Jump to content


MCB Program II: Div.#15,Valse Fantaisie,Sl. on 10th AveJanuary 2010.


  • Please log in to reply
49 replies to this topic

#1 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,216 posts

Posted 07 January 2010 - 10:29 PM

I suspect the 1953 Valse Fantaisie is a more brilliant ballet than the 1967 one (made to be part of a short suite) because Balanchine chose a cast entirely of principal dancers, Diana Adams, Melissa Hayden, and Tanaquil LeClerq, no less, and Nicholas Magallanes, to make it with, while the later one has only two principals, and a little corps of four girls. (Not that a lesser dance doesn't respond to fine dancers; I can still see some of the lighter-than-air rendition Judith Fugate and Daniel Duell gave of it one evening in around 1980!)

Emilienne wrote about this here (Post #15):

http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=30396

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is as much a story of dancers' rivalry -- in this case even the old (false) rivalry between ballet and tap -- as it is of gangsters, but that's nothing. WHO WAS IT WHO GAVE AWAY THE ENDING? Yikes! Talk about spoiling people's fun! Yeah, it can be wildly entertaining, depending some on casting, including the "Gangster" role; just try to forget what you just read about how it ends, and it'll be even more so.


I'm intrigued about this ballets, to which I will be-(as usual)-a neophyte. So after reading Jack's post and how he and Emilienne remember them, I was wondering if some of you can give me some more feedback on them. In the past your more Balanchinean eye has proved to be very helpful on giving me a different perspective before going to see a "new one".
So thanks in advance! :dunno:

#2 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 08:49 AM

Are you asking for comments on all three of the ballets in your heading, Cristian? Are they all "new ones" to you?

#3 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:10 AM

The main thing about Valse Fantaisie is that the music, though a waltz, feels unusually turbulent, since Glinka wrote it in phrases of THREE bars -- so it goes Dahhh, dah di DUM da, in waves -- and there's not a fourth bar to make it feel like the phrase is finished - so the new phrase wells up and is launched when you're waiting for the old one to subside.... The choreography fits it very well, but it nevertheless feel quite unsettling to watch it, especially if the dancers aren't having a musical day.... If they're 'off' it can feel very off-kilter....

The best version I ever saw -- I haven't seen it much -- Kyra Nichols was visiting with her family's company in Berkeley, danced it with her brother Robert, who danced it very nicely. She clarified it magnificently. There's a wonderful diagonal of sauts de chat alternating with temps de fleche (the one to the back, Vaganova pas de chat, the legs making attitudes to the back)... they really are two versions of the same step, rhythmically, but the pictures they make kind of rock back and forth, and it's just a beautiful combination....

That's in the version with the couple and the little corps....

#4 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,216 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:44 AM

Are you asking for comments on all three of the ballets in your heading, Cristian? Are they all "new ones" to you?

Yes indeed, Jack...they are all new ones to me... :wub:

(Thanks, Paul for the feedback...will look for those sauts the chat :dunno: )

#5 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 10:01 AM

No, Cristian, as Paul says at the bottom of his post, he's recalling the 1967 version of Valse Fantaisie. The sauts de chat are there.

Thanks, Paul, I've been listening and listening to the music, and your words go to its essence, and so they help. There's nothing boringly repetitive about this waltz music!

And do you have some more thoughts about the feel and mood of it? Beyond "turbulent"? I've seen it called "Melancholy Waltz", I suppose because of the nearly-crying first five notes, descending, of the theme we hear, after the loud, sweeping-up introduction? (They're repeated once, and then answered by a more bouncy passage of dozen or so notes on a more-or-less rising track.) This waltz-theme is even marked "lamentabile" in a piano score I've seen, though I think not in an orchestral one I saw. (Hard to know the ideas of the composer from those of some editor sometimes.)

To me, the lightness and energy of the 1967 version contrast some with this "lamentation" coloring - it's in b-minor, too - of the music.

Villella has chosen to show the 1953 version, though, and I think it has a little more weight, right from the start: In 1967, the four girls are out, as though skipping about, by themselves; in 1953, it's an ensemble of the four principals, with the three women pretty soon doing jetes in unison. To me, this has more force.

