Swan Lake, June 25-30, 2012
Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:22 AM
I actually rather like the sound of his less sensational suicide leap...which is the way I have seen it done in the (more distant) past. I have also seen more recent performances of Mckenzie's production in which both Hallberg and especially Gomez performed sensational suicide-leaps. Though I rather enjoyed them for their visceral excitement and the images they created (Hallberg plunged head down seemingly--Gomez flew up w. arched back before descending), I felt they sort of broke the emotional spell of the moment with showiness, esp. the latter.
I am not an anti-showiness fan by any means, but at this exact moment when the music and drama are at a climax it seems to me to border on a false note. Certainly, at the performances I attended, when people started applauding at that moment (esp strongly for Gomez' high-flying leap) I found it jarring. It also creates a bit of an unbalance with Odette's suicide (ballerinas don't -- and shouldn't -- leap to their death quite that way)...at a moment when the two should be united.
I'm not inclined to make a definitive judgment about this, but certainly I don't at all mind the sound of what I infer is Corella's subtler approach.
Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:06 PM
Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:42 PM
wow, thank you for the link, its really great !
I loved how emotional were Xiomara and Paloma, I think they both were in tears, it was cute to see them hug on the side looking at him, very sweet.
and your report was full of lovely details, i sensed the emotions too, thanks !
Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:17 PM
Leigh Witchell, on Facebook, has posted a fine description of the evening -- with more emphasis on the curtain call than on the performance -- that did not make it into the New York Post. I'm not sure how to link to individual Facebook posts, but below is the link to Leigh's page. The post we are talking about was dated just an hour ago. His Post interview with Corella is also on Facebook.
"Short Takes. Swan Lake. ABT. June 28."
Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:23 PM
Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:50 PM
Veronika danced one of the strongest SL she has danced at ABT, technically-speaking. She balanced (the first balance after Odette entrance was a marvel), and turned with a speed and security never seen before. Maybe the rehearsals for Le Corsaire are having some impact on her ? Her Odette was beautiful, liquid, musical, and really exquisite as usual. I could watch that gorgeous port-de-bras for ever. Her lines and never ending legs are to dye for.
I also agree with the comments about her open-mouth, very noticeable, and the somewhat awkward movements that happened here and there. The overall performance was not as dramatic as some of her shows before, but still was really marvelous. Even with these minor details, she is still my fav Odette.
I loved her Odile better this time than ever before, I think she kind of toned it down one notch, and it was right on, more remarkable was the incredible chemistry with Marcelo, this was something that I enjoyed very much, the communication between the two was so evil !
She went though her variation and coda without any problems.
The major issue with the performance was that Veronika was alone, she pretty much danced by herself. Stearns supported and lifted her, but that was pretty much it. Cory has beautiful lines, is elegant, handsome, but his technique continues to leave much to be desired, and his acting skills (at least on this character) even more so. His expression didn’t change from beginning to end, and he looked confused, very flat, maybe that’s the reason why veronica opened her mouth so much, lol. There was little or no emotion on his side, and obviously that brought the show down big time. This partnership have been tried a couple of times and it doesn’t really work, so I really hope abt take note of that and give her the partner that she deserves for this ballet. In fact, I think that it would be better to give the chance to an up and coming talented dancer from the corps, like T. Foster, for example, who partnered her really well in the opening night pdd.
Wed was certainly one of the most spectacular SL that I have ever witnessed. I was truly moved, and very, very impressed by the major development of Gilliam artistry, her extensions and back flexibility (and I think that I haven’t miss one of her SL in the last 8-9 yrs). Her performance was one of the most brutal displays of power and control that I have seen in a full-length ballet. The only thing she didn’t do was flight over the stage, for god sake, those legs need to be insured asap!
The chemistry was Marcelo was electrifying, and they both looked to be having the time of their lives dancing together. Marcelo also took his technique to a brand new level, it was of those nights in which everything goes right, fireworks everywhere with crystal clean finish. They both surpassed themselves, and engaged the whole company; you could notice really that the stage was on fire.
