Tag Archives: George Balanchine

A Day in West Palm Beach FL

A last minute call to a friend, last minute call for tickets, and off we were to see a Miami City Ballet performance at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

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Kravis Center at night, courtesy Kravis dot org.

The day couldn’t be more perfect:  Sunny, no chance of rain, and temps between 75 and 80.  Parked in a great spot in the parking garage attached to the Center, and strolled over to Cheesecake Factory, one of our faves.  This restaurant is one of many in the upscale City Place area:  an area loaded with restaurants, various shopping destinations, entertainment, events, and a top-notch plaza in the middle of it all.  A great place to enjoy the paradisaical weather of South Florida.

After enjoying our delish lunch; hers, a specially-prepared egg and asparagus presentation, and mine, mini-crab-cake balls and a plate of baby Romain lettuce leaves wraps with mixture of mushrooms and chicken.  We thoroughly enjoyed every bit.  Our waitress was excellent, which always makes the dining experience all the more exquisite.

On to the ballet.  The title of the program was “Triple Threat.”  Had no idea why it was given that title, but we were about to find out, for sure.

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The first part of the performance was, “Episodes.”  “The challenging twelve-tone music of Anton von Webern inspired George Balanchine, in 1959, to collaborate with Martha Graham on a project to utilize all of the composer’s orchestral music.  Graham created a soon-forgotten dramatic work about Mary, Queen of Scots.  Balanchine’s extraordinary contribution was the ballet we know as Episodes.”  (Quote from the Playbill.)

I have quoted from the Playbill above, because we were flabbergasted that this one-third of the performances was so boring to us.  The costumes were skin-tight black and white.  Very stark.  We are “seasoned” theater-goers and have years of enjoying ballet performances under our belts; however, this took us by complete surprise.  The ballet company did a fantastic job with difficult positions and actions across the stage, but not only was this performance stark and angular, but the “music” was certainly from a different universe.  Webern’s composition, masterfully produced by the accomplished musicians, was noise that sounded like squeaks, bangs, and un-godly blasts that appeared to be coming from a very sick machine.  We suffered through this, glued to our seats in disbelief!

Before the next portion of the performance, we were given a “brief pause” which was very welcomed, so that we could gather ourselves for the next onslaught, so we thought:  “Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.”

“George Balanchine called (Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux) “a display piece, based on the music and the maximum gifts of virtuoso performers.”  This piece was brought to the stage in 1964, starring Violette Verdy and Edward Villella.  Anything connected with Edward Villella, was, in my opinion, a masterpiece waiting to happen.  Villella was a master.  Period.

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It was a beautiful performance, this Pas de Deux.  But after I had to scrape my emotions up from the bottom of the barrel after the first part, it made it difficult for me to appreciate this one as much as it should have been appreciated.

After a real intermission, the lights dimmed, and we waited with anticipation for the final part of the afternoon’s performance.  “In 1995 – almost forty years after his great musical West Side Story opened on Broadway – Jerome Robbins decided to distill and reshape it into a dance work for New York City Ballet.  The result is an electrifying and moving ballet that both shadows the original and stands alone as a new original.”  (another quote from the Playbill.)

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The title of this final phase was:  “West Side Story Suite.”  That title tells it all.  The company accomplished a miracle yesterday afternoon.  Standing ovations, clapping till my hands felt like they will never be fit for clapping again, and the place was wild.