#6 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 11:08 AM

You know, the great "Andante" from Divertimento No. 15 is on one of the "Choreography by Balanchine" DVDs. Do you have that, Cristian? Watching that might be a good "warm-up". The MCB publicity blurb I was quibbling about makes too much of a "mystery" of how three boys partner five girls in a sequence of five little pas de deux here -- Balanchine has been showing us this resourcefulness since the opening of Serenade, where, lacking one girl, he has the two squares of girls overlap at the corner, so one girl completes both squares. (The mystery is in the beauty of it, and that's what counts in the "Andante" -- how the dancing expands the already-beautiful, flowing music.) And like their musics, these choreographies aren't simple, aren't what you'd expect at first, although they're easy to enjoy watching right away, IMO.

Anyway, there's a formal echo of the "Andante" in the old Valse Fantaisie, if you want, in that the boy partners each of the girls in turn -- there are three little "pas de deux" right after the opening ensemble, for example -- like in the Divertimento "Andante", where after some subsequent pas de deux, the first boy reappears with a new partner, and then the second boy, and so on, concluding with the fifth girl. She's the fifth girl to appear in a preceding movement of Divertimento No. 15, the theme-and-variations movement, as well, and so she's sometimes referred to as "first among equals" since, while there are five principal women in Divertimento No. 15, they're not necessarily of the same rank. The variations become progressively finer, until the fifth, when there's one for a boy. He's a set-up, for me, to show off the last, sixth, variation at its best, for, fine though it is, can any variation by a boy be as fine (in Balanchine's world, remember) as the best girl available? See what you think -- it depends on performance, too.

I may have made the overall "architecture" of Divertimento No. 15 obscure by discussing movements out of their order, so here is the sequence of movements:

i. Allegro (ensemble: five principal women, three principal men, and a corps of eight girls)

ii. Theme and Variations (theme danced by two principal men, followed by four variations by
women, one by the third man, and then the final, female, variation)

iii. Menuet (the eight girls; no principals)

iv. "Andante" [I think Mozart calls it "Adagio"] (five little pas de deux for principals; no corps)

v. Finale (ensemble: the eight girls, with run-on appearances by the principal couples; later, five principals downstage)

#7 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,239 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 12:41 PM

Are you asking for comments on all three of the ballets in your heading, Cristian? Are they all "new ones" to you?

Yes indeed, Jack...they are all new ones to me... :wub:

You're in for a fantastic evening, cubanmiamiboy. I can't wait to read your review!

#8 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 03:14 PM

v. Finale (ensemble: the eight girls, with run-on appearances by the principal couples; later, five principals downstage)

One of my favorite Balanchine moments occurs when the last two principal women run on and suddenly, impossibly, sissone, joining the rest of the principals.

I saw the 1953 Valse Fantaisie only once and remember preferring the 1967 version, possibly because a) as part of the Balanchine Festival, where NYCB learned many ballets new to that generation in a relatively short time, it may have been underrehearsed (imagine!); and b) the later was familiar. (VF 1967 was an ideal vehicle for Melinda Roy, one of the most musical dancers I've ever seen, who was a brilliant jumper but weak turner. 1967's ballerina role has but one pirouette, supported, amidst many jumps.)

Slaughter was a reworking of a ballet from the Rodgers and Hart musical, "On Your Toes." Somehow, I suspect this will not be Cristian's cup of tea. The women wear jazz shoes, so it's not on pointe. But put yourself in a musical-comedy state of mind, and it can be great fun.

#9 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 08 January 2010 - 03:51 PM

I'm more or less in agreement with carbro, except that for Slaughter I'd suggest putting yourself in an open state of mind, not any particular one: Open to anything that may occur, anywhere in the theatre, in fact; though there are some background facts, such as that there was a (mostly artificial) controversy in the '30s about which was better, tap or ballet?

That's behind the plot of Slaughter, and the first business we see on stage. But it's all pretty clear: Balanchine didn't do without a story so much of the time not because he didn't know how to tell one, he did know, so this kind of preparation really doesn't matter! Be naive, be innocent, many in the audience are, and enjoy! It is for fun, though there may be some fine performances to admire along the way, too, danced and otherwise. (MCB has had the best Gangster I have ever seen, for example.)

