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ABT Season Wrapup


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#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 09:04 PM

Now that we've had time to go away, digest the season and compose our thoughts, what did we think?

Here's my questionnaire:

How would you compare the this season to the last MET Season? Were you more or less pleased? How do the MET seasons compare to the City Center seasons for you?

What ballet looked in the best shape to you?

What ballet looked in the weakest shape?

Your favorite dancer of the season (subcategories - your favorite "old reliable" and your favorite newcomer)

Who was the most improved dancer?

Who was the season's MVP? (The dancer they just couldn't have done without)

Who did you miss the most?

Feel free to add any of your own observations!

I've posted similar questions at the NYCB forum as well.

#2 Manhattnik

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 02:06 PM

All these questions! I hope this is being graded on a curve! (Well, since I'm the only one to rise to this occasion, I guess I'd get a C. Well, nevermind.

How would you compare the this season to the last MET Season? Were you more or less pleased? How do the MET seasons compare to the City Center seasons for you?

About the same. Neither. Much, much colder.

What ballet looked in the best shape to you?

I was really impressed by the tremendous improvement in the women's corps. I used to cringe when they did Shades. Now, while they don't have the organic quality of the big Old World companies, they're still a joy to watch.

What ballet looked in the weakest shape?

Skip anything choreogrphed after the Russian Revolution. The new stuff was well-rehearsed, but dreadful.

I'm truly sorry I missed Corella's transformation into Bambi in Artemis, but I was so transported by the sight of they satyrs with the toilet-paper bestrewn thighs and toilet-scrubber tails that I couldn't do anything that would mar the memory of the ballet's first moments. After Corella made his entrance in his Ruritanian hunting costume, I beat a hasty retreat to the Plaza to watch the tangoing. Never has an exit seemed so enticing in a ballet's first five minutes since I was similarly sucked out of the State Theater for Vespro. Perhaps some ballets should come with seatbelts as standard equipment?

The thought of Yet Another Carmina Burana ballet was enough to keep me away from Hereafter, although from what I saw of Corella's solo at the opening night gala, it wasn't much to miss.

If ABT can't do a better job of Romeo and Juliet than the tired mish-mash they presented at the Met, they should just retire it for a few decades. And bring back Tudor's version, although I suspect the wretched ABT orchestra would be able to play Delius and make it sound like Minkus, just as they did to poor Prokofiev. I kept on expecting Juliet to whip out a fan -- except with Dvorovenko whose accesory of choice is a never-quite-invisible tambourine.

Your favorite dancer of the season (subcategories - your favorite "old reliable" and your favorite newcomer)

This was Maxim Belotserkovsky's season. No doubt. Line and style to die for, and that beautiful, happy face. His Colas was the best I've seen, by far. Dvorovenko was little changed, God bless her. I hope she never changes.

Who was the most improved dancer?

Belotserkovsky.

Who was the season's MVP? (The dancer they just couldn't have done without)

Belotserkovsky.

Who did you miss the most?

Well, ABT is beginning to accumulate quite an over-the-hill gang: McKerrow, Kent and (sob) Malakhov. McKerrow dances as if she'd retired years ago (in fact, she did, didn't she?), Kent seemed to have taken lessons in faking steps from Darci Kistler, and Malakhov danced like a great artistic director. I missed what they all used to be, especially Malakhov.

Feel free to add any of your own observations!

I was so happy to see Monique Meunier back onstage, but oh, in such thankless roles. To go from dancing Odette at the State Theater a few years ago to one of the tall swans in the back row at the Met this summer? Even though she was usually the best dancer onstage, and her glorious stage presence hasn't left her, I still felt like crying.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 02:11 PM

Thank you, Manhattnik. You get a :innocent: for being the first in the class to turn in your paper :) Seriously, thank you for the comments. I hope you inspire debate, dissent, agreement, and/or comment from other ABTers.

Come on ABT fans!

#4 Big Lee

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 08:41 PM

How would you compare the this season to the last MET Season? Were you more or less pleased? How do the MET seasons compare to the City Center seasons for you?

I also thought that this season and the last were basically equal. I do prefer the city center repertory, but I just love going to the Met - the ambiance gets to me.

What ballet looked in the best shape to you?

Ashton's Dream knocked my socks off. I saw it with Kent and Gomes as well as Ferri and her partner (sorry, I totally forgot who it was!), and I just thought it was fantastically danced, and terrifically acted, especially by Kent. It's a wonderful, wonderful ballet.

What ballet looked in the weakest shape?

I didn't see HereAfter, but I agree with Manhattnik that Artemis was extremely goofy. It wasn't danced badly, but some of the images, particularly the final "apotheosis," just didn't work for me at all. I personally didn't really see anything that I thought was poorly danced.

Your favorite dancer of the season (subcategories - your favorite "old reliable" and your favorite newcomer)

I second Dvorovenko, her Gamzatti in Bayadere was just masterful in both dancing and characterization. I love Kent's lyricism, though I understand the criticism that her technique seems to be failing her. Still, I can't take my eyes off her on stage, not to mention she has the best hair in ballet, no doubt.

