Songs »Flower Duet from Lamke

by Léo Delibes (1883)

It would be difficult, I imagine, to explain to Léo Delibes what’s become of his Flower Duet, possibly the most beautiful piece of music ever written.

I would explain that it was just far too beautiful for the modern world to handle without being tempered by violence.

Honestly, can anyone listen to this and not envision some violent scene? Whether it’s Walken and Hopper in True Romance (which makes me wonder – is it as awesome as the teenage me thought? I’m remembering Gary Oldman as a rastafarian drug dealer and thinking, yes) or the latest shoot em up video game trailer, or it’s surely memorable inclusion in Garfield: Tale of Two Kitties?

Joking aside, this is the kind of music that makes your heart and soul soar.

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Posted on March 10, 2012

TV Shows »Battle of the Nutcrackers

on Ovation

I am officially in love with the Nutcracker, not only is it a beautiful ballet set to great music, but it has continually inspired Van to walk!

While I have to say Ovation has done a terrible job of programming the Battle of the Nutcrackers (hard to find to DVR, only air the same one in a row, and little to no info on their site including when and how to vote – voting was over before I knew it), it’s a yearly program I’ve begun to look forward to.

I’ve only seen three of the five I vote in my mind for the Russian Mariinsky production which boasted the most spectacular and innovative costumes and sets. Just look at the Arabian dance!

If you’ve missed them, I finally found a press release with information and here goes:

“The Viewers’ Choice will be revealed on Christmas Eve, December 24th. Christmas Day, December 25th, will bring a special surprise Nutcracker premiere, accompanied by an all-day marathon of the other productions. “

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Posted on December 24, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »ABT Opening Night Gala

at Lincoln Center

When Stacy and I decided to attend an ABT ballet this season, the Opening Night Gala sounded the most fun. It was sure to offer the best audience attire and we certainly saw a bit of everything: from the absolutely elegant to the absolutely awful (short shorts and a see through top are not the way to go). Watching the parade of dresses was almost as fun as watching the performances. Though I have to admit I kind of failed you all by not taking more pictures of the audience.

The ABT announcement of the event kind of made it sound like Michelle Obama was going to be there (sadly, no dice) but we made do with a glammed up Carolyn Kennedy and some of you would be psyched to know we saw one of the Housewives of New York, but I can’t remember her name and wouldn’t have known who she was.

The real stars of the night, aside from myself who felt wonderful having an event to get dressed up for (I wore faded gold scalloped lace with rhinestones and a pink early 1920’s jacket), were the incredible dancers.

We got to see a mish mash of pieces, sort of a best of for the season along with some unique pieces only performed for that evening. It was maybe the best ballet experience I’ve had and I highly recommend you keep an eye out for Opening nights in the future to get the best of the ABT.

The highlights of the evening for me (aside from enjoying an outrageously priced flute of pink champagne with a dear friend during intermission) were:

Tchaikovsky Pas de Duex with Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg – this was a showcase of just how effortless seemingly and transcendent ballet can be. Spare and beautiful, both dancers were incredible, and Hallberg my favorite male dancer all evening.

Swan Lake Act II Pas de Deux with Paloma Herrera and Alexandre Hammoudi – a lovely, little girl dream sight. A stage filled with elegant ballerinas from one of the art’s most beloved stories.

Splendid Isolation III with Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky – this one blew me away with it’s inventive choreography which featured a huge skirted gown. Truly stunning, but sadly for anyone not in attendance, a performance solely for the opening night.

Lady of the Camillias with Julie Kent and Cory Stearns – this was the most romantic of the performances. Julie Kent, an experienced dancer with the ABT literally took her hair down and became one of my favorite dancers with just a few moments of graceful movement. At forty she is as perfect a dancer as I’ve seen.

If you are looking to purchase tickets to the season, The Bright Stream looks fun and unusual with fat ladies on bicycles, fake moustaches, and some sweet printed peasant wear that looked very Prada-esque. If you want to go more classic, the Swan Lake is surely lovely (and I recommend seeking out a Julie Kent performance).

Hope to do this again next year, it’s the kind of event that makes me love New York.

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Posted on May 17, 2011

Movies »The Tales of Hoffmann

directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (1951)

When Jim saw The Tales of Hoffmann in the Netflix sleeve, he asked what it was and I said “That is not for you”. While it is highly and rightfully praised for it’s cinematic beauty, a film set entirely to opera with no dialogue is a tough sell in my house, and probably many others. I like opera generally, though have to admit, this one isn’t my favorite musically.

Luckily, that hardly matters since the real spectacle here are the surreal, fantastical and sometimes creepy imagery that Pressberger and Powell have created.

The plot, concerning a poet’s three big loves lost to a wind up doll, a gorgeous temptress, and an opera singer is full of fun flights of fancy. Like a man who sells eyes to make you see the world as you wish it or another that turns candle wax into jewels.

While I admit, I found the third act a bit of a snoozer, this is a film unlike many you’ll ever see. If you are familiar with their more popular work, The Red Shoes (a previous Brix Pick) you have some idea of the visual spectacle that awaits you. Not only are the sets stunning (such a shame no one makes unrealistic sets for movies anymore) but the costumes are amazing.

While it was a surprise to read that George Romero sites this as a most favorite and inspirational movie, I’d not be shock at all if fashion designers took to it for the insect body suits, eyes adorned with flower petals, gold manicures, eyeball printed trench coats, and that awesome candle wax necklace that I would buy in a heartbeat.

Click here for the rest of The Tales of Hoffmann

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Posted on February 23, 2011

Laughs »Stair Dance to Stardom

Dance Tribute

If you know me, you know I love Stairway to Stardom (what a shame that it doesn’t air anymore!!). So if a dance troupe is going to by tribute to little Melissa Ann Ledwon‘s original sparkly sleeve and top hat dance routine, I am all about it. Thanks Mike for sending the link.

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Posted on October 7, 2010

Movies »The Red Shoes

directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (1948)

The Red Shoes is a considered a classic for its beauty; not only in themes: the sacrifices one must make for both romantic love and love and passion about ones craft. It’s also gorgeous to look at. Technicolor has rarely been used to such dreamlike and stunning effect. The costumes, the choreography, Moira Shearer‘s red hair, a lovely score.. it’s little wonder that The Red Shoes inspired so many of it’s viewers to become dancers, designers (I distinctly see some Rodarte in her dirtied white gown), musicians, and film makers.

The centerpiece of the film is a surreal visual delight ballet, but the film, due to its cast, is more than its magnificent imagery. Shearer is incredible as the prima ballerina torn between the love of a composer and becoming the world’s greatest dancer. As it is a fairy tale the characters have no need to be realistic or complex, yet she and her puppet like impresario played by Anton Walkbrook are lively and fascinating.

Criterion Collection has recently restored the film and its available to watch with netflix instant.

Click here for the rest of The Red Shoes

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Posted on May 31, 2010