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Best and Worst of 2013


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#1 abatt

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:57 PM

It's time for end-of-year best and worst lists.

 

On the "best" list, thanks to ABT I finally got to see Osipova and Vasliev together in the their signature roles in Don Q.  I had seen them previously on film in these roles when their performance was broadcast from the Bolshoi a few years ago, but seeing it live was another experience entirely. Their technical abilities are astonishing. 

 

Also on the best list was Herman Cornejo's long awaited debut in Swan Lake.  He pulled out all the stops and made it a very memorable performance.  His technical brilliance was a marvel. (I thought he  overshadowed Kochetkova.)

 

Also on my best list is the Ratmansky trilogy.  I hope we can see all three works together again at ABT. Speaking of Ratmansky, I was delighted by NYCB's revival of Namouna and I can't wait to see it again in the Spring.

 

Another high point was Sara Mearns' performances of Swan Lake at NYCB.

 

The Alvin Ailey Dance Company is looking fresher than ever since Robert Battle took over the helm from Judith Jamison.  He has shaken up the rep by acquiring the rights to important works like Taylor's Arden Court and McGregor's Chroma.  Even though the Ailey dancers don't perform these works as well as the PTDC or the RB (respectively), Battle deserves a lot of credit for bringing these works into the company.

 

It was wonderful to see the SFB in NYC again.  I wish they would visit us more often.

 

 



#2 Helene

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 01:31 PM

The worst of the worst for 2013 was the acid attack on Filin, leaving him mostly blind.  Who knew that the worst of 2012 were the threats against him that were brushed aside? It makes all of the politics surrounding Gergiev and Tsiskaridze at the Vaganova Academy, which in other years could have been the year's worst, pale by comparison.



#3 GianninaM

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 06:04 PM

Some of the best ballet I've ever seen:  Royal Ballet's "Onegin" with Nunez and Soares, and then Royal Ballet's "Monotones II" ... truly a rare treat.

 

One of the most disappointing:  Vishneva's appearance at Orange County Performing Arts Center in Nov.  She performed a somewhat modern ballet program rather than showing us her magnificent classical prowess.



#4 Natalia

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:45 AM

Best: Ratmansky's Namouna at NYCB. 2nd place: Sarasota Ballet's Les Patineurs in DC. 3rd: Extraordinary Corsaire starring Osipova/Vasiliev/Simkin/Lane, during ABT's spring tour to DC.

 

Worst...not just this year but the last 10 years, at least: Ratmansky Shostakovich Triple Bill. I'm still trying to get rid of the headache.



#5 abatt

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 08:11 AM

The Ratmansky trilogy definitely evokes divided opinions. Some, like me, thought it was brilliant.  Others absolutely hate it.  There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.



#6 sandik

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:28 AM

The Ratmansky trilogy definitely evokes divided opinions. Some, like me, thought it was brilliant.  Others absolutely hate it.  There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

 

And that's one of the reasons why people should go and see for themselves.



#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:46 AM

In the live context. My best...having seen again my beloved, all time favorite "Sylphides", and being danced to the vintage Britten score. Part in the Prelude as the ice of the cake. Second Best...Murphy as Sylvia.  My worst..."The Tempest"..(or the bits I got of it in between dozing on and off).



#8 mimsyb

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 01:21 PM

In the live context. My best...having seen again my beloved, all time favorite "Sylphides", and being danced to the vintage Britten score. Part in the Prelude as the ice of the cake. Second Best...Murphy as Sylvia.  My worst..."The Tempest"..(or the bits I got of it in between dozing on and off).

Britten did the orchestrations.  I believe Chopin is still credited with the score.    Agree about "Tempest".  One of the worst ballet moments ,ever!



#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 01:46 PM

I meant Britten's orchestration.  I believe I had the feeling that all those wonderful mazurkas and preludes sounded  sort of familiar...(silly sarcastic here..I know.happy.png..)

 

The Tempest...I still can't even remember very well what was all that about...icon8.gif



#10 Natalia

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 04:36 AM

Indeed, abatt (about the Shostak 3ple bill)...and I deeply respect your opinions. It's either loved or loathed, e.g., in my case, I'm still wondering how the ABT Board even allowed it to go forward...maybe because it was a showcase for many stars in its MET presentation (Osipova/Vasiliev, especially, in the final work).



