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ABT at the Met 2011 - Sleeping Beauty


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#76 VirginiaB

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:50 AM

i don't think Seo performed Lilac at all.
prior to her scheduled debut she was scheduled (on a cast-change slip, on Wed.?) to replace Riccetto, who was injured, and then Seo got injured. so i think she didn't dance the rest of the run.



#77 VirginiaB

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:53 AM

Hee Seo performed the Lilac Fairy on Thursday.

#78 VirginiaB

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:56 AM

Hee Seo performed the Lilac Fairy on Thursday.

#79 rg

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:57 AM

ah, thanks for the correction.

#80 bingham

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 09:41 AM

Hee Seo performed the Lilac Fairy on Thursday.


How was she?

#81 OneSwan

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 10:08 AM

Notes from my three day Sleeping Beauty marathon:

Thursday: Irina, Marcelo, Hee Seo.

I decided to attend this performance after enjoying Hee Seo so much in smaller roles throughout the season. I thought it was a good debut, but I was expecting a bit more. Seo gave a gracious, graceful performance (beautiful port de bras, beautiful balances), but didn't seem convincingly authoritative or powerful: hers was not a fairy you really felt could go toe to toe with Nancy Raffa's gleefully wicked Carabosse. I hope her interpretation of the role develops with time and gets a bit more spine to complement the warmth and tenderness in evidence on Thursday night.

Marcelo was, as always, the most ardent and devoted of Princes (and partners). I count myself lucky that he ended up subbing in for Maxim, whose performance I was expecting to have to endure. I heartily agree with Christine174's earlier comment that after everything Marcelo's done this season (so much subbing!) he should be given "a huge huge bonus and a round-trip ticket to Hawaii" Maybe we can take up a collection.

Irina gave an okay, if not especially engaging or exciting, performance of Aurora. She is so gorgeous, but I just don't find her to be a beautiful dancer. Hobbled-looking jumps and awkwardly ear-whacking arabesques marred her performance.


Friday: Alina, Johann, Kajiya

Alina was just on fire Friday night. By miles the best Aurora I've ever seen. Every step was a delight to watch if not, perhaps, a delight to dance: her face showed a lot of strain and concentration, particularly in the first act. ABT's SB isn't the most emotionally nuanced of ballets, but I appreciated how Alina gave her Aurora distinct shadings in each of her three scenes, something many ABT ballerinas (like Irina) don't do. She was girlish and eager to please at her birthday party, dreamy and yearning in the vision scene, and confident and tender during the wedding scene. Johann was a wonderfully attentive partner who seemed to enable her to be her very best. I didn't find him thrilling in his solos: it was really Alina's night. And what a night it was! Just stunning.

Kajiya was a disappointing Lilac Fairy (she substituted for Maria Riccetto). She was pretty "blah" and undistinguished. I'm struggling only two days later to remember much about her performance.

Saturday matinee: Gillian, Marcelo, Veronika

Gillian did a strong, assured Aurora, but coming after Alina's it felt a bit anti-climatic and underwhelming. Marcelo was, as always, a joy. But the performance, for me, really belonged to Veronika. Lilac Fairy is one of my favorites of her roles: I find her to be just about perfect in it. She manages to be radiant and warm while at the same time displaying a quiet, effortless, thoroughly convincing authority. Her Lilac is really regal: she came across as more of a princess than Gillian's Aurora did. Unlike Seo's or Kajiya's, Veronika's was a Lilac Fairy who could convincingly face down Carabosse and drive the action of the ballet forward. She was utterly commanding, and thoroughly captivating to watch: even her smallest gestures were brimming with feeling, meaning, and intent.

I'll stop gushing about Veronika now and give some attention to Misty Copeland and Sascha Radetsky, who did a surprisingly delightful Bluebird pas de deux. Sascha and Misty both looked like they were having a ball. They made what is so often just a (thrilling, when well-executed) series of tricky jumps and leaps into a playful, flirtatious, and altogether charming little vignette that reminded me that there is actually supposed to be a story behind the pas de deux (of the princess falling in love with the bluebird).

I don't know why Sacha's not being given more opportunities. Especially when the principal male ranks are thinning and Sascha gained all that experience dancing principal roles with the DNB. I'd also like to see Misty get more cracks at bigger soloist roles like Bluebird: when she gets them I think she really rises to the occasion. She definitely did on Saturday. She has so much personality when she dances, so much attack and charisma. I feel like she might be better off across the plaza, but ABT is lucky to have her.

