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SFB 2014: Program 3


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#16 pherank

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 09:59 PM

I was the second corps Shade when dancing for the National Ballet of Canada. On the ramp - and in some theatres you have a double ramp (this means you climb a sort of ladder off stage and wait on a dark platform before you get into place for your first arabesque) - you have a bright light shining right in your range of vision when facing into the wings and it is hard not to be blinded by that light surrounded by the dark stage and wings.  If you get spots in your eyes, you will be have a rough time seeing anything.  All the rehearsing in the rehearsal room and on stage without that lighting cannot help you deal with that stark light in your eyes surrounded by black everywhere else. The whole entrance of arabesques going into the beautiful adagio by the corps requires an adagio technique which is not stressed in class or other ballets.  It is a beautiful ballet to dance, and hard and on the legs and breath for the corps because of the sustained control of the adagio followed by the following waltz where the three soloists come on stage. I am flying into SF to see tomorrow night's show. 

 

Great information - I'd like to hear what you think about the staging and lighting used for SFB (how it compares). It looks like you will see a really good cast for The Firebird (Tan, Helimets and De Sola). I think that was the original cast for Tuesday night, but things got changed around. I had really wanted to see Yuan Yuan as the Firebird. As she is nearing the end of her career (hopefully a few more years), now is the time to see her: one of the most elegant, ethereal dancers of her generation.

 

Messmer is dancing the Firebird role on Sunday - wish I could be there.  ;)



#17 Eshana

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:44 AM

I'm really curious as to how Yuan Yuan Tan did as Nikiya - she has talked about how much she idolizes Makarova and how stressful the opening night of 'Shades' was. She also danced the White Swan recently in a gala tribute to Makarova at Lincoln Center (upon Makarova's personal invitation) so I assume they must have worked very closely on 'Shades' together. 

 

I had also hoped that Froustey would be cast as Nikiya, but unfortunately she was only assigned the first shade solo variation. Perhaps I shouldn't be, though; in the clips I've seen online of 'La Bayadere's' second act, the solo shades seem to have more to do technically than Nikiya.



#18 PeggyR

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 06:42 AM

Josette:  It's interesting to hear from the other side of the footlights; thanks for your input.  Although I criticized the corps, it's only because they have already set the bar high with their beautiful performances of Giselle, so I was disappointed.  It's good for the company to dance something like this that doesn't sit as easily on them:  I'm sure they learned a lot that will carry over into other ballets.

 

I had hoped to see Froustey as Nikiya too, although at a guess, maybe she's more of a Gamzatti.  I certainly wanted to see her in something more than one 90 second variation!

 

I'm going tonight for Kochetkova/Matvienko in The Shades, plus the bonus of Feijoo, who should bring something interesting to Ghosts, and Tan in Firebird.

 

OK, back to work.



#19 PeggyR

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 06:45 AM

After seeing the Kingdom of the Shades on Friday, 2/28, I have to say that the corps de ballet fully redeemed itself:  All arabesques made it off the floor, although they were still somewhat uneven in height; balances were good both on and off the ramp; a much more coherent performance.  Well done!



#20 pherank

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 01:35 PM

After seeing the Kingdom of the Shades on Friday, 2/28, I have to say that the corps de ballet fully redeemed itself:  All arabesques made it off the floor, although they were still somewhat uneven in height; balances were good both on and off the ramp; a much more coherent performance.  Well done!

 

I can corroborate this PeggyR - thanks to United Airlines canceling their flights on Friday, due to the “big storm”, I went to the ballet again on Friday night. It was that or go to the movies on Van Ness, and that seemed depressing to me somehow, so back to the ballet…

The Corps looked to have gotten past their case of the nerves from earlier in the week. I’ve been thinking though that the ballet master should simply insist that all arabesques be done to a height that everyone can reach, rather than allow those with particularly good extension, or technique, do one thing, and everyone else follow their own individual path. It really is best to just get the Corp to look as one.

It looked like Elizabeth Powell did lead the Shades down the ramp again on Friday, but I haven’t been able to get confirmation of that - I didn’t have opera glasses with me this week. I would think that she would be thoroughly exhausted after 3 nights of La Bayadere, plus dancing as one of the “Little Princesses" in The Firebird on these same nights, and in-between, dancing as one of the leads in McGregor’s Borderlands, and also Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands. But I believe I saw her leave with some of her cohorts to party after the show (they were definitely dressed to go out). Oh, to be 18 years old again!