#11 canbelto

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 09:02 AM

One of the best and the worst happened on a single evening. ABT's Month in the Country was absolutely sublime -- just a beautifully detailed, nuanced performance. Then they followed it up with a horrifyingly bad performance of Symphony in C where I really wanted to cover my eyes.



#12 ABT Fan

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 09:28 AM

Worst - ABT's The Tempest (exception: dancing by Lane and Gorak)

 

Best - casting/dancing by some of ABT's up-and-comers in major roles: Gorak in Les Sylphides; Royal III in Piano Concerto #1; Boylston as Odette/Odile and Gorak in the pas de trois in Swan Lake; Shayer in Clear.  And, fabulous performance by seasoned Part, Seo, Stearns and Zhurbin in Moor's Pavane.



#13 Drew

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 10:32 AM

Best of what I saw in this calendar year:

 

1. Mariinsky in Swan Lake w. Lopatkina at the Mariinsky.  Extraordinary corps, extraordinary character dancing, fine soloists and one of greatest Odettes I have ever seen (possibly the greatest). Plus the thrill of being in that theater.

 

2. Cornejo as Aminta in Sylvia or more specifically his dancing in his Act III variation. Pure, light, airy and dazzling: extraordinary elevation, wonderful ballon, clear crisp beats, beautiful line--all easy and effortless. Fantastically beautiful dancing. 

 

3. Sara Mearns in the Fairy's Kiss w. NY Philharmonic: imagination, daring, power. Wow!

 

4. Wonderful dancing from a whole new generation of NYCB ballerinas in the Tchaikovsky festival -- Peck in Allegro Brillante, Hyltin in Mozartiana, Reichlin in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

 

5. New choreography that matters: The third and final ballet of Ratmansky's Shoshtakovich trilogy which I saw on its own at ABT's fall season--with two different casts.  A ballet that has stayed with me and that I would be happy to see again.

 

6. Revival of Substance: Ashton's a Month in the Country with ABT (two different casts). Honorable mention to Tharp's Bach Partita.

 

7. Special partnering highlight: Bolle and Semionova, the long difficult lift that opens the Sylvia Act III pas de deux genuinely danced as if a pleasure -- not performed as if a feat.  Even better: her large, easy, joyful leap into his arms as he immediately dipped her into a fish dive. The audience sighed audibly....with reason.

 

8. Gillian Murphy at the height of her career: whether in Ashton, Tharp, or Mark Morris. Just a pleasure

 

9. David Bintley's Carmina Burana with the Atlanta Ballet. Atlanta's company often turns to modern dance and "contemporary" ballet. Bintley's work seemed to me legitimately neo-classical with its playful riffs on tradition including a ballerina taken through her partnering paces by 4 men (rose adagio citation) and a medieval feasting scene with "swan" on the menu. It's not Balanchine or even Ratmansky but certainly one of the more interesting ballet works they have performed and happily had live music from the GA State University Chorus.

 

Worst of what I have seen this year:

 

1. Clear at ABT. Dreadful ballet, mediocre dancing (at least with the one cast I saw). Dancewise I exempt Thomas Forster from this worst list.  

 

2. The magic of the opening scene of ABT's Sylvia just ever so slightly spoiled in all three performances I saw because of of miscues in the ensemble--Ashton's magic is a delicate affair. One muffed performance I might overlook. Not three.   

 

3. Disastrous partnering: Jared Matthews (replacing Gomez) and Gillian Murphy in matinee ABT Sylvia doing difficult opening lift of the Act III pas de deux. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion though the final explosion never occured as he did get her safely to the ground. Since he was a replacement we can say mitigating circumstances but it was genuinely painful to watch. Less egregious, but plenty awkward;  Alexander Sergeyev and Daria Pavlenko missing a shoulder lift in Ratmansky's Cinderella at the Mariinsky--since the choreography had him carrying her across the stage, she just had to hold on to him with one hand as the other went through half the port de bras. In this case, she was a replacement, so we can also say mitigating circumstances, but aesthetically ...