And if you're gripped by the action -- this can be a bit of a thriller -- so that you find at the end you forgot how it all began, and are confused for a moment, I'll bet you have lots of company! For me, though, Slaughter also has some masterful "architecture": The ensembles and solos, the intimate pairings along the way in most of it, are about as clearly framed by the beginning and ending as Balanchine's classical "suites", the first two ballets on this program.

#10 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,216 posts

Posted 09 January 2010 - 02:37 PM

[size=3]Miami City ballet.
Program II
Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

Friday, January 8,2010[/size]

DIVERTIMENTO NO.15. MOZART/BALANCHINE

Of course…set to beautiful Mozart's "Divertimento for string and French horn", I immediately liked the presentation of this piece as soon as I heard the initial notes, and then even more when the courtain went up and I saw the 5 ballerinas dressed in classical tutus-(always a plus to me!). 5 kneeling bailarinas and 3 bailarines, posing beautifully on a bare stage against a backdrop that imitates a theater audience, sort of mirroring the real audience-(the little faces wearing some XVIII century wigs, much a la Mozart’s times fashion), giving the ballet a tradition-meets-modern feeling. The choreography-(to which I still need some other viewings to start recognizing)- effortlessly unfolded alongside Mozart's music, with group patterns developing and elongating with the musical themes. I think I will try to see it tonight from the first balcony, instead of the orchestra seat I usually get, so I can appreciate them better. The second movement-(a musical theme-and-variations format)-, gives short but devilishly fast and tricky solos to each of the Principals. Among them-(all beautifully danced)-Renato Panteado's super precise-down to the very little accent got me the most. Patricia Delgado and Mary Carmen Catoya were amazing too. The corps de ballet was wonderfully engaging, as usual.

VALSE FANTAISIE-(1953). GLINKA/BALANCHINE

I perceived Valse Fantaisie as a truly delightful pattern of pure dancing, set to the joyfulness of the waltz rhythms of Glinka.. Here again, as in ''Apollo'' , a solitary male has not one but three women to interact with…or maybe to CHOOSE from…? .
The bailarinas-(Jennifer Lauren, Sara Esty and Zoe Zien)-were all quickness and lightness…their beautiful musseline dresses floating as they leaped. The bailarin, Yang Zou, looked as weightless as a leaf in the wind, every step carefully shaped and under control. Zou is a bailarin to which I haven’t really paid too much attention in the past, but by now I realized that the roles that I mostly remember from him are those containing the lyrical quality…(like his elegant, tender offer in “Emeralds”). His dancing in VF possessed strength, but not force. His jumps were high; his landings, soft..

THE GOLDEN SECTION.TWYLA THARP/DAVID BYRNE :pinch: ...BUT... :icon8:

SLAUGHTER ON THENTH AVENUE. RODGERS/BALANCHINE

Cute stuff…but not my thing. The highlight for me was the spoken dialogue between Morrosine-(Rolando Sarabia, who has a DEEP resonant voice, and the Gangster, who was no other than Edward Villella!. :D Ha..it was very funny, particularly Sarabita’s mimicking of classical steps at the end of the "opening"…(great done, BTW).

And then…I just want to dedicate my last words here to the last minute addition to last night’s program. To summarize it, I will transcribe the programme’s notes to the piece.

DIAMOND PAS DE DEUX

[size=3]"To honor Principal Dancer Deanna Seay, who will be retiring in April after 21 Seasons with MCB, and to allow her many fans a chance to see her in one of her favorite roles, “Diamonds Pas de Deux”-(from George Balanchine‘s “Jewels”)-has been added to this program".[/size]

Miss Seay danced a dreamy rendering of this PDD. Every movement had a logical sequence…every step done to perfection. When she abandons herself for her partner-(Mr. Mikhail Nikitine)- to catch her almost lowered to the floor, she was a vision of beauty. She seemed to FLOAT in Nikitine’s arms. Their subtleness really IMPRESSED me. I will certainly miss her A LOT next season. :wub:

Will be back for some more on tonight’s performance.

