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Giselle Spring 2012

68 posts in this topic

She hopped on the diagonal of the stage, and then using the same working foot she did 360 degrees of hops, and then proceeded to resume the hops along the diagonal of the stage without ever coming off that pointe of her foot.

With a ball on her nose?

I did not see one iota of showiness in Osipova's performance. It is true that she is able to perform technical feats that no other ballerina can perform. However, it would be absurd to pre-suppose that this ability automatically must turn her performances into a circus act. She simply has a wider variety of ingredients with which to bake a cake, so to speak.

On Saturday, both Osipova and Hallberg gave a complete performance where all the technical details were subjugated to the storytelling and character development (as they should be).

I found two aspects of the performance particularly fascinating. The first one is Osipova's very interesting treatment of tempi---akin to a romantic-style performance of a Chopin piece, with lots of rubato---except that here it clearly must have required meticulous rehearsals with the conductor.

The second surprising element was the treatment of Albrecht's relationship with Giselle. For example, when Hilarion reveals that Albrecht is a nobleman, Giselle asks Albrecht whether this is true. All Albrechts that I can recall (including Angel Corella on Thursday) placidly respond: "No, this is not true." Hallberg's Albrecht was mortified and mimed something like: "Yes, it is, but let me explain…"---at which point Giselle, crushed, ran to her mother.

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She hopped on the diagonal of the stage, and then using the same working foot she did 360 degrees of hops, and then proceeded to resume the hops along the diagonal of the stage without ever coming off that pointe of her foot.

With a ball on her nose?

It may sound like a circus trick but in fact it was completely in character and musical as well as utterly astounding, especially coming (for me) after Cojocaru's failure to execute the traditional version of the steps.

Like the last few posters I also saw the Cojocaru/Corella/Murphy, Osipova/Hallberg/Abrera and Vishneva/Gomes/Semionova Giselles.

Cojocaru is one of my favorite ballerinas and while her Giselle was certainly well worth seeing IMO what I saw this time around is no longer on the same level as Osipova and Vishneva. I HOPE this can be attributed to a current injury and not just a decline in her technique due to the cumulative effect of her many injuries and well known foot problems. She still has a wonderful, floaty quality to her dancing, beautiful, easy extensions, gorgeous phrasing and line and is a very great interpretive artist but her technique has definitely declined. Last season when she flubbed a bit in DQ I put it down to a bad night. Now I don't know.

Osipova & Hallberg have great chemistry together. Even with Hallberg's newfound dramatic presence, they have very different personalities and I think they complement each other well. Like a variation on the "she gives him sex, he gives her class" theme. Their Giselle was very intense and very moving as well as a technical marvel. I also thought this was the strongest overall cast. I loved Abrera"s Myrtha - she was commanding, but with a deep sense of sorrow. Also Copeland and Salstein were both spot on in the peasant pas and Boylston & Hee Seo were lovely as Moyna and Zulma.

Vishneva/Gomes were wonderful, as usual. It amazes me how she keeps refining her interpretation. I found Semionova's approach to Myrtha strange. Her dancing was very wild. While her jetes and menage were beautiful it really wasn't in character for Myrtha as I know it from ABT and the Mariinsky.

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Re Osipova's hair, a friend who goes to Salon Ishi (a very high end salon) tells me that Osipova gets extensions in her hair in prep for Giselle and also Juliet. Dvorovenko and Beletserkovsky also go to that salon.

In addition to the marvelous little detail mentioned above re Hallberg trying to explain (rather than deny) Hilarion's accusation, I also noticed that in the He Loves Me He Loves Me Not sequence, after Hallberg points out that she counted incorrectly, he held on to that flower instead of flinging it aside like most of the other Albrechts. So many great moments in both performances. I still have images of Osipova and Vishneva floating through the air like butterflies.

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The last great partnership at ABT was Ferri and Bocca. I think that Gomes and Vishneva can now be bestowed with that honor. They are electric together.

