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ABT 2013 Swan Lake at the Met

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Interesting to read that everyone had a much better impression of Stearns than I did. I really didn't get any kind of feeling from him. Perhaps it's from sitting too high up. But the orchestra did so wonderful from up there.

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I was sorry that there was not more chemistry between Gomez and Hee Seo.

After seeing him dance with Vishneva, Seo seems a little cool.

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Just a quick note to say I was quite impressed with Simkin/Boylston tonight. Simkin just keeps improving. Yes they both made mistakes but given their youth and realitive inexperience carrying a ballet, I can easily overlook those. Some truly wonderful moments from them. So much potential! And very lovely performances from soloist roles: Gorak, Messmer, Lane.... Will post more tomorrow.

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Isabella Boylston

Totally Committed, Totally Successful, Totally Lovely

and

Totally Precious !

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Did anyone go to the matinee today? I'm very eager to hear how Hee Seo's debut went. Am seeing Boylston/Simkin tonight. Very excited.

Back to DC from my day-trip to NY for this. In a word: GORGEOUS! Exquisitely lyrical...and no embarrassments technically! smile.png Yes, her 31 fouettes as Odile traveled halfway to the wings, in a south-westerly direction...but she DID THEM and they looked pretty. (No club-footed whipping legs.) Her Odile solo was spectacular, including the double-pirouettes into single-pir-a-la-2nde...smooth as buttah. Balances to-die-for! The Odette solo had a couple of hiccups while executing the pirouettes within the diagonal of piques, but she 'covered' them well. Much more importantly was Hee Seo 'total execution' of the dual role, totally into the pathos of the Swan Queen's sad situation...and so in love with her Siegfried. Hee Seo's physique is perfection for this role; truly, the loveliest natural willowy beauty to essay the role since Sylvie Guillem. (Sorry, I don't care for the non-feminine 'Body by Gold's Gym' mighty-mite Odettes hoisted upon us of late, even if they do all 'the tricks.')

Gomes - what else can be said about his Siegfried? Fantastic...especially his high-arched jump off the rock. Palpable chemistry with his Odette! Radetsky as Purple Rothbart held his own, while not quite in the league of Marcelo the Magnificent. The A1 Pas de Trois (Teauscher-Shevchenko-Hoven) was charming, if underwhelming (low jumps, etc.). Mikhail Ilyn and Arron Scott nailed Neapolitan.

Surprised to read that, among all of this year's graduates of the JKO Academy, only Carolyn Lippert has made the ABT roster (as the lone apprentice)! I had been expecting Hurlin and Marshall, too. Maybe other apprentices will be added to the roster as the Met season progresses?

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I will post more probably tomorrow, but I'm happy to say that I, like several other posters, was very impressed by Hee Seo's debut as Odette/Odile. Her only problem I could see was that she traveled a lot during the fouettes in the black swan pas de deux. But that was minor. Hee Seo was truly wonderful in both her dancing and acting. And how lucky she was to have Gomes as her partner. As always he gave a magnificent performance. I'm sorry that Hammoudi is injured, but I am very glad that I was able to see Gomes and Hee Seo in Swan Lake. They really have wonderful chemistry. And during the bows Gomes was like a proud papa. It was very sweet to see.

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Did anyone go to the matinee today? I'm very eager to hear how Hee Seo's debut went. Am seeing Boylston/Simkin tonight. Very excited.

Back to DC from my day-trip to NY for this. In a word: GORGEOUS! Exquisitely lyrical...and no embarrassments technically! smile.png

Natalia, I'm so glad that you liked her as much as you did. I'm seeing five performances, of which I've been totally captivated so far. I would love to have seen Hee Seo, but five seemed to be just right to keep it all from becoming a job rather than 'a magic carpet ride.' I'll greatly look forward to seeing her another time.

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A few quick notes on last night's (June 19) Simkin/Boylston Swan Lake:

• This performance confirmed for me that Jared Matthews, like Cory Stearns (though perhaps not to such a great extent) has improved. His purple Rothbart was much more engaging and alive than in the past. He nearly botched the long balance, but otherwise it seemed technically solid.

