ksk04

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About ksk04

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    dancer
  • City**
    los angeles
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    ca
  1. I think that it is worthwhile to see even if you are skeptical. I was pretty skeptical and while I don't think the choreography in it is revolutionary (it's no Bright Stream, for example), I do find it an enjoyable ballet, especially Act Two. If it's worth anything, I wasn't bored at any time seeing it two nights in a row. There is certainly more dance than "mime"/effects if that is what you're worried about and the dance serves the story, especially in the second act. About the Thursday night cast:Cornejo/Trenary/Seo/Stearns. I found Cornejo and Trenary to be wonderful; I think they moved better together than Simkin/Lane, perhaps because Cornejo is a better partner. Cornejo also invested more into the acting throughout, to my eyes (I admit being more partial to Cornejo as a dancer, though, and have never been totally won over by Simkin). At the end of the ballet, there is a big celebration where everyone gathers in a circle and catches the Boy and then pushes him into the middle to do a dance, over and over (which is nicely matched with the music-I think Ratmanksy uses the score very well throughout), and his dancing seemed to grow sharper and bigger as the ballet progresses, much like, I assume, we're supposed to see the arc and liberation of the Boy. He looks no better in the short-shorts than Danil, though. Trenary was sharp and very confident; she also was very strong in her petite allegro solo. Her tutu looked like it was coming apart in the front (the skirt sagged) though and it never got fastened throughout the Act which I thought was odd--has no one a tacking gun backstage? Something that seemed to change choreographically from the opening night is Princess Praline staying onstage during the Boy's solo in their pas de deux, trying to applaud him and encourage him. I remember Lane staying onstage for a few moments, but then leaving. Trenary stayed the whole time and even helps the Boy with his bows, emphasizing his childlike demeanor. Stearns and Seo were competent, but had none of the shading of Abrera/Hallberg. Stearns was gleeful/happy in a gee-golly way the whole time, whereas Hallberg referenced a darker, more insidious character where you understood why maybe Princess Tea Flower might be swayed by Prince Cocoa or Don Zucchero. Abrera plays the Princess in a slightly more zany fashion, and Seo tried to hit those notes, but was mostly sweet and radiant. Prince Cocoa was danced by Calvin Royal and Don Zucchero by Arron Scott. I thought they were both a bit weaker than the opening night cast of Gorak and Hoven. While Scott is a cleaner dancer than Hoven, Hoven invested more into the foppish personality of Don Zucchero which is clearly the emphasis of the role. The Chef/Doctor role is a character that guides us throughout the ballet, and on opening night it was played by Alexei Agoudine and I didn't think much of the characterization because of the giant character head, blocking any facial expressions besides the creepily neutral one provided on the prop. However, Zhurbin infuses the character with stronger body language. After he takes a secret swig of his champagne, he does a shiver and starts to float (mimicking the nurses or the whipped cream ladies). So, it's not a throwaway role and if you get to see Zhurbin, you will see that. The liquor libations were played by Christine Shevchenko (Champagne), Hammoudi (Plum Brandy), and Thomas Forster (Vodka). I thought Hammoudi was the strongest of all of them, and I found him really funny as opposed to serious; he looked like he was a bit looser onstage than he has been previously. They had good chemistry and I enjoyed their pas de trois which, at one point, seems to reference the Siren from the Prodigal Son (they've got similar headgear), as she bourees around the stage, leading the two men. The scene where the Doctor is pulled between caring for the Boy/the nurses nagging him and the temptation of the dancing bottles of liquor is well paced and one of my favorites. The big corps dance is the scene at the of the first Act (in the white unitards) and it's a big number a la Snow in the Nutcracker. It's a pure dance scene and the music, which is very waltzy, carries through the choreography well. The ballet clearly requires a big cast with no doubling of parts as everyone has to come back onstage at the end for the final celebration wherein the entire massive cast in onstage doing choreography in a vein similar to the finale of Symphony in C, for impact and scale. Looking forward to seeing other peoples' thoughts as well!
  2. I was in the rear of the Orchestra Terrace (I think that's what they are calling it now) in the center (there's a cheap seat that has unobstructed center views--perfect for me). I watched most with my binoculars, as I usually do, so probably not the best judge on that. I would say that the detail of the dancers gets lost a bit without the binoculars, just because so much of the scenery is really big and eye catching. I'll be a bit closer this evening in the terrace, so I'll see if there's a difference. Edit: they opened up the Balcony for the Saturday matinee, so I picked up a ticket. Would like to see what Gillian Murphy makes of the choreography. Going to have to give the third cast a pass for now--sorry Skylar Brandt!
