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Mixed repertory program - Spring 2013 MET season


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#1 Batsuchan

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 06:49 PM

Since no one has started a thread on this, I guess I'll do the honors...

1) “Drink to me with thine eyes only”—I saw this two or three times at City Center and that was enough for me; I really did not need to see this again. It was nice to see Marcelo do the Baryshnikov solo part, but it seemed like a waste. I would’ve preferred to see Joey Gorak do that part and see Marcelo dance “A Month in the Country”! Posted Image

2) I enjoyed “A Month in the Country” quite a bit, and I thought it was a great vehicle for Julie Kent. Her diminished technique/flexibility were not noticeable here, and she was entirely believable as the bored, married Natalia Petrovna who at first resists, and then embraces her passion for Beliaev, and then despairs when he leaves. Roberto Bolle had a little bit of difficulty with the initial pirouettes in attitude, but otherwise was fine as Beliaev (though I would’ve prefer to see his handsome face without sideburns and a mustache!)

Simkin pulled out some impressive virtuous tricks as Kolya (Natalia's son), and for once, the fact that he looks 12-years old fit the part perfectly!

I also really enjoyed Gemma Bond as Vera, Natalia’s ward. Stella Abrera looked great as the maid, but she had almost nothing to do. Still, she and Bolle looked great dancing together, as they are both tall and lean and gorgeous!

My big question is why Vishneva and Gomes were not cast in this??! Resisting and then giving into temptation and suffering beautifully are what Vishneva excels at—to me, she would be a perfect Natalia Petrovna! But I guess if Gomes is doing Symphony in C and/or the Mark Morris piece, the casting simply didn’t work out…? A shame, though, in my opinion.

One other comment—it was slightly strange for me to see the pas de deux between Natalia Petrovna & Beliaev choregraphed to Chopin’s “Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante,” which I remember well from “Lady of the Camellias.” (Ahh, how I would love to see that ballet with Vishneva/Gomes again!!)

3) Symphony in C
Well, honestly, watching Veronika Part in the second movement of “Symphony in C” was a harrowing experience for me. I know that she has many fans, but her obvious difficulties with the choreography made it uncomfortable for me to watch her. I really don't like watching dancers look nervous/tentative when they are doing difficult steps.

Perhaps Cory is partly to blame—he is no Marcelo—but there were a few times during the (almost interminably) slow section when I felt like she was holding on to Cory for dear life. Near the end, there was also a section with pirouettes that just seemed to fall apart (or at least off-center).

Unfortunately, Part’s struggles with the choreography were all the more obvious to me since I had just seen Polina Semionova and Marcelo Gomes do the same pas de deux at the dress rehearsal in the afternoon, and they made it look absolutely effortless. At the moment where the ballerina balances on her left foot and developpes her right leg and the man switches from holding her right hand to her left hand, it looked like Marcelo could have easily let Polina balance there for a few seconds, whereas Cory had to rush from one side to the other...

In the rest of “Symphony in C,” I enjoyed James Whiteside in the first movement. Herrera was not particularly memorable. I enjoyed watching Reyes and Cornejo in the third movement, though I was slightly disappointed that Reyes’ grand jetes mostly did not get to 180 degrees (are they supposed to?). In the fourth movement, poor Sarah Lane had an unfortunate fall near the beginning, but she recovered nicely for the rest of the movement.

At the end when the four ballerinas are dancing together, Paloma and Veronika were slightly ahead of the other two, but overall, I thought the entire group looked more synchronized than I would’ve expected, and overall, I enjoyed it. This might be one of the few Balanchine pieces I actually look forward to seeing.

I’m heading back for the second cast tomorrow night.

#2 abatt

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 07:17 PM

I saw Tuesday night's performance and Wed. matinee. I'm not a tremendous fan of Drink, but I have to say that Gorak gave a brilliant performance in the central role this afternoon.

As for Month, the sets and women's costumes are gorgeous. The men's costumes are hideous. I enjoyed Hee Seo's performance much more than Julie's. I thought Seo's performance was more subtle in the acting. I felt that Julie crossed the line into over-acting, to the point where I felt like I was watching a bad soap opera melodrama. Also, compared to Hee Seo, I felt like Julie was merely sketching the steps at times instead of dancing full tilt. I thought both Bolle and Hallberg were excellent as the tutor. Simkin was very exciting as the young son. Aaron Scott in the matinee was far less compelling. Jared Mathews was far too young to play Julie's admirer. Gemma and Sarah were both very good as Vera.