• Misty Copeland needs to tone down the perkiness. During the 1st movement of the pas de trios she finished every supported pirouette by whipping her head up into a simpering smile. So unattractive. She pulled similar expressions during her (3rd) variation as well, nearly ruining for me what was otherwise an excellent pas de trois. Simone Messmer and Joseph Gorak were superb.

• Last night's little swans were perhaps the best I've ever seen at ABT: Skylar Brandt, Luciana Paris, Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya. I'm sure I've seen all of them do the piece before, but last night they were just completely on and together. There was one 4-bar stretch of music where the ABT dancers always fall behind the beat, and these four did as well. But otherwise, it was truly excellent.

• An unfortunate Neapolitan dance by Grant DeLong and Blaine Hoven -- and especially by the former, who could just not keep up and nearly toppled over at the end. Two years ago or so it looked to me like Blaine Hoven might be on his way up, but he seems to have gotten stalled, and this season is really straining his britches. Still, he was by far the better of the two.

• Daniil Simkin's back is so gorgeously flexible. In many of his poses during Act I solos he seemed to prefigure those famous poses of Odette, in arabesque with arms and head back. It was a really nice effect, signaling something kindred in their natures.

• All of Simkin's solo work was superb. It was touching seeing what appeared to be a mere boy, on the brink of manhood, pushed into matrimony by his mother (who actually looked like a mother, played by Nancy Raffa), and going off into the woods and encountering something far beyond his ken or control.

• I'd never really realized before how very small Isabella Boylston is. Her tutu seemed very large on her small body. I did miss seeing a Swan Queen who stands out from the flock -- as when Veronika Part comes out in front of them and protects them from the encroaching hunter.

• Boylston's Act II was excellent. She does not yet fully embody the role, but there was a lot of gorgeous dancing there.

• Her Act III needs a lot of refining. Again, many fine elements, and some truly stunning technical details (very fast supported pirouettes -- though in one she toppled nearly 30 degrees off the vertical), but at times she seemed to be whipping her arms and legs around to convey passion and force. She has all the elements, she just needs to shape them into a coherent performance. I look forward to watching this happen in the years to come.

• Simkin's partnering seems to have improved. The above-mentioned supported pirouette was the only really obvious flub. But as someone mentioned in a review of their Swan Lake last year, Boylston is so strong as a dancer she probably doesn't need much partnering. All the lifts were solid and most were impressive -- only the ones in Act IV when he runs down the line with her in arabesque and a bent lower leg (I lack the technical vocabulary to name it) looked like a strain.

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A few quick notes on last nights Simkin/Boylston Swan Lake:

• This performance confirmed for me that Jared Matthews, like Cory Stearns (though perhaps not to such a great extent) has improved. His purple Rothbart was much more engaging and alive than in the past. He nearly botched the long balance, but otherwise it seemed technically solid.

I'm glad to hear it, I sadly won't be seeing his purple Rothbart.

He was supposed to dance Benno in the Part/Stearns performance, but was out (those dreaded cast change slips!).

I'm very happy to know that he isn't injured. He has been having such a nice season and he has a debut to look forward to.

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All the discussions about Gomes so perfectly inhabiting the role of purple Rothbart made me wonder who created the role back when the McKenzie Swan Lake premiered in 2000. The program notes only mention who danced Odette/Odile and Siegfried, and Gomes's bio on the ABT website does not list Rothbart among the roles he has created. I only began attending ABT's Met seasons in 2004, so I wonder if any ballet talkers recall who created the role and/or who the main Rothbarts were in the early 2000s?

I unfortunately only caught the tail end of Malakhov's career with ABT, but I imagine his temperament would have been perfectly suited to Rothbart, even if his physique is not as big and imposing as Gomes's.

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The purple Rothbart at the premiere, based on my recollection, was Malakhov. I actually don't even recall the other Rothbarts during that initial run. I also recall that Susan Jaffe had an off night at the premiere (partnered by Carreno). I think Malakhov received the most enthusiastic applause that night. He was excellent, but Gomes is better.

I remember thinking that the second night cast (with Ananiashvilli and Bocca) was vastly superior, although I can't recall the Rothbart of that performance.

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All the discussions about Gomes so perfectly inhabiting the role of purple Rothbart made me wonder who created the role back when the McKenzie Swan Lake premiered in 2000. The program notes only mention who danced Odette/Odile and Siegfried, and Gomes's bio on the ABT website does not list Rothbart among the roles he has created. I only began attending ABT's Met seasons in 2004, so I wonder if any ballet talkers recall who created the role and/or who the main Rothbarts were in the early 2000s?

