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ABT 2013 Sleeping Beauty at the Met

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Let me add my voice to the chorus of praise for Sarah Lane. She was gorgeous. I'm so happy for her. Simkin was especially wonderful in his solos. There were some partnering issues,but no disasters. Stella was luminous. McKenzie should be hanging his head in shame for failing to recognzie the talents of Lane and Abrera.

I saw Kochetkov/Cornejo in the evenng. Her Rose Adagio was competent and professional, but not breathtaking on any level. I thought she did better in the later acts. However, if her presence gave our wonderful Herman a chance to perform Desire, I guess I cannot object too much. Herman was extraordinary. Kajiya is miscast as Lilac (much too short).

I also saw Monday night's performance. Aurora is one of Paloma's best roles. She was lovely, and Marcelo was magnificent (of course).

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I've really enjoyed reading these reports about SB -- thanks, everybody -- keep 'em coming!

I'm curious if the houses look full. (Of course, the Wednesday night crowd was expecting Cojocaru...)

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I saw Kochetkov/Cornejo in the evenng. Her Rose Adagio was competent and professional, but not breathtaking on any level. I thought she did better in the later acts. However, if her presence gave our wonderful Herman a chance to perform Desire, I guess I cannot object too much. Herman was extraordinary. Kajiya is miscast as Lilac (much too short).

I agree that the rose adagio was not the highlight. She didn't so much have difficulty with the balances as not attempt them (she looked secure enough so it seemed a choice, but a disappointing one as far as I was concerned).

Not only did she grow through the acts, but my admiration for her grew. She is a rather quiet dancer, and of course very petite, but she really had drawn me in by the end.

She and Cornejo make a beautiful pair. Well matched in height and with very complementary lines. He had no difficulties with the partnering.

I have to say that in contrast to abatt I thought Kajiya was wonderful. She did not look short (especially not with these principals!).

She was gracious, serene, warm and her technique was secure. I found her a much more convincing orchestrator of action than i've ever found Abrerra, but I have not seen her in the role this year.

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Quite notes from last night (Cornejo/Kochetkova)

I was disappointed by Kochetkova, which was probably exacerbated because I bought the ticket for Cojocaru. I agree with others that her performance grew after the Rose Adagio. The Rose Adagio was a huge let down for me - she did not even try to hold any balance, instead she timidly lifted her hand between each suitor and immediately put her hand down. And no final balance either. Sigh...The rest of the birthday part act was fine, but it didn't look like she had developed any character at all. I felt like she was just doing the movements without any meaning.

Cornejo was his normal brilliant self. I always wish Prince Desire had more dancing. We really only get a glimpse! I definitely want to see more of him, and hopefully he gets better partners (I've avoided his performances in the past because of his partners)

Kajiya I thought was miscast. To me, she lacks the authoritative and fluidity that Liliac Fairy needs. When she extends her arm, I feel like the movement just stops there- that there is no illusion that line extends beyond her limbs. I miss the days when Maria Ricetto and Michelle Wiles did the role, although Stella Abrerra does it quite wonderfully (I haven't seen Part or Seo).

As for Vasiliev as Bluebird, I can not say anything positive except that it looks like he was trying. I really felt like I was watching a regional pre-pro ballet company when he was doing his variations. His lack of turn out and feet pointing were so obvious during his diagonals. Isabella Boylston looked lovely and very happy on stage. I think she's had a good season.

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Forgot to mention that there was an insert announcing Leann Underwood would be replaced by Gemma Bond as one of the fairies (I believe Chastity).

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Thank you all for these SB reviews. Wish I could have attended one myself (Lane's). It's disgraceful that a number of their female soloists are dancing better than one of their principals! I feel so bad for Abrera and Lane who can consistently dance rings around "someone" yet they're still soloists. So nice to hear about their wonderful performances! Not surprising but great to read about, yet a tad bittersweet.

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I am adding my kudos to both Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin for their beautiful SB...she reminded me so much of Cojocaru...and he of the young Baryshnikov.

For the life of me I cannot understand why a dancer of Misty Copeland's prominence is cast in this production as a Cat (and one who does not dance, at that!!)---surely it would have been a prize spot for a corps dancer.......there she sat, all during Act 3----just watching...I wonder what was going on in her head.....

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For the life of me I cannot understand why a dancer of Misty Copeland's prominence is cast in this production as a Cat (and one who does not dance, at that!!)---surely it would have been a prize spot for a corps dancer.......there she sat, all during Act 3----just watching...I wonder what was going on in her head.....

