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Opening Night Gala and Don QuixoteABT Reviews, May 16-22, 2011


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#31 FauxPas

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 05:47 AM

I too enjoyed Sarabia last night. Warning: I didn't buy a ticket beforehand and didn't know that they were starting weekday performances at 7:30 p.m. I got there just as Act I was starting and watched Act I on a monitor. Acts II and III were seen in rear orchestra thanks to a lovely lady who was leaving early and had an unused ticket!

On the monitor in Act I, Sarabia seemed tall, elegant, long-limbed. He had a certain dynamism in his movements combined with elegance and classical form. Fernando Bujones comes to mind as a similar type - a mix of prince and virtuoso technician. Sarabita also is a very strong masculine stage presence able to command the stage while projecting a wily, humorous persona. Sarabita also had good stage instincts covering well for little accidents like a dropped flower or fan.

However, I noticed in places things that reminded me of Julio Bocca circa 2002. Not so much a weight gain or loss of form as of an impressive classical technique in a body that could no longer give him 100%. For example, he would begin a spin but at the end of it, Sarabia's feet would not be in position together but kind of splayed. On the other hand in the second one-handed lift of Reyes, he carried her around the stage until the music had to go on.

Act II was viewed in house and here he improved a lot. First of all, unlike on the monitor and Youtube I realized that Rolando Sarabia is not that tall. He seems to be about 5'5" or 5'6" - just about the same size as Simkin or Craig Salstein. Sarabita has a big scaled upper body epaulement and stretched arms and legs that make him dance bigger than he is. Here I began to see the articulated turns and spins that Cubanmiamiboy/Cristian has described. In pirouettes he is able to get the non-working leg very high and does gorgeous things with his back and arms. He also was able to compete with Simkin.

Act III had some really impressive dancing and one worrisome moment. Sarabia's solo was very impressive. However in one place he kind of almost tipped to the side and caught himself - clearly a case of a foot or leg that didn't do what it was supposed to do. Also his tours jetées are not on the level of prime Corella or Bocca. They are solid but don't have superhuman height or trajectory. Also his spins a la seconde in the coda were good but clearly over a decade ago he could do more with them - like rise on one foot or slow them down.



The rest was really beautiful. He definitely had wonderful rapport with his compatriot Kitri, Reyes and was a great partner.

My final take was this is a really beautiful first-rank dancer who has to compensate for a body that has some wear and tear. He is capable of really beautiful things.

Should ABT hire him full time? I don't know what happened at Miami City Ballet and the other places he was hired. But I happen to love a story of redemption and triumph after struggle and defeat. I would say - yes give him a chance. There is room for him in the company right now - he is more experienced than Corey Stearns and Gomes and Hallberg can't dance everything. Stiefel I am afraid if he isn't history now, will be gone in a year or two and Carreno is retiring. Corella is a diminishing presence as is Beloserkovsky who is now cutting back roles. Cornejo seems to be injured with some regularity. I think that with a regular company with steady work and training and medical care for whatever is bothering him, Sarabia would be an asset to the company.

Xiomara I found adorable and she danced very very well - especially in Act III. Jared Matthews was a good Espada lacking Gomes' witty over the top machismo. Stella has a gorgeous upper body lushness that makes her dancing project big in the theater. Kajiya was scintillating as Amor. The corps looked better integrated.

#32 mira

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 07:00 AM

Thanks for the comments about Sarabia's "debut" with ABT last night - he is a very funny guy too. LOVED his Drosselmeyer in MCB's Balanchine Nutcracker. Happen to know his as well, and wanted to add that he's at least 5'8" (to my eye) - will take a better look too the next time I see him.

