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abatt

Opening Night Gala and Don Quixote

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My favorite part of the Gala was the Manon pdd w. Gomes and Vishneva. Those two dancers are explosive together. Such blazing romance! Murphy surprisingly played it a little safe in the Tchai pdd w. Hallberg. They were beautiful together. I thought Majiismo looked like a classroom exercise, not a ballet. I thought Hammoudi was very impressive in partnering Herrera in Swan Lake Act II pdd. It was a lovely performance. Did we really need to see the silly Splendid Isolation again this year, after having seen it at the ABT gala in 2008. (This is the one where Irina wears a huge skirt.) Yes, Irina has lovely arms and a beautiful back. However, this little pdd does not warrant repeated viewing. Less gimmick, more dancing please. The excerpts from Bright Stream were enjoyable, and I was especially impressed by I. Boylston. Wiles and Stearns were a total bore in the Black Swan pdd. This is usually a show stopper. Cojocaru was fine in Rose Adagio, but there was nothing remarkable or memorable about her performance. Kent did the Lady of the Cams. pdd with Stearns. It was a strange pairing that I hope will not be repeated in the future. The kids from JKO were fine, but why do we need to see students at a gala, and at gala prices? Usually Irina wins my vote hands down for best dress. However, I didn't think her dress was particularly flattering on her (Silver shiny bustier with long flowing black skirt.) Actually, I think I liked Paloma's dress the best. Part and Gomes did a lovely job w. Nutcracker pdd, but Gomes was clearly straining himself in the difficult lift. Veronica came off point, I believe.

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I was there last night too.

I personally liked more the second part.

Part I

Gillian and David looked sharp and so clean on tchaik. Loved it !

Part/Gomes also danced very well. The pdd is pretty hard and they seemed very well connected too.

I also think that veronika fell off point at the end, but besides that she pulled off a great performance.

Much better than when I saw them at BAM in December.

Majisimo was ok, but the lighting was really awaful, very dark ! Nothing special about it.

I think they should have picked something more enjoyable. The Feijoos sister didnt get the chance to do much at all, a pity.

Part II

Vishneva/Gomes was my fav of the night, the chemistry between them is really amazing. What an artists !

As a long time admirer of Alina, I enjoyed her performance to the fullest as well.

She puts so many details on it. There was not scenography or anything to back up her performance, just the 4 princes (which I think were very nervous). Overall, it was not spectacular but very well danced, she is so refined and cute !

Herrera surprised me with a very beautiful pdd of swan lake (act II)

Loved to see Hammoudi given this opportunity. He looked great on stage and partnered her well (a few minor details, but nothing important). Again not my ultimate odette but a very high quality performance.

Irina's amazing arms, back and extensions helped a lot the piece she danced. Maxim did not look at his best.

I think that this Splendid Isolation III is a little different to what she did before (or I may be wrong ?)

Didnt she wear a black dress another time when they did S.I. II or I ?

Julie danced beautifully, but agree the partnership dod not look great

I also think the coreography is pretty weak, so there is not much more she could do here.

Wiles/stearns was by far the worst of the night.

I have enjoyed Michelle's technique before, and actually, I thought at some point that she had potential, if she could develop her artistry, soften her back/neck, etc.....Anyways, I dont really know what happened last night, but to me it was on the limit to be embarrasing, especially when you are dancing between these major stars.

Better not to go into details, I even felt bad for her.

Stearns didn not make things better, he looked tired at the end of his variation and run out of steam in his final turns..

Cory has beautiful lines and is elegant, but I dont think he has the technical level to pull off a great Basilio, at least as of today.

If he run out of steam in the pdd....I cant imagine in the full lenght..

and finally, kuddos to Boylston. She looked amazing in the Bright Stream.

I was very, very impressed, those jetes were to dye for...

Also, noticed big improvement in Simkim partnering skills.

He partnered Isabella very well.

Now, on to Don Q.

