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SWAN LAKE

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an email from ABT's press office notes that Gomes is unable to dance as Prince Siegfried in SWAN LAKE this evening (June 21) with Part.

Gomes will be replaced by Stearns, who will be making his NY debut as Siegfried in this production tonight.

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I attended last night's performance. It was, unfortunately, not a very satisfying experience. Stearns was a poor partner for Veronika. The overhead lifts were too low, and in the big lift that ends Act II, Veronika apparently felt so insecure that she came out of her beautiful arm postion and held on to Cory's wrist for balance. There were numerous partnering errors throughout. None of them were a disaster standing alone, but the overall effect was to dimish the quality of the performance. Veronka seemed to be rattled, because she started making a lot of small errors in easy footwork passages, particularly in Act IV. It looked like they had little or no rehearsal time together. Cory also needs to pay more attention to how he puts his ballerina down coming out of lifts. He was frequently too rough and unpolished in the way he performed those duties last night. Some of Veronika's turns were very tilted to the side. I'm not sure whether to attribute that problem to Veronika, Cory, or some combination. Veronkia did well in her solos, and she was lovely and beautiful in her mime. She also knocked off her 32 fouettes in the Black Swan pdd. However, it certainly was not her best Swan Lake due to lack of trust in her partner. I hoped things would get better after intermission as they settled into their roles and their partnership. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Cory seemed to run out of energy in his Black Swan pdd solo, with leaps that barely left the ground and spins that were slow. Cory did well in the acting aspects, and he had a beautiful line in his Act I solo. To make matters worse, Simkin was replaced by J. Matthews as Benno. Matthews was good enough, but I would have preferred to see Simkin. His partners were the lovely Sarah Lane and Yuriko K. Saviliev was Purple Rothbart. He was better than in previous years. I hope Gomes is back. Veronika has been dealt a pretty awful hand this season in terms of partnering.

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Totally agree with abatt. This performance was seriously marred by partnering glitches that were all too visible, and no wonder Veronika was rattled. She started out delivering another breathtaking and moving performance, but the difficulties with Cory Stearns really got in the way.

I also was disappointed by the substitution of Matthews for Simkin. Matthews did better than I expected, but of course nothing can really replace Daniil Simkin. Sarah Lane and, especially, Yuriko Kajiya, were lovely. On the Sleeping Beauty thread someone suggested promoting some of the talented soloists to principal while they're still young, and I heartily agree. Lane and Kajiya were so lovely it made me want to see more of them, and it was frustrating to see Riccetto as a cygnette, Hee Seo as a big swan, and Misty Copeland do the Hungarian Princess yet again. What a waste of talent!

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ABT Swan Lake 6-21-10 7:30 pm

Odette-Odile Veronika Part

Siegfried Cory Stearns (debut)

Queen Mother Nancy Raffa

Benno Jared Matthews

Pas de Trois Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, Jared Matthews

von Rothbart Vitali Krauchenka/Gennadi Saveliev

Two Swans Hee Seo, Stella Abrera

Hungarian Princess Misty Copeland

Spanish Princess Luciana Paris

Italian Princess Anne Milewski

Polish Princess Isabella Boylston

Neapolitan Dance Joseph Phillips, Craig Salstein

Conductor David LaMarche

This was a splendid performance, in my view, for several different reasons:

the conductor's, David LaMarche, pacing of the score, the energy and synchrony of the corps de ballet - especially in the 2nd act, the peerless dancing of Ms Part, the resoundingly successful debut of Cory Stearns as Prince Siegfried, and the impressive depth and range of the soloist and demi-soloist ranks of American Ballet Theatre.

Last year at a Swan Lake performance of Part/Bolle I remember feeling that the lakeside ensemble moved without the impetus of a similar pulse of breath and motion. This time they looked transformed, as if carried by the musical force to breathe together, to feel a kinship to each other in responding to movement initiations. They presented a beautiful lakeside scene.

Veronika Part, for her part, even though last year I raved about the virtues of her dancing, reached, in this performance, a stage of honing the choreographic designs to a state of purity- getting down to the essentials- that bordered on reaching a state of nonchalance, a mark of high art. Which is to say in brief, I loved her dancing.

