The Year in Ballet (the BEST and the WORST)- - our own hits & misses from past and current seasons
Posted 07 February 2009 - 12:40 PM
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...
Posted 01 January 2012 - 11:24 AM
I still have to come up with the lowest one yet...will think about it.
Posted 01 January 2012 - 03:11 PM
Posted 01 January 2012 - 03:29 PM
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.
Posted 01 January 2012 - 03:37 PM
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
Posted 01 January 2012 - 08:18 PM
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.
Posted 01 January 2012 - 10:25 PM
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!
Posted 02 January 2012 - 06:13 AM
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
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.
Posted 02 January 2012 - 06:31 AM
Although the Royal Danish Ballet's programs in Washington and New York were, on the whole, disappointing, I adored Gudrun Bojesen's Sylph.
Doug Fullington's two Works and Process programs, 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. Goodness knows, there were plenty of appealing casts.
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.
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.
Posted 02 January 2012 - 10:04 AM
, 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.
Posted 02 January 2012 - 04:02 PM
For me best:
Cojocaru/Kobborg Sleeping Beauty
Jewels - esp. Mearns & T. Peck in Emeralds & Reichlin in Rubies
Ashley Bouder in Square Dance
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!
Posted 03 January 2012 - 02:41 AM
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.)
Posted 04 January 2012 - 02:58 PM
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!!!
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.
Posted 04 January 2012 - 03:44 PM
(I say as I savor the last of the Sees Candy chocolate truffles from Christmas)
Posted 05 January 2012 - 08:17 AM
1. ABT guest artist Polina Semionova in Don Q with David Hallberg and especially in Swan Lake with
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
5. NYCB's Jewels, especially Teresa Reichlein in Rubies and Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard
6. Elizabeth Holowchuk and Momchil Mladenov in Balanchine's Meditation - performed by the
Suzanne Farrell Ballet.
1. NYCB's Seven Deadly Sins.
2. NYCB's Ocean's Kingdom.
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