I saw her as one of the goats in Sylvia last week and was struck at the similarities with the cat in SB -- especially the pawing hands.

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For the life of me I cannot understand why a dancer of Misty Copeland's prominence is cast in this production as a Cat (and one who does not dance, at that!!)---surely it would have been a prize spot for a corps dancer.......there she sat, all during Act 3----just watching...I wonder what was going on in her head.....

I saw her as one of the goats in Sylvia last week and was struck at the similarities with the cat in SB -- especially the pawing hands.

But ,at least, there was more dancing in Sylvia...

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The Rose Adagio was a huge let down for me - she did not even try to hold any balance, instead she timidly lifted her hand between each suitor and immediately put her hand down. And no final balance either. Sigh...

Many Russians dance the rose adagio this way (including major dancers in my memory)...

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" I believe that she was promoted (somewhat but not totally - she had proven herself in some roles) on body type. It is look that the AD favors. "

Whom does she look like?

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" I believe that she was promoted (somewhat but not totally - she had proven herself in some roles) on body type. It is look that the AD favors. "

Whom does she look like?

I think Seo is quite similar to Kent in body type and especially technique/lyricalness. Looks to me as if she's being groomed to replace Kent when Kent retires.

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from atm711: "For the life of me I cannot understand why a dancer of Misty Copeland's prominence is cast in this production as a Cat (and one who does not dance, at that!!)---surely it would have been a prize spot for a corps dancer."



I had the same thought when I saw Stella Abrera as one of Sylvia's attendants last week. It's just sad to see a dancer of Abrera's talent and seniority, in a role that could go to promising corps members. It's not good for her, and it's not good for the younger ones to have her taking that spot. Same thing with Misty Copeland. And I think it's not good for the audience, either. People who attend ballet regularly get invested in seeing favorite dancers rise through the ranks. There's a real pleasure in seeing someone you first noticed as one of a line of swans, get new roles roles and get promoted. But when I see dancers like Eric Tamm and Joseph Phillips languishing in the corps year after year, it gets demoralizing. As an audience member, I puzzle about what is going on. I can see why Simone Messmer and Maria Riccetto decided to go elsewhere. I find myself fervently hoping that current corps standouts, Joseph Gorak and Skylar Brandt, don't succumb to whatever is causing such stagnation.



As for Hee Seo, I did not see her SB (or Swan Lake for that matter), but the reports are not good. I don't understand what happened to her. When I first noticed her in the corps, there were a couple of years in which I eagerly looked forward to her performances, where she seemed dazzling in every respect, obviously headed for promotion. Now so many poor reviews. What happened?


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I was there last night for Cornejo and Kochetkova. Herman Cornejo -- wow. So beautiful and intense -- I can't even try to describe it, but if I can help it I'll never miss one of his performances again! I didn't find Maria Kochetkova very interesting. She didn't have any glow, she doesn't have Cornejo's charisma. He seemed to be looking at her very intently, trying to connect with her, but she stayed cool. I wish they had given this performance to Sarah Lane.

Leann Underwood was replaced by Gemma Bond as one of the fairies, but I thought I spotted her amongst the corps in the vision scene.

As for Vasiliev, I admire the energy and passion with which he throws himself into his roles. As Orion in Sylvia, and again as Bluebird, he seems to completely efface himself in the service of the role. So much so that I'm a little taken aback... but I love the energy he brings to the stage.

Yuriko Kajiya is not my idea of the Lilac Fairy. Too thin and not authoritative. Give me Abrera or Part!

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It's just a thought, but the continuance of doing the full length "war horses" year in and year out at the Met means that there are just so many roles available for the corps dancers. And the soloists have to get stage time too. So what to do? I appreciate that these ballets fill seats and they offer opportunities for the principles. But this is why we get Misty doing what is essentially a corps role (White Cat), and Sara getting an Aurora once in a blue moon. And Messmer is leaving. But when the Ratmansky Trilogy was presented, the entire company got a chance to dance...really dance! And there were two full companies for these ballets. AND a corps dancer got to fill in for a Principle (Shevchenko for Murphy). This was also the case for "Drink" and "Symphony in C". Lots of dancing. Lots of opportunities for everyone. City Ballet has done this for years. Three ballets on a bill and everyone dances. It must be difficult for corps dancers at ABT to continue to do these ensemble endeavors and for soloist dancers to never move up because no one leaves and ABT continues to hire from the outside. To see the poor excuse for dancing that was Vasiliev's Blue Bird was a travesty. And there in the corps in those ridiculous costumes was Gorak, Phillips, Scott, Ribagorda, etc. etc. doing pretty much nothing. I don't have an answer. (well, I do, but no one wants to hear it!)

