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ABT 2013 Swan Lake at the Met


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#91 vipa

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 09:04 AM

I attended Friday, and agree with everything abatt said about Cornejo.  A wonderful performance - his bearing, the way he held the stage and his brilliant technique which was performed with an ease and eloquence befitting nobility.   

 

Maria Kochetkova is a beautiful and accomplished dancer.  There were very few glitches (there was the 2nd act diagonal of turns when she traveled so far she was barely on stage to finish), and lots to admire.  She and Cornejo are well matched in size and proportions so their pas de deux work had many, many lovely moments.

 

She was not, however, transcendent.  I should perhaps admit to where I'm coming from.  I've been watching ballet for over 40 years, and at this point am not a fan of most full length story ballets.  I usually stay away, but bought a ticket to see Alina Cojocaru do SL.  To me she is a dancer of such musicality and imagination that she invariably reveals things to me that I didn't knew were there, or could be there. Kochetkova's performance was good and enjoyable, but there were no revelations.  That said I look forward to seeing her doing rep. with the San Francisco Ballet when they come to NY.

 

A few comments about some other dancers.  Simone Messner was a delight in the pas de trois.  Everything is there - jumps, turns etc. but the nice thing is that it is all done with a naturalness and joy that is a pleasure to behold.  So many dancers do these variations with affectations or a "style" that looks grafted on.

 

Gorak danced well and carried the role of Benno quite believably.  I imagine he will be promoted soon, and perhaps will be a principal in the future.  He appears to not be stuck the way IMO Joseph Phillips unfortunately is.

 

Jared Matthews was terrific as the Purple Rothbart, no he is not Gomes - sometimes even Gomes isn't Gomes, but he danced very well, with no technical issues and made the role his own.  I just have to add that in the section with the princesses, I couldn't take my eyes off of Sarah Lane.  She looked gorgeous and glamorous - her creamy port de bras so beautiful.  She'd be the princess I'd advise any prince to choose!

 

Last thing - music.  There are a couple of sections of corps dance when the music suddenly slowed.  Why?  Is it to make sure the all dance together?  If so why can't they dance together to music that isn't distorted.  Also in the Pas de Trois - the three dancers stayed together but were behind the music.  I'm not talking rubato - just behind the music.  They stayed together, so I have to conclude they were coached to do it that way.  It wouldn't be fair to say that in this company music isn't a priority, but I can safely say that in this ballet music definitely takes a back seat at ABT.



#92 Helene

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 10:29 AM

 Definitely.  The three things I really care when watching fouettes are 1: placement of the working leg. 2: Absence of traveling and 3: Syncopation with the 32 counts.   
 
Sadly, all three points are highly diminished nowadays...

Is the working leg in second in fouettes classical style, though? It's beautiful, controlled, and accomplished, but the leg is still high.

I tend to look for consistent placement. I find that many dancers whip their legs to the side in the beginning of the fouettes, regardless of the height, but gradually end the whip and start the pirouette more and more in the front of them.

#93 pherank

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 12:17 PM

I attended Friday, and agree with everything abatt said about Cornejo.  A wonderful performance - his bearing, the way he held the stage and his brilliant technique which was performed with an ease and eloquence befitting nobility.   

 

Maria Kochetkova is a beautiful and accomplished dancer.  There were very few glitches (there was the 2nd act diagonal of turns when she traveled so far she was barely on stage to finish), and lots to admire.  She and Cornejo are well matched in size and proportions so their pas de deux work had many, many lovely moments.

 

She was not, however, transcendent.  I should perhaps admit to where I'm coming from.  I've been watching ballet for over 40 years, and at this point am not a fan of most full length story ballets.  I usually stay away, but bought a ticket to see Alina Cojocaru do SL.  To me she is a dancer of such musicality and imagination that she invariably reveals things to me that I didn't knew were there, or could be there. Kochetkova's performance was good and enjoyable, but there were no revelations.  That said I look forward to seeing her doing rep. with the San Francisco Ballet when they come to NY.

 

I'm enjoying reading all the comments on the Friday evening performance.