Polina and Marcelo were fantastic in the second movement of Symphony in C. They were perfection together. Part was not as secure as Semionova, but I enjoyed her performance nonetheless. Stella was worlds better than Paloma in the first movement, which is surprinsing since Paloma went to SAB and supposedly is trained in the Balanchine style. Tamm could use some more polish, but he was fine. Osipova and Vasiliev were thrilling in the third movement - high jumps, precise, fast turns. I thought Herman did a nice job on Tuesday night as well. The fourth movement casts were quite good both nights, except for Sara's unfortunate fall.



Edit to Add: Totally agree w. Batsuchan. Marcelo and Diana would have been great in Month.

#3 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 10:55 AM

I attended the Wednesday matinee.

Wednesday afternoon begins with ‘Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes’. It is a light playful piece choreographed by Mark Morris to piano pieces by Virgil Thomson. All the young cast of corps members and soloists acquit themselves well, but the real standout is Joseph Gorak in the role created for Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gorak impresses the audience with leaps and turns that are very natural and unforced. He also has spot on timing and masterful musical phrasing. I do not understand why Gorak has not yet been promoted to soloist at ABT.

ABT’s production of “A Month in the Country’ is simply perfect. The scenery and costumes by Julia Trevelyan Oman are gorgeous. Chopin’s music fits Ashton’s choreography seamlessly. John Lanchbery has done a magnificent job of arranging the Chopin pieces into a coherent whole.

The cast is beyond compare. As Kolia Arron Scott is all high energy leaps and spins. Simone Messmer’s maid, Katia, is saucy and sassy even though she doesn’t seem to do any cleaning. Sarah Lane’s Vera is a teenager full of hormones and dreams. Both Roman Zhurbin as the husband Yslaev and Roddy Dobble as the admirer Rakitin do very little dancing but their acting is first rate.

As the tutor, Beliaev, David Hallberg shows what a sensational actor he has become. Beliaev is by no means a prince or even an aristocrat. He is a young man full of life who is not fully aware of how attractive he is to women. He does fall in love with the older, glamorous Natalia. With the help of her admirer, Rakitin, Beliaev grows up enough to understand that a relationship between Natalia and himself can never be.

As the bored, unhappy Natalia, Hee Seo is a revelation. Her acting is subtle, but she makes the audience fully aware of everything that Natalia is thinking and feeling. It is a touchingly beautiful performance. I don’t understand why ABT only has two casts for ‘A Month in the Country’. I think both Diana Vishneva and Polina Semionova would be perfect as Natalia. Hopefully they’ll dance it next year. Even more so I want to keep seeing ABT’s ‘A Month in the Country’ for many years to come.

The afternoon ends with George Balanchine’s ‘Symphony in C’. ‘Symphony in C’ is a perfect ballet. It has gorgeous music composed by Georges Bizet (when he was only seventeen years old), choreography which perfectly matches the music, glorious white tutus for the ladies and incomparable dancing.

In the first movement Stella Abrera impresses with her sparkling footwork. Eric Tamm is her attentive partner with a very clean line. I don’t know why ABT has not promoted Tamm to soloist by now.

As the ballerina in the Adagio segment, Polina Semionova is sublime. She has a splendidly pliable upper body and can perform arabesques that seem to go on forever. Marcelo Gomes, as always, is her perfect partner.

The third section is rich with ebullient leaps and jumps. At first Ivan Vasiliev seems to have a few problems with the speed of the choreography. He huffs and puffs a bit, but soon adjusts to the pace of the movements. Natalia Osipova is perfect throughout the Allegro Vivace section.

In the last movement Simone Messmer impresses the audience with sharp, precise turns. As her partner, Jared Matthews also does a good job. Then the dancers from all four movements join together for a memorable finale. I am pleased to see that ABT dancers perform ‘Symphony in C’ at the same speed as New York City Ballet dancers. Very few ABT company members have been trained in the Balanchine style, but the way ABT performed ‘Symphony in C’ on Wednesday would have made the old master proud.

Again, another momentous afternoon at the ballet!

#4 FauxPas

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:28 PM

Cross-posted from other thread:
Posted Imagemussel, on 22 May 2013 - 12:23 AM, said:

"Osipova & Vasiliev were at the dress rehearsal this afternoon, so all is well, her absence from the gala was just a pre-caution."

Posted ImageFauxPas, on 23 May 2013 - 01:41 PM, said:
"Osipova danced the third movement of "Symphony in C" yesterday afternoon - quite well according to report. I will see her tonight. However, Herman Cornejo is injured (per a note in the program at last night's performance). He was replaced by a very fine Ivan Vasiliev whose sloppy showboating mannerisms were nowhere in evidence dancing Balanchine. He looked wonderful."