#14 angelica

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 03:00 PM

Best: In contrast to Drew's comment above about Jared Matthews, my best of 2013 was his stellar performance in the role of Lensky in ABT's Onegin this past spring. He was totally believable as the cuckolded boyfriend and heart-rending in his adagio before the duel. I have been following him for several years, finding that he gets better and better (i would support the concept of mitigating circumstances in the Sylvia Act III pas de deux), and so was very pleased to read in today's New York Times that Alastair Macaulay praised his first performance in Nutcracker.

 

Worst: Definitely The Tempest, as many BAs have already said.



#15 Cygnet

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 03:34 PM

When one approaches the finish line of another year, it’s good to step back for a moment and consider that in spite of everything, we should count our blessings.  By blessings I mean friends, family, and those incidental things that we sometimes take for granted.  2013, like any other year, was horrible for some, glorious for others.  Without question, 2013 was unforgettable for the right and the wrong reasons.  I’ll list, what were IMO, the general ballet world highs and lows.  I’ll conclude with what happened in Russia, which was in a category all by itself.     

 

The Best:

  • Lacotte's "La Sylphide" marathon this past July at POB.
  • The return of Alessandra Ferri to the stage in “CHERI”
  • Anytime Uliana Lopatkina appeared onstage - anywhere.
  • POB’s Mathilda Froustey's and ABT’s Simone Messmer’s relocation to San Francisco Ballet
  • Stephen McCrae and Evgenia Obraztsova finally danced together in MacMillan’s "Romeo & Juliet” at Covent Garden
  • Joseph Phillips also, formerly of ABT moved on to became a founding member and Principal Dancer of the brand new State Primorsky Ballet in Vladivostok.     
  •  The bumper crop of babies born to several Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky ballerinas last Spring.

The Worst:

  • The passing of David Howard, Frederick Franklin, David Wall, Maria Tallchief and Galina Rahkmanova                                                                    
  • Alastair Macaulay

The Best à la Russe:

  • Sergei Filin’s courage in carrying on with his life in the midst of tragedy and adversity.
  • The Platinum Soldier On Award:  To the Bolshoi Ballet, for hanging tough all year as an ensemble through an ordeal that might have destroyed other institutions.  The company celebrated it’s 50th anniversary engagement at Covent Garden, and found time for another triumph last month with the premiere Pierre Lacotte’s production of “Marco Spada.”  
  • “Holy smack-down Batman!” Award:  From Reid Andersen to Svetlana Zakharova, re the Bolshoi opening night casting of Olga Smirnova as Tatiana in the Russian premiere of  “Onegin.”
  • The IPhone5 Dance Program Award goes to Diana Vishneva.
  • The Head-hunter of the Year Award goes to Vladimir Kehkman, General Director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre
  • The Comeback Kid Award goes to Altynai Asylmuratova

The Worst à la Russe:

  • The most outrageous and disgusting event:  The acid attack on Sergei Filin.
  • The most outrageous and disgusting result of the most outrageous and disgusting event:  The Tsiskaridze takeover of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, and the complete summary of how that unfolded from beginning to end.
  • The farce of the year which evolved simultaneously in two parts:  1) The Russian criminal justice system and how it tried the Filin case, and 2) The fractious factions within the Russian media which took sides in its coverage of the scandal all year long. 
  •  *(Cue the Lilac Fairy music) - "The Slipping Duty" Award.  Once again, it’s a photo finish. The award goes to Maestro Valery Abisolovich Gergiev, the General and Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre & Yuri Fateev, Interim (Acting) Deputy Director of the Mariinsky Ballet.  The reasons?  Gergiev’s blessing of the design and execution of the Mariinsky II with no thought given at all to the needs of the Ballet, not to mention their working conditions which he continues to ignore.  
  • Gergiev's "If you like your Academy you can keep your Academy" fib, denying that he wanted to combine all the Petersburg performing arts institutions under the Mariinsky brand, (and his control), when the media produced his correspondence requesting exactly that to the Ministry of Culture and the Russian President.  
  • I can’t recap all of Fateev’s management issues here, so I refer you to the Mariinsky-Kirov link for a full summary.   



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