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Swan Lake ImpressionsReports & Reviews


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#1 BalletNut

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:53 PM

Thread for reviews and impressions on the current run of Swan Lake, opening 28 January 2006.

#2 BalletNut

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 12:05 AM

I'll start. :)

Tonight was opening night of Swan Lake, and of the 2006 repertory season, and what a night it was. Tina LeBlanc and Gonzalo Garcia danced Odette-Odile and Siegfried, and their chemistry was amazing. LeBlanc outdid herself both technically and artistically, surpassing my memories of the other two times I'd seen her dance the same role. It wouldn't be right to say she was near perfection; she was perfection. Garcia was less dazzling at first, more of a self-effacing partner, at least until Act 3, when we saw his innocence completely shattered by Odile and von Rothbart (Damian Smith).

As Odette, LeBlanc was the picture of gentleness and vulnerability, but not in a static, guileless way; rather, she went through phases of being frightened, tentative, trusting, loving, devastated, and forgiving. As Odile, the shards of glittering rainbow coming off her costume seemed to be emanating from within her, dazzling and deadly at the same time. She also threw some well-timed doubles into her fouettes, which pleased the audience greatly. Garcia's variation in the Black Swan pdd was also excellent, as was his performance in the coda.

Among the supporting cast, standouts included Sergio Torrado in the pas de trois, where his powerful physique made his elevation all the more impressive, and Vanessa Zahorian in the same, with her flawless petit allegro and surprise triple pirouettes. In the lakeside acts, I couldn't decide which swans to focus on, but decided to follow Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun and her fluid arms and shoulders, and Elana Altman, whose shapely line and way of devouring space would make her a most interesting Swan Queen in the future. Altman also filled the stage with sensual energy in the Spanish dance, partnered by Ruben and Moises Martin. Elizabeth Miner was a delight in the Neopolitan dance; her facial expressions have improved greatly, IMO. I didn't see a single plastered-on grin in that performance, and her intricate steps were well-executed.

The main drawbacks of this performance lay in the production itself; almost all of Act 1 is Tomasson's choreography, which means it was good in some places and mediocre in others. He also tinkered a bit with the second act, but at least he put in a mime scene where Odette tells Siegfried about the spell. The third and fourth acts have been condensed into a single act, with outside music interpolated for an "Act 3, Scene 2" pas de deux. The sets and costumes by Jens-Jacob Worsaae, while very easy on the eye, were too light and airy to be associated with a tragic ballet such as Swan Lake. (I much preferred his designs for Sleeping Beauty.) Nevertheless, SFB gave a nearly flawless performance (save for a bobble in the Hungarian dance) of a great classic. The orchestra sounded wonderful with Martin West conducting.

Overall, a very well-received performance.

I look forward to hearing other people's impressions of this production. :)

#3 balletdad

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 09:50 AM

Here is a link to the review in the SF Chronicle. http://sfgate.com/cg...DGP0GVG1521.DTL

#4 Tessdixon

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 07:41 PM

I also saw the opening night performance from Tina LeBlanc and Gonzalo Garcia. I enjoyed the show very much but missed out on much of the dancers' expressions from my back-row seat. Nevertheless, I was impressed mostly by the precision of the corp in their Act 2 formations and by their speed in act 1. I also enjoyed the Act I pas de trois and Act III Neapolitan dance. Of course the Act II and III pas de deux were amazing but I found myself holding my breath during the fouettes. As the night progressed, I think the dancers grew tired but there were only few stumbles.

As far as the production, I enjoyed the choreography and the dancing. However, the sets were a little too skimpy in my opinion and I missed the corp dancing I am used to in Act III. (My favorite Act III production is probably the State Perm Ballet's on video or ABT's uncut version.)

Overall, it was very enjoyable performance and I hope to come back for another sometime this week. Its such a shame that SF Ballet doesnt do more classical work as they are wonderful at it.

#5 Giannina

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 06:02 AM

Tues., Jan. 31. Swan Lake with Lorena Feijoo and Davit Karapetyan. My friend and I shared the evening. She’s not much of a ballet fan but went with me mostly to see my reaction to a ballet. As the final curtain came down she turned to me with a big smile on her face and said, “Thank you!” I was so pleased.

I’ve seen only about 2 ballets in the past year, and I haven’t seen a Swan Lake in ages. I’m somewhat starved. Karapetyan, as well as Pascal Molat in the pas de trois, were extraordinary. Throughout the ballet, but especially in his act III solo, Karapetyan landed his tours with a deep plie and a tight 5th position; his leaps were soaring. His Act I solo has some beautiful choreography and his dancing was controlled and a sight to behold.

However for the most part I didn’t care for Tomasson’s choreography. Even to my untrained eye the difference between Tomasson’s work and Petipa’s was more noticeable than is usually the case.

