Posted 31 May 2011 - 11:44 AM
Posted 31 May 2011 - 03:01 PM
[size="4"][size="4"][font="Comic Sans MS"]Quick fyi tonight re: Myrtha:[font="Comic Sans MS"][/font]
Murphy out. Messmer in.[/font][/size][/size]
EEEK!! This doesn't sound good...but hopefully their just trying to be careful and giving Gillian the week off to recover since their enough dancers who have Myrta in their repertoire that can cover for her in the rotation.
Posted 31 May 2011 - 04:35 PM
Posted 31 May 2011 - 04:52 PM
I found the Cojocaru/Hallberg performance positively stunning. There were many gorgeous moments that wedded exquisite technique with an enormous generosity of spirit. The love radiated from them in a testament to their art and to all who have preceeded them in Giselle.
It is difficult to describe the ethereal. What made this performance so memorable? Was it the shimmering fluency of their movement? Was it their expansive shaping of space? To my eyes, their performance was so organic and alive that it transcended all technical considerations. Cojocaru and Hallberg demonstrated how exquisite classicism can be a portal to a more perfect beauty.
From the sublime to the more earthbound….
I wish that Giselle’s cottage and her grave weren’t invisible from stage right sight lines. That seemed a little careless from a production aspect. And IMO, the soloists were accomplished but failed to register with any weight or consequence. And finally, I found the orchestra a little jarring at times as the music disrupted rather than enhanced the mood. Something appeared to be out of sync.
I'm a bit later reporting but I saw the Cojocaru/Hallberg Giselle on Saturday but I found Cojocaru just hauntingly beautiful as Giselle. There was just so much beautiful detail in her dancing and she had just so many wonderful delicate touches to create her character. It was a really special performance. I saw my first Giselle in 1969(!) but it's really something to see a great artist stamp her own unique take on the role. I don't ever remember a Giselle dropping a daisy on the stage near her final exit but what a wonderful, bittersweet touch it created. It devastated Hallberg/Albrecht when he noticed it and picked it up.
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:19 PM
I had thought her cast against type as Kitri, but in Friday’s dress rehearsal, Cojocaru effortlessly became Giselle; her natural sweetness fit the role perfectly. Macauley highlighted “Giselle’s affection for her mother,” and that struck me too—as well as the reverse. How could any mother deny her daughter’s wish to dance, when the daughter is as guilelessly charming as Cojocaru? For me, the height difference between Cojocaru and Hallberg made her look even younger, innocent, and vulnerable. As vipa said, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her, which of course made Albrecht’s betrayal all the more heartbreaking! Poor baby!
In Cojocaru’s dancing, I was again impressed by her extensions and the crispness she brought to some of her phrasing—things I had noticed in her Kitri portrayal. However, some of her movements were not as silky or soft as I would’ve liked, and I could understand why Macauley wrote, “Ms. Cojocaru doesn’t fill a musical phrase to the brim.”
Act II of the dress rehearsal was danced by Herrera, Bolle and Wiles. To me, Wiles lacked the gravity or imperiousness that Myrta requires—she just looked kind of irritated by Giselle and Albrecht. (I have to admit that she’s not my favorite dancer though; I have yet to be impressed by either her dancing or her interpretation.) Bolle makes such a handsome prince/nobleman, but his dancing is not as clean or polished as Hallberg or Gomes. Nonetheless, the superficial part of me was happy to see him, since I’m not planning to see any of his actual performances. Herrera doesn’t strike me as an ethereal dancer; she doesn’t strike me as a natural Giselle. However, such is the power of the music, choreography and staging, that even with this cast, I felt my eyes tearing up by the end.
