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Eileen

Swan Lake

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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 . . .

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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I attended the Saturday night performance. This is the first non-ABT production I have seen of Swan Lake. It was interesting to make the comparison between the two productions.

First, I did not like the scenery or the costumes. There was nothing palace-like about the sets in Act I and Act III and Siegfried's costume did not really make him stand out from the others as "The Prince". In Act II and IV, I questioned why only Odette was wearing a tutu. And believe it or not, I did miss Swamp Thing!

Now, Odette/Odile. Bear in mind, these have been the previous Odettes/Odiles that I have seen: Veronika Part, Diana Vishneva, Nina Ananiashvili, Irina Dvorovenko, and Polina Semenova. Obviously, Theresa Reichlen is the first American (and first non-Russian/Georgian/Ukrainian) I have seen in the part. Technically, she was outstanding. Her acting was okay. In some parts, she was emotional and in other parts she had a very blank look on her face. A lot of her moves, she did not finish off and part of that I think was due to the lightning-fast pace that the music was played at sometimes. I wish some of her positions and moves she would have held longer or finished off better.

Tyler Angle was good, but nothing outstanding. Like Reichlen, he was technically good, but seemed to be lacking in the acting and command of the stage. I did not really feel the chemistry between the two leads.

I enjoyed the character dances of the Third Act as well as the pas de quatre, which is left out of the ABT production. The whole corps was outstanding and so many times in perfect unison.

Overall. I am happy that I got the chance to see this production. I missed a lot of the drama of the ABT production.

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Thank you, Ceeszi. It's good to get the perspective of someone new to the NYCB version but familiar with ABT's .I love reading comparisons like that.

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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.

What a fine 15 minutes this turned out to be, with brief clips of Mearns in Diamonds and Vienna Waltzes, longer clips of her in Swan Lake, and lots of interview material. See it here at about the 9:35 mark. Martins and Macaulay speak as well.

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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.

What a fine 15 minutes this turned out to be, with brief clips of Mearns in Diamonds and Vienna Waltzes, longer clips of her in Swan Lake, and lots of interview material. See it here at about the 9:35 mark. Martins and Macaulay speak as well.

Thank you so much for posting!

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Sara Mearns made me cry in June during her solo in "Emeralds". She was so lovely!!!

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I have seen Swan Lake live close to 40 times, but I’ve only seen Peter Martins’ version of the classic ballet once. I was so disappointed when I saw Martins’ production of Swan Lake in 1999 that I vowed to never see it again. This year, however, I decided to give New York City Ballet’s Swan Lake another chance.

New York City Ballet’s Swan Lake is better than what I remembered from 1999. There is, of course, the glorious Tchaikovsky score, which is played flawlessly by the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Unlike American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake, Peter Martins’ version contains a more complete Act IV. The audience gets to see the depth of Odette’s grief over Siegfried’s betrayal. The ensemble dances for the children in Act I and the swans in Act II and IV fit Tchaikovsky’s music perfectly.

There are, however, problems with New York City Ballet’s Swan Lake. Martins’ Act I contains very weak choreography. Except for the movements made for the children and the jester, it is devoid of any charm or life. Also the Act I pas de trois falls flat due not only to anemic choreography, but lackluster dancing as well.

Some choreography necessary to the storyline is missing from Martins’ Swan Lake. For example, when Odette first meets Siegfried, she fails to mime her story to him. If Siegfried lacks this information, then the rest of his actions make little dramatic sense. The ending of the ballet is not at all satisfying. Since the force of Odette and Siegfried’s love defeats von Rothbart, why is his spell over the Swan Queen not broken? Why aren’t Odette and her swans returned to their human forms? As well, a Swan Lake which ends without uniting the two lovers (at least in the afterworld) seems hollow.

The abstract scenery by Per Kirkelby does little to embellish the drama of Swan Lake. Most of the costumes (also by Kirkelby) are garish and off putting.

