Friday, December 7, 2018

Thursday, December 6, 2018

It Takes A Peacock , revisited

Do you remember the first time you saw Maia Rosal's stare from behind the bars of a cage?  The exotic intro of Tchaikovsky's "Arabian Dance" pulses into itself as a life size birdcage is placed down and opened to release the Peacock inside.  It was stunning. Hypnotic.  Hell even Clara was rapt.

Nutcracker:  The Motion Picture (1986), by the Pacific Northwest Ballet as choreographed by Kent Stowell played on television once yearly, maybe twice and what is normally hell on remained hell on stage but for these 3 lush minutes.  Lush.  

Sitting through the Nutcracker as an 11 year old girl who had seen Martha Graham's "Night Journey" on PBS just one week earlier..I don't know I think I had bathroom cramps.   The Nutcracker is the worst and now, in Boston, it is really the worst.  From the tacky flash mob Mice  to the ridiculous Boston Ballet blogs (some now defunct, alleluia), Boston is sticky with Nutcracker.

Like Fokine's insufferable choreographic misfire to Stravinsky's Firebird, possibly the greatest symphonic closing ever , Tchaikovsky's "Arabian Dance" has suffered insult year in and year out, choreographer in and choreographer out...with 2 exceptions:  Bejart's fantastic haymaker and Stowell's  Peacock.

I have this on my YouTube channel where the comments are unanimous: this thing rocks and no one is a big fan of the traditional Balanchine.  Or original Petipa.  Or Federova.  Or Christensen or or or.

One thing is certain...if you smash Petipa and Balanchine's heads'll get a sultry peacock or a little bdsm-infused production:  perfect use of these wonderful 3 minutes, the only ones from Tchaikovsky I can really handle.


Originally posted November 2017

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

I do not understand the world of ballet companies, it's employees, artists and those in the middle who are not defined.  For whatever reason.

I do not understand why the Chosen Ones were not documented until  a hack like me showed up with some interest and energy but it happened that way.  Dancers were excited to be in a collection,  Or not.  I had no expectations.  There were no "I wonder if Pietragalla will respond" moments.  Not that bombastic.

There were dancers I fought for and lost.  Those I did battle for and won.  Knowing you are a token is the worst , whether in love or in love of something. 

There is Finland. The lowest of the low. I would rather tap dance on the board walk for the rest of my life than take a chance there in the dark with a devil you never know.  Prying Kirsi out of there was a cloak and dagger mission with weird punctuation.

There are the dancers of the Birmingham Royal Ballet who behave as if they are above everyone.  But that fall to the bottom is a horrible and certain thing an peppered  with those inferior faces who might meet the same fate if these lessons are forgotten. 

Dancers will step into circles where others stood before them saying all the right things and likely meaning them even.  Fresh faced and dreamy, they come acknowledging how the way was paved and other lofty sentiments of which I am a peddler. 

And nothing will change.  No one will do anything. Years will pass , bitterness will come, the photos you know exist will become photos that never did.  Meet the old boss... 

Being new makes you last, forgetting the firsts makes you forgotten.  

I am making a blog post that borders on passive aggressive. 

There was a time when I easily crossed that border.  But the Mexicans ruined it. 

Come on. That was funny. I hope Elizabeth Kiem reads this. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Return of CNB

I have not written here in some time. My last post was called "I feel weird cuz le jeune homme turns me on".  There is a good reason for it.  There is a lot going on with  Makhalina and Fadeev .  A lot.

photo courtesy of Elizabeth Lopez, 1997 CNB

I deleted the post.  Well, I finished watching it, sinned, then deleted it.   Fucking ballet. I have to confess that you know!

Nonetheless, and despite the fact that we squared off and I trashed them mercilessly , Companhia Nacional de Bailados is staging Le Sacre du Printemps after a 12 year absence and I could not be more excited!  

And impressed.  

(1997 clip of the Glorification to Four Piano, Elizabeth Lopez Chosen One.  wild..)

Altough I was harsh with CNB which ultimately got me the photos of the dancers , every Ballet company from 1987 until 2007 perhaps did not treat their Chosen Ones very well. In fact nobody knew who they were.  In fact in Finland they were deceased despite being alive. Okay that's a broad brush : it was one dancer but it came from the director, Yeah, So when I posted on FB that this dancer had died, I was immediately contacted by a dancer in Finand who told me she is not dead take that down .

