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The Year in Ballet (the BEST and the WORST)- - our own hits & misses from past and current seasons

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#16 Jack Reed

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 12:40 PM

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...

#17 cubanmiamiboy


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Posted 01 January 2012 - 11:24 AM

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!!! Posted Image

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

#18 bart


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Posted 01 January 2012 - 03:11 PM

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

#19 Helene



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Posted 01 January 2012 - 03:29 PM

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.

#20 ksk04


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Posted 01 January 2012 - 03:37 PM

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

#21 abatt


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Posted 01 January 2012 - 08:18 PM

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.

#22 Helene



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Posted 01 January 2012 - 10:25 PM

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!


#23 nysusan


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Posted 02 January 2012 - 06:13 AM

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

#24 carbro


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Posted 02 January 2012 - 06:31 AM

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. Posted Image Posted Image

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

Doug Fullington's two Works and Process programs, Posted Image 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. Posted Image 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.

#25 puppytreats


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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.

#26 vipa


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Posted 02 January 2012 - 04:02 PM

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
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!

#27 Drew


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Posted 03 January 2012 - 02:41 AM

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.)

#28 cubanmiamiboy


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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!!! Posted Image

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.

#29 Jayne


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Posted 04 January 2012 - 03:44 PM

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)

#30 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 08:17 AM

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


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.


1. NYCB's Seven Deadly Sins.

2. NYCB's Ocean's Kingdom.

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