#33 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 11:04 AM

"May the Powers That Be in this case shred some benevolent light upon this errant soul..." (Alonso to McKenzie.. :beg: )

#34 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 12:10 PM

I also attended the May 18th matinee of Don Quioxote. There was not a principal dancer to be found at this performance. Yet I left the theater feeling exhilarated and full of joy. I can sum up why I felt this way in two words - Daniil Simkin. His performance will stay etched in my mind's eye for a very long time. Simkin is one of those rare peformers who light up the stage just by walking across it. As a dancer, he is a wonder of joyous virtuosity. His soaring leaps with those incredibly soft landings, his spins and turns - all are spectacular. Simkin makes the most difficult pyrotechnics look both easy and effortless. And he never loses his classical form. Ballet is definitely Simkin's first language. Simkin's partnering skills are fine, especially for such a slight young man. There was a slight wobble during the first one-handed lift in Act I, but the rest of Simkin's lifts were executed smoothly. Simkin fully immerses himself in the character of Basilio. He acts with a free and natural comic flair.

Yuriko Kajiya is a lovely lyrical dancer, best suited for romanctic roles. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by her peformance as Kitri. Kajiya is a very sweet Kitri, with artless comic timing. She and Simkin are very believable as the young couple in love. As a dancer, Kajiya excels in exquisitely light leaps and gorgeous jumps with a kick to the back of her head. Her first balance in the Act III grand pas was somewhat wobbly, but the next two balances were very securely held. Her fouettes, though only singles, (I've gotten too used to seeing multiple fouettes from ABT ballerinas) were steady and complete. However, Kajiya's dancing lacks the speed and sharpness of attack needed for the role of Kitri.

As Espada, Jared Matthews' dancing is solid, but his performance lacks the required Spanish flair. After all, he is supposed to be a matador. Stella Abrera shines in the dual role of Mercedes in the Seville scenes,and the Queen of the Dryads in the vision scene. Abrera dances Mercedes with a a sultry steaminess, but her Queen of the Dryads is a model of classical precision.

Alexei Agoudine is both funny and endearing as Gamache. He certainly knows how to take a pratfall. As Amour, Gemma Bond's dancing lacks lightness and buoyancy. I really miss Anne Milewski in the role, with her skimming leaps and quicksilver footwork.

All in all, it was a great afternoon at the ballet. I am really disappointed that I won't be seeing Simkin in Coppelia. I hope he becomes a principal soon. Now, on to the Saturday matinee with Hallberg and Seminova. I imagine that will be a very different Don Q, but I'm really looking forward to it.

#35 Ceeszi

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 12:46 PM

Did anyone see Wiles and Stearns on Wednesday evening?

#36 vipa

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 07:36 PM

I just came from Cojocaru/Carreno. What a mixed bag of a performance. Alina C. was not technically flawless. She had a bad tumble (did not fall to the floor but almost) at the end of her traveling turns from 5th. And they had a partnering mishap in the pas deux with the attitude turn push off (don't know exactly what to call it.) The rest from the couple was mostly great. She did some amazingly long balances and his turns were smooth and controlled. Other than the one mishap, their pas was terrific and the lifts were fine. The main thing I came away with is that she is a great ballerina, one of the best of her generation. Everything is fully realized - the steps, port de bra, epaulment (don't know if I spelled that right, but basically the use/line of her head and shoulders), her beauty, musical phrasing - just the whole package. She has a strong technique so I was a little startled by her tumble, but she is uniquely beautiful. If anyone is going to see the next performance of Cojocaru/Carreno in Don Q - I'll bet money those mistakes won't be there. I'm going to see her Giselle - Can't wait.

I had never seen this version of Don Q before, and frankly won't again. I thought a lot of the choreography/staging just bad. I won't go into details about that. I thought the corps looked pretty ragged and not together. Come on ballet masters/mistresses get those people to dance together and on the music.

Flower girls were Lane and Boylston. They were both good and seemed to have a nice stage rapport. I was impressed with Boylston's big jump. Lane's variation was lovely and I adore the openness of her port bras and her glowing radiance (not bad for someone who has studied ballet for just a year - if you know what I mean)

Renata Pavam did well as Amour. Joseph Phillips & S. Messmer were the Gypsy leads - both fine. Phillips really held his own with Carreno. Maria Riccetto was Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads. She's never been a favorite of mine, but I thought she did well.

