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Don Quixote - Spring 2014 MET Season


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#1 fondoffouettes

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 06:39 PM

I attended today's matinee with Part/Whiteside and was deeply impressed by how they have both grown into the lead roles. They delivered the most technically secure performances I've ever seen them give at ABT. Neither is the ideal spitfire one imagines for Don Q, but both brought gorgeous technique and an innate sense of musicality. I know Whiteside has had his detractors, and I myself have considered him a raw talent in need of much refining. But what a difference a year has made. His spins and leaps were beautifully executed, and his control and cleanness in these elements brought to mind Gomes and Carreno. (Whiteside would whip off a crisp and fast spin only to deliciously slow it down at the end -- an effect Carreno always seemed to love.)  Gone is the slight sloppiness one occasionally saw in Whiteside's spins or his transitions between elements. 

 

Is Whiteside the partner for Part in her (sadly) post-Gomes era? I am now convinced that this may be the case. His support of her was near-perfect; the lifts, promenades, fish dives, and supported pirouettes were wonderful. The chemistry was not quite at Part/Gomes levels, but it was a much, much better than with Stearns. It was clear that Part and Whiteside have a good rapport, and she seemed to have every confidence in him as a partner. Their pas de deux throughout the ballet were truly the highlights, though they danced beautifully on their own, as well. 

 

It was a delight to see Part dancing against type -- and so brilliantly. However, I was reminded that so many elements of Kitri's choreography actually do align with Part's greatest strengths: soaring grand jetes, sky-high extensions (hers seem to have only gotten higher in the past couple years), gorgeous arabesques, and lovely balances. And then it came as a wonderful surprise to see her execute the many whiplash pirouettes, the fouettes, and the other tricky bits more flawlessly than I've ever seem from her. I've never seen her pull off each and every unsupported pirouette (which can be her Achilles' heel) with such confidence. 

 

I feel very lucky to have seen such a perfectly cast Vision Scene.  Stella was fantastic. What a pure joy to see her execute Italian fouettes. She makes them look so graceful and effortless. I believe it was Nicole Graniero as Amour. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) She was fantastic in the role -- not Tinker Bell saccharine, but just the right mixture of sprightly energy and technical precision. Gorgeous leaps and perfect multiple pirouettes. She's not a corps dancer I've followed in the past, but I was really blown away by her today. 

 

In the Kennedy Center thread, it was mentioned that Zhiyao Zhang was an incredible lead Gypsy. His performance in that role today was among the best I've seen. I can't wait to see what else he will dance at ABT. Bronze Idol? Ali? He seems to have what it takes, at least based on today's small sample of his talents.

 

Christine Shevchencko was absolutely lovely as one of the Flower Girls.



#2 ord7916

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 07:08 PM

Thanks for the review.  

 

Here are my thoughts on the Weds eve performance.   

 

Lots of empty seats tonight, more than I've ever seen there before.  

 

This was originally supposed to be Murphy/Matvienko. then Murphy/Lendorf and finally Reyes/Lendorf.  I couldn't help but wonder how much rehearsal they possibly could have had, considering he's a guest artist and she was a last minute cast change.  They did seem a bit tentative together at first, but that quickly disappeared.  Act One was good and Act Two was great.  

 

The audience seemed to love the grand pas de deux and cheered in all the right places.  Personally, I found it anti-climactic and rather ordinary.  You can find a half-dozen more exciting versions on youtube.  I expected more, particularly from Lendorf.  

 

That said, he is certainly pleasant to look at.  And I really like Reyes.   The real star, however, was Jared Matthews as Espada.  

 

I am still relatively new to ballet, so I'd be really interested to hear what others thought.    



#3 Waelsung

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 09:29 PM

I attended the Tuesday night performance with Semionova and Gomes and was shocked by how rusty Gomes looked. He's still an excellent partner and was very attentive to Polina, but when dancing alone he was at best tentative. Especially his jumps and back bends looked circumspect. I hope that as the season progresses, he will return to his top form.

 

Seo and Matthews were very good, and I think Jared's departure will be a huge loss, especially in the long run.