Yes, “Giselle” is definitely one of my favorite ballets. Sure, the music and the choreography might not be the greatest, but I love the use of leitmotifs in the score, and I love how the mime is intimately intertwined with the music—you hear the horn sound the knocks on Giselle’s door. I find the story moving, and I like that the dancing is motivated by the plot. In Act I, Giselle is a girl who loves to dance, and moreover, it’s time for the grape-picking festival. No wonder there’s lots of dancing! And in Act II, Myrta’s command to “dance till you die” and Giselle’s desire to “dance to save Albrecht’s life” are both compelling. But in the end—after Albrecht has realized his love for Giselle, and after both have toiled so hard to evade Myrta’s death sentence—there’s no happy apotheosis a la “Swan Lake” or “La Bayadere.” No, after only the briefest of farewells, they are parted forever…
Well, this post has gotten pretty long already, so I’m going to start a new one to add some more comments on the Vishneva/Gomes/Part performance.
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:25 PM
But first, a little anecdote: In the ballet class I took yesterday, after we had butchered a particular exercise, the teacher asked if there were any singers in the class. A handful of students raised their hands. Then the teacher said that they should be able to sing their movements; in fact, even if you’re not a singer, too bad!—your movements have to sing! You have to use your body like you use your voice, she explained.
And that is precisely what impressed me so much about Vishneva’s dancing, especially in Act II. The way she phrased her movements and let her limbs trail through the air made me feel that she was not dancing to the music, but rather that the music was emanating from her core and flowing out through her fingertips and her toes. Here was the music, rendered (nearly) incarnate. Mesmerizing!
In Act I, I was a little surprised by the way Vishneva characterized her Giselle. Perhaps memory deceives me, but I feel like in her 2009 portrayal with Corella, she played Giselle as a bit more of a coquette—innocent, perhaps, but not unknowing; not a wide-eyed ingénue. In the opening scene where Giselle is looking for Albrecht, and turns around to find him standing right there, Vishneva and Corella very nearly kissed, causing Vishneva to swoon backward and pull away immediately. In that same scene with Gomes this year, however, Vishneva did not back away. She just stood there transfixed—much like how Juliet reacts when she first sees Romeo in MacMillan’s version.
Yes, her Giselle reminded me quite a bit of her Juliet, and the same way the 14-year old Juliet doesn’t 100% fit her (to me), neither did this Giselle. Unlike the petite Cojocaru, who seems naturally child-like, Vishneva strikes me as being sophisticated and mature, so playing Giselle as this dumbstruck teenager seemed ever so slightly strange for her. (In my opinion, a dangerously flirty Giselle, who doesn’t realize she’s playing with fire, would be more natural fit for her.)
Nonetheless, her connection with Gomes’ Albrecht was undeniable. Yes, there were flirty, teasing moments, but this was no sweet, puppy love—when they looked into each other’s eyes, you sensed that the rest of the world melted away for them.
Vishneva’s Act I variation was flawless. Her 180-degree penchee arabesques looked easy, and although she opted for single pirouettes with the leg in attitude, she did them so slowly and so steadily, with the leg perfectly placed, that it looked halfway between a turn and a balance. The hops on pointe were so effortless that halfway through it looked like she forgot she was hopping, and turned her body to send her love to Albrecht.
The mad scene was terrifying. While watching Cojocaru’s Giselle unravel, I wanted to run up there and comfort her, but with Vishneva’s Giselle, I was glued to my seat watching the train-wreck unfold. At one point, she came to the very edge of the stage and peered into the audience, and it felt…uncomfortable. To me, there always seems to be this invisible barrier between the stage and the audience, between the characters’ fictional world and our reality, but with this action, Vishneva seemed to rend that invisible separation, and as a result, we couldn’t just watch her suffering, we were forced to participate in it. After she died, Gomes’ horror and agony were equally intense, and he clung desperately to her limp form.
In Act II, Vishneva’s dancing was not quite as technically astounding as I remember from 2009—she seems to have lost some of the superhuman speed in the whirling attitudes in Giselle’s initiation, and her jumps and grand jetes didn’t seem as high as I remember. However, as I already mentioned, her ability to fill a musical phrase, and her ability to look ethereal and wraith-like, surpasses any other Giselle I’ve seen.
Much of this, of course, was thanks to flawless, heroic partnering from Gomes. There was complete trust between them, and no hesitation.