Cant wait for Sarabia/Simkim debuts and Alina/Semionova Kitris !

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I would offer the same harsh criticism on Roslyn Sulcas that she brought down on the dancers. She was much too flippant and showed a glaring absence of any insight---"mopey duet" indeed. :mad:

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I do agree with Sulcas about the endless pd2s at galas these days. A short pièce d’occasion by Ratmansky would be wonderful -- I would even sit through other gala pd2s for it :)

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A very negative review of the ABT Gala just appeared in the NYTimes. It was written by Roslyn Sulcas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/arts/dance/american-ballet-theater-gala-opens-season-review.html

I was expecting a review from Alastair Macaulay. I can't believe he wasn't there!

No doubt he was off viewing his true interest -- which is City Ballet.

Reviews like the Sulcas review get my back up because one gets the sense from it that she went in predisposed to hating it.

In happier news, New York Social Diary is on the case with party pictures:

http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/1906387

Patrick McMullan's site also has thumbnails up (starting on p. 2):

http://www.patrickmcmullan.com/site/index.aspx

(Poor Leeann Underwood -- being referred to as "Sue Ann". It's slander, I tell you!!!)

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Sulcas suggests that one reason for this kind of programming was

an internal politics issue of giving all the principal dancers a share of the stage, audiences a glimpse of their favorite dancers ...
Is this possible, or just one of those things critics like to say in order to appear to have Insider knowledge? Are ABT galas frequenly like this in recent years?

I've seen this kind of excerpt-based gala before, and find them almost always deadly as evenings, even when (as with the Curate's Egg) "parts of it are excellent."

I would have liked to see the Cuban work, Majismo, if only out of curiosity about the Cuban aesthetic in the 60s. I was surprised to see that a Miami City Ballet principal, Reyneris Reyes, was listed as one of the dancers in that piece. Reyes is new to the company after having been a principal at Boston and Royal Winnipeg. He hasn't danced much at MCB, at least when I've been in the audience. Come to think of it, Rolando Sarabia didn't dance all that much during his two seasons at MCB. Now both have guest spots at ABT.

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I attended the Wed. matinee of Don Q. Simkin was thrilling. Yes, I guess he is a bit of a show off, but if you've got it, flaunt it. His jumps were high and his spins were fast and precise. Any place he could throw in an extra little jump or spin, he did so. He also partnered Yuriko well, except for one overhead lift in the final act that was a bit sloppy. I wasn't expecting much from Yuriko, as I think she is often miscast in bravura roles. She did a respectable job, but there were few fireworks. Her spins are slow and careful. Her best work, in my opinion, was in the second act with the Queen of the Dryads, where her lyricism could shine. She also held one of her balances for a very long time in the final act. Gemma Bond was Amour. She was leaden. Stella did Mercedes and Dryad Queen. Sbe was excellent. It's great to see her back in top form. Jared Matthews danced Espada, replacing Radetsky. The flower girls were Messmer and Pavam.

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Sulcas:

Isabella Boylston showed both charm and virtuosity in the concluding “Bright Stream” excerpt

It was wonderful to read your posts also praising Isabella's performance. Wish I could have seen the gala, as always, but happy to read everyone's reactions to it here. I think I would have just loved the dancing, since I so seldom get to the ballet anymore, but your critical comments are interesting to ponder.

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A very negative review of the ABT Gala just appeared in the NYTimes. It was written by Roslyn Sulcas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/arts/dance/american-ballet-theater-gala-opens-season-review.html

I was expecting a review from Alastair Macaulay. I can't believe he wasn't there!

No doubt he was off viewing his true interest -- which is City Ballet.

Reviews like the Sulcas review get my back up because one gets the sense from it that she went in predisposed to hating it.

