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NYCB ballerinas as Carabosse


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24 replies to this topic

#1 Farrell Fan

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 08:07 AM

Toward the twilight of her career, Merrill Ashley was cast as the evil fairy, and scored a triumph. She's done it again this season, and the audience loves her. But also appearing as Carabosse this time have been Kyra Nichols, whom I didn't see, and Maria Kowroski, whom I did, and maybe others. Why? What's the point? Does anyone think this is a good idea?

#2 Helene

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 09:00 AM

Using ballerinas was standard casting when the production opened in the early '90's. IIRC according to a Dance Magazine cover story Ashley was supposed to be one of five dancers cast as Aurora. However, at that time her injuries started to make all of her appearances rarer than before.

I also saw Richardson, Reyes, and Wingert dance Carabosse from 1991-1994. I think that Lourdes Lopez was also cast, but I didn't see her.

#3 liebs

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 11:45 AM

I Love the idea of Kowrowski as Carabosse. Her acting skills andher sense of fun and humor should get full play in this role.

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 11:45 AM

Thanks, hockeyfan, I didn't remember the other Carabosses from 1991-94. Debbie Wingert and Teresa Reyes were two of my all-time favorites from the corps, but can you refresh my recollection about Richardson? What was her first name? The only corps Richardson I remember is David, who by then must have been ballet-mastering at ABT. (Where he would have made a fine Carabosse.)

Your point about Merrill Ashley being originally mentioned as one of NYCB's Auroras clarifies what's bothering me. Her casting as Carabosse was because of all the injuries she'd had. So now when Kyra Nichols is cast as Carabosse, it seems to me the unspoken message is "she's a great ballerina but too old for the lead, so we're letting you see her in this part." But when it comes to Kowroski, I'm totally confused. She can and does dance the leading roles in Sleeping Beauty. Why cast her as Carabosse as well? Aren't there any contemporary equivalents of Wingert, Reyes, and Richardson? Lourdes Lopez is another story and I'm not sure what I think of that. :shrug:

#5 tempusfugit

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 12:22 PM

Lopez did dance Carabosse, and was quite evil in the part, I thought. haven't seen Nichols in this role but I enjoyed Ashley in it as well. NYCB goes somewhat against many traditions in casting women as Carabosse (rather than men en travesti) but it is, as Farrell Fan says, one way of seeing great ballerinas who no longer dance the leading role. That is a time-honored tradition at Royal and Kirov both-- for example, Pamela May danced many Queen Mothers and so forth and was apparently wonderful, in large part because her presence was still exactly that of a leading ballerina.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 12:30 PM

Both Lynn Seymour and Monica Mason were wonderful as Carabosse as well.

#7 AmandaNYC

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 12:50 PM

AT NYCB it hasn't simply be injured or older dancers doing Carabosse. Riolama Lorenzo performed the part before she left the company, and she's the same age as Kowroski. She had great dramatic flair that she used well in the part.

Casting of Kowroski didn't surprise me. She also has a great flair with *character* roles. We've already seen her do many comical roles. As yet, I'm not sure she's able to embody evilness enough for her Carabosse to work for me (I only saw her debut so far). But, I have seen her grow into many roles over the years, so i foresee her becoming a great Carabosse.

#8 Ari

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 02:34 PM

The Richardson Hockey Fan referred to was Mandy Jayne (I think that's how she spelled it) Richardson, who was in the company for a couple of years with her husband, Lindsay Fischer. I never saw her Carabosse but vividly remember both Ashley's (very feminine and chic) and Lopez's (scary, like Margaret Hamilton in the Wizard of Oz).

I don't think it's a punishment to cast a dancer in an evil character role. If she can bring something to it, by all means give her the part. But I do wonder why Kowroski isn't dancing Aurora. Is it her height? They have Askegaard to partner her.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 02:43 PM

Isn't Kowroski more a Lilac (or Carabosse) than an Aurora? Not just because of height, but by line and temperament and weight? (not poundage, the other kind of weight)

#10 Paul Parish

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 05:01 PM

Perhaps it's the danih connection. ANybody who's see nSorella Englund's colossal preformance as Madge (a role "normally" given to men) might say, "well, let's see what a ballerina with a long chin might do in this role." From roports I've heard from peole i trust, Ashleys performances are almost reason enough to \go see NYCB's Beauty.

In SanFrancisco, our very tall ballerina Muriel Maffre alternates between Lilac and Carabosse; she also did one Aurora, which I saw and thought marvellous -- very beautiful, though her body is "wrong" for the role.....

SO whay hasn't anybody reported on Kyra Nichols' Carabosse? Is she not very good but no-one wants to say so? I heard she was fabulously evil in Double Feature....

#11 carbro

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 05:12 PM

I think casting dancers who are still dancing technically demanding roles is a good -- an excellent -- idea. It forces the dancer to focus on the importance of gestural nuance -- a rare opportunity for theatrical self discovery at NYCB, with its relative scarcity of "dramatic" :D :D roles.

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 05:35 PM

I remember the production of Beauty with the RB where Monica Mason was most often the Carabosse. She made the part glamorous and while not "mad and bad", clearly "dangerous to know". Doing it that way also makes it possible to revive the original librettist's intent to have Carabosse in the last act in an "all is forgiven" mode.

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 07:22 PM

I haven't seen Nichols' Carabosse yet; FF, I could be wrong, but I think she wanted to do the role, and was hoping to be cast. I'll see her do Carabosse on Tuesday. Kowroski's Carabosse has real potential, and I think it's healthy for the dancers to do these acting roles. It gives everything they do more texture. Alexandra, I agree, Kowroski is more suited to Lilac and Carabosse than Aurora - Aurora is an allegro ballerina's role to me. It's no great shame, loss or deficiency to be a Lilac Fairy instead.

#14 cargill

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 06:50 AM

I saw all the Carabosses, and it isn't surprizing to me that principals do it--it is one of the keys to making Beauty work. Ashley was great--as she was from the beginning, very believably insulted. I wasn't very impressed with Kowroski or Nichols, though it can take years to establish a character role properly. Kowroski's gestures were too wild and light; she was too much like a cartoon. Carabosse should never be exaggerated to the point of caricature. Carabosse isn't about long black fingernails. There were some good natured hisses when she took her curtain calls, which meant that she was completely ineffective. Nichols didn't seem really to believe in the part, and posed a bit much, but again it was her first performance and a real stretch for her. Now if only City Ballet would realize that the fairies, too, should be danced by principals!

#15 oberon

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 07:54 AM

Some people booed when Ashley took her call on Saturday...booing Carabosse, of course, not Merrill! I love her being portrayed by a glamourous woman rather than a man in drag, which always lends a silly element to the situation. I think it's great to have Kyra & Maria K doing the role...I wonder if Karin von Aroldingen would ever do it?

Yes, it would be nice to have all-principals as the Fairies but this is also a great opportunity to try out the various corps girls in spot-lighted parts. I was sort of hoping van Kipnis & Rutherford might do Lilac this year, but am really anticipating Amanda Hankes in the part.


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