#82 Helene

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 11:33 AM

I saw Friday night's performance of "The Sleeping Beauty". I hadn't seen the original Kirkland/Chernov version, and I've read that and how it has been changed; all of my comments are based on the latest version. I also sat in the Dress Circle, and how the mime looked to me might be very different from what it looked like to people who were closer.

I particularly liked the patterns in the Prologue: while the corps was often in lines, horizontal and on the diagonal, there were a lot of circular, protective patterns for the Fairies and their Cavaliers. I found this very pleasing. I also thought it was a good touch to have the Lilac Fairy enter across from the royal bassinet to do her variation, which made sense of how she didn't give her blessing before she danced. I also loved how Catalabutte remains kneeling for a long time until the King decides to re-enter his state of denial after the Lilac Fairy mitigates Carabosse's curse and to forgive Catalabutte.

Act I started with an extended scene in which four gossips dance with a spindle and are caught by Catalabutte and his herald. The King sees them, there are explanations, the King pontificates and dictates that Catalabutte should be killed. I love mime, and I would love this scene, if 1. The rest of the mime were developed to match, because it looked like a 4x4 swatch of Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Early Delights" was superimposed on a quick pencil sketch and 2. The mime was structured, focused, and clear. It took place out-of-doors, seemingly on the same kind of palace terrace I've seen "Swan Lake" Act I staged. I suppose this is to explain why the peasants are in the palace. The Garland Dance was not a visual highlight, apart from the bower the dancers made for the entering Princes.

The last two acts, though, are a mess. I won't even call them a hot mess, because they don't have the appeal of watching a train wreck around the set pieces for Aurora, Desire, and the Lilac Fairy (in the Vision Scene). They were dull, confused, and unclear. Act II was set in swampy shadows -- if a company is going to set "Sleeping Beauty" in a swamp, why not just use the sets from "Swan Lake" and call it a day? -- there was no way to differentiate the Countess from the rest of the group, or to feel that the Prince was making much of a choice by going to another court, and the entire scene felt like a throw-away.

I don't know what they were thinking in using the Fairies for the divertissement music for Act III. If they all did a group dance, I suppose it might be a stretch to think their qualities blended into the perfect whole, but to have three dance in unison and two be featured, when only the Fairy of Joy had any dancing that suggested her virtue, made little sense. The music doesn't have enough gravitas for the Lilac Fairy's solo, which isn't a cherry on top or a summation and is followed not long after by Aurora's great variation, and it looks like an excuse for more dancing, rather than explaining the Lilac Fairy's stewardship of this whole adventure.

The fairy tale characters, showing the darker and more humorous side of "fairy-ness", appeared in the intro and coda of the Wedding Scene divertissement only, and the dancers did a remarkable job of creating character with very little opportunity. What they did was far more interesting than the Fairy divertissement. I agree that it was a mistake to have the Grand Pas de Deux follow the Bluebird Pas de Deux, which is a more delicate, other-worldly kettle of fish.

Sarah Lane gave a very honest, clear performance of Princess Florine. The only distortion was the stylistically jarring high side extension; I'm still not sure by which law of physics she did not fall over, since she looked far out of alignment to reach it. Daniil Simkin, until his final solo, looked like he was punching out his jumps to get the biggest performance, almost to match what Johan Kobborg would do later with ease. When he went back inside his own frame in the last solo, it was elegant and had delicacy needed for the character.

Under the theory that there are no small parts, I judge solo dancers by how well they dance in the ensemble portions as well as their solos. Among the male Cavaliers, Jose Sebastian was a standout, his movement bright and whole from his head to his wonderfully articulated feet and toes. He dances big, with ballon, and makes it look effortless. He stood out so forcefully simply by dancing so classically and so well. For me, he is the total package, including star quality, and given the chance, I would see a performance based on seeing his name in a prominent role. Many thanks to my friend who ID'ed him for me.