Posted Imagemimsyb, on 23 May 2013 - 02:55 PM, said:
"
Agreed. He didn't (nor did she at the matinee) "over dance" the third. But I wasn't impressed with how he looked in the black costume. Against all the other ABT men who looked so sleek, he came across as looking a bit "rumpled." But at least he can do a really clean entre-chat-cinq and that counted. Can someone tell me please. At the opening step combination in the third, was there ever a double sau-de-basque. I seem to recall that happening with a few of the male dancers of yore. Just wondering.
My amazement wasn't so much with the Russian duo as with the absolute gorgeous-ness of Stella in the 1st movement! OMG! Sheer perfection. Tell me again why this woman is not a principle? And then there was the outrageous beauty of Polina and Marcello leading the 2nd. Words elude me. For a ballet that tells no story, the two of them spoke volumns.
For me the cast from Wednesday matinee in all three ballets was the one to see. Happily, I get to see them again tonight!"


I attended the Mixed Bill on Wednesday night. I thought that "Drink to me Only with Thine Eyes" looked a little lost on the huge Met stage. However, those who saw the piece at City Center said it looked too cramped on that smaller stage and the twelve dancers needed the larger stage space of the Met to do the jumps and running back and forth, Marcelo Gomes and Isabella Boylston had the more bravura solos. Sascha Radetsky, Hee Seo and Simone Messmer did beautiful things. I felt that I needed to be closer to them.

"A Month in the Country" had a lovely set and costumes for the ladies. At her second performance, I felt that Julie Kent had relaxed into a lovely, nuanced portrayal - I didn't see any overacting or obviousness in her characterization. Natalya Petrovna is not a tragic heroine like Tatyana in "Onegin" or Anna Karenina - she is a bored somewhat selfish woman in a serious comedy. Kent balanced the flighty, self-centered qualities of Natalya with her frustrated longing for real love and passion. Her dealings with her ward showed a coldly self-serving, manipulative side. Kent however remained sympathetic throughout. The choreography is full of petit allegro and batterie - no big pirouettes or bravura that would overtax Kent's diminished technique. I always felt that Kent had an "Antoinette Sibley" English kind of purity to her dancing - Ashton suits her well (except for Sylvia which she couldn't handle). I agree that Natalya Petrovna would have been a wonderful part for Vishneva - or Irina Dvorovenko for that matter (as it was for Natalia Makarova). Maybe next year - ABT seems to be cutting down Vishneva's repertory and number of appearances.

Gemma Bond comes directly from the English Royal Ballet School tradition and her Vera was beautifully danced and acted. Bond seems to be breaking out of the corps this season - Roddy Doble as well. Jared Matthews seemed too young in the mostly acting role of Rakitin. Victor Barbee was convincingly befuddled as the older husband. Roberto Bolle as Beliaev was hampered by silly facial hair and a truly schlumpy ugly costume. It looked like cheap washed-out powder blue lounging pajamas and discolored horribly when he began to sweat. It is a testament to his great personal beauty and presence that he was totally convincing as an irresistable object of female desire in that horrible costume. (He brings Italian fans to New York to see him - some were seated beside me and skipped the last ballet) I agree on the excellence of Daniil Simkin and Stella Abrera in their roles - though Abrera had rather little to do and the part could have easily gone to a corps dancer like Luciana Paris or Isabella Loyola. The piece seemed well mounted.

The "Symphony in C" initially lacked the sharpness and precision (and musical polish) of the NYCB version. (The orchestra and corps at ABT are not as good as their counterparts across the plaza) I thought the costumes (after Karinska) were lovely. The corps looked fuzzy in the first movement and everyone seemed to be dancing behind the beat. Then it started to come into focus. Paloma Herrera was unmemorable in the first movement though James Whiteside is excellent. Veronika on her second night had no noticeable wobbles and didn't look shaky to me. However she was kind of going from step to step and this choreography (which should suit her perfectly) needs to unfurl like a skein of spun silk. Corey was an attentive retiring partner. The third movement had a charming animated Xiomara Reyes partnered by a buoyant, happy Ivan Vasiliev. As I said he was finishing his steps, pointing his feet and left all his sloppy showboating Soviet ways behind him. Very disciplined classical dancing. Fourth movement had a bubbly Sarah Lane (no spills yesterday) and a dashing Sascha Radetsky. It ended better than it started. Still needs a little more speed, precise articulation and "le chic" to be great.

