Giselle in March (Broward, West Palm Beach, Miami)
Posted 26 February 2007 - 08:00 AM
Broward Center, (Fort Lauderdale)
Friday, March 9 (8 pm)
Saturday, March 10 (2 pm and 8 pm)
Sunday, March 11 (2 pm)
Kravis Center (West Palm Beach)
Friday March 16 (2 pm and 8 pm)
Saturday March 17 (2 pm and 8 pm)
Sunday March 18 (1 pm)
Carnival Center, Ziff Ballet Opera House (Miami)
Friday March 30 (8 pm)
Saturday March 31 (8 pm)
Sunday April 1 (2 pm)
The company last performed this in Florida in early 2004. Edward Villella does not post casts in advance, but the two casts I saw in February 2004 were (1) Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, with Andrea Spiridonakos as Myrtha and Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez as Hilarion; (2) Haiyan Wu and Renato Penteado, with Michelle Merrell and Luis Serrano. Since then Merrill has retired and Garcia-Rodriguez has left the company.
Does anyone have an thoughts -- or casting suggestions -- in anticipation of these 2007 performances?
I thought that Kronenberg and Wu were exceptional Giselles -- quite different from each other -- and I can't imagine anyone else in the company I'd like to see more in the role. I'd be curious to see what Daymel Sanchez, a Cuban-trained dancer new to the company, would do as Albrecht, especially since I don't think Penteado has danced this season and Mikhail Ilyin and Mikhail Nikitine are no longer with MCB. Also: Deanna Seay and Callie Manning as Myrtha, and Jeremy Cox, Didier Bramaz, and Alex Wong as Hilarion. There are lots of very promising young people in the corps and apprentice group for the Peasant Pas de Deux. I suspect MCB could mount a full-evening of different casts of that pdd alone; and each would be well and charmingly danced.
It will be wonderful to have a live orchestra again. 2004 was danced to tape.
Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:55 AM
Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:02 PM
I'll see 3 performances at West Palm this coming weekend.
How's this for an offer? -- I promise NOT to post about that if some of the rest of you (and I know you're out there) will report on the Fort Lauderdale performances.
Posted 13 March 2007 - 05:45 PM
In fantasizing casts, I would never have thought of Katia Carranza and Luis Serrano. Though Manning is a natural for Myrtha, as is Didier Bramaz for Hlarion. And Wong and Albertson partnering again -- this time in the peasant pdd.
Here's an interesting bit of news from the review:
But now MCB has (at least) 2 principal slots to fill for the new season. I don't know if that's good or bad news. They have some worthwhile soloists, but might benefit from someone from the outside who could bring wider performance experience and even some glamour.
Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:47 AM
First of all, I have to say that MCB is a young company which has almost nothing in its rep in the Romantic style, and only 2 other full-length 19th-century narrative ballets (both of them comedies). This is not natural MCB territory. On top of that, Edward Villella -- based on his comments in several curtain raisers -- does not seem able to project much enthusiasm for this kind of ballet. He admits they are popular (and sell tickets); he says he's glad that they demonstrate "that our dancers can do anything." But he doesn't say: I really respect and love the form, style, technique, and dramatic demands of a ballet like Giselle.
Given what may possibly be a luke-warm attitude at the top, the company does a superb job.
Haiyan Wu was the closest to true Romantic style. Her Giselle appears always to have lived in her own fantasy world. The appearance of Loys/Albrecht leads her to feel that this is real for a while, which makes his betrayal even worse. In Act I she was very open, very vulnerable, and her mad scene was as painful and chilling as I have ever seen it done At its start, as she lies on the ground stage right, there's a high tremolo on the violin. She responds to it with hands, arms, and a shudder that goes through her entire body -- the only Giselle I saw who did so. Great stuff! Her Act II was full of images that reminded me of prints of Taglioni and that generation/ floating, ghostly, yearning, breathing outward into space. When she returned to the grave after saving Albrecht, her surrender to unreality (in the sense of un-earthliness) seemed inevitable, something she had been destined for from the start.
Deanna Seay was a surprise. I would have thought her attack to be too sharp, and her stage persona insufficiently soft, to work for Giselle. But her take on the village girl was very effective: someone perhaps not accustomed to much attention who was genuinely surprised and thrilled to have someone like Loys court her, and flowering as a result of the attention. In her mad scene she expressed more force and anger than usual, and appeared to be more dangerous. In Act II there was a quality of desperateness in her attempt to save Albrecht which worked very well. Seay was more classical, less Romantic, than most Giselles -- feet firmer, arms stronger, lines more extended and less rounded. I was surprised that she chose to do the hops on pointe (with rond de jambe) on demi-pointe. I've never seen this before, and it was not successful. Perhaps this was compensation for an injury? If so, there didn't seem to be a problem in the rest of her performance.