Cory Stearns, for his part, gave an amazing performance for a debut in the role.

In the first act, the birthday party, he was a caring host, very much at ease in his interactions with the guests and his inner circle, totally in control of his environment as a nobleman, while maintaining the emotional confusion over the big questions of youth. A remarkably rich performance.

In the lakeside scene, Mr Stearns was an excellent partner for Ms Part,

The double-work was refined and precise, suggesting not only visual congruity, but also emotional consonance. All the lifts seemed so 'natural' that they evoked emotional states, rather than remaining on the level of technical feats executed with virtuosic skills.

I found this 'natural' quality throughout the work of Part/Stearns in SL.

The prince's solos were musically refined with no descents into technical virtuosity.

The first act trio was lovingly danced with musicality and elegance.

The Neapolitan dance of Phillips and Salstein was high quality character dancing-one of the spices of our 19th c. 3-act ballets.

Ms Part's Odile followed the logic of her Odette- getting down to the essentials of the part. The fouettes served not as a display of virtuosity but as an emotional outpouring that becomes part of the dance with which to seduce and win the prince. Odile as seductress.

I'm even getting to like the ABT apotheosis: the lovers are united in life after death. Tchaikovsky's tragic ending sort of fits the theme of death and redemption.

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It's hard to reconcile the opinions expressed on this thread so far and I'm certainly not going to try. All I'll say is that I was at the Monday night Swan Lake and my opinion coincides with that of chiapuris. :crying:

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It's hard to reconcile the opinions expressed on this thread so far and I'm certainly not going to try.

Why do we need to reconcile the opinions? There's nothing wrong with a diversity of opinion.

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Poor Veronika, she must have had a nerve wracking rehearsal period with all the changes in casting her Siegfried-------Bolle then Gomes, then Stearns. I didn't see the performance, but in all fairness to Stearns, they were clearly thrown on without adequate rehearsal, and he doesn't have experience in the role. Give the guy a break!

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It's hard to reconcile the opinions expressed on this thread so far and I'm certainly not going to try. All I'll say is that I was at the Monday night Swan Lake and my opinion coincides with that of chiapuris. :crying:

As does mine.

I saw no "rattling" on the part of Veronika. This is a narrative--Veronika gets rattled--that I do not, at this point, think has validity. She was strong, secure.

The music for the coda of the black swan was a disaster. The pace of the fouettes was much faster than she usually takes it and the sequence following it, the orchestra had a positive meltdown. And yet she didn't let it fluster her a bit.

I was very disappointed to see Cory Stearns was going to be her partner, and yes I would have preferred to see her with Marcelo, with whom she has a truly marvelous partnership, but I thought he acquitted himself surprisingly well. He seemed totally besotted by her from the moment he saw her.

She played the role of Odette differently with him than with Marcelo--Less afraid, as one couldn't be afraid of him, he was so puppyish and unintimidating. It wasn't the great love of the century, but it worked.

I noticed a few difficulties in the partnering, the hand she put for support in the white swan pas de deux lift cited above, but there was no sense of panic, no sudden movement about it. it was a calm gesture of support, not belied in the position in any other way. and there was a slight flub in the footwork in the final act.

Given the fact they were not slated to perform this together and would have had almost no time to rehearse it together I think it was a very successful partnership.

I would also like to commend Stearns for his characterization during the black swan pdd--he did his solo while appearing still totally enamored of Odile--the character was apparent throughout. I was surprised and pleased.

I too was sorry not to see Simkin, but i think it likely the partnering was stronger with Matthews. Certainly it was one of the most satisfying pas de trois i have seen in a long time. Also, I had seen Matthews in this role a year or two ago, in a very poor performance. He danced very well last night. I am very pleased to see him getting back to form. He was promising a few years ago and then fell off badly shortly after his promotion to soloist. It is good to see him doing well again.

I would also like to second the kudos for the Neopolitan dance of Philips and Salstein--Ideally matched! Neither flagged, as often happens in this sprint of a dance, and really perhaps the most satisfying rendition of it that I have ever seen.

But really, Veronika just shone. I thought it was a gorgeous performance.