#5 vipa

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:55 PM

I too went on Tuesday. In Symphony in C - 1st movement. Paloma Herrera didn't seem comfortable with the choreography, but I was favorable impressed with my first look at Whiteside. 2nd movement. I agree with abatt about Veronica Part. She struggled with the solo sections and never gave me confidence in the supported sections. Also her facial expressions were a bit distracting. 3rd movement. Cornejo excelled, Reyes didn't quite match him, but she looked joyful, comfortable and danced musically so I was happy watching them, and relaxed for the first time since the ballet started. 4th movement. Sarah Lane took an unfortunate spill (as has been mentioned). I don't mind falls if the dancer doesn't allow it to affect the rest of the performance. (I've seen Suzanne Farrell, Ashley Bouder and Alina Cojocaru take tumbles- it can happen to the best). Lane recovered quickly and soon afterwards nailed the pirouette - extend - pirouette step that defeats so many, and went on to dance well and radiantly. The corp looked good. Certainly not the speed and accentuations that NYCB gives the ballet, but they are not NYCB.

Drink to Me Only - I actually liked it on the big stage. The piano had plenty of space and the lighting looked wonderful. Seeing the piece again, helped me notice more of the themes Morris repeats and plays with. Gomes danced with his usual shading and musicality. He knows when to dance big, underplay things, use his head and focus to accent things. Just great. Boylston danced well with great energy.

A Month in the Country - Here is where I'm sure I'll be thought crazy. To me it is a wonderful theater piece that is barely a ballet. The librettos is well constructed and illuminated by the staging, groupings, entrances, exits and gestures but to put it crudely not a lot of dancing. I almost want to leave the staging etc in tact and have Ratmansky or Wheeldon come in and flesh out the dancing parts.

I just want to add that I love reading everyone's reviews and opinions. Please keep them coming. I can't go see ABT again until Swan Lake so I look forward to reading your impressions.

#6 angelica

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 04:54 PM

If I'm not mistaken, Balanchine liked it when a dancer took a fall because it meant that the dancer was "going for broke," so to speak, giving it her/his all. I've seen Sarah fall in rehearsal, and I think she's someone who'll take the risk in service to a performance rather than play it safe.

#7 angelica

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 05:29 PM

A Month in the Country - Here is where I'm sure I'll be thought crazy. To me it is a wonderful theater piece that is barely a ballet. The librettos is well constructed and illuminated by the staging, groupings, entrances, exits and gestures but to put it crudely not a lot of dancing. I almost want to leave the staging etc in tact and have Ratmansky or Wheeldon come in and flesh out the dancing parts.


I agree, vipa, that A Month in the Country would be improved by more dancing. However, I attended the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, and just seeing David Hallberg walk across the stage was worth the price of admission, so to speak. He gets more gorgeous with every year, and his line is so exquisite that I didn't even mind the dreadful costume.

#8 canbelto

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 07:06 PM

I will write more tomorrow but about ABT's Symphony in C ... No, just no.

#9 mimsyb

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 03:56 AM

I can only offer thanks to David LaMarche for daring to take the "Symphony in C" tempos at proper speed (especially 4th Movement!), and to the ABT dancers in this cast (Thursday night) who danced brilliantly throughout! I thought only Ashley Bouder could move so quickly, so cleanly. Such excitement! The hair on my arms was on end ! (still is!) Could we even hope that this ballet will be presented again in the Fall at the State Theater? And I need to re-iterate my thought that Stella was simply outstanding! No words.

#10 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 04:03 AM

I hate to say it, but I'm really glad I saw the second cast of Symphony in C. I totally agree with mimsyb. A totally thrilling performance, especially the ending. Did anyone read Alistair McAuley's New York Times review where he says that Corey Stearns' performance in Symphony in C is the best he's seen since Peter Martins. I didn't see Corey in Symphony in C but I did see Peter Martins several times. I like Corey Stearns but I don't see him at the level of Peter Martins at this stage in his career. I'd really appreciate hearing from anyone who say Corey dance "Symphony in C".

#11 canbelto

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 04:17 AM

I'm going to have to disagree about Symphony in C. I absolutely hated that so many accents were ignored -- the first movement when the corps de ballet rises up on pointe repeatedly, I hated how they didn't do the accompanying wrist flicks and shoulder heaves that the NYCB does. Abrera was okay but behind the beat constantly and uncoordinated with the corps. In the second movement Semionova was so hard and angular, and even deleted the 180 degree penchee arabesques. I missed the swoony backwards lunges and the knee grazing first penchee. I never thought I'd criticize Marcelo Gomes but he doesn't look right as the second movement cavalier. Strangely Osipova and Vasilev tried the hardest to dance on the musical beat and in the Balanchine style. Simone Messmer was also good in the fourth movement, but the sloppy and sluggish entrances and exits of the corps ruined the brilliant finale. I really really hated it.

