Natalia

The Year in Ballet (the BEST and the WORST)

40 posts in this topic

Thank you all - I've enjoyed reading all your posts and agree with so many.

For me best:

Cojocaru/Kobborg Sleeping Beauty

Cojocaru/Hallberg Gisele

Jewels - esp. Mearns & T. Peck in Emeralds & Reichlin in Rubies

Ashley Bouder in Square Dance

worst:

Ocean's Kingdom (didn't see 7 Deadly Sins)

NYCB eliminating seats and crazy pricing

ABT - City Center season rep. I understand the economics, but a company with ABT's history can do better.

I look forward to everyone's opinions and reviews in 2012. Thank you!

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I only saw a handful of performances this year, most of them excellent -- or indeed better than excellent (including 2 Cojocaru performances of Aurora in ABT's Sleeping Beauty and Lopatkina making a stunning impression in the, as I think, absurd and trashy Carmen), but the performance that seared itself into my memory this year was Kondaurova in Ratmansky's Anna Karenina: to my eyes she not only made a case for her own performance but for the ballet as a whole.

But as to her own performance: the way she looked out into the audience as the thought of suicide first comes to her mind...well, I still see it in MY mind's eye: a strange kind of ecstasy seemed to sieze her. But I was moved throughout by the concrete and differentiated emotion she brought to every scene, whether quiet or intense, domestic or erotic...and also moved (and dazzled) by the sheer dance power she conveyed through her legs shooting out to the side as she was lifted into the air.

Throughout she conveyed the sense that a being of enormous intelligence, energy, and feeling was caught in a worldly trap with passionate rebellion turning into still another worldly trap...Which is why the suicide seemed like a flight to freedom, though a despairing one.

So: Kondaurova as Anna Karenina: the absolute highlight of my (admitedly limited) ballet going year -- but also a highlight of my ballet-going across the years.

Not a lot was said about this performance at the State Theater in the press or online: Kondaurova was "third cast" in New York. Obviously, I think it deserved and deserves attention -- as indeed it got in Russia where she won the "golden mask" for it.

(For some context: I'm not a fan of the Cranko-Macmillan full length-story ballets--though I can appreciate the great performances they sometimes inspire--say, Haydee in Onegin. I found Ratmansky's approach to this "genre" rather interesting in its resistance to being a Cranko-Macmillan style crowd pleaser--in its speed, its use of pantomime and tableaux, and in its almost unremitting grimness. The scenic effects are stunning and in many ways carry the ballet almost as much as Kondaurova's performance does. Anyway, I would not mind seeing the ballet again for its own sake though I don't know that it would hold up. I would run to see it again with Kondaurova.)

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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.

Almost decided not to mention my pick for the other side of the spectrum, but here it goes anyhow. As my worst dancing viewing moment-(not necessarily ballet)-I nominate my ill-fated experience with Cunningham's troupe's performance on their farewell tour. Just disheartening and confusing.

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well, I would have to agree with cubanmiamiboy on the "worst". However, I also think art takes a lot of risks, and we as audience members also take risks. Dance is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get!

(I say as I savor the last of the Sees Candy chocolate truffles from Christmas)

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Here's my best and worst list. I know some of these have already been mentioned.

Best

1. ABT guest artist Polina Semionova in Don Q with David Hallberg and especially in Swan Lake with

Marcelo Gomes.

2. David Hallberg as Albrecht in ABT's Giselle.

3. ABT guest artists Natalia Osipova and Vladimir Vasieliev in Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream.

4. Vladimir Shkylarov and the rest of the Mariinsky cast in Alexei Ratmansky's The Little

Hunchbacked Horse.

5. NYCB's Jewels, especially Teresa Reichlein in Rubies and Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard

in Diamonds.

6. Elizabeth Holowchuk and Momchil Mladenov in Balanchine's Meditation - performed by the

Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

Worst

1. NYCB's Seven Deadly Sins.

2. NYCB's Ocean's Kingdom.

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Well 2011 was the year that I got into ballet!

Best Performances:

Edward Watson in Gloria

David Hallberg in Swan Lake with the Mariinsky Ballet (I saw him with Viktoria Tereshkina - I really regret not booking for his performance with Kondaurova though!)

Jewels, particularly Alina Cojocaru in Diamonds and Zenaida Yanowsky in Rubies

Requiem

The absolute worst was Wayne McGregor's Live Fire Excersise.

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On this side of the Atlantic it was three dancers appearing in London for the first time that did a lot to brighten up 2011. They were the Kirov’s Maria Shirinkina, RDB’s Alban Lendorf who appeared with the Peter Schaufuss Company and Yonah Acosta who has joined ENB.

