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2012 City Center SeasonOctober 16-20, 2012


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#121 DeCoster

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 05:06 PM

Last night was a really enjoyable performance for me. It's rare that I enjoy all three pieces in a mixed bill to this degree.

The Leaves are Fading is just such a beautiful, understated piece of choreography. I've seen it a few times in recent years, and I find some new aspects to appreciate each time. As far as dancing goes, Sarah Lane and Daniil were stand-outs for me. They seemed to relate really well, and they matched each others beautiful shoulder and head movements. Perhaps Lane's gorgeous fluidity, mature abandon, and controlled port de bras that reveal the stiltedness and hesitancy that sometimes afflicts Hee Seo. (Perhaps her segments have more difficult choreography. I'm not sure.) Also, (nitpicky here) I find Hee Seo's pointe-work to be a bit clod-hoppy. Perhaps her shoes need to be hard because her feet are so flexible, but she doesn't seem to roll through her foot easily like the other ABT women, and she makes quite a lot of noise. Still, Hee Seo and Roberto Bolle did make a ridiculously beautiful pair, and her lines in arabesque and a la seconde are wonderful to behold. This choreography really suited Bolle; I've never enjoyed him more onstage. (Would love to see Bolle and Kent together in Leaves.) Seo has also become more of an actress and excelled in the flirtatious moments. Some of the group parts were a little rough. Perhaps the dancers were so excited for the Ratmansky premiere, they lacked focus at moments. Daniil had a rough partnering moment with a taller dancer (Kristi Boone?) which was a bit humorous actually. Tudor created some challenges for a group of such divergent sizes, as they are required to switch partners quite a bit.

Symphony # 9. Wow. I lack the full vocabulary to describe what I saw last night, but if you enjoy Shostakovich and ballet, I can't imagine not being taken with what Ratmansky has done here. He seems to depict in dance many of the themes present in the music: humor, pathos, collectivism, and alienation. He chose a small corps of women, which allows Polina Seminova to stand out amongst them. She had some nervous balances in the beginning, but her and Marcelo were a sexy, exuberant pair, awesomely athletic and big in all their movements. Despite the top billing of Gomes and Seminova, Herman Cornejo stole the show with his virtuoso dancing. He also got the biggest crowd reaction. As I've come to enjoy with Ratmansky there is a lot of traditional ballet vocabulary performed in interesting ways. Herman is such a master of the petit allegro, and Ratmansky gives him lots to play with here. Simone Messmer and Craig Salstein had the other leading roles, and they just blew my mind. Messmer seems so perfect for this. I loved how she wore her short hair; she has what I would describe as a Kurt Weil quality to her, if that makes and sense. She tore into the choreography, as did Salstein. Messmer has quickly become one of my favorite dancers in the company, and this piece was a great vehicle for others. She is a compelling actress with really solid, gorgeous technique. Wowie zowie. How I wish I could see this again to describe it better! That's how much this piece pleased me. As for weirdness, there was some percussive slamming of the floor, but mostly it was beautiful 21st century ballet to Shostakovich Symphony #9. I was not crazy about the costumes, and I think they'll look dated in time (as the Leaves are Fading costumes do). But who cares; it was marvelous. I can't wait for the Spring, and I'm so happy this is happening in New York City and I get to live through it.

Rodeo was a lot of fun as expected. I just love the music, and I was feeling so happy after Symphony #9 and my glass of wine at intermission (where I spotted the beyond lovely Sara Mearns), feeling relaxed and ready to entertained. Craig Salstein hammed it up to no end. This was really a bid evening for him. The whole ensemble dance with great gusto and effort, and to me the orchestra sounded swell. I had spotted Isabella Boylston (she hopped out of her seat to applaud Symphony #9) earlier in the night, and I wonder if she will be performing the Cowgirl. I think she'd be wonderful, as would Osipova.. Marian Butler is a supreme actress but lacks the ups. Eric Tamm really caught my attention as well.

In summation: What a great night at City Center. Sat in the front row of the upper mezz and had a great view. The music sounded fabulous! I can't wait for the Spring Shostakovitch evening. Sarah Lane and Simone Messmer are principal material.

#122 vipa

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 07:39 PM

Just came back from the Fri. Eve.