I completely agree. I can't wait for their R&J, which was so emotionally intense last time around. Gomes seems to have a great capacity for forging these partnerships. For this reason, I'm sad that he's not dancing with Part as much any more, now that they seem to be pairing her mostly with Stearns. (The upcoming Bayadere is a notable and not-to-be-missed exception.)

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I can only echo the praise for Osiopova and Hallberg; I feel lucky to have been able to see that. Still, I envy those who were able to see the Triple Crown of Giselles (soon to be a quartet when POB comes in July).

I have a more mundane couple of questions, probably born out of my ignorance or forgetting: (1) The woman's first variation music in the Peasant PDD was completely unfamiliar to me--am I just forgetting? And, (2) doesn't Albrecht usually do a series of brises in Act 2? And do they come during the music where Hallberg did his amazing entrechats sixes (that seemed to get stronger and higher as he did them)? Again, maybe I'm just forgetting...

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Regarding question (2), brises voles seem to be more standard (e.g., Corella did them on Thursday); however, many dancers do entrechats sixes these days: e.g., Hallberg, Gomes, and Le Riche. Perhaps someone knows whether brises were part of the original Coralli/Perrot choreography? Also, I am curious---was Erik Bruhn the first one to substitute them for entrechats sixes?

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brises voles seem to be more standard (e.g., Corella did them on Thursday)

Cornejo did them on Friday, competently though not spectacularly.

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brises voles seem to be more standard (e.g., Corella did them on Thursday)

Cornejo did them on Friday, competently though not spectacularly.

nobody has matched Mischa B.'s Brises.

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Wow. Hard crowd. Cornejo's brises were certainly well beyond competent.

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Cojocaru is one of my favorite ballerinas and while her Giselle was certainly well worth seeing IMO what I saw this time around is no longer on the same level as Osipova and Vishneva. I HOPE this can be attributed to a current injury and not just a decline in her technique due to the cumulative effect of her many injuries and well known foot problems. She still has a wonderful, floaty quality to her dancing, beautiful, easy extensions, gorgeous phrasing and line and is a very great interpretive artist but her technique has definitely declined. Last season when she flubbed a bit in DQ I put it down to a bad night. Now I don't know.

I'll speak up in defense of Cojocaru. Having seen her Lise in "La Fllle mal Gardee" a few weeks ago, I can say that her technique has not declined at all. There is a lot of intricate pointe work in that ballet, and Alina executed it with aplomb. It sounds like a recent flare-up of an old injury or a new injury! Either way, I hope she recovers soon.

I'm enjoying all of the Giselle reports since I'm not in New York this summer. I do wish I could have seen Vishneva and Gomes!

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I was trying to quote part of nysusan's post above- that's the first paragraph!

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A discussion forum on precisely this issue of brises vs. entrechats might be of interest:

http://balletalert.i...hats-or-brises/

The discussion variously names Lifar, Nureyev, and Bruhn as the person who first introduced entrechats sixes. Also, the discussion seems to be ambivalent on the issue of whether brises were there originally. Any clarifications anyone?

Regarding Cojocaru, it seemed quite clear to me that, contrary to what was implied in some of the previous posts, the steps she was doing weren't a mistake---i.e., they were planned. She didn't fall off pointe during her variation---she deliberately performed a different set of steps. This was a little puzzling to me, since there was a lot of other pointe work elsewhere that she did quite effortlessly (e.g., pique turns in the same variation).

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A discussion forum on precisely this issue of brises vs. entrechats might be of interest:

http://balletalert.i...hats-or-brises/

The discussion variously names Lifar, Nureyev, and Bruhn as the person who first introduced entrechats sixes. Also, the discussion seems to be ambivalent on the issue of whether brises were there originally. Any clarifications anyone?

