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ABT City Center - Week One


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#1 Haglund's

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 08:15 PM

Tonight was high energy, reflection, and comic relief.

The evening opened with Clear featuring Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo. We saw them in the pas last night, and they were wonderful. Wonderful again tonight. The two soloists were Hammoudi and Blaine Hoven. Blaine was impressive as could be. Lines, strength, guts, turns, and extraordinary flexibility. He's got it all. But his face remained the same concentrated expression throughout. He performed like it was an exam that he was determined to ace. Maybe it was.

Julie Kent was lovely and seamless in The Leaves Are Fading. Marcelo Gomes ensured that she was weightless as well. While I may pass up Julie in bravera roles, I can't think of anyone I'd rather see slowly unfurl a classical line. She is just stunningly beautiful in that respect and the two of them were tender, thoughtful lovers. Stella Abrera, partnered by Isaac Stappas, was perfume and delicacy personified. She dances the lead with Radetsky next Wednesday, and I look forward to seeing what the two of them conjure up in the way of romance and reflection.Michele Wiles and Alexandre Hammoudi repeated their pas de deux from the Gala.

Fancy Free closed the program. The men in tonight's cast (Salstein, Hallberg, and Carreno) were a stronger ensemble than last night, but the women (Murphy and Herrera) weren't as animated and sassy as Kent and Abrera were last night. Salstein was terrific in this and provoked Carreno into one of the best FF performances of his I've seen. Hallberg was super, but for a little trouble jumping over the stools and punctuating with a double tour. The stools might have been too close to the bar for those long legs of his.

#2 SanderO

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 03:40 AM

Stella and Sasha should have no problem conjuring up romance and reflection since they were married last year!

#3 carbro

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 10:45 AM

Sometimes a real-life romance adds intensity to a couple's performance and sometimes it doesn't, as though the dancers are protecting something private.

#4 Amour

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 01:52 PM

Tonight was high energy, reflection, and comic relief.

The evening opened with Clear featuring Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo. We saw them in the pas last night, and they were wonderful. Wonderful again tonight. The two soloists were Hammoudi and Blaine Hoven. Blaine was impressive as could be. Lines, strength, guts, turns, and extraordinary flexibility. He's got it all. But his face remained the same concentrated expression throughout. He performed like it was an exam that he was determined to ace. Maybe it was.

Julie Kent was lovely and seamless in The Leaves Are Fading. Marcelo Gomes ensured that she was weightless as well. While I may pass up Julie in bravera roles, I can't think of anyone I'd rather see slowly unfurl a classical line. She is just stunningly beautiful in that respect and the two of them were tender, thoughtful lovers.

Cornejo was indeed wonderful - truly poetry in motion. I am increasingly amazed at the finesse of his dancing, how his strength, great jumps and (almost) perfect turns and balances never look forced but display both grace and complete control. Blaine Hoven is a recent discovery for me - I first noticed how good he was about 3 weeks ago when he and Hammoudi performed their duet from Clear at a Guggenheim's Works and Process evening. I agree, however, that his face seemed a little too concentrated last night; in addition, I would enjoy seeing him elongate his arms and neck, to lengthen his line. But those things are possibly the next level for him and something to look forward to. Overall, though, a wonderful performance of the piece.

I also thought Julie was amazing in Leaves - I used to consider her something of a cold dancer but in the last 3 or 4 years her artistry and expressiveness have vastly increased . Even her technique seems stronger. But I didn't think she and Marcelo had enough chemistry last night ( I was actually somewhat disappointed in Marcelo's performance). Having recently re-watched the second PDD of Leaves performed by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner (on ABT's Variety and Virtuosity DVD) I believe their partnering far exceeded Julie's and Marcelo' (of course, though, Amanda and John are married). Since Amanda and John set the piece, I can't help wishing they could have imparted a bit more of their seamless partnering skills to Julie and Marcelo. But this still didn't detract from the beauty of the piece, which I thought was performed beautifully by everyone.

#5 carbro

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 07:41 PM

I didn't think she and Marcelo had enough chemistry last night . . .


Thursday, Oct. 25

Different ballet, different night, but they certainly connected tonight in more familiar roles -- Meadow. I had thought I'd seen this ballet before but couldn't remember it. When the curtain went up, I realized I'd seen only the (forgettable) pas. I had the feeling that Lubovitch had the last movement in his head first, then built a ballet and pdd around it. He shouldn't have bothered. The final movement has original, mesmerizing corps work, dancers appearing and disappearing, a rather ghostlike (but not scary) quality.

The evening opened with Clear -- a ballet that's starting to grow on me. The ensemble of men was as strong as on opening night. Jose Carreno lacked the supppleness of spine that was so amply displayed by the younger dancers, but his charisma, much diminished on Tuesday, was back full force. He had no problem commanding the stage tonight. Paloma, who seems to be able to enjoy herself more when she's not wearing tulle, excelled in Clear, and with Jose brought the pas which closes the work to a lump-in-throat conclusion.

