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 Volume 1, Number 3   October 13 , 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

The Ballet Season Opens

The Paris Opera Ballet Pays Tribute to Balanchine
 by Marc Haegeman
Copyright ©2003 by Marc Haegeman

The Paris Opera Ballet doesn’t conceal its admiration for George Balanchine. The company also takes pride in the choreographer’s frequent stints at the Paris Opera to rehearse his ballets and hasn’t forgotten it was Balanchine who contributed to regain its shattered self-confidence during the difficult post-war years.
read review

The Kirov Ballet's Fokine Program
by Rita Felciano
Copyright ©2003 by Rita Felciano

The Kirov Ballet—or at least that segment which started an American tour this past week at Zellerbach Hall as part of Cal Performances dance season—has been dancing gloriously, and that should have been enough. But to see these dancers, so beautifully and totally engaged in three classic Mikhail Fokine works was extraordinary. The pieces, choreographed within two years, 1908-1910, could not be more different from each other.
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The Kirov Ballet's Jewels
by Rita Felciano
Copyright ©2003 by Rita Felciano

The Kirov continued its Berkeley run, presented by Cal Performances, with four showings of George Balanchine's Jewels. If it hadn’t been for ‘Diamonds’, as pure and as exhilarating a performance as I would ever hope to see, Jewels would have been a major disappointment. Even though a colleague pointed out that you don’t go to see Balanchine for the sets, as long as you choose to perform with them, they should be more than these drab, shaped out of mud tie-backs, a spattered drop cloth and poorly lit plastic baubles.
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The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in New York
 by Eric Taub
Copyright ©2003 by Eric Taub

What a difference a day makes! After seeing the Suzanne Farrell Ballet perform Saturday night at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ, if someone had asked me: is Suzanne Farrell were truly the inspired coach and Keeper of the Balanchine Flame she's often been made out to be, my answer would have been, probably not.
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Letter from New York

13 October 2003
Mindy Aloff
Copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet performed twice in the New York area this weekend. Much to my regret, work prevented me from attending the Sunday performance at Brooklyn College. It was a thrill and an honor, though, to be part of the audience for the all-Balanchine evening on Saturday at the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts. A cherished honor, since the rich variety of dynamic texture, the stylistic refinement, and the musicality of the dancing in Divertimento No. 15 and in Apollo (presented in the original New York City Ballet staging, which includes the birth and childhood of the god, as well as Igor Stravinsky’s complete score) are now superb and may be peerless. Even the costumes, credited to Holly Hynes—the current Director of Costumes for NYCB and the costume consultant for the George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins trusts, as well as the resident designer for the Farrell Ballet since the company’s inception in 1999—look as if they’ve been slightly rethought since I last saw them.
full article

Letter 1
Letter 2

Letter 3

Reburying Local Treasure
The Plight of the Oakland Ballet

By Ann Murphy
Copyright ©2003 by Ann Murphy

Few things can put arts funding in the U.S. into perspective more than an evening at the Kirov with full orchestra. And fewer things still point to the mess we're in in the performing arts than the now rickety state of Oakland Ballet, which last week postponed and shortened the run of Program 2 due to poor ticket sales. Had the company gone on with the show, the cash shortfall it would have suffered, company insiders say, could have flattened it.
full article

Remembering a Hoofer
An Interview with Donald O'Connor

By Mindy Aloff
Copyright ©2003 by Mindy  Aloff

In 1979, Donald O’Connor visited Portland, Oregon, as the guest star in a lavish high-school production of The Music Man. It was my understanding at the time that he was beginning to ease his way back into stage performing after a hiatus of many years. As the dance critic for Fresh Weekly, the arts and entertainment section of Portland’s Willamette Week, I asked to interview him. I knew nothing whatsoever about his personal life then, and I know now only what I’ve read in the various obits that were published following his death last month, on September 27th. What I knew, partially, were his movies and his television work. I considered him then, and I still do, one of the finest all-around dancers ever to perform in front of a Hollywood camera. He had style, speed, lightness, elegance, rhythmic wit; he partnered his female co-stars with respect and charm; his line readings were understated and droll; and, unusual for many male Hollywood dancers apart from Fred Astaire, O’Connor learned to care about port de bras: during the 1940s and ‘50s, he visualized his entire dancing figure in the frame and paid attention to how his entire body would read on the screen. Gene Kelly, his collaborator and erstwhile nemesis, also cared about port de bras; however, despite Kelly’s many sterling qualities, he couldn’t surpass O’Connor in terms of allegro facility, offhanded elegance, or precision of stylistic detail in complex footwork. (For anyone who would like to check this evaluation, I’ve provided the O’Connor filmography that was published with the interview.)
full article

Editor's Note:
We've redesigned the site slightly so that the links will now all be readable, and would like to thank Article 19 for its help and advice. We are not planning any major design changes iin the foreseeable future, and thank you for putting up with several versions!


Saturday Special

Breathtaking Virtuosity, Unabashedly Itself

National Ballet of Cuba
City Center,
New York, NY
October 15, 2003

by  Eric Taub
copyright ©2003 by Eric Taub

It's a rare delight in these days of bland and blurry International-style ballet to see a company which is so unabashedly itself as the National Ballet of Cuba. The Cubans dance with a rare attention to detail and homogeneity, and revel, unapologetically, in their muscularity, even among the women. No reed-thin waifs here! At least, none were in evidence at City Center Thursday night.