#11 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 09 January 2010 - 06:03 PM

Well! The cast of Valse Fantaisie, a ballet made for four principals, used to be listed as corps members, I think! Onward and upward with MCB! Cristian, please tell us about that, as well as what roles Catoya, Delgado, and Penteado took in Divertimento No. 15. I would guess Delgado had the fourth variation, Penteado the fifth, and Catoya the sixth, but as what I just said about the "VF" cast implies, you can't assume things like that about this company. MCB challenges assumptions.

And the insertion of the Diamonds pas de deux is bittersweet news. It reminds me that I saw several performances of that by Ileana Lopez and her husband, Franklin Gamero, during their last season a few years ago. See if these two play it subtly different each time, as they did. Did EV include it in his pre-performance talk, or did you get to that? Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing it.

(Sorry if Tharp's Golden Section gave you indigestion. Coming after the extended mess, as I remember it, of The Catherine Wheel, as it did originally, helped it look better.)

I'm glad Vilella was in Slaughter; he's the performer I referred to above.

#12 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 09 January 2010 - 07:05 PM

This has been a great thread to follow. I'll be seeing the program next weekend. You've given me a great deal to think about and to look for.

For the record, the last time MCB did Divertimento No. 15 the leads I saw were Patricia Delgado, Tricia Albertson, Haiyan Wu, Jeanette Delgado, and Katia Carranza. The men were Jeremy Cox, Luis Serrano, and Didier Bramaz. For oldtimers, the original New York City Ballet cast -- as listed in Rep. in Review -- was Diana Adams, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Tanaquil Le Clerq, and Patricia Wilde, with Herbert Bliss, Nicholas Magallanes, Roy Tobias.

RE: the special performance of Diamonds pas de deux -- Seay and Nikitine are partners in life, so Jack's comparison to Lopez-Gamero is a propos. I hope the other cities where MCB dances this program will also get a chance to see both dancers, who do indeed have a remarkable rapport on stage.

I've never seen the 1953 Valse Fantaisie. Though the 1967 version was performed often by NYCB, it never registered with me for some reason. I checked out Arlene Croce and found the following description of the earlier version, though not danced by NYCB. (I've added paragraph breaks.):

Another lovely Balanchine ballet -- lovely, but I had thought, lost -- turned up in a series given by the Eglevsky Ballet at Queens Theatre in the Park, near Shea Stadium. [Note: Andre Eglevsky did not dance in the 1953 version, but he was performing with the company at the time and would probably have been familiar with the ballet.] This was the first version of the Glinka Valse-Fantaisie, made in 1953

It is cast for three ballerinas and one dansseur, who mostly partners but does get to do some leaps ending in a drop to the knee. His arabesque-salutes turning to each of the three girls near the close of the ballet are also quite wonderful. [ ... ]

The current [1967] version, for a female and a male soloist and corps of four girls, retains some features of the old number -- the ballerina's manege alternating pas couru with split jete is one -- but on the whole the old Valse-Fantaisie is nothing like the new one.

It [1953 version] is a warm, romantic "Russian" work, and in certain respects -- the involvement of the three women with the single male -- it is, like parts of Serenade, a valentine to adolescence. Balanchine rechoreographed it, apparently, in roder to make the man's part stronger, but the outcome was piece that is little more than an effective perpetuum mobile with virtuoso passages that bring applause.

The performance by the young Eglevsky company was hampered by a shallow, noisy stage wit no wing space, but the dancers (Netta Blitman, Salli Silliman, Kim Vickers, and Willams Starrett) got through it more than decently and should flourish in their parts.


That performance was in 1976. Villella became head of the Eglevsky company in 1980. I wonder whether the 1953 Valse Fantaisie was still in the Eglevsky Ballet's repertoire during his tenure.

I agree with you about Zou. It's good to hear that he is back after being out for a while with an injury. A question: do the women still wear those beautiful Russian headdresses with the ribbon streamers?

Re: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Cristian, you mention Sarabia and Villella ... but who was the Strip Tease Girl? And who was the Hoofer? In 2002 I saw Andrea Spiridonakos as the Strip tease Girl, Luis Serrano as Morrosine, Jeremy Cox as the Hoofer, and Yann Trividic as the Big Boss. Jennifer Kronenberg -- she of the long, shapely, sexy legs -- is the dancer I remember mos. I can't find the program that would tell me who her partner was. It's Kronenberg I'm looking forward to seeing this time around.

