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Le Corsaire - Spring 2012

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I don't have much time, but just a quick note to say that tonight's performance was totally awesome (and I don't even like "Le Corsaire" that much)!

They certainly put on an all-star cast, and everyone seemed to be so excited to see Ethan Stiefel--and he looked fantastic!

Gillian was totally on, Marcelo was marvelous as always, Stella looked so happy and gorgeous as Gulnare, and it was lovely to see her dancing with her husband Sascha Radetsky (even if he was one of the "villains"). Craig Salstein is a fantastic character actor, and he was a delightfully evil Birbanto.

Sarah Lane, Adrienne Schulte and Isabella Boylston were the Odalisques. Is it just my imagination, or is Isabella dancing with even more authority now that she's got one SL behind her?

It will be so sad to see Ethan go, but at least we get to see him twice before he leaves!

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I hope a lot of people will report on Ethan Stiefel's last two performances with ABT. He's always been my favorite :) and it truly is the end of an era to see him retire.

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Just a quick note before I head to dream land... WOW was Ethan AMAZING! I think he looked better than I've seen him look in years! He literally made me gasp! So happy to have been there to see one of my favorite dancers, one last time!

(Everyone else was really good too.. but Ethan was......)

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I was pleasantly surprised how good Ethan looked. I too thought he looked better than he has in years. He is trim, slim and fit. Everyone was excellent last night.

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There were fireworks aplenty at the Metropolitan Opera House this afternoon when ABT presented a spectacular performance of Le Corsaire. I thought that Veronika, eloquent as always, was at the top of her game technically, executing double fouettes amongst other double turns, and that Cory seemed to thrive on the role of Conrad, which required him to swagger and strut rather than be soulful (which he wasn't at all in the role of Siegfried a week ago Monday when it was called for). Herman is always wonderful, although I would have preferred to see him as Ali. Although Vasiliev can jump and do tricks, he does not have classical proportions nor a classical line, and he could just as well have been a circus acrobat. The mood in the house was festive, and everyone seemed to be having a grand old time.

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I've never seen a circus acrobat who can do what Vasiliev does. He does not have a beautiful classical line, but in the role of Ali that's not a significant issue. It's a problem if you are playing a prince. Vasiliev was thrilling. He gives 110 percent and the audience loved it. We are lucky to have him dancing at the Met. I, too, enjoyed this afternoon's performance.

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I've never seen a circus acrobat who can do what Vasiliev does. He does not have a beautiful classical line, but in the role of Ali that's not a significant issue. It's a problem if you are playing a prince. Vasiliev was thrilling. He gives 110 percent and the audience loved it. We are lucky to have him dancing at the Met. I, too, enjoyed this afternoon's performance.

I agree. Don't me wrong, Vasiliev is not at all suited for some roles. He doesn't have a good classical line, but what he does bring to the table is this very raw and passionate persona coupled with tons of bravura. And, for me, in the role of Ali that bravura and passion is ideal.

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I've never seen a circus acrobat who can do what Vasiliev does. He does not have a beautiful classical line, but in the role of Ali that's not a significant issue. It's a problem if you are playing a prince. Vasiliev was thrilling. He gives 110 percent and the audience loved it. We are lucky to have him dancing at the Met. I, too, enjoyed this afternoon's performance.

I agree. Don't me wrong, Vasiliev is not at all suited for some roles. He doesn't have a good classical line, but what he does bring to the table is this very raw and passionate persona coupled with tons of bravura. And, for me, in the role of Ali that bravura and passion is ideal.

Yes, but couple that with the classical lines of Cornejo, Corella, and Stiefel. Compare and contrast.

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Vasiliev was also a flawless partner for Part, one of the tallest women in the company. That's more than I can say for Cory Stearns, who looked like he was straining to lift her.

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Herman was amazing this afternoon as the slave trader. Flair, character, astounding jumps, simply spectacular. What a star. He had to take two bows after his solo before the show could go on. Veronika did a lovely job the whole way through, technically secure, and I agree she did beautifully on the long fouette sequence. I'd not seen Vasiliev before, but in his brief seconds of introduction in the first act I thought he he had more charisma than Cory Stearns did the entire performance. I'm not sure why this is, Cory is tall, handsome, nice long legs and feet and dances well enough, but to me he is always a little bland. I've seen him a few times now and still don't get why he came up the ranks so quickly; I've heard it suggested his height probably was factor for the taller ballerinas, and he is pretty good. But when he was dancing alongside Veronika Part and Ivan Vasiliev it looked like they were in another league from him altogether. He may yet grow into a stronger stage presence - he's still young.

