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ABT 2013 Swan Lake at the Met


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#31 Helene

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 05:08 PM

The company forums are for discussing what you saw.

 

You're welcome to discuss what the critics saw in the "Writings for Ballet" forum.  I've moved the posts about critics' opinions to this thread, if you want to continue the discussion:

 

New York Critics 2012-13 Season



#32 Jayne

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:29 PM

the orchestra for ABT has been much criticized in the past 2 years.  I haven't detected any praise for the orchestra this spring - but also no criticism.  Has it improved?



#33 ord7916

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:42 PM

Just returned from the Met.  This is only my second full length ballet, and nearly all of what I know is based on Youtube and what I've read on here, so bear with me.

 

 I chose the Part / Stearns cast based on recommendations on here.  Part was excellent and the audience loved her.  Stearns, except for a brief moment during the pas de deux, seemed to just be "there".  I never got the feeling that these two were in love.  When she jumps into the lake and he jumps in after her, I couldn't help but wonder Why?  

 

Rothbart the human was played by Vasiliev and the beast by Roman Zhurbin, both of whom were a treat to watch.  Vasiliev had a great stage presence, albeit without the acrobatics that he's famous for.   And I really liked Zhurbin.  I'd rather they  let him do both versions of Rothbart and let Vasiliev do Siegfried.  Incidentally, at the end of act three when there's an explosion and he turns back into the beast, it happens so quickly and is so dimly lit that if you're not familiar with this version, you'd really have no idea what happened.   

 

The pas de trois was great, led by Sascha Radetsky, as were the four swans (not sure what that part is called).  And the two guys doing the Neapolitan dance were great as well.  And the group swan scenes were impressive.  Aside from the the above, the Rothbart scenes, parts of the pas de deux and some of Odette's scenes, I found my mind wandering.

 

To my surprise, having looked forward to this night for quite a while, I found I actually enjoyed Don Quixote with Cornejo and Reyes more.  Though it is certainly sillier, I found it wowing me again and again, something I only felt a couple of times tonight.

 

Now I'm debating whether to spend the money for Sleeping Beauty and, if so, with which cast.  



#34 Buddy

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:50 PM

I do feel that Cory Stearns at the end did make a 'valiant effort.' I could write a book about this one but after seven Veronika "Swan Lake"s I still find her to be…
 
Absolutely Great !
 
Cheers as usual to Simone Messmer.


#35 Jayne

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 09:17 PM

ord7916:  Perhaps you are just discovering your tastes in story ballet.  You have a preconceived idea from the media that Swan Lake is "the greatest" ballet, but your tastes are unique - each person is different - right now yours veer towards the more exciting and earthy story of Don Q.  SB falls somewhere in the middle - delicate dancing is required in the first act by the lead ballerina as Aurora.    

 

You might check out Sleeping Beauty on DVD from your library and watch it to see if you like it.  Most versions follow the basic story and choreography that Petipa originated.  ABT's version has an unfortunate set that looks more like a Thomas Kinkaide painting than a French Palace.  I'm sure others on this thread could help you pick an Aurora, or even to pick other ballets that suit your eyes and ears.  

 

Keep in mind that your tastes may change over time, and there isn't anything wrong with that.   My tastes in musical theatre, literature, ballet, classical music, and opera have certainly evolved over time (not to mention other music genres).  Variety is the spice of life!



#36 nanushka

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 05:49 AM

Last night's (June 18) Swan Lake with Veronika Part and Cory Stearns was excellent.  I don't know that I've seen Veronika dance this role with such solid technique, such deep emotion, or such delicate and voluptuous and elegant and perfectly controlled beauty.  Her quivering legs; her long, fluid, gorgeous swan arms; her perfect mime; her devilishly sexy black swan smile; her awe-inspiring extensions -- she is an Odette for the ages, and an excellent (if not technically brilliant) Odile.

 

I have long mourned the fact that Veronika is no longer paired with Marcelo Gomes in this ballet, but while she used to need him to rise to her best performances, she now seems more self-sufficient.  At the same time, Cory has much improved.  As with a number of other dancers in the company (Jared Matthews, for instance), there's been clear growth since last season.  His dancing in Act I was crisp and fluid and more distinctly characterful than in the past.  His partnering in the later acts was pretty much rock-solid.  To be honest, though, I can't speak much to his connection with Veronika -- for when she was onstage, I was completely unable to take my eyes off of her.  (At the same time, certain moments just made me want to close my eyes and savor the echo of the image -- I had to stop the impulse numerous times.)