The evening closed with an absolute triumph by Michele Wiles in Ballo. She was radiant from her first entrance, seeming to tell the audience, "Watch! This is gonna be good!" She beamed as the music drew the steps from her. Somehow, she found time to play with phrasing. There was a moment during the adage with Max Beloserkovsky when she is standing on pointe, front attitude, and while supporting her, he does a soutenu turn. Max was off balance and stepped directly into Michele's semiextended leg. She smiled, still holding her balance, coming down only when the music said to.

Max seemed to be having trouble with clean finishes tonight, but I was glad to see him chomp hungrily at this ballet.
The soloists were Melissa Thomas, Kristi Boone, Hee Seo (in lieu of Simone Messmer -- no correction slip) and Leann Underwood.

Just one note: I don't understand the willingness of artistic management to let dancers go out with large, conspicuous tattoos exposed. It's so distracting. Watching the bare chested guys in Clear, the eye catches the tats and works to make sense of them, missing the dancing that's going on. This is the second time in a few days (different company) when I've been confronted by this. Can't the company insist that any skin that's exposed be natural?

Or am I just an old fogey? :)

#6 carbro

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 08:24 PM

For her bated-breath fans, Veronika Part is listed for tomorrow night's Leaves (headed by X. Reyes and Saveliev) in the same role Michele Wiles danced at the gala. Perhaps she'll do others.

#7 aurora

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 10:44 PM

Just one note: I don't understand the willingness of artistic management to let dancers go out with large, conspicuous tattoos exposed. It's so distracting. Watching the bare chested guys in Clear, the eye catches the tats and works to make sense of them, missing the dancing that's going on. This is the second time in a few days (different company) when I've been confronted by this. Can't the company insist that any skin that's exposed be natural?

Or am I just an old fogey? :)


well unless they decide not to cast dancers they think are right for the roles because they have tattoos, I'm not sure what you are suggesting. Maybe ABT should front the money for laser removal and not promote any dancers who get tattoos. That should remedy the situation. When confronted with the decision of tattoo or career, I'm sure most dancers would chose the latter.

#8 Haglund's

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 03:14 AM

Carreno, sans shirt, hot-footing it around, working up a sweat under the muscle-defining top lighting, is enough to stop one's breathing. He's not a contemporary dancer, and has escaped most of those thankless roles during his ABT career, but he made an honest effort Thursday night in Clear and did what he does best supremely and made the rest inconsequential by being the most handsome, sensual animal ever on the stage. Herrera was gorgeous, if under-employed, but to compete with what else was going on on that stage, quite simply, she would have had to take off her top. Thankfully, Kevin is not at that point -- yet.

Meadow was beautiful, and I found the two pas de deux with Gomes and Kent exquisite. Lubovitch is a master at merging group and solo moments and weaving the movement within the music to great emotional effect. Bryars conceived this composition when he was coping with conflicting emotions of loss of loved ones and the birth of a child. It is highly unusual, and I enjoyed the whole thing immensely.

Ballo was quite different from the Gala. Michele delivered a performance with panache and style and striking balances. She opted out of trying double piques before opening to the arabesque as Murphy had done, but we've seen singles before elsewhere. I found her performance had more different colors to it than Murphy, but at the same time, I didn't care for the intentional imitating of bad habits with the wrist and the famous nose-in-the-armpit port de bra. The corps was SUPERB - Hee Seo was magnificent with soaring jetes and a megawatt stage presence.

#9 sz

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 06:47 AM

>Michele delivered a performance with panache and style
>and striking balances. She opted out of trying double
>piques before opening to the arabesque as Murphy
>had done, but we've seen singles before elsewhere.

Good to hear that Wiles was dancing Ballo so well. I'll have to see this...

FYI, the pique turns opening into arabesque have always been singles. It's just so incredibly fast that it can look like a knife (arabesque leg) cutting into the blur of turning air. It's very difficult to execute beautifully primarily because of the speed involved and the precision of lines / balance required.

This pique turn is done three times in a row, followed by a tiny change in steps, then three more piques to arabesque in a row! The audience, and the dancer, are given but a second or two to catch their breath between the two sets.

On a taller girl, like Merrill Ashley, it was dangerous looking. On the smaller, Ashley Bouder, it's still a thrill because she can hold that arabesque for a second before proceeding to the next. One doesn't have to be familiar with the technique involved to understand that there is no room for any off-balance error.

#10 Adam

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 07:08 AM

On the tattoo issue - why pick on just the men? Vishneva has a large tattoo on her hip/upper thigh (commented on previously in other threads, I believe), which I first spotted when she did "Manon" (she doesn't wear tights in the last act).