What made it all worthwhile for me was seeing Yuan Yuan Tan dance the Firebird role, finally. And she was simply great. The SFB preview video of Possokhov’s Firebird, with Tan, is pretty tame looking compared to what was presented Friday night. Her performance added much needed depth and detail to the part - she gets those little things right, and she struck me as more “lively” and even “sassy” (which is a word I never thought I would use for Tan) than even Van Patten in her Tuesday night performance. At curtain call, apparently many other people were equally impressed, because there was this fantastic roar from the crowd (especially in the upper tiers) when Tan came running out - it sounded like a soccer match. I haven’t experienced that reaction much at the War Memorial. I also wanted to mention that Tiit Helimets was again great as “Ivan” - he seems to take real delight in the role and the fact that he looks like he’s having a blast really resonates with the audience. The best Kaschei at SFB remains Pascal Molat, though James Sofranko was still entertaining - he just didn’t have that larger-than-life characterization I think the part requires. Kaschei needs to command the stage, except for when the Firebird appears - then it's a jousting match.

The only real disappointment for me was the absence of Froustey and Messmer from La Bayadere (and apparently Froustey is already back in Paris rehearsing for their upcoming Tokyo performances). The Froustey/Chung/Messmer trio was something to be seen, and of course left me wanting to see a lot more from Froustey and Messmer…



#21 PeggyR

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 02:27 PM

“It looked like Elizabeth Powell did lead the Shades down the ramp again on Friday, but I haven’t been able to get confirmation of that…”

 

 

Did you go to the Meet the Artist interview with soloist Luke Ingham before the performance?  The interviewer asked him to talk about The Shades scene, he said something about how glad he was he didn’t have to go first down that ramp and do 38 arabesques, and then he said, ‘Poor Lizzie…’, so it might be her.   

 

 

“At curtain call, apparently many other people were equally impressed, because there was this fantastic roar from the crowd (especially in the upper tiers) when Tan came running out - it sounded like a soccer match.”

 

 

 

That’s not an unusual reaction to either Tan or Zahorian.  Be sure you never make even the mildest of negative comments about either of them:  you’ll never hear the end of it.

 

I liked Tan’s Firebird too.  Very exotic and fragile in contrast to Messmer’s more full-blooded character:  and egret compared to an eagle.



#22 pherank

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 02:47 PM

Did you go to the Meet the Artist interview with soloist Luke Ingham before the performance?  The interviewer asked him to talk about The Shades scene, he said something about how glad he was he didn’t have to go first down that ramp and do 38 arabesques, and then he said, ‘Poor Lizzie…’, so it might be her.

 

I only caught the last few minutes of it - I literally decided at the last minute to follow the crowds over to the War Memorial and see what the box office had available in seating.

 

In Makarova's version, the arabesques are done on the same leg the whole way. The POB Corps switches back and forth between sides, which is probably more difficult to control, but it would be less tiring for the lead Shades. I've had my eye on Powell - to me, she seems like a natural, and Tomasson definitely seems to be fast-tracking her, and she keeps eating up the challenges. I hope she does develop into a full-time soloist - it is an exciting thing to watch a dancer 'grow up' and become 'somebody'.

 

 

I liked Tan’s Firebird too.  Very exotic and fragile in contrast to Messmer’s more full-blooded character:  and egret compared to an eagle.

 

I very much wanted to see Messmer in the role, but I couldn't deal with another couple of days in SF - too expensive, and I had work to get back for. I already think she's a great addition to the company. Last year, it was looking like the female principals were overworked, but now it seems more like a wealth of options - Zahorian is out, and were still not seeing enough of Froustey and Messmer!

 

Matvienko was also staying at the Inn at the Opera, and there was an older, blonde, well-dressed Russian woman with him. I wasn't sure who she might be, but I happened to speak with her for a while while we were waiting for our rides to the airport (her ride turned out to be Matvienko with a Cadillac). She wondered what I though about Bayadere specifically. Afterwards, I was wondering - was that Makarova? But at the Tuesday night performance, Makarova was wearing her usual silk scarf, wrapped around her head - it was clearly her. So I don't know who I was speaking to, but I'm curious to know.