I'm also really enjoying Michelle Wiles in everything I see her in. In Romeo and Juliet she was one of the Harlots, and in my clapping passion at the end I had to restrain myself from yelling "Bring out the harlots!"

Who was the most improved dancer?

Reyes. In my eyes, she seems to be maturing fast - I actually really enjoyed her in La fille mal gardee, that's a role she will continue to grow into, I think.

Who was the season's MVP? (The dancer they just couldn't have done without)

I'm not sure really? Maybe Julie Kent? (see below)

Who did you miss the most?

Has McKerrow actually retired? I hear she's retired, but she's still there - I'd be curious to know her actual status.

Frankly, I really miss Tudor. The Leaves are Fading PDD and the Offenbach in the Underworld I both loved, but I need more! I'm really looking forward to Pillar of Fire in the fall. (Thanks for the great Ashton, though.)

Feel free to add any of your own observations!

I can't lie, for the most part really enjoyed the Met season. Whenever I went, I always felt I "got my money's worth" so to speak. I never left a performance with true disappointment. I did skip HereAfter though, and I think many will consider it the biggest dissapointment. And I loved Kent in just about everything I saw - the fact her technique seems to be declining a bit isn't distracting me, though again I understand the critique. I guess I'll call her my MVP.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 09:01 PM

Great debut, Big Lee! Thank you for that. We (D.C.) only got the company in "Romeo and Juliet" without sets (Kennedy Center renovation), so I feel I missed the company this year. You're obviously a long-time balletgoer, and I hope we read more of you (short-time balletgoers welcome too, of course.)

It's interesting to me that both posters mentioned Dvorovenko -- is she becoming a general favorite, rather than an occasional spice?

#6 carbro

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 10:13 PM

How would you compare the this season to the last MET Season? Were you more or less pleased? How do the MET seasons compare to the City Center seasons for you?
Less pleased than last year at the MET, because the programming has a cumulative dullness, year after year. I was hungry for variety. I much prefer the City Center seasons, but the cheap seats there are very expensive. :shrug:

What ballet looked in the best shape to you?
Hmm. Don Q? The two Ashtons? Swan Lake was very well danced, but every time I see it, its flaws irk me more and more. :angry:

What ballet looked in the weakest shape?
None of the standbys was terrible, but I couldn't bring myself to endure yet another R&J. :mondieu:

Your favorite dancer of the season (subcategories - your favorite "old reliable" and your favorite newcomer)
My favorite "old reliable" is Jose. :) Newcomer (not really, but recent up-and-comer): I was consistently delighted to see Erica Cornejo light up the stage with her beautiful dancing. Real newcomer: Danny Tidwell's charismatic and elegant dancing in the corps.

Who was the most improved dancer?
Erica, after her long absence, and Marcelo. Also, Stella Abrera demonstating a nice versatility. And David Hallberg, who seemed to improve from performance to performance. Paloma showed unexpected depth as Nikiya, but needs to take more of that conviction into her other roles. She is improving, but in fits and starts.

Who was the season's MVP? (The dancer they just couldn't have done without)
Marcelo :party:

Who did you miss the most?
Angel, who was usually paired with a dancer ( --> :hyper: ) whom I refuse to spend $20 and an evening of my life to see.

Feel free to add any of your own observations!
What a treat to see Cojocaru :innocent: , but with so much ballerina talent secluded in the soloist ranks and not getting their due (or ours), I almost -- almost -- wish the artistic staff would look inward. And not necessarily to McKerrow for a few performances of Leaves pdd. :sleeping:

Leigh, you posed the questions. What are your answers?

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 05:41 AM

Thanks, carbro -- nice illustrations :innocent:

#8 bertrande

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 06:29 AM

Hmm...Manhattnik, does that mean that Meunier dances corps roles now? I wasn't sure if you meant she danced the 'Big Swans' solo in Swan Lake (which I think she did) or if you meant she was in the back row dancing a corps role. It would be truly wasted to see such a matured and gifted dancer struggling to prove herself all over again when she doesn't have to; perhaps what Gottlieb wrote about her being unsettled and unfulfilled was true in every way.

Given that ABT uses its principal dancers in principal roles for most ballets (cf NYCB), I fear one may never see Meunier as Odette-Odile again.

#9 bingham

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 07:46 PM

Surely, Manhattnik is not recomending skipping Ashton's Dream and La Fille..,both choreographed after the revolution??I do agree w/ his admiration of those Ukrainians.
Joe

#10 Manhattnik

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 03:16 AM

The day I went to see Swan Lake (with Ananiashvili and Bocca), Meunier was listed as dancing one of the Big Swans, but before the curtain there was an announcement that someone else would be doing it (Abrera? Corella? I don't remember). I figured Meunier had had some last-minute injury or other, and wouldn't be dancing. Imagine my shock when she materialized in the corps.

