Here's news about high-definition video recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, fine-art documentaries, and paintings. I call these recordings "HDVDs." In the journal below are independent (and hard-to-find critical) reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

Feb. 22. I just posted a review and A- grade for the new Tatiana ballet from John Neumeier. I recently posted a review of L'Histoire de Manon ballet from the Paris Opera Ballet. It was a tremendous production, but the video is dragged down a bit by technical issues that could have been avoided.

This odd symbol is called an "interrobang." It's the mating of a question mark with an exclamation point.  I'm adding this now to the Alphalist to warns you that a title is extremely unusual in some way. My favorite interrobang title is the opera Experimentum Mundi which means "experience your world." If you don't know about it, take a look!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday
Feb262017

2017 New Year's Concert

2017 New Year's Concert by the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Recorded January 1, 2017 at the Goldener Saal des Wiener Musikvereins. Bonus features are (1) The Rhythm of Vienna and (2) a complete ballet sequence to "Hereinspaziert" by the Vienna State Ballet choreographed by Renate Zanella. Directed for video by Michael Beyer.  Released 2017, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Features the following numbers (listed below in alphabetical order---see artwork above for performance order):

1. Franz Lehár "Nechledil Marsch" from Wiener Frauen ("Nechledil March" from Vienna Women)
2. Carl Otto Nicolai "Montaufgang" ("Moonrise") from Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windor)
3. Johann Strauss I "Indianer-Galopp" ("Indian Galop")
4. Johann Strauss II "Es gibt nur a Kaiserstadt" ("There's Just One Emperial City")
5. Johann Strauss II "Mephisto's Hollenrufe" ("Mephisto's Cries from Hell")
6. Johann Strauss II "So ängstlich sind wir nicht!" ("So Scared We're Not")
7. Johann Strauss II "Pepita Polka"
8. Johann Strauss II "Rotunde-Quadrille"
9. Johann Strauss II "Die Extravaganten" ("The Extravagants")
10. Johann Strauss II "Auf zum Tanze!" ("Up and Dance!")
11. Johann Strauss II "Tausendundeine Nacht" ("Thousand and One Night")
12. Johann Strauss II "Tik-Tak Polka"
13. Josef Strauss "Winterlust" ("Joy of Winter")
14. Josef Strauss "Die Nasswalderin" (The Girl from Nasswald)
15. Franz von Suppe Pique Dame Overture
16. Waldteufel "Les Patineurs" ("The Iceskaters")
17. Karl Michael Ziehrer "Hereinspaziert" ("Walk Right In")

In addition, here are the encores (in performance order):
1. Eduard Strauss "Mit Vergnügen!" ("With Pleasure")
2. Johann Strauss II "The Blue Danube"
3. Johann Strauss I "Radetzky-Marsch"

Saturday
Feb252017

Parsifal

[Caution. Preliminary and partial information needs to be confirmed. PR from Challenge Records on this is fragmentary, amateurish, and confusing. This Dutch National Opera directed by Pierre Audi came out first in 2012 and was reprised in 2016. The cover brags about an award for Dutch in 2016 and the front cover art might be from 2016. But it appears this recording is of the 2012 show.]

Wagner Parsifal opera to a libretto by the composer. Directed 2012 by Pierre Audi at the Dutch National Opera.  Stars Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester (Amfortas), Mikhail Petrenko (Titurel /Klingsor), Falk Struckmann (Gurnemanz), Christopher Ventris (Parsifal), Petra Lang (Kundry), Jean-Léon Klosterman (First Knight of the Grail), Roger Smeets (Second Knight of the Grail), Lisette Bolle, Rosanne van Sandwijk, Erik Slik, Jeroen de Vaal (4 Esquires), Lisette Bolle, Inez Hafkamp, Tomoko Makuuchi, Rosanne van Sandwijk, Oleksandra Lenyshyn, Melanie Greve (6 Flower Maids), and Marieke Reuten (Voice from Above).  Ivan Fischer conducts the Royal  Concertgebouw, the Choir of the Dutch National Opera, and the "Kickers" of the Waterland Youth Music School. Sets by Anish Kapoor; costumes by Christof Hetzer; lighting by Jean Kalman; choreography by Gail Skrela; dramaturgy by Klaus Bertisch. Released 2017. Grade: Help!