Also there was a sequence of lifts where Veronika twisted from a backbend into a penchee sort of thing in the lift, repeated three times, and every time Cory looked awkward. I'm not sure what the trouble was there, but Vasiliev who is not nearly as big as Cory made the partnering look effortless. I felt Veronika responded to Ivan and their pas de deux was off-the-charts with energy.

The three odalisques were Shevchenko, Hamricke and Boone, nicely done. Is Shevchenko the smaller one with the very pointed feet? If that'sthe right one both she and Melanie Hamricke had wonderful but distinctly different-looking traveling brises in their solos. Schevchenko covered huge distance across the stage while Hamricke had gorgeously crossed beats. I like Hamricke's clarity and attack. Riccetto was likeable as Gulnare; she's a solid dancer and I think she shines in roles where she gets to act a bit, as here.

And Vasiliev's athletic abilities were awe-inspiring. In his harem pants I couldn't see his line all that well so if he lacks at all there, it wasn't visible and his jumps were crazy. He also had charisma to burn and a certain Nureyev-like animal magnetism. Great stuff and the crowd loved him. I couldn't help but wonder if Cornejo's exceptional performance earlier on was spurred on by Vasiliev's bravura; if he felt inspired by the competition we all benefited!

The little, very little, dancers in the dream sequence were adorable. None of them looked any older than 6 and not only did they do their jobs well but they melted hearts all over the house. AAwwwwwww.

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I saw the Monday performance as well. The three leads all gave accomplished performances--and Ali's ridiculous headdress apparently aspired to become a pair of sunglasses, so Ethan performed some of those flawless turns blindly. For me, though, Stella, Craig Salstein, and Kristi Boone were what really elevated the evening: it was so lovely to see both lead and secondary lead roles performed on an equally high level.

As everyone else has said, Craig Salstein's mime was notably good: it was not just realistic, but kinetically exciting, too. A spectacular sense of timing, a full-body attack, and Birbanto's dance variation received the same treatment.

It's hard to imagine a better lead pirate woman than Kristi Boone. For commanding, voluptuous grandeur, look elsewhere. But for sparkling, unaffected gamine charm, no one in the company can touch her. The pirate character dances led by Boone and Salstein were among the few I've seen that never felt overlong. (I hope she escaped that shipwreck.)

Stella gave the performance of the evening, though. It's rare to see an American-trained dancer with a truly seamless line--where the mime is completely integrated into the movement, each action completely enchained with the one before it. I haven't seen a line this good married to full-blown technical command on the Met stage since the Kirov was here last summer (Vishneva's performances this spring excepted). She was beside three of the finest artists of their respective generations and, to my mind, gave the most refined performance of all. Such integrity.

(And speaking of lovely lines, does anyone know where Marian Butler is? I've missed seeing her in the corps this season.)

Regarding the Odalisques, a query: do they usually coordinate their dramatic responses (i.e., are all three unremittingly unhappy or have they, pragmatically, decided to smile for the nice gentlemen)? The contrast of Sarah Lane's consistently unhappy face with Adrienne Schulte's equally consistent smile made the former look overwrought and the latter clueless (Isabella Boylston's interpretation was pitched in-between, but I didn't quite follow it). And I hate that this distracted me, because Lane's musicality and Boylston's daring gave their variations some lovely moments.

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The ticket sales for Corsaire have been scary!! There are far too many orchestra seats available for the upcoming shows to feel good. I wonder why this is, especially because there is a DVD version of ABT performing the ballet. It seems like the general ballet-watching public should be familiar with the ballet and willing to go.

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The ticket sales for Corsaire have been scary!! There are far too many orchestra seats available for the upcoming shows to feel good. I wonder why this is, especially because there is a DVD version of ABT performing the ballet. It seems like the general ballet-watching public should be familiar with the ballet and willing to go.

Yesterday matinee had some empty seats up in family circle, but the rest was quite full.

A LOT of people are out of town this weekend, which would likely explain it.

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Also there was a sequence of lifts where Veronika twisted from a backbend into a penchee sort of thing in the lift, repeated three times, and every time Cory looked awkward. I'm not sure what the trouble was there, but Vasiliev who is not nearly as big as Cory made the partnering look effortless. I felt Veronika responded to Ivan and their pas de deux was off-the-charts with energy.

There was a priceless moment in yesterday's performance when Vasiliev, while traversing the stage with Veronika held high in a lift, went up onto one leg with his foot en demi-pointe, held the position for a moment, and then proceeded across the stage before letting Veronika down. I know all of us Part fans always hope she'll have a secure partner, but it was an unexpected thrill to see her with a partner who was not only secure but made such risky, bravura element look effortless.

