Helene

ABT Fall Season Mixed Rep Performances

74 posts in this topic

11/01

I'm in the city just to see Chopiniana. I LOVE this ballet...it is engraved in my heart and soul perhaps just as Giselle, although I have been deprived of its live viewing for a long time now. It was the very last ballet from the very last program/season I saw in Cuba before my departure, and now it is the very first time I see it in America, after 12 years. I usually don't cry at the ballet except to the drama of our Silesian heroin, but tonight while watching Fokine's masterpiece again I visited the common places that, just as with Adam's work, make up for the essential body of aesthetic canons my taste for the art form comes from. This is BALLET for me, and even if I'm able to highly enjoy pancake tutus and fouettes, it is in the fluffy crinolines and romantic vocabulary where I find my comfort zone.

I can't say this production is the pinnacle of the ballet, but then I have seen Sylphides in many other incarnations, some better than others. It doesn't matter...it is always wonderful to see. I particularly liked Seo and Forster in the PDD. (I have seen her in other roles, and I think she's better suited for the adagio spectrum).

It was also great to see the familiar costumes that I remembered very well from the Cuban production-(the upper bodices with the little muslin sleeves, instead of the very copied Russian fluffy arm pieces).

Britten's orchestration emphasized the brass section and the harp. I liked that.

Will return tomorrow for more.

The other two pieces bored me to death.

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I saw "Bach Partita" when it first premiered, and I found it deadly. I've never seen "Gong," but from all of you descriptions, I don't think Mark Morris is your cup of tea.

Are you going to tomorrow's matinee, too? It's with Part and Semionova.

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I had never seen Bach Partita before last night. I loved it and can't wait to see it again. I'm not normally a huge Tharp fan either. I thought Sylphides was overall well done, with especially lovely performances by Forster and Seo. Boylston could use some more training on the carriage of her upper body and the use of her arms and hands in this ballet. Gong was fun, and is one of the better Morris ballets. The night belonged to Murphy, who dazzled in the Tharp and the Morris. Tharp came out during the curtain call of her work and got a thunderous welcome.

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I saw the dress rehearsal yesterday of "Bach Partita", "Clear", and "Les Sylphides". The music for all three pieces was beautiful.

"Partita":

1. Does the real performance include a set or backdrop? I don't have a ticket to see the full production.

2. The program states that the ballet is for 6 principals and 30 corps dancers. The rehearsal featured only 5 principals. Stella did not have a partner. Was this the case at night? At the end, she performed her arabesques low to the ground, while the 2 couples standing in line to her left (Paulina/James, Marcelo/Gillian) performed assisted high arabesques and leg lifts.

3. If Stella was partnered at the end, did she perform her other sections partnered, e.g., the sections where she looked like the Little Degas Dancer?

4. The program states that the dance is "performed to a pinnacle of solo violin repertoire, Bach's Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo piano," which includes the spiritually powerful Chaconne. Can a musician explain this? Is the music played in concert to piano, or piano and violin?

5. Twyla looked really cute and smooshed Marcelo's face for a long time. Giggles.

"Clear"

1. Does the real performance include a set or backdrop?

2. The director stopped the performance to start again because of missed entrances and spacing problems. Then Sascha came back and mostly marked the piece. How one can give notes or corrections or remark on minor spacing corrections (which often seems to happen in rehearsals) if so much of the dancing is just marked? I always find this bizarre.

3. The costumes were dreadful and ill-fitting. Paloma is one of the thinner dancers, and the costume made her look heavy, even with her extremely well-toned midriff showing.

4. Most of the dancing seemed really unmusical, or unrelated to the music, although this seemed more to do with the choreography than the dancers. However, some small parts of the choreography really made certain portions of the music stand out in an interesting way, such as an interchange between instruments. The rest of the choreography seemed derivative or banal.

"Les Sylphide"

1. Is the prelude to this music used in any other ballet?

2. The program states "music by Frederic Chopin, orchestrated by Benjamin Britten." What does that mean?

3. The sets were really dreary, in color and artwork.

4. I did not like this ballet when I saw it on DVD, but in person, I was nearly mesmerized. I am so lucky to have a ticket to see Veronika in it today.

5. The dancers require a lot more rehearsal. The corps did not seem like a well-coordinated, classical company. Foster lacked presence or magnetism. Seo and Boylston missed some moves. Lane was very loud, as was Seo, in parts.

6. Notwithstanding the criticism, this was beautiful to behold.

These three ballets made sense together and I wonder why the mixed bills don't group them together other than in the rehearsal.