This appears to be an impressive production. If you can confirm or correct the information above, please help us!

Below is a clip that appears to be from the 2012 performance. (There are other new-looking and prettier clips that probably were made in 2016.)

Saturday
Feb252017

Giselle

Giselle ballet. Libretto by Théophile Gautier after Heinrich Heine.  Music by Adolphe Adam revised by Joseph Horovitz. Choreography by Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. 2016 production and additional choreography by Sir Peter Wright at the Royal Opera House. Stars Marianela Nuñez (Giselle), Vadim Muntagirov (Count Albrecht), Bennet Gartside (Hilarion), Johannes Stepanek (Wilfred), Elisabeth McGorian (Berthe), Gary Avis (Duke of Courland), Christina Arestis (Bathilde) Itziar Mendizabal (Myrtha), Olivia Cowley (Moyna), and Beatriz Stix-Brunell (Zulme). Barry Wordsworth conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Peter Manning). Designs by John Macfarlane; original lighting by Jennifer Tipton re-created by David Finn; staging by Christopher Carr; directed for screen by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

This is the third Opus Arte publication of a Blu-ray disc of the Peter Wright Giselle! The first version came out in 2009 with Cojocaru and Kobborg, and I gave it an A-. Five years later the second version was released (in 2014) with Osipova and Acosta, and I gave that one an A. Now, just three years later we have the third recording with Nuñez and Muntagirov. It's on my buy list, and I'll give you a report pretty soon! If you have seen this live or in the recording, we would love to hear from you right away!

In the meantime, here's a clip about the new production:

Friday
Feb242017

Tango Under the Stars

 

Tango Under the Stars concert performed 2016 at the Hollywood Bowl. Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Philharmonic, joined by dancers of Tango Buenas Aires, in a performance of classical and tango compositions by Argentine composers.  Featured stars are Ángel Romero on guitar and Seth Asarnow on bandoneon. Here's the program:

Piazzólla: Tangazo; La Muerte del Angel; Adiós Nonino; Oblivion; Libertango.

Schifrin: Concierto for Guitar and Orchestra, No. 2; Concierto de la Amistad (World Premiere).

Ginastera: Four Dances from Estancia

Directed for video by Michael  Beyer; produced by Bernhard Fleischer. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Please help us by writing a comment that we can place here as a mini-review of this title.

Wednesday
Feb222017

Tatiana

Tatiana ballet. Choreography by John Neumeier after Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. Music by Lera Auerbach. Performed 2014 by the Hamburg State Opera Ballet. Stars Hélène Bouchet (Tatiana Larina), Edvin Revazov (Eugene Onegin), Leslie Heylmann (Olga Larina), Alexandr Trusch (Vladimir Lensky), Carsten Jung (Prince N.), Niurka Moredo (Filipjevna, Tatiana's nurse), Sasha Riva and Marc Jubete (two males representing together Zaretsky, Lensky's second in the duel), Miljana Vračarić (Madame Larina), Xue Lin (The ballerina Istomina as Cleopatra), Silvano Ballone (Istomina's Partner as Marcus Antonius), Kiran West (Guillot), and Thomas Stuhrmann (An officer). Also features the following dancers as figures from Tatiana's novels: Hayley Page (Rousseu's Julie Wolmar), Florian Pohl (Saint Preux, Julie Wolmar's teacher), Braulio Álvarez (The "Sarazin" Malek Adhel, brother of the historical Saladin), Yaiza Coll (Matilda, Malek Adhel's lover and sister of Richard the Lionheart), Futaba Ishizaki (Harriet Byron), Jacopo Belussi (Grandison), and Edvin Revazov (Ruthven, the vampire). Simon Hewett conducts the Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra. Staging, sets, costumes, and lighting by John Neumeier. Produced for TV by Antoine Perset and Denis Morlière; video direction by Thomas Grimm. Bonus film by Reiner E. Moritz called Tatiana -- Back to Pushkin. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: A-

Pushkin finished his long novel in verse, Eugene Onegin ("EO"), in 1830. It's considered the beginning and the apogee of Russian literature. At the heart of the poem is the tragic death of a poet (Lensky) in a duel. 7 years later Pushkin, a forward thinker, was slain himself in an unfair duel (perhaps really a kind of execution.) The death of Pushkin in 1837 was one long lifetime away the Great Arrest in Russia in 1917. Pushkin has become a kind of mythic figure and symbol up to this very day of the failure of the liberal spirit to flourish in that nation.

