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Swan Lake- Spring 2011


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#91 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 07:29 AM


as an aside....


All sorts of young fans, the usual old crazies and some riff-raff were crushing into the stage door and barely letting the dancers pass.


:blink:


Speaking of this very topic, on Saturday night, I took out my tickets in front of the Met and one of THEM came rushing over to me and said "I need a ticket". Then, she followed me into the building and said two more times, "Do you have an extra ticket?" I finally turned to her and said very firmly, "I do not have an extra ticket!" Finally, she left me alone.


Close encounter with a Lincoln Center revenant! Just don't feed them after curtain goes up. :innocent:

#92 angelica

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 08:06 AM

I didn't know about Hallberg's shoulder problems, so thank you for that information. I can now (almost) forgive him for almost dropping Hee Seo twice in her debut performance of Giselle. Pushkin called ballet "the cruel art." I would have to google that to find the context, but it does take a huge toll on the body. This season so many of the male dancers were injured. I used to take the lifts in stride, but I'm much more mindful now of how difficult they are, especially in ballets like Swan Lake.

#93 nanushka

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 08:39 AM

I didn't know about Hallberg's shoulder problems, so thank you for that information. I can now (almost) forgive him for almost dropping Hee Seo twice in her debut performance of Giselle. Pushkin called ballet "the cruel art." I would have to google that to find the context, but it does take a huge toll on the body. This season so many of the male dancers were injured. I used to take the lifts in stride, but I'm much more mindful now of how difficult they are, especially in ballets like Swan Lake.


There are certain moments in performance that make my gut clench up in anxiety -- e.g. David's lifts, Veronika's supported pirouettes, anybody's Rose Adagio.

#94 MRR

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 10:39 AM

Thank you to Colleen Boresta and Bingham for the compliments.

Re: Part's Odette/Odile--I seem to be in the middle. I have seen her twice in Swan Lake, once with Hallberg (the performance last season that has been mentioned already) and Bolle (two years ago). I certainly wouldn't go as far as to say she is miscast in SL, although I'm not gaga over her Odette/Odile either.

Swan Lake is one of those ballets where I tend to have a bias in favor of taller ballerinas, and Part obviously satisfies that. Just by the way she stands on stage with all of the other corps women, she looks like the swan queen and I love that. And certainly her body isn't the only the reason she would be good in Swan Lake: the ballet gives her ample opportunity to show off her extension, feet, pors de bras, "Russian back"--in other words, her strengths. The performance with Hallberg, although heavily praised on this forum, stangely left me cold. I enjoy both dancers and am a sucker for exquisite lines--which both have and then some--but the performance didn't do much for me, particularly the Black Swan pas. Her SL with Bolle I preferred. Bolle is a stronger partner than Hallberg, and because Part wasn't replacing someone she had more time to build a partnership and for me it showed. I preferred her Odette to her Odile, but I thought she put in a lovely performance which greatly upstaged Bolle who had a plethora of technical issues that evening.

I wonder if Hallberg's shoulder problems have to do with him having really flexible shoulders? Perhaps it might have to do with him having a flexible back as well, as neither physical attribute comes to his aid when it comes to lifts. He is not someone like Gomes who is so physically strong and seems to have every part of his upper body stabilized and secure during a difficult overhead lift. IIRC, in the SL with Part during those turning overhead lifts in Act II, he barely lifted her the first time and didn't get her up at all during the second lift. I wonder how much this problem can improve, but I would certainly be surprised if Part and Hallberg were paired up in a major ballet again.

#95 Batsuchan

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 11:52 AM

Saturday night’s “Swan Lake” performance with Semionova and Gomes was stupendous--definitely one of the best that I’ve seen in my brief ballet-watching history, but I can’t say it’s the very best. In fact, I can’t name the single best SL performance I’ve ever seen, but there are Acts or aspects of several different performances that I consider the best I’ve ever seen.

