On Wednesday night we saw Birmingham Royal Ballet open their 2007 Stravinsky Triple Bill. They opened with Agon and then performed Stravinsky Violin Concerto. They closed with Symphony in Three Movements. We expected the house to be sold out, but it wasn't. I expected to be dazzled, but I wasn't. I was left with the same feeling that I've had every time I've seen a Balanchine piece, puzzled and wondering if I'd seen what was intended.
Again, I will reserve judgment. I am just not experienced enough to render an opinion. I also haven't seen Balanchine's work much, only USC students and an occasional solo at one of Radenko Pavlovich's LifeChance galas. Thus, I don't really know what to think. I know I was bored in Agon and that it did seem to get "better" with the other pieces. I really don't care for it, but I can't say it wasn't good. I know it wasn't perfect though. Every time the spacing between dancers is slightly irregular or a hand raises a split second before the others, I noticed it. It seems to me that any imperfection is totally obvious. Thus, the work seems spoiled. It is a shame to notice all the flaws. I found myself almost looking for them instead of enjoying some of the beautiful movements and lovely partnering.
When comparing the two performances, Cyrano and the Stravinsky Triple Bill, I can definitely say I liked the Cyrano much, much better. Judging from the cool applause for the Balanchine, I wasn't alone in this thinking. It occurred to me that Cyrano was like a very, very good classic children's book, like Alice in Wonderland. It could be enjoyed on the simplest level and would only grow more endearing with additional understanding. The Stravinsky, on the other hand, seemed to require an in depth knowledge and thus limited its own audience. Of course, there's a place for both types of literature as there's a place for both styles of ballet. I'm just not educated enough, I guess, to truly appreciate the Balanchine.