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Sleeping Beauty

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Finally, I must say that this Disneyfied production of Sleeping Beauty is really lacking. So much of the ballet's original beautiful choreography has been either changed or entirely eliminated ( I especially miss the variations in the last act). It's a shame. Maybe some day ABT will return to the older version of the ballet.

I so agree with Amour. IMO, much of this production's new choreography borders on the hideous. It is totally lacking in any grace, transcendency, craftsmanship or narrative coherence. At times it appeared extraordinarily unflattering, especially the lifts, from my vantage point in the orchestra.

I know this is harsh but we are talking about Sleeping Beauty. There is a reason that companies perform the classics and it is not simply to sell tickets. This ballet has a beloved and starry provenance. Fortunately, the legacy of Sleeping Beauty came to glowing life through Alina's superb classicism and nuanced characterization. And if you are going to the trouble and expense of mounting a new, traditional production of Sleeping Beauty, it defies logic to turn it into a cartoon. Costumes should be well designed so they don't obscure the dancer's line and weigh them down. The color palette should not be garish to the point of distraction. The staging should be expansive so the dancers can breath. There is a sense of majesty and wonder about Sleeping Beauty. But yesterday, the only wonder was Alina.

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I saw this production several years ago and agree entirely with most of the criticisms of the design, look, blocking, and treatment of many of the characters.

Presumably there are those who do like the aesthetic, with its cartoonish image of the fairy tale world. I'm referring to those who designed it, chose it, and applaud it.

Sometimes I find it interesting to try to enter into the mentality of those whose decisions and taste completely baffle me. What were the designers trying for? What DO some people like about the visuals of this production? Is it possible to surmise? Or is it just better to leave things as they are and respond with a :)

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Judging from the number of children attending yesterday's matinee, perhaps that's the demographic ABT was targeting with this production. It would explain the Disney fairy princess aspect of the sets and costumes. My friend said the fairies' costumes made her think of Skittles. Children can appreciate grandeur and history though. When I saw the Paris Opera Ballet's grand Louis XIV/XV- inspired production, the children in the audience didn't seem lost or over-awed.

On another note, besides the glorious Alina, I loved Stella Abrera's gracious Lilac Fairy. More principal roles for her, please!

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I was fortunate enough to see both Beauty performances yesterday. Cojocaru was lyrical, refined and aabsolutely gorgeous. I wish we could see her more often here. The only other Beauty I've seen before who was equally gorgeous was Diana Vishneva (at ABT and at the Kirov's engagement in D.C. in Feb.) Her musicality and phrasing were peerless. The only lapse was some wobble on the last balance of the Rose Adagio. Carreno was a fine partner for her, and he knows how to act the role. However, he omitted portions of the choreography in order to accomodate his declining technical ability. I enjoyed Stella's Lilac Fairy. She is not as tall as Part, but I nevertheless thought she was commanding and performed the role well. In terms of Lilac Fairies in general, I don't think any of the ABT women are on par with Sara Mearns at NYCB or Kondourova (Big Red) at the Kirov, both of whom I had the privilege of seeing in Feb 2010 in the Lilac role. What a stellar, memorable performance from Cojocaru.

Osipova was wonderful, especially considering this was her debut. However, as noted above in the other posts, she still has some work to do in this role. Hallberg was wonderful. He has the best legs and feet in the biz. I disliked Wiles' stiff Lilac. Lane and Simkin were outstanding in Bluebird.

ABout the production, while it has improved since its initial run, it is still a disaster in many respects.I tune out during idiotic spindle dance, and also when the Prince is caught in the spider's web. What a waste of valuable stage time. Please put back the precious metal dances in the Wedding Act, and get rid of the dull choreography for the fairies during the wedding.

On to Swan Lake...

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I saw this production several years ago and agree entirely with most of the criticisms of the design, look, blocking, and treatment of many of the characters.

Presumably there are those who do like the aesthetic, with its cartoonish image of the fairy tale world. I'm referring to those who designed it, chose it, and applaud it.

Sometimes I find it interesting to try to enter into the mentality of those whose decisions and taste completely baffle me. What were the designers trying for? What DO some people like about the visuals of this production? Is it possible to surmise? Or is it just better to leave things as they are and respond with a :)

Is it too harsh to say that there are really no good American stage( ballet) designers at present. I wish ABT would be able to get E Frigerio or L Spinatelli to design one of their future productions. Maybe they are too expensive?

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I wondered how much rehearsal time Carreno & Cojocaru had. The pulled off some pretty spectacular stuff.