 

If anybody else saw the same performance, please share your impressions - it's always very interesting to compare :)



#4 aurora

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 04:57 AM

I attended today's matinee with Part/Whiteside and was deeply impressed by how they have both grown into the lead roles. They delivered the most technically secure performances I've ever seen them give at ABT. Neither is the ideal spitfire one imagines for Don Q, but both brought gorgeous technique and an innate sense of musicality. I know Whiteside has had his detractors, and I myself have considered him a raw talent in need of much refining. But what a difference a year has made. His spins and leaps were beautifully executed, and his control and cleanness in these elements brought to mind Gomes and Carreno. (Whiteside would whip off a crisp and fast spin only to deliciously slow it down at the end -- an effect Carreno always seemed to love.)  Gone is the slight sloppiness one occasionally saw in Whiteside's spins or his transitions between elements. 

 

Is Whiteside the partner for Part in her (sadly) post-Gomes era? I am now convinced that this may be the case. His support of her was near-perfect; the lifts, promenades, fish dives, and supported pirouettes were wonderful. The chemistry was not quite at Part/Gomes levels, but it was a much, much better than with Corey.  It was clear that Part and Whiteside have a good rapport, and she seemed to have every confidence in him as a partner. Their pas de deux throughout the ballet were truly the highlights, though they danced beautifully on their own, as well. 

 

It was a delight to see Part dancing against type -- and so brilliantly. However, I was reminded that so many elements of Kitri's choreography actually do align with Part's greatest strengths: soaring grand jetes, sky-high extensions (hers seem to have only gotten higher in the past couple years), gorgeous arabesques, and lovely balances. And then it came as a wonderful surprise to see her execute the many whiplash pirouettes, the fouettes, and the other tricky bits more flawlessly than I've ever seem from her. I've never seen her pull off each and every unsupported pirouette (which can be her Achilles' heel) with such confidence. 

 

I feel very lucky to have seen such a perfectly cast Vision Scene.  Stella was fantastic. What a pure joy to see her execute Italian fouettes. She makes them look so graceful and effortless. I believe it was Nicole Graniero as Amour. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) She was fantastic in the role -- not Tinker Bell saccharine, but just the right mixture of sprightly energy and technical precision. Gorgeous leaps and perfect multiple pirouettes. She's not a corps dancer I've followed in the past, but I was really blown away by her today. 

 

In the Kennedy Center thread, it was mentioned that Zhiyao Zhang was an incredible lead Gypsy. His performance in that role today was among the best I've seen. I can't wait to see what else he will dance at ABT. Bronze Idol? Ali? He seems to have what it takes, at least based on today's small sample of his talents.

 

Christine Shevchencko was absolutely lovely as one of the Flower Girls.

I agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything fondoffouettees wrote in the above review. I'd like to add a few things.

 

Firstly that although I am not really a Stella fan (she is very clean and reliable, but I find she lacks amplitude), she really was lovely yesterday. She had charisma as Mercedes and seemed if, not to sizzle as some do, to have some real spark, perhaps because it is one of the last opportunities she'll have to dance that role opposite Sasha, who if not the best Espada technically, was having a fantastic time with the role and doing it with real panache.

 

and there was real crystalline beauty to her vision scene, and as stated her Italian fouettes were lovely.

 

I'd like to second the partnership between Part and Whiteside. They seem to have fun together, she clearly trusts him. Even if she gets slightly off on a turn there is no sense of panic, she knows he will right her, and he does. There is a rapport that there has NEVER been with her and Cory. It is enjoyable to watch them together. They are believable as a couple.

 

As for her dancing, the marked improvement in her turning is worth noting. The speed and attack of her pique turns is at a new level and her fouettes, which used to slow in the later revolutions did not do so (or at least not to the same extent). There was no question as to whether she would finish them.

 

Not only was Shevchenko good as one of the flower girls, but so was Brandt, I thought. Moreover they were well matched (although not originally intended to be so). I'm not sure if they are paired in other performances, but you would never have thought the pairing was a last minute one.

 

I also thought that Graniero was exceptional as Amour. She was slightly behind the music in the beginning of her variation, but not in a way that indicated an error, rather she was synchopating the variation (I don't know how to put it otherwise). She was really exceptional. I've seen it many times and it was one of the best renditions I've seen.

 

Lastly, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE REPLACE THOSE HORRIBLE COSTUMES FOR THE GYPSY MEN. They look like the are refugees from an 80s metal hair band. They are horrific. I feel sorry for those poor dancers every time I see this. They don't look like gypsies at all and honestly they could be replaced for almost no money at all. It is embarrassing...



#5 FauxPas

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 06:04 AM

I attended on Tuesday night and both shows on Wednesday.