 

EDIT: I've since realized that I WAS speaking to Markova - Duh! Her apperance has of course changed over the years, and this is how she looks now:

 

AP120428038521.jpg



#23 Terez

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 08:35 AM

Pherank and Peggy, just gobbled up all your comments! I have become such a review hound, especially of performances I've seen. Your comments, both of you, had me nodding over and over again, although I attended the Sat 2/22 8p performance. Agreed on the inconsistency of the Shades descending in arabesque, agreed on the deliciousness of Froustey-Chung-Messmer solos, agreed on Ghosts feeling underwhelming, and very agreed, Pherank, with your comments on Firebird. I blogged about my experience at The Classical Girl and I'm astonished at how similar our comments are (YY being "sassy" - yes! Tiit Helimets looking great and having fun and the audience eating it up. Etc.) I'm especially enjoying that the two of you were able to see multiple performances and can offer such comprehensive detail about different casts. They took Damian Smith off the cast for my night - dammit! And they took out Sofiane Sylve and replaced her with Feijoo, which disappointed me too. I think it contributed to my not warming to Ghosts. No complaints about Feijoo, just no "wow" moments, like watching YY. I also think the order was skewed, and they should have opened with Ghosts

 

Interesting, Pherank, your comments about Powell. I love watching who's getting cast and being fast-tracked. I hadn't noticed that happening to her, but now I'll be all ears and eyes there. I noticed Helgi's using Nicole Ciapponi a lot, and after she'd been pulled from the roster in July, only to be returned to it in Aug. I'd wondered if the first Shade was Julia Rowe, as she strikes me as someone with big soloist potential (no surprise - she did it in Oregon). I must say, Powell (if she was indeed the 1st one) looked just gorgeous. Too bad the others couldn't strike the same line, but I would agree with the comment that it needed to be "all as one" mentality there, and she should have been told "less is more" on her arabesque. But, wow, Powell does seem to have a soloist's demeanor. 

 

Why aren't we seeing Clara Bianco or Dana Genshaft this season? (Or am I just not there the nights they were performing?) Helgi is certainly giving Dores Andre and Sasha de Sola a good deal of stage time this season. And they both seem to be rising to the challenge. 

 

There are certainly exciting things going on there on the War Memorial stage, with Froustey, Messmer, Rowe and Shibley new on board. Will be very interesting to see how things pan out for all of them in the future. (The burning question: will Froustey stay?)

 

Really enjoying reading this thread - thanks so much, all of you, for sharing your comments.



#24 Terez

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 08:45 AM

I meant to ask - why is Vanessa Z out? Injury? Pregnancy? Any ideas for how long? She's so reliably lovely when she dances.



#25 Josette

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 10:23 AM

Always so interesting to read all the comments!  I was at the Friday night program 3 on February 28.  I thought the corps did fine work - that adagio is going to be somewhat more difficult for a group of diversely trained dancers to breathe together, get the line of their individual gazes together while using peripheral vision to keep in perfect lines, etc.  I was sitting in the second row and it was indeed the lovely Elizabeth Powell who had the honor-responsibility of leading the Shades out on to the stage. There were discrepancies in the arabesque heights (second Shade's arabesque was only 90 degrees en fendu, which is strange because when you tilt forward into an arabesque allongé, your arabesque leg should naturally go up beyond 90 degrees)  but it went very well.  I did not care for the principals - effortful, tense, a display of working hard; not only lacking spirituality from the female principal but there was no  classical ease that is needed for this role to make it beautiful. 

 

For me, the highlight of the evening was Yuan Yuan Tan as the Firebird. (Also enjoyed Tiit Helimets very much.)  What an exquisite dancer she is- refined, pure and uncluttered technique, utterly graceful, beautiful port de bras, no mugging, honest. She is a dream.

 

I am back in SF on March 13 and 14 to see Cinderella.  I was hoping that Vanessa Zahorian would be on stage again, but,  as was reported here a few weeks ago, she injured herself (a broken toe) when she danced the Diana and Acteon pas de deux at the gala, although she finished the performance.  This was reported in one of the SF papers.



#26 Josette

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 10:27 AM

I need to add that, during Ghosts, I found myself constantly watching Julia Rowe.



