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On 13/05/2020 at 08:34, SheilaC said:

I agree, of course, with all that Bruce says. But as I watched the excerpts I realised that four of the ballets were created on that truly original, and great, dancer, Tanaquil LeClercq. She was in the opening performance of Four Temperaments, in 1946, soon after she joined Ballet Society (later NYCB), and the last ballet created on her was Divertimento, in 1956, soon before she contracted polio and had to retire. She had a key role in Western Symphony and, although the wife and muse of Balanchine, she was also the muse and close friend of Robbins, who created the perfect ballet that is Afternoon of a Faun.

 

I mentioned your quote at Ballet Alert! which has a large Balanchine following. Nobody had noticed this and the two posters that responded were surprised, wondering why it happened and very glad for this insight. Thank you.

 

I recently discovered (for myself) the video of Tanaquil Le Clercq performing Afternoon of a Faun and think that it's an excellent performance (someone at Ballet Alert! called it the "gold standard") quite different from more recent ones by others.

 

By the way, I thought that this broadcast of excerpts was very fine. A particular favorite of mine is Teresa Reichlen in Western Symphony.

 

The broadcast can be seen here until tomorrow.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXnL56aKzww

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I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the NYCB snippets that have been streamed.  Unfortunately I didn't watch Ballo a second time and missed Rotunda.  The only one I haven't liked was Wheeldon's After The Rain.  The Balanchine pieces have all been glorious what a genius he was and the Ratmansky DSCH was a pure delight from start to finish (including Ratmansky himself what a lovely man!).

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Dear Bruce (and SheilaC)

 

You have done it again!

 

I was enthralled by the five-star evening of NYCB, with such wonderful dancing and variety of repertoire.  My enjoyment, however, was enhanced by the perceptive analysis and detailed commentary which you have provided.  A fulsome thank you for taking the time and effort to provide so much additional information about the performance, including debuts and departures - so sad for the dancers about the depart.

 

Whilst I was aware that Tanaquil LeClerq created Afternoon of a Faun, I had never made the connection that Robbins was creating this ballet on Balanchine's wife!

 

I also found this succinct (2 minute) and perceptive introduction to Western Symphony by Edward Villela no less.

 

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Just about managed to finish this off before it went offline.  All I can say is that I now really want to see the whole of Robbins' Four Seasons, and particularly if Sarah Mearns is dancing in it.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Really enjoyed all the star turns in Divertimento, too - Peck especially.  And agree that Mejia ought to be a star in the making - and that Hyltin made a very good presenter.

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Watched Peck’s Pulcinella Variations. This has been one of my favorites of this choreographer since its premiere a couple of years ago. More traditional feeling and structure; less funk...although the colorful costumes are quite innovative. While I enjoyed the full cast, the major “POW!” was delivered by Anthony Huxley and his flying ribbons in the Tarantella solo!!! I’ve seen him live in this three times and he always brings down the house.

 

This was Peck Double Header Night, with one of his loud sneaker ballets, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,   streaming for the first time at the San Francisco Ballet site. (Next week will see a similar situation with Wheeldon!)

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On 14/05/2020 at 21:18, Don Q Fan said:

The Balanchine pieces have all been glorious what a genius he was and the Ratmansky DSCH was a pure delight from start to finish (including Ratmansky himself what a lovely man!)

 
Agree. Concerto DSCH has been my streaming highlight. Had never seen it before and now I just want to see it again and again. So good. (Someone posted the recording here btw. I'll watch then make a contribution to NYCB as tribute.)

Dare I ever hope the Royal Ballet does DSCH? Similar to Dances at a Gathering, I bet the dancers just love performing this ballet. It looks like pure joy.

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For those missing DAAG I see that Chinese site has also posted here that lovely rehearsal of the Robbins by PNB as overseen by the AD Peter Boal, himself such a great exemplar of the boy in brown when at NYCB.  

 

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12 hours ago, Jeannette said:

Watched Peck’s Pulcinella Variations. This has been one of my favorites of this choreographer since its premiere a couple of years ago.

 

This was Peck Double Header Night, with one of his loud sneaker ballets, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,   streaming for the first time at the San Francisco Ballet site. (Next week will see a similar situation with Wheeldon!)