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I saw the rehearsal Friday afternoon and also the performance Friday night. I'll be interested in other impressions.

Partita: The music was a solo violinist (Charles Yang), who played the entire thing from memory standing in the orchestra pit. Pretty amazing and he came up on stage for bows. I believe he has worked with Marcelo Gomes before on Marcelo's choreography.

Stella's partner Friday night was Calvin Royal. I'm just guessing that he had a schedule conflict Friday afternoon, but it did seem odd for a principal role to miss the last rehearsal. I'm so pleased to see him getting these opportunities. He made a spectacular debut last spring at the Met in one of the new Ratmansky Shostakovich pieces.

I was much more impressed at the performance and realized they were quasi-marking at the rehearsal. Much more in the way of clever details Friday night.

At the bows, Marcelo led Twyla out from the wings. She seemed to appreciate the details he worked in throughout. Instantaneous standing ovation when she came out.

I must have seen this in 1983 when it premiered at the Kennedy Center, but I have no memory of it at all. Susan Jones (the rehearsal master, who also took bows with Twyla) talked about the reconstruction process during their Works & Process a few weeks ago at Guggenheim. It was never notated and they had only two poor-quality archival tapes to work from, so one wonders if parts were just re-choreoghraphed. None of the original dancers would be with the company at this point and Jones herself never danced in it.

It's definitely worth seeing - somehow it's distinctively Tharp, but much more subdued/classical than other pieces.

No set or backdrop.

Les Sylphides: I know others were pleased that Foster got the opportunity to be the Poet, but he was a big disappointment. His partnering, especially lifts, seemed painfully awkward - like a student who has no idea how to lift a ballerina. He never seemed to straighten his legs. His walks across stage seemed pedestrian with no presence or regal bearing. He so badly needs some coaching in this.

I had read about the discovery of the Britten orchestration, but haven't seen this in a long time (either in performance or on DVD) and didn't recognize differences. Presumably there were differences in which instruments took which parts, as the Chopin was originally for piano solo.

Mark Morris' Gong closed the program Friday. Juxtaposed with the Partita, it gives new meaning to "gimmickry." I don't recall ever seeing this before and perhaps I'll appreciate it more on a second viewing.

I was amazed at how many principals (never mind soloists & corps) who were in both Partita and Gong -- Marcelo, Gillian, Stella, e.g. What a work-out for these people! There was an exceptionally long intermission, but they needed it.

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What I noticed the most about this orchestration was, as I said, the use of the brass section. Sometimes the flute had its nice shining moments, and in general the treatment seems to be based in sounding less bombastic, more simple than overly symphonic arrangements that tend to be the norm. The timpani use was particularly interesting though.

Yes, Helene. I will be there to see Part in the role!

The grayish pseudo-gothic ruins backdrop was not the best choice I've seen for this ballet. The programme claims it to be after the original ones by Benois.

That Gong thing was particularly dreadful when it went silent-( contemporary choreography sans music is just in the very bottom of my list). I closed my eyes and nicely fall asleep. I needed some rest though...

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Have to assume that as the pieces were originally written for Piano, the orchestration they are using is by Benjamin Britten? I didn't know he had done it, I thought most used one by GLazounov.

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Have to assume that as the pieces were originally written for Piano, the orchestration they are using is by Benjamin Britten? I didn't know he had done it, I thought most used one by GLazounov.

The NY Times ran an article on "The hunt for the lost Britten score" recently.

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as pointed out in the correction to the NYT article and as spelt out, quite authoritatively in the SYLPHIDES section of Andrew Foster's TAMARA KARSAVINA: DIAGHILEV'S BALLERINA, the Glazunov connection, which was to be sure in the mix very early in the history of Fokine's Chopin ballet, became less and less so as the years went by and as LES SYLPHIDES became the familiar ballet given outside Russia in the 20th c.

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At the recent Guggenheim Works and Process program on ABT's fall season, one focus was on the discovery of the Benjamin Britten score for Les Sylphides. If I remember correctly, they said that David LaMarche had hand-copied all the instrumental parts for the musicians. What a labor of love! I wondered at the time whether all that effort was worth it. I saw the dress rehearsal yesterday, and my conclusion is a resounding "Yes!" I thought the orchestration was rich and gorgeous and that the orchestra sounded wonderful in the work. Perhaps playing in the smaller Koch Theater also makes a difference in the resonance of the sound, because the ABT orchestra isn't as large as the Met Opera Orchestra and perhaps the Met is too large a venue for the ABT orchestra to achieve its best sound.