Regarding Cojocaru, it seemed quite clear to me that, contrary to what was implied in some of the previous posts, the steps she was doing weren't a mistake---i.e., they were planned. She didn't fall off pointe during her variation---she deliberately performed a different set of steps. This was a little puzzling to me, since there was a lot of other pointe work elsewhere that she did quite effortlessly (e.g., pique turns in the same variation).

agreed re: Cojocaru - ABATT metioned in her post that the changes seemed planned, and I agree. But why would she plan to simplify a variation she has done numerous times before unless she felt that she couldn't do it this time? And she also simplified the entrechat zig zag variation in the 2nd act grand pas de deux.

Re: Albrecht's entrechats vs brises vole - I saw Fonteyn/Nureyev and Fracci/Bruhn beore Misha in Giselle and my recollection is that Misha introduced the brises vole. I'm not saying that nobody did them before him, just that from what I recall the entrechats were standard till he popularized the brises.

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The earliest video of Giselle I'm aware of is Ulanova-Fedeyechev from 1956. Fadeyechev performs brises. So does Nureyev in the 1962 excerpts filmed with Fonteyn. The earliest video with entrechats that I've seen was the ABT 1969 movie with Fracci and Bruhn. (All these are on youtube, but I'm not sure if posting youtube links goes against the board policy.)

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From the various revisions and tunings Dolin did in Alonso's Giselle-(the last one being in 1980)-, none of them included either brises or entrechats. Cuban Albrecht, (Dolin/Youskevitch based)-, seems to wander around the stage stopping a lot to beg for forgiveness to Myrtha. It is a very mimed segment.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but what Albrect does are brises, not brise' vole'. Vole' is with the battu, as in "Bluebird" variation. The down the line brise' is without the beats. And I find them more dramatically apt. It seems as if he (Albrect) is pleading with Myrtha to allow him some "peace". The entrechat six, while amazing as a technical feat, don't hold the same dramatic thrill. MO

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you are mostly correct.

the Albrecht step under discussion here should be brisé, not brisé-volé.

the step associated with the Blue Bird in THE SLEEPING BEAUTY, since the Cecchetti/Petipa connection to it from 1890, is a variation on brisé-volé, which involves a rond de jambe move for the changing leg as opposed to the 'brush' through move of the classroom brisé-volé.

if mem. serves from a transcript of Balanchine's now legendary seminars for ballet teachers in the '60s?, when he was asked about brisé-volé by one of the teachers in attendance, Balanchine began his remarks by asking: do you mean brisé-volé, or do you mean 'bird step'? thus distinguishing the latter as a variant on the former.

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In this 1974 review from Dance Magazine of his debut performance in Giselle, Baryshnikov's brises are described as: "diagonal brises voles (flying brises, quatrieme demie position)." Olga Maynard was the critic.

http://findarticles....73/ai_55739050/

I remember reading an interview with him shortly afterwards, in which he worried that the brises were "too much," but I can't find the link back for that one. I'm thinking that others might have done that step before him in that passage, but he made it "famous."

I'm also wondering if the language in that 1974 review, which was probably widely read, contributed to some of the confusion in terminology. Is Maynard wrong here?

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I also was at the May 19th matinee of Giselle.

Natalia Osipova’s Giselle is the best portrayal of that role that I have ever seen. Osipova is a young, innocent peasant girl hopelessly in love with Albrecht. She has an incredibly mobile face, which shows Giselle's every emotion – from joy to love to complete and total heartbreak. Her mad scene is so real that it is painful to watch. In Act II, Osipova is a pure creature of the spirit world. Her willi is feather light, with leaps where she floats above the stage for what seems like an eternity. Her turns are performed at a feverish pace and her hops on pointe have unbelievable elevation. What is really amazing is how Osipova uses her formidable technique to deepen her characterization of Giselle.

