Natalia

ABT in DC-Kennedy Center, spring 2013

77 posts in this topic

I got to both Saturday performances of Le Corsaire, but since I've never seen the earlier ABT production I can't comment on changes. My general take on this ballet is that it really shows who the outstanding dancers are. The story line is so weak that unless the dancers are spectacular watching it gets tedious quickly. Which is why I had to fight to stay awake during the matinee (it didn't help that the KC didn't turn on the air conditioning until the first intermission) but found myself engrossed in the evening show, because the dancers in the major parts in the matinee were merely very good while the cast for the evening performance was great (especially Gillian Murphy as Medora and Ivan Vasilev as Ali - he did things that I didn't think were physically possible). I also think that the music is totally uninspiring.

Spoiler Alert I don't know who came up with the ending for the story, but I thought that it was kind of stupid. Everybody on the boat except for Medora and Conrad apparently drowns, including Medora's friend, but there is no sense of tragedy./Spoiler Alert

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From what I understand it is still Anna-Marie Holmes' staging, though she may well have made some tweaks, I thought it was the costumes and sets that were new.

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Off topic. The proper way to do spoiler alert is to write the spoiler in white like this: testing testing testing. . It's difficult to write in white without knowing what you just typed, so you write your spoiler in black and then highlight the spoiler and change it to white. If members decide to read the spoiler they can move the curse to highlight and read the spoiler.

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Spoiler alert: I don't understand the tragic everybody-dies-except-Medora-&-Conrad ending, it's a comedy so it supposed to have a happy ending. The new production has the same ending as the old one. What's the ending in the libretto?

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ahem. however the Bolshoi's website says:

Storm and Shipwreck

At sea. A clear and peaceful night on deck. The corsairs are celebrating their liberation. Only the hapless Birbanto, in chains, does not take part in the merry-making. Taking pity on him, Medora asks Conrad to forgive Birbanto and the latter joins in her pleas. After some hesitation Conrad pardons Birbanto who requests permission to regale his fellow pirates with a barrel of wine.

There is a swift change in the weather and a storm gets up; taking advantage of the confusion, Birbanto again starts to stir up trouble with the pirates, but Conrad throws him overboard. The storm gets worse: there are peals of thunder, flashes of lightning and a very rough sea. A resounding crack is heard and the ship goes aground on a rock.

The wind slowly dies down and the sea becomes calm again. The moon comes out and two figures are lit up in its silvery light: these are Medora and Conrad who, miraculously, haven’t drowned. They reach the rock, clamber up onto it and thank God for their salvation.

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The KC program: This new production premiered at the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec. 2011. It premiered at the KC Apr 11 2013 by ABT staging by Anna-Marie Holmes. Scenic design by Christian Prego, costume design Anbal Lapiz and lighting by Brad Fields.

"Act III Scene 3: The Pasha's Palace

The pasha is awakened by the arrival of Conrad, Birbanto, and the pirates disguised as pilgrims. He invites them to enter the palace. Medora recognizes Conrad, disguised as one of the pilgrims. suddenly, the pilgrims throw off their robes and reveal themselves as pirates. Chaos erupts within the palace. Conrad and his men chase away the pasha, his guard, and wives. They dance in victory. Suddenly, Birbanto runs in chasing Gulnare. They collide with Conrad and Medora. Medora exposes Birbanto as a traitor, and Conrad shoots him. Conrad's slave helps Medora, Gulnare, and Conrad escape. They flee to the ship."

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Thanks for all the responses about the production. Did anyone see it! No one went this afternoon?? (or any day) I hope there will be some reports. We don't want the Kennedy Center to think no one went :)

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I was a super for Act 1. Natalia, Ivan, Daniil and Sarah got the loudest and longest applause of the week. I watched from the wings and the ABT dancers were even yelling and applauding. The height of their jumps is just bigger. I did like James Whiteside as Ali on Friday.

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Thanks for all the responses about the production. Did anyone see it! No one went this afternoon?? (or any day) I hope there will be some reports. We don't want the Kennedy Center to think no one went smile.png

I attended only the Sunday matinee. Quick notes:

Dancing from soloists: EXTRAORDINARY. I take back any negative feelings voiced earlier about Natalia Osipova jumping from company to company. She is, no doubt, a technical and interpretive genius at her prime...so she can be as capricious as she wants, just so we can still see her in the USA occasionally, please. Danil' Simkin - WOW. Just wow. Lane - absolutely held her own; stronger and more charismatic than EVER. Vasiliev - big strong legs, if not a 'king of line.' Cornejo as Lankedem - altered his variation (without the deep grand plies after jumps) but was nonetheless impressive, considering recent injury. I missed the brief pre-curtain announcement so cannot say for sure if that was Joseph Phillips as Birbanto but -- whoever it was - that Birbanto has a commanding stage presence, brilliant technique, perfect line. [Thanks to Kristen for later providing the name: Craig Salstein.] Three Odalisques (Brandt, Paris and Shevchenko): all very promising but every variation had a little mishap, most obviously the 3rd.

