Natalia

The Year in Ballet (the BEST and the WORST)

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As an entire week remains on the 2008 calendar, perhaps this is a bit premature. Nonetheless, I wanted to 'sneak' my 'Hits and Misses List' for the year today, as I shall be traveling for the remainder of the holiday season. Please add your own lists to this thread. It's a BalletTalk tradition, after all.

NATALIA's BALLET HITS & MISSES for 2008

2008 may have been a bummer-year for the economy but it was one of the most richly satisfying ones for me in all of my years of regular, non-stop balletgoing. First off, this marked the 30th Anniversary Year since I "saw the light" and became enamored with ballet at exactly 8pm on August 1, 1978, at the University of Puerto Rico Theater, watching Alicia Alonso and the Cuban National Ballet. Curtain rose on the Grand Pas de Quatre, featuring Mme. Alonso as Taglioni, surrounded by three other 'jewels' of the Cuban ballet, all in pink tulle. I was 'born again' - and the rest is history. :devil: So for that I raise my first glass of bubbly! Salud!

So back to 2008 and my HITS:

* Nikolai Hubbe Farewell at NYCB - I screamed my head off honoring this great dancer and his art! [sorry to have missed Woetzel's]

* Osipova and Vasiliev's FLAMES OF PARIS pdd at the YAGP Gala - loudest audience in existence and totally worth it for the dancing on view!

* The Kirov-Mariinsky's own BIG RED, Ekaterina Kondaurova, in practically everything that she danced at City Center, in April...but her SERENADE was extra-special. One for the ages.

* Surprise Tour of the Year: Tokyo's New National Theater Ballet in a magnificent RAYMONDA at the Kennedy Center

* Miami City Ballet's wondrous revival of Balanchine's SWAN LAKE, which I enjoyed in Ft Lauderdale

* Discovering the gem of NY Theater Ballet, performing Anthony Tudor's works

* Kirov full-evening BAYADEREs in DC, especially the wonder of Diana Vishneva's Nikiya...and the first-look at a star of the future in gorgeous, classically-proportioned Elizaveta Cheprassova as one of the four Little Bayaderes

* The Perm Ballet of Russia's fantastic Tchaikovsky Gala in East Lansing, Mich...especially the ravishing debutante soloist, Maria Menshikova, in Nutcracker pdd.

* NYCB's Robbins Celebration

* NYCB's new Ratmansky ballet, CONCERTO DSCH

* The Georgian Ballet at Brooklyn, especially Possokhov's folk-inspired ballet SAGALOBELLI

* The St. Petersburg State Acad. Ballet on tour in the USA, with its small-scaled but gorgeous GISELLE, starring Anna Borodulina and Yuri Mirov.

* Discovering Oregon Ballet Theater - the HIT of the Kennedy Center's 'Ballet Across America' season, performing Wheeldon's RUSH

* Discovering two amazing young male dancers during Proteges-II: the Royal Ballet's high-flying James Hay and the Bolshoi's Nureyev-inspired Artyom Ovchennikov

* San Fco Ballet's 75th Anniversary tours to NYC and DC, particularly Wheeldon's WITHIN THE GOLDEN HOUR; also, particularly loved the new young dancers Diego Cruz and Taras Domitro (notice the common theme of the year..fabulous MALE up-and-coming dancers?)

* Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet's 'cameo appearance' during the Kennedy Center's Open House Festival, performing Elo's Sibelius ballet

* the change of directors in both of the top Russian troupes - Bolshoi and Mariinsky...particularly needed at the latter.

* the plethora of new ballet DVDs on the market, particularly from Western Europe, with France taking the cake!

THE MISSES

* the precipitous decline of the Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet, despite glimmers of hope among several of the up-and-coming dancers; worst of all -- the noted decline in the uniformity of the corps de ballet during the US seasons...although I realize that some 24-25 corps members are brand new. [More on these huge changes in another thread in the next couple of weeks. I've done the analysis; y'all will be shocked.]

* The Day That Will Live On in Infamy (as per our fellow poster Cygnet): the coronation of Alina Somova to Principal at the Mariinsky

* Vishneva's Beauty in Motion Tour ,in general, although one has to applaud her spunk and the hard work of the dancers in the little troupe

* ABT's Sleeping Beauty Bomb at the Kennedy Center, despite a few excisions/improvements since its premiere six months earlier in NYC.

