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Julie Kent, Marcelo Gomes, Sarah Smith

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So, can we get back on topic? Did anyone see Boca Ballet Theatre's Giselle? They opened last night. Please remember they are a school so the review might also take into consideration the corps and supporting cast was compiled of non-professional dancers for the most part. Waiting to hear. I cannot attend although I was able to see a few of the later rehearsals.

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Just a note: it's our policy that apart from graduation performances of schools affiliated with major companies, that students be reviewed generally and not be held or compared to professional standards. Also our general policy that anyone who has an interest in or relationship to the school or performers must disclose this is applicable.

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I hope the following information will clarify a few issues. I have no professional relationship with the School of Boca Ballet Theatre nor Boca Ballet Theatre as a company. I live in Boca Raton, work at the HARID Conservatory and 3 of our alumni are performing in the production. I am interested to hear how they did, which is something I read on BT all the time with their respective companies. I am not able to attend the performances. The ballet world is very small. I do know the AD of Boca Ballet Theatre well.

Hopefully perhaps there can be a discussion of the production in general and the professional dancers. If not, I understand.

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I didn't mean you vrsfanatic. What we worry about and have had issues in the past are posts from family members who don't identify themselves and have a vested interest, and staff and coaches who post as fans.

We've also had times when students were compared unfairly to the professionals or to more advanced students.

Also, this is where BT and BT4D are a little different, and I wanted to sure we're all on the same page, and to avoid misunderstanding, which I did a bad job of, and I apologize :flowers:

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Actually, you did a great job Helene. :flowers: I thought I might introduce myself to a few of the members interested in this thread so that they would know I am only connected as a former teacher of the dancers in question. My identity is not a secret. I think it is in my profile, although I should double check. It is good to be open about this thread. I do understand the issues with reviewing students. BT does a wonderful job of monitoring. :clapping::thumbsup:

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I recall that the NYT Reviewer for Hallberg's Albrecht with ABT last year said that only Gomes could match Hallberg's many entrechat six'es done as part of the Albrecht variation. This is a version of the Albrecht variation that not all danseurs perform, but it is something to be on the look-out for from Gomes in Act II.

I'm happy to report that Gomes DID the series of entrechats tonight...18 of them, to be exact... :clapping:

Will be back with more... :thumbsup:

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Helene, thanks for reminding us about BT policy regarding school performances in general. The interest formost of us on BT has been the chance to see Kent, Gomes, and also Sarah Smith in an intimate setting. (The theater appeared to seat about 450-500.)

I have no involvement with this school and have only seen one other performance (another Giselle several years ago with Nicolaj Hubbe) I was deeply impressed by the way the students (especially the girls dancing the wilis) blended with the visiting artists. I admired the way Kent and Gomes tailored their performances to fit the smaller stage and how well they related to the young performers around them. Watching the leads closely, you would think that they were performing before an audience at the Met or the Bolshoi, such was their concentration and commitment to their roles.

I recall that the NYT Reviewer for Hallberg's Albrecht with ABT last year said that only Gomes could match Hallberg's many entrechat six'es done as part of the Albrecht variation. This is a version of the Albrecht variation that not all danseurs perform, but it is something to be on the look-out for from Gomes in Act II.

I'm happy to report that Gomes DID the series of entrechats tonight...18 of them, to be exact... :clapping:

.And he did them completely in character. It shows that a technical feat can also be marvelous and powerful dramatic dancing.

All an all, a very exciting and emotional evening for those of us who love classical ballet and do not often get the chance to see it performed at such a level (by people who also, clearly, love the art).

Like Cristian, I'm seeing it again tomorrow and will be "back with more.".

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My brief thoughts on the performances so far are:

(i) Julie Kent was floating, not by a spring in the ankle, but by her extremely fluid arms,

(ii) Marcelo Gomes was beautiful more than ever. I saw Kent and Gomes dance SL and R&J together, but, to me, Giselle seems the best for them,

(iii) Sarah Smith danced well, especially today. Tonight, she added more smoothness to her movement, still keeping authoritativeness.

(iv) William Hoppe, who danced Hilarion, was very impressive in his acting as well as in dancing. He was a good surprise.

(v) BBT students deserved praise. Above all, their attentiveness throughout the performance was amazing, and their seriousness made the performance more wonderful,

Last night, Gomes did the Baryshnikov's version of the Albrecht variation, and tonight, entrechats.

Like others, I will see it again tomorrow, and would like to write more later.

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Kyeong, I agree with each of your points. "Attentiveness" -- especially to epaulement, to line and to the music -- is a perfect word for what made the student willis so affecting. I also liked the Hilarion, especially in Act I. Smith's Myrthe grew in stature and strength as Act II developed. Her final series of jumps was thrilling. She projected authority and concentration even when not in movement. (I loved what she could do with head, neck, and shoulders.)