Specific Moves of Note: So many wonderful ones but I'll cite two of the most special, both from the Act II Pas de Trois' coda: (1) Simkin's "three-rivoltades-without-pauses" entrance, at start of coda; and (2) Osipova's 32 fouettes, doubles/triples...ending in a slow controlled quintuple (or sextuple?). Entire audience screaming and squealing at record-high pitch.

Dancing from corps: good character dancing; not-so-sharp from adult classical female corps in Jardin Anime but OK.

Dancing from children: Impressive and charming!

Supers: Super! smile.png

Staging: Same fantastic staging by Ms Holmes-after- K.Sergeyev, as in the '98 version seen on DVD. Similar to the great work that she did for Washington Ballet a couple of years ago. Quibble: Where is Medora's Petit Corsaire variation, from Ms Holmes' initial staging of the work, for Boston in the mid-90s? [Latest Bolshoi version does have Petit Corsaire.]

New Costumes: Very pretty, although I'm not sure why Medora's Act II tutu has a short floppy skirt (no stiffness), as if ordered from a discount recitals catalogue.

New Sets: In Act II, the pirates now stay at the ECONO-CAVE MOTEL. Minimalism is good for touring, I suppose.

New Lighting: Somber. Even the Act I bazaar is under-lit. Darkest atmosphere for a Jardin Anime/Act III....ever.

Overall, a very-very-very special performance.

Edited on April 17 to show the name of Craig Salstein as Birbanto, dancing in place of J. Phillips. The change was announced vocally, just before the curtain rose.

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I saw the mixed bill this evening....The Moor's Pavane was the high point for me, and I thought Simone Messmer was the standout.

"Simone Messmer" flowers.gif -- I don't get to see ABT nearly as much as I would like so any good news about this Remarkable young artist is greatly appreciated.

Added comment:

As for *Veronika(!)* -- Sail on Sailor ! -- Full Speed Ahead ! flowers.gif

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Thanks for all the responses about the production. Did anyone see it! No one went this afternoon?? (or any day) I hope there will be some reports. We don't want the Kennedy Center to think no one went smile.png

VISA knows that I went. 3 times.

Sunday was sensational! Ivan Vasiliev cannot possibly be human. No mere mortal can do what he did. At the curtain call, he and Natalia Osipova turned around and bowed to the rest of the cast. That's the first time that I've seen that happen.

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Vasiliev delivered...but in clunky (heavy, even thunderous at times) manner, IMO. And those white tights did not help. Very personable/charismatic stage persona, so I'm rooting for him to (a) find a more becoming costume and (b) soften those landings. smile.png

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I was there Saturday evening. A wonderful performance overall. Sets and costumes, lovely, although I did not care for the 3rd Act Gulnare costumes. Just not a flattering design. Premier by Roddy Doble as Lankendem, Isabella Boylston as Gulnare and Sarah Smith as Lead Pirate Woman. All danced beautifully. I am more familiar with the current Mariinsky production of Corsaire therefore, finding this production difficult to follow. The 3rd Act overall was anti-climatic. Gomes, Ilyin and Vasiliev were wonderful throughout, as well as the Odalisques, Messmer, Abrera and Kajiya. The company is dancing beautifully.

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I saw the matinee on Sunday. It was an incredible and joyous performance.

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I totally agree (and appreciate) Natalia's long posting re Sunday afternoon, above. It was a special, special performance. I flew back home to Florida today not wondering at all why I'm stalking performances around the globe of Osiliev /Vasipova, as they are sometimes called. Technique and artistry aside, they are the most charismatic dancers I've seen live since Baryshnikov in his prime. (yes, I'm that old ....) I saw them do Don Q in Australia last month with the Australian Ballet. They had an off night with visible bobbles, but that they are STARS was lost on no one. As one Australian in the loo next to mine said "they just dance on an entirely different level than we're used to seeing." (And no, I didn't go to Australia to see them dance - just got lucky that our vacation coincided with their appearance.)

I thought Sarah Lane did a great job of holding her own amidst all that star power. And I loved how Simkin's slave performance kind of said "take that, thunder thighs!" It's not easy to share the stage with Vasiliev (even in those much less that flattering white tights!) Simkin gave a stellar performance.

Agree totally about the ECONO CAVE set yucky.gif , but loved the new backdrop for Jardin Anime - thought it was magical and the children totally charming.

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Aw, thanks for the kind words, Kristen, and for your own report! :) You must have sat in Orchestra or one of the lower tiers. From my spot in 2nd-tier Row B, the Jardin Anime was so darkish & poorly lit, that the ladies appeared to be performing in front of an all-black backdrop, with the exception of the bottoms of the raised lanterns, way up high. Basically, from what my family & I could see, they danced in front of an all-black set.

Love the "Take that, Thunder Thighs!" line. toot.gif

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Vasiliev delivered...but in clunky (heavy, even thunderous at times) manner, IMO. And those white tights did not help. Very personable/charismatic stage persona, so I'm rooting for him to (a) find a more becoming costume and (b) soften those landings. smile.png

The dancers in the other performances also wore white tights. Does even a star get to decide what everybody wears?