I have to think that Cojocaru has a great deal more experience, not only with Swan Lake, but with this version of Swan Lake. I'm pretty sure that the last time Kochetkova performed Swan Lake was in Tomasson's version, 3 years ago (?), which is fairly traditional, but there are going to be differences in the choreography throughout. So what you are getting is a dancer who is game, thrown into the fire, as it were. I've learned to like the fact that Kochetkova forces you take her on her own terms - mostly because of her obvious short stature. She knew the Bolshoi or the ENB were not looking to nurture a "short" dancer in principal roles. But, Helgi Tomasson told Chris Wheeldon, "Keep your eye out for a short dancer", and the rest is history (for San Francisco). And lest people think she's the only gem at SFB, there are a number of these 'unique' dancers (male and female) in the company.

And now that Mathilde Froustey is apparently coming to SFB from POB, you get to see once again the interesting selections made for SFB. People who don't quite fit in at their home company, but just might have the ability to do big things in their own unique way, if allowed to do so. Is SFB getting 'the leftovers'? Possibly, but Tomasson is particular in his choice of 'leftovers', and they've all developed into interesting dance personalities under him.

The ABT model is simply different from the SFB model. ABT performs a whole lot of story ballets which are star vehicles for their (hopefully) world-class performers. SFB is much more flexible in its repertoire (especially given its comparative budget size), and has managed to create a really well balanced team of principals. There is an organic quality to the team which is lovely to behold. I don't think ABT can match that quality. What you can hopefully see at an ABT performance is principals with a big WOW factor, and great costumes and sets. But there's none of the "team" feel to the company you get with NYCB and SFB (or PNB, MCB), in my opinion.

 

Curtain call photo for those of us who couldn't be there:

https://twitter.com/...4471296/photo/1



#94 Helene

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 01:12 PM

If Kochetkova is a "left-over," I'll take left-overs any day.  Some of my favorite all-time dancers never fit a constrained mold.



#95 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 02:08 PM

 

Definitely.  The three things I really care when watching fouettes are 1: placement of the working leg. 2: Absence of traveling and 3: Syncopation with the 32 counts.   
 
Sadly, all three points are highly diminished nowadays...

Is the working leg in second in fouettes classical style, though? It's beautiful, controlled, and accomplished, but the leg is still high.

 

 
 
 
 Well...it could be that those were the fouettes I got to know, before getting exposed to the Rusian fouettes...
 
There were some other ballerinas that would lower the working leg slightly, but still, one could see the full development of the ronde de jambe that make the step really beautiful.
 
Here's a perfect example, the equally divine Aurora Bosh @ 11:48
 
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=SQhtwUMdoxc
 
 
vs..."something" @ 2:40...
 
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=JDfFAljt4JM

Edited to do the "light switch trick"...

Edited to declare that it worked!!! yahoo.gif



#96 onxmyxtoes

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 03:33 PM

This was typed quickly on my iPhone, so please excuse any errors:
 
The June 22 matinee performance of Swan Lake was one of the best and most memorable that I have ever seen. I went into the theatre with reservations that I had had since I bought my ticket, wondering how Julie Kent, at this stage in her career, would be able to carry the entire ballet, especially the role of Odile.  But after Julie lept out on stage as Odette the swan (note: at this moment a baby began wailing, which actually induced a light chuckle in the audience) I was transfixed.  Whatever she lacked in technical flair, she made up with her exceptional musicality, port de bras, and dramatics. I have never seen such beautiful swan-like shapes on any Odette before. And she moved like the music was running through her veins. Every flap of her wings was so impeccably linked to the chords of the music- it was absolutely astonishing.  We movements were for the most part absolutely effortless and breath taking. Julie's and Marcelo's white swan pas de deux was the epitome of white swan pas (and the first time in maybe 20 performances that the scene had closed and I am in tears).  There was no evidence of Julie's technical decline in the pas. Her back was supple, her extensions were high, her turns were effortless.  At the end of the pas, Julie's battus between the piroettes were so fast, it was more like her leg was quivering than "beating" - so gorgeous. I noticed that the music was played slower than it had been played in the other performances I saw this year. But it was worth it to see her luxuriate every note of the music.

The emotional connection between Marcelo and Julie  was tangible in every move. It was crystal clear why ABT's artistic cast these two together- dare I say their bond seems even more genuine that Marcelo's with Diana Vishneva?  Marcelo seemed to be motivated by Julie to give the best performance that I've seen of his this entire season. Like a few others on Ballet Talk, I felt that something might have been a little off during his Romeo performance a few weeks ago. But today, he was as solid as ever. His solo in the first act was gorgeous and every balance, turn and transition were so precise and controlled.

