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Susan

That's so funny, after being surprised at how much I liked the first act after intermission I found myself...falling asleep! Wasn't sure if it was the ballet or lingering jet lag but I'll find out for sure tonight. There were definitely things I didn't care for in the last act - for example I didn't like the scene where Juliet refused Paris. Although I loved Sterling's overall performance this scene didn't show me a young girl who was forced to grow up fast - it was a child throwing a tantrum.

Also think I may agree with you that the story just doesn't suit ballet that well, it certainly doesn't suit a pure dance approach. That doesn't bother me much. I love "pure dance" but I also love dance drama - I'm one of those people who want more mime in Swan Lake! But I saw the Kirov do the Lavrovsky R&J recently and with 3 versions under my belt now I have to say that I don't love any of them. I love parts of MacMillan's and if it were reduced to a suite of the major pas de deux I'd go see it more often. At this point I only go to see it when it features dancers I can't resist. This season it's Ferri & Vishneva. I'd love to see Hallberg's Romeo but I don't think I can sit through a third performance!

Anyway, there were things I liked about Martin's R+J and thing's I didn't like but over all I found it to be pretty entertaining.

philip

Susan, you'll have to let me know how the production holds up on second viewing.

I admire your dedication in going to see the MacMillan twice in a single week!

tonya

I TOTALLY agree with Susan -- although I can sit through many versions of the MacMillan since I pretty much love all of the dancers in ABT :) I do wish they would whittle some of those scenes down a bit, but the pdd's are definitely what I go for.

Haha, Philip -- I told you you'd be able to see Tybalt a mile away! It was really fun seeing and hanging out with you guys for a bit last night! How cool was it that Jock said hi to us!!!

M

It was nice to finally meet you Phillip! Oddly enough I had just been mentioning to Craig earlier in the day how I still hadn't met you. Sorry I was so out of it when I walked up.....my brain has felt sooooo foggy for the past month. That didn't help my ballet viewing experience too much :)

Dmitry

Well, Philip, it's nice of you to conceded that Prokofiev's score isn't so bad! Personally I think it's the finest thing Prokofiev wrote. So I'm not a big ballet expert, but I've seen R+J 3 times, each time performed by the ABT. And of all the ballets I've seen those R+Js remain by far my favorite. I think the story translates to dance just fine and good choreography should be able to do just about anything. While watching those ABT performances I never lost the thread of the narrative and my mind never wandered. I suppose the beauty of dance on its own has never really grabbed me very much, which is why non-narrative ballet would bore me after a few minutes. If I've seen one "insert name of a move here" I've seen them all. But a great combination of music, dance, and story will always win. If all the ballets I've seen kept me as interested and attentive as ABT's R+J I'd go to ballet more often. For that matter, if all the music was as good as Prokofiev's, I'd also go more often. As it is...

tonya

Hey Dmitry knows his stuff!!!! :) :) Hehehe. I actually like the score as well, but felt like it was such an unpopular sentiment I didn't dare express it!

Matt, you recognized me and even remembered it was my birthday -- how sweet :) -- so I didn't think you were foggy at all! Am interested to hear, eventually, what you thought of this ballet as well...

philip

Story ballets don't interest me much. I wouldn't trade SERENADE or FOUR TEMPERAMENTS for all the ROMEOs and DON Qs in the world. Which is why I go to NYCB with great frequency and to ABT rarely (sorry, Matt!)

I cannot imagine that watching ballet would mean so much to me if I hadn't taken class for a while back in the 1970s. I was WAY too old to start but even my limited class experience (3 years at the beginner and intermediate levels) gave me a huge appreciation for what dancers do and also gave me that intangible combination of physical exhaustion and spiritual elation after class to which no other feeling compares. Possibly better than sex...?

Having that tiny bit of experience makes me watch things like Matt's Snow Scene clips in state of awe. To be able to move with such speed, strength and grace must give the dancers a feeling of complete freedom, of which I am profoundly envious.

Matt, it's really good that you are feeling better. I hope the ROMEO did not make you feel sick again...I know that's how some people reacted to it.

Dmitry

I don't mean to suggest that I don't appreciate what dancers are capable of doing. They're among the most extraordinary athletes in the world and their skills include many things Olympic athletes only know singly. I just don't particularly enjoy watching it for extended periods of time unless good music and a narrative moved things along. Just like, I hope, those don't like opera appreciate what it takes to be able to sing for 4 hours without a microphone, with a 100-piece orchestra in front of you, in a hall that seats thousands.

Tonya> Maybe ballet people rag on Prokofiev's score to R+J (like so many great ballets, including Tchaikovsky's, it was thought to be undanceable when it was first heard.) But it's an extraordinary composition in its own right and works as a purely symphonic piece in a concert hall brilliantly. (Just like Tchaikovsky's ballets do. Many consider "Sleeping Beauty" to be his finest orchestral composition and all things considered - that's quite a compliment). That's why there are so many recordings of all these ballets by the finest orchestras and great conductors. But Minkus is underrepresented on record, and for a reason. Many of these lesser works get very tiresome very fast if you sat there simply listening to it. So we have a 2nd tier orchestra with Richard Bonynge conducting as his biggest advocate. And that's ok, too. Minkus' goals in life must have been very different from Tchaikovsky's and Prokofiev's. And he had a fraction of their talent.