* Suzanne Farrell Ballet's stalling...trying hard but not quite at the level where it should be, despite wonderful dancers at the lower ranks ('though I realize that funding is the main reason for the problem)

* the deaths of so many wonderful members of the Ballet World this past year, including Barnes, Nerina, Arpino, Bolender, Lepeshinskaya, Baronova, Hightower, Bessmertnova (I am still in denial on that one!), Wilson, Marie-Jeanne, Stretton, Bjerkes, R. Boris, Mme Vinogradova from Kirov Academy...etc.....

BONUS! BONUS! - AND NOW FOR MY AWARDS, the "Nabies" (yeah, it's obviously a lazy day for me...)

PRIMA BALLERINA of 2008: Natalia Osipova, Bol; runner-up: Ashley Bouder, NYCB

PREMIER DANSEUR OF 2008: Ivan Vasiliev, Bol; r-up: Carlos Acosta, RB

BEST FEMALE SOLOIST: Ekaterina Kondaurova, Kirov; r-up: Yuriko Kajiya, ABT

BEST MALE SOLOIST: Vladimir Shklyarov, Kirov; r-up: Luis R. Torres, Washington Ballet

BEST FEMALE DISCOVERY/Future Star: Elizaveta Cheprassova, Kirov; Katherine Williams, ABT

BEST MALE DISCOVERY/Future Star: Diego Cruz, San Fco Ballet; r-up: James Hay, RB

Best Revival: Balanchine Swan Lake, MCB; r-up: Carnaval, Kirov

Best New Ballet: Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour, SFB; r-up: Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH, NYCB

Best Top Company on Earth: Bolshoi Ballet; r-up 1: POB; r-up 2: Royal/U.K.

Best 'Discovered Company': Oregon Ballet Theater

Best New DVD: Proust, POB r-up1 : Spartacus with Acosta/Kaptsova, Bolshoi; r-up2: Cuban Ballet DON Q...finally a DVD of today's troupe!

Best Non-Ballet Dance Event of 2008: revival of CLYTEMNESTRA by the Martha Graham Company

So let's all raise a glass for the highlights of 2008 and hope for an even brighter and happier 2009!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

** p.s. this is just the start of a thread that will hopefully include many lists from fellow BalletTalkers **

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Loved your lists, Natalia. The best memories for 2008 for me were Damian Woetzel's farewell season, including an unforgettable portrayal of the Prodigal Son; Ashley Bouder and Tess Reichlin in everything; Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Flames of Paris (the YAGP Gala); the Tudor Celebration at ABT's City Center season; the Kirov season at City Center - most particularly Victoria Tereshkina, Big Red Kondourova, and Sarafanov; Daniil Simkin in Flames of Paris at ABT; Taras Domitro of SFB in Four Temperaments; and the annual Flamenco Gala at City Center.

The prize for worst event goes to Beauty in Motion. What was Diana Vishneva thinking!! I thought it was an absolute waste of time and money. Other low points were seeing Nina Ananiashvilli in Don Q- it exposed the decline in her abilities in a very acute way. I thought that Rabbit and Rogue by Twyla Tharp was very disappointing. I detested Festa Baroca (ailey) and Oltremare (at City Ballet), both by Bigonzetti (sorry, I'm sure I screwed up the spelling) I felt sadness remembering the lovely Jennifer Alexander every time I went to ABT and saw others performing the roles she used to perform; I also frequently saw her husband around Lincoln Center using a cane. How does someone recover emotionally and physically from such an event? Does anyone know how he is?

Do you think that 2009 will finally see the retirement of any NYCB principals who are performing beyond their expiration date? Do you think that the wonderful Tess Reichlin will finally get the promotion she deserves? Will the fantastic Stella finally return to the stage? STELLLAAAA, we miss you. Will Kevin McKenzie promote V. Part? Imissed Concerto DSCH, and am looking forward to seeing it in January. I'm looking forward to seeing Osipova and Bolle at ABT. I'm not sure if Bolle is the greatest technician, but he is certainly one of the best looking male dancers on the scene.

Oh, I forgot. While ABT's Sleeping Beauty still has a lot of problems, thank you Kevin for making alterations, including getting rid of the purple boa and the shower curtain.

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Either it was an off year or I'm getting jaded in my old age. I saw precious little ballet this year and there was only one performance that left me gasping with joy: SFBallet's "Within the Golden Hour", or all things. Simply loved it.

Giannina

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I have to agree about Wheeldon's memorable 'Within the Golden Hour', although for me the whole SFB New Works Festival had to count as a highlight, despite the 'beige' nature of some of the new ballets. It was worth nine misses (or interesting near misses) to come up with one work like the Wheeldon.

