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All Prokofiev Program


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#31 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 06:06 AM

I attended the June 3rd matinee. I agree with what most posters have said about the partnering between Cornejo and Wiles. I think Cornejo would be more comfortable with a smaller ballerina (this too has been mentioned many times). That being said, I thought Cornejo was wonderful as the Prodigal Son. His dancing is very exciting (especially at the beginning of the ballet), and his acting throughout the ballet is spot on. I was especially moved by his reunion with his father at the end of the ballet. I have seen “Prodigal Son” many times (most recently with Daniel Ulbricht in the title role), and I think ABT’s version compares favorably with NYCB’s Prodigal. Richard Tanner did a great job staging this Balanchine classic.

I really did not like “Desir”. The choreography is very repetitious, and the ballet just seems to go on forever. Recognizing the two waltzes from “Cinderella” just reminds me of another forgettable James Kudelka ballet. I saw ABT perform “Gala Performance” at City Center several years ago, and I agree with both MacAuley (which is so rare for me) and other Ballet Talk posters that Tudor’s ballet would have been a much better choice for the Prokofiev celebration.

I did enjoy “On the Dnieper”. I loved both the choreography and the music. But my problem is that I can’t see why Sergei would run off with Olga. There was nothing about Paloma Herrera’s performance that could make me understand why any man would want to run off with Olga. I really wish I had seen Diana Vishneva in the part. Herrera is not known for her acting, and that is certainly true in “On the Dnieper”. If there’s no obvious chemistry or attraction or anything between Sergei and Olga, then the whole ballet makes little sense (in my opinion anyway). I do think, however, that Veronika Part was perfect as Natalya. She gave such a touching, heartbreaking performance. The whole ballet became about Natalya and her sacrifice. I would love to see it again, with another dancer in the role of Olga.

#32 abatt

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 05:26 AM

I went to the Thurs evening performance. Corella and Boone were a good match for Prodigal, and the partnering was smooth, They both did a good job. Corella wasn't as expolosive in the initial angry young man scene as Cornejo. However, overall Corella's acting was better than Cornejo's, especially during the scenes where he is crawling on the floor as a broken man. Desir was boring, again. The main problem is that the choreography is so repetitive and dull. The choreography for the corp is especially bad. Hee Seo and Gomes were brilliant - the bright spot of thel ballet. Also, I preferred Misty on Monday evening. Sarah Lane failed to dance with the abandon that I saw in Misty's performance. We had the "C" cast for Dneiper- Saviliev, Tamm, Ricetto and Messmer. The dancing was adequate, but not nearly as wonderful as the performances on Monday's opening night. I thought that most of the dramatic life was sucked out of the story because these performers were not at the same level of dramatic intenstity or technical skill as the principals on Monday.

#33 DeborahB

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 07:49 AM

I only attend a half dozen ABT performances a year (half of them at City Center), so I'm not as familiar with the dancers as I am with NYCB's (which I go to 2 or 3 times a week). That said, I was besotted by Hee Seo's performance in "Desir" last night (although I was not a fan of the ballet
itself). She is simply gorgeous -- a star in the making for sure. I was also very impressed with Eric Tamm in "On the Dnieper."

#34 Lawson

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 09:59 AM

I absolutely hated Cornejo's "Prodigal Son" and loved Corella's.

With Cornejo, the prodigal son is looking for babes. He seems to make the ballet low art; there's no comedy; there's nothing likable about the prodigal son.

Corella's was one of the best prodigal sons I've ever seen, and I even preferred it on most levels to Baryshnikov, Woetzel, and Ulbright's. He gets the comedy of the piece. I was completely amused by the story when the prodigal son, the strange drinking companions, and the brothers all start dancing in unison, and he has a very innocent and maudlin smile, having a good time. When seduced by the siren, he seemed innocent again; he seemed like a nice boy.

This bears repeat mentioning: "On the Dnieper" is an amazing piece of music, and perfect in every way. It's absolutely crucial to bring "Chout," "Le Pas d'Acier," "Trapeze," and "On the Dnieper" back into the fold in order to resuscitate some of the works for this greatest of 20th century composers for the stage.

MacAulay's point about Ratmansky's specialty being to depict the Soviet Union as it might have been reminds me of what it was that I saw in "Concerto DSCH." When I saw that piece, I immediately thought of Prokofiev's "Le Pas d'Acier," which I saw at Princeton University in 2005. This piece is again, a depiction of the Soviet Union as it might have been. It's a celebration of steel, factories, and the original decor and setting in many ways was in the expressionist manner of "Prodigal Son." I think this would be an interesting piece for Ratmansky. Difficult, but it would give an opportunity for one of the great 20th century scores to get a hold on the repertoire. Too, there's a lot of music there that screams for choreography.