In the intervening years, I'd forgotten how beautiful a ballet Les Sylphides is. However, I thought the principals in in the first cast left a lot to be desired and look forward to seeing the Veronika cast on November 10th. Ms. Part at one point struck a romantic pose that was iconic. I tried to imitate it at home, but without any success. :(

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In the intervening years, I'd forgotten how beautiful a ballet Les Sylphides is. However, I thought the principals in in the first cast left a lot to be desired and look forward to seeing the Veronika cast on November 10th. Ms. Part at one point struck a romantic pose that was iconic. I tried to imitate it at home, but without any success. sad.png

Are you talking about when she is standing in fifth on pointe with her back turned slightly to the audience, arms raised in front of her face to the sky and she arches back? Whenever she does that, I swoon!

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I just came from the ABT Sat. night performance. Here are my impressions, I hope to hear from others.

T&V - Semionova was very disappointing. Beautiful woman, beautiful body, strong technique but so lacking in this ballet. For one thing she didn't cover space. The variation that goes after the section in which she is supported by women, was done totally under herself, so it became tight and unexciting. In other sections she seemed unmusical, never mind having imaginative phrasing. The pdd with Cory Stearns was very business like, and I hope I can explain what I mean. They connected in terms of looking at each other and making eye contact, but movement wise there was no juice to it. No nuance or phrasing. Sterns in his solos gave a respectable try. Nothing special. One more thing about not traveling - in the partnered parts of the last section, not much space was covered. Maybe some coaching could give them a more - go for it - attitude.

Clear - Not a good ballet (I wish it was lit a little more brightly) but showed off the dancers well. Herrera looked great both physically and in terms of movement quality. Craig Salstein was exceptional. Radetsky was wonderful. The choreography fails to give us anything of the structure of Bach. I almost feel it could be done to any music, but I enjoyed watching the dancing.

Tempest - The good - Marcelo Gomes is a dancer who can do anything. He seems to do any type of movement with ease, beauty and commitment. The partnered sections with Sarah Lane were effortless - he showed her off in an extraordinary way. Cornejo is another dancer who always amazes with his technique, ability to hold the stage and naturalness of movement. Sarah Lane looked gorgeous. Her creamy port de bra, technique and musicality all came together. The friend I was with whispered in my ear, "she and do no wrong."

The bad IMO - Lack of narrative clarity. I know Ratmansky can do it - The Bright Stream is an example. Perhaps The Tempest is just a poor choice. It seems to me that a choreographer has to make a choice between doing a clear narrative, or presenting something that is a distillation of relationships and events while making clear to the audience it is not a narrative. Ratmansky tried to do both or neither, I'm not sure, but it didn't work for me. The Sibelius score didn't help

A word about Simkin. I know he had many fans, and I can see why. To me he always looks like he is still in dancing in a competition. Perhaps that has to do with the roles he is given. I can't even put my finger on why at this point. Others like Cornejo don't strike me the same way.

Looking forward to other points of view.

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I opened the program for yesterday's matinee to find a big, unwelcome surprise. Instead of Veronika Part dancing the Pas de Deux and Prelude with Semionova doing the Mazurka they had Semionova listed for the Pas de Deux and Mazurka with Part only dancing the Prelude. Bad choice.

Semionova danced beautifully but just didn't have the right style for this. To me she looked anti-romantic at the beginning, making very angular shapes instead of showing romantic epaulmamant. She was lovely in the pas de deux, very light and airy but I just didn't like her approach. She was bright and coquettish, like a russian La Sylphide and I prefer a mysterious romanticism here. She was wonderful in the mazurka, as expected - it really showed off her huge jetes. Part was gorgeous in the Prelude and got a loud, prolonged ovation. Hamrick & Sterns were fine but not exceptional . I would love to see Abrera and Kajiya in this. They are both beautiful romantic dancers, Abrera was gorgeous in it last time they did it and this is just the type of role Kajiya excels at.

Clear is a guilty pleasure, I agree that its not a great ballet and I find parts of it to be actually annoying but wow, is it a great vehicle for ABT's men. The matinee had Gomes with Royal & Hoven and it was a pleasure watching them. Marcelo can simply do no wrong and Royal continues to impress. At the evening performance I saw Forster and Mantei with Radetsky and again, you couldn't take your eyes off of any of them. All the men in the corps had their chance to shine, too. At the matinee Eric Tamm, Louis Ribagorda, Jared Matthews and Aaron Scott were all great and in the evening performance Craig Salstein, Jose Sebastian, Gabe Stone Shayer and Alexei Agoudine each made a great impression. What depth there is among the men in this company! Paloma was good as the lone woman in the evening performance but Julie Kent was so very lovely in the afternoon. What gorgeous lines, she could dance for another 10 years if she stuck to these types of roles, just no more Petipa or McMillan, please!

