Batsuchan

Giselle - Spring 2014

107 posts in this topic

I've also seen Semionova do wonderful work in SL with Gomes and also with Hallberg. Her body type (very long limbs) is well suited to O/O.

I found Semionova's O/O to be impressive but not moving. The performance I saw (with Hallberg in 2012) seemed studied, with not enough apparent spontaneity.

One moment that was particularly striking to me has remained in my mind. Early in Act II, when Odette is still frightened of Siegfried, she turns away from him downstage left, and he then comes up behind her and takes her hand. I remember that as Hallberg reached out to take Semionova's hand, she simultaneously reached her hand back. The gesture was all wrong: Odette does not give her hand; her hand is taken by Siegfried as she is gradually tamed/wooed by him. Semionova was moving through the choreography rather than living the character. This is why canbelto's descriptions of her performance as Giselle earlier in this thread rang so true to me.

Re MRR's above correction: thanks, I got the two weeks confused. Semionova is the only repeating O/O, not Giselle.

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I guess my complaint about last night really stemmed from the fact that a) I was really looking forward to Hallberg's entrechat sixes and b) his brises were NOT impressive NOR dramatic.

Batsuchan, I agree! I think the issue is also that David's entrechat sixes are stunning, one of the best in the world, while his brises were accomplished, but by no means any kind of best.

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I guess my complaint about last night really stemmed from the fact that a) I was really looking forward to Hallberg's entrechat sixes and b) his brises were NOT impressive NOR dramatic.

Batsuchan, I agree! I think the issue is also that David's entrechat sixes are stunning, one of the best in the world, while his brises were accomplished, but by no means any kind of best.

I still remember Hallberg's entrechat sixes from his Giselle w/ Osipova I think 2 years ago. He took my breath away. And, that was an extraordinary partnership (though apparently short-lived).

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Hallberg has not found the kind of relationship that he had with Osipova, and his appearances have been less thrilling because of that loss. His closest partner now is Murphy, but that comes across as a Platonic kind of relationship to the audience, not a passionate relationship. This from a previous NY Times interview with Hallberg:

Q. Can you tell me about your relationship with her (Osipova)?

A. We don’t verbally communicate, but it’s a very raw, very emotional, almost sexual connection. I mean — it’s a feeling. Because obviously we don’t talk, so we don’t profess anything. We just dance together. And when we dance together, it’s electric for both of us.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/25/for-hallberg-a-month-inside-the-bolshoi-pressure-cooker/#

Osipova helped Hallberg to elevate his performance. She helped him bring more dramatic heft to the stage. There was always a sense of urgency when they performed together. They were on their way to becoming the next "it" couple of ballet partnerships at ABT.

I'd be curious to know whether she has found any special partnership with anyone at RB. I saw the broadcast of Osipova's Giselle w. Acosta, and I did not sense any special chemistry there.

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Hallberg has not found the kind of relationship that he had with Osipova, and his appearances have been less thrilling because of that loss. His closest partner now is Murphy, but that comes across as a Platonic kind of relationship to the audience, not a passionate relationship. This from a previous NY Times interview with Hallberg:

Q. Can you tell me about your relationship with her (Osipova)?

A. We don’t verbally communicate, but it’s a very raw, very emotional, almost sexual connection. I mean — it’s a feeling. Because obviously we don’t talk, so we don’t profess anything. We just dance together. And when we dance together, it’s electric for both of us.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/25/for-hallberg-a-month-inside-the-bolshoi-pressure-cooker/#

Osipova helped Hallberg to elevate his performance. She helped him bring more dramatic heft to the stage. There was always a sense of urgency when they performed together. They were on their way to becoming the next "it" couple of ballet partnerships at ABT.

I'd be curious to know whether she has found any special partnership with anyone at RB. I saw the broadcast of Osipova's Giselle w. Acosta, and I did not sense any special chemistry there.

I'd be curious to know some people's thoughts on his partnership with Zakharova, since they seem to have performed together quite a lot since he went to the Bolshoi. I've only seen brief clips of a few of those performances, as I never made it to any of the theater simulcasts, etc. I'll be seeing their Swan Lake in July.

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I guess my complaint about last night really stemmed from the fact that a) I was really looking forward to Hallberg's entrechat sixes and b) his brises were NOT impressive NOR dramatic.

Batsuchan, I agree! I think the issue is also that David's entrechat sixes are stunning, one of the best in the world, while his brises were accomplished, but by no means any kind of best.

I still remember Hallberg's entrechat sixes from his Giselle w/ Osipova I think 2 years ago. He took my breath away. And, that was an extraordinary partnership (though apparently short-lived).

