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ABT at Auditorium Theatre Chicago, March 22-25


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#1 trieste

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:22 PM

Forgive me if there's already a topic for this (feel free to move/delete), but somehow I just now learned about the Giselle run. The casts look fantastic...


Thurs., March 22
Julie Kent
Marcelo Gomes
Veronika Part

Fri., March 23
Xiomara Reyes
Herman Cornejo
Simone Messmer

Sat., March 24 Matinee
Paloma Herrera
Cory Stearns
Stella Abrera

Sat., March 24 Evening
Natalia Osipova
David Hallberg
Veronika Part

Sun., March 25 mat
Yuriko Kajiya
Jared Matthews
Devon Teuscher


I'm a bit torn between the Kent/Gomes and Osipova/Hallberg, but my schedule, finances, and preferences are leaning toward only being able to catch Osipova/Hallberg. It's between tickets and buying a long overdue TV, and I've chosen tickets, of course... Any thoughts? Also, any other Chicagoans planning on attending?

Off topic, I know, but the Paris Opera Ballet will be in Chicago in June, performing Giselle and a mixed rep... A bit redundant, but of course I can't complain! Still, I wish they would perhaps do Sleeping Beauty instead.

#2 mussel

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:00 PM

I am a contrarian, if I were in your shoes, I'd pick Kent. There will be plenty of opportunity to see Osipova, her career with ABT is just starting. So catch Kent's Giselle while you can.

#3 Drew

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 11:07 PM

I'm not a Chicagoan but hope to attend some of these performances. If I had to choose between Kent-Gomez and Osipova-Hallberg, I would choose Osipova/Halberg--not just for her, but for him and for the partnership which they unfortunately do not have that many chances to develop now that she has left the Bolshoi. (For ABT's NY season, I believe they are scheduled to dance together twice.)

In theory what Mussel says is correct, but whenever I have thought I had "plenty of opportunity" to see a great dancer, those opportunities ran into everything from geographical changes (mine or the dancer's), health problems (mine or the dancer's), and plain old bad luck (mine or the...well, you get the picture). I would add that there is no guarantee that Osipova or Hallberg will continue to appear with ABT on tour in Chicago: they are not company 'regulars.' In New York perhaps one might be more blasé...

Basically, when I believe someone to be a great or historic dancer I take every chance I can to see them and I have never regretted that approach. I made a special trip to see what must have been one of Cojocaru's last Auroras before her neck injury--this, when she was still plenty young and I had no idea she would suffer anything like a "broken neck"--and although I have since seen her dance the role ravishingly twice, never with the same preternatural ease at every moment or unbelievably brilliant and classically 'finished' fish dives.

(Of course, Kent, as you know, is a very lovely ballerina and presumably nearing retirement: I have not seen her Giselle, but remember reading raves on this board for a performance she danced in D.C. a number of years back. Gomez obviously is a huge favorite of pretty much everyone who sees him...so I don't think you will regret your decision either way.)

Oh...another question for Chicagoans: The nearest hotels to the auditorium theater are either reportedly pretty bad (as in not clean) or involved in labor disputes or both, but there are some I would be happy to stay at that are listed an official 4-5 minute walk away (at my pace probably more like an 8-10 minute walk). Will that be reasonably safe for a woman alone at 10:30 pm on a weekend? Are there people around on the streets in that area etc.?

#4 trieste

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:21 AM

Both good points, but... Personally, what I've always found remarkable in Kent from videos has been her fluidity (her back melts!) and her musical use of it...which isn't something showcased in Giselle's choreo. If it was Beauty or Swan Lake there would be no contest, but the appeal of the Osipova/Hallberg cast lies in the excitement and the pitch perfect casting. Not to mention their chemistry, of which I've heard much but sadly seen none! Osipova has that wonderfully grounded, realist aura to her -- I feel more apt to believe her as Giselle than Kent, which is not a matter of technique or acting so much as aura and approach.

