Natalia

Mixed Bill - Firebird, etc.

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Back from NYC around midnight. Just wakin' up. How to begin?

If I were Donald Trump, I'd yell "MR. RATMANSKY, YOU'RE FIREbirD!"

That had to be the feckin' butt-ugliest Firebird in existence. Pathetic production values ('El Cheapo' Pastukh once again, delivering trees that look like smokestacks in a factory). Silly choreography (trite, unmusical, just-plain-ugly and offensive to anyone who cares about ballet history), Ratmansky even manages to turn Stravinsky's lovely Berceuse into a mockery of Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden, i.e., the four main characters standing side-by-side facing audience, then alternating partners in little psychological duets:

Ivan - The Man

Green Maiden - The Woman He'll Marry

Firebird - The Bird Who Saved Him

Kaschei - The Goon from Tree Opposite

As my partner commented, "Where's the beauty? Where's the magic? Where's the fairy-tale? This is supposed to be a Russian fairy tale to delight children of all ages."

Saving graces:

1. The initial monologue for Ivan, yesterday beautifully danced by Alexandre Hammoudi. (Wow! Isn't he a lovely elegant dancer?) Alas, it was downhill from there, as Ivan crossed himself and stepped into Ratmansky-Pastoukh's ugly garden.

2. Isabella Boylston's out-of-this-world legs and feet. I'm sure that Misty was wonderful but Boylston's gorgeous curved 'Vaganova legs & feet' were wondrous. Amazingly high entrechats at the start...higher than any MAN I've ever seen deliver entrechats huit! Fantastic balance in the first PDD with Ivan, bringing gasps from the audience. Sculptural perfection in her attitudes. (I will try my darnest to go back to NYC to witness her first complete Odette-Odile in a week or so.)

That's it. Two saving graces. All others on stage were comicbook characters caught in the ugliness, which continued to the very end with the ridiculous leaping to every note of Stravinsky's final majestic music.

During the applause, the only bravos heard were for Boylston. Where I sat, in middle of Dress Circle, many were disgusted. I heard a lot of squirming around in seats during the Berceuse. One guy behind us whispered to his neighbor, "When will this thing end?"

(pause, to breathe...)

Earlier, the matinee opened with my 2nd viewing of Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions. As at the Kennedy Center in January, this struck me as one of the dullest Wheeldons ever, both choreographically and design-wise (dreary grey and black costumes, sorrounded by darkness, with only an occasional colorful laser-light across the backdrop). The beautiful Stella Abrera made the most of the paltry material given to her.

The triple bill would have been a 'triple bomb' were it not for the grace of Balanchine's Apollo sandwiched in the middle. Gomes was commendable as an unlikely Apollo, lovely Semionova showed-off her long legs and lots of teeth (non-stop headache-inducing grin) as Terpsichore, and Melanie Hamrick was capable as Calliope (the 1st muse variation)...but the A#1 delight of the entire afternoon was the 2nd muse, Polyhymnia -- Devon Teuscher -- opening her solo with a breathtaking quadruple pirouette and dancing like a dream for the rest of the ballet. (I referred to Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets to confirm the names of muses performing the first 2 solos...because I cannot go by the faces of the dancers.) Devon Teuscher is a star in the making...just like Lauren King at NYCB!

Devon Teuscher, Isabella Boylston and Alexandre Hammoudi made the long bus trip worth the while.

p.s. In an earlier post, I reviewed three of the most un-traditional Firebird films in my DVD collection and ranked them according to 'weirdness factor.' Ratmansky broke my 'Weird-o-Meter.' Even the Eifman seems traditional, compared to Ratmansky -- Eifman had beautiful Russian Princess-maidens.

p.s.s. What were those constant slides across the floor all about, for the Firebird? Ratmansky's tribute to the Widow Simone, from Ashton's Fille Mal Gardee?

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Thanks for the update on Boylston. Please do let us know what you think of her Swan Lake. I'd be there if I could!

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I went to the matinee, but left after Apollo. Couldn't stand the thought of seeing Firebird again. I completely agree with Natalia that Devon Teucher was absolutely wonderful. Whereas Hee Seo was hanging on for dear life in executing the solo for Polyphmnia on Monday, Devon sailed through it with grace, lyricism and beauty. Can't wait to see more of Devon. Gomes' Apollo was a complete departure from Hallberg's. Gomes was virile, vivid and robust. I enjoyed his performance because he made the most of the role to suit his own personal best attributes. Couldn't take Semionova's non stop ear to ear smile. She was fine, but Part was awesome on Monday. Sorry I missed you Natalia!

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... Sorry I missed you Natalia!

