Jump to content


Swan LakeA week of swans


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 Eileen

Eileen

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 15 September 2011 - 06:06 AM

I looked forward to Tess Reichlen as Odette-Odile, but found that I was strangely unmoved by her, despite her superb technical skills. She has an impassivity that it is hard to get past. As Odette, this was sufficient. But as Odile, she did not seduce, she had no secret triumph as she wove the prince in her web, I didn't feel she was the creature of Rothbart. As Rothbart, Ask La Cour didn't register either. He was too emotionally distant, without the acting, the showmanship, that Albert Evans has in spades. La Cour swept his orange cape and that was all. Perhaps his slim frame doesn't impose itself on the scene so as to give the illusion of evil power. The best in the cast was Tyler Angle, who displayed ardency toward Odette, and his solos showed a danseur noble at his peak of power.

I think Tess has impressed me last season because I saw her in roles like Four Temperments and Antique Epigraphs, where impassivity is an asset. I don't think she has the temperment for Swan Lake, though she has ample, beautiful technique. I hope Sara Mearns will return in Swan Lake next year, I'd sit through all the divertissements to see her.

So the true star of Swan Lake Wednesday night was the corps de ballet, especially the set pieces of swans on the floor in a circle, and the final scene where they close in on Odette, forming an impenetrable cordon around her. Tyler Angle falls to the floor in the effective pose of grief that reminded me of the close of Giselle.

The divertissements: Let me mention that in Hungarian, my favorite Georgina seemed overshadowed by her costume and all the swirling and jumping around her. I don't think this is a great role for her, it doesn't give her a chance to display her personality. In Russian, I was very impressed with Rebecca Krohn, who has a sinuous form to suit the music. Ana Sophia Scheller and Erica Pereira were superb in the Pas de Quatre. As for the Jester, I've said before last season that Daniel Ullbricht has the pizzazz and shamelessness you need in this role. It's not enough to do the steps. That's just the beginning. You have to live the role, be a buffoon, without holding back and without embarrassment. That's what I missed in Hendrickson. He did not project buffoonery.

As for the production, the first act with its color-coded costumes (each group has its color) did not offend me and seemed appropriate. Per Kirkby's backdrops are ugly, but I have gotten used to them. Alastair Macaulay blasted the production. True, the Elizabethan costumes in the last act were anachronistic and they must have cost a great deal.

#2 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,664 posts

Posted 15 September 2011 - 06:26 AM

I attended the performances on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. I was very disappointed with Bouder's performance. There is a very negative review in today's NY Times of the Tuesday night performance, and I agree with it completely (except I would not refer to La Bouder as a hornet!). Bouder lacked fluidity, and therefore none of the iconic poses of Odette made an impression. Her phrasing was choppy. In part, I will blame the conductor, who seems to be in a hurry to get home. Bouder is a technical whiz, but that's just not enough to tell the story here. She was more at home and more believable in the Black Swan act, where she did nail all the demanding technical challenges. Her over the top grin throughout the Black act became annoying. Veyette was fine, although he tends to land every jump with a thud. Huxley was in marvelous form as Benno. The real stars of the evening were Ulbricht as the Jester, and the dancers of the Pas De Quartre (DeLuz, Peck, A Staford, M. Fairchild). NYCB is lucky to have DeLuz. He makes terribly difficult choreography look so easy. Usually I don't pay much attention to character actors at NYCB, but G. Mueller was particulary bad as the Queen Mother. Her mime was so over emphatic that it looked cartoonish.

No time to post my comments on Tess right now, but I thought she showed significant improvement over last year's debut.

I sure hope that Sara Mearns' part in Ocean Kingdom is substantial. It's almost criminal that she is not doing Swan Lake.

#3 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 997 posts

Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:46 PM

I saw opening night with Bouder & Veyette. As much as I love La Bouder and as often as I've disagreed with Macaulay's writing - if I'd written his opening night review it would have been even harsher.