#35 bingham

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 01:37 PM

I only attend a half dozen ABT performances a year (half of them at City Center), so I'm not as familiar with the dancers as I am with NYCB's (which I go to 2 or 3 times a week). That said, I was besotted by Hee Seo's performance in "Desir" last night (although I was not a fan of the ballet
itself). She is simply gorgeous -- a star in the making for sure. I was also very impressed with Eric Tamm in "On the Dnieper."


You're absolutely right, she was gorgeous . Her PDD with M Gomes was a highlight in last night's performance. Can't wait to see her La Sylphide and Juliet. :) :rofl:

#36 Goldfish17

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 09:01 AM

I went to Thursday evening performance.

Never have seeing Prodigal Son before, I absolutely loved it! My God, Balanchine really was a genius. Angel Corella created very vivid Prodigal Son - sometimes funny, sometimes truly dramatic. Kristy Boon was a true siren - gorges, dark, seducing, powerful. Perfect lines, beautiful arches!
Desir seemed too long. I though it should be cut in half..

As for On the Dneiper - it is already Saturday afternoon, but those blooming trees in a moonlight and figures of dancers are still seem to be in front of my eyes. I keep thinking about it - and usually this is how I know that performance/book/movie is really good.

Maria Ricetto - lyrical, tragic, really heartbroken, wonderful! I want to see more of her dancing.
Gennadi Savelyev and Simone Messmer looked good together as partners, but love chemistry was not quite there.. Simone was strong and energetic Olga. Though, I could not help myself noticing that her landings were disturbingly loud. Could that be a certain type of point shoes?
Eric Tamm was impressive.
I loved choreography, sets, music, costumes and dancing! I want to see this ballet again.

Question about the music - did anybody felt that sometimes it is not really reflecting the story? I mean - in R&J the music is almost like a painting, you could see Montague's and Capulet's, Juliette as a child, Juliette as a woman etc..

#37 vipa

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 05:08 PM

Never have seeing Prodigal Son before, I absolutely loved it! My God, Balanchine really was a genius. Angel Corella created very vivid Prodigal Son - sometimes funny, sometimes truly dramatic. Kristy Boon was a true siren - gorges, dark, seducing, powerful. Perfect lines, beautiful arches!
Desir seemed too long. I though it should be cut in half..


I went to Sat. Mat. - Simkin & Boone replaced Cornejo (who was replacing Steifel) and Wiles. I really enjoyed it. I'm glad Simkin is going beyond the classical virtuoso roles. His very youthful look brought a different dimension to the role. I agree that Boone is wonderful in this roll, powerful, seductive and beautiful. All of the partnering went very well. The end of the ballet never fails to move me. For me the most moving moment of the evening.

Desir - lets just say that dancers try to do a lot with a little. Murphy, Hoven, Lane, Hammoudi, Seo, Gomes and all the corps members did their best with what they had to work with. Gomes partnered Seo in what bordered on an acrobatic night club act.

Dneiper - Ratmansky is a real choreographer, but this is my least favorite of his works that I've seen. He moves groups in a wonderful way that directs your eye (unlike Kudelka in Desir) and some of the solos were beautiful and meaningful, but I found the ballet too long. At times it was like he had more music to fill so he continued providing steps. I also disliked the moving trees and falling blossoms (I guess they were blossoms). I also have to say that Riccetto is not my cup of tea. Interestingly, a friend who was with me who has only seen ballet once before remarked - "He left Natalia because she is boring." That's how I feel. I've seen Riccetto as Lilac Fairy, in Mozartiana and in this. I always find her technically secure and uninteresting to watch. Like I said, not my cup of tea.