 

Cory's leap at the end of the ballet was gorgeous, and a nice complement to hers.  He soared; she plummeted.  Both were beautiful.

 

The pas de trois was quite good.  Sascha Radetsky substituted for Jared Matthews and I've rarely liked Sascha's dancing as much as I did last night.  For one thing, he seemed to restrain his tendency to smirk.  Like Cory's, his dancing was very clean and technically solid.  Stella Abrera, taking the first variation, was also excellent.  Her arms are so gorgeously fluid and artful.  Melanie Hamrick seemed a bit messy, but not enough to detract from the overall effect of the piece.

 

There was an amusing little moment in the danse des coupes (which in this production has no coupes) when the peasants all line up and one girl gets tossed down the line.  At the final boy, she's supposed to get "dropped," but in fact this happened for real two boys too early (in the arms of whichever corps dancer looks exactly like Kenneth the page from 30 Rock).  Of course, then they had to repeat it just a few beats later, which made nonsense of the already silly effect.  If anyone in the company caught this on video, they should study the first fall, because it looked a lot more convincing than it usually does at the end of the line!

 

The swan corps in Acts II and IV looked very clean, solid and beautiful.  This usually doesn't happen until later in the week's run, so bravi to the company.  The little swans were unusually well matched, and the only minor slip was at the very end, as they go down into their last position at the front of the stage.  This always seems to be a problem spot for this particular corps.

 

I usually tend to zone out a bit during the national dances (except the Neapolitan), but this time I made a conscious effort to watch more closely.  I realized I can actually get some pleasure out of all but the last, the Polish mazurka, which is just simply dull and pointless.  Patrick Ogle looked particularly good leading the Hungarian czardas; it was great to see Simone Messmer and Luciana Paris dancing together in the Spanish (I've long gotten the sense that they are kindred spirits); and Joseph Gorak and Luis Ribagorda looked great as usual in the Neapolitan.  ("As usual" because they always individually look great, though I don't think I've ever seen them dance this piece together.  An excellent pairing.)

 

Ivan Vasiliev was purple Rothbart.  Oy.  This was a very poor casting decision.  I can imagine it looked great on paper (and I was actually excited to see him), but it just does not work.  Rothbart needs to be commanding and controlling and truly overwhelmingly sexually magnetic.  I hate to say it, but it's really hard to pull that off when you're the shortest man in the room.  Though I know it's (probably) not true, at times it looked like Veronika had a good 6 inches on him.  She was his equal, not his subordinate; he was her younger brother, not her father.  Not helping the matter was the fact that they kept the costume's thigh-high boots, which unfortunately accentuated Vasiliev's short, stocky legs.  (The shoulder pads also looked terrible on such a short, dense figure.)  And it wasn't just appearance--his dancing was not up to the part.  His leaps, as usual, were high and clean, but he did not come close to covering the entire stage in the manner of (to name the very best) Marcelo Gomes in this role.  His balance on one leg was very short, and there was an unusual (for him) amount of effort apparent in his manipulations of the princesses' bodies.  I know it was his debut in the role, but I really don't think this is fixable; he should not be assigned it again.  I just found him completely unconvincing, and it really broke the whole performance for me.

 

Luckily, an excellent Black Swan pas de deux was immediately to follow -- perhaps the best I've ever seen Veronika dance this piece.  There was so much palpable pleasure in her character's deception and seduction.

 

Last year, dancing Swan Lake with Cory, Veronika seemed to push too hard to make up for the void of his character.  This year, with his improvements and their continued experiences dancing together, the overall effect was far more satisfying.

 

I'm looking forward to a very different experience tonight seeing Daniil Simkin and Isabella Boylston.  If nothing else, it's sure to be fun!



#37 atm711

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 06:28 AM

 
Ivan Vasiliev was purple Rothbart.  Oy.  This was a very poor casting decision.  I can imagine it looked great on paper (and I was actually excited to see him), but it just does not work.  Rothbart needs to be commanding and controlling and truly overwhelmingly sexually magnetic.  I hate to say it, but it's really hard to pull that off when you're the shortest man in the room.  Though I know it's (probably) not true, at times it looked like Veronika had a good 6 inches on him.  She was his equal, not his subordinate; he was her younger brother, not her father.  Not helping the matter was the fact that they kept the costume's thigh-high boots, which unfortunately accentuated Vasiliev's short, stocky legs.  (The shoulder pads also looked terrible on such a short, dense figure.)  And it wasn't just appearance--his dancing was not up to the part.  His leaps, as usual, were high and clean, but he did not come close to covering the entire stage in the manner of (to name the very best) Marcelo Gomes in this role.  His balance on one leg was very short, and there was an unusual (for him) amount of effort apparent in his manipulations of the princesses' bodies.  I know it was his debut in the role, but I really don't think this is fixable; he should not be assigned it again.  I just found him completely unconvincing, and it really broke the whole performance for me.