I know Bouder isn't an adagio dancer but her approach to Odette - in purely dance terms, and in terms of her musicality and interpretation - was completely unfathomable to me.

For starters she managed to make Ivanov's beautiful choreography look awkward and unmusical. Can you imagine watching someone "punch out" the entire first lakeside scene?

But equally disturbing is the fact that her Odette was not the least bit emotionally engaging. At least not to me. Macaulay likened her to a hornet. I think a wasp is more like it. There was not one iota of vulnerability or sorrow or pathos to be found. Nor was she a regal Odette. She seemed like a pissed off Odette. I can't imagine why the prince fell in love with her and I couldn't have cared less about her plight.

What about the rest of the cast and the production in general? I find the first act of Martin's Swan Lake so appalling that I'm used to gritting my teeth and waiting for Odette's entrance. This time it brought no relief. I enjoyed parts of the 3rd act - especially the pas de Quatre, Lowrey's Hungarian and the Somogyi/Askagard Russian Dance. And Ubricht's Jester is always a highlight - it's so over the top it suits this production perfectly.

Bouder's Odile was a killer but at that point - who cares? If all Swan Lake amounts to is an excuse for some flashy dancing in the ballroom scene it makes for a very boring evening.

That was a terrible way to start the season; I'm ready for some Balanchine now!

#4 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 16 September 2011 - 10:39 AM

The Martins Swan Lake happens to be a rare, relatively new NYCB production that I HAVE actually seen. (Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty are the others.)

Every review I've read over the years has tended to analyse these NYCB versions of the "classics" by breaking them down into this or that element that the reviewer can't stand, or that element that he/she actually admires (more or less). No one seems to be able to experience them as wholly satisfying -- or, indeed, as uniformly ANYTHING.

Given the nature of Martin's Swan Lake, I wonder whether ANY dancer could turn this composition into something genuinely moving and transcendent.

Macaulay ends his detailed review with the following comment:

Mr. Martins is one of many choreographres today who often revive their productions without making any alterations. Does he really think this "Swan Lake" is good enough for his audience?

That's a question worth thinking about. I would add a related question: Does he really think that this "Swan Lake" is good enough for his dancers?

#5 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,296 posts

Posted 16 September 2011 - 11:14 AM

I see that Bouder's getting another crack at the lead roles tomorrow afternoon. I wonder if she'll adjust her approach to Odette. She wouldn't seem like a natural for that role, but then she drew raves in Emeralds. If she could be lyrical there . . .

#6 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,664 posts

Posted 16 September 2011 - 11:27 AM

Given the nature of Martin's Swan Lake, I wonder whether ANY dancer could turn this composition into something genuinely moving and transcendent.


Yes, this flawed and hideous production can be transcendant with the right dancers. Sara Mearns accomplished this.

#7 Eileen

Eileen

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 16 September 2011 - 11:28 AM

I wanted to mention that Peter Martins's choreography in large scenes, moving many dancers around, was excellent. The children were a charming touch, especially the tiny little girl leading the procession. And they were joined by little boy cavaliers. I think when Peter Martins has a story to anchor his choreography, he rises to the occasion. The costumes are beside the point. The dancing is the central element, and Martins did a superb job in my opinion.

#8 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 16 September 2011 - 12:50 PM

Bouder got respectful reviews for her Giselle in Rome a year or so ago, though it was mentioned that she was dancing against type.

#9 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 16 September 2011 - 08:56 PM

Without a Mearns O/O, I opted to avoid this production this year, but that won't stop me from voicing opinions about some to these comments. :devil:

I think when Peter Martins has a story to anchor his choreography, he rises to the occasion.

Sometimes, perhaps, but I don't think he succeeded here. For one thing, he seems to have been unable to decide whether he wanted to stress the narrative or to make it an abstract ballet. The costumes (which are not as important as the choreography, but they give clues as to what we are seeing) of Act I tell us, "These dancers in (ugly) 20th or 21st Century dance costumes are not in some distant time and place." But the inclusion of a jester argues, "This is a ballet about Medieval royals." Obviously, any four-act staging of Swan Lake will have some story, but I would suggest to Mr. Martins to decide, before he starts to stage his next story ballet, he make a firm decision about whether he wants to tell the story or just gloss over it in favor of eloquent choreography for choreography's sake. Well, it may be too late for his next story ballet, as that one opens next week. Maybe the one after that.

