Helene

Swan Lake Casting and Reviews

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If you go to the dress rehearsal on Wednesday night, you'll see another pairing (not scheduled for the opening weekend)

Second week casting should be posted some time today (Tuesday) -- I know they were initially rehearsing six women for O/O, but don't know how many will eventually perform.

Alongside the big parts, Imler will do the Queen Mother on opening. She was great in this role the last time the company did the ballet -- just like an Edith Wharton character. In the same performance, Jodie Thomas is dancing Neopolitan, which is an excellent role for her, fast and tricky (see her before she leaves at the end of the season) And Barry Kerollis is doing Spanish on the Saturday matinee. Last time out, he and Kiyon Gaines did that for several performances and they just wiped the floor. Between the fringe and the ruffles and the pantaloons of the costume, and the shimmying choreography, it's so over the top that it flys off the other side -- just astonishing.

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Barry Kerollis has a face made for ruffles, powdered wigs, and a mole by his upper lip.

Week two casting is up, and the Odettes/Odiles and Siegfrieds are:

4/16: Vinson/Orza

4/17: Weese/Cruz

4/18 matinee: Nakamura/Postlewaite

4/18 evening: Korbes/Milov

4/19 matinee: Weese/Cruz

4/19 evening: Imler/Bold updated to Nakamura/Postlewaite

In case anyone is attending matinees, they begin at 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays; that's an hour earlier than usual for Saturdays. The Sunday evening performance starts at 7pm.

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I thought I'd just point out that the 4/11 matinee appears to have changed from Imler/Bold to Vinson/Orza.

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So now the only Imler performance is 4/19 evening. Tomorrow I buy additional tickets to that! No way I'm missing Imler as O/O.

Frankly, this casting schedule for Swan Lake is somewhat puzzling to me. I wish I was clever enough to figure out what the message is.

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There was great promise in the pairing of Kaori Nakamura and Lucien Postlewaite in Doug Fullington's reconstructions of excerpts from "La Bayadere" in his Balanchine's Petipa presentations, and it was realized tonight in the opening night of "Swan Lake".

Postlewaite's Siegfried is a young prince, and as ardent as his prince is, he's out of his depth with both Odette and Odile. There were two things that were most remarkable about Postlewaite's performance: there was not a second of stage time that he did not account for dramatically -- including his variations, which were abstractions of character -- and he never broke line or character for virtuosity. When he floated jetes into a scene, he showed ecstacy and flight. When he partnered Nakamura in the White Swan Pas de Deux, he didn't just walk at her pace and follow her when she moved from turn to supported hold, he watched her move away, enchanted, and then he did a gentle rush towards her. He looked continually astonished that she gave him the time of day, and that she let him touch her. One great moment was at the very end of Act II, when he's reeling by what just took place, including von Rothbart's powerful dismissal of him, and then, suddenly, his face lights up as he runs back to the palace: he's completely, madly in love, despite the swan thing and Odette's baggage and the weird monster to whom she's attached, and it explains exactly where his head is at the opening of Act III.

Nakamura's Odette was soft and deep, her movement originating from the sternum. It's rare for me to see a performance of the Act II solo in which the arms and legs had equal importance and emphasis. Her Odile was sharper, and she clearly loved playing Siegfried every second. In her solo, she gained momentum on the attitude turns in the beginning, and then stopped on a dime. What bound the two was the silken clarity she brought to both roles. Her impeccable technique was invisible and submerged in each character.

Carrie Imler was the Mom from Hell, controlling, controlling, controlling. In Act III, after introducing all of the foreign dancers, the Jester sits at the feet of the Queen, and Imler shot Jonathan Porretta such looks of affection, as if she were saying, "See, you listen, why weren't you my son?" It is such a vivid characterization. Olivier Wevers overcame the von Rothbart costume, and even gave up being imperious for a second to toy with Siegfried: when he summoned him to join hands with Odile and swear his love to her, he did it with an uncharacteristic, avuncular "Come here, Young Grasshopper" gesture, only to squash him a moment later.