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It's also the ABT's version of Sleeping Beauty that leaves watered-down opportunities for the up-and-coming corps members or demi-soloists. SB is traditionally considered an excellent opportunity to show the top-down strength of a company, but with the current staging it's become just another showcase vehicle for the Star Ballerina and the Star Dancer. The fairy variations in the prologue and the divertissements in Aurora's wedding are either cut or presented in such a disjointed way that it's hard for anybody to shine, and that's a shame.

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I agree with mimsyb that all those full-length ballets at the Met contribute to the casting problems. And to fill such a big theater, those full-length warhorses seem to be a necessity with today's audiences. The two-week fall season, with nothing but mixed bills across the plaza in a smaller house, should help provide more opportunities for soloists and corps members. It will be a test case, as it were, to see if they can sell well. Let's hope they do.

Did someone mention that the ABT contract with the Met only runs through 2015? Perhaps that will be the opportunity to move to the you-know-who Theatre for a summer season once NYCB closes -- most of June, all of July. That's not ideal either, but it might be more realistic financially, especially if fund-raising woes continue. I suppose a March-April season would be a possibility, but not great either.

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If ABT's Artistic Director would (1) stop hiring dancers from other companies, and (2) provide adequate coaching for ABT's own dancers, there would be many more opportunities for advancement from within, even with the old warhorses. A longer fall season, with more rep, is also on my wish list.

I would love to see ABT perform in a house that was more user-friendly for ballet. As I said before in a thread about where to sit at the Met, my personal opinion is that every seat at the Met is a compromise. I know there are some who love center grand tier but that's too far away for me. I end up sitting in the orchestra, as close to the stage as possible, but even then there are random problems, such as the very tall man who sat in front of me a week or so ago, blocking a third of the stage for my $100+ ticket.

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I think Seo is quite similar to Kent in body type and especially technique/lyricalness. Looks to me as if she's being groomed to replace Kent when Kent retires.

That's a good point ABT Fan. That might be the case, although I believe that Kent was more technically proficient that Hee Seo is. I also see a similarity between Seo and Alessandra Ferri. Similar bodies - Ferri was a great dramatic ballerina/actress who was limited in the roles she danced. KM seems to want Seo to dance everything.

Many people made great points about the limitations presenting "war horse" full length ballets, in terms of casting.

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I agree Kent was more technically proficient than Seo is. Kent danced everything and to me it looks like KM wants Seo to do the same. That's an interesting comparison - Seo and Ferri. And an excellent point: Ferri was extraordinary in certain ballets and she stuck to them instead of doing those that wouldn't show off her best assets.

Someone else lamented how/why Seo had gone from a promising corps dancer to a struggling principal. I think it's due to being promoted too soon, too many roles and premieres this season, heavy expectations, and not enough coaching.

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It's been interesting reading everyone's comments. I was wondering how Kochetkova might fare thrown into the Lion's Den. ;) She's generally a brave dancer, and constantly looking for new opportunities and new challenges. But it sounds as if she was fairly tentative at least in Act I. I can't say I'm totally surprised by the feedback because Masha just does not have the kind of experience with "old war horse" ballets like Sleeping Beauty that the ABT principals are expected to have. I would have to agree that it is unlikely she has had the time to think through the Aurora character. Sometimes being game is just not enough. And I know her rehearsal time was quite short.

It's very interesting that she attempted little with the Rose Adagio, and I wonder if, as others have said, that the Russian trained ballerinas tend to drop the difficult bits in the Adagio. Was she still dancing it similar to this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8mudeY4jss

I see that choreography was by "Kevin McKenzie, Gelsey Kirkland, Michael Chernov" but I wonder who was leading the rehearsals for Kochetkova and Cornejo.

I'm so used to seeing Masha in neoclassical ballet and modern dance pieces (think Forsythe, McGregor, Paul Taylor) that I'm used to hearing how she eats up the space and really commands the stage, but obviously, before this audience, she faltered a bit. And sadly, she will get only one shot at it. Or maybe not sad, as it isn't necessarily her world. But I know she will want to improve each of her weaknesses - a defeat just makes her work like a demon.