Now that I know it's there, I can see it through the tights, too. Hey, no wonder Siegfried gets all confused - Odette and Odile have the same tattoo!

#11 Haglund's

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 07:49 AM

The casting for the Friday premiere of Millepied's "From Here On Out" was in last night's program. Paloma and Marcelo have the leads with other couples as follows: Boylston & Stearns, Ricetto & Hammoudi, Reyes & Radetsky, Tanatanit & Hoven, and Messmer & Forster. The program notes include Nico Muhly's description of his musical composition and it truly sounds exciting even as black ink on white paper. I think the orchestra members may have been practicing it last night during intermission, and all seemed enthusiastic. The program indicates, however, that Ormsby Wilkins will be conducting. I think some media reports had indicated that Muhly would conduct. We shall see tonight. I think I may be more excited about the music than the choreography.

The Leaves cast will be sensational with Melissa Thomas, Veronika Part and Yurilo Kajiya. Ballo soloists will include Hee Seo. You just must see her in this.

Warning to all - last night there were a lot of noisy, unrully kids in the gallery. Add obnoxious.

#12 Adam

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 07:59 AM

Is that any worse than the noisy, unruly adults that are the bane of my existence?

I really worry about what will happen during the Kirov season, as I recall how it was when the Bolshoi was at the Met. I expect I'll hear from a few people about this, but a Russian friend of mine confirmed my perception. I'd asked her about whether Russian audiences tend to be less, uh, attentive, because I was concerned that I might be unfair, and she said, "It's different for Russians. We don't go to the ballet to watch the ballet. We come to socialize AT the ballet."

#13 SanderO

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 08:50 AM

I find tatts and ballet completely incompatible. Aside from the fact that I find them looking like graffiti on the human body, a tatt is like make up or a costume feature and these are all parts of styling a ballet.

If you take this to its logical conclusion imagine a cast of heavily tattooed dancers and through in some body piercings and it would completely detract from the ballet aesthetic.

Models and actors who get them, also have to use make up to cover them up and if dancers have them, so should they be compelled to, unless a tattoo is actually part of the "wardrobe/styling" choice of the AD. If you had a "drunken" sailor character it could be seen as appropriate, but character from Swan Lake?

It's hard to imagine how a person who works so hard to perfect their body would spoil it with some cheap looking "artwork". Maybe they don't see how it could be seen as a detraction? Who said all ballet dancers make sensible choices with their bodies?

#14 aurora

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 09:10 AM

I find tatts and ballet completely incompatible. Aside from the fact that I find them looking like graffiti on the human body, a tatt is like make up or a costume feature and these are all parts of styling a ballet.


If you hate tatts altogether, it seems quite logical you would have this reaction to tattoos on dancers.
That said, an obvious tattoo *is* an eye catching thing, and not something acceptable in classical ballet. Which is why most dancers either don't have them, or have them in places that are usually concealed

If you take this to its logical conclusion imagine a cast of heavily tattooed dancers and through in some body piercings and it would completely detract from the ballet aesthetic.


But no ballet dancers do this, so whats the point of even conjecturing?
I'm not sure what body piercings you think would be obvious through costuming--nipples on the men in the rare barechested piece?
Also, piercings are removable. I have a septum piercing. I do not wear it when I teach undergraduates. I know my dept would disapprove.

It's hard to imagine how a person who works so hard to perfect their body would spoil it with some cheap looking "artwork". Maybe they don't see how it could be seen as a detraction? Who said all ballet dancers make sensible choices with their bodies?


They might not even consider it "spoiling it" or "cheap looking 'artwork'". A lot of people, myself included, don't.

#15 carbro

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 09:15 AM

If you hate tatts altogether, it seems quite logical you would have this reaction to tattoos on dancers.
That said, an obvious tattoo *is* an eye catching thing, and not something acceptable in clssical ballet. Which is why most dancers either don't have them, or have them in places that are usually concealed

If you take this to its logical conclusion imagine a cast of heavily tattooed dancers and through in some body piercings and it would completely detract from the ballet aesthetic.


But no ballet dancers do this, so whats the point of even conjecturing?

No ballet dancers are heavily tattooed? No, the tattoos I was complaining about were quite large and visible from the rear mezzanine. With opera glasses (and likely from City Center's whole orchestra and Grand Tier), they were quite conspicuous.

So much conformity is demanded of dancers, particularly in the sub-principal ranks, that I totally understand the desire to assert their individuality. I suspect tattoos represent a mini-rebellion. Understanding the lure does not mean condoning the act.

And I'm sure the wearers do not consider the tats cheap. :flowers:

Piercings don't bother me, because the jewelry can be removed in performance.


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