Batsuchan

Le Corsaire - Spring 2012

58 posts in this topic

Well, California, that's my point entirely. Although I certainly love trolling around YouTube to see what's been posted, be they clips from HDs or telecasts by European companies, or surreptitious bits caught shakily on cell phones from the audience, we should be seeing--occasionally, at the very least--telecasts of ABT performances on American public television. I'm not eager to knock City Ballet, which had a Nutcracker telecast last year and a telecast of their (well danced, but very ugly production of) R&J the year before, but why is ABT left out in the cold?

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Perhaps Mr. Koch with all his $$$$$$$$ could be persuaded to plunk down a nice sum that could preserve on film all the incredible dancers we have at ABT! Public money doesn't seem to be out there.

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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.

...and so long as they aren't snatched up by guest artists.

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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.

And what a pleasure getting to see Veronika really shine in a comedic role!

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My hands still hurt from clapping so hard during tonight's performance. Spectacular. Vasilev was even more electrifying than on Wed. Osipova was perfection - a pure delight in every way. Every spin was phenomenal. Every jump was sky high. Tonight was the best I've ever seen Yuriko dance (as Gulnare). Jared was very good, although he doesn't have the phenomenal technique of some of the other men who performed the role earlier this week. Kobborg was an excellent partner, but his solos were underpowered. The house looked very well sold.

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Electrifying, spectacular, perfection. All there. Why do I come away feeling I've just been to the circus?

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Electrifying, spectacular, perfection. All there. Why do I come away feeling I've just been to the circus?

it's le corsaire?

I don't know, I thought it was a great performance. And to second the kudos for Yuriko...I hadn't seen her in some time until I saw her earlier this season in the SL pas de trois. I was REALLY impressed. And after tonight I was even more so. I want to see her in a full length main role, stat. I think Aurora would suit her well.

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Well, California, that's my point entirely. Although I certainly love trolling around YouTube to see what's been posted, be they clips from HDs or telecasts by European companies, or surreptitious bits caught shakily on cell phones from the audience, we should be seeing--occasionally, at the very least--telecasts of ABT performances on American public television. I'm not eager to knock City Ballet, which had a Nutcracker telecast last year and a telecast of their (well danced, but very ugly production of) R&J the year before, but why is ABT left out in the cold?

I wondered about the lack of ABT on PBS in the last couple years as well. But there were earlier complaints that PBS (being a national 'network' ) should also showcase other national ballet companies - therefore, we had SFB in "Little Mermaid" and MCB in their triple bill last year etc. Personally, I'd like to see that PNB "Giselle" reconstruction (or even BB's which I also thought v. interesting and scarier than most others).

RE: Dancers,

I guess I'll have to keep pushing for funding to finish my doc, and then you can all see & keep Herman, Angel and others for posterity.

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Yes, Aurora, "Le Corsaire" which happily allows for all of the above. I also thought the performance was great, and I agree with you about Yuriko. Never better! (although I would hate to saddle her with ABT's production of "S.B").

I'm always glad when "Corsaire" is scheduled last in the season. It sends everyone out on a very happy note. But dancing elephants would not be out of place here.

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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.

Vasiliev does that almost arabesque half point as Basilio in the Act 1 coda of Don Quixote also while holding Kitri in the air. I understand both camps concerning him. Totally exciting and thrilling stage performer, but not exactly elegant, almost reckless looking, but that is part of the thrill. He's a risk taker. I think ballet will always have a circus element to it, and many people don't like that, but it is here to stay. Never going to go away. Personally, I am glad. I think there is room for all types of performers. But if you see Vasiliev in DQ, for example, you see there is more to him than just circus tricks. He acts well too. This is a true animal of the stage.

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Thanks for all of the wonderful reports about Veronika's debut. I didn't think I'd be looking forward to Le Corsaire here next year, but I cannot wait to see what she can do with it!

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Osipova was spectacular last night, together with Vasiliev they brought the house down, the met roared fiercely at the end of the “out of this world” act II pdd. She has so much energy, no fear pushing the limits, everything brought gasp from the audience, from the first flying jetes to the inhuman ronde de piques (did you guys see that ?) to the stunning fouettes (what exactly did she do when she was changing the leg, can someone explain please ? ) to her crazy extensions, I loved her lines in her customes. I eat every single moment of her, could not really look anywhere else.I liked Vasiliev better last night, and he was on fire too, these two really enjoyed being together at the met stage last night. It was a different performance, but certainly one for the ages.

