Ilya

Don Quixote -- Spring 2013 MET Season

106 posts in this topic

I didn't think the lack of before the curtains bows was a sign of bad manners. I was disappointed because I loved the ballet so much and I wanted Hallberg and Hee Seo to get more applause. This was only my second performance of A Month in the Country. I saw the Royal Ballet perform it at the Met in June of 1981 and I never forgot it. I have wanted to see a live performance of it again for over 30 years. I don't want to wait another 32 years to see it again (especially considering the fact that I'd be 91 if I were still around.)

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I didn't think the lack of before the curtains bows was a sign of bad manners. I was disappointed because I loved the ballet so much and I wanted Hallberg and Hee Seo to get more applause. This was only my second performance of A Month in the Country. I saw the Royal Ballet perform it at the Met in June of 1981 and I never forgot it. I have wanted to see a live performance of it again for over 30 years. I don't want to wait another 32 years to see it again (especially considering the fact that I'd be 91 if I were still around.)

You can see it in Toronto Feb. 26- March 2 2014.

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You guys have obviously not been to enough NYCB performances where incredible performances get no curtain call. Or, they do but the house is mostly empty. This happened during a Sleeping Beauty with Tiler Peck where she took a curtain call to a mostly empty house. I was horrified. No flowers, no applause, after an absolutely stunning Aurora.

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Since I live in Staten Island I mostly go to matinees. The David Koch Theatre is usually quite full on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Speaking of Tiler Peck, she was at the Osipova/Vasiliev 'Don Q'. I was able to tell her what a big fan of hers I am. She was just lovely. I've seen her dance Aurora twice, but both times were on Sundays. It would have been just horrible if she hadn't gotten the acclaim she deserved.

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Here are my thoughts on the May 25th evening performance of 'Don Quixote'.

I saw my first ‘Don Q’ in June of 1981. It starred ABT’s Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Barysnikov. It was a thrilling ballet, forever etched upon my mind’s eye. That performance set a very high standard for ‘Don Qs’. Since that time I have seen several incredible presentations of ABT’s ‘Don Quixote’. The Kitris I’ve seen have included Nina Aniashvilli, Paloma Herrera, Gillian Murphy, Xiomara Reyes and Polina Semionova. I’ve also seen fantastic Basilios including Julio Bocca, Angel Corella, Carlos Acosta, Jose Manuel Carreno and Herman Cornejo. As wonderful as all those Kitris and Basilios were, they pale in comparison to the performances of Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev on Saturday night. New York Times’ chief dance critic, Alastair Macaulay, put it best when he wrote in his review of the May 25th evening performance of ‘Don Quixote’ that “Jumps, turns, balances, splits – these two take them higher, faster, longer.”

Osipova has mind-boggling jumps where she seems to hang in the air longer than is humanly possible. Her turns are performed at whatever is faster than the speed of light. During the coda of the Act III pas de deux her fouettes are mainly doubles, whipped off at an incredibly fast pace. During the same pas de deux she holds her balances for the longest period of tme I have ever seen.

As Basilio, Ivan Vasiliev is technically the most accomplished male dancer I have ever experienced. I don’t even know what to call most of the movements he performs. His jumps are incredibly high, his air tours all seem to be multiples and he often executes 540 degree turns. He is also an extremely secure partner. In Act I as he lifts Osipova over his head with one hand he raises his left leg a bit. Watching Osipova and Vasiliev perform the roles of Kitri and Basilio in ‘Don Quixote’ is like watching a high wire act without a net. The audience knows, however, that they can not possibly fall. ‘Don Q’ is a ballet where such virtuoso technique is essential to the success of the production.

Osipova and Vasiliev are also masters of comic timing. Their chemistry is absolutely combustible. They are both so adorable that you want to take them home with you.

Other performers in the May 25th evening performance of ‘Don Q’ stand out as well. Alexandre Hammoudi is very impressive as the matador Espada. Misty Copeland’s Queen of the Dryads has some unfortunate problems with her Italian fouettes. Her jumps at the end of the dream sequence are very strong, but pale when compared to Osipova’s jumps. Yuriko Kajiya is a perfect Amour. The lyrical delicacy of her movements, her quicksilver footwork and lovely light leaps – all are quite wonderful.

Roman Zhurbin as Don Quixote and Roddy Dobble as Kitri’s father, Lorenzo, again show what superb actors they are. Alexei Agoudine is very funny as the foppish Gamache. He certainly knows how to take a pratfall.