That girl's Facebook profile was gone within the week. I haven't been able to find her either. Finland is one strange place. They have weird names and hide ballerinas in bunkers.

I have no data on that.

And that's another thing. I have lost my voice as a writer and dance hack.  I got conservative and that is no longer working for me. I am returning to the nonsensical bullshit writing that got me here in the first place. Tip of the hat to Elizabeth Kiem. And a shot of  anything.

I've been writing about Nijinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps ballet since 2007, I have amassed a ridiculous YouTube collection that includes even Marie Chouinard because it is " relevant" for some reason.  I don't think so.  It is like Jan Fabre threw up, pushed her in the puddle and she emerges with something even more hilarious. 

And by the way Jan Fabre has completely - and with no return-  lost his shit and I cannot believe that there are still dancers on that sinking ship with him! This is a "Raft of the Medusa" situation,  kids. Eat the bastard and move on to a real company if you can but they probably won't take you. 

where was I? 

(Absolutely phenomenal CNB shot 1994 courtesy of Guipomar Cabral Machado)

In the process of creating the first collection of the Chosen Ones -what a privilege -, I realized something about the 1990's CNB: 

unless you were Ana Lacerda in Pedro and Ines or unless you were Filipa de Castro in anything - you were a nobody. 

But that was the old CNB.  And those were the old days. I am going to go along that line.

I think they might be in the process of really doing something right:  they posted dress rehearsal photos. 

There are three Chosen Ones set up for their debuts on rotating nights and each one has made a contact with me and that's very exciting! I can't wait for these girls to have photos that I can enter into that little collection that "almost archive"  full of terrible shots of important dancers. 

This is the era of social media.  And so these girls -  and the whole corp de ballet - will experience something entirely different than Sonia Abrantes.  But they will still be working with Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer who remain luminous decades in and decades out.  From the first curtain call with the Joffrey in 1987 until this very day in Portugal, they bring such excitement to these dancers ! They are incredibly gifted and talented people with such a well of generosity that they are able to revive Nijinsky - the effigy of 1913 - each time they stage this monster. Each dancer in a staging of Le Sacre du Printemps with Hodson and Archer are brought into a secret world and from there, they dance.

I'm hoping that CNB will not carry a grudge and maybe I'll get a video?   I hope they begin a solid website with dancers from the past which they do Bulgaria ! 

And I am  confident that they will shoot a professional video of the ballet and release it freely. Rio has meted out 1 minute clips since 2013 and really I am tired of appetizers.  

The crown has long been on the head of The Mariinsky .  They have twice released that full ballet ,  professionally shot and edited though sometimes I think they shouldn't have done it. 

Now come on Portugal,  take that crown, You can do it!

I am making that "woop woop" thing with my arm right now and I am terribly embarrassed.

In closing, congratulations to the dancers and musicians who get to be a part of this thing which they will recall as one of the greatest moments of their lives.  As did those dancers of CNB who paved the way.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The 20th Century Presents: Ballet Russes stuff

Simply put, there are  videos:

National Gallery's  "Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes"

Nijinsky's "L'apre midi d'un faune

The groundbreaking and career destroying "Le Sacre du Printemps"

and the interviews with Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer regarding it all.

Nijinsky's first choreography l'apres midi d'un faune

Obvious previews of the lost choreography to the Rite of Spring show here in bright light.

And finally, though the Mariinsky is not a company that represents this work properly, the quality is better than the Joffrey ballet's shocking 1987 debut of the recovered Nijinsky choreography 1913's Le Sacre du Printemps.

If you wish to see the truth of the "Nijinsky Inheritance", you should watch the Joffrey which I uploaded so long ago that it is in 3 installments.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Flavor Of The Season


How does a dancer deal with this Olympic level objectification?

I was looking for photos of Joanna Wozniak and Elizabeth Hansen - not in the role of Chosen One which was easy enough, being the Joffrey and all - no.  I was looking for photos of them in classic roles - Don Quixote, Giselle, and the penitential rite of the Nutcracker. Yikes.  I assumed that would be easy enough  

I looked and looked and then I realized the company changed its name to Victoria Jaiani.  I was LOOKING for April Day which is what it was last season.  Who will the Joffrey fall to next and how unceremoniously that hat must be handed - like a passive aggressive carrot.  Carrot de Ballet.