Last night, Gomes did the Baryshnikov's version of the Albrecht variation, and tonight, entrechats.

Like others, I will see it again tomorrow, and would like to write more later.

I hope he returns to the brises voles tomorrow, so I can compare.

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Last night, Gomes did the Baryshnikov's version of the Albrecht variation, and tonight, entrechats.

Like others, I will see it again tomorrow, and would like to write more later.

I hope he returns to the brises voles tomorrow, so I can compare.

I also hope to see the brises voles again tomorrow, though I marveled at his entrechats tonight. He executed the brises voles so effectively fast and high that it seemed like that Myrthe put the rope on his feet and pulled it mercilessly.

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What a treat! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these artists in a very small theatre. All I could think at the end was "thank you, thank you, thank you". Julie's feet are so expressive - hard to believe unless you actually see them close up. She's expressive in every inch of her being. Marcelo is gorgeous and brilliant - his performance technically a wonder as well as his humanity/acting. Thank you. What a honor to be there.

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Thank you so much, bcash, for that clip. Among other things, I was touched by how much an affectionate and noble partner Gomes is even when the curtain is down.

Re: the brises voles. In the Baryshnikov clip (earlier in this thread) he does a series of 6(?) on the diagonal and then returns to do another series of 7. Gomes, on much smaller stage, could finish only 3 (I think) before having to return to repeat the sequence. This was one of a number of cuts he had to make to compensate for the stage.

The impression made on the audience seems stronger with the entrechats than with the less familiar brises voles. Ballet audiences seem to find great comfort in fouettes, entrechats, double tours en 'l'air, and big pirouettes. They can recognize them as soon as they begin and there for can applaud them before they are completed. The brises voles happen so quickly and are so fast that they are gone before the audience can process what is going on. For the audience, the brises seem to create the thought: "What was that? Did I miss something?" The entrechats, on the other hand, seem to provoke the response: "Oh, goody, I recognize that and know that it's hard.")

Gomes's brises on Sunday were not as fleet and mercurial as Baryshnikov's. But they had great visual power. They conveyed, better than his magnificent entrechats on Saturday, Albrecht's desperation. I also like the fact that Albrecht moves in the direction of Myrthe. You can feel Myrthe's power drawing him towards her so that she can reject him. It makes dramatic sense.

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Bingham, it's really not possible to review a student production fairly or within the confines of BT's rules.

I think it is fair to say that Kent, Gomes, and Smith fitted into the production (and the stage) gracefully and with serious commitment to the ballet.

For me, despite the inevitable disparity in skill and experience that separated the leads from the students, the recent graduates, and the young professionals, the production worked well and came across as a unified whole.

Mira wrote:

What a honor to be there.
I also felt this. This may be hard for some BT people to understand, especially those who have the chance to see dancers like Kent and Gomes regularly in full-scale productions. For us here -- even those of us who have seen world-class ballet in world-class theaters -- this was an "event" as much as a ballet performance.

Usually, smaller cities get the chance to see dancers of this quality only in bravura pas de deux at a Gala or something like that. They fly in, do their thing, and fly out. This was much more than that. Kent, Gomes and Smith danced their roles three times in three days. That they took so much care to dance their best while ALSO relating so smoothly with the other performers was something that touched me and made me admire their artistry even more than when seeing them in a grander production at a venue like the Met.

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I saw Gomes live earlier this year in the small, intimate theater in the Ailey building for Avichai Scher's choreography, and he was amazing. Seeing him up close on a small stage is an experience I would wish for all of the people who see him at the Met and other large stages.

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First, let me say that there’s no way, as just bart said, to do a full “review” on a production that involves so much of a non-professional material, but here I go…my best.