The black swan pas de deux was impressive as well. Unlike other ballerinas who seem to prioritize technical tricks over musicality or interpretation, Julie's focus was on her acting while executing the steps beautifully. She did not sacrifice her swan character to throw in an extra turn. Every port de bra was gorgeous and again her musical timing was magical. Marcelo seemed so comfortable supporting her pirouettes and was able to help her spins rapidly. One of the loveliest moments was when he would help her turn and she would bring her arms up to a high fifth and at the end of the turn swing her working leg around through second into an arabesque/penche.  What I appreciated most from this pas de deux was how Julie made each step part of the seduction instead of a trick. Marcelo's solo was perfect and again he seemed energized by his partner. His balances were long and controlled and he landed every pristine double tour in a beautiful fifth position.[/size]

The last portion of the pas was a little strange with some choreographic alterations. After Julie's nearly 32 fouettes and Marcelo's amazingly fast set of a la second turns, Julie chose to do a 2nd round of pique turns in a circle instead of the backward arabesque hops. I'm not sure why because it didn't seem like the piqué turns were any easier for her than the arabesques. At the end of the pas instead of just bringing her front arm to Siegfried and then bending back, Julie practically gave Marcelo a kiss before snapping her arm and head back. WOW! What a moment of seductress mastery. It gave me the chills.

The 4th act was beautiful, although short. Both of their suicide leaps were passionate, and Julie's was much more daring and care-free than I have seen in the past.

I really can't express how much I loved the two of them in this performance. It was really a special performance, and I will make sure to see them dance together as soon as I can.

Some notes on the supporting cast:

I did not really  enjoy  James Whiteside as Von Rothbart. He seemed to make it a caricature role and his technique is not really anything to write home about. Everything he did Jared Matthews did 10 times better the night before. Not really jumping on the JW bandwagon.
Pas de trois: Jared Matthews is good in this role, but is better as Von R. Stella Abrera is absolutely divine and was much better than Simone Messmer, whom I really enjoy. Stella's entracha sixes and battus are stunning. She is a true classicist and a beauty on stage. I want more Stella! Someone really really needs to give Melanie Hamrick some coaching before they let her turn on stage again. She has the most terrified expression on her face with her eye-brows up. It's very distracting and not attractive.

Karen Uphoff and Nicola Curry are good at Big Swans (more Karen than Nicola), but they do not look good dancing together. It looks like they had two completely different training styles.

Jessica Saund stood out in the Spanish dance in a bad way. She looked bored or sad in the dance. I couldn't figure it out. Devon Teuscher had much more gusto.

Blain Hoven was good in Neapolitan but Grant DeLong seemed ill prepared for the role with more turns unfinished than finished.

Final note: Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes are splendid in Swan Lake. Go see them, you will not be disappointed!

#97 abatt

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 03:47 PM

I attended this afternoon's performance w. Kent and Gomes.  What Kent lacks in flexibility and technique due to age, she more than made up for in dramatic presence and detailed characterization.  She certainly changes the choreography in a number of ways to suit her current level of ability. She was at her best in conveying the tragedy of Odette's situation.  Great mime, excellent acting. I'm not sure how many more seasons she will continue to do SL in the future, but I'm glad I decided to see this performance. Gomes is of course the best partner at ABT- maybe one of the best anywhere.  He partnered her perfectly.  His Act I solo was beautifully done, with a fully stretched line. He is not an especially great spinner or jumper compared to some of the other ABT men (like Cornejo), but his Act III was very well done.  Kent did her fouettes (singles) in Act III well, but with some traveling.  She was deliciously evil as Odile.  I thought Purple Rothbart suited James Whiteside well.  He was a bit tentative at the start of the ballet when he partners Julie. The matinee on Sat is always a gamble because of the number of kids. Well, it happened-  Just as Julie took the stage in Act II a kid starting screaming so that 3,800 people could hear.  Kent clearly heard it too, but she soldiered on and ignored the disturbance as best she could.  It was a very gratifying performance from the leads.  Onwards to Sylvia.

 

There are a few people who have breathtaking port de bras in Swan Lake.  In this regard, Lopatkina is my gold standard.  (I've never seen her do SL live, but I have seen her on DVD).  Kent came pretty darn close to the Lopatkina port de bras gold standard today.