 

Yes, I really enjoyed the coast to coast double header, so to speak, as well. In fact, I'd have trouble making up my mind if I preferred one or the other.

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Peck’s Pulcinella Variations was fun to watch and some of the variations had a Baroque feel to music and dance. Perhaps not really what the choreographer wanted or desired, I'd like to have seen more of that chaotic, ribald and subversive element that commedia dell'arte brings; the costumes show this. I''m left wondering whether some of the variations really encouraged the potential for sardonic foolery and satire that can edge into darkness?

 

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I said before somewhere on BcoF that I had ‘enjoyed’ Pulcinella Variations’ – and I found I did again.  That said I would not be counting it as ‘one of my favourites’ among Peck’s canon as Jeannette does above.  NYCB had been dancing both Belles Lettres (another fashion designer costume wrought piece) and the exquisite Rodeo but weeks before the Covid Intermission prevailed.  I, myself, would have preferred either one of those as a further exemplar of his fine work to be honest.

 

That’s not to say that there wasn’t much to enjoy in and around the distraction of so much of the designer’s fussiness which all too often I fear – while witty I’m certain on mannequin display – did not (at least for me) particularly serve the dance.  Oh, and I’m usually up for sudden sunbursts!   These were I fear just too busy by half.  'Designese' can - like Covid - be a dangerous disease.  

 

Like Jeannette I too felt that Huxley was appealingly piquant in his two brief solos but it was really the choreography that Peck hatched for Andrew Scordato – and which he delivered so impeccably (pun intended) - that I felt made an even more significant impact.  I also felt the PDD with Russell Janzen and lovely young Miriam Miller was actually preferable to that constructed for the always divine Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia.  I didn’t find the latter build a particularly inventive one – and certainly in places it was not an entirely musical take on the Stravinsky discourse.  (That said I seem to remember preferring it more (a) in 3D and (b) with Joseph Gordon as Peck’s partner the one time I saw it live.) 

 

Moreover I felt that the butterfly beauty of Indiana Woodward’s blazing solo (once you could get over the attire – a bit like a frontispiece without its entrance) was far preferable in terms of honouring the colourful Comedia dell'arte mores than either of those forged for the lovely Sterling Hyltin and Emilie Gerrity who, poor lady, was decked out here as if she was a checker board streaked with Halloween blood.  Neither of those 'in isolation' seemed entirely finished; as if Peck was somehow dashing them off to fill the space.  Where Peck's Pulcinella Variations really DID came alive for me was in the very beginning and at the absolute end where he could once again do what I feel he really succeeds in doing best – celebrating community.

 

Also just wanted to add that I thought the longer Covid hairstyle suited Peck exceedingly well in his intro.

 

As he said therein:  ‘See you at the ballet’

 

Soon, I pray.   SOON!  

 

 

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I just found something I would like to share.  We all know and love Sleeping Beauty.  (Well, many of us do I think.)  In Peter Martins' production for NYCB (his best full length I think by some distance) the Garland Dance is that by Balanchine.  It is a thing of abundant joy; a real birthday celebration.  (Well, I think it is.)  I've always delighted in the fact that the children do - as so often is the case with Mr. B - the same choreography as the adults - and he always manages to sew Russian folk dance into it somewhere.  (I've never actually seen a video of it before - apart from house copies in the Robbins Collection at the NYPL Lincoln Center.)   Oh, wait ... there is I see an in-focus on it here - only you can't see the whole thing in terms of the overall exquisite stage patterns ... )  
 

 

I just discovered this other film - obviously made illegally by someone in - what looks like - the Fourth Ring sides (usually now closed - but clearly open for Sleeping Beauty as it sells).   At one point they move their phone away from the stage because obviously someone is on the brink of discovering them - or perhaps they are just rather unsteady.  In any event it gives you a sense of the overall sweep and stature of the piece - rough hewn as the cinematography might be.  Enjoy.  