#38 atm711

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 06:30 PM

I also went to the Sat Mat performance. 'On The Dnieper' was in the grand Ballet Theatre tradition of Tudor and deMille. What struck me was the real world and people Ratmansky created--which is what deMille did in 'Fall River Legend' and Tudor in 'Pillar of Fire'--the characters rang true. I did not see the original cast but felt that both female leads (Riccetto and Messmer) lacked the gut-wrenching angst that both parts need. Eric Tamm as Olga's fiancee was the more effective of the t wo male leads. The final lift at the end of the ballet was reminiscent of 'Pillar of Fire"--it had the same effect on me--I was left with a peaceful feeling;--yes, this is as it should be! I look forward to seeing it with different casts. I liked the ballet immensely---anything that smacks of Ballet Theatre's glory days is truly welcome. I don't think 'Desir' was quite the disaster it has been made out to be. Gillian Murphy and Hee Seo saved the day. The latter had a well deserved roar of approval at the end of the ballet. The middle section with three couples was the weakest part of the work. Three couples all doing the same choreography is very dull---it looks like a classroom exercise, or a second and third cast learning the role---some diversity and imagination, please. Stop the cloning. The real treat for me was Simkin in 'Prodigal Son'. I bought tickets to this performance to see Stiefel---disappointed with Cornejo replacement (I am not one of his cheerleaders), and absolutely delighted to see Simkin.

#39 Lawson

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 07:42 PM

Question about the music - did anybody felt that sometimes it is not really reflecting the story? I mean - in R&J the music is almost like a painting, you could see Montague's and Capulet's, Juliette as a child, Juliette as a woman etc..


It's probably familiarity with Romeo and Juliette that makes it appear this way, no? I think there's a lot in Dnieper that's specific. "The Fight" is very specific. Certainly the "Fiance's Dance" is specific.

Then again, there are many instances in the score which are specific in creating an impression of the characters but aren't associated with specific actions, footwork, or characterizations. They seem to be speaking about the action and mood of the story as a whole. Take the "Introduction" with Sergei's opening solo. It's very serene, wistful, nostalgic, and it describes Sergei, but it also serves as an introduction to the story as a whole. The score is remarkably consistent in mood, and this may be what you're picking up on.

In contrast, Romeo and Juliette is much more reflective of Prokofiev's experience with film and montage. It's more tightly linked to particular actions.

Put another way, Dnieper is less of a story ballet in many respects than Romeo and Juliette or Cinderella.

#40 griffie

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 07:50 PM

I saw Friday's show, with Simkin/Dvorovenko in Prodigal. This was my first time seeing Daniil Simkin, and he was terrific - heartfelt and convincing acting alongside bravura technique. His extremely secure partnering of Irina in the tricky pas de deux was even more remarkable considering how (I hadn't realized quite how) slight of frame he is. Dvorovenko was flawless, her Siren being compelling, sexy and downright evil. She also seemed completely at ease maneuvering all those yards of fabric.

Desir suffered from the changed program placement. Coming after a Balanchine masterwork highlights its minorness. I enjoyed several bits of the choreography, more than I had expected, but the piece as a whole seemed to be trying too hard to impress. There were also a couple of odd places where the dancers walked in patterns and looked as if they were just milling around. The quality of the dancing was so high, though, I did really enjoy it. Xiomara Reyes and Roman Zhurbin were outstanding in the final pdd. Despite the speed of the steps Xiomara managed to seem entirely relaxed and fluid. Yuriko Kajiya, who danced the second couple with Craig Salstein, also has that beautiful flow through her neck and shoulders that Xiomara has. In contrast, in the third couple, Maria Riccetto seemed a little tense in her carriage. This was not the first time I've thought that about Riccetto - she is a fine dancer, but I agree with poster Vipa, she's not my cup of tea. Riccetto danced with Jared Matthews who did very well himself.

I was sitting in balcony box, so my comments on Dnieper are based on a fairly high-up view. I had to really focus to see Carreno's Sergei as his muted-green military costume was no brighter than the soft black of the dance floor. It was definitely a staging and/or costuming error that should be fixed. Poster "4rmrdncr" suggested a fill-in light for him, and that might help, or brighter shade of green cloth. Hee Seo was lovely as Natalia, so light and free. Yet there was such a contrast between her innocent young maiden and Vishneva's riper Olga that it was easy to see how the returned Sergei would be more attracted to Olga. He must have known Olga before he left, but he returned a different man after his military experiences and finds charismatic Olga more his speed now than his sweet fiance is. Vishneva is the dancer to whom all eyes go onstage - she's just a star. Yet Hee Seo did indeed hold her own against Vishneva, both in technique and acting, which is not an easy feat. I'd say Seo is more than fulfilling the expectations of company management (who are patting themselves on the back for spotting her promise). Hammoudi as Oleg's fiance danced especially well and crisply in his fast variation. I believe his star is rising too, and I hope to see him featured in leading roles soon.