Cojocaru left directly from Milan to New York on June 9th, the day after her last performance of Ballet Imperial in La Scala, so, if they didn't meet before, they had little more than a week.

She said she was ready to enter in Sleeping Beauty mood and it seems she succeed!

I've been lucky to see her two performances with the Royal Ballet in Autumn, so nothing of unexpected in yours comments, anyway I'm really happy to read of her success. But, hey, don't love her too much: we NEED Alina on this side of the pond! :)

I'd see Cojocaru in anything. Have her dance the phonebook - I'm there.

I totally agree :wub:

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I wondered how much rehearsal time Carreno & Cojocaru had. The pulled off some pretty spectacular stuff.

Cojocaru left directly from Milan to New York on June 9th, the day after her last performance of Ballet Imperial in La Scala, so, if they didn't meet before, they had little more than a week.

She said she was ready to enter in Sleeping Beauty mood and it seems she succeed!

I've been lucky to see her two performances with the Royal Ballet in Autumn, so nothing of unexpected in yours comments, anyway I'm really happy to read of her success. But, hey, don't love her too much: we NEED Alina on this side of the pond! :)

I'd see Cojocaru in anything. Have her dance the phonebook - I'm there.

I totally agree :wub:

After falling in love with her yesterday, I absolutely agree too. :wub:

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During the intermission yesterday I heard 2 guys sitting near me dissing Alina's balances. They said that if any ballerina had toe boxes as big as hers they could hold long, steady balances too. It made my blood boil. :)

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Didn't see yesterday but she has bunions and does habitually use beer can shoes. But so what; she's the best in the world in that role and no one can take the slightest thing away from her. MP

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I was at last night's performance with Osipova/Hallberg/Wiles. I also attended Dvorovenko/Belotserkovsky/Riccetto.

First of all, I think that this season's production is a tremendous improvement over the version that I saw in 2007. The scenery does not look as cheap as it did three years ago and (thankfully) they did away with the shower curtain. Plus, Aurora's kingdom looked like there was a boom in population (another thing that bothered me three years ago). And it is more clear that the Prince actually destroys Carabosse. However, my one complaint is that they took out the dances for Puss and Boots and Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Could someone recall - didn't the version three years ago have two intermissions? I could be wrong.

I am so glad to read the raves about Cojocaru. I had the pleasure of seeing her as Aurora when the Royal Ballet came to DC in the summer of 2006. She was exquisite!

I was thrilled with Saturday night's performance and I loved Osipova. I saw her in Don Quixote at the beginning of June. I agree that she was better in the first ballet, but I felt that she was radiant last night. Her Rose Adagio made me cry (as did Cojocaru's four years ago and Vishneva's three years ago). I know that this was her first time ever as Aurora and according to the NY Times, she was struggling with a sore throat (and the effects of the mugging!!), but I felt that she was still extraordinary. When she came out (what a spectacular entrance for a ballerina) her first series of leaps were unreal! The Rose Adagio was sure and steady if maybe a little on the safe side, as has been commented in previous posts. When Osipova was on stage I could not take my eyes off of her. I hope that she is a regular fixture with the ABT.

Hallberg was very good, but it seemed to me that he ran out of gas at the end. But he was the perfect partner and the Act III pas de deux was beautiful. Every fish dive was jaw dropping.

I preferred Maria Riccetto over Michele Wiles as the Lilac Fairy. Wiles was way too stiff and brought very little personality to the part. The most beautiful Lilac Fairy that I ever saw was Marianela Nunez with the Royal and I would have Yekaterina Kondaurova (who I saw back in February when the Mariinsky was in DC) in second. The Lilac Fairy should set the tone of "Hey! - Don't worry! - Everything is going to be OK!" I did not get that from Wiles at all and when I watched her with my opera glasses (I was in Family Circle last night) she usually had a very pained expression on her face.

But really - Tchaikovsky's music and the storyline - I loved it!

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The port de bras is so important in this variation....I don't know if it is a fact or not, but an old Russian ballet teacher once told me that Aurora was telling a story with her arms---about how she was once small but now is grown.

Leonid, this is wonderful! One can almost see it and hear it in the music, it explains why the variation starts off so cloyingly sweet... as if she's describing being a tiny princess... and finishes brilliantly as the now fully grown princess. ...Cute to ravishing... Makes me wonder if once upon a time the steps & port de bras started lower and grew larger as they repeated...