Feijoo was lovely. The white ppd was beautiful, growing in beauty as it progressed. The black pdd was even better. There was a moment during the black pdd; Odette has appeared and Odile is imitating Odette with fluttering arms as Siegfried is looking elsewhere; Feijoo stopped fluttering for a moment and gave him a look as if to say, “Hey, I’m doing my swan bit over here and you’re to pay attention!”

The corps was gorgeous. A few slips but, for the most part, smooth as silk. Everyone danced quietly, which made me look at shoes. SFBallet’s pointe shoes seemed to have a broader (oh, dear; terminology) box/toe area. Is it possible that they all wear the same make of shoe and this particular shoe is quiet?

The audience was also gorgeous. Except for the almost unavoidable applause after the fouettes they applauded only at the proper moments. A couple of insufferable lean-forward-loos in our row and I was sorely tempted to tell them to sit back forcryingoutloud, but since those behind them were too polite to complain I didn’t either.

Thurs., Feb. 2. Swan Lake with Kristin Long and Joan Boada. I was exhausted when I saw this performance and it may have affected my reaction. It was very nice but not as good as Tues. night’s performance. Boada’s tours started with him facing forward and his feet about 60 degrees into the turn. Long’s dancing was lovely but lacked a certain ease and brilliance that Feijoo had.

As mentioned in a previous post the sets are minimal but I thought they were adequate. Now, I like splashy sets as much as the next guy but I keep thinking of the cost of presenting a ballet and/or traveling with it, especially with Oakland Ballet closing recently. I would think smaller sets cut cost, which makes ballets less expensive all the way around, which……….well, you get the idea. The costumes were beautiful; certainly not minimal.

I had a great time.

Giannina

#6 Brioche

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 11:32 AM

Is it possible that they all wear the same make of shoe and this particular shoe is quiet?


Highly, highly doubtful.

#7 Paul Parish

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 11:54 PM

Re SFB's shoes, I agree with Brioche, it's highly highly doubtful they're all the same brand -- though doubtless many of them wear Freeds, which are quiet.

I don't KNOW this, but I belive the SFB shoe budget is very generous -- they don't have to wear hard hard shoes that will never break down.

What they DO have in common is that the women take company class in pointe shoes every day and get very well used to wearing them, and that teaches them how to dance quietly.

I hope you all will check out
http://www.danceviewtimes.com/
which has two reviews I've written of the SFB Swan Lake -- the most recent is about second casts, one from the preceding issue covered opening night. Wonder what you'll think.

#8 Giannina

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 07:26 AM

Enjoyed the review very much, Paul. I was especially pleased to read your appraisal of Karapetyan's dancing since I agree with every word! "Extraordinary" is the word I keep using to describe his performance; I thought he was amazing.

Just one more word about shoes. Not only were the women quiet but the shoes looked the same: that larger box (terminology...the area encasing the toes), at least it seemed uniformly larger to me. I'm an admitted "foot-watcher" and this caught my eye. As a kid I studied at SFBallet (I was lousy) and watched the advanced classes. I remember the women taking class in pointe shoes. I loved that; I thought it made the class more beautiful.

Giannina

#9 Paul Parish

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:28 AM

Giannina, that wide box sounds like Freed's or a knockoff. Freed's toe shoes have a particularly wide box -- and so do the copies of them made by other shoe-makers. The wide box offers a few more options for where exactly to put your weight when you touch the floor. Freed's are expensive, and are generally regarded (well, toe shoes are SUCH a complex subject, Ballet Talk for Dancers has a whole forum devoted to this topic, and a counsellor to advise who's extremely knowledgeable) as for most ballerinas the shoe to wear for performance. They're soft, give just enough support to get a ballerina through one act before they break down, so they mold to the foot and make it look beautiful and don't make noise. I have one of Kyra Nichols's -- she's broken off the shank 2/3 of the way back, scoured the bottom with a wood rasp, probably knocked the box around with a hammer to soften it some more. It was made for her in London by the shoe-maker who makes all her shoes -- which is pretty much, as I understand it, the way it's done -- every ballerina has a personal shoe-maker.

Feet vary enormously. If you have very flexible feet, or feet with the big toe much longer than the others, or (worse) the second toe longer than the others, shoe-makers can accomodate that... Dancers have plenty of reasons to search widely for the best shoe to suit their needs.

I'm going on and on about something I don't really know THAT much about.... but if you really want to know about those shoes, post your question at BT for Dancers -- I bet you'd get an earful.

PS here's the link to the review of opening night. Leblanc was remarkable.
http://www.danceview...ter/04/sfb.html

#10 Talespinner

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 10:27 PM

I saw Yuan Yuan Tan in last Wednesday's performance and was hoping someone would comment. Since no one has yet done so, I guess I'll say a few words.

I'm a notoriously sentimental sap, but Act 2 moved me to tears. Tan was simply ethereal. I kept wondering what she had done with the bones in her arms! (How does someone who's little more than skin and bones achieve that fluid effect?) I've seen a zillion Swan Lakes in my day, and I have to say that Tan was as good as any Odette I've ever seen. And I was pleasantly surprised by her Odile, all crystalline edges and "look-at-me" arrogance. I expect technical brilliance from Tan, but like many of you, I have been disappointed in her acting skills. I thought she brought it all together, finally and beautifully, in Odette/Odile. In my very humble and not terribly educated opinion, Tan's performance was a triumph.