Kudos to Kayija too, she was wonderful, held her own really well,she has had a wonderful season.

Only huge disappointment to me (again) was Kobborg, its not even worth to get into details, it was worst than his Romeo, which is a lot to say, and next to the two Bolshoi beasts, oh well……my question is, what is the point of bringing this guy to dance here ? I am a big supporter of mega-stars being brought, but this guy is outdanced by pretty much every soloist and quite a few members of the corps, so……I just don’t get it…..maybe is to keep alina happy, if so, boy we are paying big time to have her here.

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Osipova's ronde de piques were the fastest I have EVER seen. . I don't know the technical name for what she was doing with the fouettes, but it was astounding. She even used the normally dead moments of the ballet to impress us, like when the hooded goons block her from running away after Conrad has been knocked out by the funky flower. She spun like a top at the end of that scene, while most ballerinas merely run around or do one or two spins. Vasiliev was definitely super-charged by being on the stage with his finacee. Let's hope for Don Q next season so we can see these two blow the roof off the Met.

Kobberg is disappointing. I know he's a big star at the Royal, but so far I haven't been able to figure out why. He is a strong partner, though. I guess he is no youngster, so he may have been much more impressive in prior years.

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I agreee abatt, honestly, I could not belive my eyes in the ronde de piques, literally, I dont recall ever anything alike, people started screaming half way through them, and at the end when she stood up in that rock solid balance in sky high arabesque, I thought I was dreaming. Do physics principles apply to her at all ????? I still dont know how in the world she didnt fall.

Same with the speed of the fouettes. She made a huge deal of every single little phrase.

Did you see her throwing herself to Kobborg's arms in the bedroom pdd ?

I was quiet but a few people surounding me were close to have a nervous breakdown for real.

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Abatt and Classic_Ballet, I think you're being a trifle too tough on Kobberg. Now, I haven't seen him at the Royal, so cannot comment on his level of performance there, and yes, the three times I've now seen him at ABT he has struck me as quite competent, but not flashy in any way. However, bear in mind that he partners VERY well, and did so last night with Osipova. And really, most of what Conrad has to do is partnering. Remember, too, that anyone might look underpowered when Osipova and Vasiliev are also on stage. True, he's not the most exciting danseur but he's no embarassment, and he is a small price to pay (if that is the case) for having Alina make guest appearances with ABT (sort of like having to take Ricky Bonynge if you want Joan Sutherland). Now, of course, if you're going to make the argument that engaging him is cheating one of the ABT company members out of dancing a role, well, that's another story, and I'm not going to get into that.

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Hi Golden Idol, well, honestly to my eyes it was close to embarrasement, in fact he was actually funny when he made a little jump after Vasiliev in the curtain calls, it kind of said it all. Its true that next to Osipova and Vasiliev its easy to look underpowered, but thats one thing, and another one is to not be able to even lift a leg for a decent arabesque or jete, or do a clean single/double piruette for once. He looked so out of place last night, the poor guy.

When I saw him next to Salstein and Mathews in R&J, I really felt bad for him too, especailly in the variation right before entering the ball room scene.

now think, if you are desperate for a chance, and you have to witness this guy being brought from far away, i wdnt be happy myself.

with that said, since I adore Alina, if thats the price, I am ok with that, as long as as they dont start putting them together, bc then it wd really be a total killer for me.

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I wasn't judging Kobborg in comparison to either Osipova or Vasiliev. I was judging him based on other dancers who perform Conrad at ABT. I had seen him at Kings of Dance several years ago and I thought very hightly of his performance then. I acknowledge that he is a strong partner.

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Oh, well, Classic_Ballet, I guess you're right. I didn't see him in that R&J, but if you say so... (Maybe I'm more forgiving that you!)

By the way, I should also say that I sat up and took notice of Arron Scott's Birbanto last night. Apart from his Dance of the (ahem) Golden Idol, I haven't seen him do an extended role before, and I was pleasantly surprised. Craig played it with great swagger, and he kicks higher in the Pirate dance, but Scott impressed me. More, please, Mr. Scott. On the other hand, it looked to me that Jared was playing the slave trader with the exact same grin on his face that he used as the ballroom von Rothbart. But whereas he was "out of his element" (as someone posted here last week,and I tend to agree) as Rothbart, the weaselly grin seemed appropriate for Lankendam.