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Vasiliev delivered...but in clunky (heavy, even thunderous at times) manner, IMO. And those white tights did not help. Very personable/charismatic stage persona, so I'm rooting for him to (a) find a more becoming costume and (b) soften those landings. smile.png

The dancers in the other performances also wore white tights. Does even a star get to decide what everybody wears?

There can be slight alterations. At the Bolshoi, all of the Conrads wore slightly different costumes - some had the Greek 'skirt' version (Tsiskaridze, for ex.), while most wore tights...some tights darker than others. Back to ABT/Conrad: Vasiliev looked so embarrasingly chunky, that I had to apologize to my partner during the first intermission when he asked me "Didn't you say that Vasiliev was supposed to be good? He's heavy." It was being commented a lot by folks in our group. His chunky line is a serious-enough problem when it detracts from all of what he does so spectacularly.

That said, I am still giddy in the joys of last Sunday. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime performances that balletomanes can only dream about. I keep replaying so many wonderful moments in my mind. Oh...and did I mention that Skylar Brandt was simply terrific in her leg-beats-variation (var. #1) of the Odalisques pdtrois, marred only by a very-slight off-balance when hitting the final closed-5th position? Shevchenko's hyper-difficult 3rd-var suffered when she went for triple pirouettes in the infamous diagonal and managed to perform only the 2nd of the three triples cleanly (step-outs in the other two); the double pirouettes in-between the triples were all clean. Luciana Paris' 2nd Odalisque variation was marred only by her 1st-arabesque positions in the 2nd enchainement across the stage; she seemed to have trouble achieving the 90-degree position...the leg was slightly lower than 90-degrees, not parallel to floor. Queen of Odalisques: Skylar Brandt! I cannot wait to continue following her progress this summer at the Met....surely she'll be in Swan Lake pas de trois and/or a Sleeping Beauty fairy?

Kristen, thanks for providing the name of Craig Salstein as the Birbanto on Sunday (replacing J. Phillips). Salstein almost stole the show, in parts. What musicality, long line, & 'command' of the stage! It's tough to shine as Birbanto when all of the other soloist guys around you are amazing...but Salstein delivered. Bravo!

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Angel Corella chose to wear dark tights instead of white at his farewell SL. Don't see why they would not permit Vasiliev to make an alternate choice if that's what he wanted. White tights or dark tights makes no difference to me. I'll be there clapping when he performs his superhuman feats.

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Vasiliev delivered...but in clunky (heavy, even thunderous at times) manner, IMO. And those white tights did not help. Very personable/charismatic stage persona, so I'm rooting for him to (a) find a more becoming costume and (b) soften those landings. smile.png

The dancers in the other performances also wore white tights. Does even a star get to decide what everybody wears?

There can be slight alterations. At the Bolshoi, all of the Conrads wore slightly different costumes - some had the Greek 'skirt' version (Tsiskaridze, for ex.), while most wore tights...some tights darker than others. Back to ABT/Conrad: Vasiliev looked so embarrasingly chunky, that I had to apologize to my partner during the first intermission when he asked me "Didn't you say that Vasiliev was supposed to be good? He's heavy." It was being commented a lot by folks in our group. His chunky line is a serious-enough problem when it detracts from all of what he does so spectacularly.

Your friend apparently isn't familiar with a body feature known as "muscle". Vasiliev is totally buffed (he played Ali Saturday evening, and, no, there weren't rolls of fat showing when he didn't have a shirt on).

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Vasiliev delivered...but in clunky (heavy, even thunderous at times) manner, IMO. And those white tights did not help. Very personable/charismatic stage persona, so I'm rooting for him to (a) find a more becoming costume and (b) soften those landings. smile.png

The dancers in the other performances also wore white tights. Does even a star get to decide what everybody wears?

There can be slight alterations. At the Bolshoi, all of the Conrads wore slightly different costumes - some had the Greek 'skirt' version (Tsiskaridze, for ex.), while most wore tights...some tights darker than others. Back to ABT/Conrad: Vasiliev looked so embarrasingly chunky, that I had to apologize to my partner during the first intermission when he asked me "Didn't you say that Vasiliev was supposed to be good? He's heavy." It was being commented a lot by folks in our group. His chunky line is a serious-enough problem when it detracts from all of what he does so spectacularly.

Your friend apparently isn't familiar with a body feature known as "muscle". Vasiliev is totally buffed (he played Ali Saturday evening, and, no, there weren't rolls of fat showing when he didn't have a shirt on).

Unshapely or bulky muscles, or short, squat muscular bodies, or an unpleasant facial feature or personality type, are not aesthetically pleasing to all. Neither is a sloppy landing after a quadruple pirouette.

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Unshapely or bulky muscles, or short, squat muscular bodies, or an unpleasant facial feature or personality type, are not aesthetically pleasing to all. Neither is a sloppy landing after a quadruple pirouette.

No judgment calls here. I would imagine "an unpleasant facial feature or personality type" isn't pleasing to many. Though I'm not sure how aesthetics come into personality types.

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