#27 PeggyR

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 11:28 AM

I need to add that, during Ghosts, I found myself constantly watching Julia Rowe.


Josette: i started a thread a couple of weeks ago, Dancers to Watch, and Julia Rowe was on the list. She has such a beautiful softness, and yet Saturday she danced a very athletic 2nd couple in Tears. I love seeing these young dancers revealing their sometime unexpected qualities.

#28 Josette

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 11:58 AM

I remember seeing your comment.  I can't wait to see more of her!



#29 pherank

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 02:31 PM

Always so interesting to read all the comments!  I was at the Friday night program 3 on February 28.  I thought the corps did fine work - that adagio is going to be somewhat more difficult for a group of diversely trained dancers to breathe together, get the line of their individual gazes together while using peripheral vision to keep in perfect lines, etc.  I was sitting in the second row and it was indeed the lovely Elizabeth Powell who had the honor-responsibility of leading the Shades out on to the stage. There were discrepancies in the arabesque heights (second Shade's arabesque was only 90 degrees en fendu, which is strange because when you tilt forward into an arabesque allongé, your arabesque leg should naturally go up beyond 90 degrees)  but it went very well.  I did not care for the principals - effortful, tense, a display of working hard; not only lacking spirituality from the female principal but there was no  classical ease that is needed for this role to make it beautiful. 

 

For me, the highlight of the evening was Yuan Yuan Tan as the Firebird. (Also enjoyed Tiit Helimets very much.)  What an exquisite dancer she is- refined, pure and uncluttered technique, utterly graceful, beautiful port de bras, no mugging, honest. She is a dream.

 

I am back in SF on March 13 and 14 to see Cinderella.  I was hoping that Vanessa Zahorian would be on stage again, but,  as was reported here a few weeks ago, she injured herself (a broken toe) when she danced the Diana and Acteon pas de deux at the gala, although she finished the performance.  This was reported in one of the SF papers.

 

Great comments, Josette, thanks. I was pretty much certain about Powell being the Shade lead, but each night I was sitting farther from the stage, and things were getting more blurry with each performance  ;)  Which lead to one of the down moments for me - on Friday night I was realizing that something was wrong with the trio of dancers in Bayadere - "Is that Froustey on the left? That doesn't look like Froustey. . .and is that Messmer? I don't think it is! Oh no!" (I hadn't had time to look at the program before the start). Well, the trio dancing was fine actually, but not the same for me. I wanted to see the magic again.

 

I too noticed that the 2nd Shade happened to have a particularly low arabesque height, which was odd casting next to Powell, who looked like a perfect emulation of the POB's Shade-style - I would think the ballet master would at least want a similar look within a row, or dancers in close proximity.

 

I also felt that on Friday night, Tan was the clear standout, in The Firebird ballet. That was one of the 'magic' moments of the week for me, when everything was just clicking. I hadn't seen Possokhov's version of Firebird until this week, and had low to no expectations for it. I just wanted to hear the score played live by the orchestra.  ;)  But I was pleasantly suprised. The only thing that doesn't quite work yet in this version, imo, is the choregraphy in the finale, which tries to make light of the grandiosity of the music - and that is OK since it fits with the rest of the choreography. But having the dancers stand on the stage and kind of bob their arms in time to the repetitions and swelling in the music is only funny for a moment - then it gets old. (I'm reminded of the Balanchine comment, "three times is a trick".) I would like to see something a bit more clever there.

 

What you said about the Bayadere principals was interesting. I wasn't bothered by anything in the dancing - I just noticed that Matvienko was, as you say, working hard, to put on a show (and I have to think it was friendly competition with Karapetyn who really threw down the gauntlet on Wednesday night). I have learned that Kochetkova is sick with what is probably the flu (she has a fever), so that might be why she seemed to lack some emotional life that night.

 

A digression, but regarding Zahorian: she's keeping busy fronting a jewelry business with an Armenian connection: Dancing Tulip

http://www.sfballetb...eginnings-2014/

 

I imagine it's gonig to take several months at least to heal from her injury and begin any strenuous activity on her foot.



#30 Josette

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 04:13 PM

I hope that Kochetkova will be fully recovered for her performances in Cinderella starting next week.




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