Ballet West Performance Reflection

Oct 03, 2015

Thank you for attending our season kick-off featuring Ballet West! What did you think of the performance? Did you enjoy the repertory? How about the live orchestra? Did you have a chance to attend any pre-show events (Film screening or Performance Preview)? Join the conversation!

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Loved, loved, loved the live music - it adds so much to the evening And what fun music

Loved the music, not only because it was live, but it was good old American music. The male dancers were the best I have seen in many years at Northrup. Liked the show overall.

My friend and I have been to numerous performances at Northrup throughout the years, and have found most to be excellent. I was excited by the prospect of seeing Jerome Robbins' choreography in "Fancy Free" - the precursor to "On the Town", which showcases Gene Kelly's fabulous choreography - as well as hearing 16 Gershwin songs with Balanchine's always-beautiful choreography. Unfortunately, the evening was an underwhelming experience. Both my friend and I had anticipated much more from these choreographers. When you think of Jerome Robbins' choreography, the first thing that comes to mind is his groundbreaking and Tony Award-winning choreography for "West Side Story". When you think of "On the Town", which was derived from "Fancy Free", you envision the inventive, exuberant dancing that accompanies the song, "New York, New York". And therein lies the problem. Robbins' ballet choreography in "Fancy Free" seems flat, tedious and uninspired by comparison. He has three sailors dancing, yet so much more could have been done with the three dancing in unison. Then two women become part of the story, and frustratingly, they are left sitting at a table for at least half of their time on stage. There could have been intricate, energetic sequences utilizing all five performers. And frankly, of the three male leads, only one really stood out. And while I really enjoy many of Leonard Bernstein's scores, his "Fancy Free" score feels slightly plodding, and never takes off. Balanchine's choreography to "Who Cares" was similarly disappointing. Both my friend and I loved the colorful, flowing costumes (though the male dancers' costumes were surprisingly dull), and of course, the Gershwin music was delightful. But, of the 16 dances, only a few stood out - the dances with the entire ballet corp were the most enjoyable. The duets seemed endless, and that was partially because the choreography was repetitive and staid. One would think that Gershwin would have inspired Balanchine to be more daring and creative. The skill of the Ballet West dancers was very good, but was not the caliber of some of the more well-known ballet companies we've seen at Northrup. Usually, the time flies by at Northrup performances, because you're transported while viewing them. Sadly, we were checking our watches at the Ballet West performance.

Though I have attended dance series performances at Northrop for many years, I am not very knowledgeable about the technical aspects of 'dance', HOWEVER, I do know what I enjoy. My face hurt from smiling through the entire performance of Ballet West. The music was fabulous, and I thought the choreography was fun and light and invigorating for the most part. Though one person thought the male dancers costumes were dull, I thought they were appropriate for the scene and the time period of the music, and the male dancers performances were terrific. There were some solos that stood out, but that is the case for any performance. I loved the entire evening performance and would love to see Ballet West return to Northrop. Live music at these performances is such an enhancement.

As a whole, I enjoyed the performance and thought it mostly met the high expectations that Northrop has set for quality dance performances over the years. The live music was a great addition and I'm looking forward to seeing other performances this season with accompanying live music. I did feel slightly underwhelmed at times by the performance and cannot be certain, but thought I saw a few bobbles and thought the music and dancing was on just a few occasions out of synch. But there were also several solos that stood out among the dances. I very much enjoyed the night (particularly the first act) and am happy that the Northrop season is back.

A note following Kris's comments. Except for a few soloists, Ballet West does not have the breadth of skill and experience to perform all of what Robbins and Balanchine choreographed in these works. We have seen ABT, NYC and The Joffrey perform these works and they are far more interesting with a top notch company. Ballet West is a 'middle of the road' company. Frankly I thought they did reasonably well with Who Cares given their stature. Our party saw what we expected with Ballet West. We hope that Ballet West continues to strengthen and grow,

For all the comments on what was wrong with Ballet West's performances, it was fun, lighthearted, and a nice way to begin the season. These dancers have spent a huge amount of time, money, and effort to bring enjoyment to the audience. The sour grapes and trying to impress all the other posters, Kris, with your (possible) knowledge of the music scene is both boring and a counter-productive aftermath to the evening. Relax. And to the rest of us, sit back and enjoy.....

Ballet West dancers delivered a show with excellent technical and performance skills. The dancers' timing is impeccable and the artistry so beautiful. The costumes were lovely and the live Gershwin music especially made me wish the show could go on longer. I enjoyed the TV show Breaking Pointe and it was fun to see the dancers in live performance. I hope Ballet West will return to Northrop, this was a real treat.

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