Act II pdd was full of emotion, Gilliam really stunned me, I had chills since the very first moment, beautiful !! At the end, after the huge ovation, people wouldn’t t let go, and she was brought back again to the stage, there were people standing, and screaming out of control brava, brava.
At this point, the picture was set and ready for a spectacular Act III, and they didn’t disappoint. Her Odile was a bad, bad creature, seductive as they come, and the technique……HUH…fireworks included:
- ending of Odile/Sigfried pdd with Marcelo doing single-handed supported pirouettes on her (barely touching her waist), I think she delivered 4-5 of these, but more stunning is the center and the complete absence of any little, mini wobble, she seems to be hammered to the stage !
- Fouettes were opened with a quadruple, continued with several triples, and included 2 series of the flying-pirouettes (doubles executing port de bras !) She did this before, but last year and in opening night gala she did not, …wed they were back, the second time I think she did a triple and after the port-de-bras she raised arms in swan-like position. The audience was out of control, …she threw then 3 gorgeous balances at the end of the coda, and it was like an apotheosis, a few people standing again and screaming out loud !!!
I could go on this for ever, it was incredible. I was really glad that I decided to go last minute, this year I have been focused too much in the outside-stars…Bravisima Gilliam, she is clearly on her prime, no wonder she got that magnificent review of her Juliet from A.M in the ny times, maybe that fueled her as well !!!.....and Marcelo, what else can we say, he manages to always, always, give 150%, get the most out of his ballerina, he is certainly very, very unique.
Posted 29 June 2012 - 06:56 PM
Posted 29 June 2012 - 10:08 PM
Posted 29 June 2012 - 10:36 PM
I'd like to concur - An absolutely stellar performance from both principals tonight.
David Hallberg was much more emotional than I have ever seen him, and Polina Semionova - just divine.
She played a very girlish Odette, scared, helpless and desperate, not a Swan Queen, but rather a Princess; and a very devilish Odile, a real snake that seduced Adam in the Garden of Eden, a true personification of pure evil. Her metamorphosis, emotional abandon, the rapport with Hallberg, the technical prowess - everything was electrifying and stunning.
And the last Act, truncated as it is, still broke my heart. Took me a while to regain my composure.
Thank you, ABT, for a glorious night of the Ballet Art of the highest level. It will never be forgotten!
Posted 30 June 2012 - 04:51 AM
To my eyes, Semionova peaked in Act II, whereas Hallberg only got better and better. As Waelsung commented, his dancing was more emotional, less cool, than it sometimes is, especially in his Act III variation. Throughout the evening, the contrast with Cory earlier in the week, both technically and dramatically, was striking. David can turn with complete fluidity -- no hopping at the end -- and stop exactly where he needs. I heard one single squeak from his shoes in the 'moody' section in Act I, in contrast with a dozen from Cory. I kept wishing that Veronika could once again be paired with someone more like this (preferably Marcelo, as David has trouble lifting her), so she would no longer have to carry the entire emotional weight of the show, as she did on Monday.
(As a sidenote on David: he seems to have slimmed down in the last year. In general he looks very good, though just one unfortunate side-effect of this, which I'll leave you to infer.)
I thought that Semionova's Act II dancing was beautiful, and technically superb -- probably the most 'flawless' Act II I've seen at ABT. I was very excited going into the second half, and apparently so was the audience. Nearly every time she came on stage from that point on, there was substantial applause: with Rothbart in Act III, with David at the beginning of the pdd, on the rocks in Act IV. People were ready to be wowed by her, and to a certain extent it didn't much matter what happened from there. In her big balance during the pdd's first movement, for instance, the applause began very early -- before the balance was even of notable length. To her great credit, it did go on for quite some time more. (I find applause during a balance to be unfortunate, and potentially counter-productive.) For her fouettes, she began with a long series of doubles, shifting to singles when the music changes, punctuated by an occasional double; she wobbled about 15-20 degrees several times and traveled about 8-10 feet. I love multiple fouettes, but I would much rather have a solid series of 32 singles, on the beat, and with minimal traveling, than something showier but more technically insecure. Again, though, the audience went wild, so much so that I fear many were distracted from the fast, perfect spins that David gave them next.
