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ABT Fall Season Mixed Rep PerformancesNovember 1-10


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#16 mimsyb

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 06:37 AM

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.

#17 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:10 AM

 

 

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. 



#18 sandik

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:13 AM

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?



#19 rg

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:44 AM

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.


#20 cobweb

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 10:38 AM

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!

 



#21 angelica

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 10:50 AM

 

 

 

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.



#22 angelica

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 11:07 AM

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.



#23 puppytreats

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 11:16 AM


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



#24 Helene

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 12:27 PM

"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."

#25 vipa

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 02:15 PM

 

"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.



#26 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 02:19 PM

 

"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."

 

 

As others have pointed out, the music Ratmansky chose (Sibelius' incidental music for "The Tempest") is a huge obstacle.  It sounds like a film score, not dance music -- it's lovely, but inert. 

 

I think Ratmansky's first mistake was inserting the play's backstory as a flashback rather than taking things in chronological order. I can practically recite parts of "The Tempest" by heart and even I was confused by the flashback. Just because Shakespeare begins with Alonso's shipwreck doesn't mean Ratmansky has to. If he'd shown us the usurpation, then Prospero and Miranda's shipwreck, then the enslavement of Ariel and Calaban, then Alonso's shipwreck etc etc etc the ballet would have had a clearer narrative arc. Imagine "Midsummer" if Balanchine had started with Titania's infatuation with Bottom and only then flashed back to the initial quarrel with Oberon, and I think you'll get the picture. 

 

And it looks to me like Ratmansky is airlifting his tribe of faintly malevolent enchanted spirits from one ballet into another ... all with punk headgear ... 



#27 sandik

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 05:11 PM

I think Ratmansky's first mistake was inserting the play's backstory as a flashback rather than taking things in chronological order. I can practically recite parts of "The Tempest" by heart and even I was confused by the flashback. Just because Shakespeare begins with Alonso's shipwreck doesn't mean Ratmansky has to. If he'd shown us the usurpation, then Prospero and Miranda's shipwreck, then the enslavement of Ariel and Calaban, then Alonso's shipwreck etc etc etc the ballet would have had a clearer narrative arc. Imagine "Midsummer" if Balanchine had started with Titania's infatuation with Bottom and only then flashed back to the initial quarrel with Oberon, and I think you'll get the picture. 

 

Interesting idea -- Pite started as Shakespear does, with the shipwreck, and did a fabulous job with it, but that does mean she had to introduce a big bunch of characters and situations pretty far along in the work.



#28 Helene

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 05:56 PM

There would be a lot more sympathy for Caliban if it were done chronologically, because you'd see Propero de-throned and set to sea, then landing with Miranda on the island and having Caliban help them and his thanks was to be enslaved.



#29 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 06:21 PM

Yesterday I attended both the matinée and the evening performances. 
    

T&V is a hard ballet that screams for two very strong technicians to be able to give proper treatment to the super choreo.  Both Simkin and Stearns struggled at large in Youskevitch role during the solos, Simkin during the first one with the pirouettes to ronde de jambe-(I though at one pointe he would fall)- and Stearns  with the second one-(tours en l'air).  Additionally the pairing of Simkin with Boylston was an unfortunate one.  He struggled to lift her at times-(she's a compact bodied dancer).  Boylston wasn't also up to this role.  Her petite allegro so required for the demanding footwork of Alonso's role wasn't sparkling enough, and she slowed down considerably the diagonal of chainee turns of her second variation.  Semionova was the better act of the day, if not overwhelmingly good, at least way better than Boylston-(WHY is this girl-[Isabella]- being given such role...?).  The tempo honored the quickness of B's original conception for this ballet, although toward the devilish ending Simkin again struggled to catch up with the men on his back.  Yes, Semionova is a beautiful woman with a wonderful, long limbs, but she needed a better partner to shine.  There was no rapport between her and Stearns-(or Boylston and Simkin for that matter).
 

 Additionally, yesterday curiosity about Britten's orchestration took me to the pit where I engaged some orchestra members in a conversation on the subject.  Just as I had suspected, they all agreed, by comparing their previous experiences with the score with this one, that this version had "more substance"-(violin lady), although the percussion guy complained that "now we don't do nothing...he-(Britten)-took out 80 % of our work..!!".  He also told me that the previous orchestrations were heavier and darker, and that he used to make much more used of the cymbals compared to their current almost non existent usage. "This orchestration is clearer...well, of course, it comes from Britten, he was British, you know..?"-(violin lady again)

 

"The Tempest" was a bore...



#30 vipa

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 06:36 PM

In terms of T&V I'm afraid you have to go over to the other company to get a satisfactory rendering.  On the woman's side Peck or Bouder.  On the men's side De Luz or Vayette.  In fact NYCB has a nice video of Vayette doing one of the variations on their website.  As for of ABT I enjoyed the Lane/Cornejo T&V I saw a few years ago.





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