And while I know it's an unfair way to judge anyone, based on what has been posted on Ballet Talk and what I've seen on YouTube, another highlight would be not seeing Somova in her Bay Area appearances in 2008.

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Just off the top of my head:

ABT:

Reyes and Salieve (sp?) in Tudor's R&J pas de deux. - Best

ABT's failure to stage Tudor's R&J in its entirety - Worst

Mixed bill at City Center showing ABT looking good enough in Tudor, Taylor and Balanchine but not excellent in any of them. - Disappointing

Halberg in Ballo - Best

Wiles in Ballo - Worst - she's just not a Balanchine dancer - too earthbound

NYCB

Woetzel's farewell and Ulbricht's debut in Prodigal - Best

David Protas in Flower Festival at Hubbe's final performance - Best

Bouder in mostly everything, Abi Stafford showing more depth and spirit than ever before - Best

Rutherford as the Girl in pink at the Dancer's Emergency Fund benefit - Best

Kowrowski as the Siren - Best

Mearns' development as an artist - Best

Some programs in the Robbin's Festival, which showed how limited his choreography can be - worst

Biggest disappointment

The Kirov at City Center. I may be alone in this but I found most of the dancing extremely mannered and lacked spontaneity. I was not convinced by their take on Balanchine - too square musically. I thought the men were mostly weak (with the exception of some soloists). I liked some individual dancers but the performances, except for the national dances in Raymonda, were just no fun.

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I'd include this as one of the huge hits of 2008: Ekaterina Kondaurova's debut as Odette/Odile in Lebedinoye Ozero on October 30, 2008 at the Mariinsky Theatre. I've read there were RAVE reviews of her performance, and the from the pictures posted on Mariinka.org she was stunning looking, especially as Odile as we can see from this picture. :)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3233/299177...c70ee72ab_o.jpg

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Here's my South Floridian humble contribution:

The best:

The possibility to see again three of my old time favorites “a la cubana”:

1-CCBM’s Swan Lake-(with incredible Hayna Gutierrez, my pick for “ballerina of the year”)

2-CCBM’s Nutcracker-(in their Fedorova version, and Jordan Elizabeth Long as the BEST SPF)

3-Ballet Etudes’ La Fille Mal Gardee-(Nijinska’s via Cuban National Ballet)

and then:

Getting to see some Balanchine for the very first time. In order of likeness:

La Valse, Serenade, Bourree Fantasque, Pas de Dix, Square Dance, The Four Temperaments, Sonatine

As per the dancers, this are my picks for the most remarkable performances:

Hayna Gutierrez as Odile (CCBM’s Swan Lake)

Deanna Seay as Odette (MCB’s Swan Lake)

Ileana Lopez as Carmen (Ballet Gamonet)

Mary Carmen Catoya as Dewdrop (MCB’s Nutcracker)

Jordan Elizabeth Long as the Sugar Plum Fairy (CCBM’s Nutcracker)

Jeremy Cox’s solo in Square Dance (MCB)

Taras Domitro in Flames of Paris PDD (CCBM)

Grace Anne Powers as Medora (CCBM: Corsaire PDD)

Haiyan Wu in Sonatine (MCB)

And I disliked:

Mary Carmen Catoya’s characterization of Aurora (MCB’s Aurora’s Wedding)

Balanchine’s Swan Lake concept-(which I still don’t get…sorry guys…)

Balanchine’s Nutcracker concept-(well… this is known already)

Ballet Etudes’ Corps

And of course…the big winner of this part, the one and only THARP’S NIGHTSPOT!! (I promise…this is the last time I say it… :) )

…I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff. Oh well…

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Good topic! I hope we get lots of responses -- from all over the world. (Please!)

I realized as I thought about this that I tend to think of time in terms of "seasons " or "academic year" (eg., 2008-2009) rather than calendar years. Many of my memories from last spring are now, alas, filed away.

Tops for me THIS season (so far):

-- MCB's Four Temperaments, which I could have watched with fascinating several times a day for several weeks;

-- the MCB production of the Balanchine Swan Lake, beautifully done. When I was young seeing this ballet for the first time was an epiphany moment for me. (And ... you certainly got to see it a lot of it at NYCB in the City Center days. :) )

-- Jeremy Cox in Mercuric Tidings. It's been wonderful to watch this gifted artist grow over the years.