Oh, and her prince was the new guy, Tiit Helimets. He was actually quite good, but Tan had me so spellbound that I almost didn't notice him. :thanks:

#11 BalletNut

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:04 PM

Thank you for weighing in, Talespinner. I'm glad to hear Tan did well.

I wonder if Tiit Helimets brought out the best in her? I've heard he's a good partner.

#12 Ilya

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 04:03 PM

I originally had a dilemma of seeing either LeBlanc and Garcia Friday or Tan and Helimets Saturday evening. I posted an inquiry on a different thread and, after reading many interesting responses, I was leaning towards Friday. However, the box office had much better seats for Saturday's performance, and so I ended up going on Saturday. :thanks:

Well I can sign my name under Talespinner's every single word. Like Talespinner, I had attended a zillion "Swan Lakes" (well perhaps slightly fewer than a zillion :yahoo: ), including some memorable performances by Mezentseva, Terekhova, Chenchikova, Ananiashvili, and Lopatkina. And, like Talespinner, I can say that Tan was as good as anyone I'd seen. Her performance was quite remarkable. Great actress, flawless (to my extremely uneducated eye) technique. Everyone else was quite good, especially Tiit Helimets and the first-act Pas de Trois (Vanessa Zahorian, Pascal Molat, and a ballerina who was substituted for Elizabeth Miner and whose name I do not remember unfortunately---can anyone tell me who she was?). However, what made this "Swan Lake" truly great was Tan's performance.

#13 BalletNut

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 04:18 PM

Glad you enjoyed the performance, Ilya. It sounds like Tan had a great night. :angry2:

#14 tikititatata

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 10:58 AM

(Sorry for this delayed post. Thanks for this great forum - was excited to find this!!)

I’d like to take this opportunity to send a HUGE ovation to Kristin Long and Joan Boada for their beautiful performance on Thursday night (February 2). Every full-length ballet production has that “magical night”—when you cannot tear your eyes from the leading couple—and for Swan Lake 2006, this was IT. I may be calling my shots early, but after seeing five consecutive performances (all four principal casts, this couple twice), I could not be more content with Kristin and Joan’s portrayal, chemistry, and style of dancing and acting.

Frankly I am not the least bit fond of Tomasson’s choreographic choices for SL. There are moments throughout the ballet when the music inspires so much more, yet you are left wondering and staring at the blank stage, completely void of dancing, meaningful acting, or sometimes even people. These crucial musical phrases are made painfully aware as they coincide grand character entrances, transitions between scenes, or potentially exciting and noteworthy segments in other productions, such as the Royal Ballet’s version with additional choreography by Ashton and Nureyev (danced by Natalia Makarova and Anthony Dowell, 1982).

With such choreographic obstacles however, I am amazed and drawn to Joan’s natural acting and stage presence that allow me to momentarily forget or forgo the sections that would otherwise have me clutching the program. Joan’s precision—perhaps perfectionism—in his movements is apparent especially in his solo variations, and his technique is consistently impeccable. Moreover, his sincere and non-standoffish attitude distinguishes him and raises his presentations above others. He is beautiful and never flashy, even if the choreography may allow one to execute the part with “please acknowledge I just completed a fantastic turn combination”-arrogance. And best of all, he is a reliable partner who beautifies the prima with whom he shares the stage while maintaining his utmost, refined classicism.

Kristin gave one of her most memorable performances in the recent seasons that I have attended. Her sense of style—notably her arms—and interpretations/transformation between Odette and Odile were perfectly nuanced, not at all forced or over-done. Her technique was strong and suitable to each scene, and her complementary partnership with Joan makes you ache in pain as the show nears conclusion.

One of the highlights that must be mentioned is the “attitude-fouette lift,” a signature phrase for the black swan pdd: it was effortless and marvelous. I have never seen this lift better or higher in my SL experiences. Small touches like Joan’s final exit following Kristin’s (an immediate vow of his devotion before racing after Odette) reflect a dancer’s artistic maturity, personal taste, and experience that deeply impact the entirety of a full-length ballet. While they may not have had the fanfare of an opening night, the spectacular partnership of Kristin and Joan will be engrained and replayed in my mind for having enhanced a production that requires much work and fine-tuning.

#15 BalletNut

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 09:24 PM

Welcome to Ballet Talk, tikititatata! :dry: It's never too late to post a review of a performance. Thank you for sharing your impression of Swan Lake with us. I agree about the need for fine-tuning in this production; however, that doesn't mean that a well-danced performance can't still be breathtakingly beautiful.

I encourage you to tell us more about yourself in the Welcome Forum here, and to continue browsing and posting on Ballet Talk.


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