As to the crowded staging (the cherry trees, fences, and prop villagers), I ended up admiring it. I'm not used to having so much stuff around the dancers downstage but the reimaginings of the space were creative and effective (suggesting yards, a country road, a town square). Maybe a couple fewer trees in front would be better and a lot fewer fallen petals on the ground. All the scattered petals made the floor a busy and distracting background for the dancing. From the orchestra seats I don't expect that the floorful of blossoms much affected how well you could see the dancers, but from up above, in that dim lighting, it really did. I couldn't fully appreciate the choreography when all the dancers were hard to see clearly.

Ratmansky's choreography is indeed excellent: he designed great solos and pas de deux, but he also demonstrated good pacing of the story, superb movement of groups, and complex responses to the currents of the music. I thought Dnieper deserves to be seen more easily (fewer blossoms, more light) and more than once.

#41 glowstop

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 10:02 PM

As someone who managed to see pretty much every cast that went on in each of these pieces this week I would like to take a minute to speak on each of them.

Prodigal Son- I had not previously had a chance to see this piece but I was told that I would love it. As expected I did. However of the three principle casts Wiles/Cornejo were indeed the weakest. I didn't so much have a problem with Cornejo because, who can hate a boy who can fly? But, I severely disliked Wiles in the role of the siren. As previously mentioned in the thread she lacks the sex appeal that makes it necessary for the part to be wholly acted out and the sheer size of her hindered Herman's performance. As far as Corella/Boone, I fell in love with Kristi. Her body, face, line, attitude,...everything is suited for that role. She was the ultimate diva.(Not to mention, no one else can make that intimidating lift where she's tossed across the table work so well) Corella while better than Cornejo wasn't fresh enough. He acted the role brilliantly but I was in need of something new. Simkin ended up having the newness I needed. His boyish portrayal (and looks) served the role well. He uses his face and has acting skills better that some older members of the company. Dvorevenko was a good Siren, though all still pale in comparison to Boone. On a side note, the goons have to be my favorite part of that ballet.

Desir- I don't know why everyone's hating. I am very fond of Kudelka's work since I saw his production of Cinderella. Of the lead couples Blain Hoven & Gillian Murphy, Xiomara Reyes & Roman Zhurbin, and Roddy Doble & Simone Messmer, I found Doble/Messmer to be the most passionate. Simone dances with such a full understanding of the material and such artistry. I was less fond of the other red couple's bits though Misty Copeland and Carlos Lopez were my favorites (despite my admiration and love for everything Craig Salstein does. I found Sarah Lane and Alex Hammoudi to be very uninteresting. Now the beautiful purple couple. No other cast can compare to the amount of energy, longing, beauty and passion that Cory Stearns and Isabella put into what is clearly the most popular, and undoubtedly the most beautiful pas de deux within the whole piece. Don't even get me started on Isabella's line. Her legs and feet are to die for and while I was very fond of Hee Seo and Marcello I fell in love with Cory and Isabella the first time I saw it. I was unenthused by Jared Matthews and Maria Ricetto's rendition on that pas. On a whole I love the male corps work seen in the ballet it's strong and interesting although the sextet portion of the piece does get a little lengthy. I loved the piece but over all, and this carries across to each cast, I felt that the "desir" was lacking. Simone was the only girl who ever managed to convince me that she desired her partner or was even in a relationship with him.

On the Dnieper- I am in love. This was my first experience with Ratmansky's work and yeah, the story may be a little strange but hey, look at corsaire...it's better than that. The quality and style of Ratmansky's movement instantly enamored me. While being a contemporary choreographer Ratmansky managed to give this piece a bit of a twist on the classical resulting in a sophisticated and current style of choreography that is enrapturing to watch when done correctly. Most remarkable about the choreography of this piece is the way in which, much unlike a Balanchine piece based so much around stark and solid immobile poses, Dnieper keeps a continuous stream of movement. It only makes sense that dance consist of movement and this did so exquisitely. As for the design the costumes are flawless and David Hallberg is pretty much the most adorable thing ever in his baggy suit. The set I found to be brilliant. Given on opening night the fence moves may not have gone too well, when they work, they work beautifully. As for the principle cast the boys of the first cast (Gomes/Hallberg) were 100% brilliant at everything. I found both Carreno and Hammoudi to lack an energy. Carreno possibly because of his age and Hammoudi possibly because his lack of experience. I found Saveliev to be flat and boring and Eric Tamm to be entirely adorable and a close second to david in my book. For Natalia- Veronika was complete perfection, with those never ending legs. Hee Seo was great but Maria Ricetto didn't give enough anything. It is difficult to judge in the way of Olgas I've never seen Paloma dance so well, but by far Simone was my favorite Olga. While Simon might not come across as a prima ballerina at first glance the extent to which she understands the character and the choreography is much more developed within her than Herrera and Vishneva. When Simone dances it is easy to tell that she is giving everything she has in her to the audience and as Olga, especially in her variation which made me tear up. For now this is all I can say and I look forward to seeing many more Ratmansky pieces.