-- the chance, generally, to watch -- closely and over an extended period of time -- certain dancers at MCB and Ballet Florida mature into significant peformers. I had been missing this opportunity of being able to FOLLOW a company, ever since I stopped attending NYCB regularly in the late 80s. Now I have found it again in another part of the country and with a different group of Balanchine influenced dancers.

-- having the chance to be on the other side of the footlights, as a small part of Ballet Florida's grand Nutcracker for the second year. It's a privilege and one of the most fascinating experiences I've ever had.

Low points (so far):

-- nothing, really. Whenever there are serious dancers moving to music on a stage there's always something to look at, to think about and to experience with wonder. Even with unworthy choreography or vulgar stage design. And even if the dancers I'm focusing on are in the back row.

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...I realized as I thought about this that I tend to think of time in terms of "seasons " or "academic year" (eg., 2008-2009) rather than calendar years. Many of my memories from last spring are now, alas, filed away....

Bart, I share your season/academic year perspective. Trouble is, when you started that version of "best of" we were still mid semester here in NYC. And my "Best" was yet to come.

First I must thank two ballerinas that spoiled us this year. Nina Ananiashvili danced both herself and Diana Vishneva for ABT's Met season. I don't know which was better.... But in her 40's maturity I feel she has gained more than she has lost. It is what in Russia they call Artistry. And Nina's Artistry saved a company's season. Brava. The other ballerina, NYCB's Ashley Bouder. Prima Ballerina Assoluta. She not only can save a season, she can save Balanchine.

Top three performances:

3. April 19, 2008. Ekaterina Kondaurova's Waltz in the Mariinsky's performance of Balanchine's Serenade. "Big Red" owned NYC during the Saint Petersburg company's visit, and I pick this because it was her greatest role. I much prefer the best of NYCB's performances of this ballet (tempi, leads and corps), but "they" always seem to miscast at least one lead. The dream: Add Katya's Waltz to Ashley Bouder's Russian and Sara A. Mearns's Dark Angel in NYCB's production.

2. April 21, 2008. YAGP Gala, Flames of Paris PdD, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. Yes, an audience can get louder than for Nureyev or Baryshnikov!

1. June 24, 2008. NYCB, Balanchine's Rondo alla Zingarese, the fourth movement of his Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. Sara A. Mearns, partnered by Amar Ramasar. Ballet is as simple as ABC: Abandon, Balanchine, Choreography. They talk about it here:

http://vimeo.com/2343223

Worst? Well, I go to the ballet to enjoy it. It is Christmas, so I won't mention that guy who makes things bad...

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Oh, BTW, If i may I would like to add the intersting fact that here in Miami we had the opportunity to see three different concepts ot Swan Lake-(A hight point)- ABT/Petipa via Martins, MCB/Balanchine via Villella and CCBM/Petipa/Alonso via Magaly Suarez. CCBM's as my pick.

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I only got to see four performances this year, and three of them have been absolute high points of my year.

That would be:

- The Bolshoi ballet in Amsterdam, Spartacus; especially Maria Alexandrova as Aegina.

- Again the Bolshoi ballet, this time in Moscow, Don Quixote with Galina Stepanenko and Ivan Vasiliev.

- Once more the Bolshoi ballet, gala performance in honour of Ekaterina Maksimova and Vladimir Vasiliev.

The other performance I went to wasn't a high point, but I wouldn't call it a low point either.. The Royal Ballet of Flanders' Sleeping Beauty.

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Its amazing how one person's highlight can be another's low point…

For me, the undisputed highlight of the year was the Kirov's City Center season. Yes, I wish they had a bigger stage and yes, I wish they had brought full length productions (you know, the warhorses!) but what glories they showed us under challenging conditions. There were so many incredible performances, so many moments forever emblazoned into my mind, but I think my absolute favorite was the Lopatkina Raymonda, both for her performance and for their revelatory performance of the national dances. I have seen the Kirov & Bolshoi perform mazurkas & czardas before – both Swan Lake & the Bolshoi's Raymonda come to mind - but nothing came close to the artistry and detail in the movement of these dancers.

Second perhaps was Tereshkina in Ballet Imperial. I'd seen her before, and been impressed, but this was a defining performance both for the ease with which she sailed through one of the most challenging roles ever made for a ballerina and for the authority and artistry she brought to it. Other highlights were her Raymonda and the Don Q pas de deux & Corsaire she did with Sarafanov, they were incredible individually & as a pair in these 2 bravura show pieces.