  3. I agree with Josette, though I maybe liked it a bit more than she did (after one viewing—let’s see how it holds up to repetition). It is pretty frothy and the story fairly non-existent. No real character arcs, and the pacing is odd to say the least. I think a large portion of the audience were Ryden-ites, as he got a huge ovation when he came out (and a huge amount of oooh-ing throughout the ballet for the scenery/costumes), as opposed to the polite enthusiasm that greeted Ratmansky, and I don’t think that is a referendum on the ballet, merely observing that people likely didn’t know who Ratmansky was. In Act One the Boy (Simkin) appears for about 6 minutes, after succumbing to the effects of the overindulgence of whipped cream, and is then carted off to hospital, not to appear again until Act Two. I’m not clear how you’re supposed to take his repeating licking of the whipped cream topped whisk, but there are definitely some weirdly sexual overtones there. After he’s gone, totally divorced from this prelude, Princess Tea Fairy (Abrera) and Prince Coffee (Hallberg, wonderful!) show up. Abrera is sunny and coy to Hallberg being slightly perverse (thinking back to his magnificent and creepy turn as Koschei in The Firebird) and a bit of the sexual aggressor. His acting skills have deepened in his absence from the stage, even if the clarity of his dancing is a bit diminished. It was a great joy to see him and he seemed to crack a few genuine smiles at Stella during their pas de deux. Like Josette said, the choreography has clear repetitions including pirouettes where the leg in passe switches from front to back—this is a theme throughout both acts. After this, Prince Cocoa (Gorak) and Don Zucchero (Blaine Hoven) show up to try to win Princess Tea Flower over. Prince Cocoa is all dark machismo and Gorak was excellent and very sharp in the choreography. Don Zucchero is poncey in affected dress. They have a dance off and then dance with Abrera/jealous Hallberg and then all of the sudden they return to their cannisters—the end of that. Then, we get transported to whipped cream land (??) where I imagine the corps dancers are battling over who doesn’t have to suit up in the show-every-ripple white unitard with a pointed whipped cream dollop cap (and a gauzy overlay creating the whipped cream billow). The effect of the costumes is lovely, but I imagine they are not very popular with the dancers! The dancers have a big corps number which is very dancey and then Act 1 ends. In Act Two, we pick up with the Boy (finally) in his hospital bed. There is a big eye creepily blinking over the scene, as Danil is poked and prodded by a drunk doctor and a band of sadistic nurses with giant syringes they wield like machine guns. Princess Praline (Sarah Lane) shows up and stands a rescue mission. I haven’t mentioned it until this point but Simkin has a HORRIBLE costume—this little white short-shorts/vest combo that makes him look about 5 years old. So when Lane shows up to “rescue” him and dances a romantic pas de deux it is extremely jarring (more so when the white shorts/vest combo turns into a gold one and they get married). Princess Praline brings with her a whole retinue of weird creatures that Ryden has clearly been given free rein to develop. Simkin is allowed to “show off” more than Hallberg’s character with several solos focusing on grand allegro. Lane’s big solo is a tight petite allegro that is clearly very tricky despite mostly being done in one spot on the stage. She also has to whip (pun?) off some fouettes after doing this, so it’s a real calf killer. This will be very poor if the dancer cast isn’t skilled at petite allegro. Then, the Doctor gets drunk and we have some alcohol bottles come to life—a delightful Catherine Hurlin (Champagne), Roman Zhurbin (Vodka), and another male dancer (Brandy, sorry, I’m without my program at my desk). They have a combative pas de trois, fighting over Champagne. Hurlin and Zhurbin are clear stand outs for the comedic timing and engagement. I do hesitate at the depiction of Vodka because I think Ratmansky is relying on those same tropes/stereotypes present in the Russian dance of his Nutcracker. They then end up poisoning the Doctor and the Nurses, allowing the Boy to escape to Whipped Cream land and get hitched to Princess Praline. Abrera and Hallberg show up and there is a big finale number with all of the cast. I thought Act Two was more compelling than Act One. It’s creepier and there is a plot. There’s a lot to take in visually so, for me, I am interested to see it again because I feel I likely missed many things. Act One is really a trifle, and unless you are really invested in the dancing of Princess Tea Flower and Prince Coffee, it’s going to get dull; I can tell. I was invested last night because I adore Abrera and was delighted to see the return of Hallberg, but it’s much less substantial than Act Two. Tea Flower and Coffee need to be well cast: good actors who can sell the barely-there characterization.
  4. Thanks, volcanohunter. I guess I am catching the show at just the right time to see the switch!
  5. Thanks for the update. Did they only send this to people with tickets to those shows? Thinking I would love to see Skylar Brandt in a lead role.
  6. Just to clarify, Josette--beginning this April? Wondering if he will be at SCFTA? It comes through April 2017. I believe I saw him in Romeo & Juliet last time (maybe he played Tybalt?) and thought he was compelling.
