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Mixed repertory program - Spring 2013 MET season


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#16 FauxPas

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 08:06 AM

I checked out the alternate casting last night, Joseph Gorak danced so superbly in "Drink to me Only with Thine Eyes" - but he also blended into the ensemble while Marcelo, in the same role, could not help but stand out. Gorak also has a very pliable back and fluid arms - you notice the beautiful feet and clean jumps but I was impressed by his port de bras. He had a windswept quality.

As Natalya Petrovna in "A Month in the Country", Hee Seo was interestingly different from Julie Kent. Her acting is more innocent, spontaneous - less calculated. Her face and manner have a kind of transparency. While Julie Kent is a glamorous mature woman trying to recapture the youthful passion that passed her by, Hee Seo is a young woman married to an older man who is frustrated and acting out covertly. She is less the aggressor and more the victim of her own vulnerability and emotional needs. Julie was a bit more the cougar. Hee Seo has very fluid skimming bourrees, great speed and more flexibility in the upper body. It all looked effortless - though Julie danced with a certain gorgeous regal quality on Wednesday night. David Hallberg as the Tutor also seemed younger and more innocent - probably closer to Turgenev. His Beliaev is a naive, charming young man who also was a bit of a romantic dreamer. While Bolle seemed more a man of the world - aware of his own attractiveness - Hallberg was more bewildered about all the female desire he stirred up. Sarah Lane was more of a spitfire than Gemma Bond as Vera. Impulsive and quick-witted and with a temper when crossed. I felt that Hee Seo, Hallberg, Lane and Messmer all surpassed dancing wise the first night cast. Daniil Simkin is a stronger dancer than Arron Scott but he also kind of stuck out with his flamboyance. Scott seemed more part of the ensemble - not a star turn. Roddy Doble had strong stage presence as Rakitin and the chameleon-like Roman Zhurbin added another old-man impersonation to his many disguises.

"Symphony in C" starts out very badly but does get better as it goes along. As I said the orchestra is a problem and the corps lacks emsemble, speed, style and articulation. The first movement needs syncopation and the dancers need to dance off the beat at times and always anticipate the beat not drag behind it. Stella Abrera, infinitely better than the tired and dowdy Paloma Herrera, had the right attack, elegance and speed. But everything around her kept her from pulling the First Movement together. Semionova certainly looks gorgeous and has technique for days. With help from Gomes, she tied the steps together so it all looked seamless. I felt that Semionova had more flow than Part but less involvement - it was a touch cold and proficient. Osipova and Vasiliev did have the speed, buoyancy and attack needed but kept themselves within Balanchine's framework. They maintained a sense of style and you could see not the virtuoso whiz kids but elegant classicists who disciplined their physical ability to the music and choreography. Simone Messmer's whiplash pirouettes in the finale showed that she could keep up with any principal in the company - she is a fantastic dancer with power that ABT has not seen fit to fully utilize. Abrera, Osipova, Messmer and definitely in her dancing Semionova all had a great "Symphony in C" within them but the framework surrounding and supporting them was too unsteady.

#17 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 08:22 AM

[size=3][size=4]I am really enjoying getting involved in this discussion. I'm sorry I haven't posted on Ballet Talk in so long. I was just thinking that it would be great if there could be a mixed NYCB/NYCB production of Symphony in C. Ann Sophia Scheller and Jared Anglle or Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle or Ana Sophia Scheller and Chase Finlay would dance the first movement. Maria Korowski and Tyler Angle or Sarah Mearns and Tyler Angle or Teresa Reichlein and Ask la Cour would do the Agagio. The third section would be danced by Daniel Ulbricht and Ashley Bouder or how about Daniel Ulbricht and Natalia Osipova or Ivan Vasiliev and Ashley Bouder or Joaquin de Luz and Ashley Bouder or Joaquin de Luz and Natalia Osipova. (I didn't see Cornejo or Reyes in Symphony in C so I didn't include them.) The last movement would be danced by Tiler Peck and Adrian Danchig-Waring or Simone Messmer and Adrian Danchig-Waring. I know this will never happen, but who knows? A gala some day? Kennedy Center Honors celebrating Suzanne Farrell? [/size][/size]

#18 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 08:29 AM

I just wanted to add that on Wednesday afternoon when I was coming out of the Met at around 11:15AM or so I saw Joseph Gorak going in. I told him how much I admired his performance as Lensky in Onegin. I also told him to check out Ballet Alert because many posters are big fans of his. He was absolutely charming (and humble). He could not have been nicer. Again, I don't understand why he's not at least a soloist yet. Maybe it will happen soon.

#19 angelica

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 11:04 AM

I just wanted to add that on Wednesday afternoon when I was coming out of the Met at around 11:15AM or so I saw Joseph Gorak going in. I told him how much I admired his performance as Lensky in Onegin. I also told him to check out Ballet Alert because many posters are big fans of his. He was absolutely charming (and humble). He could not have been nicer. Again, I don't understand why he's not at least a soloist yet. Maybe it will happen soon.