David Hallberg’s Albrecht is truly in love with Giselle. He has pushed his real life so far to the background that he doesn’t think about his actual fiancée when he is with Giselle. Albrecht is so shattered by Giselle’s death that it brings tears to my eyes. In Act II, Hallberg stands out for his perfect line and noble refinement. His Albrecht, however, is a noble full of emotion – love, remorse and especially sorrow. When Albrecht is trapped by the willis his every step is astonishing. The height of his leaps, his flawless double assemble turns and especially his entrechats – where he soars in the air and hangs suspended there – all are mesmerizing.

As well as Osipova and Hallberg dance separately, the real wonder is how perfectly complete they are together. Their chemistry in Act I is very genuine and unaffected. In Act II, it is otherworldly, even spiritual.

The ending of the May 19th matinee of Giselle is hauntingly beautiful. As she returns to her grave, Giselle drops one single flower. Albrecht breathes in her the scent of the flower, feeling his oneness with Giselle a single time more. Then he slowly moves away from her grave. At that point, tears are streaming down my eyes.

Stella Abrera dances the part of Myyrta with great power and control. Abrera’s Myrta makes me wonder what her life was like before she died and became a willi. How badly must she have been hurt by her lover in order to turn into such an icy and menacing queen of the willis?

Patrick Ogle is a very young and sympathetic Hilarion. The huntsman truly loves Giselle and cannot understand why she cannot see Albrecht for the nobleman he really is. As Berthe, Susan Jones

is a real mother, fully devoted to her innocent daughter with a weak heart. In the peasant pas de deux, Craig Salstein seems off, especially with regard to his leaps. His entire performance is somewhat strained. His partner, Misty Copeland, is lovely. Her dancing radiates pure joy. In Act II, the corps is wonderful, dancing in glorious tandem with each other and the music.

I hope ABT keeps dancing their Giselle for years to come. I also want to see Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg perform together in many more ballets.

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re: brisé & brisé volé, perhaps Maynard was using the term based in what Gail Grant calls: Brisé volé en avant ("A term of the Cecchetti Method," which is contrasted with a separate step called Brisé volé en arrière.

Grant's TECHINCAL MANUAL AND DICTIONARY has 12 different entries starting w/ brisé, and describing the variants of the different schools of technique.

i now see that the fist entry for Brisé volé doesn't indicate that the step be done to the front and to the back, Blue Bird like, so it's likely a matter of where and with whom one trained that determines what the step might be called.

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All the reviews of Giselle make me salivate!!! I wanted to originally see both Giselles on Saturday like some of you did, but to make sure I saw that and the Vishneva/Osipova Bayadere would have bumped my trip budget way up to stay that long. So I was debating. The Vishneva/Osipova Bayadere just seemed too juicy of an idea to pass up, but the Vishneva Giselle and Osipova Giselle sounded wonderful too, and sure enough, your reviews make me so jealous!!!

I love Osipova, but I thought her personality would be all wrong for Giselle, but apparently not. I am very glad to hear that she has more range than I thought she had. I thought she would be better as Gamzatti (all sparkle). I assumed Vishneva's Giselle would be terrific. I assume her Nikiya will be wonderful too. So many hard decisions for us non-New Yorkers!!! Previous years they seemed to arrange the schedule so out-of-town people could see two or even three ballets. This year it is basically one ballet per week unless you do half one week and half of the other. I hope they return to the previous few years where you could catch 2-3 ballets in one trip!!!!

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I cannot imagine anyone performing the puppet being pulled up by a string step in Act II like Osipova, as I have seen on youtube. What is that step called? I imagine her whirling dervish is wonderful, too.

Does anyone have pictures of the different outfits?

Or links to the brise and brise vole, including Albrecht and Bluebird?

Albrecht's solo in Act I seemed different at ABT from other productions, too.

One last night, tonight, for "Giselle". I have been on the verge of tears all day in anticipation.

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Puppytreats, the New York Times has a Slide Show on the internet, along with A. Macauley's review of the Giselles, on the NY Times website. You can see the different Giselle Act II dresses in the slide show. Go to today's Links to see the review.

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