I was very excited to see Boylston & Simkin cast in T&V, I thought it would suit them. It started off well, and Simkin looked great in the arabesque sequence that leads into the double tour/pirouette variation however he soon came to grief. The double tour/pirouettes were looking good but about halfway through the variation he lost his footing after which he literally stumbled through the rest of them. It was like watching a train wreck. I saw no obvious mistakes from Boylston but the steps just didn't look right on her, I can't say why.

In the evening's T&V I can agree that Semionova didn't cover space the way she should but I still liked her, in fact I think this was her best outing so far with ABT. And I did like the pas de deux. I also give Cory full credit. He was certainly not the best I've seen in this, but he's been the best so far with ABT. In fact he's the only one of the 3 men who was able to get through all of the steps (Whiteside got thru them on opening night but it looked like he simplified the tour/pirouette variation).

This was the 2nd time I've seen the Tempest and this time I could barely stay awake through it despite all the wonderful dancing. Its just so unfocused and the music isn't exactly exciting.

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Despite some good and just plain OK dancing in "The Tempest", this ballet has to rank up there with "The Pied Piper" with Corella from a few years back as a project gone totally wrong. Lots of money on that stage last night for sure (costumes, sets, etc), but little else of any merit. IMO, Ratmansky is not as good a story teller in these ballets. ("Firebird", "Karenena"). His abstracts soar and reveal. Here, he plods. But "The Tempest" deals with words and poetry. Difficult to dance. Score was OK, but thin. Maybe Ravel would have worked? How is ABT going to program this with "Midsummer's Night Dream" come Spring? Hopefully, first on the bill to get it over with. If it's second, one could always leave early. But in any case, it will have to come under the scrutiny of comparison to one of ballet's great works.

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Tempest ... The bad IMO - Lack of narrative clarity.

You said it. The plot of "Namouna" is easier to follow ... wink1.gif

"The Tempest" isn't the kind of play that translates well to dance. I can see being tempted by the possibilities inherent in characters like Ariel and Calaban, but Prospero seems a choreographic bridge too far. I suspect that more than one choreographer, director, or composer identifies with Prospero and all of his theater-making (not to mention his directorial control) -- "I am SO like this guy!" -- and that he must therefore be irresistible to them.

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Ms. Part at one point struck a romantic pose that was iconic. I tried to imitate it at home, but without any success. sad.png

Glad to know I'm not the only one who does this!

A thought about the Tempest. I haven't seen this new Ratmansky version, but have seen a couple of other dances based on the play, with mixed results. When Crystal Pite brought her Kidd Pivot group to Seattle with her version last year several people I spoke with felt that the story telling was not successful. Does anyone else here remember the Smuin version for San Francisco Ballet? My memories are vague, but again, felt that the narrative aspect of it was weak. As Kathleen O'C remarks above, perhaps this is a function of the source material?

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Smuin's version of THE TEMPEST was telecast,so it's around; it's Nureyev's that seems lost for the ages.

NYPL cat. entry:

Tempest: Ballet commissioned by the Royal Ballet; in one act. Chor: Rudolf Nureyev; mus: Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (Suite no. 3, last movement; Polonaise; 2 movements from Suite no. 1; The tempest overture); lib: after Shakespeare; scen & cos: Nicholas Georgiadis. First perf: London, Covent Garden, Dec 2, 1982; Royal Ballet.

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I was there Friday night and Saturday night. The Tempest strikes me as totally ill-conceived. How anyone could have thought this music would be good for carrying a complex narrative is beyond me. The storytelling is difficult to follow. I hated the costumes. There was just something unpleasant and uncomfortable about the experience of watching it, that I can't quite put my finger on -- maybe it's that there was nothing that seemed pleasing to look at, and the happenings onstage were so confusing that I often didn't even know where I was supposed to be looking.

Theme & Variations -- Semionova and Stearns were fine, but not exciting. I did like the new costumes. And I couldn't help but appreciate, yet again, what a beautiful piece of choreography it is.