 

Tuesday May 13: Semionova/Gomes.  I actually enjoyed the wit and playfulness Gomes brought to Basilio and his dancing - though not virtuosic - was solid and fine to my eyes.  However, I have been spoiled by prime Bocca, Corella and Carreno as Basilio.  Only Herman Cornejo on a good night, in top physical condition is on that level today at ABT - Ivan Vasiliev has the raw power but not the refinement.   Gomes added fun touches - like in the Inn Scene where Basilio does a spin before Kitri jumps into his arms, Gomes pretended to have a dizzy spell.  I thought his dancing was noble and elegant rather than brilliant.  Semionova was really lovely and very high-spirited.  Her balances in the wedding scene pas de deux were just adequate but she made up for it with the final set of fouettes in the coda.  Isabella Boylston and Misty Copeland were the flower girls.  Jared Matthews was excellent as Espada though Gomes is the gold standard in that part.  Seo was not the sexiest Mercedes but she did fine.  In the Dream Scene, Hee Seo showed technical improvement as the Queen of the Dryads.  She began with solid Italian fouettes and got applause for them but then fell out of the very last one.  This is much better than last year when she was stumbling from the very beginning.  Seo's technique is improving but she is not yet on Abrera's level, though she has been made principal which Abrera likely never will.  Sarah Lane was in sparkling top form as Amour.  Her husband, Luis Ribagorda did some excellent dancing as the Gypsy Boy with high jumps and split leaps - give him more soloist roles, ABT.  Some sour tuning from the horns in the pit - rather exposed in this score.

 

Wednesday matinee May 14:  Part, Whiteside.  I agree with fondoffouettes above - Part is an excellent jumper and does have high extensions so Act I went much better than I would have expected.  The diagonal of pirouettes with the line of matadors got a big hand and an extra bow.  The only weak spot were the backward jumps with the head kick which Semionova did much better the night before.  As expected, the Dream Scene Dulcinea was gorgeous - Part has a way of expanding and filling out the music with her epaulement that is just heavenly.  In the final wedding pas, Part's balances were brief but there, her solo lovely but the final fouettes were a little off.  She started them with great speed and stamina but the working leg was rotating rather low and to the side, in the Russian manner.  She also advanced downstage as she did them in a straight line which doesn't bother me at all really.  By the end the fouettes started to get too loose but there she ended the series with a solid triple or quadruple flourishing her fan over her head.  But they needed to be higher and tighter.  Otherwise, she looked gorgeous and radiant with humor and high spirits.  Whiteside is a good actor and his technique was excellent - he has a lot of speed and great form.  His partnering was excellent though I noticed that he struggled a bit with the overhead lifts - using both hands once and having to move around.  (Part is not easy to maneuver and I suspect doesn't help her partners much - dead weight)  Abrera was by far the best of the Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads ballerinas so far.  Radetsky was in good form as Espada.  Nicole Graniero was a revelation as Amour.  Christine Schevchenko was marvelous in her Flower Girl variation but I felt that Skyler Brandt struggled a bit with hers.  I second the praise for Zhiyao Zhang - after losing Carlos Lopez and Joseph Phillips, ABT needs another small virtuoso dancer.  Roman Zhurbin was moving as Don Quixote.

 

Wednesday evening, May 14: Reyes/Lendorf.  Reyes, who is over forty, danced better than most ballerinas half her age.  The only concessions to age I would give her were in the final pas deux - her balances were not held as long as she used to and she bobbled on the last fouette in the coda.  However, she tore into the fouettes with total abandon opening and closing her fan over her head and only lost it on the last one.  Brava!  Otherwise, she was an adorable little spitfire.  Lendorf has sexy eyes and a mischievous grin.  Both the Cuban and Danish schools seem to train their dancers in mime so the lovers' acting and byplay were quite spontaneous, detailed and convincing.  His jumps have beautiful ballon and his feet are lovely.  Again, I don't think he was on his very best form having just jetted in and dealt a last-minute change of partner.  But he is a beautiful dancer and he gave me a lot of pleasure - though he lacked the kind of devil-may-care brilliance and abandon of the latin and russian virtuosos I have seen previously.  Matthews was again Espada and Misty Copeland was Mercedes/Dryad Queen.  Misty began well in her Dream Scene solo but slipped out of one fouette but then recovered for a strong finish.  Gemma Bond danced excellently as Amour but she is taller than Reyes and maybe even than Misty so visually it looked odd.  Bond is very musical - I wouldn't mind if she was promoted to soloist.  The flower girls were both lovely - charming Melanie Hamrick and a very strong Devon Teuscher who excelled in her difficult solo.  Arron Scott was the fine Gypsy Boy.  Very vivacious performance all around

 

ABT was smart to schedule "Don Quixote" early in the season when everyone's energy is so high and they are relatively free from injuries and end of season wear and tear.