In some ways I find Hallberg to be almost her opposite -- refinement and beauty in spades. Not that Osipova lacks these, but her 'stand out' traits lie in other realms. For me, this dynamic serves the spirit of Giselle obscenely well. All too often I feel Giselle is a stray swan who is on her way back to the lake after partying with the wilis...and not for any dancer's lack so much as the currect ideal physique and stage presence being so....swannish!

And Drew, that area is generally referred to as 'the Loop' and is Chicago's hub -- overall, very safe, with plenty of shopping and restaurants and venues and sights to see. In pleasant spring weather, expect lively hustle and bustle. Chicago loves spring. I wouldn't hesitate to walk around or take public transit alone in that area. My one recommendation is to stay closer to the lake and the further north you go, the better. Avoid the west loop area. For street name reference, I'd look at a grid north of Balbo, east of LaSalle, and south of Wacker. You'll be right by the Art Institute the Joffrey building, as well as several college campus buildings. Hopefully this gives you a feel for the area! Of course, you could also stay near the Magnificent Mile, which is just a few L stops away and just as tourist friendly, if not more. I have a feeling there might be more hotels that way. If you have any other questions I'd be more than happy to help. :)

#5 Drew

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 01:33 AM

Thank you Trieste--that's very helpful. Both hotels I'm currently considering fall within the grid you describe...

#6 spinning2night

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:29 PM

i used to be in the Chicago-land area for college, but have since moved. when ABT announced the Giselle run over a year ago, I was still in the area and had hoped that at this point in time I'd be able to make a return trip to see the ballet. I have yet to see Giselle (EVER! dont' ask me how that happened), but I had discussed going with my friend about going to the Osipova/Hallberg casting (back when Gillian was slated to dance Myrta...talk about DREAM casting), unfortunately, a lot changes in a few months and I won't be able to make it back.
My logic for Osipova/Hallberg was that both dancers are approaching/at the height of their careers and for some reason even though they seem to be opposites, the results they've produced as a partnership have been awe-inspiring. The last time they dance Giselle together was when Natalia first started guesting with ABT was the reviews were largely positive. Since then their partnership has continued to develop, and I would personally jump at a chance to see them live.

also, as a side note - Drew you should be fine leaving the Roosevelt theatre after the ballet by yourself. I've left shows/concerts as late as 11:30pm before...usually I'm with one of my friends, but we're all only about 5' - 5'2" (100-120 lbs) college girls, and we've never encountered any problems...as long as you leave when the rest of the crowd does, you really won't be walking anywhere entirely by yourself since the theatre is in the close enough to an El (Chicago's train/subway) stop and there will be people headed in those directions. And even if not, you won't be walking for a long time in the dark. But like every city, just be aware of your surroundings!

#7 Drew

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:55 PM

Spinning2night: sorry you won't be able to make ABT this year. And Giselle in the theater still awaits you! Osipova and Hallberg have (I believe) danced Giselle at least twice with the Bolshoi since her ABT debut. Once when he was a guest artist and once since he joined the company officially...Various excerpts have been posted on youtube...Not sure if there have been other performances...but I think we can expect these artists to be developing and deepening their interpretation. (I thought it was already fantastic at Osipova's ABT debut which I was very, very lucky to have seen; some agreed with me, but others were more skeptical.)

#8 angelica

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:31 PM

Veronika Part is a sensational Myrtha. It's one of her signature roles. She will be exquisite with the Osipova/Hallberg casting.

#9 miliosr

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 06:16 PM

Just got back from seeing the Herrera/Stearns/Abrera cast this afternoon and was surprised to find no reviews from the Thursday and Friday night shows. Are there no Ballet Talkers in Chicago?

In any event, I will write-up the Saturday afternoon show when I'm less tired. But, as a taster, I'll tell you that this afternoon's performance was the best I've ever seen ABT look.

#10 spinning2night

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 09:32 PM

Just got back from seeing the Herrera/Stearns/Abrera cast this afternoon and was surprised to find no reviews from the Thursday and Friday night shows. Are there no Ballet Talkers in Chicago?