Although many other dancers impressed, the other indelible performance was from the dancer who will now always be known in NY as Big Red. She was stunning in soloist roles in Bayadere (and just about everything else) and soulful as the waltz girl in Serenade – but she was a Rubies "Tall Girl" for the ages. What an uncanny combination of technique, (appropriately) extended line and irresistible glamour combined with in-your-face aggressiveness. She was amazing and MUST guest with NYCB some day soon!

I will add one more Kirov Highlight – Alina Somova in Paquita, Etudes and 1 of the 3 Bayaderes I saw her do in NY. As you can tell from this post I went to many, many Kirov CC performances and thus was forced to see a lot of Somova. Even before this NY season I'd seen her a handful of times and had not been a fan. It seems a little strange to single out her dancing as a highlight when I only liked 3 performances out of maybe 15 or so that I've seen, but those 3 were beautiful and help to explain why the Kirov is promoting her so relentlessly. She clearly does have some unique qualities, let's hope she gets the coaching she needs to attain some consistency and develop artistically.

Other highlights – at NYCB Bouder, Whelan & Kowroski continue to astound and Sara Mearns blossomed into a true ballerina. I particularly recall a run of Jewels where deciding whether to see Ms. Mearns in Emeralds or Diamonds presented an almost insurmountable dilemma (I went to both, of course). Kathryn Morgan & Erica Pereira grew in artistry before our eyes and I feel sure that they will be providing us with highlights for years to come.

An unlikely highlight for me was the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Impressing the Czar. Truthfully, the only reason I went to see it was that it was the slow season in NY and there was nothing else going on. It sounded like a combination modern ballet/performance piece, which does not appeal to me at all. That description was pretty accurate, but it doesn't come close to describing the piece. I found it witty, intriguing, and I loved the fact that there was so much going on it was impossible to take it all in at once. I saw it twice, and will definitely try to go again if it ever comes back to NY.

Osipova & Vasiliev's Flames of Paris pdd had to be one of the highlights of the decade, let alone the last year. I can only say that it's not #1 on my list because amazing as it was I was prepared for it, having been lucky enough to see them in Don Q twice in 07. I can't wait to see her with ABT this spring, and hope that Vasiliev comes back to NY soon too!

I loved Wheeldon's Within The Golden Hour – it's my favorite new ballet since After the Rain. This highlight came courtesy of the San Francisco Ballet, and just about everything Yuan Yuan Tan danced is also on my list. Their 4T's was a highlight due to the extraordinary individual performances of Domitro & Ivan Popov, but though the general level of dancing was high and the steps were presented clearly and without affectation I felt that their attack wasn't quite sharp enough, especially compared to the Miami City Ballet. I don't recall the individual performances of MCB being as outstanding as SFB's, but the whole MCB ensemble brought so much energy and style to the ballet that it was stunning. Here was the speed, accent and attack that I missed from SFB.

ABT also contributed some memorable moments – most recently the Melissa Thomas/ Thomas Forster cast in Jardin aux Lilas and the stunning Pillar of Fire from Murphy & Hallberg at the Tudor Celebration night. Going back to the spring season Nina's Giselle was magnificent and very moving, however I agree that her Don Q was a big disappointment and would go even further than abatt to say that I think Swan Lake is also stretching her abilities now.

Other low points include ABT's decision not to give us a Part/Gomes Swan Lake and SFB's Divertimento. I was really looking forward to this – I love Divertimento so much I bought tickets to 3 performances of it, and didn't really enjoy any of them. I know that Divertimento is Balanchine in his "Petipa mode" – but whatever the inflection I can't think of anything less Balanchinian than safe, academic dancing. He was all about the energy, the daring. SFB's Divertimento was so slow and academic it was almost as painful for me to listen to as it was to watch. The flip side was that this program included the Wheeldon & Yuri Possokhov's Fusion so it was a high/low combo!

But beyond question, the absolute low point of the year for me was Vishneva's "Beauty in Motion". Bravo to her for taking the risk – but boy was it awful.

Fortunately there were many, many more highlights than low points this year, and the New Year always starts out right here in NY with NYCB putting away the Nutcracker and starting their regular rep. Let's go 2009!!!!

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I guess I'll join the party.

High point of my year was definitely CCBM's Swan Lake, with Adiarys Almeida doing four pirrouettes into four pirrouettes in attitude at the beginning of black swan.

Also, Miguel Angel Blanco and Hayna Gutierrez in Don Q PPD. Amazing, basically.