I am not a fan of full length ballets, and realized that I saw a lot of these full lengths in my youth. In recent history, the only full length ballets I've seen are Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Balanchine's story ballets - Midsummer Night's Dream & Coppelia. Well I'll go back to avoiding the likes of Don Q, Corsaire etc. Not my thing.

#37 spinning2night

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 09:34 PM

All in all, it was a great afternoon at the ballet. I am really disappointed that I won't be seeing Simkin in Coppelia. I hope he becomes a principal soon. Now, on to the Saturday matinee with Hallberg and Seminova. I imagine that will be a very different Don Q, but I'm really looking forward to it.


I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the Seminova and Hallberg Don Q. I know both dancers are very good in their roles, but at the same time, Don Q is NOT the ballet I thought they would be cast in together. I'm really intrigued by this pairing for this particular ballet, and cannot wait to hear how it goes.

Thanks for your detailed account of Kajiya/Simkin by the way!

#38 abatt

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 07:16 AM

Cojocaru and Carreno was definitely a mixed bag and,in my opinion, somewhat disappointing. Cojocaru was not on top of her game, and there were a number of small mistakes in addition to the near wipe out moment in Act I (discussed above). Carreno and Cojocaru were often not in sync. Carreno did a great job considering his age, but he is a shadow of the Carreno I used to marvel at back in the day. Alina is a lovely graceful dancer, but I'm guessing Kitri is probably not her best role. She did do the longest unsupported balance I have ever seen in Act III, though. I thought Ricetto's phrasing was often choppy as Dryad/Mercedes.

#39 christine174

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 08:27 PM

No reviews of Semionova and Hallberg?

#40 canbelto

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 08:40 PM

Cojocaru had some troubles, including a bad spill out of the diagonal turns at the end of her Act One variation, but I liked her gutsiness for the rest of the performance. In the grand pas de deux she did some unusual-looking fishdives and held some very long balances, and in the coda she insisted on a series of doubles, and ended on a triple. All the while you could see the protruding bunions and sickled left foot. She's had the worst injuries, but still insists on giving it her all, and I respect that. She could have showed up, waved her fan a lot, and the audience probably would have been charmed. I agree though that this probably wasn't her best role. I'm really looking forward to her Giselle.

Carreno at this point is a better partner than he is a soloist, but I thought he was still elegant and could do cavalier roles like Siegfried for a couple more seasons.

I thought Riccetto had a very off-night. She had trouble with her Dryad variation. She seemed to have trouble both getting her leg in the developpe position and completing the rotation for the Italian fouettes. She was also kind of small-scaled as Mercedes. Gennadi Saveliev was totally bland as Espada, and so were the corps de ballet. They just seemed slow and not very enthusiastic.

The Anti-Natalie team of Sarah Lane and Isabella Boylston were totally charming as the Flower Girls. Loved them.

#41 Batsuchan

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 09:19 PM

To the people in charge at ABT, YOU MUST BRING BACK SEMIONOVA NEXT SEASON!!!! And in every season after that!!

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! That is all I can say.
With their long, lovely lines, Hallberg and Semionova make a glorious couple onstage.

Okay, so Semionova may not be as amazing a jumper as Osipova is (no one is), but her turns and especially her balances were magnificent. And in Act II, Semionova showed me what I found lacking last year in Osipova's performance--beautiful, engaging dancing in the adagio movements. Just simply in the short interlude where Kitri and Basilio dance together before they are discovered by the gypsies, I saw enough beauty in the way she slowly developped her leg, or did her port de bras, to make me think, "their 'Swan Lake' is going to be amazing!"

I have to admit, Act I was not quite as crisp and sparkling as it was for me with Reyes/Sarabia. Certainly, the tricks were all there; Semionova certainly is an engaging performer with an infectious smile, and with her tremendous height, she certainly grabs your attention. And she and Hallberg certainly seemed to be having a great time together.

But there were parts when Kitri and Basilio dance together, mirroring each other's movements, where Hallberg and Semionova weren't quite in synch. And I felt that Semionova might have been holding back just a tad. Though she did draw quite a bit of applause for her series of pirouettes from fifth positions where she travels diagonally downstage. The one-handed lifts were much shorter than in Reyes/Sarabia's performance (it must be hard to balance such a tall dancer). At the end of the first act, I thought, she's good, they're gorgeous, but I wasn't blown away.