That said, Ali does far less partnering than Conrad, so it's perhaps a little unfair to compare their partnering abilites (though it's certainly accurate to say that Cory does not project nearly so much stage presence as Veronika and Vasiliev). As griffie states above, Cory made some of the lifts look awkward, but I was pleased to see that he and Veronika did not alter the "standard" ABT choreography for the bedroom pas de deux, as I recall Wiles and Hallberg did a couple years ago. Seeing Veronika release one of her arms from Cory's shoulder as she was held in a crescent moon-shaped position above his head was a sight to behold. She did not attempt to position herself perpendicularly to the stage floor, as Kent does in the DVD, but this was probably a smart decision.

Veronika's fouette sequence was one of a handful of jaw-dropping moments during the performance. I've never seen her do them faster or more crisply, and while not traveling very much. She delivered doubles throughout, timed to the music, with one last double at the end. So many times when ballerinas try to end with a double or triple they have too much or too little momentum, ending in an unattractive position. But Veronika ended them perfectly and with a true sense of panache.

What can I say about Cornejo? He has been a pure joy to watch in every role I have ever seen him in. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in every male role Corsaire as to offer.

Joseph Phillips was fantastic as the villainous pirate. I’ve never seen him dance better, and he more than held his own against the technical fireworks of Cornejo and Vasiliev.

I never thought I’d enjoy all that goofy Pasha nonsense, but Julio Bragado-Young was far and away the funniest I’ve ever seen. I loved the moment when Veronika was unveiled in Act I and he fell backwards to the sound of the harp.

The orchestra was truly in the swashbuckling spirit yesterday, with several of its members wearing eye patches, and some wearing gold hoop earrings and bandanas.

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I couldn't help but wonder if Cornejo's exceptional performance earlier on was spurred on by Vasiliev's bravura; if he felt inspired by the competition we all benefited!

Herman has been extraordinary since Day 1. He is great, great, great, and needs no one else to inspire his stellar performances.

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I couldn't help but wonder if Cornejo's exceptional performance earlier on was spurred on by Vasiliev's bravura; if he felt inspired by the competition we all benefited!

Herman has been extraordinary since Day 1. He is great, great, great, and needs no one else to inspire his stellar performances.

I realize that lots of people are very critical of Vasiliev for his extreme technique, or what some would call "tricks." While I did not see him this season, I've seen him in performance with the Bolshoi in Don Quixote, as well as lots of video and YouTube. He's very young (23?). I hope that by working in the presence of so many great male dancers (Cornejo, Hallberg, Gomes at the top of my list) that he will learn something about refinement, line, style, etc.

Many dancers have spoken about the influence of co-dancers in their companies. (I'm thinking of both Cynthia Gregory and Gelsey Kirkland, who talked about how much they learned by working in the same company with Makarova.) So, I'm hoping for the best with Vasiliev; the raw talent and drive are there. He just needs work on the overall package. Stearns, on the other hand, is such a continuing disappointment; I don't know what it will take to bring him up to the top level in performance.

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I couldn't help but wonder if Cornejo's exceptional performance earlier on was spurred on by Vasiliev's bravura; if he felt inspired by the competition we all benefited!

Herman has been extraordinary since Day 1. He is great, great, great, and needs no one else to inspire his stellar performances.

Angelica, I completely agree with you that Cornejo needs no one to inspire his performances, I didn't mean it that way. But having seen him so many times over the years I have seen performances of his that were finer than others, and yesterday he was on fire. I was only imagining that even the best of the best can find that working alongside another extraordinary talent can be stimulating. I don't know that to be the case - but regardless, the presence of two such performances in one show was a treasure.

I myself feel that Marcelo and Herman ought to be huge international superstars. I find them superior to every big name danseur brought in to headline. I have to remind myself that it's their dedication to their art and willingness to stay the grinding course year after year with the same company that's part of why they appeal so much; to me their personalities come across on stage as much as their technique, and I adore them. I hope that they are in as many recordings as possible because their legacies will have them appreciated for all they deserve.

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I couldn't help but wonder if Cornejo's exceptional performance earlier on was spurred on by Vasiliev's bravura; if he felt inspired by the competition we all benefited!

Herman has been extraordinary since Day 1. He is great, great, great, and needs no one else to inspire his stellar performances.