Some 60% of EO deals with the sad love story of Eugene and Tatiana. 4o% is about the future of Russia. Neumeier focuses, of course, on the love story.  He takes the viewpoint of Tatiana, the character who emerges from the love story with the best future. In the first screenshot below we meet Tatiana (Hélène Bouchet ) as a young girl, home-schooled in her mother's estate in the country far from Moscow. She is a shy dreamer immersed in romantic books and always close to her bear:

Next below we meet Olga (Leslie Heylmann), Titiana's younger sister, who is more practical and outgoing:

Olga has a boy friend, Lensky (Alexandr Trusch), seen next below. In the novel, Lensky is a budding poet (and thought by some to be the alter-ego of Pushkin). To make Lensky more vivid as expressed in dance, Neumeier turns him into a composer of music working at a piano and often dancing about with sheet music (sorry, no screenshot of this):

Pushkin includes in the EO novel a vast number of allusions to people and events in the artistic and political life of Russia in the early 19th century. Continuing in this vein, Neumeier includes 8 named characters from the novel who appear as "real people" in the ballet. In addition, Neumeier invents some 12 new characters (who are are referred to in some way by Pushkin in EO). Each of Neumeier's two Acts begins with an introductory medley scene in which many of these 20 characters appear, at random, in thoughts, dreams, memories, and premonitions. The invented characters can also appear at any time in the regular story scenes. For example, in the image below, we see Tatiana in the company of four ghostly figures from 19th-century romantic novels Tatiana is currently reading. If you worked hard enough, you could identify these 4 ghosts (I didn't try). Neumeier crams enough specific references to the novel into his ballet to satisfy the most passionate lover of literature and ballet trivia through many viewings of this production.

In addition, Chapter 5 of the poem describes a Tatiana nightmare! The stuffed bear becomes a real bear (Carsten Jung), who then sheds his coat (to keep the naked Tatiana warm), and emerges as her protector.  Later the protector will be recognized as Prince N., Tatiana's future husband. If you are new to EO, all this will be quite a challenge. But don't let the many details keep you from enjoying the main story, which is easy enough to follow:

Now we meet Eugene, a jaded aristocrat with 4 women in his apartment. He has to get up early this morning as his servant brought him an important message:

 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb202017

Ballo in Maschera

Verdi Un Ballo in Maschera opera to libretto by Antonio Somma. Directed 2016 by Johannes Erath at the Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera).  Stars Piotr Beczala (Riccardo), George Petean (Renato), Anja Harteros (Amelia), Okka von der Damerau (Ulrica), Sofia Fomina (Oscar), Andrea Borghini (Silvano), Anatoli Sivko (Samuel), Scott Conner (Tom), Ulrich Reß (Judge) and Joshua Owen Mills (Amelia's servant). Zubin Mehta conducts the Bayerisches Staatsorchestra (Bavarian State Orchestra) and Chor (Chorus Master Sören Eckhoff). Sets by Heike Scheele; costumes by Gesine Völlm; videos by Lea Heutelbeck; lighting by Joachim Klein; and dramaturgy by Malte Krasting. Video by Tiziano Mancini. Subtitles in 8 languages: Italian, German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese! Released 2017, disc is in "4K" format per C Major website. It appears this version is a normal Blu-ray 2K video. This was probably shot in 4K, so a 4K version could be released in the future. Disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound.  Grade: Help!

I have previously reviewed a traditional Ballo HDVD (from Madrid) and another with surreal Pomodoro designs (Leipzig). Here's my last comment on Ballo staging (from 2015):

Although Un ballo in maschera was inspired by a regicide in Sweden, it's not an historical opera. Different versions exist set in several counties. Setting it in America is unconvincing. Because it's about human relationships and nothing else, you could stage it in a colony on Mars with a computer as fortune teller. So there's no reason other than habit for Ballo to be performed as a period costume piece. The dream world created by Olmi, Pomodoro, and staff works fine for me.

Well, according to José M. Irurzun (a fine reviewer) writing for seenandheard-international.com in March 2016, subject Johannes Erath's version of Ballo at the Bayerische Staatsoper has to be understood as a "nightmare of Riccardo obsessed by his love for Amelia . . . otherwise, everything would be totally ridiculous. I doubt that a spectator who is not familiar with the plot would understand what is happening on stage." You have been warned!