Low point was definitely ABT's Sleeping Beauty. I felt like I was watching a Disney movie. I love Disney, but not as a ballet.

Hopefully I just had my low point of 2009.

I just saw Royal Ballet of Flander's Swan Lake and Rothbart was pecked to death by the swans at the end. It was very well danced, but very confusing. If that's the worst thing I see this year, I'll be happy.

Here's to an amazing 2009!

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2008 in London was definitely hit & miss with some maginficent performances & some utter dross.

Hits included:

Aki Saito & the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Impressing the Czar & particularly In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Stunning.

Lauren Cuthbertson of the RB in practically every role that she has danced in 2008 showing that she indeed has something special.

Marianela Nunez giving a Swan Lake of extraordinary beauty.

Miyako Yoshida of the RB reminding us at the December premier of Nutcracker that no-one else can do that SPF pdd quite like her, she just is the music!

Melissa Hamilton for an extraordinary performance in L'Invitation au Voyage & the possibility of another British ballerina emerging.

Beatrice Stix-something(?) the 15 year old wunderkind that Christopher Wheeldon brought to London with his Morphoses company. Wow & still at school! I hope that I get to see a lot more of her as she is clearly an exciting talent to watch.

Performances of Sleeping Beauty & Manon by English National Ballet demonstrating the quality of their dancers & their beautiful productions, quite a treat.

Misses:

The Kirov in a Balanchine & Forsythe Bill at the Sadlers Wells. Appalling in the Forsythe with no feel for the style & in fact outclassed by the Flanders company 2 weeks later! The Kirov looked like a provincial Russian company & I've never seen so many people leave at the interval.

Valeri Gergeiv for conducting one of the worst accounts of Stravinsky's Apollo score I've ever heard & ruining Igor Zelensky's performance, no wonder Zelensky looked thunderous throughout the piece. Depressing.

The extortionate prices charged at the London Coliseum for NYCB keeping many genuine ballet-goers at home.

NYCB - disappointing, one hears so much about them & their dancers & somehow it just didn't work out.

Sadlers Wells for playing safe with their dance programming & not ensuring quality control on some companies that did appear.

Royal Ballet - disappointment that so many injuries at principal level played havoc with the autumn casting.

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I guess I'll join the party.

High point of my year was definitely CCBM's Swan Lake, with Adiarys Almeida doing four pirrouettes into four pirrouettes in attitude at the beginning of black swan.

Also, Miguel Angel Blanco and Hayna Gutierrez in Don Q PPD. Amazing, basically.

Low point was definitely ABT's Sleeping Beauty. I felt like I was watching a Disney movie. I love Disney, but not as a ballet.

Hopefully I just had my low point of 2009.

I just saw Royal Ballet of Flander's Swan Lake and Rothbart was pecked to death by the swans at the end. It was very well danced, but very confusing. If that's the worst thing I see this year, I'll be happy.

Here's to an amazing 2009!

chocolatemilklover, I'd like to hear what you thought was "confusing" about the RB of Flanders Swan Lake. Perhaps best to continue about this on this separate thread. Thanks.

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Thinking more in terms of seasons rather than calendar years, I'm constitutionally disqualified for this thread, but just off the top of this Balanchine addict's head, there was the Suzanne Farrell Ballet's revival of his Liebeslieder Walzer last October. When I read the announcement, I thought, "Does she have the dancers for it?" When I saw the performances, I thought, "They've got the same faces and names as her dancers had before, but they're not dancing like they did. That really is Liebeslieder they're doing," and better observers than I who also knew the ballet from when its choreographer supervised its performances said much the same: She hasn't got the dancers, but there's Liebeslieder. You say, That kind of talk doesn't make sense? I say, descriptions of miracles don't make sense.

After that, I'd have to cheat and pull out my Miami City Ballet programs... Certainly their Swan Lake revival was a very high point, not least for their excellent corps, recently much admired (in other repertory) in the City Center in New York...

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This is a 2008 thread, but I guess we can recycle it. The highest ballet point for me in the past year was not, ironically, a live ballet performance, but the DVD a good friend got me of the Italian reconstruction of Raymonda for Alla Scala. SUPERB!!! wub.png

I still have to come up with the lowest one yet...will think about it.

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Thanks for reviving this thread, Cristian. tiphat.gif I've changed the title (deleting the "2008") to encourage people to continue sharing their BEST and WORSTS from 2011 and 2012.