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"I preferred Maria Riccetto over Michele Wiles as the Lilac Fairy. Wiles was way too stiff and brought very little personality to the part. The most beautiful Lilac Fairy that I ever saw was Marianela Nunez with the Royal and I would have Yekaterina Kondaurova (who I saw back in February when the Mariinsky was in DC) in second. The Lilac Fairy should set the tone of "Hey! - Don't worry! - Everything is going to be OK!" I did not get that from Wiles at all and when I watched her with my opera glasses (I was in Family Circle last night) she usually had a very pained expression on her face."

I fell in love with Stella Abrera when I saw her dance the Lilac Fairy three (four?) years ago. After her first variation I said "She's going to be a principal next year," and bought a pair of her autographed pointe shoes. Although she wasn't promoted to principal the next year, she was scheduled to dance Giselle on a Wednesday matinee, for which I bought a special ticket. Then she was taken off the schedule because of her injury. I am absolutely thrilled that she is back. This season I saw her dance Mercedes in the Saturday night Don Q and thought she was exquisite--charming, seductive, with exquisite port de bras and technique. I hope ABT will do Giselle next season and that Stella can finally make her debut in the title role. angelica

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I'd see Cojocaru in anything. Have her dance the phonebook - I'm there.

I totally agree :)

After falling in love with her yesterday, I absolutely agree too. :wub:

Ditto. She reminds me so much of Fracci. Once you fall in love with Alina, you are hooked for good.

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Alastair Macauley's review in the New York Times of both Cojocaru and Osipova was just posted Sunday afternoon:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/arts/dance/21sleeping.html

With all due respect to Mr. Macauley IMO he tends to go overboard with his praise of David Hallberg. Mr. Hallberg is a wonderful dancer who is also good looking, and who happens to possess unusually beautiful feet an legs, however these quotes are a little extreme: "But Mr. Hallberg’s was the one ideally classical performance of the whole day" and "More than either of Saturday’s ballerinas, he epitomized the ideal. He had only to point a foot, and it was an event of magnitude."

I think his criticism of Cojocaru's acting silly ( I was there) and found odd the time spent on what Osipova's performance could become in the future. I was not at the Osipova performance, and this review didn't give me much of a description.

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Wasn't there, but thought it an extremely balanced review, loves all the dancers, slight criticism of all of them. Although it's got his characteristic superlatives when he's got that many top dancers in a single day, it was also pretty subtle; he describes what Carreno does that Hallberg doesn't, that Aurora is not a 'jump role', that Cojocaru should think of her music more. I'd prefer his praise of Hallberg without the Harry Potter, that goes along with some of the 'children's 'n' Kittles' talk others have noted about the some of the tacky aspects of this production. Oh yes, I'd like to have seen either one of those events.

Thought I could remember the variation and see the port de bras leonid was talking about, but then realized I was hearing the Lilac Fairy music, so I guess I didn't picture the port de bras after all. Will have to check this out soon.

No other Aurora of my experience has acted in such affecting detail the different sensations that pass through her after pricking her finger on the spindle.

Didn't someone say that about Veronika Part on this thread? Gotta go look.

Yes they had done:

Part's delirium after pricking her finger was the most dramatic of any of the ballerinas so far - the work of a natural tragedienne.
Faux Pas had said this. Would be interested to hear viewers compare this scene after pricking the finger among all the ballerinas this week.

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I think his criticism of Cojocaru's acting silly ( I was there) and found odd the time spent on what Osipova's performance could become in the future.

I respectfully disagree... at least regarding the first.

I think its clear I almost never (ahem) agree with Macaulay, so I hope it isn't taken as me just reiterating his points, but I have been, since the comments on the last two performances started coming in, trying to figure out how to reconcile my responses with those on this board.

I thought Alina's first act exquisite. Really wonderful. And I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of her performance and am glad I saw it of course, but am not in the raptures that everyone else here is. And it is for (I sense) the same reason that Macaulay was not. I did not feel the character developed. How many times has it been discussed here that the character in act III is a mature version of that character we meet in act I? To me she was the same flirtatious innocent sweet creature. She was charming, lovely, to be sure. But there was not the increased authority, maturity... I didn't sense a development between the three acts.

Osipova, whose act I was NOT as secure though it had incredible moments to it (and yes, she was visibly nervous, a surprising and actually rather charming thing in such a powerhouse), new to the role, gave me more of a clear delineation of the development of character.

Oddly, the one thing I disagreed with Macaulay on was a criticism of David, that his acting was less developed than Carrenos--Carreno gave me way less than David did. David brought life and passion to what is, in this version a pretty rough sketch of a character. (and generally I am of the school that Macaulay goes overboard on David--and I think he did here too at the end--although I do think David is pretty fantastic).