Golden Idol you were right. Drink To Me Only - Joseph Gorak was really good but Herman Cornejo was great. His quality of movement, musicality, the way he gets into shapes quickly enough for the shape to really register with your eye without looking rushed, not to mention the jumps and turns - just great. I really like this ballet I find it refreshing and witty and very human. Tonight Simone Messmer was outstanding for her ease and clarity of movement. Boylston was also a better fit in the ballet that Kajiya, who I saw the other night. Boylston had more strength and energy. I don't love her in everything but she had me smiling in this one.


Leaves Are Fading ppd. Reyes/Sterns - It's a beautiful and interesting piece. Her upper body and arms so fluid and lovely.

Stars & Stripes ppd - Poor Sarah Lane was just used as Simkin fodder for this one. She did fine, but this piece isn't really suited to her. Simkin barely managed the partnering with Lane. It would have been impossible for him to partner anyone even slightly taller. He did lots of tricks, which were exciting and the audience love it. A lot of his stuff was indeed fun, but to me he still looks like a kid doing tricks. I remember Damien Woetzel in this - to me he brought the right degree of well everything to it. I wish Simkin had worked a little more on his partnering even if it meant fewer tricks.

Symphony 9 - Really enjoyed it. Love the way he moves groups around. I have to see it again to take it all in. It is really densely packed. Maybe too much material for one short ballet or maybe I just need to see it again. Abrera - great - talk about someone who should be a principal.

DeCoster - thank you for your review. I enjoyed reading it.

#123 abatt

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 01:29 PM

I attended a few performances this week, and I'm going back for tonight's performance. I very much enjoyed the new Ratmansky ballet and look forward to seeing it again. This one is a hit. The choregraphy for the corps is especially inventive. Gomes and Semionova were excellent together. Salstein was thrilling. Cornejo was incredible, but something must have happened to him mid-ballet, because Jared Matthews suddenly appeared to perform the remainder of Herman's part. Herman did not come out for a bow either. Hope he is okay. I will see the second cast tonight.

I always have enjoyed leaves,. and Kent and Gomes were absolutely lovely. Her fluidity and lyricism make this an very fine vehicle for her.

Drink to Me will never be a favorite of mine, but Herman and Isabella were thrilling. Boylston is well on her way to a very bright future at ABT. I didn't think Gorak and Kajiya (second cast) were anywhere near the level of the first cast.

I have to agree that S&S is just not a great fit for Sarah Lane.

I had not seen Moor's Pavane is at least 15 years. Simone Messmer was deliciously evil.

I enjoy seeing Rodeo about once every decade, so I've now had my fill. Reyes was adorable.

#124 rg

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 01:44 PM

at the matinee today, Sat. Oct. 20, Cornejo got replaced last minute in the final moments of SYMPHONY #9 - by Matthews, who took a bow w/ the rest of the cast, with Cornejo nowhere to be seen.
this indicated that in his penultimate exit Cornejo must have become indisposed - a colleague at the intermission said some mishap occurred off stage - or perhaps the awareness of an injury did.
in any case, something happened to him to prevent him from finishing the ballet and from taking a bow.

#125 California

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 03:20 PM

At the matinee today, Sat. Oct. 20, Cornejo got replaced last minute in the final moments of SYMPHONY #9 - by Matthews, who took a bow w/ the rest of the cast, with Cornejo nowhere to be seen.
this indicated that in his penultimate exit Cornejo must have become indisposed - a colleague at the intermission said some mishap occurred off stage - or perhaps the awareness of an injury did.
in any case, something happened to him to prevent him from finishing the ballet and from taking a bow.

I was also at this matinee and noticed the substitution. I wondered several times this week if there were problems with narrow wings and a slippery stage. I was sitting to the far right down in front this afternoon and could see a bit into the wings. At one exit for Gomes lifting Semionova in the Ratmansky, I thought I saw somebody else's hand in front of a metal structure to keep her head from hitting it. For a Bolles-Seo exit at about the same place during Leaves Thursday night, he seemed to slip twice. A corps member slipped and fell last night during the Ratmansky and I noticed a couple more slips in other ballets.

In any event, Cornejo was so fabulous in the Ratmansky premiere, it ws sad that he couldn't return for bows Saturday. I hope it's nothing serious.