We could all make a long list of ABT dancers who deserve to be promoted but haven't been. Among them I would include Joseph Gorak, Jared Matthews, Stella Abrera, and Sarah Lane. I don't know the corps dancers well enough to identify the standouts, but Luciana Paris comes immediately to mind.

#20 Natalia

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 11:06 AM

[size=3][size=4]...... A gala some day? Kennedy Center Honors celebrating Suzanne Farrell? [/size][/size]


Actually, Farrell was one of the KennCen honorees a few years ago. Her troupe danced the finale of Divertiment no. 15 on the telecast.

#21 Batsuchan

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 11:44 AM

1) Drink to me
First of all, it was an absolute pleasure to see Joey Gorak in "Drink to Me with Thine Eyes Only" again! For me, he is absolute joy to watch. Everything is so easy, so fluid, and so beautiful! I totally agree that he should be promoted ASAP!

I'm not sure if I was just feeling more awake the second time around, or if I knew what to expect, but I actually enjoyed the second cast more. But I still don't feel like I need to see this piece again.

2) A Month in the Country
Hee Seo's dancing was absolutely gorgeous! I'm glad I saw her second, otherwise Julie Kent's perfunctory execution of the steps would've really paled in comparison!
Her acting was fine--the only scene that felt less-than-believable was when she slapped Vera. I thought Kent showed the right mix of jealousy followed by instant motherly remorse in that scene.

Hallberg's dancing was also lovely. Personally, I preferred Gemma Bond's characterization of Vera--her anguish after being caught with Beliaev, and then her anger when she discovers Beliaev & Natalia were more fleshed-out, and she definitely made me laugh.

3) Symphony in C
I've only seen NYCB perform "Symphony in C" once (in February), and I honestly can't remember a single thing about it, so I (luckily) was not disappointed with the ABT version.

In fact, I thought last night's performance was fantastic! I loved, loved, loved Stella Abrera--totally confident, crisp, and beautiful. I also love Eric Tamm, though he didn't have quite the same amount of ease as James Whiteside, in my opinion.

I do agree that the first movement did seem to drag a little bit, but it did get better as it went on! I thought Marcelo Gomes & Polina Semionova were absolutely exquisite in the adagio. FINALLY I could relax and enjoy. Like canbelto, I did notice that Semionova didn't hit the 180 degree penchees. That is something I have noticed in other works as well--she has good extensions, but definitely not the highest ones. (I'm not sure if that is more of a stylistic choice rather than a physical limitation though, because I've definitely seen her stretch against the wall past 180 degrees in the studio.)

Osipova and Vasiliev were exciting in the third movement, but I was slightly disturbed by the way Osipova made sure to hit the 180 degree penchee, no matter how sloppy it was on the way there. (As my ballet teacher always says, it's not about the movement, it's how you get there...)

In the final movement, I thought Jared Matthews looked great. Simone Messmer was fine, but she didn't seem 100% confident to me.

Even so, thanks to that gorgeous adagio and thrilling third movement, I really enjoyed the whole performance.

#22 cobweb

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 12:47 PM

I was there last night. Drink to Me Only... I'm with the faction that likes this more on the big stage than the small City Center stage. It has more room to breathe naturally. I'm not crazy about it, but I liked it more than before, and as everyone has said, Joseph Gorak was truly beautiful.
Symphony in C. As a big fan of this ballet and NYCB, I went in with interest and high hopes, especially since I read good things about the performance at the gala. I left disgusted. I found it sloppy and unfocused, lacking the energy, precision, angularity, musicality, and attack that NYCB brings. Polina Semionova was seamless in the adagio, but she had a cheerful smile on her face some of the time, totally at odds with the grandeur and solemnity of this movement. (Someone mentioned seeing Maria Kowroski in the audience and wondering what she thought: I hope she realized that she has nothing to fear from the empty Polina Semionova). Much as I admire Marcelo Gomes in virtually anything and everything, he seemed so wrong in this movement. In the third movement, Osipova and Vasiliev brought a welcome jolt of energy and vitality to the stage, although that only underlined the lack of overall cohesion, as they seemed to be dancing in a different piece from everyone else. Also Osipova was mugging for the audience, which I found disrespectful of the ballet, as if she can't submit herself to being a piece of something larger. The only positives were seeing some lovely ABT dancers including Stella Abrera. Also I hadn't seen Jared Matthews in some time, and was surprised to see him looking more confident and polished than I remembered.

#23 abatt

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 03:52 AM

Like FauxPas, I thought that since Polina's smile was not constantly plastered on, it was not a distraction. Also, I don't regard Symphony in C as somber or solemn. If she was smiling during the final scene of Romeo & Juliet or Onegin, it would be inapprropriate. Symphony in C is not a tragedy. Why does the ballerina have to be remote and cold for the performance to be valid?