Regarding Ms. Sulcas' predisposition(s), I thought so too. I was surprised she didn't expect a series of pdd's! Every gala I've ever been to does them, or other short excerpts from the season's rep, and I don't expect any different from ABT, except for an insertion of a "piece d'occasion". I saw Splendid Isolation at the last ABT gala I attended, and remember the white dress used for effect. (I believe it also got applause at first sight then as well.) After that, I didn't pay much attention but just listened to the Adagietto and thought Joffrey's "Round of Angels" was better. I also lamented the "recital" of students when I had paid to see professionals dance. Personally, I'm hoping Macauley is on the west coast viewing the sights and prepping for PNB's Giselle.

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I'm with abatt!

Simkin is a pure pleasure to watch. He has a star quality and charisma. He just attracts the light on the stage. Added to that is the bravura, the flexibility, the elevation. He is so expansive and generous. Is it the port de bras, so open? Is he just really pulled up? Everything he does seems so open and transparent and giving. He's an acrobat with a beautiful beautiful classical form. Amazing. So expansive!!! I'm speechless.

Kajiya is a daner I admire, she did fine, and an amazing series of fouettes with variations and rotating spots. Perhaps someone else can describe it better than I. I like her, and I want to like her... but maybe it was just a tad beyond her capacity.

The corps de ballet was, to my eye, embarrassingly uneven and underrehearsed. Renata Pavam and Simone Messmer are both delightful dancers, and favorites of mine, but they were totally out of sync.

I thought Stella Abrera looked tired, and Gemma Bond too.

Interesting to be back in the ABT season. I've been a little tired of the rep for some time now. And I've realized that the remedy is just a hop skip and jump away, across the plaza!!!

I hope this isn't off topic. But there are several ABT principals I deliberately avoid, and now I'm encountering elsewhere a whole female principal cadre that is so beautiful and fresh... TR, MK, SM, SH, AB, TP, and the young ASS, who I feel I could never tire of...

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And I've realized that the remedy is just a hop skip and jump away, across the plaza!!!

I hope this isn't off topic. But there are several ABT principals I deliberately avoid, and now I'm encountering elsewhere a whole female principal cadre that is so beautiful and fresh... TR, MK, SM, SH, AB, TP, and the young ASS, who I feel I could never tire of...

Thought I'd help those read between the lines who don't live in (or know) New York and highlight a couple of words in your post to make things clearer. I know who you mean by all your initialed dancers, but not everyone might.

As you wondered, New York City Ballet IS totally off the topic of this thread, yet a comparison between the 2 companies would make a very interesting topic of its own (in my opinion).

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Thanks, Marga! I would love to see a discussion/comparison, too. I'm not nearly as knowledgeable as many on BT, and I've been very focused on ABT for some years now, but my recent exposure to NYCB has really been eye-opening. Most amazing are the talent and beauty at the female principal level as compared to ABT, consistency of the corps, and the overall quality and intelligence of the rep. Moderators, does this belong on another thread?.

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I've seen this kind of excerpt-based gala before, and find them almost always deadly as evenings, even when (as with the Curate's Egg) "parts of it are excellent."

Excerpt based galas are the ABT standard, but this was my thought exactly.

Still, I have to add that, on paper, I had thought this gala looked dull even for a gala. I'm tempted to add that that was evidently Macauley's thought too, but of course I don't know why he was not there. But it was certainly Sulcas's response in the theater.

It does seem as if everyone enjoyed Vishneva-Gomez in the Manon pas de deux.

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and now I'm encountering elsewhere a whole female principal cadre that is so beautiful and fresh... TR, MK, SM, SH, AB, TP, and the young ASS, who I feel I could never tire of...

It took a few minutes for me to figure out who "the young ASS" was. You might want to use her name rather than her initials. LOL.

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I was at the Gala on Monday evening and something has confused me. This is the fifth time that I have attended the Opening Night Gala. When I started going it was excerpts from what was being done during the Spring Season. I notice that the past two or three galas, it has been a free for all. Do you remember at last year's gala, Ospiova and Hallberg did the Act II Pas de Deux from Giselle, Well, there was no Giselle during last year's Spring season (although I was thrilled to see Osipova). This year, where was an excerpt from Don Quixote or Cinderella or Coppelia or one of the new ballets that is being done next week? I thought that this was the whole purpose of the Gala - to give us a preview of what is being done during the season.