In any event, I will write-up the Saturday afternoon show when I'm less tired. But, as a taster, I'll tell you that this afternoon's performance was the best I've ever seen ABT look.


please do share! I can't wait to hear about everyone's Giselle experiences...
especially Sat evening!

#11 miliosr

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 04:38 AM

03/24/12 - 2:00PM Show

Giselle -- Paloma Herrera
Albrecht -- Cory Stearns
Myrta -- Stella Abrera
Hilarion -- Patrick Ogle
Peasant Pas -- Misty Copeland, Craig Salstein

Yesterday was my first time at the Roosevelt Auditorium and, I must say, I much preferred it to the Opera House. The Roosevelt has a cozy intimacy which was delightful.

I couldn't tell how full the balcony was but I would say that the orchestra section was about 85% full.

All in all, I thought the company looked the best I have ever seen them look (going back to 2004) -- they actually looked like a unified company instead of a collective of itinerant stars holding forth in the grand manner in front of bored corps members.

I had seen Paloma Herrera as Giselle back in 2005, when she was partnered with Marcelo Gomes. Then, she made no impression at all in the role as Gomes so completely dominated (or overdominated) stage events that he left her in the shade. (This is more a positive reflection on his incredible charisma than a reflection on her.) Yesterday, I thought her characterization was much stronger than in 2005, and she remains a technical marvel. For a woman in her mid-30s, she displayed no obvious weakness in technique. That being said, she didn't leave me with a feeling that I had been transported by her performance. Truth be told, I'm hard-pressed to remember a single "afterimage" of her as Giselle. She dances with great competence but not great transcendence. I was left with the thought that she is a great utility dancer . . . but not a great ballerina (or, at least, a great ballerina in this part.)

Cory Stearns was tremendous as Albrecht. I know some on this board have questioned his promotion to principal but he was rock solid yesterday. His technique was very good two years ago (in Swan Lake) but he has improved immeasurably since then -- nothing looked beyond him and his stamina held up across both acts. His acting has also improved since 2010. He was able to sustain a nuanced characterization throughout the entire performance. And those killer cheekbones of his only aid his cause.

Stella Abrera was also outstanding as Myrta. You would never know she had injuries from her performance yesterday. She is a formidable technician but also deliciously cold and imposing as Myrta. What really struck me about her performance was how commanding she was in moments when she wasn't doing anything. Often times, I found my eye drifting from Herrera dancing to Abrera in silent repose.

Patrick Ogle was Hilarion and, as best I can remember, this is the first time I have seen him in a position of true responsibility. The Kremlinologist in me wonders if some of the prior candidates for promotion were wash-outs so now they are testing other candidates. In any event, he seized the opportunity with gutso and tore into the part of Hilarion like a starving dog ripping into raw meat. What really helped was that his somewhat "rough" good looks contrasted perfectly with Stearns' more conventional handsomeness. The contrast brought out a class conflict between the two male leads which settled nicely on top of the obvious romantic conflict.

Misty Copeland and Craig Salstein danced the Peasant Pas. Her technique is superlative -- almost too much so. Someone should tell her that, just because you can touch your knee to your forehead, doesn't mean you should. Nevertheless, she was delightful and the powers-that-be should give her the chance to dance Giselle -- she's earned the right to try.

Salstein is a born showman and a better technician than I thought. He's somewhat cursed by the dance Gods because his body type works against him at times. What is classically adept looks slightly less so because of his physique. Still, he sold the Peasant Pas with gusto.

Ripping the female corps at ABT is a favorite pastime here at Ballet Talk but yesterday afternoon they were superlative. They breathed and danced as one woman in Act II. I found myself marveling at their precision and wondering who drilled them to such great effect.

The production (sets, costumes) itself is beautiful, and is far and away the best of ABT's "Big Three" (Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.)

The orchestra's playing was lovely although there were a few moments where the conductor must have forgotten that he was in Chicago, Illinois instead of Bayreuth, Illinois.