#126 rg

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 06:05 PM

no firm word on Cornejo's injury but he was replaced tonight Oct. 20 at ABT's 8 pm perf. in IN THE UPPER ROOM (by Salstein) as noted by an announcement that said due to injury Cornejo would be replaced, etc. etc.
so any thoughts of his 'disappearance's being due to something like a momentary spasm or such seem to be unlikely.

#127 SimonA

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 06:09 PM

Cornejo was seen leaving the theater in crutches.

Wonderful matinee today, shame about the injury.

#128 abatt

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 08:52 AM

Having seen both casts of Symphony No. 9, I preferred Part over Semionova. Part's performance was tinged with tragedy and high drama. She captured the darker aspects of the music perfectly.

Gomes was electrifying as Othello. He has a way of conveying primal emotions to an audience that few people at ABT have. The problem for me was that Julie Kent was much too mature to pull of the innocent blushing bride that is Desdemona. When Gomes and Kent were dancing together in this, it seemed more like Hamlet and Mama Gertrude than Othello and Desdemona.

So who is going to replace Herman in Barcelona Don Q on opening night? Poor Herman. I hope this is a short term injury.

#129 ABT Fan

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 03:34 PM

I was also at Thursday night’s performance and for the most part really loved it.

I hadn’t seen Leaves are Fading in many years, yet remember the central ppd virtually step by step. I had seen Amanda McKerrow perform it years ago (she and her husband, John Gardner, staged this) and she will probably be the standard to which I hold this. I thought Hee Seo and Roberto Bolle made a really nice pair and had some lovely moments, but I thought they were missing the yearning and subtlety that this ppd requires (especially Seo). It’s not about high extensions and big lifts, in my opinion. Once thing I loved about McKerrow’s performance, was how she and her partner were almost behind the music, as if reluctantly moving forward in order to savor every moment with their partner. That was missing with Seo/Bolle. And, I agree with DeCoster that Seo’s pointe work can be “clod-hoppy”. There were a few moments when her feet almost seemed to get stuck together on the floor after coming out of a turn or a big movement, as if on the verge of tripping over one of her feet. It’s a visually small error, but something only unseasoned dancers usually do. I’ve seen her do this in the past when she was still a soloist and in the corps, but she’s a principal now and should be more secure in her footwork. Other than that, she was quite lovely and her very long legs and arms made wonderful lines.

In the rest of Leaves, Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin were wonderful together; they have really nice chemistry and their partnership is really moving along. Simkin’s partnering is getting better, but he still struggles with over-the-head-lifts; he thrusts his partner over his head with a tremendous amount of effort. Nevertheless, I’d love to see him and Lane do the central pdd in Leaves, after his lifting gets better. I think they’d be gorgeous. Lane has one of the most open faces I’ve ever seen on the stage; just lovely. Stella Abrera and Lane had a few nice moments together. Roman Zhurbin also stood out for me.

The world premiere of Symphony #9 was quite exciting, but I think it’s one of those pieces where you need more than one viewing to absorb it all, as there’s a LOT going on.

I didn’t like how it began – it seemed to start in “mid-sentence”, as if the preceding movement was left out. This will eventually be part of Alexei Ratmansky’s evening-length piece at the Met next spring, so maybe once it’s all put together it won’t look that way. In any case, the pace is mostly frenetic, with lots of dancers moving every which way. It was hard to watch any one dancer for long because they’d go offstage so quickly! Ratmansky’s patterns and use of the “corps” was wonderfully different and inventive. I liked how he’d have the male or female corps form different lines either on the side or back of the stage while Polina Semionova and Marcelo Gomes were dancing. This was my first time seeing Semionova dance – she’s so pretty and has gorgeous lines and technique. Her part w/ Gomes is heavy on partnering, so I look forward to seeing her dance some solos in the future. This is a great part for Gomes – he gets to show off his awesome partnering skills, and has some solo moments that display his technique and charisma. I also agree that Cornejo stole the show, and he had a lot of competition between Gomes, Craig Salstein and Simone Messmer. No doubt Ratmansky choreographed this to show off their best skills: Cornejo’s athleticism, coloring and nuance; Salstein’s tongue-and-cheek personality; Messmer’s quick footwork and sultry looks.