Giselle is a very difficult ballet, for everybody. You have to have a leading ballerina that’s both a good actress and a great technician; no way to go in between, and an Albrecht that can also act and lift, LIFT, LIFT WITH STRENGHT!! –(Gomes seems to be a rare survivor of this now almost defunct specimen). I’ve seen Giselles with a great level of technique fail miserably on its artistic side and viceversa. Now, …the thing is that you might get away with some less than ideal technique if you as a ballerina are able to “get” the audience emotionally, and this, for some reason, works wonders...even more than the other way around. The ultimate prove of this-(and I’m never never tired to repeat it)-was, to me, watching Mme. Alicia Alonso do some excerpts at the age of 73, placing the theater at her feet. Miss Julie Kent, if I may, went around this lines. She is definitely a lovely dancer to watch...very ethereal, vulnerable, but not in a forced way a la Alina Somova. She seems to bare her physique and demeanor with true conviction. Watching her first Act I finally “saw” the meaning of Yvette Chauvire's words in her interview with Dolin, when she interrupts him to add that “yes, she is a peasant girl…MAIS NOBLE!”. Kent’s characterization made clear that she’s somehow “different” from the rest of her friends, and at some point she even reminded me of Disney’s Aurora, in SB...the princess living a life that doesn’t truly belong to her. Interesting. Along the ballet I could see that some difficult parts were simplified-(like the Initiation scene in Act II, which I regard as a striking choreographic moment with those super fast grand pirouettes in attitude to triple attitude/pirouettes on pointe, and all those soaring ballon-showing jumps to the final series of chainee turns to arabesque). This was Kent’s weakest moment in the ballet…and the sequence was over before I realized. As per the rest, she was adorable. Her madness scene didn’t belong to a mental institution patient, a la Natalia Osipova-(which I love too, BTW). Hers was more in the line of Mme. Galina Ulanova, when she tells Dolin that “Giselle is someone who at that moment looses control of her thoughts...not necessarily a madhouse scenario". She was extremely convincing, and I think that for the first time I saw more of a “desperation/heart attack” scene rather than a “mad scene”-(my Cuban Giselles always went for the hysteric approach).

Another thing I noticed was Myrtha’s approach to the role. Mmm…for some reason, I really didn’t “click’ with Miss Sarah Smith. Her Queen was full of mannerisms and port de bras..some of the postures very angular, which I had never seen before. In my eyes she tried too hard to exude command, and so her eyes were many times furious when looking at the two lovers. I guess I prefer a Myrtha that can convey the character with more subtle malignancy. This is the moment when I regret that the old tradition of helping to build a character via make-up is getting lost. I remember some great Cuban Myrthas-(Miss Aurora Bosh one of them)-that would ignore the audience in the dancing routines, and suddenly, without notice, would give us “the look”…. By seeing that malignant face one could tell that this lovely creature was indeed a terrible entity. Miss Smith also had the disadvantage of having her initial variation cut off in a 60 %-(something I see more and more in the current productions of Giselle). Gone is the whole sequence when she runs, kneels on the ground to take one lily and cambree, takes another lily, cambree and then runs center stage to repeat the first sequence, now dancing with the flowers. Even in the Makarova/Baryshnikov video this sequence is missing from Martine Van Hammel's dancing.

And then theirs is Marcelo Gomes :smilie_mondieu: . NO...…there was NOTHING out of place in his Albrecht. He even had the audacity to portray the playboy...the guy who just wants to play with the poor girls’ heart. His gesture and devilish smile after Giselle is dragged in the house by Berthe was saying “Ha,ha…what a silly lovely girl to play with…”. Mr. Gomes belongs to the best tradition of athletic dancers, a la Vladimir Vasiliev, that are in the verge of extinction nowadays-(now that the “boys” are also getting as thinner and ethereal as the girls). Well, the result was some amazing lifts, beautiful partnership, convincing masculinity to play the part of a Don Juan-(also getting lost this days)-and some footwork like I haven’t seen in YEARS-(yes...…he did the brisse/voles on Sunday…but the stage was so small that this big guy was at the end of the diagonal just with three of them...you would miss the whole thing in a blink of an eye). Now...he did trick us with his tours en l’air sequence; in preparation to the jump he was already half way, so he actually started the step almost giving his back to the audience. Nothing major though...…he was magnificent all along the ballet.

As per the rest, kuddos to all those students that made an amazing effort, giving such a beautiful performance.

Highlight on Saturday night’s performance: Lovely Nicole Muratov in the “Peasant Pas de Trois”.

Bravo! :clapping:

re: Gomes

Seeing him up close on a small stage is an experience I would wish for all of the people who see him at the Met and other large stages.

Ooh, yesssss... :wink:

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Cristian, thank you for putting the performance in the larger context of the ballet. You have helped me with your thoughts about Kent and Gomes.. I liked Sarah Smith's performance better than you did, partly because I assumed that she was relatively new to the role and will develop in it. Her performance grew in power as the Act progressed, culminating (for me) in that explosion of grands jetes towards the end of her solo. (It would be interesting to see the complete choreography. Was there room on this stage?) Visually (if not dramatically) Smith held her own with Kent and Gomes. I think she has the technique and the the "look" to become a fine Myrthe.

