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The Bright Stream - Spring 2011


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#16 vipa

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 03:33 PM

I could go on about the ballet, but the bottom line is: it's just so damned fun. So if you're in a bad mood because of a guy, work, an expired ATM card, anything, just go to Bright Stream, and your day will seem brighter.


I agree with the superlatives. Go see it if you can.

I just want to add that the story telling is amazingly clear. We know who each character is. They stay in character throughout through the choreography. The characters have conversations that we understand. For example, in the first act when Zina & the ballerina meet and realize the know each other we see them ask each other the normal things like "are you married" "do you have kids" etc. It's all so clear and focused.

The sound of laughter in the audience (particularly the kids) was wonderful!

I'd love to hear more impressions of various casts.

#17 Drew

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 05:28 PM

I was able to see the opening and thought the ballet was terrific--very much agree with what has been said already--though I'm afraid the funniest moment of the evening for me occurred when the woman behind me explained to the two young (very well-behaved) children with her that the hammer and sickle looming over the stage stood for "hard work." Gee...I guess capitalism really CAN co-opt anything.

As for the ballet: completely delightful. A wonderful score, fantastic energy from everyone on stage, choreography and mime engaging at every moment. I would have very much liked to to see it again--and there were some details in the synopsis I did not quite 'see' on stage (especially regarding the young girl and lecherous accordion player). It would also be a real pleasure to compare casts in such a richly characterized work with so many wonderful roles. Unfortunately, that is not in the cards for me and I'm now back home (not New York).

The first Act is a lively festival of dances following on the arrival of visiting ballet dancers to a collective farm and including, if I'm not mistaken, a sort of mock battle of 'reds' and 'whites' culminating with the ballerina's circle of grande jetés around the stage as if she were the very symbol of the revolution. But everything in this ballet is done with a light touch and (something Canbelto alluded to) the irony seems as much at the expense of Soviet ballet as the Soviet Union. Though it's not a sour irony, rather a loving, laughing one.

The second act is almost all cross-dressing farce (including a barking dog) with adulterers and lechers being put in their place, but no-one getting (too badly) hurt. I found it laugh-out-loud funny with lots of great dancing--but I also rather suspect that with familiarity, the laughs would thin and one might even find some of it a little long. The ballet has a very short finale--with everyone massed together, different groupings alternately raising their arms against a backdrop transformed from images of rural agriculture into a grandiose modern cityscape. (The Soviets did collectivize the farms partly in the hope of getting more food to the cities though I'm guessing Ratmansky did not mean his allusion to operate on that level of policy detail...If the same transformation took place in the original Bright Stream in the 30's--well, maybe...)

Opening night received warm applause, but not as much of it as I expected. No front-of-curtain bows at all...I think a longer, more dance-spectacular grand finale would have made a difference, but I assume Ratmansky was following the score/libretto as it was originally set in the 30's--and also maintaining his lightness of touch. Earlier in the act, in the pas de deux for Zina disguised as the ballerina and her would-be cheating husband, the music reaches a grand climax and at that moment...he runs offstage for a minute; it turns out he is getting her a bouquet of flowers and she is left standing there. It's a characteristic playful/ironic detail playing against expectations and, in a way, the structure of the whole ballet follows suit.

The only comment I heard as I left the theater was a rather resigned sounding "well, it's a farce" from an older women I infer was a subscriber. I can read that everyone commenting on this website (so far) loves the ballet and I did too, but I am very curious if the ballet has gotten a more resounding reception at other performances--and whether it really will be a hit. Please report.

The four principles I saw were Herrera, Murphy, Gomez and Halberg. For me the dance high-points of the evening came from Herrera and Gomez. I thought she was wonderful. So often criticized for a dull or disconnected upper body, she danced here with beautiful fluidity, lines radiating from tips of her head and fingertips through a supple torso and gorgeously arched feet. Murphy was excellent--engaging pantomime and authoritative dancing--but next to Herrera's supple, lyrical lines she looked a bit dry and colorless. When they danced in parallel on stage, my eye kept drifting to Herrera and, as a longtime Murphy fan, THAT is something I would never have anticipated.

Halberg hit what seemed to me a pitch perfect combination of goofy and gorgeous in his disguise as a Sylph tricking an old man--and I was delighted by the choreography's sometimes quite detailed parody of the elusive, romantic ballerina. For me, though, Gomez was the star of the show. He danced with such extraordinary warmth and musicality--the music seemed right inside of him at points--and in the pas de deux he lifted Herrera as if she were a feather-weight. It's really not partnering when it's done that well, just two people dancing. I have always liked Gomez but never been entirely in love with his dancing--this makes me an outlier I know; well, I am an outlier no more.

All of the secondary dancers were very good, but I will join others in singling out Salstein's accordion player--he really did almost steal the show. No mean trick when the show is this good. I could hope that the energy and engagement all the dancers brought to this ballet would spill over into their performances of the classics. But I rather suspect it won't. Still, what a pleasure.