I agree that the Manon Pas de Deux with Diana and Marcelo was the highlight, but Manon is not being done this season!!

I went yesterday afternoon to see Don Quixote and Simkin was thrilling. Yes, he is a dynamo, but I thought he proved what a good partner he could be. (Yes, I did notice the one botched lift during Act III, but everything else was great.) I found Kajiya enchanting and I tried very hard not to compare her with the last Kitri I saw (Ospipova). Kajiya was not a feisty spitfire, but she had many lovely moments, especially in the Enchanted Forest scene.

There must be something in the air with all the recent comments that have just been posted. I decided to make a day of it and go and see an evening show as well. I did not want to see Wiles and Stearns in Don Quixote after their weak Act III Swan Lake Pas de Deux on Monday evening, so I also crossed the Mason-Dixon line and took in a Balnchine/Robbins evening at NYCB. I know that this is off-topic, but I must say this - the unison of the NYCB corps puts ABT to shame. There was very little corps unison in Don Quixote yesterday. I still prefer ABT over NYCB, but I will post a review of what I saw in the NYCB forum.

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Yes, the ABT corps looked very scrappy yesterday afternoon. The torreadors, especially, were badly out of unison.

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and now I'm encountering elsewhere a whole female principal cadre that is so beautiful and fresh... TR, MK, SM, SH, AB, TP, and the young ASS, who I feel I could never tire of...

It took a few minutes for me to figure out who "the young ASS" was. You might want to use her name rather than her initials. LOL.

[ADMIN BEANIE ON]

Yes, comparing American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet is a new topic that would belong in "Aesthetic Issues", but we ask that if it is opened, the conversation remain civil, as the topic has the potential to go straight into the sewer.

Yes, please use names and not initials. Not all of us live in NYC ;) (Hard to believe, I know.) And please, please, please, please, please, use last names or full names. First names aren't helpful to a big chunk of our members/readers.

Context is fleeting; for example, during the Royal Ballet visit to NYC in the '80's, "that beautiful corps dancer Pippa" could have meant any one of eight Pippas. And to me, "Ashley" will always be Merrill Ashley, not Ashley Bouder, just as Barber's "Adagio for Strings" reminds many of FDR's funeral, not JFK's funeral.

[ADMIN BEANIE OFF]

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and now I'm encountering elsewhere a whole female principal cadre that is so beautiful and fresh... TR, MK, SM, SH, AB, TP, and the young ASS, who I feel I could never tire of...

It took a few minutes for me to figure out who "the young ASS" was. You might want to use her name rather than her initials. LOL.

For those of us still trying to figure out who's who:

Reichlen, Teresa

Kowroski, Maria

Mearns, Sara

Hyltin, Sterling

Bouder, Ashley

Peck, Tiler

Scheller, Ana Sophia

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The gala was pretty fun I actually thought - about what you'd expect - a crazy mix of things, from lovely moments (Vishneva, Cojocaru and the new Nutcracker pas too in my opinion), to circus atmosphere, and to ridiculous ones (Max Beleserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko) with a rainbow of shades in between. A little too long for sure. (For those upset with Sulcas, a couple of years ago Macauley actually called their gala "Pig Slurry" if I remember it). In all, Monday was a pretty fair image of the range of contemporary ballet that you'll see nationwide, which has about the same mix of stuff if you were to weigh it by type, aim, etc., etc. at a random basis just by walking into shows here and there. Something for everybody, from the fans who want "art;" to those who want to see Max Beloserkofsky stripped to the waist. The gala crowd - which was half the spectacle, some nice gowns and tuxs and nice looking people in them - seemed to enjoy it and so did I. Particularly liked the kids, meaning ballet school teenagers in the back of the house, who were whooping it up. Am I developing low brow taste? Probably. Depends on my mood and the particular evening I think. I actually found it a relief for an evening from watching NYCB.

