky's arrival is going to be exciting. I hope he will consider creating or re-creating a full length production during his tenure.

I also hope that Ratmansky has at least some influence on the classical dancing in the more Petipa-based productions. Even after 30 years of this Sleeping Beauty, the simple mime gesture of summoning with the arm and hand still looks like an obscene flip-off gesture. I also noticed that some of the corps women don't really know how to walk on demi-pointe with classical form. Some of the Lilac Fairy Attendants were picking up their knees and then stepping up on half pointe.

Regarding the length of typical SB productions: the actual score runs about three hours. Even the Mariinsky in their 1999 restored production didn't use every note. But most productions cut three big chunks from Act II: many of the opening hunting scene dances, the entire entr'acte (which Balanchine used in his Nutcracker), and most of the entr'acte symphonique (which is a spectacular piece in its entirety). Act III generally sees a few of the variations cut as well. And with various cuts in music in the Prologue and Act I, we wind up with two-plus hours of music; throw in two intermissions (the norm) and you get about three hours total.

Thanks, Solor!

I never had a problem with the tempo of NYCB's Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake. It was how the composer wrote it and it was how the original dancers performed to it.

I think it is a matter of technique of modern dancers as a whole not just NYCB.

A lushness has been lost. You can see hints of it in old film clips of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Those dancers were able to dance at tempo and move with fullness.

I think the loss was because they moved toward gigantic female dancers and choose bodies that are unsuited to ballet. These bodies have different movement requirements and the art was deformed to accommodate them. Not even the Russian ballet companies have escaped the degradation.

We won't get the richness back until they go back to where things went off the rails.

Thanks, Haglund for your response about the current length of a Sleeping Beauty performance. That's interesting. I wouldn't have the patience to watch a baseball game for three or four hours, but a classical ballet? Sure!

I went to the Thurs Feb 16 performance w/Peck and Chan.

The thing I most enjoyed was Ashley Laracey's lush performance as the Lilac Fairy.

I agree with what Haglund said about the speed and lack of differentiation between the scenes. I thought the latter was odd because just days before this performance I happened to see one of those promotional clips NYCB does where they show a clip with a dancer talking over it about what is going on, what is difficult about it, etc and in this clip, which I think was 5 or 6 years old, it was Tiler Peck in the vision scene and she was talking about how challenging that was because the mood had to be completely different from other Aurora scenes. I was sitting in the 3d ring, so maybe I missed something.

Another clip I had seen was Megan LeCrone as Diamond. I thought she was magnificent and wondered if Emily Kikta could live up to that. Emily Kikta was very good but still think I'd rather see LeCrone in that role. Kikta was partnered by Peter Walker as Gold (filling in for Aaron Sanz). I didn't realize until I saw Kikta next to Walker how big she is. I think Walker is pretty tall but she seemed just about as tall.

There were several debuts in supporting roles at this performance and I think there may have been some nervousness.

Allie, I'm looking forward to revisiting Ashley Laracey's Lilac Fairy this week and also seeing Emily Kikta's debut in the role. I believe I'm seeing Megan LeCrone's Diamond on Thursday. This production, despite being problematic in places, certainly provides a lot of opportunities for the dancers, more so than Nutcracker. NYCB should cycle this SB back around a bit more frequently.

FWIW, the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty is also 3 hours. I had the pleasure of seeing Fumi Kaneko as Aurora a few weeks back. It's a beautiful production.

Rachel, how many intermissions?

I guess I'm in the minority in that I like Martins' Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Especially for the pacing. Like a true New Yorker, I don't have the patience to sit for 3+ hours of not much happening onstage and a bunch of pantomine. I saw Darci perform this when it debuted and she was an exquisite Aurora and I've liked the production ever since.

FYI, speaking of the Royal Ballet, they are currently streaming Sleeping Beauty. It is not this current production, but about 2 or 3 years back I think, can't remember the leads. They have their own streaming service and I believe the first 14 days are free for new subscribers -- have been thinking of getting it myself for a couple weeks. They also have other ballets, plus operas, on this service.

And speaking of intermissions, in that clip NYCB posted of Tiler Peck talking about the vision scene, I recall Tiler talking about how difficult that scene was because it came before intermission, not after, as with other companies, and she was very tired.

Hey Gayle, you're not in the minority at all considering the nearly full houses at each performance.

Royal Ballet has two 20 minute "intervals" :)

Looking back at the program, it was 35 minutes for prologue, 30 for the birthday party, and then a whopping 70 minutes for the vision scene and wedding. All in all, about 2.5 hours of dancing, and I was thrilled to be there for all of them.

@Allie - I believe the streaming might be Fumi's debut from a couple of years ago - they streamed it live during lockdown.

Sadly I feel NYCB struggle a bit it’s the Petipa repertory, as I imagine the Bolshoi dancers struggle dancing Balanchine’s Raymonda , I guess is hard to have it all. But some dancers seem to have it all, Megan F was very solid , any company in the wold will be lucky to have as Aurora.
I normally like the speed that NYCB dances but I agree with Georgian the tempos most have some exceptions, Mira as LF seem like she did not have bough time to extend her long legs and her turns preparation seem very short resulting in non perfect turns.

Even do I know Petipa is not the strenght of NYCB I still enjoy a lot how they resolve the classical repertory with the Balanchine Training, I also agree the version it’s a bit chop and can be done better, but 3 hours I think it’s too much for kids or new audience.

Also I agree the arabesques are a bit low, but I appreciate also the rest of the body, it’s low but everything else is align and beautiful, so it feels more like a line choice versus a lazy choice. If it goes high for sure I will be appreciated too.

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