The May 25th evening performance of ‘Don Quixote’ is the best ballet I have ever seen in my 30 plus years of attending shows at Lincoln Center. I only hope I am fortunate enough to see Osipova and Vasiliev perform in many more ballets.

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Just to present the other side, Colleen, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the Osipova/Vasiliev performance. However, for me, their dancing falls far short of what I admire most about classical ballet, namely, the classical line, which is created by turnout, pointed feet, eloquent port de bras, and a body that is in geometric harmony with classical style--a short torso and long, long legs. Maria Kowroski uses her long legs to brilliant effect in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. The reason Ivan can perform those absolutely incredible jumps is because he is landing on very short, muscular legs. When I saw him in rehearsal in the studio, he came down with a huge thud every time. If David Hallberg, who to me is the embodiment of classical style, were even to attempt those jumps, he'd surely break a leg because his body isn't compact and muscular enough to support the force of the landing. As for Osipova, IMHO, she overacts. I, too, have seen many performances of Don Q over the years, and I would say my favorite Kitris were Kirkland and Ananiashvili. For the men, Corella and Carreno. I don't think I've seen Cornejo, and I'd better get out there and do it soon!

I wouldn't say that Vasiliev is technically accomplished because he doesn't dance with classical technique. Rather, I would say that he is acrobatically accomplished, that he can jump higher and turn longer than most everyone else, except that Angel and Herman can turn more. He doesn't dance with turnout or pointed feet, and doesn't hold anything like a good first position or fifth position. Baryshnikov, who of all the great dancers is built most like Vasiliev, had classical training that he never compromised for the acrobatics. In an interview reported in The New York Times, Ratmansky spoke of Vasiliev's abilities, but also stated that he needed more discipline in classical technique.

To each his own.

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Just to present the other side, Colleen, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the Osipova/Vasiliev performance. However, for me, their dancing falls far short of what I admire most about classical ballet, namely, the classical line, which is created by turnout, pointed feet, eloquent port de bras, and a body that is in geometric harmony with classical style--a short torso and long, long legs. Maria Kowroski uses her long legs to brilliant effect in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. The reason Ivan can perform those absolutely incredible jumps is because he is landing on very short, muscular legs. When I saw him in rehearsal in the studio, he came down with a huge thud every time. If David Hallberg, who to me is the embodiment of classical style, were even to attempt those jumps, he'd surely break a leg because his body isn't compact and muscular enough to support the force of the landing. As for Osipova, IMHO, she overacts. I, too, have seen many performances of Don Q over the years, and I would say my favorite Kitris were Kirkland and Ananiashvili. For the men, Corella and Carreno. I don't think I've seen Cornejo, and I'd better get out there and do it soon!

I wouldn't say that Vasiliev is technically accomplished because he doesn't dance with classical technique. Rather, I would say that he is acrobatically accomplished, that he can jump higher and turn longer than most everyone else, except that Angel and Herman can turn more. He doesn't dance with turnout or pointed feet, and doesn't hold anything like a good first position or fifth position. Baryshnikov, who of all the great dancers is built most like Vasiliev, had classical training that he never compromised for the acrobatics. In an interview reported in The New York Times, Ratmansky spoke of Vasiliev's abilities, but also stated that he needed more discipline in classical technique.

To each his own.

Maria Kowroski would look absurd dancing Kitri .... The role is made for shorter, more compact ballerinas with great terre a terre technique. I've seen Osipova as Kitri and I don't think she overacts, she's just very "Bolshoi" in her style. She resembles Maya Plisetskaya a lot ... In Giselle she certainly turned out her legs and feet.

I see them tomorrow.

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Maria Kowroski would look absurd dancing Kitri .... The role is made for shorter, more compact ballerinas with great terre a terre technique. I've seen Osipova as Kitri and I don't think she overacts, she's just very "Bolshoi" in her style. She resembles Maya Plisetskaya a lot ... In Giselle she certainly turned out her legs and feet.

I see them tomorrow.

Polina Semionova dances Kitri and she has long legs. As does Ananiashvili. And don't underestimate Maria Kowroski--had she been trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School she would have knocked Kitri right out of the ball park.

Personally, I never liked Plisetskaya. Maximova and Bessmertnova were my cup of tea.

