Waelsung

Airs/La Sylphide - Spring 09 Season

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In Airs, although he was the least featured of the three danseurs, on Thursday night and during the Saturday matinee, I found Eric Tamm to have the most elegant lines.

http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=159 (Tamm)

Interestingly, the current program contains an article on how there is an ABT-quasi-affiliated school that feeds certain people into ABT II, if things pan out for them. Eric Tamm is described in that article as being a danseur with both jump power and elegant lines, and I agree with that. The article noted that Tamm on one occasion subbed for Cornejo when the latter was injured.

However, still on the two "Airs" performances involving Tamm, Mikhail Ilyin was considerably shorter than Tamm and Patrick Ogle and I am not sure that was the best arrangement.

http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=215

When I looked up Ilyin's bio, I noticed that he had once been a principal at the Miami City Ballet. Ilyin joined ABT as a corps member in 2008. I wondered to myself why a former principal would join another company (even the ABT) as a corps member? I wonder if there is some background on that.

I liked the "Airs" performance on Thursday, with the Tamm cast, better than the one on Tuesday.

I guess casting Seo in La Sylphide and the other roles she gets to play this season confirm she is going to become soloist soon, deservedly:

http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=155

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I saw Veronika Part and Cory Stearns dance La Sylphide last night and was totally enraptured by Part. I had loved her as Myrta earlier this season and wondered whether she would be a mismatch for the role of the Sylph, especially in comparison with the petite Osipova. To my delight, Part was exquisite in the role. There is something very special in the quality of her movements. They have amplitude and a quality of seamless expansiveness, in which she opens slowly into a position, keeps opening and opening, more and more, until she reaches it and then moves on to another. She is never static. She dances with complete authenticity, never posturing for effect. One movement blends into another, and with her gorgeous classical line I couldn't take my eyes off her. I've never seen anyone else dance quite like her, and I can't wait to see her again. I enjoyed Cory Stearns as James. Craig Salstein had the audience (including me) laughing out loud when he imitated the Sylph, he did it so well.

Admittedly, this was my first Sylphide so I didn't have any other performances to compare it to. When I referred to Osipova above, I was imagining her in the role based on her Giselle.

But I did want to put in a good word for Part. I was appalled to find her name omitted from the McCauley review of Giselle earlier in the week. I am now a committed fan.

angelica

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When I looked up Ilyin's bio, I noticed that he had once been a principal at the Miami City Ballet. Ilyin joined ABT as a corps member in 2008. I wondered to myself why a former principal would join another company (even the ABT) as a corps member? I wonder if there is some background on that.

It's not the first time this has happened, that a principal elsewhere joins ABT's corps. I think the hope is that they will rise up through ABT and get to perform beyond their old regional area. Also, I don't know if this plays into it much, but principals don't get to dance as much....

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When I looked up Ilyin's bio, I noticed that he had once been a principal at the Miami City Ballet. Ilyin joined ABT as a corps member in 2008. I wondered to myself why a former principal would join another company (even the ABT) as a corps member? I wonder if there is some background on that.

It's not the first time this has happened, that a principal elsewhere joins ABT's corps. I think the hope is that they will rise up through ABT and get to perform beyond their old regional area. Also, I don't know if this plays into it much, but principals don't get to dance as much....

Unless a person who was a principal elsewhere has a better chance at faster ascension to ABT solosit and then ABT principal, it wouldn't very generally seem like a good trade-off for "big fish-little pond to little fish-big pond" because of the limitations that age can impose on a person. If a person has to make his or her way through the ABT ranks like normal, by the time he or she has made principal a second time (if ever), a number of years will have been utilized. :tiphat:

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The problem with talented dancers like Mikhail Ilyin and Joseph Philips who were dancing soloist with Miami City Ballet and joined ABT as corps is that there are still a lot of soloists ahead of them. Meanwhile, the importation of the supertalented Daniil Simkin who is a similar demi-caractere type as a soloist (and his quick utilization) is a further blow to these boys. The male ranks at ABT has been very talent heavy for a while and only recently has there been some room at the top (the departure of Bocca and Malakhov, the injuries of Stiefel, Corella's scheduling conflicts with his own company, Carreno hitting 40, etc.). However there have been almost two decades of soloists languishing and leaving ABT to go elsewhere. I am thinking of Parrish Maynard to San Francisco, Charles Askegard and Joaquin de Luz to NYCB, Carlos Molina to Boston Ballet and Sascha Radetsky to the HET Ballet. Danny Tidwell is still wandering in the wildnerness (I think he would have made soloist but it probably would have taken another year or two.) Still this may be the first time in over 15 years where there is room at the top in the male ranks at ABT but it is still a tough climb.