I unfortunately only caught the tail end of Malakhov's career with ABT, but I imagine his temperament would have been perfectly suited to Rothbart, even if his physique is not as big and imposing as Gomes's.

It looks like Gomes was among the original purple Rothbarts:

http://books.google.com/books?id=PuoUYsmSZ-8C&pg=PA194&lpg=PA194&dq=american+ballet+theatre+swan+lake+production+2000+mckenzie&source=bl&ots=PgJE5VI9Da&sig=pgnDkwgNqSRSxK0LtR3RuSsDSUw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MBnDUfyHI7Hd4AO_qIGgBQ&ved=0CDsQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=american%20ballet%20theatre%20swan%20lake%20production%202000%20mckenzie&f=false

"Bowing and gallant, [Rothbart] grabs Odette in a tight embrace. Vladimir Malakhov and Ms. Jaffe were locked in the most erotic image. Marcelo Gomes on Saturday afternoon was more brutal with Ms. Tuttle, who had innocently placed her hands on his chest. Maxim Belotserkovsky and Ms. Ananiashvili offered a desperate struggle full of flying lifts."

(from an NYT review titled "In Full Spectacle, New 'Swan Lake' Tells the Story Straight," May 22, 2000 by Anna Kisselgoff)

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Abatt, I seem to recall that the production premiered in DC in March 2000, not NY, and that Kent was the first O-O and Corella was Siegfried. Don't recall who was Purple Rothbart. I'm sure that the thread on the world premiere of this production is in the BA archives, somewhere. I'm among the many who posted. Many of our critiques were eventually fixed, e.g., the very bright 'rising sun' Japanese flag motif apotheosis (now more subtle and not just a big red circle in the middle). 'Mr. Green Swamp Thing,' alas, has not changed...and the moving turkey in his hands, at the beginning, is still a hoot.

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Thanks Natalia. I was recalling the NY premiere, not the DC performances.

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'Mr. Green Swamp Thing,' alas, has not changed...and the moving turkey in his hands, at the beginning, is still a hoot.

I think there has been some change on that front, this year -- whether in the direction or the prop itself, I'm not sure. In any case, in the two performances I've seen (Tue & Wed eve), Swamp Thing has been less obvious in manipulating the turkey, which now seems to flap its wing rather than (or at least more than) simply writhing at the neck.

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The 'turkey' was bouncing full-tilt yesterday afternoon...wing and beak bobbing back and forth!

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Abatt, I seem to recall that the production premiered in DC in March 2000, not NY, and that Kent was the first O-O and Corella was Siegfried. Don't recall who was Purple Rothbart. I'm sure that the thread on the world premiere of this production is in the BA archives, somewhere. I'm among the many who posted. Many of our critiques were eventually fixed, e.g., the very bright 'rising sun' Japanese flag motif apotheosis (now more subtle and not just a big red circle in the middle). 'Mr. Green Swamp Thing,' alas, has not changed...and the moving turkey in his hands, at the beginning, is still a hoot.

Thanks to you all for your recollections and also the link to the review. It's amazing to think Marcelo has been dancing the role of Rothbart for fourteen years now, and he always seems so fresh and exciting each time. Natalia--I think the stuffed turkey may have been replaced with a slightly revised bird this season. I usually try to avoid looking at it altogether, but something seems different about it this year. It appears as if the wings now have a mechanism to make them flap so Rothbart doesn't need to manipulate/strangle it as much as in the past. May the old turkey enjoy a long and peaceful retirement.

What bothers me about the swamp monster is not so much his appearance but that he doesn't relate at all to his sexy purple incarnation. They truly seem like two separate characters, not doubles like Odette/Odile.

Okay, revision: Natalia--I'm sorry to hear that the hyperactive turkey has in reared its head this season! Maybe I just saw Rothbarts who minimized its ridiculous appearance.

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Just a quick note to say I was quite impressed with Simkin/Boylston tonight. Simkin just keeps improving. Yes they both made mistakes but given their youth and realitive inexperience carrying a ballet, I can easily overlook those. Some truly wonderful moments from them. So much potential! And very lovely performances from soloist roles: Gorak, Messmer, Lane.... Will post more tomorrow.