Unfortunately, everything you said was true---I was appalled. I would take it a step further and question what he has to offer as a member of the Company.

#38 California

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 07:18 AM

At least somebody had the good judgment not to cast Vasiliev at the Saturday matinee with Gomes as Siegfried. What an interesting third act that would have made!!!

 

I think ABT audiences are seeing pretty clearly why the Royal Ballet did not offer a position to Vasiliev. I almost feel sorry for him. It's going to be hard to find appropriate roles and partners other than Osipova. He needs to invest in some serious coaching -- soon!



#39 fondoffouettes

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 07:38 AM

I can only echo nanunshka's very thorough and vivid description of last night's Swan Lake. I believe I've seen nearly all of Veronika Part's Swan Lakes at ABT, and her performance last night was truly remarkable. Usually the success of a Swan Lake depends largely on the intense romantic chemistry conveyed by the two principals. (I recall, for instance, a very early Gomes/Part Swan Lake, which took place over a Fourth of July weekend, in which they could barely keep their hands off each other.) But last night Stearns was more of a vehicle to showcase Veronika and her exquisite portrayal of the Swan Queen. In some ways this focus on the female dancer and relative anonymity of the male dancer made the lakeside acts reminiscent of a traditional Romantic ballet. At times I was reminded of the dynamic between the male and female leads in a ballet like La Sylphide--hapless prince discovers a beautiful, enigmatic creature that he doesn't quite comprehend, yet he is inexorably drawn to her. You could understand why Cory was so easily deceived by the black swan; he never really understood who or what Odette was in the first place. This mood was heightened by Veronika's portrayal of Odette; it was by far her least "human" portrayal of Odette/Odile, in the very best sense. I've never seen her more animal-like, with her expressive upper body and face mimicking the qualities of a bird--delicate and quivering in the lakeside acts, and predatory in the black swan pas de deux. This isn't to say I wouldn't like to see Veronika dance with a more emphatically loving Siegfried again, but perhaps there was something about her pairing with Cory that allowed her to achieve one her most exquisite and detailed performances to date.

 

A note about Cory's dancing--he has truly developed in leaps and bounds since first taking on principal roles a couple years ago. He has become a much more polished, confident partner, with lovely leaps and spins. His technique and stage presence is quickly catching up with his "princely look." Now that he has become confident in principal roles hopefully he can begin to focus on the dramatic side of his art.

 

Someone in ABT's costume department should have intervened before letting Vasiliev on stage in the Rothbart costume. You couldn't possibly design a less flattering costume for his body type. It's not unheard of for costumes to be redesigned for principal dancers, so what happened? Maybe they thought it wasn't worth it to invest in a costume for a principal who may not consistently return for Met seasons. Also, I think the swan tail in the back of Odette's tutu and the red spangles at her chest are completely unnecessary and distracting. 

 

In response to Jayne's question about ABT's orchestra--yes, they do sound pretty good this season (at least at the performances I've attended)! Sometimes the quality of the playing at Swan Lake performances was truly appalling--wonky horns and sections of the orchestra completely out of sync. Last night they sounded richer than ever and no gaffes to speak of. The violin soloist was excellent; did they hire an outside person again?  I've never seen Veronika give a more musical performance of Swan Lake, articulating tiny details of the score that can often go unnoticed; this wouldn't have been possible without the support of the conductor and a truly harmonious relationship between the dancers and the pit. 



#40 Jayne

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 08:05 AM

 

Unfortunately, everything you said was true---I was appalled. I would take it a step further and question what he has to offer as a member of the Company.

 

Sold out full price performances with Natalia Osipova???



#41 NinaFan

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 08:50 AM

 

 
Ivan Vasiliev was purple Rothbart.  Oy.  This was a very poor casting decision.  I can imagine it looked great on paper (and I was actually excited to see him), but it just does not work.  Rothbart needs to be commanding and controlling and truly overwhelmingly sexually magnetic.  I hate to say it, but it's really hard to pull that off when you're the shortest man in the room.  Though I know it's (probably) not true, at times it looked like Veronika had a good 6 inches on him.  She was his equal, not his subordinate; he was her younger brother, not her father.  Not helping the matter was the fact that they kept the costume's thigh-high boots, which unfortunately accentuated Vasiliev's short, stocky legs.  (The shoulder pads also looked terrible on such a short, dense figure.)  And it wasn't just appearance--his dancing was not up to the part.  His leaps, as usual, were high and clean, but he did not come close to covering the entire stage in the manner of (to name the very best) Marcelo Gomes in this role.  His balance on one leg was very short, and there was an unusual (for him) amount of effort apparent in his manipulations of the princesses' bodies.  I know it was his debut in the role, but I really don't think this is fixable; he should not be assigned it again.  I just found him completely unconvincing, and it really broke the whole performance for me.