I agree with mimsyb that all those full-length ballets at the Met contribute to the casting problems. And to fill such a big theater, those full-length warhorses seem to be a necessity with today's audiences. The two-week fall season, with nothing but mixed bills across the plaza in a smaller house, should help provide more opportunities for soloists and corps members. It will be a test case, as it were, to see if they can sell well. Let's hope they do.

Did someone mention that the ABT contract with the Met only runs through 2015? Perhaps that will be the opportunity to move to the you-know-who Theatre for a summer season once NYCB closes -- most of June, all of July. That's not ideal either, but it might be more realistic financially, especially if fund-raising woes continue. I suppose a March-April season would be a possibility, but not great either.

This echos my feeling that it is actually enervating for a company to become overly reliant on star vehicles. It's a problem at the big Russian companies and its a problem at the ABT. I can't say I really envy the current ABT repertory. In fact I would be really unhappy to have SFB and ABT swap programs. ;)

But I'm not the sort to want to see Swan Lake each year with multiple casts. There's just too much more to explore...

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From Pherank, above, on July 5 2013:

It's very interesting that she attempted little with the Rose Adagio, and I wonder if, as others have said, that the Russian trained ballerinas tend to drop the difficult bits in the Adagio. Was she still dancing it similar to this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8mudeY4jss



Personally, I'm just fine with a ballerina's opting to drop the whole arms en haut bit in the balances. There are still plenty of "difficult bits" left in the Rose Adagio -- not to mention the rest of the ballet -- to demonstrate her mettle. To me it's more important that Aurora, as a queen in the making, accepts each suitor's proffered hand with the requisite degree of charm, self-possession, radiance, and musicality than that she somehow manages to get her hands up over her head and wreck the illusion of effortless grace in the process. When I think of the Auroras that have most moved me, it's not the balances I remember.

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Hee Seo's body does not seem to me to look like Ferri's or Kent's. Kent is very slight, willowy, and very thin. Ferri is also extremely thin and slight, but with a curvier line. Seo is broader, and more solid in physical appearance. If you are talking about dance style, that may be a different thing.

I would not prefer to give up a meaningful work of art (e.g., "workhorses") so more people get a chance to dance (e.g., like "across the plaza".) I don't think the emotional impact is the same.

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Hee Seo's body does not seem to me to look like Ferri's or Kent's. Kent is very slight, willowy, and very thin. Ferri is also extremely thin and slight, but with a curvier line. Seo is broader, and more solid in physical appearance. If you are talking about dance style, that may be a different thing.

I would not prefer to give up a meaningful work of art (e.g., "workhorses") so more people get a chance to dance (e.g., like "across the plaza".) I don't think the emotional impact is the same.

I agree about ABT's rep. Part of the reason I love ABT is because we (the audience) are able to watch multiple versions of the classics ("workhorses") each year. I like that ABT's rep is different than NYCB's. If they were to adopt the more variety program for their long Met season, why bother having 2 separate companies?

One more note about Kochetkova - I guess part of the reason I was dissatisfied by her performance is that I expected so much more from a "guest artist." If McKenzie is going to spend extra money on a guest from another company, I want the guest to be exceptionally dazzling. I didn't think Kochetkova delivered performances (I saw both of hers this season) that exceeded what some of ABT's soloists (i.e. Sarah Lane, Stella Abrera, or Simone Messmer) could have done if given the chance.

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Hee Seo's body does not seem to me to look like Ferri's or Kent's. Kent is very slight, willowy, and very thin. Ferri is also extremely thin and slight, but with a curvier line. Seo is broader, and more solid in physical appearance. If you are talking about dance style, that may be a different thing.

I saw Hee Seo in a studio rehearsal of A Month in the Country with David Hallberg, and to me she seemed not only slight, willowy and very thin, but she made Julie Kent, who was in the room at the same time, look "wide," in comparison, if you can believe that! Maybe it has to do with having had children, I don't know. Years ago I saw Nina Ananiashvili dancing together with Maria Riccetto, and Ananiashvili looked "wide" in comparison to Riccetto.

Seo has a gorgeous line and an amazingly expressive port de bras, but she doesn't yet have the strength to carry a major Petipa ballet. It seems unconscionable to me that she was asked to debut in both Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty in the same season. Either of those ballets requires enormous preparation. Plus, she needs to work on strengthening her feet and ankles--but not on the Met stage.

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