Here are 3 clips about this production (not sure if all these are 100% the same as the disc):

 

Thursday
Feb162017

Francesca da Rimini

Saverio Mercadante Francesca da Rimini opera to libretto by Felice Romani. Directed 2016 by Pier Luigi Pizzi at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy. Stars Leonor Bonilla (Francesca), Aya Wakizono (Paolo), Merto Süngü (Lanciotto), Antonio Di Matteo (Guido), Larisa Martinez (Isaura) and Ivan Ayon Rivas (Guelfo). Fabio Luisi conducts the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia and the  Chorus of the Transylvania State and Philharmonic Orchestra of Cluj-Napoca (Chorus Master Cornel Groza). Set and costumes by Pier Luigi Pizzi; choreography by Gheorghe Iancu; first ballerina was Letizia Giuliani; video direction by Matteo Ricchetti. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Please help us by writing a comment that we can place here as a mini-review of this title.


 

 

Thursday
Feb162017

Ballet Hispánico

Ballet Hispánico dance recital performed 2015 at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix). Ballet Hispánico is directed by Eduardo Vilaro and has the mission of celebrating Latino culture through dance. It is one of the leading dance groups in New York City and one of the few dance companies in the United States to focus on Latin dance and culture. Pieces performed were CARMEN.maquia, choreographed by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, and Club Havana, choreographed by Pedro Ruiz.

CARMEN.maquia stars Christopher Bloom (Don José), Kimberly Van Woesik (Carmen), Melissa Fernandez (Micaela), and Mario Ismael Espinoza (Escamillo). Cigar factory girls, soldiers, townsfolk, and Gypsies are played by Lauren Alzamora, Martina Calcagno, Shelby Colona, Kassandra Cruz, Mark Gieringer, Christopher Hernandez, Johan Rivera Mendez, Eila Valls, Lyvan Verdecia, and Joshua Winzeler. Recorded music, all from Bizet Carmen suites or the Pablo de Sarasate Carmen Concert Fantasy, is stitched together from many resources.  Set by Luis Crespo; costumes by David Delfin; lighting by Joshua Preston. Because all the music comes from the opera, the ballet must be viewed as a ballet telling of the opera libretto---not an easy task.

Club Havana performers are:
- Son (a Cuban dance popular in the 1930s): Martina Calcagno, Shelby Colona, Kassandra Cruz, Mario Ismael Espinoza, Melissa Fernandez, Mark Gieringer, Christopher Hernandez, Johan Rivera Mendez, Eila Valls, and Lyvan Verdecia. 
- Mambo: Shelby Colona & Lyvan Verdecia; Kassandra Cruz & Johan Rivera Mendez; and Eila Valls & Mario Ismael Espinoza.
- Cha Cha Cha: Melissa Fernandez, Mark Gieringer, and Christopher Hernandez.
- Bolero, Rhumba, and Congo: The Company.
The dances are performed to recorded music composed by Israel López, Rubén Gonzales, A. K. Salim, Perez Prado, and Francisco Repilado. Costumes by Ghabriello Fernando; lighting by Donald Holder.

The Ballet Hispánico group has its home on the Upper West Side of Mahattan. "Lincoln Center at the Movies" (LCatM) is a new resource. LCatM promoters seek American dance content that (1) has cultural significance and (2) can be shown in movie houses around the United States and maybe other countries. (It helps perhaps if the dance production has some connection, however slight, to Lincoln Center.) Selling an HDVD would be an additional profit center. (This business model was invented, of course, by Peter Gelb at the Met.)  Produced by Andrew Carl Wilk; directed for TV by Matthew Diamond. Released 2017, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

You might assume that something sold by "Lincoln Center at the Movies" would have been performed at Lincoln Center, especially if the company performing is from New York City. But this Ballet Hispánico show was performed live thousands of miles away in Arizona! Here are a couple of shots of the pretty Mesa Arts Center:

Although far from home, Ballet Hispánico managed to attract a decent crowd that showed some enthusiasm.  Lets start with some shots from CARMEN.maquia. (I've tried hard to figure out why CARMEN is in all caps and what the ".maquia" means, but I'm still stumped.)