Unfortunately, everything you said was true---I was appalled. I would take it a step further and question what he has to offer as a member of the Company.

 

What a shame it is that you are unable to see what Vasiliev has to offer as a member of the company.  I cannot get enough of him.  I confess that I haven’t seen his purple Rothbart, but I have seen him dance in Bright Stream, La Bayadere, Don Q, and Le Corsaire (both as Ali and Conrad).  Perhaps he was miscast as purple Rothbart.  If so, it will not be the first or the last time that a dancer is miscast.  Or perhaps he needs to grow into the role.   Or maybe he is just not your cup of tea.  To be quite honest (and in my opinion of course), I have never seen a memorable or electrifying purple Rothbart until Gomes came along.  He owns the role, and as always, sparkled once again on Monday night. 

 

Since Vasiliev will be moving to London with Osipova, I worry that he will join a European company, and that I will no longer have the opportunity to see him dance with ABT.  But I hope I am wrong, and that I will continue to have the pleasure of watching him dance in NY for many years to come.



#42 Batsuchan

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 11:31 AM

Here are my thoughts on the two shows I've seen so far.

6/17 - Semionova & Hallberg

With Semionova and Hallberg as the leads, I knew Monday's performance would be beautiful and technically self-assured-and it was exactly that: predictably gorgeous.  I especially marveled at Semionova's slowly arching backbends in the White swan p.d.d.-simply stunning!

However, despite the astounding, first-rate dancing, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the emotional side of this performance.  In general, I like Semionova's more restrained and subtle acting, and I think that Hallberg makes a perfect Prince Siegfried, but their white swan p.d.d. did not move me like others have, even though it was undeniably beautiful.  I did not feel like they were deeply in love.

The Black Swan p.d.d. had even less of an impact for me, although it was danced almost flawlessly-I really had a hard time believing Semionova as an evil seductress, especially compared to some of the beguiling vamps I've seen in the past (like Dvorovenko and Kondaurova).

Personally, I did not care for Semionova's fouettes even though she pulled off a jaw-dropping series of triple pirouettes-they did not fit the music at all, and she traveled around the stage quite a bit.

Thanks goodness for Marcelo Gomes, however!  He totally stole the show as the Purple Von Rothbart!  THERE was the drama and passion I was looking for!  The crowd definitely went wild for him-deservedly so!

Also, it was a treat to see Daniil Simkin as Benno.  Effortless, impeccable turns, beautiful arabesque lines, big, airy, easy jumps-wonderful!

6/18 - Part/Stearns

I pretty much agree 100% with nanushka and fondoffouettes!

This was the first time I saw either of these dancers in these roles, and I almost can't believe I'm writing this, but it's true!  I enjoyed this performance more than Monday's show!  I was especially impressed by Part.  In general, she is a dancer I avoid seeing because her difficulties with some steps makes me uneasy, but I have never seen her dance better than she did last night!

She radiated confidence, her fouettes were very well centered (and musical!), and she pulled off some impressive balances.  I especially enjoyed the way she held the balances in the final diagonal in the black swan p.d.d. where Odile hops backward in arabesque.  Usually I think this last sequence just looks awkward, but Part prolonged the balances separating the hops, making it seem like she was saying to Siegried, "come, come, come, stoppppp!" I felt like she was going for it technique-wise, and that is always exciting for me to see.  Bravo!

(And I think that is part of the reason why Monday's show was underwhelming for me.  Semionova does not have a big personality, and she is so technically proficient-the steps seem SO easy for her-that I think some of the drama/excitement is lost.)

But more importantly, I appreciated the emotion that Part brought to the role.  With her statuesque build, she is a natural queen, and very clearly commanded the other swans.  As Odette, she was especially skittish when she first encountered Siegfried, quivering her legs violently.  She forcibly rebuffed his early advances, but that made it all the more touching and romantic when she eventually reached out to him and melted in his arms.  As Odile, she was dangerously beguiling, alternatively luring Siegfried and then firmly rebuffing him.