So many images stand out in my mind from Act II.
First, when Giselle-as-wili slowly showers Albrecht with flowers. Vishneva’s Giselle-wili is a mere shade of her former self. She cannot speak; she cannot embrace Albrecht; she can barely express her emotions. So she showers him with flowers as if showering him with her love, and Gomes’ Albrecht received them with a rapturous expression, as if receiving a holy blessing. There was something so moving about this little scene that it remains etched in my mind.
Second, the two lifts where Albrecht dead-lifts Giselle up over her head and holds her there were incredible. Gomes made it so smooth and effortless, and lowered Vishneva so slowly that she truly looked weightless. Their adagio was riveting—it seemed like Gomes barely had to touch Vishneva to maneuver her, enhancing the impression of a weightless being.
In the part where Albrecht picks Giselle up, moves a few paces and sets her down as she stretches into arabesque, it was so impeccably timed and executed that it looked like she was just a puff of tulle, propelled purely by the swell and fall of the music. And when Albrecht carries back and forth across the stage as she does tiny hops on one foot, it looked like she was running on air.
As Amour already mentioned, the combination of Vishneva and Gomes’ desperate pleas for mercy and Part’s cold dismissals made me really feel the struggle to save Albrecht’s life. Gomes’ acting was really outstanding—Vishneva was unhinged in Act I, but in Act II, Gomes picked up where she left up, wildly throwing his head back as he completed some virtuosic moves. He really looked like he was dancing at the very limit of capabilities (but without looking sloppy). And when he fell to the ground from exhaustion, you could hear it.
Part looked so menacing when she was about to finish him off, and then so frustrated when the bells began to toll.
Unfortunately, I was sitting so far to the left of center that I couldn’t see Giselle disappear into the grave, but I will get to see it all again on Thursday, and I can’t wait!
On a slightly unrelated note, I happened to find this interview of a teenaged Vishneva where she talks about playing ‘Giselle.’
It’s in Russian, but subtitled in Japanese (which I understand), and at 0:42, she says, “I want to test myself with this work. I know that I’m not suited to Giselle. But even if I’m not suited to Giselle on the outside [i.e. physically], I want to prove that I can play the character.”
Indeed, it seems she has proved herself one the great interpreters of the role!
Reading all your comments, I wish I had gotten to see Vishneva’s early Giselles and especially the wild/coltish ones of a few years ago. A part of me can’t help but feel sad that Vishneva just might not be as technically astounding or strong as a few years ago (though it’s only natural), but it reminds me to savor every performance I can see with her.
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:23 PM
Posted 01 June 2011 - 02:42 AM
Posted 01 June 2011 - 05:06 AM
Posted 01 June 2011 - 07:01 AM
Just to offer a minority perspective regarding the descriptions of Cojocaru "being late" and not filling a musical phrase. Not being a musician, it is difficult for me to describe this well. Cojocaru prolongs different elements of the choreography in a way that modulates the musical accent. She plays with the phrasing - often in a very risky way - that, IMO, inspires us to both hear and see things just a little differently. To my eyes, this fills out the phrase rather than truncates it. This was very evident at the gala and in DQ as well. Personally, I love this freshness and spontaneity.
I so agree with this. I didn't know quite how to express this, so thank you Raylene. I think Cojocaru's musicality is wonderful. It's as if she is shaping longer phrases of music than many dancers do. I know what you mean by risky - there was a moment in the 1st act when in the back of my mind I wondered how a particular series of steps could possibly work out in a musical way - well it did, so after that I relaxed and allowed her to show the music to me.
Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:36 AM
Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:34 AM
I think we need to arrange a playdate for Mr. B and Mr. P. LOL
I really love my husband a lot (we've been married for almost 24 years)but the one time we went to see Giselle at the ballet together, he did not act like Mr. Puppytreats. He kept fidgeting in his seat and asking when they were going to talk. I really thought someone was going to hit him. I thought it was going to be me. But after that we agreed that if I wanted to go to a ballet at night, he would drive me and not go to the ballet. He would go to a movie instead. And that's exactly what happened. This year he's driving me to see the Semionova/Hallberg Swan Lake. We'll go out to dinner, walk around a bit, then I'll go to the ballet and he'll go to his movie. So come to think of it it's all worked out. Mr. Boresta (John) doesn't have to be like Mr. Puppytreats. Though I will admit it would be nice to have him next to me at the ballet every once in a while.
Posted 01 June 2011 - 07:09 PM
His partnering of Reyes was wonderful, and his pirouettes, as usual, were impeccable. He chose to do the diagonal of brises instead of the entrechat six, and it was incredible to see him dart across the stage with his legs quickly crisscrossing in front of him. This also allowed him to approach Myrta and plead for mercy, before she sends him back up to the top of the stage for another pass.
But I was really struck by how he showed Albrecht's exhaustion. The first time he collapses, it looked like Reyes was willing him to rise from the floor with all her might, but even still, he could only manage a seated position, and he looked like he was totally dazed and struggling to catch his breath. Here, I felt strongly that Giselle is dancing not only to distract Myrta, but really to give Albrecht time to recover. Later, when he and Giselle are doing these side-to-side jumps, first lifting one leg, then the other, you could see his arm position get progressively sloppier, his jumps fall off the beat, until finally he collapsed on the floor.
After the bells toll and he carries Giselle for the last time, her arms spread across his chest, it looked like he was offering her to the heavens, and I thought, aha! that's what this is supposed to be--he's sending her off.
At the end, he did not throw himself on Giselle's grave like Gomes. He held Giselle's last flower and slowly walked away. This is not an Albrecht who was glad to have one last chance to dance with Giselle, this was an Albrecht who finally understands the full value of what he's lost.
As Giselle, Reyes' dancing was not as gorgeous or ethereal or musical as Vishneva's, and there were a few rough spots, but she certainly played to her strengths. She took her coupe turns in a circle in Giselle's Act I variation at superhuman speed--way faster than the tempo of the music, but still impressive. And in Act II, when she does the series of entrechat quatre, the orchestra suddenly accelerated, and she made the whole sequence that of flashing footwork. And as with all her performances this year, she took the chaine turns at lightning speed as well. Wow.
In her mad scene, she saw Albrecht's sword and picked it up--whereas both Vishneva and Cojocaru managed to stumble backwards upon it at just the right point in the music. I was really watching to see how Reyes would play this, since I was so impressed that the other two managed to (blindly) walk backward onto the sword at just the right second. What impressed me about Reyes' mad scene was that it was clear that she expired while jumping up into Albrecht's arms--I could literally see the life go out of her, and then her body crumbled and fell back on the floor.
I think Simone Messmer captured the character of Myrta well; she had the aura of authority, and she looked positively predatory as she chases Hilarion up the diagonal of wilis toward his doom. However, I found her dancing in Myrta's solo not ethereal enough for my taste, and just a hair too fast (it looked like she was trying to push the tempo/music, rather than letting the music flow through her), but it definitely got better as the act progressed.
As for the others: Kristi Boone impressed me as Zulma. Melanie Hamrick was Moyna. Yuriko Kajiya and Joseph Phillips did the peasant pas de deux, and Kajiya dazzled me again. She held her balances and had impressive extensions. Patrick Ogle was fine as Hilarion.
Let me not forget--the corps was absolutely fantastic again! Bravo, bravo, bravo! I could not help but grin with delight when they were dancing in such beautiful unison!
Tomorrow I head back for another Vishneva/Gomes performance. I'm curious to see if they change anything from last Friday!
Posted 01 June 2011 - 07:32 PM
Posted 01 June 2011 - 11:21 PM
On other note, a playdate between Mr. B and Mr. Puppytreats is an inspired idea. Seriously, I don't know if my husband would be annoyed that I've been posting about him. But he never reads Ballet Talk, so I don't have to worry about that.
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