Frankly, I would be happy to see both Ilyin and Philips cast instead of Carlos Lopez in some of the classical pieces (Peasant PDD in Giselle) and also instead of Blaine Hoven in some instances. ABT miscast Gennadi Saveliev as the Bluebird in "Sleeping Beauty" and frankly both these boys (and Daniil) would make a better Bluebird.

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Unless a person who was a principal elsewhere has a better chance at faster ascension to ABT solosit and then ABT principal, it wouldn't very generally seem like a good trade-off for "big fish-little pond to little fish-big pond" because of the limitations that age can impose on a person. If a person has to make his or her way through the ABT ranks like normal, by the time he or she has made principal a second time (if ever), a number of years will have been utilized.

Yes, when it happens, I always wonder what has been said to entice the move... not to mention that it must be hard to get back into the corps mindset... It would make more sense to move to a different company of the same level, wouldn't it? Perhaps ballet is such a small world that it is difficult to move to another company? Perhaps it is easier to go to another country?

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It's not unusual for dancers to take a one-rank step down to join a bigger or more well-paying or more prestigious company, or one whose rep expands their opportunities or is better suited to them. For example, Alexandra Ansanelli joined Royal Ballet as a soloist after having been made principal at NYCB early in her career.

I don't know what their prior rank was when joining PNB, but many of the top dancers who came from other companies in the last decade of the Russell/Stowell years to join PNB started as soloists, and were promoted to principal within a year or two: Louise Nadeau, Jeffrey Stanton, Kaori Nakamura, Olivier Wevers, Paul Gibson, and I believe Christopher Maraval. Batkhurel Bold started in the PNB corps, and Lisa Apple may have as well.

Since Peter Boal has been AD, he hired Carla Korbes, who was made NYCB soloist just before she came to PNB, as a soloist and Seth Orza to corps. Both were promoted quickly to the next rank.

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The problem with talented dancers like Mikhail Ilyin and Joseph Philips who were dancing soloist with Miami City Ballet and joined ABT as corps is that there are still a lot of soloists ahead of them.

I can see taking a step down to join a larger company, but, in Ilyin's case, he was principal at one point at Miami City Ballet and he took the step down from principal to corps. And he wasn't moving from a teeny teeny company to the ABT. :devil:

http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=215

"Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Mikhail Ilyin graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in 1998. In 1999, he joined the Boston Ballet for two years, then Miami City Ballet where he became in principal in 2003..... He has been an Artist-in-Residence with Ballet Mississippi since 2005."

Now, that being said, based on his performances in "Airs", I didn't perceive that Ilyin deserved elevation from the ABT corps (although it is difficult to make an evaluation based on observing him in only one piece).

On ABT having had little room at the top on the male side, I can see that. Particularly given how prolific Gomes and Hallberg have been in learning new works, and how they seem to be able to take on any type of danseur role (given that they are relatively tall, have powerful jumps and techniques, and yet can also participate in more reflective roles). Both Gomes and Hallberg seem to be able to take on a lot of new roles each ABT season. When you consider how recently Hallberg has been principal, it seems, at least to me, impressive that he has been able to become (1) one of the main partners for Gillian Murphy, herself a very prolific ballerina, particularly in recent periods as Ethan S has become more beset with injury, (2) retained being the preferred partner of Michelle Wiles, (3) done meaningful work with P Herrera (even though he is not necessarily her single preferred partner), (4) begun to partner Hee Seo (query whether that is more than a temporary thing) at times and (5) partnered various other people on occasion, including some soloists.

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Dancers can have many reasons for moving, including personal ones, with families and partners in another city, having dreams/ambitions to be in one company vs. another, living in another environment -- a lot of people from all walks of life have wanted to live in NYC -- and the regional companies, however strong, aren't rolling in money. When I moved to Seattle, there was a Seattle Times weekend magazine article on "What People Make", and I was :devil: to see how little a principal at PNB made at that time, even taking into consideration lower cost of living and no state income tax. From what I had seen published of NYCB corps salaries at that time, I believe NYCB corps members made more than PNB principals. Of course the money was for far more performances -- a PNB season just about fit into one of NYCB's seasons, with "Nutcrackers" being about even. ABT has a lot more performances than Miami City Ballet, even with its three venues, which translates into salary and opportunity, even within a larger company.

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I attended the June 20th matinee of “Airs” and “La Sylphide”. “Airs” was enjoyable and well-danced by all, but I’m not a big fan of modern dance.

La Syphide, however, is another story. I found myself as lost in the mists of Scotland as James himself. Hee Seo’s Sylphide is beyond a revelation. It’s hard to believe she’s a member of the corps. (If my opinion, and the opinion of many women attending the ballet Saturday afternoon is listened to, she won’t be in the corps for much longer.) Hee Seo’s sylph is sweet and loving, mischevious in a child-like way. She is a creature who seems to live in the air. Her every movement reminded me of the romantic lithographs I’ve seen of Marie Taglioni and Lucille Grahn in early 19th century productions of La Sylphide.

