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Balanchine x 6

Here’s my review of the Jan. 20 and Jan. 22 programs at New York City Ballet, which included six works by Balanchine: Serenade, Agon, Symphony in C, Donizetti Variations, La Valse, and Chaconne. Not bad for two nights at the ballet.

A little excerpt:

“These Balanchine evenings quickly establish the company’s core values: musicality, speed, lightness of touch, spaciousness, style. They also impress upon the audience the vast range of balletic modes in which the choreographer worked…. The ballets are not only worlds in themselves but, taken as a group, they seem to encompass most of ballet.”

Teresa Reichlen in Serenade. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Teresa Reichlen in Serenade. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

The continues through March 1.

Ballet for the Masses

Oksana Bondareva, Ivan Vasiliev together with Angelina Vorontsova and the company in The Flames of Paris. Phot by Stas Levshin, courtesy the Mikhailovsky Ballet.
Oksana Bondareva, Ivan Vasiliev together with Angelina Vorontsova and the company in The Flames of Paris. Phot by Stas Levshin, courtesy the Mikhailovsky Ballet.

After a few performances of the Romantic classic Giselle, the Mikhailovsky Ballet moved on to far more original fare: the 1932 Flames of Paris, by Vasily Vainonen. Conceived as a thinly-veiled tribute to the October Revolution, the ballet is a celebration of group action, as represented by the  company. The ensembles are as important as the soloists, if not more so. Ditto with “character” (i.e. non-classical) dance. The style ranges from Auvergnat clog-dances to 18th-century court dance to Soviet heroism. The story is rip-roaring, more Scarlet Pimpernel than fairy-tale or reverie. Simply put, it’s great fun, and fascinating to see a ballet in a style we never see nowadays. (Though, in its own way, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice is not far off.)

Here’s my review, for DanceTabs.

Swan Problems

Svetlana Zakharova and DAvid Hallberg in hte Bolshoi's "Swan Lake." Photo by Stephanie Berger.
Svetlana Zakharova and DAvid Hallberg in hte Bolshoi’s “Swan Lake.” Photo by Stephanie Berger.

What is it with Swan Lake? There don’t see to be any good ones around. The Bolshoi’s version, currently being performed as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, is no exception. Here’s my review, for DanceTabs. And a short excerpt:

“What the company hasn’t brought this time around is any new choreography. It’s rather a disappointment. Instead, we get three of its most well-worn ballets – Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Spartacus. It is even more disappointing that the troupe should open its run with a Swan Lake so lackluster that it fails to improve upon the two sub-par Swan Lakes we see here regularly, at ABT and at New York City Ballet.”

 

Giselle x4

Hee Seo in Giselle. Photo by Gene Schiavone.
Hee Seo in Giselle. Photo by Gene Schiavone.

 

Watching four casts of Giselle is like seeing four different ballets—one of the reasons for this ballet’s enduring appeal. Here’s my review, for DanceTabs, of four parings at ABT: Polina Semionova/David Hallberg, Isabella Boylston/James Whiteside, Hee Seo/Alexandre Hammoudi, and Alina Cojocaru/David Hallberg (the latter replacing an indisposed Herman Cornejo).

It’s always exciting to see an unexpectedly gripping début. That was the case with Alexandre Hammoudi at the Saturday matinée. He has the acting chops, the allure, and the amplitude. Now he just has to work on his stamina and polish.

La Grande Bellezza

Vladimir Shishov and Jurgita Dronina as Prince Florimund and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Francesco Squeglia.
Vladimir Shishov and Jurgita Dronina as Prince Florimund and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Francesco Squeglia.

I’m in Rome for a few weeks with my husband, who is singing at the opera here. (This explains why I haven’t been reviewing the ballet season in NYC!) I was lucky enough to have the chance to see Sleeping Beauty at the Rome Opera Ballet, with Jurgita Dronina of the Het National in the role of Aurora. It was a solid performance; not mind-blowing, but well-danced throughout. I had some doubts about Paul Chalmer’s production. It’s a bit vague, short on mime, and rather lacking in characterization. You can read my review, for DanceTabs, here.

Ashton in Sarasota

Sarasota Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations. © Frank Atura.
Sarasota Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations.
© Frank Atura.

I’m just back from the Ashton festival at Sarasota Ballet, a four-day tribute to the choreographer. Under the directorship of Iain Webb, the company has been undergoing a major expansion over the past few years. By any measure, the festival was a big success, with strong performances, expressive dancing, and a powerful sense of style and common purpose.

You can read my review for DanceTabs here.

And a short excerpt: “The advantage of putting all these ballets on the stage in quick succession is that the audience begins to see all sorts of interconnections and motifs running through the works. Thus, in Monotones II (1965), there is an echo of the slow trio near the beginning of Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, in which a woman is slowly revolved by two men and shown from all angles, the center of a slow-moving planetary system.”