Between Carrie Imler's controlling mother and Olivier Wevers virile von Rothbart and Nakamura's Odette and Odile, Postlewaite's Siegfried didn't have a chance: he was being drawn and quartered. Without any shadowing von Rothbarts or dream sequences or hair pulling or Lady Capulet-like Queen Mothers or angstful Act I solos, this performance might very well have been called "Siegfried".

After three performances of "Les Sylphides" last weekend, arms and hands have been on my mind, and Benjamin Griffiths' rounded arms and expressive fingers were exemplary in the Act I Pas de Trois and the Neopolitan Dance, in which his energy was beautifully matched with Jodie Thomas'. (The Danes are in for a real treat next season.) His partners in the Pas de Trois were Lesley Rausch, whose attention to epaulement in classical roles is always a pleasure to watch -- following her, you realize that a part of a variation is a soft nod to four distinct corners, not just some vague gestures in random directions -- and Maria Chapman, who got wonderful loft before beats, paused a second in the air at the top, and continued with a flutter. Chapman was also a knockout in the Persian Dance in Act II, with especially expressive arms, particularly in the slow intro. (The dance is to the "Russian" music.)

In the Spanish, Lindsi Dec showed great style, with snap and attitude, sandwiched between her beautiful, expansive swan in Acts II and IV. Her versatility is a joy to watch. She was joined by Kylee Kitchens, Josh Spell, and Jordan Pacitti in Spanish, all three showing spark, and Pacitti also gave a rich and satisfying portrayal of Wolfgang in Act I. Jonathan Porretta's Jester did not stop moving when he danced -- there were no pandering-for-applause stops -- and his mime and characterization as part of the royal household were a great complement to his virtuoso dancing. Stacy Lowenberg glowed in Czardas, and her partner, whom at first I didn't recognize, smoldered, channeling his inner Gedeminas Taranda. (It was Jerome Tisserand.)

In the Act II Valse Bluette #1 demi-soloist Sarah Ricard Orza lowered each leg after developpe in second on point as if it were on a cloud, just lovely, to match her expressive arms. The swans were an equal star in this production. Having seen the overly aerobic entrance in San Francisco last month in an otherwise wonderful swan corps, this corps differentiated between the energy of the opening hops and the softness of the arabesque in plie, making each rendition of the combination into a meaningful visual phrase.

The swan corps was at its best in Act IV, opening in a circle, magically shifting into two lines, and then becoming Stowell's kaleidoscope of patterns to what my Mariinsky Complete Swan Lake calls "Act IV Dance of the Little Swans". I find the Act IV Pas de Deux, to the plaintive music that's noted on a number of recordings as "Pas de Trois: Andante Sustenato (4b)", one of the highlights of the ballet, a heart breaker, and a beautiful balance to the rest of the act and the ballet. (In Tomasson's version for SFB and several others I've seen, Siegfried dances to this music as a solo towards the end of Act I.)

Stewart Kershaw led the orchestra. During the overture to Act II, as the strings played the famous theme, I was jolted by a sound I hadn't heard since childhood, when I wore out the grooves on my Philadelphia Orchestra recording of "Swan Lake": the clear sound of many strings playing as one.

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So now the only Imler performance is 4/19 evening. Tomorrow I buy additional tickets to that! No way I'm missing Imler as O/O.

Frankly, this casting schedule for Swan Lake is somewhat puzzling to me. I wish I was clever enough to figure out what the message is.

My understanding is that there may be more rescheduling for next week. I'm trying hard to see all the Odettes, but it's going to be tricky.

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So now the only Imler performance is 4/19 evening. Tomorrow I buy additional tickets to that! No way I'm missing Imler as O/O.

Frankly, this casting schedule for Swan Lake is somewhat puzzling to me. I wish I was clever enough to figure out what the message is.