As women, we are objectified and it will remain there, it is a set stain.  Now we can scrub and scrub together and make headway but a soloist does not have that good fortune,  Does she?  Rotating in and out of favor, aging out, aging in, being humiliated into leaving.  

And the worst, erasing them shout out to Finland.

That I had to struggle through the Joffrey Ballet's quagmire of rotating divas to find one classic shot of Joanna Wozniak was gross.  She did more than dance herself to death I am certain. And this photo is not a Joffrey shot either (photo cred Frank Poza).

Were it not for this video I would not be likely to find classical role documentation of Chosen Ones Maia Wilkins, Deanne Brown, Taryn Kaschok-Russell and, of course, Heather . (thank you Deanne Brown)

And how is this photo of the Zurich's Chosen One Anna Simondi reasonable?

So the Finnish National Ballet &  Companhia Nacional de Bailado have a challenger and  "Companies That Treated Their Dancers like Shit" is now a three party system.   I am using too many vague metaphors, I need to stop this.

The Joffrey Ballet has no photos of Heather Aagard as the Chosen One and also none of  Jodie Gates the 3rd to dance the role and I don't see what is so hard  about snapping off a shot or two with a Kodak disc or some shit!

There are NO photos of the 1990s Chosen Ones of the Finnish National Ballet , save Sini Länsivuori-Engström who has ignored my pleas for photos of her fellow dancers.  

And were it not for Kirsi Tiiliharju I would have thought the ballet company was some myth you threatened dancers with: "You better practice or we will send you to FINNISH NATIONAL BALLET!!"

There are no REASONABLE  photos in classical roles of Deanne Brown, Heather Aagard, Viviane Barretto, Anabel Segura,  Renata Versiani , Paula Passos, Anna Simondi, Nina Farah, Kirsi Tiiliharju, Susanna Vironmaki, Marjo Raiasala, Katja Frank, and even Beatriz Rodriguez. 

And "Deuce Coupe" is not classical ballet.  It's the walk of shame after a night with "Mr.- I -have- -to -stop -drinking".

I am so glad I chose to a nobody.  The fall is so much easier.

Yours for free,


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Let Me Tell You What I Like About Iosifidi

Man, the Mariinsky dancers never stop. They never stop dancing.  And they play every role...including "Death" in Petit's almost-masterpiece "le jeune homme et la mort".  I don't think they have any say really.  No choice, no choice. 


I have said in the past - and regrettably on occasion without kindness - that Alexandra Iosifidi is too soft as a Chosen One and I continue to feel that way.  She is a ballerina, elegant, poised, every movement is present and the Chosen One needs to get absent, yeah?  Look she's not a "dance-yourself-to-death" kinda gal.

Yesterday though, I found this crappy clip of Iosifidi in "le jeune homme et la mort"...

Let me tell you what I like about Iosifidi

The softness works perfectly. It is as if she is dancing without awareness of anything but herself and occasionally reigning in "the boy".  

This particular moment above is almost motherly.  That is some dark sh*t and she wasn't trying and THAT'S the character!

Now, on YouTube, people are commenting that she "dances it too much" "smiles too openly" "doesn't smirk enough".

Addressing only the issue of how she dances too much... How many minutes can a woman strut with that dragging leg before it becomes comical? I can tell you how many minutes. 


After four minutes it is distracting.  After 6 it is Petit's "almost-masterpiece".  How ridiculous that there would be ballet in this thing and that someone would dance.

There are people who need to be told when to applaud. They need this very defined character to be redefined 30 or 40 times in a performance.  I used to know people like that.  In high school.

Iosifidi doesn't do this.  She seems almost restless in the one-dimensional areas of the choreography and so she dances and she smiles happily here and there and by not forcing the character of Death, she is creepy.  

This is a  juxtaposition I can live with.  This is working.

Marie-Agnes Gillot or, God preserve us,  Tamara Rojo use a lot of tricks with their face but those run out fast.  These and others - all fabulously filmed btw -  overstate the character from start to finish.  Too much sinister eye-squinting and siren slinking (made that up).  

We know from the TITLE that this woman is going to ruin him.   We know when we hit play or sit in the theater that she is the villain, she is a vamp she is a sadistic beautiful woman who likes to kill boys who love her. 

What's not to smile about?  Or dance about?

I think it is refreshing to see ballet in this ballet. All that Iosifidi-grace and removed Russian style make for a bad ass la Mort who doesn't sell it so hard...

because she knows we already bought it. 

Dropping the mic like a weirdo,