I went into last night’s performance with high hopes and I was so impressed by most of the dancers! I was especially rooting for Boylston - a young, developing soloist - and she was just lovely.

Act I:

Simkin has improved a lot! He has a more commanding stage presence and continues to refine his technique (he no longer looks like a boy wonder just doing tricks). He has great control, breathes through his movements, adds wonderful nuances, and his transitions between steps can be breathtaking. He winds himself up before multiple pirouettes too much. But, his line is gorgeous, especially in arabesque, and he has beautiful control coming out of turns (in several spots he slowed down just a bit while ending the pirouette and then finished on his knee with controlled ease). His partnering keeps improving! But, and this isn’t his fault, he looks SO young especially when he’s smiling, Act I looked like his sweet-sixteen birthday party and all of his guests were adults.

Simkin and Gorak (as Benno) are a good match though, and as many of us have said, Gorak is wonderful – beautiful legs/feet, glorious technique, elegant, good partner. He looked so joyful and dances like a confident soloist (hint - hint).

I agree with nanushka that Misty Copeland needs to tone down her perkiness. It doesn’t work at all in SL. She finished every movement with a “snap” and every step had a forced energy; she looked like she was trying too hard and had a way-too-big smile on her face for much of her performance. Maybe she’s overcompensating because she’s not 100% following her injury. But, last night was the first time I did not enjoy watching her. Especially when you compare her to the sublime Simone Messmer – what a different picture they presented in the pas de trios. Messmer is strong but supple; nothing is forced, just an easy elegance and loveliness.

Act II:

Boylston was simply lovely. She needs to improve her acting, but that’ll come I believe. When she first sees Siegfried, her face didn’t register any fear or trepidation but her body did. A bit of a disconnect. Simkin’s partnering has made significant strides – the overhead lifts he did looked easy and secure (whew!). He’s a very attentive partner and in the more somber Act II – IV he looks more mature. Boylston’s legs/feet/arms/back are gorgeous. But, when she bourrees offstage with her back to the audience and she’s fluttering her arms, she needs to engage her back muscles. There were some bobbles – in some of the supported turns, they weren’t in tune with how many rotations Boylston was doing and Simkin either stopped her too soon or not soon enough.

The four little swans were excellent. I knew Lane and Kajiya would be and was fairly certain Paris would be great; Brandt was a wild card for me since I haven’t seen her dance any soloist or demi-soloist roles. She held her own. They were the best I’ve seen in this part.

Act III:

I didn’t see enough of a character change from Odette to Odile, but Boylston’s dancing was terrific. Simkin/Boylston seemed more comfortable in this act. Simkin’s jumps and turns were awesome – but, again they were NOT tricks, but gorgeous, extended, controlled, fluid movements with wonderful ballon. I have to say it again – he has improved so much! I nearly missed the beginning of Boylston’s 32 fouettes because I couldn’t take my eye off of Simkin. He was downstage knocking off several pirouettes, which he slowly (and with masterful control) came out of and finished on his knee facing Boylston with his back to the audience with his arm outstretched to her as she was beginning her fouettes. I gasped it was so gorgeous. Boylston knocked off her fouettes without embellishments (some doubles thrown in) but they were great and she finished them cleanly and without traveling much.

Once Siegfried has declared his love for Odile and everything implodes, I thought Simkin displayed his tortured realization at what he had done brilliantly. Here his youthful appearance really worked to his advantage; when he runs downstage to his tutor, you really believe he’s pleading with this father-figure for help/guidance. Simkin’s acting was spot on – and it was wonderful how he threw himself against the closing doors as Rothbard/Odile leave. His grief was believable.

Jared Matthews was very good as purple Rothbart (but not brilliant). I needed more character out of him; more covert mischievousness and sexuality. But, his dancing was impressive (he also has improved a lot). He exploded into one passage with a high leap, legs fully extended beautifully. Wow.

Grant DeLong nearly lost it during Neopolitan; his stamina wasn’t up to par. Blaine Hoven was ok.

Act IV:

Simkin leapt to his death with a beautiful, high plunge. He and Boylston look very good together. I look forward to seeing their SL in a year or two from now. I think it will be extraordinary.