All told, it was a fine performance. The kicker was, as I was walking to the train station after the show, who should be walking toward me? None other than Marcelo Gomes himself, who looked me dead in the eyes with that great charisma of his. It was like being punched in the face . . . in a good way! The perfect capper to a perfect day at the ballet.

Overall grade: A-

#12 trieste

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 06:24 AM

To follow that up, there are my thoughts on last night's show... (Osipova, Hallberg, Part)

I am going to start this with Veronika Part, so I can effuse and move on. I had seen clips of her, of course, and seen something in her...but not what I saw last night. She was the dancer I left the theatre wishing I could see more of. Her hands, arms, shoulders and back were on the same level of beauty as Hallberg's legs. Sometimes Myrtha's mime seems vague, unrelated to the actions of the wilis, of Giselle and Albrecht. Part and Myrtha owned the stage. Everything happened because of her. Her presence is absolutely regal, and I was a bit too far back to really see faces but everything I saw in her was beautiful. Chills and gasps worthy. I was the only one in my group to be really awestruck by her (and the only ballet enthusiast, I might add), and I felt myself being 'that guy' during her curtain call...which I found baffling. Did no one else see not just a good secondary character, but something truly majestic? My god, she was good.

Now I'll talk about Sascha Radetsky as Hilarion. What dancing he did was very good, but... His characterization was smarmy. Slimy. Thuggish. A bit like a more simpering, boyish Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. You never for a moment felt he was a rival to Albrecht, but more of a jerk intent on spoiling everyone's fun. He slouched and stalked around the stage, and his flowers for Giselle -- any affection really, seemed so much the afterthought of a man who loves hunting and aristocrat hating much more than her. He didn't seem to feel anything but wicked joy when blowing the horn. It was a one dimensional, rather offputting performance that made him more of a scrappy secondary villain to Myrtha than anything good. During curtain calls, he stood back almost defiantly -- even when the director tried to take his hand and pull him up with the other, more gracious cast members of the night. He pulled away and stepped back outright. One was left with the impression that he was unhappy with the night overall. Odd.

In Act One, Hallberg was a naive noble, sweet and sincere but oblivious and a bit pompous. This changed. He didn't just act out the drama, he inhabited the character and reacted and grew and, yes, developed. It was a remarkable thing to watch, and it never once seemed disharmonious with those around him or isolated from the drama as a whole. His Albrecht learned. As for his dancing...well, I liked the part where he danced. Just seeing him walk is a pleasure, let alone launch himself about in those great slow motion archs. Everything he does, he was born to do. One particular highlight was his act 2 entrechats -- first he worked us all to furious applause, sustained this remarkable level of bouyancy...and then, unbelieveably, he 'kicked it up a notch', playing to the audience, taking that surge of energy and running with it. Jaws dropped. After the show my friend, breathless and teary, kept repeating,"His legs! His jumps!" and the like, as in shock. A success!

Osipova's characterization of Giselle is wonderful. She is shy and weak, but she is also furtive and a little strange. Her coyness seems born of a nervous temperament. Her Giselle is the kind of girl who needs a safe, simple life, but what I loved is, her Giselle wasn't so patheticly aware of her own weaknesses. She didn't flip a switch from shy little peasant girl to madwoman -- the peasant girl was never quite right to begin with. Endearingly so, and it made the mad scene terribly believable. It wasn't 19th century theatrics or deliberate hysterics...it was the sad sight of a nervous young girl falling over the edge. And Hallberg's Albrecht seemed so taken aback and scared and bewildered by the consequences of his actions. Painful to watch, in the best of ways. The way he fawned over her body, clutched at her skirts, seemed rather like a child who knows no better begging the dead to come back.

In Act 2, Osipova turned cold and ethereal. She was no living presence, there was no chance of reconcilliation. A ghost with little but love left in her. She softened beautifully in Hallberg's arms. Early on her arabesque turns were alarmingly fast and sent the audience into frenzy. Like a spinning top in tulle. And always, the dance action seemed guided by Myrta's imperious presence. Part's Myrtha made me wonder how a man could spurn such a beautiful woman. Osipova's Giselle answered that it can happen to any woman.