#98 abatt

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 03:56 PM

Onxmyxtoes, I think Kent did the pique turns instead of the arabesques because it is easier for her.  If you noticed, there were also a number of instances in the second act  where she altered the choreography to avoid doing arabesques.  It didn't bother me that she made these changes.  These are the types of changes she needs to make in order to continue doing the role.



#99 Mazurka

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 07:17 PM

Gomez danced so much better with Kent than with Seo - Kent is just a joy to watch - Seo executes and lacks emotional connection - Kent truly dances and inspires her partner.   Will not miss the two of them dancing again!



#100 nysusan

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 06:55 AM

I attended Friday, and agree with everything abatt said about Cornejo.  A wonderful performance - his bearing, the way he held the stage and his brilliant technique which was performed with an ease and eloquence befitting nobility.   

 

Maria Kochetkova is a beautiful and accomplished dancer.  There were very few glitches (there was the 2nd act diagonal of turns when she traveled so far she was barely on stage to finish), and lots to admire.  She and Cornejo are well matched in size and proportions so their pas de deux work had many, many lovely moments.

 

She was not, however, transcendent.  I should perhaps admit to where I'm coming from.  I've been watching ballet for over 40 years, and at this point am not a fan of most full length story ballets.  I usually stay away, but bought a ticket to see Alina Cojocaru do SL.  To me she is a dancer of such musicality and imagination that she invariably reveals things to me that I didn't knew were there, or could be there. Kochetkova's performance was good and enjoyable, but there were no revelations.  That said I look forward to seeing her doing rep. with the San Francisco Ballet when they come to NY.

 

 

I agree 100%. Cornejo was marvelous, and Kochetkova was beautiful, but she could have been better. IMO this was not a world class SL and the performance as a whole was not transcendent. I can understand why they engaged her to partner Cornejo but she really was not on the same level as Cojocaru and frankly, I would have preferred to see Sara Lane. I love story ballets and SL is my favorite but ABT's partnering choices and staging make transcendent Swan Lakes a rarity at this company..

 

Of the 3 SLs I saw this year Boylston/Simkin was my favorite, which is quite surprising.

 

I love Part, and she was wonderful but as fondoffouettes noted, her Odette was somewhat animalistic and so Act 2 took on a very different feeling. Stearns has improved greatly & his partnering was solid but he was still an emotional blank and really just looks to me like a shallow uncomprehending young man in the presence of Part's passionate Odette . For me acts 3 and 4 worked best because Part really took control - her Odile dazzled her hapless Siegfried and in act 4 her sorrow was all encompassing. I guess what I'm saying is that it was ok for  Stearns to be a confused puppy in acts 3 & 4 - but that will never work for me in act 2.

 

I didn't hold out high hopes for the Boylson/Simkin cast but I loved them. She had technique to spare and beautiful line. In fact her plastique reminded me a little of the Mariinsky's Skorik (in a good way!) and I found her to be very emotionally expressive.She has room for improvement and I'm sure her interpretation & stylistic choices will grow over the years - but this was certainly a beautiful start. I also loved Simkin, he was a boyish prince, but with elegant and poetic demeanor and he partnered Boylston very well. There were 1 or 2 small glitches but nothing drastic. In the 3rd act Boylston really threw herself into some of the supported pirouettes with a lot of force and he had a hard time handling her but everything else was fine, and as far as I could see they didn't change any of the choreography to simplify the lifts.

 

A few more observations - Matthews was a great Von Rothbart - he has also grown tremendously this season. Sella was great in the PDT - I haven't seen entrechats that beautifully delineated since E. Cornejo! The corps looked great, I noticed how well they were dancing from the beginning of the 1st act and all thru the lakeside acts.



#101 California

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 08:27 AM

I saw three of the SLs this year (Murphy/Whiteside, Kochetkova/Cornejo, Kent/Gomes). I agree with most of what has been said, and add just a few more points:

 

Murphy: I saw her in SL a year ago with Gomes and thought she was not quite 100% this year -- balances not quite as sustained, turns not quite as fast. I don't know if that was the new partner (Whiteside) or the brief illness that took her out of the Ratmansky a few weeks ago. She added one detail to the fouettes I don't remember seeing before: on a couple of the rotations, she fluttered her arms up and down in swan arms! The physics of making that happen while turning are mind-boggling.