I don't know if there is a message to figure out with casting. Sometimes casting changes because of an illness or injury. I don't think it has anything to do with you not being clever enough to figure it out.

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We attended last night and saw Nadeau/Cruz. I admit to going in with low expectations because a friend had attended opening night and told me it was long and boring. We had seen it twice 2 years ago and had loved Carla Korbes in one and Le Yin in the other and I wondered if anything could match those. My daughter had seen Louise Nadeau in a dress rehearsal two years ago and told me she hadn't been impressed. Well, let me tell you that after her performance last night, my daughter now understands the difference between a dress rehearsal and the real thing!

Louise Nadeau was ethereal. What I noticed most about her dancing was that it was precise and crisp. I guess I expected a bit muddier from someone who is about to retire. Please forgive me! My daughter said she only did 28 fouettes rather than 32, but they were gorgeous. Her acting was excellent, too. I loved her sassy Odile. What a tease!

But an even bigger surprise to me was Karel Cruz. He is a star! I completely believed him as the regal prince. His dancing was beautiful and easy. So relaxed and yet powerful. We had no fear of him falling out of any turns. He nailed it all. And what a presence onstage with that height and those long legs. Wow! I'm looking for him to be a principal. (Maybe in the fall?) I loved watching him!

But the highlight of Swan Lake for me is always the Swans. That choreography intoxicates me! I want to watch each dancer and yet I want to view the whole corps at once to see the intricate patterns and movements. I could watch it for hours without getting bored.

I also look forward to that swan pas de quatre, but last night it was a bit disappointing. They seemed to fight and pull against each other. I hadn't seen that happen two years ago. Also in Act 1, I thought the unison parts weren't in sync for the 6 ladies dance. That was disappointing, too.

Some other highlights were Jonathan Poretta, who should give clinics on how to exude personality onstage and command all attention; the princesses in ivory were lovely; Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths in Neapolitan; and Maria Chapman as Persian. Throughout the performance the people I kept noticing were Benjamin Griffiths, Liora Reshef, Jordan Pacitti, and Maria Chapman.

I also loved the curtain call when Louise Nadeau didn't notice the rose for Karel Cruz and it dropped on the ground. She saw it and picked it up and gave him a kiss as the curtain fell. Really sweet moment.

My daughter left bubbling with excitement in the car on the way home, wishing she didn't have to wait until Monday for her next ballet class. I wish we could attend more performances, but our schedule won't accommodate.

On a side note, they did announce asking for people to silence their cell phones, which seemed to work since not one went off that I could hear. However, the people behind me felt that any music prior to the curtain rising meant they could still talk. Ugh. I love the music. Please don't talk over it.

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On a side note, they did announce asking for people to silence their cell phones, which seemed to work since not one went off that I could hear. However, the people behind me felt that any music prior to the curtain rising meant they could still talk. Ugh. I love the music. Please don't talk over it.

I saw all four performances this week, and the reappearance of the "please turn things off and don't take photos" announcement came in yesterday's matinee, at the beginning of act 3, after some snap-happy person was taking photos during acts 1 and 2. There was general audience applause after the announcement!

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At "Les Sylphides" in Phoenix last weekend, during the opening tableau, before any dancer had moved, the 70-something behind me announced to her friend (and the entire main floor) -- "This music is so beautiful. I could just come to listen to the music."

A little later in the Wheeldon, she informed us all that "That must be what's-his-name."

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I saw all four performances this week,

I hope you'll give us all the details!

At "Les Sylphides" in Phoenix last weekend, during the opening tableau, before any dancer had moved, the 70-something behind me announced to her friend (and the entire main floor) -- "This music is so beautiful. I could just come to listen to the music."

A little later in the Wheeldon, she informed us all that "That must be what's-his-name."

:thumbsup:

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I don't know if there is a message to figure out with casting. Sometimes casting changes because of an illness or injury. I don't think it has anything to do with you not being clever enough to figure it out.