Funny you should mention Hallberg/Osipova from a few years ago. I remember a Hallberg/Cojocaru Giselle from a few years ago the was one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. I remember Hallberg's wonderful entrechat sixes from that performance.

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I saw (and have the Blu-Ray of) the Zhakharovs/Hallberg Sleeping Beauty. That was David's first performance with the Bolshoi and he was really great (especially considering he sprained his ankle at the first few jetés). I think Zhakharova also did well. Was there chemistry? She's such a self-centered ice queen it's hard to know. Judging from her Bayadere with Lantratov (horridly boring performance) I'd say their partnership works pretty well but still it's all about her, not him. I, too, will be seeing their Swan Lake in July so that will give me a better idea about that partnership. However, I do feel David has traded a situation where he was a star (ABT) for one where he is just a partner there to serve the company star (Bolshoi, Zhakharova).

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I don't think the Bolshoi is using him as just a partner. I think he's gotten great coaching there that he would never have received at ABT. He has said as much in interviews.

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Re: Batsuchan's comment #4 above, Gorak is scheduled to dance Coppelia with Yuriko Kajiya, not Sarah Lane (though I'd love to see the latter pairing in that ballet!).

Oops! You are totally right! My mistake. I guess it was my wishful thinking.... ;)

I wanted to also mention that although I was disappointed with Semionova's Giselle, I think she has done excellent work in other ballets. She has done wonderfully as Kitri, Nikiya, Sylvia, and other roles

...in which she was paired with Gomes, Shklyarov, and Bolle... smile.png I actually have enjoyed Semionova/Hallberg in the more technique-heavy ballets like Swan Lake and even her first Don Q. It is more the "passion play" ballets where I have found them underwhelming, and although Giselle has many competition-worthy variations, I think it does require a strong emotional connection to be truly effective.

I also continue to think that Hallberg has difficulty partnering Semionova, so holds back a bit, in order not to overly tax him..

I don't think the Bolshoi is using him as just a partner. I think he's gotten great coaching there that he would never have received at ABT. He has said as much in interviews.

Yes, he said basically the same thing tonight at his talk at ABT. Not necessarily that he "would never have received" such coaching at ABT, but that he has a very dedicated coach at the Bolshoi, and that he really appreciates the strong coach-student relationship that is prized in the Russian system.

He also said of Zakharova/Osipova/Semionova that they are such great artists, so he likes to let them lead, basically.

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But abatt every dancer in the Bolshoi (and the Mariinsky) gets their own coach, even corps dancers. I can see why David might feel he is growing more as a dancer there. However, I don't think he is a draw for Russians buying tickets. I think the Bolshoi brought him there to partner Zhakharova, because Filin felt they would be a good fit. I very well may be wrong but that's my impression from seeing him dance (unlike Lantratov, Chudin or Ovcharenko, David rarely partners anyone except Zhakharova) and hearing Filin speak at YAGP about hiring David. Bolle served the same "partner" function for Zhakharova for years when she came to the West (all those La Scala productions). He is real star in Italy, yet I felt in all those performances he was really just partnering her. Anyway, as I said, just my impression.

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Ok, four down, one to go!

Believe it or not, I actually really enjoyed tonight's show with Reyes & Matthews!

Reyes may be almost as old as Kent, but it doesn't really show in her dancing. At least not to me. Although she may no longer have some of the flexibility of the younger dancers (or even Vishneva), there were no omissions! She did the penche arabesques, she did the split leaps (and she got to a full 180 degrees), and she milked the "tricks" she can still do well for all they are worth. In her Act I variation, she whizzed through the pique turns around the stage thrillingly, and in the Act II p.d.d., she did the entrechats quatre at breakneck speed. Unlike with Semionova and Kent, I felt like she was really going for it, and there were moments when I was truly impressed and excited.

Being petite, she doesn't have the longer lines of Vishneva/Kent/Semionova, and she doesn't have Cojocaru's ridiculous stretch that makes her look longer than she is. However, I appreciated the quality/tone of her movement. Vishneva has a way of flowing through the movements like she's moving through milk that gives her dancing a very luscious, sensuous quality, and I feel like Reyes has some of that same fluidity. Kent may still be able to create some very beautiful shapes, but it felt less flowy to me.

Also, I have always found Reyes to be a very musical dancer (Vishneva as well)--or perhaps that means they phrase steps the way I would do them if I could--and like Vishneva, she really luxuriated in the adagio in Act II. The tempi were not as slow as Monday night, but Reyes took her time and really felt the music.

I liked both of Reyes' characterizations very much--she was easily believable as a young girl falling in love, and her petite size made it easy to believe that she was frail. Her mad scene was well done, and she even looked angry (not crazy) in the last frenzied part. In Act II, she was properly ghostly.