Kronenberg had it all. This was a beautiful dancer dancing flawlessly. At the start of Act I, her Giselle is one of nature's prom queens in the making, clearly the most popular girl in the village, and very aware of it. She's even willing to flirt a bit with Albrecht. She is still the innocent, but well on her way to being quite a charmer. Her mad scene was the most varied of the 3 -- each change of mood (puzzlement, fear, pain, anger) clearly related to changes in the music. Kronenberg's Act II was the most satisfying of the 3 performances for me. She more than most Giselles projected a deep, warm, redemptive love for Albrecht. At the end, as she bourres backwards (and very, very beautiful bourres they were) she keeps her gaze on Albrecht. Then the focus begins to fade. It's a powerful transformation -- a true kind of "passing over" -- and it was, for me, the high point of the entire weekend.
MCB is down to only a single uninjured male principal: Carlos Guerra. He danced 4 of the 5 Albrechts with 4 different ballerinas. And he was GOOD right up to the end! (Even to a viewer who had just watched Baryshnikov and Malakhov on video a few days before.) Compared to his last Albrechts 5 years ago, Guerra now has an idea of the character he wants to project: a handsome guy who's still a boy, someone who gets pleasure he gets the girl to do what he wants, but doesn't really want to hurt anyone, and who grows tremendously in Act II. His partnering has also grown, even in the course of this year. Gone are the days when his face showed anxiety when balancing and handing the ballerina as she did multiple pirouettes. His jumps, balances, turns were beautiful and very consistent from one performance to the next, even though he must have been exhausted by the end of the run. He has beautiful feet, a kind of effortlessness of balon in his grand jetes, cabrioles, etc., and an increasingly beautiful line. I loved his Baryshnikov walk across the stage at the start of Act II. His two diagonals of fast brises towards the end were thrilling. I was surprised how well he related -- both as a partner and as an actor -- to three such different Giselles. The rappport with Kronenberg (his real-life wife) was the most intimate, but all were effective.
Other aspects of the production:
-- stunning, rich, opulent sets and costumes from ABT;
-- an orchestra whose conductor was sluggish Friday night (producing a negative review -- see below -- that called the performance "plodding" ). This picked up quite a bit by Saturday and Sunday.
-- Andrea Spiradonakos, a long, lean dancer wonderful in contemporary rep, was an underpowered Myrthe: shs had all the steps and jumps, but could not project the majesty and menace. Could this be a case of casting done by height rather than by temperament or stage presence? Myrthe needs weight (not pounds, but authority). Her gestures -- raising up the spirits of the wilis, commanding to dance, rejecting appeals for mercy -- need to hold the eye. This did not happen. I suspect that serious coaching -- which the role deserves -- would have helped greatly.
-- Katia Carranza and Yan Zou did all the steps in the peasant pas de deux, but projected little of the charm, insouciance, and flair. The excessively slow tempi exposed just how dull some of this music is, may have been a factor, but I was left with the impression of a good student performance. In the other cast, Didier Bramaz (a really exceptional character dancer) was mis-cast in the pdd; his partner, Patricia Delgado, seemed just a little unready for the technical challenges.
-- the very young corps did a good job. Everyone in Act I was in character, and in Act II everyone supported the look that the wilis are supposed to have. A few disagreements about head position and what to do with hands -- or body, leg, arm placement during the chugging movements across the stage -- were the only distractions.
-- Romantics in the audience noticed Guerra kiss Kronenberg on the lips during the final curtain call. They were married earlier in the season. After a weekend like this, and a performance like that, that kiss was earned and very much deserved.
P.S. Here's Sharon McDaniel's review (with the infamous "plodding" reference).
McDaniel, whose specialty is classical music, is known for picking one element in a performance and manufacturing a review out of that. The element she chose for the Friday performance was the slow tempi selected by the conductor. She was right in that. Most other judgments in the review, however, are way beyond my understanding
Posted 22 March 2007 - 02:52 PM
It's a puzzling offer, bart. Part of the fun in reading multiple posters about the same performance is seeing whether, if I read between the lines, it is the same performance. And "underneath" the fun, there is for me great value in discovering that others did see what I saw - that's the value in the foyer discussions at intermission I've always thought motivated Alexandra to start BalletTalk - our discussions give some "objectivity" and "permanence" to this most ephemeral of arts, one which cannot be written down or even recorded very well, unlike drama or music.
Or, in fewer words, "The more the merrier" for me!
Edited by Jack Reed, 24 March 2007 - 12:11 PM.
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