From this performance, I can say that Marcelo’s Siegfried was without a question, the most inspired, most passionate, most amazing Siegfried I have ever seen. Before the performance began, I knew that Marcelo would do everything in his power to make Polina’s Odette/Odile debut at ABT the best it could be, that he would be the most selfless and supportive of partners, but I was not expecting him to go crazy like he did!

In Act I, his jumps were so airy, his landings were so soft, and he used his upper body so gorgeously. I almost felt like he was saying, “Ok, I might not have David’s beautiful lines, but just look how beautifully, how musically I move!”

And Marcelo’s acting was top-notch, as always. Thanks to his performance, it was the first time all week that I felt like the Queen Mother and Wolfgang were actually meaningful presences in his life. He gave the Queen Mother a look of such adoration when presented with the crossbow, and when he turned to Wolfgang for advice later in the scene, it felt like they were having a conversation.

Then, in the beginning of Act II, he made me see Siegfried catch sight of Odette. This moment was lost on me with the other Siegfrieds, but Marcelo pointed out something in the sky, went around the stage following its path, and saw it land somewhere beyond the wings. Excitedly, he reached for his crossbow and prepared to shoot, but then he realized, “What’s this?! Something’s not right!” and ran off the stage. “AHA, so THIS is what this scene is supposed to be about!” I thought.

And then, at the end of Act III/beginning of Act IV, Marcelo’s Siegfried was simply wild. After discovering his mistake, he pounded on the doors with such force I thought they might actually fall down, and when he came on the stage at the beginning of Act IV, he collapsed from the weight of his grief.

On another dancer, or in a different performance, these actions may have seemed way too over-the-top, but with Marcelo, it looked just right, because you could just see how inspired he was by Semionova. I have always thought Marcelo to be unrivaled as a partner and an actor, but up to now, I had never considered him to be one of those show-stopping virtuosos the way, say, Simkin or Carreno (with his pirouettes) or Corella can be. But his variations in Act III blew me away! Semionova held her ridiculously long arabesque balance in the black swan pas de deux, and Marcelo answered with some extra-long balances of his own.

And my goodness! I was not expecting to see Carreno-style multi-revolution pirouettes with the leg fully extended! To me, it felt like Gomes was so amped up by the performance that he was really going for it, taking risks, almost making it up as he went along. It was like his performance as Albrecht earlier in the season when he was so impassioned that he threw back his head after he landed his moves. Simply mesmerizing! Bravo!

That brings me now to Semionova…

There is only one word why ABT should continue to invite guest stars..............POLINA!!! i hope permanently.


Totally agree with this! (Though I’m saying this while considering Bolle and Vishneva to already be part of the company. :wink: )

Without a doubt, the best Odette/Odile I saw all week (I missed Veronika’s performance)—and like abatt, I would gladly see her again in anything.

To me, she is a natural fit for Odette/Odile the same way that Cojocaru is a natural fit for Giselle—I never felt she was acting; everything felt “just right.” Of all the ballerinas I’ve seen, I definitely would call her my ideal Odette/Odile (but I admit that I’ve never seen Veronika Part nor any of the Mariinsky ballerinas).

That being said, I’d be lying if I said her performance was the very best I’ve seen. In contrast to FauxPas, I actually preferred her Odette to her Odile. As her NYTimes interview suggested, Polina seems to be more of an understated performer from the little I’ve seen of her—she’s as passionate and expressive and heartbreaking as one would want, but without going crazy.

As a result, I was a bit surprised when she kept her Odette variations on the safe side, but it seemed in-keeping with her characterization. There were no quad pirouettes like Gillian in Odette’s solo, and no lightning fast entrechats and passé-releve (like Vishenva) in the coda. Hers was a classy, not showy, Odette, and I was okay with that. (And let me not forget that she actually did the battements before the developpe! Hooray!)