#18 abatt

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 08:53 AM

Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova were incredible at the matinee. I hope ABT can develop a permanent relationship w. Vasiliev.

#19 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 01:08 PM

I totally agree with Abatt and those many other posters about Vasiliev and Osipova. I saw Osipova in Romeo and Juliet last year, but I had never seen Vasiliev until yesterday's matinee performance. I have seen many great male dancers in my 31 years of attending ballet performances, but I have never seen anyone as exciting as Ivan Vasiliev. He took my breath away and then some. I am still getting my thoughts together. When I do, I'll post more. I just want to add that this was the 15th time my husband and I treated our niece to the ballet, and what a fantastic ballet we picked! She just loved it. (Of course. How could anyone not love it?) I hope and prayer that The Bright Stream becomes a permanent part of ABT's repetoire, and that Osipova and Vasiliev dance for ABT on a regular basis.

#20 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 05:05 AM

As already mentioned, I attended the June 11th matinee of The Bright Stream.

Alexei Ratmansky’s ballet is witty and blissfully exuberant. There are many innovative choreographic touches – like the “Slyph” riding in arabesque position on the back of the old Dacha Dweller’s bicycle, the tractor formation moving across the stage in front of the curtain, and everyone, including the Dacha Dwellers, performing cartwheels. The score by Dmiti Shostakovich is sparkling and imminently danceable.

The performers are uniformly outstanding, with regard to both dancing and acting. Guest artist, Ivan Vasiliev (from the Bolshoi Ballet), is Pyotr. In my 31 years of attending ballet performances I have never seen a dancer with as exciting a technique as Vasiliev’s. He whips off twists and turns in the air, as well as executing astounding 560 degree turns. Vasiliev also pulls off some very fast turns a la seconde where he throws in several jumps. As well, Vasiliev is an endearing actor who makes Pyotr seem more like a naughty little boy than a philandering husband.

As the Ballerina, Natalia Osipova (another guest artist from the Bolshoi), is flawless. In Act II, the steps which parody the acrobatic style of the Bolshoi Ballet fit Osipova perfectly. Her leaps, where she floats above the stage for what seems like an eternity, are a wonder. Osipova has a real flair for comedy and her chemistry with Xiomara Reyes’ Zina is lovely to see.

With his amazing multiple pirouettes and astounding pointe work, Daniil Simkin is almost too good as the Ballet Dancer in drag. I wonder if the role would be even funnier with a performer not quite so slight and delicate-looking.

Xiomara Reyes is a very sweet Zina, but she is outshone by her co-stars, especially Osipova and Vasiliev. As the Anxious-to-Be-Younger-Than-She-Is Dacha Dweller, Susan Jones threatens to steal the show every time she appears. Seeing her dart across the stage on pointe is a sight not to be missed. Craig Salstein serves up a mean tango as the swaggering Accordion Player. Maria Riccetto is an adorable schoolgirl. She stays in character even during the curtain calls as she claps her hands and mouths “For me?” when she is given her bouquet of flowers. Issac Stappas is a hysterically funny dog with a truly frightening bark.

My only quibble with The Bright Stream is that it ends too suddenly. A final pas de deux between Zina and Pyotr is needed to show they are really on the road to happiness. And a razzle dazzle solo for each of the principal characters would conclude the ballet on an even higher note.

That being said, The Bright Stream is the best new ballet I’ve seen in years. It is a perfect blend of witty, innovative choreography, sprightly music and superb performances. It deserves to stay in American Ballet Theatre’s repertoire for a long time.

#21 Natalia

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 05:12 AM

I've enjoyed reading all of the reports. I am curious if the New York edition of ABT's Bright Stream had the 'plain beige' sets that we got in Washington, DC, last January or if they used the multi-colored, more elaborate Bolshoi sets/costumes. I was very disappointed with the 'plain beige' after having seen the colorful Bolshoi edition (Boris Messerer designs), which the Bolshoi had toured to NYC 4-5 summers ago. I'm surprised that nobody compared the two versions, making me wonder if ABT has added some color to what we saw in DC 4 months ago.

Other than the designs seen in DC, I loved this production and couldn't agree more with the various reports! :thumbsup:

#22 PeggyR

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 05:41 AM

Thanks to all for these fascinating reviews and comments. Several reviewers here, plus Macaulay's review in the NYTimes today, mention how much they enjoyed the music, and I love to hear that, at least, since we on the West Coast probably won't get to see the ballet any time soon.

I've searched everywhere (i.e., iTunes and Amazon, which constitute 'everywhere' these days, I suppose) and can't find it. Bright Sheng, but no Bright Stream. Does anyone know if there is a recording available?

#23 richard53dog

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 05:53 AM

Thanks to all for these fascinating reviews and comments. Several reviewers here, plus Macaulay's review in the NYTimes today, mention how much they enjoyed the music, and I love to hear that, at least, since we on the West Coast probably won't get to see the ballet any time soon.