 

 

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I hadn't seen this film of the whole of Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes for years ... I was at this performance - when it was filmed - in 1983.  I rarely actually weep at ballet ... but I found myself with tears strolling down my face.  I couldn't help it.  Just to see Sean Lavery walk out in the first few seconds.  That started it ... So, so many memories.  And then, of course, Farrell being ... erm .... Farrell.  So, So many great artists.  Ghosts.  This will be part of the Lincoln Center Celebration.  They may well have a broadcast quality version ... given the rights are theirs.  Until then ... 

 

 

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Balanchine’s Diamonds last night. Magnificent!

 

Interesting stylistic details, such as the elegant moderation in the height of the four Demi ladies’ arabesques and forward kicks...nothing extreme, as with the Russian troupes.

 

Loved the Farrellesque nuances in the pdd. Mearns and Janzen we’re spot on. My only tiny quibble is with a certain distracting tension in Mearns’ head/neck/shoulders but this may simply be her proportions. All below the neck is  divine. The use of the hands! Flexible back second to none, IMO.

 

A grand performance, overall. This NYCB digital season brought us two of the three portions of Jewels...just missing Emeralds.

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The YouTube description section includes a link to an important questionnaire about this and potential future NYCB digital offerings, including possible fee-paying options for other archived performances and/or live shows. Please go here to take the survey and provide feedback.

https://nycbdigital.questionpro.com/

Hint: Included is the question   “How did you hear about digital performances?” If you tick the “Other” box, you might wish to write balletcoforum !

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Thought this was a fine depiction of Diamonds as well.  Wonderful to see Farrell being welcomed back to the fold in terms of the coaching ... It has been far too long in the coming but all the more wonderful now that it is finally here.  Agree Mearns - minus the pirouette stumble at the end - this being a Company live archive recording after all - was musically radiant ... and Janzen commanded with a refreshing ease.  The camera work too I thought - given the dedicated archival purpose of this film - was fine as well.  Refreshing to be able to see the detailed sweep of dance's architecture from (I assume) the First Ring perspective without the jolting punctuation of close-ups.  

 

I don't know how many people are looking at this particular strand - from the responses it seems only a few - but if I might I would like to encourage you (should you feel it prudent) to do the quick survey offered by NYCB here:  https://nycbdigital.questionpro.com  From the later questions it very much appears that they are thinking they might offer future digital presentations and perhaps even a digital subscription package a la the Met's 'On Demand' programme which - at least from this corner - would be much appreciated.  

 

I think the programme that they assembled for this segment of the Covid Intermission has been very fine indeed, especially for a Company which - until now - was not particularly been known for such.  Bravi I say.  

 

-----

 

See Jeannette and I must have been typing about the survey at the same time .... :) 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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On a lighthearted note you might enjoy this little film shot on Ezra Hurwitz's phone (he's a filmmaker now but was a dancer with MCB and is Gonzalo Garcia's partner) that strives to be a stylised look comparing a day in the life of Sara Mearns of NYCB aside that of Calvin Royal III, a soloist with ABT here.  It's a two minute giggle.  Enjoy.  

 

 

 

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I love Balanchine's ballets that are based on the Odette theme (especially 2nd movement of Symphony in C) so I was really pleased to see Diamonds. But, unlike Jeannette and Bruce, I was ever so slightly disappointed. In the first half the music seemed to be played a little more slowly than usual. And, although Sara Mearns is one of my favourite dancers, I felt she was too careful, even to the point of seeming a tad strained at times. I agree with what Jeannette says about her tension due, in part, to the muscular build of her shoulders, which several other American dancers share, even Tiler Peck. Also, American training, which excels in so many ways, tends not to develop epaulement in the way that Russian or Cecchetti training does. In the more classical choreographies good epaulement can add extra elegance and expressiveness.

 

My one regret about the NYCB choices is that none of the black of the black and white Balanchine ballets has been shown, apart from an excerpt of Four Temperaments, which unfortunately was, in my opinion, the least well danced of all the NYCB ballets. Well danced it's a terrific ballet, belying its 73 years, and Agon,  Symphony in 3 Movements, Violin Concerto, all will still seem modern when the ballets of certain acclaimed contemporary choreographers have long since disappeared.