Still, there was much great dancing from Semionova during Act III, as others have described -- just much better dancing from Hallberg. His reached an emotional peak at the end of Act III and into Act IV, whereas I found her dancing in Act IV to seem rather calculated.
As a very small but representative example:
At the beginning of the reconciliation scene, Odette goes downstage left and turns away from Siegfried, with her arms spread. Siegfried comes behind her and, tentatively, takes her right (downstage) hand. Semionova, knowing that Hallberg would be taking her hand, deliberately lowered it and (though turned away) almost held it back to him. At this all-important moment, when Odette should be absorbed in broken-hearted renunciation, she instead seemed almost coy, waiting for Siegfried to try to make it up to her. This is a very small detail, but it captures much of what I saw in Act IV from her. Whereas David was absorbed in the emotion of his dancing, she seemed to know and be thinking about where she was going to put every part of her body at every moment. Obviously, this is just an impressionistic response, and difficult to substantiate fully, but it was indeed the impression that I got.
Hammoudi danced a better Rothbart than I've seen from him in the past, though with numerous mistakes (including a botched lift of Sarah Smith, which I'm fairly certain was in fact her fault -- she danced a rather messy Hungarian Princess). Given how much praise was being lavished on Semionova, I felt the audience could have spared him at least a bow, but alas no.
Luciana Paris jumped the gun and dove into the final pose of the cygnettes a beat early for some reason.
Melanie Hamrick danced a very nice big swan, with Simone Messmer along for the ride.
Maria Riccetto danced the third variation in the pas de trois -- which has long been my favorite piece for her -- but the conductor took it very fast, and so it was not nearly as perfectly lovely as it often is. The white swan pdd, on the other hand, was played gorgeously, deliciously slow, as we all savored every moment of Semionova and Hallberg's nearly perfect Act II.
Karen Uphoff and David Hallberg had some very nice banter going on with each successive princess during the national dances -- gave me something to divert my eyes from the generally very sloppy performances in this part of the evening. (Craig Salstein and Joseph Phillips were woefully mismatched, to the latter's detriment, in the Neapolitan dance. Phillips just couldn't keep up, though he did much better on Monday.)
On to Corsaire!
Posted 30 June 2012 - 05:13 AM
abatt's comment -- "All the little details that were missing in their performance earlier this week were present tonight" -- shows that Semionva (and Semionova-Halberge) are well on the way to fitting in perfectly.
Posted 30 June 2012 - 06:06 AM
I agree that her Act III fouettees were not on a par with Murphy's or Bouder's, but that was a very small and, IMO, completely forgivable flaw. Hallberg was wonderful, but we knew he would be. His theatrical sense has grown remarkably since he started working with the Bolshoi and it has made a world of difference.
Hammoudi had great stage presence, I found him to be the most convincing purple Rothbart I've seen (after the master). Though he certainly did have some technical weaknesses. Hope he can overcome those.