I understand how injury can affect casting plans. My puzzlement over the casting for Swan Lake is an overall one. Look at all the casts, look at all the partnering, look at who's dancing which speciality roles. Usually I can see why things are the way they are......not this time (except a bit here and there).

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Well, let me tell you that after her performance last night, my daughter now understands the difference between a dress rehearsal and the real thing!

A lesson well worth learning! I too have been amazed at the difference between dress reheasals and true performances.

My daughter said she only did 28 fouettes rather than 32, but they were gorgeous.

Your daugther is correct....plus, it seemed to me that Louise attempted a triple at the end, but the landing was flawed. None the less, they were beautifully done as you say.

But an even bigger surprise to me was Karel Cruz. He is a star! I completely believed him as the regal prince. His dancing was beautiful and easy. So relaxed and yet powerful. We had no fear of him falling out of any turns. He nailed it all. And what a presence onstage with that height and those long legs. Wow! I'm looking for him to be a principal. (Maybe in the fall?) I loved watching him!

I too felt Karel did a marvelous job. I still think he has a ways to go -- he has the pyro-technics down pat, he can act (IMO he needs more power in this area however), his partnering is solid if perhaps not yet inspired, and he's handsome as hell.....not to mention his height (I'm guessing 6'4"). PNB has some great young men coming along...Karel Cruz certainly among them, as well as Seth Orza, Jordan Pacitti (he seems to be taking off like a late blooming phenomenon lately, and he's one of the best at character roles ever); Barry Kerolis; Jerome Tisserand; Josh Spell; and an amazing crop of apprentice men (all tall).

Also in Act 1, I thought the unison parts weren't in sync for the 6 ladies dance.

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think the choreography expects them to be in unison. Each of the "Guests" in Act 1 is expected to have a sort of "fugal" start of a phrase rather than strict unison. Maybe someone else has the definitive answer to this.

.........Maria Chapman as Persian.

Here, here! Marie was absolutely superb as the Persian. In fact she's been superb in everything lately. I smell a Principal coming one of these years.

BTW, I completely agree that the heart and soul of this ballet is the Swans. It's just plain wonderful that a company of our size can turn out corps dancers and professional divison student dancers of this calibre. How lucky we are.

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Also in Act 1, I thought the unison parts weren't in sync for the 6 ladies dance.

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think the choreography expects them to be in unison. Each of the "Guests" in Act 1 is expected to have a sort of "fugal" start of a phrase rather than strict unison. Maybe someone else has the definitive answer to this.

Thank you for responding. I hate the feeling that I'm talking to myself. :)

Yes, I know that dance is a fugal feeling, but there are unison parts that I thought weren't in sync. Still the dancing was gorgeous. I'm going to the Oregon ballet this Saturday night for my first time ever, and I'm looking forward to familiarizing myself with that company.

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Also in Act 1, I thought the unison parts weren't in sync for the 6 ladies dance.

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think the choreography expects them to be in unison. Each of the "Guests" in Act 1 is expected to have a sort of "fugal" start of a phrase rather than strict unison. Maybe someone else has the definitive answer to this.

Thank you for responding. I hate the feeling that I'm talking to myself. :thumbsup:

Yes, I know that dance is a fugal feeling, but there are unison parts that I thought weren't in sync. Still the dancing was gorgeous. I'm going to the Oregon ballet this Saturday night for my first time ever, and I'm looking forward to familiarizing myself with that company.

There were some glitches in synchrony there, mostly in terms of initiation (at what point do people think they need to 'start' a movement phrase) but the thing I noticed that was more itchy was mismatched arms and facings -- some arms high to the side and some in a straight second position, some faces into the croise direction and some out to the audience -- that kind of thing. But in general I've always found Kent Stowell's waltzes to be extra-busy, with as many accents off of the standard 1 and 4 downbeats as on them, so I sometimes see agitation that might not read the same way if the rhythm was more traditional.