I've searched everywhere (i.e., iTunes and Amazon, which constitute 'everywhere' these days, I suppose) and can't find it. Bright Sheng, but no Bright Stream. Does anyone know if there is a recording available?



Peggy, I'm not a 100% certain on this , but I think the title is also known as "Limpid Stream" and there are some recordings of that.

Someone who speaks Russian (or knows music better than I do!) may be able to confirm this. It's possible the translation/transliteration has some variables to it.

#24 bingham

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 06:09 AM

Thanks to all for these fascinating reviews and comments. Several reviewers here, plus Macaulay's review in the NYTimes today, mention how much they enjoyed the music, and I love to hear that, at least, since we on the West Coast probably won't get to see the ballet any time soon.

I've searched everywhere (i.e., iTunes and Amazon, which constitute 'everywhere' these days, I suppose) and can't find it. Bright Sheng, but no Bright Stream. Does anyone know if there is a recording available?

ABT is taking the production to Los Angeles in July right after the MET season.

#25 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 07:30 AM


Thanks to all for these fascinating reviews and comments. Several reviewers here, plus Macaulay's review in the NYTimes today, mention how much they enjoyed the music, and I love to hear that, at least, since we on the West Coast probably won't get to see the ballet any time soon.

I've searched everywhere (i.e., iTunes and Amazon, which constitute 'everywhere' these days, I suppose) and can't find it. Bright Sheng, but no Bright Stream. Does anyone know if there is a recording available?



Peggy, I'm not a 100% certain on this , but I think the title is also known as "Limpid Stream" and there are some recordings of that.

Someone who speaks Russian (or knows music better than I do!) may be able to confirm this. It's possible the translation/transliteration has some variables to it.


The work (Op 39) is know as both "the Bright Stream" and "The Limpid Stream." There's a recording of it on the Chandos label with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky conducting The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. (It's available on Amazon as both a CD and a download.)

The Russian title is Светлый Ручей (Svetlyi Ruchyei) -- Светлый is usually translated as "bright" but can also mean "clear" or "light (in color)."

#26 richard53dog

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 09:08 AM

I've enjoyed reading all of the reports. I am curious if the New York edition of ABT's Bright Stream had the 'plain beige' sets that we got in Washington, DC, last January or if they used the multi-colored, more elaborate Bolshoi sets/costumes. I was very disappointed with the 'plain beige' after having seen the colorful Bolshoi edition (Boris Messerer designs), which the Bolshoi had toured to NYC 4-5 summers ago. I'm surprised that nobody compared the two versions, making me wonder if ABT has added some color to what we saw in DC 4 months ago.

Other than the designs seen in DC, I loved this production and couldn't agree more with the various reports! :thumbsup:



Natalia, the sets didn't look at all like the colorful photos I've seen of the Messerer designs and the program says that the production originated in Riga so I think we saw the same sets you saw in DC. No polychromatic madness here!

I was very happy with the production anyway. What a lot of fun!

#27 canbelto

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 04:02 PM

I kind of liked the simple, "tractor ballet" looking sets. It gave it a sort of Soviet touch, if that makes sense, that is most appropriate for this ballet.

#28 vipa

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 06:03 PM

[quote name='Colleen Boresta' date='13 June 2011 - 09:05 AM' timestamp='1307970302' post='287075
Xiomara Reyes is a very sweet Zina, but she is outshone by her co-stars, especially Osipova and Vasiliev.

My only quibble with The Bright Stream is that it ends too suddenly. A final pas de deux between Zina and Pyotr is needed to show they are really on the road to happiness. And a razzle dazzle solo for each of the principal characters would conclude the ballet on an even higher note.

[/quote]

I respectfully disagree with a couple of points. IMO Reyes totally held her own with Osipova. In fact I thought their sections together charming and sometimes touching, with one never outshining the other. Osipova has a flashier role, doing the male variation, but when together I thought they worked well together, and Reyes in her pas de deux was excellent. She also whipped off those fouettes quite nicely.

I love the ending. It is almost like an old MGM musical kind of ending of - that's all folks- or - nothing more to say so goodbye. For me the ending added to the overall charm.

#29 Anthony_NYC

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 07:36 PM

With his amazing multiple pirouettes and astounding pointe work, Daniil Simkin is almost too good as the Ballet Dancer in drag. I wonder if the role would be even funnier with a performer not quite so slight and delicate-looking.

I'd be interested to hear a comparison from people who saw both Simkin and Hallberg, who are such different types. I saw the latter, and he was the most gigantic and manly sylph you've ever seen. Beautifully acted and danced, too, and completely hilarious.

#30 christine174

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 07:00 PM

What a totally fun evening! I was laughing so hard I was crying. I don't know what was funnier -- Daniil Simkin flitting across the stage like a Wili, Craig Salstein's encounter with the dog, or watching the Grim Reaper get hounded off the stage. I sure hope we can see more of Osipova and Vasiliev! What a great spring it has been for ballet in NYC. On to the Danes!


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