Posted 30 June 2012 - 06:15 AM
Posted 30 June 2012 - 06:34 AM
Polina Semionova’s power as an artist is as striking as it surprising. Semionova is not particularly beautiful, nor is she such a detailed actress, and she has a relatively awkward body in many respects. However, what Semionova puts forth is a remarkable intuition and intelligence as to how to best express the physicality of her body. Semionova possesses long arms and long legs and actually uses these aspects of her body not only for technical flair, but for shaping her characters of the two swans. Nothing more profoundly displayed this than the Act II pas de deux. I’ve always felt the slower the tempo the better in this pas, and Semionova and Hallberg indeed took the pas at a true adagio tempo. Semionova filled every phrase of music, including those three notes with the harp as the pas is about to start (when she unfurls her body into the iconic swan position). She took the entire length of those three counts to gaze at Siegfried before melting her arm down into the swan pose, whereas some ballerinas are in the swan pose by the two and end up just sitting there. During the pas de deux itself, Semionova would unfurl a leg slowly, lower a leg softly, and undulate an arm regally. The process of any step Semionova danced as Odette was realized in its entirety, whether that would be a penchee, an arabesque, a cambre, or a pirouette. Ultimately, this great physical expression formulated a quiet but palpable vulnerability in Semionova’s Odette. This was an Odette who one did not even need any background information on: she made it very clear that her imprisonment in the spell was due to Rothbart’s evil and was not at all due to any wrongdoing she did. This was ultimately an Odette who could do no wrong, and an Odette who trusts too much for her own good. Siegfried is this sudden, welcome presence in her life, and with that, Semionova’s Odette truly thought that Siegfried could save her. Semionova would faintly smile at Hallberg, almost as if to ponder what could become of the two in the future if the spell were broken. And not only was it Hallberg who was pushing her to trust him, it was also the music. Semionova had this wonderful ability to make the music almost push her throughout the pas de deux to create the identity of this vulnerable, serene soul.
With different partners come different sides of an artist’s character. While Semionova’s Odile with Gomes last year was a world away from her Odette—seductive, vexing, fiery—her Odile this year resembled her Odette far more. Hallberg is certainly not as outwardly passionate as Gomes, and Semionova went along with Hallberg’s subtle aura. Her Odile this time around had a softer and sweeter quality which evoked shades of her Odette while still being just evil enough to prove to the audience that she was only Odette in disguise. Semionova smiled, charmed, and dazzled, even if Semionova could have showcased more passion and temperament out of her Odile. Yet the luscious expression of her body paid dividends here once again. Semionova has some of the most beautiful swan arms that have an almost rippling water effect. And, in the instance in which she takes those slow bourees with the swan pors de bras toward Siegfried, her Odile evoked shades of her Odette. Semionova has those wonderful elastic extensions, and she is one of the few I’ve seen who maintains the height of her leg when she turns from the developee a la seconde to the arabesque penchee at the end of the pas. Her arabesque balance was held solidly for around six seconds before suffering a slight waver at the end. She had strong pirouettes in the variation and a wonderful closing fouette sequence of eight doubles followed by singles with a few doubles in a sequence. Semionova’s lusciousness as a dancer suits this ballet to a tee. Semionova has very nearly the entire package in this ballet: inherent warmth as Odette, sly seduction as Odile, superb technical ability, and developing musicality and artistry. On top of that, I feel Semionova showcases real potential as an actress, but she is still relatively young and needs time to fine tune the moments when she is not dancing (i.e. the mime) and fully unleash her passion as a performer. And she is certainly well on her way with another exceptional performance from her in this ballet.
While Marcelo Gomes shapes his Siegfried around Siegfried as a person, David Hallberg explores the character as to how it represents his aura of royalty. Never will you a find a Siegfried with more noble line than Hallberg, and anyone would be hard-pressed to find a danseur with a more regal posture. Hallberg always maintains a wonderful neutral, straight back when he performs, but Hallberg also gives his torso this airy elegance and authority which prevents that wonderfully straight line of the back to ever appear rigid. And, of course, I haven’t even mentioned Hallberg’s lines, which have been talked about the world over. Hallberg has that wonderful, natural turn-out from the top of the hip, a beautiful straight line of the leg, and a wonderfully elongated, phenomenally shaped foot. Hallberg’s presentation of the foot is particularly superb: there are other dancers who might have his arches, but none lengthen out the end of the foot and lengthen the toes as he curls them downward more so than Hallberg. In these technical respects, Hallberg is set up to be a vision of royalty onstage. Hallberg’s Siegfried is a well-meaning but remote individual. He is also determined to get what he wants. I felt amongst Gomes, Corella, and Hallberg this week, it was Hallberg who gave the clearest sense of absolute dismay at the princesses in the third act. Hallberg gave Act IV real abandonment, and I have felt that Hallberg’s move the Bolshoi has caused him to dance with greater soul and passion than ever before. And, technically, while Hallberg lacks that glorious natural jump of a Baryshnikov or of a Bujones, he has shown particular improvement in his pirouettes and a la seconde turns lately. However, this is not to suggest that Hallberg is perfect, or that this performance was exceptional in every respect. Particularly in the scene during Act I when Hallberg is left lost in a crowd when all the couples are pairing up, Hallberg did not evoke nearly the desperation of Gomes earlier in the week as to how dire his chances of meeting a woman seemed. Hallberg’s passion toward Odile also proved a tad low-wattage for my taste. While blazing passion would perhaps not look right on a dancer of such elegance, Hallberg has to find that balance between nobility and passion that will bring his artistry to new heights. His regality is already second to none.