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Just a quick note to say that I felt that Veronika was wonderful on Mon night. It was not the best SL I've ever seen from her but it was way, way more than just good. I did see many instances of shaky partnering on Cory's part, but the most important thing for me is that it didn't seem to rattle Veronika. Sure, she would have danced more freely and with more abandon had she been paired with Gomes, but she overcame her tendency to panic when paired with a partner she doesn't have complete confidence in, and IMO that's a huge step forward for her.

Just got back from Vishneva's SL - it was stupendous. This is the 3rd or 4th time I've seen her in this production, and I haven't been a big fan of her SL until tonight. She was totally on, her adagio was amazing, her positions breathtaking and heartbreaking. Hallberg was just as gorgeous, their lines complemented each other perfectly and they had great chemistry together. I wasn't crazy about what she did with the fouettees (they traveled a bit back & forth, were too fast for the music & not very pretty) but the fouettees don't make or break an Odette/Odile for me. This was one of the best performances of McKenzie's SL I've ever seen.

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Thank you Diana and David for a SPECTACULAR performance tonight!! Wow!! Gorgeous, just gorgeous!!

I admit, I was a little apprehensive about how this Vishneva/Hallberg partnership would work out, since Diana & Marcelo were so amazing in "Swan Lake" last year (and absolutely heartwrenching in "Lady of the Camellias" this year).

Last year, I remember being afraid even to breathe during Diana & Marcelo's White Swan pas de deux, lest I disturb the magic unfolding before my eyes. I distinctly recall Diana's glorious backbends, where it felt like she was falling slowly for minutes before Marcelo gently caught her.

This year, under Barker's baton instead of Wilkins', the tempo was markedly faster throughout the first half, and I was not as spellbound as I was last year, though the White Swan pas de deux was very beautiful indeed, and received a rapturous applause.

Diana was not a demure, gentle Odette in Act II, and I felt like the very brisk tempo made her impassioned arm-fluttering and resistance to Siegfried, look almost cartoonish. A true wild bird. But she managed to make Odette's second variation (?)--the series of passe/releve and entrechats--into a bit of a showstopper for me, hitting each position sharply and tossing off those entrechats like they were the easiest thing in the world.

Overall, however, I did enjoy the first half, perhaps more than last year, thanks to the supremely beautiful dancing of David Hallberg (yes, I can see why Macauley loves him) as well as the very enjoyable pas de trois. I thought Maria Riccetto, Blaine Hoven, and especially Stella Abrera did a fantastic job. Stella is quickly becoming one of my favorite dancers! I also thought the corps looked very, very good in the swan scene.

**

And if Act II was a tad of a letdown for me compared to last year, Act III was absolutely spellbinding. Wow! I think Diana had all of us under her spell from the moment she appeared on stage. She's no cold vamp, she's the thrilling life of the party! And then the technical marvels--she held one balance with her leg developped near her ear for so long I gasped. And the fouettes--Diana just has to go over the top, doesn't she? She used the first 16 counts to do a thrilling mix of multiple revolutions, fouettes with her leg left extended (wow), arms over the head, etc, and then 16 counts of singles. They might have been a little sloppy, but I appreciate that she takes risks like that! The supported pirouettes were just as amazing--David spun her like a top!

Yes, to me it felt like Diana and David found each other in Act III, and in Act IV they delivered a heartwrenchingly pas de deux before the apotheosis. Beautiful dancers making beautiful lines together. Ahh, and with Tchaikovsky's glorious score washing over me, I felt totally satisfied.

Bravo, bravo, bravo!!!

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I thought Diana and David were wonderful together. She was radiant, poetic and lyrical. I'm surprised they haven't been paired together more often. David is fast becoming one of ABT's brightest stars. Another standout was Blain Hoven as Benno. I've been disappointed with him in the past. However, last night he showed considerable improvement in his technique and stage presence. Isn't Stella having a great season! Good for her. The only negatives for me were Diana's tendency to push beyond her technical limits in the fouettes in the Black Swan pdd. She came off point, and they traveled too much. It would have been better to just do singles. It was a wonderful evening.

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Absolutely amazing Swan Lake last night with Vishneva and Hallberg.