So glad to hear that Hee Seo's debut was such a success. She could not have had a better partner to make that debut with than Gomes. Wish I had seen it.

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The 'turkey' was bouncing full-tilt yesterday afternoon...wing and beak bobbing back and forth!

One of the very best to dance "the swamp thing" was Isaac Stappas! Really evil. And his handling of the swan in the prologue was different from all others I've ever seen. For starters, he always had the face of the swan facing into the stage as opposed to all the others who point the beak out to the wings. This allows the audience to see his action better and we see his attempt to "cradle" the swan and bring her into his control. Also, we get to see the front end of the bird rather than the butt end. He often lifted the bird up a bit, as if it might take off out of his grasp, and then he would bring it back into his grasp as it stopped struggling. This small difference made for a heightened dramatic effect for this opening. But then Isaac always knew how to insert special small details into all of his acting roles. His Tybalt in "R&J" was the most memorable of any in recent times. His Jailer in "Manon" was evil incarnate. And his 'old gentleman' in "Merry Widow" was the funniest ever! Still miss his presence on stage.

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Did anyone go to the matinee today? I'm very eager to hear how Hee Seo's debut went. Am seeing Boylston/Simkin tonight. Very excited.

Back to DC from my day-trip to NY for this. In a word: GORGEOUS! Exquisitely lyrical...and no embarrassments technically! smile.png Yes, her 31 fouettes as Odile traveled halfway to the wings, in a south-westerly direction...but she DID THEM and they looked pretty. (No club-footed whipping legs.) Her Odile solo was spectacular, including the double-pirouettes into single-pir-a-la-2nde...smooth as buttah. Balances to-die-for! The Odette solo had a couple of hiccups while executing the pirouettes within the diagonal of piques, but she 'covered' them well. Much more importantly was Hee Seo 'total execution' of the dual role, totally into the pathos of the Swan Queen's sad situation...and so in love with her Siegfried. Hee Seo's physique is perfection for this role; truly, the loveliest natural willowy beauty to essay the role since Sylvie Guillem. (Sorry, I don't care for the non-feminine 'Body by Gold's Gym' mighty-mite Odettes hoisted upon us of late, even if they do all 'the tricks.')

Gomes - what else can be said about his Siegfried? Fantastic...especially his high-arched jump off the rock. Palpable chemistry with his Odette! Radetsky as Purple Rothbart held his own, while not quite in the league of Marcelo the Magnificent. The A1 Pas de Trois (Teauscher-Shevchenko-Hoven) was charming, if underwhelming (low jumps, etc.). Mikhail Ilyn and Arron Scott nailed Neapolitan.

Surprised to read that, among all of this year's graduates of the JKO Academy, only Carolyn Lippert has made the ABT roster (as the lone apprentice)! I had been expecting Hurlin and Marshall, too. Maybe other apprentices will be added to the roster as the Met season progresses?

All of the previously listed apprentices(except Lippert who was just added to the list quite recently) were promoted to the corps de ballet). The new apprentices will probably be added in the next season in September.

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Bingham, Lippert was the only one among recent Apprentices who danced at the JKO School year-end performance this past May; all other just-promoted apprentices danced in the April/May 2012 JKO School show. So Lippert is truly blessed to be the only one of the 'JKO Class of 2013' (not 2012) to be an apprentice with ABT. Hannah Marshall (daughter of Cheryl Yeager) and Catherine Hurlin I would have expected, along with Lippert, who was terrific in the ABT2 Jerusalem piece at the JKO last month.

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Bingham, Lippert was the only one among recent Apprentices who danced at the JKO School year-end performance this past May; all other just-promoted apprentices danced in the April/May 2012 JKO School show. So Lippert is truly blessed to be the only one of the 'JKO Class of 2013' (not 2012) to be an apprentice with ABT. Hannah Marshall (daughter of Cheryl Yeager) and Catherine Hurlin I would have expected, along with Lippert, who was terrific in the ABT2 Jerusalem piece at the JKO last month.

Daughter of Carla Stallings!

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I'm off to see my only SL tomorrow - anyone know anything about casting besides the lead couple?

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I'm off to see my only SL tomorrow - anyone know anything about casting besides the lead couple?

Jared Matthews will be purple Rothbart. Let us know how Cornejo does at his debut.

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