Yes, she looked grand, even in the back row, but such a waste.

It's always a pleasure to see Meunier dancing, but it's truly a mixed blessing when it's in such thankless roles.

And of course I meant "after 1970!" What a slip.

Oh, and how could I have summed up an ABT season without a mention of Xiomara "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" Reyes? How indeed?

#11 bertrande

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 06:21 AM

Thanks, Manhattnik, for the clarification. Yes, I'm shocked too that Meunier is now doing corps work, even though it is perhaps not unthinkable for soloists to 'fill in the corps' when there aren't many dancers to go around--perhaps it's the fact that she's gone from being a principal to dancing corps roles in two companies of similar stature that I can't quite live with. A waste indeed, and given that she's not exactly an ingenue, one can't help but wonder what opportunities are there lying ahead of her. :blushing:

#12 bingham

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 07:34 AM

When she started w/ ABT, Martine Van Hamel did corp work. I hope it won
't discourage Monique as i have a feeling that her future is w/ ABT.
Joe

#13 carbro

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 07:39 AM

Martine was not 30 years old when dancing in the corps.

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 08:01 AM

ABT did have a long tradition of making dancers start in the corps, presumably so they could say "she's ours" -- a way of getting around the "no school" problem. (Van Hamel was not a corps dancer when she was in the corps, and pretending they had "discovered" her was a real stretch.)

Meunier and Part don't really fit in -- at least not yet -- at ABT. It might have been interesting to see them somewhere else, like San Francisco Ballet. In my book, they're both ballerinas and will look out of place as the Third Harlot, or Third Shade (unless the other three Shades are also ballerinas, of course. We should live so long).

#15 Dale

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 09:04 AM

I always thought, other than at NYCB, Meunier would be very successful at Penn Ballet or Miami City Ballet. SFB, I guess, would fit. Companies with heavy Balanchine rotation and a collection of classics. And a little smaller, so she could get opportunities. Riolama Lorenzo has done well at PB.

I did get to see Meunier and Part as the second and third shades, along with Anna Liceica - a very musical and sensitive dancer. It was the highlight of the season for me. In the same performance (led by Ananiashvili, Bocca and Murphy), Meunier performed one of the two lead D'Jampe dancers and she and Part also were in the Garden scene. I also was pleased to see both as Mercedes in Don Q. Although they are both big, beautiful, musical dancers, they are not the same. Meunier was flirtatious and, again, musical. Nobody every swished her skirt like she did at Espada. Part, in the same role, was smooth. She has the most wonderful creaminess in everything she dances, including the Queen of the Dryads at another performance.

-How would you compare the this season to the last MET Season? Were you more or less pleased? How do the MET seasons compare to the City Center seasons for you?

The rep. seems to get just worse and worse. There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of Stanton Welch pieces (I can't call them ballets) and the displeasure I have. And the Lubovich pieces too. I'd rather ABT go the house choreographer route - Hill has made some nice ballets for the company. At least he seems to know how to highlight the dancers. Brian Reeder has done interesting work for the Studio Company. I'd rather have seen that the Clear, which is a loathsome ballet.

What ballet looked in the best shape to you?

Mmm...it's hard to say. I guess La Bayadere. I enjoyed Don Q. but the more I saw it (3 times this season and several in prior years), the more thin it looked.

What ballet looked in the weakest shape?

Nothing looked terrible. Offenbach in the Underworld probably looks better at City Center, but I liked it anyway, especially with Dvorovenko and Meunier.

Your favorite dancer of the season (subcategories - your favorite "old reliable" and your favorite newcomer)

I hate to pick favorites. I've yapped enough about my two favorites (Meunier and Part), but I do enjoy the work of Ananiashvili, Belotserkovsky, Carreno, Corella, Dvorovenko, Gomes, Murphy and Stiefel, among the principals. Abrera, Wiles, Cornejo, Hallberg are others I look for. For a newcomer, I saw Alina Cojocaru for the first time and wasn't disappointed.

Who was the most improved dancer?

Herrera continued to move out of her troubled phase. There is more characterization in her work now and she's showing more musicality.

Dvorovenko appeared to be back to her old self after her injury. She was just adorable in the Tudor and sparkling in Don Q.

Who was the season's MVP? (The dancer they just couldn't have done without)

Murphy. She just seemed to grow into the principal status. She was exciting and enjoyable in everything she did from La Fille to Don Q.

Who did you miss the most?

I think everybody was around. Ananiashvili and Carreno appeared to be done a notch, though still rock solid. As I said at the top, I missed seeing Meunier and Part in lead roles. I thought at least one of them would get a Swan Lake. I would have given one of them Tuttle's, as I think she's miscast in the part. But then again, she was paired with Corella, and I think the powers that be wanted him on stage more than a true Swan Queen. For the same reason, Reyes was heavily cast, but at least in more appropriate roles and, I read, is much improved.

I have high hopes for the Fall season.


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