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ABT City Center Week 3


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 12:11 PM

To inspire you :blushing:

Every season I say that our discussions of both ABT and NYCB's New York seasons get better -- and every season I mean it. Each season there are three or four new people who jump into the mix, and it is wonderful to read so many different opinions.

While I'm especially fond of the long detailed reviews, I'm also quite happy to read the "Went last night. X was great" quick takes -- it's all part of the mix. So if you haven't stuck a toe in yet, please do. And to our devoted regulars -- I hope you're not burned out and are going to see some of the cast changes this week. If so, please let us know what you think!

#2 carbro

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 10:03 PM

Well, since you put it that way . . .

Saw the "W"/Preposition program Tuesday. New casts for me, and cause to reconsider previous biases. Specifically, Xiomara Reyes, dancing the last pdd in Duato's "Without Words" with Ethan Steifel, was pitch perfect. I hate when that happens. :wink: With this ballet generally, I am just increasingly irked by the degree to which Duato misses what Schubert is up to. Or maybe that's just me, and I'm missing it.

Forsythe's "workwithinwork" was densely packed and energetically performed. I think I need to see it again to take it all in, but would rather not. :pinch: :wacko:

Once again, "Within You Without You," had me floating out of the theater singing the music and shaking my shoulders. Standouts in the mostly new (to me) cast were Abrera with Stappas in the "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" pdd, Gomes (as always) in the "Within You Without You" section and Craig Salstein among the ensemble. The energy this crew put forth was absolutely explosive, which is why, although this is by no means great art, it is reliably great fun.

Big News
Listed to perform the Elder sister in Wednesday's Pillar: Monique Meunier! :o :party: :bouncing:
Also listed for Wednesday is Zhong-Jing Fang in Symphonic Variations. I was deeply impressed by this young dancer's spiritual quality in her ABT Studio Co. performances. :wink: She joined the main company last spring as an apprentice and is still listed at that level. :flowers:

#3 sneds

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 04:22 AM

Hi!
Thanks again to everyone for the wonderful reports! There's plenty to do over here in Edinburgh, but not much ballet :wink: However, I am going to see the Rambert Dance Company tonight and the Royal Ballet is only a 4-5 hour train ride away.

Does anyone have any more details on Corella's injury? I hope it's minor, and not something that will force more adjustments in casting, as the company seems stretched enough with the varied repertory.

As to Acosta, I would think that his busy schedule would prevent more than a brief appearance during the 2004 Met Seaon. It seems that his first priority is the Royal Ballet- he performs again in La Bayadere down in London next week-along with future tours of "Tocororo", and he also is likely to perform with the Texas Ballet Theatre (I think that's the right name now) where Ben Stevenson is AD and of course the occasional performance in Cuba.

Cheers!
Kate

#4 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 06:04 AM

Sneds - Corella danced in workwithinwork last night, so the injury hasn't kept him offstage for too long (here's hoping he's not exacerbating it by appearing).

#5 Dale

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 06:17 AM

Corella had a left thigh spasm on Saturday and opted out of that day's performances. He is not injured. As Leigh said, he danced on Tuesday.

#6 nysusan

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 10:00 AM

WOW, I can't believe that I'm going to get to see Meunier tonight :)

Or that someone besides me actually enjoys "Within You Without You".

#7 Michael

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 07:50 PM

Wednesday Night

In Symphonic Variation's tonight (Wednesday) the performance by the young Zhong-Jing Fang as the "girl on the right" was indeed extraordinary. She begins with a base of great physical beauty and, as a dancer, is beautifully centered, moves with instantaneous quickness and in a beautifully soft manner, and is extremely melodic in her response to music. You could hardly stop watching her and everyone I talked to at the theater (four different friends) all spontaneously noticed and remarked upon her performance. This is someone you don't see every day. Wow.