One other thing. I liked Michelle Wiles!

I feel odd saying it, both as everyone else has said how awful she was, and because I generally don't like her. I think if you read every comment I have ever written here, you would be hard pressed to find a nice thing I have ever said about her. But I thought she had real authority. I know everyone loves Stella.

I saw her (Stella) in this role twice--Weds with Part and Sat matinee. I thought she was more successful on the matinee. Partly she danced better. Partly she and Cojocaru were a better match--Part's own authority made Stella's lack of authority more glaring while Alina's sweetness was not a problem.

But although Stella danced well on both occasions, I did not believe for an instant she had the power to control the events, to banish Carabosse.

Wiles had authority. I believed she was controlling events. I wasn't looking through opera glasses and my seats aren't fabulous enough that I could see the grimaces referenced above, so I will have to take your word for it. But from where I sat, she looked serene, confident, and I believed she was powerful and in control. Stella doesn't make me think that. And as such, for a Lilac fairy, I don't care if I think she dances more beautifully than Wiles--it isn't sufficient for the role.

I think I have more to write about the two performances later, but for now, as no one has mentioned Riccetto as Florine in the afternoon... I thought she was lovely. very precise and truly lovely. I enjoyed her rendition of the variation very much.

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The slide show is enlightening regarding the costume design for those of us who haven't seen this production. I do wish they had done something a little different on the Bluebird.

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I attended Osipova/Hallberg/Wiles performance.

In my opinion, Natalia, although dazzling, is just not Aurora. This is not her role, and it was clear after few minutes of watching her dance.

But I can not wait to see her Juliette.

The rest of it has already been said - Hallberg was perfect Prince, Simkin and Lane were highlight of the evening, upgraded production is still painful to watch.

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During the intermission yesterday I heard 2 guys sitting near me dissing Alina's balances. They said that if any ballerina had toe boxes as big as hers they could hold long, steady balances too. It made my blood boil. :mad:

RB dancers do seem to prefer those big toe boxes. They look particularly unflattering on Rojo.

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Another thought about ABT's production: I noticed that the Waltz children passed out roses to the princes for the Rose Adagio. Shouldn't they at least bring their own roses to the party? Come on, fellas :mad:

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I was at last night's performance with Osipova/Hallberg/Wiles. I also attended Dvorovenko/Belotserkovsky/Riccetto.

First of all, I think that this season's production is a tremendous improvement over the version that I saw in 2007. The scenery does not look as cheap as it did three years ago and (thankfully) they did away with the shower curtain. Plus, Aurora's kingdom looked like there was a boom in population (another thing that bothered me three years ago). And it is more clear that the Prince actually destroys Carabosse. However, my one complaint is that they took out the dances for Puss and Boots and Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Could someone recall - didn't the version three years ago have two intermissions? I could be wrong.

I am so glad to read the raves about Cojocaru. I had the pleasure of seeing her as Aurora when the Royal Ballet came to DC in the summer of 2006. She was exquisite!

I was thrilled with Saturday night's performance and I loved Osipova. I saw her in Don Quixote at the beginning of June. I agree that she was better in the first ballet, but I felt that she was radiant last night. Her Rose Adagio made me cry (as did Cojocaru's four years ago and Vishneva's three years ago). I know that this was her first time ever as Aurora and according to the NY Times, she was struggling with a sore throat (and the effects of the mugging!!), but I felt that she was still extraordinary. When she came out (what a spectacular entrance for a ballerina) her first series of leaps were unreal! The Rose Adagio was sure and steady if maybe a little on the safe side, as has been commented in previous posts. When Osipova was on stage I could not take my eyes off of her. I hope that she is a regular fixture with the ABT.

Hallberg was very good, but it seemed to me that he ran out of gas at the end. But he was the perfect partner and the Act III pas de deux was beautiful. Every fish dive was jaw dropping.

I preferred Maria Riccetto over Michele Wiles as the Lilac Fairy. Wiles was way too stiff and brought very little personality to the part. The most beautiful Lilac Fairy that I ever saw was Marianela Nunez with the Royal and I would have Yekaterina Kondaurova (who I saw back in February when the Mariinsky was in DC) in second. The Lilac Fairy should set the tone of "Hey! - Don't worry! - Everything is going to be OK!" I did not get that from Wiles at all and when I watched her with my opera glasses (I was in Family Circle last night) she usually had a very pained expression on her face.

But really - Tchaikovsky's music and the storyline - I loved it!