Same here, Abatt. I *may* have spotted you near the box office, just before the 1:30pm 'mad dash' for the entrances but you had gone off before it clicked in my brain that it was you. Oh well, next time...maybe for Boylston's O/O debut, if I can go?

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Hi Natalia. I'm not planning on seeing the Boylston Swan Lake. Another time, though.

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Thanks everyone for your reports; now I know... Natalia, I also hope that you can see Boylston's O/O debut. I'm so happy to learn that

she did so well last night!

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...Natalia, I also hope that you can see Boylston's O/O debut. I'm so happy to learn that she did so well last night!

Just got our tix...luckily, as it's almost sold out. Boylston was fantastic in the little 'teaser' at the Kennedy Center this past January, when she & Gomes essayed the 'Black Swan' pdd. I'm only sorry that Gomes won't be her first 'full' Siegfried; instead, it's Danil' Simkin. Here's hoping for a felicitous pairing!

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....Couldn't take Semionova's non stop ear to ear smile. She was fine, but Part was awesome on Monday. ...

I used to think that the non-stop grinning was a 'Russian thing' with the role of Terpsichore (e.g., Assylmuratova & Zakharova) until I saw Part, who had the more appropriately serious visage. It's doubly weird when the two other muses are appropriately serious but Terpsi is in her own 'lah-lah land,' as we saw yesterday. Too bad, as she was lovely in her dancing and sculptural poses. Kudos to Marcello for strong partnering, especially that final move in the pdd, hoisting this tall amazon onto his back. Marcello delivered, sweat and all! A very manly and strong Apollo, as Abatt wrote.

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...Natalia, I also hope that you can see Boylston's O/O debut. I'm so happy to learn that she did so well last night!

Just got our tix...luckily, as it's almost sold out. Boylston was fantastic in the little 'teaser' at the Kennedy Center this past January, when she & Gomes essayed the 'Black Swan' pdd. I'm only sorry that Gomes won't be her first 'full' Siegfried; instead, it's Danil' Simkin. Here's hoping for a felicitous pairing!

For such an important role it seems a shame Boylston could not debut w. an experienced Siegfried or at the very least someone known for his partnering skills. The Mikhailovsky imported Gomez for Osipova's Swan Lake debut, and Osipova is a much more experienced principal dancer than Boylston. (Of course Osipova has more clout!) I assume Boylston is NOT complaining, but I feel like complaining on her behalf. Wish Simkin the best of course and he can dance wonderfully...so, yes, "here's hoping for a felicitous pairing" ...

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I also went to see the McKenzie gala on Wednesday night. I agree that Misty Copeland is the most effective Firebird. This is not a slam on Misty but she is dancing choreography that is fully using her technical possibilities whereas Osipova seems hemmed in. We know that Osipova can jump higher and wilder. Misty is also filling in the details better. I saw Misty fight to gain her freedom from Ivan's grasp and then learn to respect his bravery. I just feel the dramatic arc is all over the place with too much going on and you just don't where to focus. When the four leads go into that pas de quatre it just goes off the rails. At least Misty made it clear that she is trying to weave some kind of spell over everyone to stave off any violence but then she is being tossed around by Ivan and Kastchei and you are scratching your head. What is going on? There is an interesting ballet in there but it needs to be brought out with some editing.

I don't think the sets are cheap looking - they have a "Tim Burton" kind of techno cartoon creepiness that I like.

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I used to think that the non-stop grinning was a 'Russian thing' with the role of Terpsichore (e.g., Assylmuratova & Zakharova) until I saw Part, who had the more appropriately serious visage.

I wish I'd seen that. One thing I remember about Part as Terpsichore at the Met in '99 is her grin.

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I am interested in hearing reports from anyone who saw Beloserkovsky Wednesday night in his lone performance (other than the opening night gala) of the season in "Apollo".

Deborah Jowitt was there and found him in good form. I think if you can manage the jumps and partnering in "Apollo" you could manage a "Swan Lake" or perhaps a "Giselle". Anyway, Jowitt and I are kind of on the same page about "The Firebird" a la Ratmansky:

http://www.artsjournal.com/dancebeat/2012/06/flaming-magic-and-goofy-girls/

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I used to think that the non-stop grinning was a 'Russian thing' with the role of Terpsichore (e.g., Assylmuratova & Zakharova) until I saw Part, who had the more appropriately serious visage.

I wish I'd seen that. One thing I remember about Part as Terpsichore at the Met in '99 is her grin.