Stella Abrera's performance was sound but slightly forced. Watching her I wondered if there is actually a word which is the opposite of "legato," as that would describe her. Until a friend aptly suggested "staccato." Also if there can be a liquid pas de bourree, what is its opposite, because that describes Stella?

I was struck by how Sophie Fedorovitch's design for the backdrop in Symphonic in a sense "invented Sol Lewitt" a generation before Sol Lewitt himself "invented Sol Lewitt." There, as it were in a single flash, was revealed (one cannot say "anticipated" when something springs up fully realized) the entire development of postwar graphic mimimalism. Which only goes to show that graphic miminalism, far from springing from the ground fully formed, had deep roots in the 30's and 40's, and was not so much a revolutionary as an evolutionary artistic development.

#8 Thalictum

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 07:53 PM

Meunier was stunning as the Elder Sister in Pillar of Fire. When will we see her dance Hagar?

#9 BW

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 04:44 AM

I'm with Michael - could not take my eyes off of Zhong-Jing Fang. She truly is exquisitely beautiful - both as a dancer and as a woman. And as to your comments on the back drop - I kept thinking this was 1940's "modern"...along with the men's costumes. In some strange way I kept thinking of Prodigal Son - something about the time these ballets were made maybe? I know when a ballet is performed the original costumes, if at all possible, are used and I am assuming that's why the men had to wear these unfortunate outfits. I found them very distracting - they looked as though they were either wearing aluminum beanies and the half shirts didn't do it for me either. The women, on the other hand looked great - much more flattering costumes for them.

My reactions to last night are not what I expected. I attended wanting to love the Ashton and Tudor pieces, but I really did not. I hesitate to even post this but since I can't be pummeled with tomatoes, ;) I'll just say Pillar of Fire kept reminding me of Thorton Wilder's "Our Town" - it was so incredibly somber. It's not that I was expecting a light and happy tale, but for me it was not something I'd rush out to see again. However, Amanda McKerrow certainly expressed her character's withdrawn sadness deeply. Unfortunately towards the end of the piece Ms. McKerrow appeared to be bleeding on the front of her right ankle, a bit on her heel - and there was a huge stain of red on her knee as well. I believe this was real for it appeared to stain the front of her dress as well. I can imagine that this was an incredibly draining performance for her as Hagar from an emotional point of view. She received quite an ovation at her curtain call.

Irina Dvorovenko was her usual spitfire self in Raymonda and really knows how to milk the crowd - I couldn't help but laugh several times, but I did think she was very good.

As for Martha Graham's piece Diversion of Angels - why does a ballet company choose to perform a modern piece? I don't really think it's their calling. Just my opinion, of course.

#10 Michael

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 07:22 AM

Dvorovenko and Beloserkofsky have become the "Max and Irina show," caricatures of "Russian Dancers" presenting a caricature of classical ballet. It is very popular. I can't stand to watch it but in a resigned mood, and when they've also fed me properly, I tell myself so what? -- A good program has something for everyone.

I don't know if it was just the Max and Irina show turning me off, but the Raymonda passage performed last night seemed particularly dull, uninteresting and schematic from every point of view and one sure does hope that this is not a hint of what to expect from the full length production to come. Anna Marie Holmes must find some leavening for this particular loaf.

#11 cargill

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 07:29 AM

I just wanted to echo what people said about Fang. She was absolutely luminous. I do like the men's costumes, though, the headpeices give them a slighly otherworldly feeling. I remember Cynthia Harvey saying in a forum (she was in the earlier ABT production), that the men felt a bit awkward wearing them, but I think that is to the good, because it reminds them that they should use their heads (I don't mean to think, I mean to move!) Symphonic Variations was made in 1946, and Prodigal Son in 1929, a very different time, and by a very different designer, so I don't think there is any connection. I really liked the classical allusions of the costumes.

I didn't notice McKerrow's ankle, but I thought she was wonderful, and quite varied in mood, shifting from reality to imagination so clearly. I don't find the ending somber at all, just incredibly peaceful. Pillar is a bit overwraught at times, but there are so many wonderful things in it. Last night was a real treat (Gomes in Symphonic, among other things), I just wish I could see it again on Friday.