As to the entrance of Aurora. In this particular production anyway, she is obscured for much of that wonderful anticipatory music. She first appears on the balcony as if asking if anyone wants to play tennis! Then has to wend her way down a staircase, hidden to the audience, and leap onto the stage, all in the proper musical space. Osipova didn't time it quite rightly and had to stand for about six counts of music before she actually did her first jete'. Anyone who ever saw Fontyne enter to this music in the old Royal version would understand what's totally lacking in this one. The freshness of youth, the excitement of her birthday, the hope and jubilation of being on the verge of young womanhood. None of this can be truly achieved no matter who dances the role when this cumbersome set is used. The castle which looks to be made of claymation over shadows everything. And takes up stage space! No wonder everyone looks cramped here! Even the costumes don't "read" well against the coloring and the lighting. The pale pinks of the friends costumes fade into the deep coloration of the yellow/brown of the castle. Oddly, only the "new" costumes for the princes look OK on this set, even though they look as if they were pulled from an old assortment of "Romeo and Juliet" costumes. Because of the mish-mash look of all the costumes, nothing looks of a piece. In the prologue, it would seem we are in Medieval times, yet 16 years later, we seem to be in a sort of pseudo Renaissance period. And I always thought Aurora slept for 100 years, but by the time of the hunt scene we are in the time of Louis xvi! Nice nap! Also on the costumes, Bluebird for the man would be helped by not putting his entire body in what look like baby blue long johns. The tights could be of a different shade, something more flattering to the leg.

I loved having the opportunity to have seen both Cojocuru and Osipova. One fits the company like a glove and they her: the other has some work to do . I'm done( as I hope this production of "Sleeping Beauty" is.) This company deserves better.

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I too did a double header on Saturday and agree with most of what I am reading above.

A few notes: Macauley doesn't love this company nor does he have much time for three act story ballets. Anna Kisselgoff was open to all styles and genres of ballet. Kisselgoff, Croce and Clive Barnes could appreciate each genre for its own qualities instead of comparing it consistently unfavorably with the Balanchine neoclassical streamlined ideal. ABT is not the only object of his critical scorn, he has dismissed the Kirov as well. Macauley only reviewed these two performances farming out the opening night to a colleague. Since he has little taste for Veronika Part's dancing, he probably wouldn't have seen her on Wednesday night.

As for his criticism of Alina Cojocaru's dancing - its two salient qualities are 1) her incredible musicality phrasing each step to the music and 2) delicacy achieved through strength - steely control that allows her to shape and finish each step with finesse and right on the music. Recent serious foot injuries would account for both the boxy shoes and the slight wobbles.

Perhaps Macauley wanted more overt contrast between the Auroras of each act reflecting the music - young princess, vision and royal bride. Certainly Cojocaru hears the music because of the way she shapes each step like notes on a musical score. I felt Cojocaru was quite subtle allowing the choreography to tell the story without overlaying an overt dramatic affect on top of the movements. But her personal radiance, charm, musicality and modesty were present throughout. I don't think I have ever seen the Act III solo danced more perfectly by any other ballerina (I have seen Vishneva, Zakharova, Ananiashvili, Asylmuratova, Jaffe, Semenyaka, Durante and many others in the part).

However, I felt that both Cojocaru and Osipova showed why they are top international ballerinas but both are capable of better Auroras. They would need a better production - and one with which Cojocaru is more familiar, better rehearsed and in tune with her colleagues. Osipova showed much of what she is capable of but missed details and seemed nervous. Osipova was nervous and tentative in places because she is new to the role, Cojocaru because she is new to this production and colleagues. I hope to see both again in New York soon. I hope both get to do this role again and Giselle in the future at ABT.

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I have to agree with them. She looked like she was wearing clown shoes, and she still couldn't stay up.

During the intermission yesterday I heard 2 guys sitting near me dissing Alina's balances. They said that if any ballerina had toe boxes as big as hers they could hold long, steady balances too. It made my blood boil. :mad:

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I have to agree with them. She looked like she was wearing clown shoes, and she still couldn't stay up.
During the intermission yesterday I heard 2 guys sitting near me dissing Alina's balances. They said that if any ballerina had toe boxes as big as hers they could hold long, steady balances too. It made my blood boil. :mad:

Seriously Adam, I don't remember any noticeable falling off of pointe that would justify "she still couldn't stay up." Canbelto waited at the stage door and told me that Cojocaru came out dressed very elegantly but was wearing very large and boxy orthopedic shoes rather than elegant flats, pumps or sandals. She has seriously bad feet. I think it was miraculous that she did so well when I believe she had to take off over a year to recover from a stress fracture.

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