ABT’s La Sylphide is a Bournonville ballet, and the male danseur is challenged as much, if not more than the ballerina. I’ve been watching the Royal Danish Ballet’s production of La Sylphide with Nikolaj Hubbe and Lis Jepperson to prepare myself for ABT’s La Sylphide. To me, David Hallberg’s James is even better than Hubbe’s. Hallberg’s ballon is both light and explosive. His leg beats are quick and crisp. His entrechats sixs, leaps where the dancer’s legs constantly cross in the air, are thrilling. Hallberg’s acting is also first-rate. He is the perfect dreamer chasing after his ideal love, and in the process losing both that love and his life.

Daniil Simkin, as Gurn, doesn’t get to dance much. What dancing he does do is unbelievably exciting. Simkin has tremendous elevation, and his jumps are also clean and precise. I’m especially impressed by Simkin’s acting. He inhabits the role of Gurn utterly. His mime is very clear, and he is funny without overdoing it.

Gemma Bond is lovely as Effie, James’ fiancée, and Maria Bystrova is very realistic as Anna, James’ mother. The one disappointment is Victor Barbee’s two-dimensional portrayl of Madge, the witch/fortune-teller. Barbee’s Madge seems like a caricature, rather than a realistic characterization. At times Barbee finds the humor in Madge, but that humor is rather coarse.

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To me, David Hallberg’s James is even better than Hubbe’s. Hallberg’s ballon is both light and explosive. His leg beats are quick and crisp. His entrechats sixs, leaps where the dancer’s legs constantly cross in the air, are thrilling. Hallberg’s acting is also first-rate. He is the perfect dreamer chasing after his ideal love, and in the process losing both that love and his life.

As much as I love Hubbe's production of "La Sylphide", I didn't like his James very much (and may, no will never forgive him for taking the performance from Thomas Lund, who danced that night in "Etudes").

I thought Hallberg's James, even in this production, was better than Hubbe's, too.

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Hee Seo’s Sylphide is beyond a revelation. It’s hard to believe she’s a member of the corps. (If my opinion, and the opinion of many women attending the ballet Saturday afternoon is listened to, she won’t be in the corps for much longer.)

I agree Hee Seo will clearly be promoted to soloist soon. I wonder if that happens only once a year, as occurred recently with Cory Stearns, in which case Seo will have to wait almost another year?

When you get your own La Sylphide with Hallberg, one evening performance of Romeo & Juliet, and then one more performance of the same in LA, and these are not substitutions but intended for you and these are also not your first performances as Juliet after having been a non-apprentice member of the corps for only three years, you are about to be elevated. :)

http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=155

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Was anyone else sorely disappointed by tonight's performance? (Nina/Hallberg). I thought Airs was especially awful tonight.

I skipped Airs on Tues. I really enjoyed Hallberg's performance. However, Nina was disappointing. She seemed to be lacking in energy, and was very earthbound. I enjoyed her acting, and she played the death scene to the hilt. However,her diminished technique resulted, for me, in an unsatisfying performance overall.

I thought there was much to enjoy about Nina's performance. I was not disappointed in the least and did not find her performance earthbound or lacking in energy.

Of course, it's difficult to compete against one's former self, but practically every performer must deal the consequences of aging, and aging beats the alternative. :bow:

Nina is still a wonderful dancer and has much to offer. I will be sad to see her go.

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[i thought there was much to enjoy about Nina's performance. I was not disappointed in the least and did not find her performance earthbound or lacking in energy.

Of course, it's difficult to compete against one's former self, but practically every performer must deal the consequences of aging, and aging beats the alternative. :wink:

Nina is still a wonderful dancer and has much to offer. I will be sad to see her go.

I agree that Nina is a wonderful artist. I thought her Giselles were magnificent. For me, her Sylphide was not as successful. I will miss her artistry when she leaves.

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The October/November 2010 edition of Pointe magazine contains an interview with Cornejo. An excerpt follows:

"Q: You made your debt as Siegfried in Swan Lake with the Corella Ballet in February. What was that like?

A: Dancing the classical roles is my dream. Since the creation of Corella Ballet, I've been able to dance two ballets I haven't yet performed with ABT, La Bayadere and Swan Lake.

Q: How was partnering Natalia Osipova in ABT's La Sylphide last year?

A: Incredible. She's amazing, and her jump was unbelievable. I was saying to myself, 'Oh my God, what do I do now?'...

Q: Has your height affected your career?

A: It's always been on the table. Argentine dancers, and Latin American dancers in general, are on the small side. I think what matters are proportions. It's been hard sometimes to change the way of thinking of company directors or coaches. Despite the fact that I'm small, my movements can be big, slow. That's why I think La Bayadere is one of my favorite ballets -- because the movement is adagio. People always see me as a fast mover, and I enjoy it, but I feel much bigger than that."

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