Jayne

Swan Lake 2013

59 posts in this topic

Happy to oblige. I saw 2 SL's this weekend: Saturday matinee and Sunday evening.

(I'm editing this because it's TLDR)

PNB's corps has stepped it up a notch. The corps was "on" at both performances that I saw. They are still a Balanchine company - no one would mistake their swan arms for Vaganova training - but the precision of the Balanchine flock was tremendous. Particular kudos to the 2 big swans: Chelsea Adomaiis and Elizabeth Murphy.

Equally important, Lesley Rausch was "on". She's had the technical chops for a while, but the acting was great on Saturday. Her Odette was tender, every facial expression matched the music. Her Odile was better - all "come hither / no you can't have me yet". She hit her 32 fouettes and Ms Rausch's reaction at the end matched a figure skater who's just skated the Olympic performance of her life. The audience responded to this performance like a figure skating competition - this was the most responsive audience I've sat amongst in years and years. At the end, the bravos and standing ovation began as soon as the curtain came down. I sat in the 3rd row Orchestra Left, and 5 seconds into the ovation I turned around to have a look - the entire house was on its feet.

As Prince Siegfried, Batkhurel Bold was his usual strong silent self. He'll never be a good actor - he does try - but his partnering is fantastic, so strong, lifts so high and stable. But no panache. I wish he'd work with Stanko Milov to get a little more flair. But he's in his 30's now and if the panache isn't strong by now - maybe it's just not going to happen. As a dancer in the modern works, or as the "heavy" playing Tybalt in R&J, I like him just fine.

Louise Nadeau guested as the Queen Mother and received applause as soon as she entered the stage. She gave a wonderfully detailed performance. I wish we could see more of her as a character actor.

Now, you all know how I feel about theatre manners, and next to us sat a young father and his 2 year old son. Honestly I felt sorry for the child. This is an adult space, and the show runs for 3+ hours. This is not Nutcracker and this child was not prepared to sit still and silent, even for a child-specific ballet. He was a happy child (thank god!) and he wanted to walk around. I could deal with that, but he was also very verbal, and not willing to whisper. His father kept him with him through the first act (Palace Courtyard) and famous second act (Lakeside), but left before Act 3. Despite this verbal child - Lesley Rausch kept us all enraptured in the Act 2 ppd. She held the spell. It was magic. This is not her first turn in Swan Lake but I think it was her best. My mother came with me and at the intermission we turned to each other and said "we're so lucky to be here today to see this!"

Kyle Davis made the most of the Jester role - although I quibble with the costume design. He is dressed as the others, and in the same red as Prince Siegfried, making his role difficult to discern for first time viewers. The humor of alcoholic Wolfgang seems to be mis-staged this time. In prior SL's, this is funnier. I don't blame Kiyon Gaines (the Sunday evening performance was similar) but there were missed opportunities for laughs. Also, his plain melton coat is very late 19th century, while the rest of the cast wears elaborate early 19th century Russianesque costumes.

Among the courtiers, Leta Biasucci and Angelica Generosa stood out (as they always do). Slighty off topic, but I really think both of these ladies are going to be wonderful soubrettes as they continue at PNB. Kitri, Swanhilda and Lise should all be assigned to them (gosh I'd love to see PNB bring back Fille!). Now, back on topic:

The Pas de Trois was Lindsi Dec, Kylee Kitchens and Jerome Tisserand. Ms. Dec has a 1000 watt smile and makes footwork look like hopscotch. Ms. Kitchens is her technical equal, but she never smiled during the entire ppt! Dancing with anyone else, this would go unnoticed, but dancing next to Ms. Dec makes Ms. Kitchens look like she is in terrible pain up on stage. The real highlight was watching Jerome Tisserand in this ppt. He sails through the jumps with such ease, and gave us beautiful body lines, clear beats on his entrechats, and a sense of his original French training.

Musically speaking, the PNBO was in fine form, although sitting immediately left of the stage, you do get an unbalanced reception the orchestra, because the strings are so close to you. The violin solos were all strong, and the horns really sounded good.

There was also a ppt that adds in Laura Gilbreath. I noted that the program cover shows Ms. Gilbreath as the black swan, but she is not dancing O/O in this rep. I'm sure having your picture on the cover as Odile has to hurt, when you're relegated to dancing the ppt.

More to follow...

