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"La Fille Mal Gardee" - May 24th matinee


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#1 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 02:46 PM

I'm really surprised that no one has posted yet about "La Fille Mal
Gardee" since it was such a big hit last year. I don't have a lot of
time, so I'll just put down a few thoughts. The ballet was just as
funny and wonderful as when I saw it last year. This year I took
my niece, my sister-in-law, and my mother-in-law to see La Fille",
and they couldn't stop raving about it.

Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel were very sweet and believable
as Lise and Colas. Stiefel's dancing is very light and clean, but his solos were not as exciting as when I saw Corella dance Colas
last year. But then I think Corella is technically stronger than Stiefel. And few dancers project the pure joy of dancing as well as Corella.

Murphy just gets better and better every time I see her. She was always strong technically, but her acting has definitely improved this year (IMO anyway). Victor Barbee was funny as Simone, Lise's mother, but his performance was rather one-dimensional. But Herman Cornejo as Alain stole the show every time he was on stage. Alain wasn't just a funny simpleton. In Cornejo's hands, he was a real, three-dimensional character. I
actually felt bad for Alain at the end of the ballet. (But then he did get his umbrella back. Maybe he eventually marries a girl with her own red umbrella).

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 04:02 PM

Thanks, Colleen -- always good to read you.

I hope others have seen it as well and will post. (Leigh put up an alert last night, reminding people that there were only a few performances left.)

I've been curious to know how the ballet is holding up -- Ashton ballets often look very good their first season, but get soggy thereafter. Sounds like this Fille, though is holding its own.

#3 Calliope

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 04:20 PM

I saw the same performance as Colleen, so I don't have to much to add to her review.
The mime in this ballet is still my favorite part. I think I could see this (and hopefully it stays in the rep) over and over and it still feels so timely. It's such a great human nature ballet. Lise counting in mock horror, all the babies and then scolding them. The overprotective mother, the scorned, dork of a lover, arranged marriages, money, crops, ribbon dancing and the Maypole!
I left the theater with a great big grin on my face. It's such a light and funny piece. And I think it's a great introduction to ballet for people of all ages (despite the scary French title)
I agree with Colleen, Murphy's acting seems more natural now.
I enjoy Stiefel, maybe it's just me, but he seems much thinner than I remember him. And Barbee overdoes the Simone for my taste, I much prefer Guillame.
But I really enjoyed Murphy. She had that youthful, naiive, but I totally know what I'm doing quality, that made her Lise all the more endearing.
I wish they had a longer run of it, and running it during a holiday weekend was a bit unfortunate, but hopefully ABT keeps this in as a staple for their Spring Met Season.

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 04:59 PM

I saw it Monday night, with Xiomara Reyes and Angel Corella, who were enchanting. Kirk Peterson's Widow Simone was very broad but I liked it. Being something of a dork myself, just about my favorite character in Fille is Alain (Joaquin de Luz at this performance.) I especially like it that he puts the final, finishing touch on the happy ending by darting in at the last moment and retrieving his beloved umbrella. It was a wonderful evening.

By the way, how do you pronounce Xiomara?

#5 Calliope

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 02:00 AM

I believe it's the x is pronounced like a z (think Zsa Zsa Gabor- z)

#6 Farrell Fan

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 04:59 AM

Thanx, Calliope.

#7 Michael

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 06:40 PM

I saw the Wednesday Matinee, Corella and Reyes. I thought they were wonderful. It's the best I've seen Corella, especially as a partner. The final pas with the couple's love expressed as a series of airy lifts and carries of Lise, setting her down from side to side, was one of the best bits of partnering I've seen. Corella and Reyes were very warm together and dramatized the ballet extremely well. For some reason it brought tears to my eyes repeatedly.

Reyes is a very clean dancer, quick and centered, with an unexpectedly buoyant jump. She is not the most flexible in her back and the deep backbends which express the success of the couple were not her strongest moment. Likewise, she held the stage in the Ribbon passage of the first act Grand Pas perhaps a little less well than Ananiashvili, but was perhaps more emotionally touching.

Picking up on something Alexandra said, I did find that the ballet as a whole had degenerated slightly from the level it was at a year ago. The difference was not in the principal dancers at all. (They were probably better, even). Rather it was detail that was slipping away as well as the performance level of the corps de ballet. A year ago the hens and the Rooster (Sean Stewart) were subtle and humorous, their steps and motions were not exaggerated. Today the poultry humour was broad and very buffoonish instead, the entire style of movement was like something from Sesame Street. There is perhaps a sad tendency for comedy to slip in that direction. Another example is that a year ago the corps was extremely crisp in the ensemble dance around the maypole. Today it seemed a less defined jumble of movement.