Although technically not part of an ensemble, I was impressed by the men who danced the foreign princes. I noticed little of the retreat and boredom that telegraphs to the back of the house when a dancer is not the one performing for Aurora. In particular there was one Prince whom I wanted to marry by the time the scene was over. He wore a brown tunic with the blue/grey sleeves and his hat was dark on top with red around the sides. (Not the red beret or tam.) He started by standing alone upstage left -- the other three Princes made a diagonal line starting upstage right -- during Aurora's Act I solo. He did not stop his performance for a single second on that stage. Every gesture was elegant and finished through his fingers, and there was energy in his posture, no matter where he was onstage or how peripheral he was to the action. If anyone can tell me who of Blaine Hoven, Isaac Stappas, Eric Tamm, and Roddy Doble (assuming there were no unannounced substitutions) he was, I'd appreciate it. He is a prince.

For the Fairies, there were a number of circular, turning bourrees with changing upper body positions. They aren't just supposed to be pretty or academic: they should be gracious and inclusive like the visual pattern. The only Fairy who struck me was Simone Messmer, who, with her wonderfully shaded epaulement, open shoulders, and head tilted on her shoulders, imparted a quality to her part in the stage picture, which she extended beautifully in her solo variation as Fairy of Ferver with bold, space-eating dancing. I also think that the Lilac Fairy should very clearly be the leader, not the starriest one in the pack, and while Yuriko Kajiya danced correctly, there was no sense that she embodied the abstract dance quality and inherent power to run day-to-day Fairy affairs, let alone to take on Carabosse, especially when that Carabosse is Martine van Hamel, who in one sweeping arm movement and "Here I am" pose looked like she could have swept the stage clear of all of the frou-frou. The Fairies might not be able to take on Carabosse, but they should not be superfluous decoration, no matter talented they are -- which they are -- or, specifically, how lovely Hee Seo's hands were in her variation or how differentiated Misty Copeland's quick, pointing arm and finger movements were from the soft crowns in high fifth that finished each phrase. If the Lilac Fairy can only equal the Aurora in dance -- and very few dancers are a match for Cojocaru -- it's critical that she embody experience and wisdom that only experience can bring, and if she can't equal the Aurora in dance, she had better bring something else. The Prince and Princess might be taking over the earthly realm from her parents by the end of the ballet, but they don't replace the royal fairies.

There were far too many performers who didn't seem to know why they were in this drama. Victor Barbee and Susan Jaffee as the King and Queen were remarkably dull, with little stage presence, which was the biggest surprise and disappointment for me. Apart from Messmer, their abstract virtues were rarely embodied in their dancing beyond quick gestures. The group scenes felt generic. Despite valiant efforts by a few, this did not look like a coherent production by a major company. The point to me of being a major company, even if stars are imported, is to have the numbers and depth to provide the context for the story at every level and not to look like a background sketch for live theater.

The orchestra did not help: the tempi in the Prologue were sluggish and slow, and only picked up with the intro music to Act I. For the rest of the performance they were inconsistent, at best.

By contrast, Cojocaru and Kobborg brought It. They have the type of comfortable partnership, that the ease characterizes the parts they dance. It's not just that when Cojocaru danced the Rose Adagio, it felt like it happened in a minute, and there was not even a glancing thought or worry that she might go off balance, it's that she developed the character throughout the three acts, and that she imbued her performance with so much detail and reaction that she almost made me believe everyone around her caused her to react. (Now that's a pro.) I would prefer lower extensions from her, but I give her great credit that every one of them is controlled on the way up, and that she gives them a little grace note breath at the top before she lowers them, again with complete control. It was quite beautiful when, during the Rose Adagio, she looked back over her extended leg and shoulder to acknowledge and thank the last Prince before going on to the next. The most visceral characteristic of her dancing is the invisible transition from quicksilver to slow and blossoming and back. Her Act III variation was exactly as it was meant to be in the drama: a seamless integration of the virtues with which she was blessed at her baptism. It doesn't get any better than that.

#83 rg

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 01:27 PM

wish i'd known your question about the identifications of your cavaliers earlier, H. i'd have paid closer attention to this scene.
i THINK by the headwear you describe you might be asking after Dobble, but i'm not sure.
what you say prince-wise in your query reminds me that Lucia Chase used to refer to the particular cavalier who did the most partnering in the so-called Rose Adagio as The Prince, b/c i suppose he was given the most responsibility in productions she oversaw. "Who's doing The Prince?" i was once told by an insider was a familiar Chase question when looking over the casting on paper.
o'course if we had a picture, we could help out in an instant, but i seem to think that Dobble wore the head-covering you describe. (the costumes were changed after the first season for these cavaliers so there is some confusion in my recall. it's in these instances, btw, that i think added credit to H.Hynes points most directly nowadays.)
wish i could be more clear and/or certain.