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There seem to be complaints about most von Rothbart portrayals, either he's a cartoon, a sea monster, or an inadequately evil aristocrat. Maybe the "right" von Rothbart has yet to be portrayed? In the PNB version, he's a linebacker, probably an Offensive Tackle. (Sorry to the Non-North Americans reading this who don't know the terminology). What I mean to say is that the costuming - particularly in the upper body, is so heavily padded and layered - that von Rothbart can barely move. He has no neck, he has Grizzly Adams grey hair and an enormous hat. His boots go up most of his thighs and the actor can barely move around the stage. The cape has been extended with poles (which are unnecessary), and it looks a little cheesy. There are other character roles where a dancer can make his mark (example: Herr Drosselmeier), but not PNB's von Rothbart.

Eric Hipolito stood out in the Spanish Dance, and Kylie Kitchens improved in the Persian Dance.

Act IV is the tragic finale, as Odette is drawn away en pointe, her arms undulating, and when she's gone Siegfried falls at center stage in grief. Ms Rausch's swan arms are indeed very good, and I think they will get even better over time. But they were not quite up to the level of Louise Nadeau. But it will come with more performances. Just wish I could have brought the entire Ballet Alert crowd with me.

Sunday evening I sat in the 2nd tier, so expressions were more difficult to see. But the corps swan patterns were now visible, and I thought the corps was still very, very good. Maria Chapman made a tender, more delicate Odette. Her Odile was not quite as strong. I only counted 26 full fouettes, and I remember thinking she was turning pretty slow compared to the music. This time Jerome Tisserand was her partner, and I really enjoyed watching his Prince Siegfried. His partnering skills are not quite as rock solid as Batkhurel Bold, but his style has more panache, his ballon is tremendous, and he finishes so beautifully. I hope he gets the nod to Principal soon. I was worried that he would look very short next to the willowy Maria Chapman, but they were a surprisingly good match on stage.

At the end they received a strong vocal response, but no standing O. I think they both had a lot of friends in the audience for their debuts. I know PNB has considerable talent, and Peter Boal could have cast Lindsi Dec, Laura Gilbreath or Kylie Kitchens as O/O. But I think he made the right choice by casting Maria Chapman. I am surprised that Rachel Butler did not get the nod (maybe she was 6th cast?).

Benjamin Griffiths had fun as Jester, and Ezra Thomson made a better impact as Wolfgang (not as much of a fussbudget, but the comic timing was a little better). The swan cast was mostly the same, Lindsi Dec subbed into the ppt. This time Laura Gilbreath danced the Persian divertissement.

My seatmate was my Russian-Ukranian friend, and she barely clapped after the Czardas dance. Afterwards she said Americans really shouldn't dance it, because it's just not in their bones and looks bad. But I think if you grow up with the wonderful folk dance troupes, watching American-Balanchine trained dancers have a go will look like a let down. Probably the equivalent of watching the Mariinsky dance Ailey's "Revelations".

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As a part of their 40th anniversary celebration, the company is inviting all and sundry to send video of their best "swan arms," to be included in a video montage. The explanation is

and some examples are here.

And here is the montage:

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That Shakespeare: he's so dullllllll, and they talk so much, and in what language? And in Wagner: all they do is re-hash the same thing for 16 hours.

Every time I try to take my friends to see "Hamlet," they can't believe the story -- ghosts: really? -- and that Ophelia character is so passive. And you can forget about the Ring. "Rent," though, they can relate.

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Symphonic Music, Opera and Ballet are alike in that you have to "lean in" to appreciate them. I would probably take someone to a comedy for their first non-Nut ballet. But I wouldn't take them to see Raymonda or Onegin.

On the other hand, I've encouraged friends to come to the ballet with me, and they've responded "Well I saw the Mariinsky version of Swan Lake when I was in London, and since I've seen the best of the best, I don't see the point in going to a lesser production".

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La Imler: she eats fouettes for breakfast

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Oh, that is amazing. That port de bras really works there.

Looking forward to see this in context tomorrow!

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There's is still time to see four of the five casts this weekend:

Today (Sat) at 1pm (Korbes/Cruz)

Tonight at 7:30pm (Rausch/Bold)

Tomorrow (Sun) matinee at 1pm (Imler/Herd)

Tomorrow evenung at 7pm (Nakamura/Orza)

I've seen all but Korbes/Cruz so far, but you can go wrong with any of these casts. This may be the most depth for a major classical ballerina role that I've seen the Company field. (Sadly, it's too late to see Chapman/Tisserand.)