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From my perspective, Kobborg's Romeo was just fine. I thought the absence of pyrotechnics was totally in keeping with his depiction of Romeo as a pensive observer. His deep plies contributed to a lovely seamlessness in his phrasing and a very clear articulation of the movement’s underlying structure. Clearly his partnering was sublime. For me, it was an absolute revelation. It was extremely nuanced with amazing spontaneity and texture.

I realize that the thread is Corsaire; please move as appropriate. Thank you.

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Tonight it was battle of the all star short dancers. Cornejo is my favorite Conrad at ABT since Bocca quit. Sky high jumps, wonderful lines. He also partnered Reyes very well, lifting her high and with complete security in the big overhead lifts. Vasiliev was again great as Ali. The Act II pas de trois was like a little competition between Cornejo and Vasiliev. Simkin, not to be outdone, also turned in a stellar performance as Lankedam. However, he was merely adequate as a partner to Lane. Saviliev was a much stronger partner for her. Simkin did three or four of those deep knee bends on his landings in his solo that Malhakov used to do.) Reyes was a bit off her game in Act I. She was not in control during her fouettes. She was excellent in Act II. However, in the final act her Italian fouettes were traveling all over the place.

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At this point, I've seen the Mon, Tues, Wed and Fri "Le Corsaire" performances, and last night was the most fun for me so far! I felt like everyone was really going for it (perhaps because Vasiliev was there), so Simkin, and Cornejo were really flying around.

I agree that Reyes seemed to be a little shaky in Act I, but I felt like she was also inspired/energized by the crowd's enthusiasm and reeled off some crazy fast pirouettes and chaine turns in Act II. And with her, I always appreciate the attention she pays to her partners--it really enhances the chemistry. And she and Cornejo had GREAT chemistry--I thought their Act II p.d.d. was the most seamless and touching of all the ones I've seen so far.

As for Vasiliev--I agree that he is exciting to watch, and he certainly gets the crowd going, but I actually preferred Simkin as the slave. He also gets incredible height, but his lines are so much nicer and cleaner, and I was VERY impressed by the difficult variations he was able to achieve in his pirouette sequences.

Looking forward to tonight!

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Oh, well, Classic_Ballet, I guess you're right. I didn't see him in that R&J, but if you say so... (Maybe I'm more forgiving that you!)

By the way, I should also say that I sat up and took notice of Arron Scott's Birbanto last night. Apart from his Dance of the (ahem) Golden Idol, I haven't seen him do an extended role before, and I was pleasantly surprised. Craig played it with great swagger, and he kicks higher in the Pirate dance, but Scott impressed me. More, please, Mr. Scott. On the other hand, it looked to me that Jared was playing the slave trader with the exact same grin on his face that he used as the ballroom von Rothbart. But whereas he was "out of his element" (as someone posted here last week,and I tend to agree) as Rothbart, the weaselly grin seemed appropriate for Lankendam.

wanted to mention that Arron's Mercutio is also top notch!! He's among the cleanest movers in the company!!

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The role of “big bravura” in ballet has always been a much generated topic, especially when one of the world’s foremost companies—the Bolshoi—derives its name from “big bravura.” There are those who insist bravura is the direction which ballet should be going in: more athleticism, more tricks, more amplitude. Then there is the camp which insists that ballet should stay with its roots and never slide into the realm of circus acts. They argue that bravura is often tasteless, and at times proves a mockery of what ballet is. I see both arguments, but in Le Corsaire, I always feel that the more bravura, the better. With the weaknesses of the ballet—the overcomplicated storyline, the piecemeal score, the wishwashy characters—this ballet needs excitement wherever it can get it. And, last night, excitement and bravado were brought to a ballet which provided a packed house with an exciting evening of ballet. Le Corsaire is in many respects a men’s ballet, and a bravura ballet, and those in attendance enjoyed plenty of bravura from three danseurs known for it.