The evening began with artistic director Alicia Alonso's staging of bits of the second act of Swan Lake, a last-minute substitution for Les Sylphides, caused by an amazing fit of peevishness by the Fokine estate and American Ballet Theatre (who had purchased a three-year "exclusive" license for the ballet from said estate). After the unfortunate beginning, where the curtain rises (and mercifully falls) on the corps of swan-girls glaring at the audience and all-but-hissing, this is a fairly traditional production, and one which showed off the great strength of the Cuban women. Perhaps the corps of the Kirov, Paris Opera Ballet or even ABT are as strong--perhaps--but where these companies, indeed, most companies, these days work to mask this strength behind a carefully cultivated appearance of lightness and ease, the Cubans, while never graceless, don't take particular pains to hide their strength.

full article

Twyla Tharp Talks Tough (& Tender)

Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit
(a Conversation with Naima Prevots)
Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery, Washington DC
Thursday, October 9, 2003

by George Jackson
Copyright ©2003 by George Jackson

Twyla Tharp talks like she dances. If you've not seen her on stage or screen, think of an Upper West Side woman in a Woody Allen movie about New York. She insists on the casual. She tries not to watch herself. She's determined to enjoy herself. She rumages, but in an orderly mind. She's smart.

The reason Tharp came to town was her new book, The Creative Habit: How to Learn It, How to Trust It, How to Use It. The visit, part of a book tour, was handled with typical Tharpian efficiency.
full article

Morris's World

Mark Morris Dance Company
Fine Arts Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia
October 10, 2003

By Clare Croft
Copyright ©2003 by Clare Croft

Today, as many emerging choreographers turn to rock music for inspiration and dance companies turn to rock to excite young audiences, Mark Morris’ s Gloria, done to Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in D, proves that classical music can inspire the best in the young artist and thrill the young audience member. Morris made his lush masterpiece at 25, only a year after founding the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in 1980. Even though the George Mason University Chamber Orchestra and Chorus bumbled through some of Vivaldi’s score on Friday night, the combination of Morris’ choreography with Vivaldi’s music still brought many of the college-aged audience members to their feet.
full article

Athletic Veneer

4 Por 4
Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker
ennedy  Center Eisenhower Theater
October 9, 2003

By Lisa Traiger
Copyright ©2003 by Lisa Traiger

Colker's Casa, which came to the Kennedy Center two years earlier, used architecture—a two-story shell of a house on stage—to limn the inner workings of a community of people who moved through the rooms in a seemingly metaphorical quest for knowledge or enlightenment of a sort. This time, little of the prosaic found its way into Colker's work. 4 Por 4 is all surface gloss, painting a veneer atop a weakly realized concept.

full article

Cirque du MOMIX

The Joyce Theater
October 7-10, 2003
(MOMIX performed at The Joyce September 23-October 12, 2003)

By Meital Waibsnaider
Copyright ©2003 by Meital Waibsnaider

Moses Pendleton, Artistic Director of MOMIX, is no minimalist.  His 75-miniute long Passion, set to Peter Gabriel’s score for Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ, exploded in a video, music, costume and prop extravaganza. From behind a gauze-like screen that hung for the entire production, Pendleton’s acrobatic dancers performed twenty-one pieces, each corresponding to Gabriel’s expansive and mostly wordless songs. Constantly changing images on the ever-present screen made it torturous to decipher the dancers’ movements. We saw that they often wore sleek unitards, over-sized capes or diaphanous cloths, and sometimes went barely-clad, but most details were lost behind the dimly lit screen and varying projected images, designed by Pendleton himself.
full article



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This weeks' articles


Mindy  Aloff's Letter from New York

The Balanchine Celebration
New York City Ballet:
A Veteran and a Raw Recruit
by Mindy Aloff

Heart and Soul
by Mary Cargill

Kid Stuff
Cas Public's If You Go Down To the Woods Today
by Susan Reiter

San Francisco Ballet:
New Wheeldon (Rush)
by Rita Felciano

New Tomasson (7 For Eight)
by Paul Parish

Possokhov's New Firebird for OBT
by Rita Felciano

Moscow Festival Ballet and Scott Wells
by Paul Parish

Hamburg Ballet's Nijinsky:
Nijinsky—Lost in the Chaos
by Clare Croft

NijinskyMadness and Metaphor
by Alexandra Tomalonis

Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes
by George Jackson

Batsheva: Breaking Down Walls
by Lisa Traiger

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence
by Clare Croft

Choreographers Showcase
by Tehreema Mitha

Zoltan Nagy
by George Jackson






Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
Mary Cargill
Clare Croft
Nancy Dalva
Rita Felciano
Lynn Garafola
Marc Haegeman
Rachel Howard
George Jackson
Gia Kourlas
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Jean Battey Lewis
Alexander Meinertz
Tehreema Mitha
Gay Morris
Ann Murphy
Paul Parish
Susan Reiter
Jane Simpson
Alexandra Tomalonis(Editor)
Lisa Traiger
Meital Waibsnaider


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