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Mine are, not in any order:

1. PNB "Giselle", not only for making it so much more live than any production since DTH's Creole "Giselle", but also for break-out performances by new Principals (as of the beginning of this season) Lesley Rausch and Rachel Foster and new Soloist (in name only) Jerome Tisserand and the luminous Myrtha of Carrie Imler and incisive Chalnessa Eames' Berthe.

2. Rausch, Foster, and Tisserand continue their tear on roles during the Fall, and Imler is simply Imler, a living treasure.

3. Mariinsky's "Little Humpbacked Horse", especially for Shklyarov's, Tereshkina's, and Obraztsova's performances in the leads, but also for the Company's casting it to strength at all levels.

4. Doug Fullington's illuminating "After Petipa" presentation. Kudos to the dancers and pianist Christina Siemens.

5. Kyle Davis in "Baiser de la Fee", one of the most authoritative performances I've seen.

6. Breanna Starke and Ginger Smith in Ballet Arizona's "Monumentum"/"Movements"

7. Jillian Barrell in Ballet Arizona's "La Valse".

8. Alina Cojocaru as Aurora in ABT's "Sleeping Beauty".

9. Carrie Imler and Lucien Postlewaite in "Black Swan Pas de Deux". Perfection.

10. PNB's "Encores" program: our last chance to see Ariana Lallone, Chalnessa Eames, Barry Kerollis, Josh Spell, Stacy Lowenberg, and Chalnessa Eames with PNB, and Jeffrey Stanton in his best. non-character roles.

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Best: San van Patten in The Little Mermaid and Romeo and Juliet, Sofiane Sylve in Symphony in C, everything about ABT in The Bright Stream (most especially the pairing of Part and Abrera), Anette Delgado in everything I saw her in, Diana & Marcelo in Lady of Camelias pdd, the advances in live streaming, Thomas Lund on the RDB tour, the delightful people (especially our Russian friends with sneaky cameras) on Youtube who continue to share rare treasures with us

Worst: Reflections (I am still having flashbacks), The Mariinsky Giselle in 3D (save Kondaurova), SFB substituting Trio in for Chroma on their triple bill at SCFTA, the Metallica piece from the RDB tour, ABT continuing to act like the internet/youtube/movie theater streaming does not exist

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I have to agree that the Mariinsky visit to NYC in July was wonderful. There were also so many fantastic performances at ABT at the Met and NYCB I wouldn't know where to begin. So many incredible dancers to see in New York City - Osipova, Vasiliev, Cojocaru,Vishneva, Mearns, Bouder, Peck, Reichlin, Hallberg, Gomes. We are very lucky to have such a wealth of talent perform in New York. I also feel very lucky to have seen the Mariinsky in Washington D.C. in February, and I hope they continue to perform regularly in either Washington D.C. or NYC every season. Another high point are these ballet in cinema presentations from the Bolshoi. No, obviously it's not as good as seeing it live, but since I won't be visiting Moscow I'm happy to see these films.

The low point of the year was the poor judgment exercised by the adminstration of NYCB. I have no problem with them raising prices, but they went about it in the worst possible way. They have alienated a lot of long time customers. The other low point was ABT's program decisions for the City Center engagement. Obviously, they were looking to save money by using works with recorded music. While I enjoyed seeing certain ballets (Seven Sonatas, Duets), most of the works they presented were hugely disappointing (including the world premiere they presented) or too repetitive of prior seasons (enough of Company B and Sinatra Suite already).

The worst ballet I saw in 2011 was Lynn Taylor Corbett's Seven Deadly Sins at NYCB. Terrible choreography. Whelan was completely miscast. What a shame we have to sit through this ballet in order to see Vienna Waltzes.

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Doug Fullington's (with PNB dancers and pianist Christina Siemens) lecture-demonstration "After Petipa" made the Seattle Weekly's "Our Critics' 10 Favorite Moments of 2011", in this case sandik:

PNB had a great year in 2011, with several truly significant productions, but probably the best single event was a lecture/demonstration by Doug Fullington. His "After Petipa" came during the October run of Love Stories, which included the famous Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa (1818-1910). Fullington has a modest demeanor, but he's done some groundbreaking work as a dance historian since the company hired him in 1995 (originally as a pianist; he's now Education Programs Manager). His presentation on the changes in classical ballet before and after Petipa—using PNB dancers to illustrate his points—cogently showed how and why things came to look the way they do on stage today. The company will take his lec/dem to New York next spring, and it will be live-streamed as part of the Guggenheim's "Work and Process" programming, giving you a second chance to see it.