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Really good to see Diamonds being danced by its "home" company.  I missed most of the last Royal Ballet run, but what struck me here is that the ballet seemed less "Petipa-esque" and - unsurprisingly - more "Balanchine-esque" than performances I'd seen elsewhere.  And it did look to me, from the admittedly grainy footage, as if Mearns was hardly registering/making eye contact with her partner - which is how I thought it was supposed to be - in the pas de deux until that last moment where he kisses her hand.  Must go back and have another look at that bit ...

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9 hours ago, alison said:

Really good to see Diamonds being danced by its "home" company.  I missed most of the last Royal Ballet run, but what struck me here is that the ballet seemed less "Petipa-esque" and - unsurprisingly - more "Balanchine-esque" than performances I'd seen elsewhere.  And it did look to me, from the admittedly grainy footage, as if Mearns was hardly registering/making eye contact with her partner - which is how I thought it was supposed to be - in the pas de deux until that last moment where he kisses her hand.  Must go back and have another look at that bit ...

 

I agree Alison, It was so interesting to see how differently NYCB perform this from the RB and the Russian companies. As soon as the curtain rose you knew you weren't watching a Russian company. I thought the style of dancing was somehow much more relaxed and flowing, as opposed to the grand and mannered Russian execution.  I particularly liked Sara Mearns, her partner didn't make much of an impression on me. I thought the corps were not always in sync, the less extreme extensions everywhere are so much more attractive to see.  

 

Another big thank you to NYCB.

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13 hours ago, Don Q Fan said:

Sadly NYCB social media advised me that Emeralds will not be shown in any of the final shows to be streamed 😞

 

Yes, but we DO get to see Donizetti Variations!   (In a recent 'What's the Tea Talk' - celebrating dancers of Asian extraction - the disarmingly shy Anthony Huxley says: 'People have no idea how difficult it is.')

 

I, myself, would have loved to see, say, Brahms-Schoenberg or La Source and the Minkus PDT or Sylvia PDD in a  short mix - or (a la Sheila) any of the legendary Black and Whites like the recent showing of Haeiff Divertimento  - or Concerto Barocco  or Bourree Fantasque - or other ballets that only NYCB have like Union Jack - or even his Harlequinade (but that, of course, is a full length) to delight entire families - or any of the later Robbins like Two and Three Part Inventions or Brandenberg - or Ratmansky's Namouna or Pictures at an Exhibition ... or certainly some different Peck - things like his glorious Rodeo .... but I'm hoping those ALL will be things to come in future digital outings ... (all the more important methinks therefore to take the survey --  https://nycbdigital.questionpro.com/)  

 

I am just SO grateful for what we HAVE received.  It must have been so difficult to curate - not just based on the quality of various archival films - which again were never ever intended for public display - but for giving a mix of roles to different dancers and choreographers and to honouring those whose retirement performances will now most likely never occur.  

 

A hearty thank you to Jonathan Stafford, Wendy Whelan and Justin Peck from this quarter for what we have been able to receive.  When the lock down was first announced I, myself, never would have thought this might be forthcoming.  Well done them, I say.   This and the bringing in of the likes of Farrell, Villella and McBride to coach have shown (at least to me) the strength of their current hand.  

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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13 hours ago, Don Q Fan said:

Sadly NYCB social media advised me that Emeralds will not be shown in any of the final shows to be streamed 😞

 

That's a shame - its my favourite section of Jewels! Still, we've had so many delightful treats, seems rather churlish of me to even think of complaining!

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16 hours ago, SheilaC said:

 

 

My one regret about the NYCB choices is that none of the black of the black and white Balanchine ballets has been shown, apart from an excerpt of Four Temperaments, ... Agon,  Symphony in 3 Movements, Violin Concerto, all will still seem modern when the ballets of certain acclaimed contemporary choreographers have long since disappeared.

 

Ballet Arizona is showing Symphony in 3 movements on May 31 starting at 9 am Arizona time (which should be 5 pm British Time). For 24 hours ONLY.

https://www.youtube.com/user/balletarizona?fbclid=IwAR0JfOgtY6TM_j49ogx9w_Y-i1ECELU07BnQolIeyTIBuELqj5qYFsBd4nE

 

The thing is about NYCB's offerings, they have such an enormous repertoire of absolutely fabulous ballets that there's no way they could show them all and of course we could all say "I wish they'd show X, Y, Z instead". I actually prefer it when they show ballets we're less likely to see outside NY. We all know Jewels is lovely, but I find it more enjoyable to discover some Balanchine or Robbins that I don't already know. I think they've done a fabulous job of choosing what they have shown and am so grateful to them for showing them at all.