#84 mimsyb

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 01:40 PM

Thank you Helene for that wonderful review. I am also in total awe of Cojocaru. Seldom do we see such complete artistry and musicality in one dancer. Her ability to take and use a musical phrase to the benefit of the role and character are unique and breath taking. Brava Alina!! The "Prince" you refer to in the Rose Adagio is the splendid Isaac Staapas. He has been such a pleasure to watch over the years in so many roles. IMO he owns Tybalt in "R&J" (no one even comes close to his interpretation). To see his Jailor in "Manon" is to see evil incarnate. His Hilarion is very special. Even his Lizard Rothbart is an amazement. Again IMO he should have been given a chance at "Purple Rothbart" also, as he is so handsome and sexy on stage. And could do the technique, I'm sure. I could go on and on about so many more of his roles, both character and classical. No one' dies' on stage like Isaac (with his eyes open!!). His partnering in everything he does is assured and right there for the woman. He is always in character on stage. He is able to create for himself (and thus for us) a total being on stage that holds our interest, whatever he does. Sadly, he is retiring this year (I think after L.A.). ABT's great loss. He has been one of the BEST ever! A classsy guy. He will be so missed. And if anyone can talk him out of retiring, PLEASE DO!!

#85 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 02:27 PM

I particularly liked the patterns in the Prologue: while the corps was often in lines, horizontal and on the diagonal, there were a lot of circular, protective patterns for the Fairies and their Cavaliers. I found this very pleasing. I also thought it was a good touch to have the Lilac Fairy enter across from the royal bassinet to do her variation, which made sense of how she didn't give her blessing before she danced. I also loved how Catalabutte remains kneeling for a long time until the King decides to re-enter his state of denial after the Lilac Fairy mitigates Carabosse's curse and to forgive Catalabutte.


Alas, none of these patterns were very visible from where I was sitting in the orchestra (Row 0, Seat 20) -- it looked like one big melee. Worse, I couldn't see the cradle clearly -- it was blocked by the line of the corps. I only knew where it was from its (dinky) purple canopy. Seat 20 in that row is only ten seats in off the right aisle and there are 8 seats more to the right of it, so it's not an extreme side seat, or at least shouldn't be. I wonder if the folks sitting three or seats to my right even knew there was a cradle there at all. Don't they sort the views out when they make the model sets? It shouldn't be hard to do.

I don't know what they were thinking in using the Fairies for the divertissement music for Act III. If they all did a group dance, I suppose it might be a stretch to think their qualities blended into the perfect whole, but to have three dance in unison and two be featured, when only the Fairy of Joy had any dancing that suggested her virtue, made little sense. The music doesn't have enough gravitas for the Lilac Fairy's solo, which isn't a cherry on top or a summation and is followed not long after by Aurora's great variation, and it looks like an excuse for more dancing, rather than explaining the Lilac Fairy's stewardship of this whole adventure.



All I could think of was that they decided to make the fairies do double duty so as to avoid having to cast additional divertissement roles. Is that too cynical?

The orchestra did not help: the tempi in the Prologue were sluggish and slow, and only picked up with the intro music to Act I. For the rest of the performance they were inconsistent, at best.



The overture and the entr'actes started out promising, but yes, the tempos sure did get pulled all over the place once the dancing started.

Edited to add: I was positively SHOCKED at the amount of talking going on during the entr'actes -- talking out loud, for heaven's sake, not even whispering. Lots of phone checking , too. Because it's boring to sit in the dark and listen to Tchaikovsky, I guess ...

By contrast, Cojocaru and Kobborg brought It. They have the type of comfortable partnership, that the ease characterizes the parts they dance. It's not just that when Cojocaru danced the Rose Adagio, it felt like it happened in a minute, and there was not even a glancing thought or worry that she might go off balance, it's that she developed the character throughout the three acts, and that she imbued her performance with so much detail and reaction that she almost made me believe everyone around her caused her to react. (Now that's a pro.) I would prefer lower extensions from her, but I give her great credit that every one of them is controlled on the way up, and that she gives them a little grace note breath at the top before she lowers them, again with complete control. It was quite beautiful when, during the Rose Adagio, she looked back over her extended leg and shoulder to acknowledge and thank the last Prince before going on to the next. The most visceral characteristic of her dancing is the invisible transition from quicksilver to slow and blossoming and back. Her Act III variation was exactly as it was meant to be in the drama: a seamless integration of the virtues with which she was blessed at her baptism. It doesn't get any better than that.