Last night we had a bit of unintended excitement: Peter Boal did a front-of-curtain announcement that Casey Herd had an injury and Batkhurel Bold would be Imler's partner. :flowers: to Bold. There's only a pause between Acts III and IV, and I'm guessing Boyd Bender worked some PT magic during Act III, because Herd reappeared for Act IV, which has a long PDD for Odette and Siegfried. Only Herd appeared at the curtain call. (Perhaps they shared the same costume?)

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Carrie Imler is a national treasure.....and did she ever shine and sparkle last night. It may have been the most fantastic performance I have ever seen of anything. And to think she is ours, all ours. I worship at her feet. There are dancers, and then there are artists who dance. Last night Carrie was all art. I had the feeling I was seeing something that is simply not possible on this earth. Brava to this extraordinary artist!

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Carrie Imler is a national treasure.....and did she ever shine and sparkle last night. It may have been the most fantastic performance I have ever seen of anything. And to think she is ours, all ours. I worship at her feet. There are dancers, and then there are artists who dance. Last night Carrie was all art. I had the feeling I was seeing something that is simply not possible on this earth. Brava to this extraordinary artist!

I'm still bummed out that we New Yorkers didn't see her in anything real.

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The Sunday night performance (tomorrow) is a non-subscription performance, and there are usually great tickets to be had for them that are normally assigned to subscribers. I had a prime Orchestra seat this afternoon, another non-subscription performance.

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Carrie is dancing Sunday afternoon, and unfortunately few good tickets exist.......but I will hang from the rafters if I have to.

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Second Sunday afternoon is a subscription performance. The evening one is an additional performance, as were the two performances first Sunday and today's matinee.

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Carrie Imler is a national treasure.....and did she ever shine and sparkle last night. It may have been the most fantastic performance I have ever seen of anything. And to think she is ours, all ours. I worship at her feet. There are dancers, and then there are artists who dance. Last night Carrie was all art. I had the feeling I was seeing something that is simply not possible on this earth. Brava to this extraordinary artist!

PNB posted some footage of her in rehearsal in the Third Act.

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On Friday night, Imler performed that sequence almost exactly like she did in the video, which was also linked up te page of this thread. (PNB tweeted earlier in the week that there were already 4K views.) There were some singles in the middle, then back to back single-single-double with arms overhead.

The chainees were incredible, too: she's like a whirlwind.

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The sequence is indeed formidable, but the truly impressive thing is that she's doing it all for a reason -- to pull Siegfried into her net. Bakthurel Bold was her partner for that act, and he was well and truly caught up in the arc of her performance.

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I just returned from PNB's McCall Hall. While standing in the "senior ticket" line about 11:00am, waiting for the box office to open, I got word that Carrie Imler would not dance this afternoon. Marie Chapman and Jerome Tisserand would replace Carrie and the injured Casey Herd. My presumption is that Bold could not dance with Carrie (as he had mid-performance last Friday when Herd got hurt) since Bold had danced Saturday night with Leslie Rausch a little more than12 hours before (think of those jumps in Act III).

To say I'm disappointed is a huge understatement. Not that Chapman/Tisserand won't be terrific because they will be, and then there's the best band of swans in the country (IMHO), but I just couldn't take seeing Swan Lake for the 4th time in 10 days without Her Magnificence dancing......so I went home.

I can't imagine how disappointed Carrie must be. At least she knows she has countless fans.....the packed house on Friday night gave her cheer after cheer in all 3 acts; her performance was so special that the entire house lit up.....I don't think I've sever seen such continuous excitement from a ballet audience ever before (at least not at a full length).

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I had heard she might not be on today -- the complicated chess game that is scheduling makes it difficult to finesse last minute changes. I am sorry for her -- she was wonderful on Friday, and I imagine she would have been even more so on a second performance. I'm sure that Chapman and Tisserand will continue to grow in their performances today, but it's hard to think that their opportunity comes from someone else's difficulty.

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The inflection of her wrists indicates handcuffs.

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Well I had a prior commitment today for family matters, so I could not make the 1pm show. Now I don't feel as badly, because I have already seen Chapman / Tisserand. I have an hour to decide if I should go for a 3rd time to see Nakamura / Orza (I live about 4 blocks from the Opera House). Hmmmm....

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Nakamura is in her early 40's. PNB performs "Swan Lake" often, but it's not likely that it will be done again for another two, if not three seasons. This might be your last chance to see her Odette/Odile.

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