[Review to be completed by February 28]

Here's a YouTube clip about this show. At least some of the dancing in this clip was probably shot in New York rather than Arizona:

 

Monday
Feb062017

Manon Ballet

Kenneth MacMillan's L'Histoire de Manon ballet performed May 2015 at the Paris Opera Ballet - Garnier Palace. Music consists of excerpts from the works Jules Massenet arranged and orchestrated by Martin Yates. Choreography and stage directions of Kenneth MacMillan as interpreted by Karl Burnett and Gary Harris with rehearsal director Patricia Ruanne. Stars Aurélie Dupont (Manon Lescaut), Roberto Bolle (Le Chevalier Des Grieux), Stéphane Bullion (Lescaut), Alice Renavand (La maîtresse (mistress) de Lescaut), Benjamin Pech (Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine), Karl Paquette (Le Geôlier (jailor)), and Viviane Descoutures (Madame). Martin Yates directs the Orchestra of the Paris Opera Ballet. Set and costume designs by Nicholas Georgiadis; lighting by John B. Read. Co-directed for TV by Cédric Klapisch and Miguel Octave. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

We now have 3 Manon titles in HDVD. The earliest HDVD released was the Massenet Manon opera. Then came the Puccini Manon Lescaut opera. Now we consider MacMillan's ballet version. It has yet a different name (L'Histoire de Manon) to distinguish it from the Massenet opera for legal reasons. Another curious fact is that even though the ballet is set to Massenet music, not one note of the Manon opera music is used.  The ballet music is a pastiche of Massenet tunes from some 26 compositions other than the opera.

Both Manon operas have light-hearted and didactic elements and are considered comedies even though the girl ends up dead in both. But MacMillan, famous for including violent action and raw sexual themes in his work, had a darker view of Manon. With MacMillan, every apple in the barrel is rotten. And the Paris Opera direction team reinforces MacMillan's view by keeping this set in pre-revolutionary France with an entire civilisation suffering from terminal decay.

Our first screenshot shows the courtyard at a provincial inn where stage coaches stop for passengers. Every degree of wealth is seen from rat catcher to aristocrat.  On the left seated and dressed in white is Lescaut (Stéphane Bullion), a soldier who is part cop, part gang leader, and all pimp. The woman dancing is Lescaut's mistress (Alice Renavand) whom I'll call "Missy." She is try to entice interest from the aristocrat Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine (Benjamin Pech) seated on the right dressed in red:

Next below is a close-up of Lescaut and Missy. He shows affection to her here, but much of the time he capriciously humiliates her:

A close-up of Guillot:

Four prostitutes prance for Guillot while beggars prance behind the ladies:

Les misérables:

Lescaut is at the wayside inn waiting for his sister, Manon (Aurélie Dupont), next seen below. Manon is 16. (This is Dupont's last performance after a career of 32 years dancing at the Paris Opera ballet.)  Manon looks innocent, but there has to be a backstory. Her parents have arranged for her to enter an convent. She will soon find a way out of that!

Everyone is interested in the fresh arrival.  Below, the man on the left is an unidentified passenger who can't stop talking to Manon. On the right with the big hat is Madame (Viviane Descoutures) who travels with Guillot to keep him entertained. Madame owns a fabulous brothel and gambling den at the Hotel Transylvanie in Paris, and she's always looking for talent:

Also in the crowd is Le Chevalier Des Grieux (Roberto Bolle). Des Grieux is a student. He's from a noble family with money, but he's living on an allowance from his father. The allowance does not include, alas, a line entry for "keeping  up mistress":

 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan302017

Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dance recital shot 2015 at the David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) in New York.  Ailey started his company long ago as a home for black artists. Eventually, he dropped the all-black standard to include dancers and choreographers of all races. Still, as you can see from the artwork above, AAADT remains mostly a black operation, and it is probably the leading such dance group in the world.  The program contains the following pieces:

1. Chroma by Wayne McGregor to a score by Jack White and Jody Talbot. Chroma has nothing to do with black experience. Dancers are Jeroboam Bozeman, Sean Aaron Carmon, Sarah Daley, Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Vernard J. Gilmore, Yannick Lebrun, Rachel McLaren, Akua Noni Parker, and Linda Celeste Sims. By leading off with this, the AAADT claims that they can take on any modern dance assignment out there. 