The night began with an excellent pas de trois with Hoven, Abrera, and Riccetto and then just seemed to build from there. This is the third time that I have seen Diana in Swan Lake and I did not think that she could possibly improve upon her performance last year with Marcelo Gomes. But last night she was so incredibly beautiful - heartbreakingly lovely in Act II and then so wild and passionate in Act III. Her fouettes were a little on the funky side and she ended with her back to the audience, but she definitely did not play it safe. I agree the fouettes (for me) do not make or break the Odette/Odile ballerina.

I saw Diana and David dance together in 2007 in Sleeping Beauty and I was not that impressed with their partnership. Last night, they were wonderful. The Act II pas de deux was breathtaking and he was a wonderful partner. Plus, the Act IV finale was the most satisfying that I have experienced.

As I was going home last night, my friend and I were talking about what an incredible season it has been. Bayadere and Lady of the Camellias with Vishneva and Gomes and Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty with Osipova. And last night was just incredible.

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I'm sorry, but does anyone else remember the NYTimes deciding not to review opening night and reviewing instead the second night of a ballet?

I don't. I'm really shocked...

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I'm sorry, but does anyone else remember the NYTimes deciding not to review opening night and reviewing instead the second night of a ballet?

I don't. I'm really shocked...

I adore Part, but is it really "opening night" when the ballet is performed year after year after year? Googling "vishneva swan lake ny times" I don't find a previous review.

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I'm sorry, but does anyone else remember the NYTimes deciding not to review opening night and reviewing instead the second night of a ballet?

I don't. I'm really shocked...

I adore Part, but is it really "opening night" when the ballet is performed year after year after year? Googling "vishneva swan lake ny times" I don't find a previous review.

It is typically the first night thats reviewed. Such has been the case with *every* previous ballet performed this season and, in my recollection, in previous years as well.

Both Part and Vishneva had previously been reviewed in the role in the times in joint reviews with other dancers, neither one as an opening night review to themselves. (the vishneva one is from 2005, Part had ones in 2004 and 2005 that I saw.

I am all for reviewing multiple performances, but I think it disingenuous to say that it isn't opening night and act as if there is nothing odd about omitting that review.

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I'm sorry, but does anyone else remember the NYTimes deciding not to review opening night and reviewing instead the second night of a ballet?

I don't. I'm really shocked...

I adore Part, but is it really "opening night" when the ballet is performed year after year after year? Googling "vishneva swan lake ny times" I don't find a previous review.

It is typically the first night thats reviewed. Such has been the case with *every* previous ballet performed this season and, in my recollection, in previous years as well.

Both Part and Vishneva had previously been reviewed in the role in the times in joint reviews with other dancers, neither one as an opening night review to themselves. (the vishneva one is from 2005, Part had ones in 2004 and 2005 that I saw.

I am all for reviewing multiple performances, but I think it disingenuous to say that it isn't opening night and act as if there is nothing odd about omitting that review.

Agreed, no matter how many years a ballet has been around, each season's opening night is still opening night. That's one of the perks of getting the opening night performance: you are reviewed. In my experience this is really without precedent...

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Plus, the Act IV finale was the most satisfying that I have experienced.

I wholeheartedly agree! Act IV has felt a little too short or muddled for me in the past, but last night it hit all the right emotional notes for me. I felt the catharsis!

Even today I felt some post-performance euphoria, and I was quite tickled to find this on David Hallberg's twitter:

"I have been hit by a truck. The truck had a name on it. I believe the license plate said 'Swan Lake'."

http://twitter.com/davidhallberg

My thoughts exactly!

As I was going home last night, my friend and I were talking about what an incredible season it has been. Bayadere and Lady of the Camellias with Vishneva and Gomes and Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty with Osipova. And last night was just incredible.

Indeed! Here's for hoping they can keep up the momentum through R&J!

As for NYTimes review--I also thought it was shocking that they chose not to review the Part/Stearns performance!

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It's very, very unusual for the NY Times to give the lead review to the second night performance. Perhaps they felt that in fairness to Cory Stearns, who was thrown in at the last minute in a New York debut in a major role, they would refrain from reviewing the opening night. Under the circumstances, this seems reasonable, especially since Vishneva/Hallberg was so incredible.