I was impressed that ABT has a wealth of talent in the men of the corps de ballet. Joseph Gorak is a standout in whatever he does, with elegance and refinement. In Clear, Gabe Stone Shayer conveyed an immediacy, warmth, and vividness that were very compelling. Also in Clear, Jose Sebastian deployed a high-flying, long-legged grand jete that was a joy to see. Roman Zhurbin is a striking actor. And Calvin Royal, as Stella Abrera's partner in Bach Partita, had a beautiful elegant line and looks like a confident, assured partner. More please!

The highlight of my evening last night was spotting Chase Finlay in the audience... or maybe I should say it was the lowlight, because he was on crutches. Get well soon, Chase!

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In the intervening years, I'd forgotten how beautiful a ballet Les Sylphides is. However, I thought the principals in in the first cast left a lot to be desired and look forward to seeing the Veronika cast on November 10th. Ms. Part at one point struck a romantic pose that was iconic. I tried to imitate it at home, but without any success. sad.png

Are you talking about when she is standing in fifth on pointe with her back turned slightly to the audience, arms raised in front of her face to the sky and she arches back? Whenever she does that, I swoon!

No, onxmyxtoes, the one I'm thinking of wasn't done as part of the rehearsal itself. She took herself off to front stage right and tilted her head so that her cheek rested on the top of her right hand, with her left hand raised just below the right. I don't even remember whether she was in an arabesque or down on one knee. But any pose Veronika takes, including the one you describe above, will make me swoon.

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I saw last night's program also. I thought that T&V was fiendishly difficult and was amazed that any dancer could get through it (and I realize that only a rare few can and do). Semionova could do the steps, but I felt her performance was shallow. I don't even know how to define that, except to say that she danced without expression, with a pasted smile on her face, without individuality. I was impressed with Cory. He gets better all the time. I prefer, however, to see him with his beautiful shock of curly hair, not the cut and gelled style he wore last night, which did make sense given the military-like costume, but still.

I would have walked out before the end of The Tempest, but for the fact that it is discourteous to everyone and the person I was with was enjoying it. The costumes were as bad as they get. Ariel looked ridiculous in the while body suit with the red-orange coxcomb, or whatever you call it. There was hardly any dancing, although Sarah Lane was exquisite in the small amount of dancing she did. Reading the story in the program notes in advance, I realized that there was no way I could remember the story and sure enough, I had no idea what was going on onstage half the time. A total waste of time, talent, and financial resources.

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The highlight of my evening last night was spotting Chase Finlay in the audience... or maybe I should say it was the lowlight, because he was on crutches. Get well soon, Chase!

I saw several people in casts and on crutches, which usually only happens during ski season. What is going on in New York City?

Chase was so much more handsome last night, even more than when he wears makeup on stage, wasn't he?

Janie and Sebastien were there in the afternoon, too. Seeing the eye tattoo up close made me wince with pain. (Especially since my dermatologist won't give me needed injections or laser treatment in the same area because she says it would hurt too much!)

xoxo

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"The Tempest" isn't the kind of play that translates well to dance. I can see being tempted by the possibilities inherent in characters like Ariel and Calaban, but Prospero seems a choreographic bridge too far. I suspect that more than one choreographer, director, or composer identifies with Prospero and all of his theater-making (not to mention his directorial control) -- "I am SO like this guy!" -- and that he must therefore be irresistible to them.

The puppetmeister/control and struggle aspects between Prospero and Ariel/Caliban/Miranda should be catnip, though -- think of all those Drosselmeier/Marie/Prince impositions, and von Rothbart, and both Ashton and Balanchine told a complex story in "Midsummer." I'm not sure why "the Tempest" is so elusive. It also sounds like there are structural issues that repeat viewings won't "fix."

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"The Tempest" isn't the kind of play that translates well to dance. I can see being tempted by the possibilities inherent in characters like Ariel and Calaban, but Prospero seems a choreographic bridge too far. I suspect that more than one choreographer, director, or composer identifies with Prospero and all of his theater-making (not to mention his directorial control) -- "I am SO like this guy!" -- and that he must therefore be irresistible to them.

The puppetmeister/control and struggle aspects between Prospero and Ariel/Caliban/Miranda should be catnip, though -- think of all those Drosselmeier/Marie/Prince impositions, and von Rothbart, and both Ashton and Balanchine told a complex story in "Midsummer." I'm not sure why "the Tempest" is so elusive. It also sounds like there are structural issues that repeat viewings won't "fix."

One interesting thing is that Mark Lamos was credited with Dramaturgy. Lamos is a seasoned play & opera director who has had some Tony nominations. I'm curious as to exactly what part he played in the creation. In any event I don't think it's fixable, and it's a shame it's going to share a program with Ashton's Dream at the Met.

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