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August 14, 2006

Reading Leigh

I was a busy boy this Spring – here are several articles that have recently been published:


These are not online, but I have pieces in the current issues of Ballet Review and Dance Now –

In the Summer ’06 issue of B-R there are three pieces – a report on Pennsylvania Ballet dancing two Balanchine programs (Theme/Prodigal/Western and Midsummer):

[The company] has a particularly good Prodigal in Philip Colucci. Reminiscent in build and masculinity to Edward Villella, Colucci turned in a vigorous and powerfully impatient performance.

. . .

Titania suits [Julie] Diana’s gifts; she has the delicacy of a spring afternoon. She doesn’t have the expansive attack of a dancer like Suzanne Farrell, but she has her soft, pale innocence. The squabbles with Oberon weren’t laden with ire, but she was funny in her scenes with Bottom as only a beautiful woman can be – by playing the scene straight and letting the situation get the laughs.

An article on English one-act narrative ballets in repertory at the Royal and Birmingham Royal Ballets:

De Valois’ choreography for the female corps [in Checkmate] is also revealing. The pointe work - walks, hops and changes of weight from foot to foot - require strong feet rather than supple ones. Though de Valois was not a chess player and needed to be taught the moves of the pieces, she moved her dancers as one might move chess pieces, decisively and forcefully into designs and tableaux.

. . .

Les Rendezvous is a relatively early work, but one can already see Ashtonisms. There are familiar opposing walks on either relevé or pointe and the final “shrug” of the arms that crops up, done here by four female demi-soloists. . . In a completely different way from ,em>Checkmate, the work is just as specific to the time and as expertly and cannily crafted.

For the men Ashton created an ingeniously designed Spanish-influenced dance. It starts with character steps and moves to classical ones, such as assemblés and beats but even the turns are constructed to finish in forgiving positions and look harder than they are. The dance seems designed not to overexpose the men in a fledgling company but to still make them better dancers.

And a report on two La Sylphides, Johan Kobborg’s in London and Nikolaj Hübbe’s in Toronto:

London: [Sorella] Englund’s conceit that Madge is actually a damaged sylph attracted to James is too pat for my tastes. The ballet is more resonant if Madge is governed by larger cosmic forces rather than smaller personal ones. Still, Englund has earned a right to her interpretation over the years and it’s acceptable if one takes her brilliant performances in isolation. But it is better left to enriching the interior dialogue of the performer than seeping into the accepted interpretation of the ballet.

Toronto:The details of [Guillaume] Côté’s interpretation were similar to [Aleksandr] Antonijevic’s, including the wedding ring stopping his flight, but his strongest attribute as a romantic hero is his unshakable innocence. He makes the repertory believable. He’s got ballon as well; even his petit allegro is big, though Antonijevic’s petit allegro is sharper. Ironically, the one thing Côté doesn’t do affectingly is die. Perhaps that’s the price of innocence.

In the Summer ’06 issue of Dance Now, a feature Yuri Possokhov and his Cinderella for the Bolshoi:

His soul shows in his ballets as well. Reflections, created in 2005 for San Francisco Ballet and yet to be seen in London, shows the passion that makes Possokhov interesting. An enormous work set to Mendelssohn’s first symphony, it has a corps of women in tutus (also by Woodall) complete with fascinating echoes of corsetry. The work is formally crafted but suddenly a ballerina slides across the stage on her pointes and tumbles to the floor. There’s an emotional rawness sometimes to the point of awkwardness. Possokhov wears his heart on his sleeve. Even so, he can craft steps eloquently; combined with the honesty of his sentiments, he’s an expressionist whom formalists can love. “Critics in Moscow said I brought American ballet to Russian stage. Here in San Francisco, I am too Russian. It’s unpredictable. More and more, I think that audiences everywhere are different.”

I'm also working on a longer interview with Possokhov that will be in a coming issue of Dance View (print version).

Available online, I provided a link to my review of San Francisco Ballet’s Sylvia but not Ashton-esque, the one I did three weeks earlier of Ashton’s version for ABT.

It would be delightful to see an Ashtonian “Sylvia” from ABT, but I’d be satisfied to see a “Sylvia” danced in the company style. If only they had one. What we saw on Wednesday night was a hodgepodge of influences that through lack of a point of view never coalesced. There are also restaurants, usually chains in any and every city, where you know the food will be fine, even good. One year, everything is served with chipotle and the next it’s all in green curry, depending on the trends. It’s not really Mexican or Thai, perhaps it’s Mexican-ish or Thai-esque. In the end though, it’s still the same inoffensive chicken breast that you forget by the next meal.

If you’d like to compare, here’s a journal I did of a week’s worth of Sylvia danced by the Royal Ballet in London.


In the Fall ’06 issue of knitsimple Mischief Managed, an article on (irony of ironies) project management for knitters:

My own project journal is just a list, but that’s all I need. Projects are divided into the following categories (acronyms courtesy of the KnitList:)

FO – Finished Object. Nirvana.
AFO – Almost Finished Object. Needs darning, blocking or seaming.
WIP – Work in Progress. Currently being knit
UFO – Unfinished Object. Houston, we have a problem.
In the Queue. – Amazingly enough, there is no acronym for this category, and it’s one of the most important.
HALFPINT – “Have a Lovely Fantasy Project, I’ve no Time”. Ideas that will have to wait until the right moment.
TOAD – Trashed Object, Abandoned in Disgust. Disgust can be liberating.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at August 14, 2006 12:34 AM

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