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Swan Lake by NYCB vs. ABTWhat is the difference? Should I see NYC


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#1 allegromezzo18

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:16 AM

What is the difference between the NYCB and the ABT versions of
Swan Lake? Is the NYCB version worth seeing in January, 2006, which they are doing at State Theatre in NY?

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 07:17 AM

The subject of NYCB's Swan Lake upsets me, so I'll let others provide details. I'll just say that while ABT's Swan Lake is no great shakes, NYCB's is an abomination.

#3 beck_hen

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 07:47 AM

I haven't seen NYCB's version yet, but my understanding is that it's radically streamlined and reworked (by Martins, and not Balanchine, sadly). I am planning to check it out though. The costumes and sets look interesting to me. ABT's version is more traditional, but there too some breaks with tradition have been made, such as the swamp-thing Von Rothbart who appears in the prologue and the second act, and a shortened fourth act. Farrell Fan is quite right that neither of these is "the" Swan Lake.

If I were you I would choose based on the dancers. I would like to see Wendy Whelan in the role—a casting that feels odd but right to me in light of her increasing depth and mystery. Gillian Murphy and Veronika Part are definitely worth seeing in the part—the former for her absolutely startling technical brilliance, which makes for a fabulous Odile, and the later for her beautiful arms and intense acting. You'd also have the chance to see the two Cornejos in the pas de trois, Marcelo Gomes as a deliciously evil Von Rothbart, David Hallberg as a sublime Siegfried, the venerable Freddie Franklin as the tutor...

Well, you can see where my heart is.

#4 Helene

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 08:07 AM

I would like to see Wendy Whelan in the role—a casting that feels odd but right to me in light of her increasing depth and mystery.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I saw Whelan dance Aurora in Martins' version of Sleeping Beauty during the Spring 1994 season, and of all the Auroras I saw at NYCB during the first seasons the ballet was presented -- Fugate, Nichols, Kistler, Margaret Tracey, and Hlinka -- with the exception of Fugate's "Vision Scene," she was by far my favorite, even at that relatively young age. She had a sensibility all of her own; she danced it as a Balanchine dancer, and if she felt the pressure of a century of precedents, she didn't show it.

I would love to see Whelan's Odette/Odile.

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 08:53 AM

If you like the dancers cast, go. Just don't ask for much from either ABT's or NYCB's production.

#6 drb

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:28 PM

While I fully second Farrell Fan's remarks, "...NYCB's is an abomination," I would be curious to see what Maria Kowroski will do since her experience dancing the Mariinsky's version. When she arrived there they were shocked by the little hand-flaps she'd been taught at NYCB and Lopatkina spent a great amount of time preparing her to do the role correctly. So she now has wings, but will she be allowed to use them at NYCB?
As for ABT's version, for me the greatest problem is Act 4. However, Veronika Part even brings that act to life, and is definitely a must see. I also have enjoyed Dvorovenko, Murphy (don't be fooled by the dvd, she's usually way better than that) and Vishneva.

#7 atm711

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 03:31 PM

I would love to see Whelan's Odette/Odile.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>




A few years ago I had a 'Swan Lake' day at Lincoln Center... in the afternoon Ananiashvilli in the full version and Whelan in the evening in Act 2. Given my high regard of Ananiashvilli in this role, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Whelan's performance--it was something I would never have expected from her, and she stood up quite well to Ananiashvilli. Whelan was particularly brilliant in the Act 2 coda, which I would expect from her, but I was completely unprepared for her deep portrayal and lyricism.

#8 Hans

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:20 PM

Wild horses could not drag me to a performance of NYCB's Swan Lake. Supposedly, Martins retained the choreography from Balanchine's condensed version, but many who saw the Balanchine question that. ABT's SL at least has some mime and beautiful costumes.

#9 bart

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:31 PM

Whelan was particularly brilliant in the Act 2 coda, which I would expect from her, but I was completely unprepared for her deep portrayal and lyricism.

I was bowled over by Balanchine's stand-alone Act II long ago and remain a big fan. It provides an opportunity for ballerinas who might not have the temperament or style for the dual Odette/Odile -- and Whelan is one of many in this category -- to project depth of feeling, musicality and beauty of movement.

#10 carbro

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 11:36 PM

I, too, came to love the Balanchine, which I see not as a condensation but rather a commentary on Ivanov's White Acts. I am one of the few who really liked the Vaes production, with the black-clad swannies dancing in the icescape. It intensified the appropriate mood, but with a heightened sense of fantasy.

#11 nysusan

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 06:44 AM

Balanchine's Act 2 distilation is interesting, unfortunately that's not what NYCB is presenting this season - they're doing Martins' restaging of the full length ballet. Let me add my voice to those advising caution if you decide to go to NYCB's Swan Lake. Calling it an abomination is being kind. Picture this - streamline the choreography, keeping just the iconic moments, strip all reference to period or culture from the costumes & scenery - and there you have NYCB's SL. I saw it once with Whalen & Woetzel. The dancers were great, I especially loved Whalen but hated the production so much it was really hard to sit through it. I plan to go once this season because I really want to see Kowroski, but I know I will leave the theater muttering like a madwoman.

If you are only going to see one Swan Lake this season go to ABT & try to see Part or Vishneva. Their Swan Lake is not 100% traditional either, as everyone here has pointed out, but it is MUCH better than NYCB's.

Depending on where you live, you might skip both NYCB & ABT's Swan Lake and go see the Perm Ballet's Swan Lake. It's a new production, staged by Makarova and billed as "a spectacular,traditional production". It will be at the NJPAC on March 17th, and somewhere in Princeton around the same time. Unfortunately I will be traveling on business that week, but if I was home in NY I would definitely go out of my way to see it - we're really starved for a good Swan Lake here!

#12 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 08:16 AM

If you are only going to see one Swan Lake this season go to ABT & try to see Part or Vishneva. Their Swan Lake is not 100% traditional either, as everyone here has pointed out, but it is MUCH better than NYCB's.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I think NYsusan's recommendation of the Perm production is probably a good one.

If you tend to like NYCB better, you may prefer NYCB. If you prefer ABT, you'll probably prefer ABT's version. It depends on what you loathe most, but it's like discussing whether you like drowning or burning more. One version is sterile, the other version is distorted. ABT has dancers better trained to get through the ballet. NYCB has no business doing a full-length Swan Lake, but their version pushes fewer of my buttons (I loathe ABT's von Rothbart. Really, deeply loathe.) Choose your poison. Like I said earlier, I'd suggest seeing the dancers you liked best. Of the versions I've seen, the closest to what we think of as "Swan Lake" is the Royal Ballet's.

#13 Helene

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 10:16 PM

I third nysusan's suggestion. I would love to see the Perm company.

#14 canbelto

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 05:38 AM

For the ABT, I'd recommend Vishneva, Dvorovenko or Part in the role. What can I say? The Russians just do this better.

#15 E Johnson

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 08:23 AM

I haven't seen the ABT version but I can't imagine it is worse than NYCB's full length (the short Balanchine version is very nice, though). I've seen it twice, the second time purely for the dancers -- Weese and Boal, who made it bearable, at least. So maybe if you can see Weese, or Whelan, its worth it but I honestly can't think of a likely good choice for the Prince from the current crop of available dancers (unless in an unforeseeable stroke of luck, Evans gets cast).


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