Dancing the role of Conrad, Herman Cornejo continued to be the revelation of the season for me. At first, his smaller stature would seem to more suit the role of Lankendem, the owner of the bazaar where the slave girls are traded in Act I. Indeed, Cornejo was superb as Lankendem on Wednesday. Conrad is a pirate who falls in love with Medora, and thus he plays more of a “leading man” role in the ballet. For some reason, I’ve always associated Conrad with tall men, but not last night. In spite of being very short, Cornejo looks surprisingly tall onstage when the role demands it. He made Conrad into this powerful, masculine figure with a palpable, endearing love for Medora. Gone was the efficiency of Cory Stearns two days before. Cornejo is anything but efficient as a dancer, with his truly infallible technique, precise musicality, and magnetic artistry. Even in a couple of instances where his pirouettes weren’t completely on, he covered any small error as if there was no error at all. Of Cornejo, Simkin, and Vasiliev, Cornejo is by far the bravura dancer with the best taste. Not only does he have the tricks, but Cornejo has a sense of true classicism. I notice that the debate over bravura never centers around Cornejo, perhaps one of the premier bravura dancers of our time, as Cornejo gives the audience everything. Remarkably, he satisfies all ends of the spectrum in terms of opinions on where ballet should be headed: he has line, artistry, musicality, and of course, the tricks. Unfortunately, Cornejo’s height which proves so useful for athleticism does not prove useful for maintaining a regal, statuesque bearing onstage, which is really no fault his own. He simply cannot evoke shades of being a prince in the way Gomes or Hallberg might in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, et al, and he is not a natural partner (although his partnering is much improved). And, even in this ballet, I preferred Cornejo just slightly in the role of Lankendem to Conrad because Lankendem is so suited to a dancer of his shorter stature. However, preferences in these matters are rather futile. Cornejo is sure to bring the house down regardless of the role, and he accomplished as much last night.

Taking over Lankendem for Cornejo last night, Danill Simkin proved himself another such bravura artist. I first heard about Simkin in 2008 when he was on the competition circuit, and the thing clear to me then, as it is now, is that Simkin is a young male dancer’s dancer. His formidable technical ability is seemingly unlimited. All of the laws of physics surely cannot apply to Simkin, whose pirouettes revolve on an unwavering access and whose jumps seem suspended by wires. However, the critics of bravura are right in that ballet should never be all about the circus acts. A tremendous difference between Cornejo and Simkin, and not just in this ballet, is their stage manners. Even in the showy, bravura roles (Puck, for one) Cornejo always seems like he is dancing for you. He is always giving to the audience, and the bravura is merely a foundation for that. Conversely, Simkin almost “takes” from the audience. He carries on with an almost smug smile which creates an image of expecting applause, bravos, cheers, and the liking after every variation, every turn, every jump he does. Unlike Cornejo, Simkin does not even make an attempt to bear any humility onstage; rather, he is a dancer who is good and knows it.

Now, is that smug smile an issue for this ballet? Not necessarily. It has been something which has bothered me in other roles of Simkin, but Lankendem is a showy character to the extreme. Simkin danced with remarkable virtuosity on Friday, but somehow Cornejo was even more spectacular in this role Wednesday. I noticed a stuck out popo in the grand plié landings of the opening assemble jumps, and the double tours at the end were all leaning toward his left side. I’m being a technical Nazi here, as Simkin was very, very fine. I hope the coaches at ABT are able to work their magic on Simkin in terms of having him develop a multi-faceted persona onstage. They are already working with him on his partnering, which showcased particular improvement last night (although it is still by no means great). I have no particular criticisms of Simkin last night, as indeed his performance suited the demands of the role very well, but his performance of last night reminded me too much of performances from other ballets in where he milks his bravura for all it is worth and leaves the audience with a smug persona which he mistakes for “artistry.” Which is a fault of his past performances and not this one, I realize, but I read similar criticisms of his debut as Siegfried in Swan Lake last week.