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Just wanted to say that I very much enjoyed the NYCB Digital Wheeldon programme that goes off line tonight.  Liturgy is one of my favourite Wheeldon pieces and I vividly remember the magic of Whelan and Soto in this.  (Whelan is one of those NYCB dancers - like Farrell - who tends to leave a defining veil on the roles she created.)  I thought Kowrowski embellished that memory entrancingly, ably partnered by Jared Angle.  (Indeed it was lovely to see film of the two brothers so close together in physical time - but happily far apart in terms of individual assignment.)  

 

I vividly remember the first time I caught Carousel (A Dance).  It was at City Ballet in a performance with Damian Woetzel (for whom that Billy was created alongside Alexandra Ansanelli who was shortly to leave for the RB).  The ingenue lead on that occasion was this young girl who had just been promoted to soloist.  Her name: Tiler Peck.  It's hard too to forget the always defining Woetzel - one of the best turners in the business - flying about the circumference of that choreographic whirligig.  You could hear the audience gasp as they burst into - as usual - spontaneous applause.  (I saw it three times I remember that season.  The last time Woetzel was out and Benjamin Millipied replaced him I recall.)  Still it was always the core adagio that really stood out.  I thought the lovely Lauren Lovette - who has of late only gone from strength to strength - was entrancing here as Julie Jordan and Tyler Angle, as always, a disarming partner.  (Lovette speaks in a very recent 'lock down' interview about her life in ballet here.) 

 

Well done NYCB for another fine programme, tastefully harmonised ...and here indicatively introduced by the choreographer himself.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I fondly remember seeing Katherine Morgan as Julie in Carousel (A Dance) ca 2007 when she was just an apprentice...or brand-new corps member. Such a perfect ingenue. Enjoyed the current digital offering with Lovett/J. Angle, although I could’ve done without the wacky overhead shots. I sure hope that the overhead and from-the-wings cameras are put to rest in the next offering, Donizetti Variations, to which I’m counting down with excitement...Ashley Bouder’s killer tech and musicality should be show stoppers! (I’ve seen Donizetti “live” only with Jenifer Ringer, now retired, who was pretty amazing herself. Quite a bravura ballet for the entire cast. Probably my fave among the lesser-known Balanchine’s. Not-to-be-missed!!!)

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Just wanted to bring something else to your attention - lest you miss it.  I wouldn't have wanted to ... It is a World Premiere launched on 22nd May 2020 after all :)   Try to watch it full screen if you can.  I think you will be glad if you do.   Some of the sets are truly breathtaking ... 

 

I REALLY enjoyed this .... I think it's the most successful new joint (but safely socially isolated) team project in terms of dance I've seen during the lock down so far.  It is called A Part of Together and it is made by five NYCB dancers (T. Peck, Schumacher, Lovette, Bouder and Walker) all doing their individual (well, segment) thing (and I assume choreography) to the strains of some very familiar (and certainly happy) Bach, each in their own enchanted lock down location.  

 

Tiler Peck begins by giving us her Isadora Duncan before diving into a rather delicious pool (it must be said) and coming up as Esther Willams.  I loved how the camera was made to jerk every time Troy Schumacher's sneakers pounced on that inviting pier's tongue and Lauren Lovette reminded me in her backyard stint of the witty exuberance one can feel in the heights of Mark Morris.  Ashley Bouder certainly knows her strengths and is never once intimidated by that expansive Spring panorama - nor that corps of real birds.  Still my favourite (best for last perhaps) was Peter Walker finishing things off in his parents' (or what I assumed to be his parents') colonial manse.  He is every inch a Henry Higgins in A Hymn to Him as he parades down (and up) the stairs finishing with a Mary Poppins' glint as he slides down the banister and takes a final bow whilst closing the proverbial door.  

 

Up, up and away! 

 

 

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