As for Matthews--overall I enjoyed seeing him as Albrecht and felt like he should've been given a chance to dance it sooner. I thought he and Reyes and believable chemistry in Act I, though I didn't quite buy his grief in Act II. Aside from one wonky jump, his dancing was beautiful and his partnering assured. He did the press lifts in Act II very well, and he even managed to bring Reyes down slowly.

My one big disappointment, though, was that he too chose to do the brises down the diagonal. In my opinion, if you cannot get your legs practically parallel to the ground in the brises like Corella could, it just looks like you're kind of galloping/hopping, and it is not impressive at all. To me, that point in the music is the lead-up to the climax, and if Albrecht's solo is not impressive-looking, it just kills the dramatic momentum altogether. It will be interesting to see what Cornejo chooses to do!

Amy Watson as Myrta was okay. She is an imposing figure, and her jumps were quite expansive, but that initial promenade in arabesque looked a little shaky. Based on this performance, I wouldn't run out and rehire her as a guest.

Misty Copeland and Blaine Hoven danced a very nice peasant p.d.d. I was especially impressed with Hoven. Gorak is a lovely dancer, but he didn't cover much of the stage last night. Hoven was more explosive and covered more ground, and his legwork was very crisp. He also partnered Copeland well.

Overall, thanks to Reyes excellent efforts, I enjoyed tonight's show much more than Tuesday or Wednesday night's!

**
A couple of other notes:
I had thought a couple of other steps had been changed last night, but it wasn't until tonight's show that I figured out what they were:
1) When Giselle first emerges from the grave, after she does the big hopping spin, she does these side-to-side steps punctuated by jumps. On Monday and Tuesday, Vishneva and Semionova did several connecting steps punctuated by big assembles with beats, as you can see at around 1:50 here:
Kent and Reyes seemed to do sissone-assemble, sissone-assemble (a series of jumps) instead. I think that might be why I thought Semionova seemed so land-bound in her variation as compared to Kent and Reyes.
2) In his Act I solo last night (see around 1:20 in the video to know what I'm talking about), Bolle changed the steps so that he had a developpe with his right leg, which he held extended for a bit. He also did this in Act II. It was impressive, but it also didn't seem to fit the music too well.
3) At the very end last night, after Albrecht is saved, Bolle seemed to pick Kent up too late, based on the music. He started rocking her side to side when the flute was doing its two-note call (which I associate with Giselle being pulled toward the grave)--but then that music repeated, so they ended at the right time. Tonight Matthews picked up Reyes right away, and that music sequence was only played once (as she was bourree-ing away), so I wonder if Kent/Bolle arranged to have the music repeated beforehand...
Till Saturday!

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I saw Reyes dance Giselle with Corella in 2005 and Cornejo in 2008. She was a very believable Giselle both times and had great chemistry with both Corella and Cornejo. I think Reyes and Cornejo have a

wonderful partnership but she doesn't get to dance with him anymore because he's partnered with guest

artists like Cojacaru or Kochetkova.

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Thanks to Batsuchan for the link to those wonderful clips of Vishneva and Gomes in Giselle. We complain constantly that ABT should be recording these marvelous performances for distribution on DVD or PBS. We can thank Mariinsky for recording them, instead. Perhaps someday they'll release the complete performance on DVD!

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Casting change for tonight: David Hallberg tweeted that he will be dancing w Alina Cojocaru tonight. I'm not complaining about that, but I was totally looking forward to seeing Herman Cornejo!

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Casting change for tonight: David Hallberg tweeted that he will be dancing w Alina Cojocaru tonight. I'm not complaining about that, but I was totally looking forward to seeing Herman Cornejo!

I've been waiting to hear the response to Giselle with Cojocaru/Cornejo...but now, i REALLY want to hear about Cojocaru/Hallberg. Granted you never know what will happen with last minute casting changes...

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Casting change for tonight: David Hallberg tweeted that he will be dancing w Alina Cojocaru tonight. I'm not complaining about that, but I was totally looking forward to seeing Herman Cornejo!

I've been waiting to hear the response to Giselle with Cojocaru/Cornejo...but now, i REALLY want to hear about Cojocaru/Hallberg. Granted you never know what will happen with last minute casting changes...

Maybe he'll do those entrechat sixes since so many people have yearned to see him do them.

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Anyone went to the Seo-Hammoudi Giselle. Please report. Thanks.