Ivan Vasiliev is a dancer who almost seems more animal than human. The amplitude of his jumps, the lightning quickness of his pirouettes, the stern passion onstage all seem to represent a wild cannibal more than a premier danseur. Yet, in the role of Ali, Conrad’s slave, the cannibalistic nature of his dancing is perfect. The Act II variation of Ali is something that is now expected to bring the house down, and Vasiliev gives the audience the unbelievable athletic ability it desires. A dancer without a great classical line, Vasiliev avoids this problem to spectacular fashion in a role when he can rely completely on his storied jumps and have his substandard lines tucked away with those baggy turquoise pants. At times, another criticism of Vasiliev has been his acting ability, but in this role that criticism is unfounded. In addition to the blinding passion and bravura Vasiliev brings to the stage, he brings a wonderful exotic mystique to the role of Ali. He, like Cornejo, also “gives” to the audience. There was this one moment where he finished one of his spectacular, “has no name” jumps, and he powerfully starred at the audience for a few seconds prior to unleashing into a space-devouring ménage. The moment was as memorable as any ceiling-grazing jump. He almost seemed to draw in energy from the audience for a few seconds, but he was giving to the audience in the sense that he desired their power. Vasiliev gave the role of Ali a true sense of loyalty. The way he bows down to Conrad, even the way he runs on and off stage to satisfy Conrad’s demands, showcased Vasiliev’s unforgettable, humble power in the role of Ali.

While a men’s ballet, Le Corsaire was not to be defined by just the men last night. Although she is often the unsung principal of ABT, Xiomara Reyes provided the role of Medora with palpable charm last night. Xiomara Reyes and Hee Seo might just have the two most natural smiles in the company. Reyes’s smile does not simply end at the teeth, it extends to the eyes. Without the sumptuous lines of other ballerinas, Reyes instead milked her allegro sparkle for all she could. As aforementioned, there were technical flaws in Reyes’s performance: some pirouettes in the first act that were off, I don’t think I spotted one turn of Reyes’s that took off from a true 5th position, and a rather impressive fouette series was slightly marred by a cheated final double pirouette to end. But I didn’t care so much about technical flaws with Reyes, because her performance was a technically and musically ambitious one. More than that, however, Reyes stood out because she developed a true rapport with her Conrad, Herman Cornejo, unlike the subdued chemistry between Part and Stearns on Wednesday. Not to mention, Reyes even sparkled life out of the often enigmatic Sarah Lane as Gulnare, and the two of them exemplified camaraderie with their friendship. Although Reyes lacked technical precision in many places and simply does not have the elegant long lines of a Veronika Part, I left the theatre thoroughly charmed. I was able to get her autograph at the stage door following the performance, and her vivacity is just as palpable onstage as it is off.

If there was a disappointing lead dancer in last night’s performance, it was probably Sarah Lane as Gulnare. In fact, her performance was not bad in the least, but last night Lane was quite calculated in comparison to the other dancers. Although technically quite a lovely dancer with those nicely tapered feet, elegant port de bras, and elastic extensions, Lane was impassive last night, especially in comparison to the comparatively vivacious Maria Riccetto on Wednesday. Corps member Mikhail Ilyin demonstrated much potential as Birbanto, a pirate and Conrad’s friend, as did a Joseph Phillips in the same role on Wednesday. Julio Bragado-Young gave the role of Seyd, the pasha interested in buying Medora, nicely played comedic timing. Even the three Odalisques, the same three as Wednesday (Melanie Hamrick, Kristi Boone, Christine Shevchenko), were much improved tonight, especially Shevchenko, who after struggling with the diagonal pique arabesque/pirouette sequence Wednesday, nailed it almost flawlessly last night.

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Dancing the role of Conrad, Herman Cornejo continued to be the revelation of the season for me. At first, his smaller stature would seem to more suit the role of Lankendem, the owner of the bazaar where the slave girls are traded in Act I....

And, even in this ballet, I preferred Cornejo just slightly in the role of Lankendem to Conrad because Lankendem is so suited to a dancer of his shorter stature.

I believe that in ABT's production of Corsaire, Malakhov originated Lankedem. He was on the tall side with long beautiful legs and feet and he danced the role with (to my eyes) sexy humor and verve--fake facial hair seemed to bring out a whole new side to his personality. I was actually mildly surprised to read ABT was casting the role with shorter dancers though in fact, for this production, I don't see it as a role in which "emploi" is terribly sacred.

(The role is very different in the Bolshoi Ratmansky/Burlaka "reconstruction" of the nineteenth-Century Corsaire--more or less an anti-Semitic caricature; I saw it performed by a great, great character dancer--Gennadi Yanin--but am more than content with ABT's rewrite.)

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I thoroughly enjoyed watching Shevchenko on wednesday and friday. She is a true ballerina. You can see her tremendous personality and elegance when she dances. You can also see her confidence and beautiful lines.... She is gorgeous.

I also enjoyed Cornejo on wednesday... wow.

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