 

Kochetkova: I look forward to seeing her again in SL. Sparkling technique, speed, elevation.

 

Kent: This was exceptionally moving and dramatically appropriate, as others have noted. I don't have a problem with simplifying some of the choreography, but she's really pushing the envelope at this point. Some of the fun of SL is seeing how different dancers execute the famous "bits" of choreography, and she has dropped much of it -- the schooching backward arabesques in Act III replaced by a small circle of pique turns, e.g. I only counted 24 fouettes (all singles), but that might be my mistake. In II, I noticed an example of the vaunted Gomes partnering: she was in arabesque, on pointe, let go of his supportive hand, but lasted only a second or two - she started to learn forward and his hand was at her waist in a nano-second to support her.

 

Cornejo: Wow! What a debut! I saw him in Mercutio and Puck last year and the speed, height, precision, energy were all there in his Siegfried. I can't wait to see him in this again. He also seemed to have worked out all the detailed acting throughout very effectively. One odd thing in his variations in Act I: he almost always looks straight at the audience, rarely the party-goers. Isn't he supposed to be entertaining his subjects in this? (Gomes does this a little, but not as noticeably.)

 

Gomes: Along with his luxurious dancing -- never rushed, always in perfect form, I loved his detailed characterization. He lived this character start to finish.

 

Kent and Gomes: A very nice touch during the second all-stage curtain call: They walked to opposite corners, stage front, turned their backs on the audience, and gave long, sweeping gestures to acknowledge the corps. It was so coordinated that it looked like they had done this before (has anybody seen this before?) or had planned it beforehand. Gomes does a gesture like that himself during curtain calls, but I haven't seen both principals do this. Both came up through the ABT ranks themselves, of course.

 

Vasiliev: This was painful to watch. He threw in his usual tricks and the audience loved it, but he seems such a mismatch size-wise. Perhaps they need to make some alterations in that costume for him, so he looks more like an aristocrat and less like a jester.

 

Matthews and Whiteside: I thought they were both very effective as Aristocratic Rothbart -- menacing, sinister, manipulative.



#102 mimsyb

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 10:25 AM

I agree with everything said about the Kent/Gomes performance.  It was for me a MAster Class is how these roles should be performed.  Her port de bras are so far and away the finest in recent memory, and her acting of both characters was simply on a whole other plain than the others this week.  Gomes needs no further praise from me.  He is the the finest example of a male dancer going today.  No one comes even close.   I don't mind the choreographic changes one bit.  At this level it's purely academic if she does or she doesn't do the backward hops in arabesque.  My question is: how does she dance at this continued level? (as an aside, she was my favorite Juliet also this year.  Pure poetry)  One can only hope that if and when she does retire she will stick around to show and coach the younger dancers.

 

A few other comments.  Stella is the only female dancer that I notice who is capable of doing "sixes" in the pas de trois.  Someone commented, not since Erica Cornejo.  My question is, why not?  Someone is not telling the ladies how they are done!

MAthews was great as Rothbart.  Big improvement.

Jos. Gorak gets my vote for a promotion and soon.

Vasiliev as Rothbart was a total embarrassment.  Not only did he not fit the costume (oh, those over the thigh "Kinky Boots"!).  But his dancing was  just pathetic. Clumsy and awkward.  His toes were un-pointed. His thighs looked even larger than ever!  His preparations and landings rough and without any semblance of any training whatsoever.  He looked like a cross between a thug and a purple troll. Why did he get three performances of this role? Oh yeah, he sells tickets.  This is so sad.



#103 jimmattimore

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 11:59 PM

On June 20, Gillian Murphy was incandescent. jim



#104 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 05:16 AM

Yes, Murphy was wonderful on Thursday.  She grows as an artist every year.  Her current interpretation of SL is much richer and deeper than the one that was preserved on DVD some 10 years ago.  Her physical, technical power is probably the strongest of anyone in the company.  She always blows me away when she adds the swan-flap arms while she's doing triple fouettes in Act III.  Whiteside had a very successful debut in the lead role. Based on what I've seen he is a valuable addition to the ABT roster.



#105 Helene

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:01 PM

Maria Kochetkova posted this photo of a curtain call with Cornejo to her Facebook page:

 

https://www.facebook...elevant_count=1




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