Apart from Alice in Wonderland, more a mixed media event than a ballet, there were slim pickings on the choreographic front. Best of the year for me was Ratmanski’s Psyche albeit in Paris.

Victoria Tereshkina of the Kirov ranks as my ballerina of the year for stunning performances in several roles but particularly in Ballet Imperial. Top male dancer has to be Steven McRae who simply goes from strength to strength – his performance in Ashton’s Rhapsody was astonishing, even the role’s creator, Baryshnikov, was never that good.

The RB continues to disappoint, with worrying weaknesses among dancers below principal rank but ENB had a good year with superb revivals of works by Lifar and Petit.

2012 may be problematic as visiting companies are unable to come because of inflated costs due to the London Olympics. The Kirov were supposed to come earlier in the year with performances of Balanchine’s Midsummer’s Night Dream but that is now cancelled, though modern dance looks more promising with a season of works by Pina Bausch at Sadlers Wells. Slightly off topic the Olympics are already causing headaches to a lot of people with travel being seriously disrupted in the city, consequently West End theatres are likely to see a drop in numbers as the faithful American visitors that visit for the London theatre scene in the summer will keep away due to shockingly overblown hotel prices. Not good.

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Best that I saw in 2011, either on travels or here in DC...or 'live in cinemas':

A-#1 highlight, no question: Raymonda reconstruction at La Scala and Olesya Novikova's stellar performance on opening night. Sergei Vikharev is the world's undisputed king of Petipa-era reconstructions. Also, this has the most perfectly beautiful -- rich and REALISTIC -- designs of the year, as they were exact reconstructions of the 1898 sets & costumes. (Ratmansky, please take note.)

David Hallberg in anything, not least of all the Sleeping Beauty at the Bolshoi (live cinema event). He is my Male Principal of the Year.

Ekaterina Kondaurova -- my Ballerina of the Year -- as Odette/Odile-Swan Lake in Toronto, during the fabulous Canadian tour by the Mariinsky

Ashley Bouder in Square Dance, at the Kennedy Center (NYCB tour). I also loved the NYCB corps de ballet in the revival of Balanchine's exquisite Tombeau de Couperin.

Being able to witness the Bolshoi Theater's grand reopening live in cinemas. There were too many beautiful moments to cite just one or two.

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet's lovely 10th-anniversary seasons at the KennCen and the Joyce-NYC. Especially delightful was the complete Diamonds in DC, starring Heather Ogden. Brava!

Worst of the Worst:

Alina Somova's tin-eared and gawky interpretation of Giselle at the Kennedy Center (Mariinsky tour). Luckily, two weeks later, Canada was spared her pre-announced performances, although the Mariinsky website still indicates that she began the run in Toronto! In actuality, Terioshkina took over the Somova performances....but we aren't supposed to know that...shhhhhh...this is "history, Soviet style"!

Horrendous Duato edition of Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky. A travesty of UN-classicism.

Ratmansky's El-Cheapo Nutcracker (ABT in DC)...'boo' to both the designs and the production, in which the more original elements happened to be watered-down moments from the Mariinsky-Chemyakin/Simonov edition...especially The Bees!!! Can't fault the wonderful ABT dancers, though.

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Hi Natalia. I also hated the production of ABT's Nutcracker and thought it looked cheap and small. However, if you look at it on the stage for which it was created (Brooklyn Academy of Music), it becomes clearer that the small size of the stage at BAM created restrictions both in the production elements and the choreography. The stage at BAM appears to be modeled after a New York City studio apartment. It seems to be ridiculously small.

From reading the posts on this thread, it sounds like I will have a lot of company on the Promenade level at NYCB this winter during my Extended Seven Deadly Sins Coffee Break, while I wait for Vienna Waltzes to begin. They have not yet announced who the singer will be for SDS. Last year they were touting Patti Lupone months in advance. Does anyone know who will be singing SDS this time around?.

Edit: Just answered my own question. The NYCB website indicates that LuPone is returning to sing SDS in February.

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I also loved the NYCB corps de ballet in the revival of Balanchine's exquisite Tombeau de Couperin.
Thank you for mentioning Tombeau, Natalia. A major highlight for me, too thumbsup.gif, but in New York.

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I *did* see it in NYC, Carbro! :) Just as I hope to be around to see another rarity in NYC this coming May -- Kammermusik no. 2.