I'm so glad you're seeing OBT -- I'm hoping to get down there for the second week of the run, but things are busy here and I'm not sure I'll make it. I really liked the last piece Kudelka made for them, and I don't know this Forsythe, so it's an intriguing program.

Please know you're not "talking to yourself" here -- I read pretty much every day, though I can't always participate in the conversation.

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I hate the feeling that I'm talking to myself. :thumbsup:
Please know you're not "talking to yourself" here -- I read pretty much every day, though I can't always participate in the conversation.
And many of us read who can't respond because we're far, far away. But we're interested and love to hear what others are seeing.

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There were some glitches in synchrony there......

I wonder why there has been no post-performance Q&A's for this program. Had there been, this would have been a good question to ask. I too am somewhat confused by the level of synchrony within the 6 "Guests" in Act I there "should" have been.

P.S. In the interests of full disclosure <grin>, I must admit that I am not what you would call a Kent Stowell fan (choreography, not as an AD).

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If I remember correctly, there are no Q&A's after "Swan Lake". It's a long, long ballet, and especially with back-to-back performances on weekends, I think everyone involved would collapse.

I can't remember if there are Q&A's after "The Sleeping Beauty", but I suspect not. I do remember people referring to "Swan Lake" in the Q&A after the program that followed SL last time.

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If I remember correctly, there are no Q&A's after "Swan Lake". It's a long, long ballet...

What she said. It's just too long to add another hour to the end of the event. It's the same reason there's not a full intermission between acts 3 and 4. Especially on matinee days, you want to get the matinee crowd out of the theater and let their seats cool down before the evening crowd shows up to sit in them...

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Another casting change for the second week -- Carrie Imler and B Bold are not going to be performing after all. He is still recuperating from an injury, and they didn't have time for her to rehearse with a different partner. So Nakamura and Postelwaite are getting another turn at it on Sunday.

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I hope Bold recovers quickly and fully.

It's a shame that Imler won't be able to perform Odette/Odile this season.

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Carla Korbes danced Odette/Odile this evening. It might be more accurate to say that she sang it, the way people say that Yo Yo Ma's cello playing sings. Her movement quality is unique and immediately recognizable, the way Pavarotti's or Nilsson's is after just a few notes, and equally beautiful.

The only other thing I'm going to say about it is that the next time "Swan Lake" is performed here, get on a plane, train, automobile, bicycle, or auto-rickshaw and make sure you see her in it. I wish that everyone reading this site could.

Stanko Milov danced Siegfried, and he was ON tonight, the best I've seen him this season, but more importantly, he was partner and dramatic counterpoint to Korbes' O/O. The physical stand-off between him and William Lin-Yee at the end of Act II was great to see: two tall, powerful dancers standing their ground. Lin-Yee was roundly booed at the final curtain calls, which means his characterization was a great success.

The Jester in this production is an unusual character: he's clearly a friend to the Prince and a valued member of the royal household, at the same time having several bravura solos. What is impressive about Stowell's vision for the character is that it doesn't require shamelessness. Benjamin Griffiths' characterization was sunny and his dancing plush: what beautiful technique he has. Another unusual take on character is the Persian Dance in Act III: while the attendants, all kids from the school, had typical Oriental story ballet movement, the Persian Dancer role has a lot of dignity, a quality not often associated with a woman in harem pants and a bare midriff. Especially when danced by Ariana Lallone, who performed with great stature and without the slightest hint of subservience.