Angelica, I completely agree with you that Cornejo needs no one to inspire his performances, I didn't mean it that way. But having seen him so many times over the years I have seen performances of his that were finer than others, and yesterday he was on fire. I was only imagining that even the best of the best can find that working alongside another extraordinary talent can be stimulating. I don't know that to be the case - but regardless, the presence of two such performances in one show was a treasure.

Griffie, You may well be right here, as I haven't seen Herman in many performances because I tend to avoid Xiomara, whom I know many people adore. Whenever I've seen Herman, I've been in awe of him. It all seems to come so naturally. It's not only in bravura steps. There's a YouTube video of him partnering someone in the white swan PdD (I'm not sure whether I got the link on this list), which shows him to be a brilliant partner--soulful, strong, gentle, deeply expressive--and he doesn't do a single turn or jump, and retains the classical line throughout. Also, I seem to be in the minority on this list in not finding Vasiliev inspiring. My eye is trained to seek out the classical line, which is one of the reasons I love watching Hallberg.

It strikes me that every principal dancer has qualities that we love, and perhaps, in some cases, others we may not. For example, I adore Veronika Part, but my heart is in my throat whenever she has to confront multiple turns. For me this lends her a vulnerability and freshness and gives each of her performances a spontaneity--of course, IMHO she has the most beautiful classical line of any female ballerina dancing in the US today.

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Griffie wrote: I hope that they are in as many recordings as possible because their legacies will have them appreciated for all they deserve.

You mention what is to me a very sore point. WHAT recordings? Dance in America is no more, and ABT hasn't done a telecast in years. At least Cornejo did Puck for a telecast of The Dream years ago with Steifel, but apart from the ballroom von Rothbart, Marcelo is very poorly documented on video. Here's a wish list--and I invite others on this site to do their own. Since the live '80s telecast of La Bayadere, during which Makarova was injured and replaced halfway through, has never been released commercially, it's high time for another; Marcelo, Veronika, and Gillian, please. Or Marcelo and Diana in Onegin. Or Marcelo and Cojocaru in Sleeping Beauty (well, Cojocaru and anybody, frankly). But you know what we will probably get, eventually? A holiday telecast of Ratmansky's Nutcracker, after the cost of the new production has been sufficently amortized and it is thought that a video won't keep people from buying tickets to it. Mind you, I'm not against such a telecast, but there are other ballets and performances I'd rather see professionally captured on video. Is ABT now such a hard sell to Public Broadcasting?

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Veronika had an incredible debut as Medora. Not even in my sweetest dreams I ever thought that she would dance it the way she did. It was incredibly refreshing to see her, finally, taking on a new role, and even better, doing it with such joy, security and success.

When she came out in Act I, her movie star looks made me gasp, no wonder the pasha passed out after she was unveiled, who wdnt !!! she is gotten really skinny, which has only accentuated even more her stunning lines and beauty.

Her first series of jetes were impressive and from there on, everything went flawless, the fouettes in ActII were done at great speed, like never before, with multiples doubles (never saw her do that either) and more importantly was the way she finished them, clean, perfect, freshhh, as if she were ready for another round. The complete Act II pdd was really wonderful; she used her gorgeous lines to bring the much needed grandeur to this part. Italian fouettes in Act III were gorgeous, pretty much on the spot.

I agreed with the fact tha Vasiliev handled her as only I have seen Marcelo do, and the moment commented by fondoffouettes was really something, he afforded the luxury of going almost in arabesque, in demi-point, after having walked around with her up high there, it was really priceless, and beautiful too.

Cornejo was his usual wonder, he is always a pleasure for my eyes, and Cory was way better and confortable than in Sigfried last week, his technique, acting and partnering, I found everything way improved. I loved both of them in the bedroom pdd, and considereing Veronika’s height I think he partnered her really well. They are both very beautiful dancers and looked gorgeous on stage.

My take on Vasiliev is somehow in the middle, I have to say that in the opening night gala, I really found his dancing highly grotesque and vulgar, with all due respect for him and the divergent opinions, so I actuallly decided not to go to see him in La Bayadere. This is a matter of personal taste, of course. On the other hand, there is no question that his pyrotechnics are absolutely sensational, he seems to devour the stage with impetuous force, flies, spin, you named, like very few can do, he is pretty spectacular and also has this macho bravura that captivates somehow…..but it is also true that he completely lacks the lines, the elegance, the manners, to a point that is also surprising, considering the stage of his career (he is young but he has danced quite a lot already, and some very basic things at this point should have been more than covered), so I am skeptical about the fact that he can be taught those things, he could prob improve, and I really hope so, but some things you cant teach.