However, I did find myself wishing her Odile was a little more over-the-top. She was seductive and malevolent, without being harsh or bitchy, and she and Marcelo definitely had some red-hot chemistry. But I found myself missing Vishneva’s no-holds-barred, irresistible vamp last year with Hallberg.

It’s very funny. If you asked me which ballerinas I think are best-suited for “Swan Lake,” Vishneva would not be on that list, and if you asked me which are Vishneva’s best roles, Odette-Odile would probably not be one of them. And yet, she has given me the best Act II and Act IIIs I’ve ever seen (in separate performances). From the moment she burst through the doors with those blazing eyes and her ruby-red lips as Odile, I thought, “Oh sh*t! Here we go! Poor Siegfried doesn’t stand a chance!” She didn’t just seduce Hallberg’s Siegfried, she completely enslaved him—by the end, he was practically groveling at her feet. And I liked this power dynamic a lot because it mirrored Odette’s own enslavement—in the prologue, Von Rothbart seduced and captured her, and now in Act III, we have Siegfried trapped under Odile’s spell.

And during the black swan pas de deux, Vishneva’s dancing was almost indescribable. A great technician will make even the hardest moves LOOK easy, but there was something about the absolute surety, the complete lack of wobbles or hesitation in the penchee arabesques, that made me think, “Oh my god, it IS easy for her.”

While Semionova’s reserve seemed appropriate as Odette, I did wish she was a little crazier and faster in her pique turns in the circle around the stage in Act III. And I have to admit, her fouettes were a bit of a letdown after seeing Gillian’s on Tuesday and Thursday—although her turns were nicely centered filled with multiple revolutions, they were not super-quick like Gillian’s, so there were many skipped beats. Still, these are minor quibbles.

Similarly, the white swan pas de deux with Polina and Marcelo was superb, wonderful, gorgeous—but for me, it came in a close second to Diana and Marcelo’s performance two years ago. To this day, I can still clearly remember that unbelievably slow tempo, those almost-everlasting backbends, and the utterly rapt and pin-drop silent audience (I still heard coughing on Saturday night). Of course, Diana and Marcelo had the benefit of dancing together many times before, so they could take risks that Polina and Marcelo did not. But the superficial side of me will also admit that the height difference (or lack thereof) detracted ever-so-slightly from Polina and Marcelo’s performance; it just looks better to me when the ballerina is not so much taller than the danseur on pointe.

Anyway, these are self-indulgent criticisms for a performance that truly was magnificent. I feel lucky to have been able to see it. Bravo, bravo, bravo!

If I had to give you my dream casting for next year, though, I’d like to finally see Semionova and Hallberg together in “Swan Lake.” And having never seen Veronika’s Odette/Odile, I would love to see her paired with Bolle. And finally, Vishneva and Gomes. I don’t know if anyone will ever match their 2009 white swan p.d.d. for me, but I’d like to see them try again!

***
Two final shout-outs:

Stella was a stand-out in the Act I pas de trois. She seemed so on-fire that I couldn’t help but think, “is this her making her case for a promotion to principal?”

And finally, how nice to see Renata Pavam as a cygnette. I was also impressed to see Skylar Brandt as one of the cygnettes—isn’t she only an apprentice?!

Phew, can’t believe the season is almost over!

#96 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 12:17 PM

Due to the incredible performances, especially of the two principal dancers, the July 2nd evening performance of Swan Lake retains its magic. As good as guest artist Polina Semionova was as Kitri in ABT’s Don Quixote earlier in the season, she is perfect in the dual role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Semionova is one of the very few Odette/Odiles I have ever seen who is equally wonderful in both roles. As Odette, Semionova has magnificent undulating swan arms which seem to be almost boneless. Her splendidly pliable upper body shows clearly the despair Odette feels after Siegfried has betrayed her at the ball. The velvety flow of Semionova’s musical phrasing is heavenly. Her deep arabesques seem to go on forever. Semionova’s every movement as the Swan Queen is plush and luxuriant. Her petit batterie near the end of Act II, where her legs crisscross in the air, are astounding.