#12 Natalia

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 05:15 AM

I'm going to have to disagree about Symphony in C. I absolutely hated that so many accents were ignored -- the first movement when the corps de ballet rises up on pointe repeatedly, .....


Exactly as in DC last month. A shame that they weren't able to tidy-up the corps between the DC and NY runs. The soloists -- or, rather, SOME soloists, such as Boylston/Simkin and Seo -- saved the day in DC.

#13 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 05:52 AM

I may be wrong about this, but didn't Balanchine change his choreograpy to suit different dancers. I have no idea if I'm right, but perhaps Merrill Ashley or Stacey Cadell changed Symphony in C a bit to suit various ABT dancers. I was just so happy the music was played at the same pace as at NYCB. I remember seeing Susan Jaffe dance Symphony in C at the Met not long before she retired. She had such trouble keeping up with the speed of the final movement that it was hard to watch. I really thought she was going to bump into another dancer. Also, the last two times I saw Symphony in C danced by NYCB (October of 2012 and
February of 2013) Lauren King danced the fourth movement and she was very weak. I was so impressed to see Simone Messmer handle the turns so beautifully.

#14 balanchinette

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 07:22 AM

I'm going to have to disagree about Symphony in C. I absolutely hated that so many accents were ignored -- the first movement when the corps de ballet rises up on pointe repeatedly, I hated how they didn't do the accompanying wrist flicks and shoulder heaves that the NYCB does. Abrera was okay but behind the beat constantly and uncoordinated with the corps. In the second movement Semionova was so hard and angular, and even deleted the 180 degree penchee arabesques. I missed the swoony backwards lunges and the knee grazing first penchee. I never thought I'd criticize Marcelo Gomes but he doesn't look right as the second movement cavalier. Strangely Osipova and Vasilev tried the hardest to dance on the musical beat and in the Balanchine style. Simone Messmer was also good in the fourth movement, but the sloppy and sluggish entrances and exits of the corps ruined the brilliant finale. I really really hated it.


I absolutely agree! It's rather painful to watch ABT do Balanchine if you're used to City Ballet. The Adagio had zero magic and I really missed the to-the-knee penchee, that's one of the most beautiful moments in the whole ballet -- what a disappointment that it was omitted. Kudos to City Ballet's ballerinas that all try it (only Wendy could nail it perfectly, though. Maria's is beautiful but her head doesn't quite reach the knee; Tess Reichlen gets the head to the knee but can't get her back leg all the way vertical at the same time). Marcelo Gomes is miscast -- he is not the effacing cavalier type, too much presence and star power for that role, so he looks out of place. Saw Maria K. in the audience -- wonder what she thought of the Adagio that she dances so beautifully across the plaza! Only Osipova in the finale had the amplitude and abandon that suit Balanchine, although she seemed a little tired in the jumping sequences during the third movement. Vasiliev, while good, does not look like a dancer in that outfit. Agree that Mesmer was much stronger in the 4th than Lauren King. Too bad City Ballet doesn't cast the third and fourth movements with principals any more -- the third movement at ABT really came alive with the Osipova star power. Frankly, she outshone all the other ballerinas when all were on stage in the finale.

Hate to say it, but I actually enjoyed the other two ballets a lot more than the Balanchine last night. Guess that shows were ABT's strengths lie. A Month in the Country was lovely, and I was surprised at how full Hee Seo's characterization was. Hallberg doesn't get to do much dancing, but it was still good to see him (I also hate his pajama outfit). And Drink to Me was wonderfully danced -- it really highlighted how strong ABT's men are. Beautiful line and technique -- can some of them go over to City Ballet already?! :)

#15 puppytreats

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 08:00 AM


I'm going to have to disagree about Symphony in C. I absolutely hated that so many accents were ignored -- the first movement when the corps de ballet rises up on pointe repeatedly, .....


Exactly as in DC last month. A shame that they weren't able to tidy-up the corps between the DC and NY runs. The soloists -- or, rather, SOME soloists, such as Boylston/Simkin and Seo -- saved the day in DC.


I saw it in DC once and NY twice. The DC performance shocked me, having recently seen it at NYCB. The NY performances were an improvement over the DC performance.


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