I also remember that grin in '99, I remember all of ABT's muses grinning from ear to ear with Dvorovenko batting her eyelashes at the audience. This time they were all more appropriate, with Part only smiling at a point somewhere around the middle of the pdd. That, to me, is acceptable. Although I agree that,overall, Apollo was very soft compared to what we're used to I enjoyed the performance with the exception of Hee Seo who was simply miscast as Polyhymnia. Hallberg was gorgeous, as were Part & Abrera.

I thought 13 Diversions was at least 4 diversions too long, though Misty's solo & ppd were wonderful. Firebird was a mess.

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I must have gotten Part in a somber mood! She was quite acceptable, grin-wise. That performance was even on YouTube for a while, before the Balanchine Cops took it down. I looked for it but could not find.

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I used to think that the non-stop grinning was a 'Russian thing' with the role of Terpsichore (e.g., Assylmuratova & Zakharova) until I saw Part, who had the more appropriately serious visage.

I wish I'd seen that. One thing I remember about Part as Terpsichore at the Met in '99 is her grin.

I also remember that grin in '99, I remember all of ABT's muses grinning from ear to ear with Dvorovenko batting her eyelashes at the audience. This time they were all more appropriate, with Part only smiling at a point somewhere around the middle of the pdd. That, to me, is acceptable. Although I agree that,overall, Apollo was very soft compared to what we're used to I enjoyed the performance with the exception of Hee Seo who was simply miscast as Polyhymnia. Hallberg was gorgeous, as were Part & Abrera.

There is some sort of confusion here--

in 1999 Part was not with ABT. She may have done this in 99 (she danced it with Kirov) but she was not one of ABT's muses grinning etc.

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There is some sort of confusion here--

in 1999 Part was not with ABT. She may have done this in 99 (she danced it with Kirov) but she was not one of ABT's muses grinning etc.

Right, she danced it twice in New York with the Kirov. smile.png

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I used to think that the non-stop grinning was a 'Russian thing' with the role of Terpsichore (e.g., Assylmuratova & Zakharova) until I saw Part, who had the more appropriately serious visage.

I wish I'd seen that. One thing I remember about Part as Terpsichore at the Met in '99 is her grin.

I also remember that grin in '99, I remember all of ABT's muses grinning from ear to ear with Dvorovenko batting her eyelashes at the audience. This time they were all more appropriate, with Part only smiling at a point somewhere around the middle of the pdd. That, to me, is acceptable. Although I agree that,overall, Apollo was very soft compared to what we're used to I enjoyed the performance with the exception of Hee Seo who was simply miscast as Polyhymnia. Hallberg was gorgeous, as were Part & Abrera.

There is some sort of confusion here--

in 1999 Part was not with ABT. She may have done this in 99 (she danced it with Kirov) but she was not one of ABT's muses grinning etc.

Sorry, of course I have my dates wrong. Part did it with ABT a few years ago, and thats the run I'm recalling. The muses were all very smiley back then...

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Yes, I saw Part with ABT, not Kirov. At City Center in '06, with Hallberg, Wiles and Abrera. She smiled a little in solo poses but was basically solemn, like the others. Nothing like the frozen smile on Polina, Altynai, et al.

Back to my 'Firebird Weird-o-Meter.' I forgot to mention the very unique version by Maurice Bejart. Even though the designs are spare, the concept and, most importantly, the choreography are clear and musical. Hence, I would rank the Bejart very high -- tied with or just below the lovely DTH version. Excerpt below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxTOTnFVXf8

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...Natalia, I also hope that you can see Boylston's O/O debut. I'm so happy to learn that she did so well last night!

Just got our tix...luckily, as it's almost sold out. Boylston was fantastic in the little 'teaser' at the Kennedy Center this past January, when she & Gomes essayed the 'Black Swan' pdd. I'm only sorry that Gomes won't be her first 'full' Siegfried; instead, it's Danil' Simkin. Here's hoping for a felicitous pairing!

For such an important role it seems a shame Boylston could not debut w. an experienced Siegfried or at the very least someone known for his partnering skills. The Mikhailovsky imported Gomez for Osipova's Swan Lake debut, and Osipova is a much more experienced principal dancer than Boylston. (Of course Osipova has more clout!) I assume Boylston is NOT complaining, but I feel like complaining on her behalf. Wish Simkin the best of course and he can dance wonderfully...so, yes, "here's hoping for a felicitous pairing" ...

Drew, sorry - I just saw this. This will also be Simkin's debut as Siegfried - a 'double debut matinee'! It's been a few seasons since he joined the company. I'm sure that he has 'bulked up' and strengthened his partnering since his 'Les Bourgeois' days! Also, they've already paired-up in Bright Stream, right?

I firmly believe that we'll have a chance to see a full Boylston-Gomes Swan Lake some time in the future. smile.png

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