As Odile, Semionova revels in her seductive powers. She truly glistens like the most radiant diamond. Her hard edges are occasionally softened so that the Prince will think she is the “true” Odette. During the coda of the black swan pas de deux, Semionova whips off a series of double and very fast single fouettes. Her turns are in time with the music and there is only the tiniest bit of traveling.

Marcelo Gomes is Prince Siegfried, replacing the injured David Hallberg. I love Hallberg as a dancer, but no ballet dancer inhabits a role as completely as Gomes. This is certainly the case with his Prince Siegfried at the July 2nd evening performance. Gomes’ dancing is also sensational, especially his high, soaring leaps with the plushest of landings. He is also an ardently attentive partner and his chemistry with Semionova is spellbinding.

Other dancers stand out as well. As the handsome von Rothbart, Sascha Radetsky is much better than when I saw him perform this part last year. He is not up to the level of Marcelo Gomes as the seductive sorcerer, but Radetsky is effectively evil with high jumps and clean, soft landings.

In the pas de trois in Act I, Daniil Simkin again shows his unbelievable elevation and incredible ballon. Maria Riccetto is exquisitely dainty and Stella Abera shines with crisp musicality and vividly vibrant dancing.

The all important female corps in the white acts (Act II and the sadly abbreviated Act IV) dance in splendid tandem with the music and each other. Karen Uphoff and Melanie Hamrick’s lyrical phrasing as the two big swans is lovely to see.

Tchaikovsky’s transcendent score is well performed, except for the violin solo during the Act II pas de deux. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a professional musician perform so badly.

In spite of the weaknesses, it was an incredible evening at the ballet. I do hope American Ballet will go back to performing David Blair’s Swan Lake, which they danced before 2000. Swan Lake is a rich and powerful ballet and it deserves the best production possible.

#97 angelica

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 02:15 PM

"Tchaikovsky’s transcendent score is well performed, except for the violin solo during the Act II pas de deux. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a professional musician perform so badly."
I'm sorry to say it was even worse on Friday night.

#98 Juliet

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 02:21 PM

"Tchaikovsky’s transcendent score is well performed, except for the violin solo during the Act II pas de deux. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a professional musician perform so badly."
I'm sorry to say it was even worse on Friday night.


You'd think they could find a violinist in NYC.

#99 Marga

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 02:55 PM

I was also impressed to see Skylar Brandt as one of the cygnettes—isn’t she only an apprentice?!

Skylar Brandt is corps de ballet. And, IMO, there's nothing 'only' about any of ABT's apprentices!

#100 MakarovaFan

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 03:12 PM

Regarding Friday night's Part/Stearns Swan Lake I very much agree with the earlier poster who wrote: "I fail to see why a Swan Queen of her stature has to have a novice Prince."

I look forward to seeing Veronika in Swan Lake every year and this performance was such a disappointment to me. Veronika can be so heartbreaking in this role, but it really felt like she was ill at ease and holding back on Friday and I attribute this mostly to the deficiencies of Corey in partnering her. Veronika usually makes such beautiful use of her expressive Vaganova back, particularly when she dances Odette, and on Friday she was uncharacteristically stiff throughout the performance. Her performance seemed frozen emotionally as well, and I didn't feel any connection or trust between her and Corey. They didn't seem like people who wanted to be on the same stage, let alone die for their love of one another. I think ABT needs to give up on trying to make this partnership happen. Over the years I've spent watching Veronika I've noticed that her relationship with her partner seems to affect her own, individual performance more strongly than for many of the other ABT ballerinas: when she isn't totally confident in her partner she can come across as tense, restrained, and simply uncomfortable, as she did on Friday night. But with a partner like Marcelo, she can outshine any other ballerina in the company in Swan Lake. I hope that ABT gives her the chance to shine in this role again next season.