Things definitely improved from there though. As I mentioned above, from the first few moments of Act II, I was really impressed by the beauty of her dancing and the way she finishes off her movements. Last year, I distinctly remember being mindboggled by Osipova's amazing jumps, but then the slow parts just fell a little flat for me--I kept thinking, "ok, so when are we going to get more tricks??" In addition, at times, I felt that Osipova would sacrifice the purity of line or position in order to get just a little more height or speed; sometimes it felt a bit sloppy. Not so in this performance, however! I was equally engaged by the Kitri and Dulcinea (fast & slow) sections, and I highly appreciated the polish that Semionova brought to her dancing. And her balances were simply phenomenal. In Dulcinea's variation, her balances were rock-solid, and in the ones where she has to shift from passe to arabesque, I was impressed by how she was able to delay the shift, holding the passe until the last possible moment.

And then Act III simply brought the house down. Hallberg may not be as good a turner as Simkin or Sarabia, but he made up for it in the way he beautifully finished each turn. And he pulled off some gorgeous pirouettes a la seconde. As for Semionova--WOW. I knew she would go for those balances, but I was not expecting this! I saw Viengsay Valdes hold some ridiculous balances at the YAGP gala earlier in the year, but you could tell she was really fighting to do it. Semionova held the first balance for maybe 4-5 seconds, but then it the second one, she held the attitude position, then extended to arabeseque, THEN retire'd the leg and developped it forward and held that before FINALLY coming down. The whole thing must have been ten seconds or more!! And she made it seem like it was easy! Truly incredible!! :clapping: Her fouettes were equally impressive--many multiple revolutions, many with the fan open above head--clearly this girl has fantastic balance!

At the end of the performance, Hallberg and Semionova looked so happy and excited! That's certainly how I felt too. I'm just salivating over the thought of seeing them together in "Swan Lake." If you don't already have a ticket, get one now!!!

*****
I suppose I should say something about the other performers. :sweatingbullets:

Veronika Part was Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads. I feel like she had more fire in this role when I saw her dancing it four years ago, but then again, she did have Marcelo as her Espada. (Jared Matthews is perfectly enjoyable as Espada, but he's not quite Marcelo. :sweatingbullets: ) Part was a gorgeous Queen of the Dryads, and there were some moments when she was dancing next to Semionova and I was bowled over by the combination of their beautiful port de bras and long lines.

Arron Scott and Misty Copeland did a fine job as the gypsy couple. Roman Zhurbin was a hilariously disgruntled father, and Alexei Agoudine a perfectly laughable Gamache. Renata Pavam was one of the flower girls and more and more, she's definitely catching my eye. Sarah Lane was fine as Amour, but not quite as dazzling as Kajiya for me.

David LaMarche conducted.

****
Finally, a little icing on the cake--after I came out of the restroom after the show, I noticed a crowd of people watching the monitors, and then my jaw dropped as I realized that it was Vishneva and Gomes rehearsing "Giselle" onstage. Yep, the Don Quixote set was still set up, but there they were with a piano on the stage, and it looked like they were practicing parts of Act I.

Yep, that's going to be another gorgeous performance, and I can't wait! But before that, I'll see Cojocaru and Carreno on Monday. What an embarrassment of riches! :D

#42 mimsyb

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 06:56 AM

To the people in charge at ABT, YOU MUST BRING BACK SEMIONOVA NEXT SEASON!!!! And in every season after that!!

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! That is all I can say.
With their long, lovely lines, Hallberg and Semionova make a glorious couple onstage.

Okay, so Semionova may not be as amazing a jumper as Osipova is (no one is), but her turns and especially her balances were magnificent. And in Act II, Semionova showed me what I found lacking last year in Osipova's performance--beautiful, engaging dancing in the adagio movements. Just simply in the short interlude where Kitri and Basilio dance together before they are discovered by the gypsies, I saw enough beauty in the way she slowly developped her leg, or did her port de bras, to make me think, "their 'Swan Lake' is going to be amazing!"