#42 dufay

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 04:05 AM

Sat evening- Enjoyed Corella in "Prodigal". His youthfulness leant realism to the part (not as youthful as Simkin, of course), but the last part- which should bring to tears- did not. I thought Boone terrific as the Siren. "Desir" was boring. The dancers were fine, but the choreographic language was so limited it didn't matter. My husband tried to sleep thru it.
I liked "Dneiper" and would like to see again. Overall, I thought the acting excellent- Herrera, Part (so sad and devastated), Hallberg, Gomes. Of the Ratmansky I have seen (Concerto DSCH 2x, bits of Russian Seasons), it seems the most grounded. The corps really doesn't play much of a role, and their choreography is relatively uninspired. I agree with previous posters- too much paper on the stage!

#43 nysusan

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 05:48 AM

I went to both Saturday performances and was thrilled at the substitution of Simkin and Boone in the matinee. Simkin's Prodigal was extraordinary. I feel like I keep using that word each time I see him, but he continues to impress in every new role. His dancing is so pure – high jumps in perfect position, executed with perfect control and that uncanny ability to make a jump linger in the air so you see that perfect line so clearly. Turns? Beautiful, fast and ended cleanly each time. But of course, what wins me over completely is his artistry and that's what made his Prodigal so extraordinary. As impressive as it was, the technique was secondary to the telling of the story and creation of a character. His Prodigal was a naïve innocent – in no way prepared for the big, cruel world. He alone among the ABT men really did the ending justice and brought a tear to the eye. Kristi Boone was fabulous as the siren with big, juicy developees, very sexy and very much in command of the stage. Her eye makeup reminded me of the eyes you see on Egyptian statues. That plus the many 2 dimensional, serpentine poses gave her Siren an air of "otherness" along with seductive power. And there were no partnering glitches, none.

I also enjoyed Corella's Prodigal. It was instructive to see this much beloved dancer in the same role and on the same day as Simkin. He has very different gifts. His dancing was exuberant and heartfelt though the positions were much less clearly articulated. His Prodigal was hungry for experience and his scenes with the Siren were super hot however I agree with Dufay that his ending was not effective.

By the way – for Simkin fans – the casting handout at the Met includes the role of Eros for Sylvia and Simkin is scheduled for it once, with the Wiles/Bolle cast on Wednesday.

As for the rest of the program, I agree with previous posters who noted that Lane and Hammoudi were not as effective as Copeland and Lopez in Desir. Copeland's dancing was just so fierce and gutsy that I think she really made something of nothing…a feat that Lane didn't accomplish for me. Hee Seo & Gomes were gorgeous in that 3rd pas, but seeing Boylston and Stearns again in the evening performance made me realize just how beautiful and evocative Ms. Boylston's dancing is. Messmer and Doble were beautiful in the first pas, she especially took a very different approach from Murphy. It seemed like much more of an adagio pas, filled with yearning, while the image I recall from Murphy was one of allegro with quick, sharp changes of direction.

The 3rd cast of Dneiper just didn't do it justice, in fact I had to fight to stay awake for the last 2/3 of the matinee. All the performers were up to par technically, but they didn't have the personalities or theatricality of the first cast. I had no such problem at the evening performance where Gomes, Part, Hererra and Hallberg again drew me in to this very old story. Dneiper is a keeper in my book.

#44 Goldfish17

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 07:00 AM

The score is remarkably consistent in mood, and this may be what you're picking up on.

In contrast, Romeo and Juliette is much more reflective of Prokofiev's experience with film and montage. It's more tightly linked to particular actions.

Put another way, Dnieper is less of a story ballet in many respects than Romeo and Juliette or Cinderella.


Lawson, this is exactly what I thought/felt about the music in this ballet! You explained my thoughts better then I could express them.
Thank you for very interesting posts about Prokofev's music.

#45 Rosa

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 08:33 AM

Thank you everyone for the great detailed reviews of the Prokofiev program! It has been a delight reading this thread. :rofl:


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