Bouder got respectful reviews for her Giselle in Rome a year or so ago, though it was mentioned that she was dancing against type.

Bouder did an amazing Vision Scene in Sleeping Beauty a couple of years ago, where she seemed to dematerialize in front of us. If ever there was a dancer unlikely to dematerialize, it might be Bouder, but she did it, giving a very moving and lyrical reading of the choreography. I remember an early O/O she did -- perhaps her first or second in this production -- and she was a very affecting Odette. The role is not beyond her. But tonight she debuted in the Choleric variation of The Four Temperaments, and from what I gather from what I've heard about her Tuesday night performance, Choleric may have just taken over her body a few days before schedule.

#10 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,664 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 06:12 AM

I saw Bouder last night in Choleric. She was fantastic.

#11 Eileen

Eileen

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 08:07 AM

Without a Mearns O/O, I opted to avoid this production this year, but that won't stop me from voicing opinions about some to these comments. :devil:

I think when Peter Martins has a story to anchor his choreography, he rises to the occasion.

Sometimes, perhaps, but I don't think he succeeded here. For one thing, he seems to have been unable to decide whether he wanted to stress the narrative or to make it an abstract ballet. The costumes (which are not as important as the choreography, but they give clues as to what we are seeing) of Act I tell us, "These dancers in (ugly) 20th or 21st Century dance costumes are not in some distant time and place." But the inclusion of a jester argues, "This is a ballet about Medieval royals." Obviously, any four-act staging of Swan Lake will have some story, but I would suggest to Mr. Martins to decide, before he starts to stage his next story ballet, he make a firm decision about whether he wants to tell the story or just gloss over it in favor of eloquent choreography for choreography's sake. Well, it may be too late for his next story ballet, as that one opens next week. Maybe the one after that.

Bouder got respectful reviews for her Giselle in Rome a year or so ago, though it was mentioned that she was dancing against type.

Bouder did an amazing Vision Scene in Sleeping Beauty a couple of years ago, where she seemed to dematerialize in front of us. If ever there was a dancer unlikely to dematerialize, it might be Bouder, but she did it, giving a very moving and lyrical reading of the choreography. I remember an early O/O she did -- perhaps her first or second in this production -- and she was a very affecting Odette. The role is not beyond her. But tonight she debuted in the Choleric variation of The Four Temperaments, and from what I gather from what I've heard about her Tuesday night performance, Choleric may have just taken over her body a few days before schedule.


What does O/O stand for? Abatt, you've given good advice. A project needs to be planned, any project, so it is internally consistent.

#12 Rosa

Rosa

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 422 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 09:51 AM

O/O is short for Odette/Odile.

#13 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,664 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 05:09 PM

For those in need a glimpse of Sara Mearns in Swan Lake, check out Sunday Arts tomorrow on public television. (Channel 13 at noon in New York City). I saw a commercial today which previews tomorrow's episode, which focuses on NYCB and SAB. They will show clips of Mearns in Swan Lake, and they will interview her.

#14 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,296 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 05:40 PM

For those in need a glimpse of Sara Mearns in Swan Lake, check out Sunday Arts tomorrow on public television. (Channel 13 at noon in New York City). I saw a commercial today which previews tomorrow's episode, which focuses on NYCB and SAB. They will show clips of Mearns in Swan Lake, and they will interview her.

Thanks, abatt. Those of us unable to watch on the tube should eventually be able to see it online here. I can't wait!

#15 Eileen

Eileen

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 10:19 PM

Wow, thanks for the link kfw! I don't have a TV and anyway will be traveling. I never knew you could watch episiodes of PBS on their website.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):