In the peasant pdd, Sarah Lane danced well and her partner got the applause for elevation, despite a near complete absence of turnout and his habit of taking Sarah Lane of balance during every set of partnered turns... What made it more tragic was how good she was on her own. But as I said, the audience seemed to love him and like her.

The corps added flavor during act 1, but in act 2 they were beaufitul -- not an arm out of place. Act 2 was just full of gorgeous arms, haha.

There is more, there is always more, but it is too much. I'll end by saying it was very good and I am now a dedicated Veronika Part convert. Amen!

#13 spinning2night

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 12:33 PM

thank you so much for the reviews!!! when i was originally planning on returning to Chicago for the weekend a few months ago my friend and I had a length/intense debate on fb about which Saturday casting was more worth seeing. So while in the end, I had to miss the run all together, to hear that neither of you left disappointed is great! (especially, when the there has been so much worry about where ABT goes from here with all the changes in the last few years...and the impending ones too)

miliosr - first things first, i really enjoyed hearing that Cory has developed and becoming that principal dancer. While I have yet to see him in a leading role, my impression of him was always that he didn't have the greatest talent but worked really hard and was dependable. It's good to hear that since his promotion, his dancing has become more comfortable and that it seems like he's working less hard (granted, having ALL the principal roles thrown at him in one season was a bit much...) So happy to see that Paloma is still as good as she has been - even with her age - although is ABT ballerina's have shown us, age DOESN'T matter :) I ADORE Stella and I'm ecstatic to hear that she is finally past her injuries...a truly beautiful and underrated ballerina. It's always nice ot hear about up and coming dancer like Patrick. I think I thinkI saw him in ABT's mixed bill during their last visit to Chicago, and while i don't remeber the specifics, I enjoyed what he brought tot eh stage. Good to hear he's getting a chance to shine!
ps - would have either fainted or full out fangirl-ed had your Marcelo moment happened to me....AAHHHHHH!

trieste - so jealous that you got to see Osipova/Hallberg/Part cast. All three of them are incredible dancers who are constantly challenging and improving everything that they do...I've seen so many videos, but have yet to see them live (minus Hallberg's Bolshoi Sleeping Beauty - but it's just not the same...), but I can just imagine having my breath taken away. I'm sorry to hear that Sascha Radetsky performance didn't work out...I've seen him in several soloist/guest roles over the years. He's usually very good at what he does, but it does seem like he can have his on and off days (or even moments!) and sometimes isn't the most consistent with his dance style or characterization/acting.

But i think the best thing I've read from both of you is how good the corps was. I wonder what has changed over the years...perhaps its that more and more of the dancers are realized that while they may be the "support" in a ballet, ABT isn't just a bunch of stars with background dancers/ballerinas. Crossing my fingers that I get to see Giselle one day soon!

alright, i've stalled long enough from my real work. cheers!

#14 puppytreats

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:13 PM

!
ps - would have either fainted or full out fangirl-ed had your Marcelo moment happened to me....AAHHHHHH!