 

On to Kochetkova/Cornejo tonight!



#6 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 06:12 AM

I never saw Gomes as Basilio, but I don't think it's the kind of part he excels at.  I saw Hallberg as Basilio in 2011, and I thought it was not the kind of role he excels at.  My list of great Basilios includes Barysnikov, Bocca, Corella, Carreno and Cornejo.  I have to add Vasiliev (Ivan) to that list even thougah his line is pretty nonexistent and his landings are sometimes heavy.  I saw Simkin as Basilio in 2011 (with Yurikio) and he was very good.  But I am concerned about his partnering of Boylston, especially those one handed over the head lifts in Act I.  Boylston is bigger than Yurkio (sorry about the spelling) and Simkin had problems partnering her in Theme and Variations during the fall season at the David Koch Theater.  I will post after I see Saturday's matinee of Don Q.



#7 California

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 06:30 AM

Those with old programs at hand can correct me, but I think the last time Gomes did Basilio (at least at the Met) was June 2010, when he did the first act at the Alonso birthday celebration. In interviews, he has discussed a serious injury he had a few years ago and his need to avoid that in the future. So, I've just assumed that had something to do with his focus on other roles. Basilio is a high-virtuosity role, perhaps better left to the 20-somethings in the company. Gomes has plenty to do now!



#8 ord7916

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 06:49 AM

Fauxpas - If I may ask: How do you manage to go every night?   



#9 FauxPas

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 07:16 AM

Ord7916 - there was a discount going around on Goldstar.  I was going to skip Tuesday and Wednesday night.  I bought a Family Circle ticket for Thursday before the prices went up and considered taking off work for the matinee on Wednesday with a last-minute ticket.  But when Gomes and Lendorf were subbed in for Stearns and Matvienko for the evening shows, I had to go.  I stood for the opening night gala.

 

BTW: Gomes did dance Basilio over 10 years ago with Nina Ananiashvili early in his ABT career.  Since then he has nearly always danced Espada.



#10 Kaysta

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 07:44 AM

I saw the Wednesday matinee. As I wrote in the ABT thread, and as others have said, Stella Abrera was stunning as Mercedes/QOD. I could not keep my eyes off her. Plus, it was fun to see her dance with Sasha!

I liked Veronica Part and James Whiteside, but I (personally) didn't see as much chemistry between the two of them compared to the DC casting of Boylston/Simkin. Whiteside did look like he had a hard time lifting her once or twice. But Part was beautiful, and I look forward to seeing her next week in La Bayadere.

I also agree with the positive reviews on Amour and the flower girls. Thought all three were fantastic.

#11 susanger

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 06:21 PM

I thought Xiomara rocked the house as Kitri last night.  Lendorf wasn't bad either.  He looks like a great partner for her. clapping.gif



#12 mimsyb

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:33 PM

Hopefully Lendorf will be among the dancers coming to the Joyce in January, 2015.   Then we'd get a nice up close look at him.



#13 Ceeszi

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 01:47 PM

I attended Thursday evening with Kochetkova and Cornejo. While there were moments of brilliance, there were also moments of terrible sloppiness. Twice (or maybe three times) Kochetkova fell off point while Cornejo was spinning her. It just seemed that the two leads were out of sync with each other. The ballet got stronger as the night went on. Act I seemed to be "off".

Kochetkova's Kitri is still a work in progress. She is not quite the feisty girl that I have seen portrayed by Valdes or Osipova. She did have some lovely moments in the Act II dream ballet and most of her solo work was very good.

#14 seattle_dancer

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 02:00 PM

I attended on Tuesday dress rehearsal and both shows on Wednesday.

 

The rehearsal was my first with ABT and it was a real treat to see different couples run the pdd sequentially.  Cornejo and Kochetkava only ran the wedding pdd.  He wore a long sleeved superman shirt with black shorts and was in fine form.  I had never seen Kochetkava before. She was just lovely and they worked very well together. In the middle of her foutte sequence she changed her spot a quarter turn at a itme, which I had never seen.