#12 BW

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 10:51 AM

Just an aside here re "The Max and Irina Show" - it did appear that way to me too, I just didn't have the gumption to post it. I did, however, get a kick out of Irina D., in particular, but kept wondering if my reaction was their intension? Also wondered if the size of the stage at City Center and where I was sitting, just off center in the sixth row of the Grand Tier, had a negative effect of making me feel as though they were in my lap? It did have a bit of a circus like feel to it.

cargill, thank you for addressing my question about the era of choreographies - perhaps my feelings stemmed purely from the stylized nature of the costumes? No matter, really... And I too did like the classical touches, especially, on the women's costumes.

Edited by BW, 06 November 2003 - 10:54 AM.


#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 10:54 AM

BW, is it at all possible you mean Apollo rather than Prodigal? The half-shirt costumes are common to both ballets, rather than Prodigal and Symphonic. I have to admit to liking them; I had better, David Quinn and I did a direct hommage to them for a ballet I made in 1999, Armature.

I was also excited by Zhong-Jing Fang. I'm still trying to discover the universe of what's "Ashtonian" about a dancer, but I have to say that I felt about Fang the way I felt the first time I saw Sarah Wildor. They aren't similar (Fang is more innocent) but she just felt like she was doing it right; she was making sense out of the phrasing. I was seeing enchainements, not steps. She could take what looked jerky in other hands (like the female duet that traverses the front of the stage) and make it look clean and fluid. She has beautiful soft port-de-bras and it's natural for her. And then there's her face; which is beautiful and faintly sad - a quality I have heard admired before for Ashton's women.

I hope other people who know Ashton better will see her and say what they think.

Oddly, I like Gomes very much as a dancer, but not in this ballet. He's just too weighted; his presence feels to me like a dark shadow. I'll give Stella Abrera points for coordination and fluidity, but she's a bit too presentational for this work. The dancer should not call attention to him or herself; I think it's got to be angelic. That being said, I think that this cast fared much better with the work than the other one I saw.

I'd like to mix people from both casts of Pillar; I preferred Erica Fishbach's more tender Elder Sister who's actions seemed to be driven by overprotectiveness than spite. I liked Angel Corella's first entry as the Man from the House Opposite, but he degenerated into a thug, and I don't think that's the best way to do that character. He's a gigolo. I also preferred Carlos Molina as the friend in the first cast. I'm not sure which Hagar I preferred.

Dvorovenko did more with Raymonda than Herrerra and so did the corps de ballet. A couple of extra performances have given them a chance to find ways to deal with the stasis of this setting; Holmes has the women sitting on their partner's shoulder's eternally like vultures. I appreciate Dvorovenko's zestiness, but I recognize her sloppiness. It's best not to look at her too closely from the waist down and just enjoy the self-possession.

#14 BW

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 10:59 AM

Oops, sorry Leigh - I just missed your post while I was editing. Apollo - yes but not exactly...I thought Peter Boal looked fantastic and godlike as Apollo the other day in Brooklyn. :D I think it's just for me - the "old modern" style of things... Enough said. :D

Leigh - you do have a much better way with words than I and I found myself agreeing with so much of what you said - but I just couldn't put it into words. You've got the vocabulary and the understanding to do it...but think of me as the nonballet educated audience expressing myself. :) And I don't mean to sound self-denigrating either - just being realistic.

Seriously - all very well put.

Edited by BW, 06 November 2003 - 11:00 AM.


#15 Roma

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:55 AM

Wiles did more with Raymonda than anyone else this season, she just needs to work on the arms a bit. Dvorovenko was hysterical last night, though I am not sure that was her intention.
The staging looks like a reduction of the Kirov version (including the long shoulder sojourn). The female variation was doubled up, to what end, I can not tell. I thought it blurred the effect.


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