"After Petipa" will be presented on Sunday, 13 May- Monday, 14 May, 7:30pm at the Guggenheim Museum. Tickets go on sale next Monday, 9 January. It will also be streamed live!

http://www.guggenhei...events-schedule

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There were some absolutely wonderful performances in NY & DC this past year.

Best:

Shklyarov in the Mariinsky's Little Humpbacked Horse. I also enjoyed Obraztsova, Tereshkina and even Somova as the Tsar Maiden, but it's Ratmansky's brilliantly inventive choreography & Shklyarov's performance that stick in my memory

Cojocaru's Aurora & Giselle. So lucky to be able to see more of this beautiful ballerina on a semi-regular basis!

RDB's La Sylphide - what a perfect production, and beautifully danced

NYCB's Jewels, especially Kowroski & Askegard in Diamonds

Chase Finlay's debut in Apollo

Mearns & Kowroski together in Concerto Barocco

Paul Taylor's Orbs

Vishneva, Gomes, Part, Boylston, Kajiya, Riccetto & Matthews in ABT's Giselle. A perfect cast and one of those magical nights when drama becomes art.

Lopatkina, Tereshkina & Vishneva in the Mariinsky's Giselle. Each gave a wonderful, moving performance and we also had Kondaurova's monumental Myrtha

Clifton Brown in "I Wanna Be Ready" from Revelations. Nobody does it like him

Alicia Graf Mack every time she stepped on the stage with Ailey this season - I'm so glad she's back

Worst:

I didn't see Oceans Kingdom, but Seven Deadly Sins was absolutely deadly in every way. And we still have to put up with it to see Vienna Waltzes this coming season!

Annmaria Mazzini's retirement - it came far too early

Suzanne Farrell Ballet's first NY performance of the Diamonds pas de deux. A perfect storm of ill omens surrounded this performance. Take a stage & hall that were too small, a bad recording, a miscast ballerina and unfortunate mistakes. Everything conspired to make this one of the worst performances ever.

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I share several high points with Helene. Topping my list -- and certainly among the top five of my lifetime list -- was Alina Cojocaru's transcendent Aurora opposite Johann Kobborg in ABT's embarrassing (albeit improved) Sleeping Beauty. It was like seeing the ballet for the first time, the steps melting into meaning, nothing extra, nothing wasted, as natural as breathing. flowers.gifthanks.GIF

Although the Royal Danish Ballet's programs in Washington and New York were, on the whole, disappointing, I adored Gudrun Bojesen's Sylph. flowers.gif

Doug Fullington's two Works and Process programs, thumbsup.gif the one devoted to PNB's new/old staging of Giselle (still available for viewing here) I wish his lecture/demo on Balanchine's Petipa, a 2010 event here, were similarly available. So much info to absorb! By the way, I'm excited to see that Doug is bringing some of his wonderful dancers back this spring for a program "After Petipa."

At NYCB Sara Mearns colored the "bracelet variation" with wistful melancholy. I'd never seen danced that way before, but it fit, and I loved it. I loved everything I saw Mearns do but that Emeralds stands out among the standouts.

One evening was both a high point and a low point: the sad evening of Jose Manuel Carreno's retirement, when he danced like a man ten years his junior.

As for other worsts, I managed to avoid Ocean's Kingdom and Seven Deadly Sins at NYCB.

I stand firmly with abatt's negative marks against NYCB's harebrained, new pricing scheme, apparently designed to alienate lower-cost ticket buyers. It left me feeling so bitter that I didn't even bother to see if there were reasonable seats for George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. angry.png Goodness knows, there were plenty of appealing casts.

The other low point was ABT's program decisions for the City Center engagement. Obviously, they were looking to save money by using works with recorded music.
To be fair, several of the ballets were performed to solo instruments (including the wonderful Barbara Bilach at piano) or small ensembles. The ballets themselves were for small ensembles, which I suspect meant that many corps dancers never performed, never collected the higher salaries for performing weeks, and likely weren't even called to rehearse. Further, there was scant use of those very expensive, short-lived pointe shoes. There were many economies taken in that season. On the one hand, I think it was ingenious money-saving. On the other, I hope the junior dancers' paychecks didn't suffer.

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, ABT continuing to act like the internet/youtube/movie theater streaming does not exist

After being shocked and disappointed by ABT's website, I was surprised to see a minor fix in its library, at least.

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