I was most looking forward to seeing Rodeo, which closed the program. I hadn’t seen this one in years either and had forgotten about the square dance section, which was charming. Who knew dancers could talk! :) This piece shows off Salstein the best – his huge personality, expressive eyes, and quick-wittedness are perfect for The Champion Roper. He and Marian Butler, as The Cowgirl, have terrific chemistry – they look like they’d be really good friends offstage – and had such a naturalness to their characters. Butler made me laugh and was heartbreaking when we see she realizes the Head Wrangler, Roman Zhurbin, will never love her. Zhurbin is such a great actor, and was the perfect combination of macho yet chivalrous suitor.

A wonderful evening but was surprised Rodeo didn’t get a bigger response from the audience during the bows. I’m saddened to hear that Cornejo injured himself yesterday. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!

#130 Roberto Dini

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 07:37 PM

Having seen both casts of Symphony No. 9, I preferred Part over Semionova. Part's performance was tinged with tragedy and high drama. She captured the darker aspects of the music perfectly.

Gomes was electrifying as Othello. He has a way of conveying primal emotions to an audience that few people at ABT have. The problem for me was that Julie Kent was much too mature to pull of the innocent blushing bride that is Desdemona. When Gomes and Kent were dancing together in this, it seemed more like Hamlet and Mama Gertrude than Othello and Desdemona.

So who is going to replace Herman in Barcelona Don Q on opening night? Poor Herman. I hope this is a short term injury.

I thought both casts were excellent but would give a slight edge to Part also. Cornejo was brilliant. I'd imagine that Jared Matthews must have been waiting in the wings in case Cornejo couldn't continue. I don't know how he could have gotten onstage that quickly if he weren't already in costume.

Perhaps it was due to my distance from the stage but Kent did not seem too old to be playing Desdemona to me. Abatt's comment made me think of Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie, who, while listing the roles she'd portray brilliantly, includes Juliet, saying "And if the house were big enough, I still could play her yet."

I loved Rodeo. I liked both programs on Saturday, the matinee and evening performances. I enjoyed the visual effect of the smoke in In the Upper Room but would think it would be annoying/difficult to dance in stage smoke although the dancers seem to have no problem doing so.

#131 rg

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 05:25 AM

the haze in UPPER ROOM is steam, not smoke.

#132 puppytreats

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 06:52 AM

The music is more dangerous to one's health than steam, haze, or smoke. It gave me such a headache.

#133 dirac

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:08 AM

Alastair Macaulay's review in the NYT. Do regular observers of the company agree?

When you connect these changes of cast to those that Mr. Ratmansky has employed for his other works, you see how invaluable he is as a company artist. Although he began work with Ballet Theater only in 2009, he’s given big breaks to a very wide number of artists at all levels of this troupe. There are now many Ballet Theater dancers — Mr. Cornejo, Mr. Gomes, Ms. Messmer, Ms. Part are only the most obvious — whose artistry you don’t fully comprehend until you have seen them in their Ratmansky roles.



#134 abatt

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:20 AM

I think that the person who has gotten the biggest break is Misty Copeland in his Firebird. I didn't see her performance in that role, but I think a lot of people took notice of how well she performed. (I didn't see Misty in the fall season. Is she still injured?) I also think Paloma's artistry was highlighted especially well in Bright Stream. She has not always lived up to expectations in the more traditional classical rep, but she seemed to be energized and engaged in Bright Stream. Personally, I think most people understand the artistry of Gomes and Cornejo irrespective of their Ratmansky roles. There will always be a divided opinion about Part, as noted in a previous thread on this board.

Let us also not forget that Ratmansky was instrumental in the early careers of Osipova and Vasiliev at the Bolshoi. I also think that part of the allure of ABT for Osipova and Vasiliev is to be able to continue working with Ratmansky.

#135 Golden Idol

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:12 AM

Department of Slips and Falls: Add Craig in Rodeo on Thursday night. He also lost his orange bandanna, which had to be kicked offstage by two other dancers. I'm dismayed to read of the others that occurred on Friday and Saturday (I did not attend these performances, alas), especially Cornejo's . Recall that he was out of commission all last summer with an injury. So who is to blame for preparing a slippery stage floor at City Center?


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