In the dual role of Odette/Odile, Sterling Hyltin shows a good deal of promise. As the Swan Queen there is a lovely lyrical flow to Hyltin’s dancing. Her birdlike arms as well as the gorgeous use of her hands convey Odette’s swan nature. However, her characterization of the Swan Queen needs more depth of feeling. I was not as moved by Hyltin’s Odette as I have been by the performances of ballerinas such as Polina Semionova and Gillian Murphy. Hyltin’s portrayal of the Swan Queen is strongest in Act IV. Her grief stricken white swan in this last act is heartbreakingly poignant.

Hyltin’s Odile is ultimately a disappointment. She begins the black swan pas de deux in a gleefully evil mode, promising to seduce Siegfried so thoroughly that he’ll forget Odette ever existed. Unfortunately, Hyltin falls short in the coda of the black swan pas de deux. She only does 7 or 8 fouettes, then finishes by doing a series of fast circular turns. By not completing the 32 fouettes, Hyltin’s Odile does not “seal the deal” (a phrase used by Gillian Murphy to describe her 2004 Odile taped at Kennedy Center) with regard to Siegfried’s seduction.

Jonathan Stafford is a believably tender Prince Siegfried. His dancing is academically correct, but lacks fire. More importantly, as compared to ABT’s Siegfrieds such as Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg and Jose Manuel Carreno, Stafford fails to take command of the stage. His Prince is missing both authority and charisma.

Other dancers stand out as well. As the jester, Troy Schumacher is all boundless energy and incredible leaps and turns. In the pas de quatre in Act III, Chase Finlay dances with an easy and unforced elegance. Finlay executes beautiful air turns with clean soft landings and has a real command of the stage.

In spite of this ballet’s weaknesses, it was an enjoyable afternoon at the ballet. I only wish Peter Martins’ Swan Lake had as strong a production as his Sleeping Beauty.

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On the subtopic of the Channel 13 show:

Wow! I'm impressed by the piece ... and even more by Mearns, who commands your attention as a talking head almost as powerfully as she does when dancing. I love the atypical body type -- the solid torso, strong legs -- and by what she does with it. I'm also impressed by the way she speaks -- from the deep (adult rather than girlish) voice to her thoughtfulness and ability to reflect on what she wants to say. Martins says, in another context: "Dancers are very mature at an early age." Mearns is certainly an example of this. Those of you who have been around to watch her progress -- and have a chance to see where it goes on an almost daily basis -- are fortunate.

Two questions:

1) At her home school, she seems to have gone on point very early. In thinking of that astonishing childhood Odette. (The way she throws herself into the backward swoon :flowers:) Is this earlier than the norm?

2) It was interesting that, when she returned to take class at SAB, she joined a boy's class. Is there any significance to this, do you think? Or might it just have been a question of what was available at the time?

OFF TOPIC. I couldn't understand everything Macaulay said. For someone who writes so precisely and clearly, he slurs his words more than most.

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When I made my comparisons between ABT and Saturday night's NYCB version, I forgot to add that NYCB's solo violinist did not hit one screechy note during the Adagio. I don't know what was up with the ABT violinist during the Spring Season. The Opening Night Gala was embarrassing, the Dvorovenko/Carreno night was a little better (but still not good) and the Semenova/Gomes version was a little better than that.

The NYCB orchestra was flawless. I just objected to the fast pace that the conductor took during some parts of the music.

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I sort of enjoyed Rothbart's "Go on, Get out of Town!" reaction to to Siegfried's earnest attempts to swear eternal love to Odile, but more the most part I was just dumbfounded by the whole production. It reminded me of when post modern Hollywood takes on a classic adventure legend and can't help poking fun at itself in the process. Truly the strangest production ever (although i never Vasiliev's Odile-less production).

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By not completing the 32 fouettes, Hyltin’s Odile does not “seal the deal”

Ah, I like that..! :lightbulb: I'll make sure I remember this phrase for future discussions on "Pas de Rigueur"..

Anyway...sorry for being :off topic: , so back to SL...

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