Thanks for mentioning Nicole Muratov, a lovely dancer as well as a beautiful young woman. On Saturday she danced both Peasant Pas de Trois and the very different role of Myra. Each performance was so "right" that I had to re-check the program just to make sure that there weren't two different dancers. We CAN review Ms. Muratov because she is no longer a student. Although she studied at Boca Ballet and recently graduated from the Birmingham Royal Ballet's school, she will be joining the corps of the Ballet de l'Opera National de Bordeaux.:flowers:

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To me, who first saw this kind of world class level full-length Giselle, live or not, every moment was such a great wonder. I have too many things to say about this memorable performance, however, as I know much of my thoughts are about the things common or usual, or BTers already know, I’m trying to limit my posting to what will be apparently specific to this one.

Overall, I’d like to say that Julie Kent embodied the minimalism in Giselle. Without any embellishment, she arrived at the final destination of Giselle, though she had to abandon some to reach there. I cannot say about M Gomes in one word because he has too much :) He was a perfect match for Kent in fluidity and lyricism, and he had even more – technical strength which she has slightly lost. Also, as always, he was a devotional partner. When I sat at almost the right end of the hall, I could clearly see Gomes's face which would have been hidden from the center. In one dancing sequence, his face ceaselessly changed between desperate Albrecht and a serious partner supporting Kent's hopping as if Kent were a ceramic doll.

I loved the young students who were the villagers in the first act. How cute and adorable they were when they rubbed their small hands on their aprons and straightened their clothes to greet the noble hunting party, or when they expressed their amazement with a jaw-dropping motion when Giselle’s solo or the peasant pas de trois ended. They kept smiling throughout the first act as if a camera was put in front of each of them, and every audience was watching them. Great job.

Gomes was also attentive to the young dancers. The way Gomes looked at the Peasant Pas de Trois was impressive. When I saw him dance this spring season, he usually actively engaged in mimes with his partner when he was sitting at the side of the stage. However, during the Peasant Pas de Trois, he, and Kent also, watched the young dancers with great attention, and with encouraging eyes. Kent and Gomes added a few mimes on the second day, and more on the third day, which were still much less than usual. I’ve never seen him so concentrate on others, with his partner sitting beside him. As Gomes and other dancers have specific connection to the city of Boca Raton, the performance must have been the more special occasion to young dancers and BBT students. It was good to see such warm communication between the dancers.

Though I’m not sure whether it is usual or not, I liked the ending scene much. Albrecht, instead of collapsing on the floor or remaining kneeling in grief, he slowly walked forward to the front of the stage, when the morning sun was shining at him brightly. I think that’s the more appropriate ending for Giselle than focusing on the grief of Albrecht, as I think a true love, however short, however heart-breaking, gives a strength to move forward, and becomes a good reason to live. Gomes distinctively differentiated his way of walking in the ending scene from the one on his way to Giselle’s grave at night. He made me think Albrecht may have lived a more fulfilling life, being true to himself, cherishing the memory of Giselle.

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Kyeong is right. I also couldn't help but noticing everything was going on between Albrecht and Giselle-(or perhaps Gomes and Kent...? :wink: )-during the Pas de Trois. They kept looking at the villagers dancing with visible pleasure, and also playing with one another. At several points I even caught Kent smiling and whispering in Gomes ear-(I think they were evaluating the performance of the students). Kent also took out her wreath from her head, and on Sunday she even plucked a grape and placed it in Gomes mouth...a gesture that I think caught him out of guard... :)

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Kent also took out her wreath from her head, and on Sunday she even plucked a grape and placed it in Gomes mouth...a gesture that I think caught him out of guard... :)

Right. It was a little surprise that Kent, not Gomes, first put a grape in the partner's mouth playfully.

cubanmiamiboy, I totally agree with your impression like this: "He even had the audacity to portray the playboy...the guy who just wants to play with the poor girls’ heart. His gesture and devilish smile after Giselle is dragged in the house by Berthe was saying “Ha,ha…what a silly lovely girl to play with…”.

After reading a discussion about "Is Albrecht a cad" in Giselle forum, I was curious to see what Gomes's Albrecht would be like. More generally, I have wondered when and how Gomes will portray a mean and/or frail guy, not a consistently ardent lover, since I saw his Armand and Bolle's, and specifically in Albrecht's case, I think a cad-like Albrecht may have far more striking impact, let alone it will be more true to the 'love-me-love-me-not' flower scene, which I think indicates Albrecht's fate.

It seemed like that on the first day, Gomes’s starting point was far closer to a cad, while on the third day, he was in pure love from the beginning as NYT reviewer wrote in 2009, “he’s in this village because he’s in love.” Thinking of his these different Albrechts, and further, three Romeos of the past spring season, I guess that he is trying to expand his dancing/acting range to include a cad. While I was anxious to see it, now I wish him to stay further and show us more of this romantic one, as his Albrecht was so poetically beautiful. I am more than happy to finish "my" first ballet season by Kent and Gomes's Giselle, by their soul-touching PdDs in the first and the second act.

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