One of the interesting things about Ballet, or any live art form you see repeatedly I suppose (I just happen to see this one) is that it is not static, it never stands still. This may be obvious, but it has never struck me before in the way to make me sit up and notice. What a contrast to T.V., Movies and Video which are always the same. I think it is probably inevitable that a production, which has been coached and rehearsed and concentrated upon when new, look less crisp when revived as one item in a busy repertory a year later.

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 07:33 PM

Thanks for posting this Michael (and the NYCB review, too).

OT of Fille, but relevant to the sid issue you rasied. It is interesting to watch a production from season to season. I remember watching "Push Comes to Shove" change. Some changes were Tharp's; she actually changed choreography, omitted sections, fiddled with structure as well as steps. And some changes were from casting. It wasn't all a Long Downhill Slide, either -- it was just interesting. What is the dance?

I think you're right -- the tendency is to broaden comedy. And people have always complained that Ashton ballets -- even when he was alive, and he was being danced by The Saints -- got coarse over time. Sometimes if a joke is too subtle, they'll have to play it a bit broader to get a laugh, etc. And sometimes it's just that the dancers want to add their own touches, and sometimes it's because new people come in and weren't taught by the choreographer or original stager, and sometimes I don't think it's intentional at all.

#9 carbro

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 08:43 PM

Same cast as Colleen saw. Just a note of appreciation (and surprise) for the naive freshness of Murphy's Lise. She is a superb technician, a very intelligent, often subtle dancer. I'm waiting for the spark. Can't explain. It seems so near, yet never *q u i t e* gets there. As Alain, Cornejo was too incredibly precise to be a complete dork. Love him!

#10 Dale

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 09:15 PM

I saw it Wednesday night and I thought it was the best thing I've ever seen Murphy do. The steps sparkled but she also was quite involved in illustrating the story and her chemistry with Stiefel (who was very good, without the haminess that sometimes creaps in when he's trying to "act") finally shone through. Barbee was the Widow and his interpretation is pretty broad, but I read that was the way he performed it last year. Peterson was better last year, but I have yet to see Graffane. The corps was really the backbone of this production and they are still excellent. I also appreciated Cornejo, who played Alain as an immature boy, spoiled too, but not a simpleton. His dancing was excellent without making technique the focal point.

Too bad about the empty seats. I sat in the balcony and it was about as empty as I've seen it. Even the mixed bill had better attendance. The family circle had about six people in it.

#11 carbro

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 09:47 PM

Yes, Dale, a shame. I started in the Dress Circle, which was about 1/2 full (generous estimate), and was invited by a friend to take the vacant seat adjacent to his in the still emptier Grand Tier. From that vantage point, I could see a never-before seen phenomenon: unoccupied Center Parterre seats! :eek: :)

#12 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 10:17 PM

The orchestra was about 1/2 full. Fille deserves better :)

Well, if you want ABT not to drop it from repertory, write them and tell them how much you enjoy it. Then buy tickets for it, drag friends, organize a group.

Let them know there's a demand. Otherwise, all they know are the half-empty houses.

#13 Dale

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 10:22 PM

I heard somebody mutter to his companion about the rain and the Yankees being at home, but I don't think that's it. I think it is just the economy. It's more than ballet being out or not having an audience. Unless it's really something to see (especially if it's new, like Carnival of the Animals, which was helped (I think) by the NYTimes article), then people are just going to save their money. Every theater offering (broadway, symphonies etc...) are feeling the heat from the lower number of tourists from abroad since two years ago and the shallower pockets of the locals. I'm romantic enough to believe that if you put on a wonderful show, people will come. But that's probably wishful thinking... I hope the dancers on both sides of the fountain don't get discouraged.

#14 Patricia

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 12:52 PM

I took yesterday afternoon off and was at the matinee. The house was pretty full - and up in the Family Circle there were a lot of enthusiastic schoolkids:)

This was the first time I saw FILLE. I can never see too much Ashton, though his ballets are seldom performed. Ribbons, feathers, and clogs make for great dancing. I loved the rooster and hens, especially when they arrive at the harvest. I was sorry they didn't come out for curtain calls. Reyes and Corella were lovely. He's becoming a very attentive partner and she stayed in character despite some extremely difficult choreography. Corella enjoys the challenge.

Am I reading too much into it, or was it how Joaquin de Luz played Alain, but that character's treatment reminded me of 12TH NIGHT's Toby - the butt of too many jokes? It was bitter among the sweetness. Bad-luck suitors are usually buffons but this was almost overdone. Though, Alain gets all the good stuff to dance.


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