I saw them Wednesday night and thought they were pretty wonderful. I walked out thinking that I might someday see a more brilliant Aurora than Cojocaru, but not one I loved more. I too was especially taken with the way she smiled at the departing cavaliers! It was such a lovely touch -- and a lady always says "thank you" to her dance partner before moving on to dance with another :thumbsup:

#86 abatt

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 03:26 PM

Part was an excellent Lilac Fairy - one of her best roles. Also I need to mention how much I liked Boylston as the Fairy of Valor. I liked Gillian, but Cojocaru's Friday evening performance was my favorite of the run. I also saw the Saturday evening show. Cory was making a very good impression until it came time for the fish dives in the wedding scene. The first two were awkward but not terrible. When Paloma came out of the second fish dive she lost her footing slightly. On the the third fish dive, Cory pretty much lost control of her, and he had to use his right arm (the free arm) to steady Paloma and get her into a less awkward position. Neither of them looked too happy after that. Up until that point, Cory was doing pretty well. He was dancing big, with very high jumps. In the past he has tended to run out of energy by the end of his variations, but not last night. He was also doing well in partnering Paloma until the fish dives. Paloma's performance didn't have much nuance, but it was technically very good.

#87 vipa

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 03:48 PM

Her Act III variation was exactly as it was meant to be in the drama: a seamless integration of the virtues with which she was blessed at her baptism. It doesn't get any better than that.


What a lovely point Helene.

Cojocaru is in a class by herself, at the moment. The details, nuances and use of technique for characterization are amazing. Someone in the company said that her interactions with others on stage are without equal.

#88 bingham

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 05:42 PM

Part was an excellent Lilac Fairy - one of her best roles. Also I need to mention how much I liked Boylston as the Fairy of Valor. I liked Gillian, but Cojocaru's Friday evening performance was my favorite of the run. I also saw the Saturday evening show. Cory was making a very good impression until it came time for the fish dives in the wedding scene. The first two were awkward but not terrible. When Paloma came out of the second fish dive she lost her footing slightly. On the the third fish dive, Cory pretty much lost control of her, and he had to use his right arm (the free arm) to steady Paloma and get her into a less awkward position. Neither of them looked too happy after that. Up until that point, Cory was doing pretty well. He was dancing big, with very high jumps. In the past he has tended to run out of energy by the end of his variations, but not last night. He was also doing well in partnering Paloma until the fish dives. Paloma's performance didn't have much nuance, but it was technically very good.


He did very well on the fish dives last Wednesday matinee with X Reyes.

#89 vipa

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 05:46 PM


Part was an excellent Lilac Fairy - one of her best roles. Also I need to mention how much I liked Boylston as the Fairy of Valor. I liked Gillian, but Cojocaru's Friday evening performance was my favorite of the run. I also saw the Saturday evening show. Cory was making a very good impression until it came time for the fish dives in the wedding scene. The first two were awkward but not terrible. When Paloma came out of the second fish dive she lost her footing slightly. On the the third fish dive, Cory pretty much lost control of her, and he had to use his right arm (the free arm) to steady Paloma and get her into a less awkward position. Neither of them looked too happy after that. Up until that point, Cory was doing pretty well. He was dancing big, with very high jumps. In the past he has tended to run out of energy by the end of his variations, but not last night. He was also doing well in partnering Paloma until the fish dives. Paloma's performance didn't have much nuance, but it was technically very good.


He did very well on the fish dives last Wednesday matinee with X Reyes.


How was Reyes? I have very much enjoyed her in performances
, but I never buy a ticket on the fact that she is cast in something. I don't seek her or avoid her, but when I get her I am pleasantly surprised.

#90 bingham

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 06:38 PM

How was Reyes? I have very much enjoyed her in performances
, but I never buy a ticket on the fact that she is cast in something. I don't seek her or avoid her, but when I get her I am pleasantly surprised.

I thought her Rose Adagio was tentative but she was lovely in the Vision scene(esp her solo variation) and the Wedding PDD. I also enjoyed the Bluebird PDD of Yuriko and especially Jared M.


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