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P.S. I don't have time to quote from it now, but if you read Macaulay's review in today's New York Times, you'll see that he remarks pointedly about their lack of style and their seeming to care less and less about it. Don Q is a ballet with bravura dancing, but it's still in the classical tradition, needing dancers who are committed to the classical style, not dancers who show "signs of caring less rather than more about refinement as time passes."

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Vasiliev / Osipova sell tickets and get tremendous audience reaction, I don't think they are going to sweat the style points. Luckily DQ has multiple casts and ABT publishes them in advance, so plenty of opportunities to choose stylists in the leads. Plus, DQ is performed early and often by ABT and visiting companies in NYC.

I think all of us have an emotional dead spot for certain performers - and an emotional hot spot for others. Did anyone see Herrera / Sterns at the May 25 matinee? Has Paloma really degraded that badly?

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Cornejo linked to this review on his Facebook. Lots of praise for him and Alexandre Hammoudi, but a lot less for Osipova and Vasiliev. A little surprising that he'd post a less than flattering review of his colleagues.

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Maria Kowroski would look absurd dancing Kitri .... The role is made for shorter, more compact ballerinas with great terre a terre technique. I've seen Osipova as Kitri and I don't think she overacts, she's just very "Bolshoi" in her style. She resembles Maya Plisetskaya a lot ... In Giselle she certainly turned out her legs and feet.

I see them tomorrow.

Polina Semionova dances Kitri and she has long legs. As does Ananiashvili. And don't underestimate Maria Kowroski--had she been trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School she would have knocked Kitri right out of the ball park.

Personally, I never liked Plisetskaya. Maximova and Bessmertnova were my cup of tea.

Yes but the role has been associated with shorter dancers without long legs. At the NYCB I'd pick Tiler Peck or Ashley Bouder to dance Kitri, neither of whom have short torsos and long legs, over Maria Kowroski.

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If you're looking for a Basilio with pointed feet and turned out legs, you should go see Cory Stearns. He was very elegant and refined tonight. His jumps and spins were pretty basic and simple, slow, and unembellished - especially considering that he is a principal at ABT - but they were clean. No acrobatics from Cory. There was a fish dive that went terribly bad, in which poor Polina had her legs splayed in a very unflattering manner as Cory struggled to get her into the proper position. It was a respectable but dull performance. Polina was gorgeous and held several unsupported balances for an extended period of time. Polina cannot spin as fast as the smaller girls, but her jumps are absolutely beautiful.

If you thought Misty's performance was bad last night as Dryad, you should have seen Hee Seo tonight. Her Italian fouettes were disgraceful. She managed to do 2 and came off pointe. She got back on point but couldn't raise her free leg all the way, so she did an attitude position with the free leg. I'm pretty sure she came off pointe a second time, and then gave up even attempting to do any additioinal fouettes even though her music was still playing. She lifted her arms overhead to fill the time. Um, other than that, she was a fine Dryad Queen and Mercedes.

I'm really enjoying James Whiteside's performances (Espada tonight) and look forward to seeing more of him.

Messmer and Lane were fine as the flower girls, and Yuriko repeated her lovely interpretation of Amour. (It was amusing to see Yuriko and Polina standing next to one another.)

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It almost sounds like a case of Italian bad luck (a curse?) with the Italian fouettes. In sports, athletes (especially baseball) get very very spooked about these sorts of things. Maybe ABT needs a sports performance psychologist instead of an Italian fouette coach?

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You guys have obviously not been to enough NYCB performances where incredible performances get no curtain call. Or, they do but the house is mostly empty. This happened during a Sleeping Beauty with Tiler Peck where she took a curtain call to a mostly empty house. I was horrified. No flowers, no applause, after an absolutely stunning Aurora.

The NYCB Beauties that I went to last February were all packed. I went to all but two, so the empty house must have been one of the two I didn't go.

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I was there tonight as well and thought Seo's fouettes were okay..? Though I hadn't read this thread beforehand so wasn't really paying attention in particular to the Italian fouettes. I think Stella is fabulous in this role. Hee is gorgeous, but Stella had more life.

It was an okay performance overall tonight; some watered-down variations and that fish dive was a bit tricky. I would have preferred a number of dancers over Cory Stearns, but I can't do anything about that! I will stick to Polina + Swan Lake from now on. James Whiteside is a good dancer and great partner, based on what I've seen in Onegin and DQ. I wonder what DQ with Whiteside & Semionova would have been like.