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My top ten of the year; I'm afraid some names and some companies are returning more than once but to me it's hard to find something better than those flowers.gif

  1. Alina Cojocaru, Sascha Riabko and Silvia Azzoni in Neumeier's Kameliendame (Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, 01NOV2011). Probably the best show I've ever seen. Three sensitive and clever artists (surrounded by excellent colleagues!) able to give full life to this poetic and complex masterpiece , a delicate and subtle work, for sure not done for every dancer. Every detail was true, credible, colorful, well known and at the same time new, every nuance vivid and touching. The choreographic movements that can look absurd in bad hands flowed smoothly as the authentic breath of the dancers. The story was so true and absorbing that the intervals come as hurting fractures of the reality. Alina Cojocaru (already fantastic at the debut, on the 3rd of October, and grown show after show) when talking if it never fails to thank the coaching, especially by Kevin Haigen: thank you also from me to him and John Neumeier for such a ballet night.
  2. Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg in Manon (Royal Ballet, London, 04JUN2011). An unforgettable night, a show of great sensitivity and intensity, with a fantastic partnership giving clever freshness and vitality to a consolidated work. The flower thrown at the end and the enthusiastic crowd at the stage door were the only possible conclusion for such a show. As Judith Flanders writes, (http://www.theartsde...and-german-dane) flak in the backstage... it even seems that the couple has been defined a "disgrace for the Company" by somebody: please, please, please give me such a disgrace every night!!!
  3. Ulyana Lopatkina in La Bayadère (dress rehearsal, Mariinsky Ballet, London, 11AUG2011): a role she has not danced for a couple of years and a rehearsal including alternation with other Nikiyas, a fall into the misplaced sacred fire, a discussion with the conductor, but mainly some of the most marvelous musical luminous dancing I've ever seen: thank you Ulyana!
  4. Viktoria Tereshkina in Swan Lake (Mariinsky Ballet, Turin, 29OCT2011): nowadays, she is the Swan.
  5. Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin in Marguerite and Armand (Royal Ballet, London 08OCT2011): a passionate performance that finally brings the ballet back to its initial glory.
  6. Sascha Riabko as Puck in Neumeier's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, 04MAR2011). a poetic and musical dancer able to be at the top also in such a comical role, another wonderful dancing and acting performance by an extraordinary artist.
  7. Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg in Onegin (Royal Ballet of Flanders, Antwerp, 24JUN2011): another memorable performance of this two great ballet actors; he is one of the most credible Onegin, she is the only one able to reproduce my idea of Pushkin's Tatiana.
  8. Vladimir Shklyarov as the Golden Slave in Shéhérazade (Mariinsky Ballet, Turin, 15OCT2011): a wonderful sensual and masculine performance, able to charm Turin audience.
  9. Raymonda Reconstruction (La scala, Milan, 25OCT2011): a production of great interest and great prestige for my hometown company.
  10. Liliom, new ballet by John Neumeier (Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, 04DEC2011): Alina Cojocaru, Carsten Jung, Sasha Riva, Lloyd Riggins, Leslie Heylmann, Kostantin Tselikov and Hamburg Ballet for a new master piece. Thank you John Neumeier and Michel Legrand for such a gem. At the end of the list because the more "matured" show on the 05JAN2012 was my first of the year and is already applying for the first position of the best of 2012.

Worst of the year: to have not seen any show of the Bolshoi; Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the more or less 1.7 million pounds "spent" on it.

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Annamicro, that's a great list. smile.png One tiny correction, though. Lopatkina HAD been dancing Nikiya/Bayadere a few months before the London tour. I saw her dance it in Ottawa (opposite Korsuntsev) in February 2011, although I much prefered the Terioshkina/Schklyarov casting.

Like you (and so many others), I should have mentioned Wheeldon's Alice in Wonderland among my 'Worst of the Worst'...except that the three items on my worst list were even worse than that. However, I'll make a special award for "DVD Klunker of the Year" to Alice in Wonderland tied with the Dutch-Ratmansky Don Q...it's almost impossible to make Don Q boring but, somehow, Ratmansky succeeds.

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Annamicro, that's a great list. smile.png One tiny correction, though. Lopatkina HAD been dancing Nikiya/Bayadere a few months before the London tour. I saw her dance it in Ottawa (opposite Korsuntsev) in February 2011, although I much prefered the Terioshkina/Schklyarov casting.

I was told by herself, when I melted at her feet meeting her by chance in the street the day after... maybe I misundestood or she forgot about that performance, Anyway, the important thin is that she was absolutely FABULOUS!!! yahoo.gif

I saw Tereshkina/Shklyarov in London and then Lopatkina in a proper show (don't remeber the partner, sorry :-( ) in Turin: I loved both, but that rehearsal was really magical and wins over them.

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She was definitely Nikiya in Ottawa, on the stage. Maybe she was thinking about dancing it at home in St P. It had been a while.

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