2. Grace by Ronald K. Brown to music by Duke Ellington. Brown is black, and his work is rooted in modern, African, and urban styles. Dancers are Linda Celeste Sims, Demetia Hopkins-Greene, Matthew Rushing, Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Vernard J. Gilmore, Grenn Allen Sims, Daniel Harder, Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Belen Pereya, Hope Boykin, and Rachael McLaren. Grace is, I think, considered a dance icon of the American black experience.

3. Takademe by Robert Battle to music by Sheila Chandra. Battle is black and currently the leader of the AAADT. Apparently nobody knows or cares what "takademe" means other than, perhaps, "a dance telling a story." Performed by Jamar Roberts. It's a frantic solo included, I suspect, as a kind of dance joke analogous to a scherzo moment in a piece of classical music.

4. Revelations by Alvin Ailey to traditional black gospel music. Performed by the Company and with star roles by Marcus Jarrell Willis, Hope Boykin, Jacqueline Green, Linda Celeste Sims, Glenn Allen Sims, Michael Francis McBride, Megan Jakel, Marcus Jarrell Willis, Yannick Lebrun, Rachael McLaren, Matthew Rushing, Alicia Graf Mack, Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Jamar Roberts, and Kirven Douthit-Boyd. This is considered Ailey's most profound work.

It appears all the music for the dances was prerecorded. There's no sign of any orchestra in the video, and nothing is said on the keepcase or in the booklet about who plays anything. Produced by Andrew Carl Wilk; directed for TV by Matthew Diamond. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

Finally we are getting something in HDVD from the New York dance scene! Dance in the Big Apple can get confusing. This was shot in the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. But the AAADT should not be confused with the American Ballet Theater (or ABT), that snooty group that considers itself the "American National Ballet Company" and which performs in the Metropolitan Opera building and at the Koch Theater, both at Lincoln Center. Nor should the AAADT be confused with the New York City Ballet, which has its permanent home in the Koch Theater building. The New York City Ballet is the company originally started by George Balanchine.

The AAADT has its home in the New York City Center, an older building located some distance away from Lincoln Center and near Carnegie Hall. Subject title is branded under the name "Lincoln Center at the Movies." I get the impression  producer Wilk could not get either the ABT or the New York City Ballet on board (neither has published anything in HDVD). But Wilk could rent the Koch Theater and offer the space to Mr. Battle and the AAADT. So now Alvin Ailey's company gets to be the first New York dance group to make a Blu-ray disc at Lincoln Center---that's American ingenuity!

Chroma

McGregor is a white artist who got his start at the Royal Opera Ballet (ROB). Chroma, scary hard, is one of the most talked-about short dance works to come out in recent years, and we have a brilliant recording of it already by stars of the Royal Ballet.

So how do the AA dancers compete in Chroma with the guys and gals of the ROB (the best in the world in this piece)? The AA roots are in modern, African folk, and jazz. AA dancers don't have a full classical background (Swan Lake, Giselle, Jewels, etc.). They lack the full range of movement, dazzling quickness, and abstract acting skills of the ROB dancers. So Chroma was restaged for AA by Antoine Vereecken to ease matters a bit.

First below is a shot of ROB stars (Ed Watson and Mara Galeazzi) in an tricky (and almost salacious) move in Chroma, Scene 1:

Watson Galeazzi duet

Vereecken with AA makes this move easier (and more modest) as we see next below:

From Chroma, Scene 2, Tamara Rojo at the ROB does a spectacular airborne split:

Tamara Rojo airborne split

Next below we see the best AA can do at this point:

Alvin Ailey airborne split

The dancers at the ROB are small, light, limber, and sophisticated. The dancers at AA tend are tall, strong, modest, and responsible. The AA  men all look like Olympic track-and-field stars or even American football players who run the ball or catch 50-yard passes. I preferred the AA men to those in the ROB in the male trio at Chroma, Scene 4. Sorry, they stay on the move and this is the best picture I could get:

Alvin Ailey Chroma Men's Trio

And below is a shot from Scene 5 where the AA dancers sneak some soul into the mix---something McGregor doesn't know anything about:

This Chroma got soul

I also preferred the Vereecken finale (Scene 7) to the chaotic McGregor original. Vereecken reorganizes things and shows more unison dancing than McGregor:

Vereecken Chroma finale

 

Click to read more ...

Page 1 2 3 4 5 ... 102