lol
would love to see this

#15 Drew

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:17 PM

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]I did get to Chicago for three ABT Giselles and I will say right off the bat that Osipova/Hallberg were well worth the trip--especially in view of some very fine dancing from ABT's corps mentioned above by Miliosr. Hallberg's dramatic qualities have grown so that they now infuse his beautiful classical form. His stage presence has become authoritative as well: of course he is so beautiful on stage he could almost get away without "presence," but he really fills the stage now. It is a huge privilege to see him develop as an artist (even the little I have had a chance to see him). [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Sat's Albrecht was considerably deeper emotionally than the one I saw him dance three years ago. And in Act I, one could scarcely tell whether Albrecht was more excited to see Giselle or Hallberg to see Osipova. Who can blame him? She dances like no-one I have ever seen (and I have been very fortunate in the dancers I have seen)--and like nothing I could even have imagined before I first saw her three years ago. And like a coloratura soprano of old she added her own complex 'decorations' to some of the ballets biggest moments (I describe the hops below). I understand that this may not be to everyone's taste; I loved it.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]I agree with the description of her characterization given above by Trieste--she is a creature 'apart' from the moment she appears: emotional, volatle, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes childlike, and sad almost to sulky, and whatever she does/feels always tending to dissolve upwards into the air. (Okay: that last phrase does not make much sense, but that's how she dances.) Her mad scene had the same volatile energy as her entire Act I. Hallberg's Albrecht seemed utterly enthralled by her every move and every expression, as she was, too, enthralled, by him, but perhaps with less full awareness of what it meant to be enthralled in just that way. At one point in the first dance they do with the ensemble of peasants, she looked up at him as they arrived downstage in front of the ensemble and it was if he had just touched her in some particular way (I may have missed exactly what Hallberg did) and her entire body responded as if burned or shot with electricity--she was startled, pained, baffled. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]I did not think they kept up the current of charged energy between them with 100 percent consistency throughout the Act, not at that level anyway (and in Act II I also thought the overhead lifts were just the barest hint cautious--he didn't fully extend his arms and he also let her down a hint earlier than I would have expected). I firmly believe this partnership has history written all over it: but they need to dance together more. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Hops across the stage in Giselle's solo? Huge (space covering hops), fast...then only at the end of the diagonal a turn/nod to Mother and a turn nod to Albrecth--that then became a three-hundred sixty degree turn while hopping on point (she had already covered most of the stage) and as she hop-turned, her arms overhead miming with her hands her love of dance...the solo concluding with the the brilliantly fast pique turns that most top-notch or even just plain very good Giselles dance brilliantly fast, but Osipova appears to dance faster still. [/font][/size]

But as thrilling as all this was, Act II was even more so. Hallberg and Osipova inhabit the haunting, ghostly love story with great though subdued tenderness. For the rest, the brilliance of Osipova's dancing is phenomenal. The whipping turns of her opening initiation, so fast one almost does not quite believe one's eyes, immediately followed by the series of assemblés crossing down stage, leaps that simply fly upwards into the air like nothing I have ever seen (except perhaps Osipova herself three years ago). The famous entrechats sequence similarly remarkable: someone on this board a few years ago said that when she does them--using the "Bolshoi" trick of slightly bending one knee so she appears to be jumping even higher--she looks as if she is rebounding off of a trampoline, and (I would add) all the while, she maintains the clarity and refinement in her feet that makes the passage beautiful. I have seen other ballerinas do the "Bolshoi" trick (including Herrera in the afternoon): none of the them look remotely like Osipova. In this ballet air is her element.

I am aware that Giselle is not "about" brilliance and Osipova seems to me almost (but not quite) blindingly brilliant in Act II even as she aligns her brilliance with the ballet's deep fountains of anger and forgiveness. But one way or another I am nothing if not grateful to have a chance to see dancing like this...

I am going to wrap up. I agree with Trieste that Part's powerful portrait of Myrtha does indeed make it seem as if she is the great conjurer of Act II--especially the opening. Of course, that is IN the choreography, but not every dancer makes that power her own. She was a touch insecure in her arabesques --unlike the preternaturally secure Abrera whose Myrtha that afternoon, while not nearly as powerful, included moments of such exquite lightness and beauty that I now join her fans in saying--for goodness's sake (or for ballet's sake) let her have another chance at dancing the lead as she was to have done before her injury. Similarly, Lane was excellent in the peasant pas de deux--the most polished technically and stylistically of the three women I saw in the role. Her partner, I agree too with Trieste, was not remotely at her level. Another highlight for me, though, was Boylston's Moyna--articulate, energetic dancing, eye-catching and lovely. For me, quite the best of the Moynas or Zulmas I saw over the course of three performances.

Perhaps I will say a little about the other performances I saw in another post. I know this has been a very long post. I, alas, did not see Gomez, in the street (or get to see him dance) during this trip but did see Hallberg on the street walking towards the theater on Saturday; he appeared to be talking on his cell phone. It was definitely a fun moment for me.


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