#13 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 10 January 2010 - 06:32 AM

I'm also eager to read more from our man in Miami, but meanwhile there is another source, the Miami Herald:

http://www.miamihera...ry/1416800.html

I think Jordan Levin's acccount of it is believable, although it's strangely incomplete, so somebody felt the need to write in to supply some of what she left out. Anyway, she identifies Kronenberg and Guerra in Slaughter.

Backing up to Valse Fantaisie, the headdresses with the long streamers were not seen in Chicago, so I'll be surprised if they're to be seen in Florida, pretty though they were. (There's a picture of the ballet in Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review, where we see thigh-length tulle or similar material layered over shin-length skirts, too.) Thanks for the long extract from Croce -- Denby's word for it, just in passing, in 1953, is "delicious" -- both of which reinforce my belief that the earlier version is the richer one.

#14 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,216 posts

Posted 10 January 2010 - 08:43 AM

Well! The cast of Valse Fantaisie, a ballet made for four principals, used to be listed as corps members, I think! Onward and upward with MCB! Cristian, please tell us about that, as well as what roles Catoya, Delgado, and Penteado took in Divertimento No. 15.


Valse Fantaisie was sublime, Jack. On Friday night, the male role had Zou, as I said before, but last night, it was Corps member Michael Sean Breeded who danced..and BEAUTIFULLY, IMO. Michael is a very young dancer, and hasn't has too much exposure to soloist roles, but here he demonstrated that he has indeed matured. The three bailarinas on Friday were Corps Jennifer Lauren, Corps Sara Esty and Corps Zoe Zien. Last night they were Corps Ashley Knox-(super expansive bailarina!)-Corps Nicole Stalker and Corps Leigh-Ann Esty. Mr. Breeden handled the three of them REALLY good.
So summarizing...last night Valse Fantaisie 1953 was ALL danced by Corps members, and to be honest..I did NOT perceived ANY flaws..I LOVED IT!!

And the insertion of the Diamonds pas de deux is bittersweet news. It reminds me that I saw several performances of that by Ileana Lopez and her husband, Franklin Gamero, during their last season a few years ago. See if these two play it subtly different each time, as they did.



They danced it again last night, and the PDD looked even more dreamy this time. Yes, they do little variances here and there, sometimes looking at each other, sometimes avoiding each other eyes...it was amazing. They received a big ovation.

Did EV include it in his pre-performance talk, or did you get to that?


I got to the theater just in time for the performance-(the traffic was HORRIBLE with all this freezing weather)- but I don't think Villella did any talking this time.

Re: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Cristian, you mention Sarabia and Villella ... but who was the Strip Tease Girl? And who was the Hoofer? In 2002 I saw Andrea Spiridonakos as the Strip tease Girl, Luis Serrano as Morrosine, Jeremy Cox as the Hoofer, and Yann Trividic as the Big Boss. Jennifer Kronenberg -- she of the long, shapely, sexy legs -- is the dancer I remember mos. I can't find the program that would tell me who her partner was. It's Kronenberg I'm looking forward to seeing this time around.


bart, on Friday night the Strip Tease girl was indeed Kronenmberg, and Guerra the Hoofer, Didier Bramaz as the Big Boss, Stephen Satterfield and Marc Speilberger-(someone with great qualities for Character dancing)-as the bartenders, Ezra Hurwitz as the Thug and Daniel Baker, Alex Wong and Daniel Sarabia as the Cops. Last night the casting was the same-(according to the Programme)-...but I did not stay. :blush:

A little :off topic: BTW...Next time I attend Villella's pre-performance talking, I'm tempted to ask him when and if he plans to revive Theme and Variations. C'mon...Jeanette Delgado and Renato Panteado are just BEGGING for it!!! :beg:

#15 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 10 January 2010 - 10:58 AM

A little :off topic: BTW...Next time I attend Villella's pre-performance talking, I'm tempted to ask him when and if he plans to revive Theme and Variations. C'mon...Jeanette Delgado and Renato Panteado are just BEGGING for it!!! :blush:


The more people ask him for more Balanchine, the better, in my book! Go for it! And thanks for your further remarks. Keep us posted.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):