Despite my disappointment in Veronika and Corey's partnership, the evening had bright spots. Veronika's performance was only lackluster by the (very high) standards her past Odette/Odile's have set. In a pleasant surprise, her fouettes were the strongest I've seen from her. While Corey was bland dramatically and lacked stage presence and connection with his partner, at least his solos were well-executed and engaging.

Jared Matthews and Hee Seo were both truly excellent (and Melanie Hamrick solid if not as exciting) in the peasant pas de trois. Hee Seo has become one of the highlights of this ABT season for me; I'm consistently impressed and excited by her performances. I hope to catch her Lilac Fairy this season, but next year I hope we can see her as Aurora.


Thanks, OneSwan, for basically agreeing with me about Part/Stearns. I'm still sad about it.

#101 angelica

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 03:29 PM

"You'd think they could find a violinist in NYC." [Could someone please explain to this computer dummy how you get the boxes around the text you want to refer to?]
How do they assemble the ABT orchestra? Is it a pickup orchestra or do they hire the same people every year? Does the orchestra tour with the company? I don't think it does, but I don't know for sure. And, IMHO, the audition for the first violinist should be the Swan Lake PdD.

#102 spinning2night

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 04:35 PM

I wonder if Hallberg's shoulder problems have to do with him having really flexible shoulders? Perhaps it might have to do with him having a flexible back as well, as neither physical attribute comes to his aid when it comes to lifts. He is not someone like Gomes who is so physically strong and seems to have every part of his upper body stabilized and secure during a difficult overhead lift. IIRC, in the SL with Part during those turning overhead lifts in Act II, he barely lifted her the first time and didn't get her up at all during the second lift. I wonder how much this problem can improve, but I would certainly be surprised if Part and Hallberg were paired up in a major ballet again.


I wouldn't be surprised if Hallberg's overall flexibility is the main issue he has to deal with for lifts. Without having to go into the anatomy and kinesthetic aspects of what he would have to deal with when securing an overhead lift, I can essentially say that it's a physical problem that in all honesty does not have a solution. (It's kind of what Ferri discussed previously about her ankles, she has to work twice as hard as most ballerinas to maintain a balance b/c she has to fight what her body wants to do naturally in order to maintain a strong position) Hallberg probably works within the realm of his limits, and should, at this point in his career, know what he needs to do in order to execute a lift properly (i.e. where he should support the ballerina - to maintain a balance point, how extended his arms should be - to prevent dislocation, etc.) However, as we all know, nothing in dance is 100% guaranteed during a performance, and one little thing that is not exact could end disastrously, which means that for Hallberg a lift takes significantly more effort mentally and physically even when you take away the physical/upper body strength factor.

#103 Roberto Dini

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 04:35 PM

"You'd think they could find a violinist in NYC." [Could someone please explain to this computer dummy how you get the boxes around the text you want to refer to?]
How do they assemble the ABT orchestra? Is it a pickup orchestra or do they hire the same people every year? Does the orchestra tour with the company? I don't think it does, but I don't know for sure. And, IMHO, the audition for the first violinist should be the Swan Lake PdD.


To quote someone, just hit the reply button. Their post will appear between the quote tags. You can edit it to include only the relevant part of the post to which you are responding.

I'm assuming the soloist is the concertmaster and had a strict audition process.

I've often wondered but have never dug out my programs to check whether there's any overlap between the MET Opera orchestra and ABT.

#104 Roberto Dini

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 05:20 PM

From reading some of these posts, one might think that partnering is a one-way street. The woman shows up, dances and the man partners her. But she can help or hinder her partner in many ways--the way she arches her back or how she pushes off from the floor, for example. It is a partnership after all, and whether evident or not, the woman might be contributing to the partnering problems.

#105 angelica

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 05:38 PM

[/quote]To quote someone, just hit the reply button. Their post will appear between the quote tags. You can edit it to include only the relevant part of the post to which you are responding.[/quote] You mean like this? (We'll see if it works when I post it)


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