 

Wed matinee:  I have limited viewing of Part (Lady of Camellias, 2010?) and Whiteside (last fall season) so it was great to see them dance and their technique.  He can fit in three revolutions on a single releve turning au second, and her extensions and pique arabesque were all done to the extreme.  It was a nice performance by both, I don't know how many times they've done these parts and with each other, but it seems they are growing into the roles.  I look forward to seeing them again.  For me the Most Valuable Dancer was Stella Abrera.  Her arms were so sinewy as Mercedes.  When she came out as QoD I thought it was a different dancer until I read the program.  Two entirely different styles of dancing in the same show!

 

Wed evening:  I bought my ticket months ago hoping to see Murphy but was happy to watch Reyes as Kitri.  She is so natural and confident in the role, and it shows throughout the whole show, which is more important to me than the split second technical imperfections which she covered up like the pro that she is.  Lendorf looks like a big guy and I found his technique very clean, which sometimes doesn't happen with bigger men.  His acting seemed natural, he is very strong and did a few toss-catches.  My opinion is that he is a very good partner.  In the dress rehearsal, Reyes ran from upstage left in a diagonal and did the lateral jump where Basilio catches her and turns her upside down.  One of the times she did not jump out that far and was very low, and he stepped up and caught her.  I have a lot of respect for Lendorf, especially given the short amount of time they had to rehearse together.

 

I anybody has comments from Friday evening's Herrera/Vasiliev performance, I'd love to read since I had to leave NYC on Thursday.  Last year he lifted Osipova with one arm, did a low arabesque, and then went up on releve!  Curious if he is doing this trick with other partners and in general how he is working with different partners?  Thank you in advance!



#15 choriamb

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 09:30 PM

I attended the Saturday 5/17 matinee of the show.

 

Craig Salstein, needless to say, performed Gamache with flawless timing and musicality. I really like how all the character parts are handled in this production:  the slapstick isn't overblown and the story is clear.

 

Arron Scott looked great as the Gypsy Man...and not only because he was, happily, shirtless. Not as polished as Daniil, but the one guy who didn't look diminished dancing next to him. aurora, I echo your assessment of the "80s metal hair band" costumes in Act 2. (Gypsies wear pink cropped tops? No wonder they're an oppressed people.)

 

In group movements, the corp women looked good and coherent. Individually, Gemma Bond was a charming Amour. Christine Shevchenko presented well as a Flower Girl. Stephanie Williams and Isadora Loyola mined the Act 1 mime and the dance for all they were worth. Zhong-Jing Fang made her steps matter in Act 3.

 

Query:  Was Irina Kolpakova onstage in Act 1 as one of the townspeople?

 

Stella Abrera's Mercedes was as musical and well-thought-out as everyone else has said. I even preferred it to her Queen of the Dryads. Brava.

 

I liked Isabella Boylston's performance. She had a dodgy landing at the end of the very first jete sequence in Act 1 that I suspect threw things a bit. I would guess that the phrase "DON'T TENSE UP" was playing in her head until her first exit. At any rate, the mime and port de bras were presented rather loosely until about midway through the act.

 

For the rest of the show, she was a pleasure. Her jumps are world-class; her port de bras has become lovely and articulate (no more broken wrists); and she's shaping phrases in interesting ways. Unexpectedly, I preferred her Vision Scene to her Act 1. Her interpretation was closely tied to her interactions with the Don, so she never looked generically classical. (In general, she made Kitri's interactions with the Don, which are often glossed over, seem believable.)

 

I like that she's a stage animal. She didn't just interact with the audience (which you get most of the time...if even that at NYCB). Or with just the audience and her partner (which you get if you're lucky). She interacted with the audience, her partner, and the entire company.

 

Daniil Simkin gave a great performance, too. The bravura, the musicality, and the line are all there and his mime is lovely.

 

I don't know ABT's version of Don Quixote, so I can't tell you if any of the trickier partnering moves were cut (although I suspect at least one ended early). Isabella and Daniil didn't perform the tricky partnering with wild abandon...but they also didn't slow things down or sacrifice any stagecraft.

 

Both of them held onto their musicality and mime through the harder bits. Boylston's port de bras and face never stiffened up, even through the wedding promenade sequence. They didn't express surprised exultation after each success. Much professionalism on display.




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