#24 mimsyb

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 09:26 AM

Just a follow up to some of the observations re: "Symphony in C". One of the posters did mention that Balanchine would alter steps to allow for different dancers abilities, etc. As ABT's version was taught, set and coached by Merrill Ashley and Stacy Caddell, my guess is they had the option to add or subtract as they saw fit.. for this company. Not every company has to dance this ballet exactly like NYCB. Wrist flicks and shoulder heaves are individual "tics" , perhaps of training. Remember that NYCB dancers are almost all SAB trained, unlike ABT where training can come from varied sources. Sometimes certain moves are not appropriate. As for the "six o'clock, forehead to knee arabesque", this too can be an "invention" (if you will ) of current and past dancers. LeClercq never put her forehead to her knee. We see it; we think it's the "norm". But it doesn't necessarily have to be. And as someone else noted. 2nd Movement is not a tragedy. It's almost a declaration of joy and "other-worldly-ness. Having danced this movement (and 4th), I can tell you to be on stage during it is no tragedy. One feels exhultant

#25 canbelto

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 09:49 AM

Just a follow up to some of the observations re: "Symphony in C". One of the posters did mention that Balanchine would alter steps to allow for different dancers abilities, etc. As ABT's version was taught, set and coached by Merrill Ashley and Stacy Caddell, my guess is they had the option to add or subtract as they saw fit.. for this company. Not every company has to dance this ballet exactly like NYCB. Wrist flicks and shoulder heaves are individual "tics" , perhaps of training. Remember that NYCB dancers are almost all SAB trained, unlike ABT where training can come from varied sources. Sometimes certain moves are not appropriate. As for the "six o'clock, forehead to knee arabesque", this too can be an "invention" (if you will ) of current and past dancers. LeClercq never put her forehead to her knee. We see it; we think it's the "norm". But it doesn't necessarily have to be. And as someone else noted. 2nd Movement is not a tragedy. It's almost a declaration of joy and "other-worldly-ness. Having danced this movement (and 4th), I can tell you to be on stage during it is no tragedy. One feels exhultant


Even if all this is true I found the slowness, dancing behind the beat, and lack of coordination in the arms and legs disturbing. I've seen the Mariinsky perform Symphony in C and it didn't look like the NYCB but they didn't ignore the accents as much as the ABT. I was disturbed that except for Osipova and Vasiliev no one attempted to dance on the beat of the music. The entrances and exits of the corps in the fourth movement were so sloppy and their arms and legs were pointing in different directions at times. I've attended Symphony in C performances at the NYCB which were not perfect but never did I feel that there was a total distortion of the choreography. As for the knee grazing penchee I've seen a pretty early film of Allegra Kent and she does it so I'm assuming this became part of the choreography quickly. Either way I missed it.

#26 kfw

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 10:05 AM

And as someone else noted. 2nd Movement is not a tragedy. It's almost a declaration of joy and "other-worldly-ness. Having danced this movement (and 4th), I can tell you to be on stage during it is no tragedy. One feels exhultant



The 2nd movement isn’t a tragedy, but of course the music is grand, as cobweb says, and mysterious too. I want to feel as if the ballerina and her partner are enacting a private drama, not dancing for the audience. Of course we don’t all express the same feelings in the same ways, and we don’t always interpret facial expressions the same way, but to my mind a smile that seemed exultant might be an appropriate response to that music, though not a common one. A cheerful smile would not.

#27 vipa

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 01:23 PM


Just a follow up to some of the observations re: "Symphony in C". One of the posters did mention that Balanchine would alter steps to allow for different dancers abilities, etc. As ABT's version was taught, set and coached by Merrill Ashley and Stacy Caddell, my guess is they had the option to add or subtract as they saw fit.. for this company. Not every company has to dance this ballet exactly like NYCB. Wrist flicks and shoulder heaves are individual "tics" , perhaps of training. Remember that NYCB dancers are almost all SAB trained, unlike ABT where training can come from varied sources. Sometimes certain moves are not appropriate. As for the "six o'clock, forehead to knee arabesque", this too can be an "invention" (if you will ) of current and past dancers. LeClercq never put her forehead to her knee. We see it; we think it's the "norm". But it doesn't necessarily have to be. And as someone else noted. 2nd Movement is not a tragedy. It's almost a declaration of joy and "other-worldly-ness. Having danced this movement (and 4th), I can tell you to be on stage during it is no tragedy. One feels exhultant


As for the knee grazing penchee I've seen a pretty early film of Allegra Kent and she does it so I'm assuming this became part of the choreography quickly. Either way I missed it.


I just wanted to comment on the head grazing. I'm almost positive that in Suzanne Farrell's book "Holding on to Air" she said that in a rehearsal for Sym C, Mr. B told her to fill out the music in the penche, and she put her head on her knee and asked if that was what he meant. Something like that - I don't where my copy of the book is so someone might want to verify.


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