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I was stunned (not surprised at all but still stunned) by Macaulay calling Don Q "a flimsy and formulaic piece of nonsense." He's most certainly entitled to his opinion; I just can't help but wonder why somebody who hates classical ballet so much has been chosen to be the chief ballet critic of the supposedly the most authoritative newspaper in the U.S. if not the whole world.

Tonight's performance was really so-so. Semionova is always a delight to watch but Kitri is simply not her type of role. I agree with Nyankeesy01 and also kept wishing she were dancing with Whiteside instead of Stearns. Everybody else was pretty mediocre and unremarkable.

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Yes but the role has been associated with shorter dancers without long legs. At the NYCB I'd pick Tiler Peck or Ashley Bouder to dance Kitri, neither of whom have short torsos and long legs, over Maria Kowroski.

The point being, however, that Tiler Peck and Ashley Bouder would give clean, classical renditions of Kitri that nevertheless deliver bravura dancing.

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If you thought Misty's performance was bad last night as Dryad, you should have seen Hee Seo tonight. Her Italian fouettes were disgraceful. She managed to do 2 and came off pointe. She got back on point but couldn't raise her free leg all the way, so she did an attitude position with the free leg. I'm pretty sure she came off pointe a second time, and then gave up even attempting to do any additioinal fouettes even though her music was still playing. She lifted her arms overhead to fill the time. Um, other than that, she was a fine Dryad Queen and Mercedes.

What's sad is that Hee Seo is luminescent in rapturous ballets, such as Romeo & Juliet, even A Month in the Country, but doesn't have sufficient technique for technically difficult roles. What's disgraceful is that she was promoted to principal dancer ahead of other more deserving soloists who can deliver scintillating, secure technique as well as rapturous performances, those who have it all. I won't start naming names because by now you all know who I mean and I risk repeating myself again and again.

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Hee Seo was fantastic in Symphony in C - 2nd movement in DC -- which is considered a "technically difficult' role, angelica.

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Hee Seo was fantastic in Symphony in C - 2nd movement in DC -- which is considered a "technically difficult' role, angelica.

And conversely, Maria Kowrowski, while often lovely, does *not* seem to have the requisite bravura skills for Kitri. This isn't a criticism of her, it just wouldn't show off her strengths and would expose her weaknesses.

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Hee Seo was fantastic in Symphony in C - 2nd movement in DC -- which is considered a "technically difficult' role, angelica.

And conversely, Maria Kowrowski, while often lovely, does *not* seem to have the requisite bravura skills for Kitri. This isn't a criticism of her, it just wouldn't show off her strengths and would expose her weaknesses.

She did, ten years ago. Seo is entering her prime years. Veronika Part would be a closer analogy to Maria Kowroski.

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Hee Seo was fantastic in Symphony in C - 2nd movement in DC -- which is considered a "technically difficult' role, angelica.

I think it's the 19th century Petipa ballets that show Seo's technical limitations. Petipa is unforgiving when it comes to ballet technique--his choreography demands technical perfection, including strength and stamina. It's in those ballets that Seo is known to founder, for example, in Bayadere as Nikiya, and now in Don Q as Queen of the Dryads. I worry for her in Swan Lake, especially those 32 fouettes. If she was fantastic in Symphony in C, then presumably she can work to "up" her technique for the Petipa ballets. I haven't seen "C" enough to know the choreography, but I believe the second movement is the adagio movement. Seo is good in adagio. But she's simply not ready for the challenges of high-powered Petipa roles and to put her onstage in them is doing her and the audience a disservice.

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I think Hee Seo is absolutely wonderful in dramatic roles like A Month in the Country (I didn't see her Onegin) and romantic roles like La Sylphide and Giselle. I am going to see her Swan Lake and I'm a bit worried about how she'll handle the role of Odile. My Saturday subscription ticket was for Julie Kent. I shouldn't say this but at least with Hee Seo I'm relatively sure she'll be a very good Odette. Hopefully she'll surprise me with regard to Odile.

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You can make the fouettes easier in the Black Swan section. I've seen people do that, like Kyra Nichols. I'm guessing that Hee Seo will simplify a lot of steps in her SL debut. However, it's more difficult to switch/simplify the Dryad choreography. Let me add that I've enjoyed Seo in Onegin and Month. In lyrical roles that require fluidity, she is marvelous. The problem is her weak pointe work. If that hasn't been corrected by now, I'm not sure it ever can be.

Forgot to add that Polina managed some fantastic triple fouettes with arm embellishments last night in the wedding act, but toward the end she lost some control and starting weaving.

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