I have to admit, Act I was not quite as crisp and sparkling as it was for me with Reyes/Sarabia. Certainly, the tricks were all there; Semionova certainly is an engaging performer with an infectious smile, and with her tremendous height, she certainly grabs your attention. And she and Hallberg certainly seemed to be having a great time together.

But there were parts when Kitri and Basilio dance together, mirroring each other's movements, where Hallberg and Semionova weren't quite in synch. And I felt that Semionova might have been holding back just a tad. Though she did draw quite a bit of applause for her series of pirouettes from fifth positions where she travels diagonally downstage. The one-handed lifts were much shorter than in Reyes/Sarabia's performance (it must be hard to balance such a tall dancer). At the end of the first act, I thought, she's good, they're gorgeous, but I wasn't blown away.

Things definitely improved from there though. As I mentioned above, from the first few moments of Act II, I was really impressed by the beauty of her dancing and the way she finishes off her movements. Last year, I distinctly remember being mindboggled by Osipova's amazing jumps, but then the slow parts just fell a little flat for me--I kept thinking, "ok, so when are we going to get more tricks??" In addition, at times, I felt that Osipova would sacrifice the purity of line or position in order to get just a little more height or speed; sometimes it felt a bit sloppy. Not so in this performance, however! I was equally engaged by the Kitri and Dulcinea (fast & slow) sections, and I highly appreciated the polish that Semionova brought to her dancing. And her balances were simply phenomenal. In Dulcinea's variation, her balances were rock-solid, and in the ones where she has to shift from passe to arabesque, I was impressed by how she was able to delay the shift, holding the passe until the last possible moment.

And then Act III simply brought the house down. Hallberg may not be as good a turner as Simkin or Sarabia, but he made up for it in the way he beautifully finished each turn. And he pulled off some gorgeous pirouettes a la seconde. As for Semionova--WOW. I knew she would go for those balances, but I was not expecting this! I saw Viengsay Valdes hold some ridiculous balances at the YAGP gala earlier in the year, but you could tell she was really fighting to do it. Semionova held the first balance for maybe 4-5 seconds, but then it the second one, she held the attitude position, then extended to arabeseque, THEN retire'd the leg and developped it forward and held that before FINALLY coming down. The whole thing must have been ten seconds or more!! And she made it seem like it was easy! Truly incredible!! :clapping: Her fouettes were equally impressive--many multiple revolutions, many with the fan open above head--clearly this girl has fantastic balance!

At the end of the performance, Hallberg and Semionova looked so happy and excited! That's certainly how I felt too. I'm just salivating over the thought of seeing them together in "Swan Lake." If you don't already have a ticket, get one now!!!

*****
I suppose I should say something about the other performers. :sweatingbullets:

Veronika Part was Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads. I feel like she had more fire in this role when I saw her dancing it four years ago, but then again, she did have Marcelo as her Espada. (Jared Matthews is perfectly enjoyable as Espada, but he's not quite Marcelo. :sweatingbullets: ) Part was a gorgeous Queen of the Dryads, and there were some moments when she was dancing next to Semionova and I was bowled over by the combination of their beautiful port de bras and long lines.

Arron Scott and Misty Copeland did a fine job as the gypsy couple. Roman Zhurbin was a hilariously disgruntled father, and Alexei Agoudine a perfectly laughable Gamache. Renata Pavam was one of the flower girls and more and more, she's definitely catching my eye. Sarah Lane was fine as Amour, but not quite as dazzling as Kajiya for me.

David LaMarche conducted.

****
Finally, a little icing on the cake--after I came out of the restroom after the show, I noticed a crowd of people watching the monitors, and then my jaw dropped as I realized that it was Vishneva and Gomes rehearsing "Giselle" onstage. Yep, the Don Quixote set was still set up, but there they were with a piano on the stage, and it looked like they were practicing parts of Act I.