There was a pre-curtain announcement that Seth Orza would dance in the Pas de Trois in place of Jonathan Porretta. I'm not sure how much practice Orza had with his partners, Rachel Foster and Jodie Thomas -- he's rather taller than both -- but it wasn't a completely smooth ride, although his solo work was terrific. Rachel Foster has a wonderful way of making each solo role a jewel: in the Pas de Trois, her legs and feet were precise and pristine, and in the Neopolitan in Act III, with a comparably wonderful James Moore, she resembled Patricia McBride for a brief second, and made me want to see them both in Balanchine's Tarantella. Jodie Thomas played little riffs on the timing; it's great to see her dancing with freedom and rhythmic expression. In the Polonaise, a tiny brunette in muted green who was partnered by Sokvanarra Sar caught my eye even in the back row with her crisp timing and expressive arms.

There are too many dramatic touches in Act I to absorb all at once, but there were several that registered strongly tonight. First was in Carrie Imler's fantastic portrayal of the Queen. After the Queen makes her entrance, she sweeps down stage left to look for her son and turns downstage, where she spots him. Imler didn't do the standard, "Aha! Lo and Behold! There he is! I see him!" gestures. Instead, she tilted her head softly to the side. She was a big pussy cat with him, until he dared to contradict her, and out came the claws: she turned controlling on a dime. Before the Queen leaves, she waits for Siegfried's arm for the walk upstage center, and the punitive way Imler pulled away her hand from his supporting arm said a million words. Later in Act III, his body language, all well-over-six-feet of him, changed from Prince to chastised boy in reaction to her. I'm grateful that there's a fourth wall between me and Imler's Queen.

Later in the scene, one of the guests gets a little more attention from Siegfried as the other five are dancing, and tonight it was Stacey Lowenberg. From that moment, she was a character of her own: telling her friends about it, and smitten with the Prince, all within so many other vignettes that happen simultaneously.

Then there is Jordan Pacitti's Wolfgang. sandik wrote in her review in The Seattle Weekly:

Almost everyone will dance multiple parts during the ballet's run, peasant girls doubling as swans and servants as masters, but one of the best combinations belongs to Jordan Pacitti. A tipsy fop in the first act, becoming increasingly drunk during the party, he returns in the third act in the Spanish variation, an over-the-top pastiche of every Warner Brothers cartoon and Carmen production you've seen. In tight pants with a shiny bolero jacket over a Seinfeldian puffy shirt, a shocking blue scarf at his waist, he stalks and pounces as his partner glides through a tour de force of faux flamenco steps. When he bourrées in place, the tiny steps vibrate though his whole body and the fringe on his scarf shimmers around his hips.

What's so wonderful about Pacitti's fop is that he's very serious, with a touch of anxiety: you can almost see the temples of Pacitti's forehead being squeezed. He is vain, but it's not vanity of appearance: it's of character. He performed the Spanish Dance -- tonight partnering the terrific Laura Gilbreath -- completely straight, with the same serious expression. And in the middle of all of this characterization was superb classical dancing. It's great to read everyone's observations, all the things I missed at the first performance! Did I ever look for that fringe, a detail that I missed completely last week! I watched the Guests' dance carefully tonight, and I think that the waltz is just a bit of a mess, perhaps too ambitious.

My only other beef about this production is that if, to name just two, Imler can make the Queen's mime that clear and if she and Pacitti can establish character through mime and gesture, and if the entire act makes great demands for characterization, why is mime expunged from Act II?

I love Act IV the more I see it. It opens with the shifting corps patterns resolving to a flying wedge upstage right at Odette's entrance. After the Prince enters, goes to one knee, and, hunches over, bereft, Odette lifts his head, goes back a few meters, and opens her arms, her chest open and her head back, surrendering to him. Dramatically, I realized in the last run that it's like the juxtaposition of the Balcony Scene in "Romeo & Juliet" -- a scene of great hope and expectation for the future -- with the Bedroom Scene -- a scene of imperfect beings in a horrific situation dealing with forces beyond their control but accepting the present, another dramatic duality.

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I saw Miranda Weese on Friday night and have other things to say, but no time right now, except that Kyle Davis replaced Porretta as the Jester, which makes me hope that Porretta isn't injured.

And yes, Carrie Imler as the QM is scary, scary, scary.

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