The only quibble I have with her characterization is really a fault of the ABT production.  In Act IV, I don't like how Odette initially seems angry with Siegfried for his betrayal, but then immediately forgives him and decides to kill herself.  The 180 flip in emotions always seems too rushed to me.

Stearns' dancing is not as fine as Hallberg's (though I do like how he lands his jumps solidly in a deep plie in fifth position), and I wanted him to be more distraught at the end of Act III, but overall, he did a decent job of partnering, and he did not detract from the beautiful and tragic story Part was telling.

As for the other dancers-like others have said, Vasiliev looked miscast as Von Rothbart. The steps are not particularly pyrotechnic, so there were not many points for him to show off.  And the costume was unflattering to say the least--one of my friends said he looked like a purple gremlin! ;)

Stella Abrera, on the other hand, danced gorgeously and effortlessly.  That she is still a soloist is a travesty, in my opinion.  Radetsky and Melanie Hamrick were fine as the other two members of the pas de trios.

And-as always-it was a real pleasure to see Joey Gorak.  I will admit that he is not the fastest turner in the company, but his pirouettes are always perfectly centered and controlled, so I have no complaints.

Two "Swan Lakes" down, two more to go!

#43 nanushka

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 11:39 AM

I especially enjoyed the way she held the balances in the final diagonal in the black swan p.d.d. where Odile hops backward in arabesque.  Usually I think this last sequence just looks awkward, but Part prolonged the balances separating the hops, making it seem like she was saying to Siegried, "come, come, come, stoppppp!" I felt like she was going for it technique-wise, and that is always exciting for me to see.  Bravo!

 

Yes!  This moment was such a highlight; I'm glad you mentioned it.

 

You should really give Part some further attention -- she's become much more self-assured and technically proficient over the past 4-5 years.  I've always been a great fan of her dancing, but I no longer have to sit through her performances with a knot in my stomach wondering whether she'll freeze up as she sometimes used to.



#44 mussel

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 12:13 PM

 

In response to Jayne's question about ABT's orchestra--yes, they do sound pretty good this season (at least at the performances I've attended)! Sometimes the quality of the playing at Swan Lake performances was truly appalling--wonky horns and sections of the orchestra completely out of sync. Last night they sounded richer than ever and no gaffes to speak of. The violin soloist was excellent; did they hire an outside person again?  I've never seen Veronika give a more musical performance of Swan Lake, articulating tiny details of the score that can often go unnoticed; this wouldn't have been possible without the support of the conductor and a truly harmonious relationship between the dancers and the pit. 

 

Yes, the orchestra is vastly improved this year, especially the violins.  I thought Mon night, there's a brief moment where sections of orchestra seemed to be disconnected from each other but it could be just me.   A friend is regular Met Opera goer and she recognizes many of the Met Orchestra members also in the pit with ABT, may be that's the reason for the improvement.



#45 angelica

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 01:56 PM

I'm reading all the above comments and saying to myself Yes! Yes! Yes! I want to quote everyone who expressed praise for both Veronika Part's performance and that of Cory Stearns. Cory has made a giant leap from last season, growing in stage presence and emotional expression. I've been watching him since his performance as James in La Sylphide some years ago, and have always admired his gorgeous line and handsome face. Perhaps it was his success in the character of Iago in The Moor's Pavane that gave him the courage to do more on the acting side. Or maybe good coaching. Or maturing. Whatever it is, it's working. He has never been one to showcase himself, which makes his acting all the more authentic. Last night he seemed thoroughly engaged with Veronika, responding to her outpouring of emotion with beautifully expressed emotion of his own--tenderness, sorrow, love. I was truly moved by his portrayal, which seemed completely genuine.

 

In the past, Veronika has had to carry the ballet on her own when she was paired with Cory, but now she has the opportunity for a real connection, which she has to make the most of. Watching her last night, it seemed to me that she maintained the same anguished expression throughout the entire lake scene. She has a wider emotional range than that, but perhaps her history with Cory, where she has had to carry all the emotion, has reified that aspect of the role for her. Now it's time for her to engage more with him.

 

Veronika is surely one of the great Odettes of all time. But last night her Odile had me completely in awe. She was magical: seductive and menacing, and dancing with the utmost self-confidence (I'm still not 100% rid of the knot in my stomach when she does those fouettes, but it's beginning to go away).

 

I won't say more because others have said it above, except to agree that Vasiliev looked ridiculous as Veronika's father; that Stella Abrera was beyond luminous; and that I wish they would change the costumes for the aristocrats in the first act because their fullness makes the dancers seem heavy and encumbered. They could cut out that maypole and I wouldn't miss it.




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