Yep, that's going to be another gorgeous performance, and I can't wait! But before that, I'll see Cojocaru and Carreno on Monday. What an embarrassment of riches! :D


Long legs and arms, yes. Pretty feet, but sometimes the footwork became blurred. For me her extreme thinness, especially in her upper torso was a bit off putting. It's unnerving to see clavicle bones protruding in the front and her blades in her back poking out like daggers. Goulish and a bit scary! Reyes did the same fouettes sequence but stayed in one spot and her whipping leg was just awesome. Semionova traveled about somewhat. And Cojacaru's extra, extra long balances also defied logic, but somehow seemed more organic and of a piece with her character. Not just, "here I am balancing for you". Luckily, "Don Q" allows for those moments of bad taste and whooping applause before the orchestra comes in for the "button". Hallberg was perfectly fine with Semionova, but the pairing lacked the fire and magic he shared with Osipova. Part simply out danced Semionova in the Dryad section. Her shadings and texture, her superior musicality and her sensual allure stood out in sharp contrast to Semionova. And why all the droopy faces at the curtain call on the part of the corps? Not a smile among them. But the small "bit" with the torn piece of tulle from Semionova's dress almost provided a bit of humor to the stage. I thought for a moment that we were in for a bit of "who's on first" with Hallberg/Semionova . Nothing like an afternoon at the ballet!

#43 abatt

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 07:38 AM

I'm with Batsuchen in jumping on the Seminiova bandwagon. She danced beautifully. She's not an amazing jumper, like Osipova. However, her beautiful lines and phrasing were a delight. I, too, think, she will be stellar in Swan Lake. Can't wait to see her and Hallberg in SL. This was the first time I had seen Hallberg as the lead in DonQ. Until the final act, he seemed a bit disengaged. He's not a natural fit as Basilio. I also saw the evening performance. Gillian was a little more subdued than usual as Kitri, but still wonderful. I think her caution might have resulted from being partnered w. Stearns. Stearns is improving every season, although he still has a ways to go to be on the same level as ABT's finest male principals. Simkin drove the audience to a frenzy as the Gypsy leader. Kristi Boone was a lovely Mercedes/Dryad Queen. Nicole Graniero was very good as Amour (not sure if that was a debut for her). Gennadi looked much better as Espada last night than earlier in the week. The flower girls were Hee Seo and Melanie Hamrick. Hee Seo looked a little underpowered. She's been away w. injuries for a long time. I'm debating whether to see her Giselle on the Wed matinee.


I too saw Vishneva and Gomes rehearsing Giselle on stage after the performance on the TV monitor. Can't wait!

#44 Batsuchan

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 09:32 AM

For what it's worth, here is what David Hallberg said about the performance on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/DavidHallberg

Before the show:

Basilio today with the natural, leggy, vibrant, Polina Semionova. Making her debut with the company. Natural rapport on and off the stage


And after:

Cannot describe today's show. Polina turned UP her debut and showed New York what class is. LIVE ART y'all. Nothing like it.


@ mimsyb - I haven't seen Osipova/Hallberg dance together, so I can't compare the two pairings, but while Semionova/Hallberg may have lacked the fire/passion of say, Vishneva/Gomes, they certainly looked 100% comfortable together. And for me, it was a pleasure just to see their well-matched physiques--they just looked 'right' together.

I too saw Vishneva and Gomes rehearsing Giselle on stage after the performance on the TV monitor. Can't wait!


Ah, perhaps it was you that I was excitedly chatting with while watching? Or perhaps someone else on the forum? :)

#45 angelica

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 11:34 AM

I thought that Act III of the Semionova-Hallberg Don Q. was utterly ravishing. You could feel the chemistry between the two artists. David looked so proud of Semionova at the curtain calls, so I'm not surprised that he twittered that she had UP-ed her performance. How lucky we are to live in this age with such fantastic dancers! And I totally agree that Veronika Part was magnificent as the Queen of the Dryads. Also, Sarah Lane's performance as Amour was the first I've seen where I didn't think the role was treacly. I, too, am eagerly awaiting the Semionova-Hallberg Swan Lake--except for the fact that it signals the close of the season.


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