The weird thing is that besides all this, I kind of liked his pairing with veronika, who is prob totally the opposite, sounds a little crazy, but I actually wonder how this very two different dancers wd look in something like swan lake (with a more refined version of him, of course), for example, the contrast may bring a lot of fire to the performance, who knows….

I just want to add, that based on her success yesterday, one can only hope to see her taking on more new roles in the years to come, Kitri next year for example, and so much more, I am very happy that she was given this chance, and even more so on how well she rose to the occasion

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Although this was Veronika's ABT debut as Medora, she did the role when she was a soloist at the Kirov. She has had to wait all these years to get the role at ABT. Apparently, Kent has vacated the role due to its vast technical demands, so ABT needed a new Medora. I'm glad Part finally got the role, which she deserves.

Xiomara has also moved up from Gulnare to Medora this season. Simkin got his debut as Ali because Angel retired.

I suppose this is an example of how dancers in the company, including principal dancers, are shut out of new roles until someone more senior steps aside.

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Xiomara danced medora last time they did, I saw her on a Friday night I remember, she was really wonderful, fastest pique chaines i have ever seen. She also danced it when they did it in London (after a few years dancing Gulnare, even being a principal)

Not sure if Kent danced it 2 years ago, probably, Michele had it too, so her spot was prob the vacant. Still Gilliam is doing two, would have been fun to see Semionova (prob next year) or Boylston too

Osipova is dancing it with abt tonight for the first time, I'll be there smile.png

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Griffie wrote: I hope that they are in as many recordings as possible because their legacies will have them appreciated for all they deserve.

You mention what is to me a very sore point. WHAT recordings? Dance in America is no more, and ABT hasn't done a telecast in years. At least Cornejo did Puck for a telecast of The Dream years ago with Steifel, but apart from the ballroom von Rothbart, Marcelo is very poorly documented on video. Here's a wish list--and I invite others on this site to do their own. Since the live '80s telecast of La Bayadere, during which Makarova was injured and replaced halfway through, has never been released commercially, it's high time for another; Marcelo, Veronika, and Gillian, please. Or Marcelo and Diana in Onegin. Or Marcelo and Cojocaru in Sleeping Beauty (well, Cojocaru and anybody, frankly). But you know what we will probably get, eventually? A holiday telecast of Ratmansky's Nutcracker, after the cost of the new production has been sufficently amortized and it is thought that a video won't keep people from buying tickets to it. Mind you, I'm not against such a telecast, but there are other ballets and performances I'd rather see professionally captured on video. Is ABT now such a hard sell to Public Broadcasting?

I saw Herman in video in the NYPL and he was eye-catching.

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I had forgotten that Wiles did Medora. Since I generally avoided her performances, I don't have much recollection of what she performed.

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Griffie wrote: I hope that they are in as many recordings as possible because their legacies will have them appreciated for all they deserve.

You mention what is to me a very sore point. WHAT recordings? Dance in America is no more, and ABT hasn't done a telecast in years. At least Cornejo did Puck for a telecast of The Dream years ago with Steifel, but apart from the ballroom von Rothbart, Marcelo is very poorly documented on video. Here's a wish list--and I invite others on this site to do their own. Since the live '80s telecast of La Bayadere, during which Makarova was injured and replaced halfway through, has never been released commercially, it's high time for another; Marcelo, Veronika, and Gillian, please. Or Marcelo and Diana in Onegin. Or Marcelo and Cojocaru in Sleeping Beauty (well, Cojocaru and anybody, frankly). But you know what we will probably get, eventually? A holiday telecast of Ratmansky's Nutcracker, after the cost of the new production has been sufficently amortized and it is thought that a video won't keep people from buying tickets to it. Mind you, I'm not against such a telecast, but there are other ballets and performances I'd rather see professionally captured on video. Is ABT now such a hard sell to Public Broadcasting?

Cojocaru is in a Sleeping Beauty DVD with Royal. You can also see her in their Giselle and an older Nutcracker. The European companies seem to do so much better than the Americans in releasing high-quality DVD from recent years -- La Scala, POB, Royal, Bolshoi, etc. It's truly frustrating that we have so little from the American companies and dancers. I don't know if NEA still has their project of "preserving America's heritage," in which they filmed all sorts of performances, going back decades, for archival purposes. But having looked at many at NYPL, they're very poor quality, certainly not suitable for broadcast or DVD (or download) sale, and apparently not prepared for release in terms of the many licenses required.

With some serious searching on YouTube you can find clips of people like Gomes performing with foreign companies, but they appear to be bootlegged by audience members or brief, poor-quality clips. Very unfortunate.

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