Purple Rothbart with Alexandre Hammoudi was a relative disaster. I had high hopes for Hammoudi, as he possesses a great “look.” Hammoudi is a young, statuesque dancer with a broad torso and broad presence. And I do feel there is potential for him in this role, but yesterday evening he performed tight. Despite appearing to be quite a physically strong dancer, Hammoudi nearly botched the revolving press lift with one of the princesses. He held the girl up and almost had her too far back in the lift, forcing the girl to bend her one leg in to help steady the position. The exit to the lift was also very rough. Hammoudi struggled mightily with keeping up with the tempo and the entire end phrase of jumps was late. Also, the phrasing of the chaines on the diagonal was completely off, and he rather appeared to have given up at that point. Hammoudi struggled with the arabesque balance at the end and actually had to lower his leg back to sous-sus before he reached his leg back to arabesque (and from then held a decently sustained position). Now, despite this substandard performance Hammoudi does showcase potential in this role. He has a dark presence which if cultivated can really go somewhere in this role. He is not a lost cause of a dancer at all, and I could see that even with a heavily shaky outing last night. But Hammoudi has to deliver for himself onstage and without that will struggle to build ground in this company even if his talent is there.
Act I pas de trois featured Stella Abrera, Maria Riccetto, and Sascha Radetsky. Abrera proved herself the standout of the three. This is my third time seeing Abrera in the Act I pas de trois, and each time I thoroughly enjoy her performance. She is a lovely, dynamic dancer with a mature, spritely personality and wonderful entrechant sixes. Everyone has talked about how Abrera should be promoted to principal, and while I haven’t seen enough of her to determine that for myself, I strongly feel that she should be tested in big principal roles (Odette/Odile, for one) and it’s a true shame she has not. Maria Riccetto was also competent last night, if a tiny bit shaky with the diagonal of piquee turns at the end of her variation. Radetsky, on the other hand, was a relative disappointment. Technically, he was mostly fine (aside from a botched pirouette to come in Act III), if not as spectacular as Simkin or Cornejo would be in this pas de trois. But Radetsky gave the impression that he was fighting his body the entire time. His face was tense and he appeared visibly exhausted by the end of the pas de trois. With that, the rapport between the ballerinas and him was lost.
The swan corps de ballet have been quite consistent all week (I attended Wednesday eve and Thursday). The magic of the corps at ABT is simply never going to reach that of the Mariinsky or the Paris Opera, as at those companies you have the vast majority of dancers trained at the school since childhood. Conversely, at ABT you have a “melting pot” of dancers from different schools, different training backgrounds, etc. I’ve always felt as though ABT corps strive to get the timing of the steps as synchronized as possible so that the differences in the way the dancers are trained are not as evident, and by and large the corps this week has gotten the job done. The cygnets were a tad disappointing last night, as the ending arabesques down to the knee were off. The Act I waltz was a mess earlier in the week, but last night it seemed to me (if I’m recalling correctly) as though it were tighter and cleaner.
Posted 30 June 2012 - 11:54 AM
Also, thank you onxmyxtoes for posting the you tube link (also many thanks for the mute key so I could tune out that annoying twit yellowing Bravo incessantly - we get it, Bravo, now give it a rest!)
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