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It's very, very unusual for the NY Times to give the lead review to the second night performance. Perhaps they felt that in fairness to Cory Stearns, who was thrown in at the last minute in a New York debut in a major role, they would refrain from reviewing the opening night. Under the circumstances, this seems reasonable, especially since Vishneva/Hallberg was so incredible.

It seems doubtful to me that they had enough time to arrange the deadline and print schedule with the amount of lead time the ABT gave about the dancer change. Opening night reviews are published on Tuesdays for ABT, moving this weeks to Wednesday throws it all off. They didn't even post the Gomes/Stearns swap on their website as an official release like they usually do. It just seems odd. I mean last week they had two full reviews of SB, one on Tuesday of opening night with Gillian Murphy and one on Sunday on Osipova/Cojocaru and at this point seeing Vishneva dance with ABT is not an "event" the same way it is for either woman guesting with SB.

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The major dance review in Wednesday's copy of the paper went to tap dancer Saviion Glover, who is performing at the Joyce Theater. It was reviewed by Alastair Macauley.

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It's very, very unusual for the NY Times to give the lead review to the second night performance. Perhaps they felt that in fairness to Cory Stearns, who was thrown in at the last minute in a New York debut in a major role, they would refrain from reviewing the opening night. Under the circumstances, this seems reasonable, especially since Vishneva/Hallberg was so incredible.

Had it been in the interest of fairness to Cory Stearns and Veronika Part, they could have mentioned that in the review. As it was, you would have thought opening night was tuesday, featuring Vishneva.

And while I'm certain it was unintentional, the combination of the nearly unprecidented ignoring of Part's opening night performance, while using the lead about how (paraphrasing) in all the excitement over Osipova you could forget there is another Russian star at ABT--Vishneva--seemed an extra slap at Part.

(yes I know Part was never the star in Russia Vishneva was, but as a lead in, it seemed really cruel given the circumstances...We have another great Russian ballerina here and its not you!)

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"yes I know Part was never the star in Russia Vishneva was, but as a lead in, it seemed really cruel given the circumstances...We have another great Russian ballerina here and its not you!)"

Can I infer from your quote that you believe Part was a star of any kind in Russia? Or anywhere, at any point in time, for that matter?

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"yes I know Part was never the star in Russia Vishneva was, but as a lead in, it seemed really cruel given the circumstances...We have another great Russian ballerina here and its not you!)"

Can I infer from your quote that you believe Part was a star of any kind in Russia? Or anywhere, at any point in time, for that matter?

Sigh.

For the first, no. For a while I believe she was an up and comer, what could be called a "rising star," at the kirov, then her career there flatlined. I do not know enough about Kirov dynamics etc to speak further, and I am certain you do not either.

As for the latter, I do not see any reason to rehash this again.

I address your "question" (or is it an accusation?) against my better judgment, as it calls attention to the one significant way in which I did misspeak--

I meant to put my statement in the present tense. Vishneva IS a star (in Russia and here), not was :) Apologies to Vishneva for that!

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Thanks everyone for your enthusiastic reports; they've been a joy to read! I wish I were there! I'm very glad to hear that both Diana and Veronika are excelling in this "Lake" production, which is so very different from the Mariinsky production.

I don't mean to be a budinsky (:)) but on point of clarification,

Aurora wrote re Part:

For a while I believe she was an up and comer, what could be called a "rising star," at the kirov, then her career there flatlined. I do not know enough about Kirov dynamics etc to speak further, and I am certain you do not either.

1000 pardons - slightly veering :): Veronika's career "flatlined" because of the death of her teacher and coach Inna Zubhovskaya, and the management's preferences. Zubhovskaya was her main lobbyist.

Back to topic: I'm extremely ecstatic that Part has come into her own with ABT :D.

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I am all for reviewing multiple performances, but I think it disingenuous to say that it isn't opening night and act as if there is nothing odd about omitting that review.

Disingenuous means insincere or less than candid. My point was that however much we love Part -- and seeing her in anything, especially Swan Lake, is an occasion for me -- there was nothing notable about that programming that mandated a review. The Times' decision may have been unprecedented, but it was their prerogative, not ABT's.

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