Bob

Philip, I thought that was a fair, well-balanced review. Your point that the ballet is somewhat undone by the story is well taken - this was especially true of Act II where the dramatic elements, despite Peter's best efforts, do overwhelm the pure-dance components of the ballet. I definitely would have liked more dance in Act II (Act I, thankfully, offered more dance than I recall in the MacMillan version) but I still found myself swept up in the emotion of the story and ended up really enjoying it. However, I still believe that the problem of R & J lies not only in the story but also in the score. I think most of us agree that it's a beautiful symphonic score, one that you love to listen to in a concert hall. But for the most part it's not what Balanchine used to call "musique dansante," i.e danceable music. Martins has done his best (even Macauley in the Times gave him some belated, though tempered praise in his review of the 4 R & J pairs the other day) but in the end, the score prevents him from even having a shot at creating a great ballet.

I saw last thursday's performance with Seth Orza and Kathryn Morgan (who was absolutely marvelous as Juliet) but am going again on sunday to see Sterling and Rob (I saw them at a dress rehearsal two weeks ago but I'm sure they have come a long way since then and am expecting an outstanding performance from them). It will be interesting to see how the ballet holds up to a second viewing within a two week period.

In spite of the fact that I enjoyed R & J so much, I'm still in agreement with you - I'll still take Serenade, Apollo, Four Temperaments, Symphony in C, Concerto Barocco, and Square Dance over any story ballet.

All of those promotions seem well-deserved - interesting that 7 of the 8 promoted were men. I'm especially happy that Craig Hall was finally promoted to soloist - that was long overdue.

philip

Of all the latest promotions, I was especially happy to see Craig Hall and Sean Suozzi get the Soloist designation. Yes, it was odd that only Sterling among the women was promoted (of course, Tiler & Ana Sophia were recently made Soloists). I think maybe Sara Mearns might be 'on hold' because I believe she's recently been injured. Teresa Reichlen and Abi Stafford seem like potential future Principals to me, and so does Rebecca Krohn.

As far as ROMEO & JULIET is concerned, I wonder if a great play can make a great ballet? It seems to me that of the full-length classics, most of them are based on fairy tales, legends, or short stories rather than existing theatrical dramas.

I wonder if Peter's ROMEO will slowly become more 'accepted', as has been the case with his SWAN LAKE. Of course, SWAN has the advantage of the Tchaikovsky score; you can argue about Peter's choreography and the pared-down mime (both of which please me) but I think the ending is really powerful. I got past the sets and the Act I costuming (talk about a box of crayons!) and came to love his version, especially in the last run when Jeni Ringer, Wendy, Sylve, Bouder & Sara Mearns gave us an amazing and unforgettable range of Swan Queens.

Frankly, I don't see myself ever seeing 5 ROMEOs in the course of a season but I won't mind watching it from time to time. I'd love to see Scheller and Carmena in the leads.

Al

Philip, thanks for the link at the beginning of your review. Although the process was a little confusing to negotiate, eventually got the contribution through. It was wonderful to be able to channel it through Ashley Bouder, a way to say Thank You to my favorite dancer.
As for R+J, Katie Morgan's the one who told the dance-level story of the play. For reference, the one most "Ferri"
in living the role. The one most desperately needed for some of the fading Farrell ballets.

philip

Al, if you look at photos of Farrell when she was just starting with NYCB there is a slight facial resemblance to Morgan.

I made my AIDS Walk donation via Albert Evans for the simple reason that he is always so pleasant whenever I meet him in the street.

I bet you are excited about Bouder's Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #2 next week - should be a perfect role for her!

Bob

Oh no, Bouder is dancing the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 on Sunday, May 27 (you're right - she was born to dance that role!)and I have tickets for "Inherit the Wind" that day. Bad timing on my part!

Al

Bob: There's hope. The first two perfs star Sylve, so maybe it is plausible that the last two will be Bouder.... June 2, I think. Bouder is justly famous for her second performances.

philip

I hope you guys saw the great photo of Ashley at the Winger: she and Tom Gold sold baked goods to Company members to raise money for the AIDS Walk.

Seeing Bouder's name down for Tchaikovsky PC2 was exciting; I think it will be one of her biggest successes to date.

philip

Deborah Jowitt in the VILLAGE VOICE has a very interesting view of the new ROMEO; she discusses the fact that the score literally dictates the dance in this case. Since I am not familiar with any ROMEOs aside from ABTs, I was curious to read about Tudor's setting of 'scenes' to Delius (I have seen his VILLAGE ROMEO & JULIET at NYC Opera years ago).

I wonder if the ROMEO story could be set to a score drawn from works of the Italian baroque period?

Bob

Philip, that was an interesting observation about Jowitt's comments in the Village Voice - it's worth further investigation.

Al, there is NO hope. You are probably right about Ashley dancing Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #2 on June 2 but alas, I have to attend a wedding that day (and there's no way I can get out of it). My despair deepens. Maybe next season!

Al

Well, Bob, there are three TPC2's at SPAC: July, 3, 7, 12. If worse comes to worse, there's always Sara Mearns's Walpurgisnacht!

Bob

Well, I'm only going to be at SPAC on July 4 and 5, so I'll miss the Tchaikovsky there too but yes, I can make the Sara Mearns Walpurgisnacht next week - thanks for the source of consolation!

Bob

I saw R & J for the second time on Sunday (actually the third time if you count one of the dress rehearsals) and I find that I like it more each time I see it. My only complaint with the ballet is that there is just not enough dancing in the Second Act - but I don't think that is Peter's fault. The story and the musical score simply don't allow for much dancing in Act II. But I still found the ending very powerful. Excellent performances by all, especially Sterling, DAnny and Joaquin. And the notorious slap that Jock administers to STerling in Act II - the one that generated a two page article in the Times - there was not even a single gasp in Sunday's audience. And just for the record, the ballet's leads received a standing ovation during their curtain calls. R & J has obviously attracted some new audience members to NYCB.

Now on to the regular repertory...I think we're all hungry and ready for it.

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