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Cojocaru was fine in Rose Adagio, but there was nothing remarkable or memorable about her performance.
Oh, for me this was the outstanding highlight of a better-than-usual ABT gala. She did not bang us over the head with balances, but instead emphasized the flow and phrasing -- the dance qualities -- of the choreography. In addition, she brought some characterization to this Rose Adagio. As Aurora makes her diagonal of pique arabesque, penchee before each prince, she greets the first prince, then the second, then pauses for a moment at the third before greeting the fourth. In the next phrase, the princes separate and she runs to that most intriguing third prince for the shoulder lift. Usually, which prince lifts Aurora seems arbitrary, but Cojocaru explained to us that there's a reason. He's charmed her the most.

I agree that Splendid Isolation does not merit repeated viewing. However, someone paid a fortune for that costume/set, so I guess they feel they have to amortize it.

As a salute to Jose Carreno, Majisimo was better in concept than execution. It did give Carreno an opportunity to shine as a solo dancer, among the ensemble and as a partner. His energy, polish and charisma never failed. Herrera also stood out.

Paloma's White Swan pas was letter-perfect, but left me more admiring than affected, because it seemed skin-deep.

I am not a fan of MacMillan, but I have to admit that the heated passion that Vishneva and Gomes generated, in what for me was the second highlight, made me want to run out and buy a ticket to see them in the full Manon. Alas! It is not in this year's rep. :(

I thoroughly enjoyed the excerpts from Bright Stream and wish its run did not coincide with the Royal Danish Ballet's visit to Washington and New York. Figuring that Bright Stream scored such a hit at its premiere at Kennedy Center and likelihod to do the same here, it is sure to return next year. The Danes are not, so I have prioritized them.

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...And to me, "Ashley" will always be Merrill Ashley, not Ashley Bouder, just as Barber's "Adagio for Strings" reminds many of FDR's funeral, not JFK's funeral.

Please indulge this slightly off-topic reply. Helene, your examples reminded me of a class I watched from the doorway at 'Steps on Broadway' several years ago. Some young dancers joining me in the doorway were all abuzz at seeing a principal dancer in the class and one pointed her out to the others, "that's Kent over there!"

Now, to me, Kent can only mean Allegra Kent, and she was indeed in the class, right near the door in her usual spot. But the young danseur pointed right past her into the far reaches of the studio, at Julie Kent, whom I hadn't even noticed!

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And to me, "Ashley" will always be Merrill Ashley, not Ashley Bouder, just as Barber's "Adagio for Strings" reminds many of FDR's funeral, not JFK's funeral.

With apologies for going off-topic, but this is such an interesting point about context, history, and life experiences, and how it shapes what we experience in the arts. For many aging baby-boomers (like me), Barber's Adagio is most closely associated with Platoon (1986). Although our generation also saw the JFK funeral on TV, that was long before the days of VCRs, and the excerpts we see now are typically of other things, especially the haunting drum cadence. For my parents (the WWII "greatest generation"), I understand that a new recording of the orchestration had been distributed to radio stations just before FDR died and they played it ceaselessly -- that's what shaped the memory and the association with FDR, not the funeral alone. It was also used for The Elephant Man (1980) and Princess Grace's funeral (1982), but I don't know that anybody has a strong association with those.

Along those lines, there will always be one and only one "Misha" for me, although I keep hearing the name for others.

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A very negative review of the ABT Gala just appeared in the NYTimes. It was written by Roslyn Sulcas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/arts/dance/american-ballet-theater-gala-opens-season-review.html

I was expecting a review from Alastair Macaulay. I can't believe he wasn't there!

Wow, the review was pretty negative, particularly the Majisimo thingie and the Splendid Isolation thing.

If she finds galas so distasteful, perhaps she should not attend them. They are, after all, generally fundraising events.

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