  7. I agree, AB'sMom, but I guess they don't want to set the expectation that ticket prices are always low (though the worse expectation is set that they always get discounted, so why buy early)? I am a member of SCFTA's Center Access (a paid membership for students/teachers/educators. Depending on the kind of show--and recently for very few shows, used to be much better both variety and cost wise--they release discounted tickets without the option of choosing seats). They just sent out one for Whipped Cream and either ABT or SCFTA must feel like they are going to fill up Friday-Sunday, because they are only offering discounted options for Wednesday and Thursday. Unfortunately, those are the two nights I already have tickets. Oh well.
  8. Tickets are fairly pricey, honestly and pricier on weekends when there might be more families. Would have been nice to see a promotion like "Enjoy the Nutcracker? Come back for <some deal> to see Whipped Cream." I've held off on buying tickets to a third show to see if any late offers appear...
  9. Thanks ABT Fan--I was just writing my dates into the calendar last week and was wondering when we would hear! I currently have tickets for opening night which I am thrilled about and then the Friday cast, Cirio/Boylston/Lendorf/Copeland. I may decide to switch those Friday tickets to the Saturday afternoon cast with Murphy in place of Abrera, after the Boylston/Cirio Nutcracker which I really wasn't enamored with this year. I haven't seen Cornejo in a while, though, so that cast may also be worthwhile. Really glad I will get a peek at Hallberg after many years!
  10. Abrera/Hammoudi did the flying leap last night (shown in the instagram) and it was so much better. It's definitely a two-step process (jump into a sit, then push up to standing) but it looks infinitely better and more planned than the step up (sometimes with the ballerina grasping the guy's shoulder for stability). It would be one thing, for me, if the step up resulted in an impressive one-handed lift due to increased stability, but it hasn't in any performance I've seen. Thanks for the info that the couples decide, but to me, after they've danced the thing for 4-5 years, more couples should be hitting the lift in a more impressive way--especially since most of the partnerships are the same ones as last year.
  11. I was also at last night's show with Murphy/Whitehead. I thought it was a far better show from corps to principals. I haven't seen Whitehead in a classical prince role before (I think he was in one of the Ratmansky ballets this summer, but I forget)--I thought he was a strong partner. Gillian looked like she enjoyed dancing with him and they generated a nice charm and chemistry. The torch lift was still funky; I'm beginning to think it's a coaching issue. Gillian just stopped in front of him and he hoisted her up; he has the strength to do so at least but it still doesn't read as fluid or particularly triumphant. I do just adore Gillian in this role; her solo is wonderful and she hits all the bends and sharp accents perfectly. The choreography fits her like a glove. It was nice to see Sarah Lane as Chinese, but it's a bit of a blah role, imo. Cassandra Trenary was lovely as one of Nutcracker's sisters--she stuck out amongst the group (though I was watching for her closely). I thought one of the Russian guys stood out for his strong acting but I am unable to identify him among Agoudine, Duncan Lyle, or Nathan Vendt (I left my binocs in the car). Onto Abrera/Hammoudi on Sunday evening!
  12. Yes, California, that is exactly what Boylston did this time though she eventually got upright. She stopped, bent her leg and flexed her foot, and then put it into Cirio's hands while standing next to him. Not fluid. His other partnering just seemed ok, not particularly strong, so I think it's probably a combination of several factors (lack of confidence for both of them being up there), but the woman HAS to have momentum, or it's a mess.
  13. If the famed torch lift with Boylston is any indication: poorly. I had forgotten how every mechanical aspect of it was exposed in the Sunday performance. Very poor. I hope Whiteside and Hammoudi do better--though the lift is highly dependent on the female partner really going for it so the momentum can help.
  14. I went to my first Nutcracker of the run this afternoon, lead by Boylston/Cirio. It was not the sharpest effort and the whole production seemed to lack the sparkle of last year. I'm not sure if it's coaching or an underwhelming cast, but stuff like the Mice Battle just seemed really muddled. I knew what was supposed to happen from last year, but lots of key moments seemed to fade into the background. The Arabian dance similarly seemed to slip in and out of the required narrative which is fairly crucial for the choreography to work. Even Skylar Brandt (Chinese) who was stunning last year seemed less crisp. For me, I haven't seen Boylston in a classical role in awhile and she didn't really impress; neither did Cirio. They were the best in the intro to the Snow scene but I think that scene is almost foolproof. Lack of projection, romance, spontaneity, warmth, etc from both of them. Boylston is capable of some nice technical things but there is not a lot of harmony between the parts of her body, unfortunately. There was some shoddy corps work as well. In the Snow scene one dance just stopped doing chainees and walked to her spot while other dancers swirled around her. In Waltz, another couldn't muster a full split when the flowers drop to the floor and raise their legs in penchee. I have tickets for Murphy/Whiteside and Abrera/Hammoudi as well, so hopefully everything will perk and sharpen? If there are any additional questions about casting let me know.
  15. Interesting in many ways. Thrilled for Stella (Tatiana) and Sarah (Giselle). If they can get the Whipped Cream casting up for May it would be great if they could get the two-months-earlier March premiere casting up!