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Until today, I have never seen first-hand what was so special about Hee Seo's dancing. When I've seen her in technically demanding roles (Aurora, Gamzatti), she's always flubbed it, more or less, at key moments. (I've avoided her Odette/Odile for this reason.) And then Onegin, which is supposedly more her thing, just bored me to death. Going into today's Giselle, I was worried. I saw Vishneva/Gomes on Monday night, and I was pretty sure today would be a let-down -- with my reservations about Seo and the fact that Hammoudi hasn't apparently danced much in recent months.

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about.

Seo was a near-perfect Giselle: graceful and girlish and delicate in Act I, ghostly and fluid and ethereal in Act II. Her acting was superb. One moment that really hit hard: as the sun rises and the dawn bell begins to toll near the end of Act II, the shift in Seo's body and face as the significance of that sunk in was subtle yet intensely striking. It was one of those moments when you're so thankful to have been looking at exactly the right place onstage at exactly the right time. The curves of her back, neck and head as Giselle's head is bowed -- a signature pose that recurs throughout Act II, at this moment and elsewhere -- were simply gorgeous.

Her dancing was like a breath of cool, fresh air after the heavy, incense-laden richness of Vishneva's. As much as I love the latter's Act II, with Seo I felt like I was seeing something truer to (my perhaps totally inaccurate conception of) romantic ballet: fluid and spirit-like, but not at all mannered. The tempi were less indulgent, and the whole performance in that act made a more cohesive and forward-moving whole.

Hammoudi and Seo seemed an excellent partnership, and Hammoudi was at his best in his partnering, while his solo dancing was at certain points sloppy and, even when clean, generally less impressive than other Albrechts I've seen. He did the brises, rather than the entrechat sixes, and they were thoroughly unimpressive. It looked like he was lightly skipping down the stage rather than demonically possessed (a la Baryshnikov, for instance). I love the brises when done extremely well, but if that's not possible I think the entrechats should be the fallback.

The moment late in the pdd when Albrecht whisks Giselle across the stage in arabesque and her foot repeatedly lands (sorry, I lack the vocabulary) was among the best I've ever seen. As was the moment of Giselle's death: she hung suspended for a long moment and then, with uncanny slowness (though still with complete lightness -- not as if he was preventing her from falling, but as if she had already turned more spirit than flesh), dropped down between his arms.

Devon Teuscher was an excellent Myrtha, though she seemed a bit uneasy at first. Once there were others on stage, though, she was fleet and commanding.

Blaine Hovan and Misty Copeland danced the peasant pdd competently, but not with anything near the grace and effortless classical technique of Gorak and Lane on Monday.

(Side note: Misty could apparently use a gay best friend. Someone needs to tell her that that garish -- can it really be orange?! -- lipstick I've seen her wear several times now is not a good choice for her, onstage or off.)

Nancy Raffa was Berthe, and her miming was excellent. But still, the undoing of Giselle's hair was ridiculously obvious and involved. Perhaps they could settle for less than a full undoing, so fewer actions would be needed to make it happen? (It's supposed to look like it's happened naturally, after all!) And perhaps give Berthe something more obvious to do with her downstage hand while her upstage hand does the necessary work? Something, please! Unfortunately, Seo's (real?) hair, once down, had a very layered, contemporary cut that really did not fit the scene's time or place.

A lot more to say -- this performance was really a highlight of the season for me thus far! -- but that's enough for now.

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I also went to the Vishneva/Gomes Giselle on Monday night was so prepared that tonight (Saturday night) might be a bit of a let down. Unfortunately, I had no idea how big a let down it would be. Alina, in Act 1, was IMO pretty bad and definitely very boring. She seemed to be marking the act rather than dancing it - there is just no other way to describe virtually every step and jump (barely 6 inches off the ground). She spent the vast majority of the mad scene simply walking around the stage instead of weakly doing the steps she has done earlier in the act. She did some hops on pointe, but not too many and they were basically in place (she might have moved 1 foot forward). To add insult to injury, there was none of the drama I hoped to see from a ballerina whose physique is so perfect for this ballet. I was sitting in the center of orchestra row J and I had to look through the opera glasses to see any glimpse of expression in her face (there was none evinced in the dancing). I will say that there were no problems getting her hair down because she wore it down throughout the act.

Alina improved a bit in Act 2 but, as I kind of expected, didn't hold arabesques, developpes or penchees very long. She did beats (missing from Act 1) but I had to really look to see them. All in all, a very disappointing Giselle from her.

David Hallberg was fine technically but rather aloof and not terribly engaging as Albrecht. As I expected, he did the brises, not entrechats, and they were not impressive. He also did not seem to have great chemistry with Alina and they truly look odd together (she barely reaches his shoulder).

My favorite person tonight was Stella Abrera as Myrtha. She was just the right mixture of stern but with the Romantic epaulement and technically strong. Chrstine Shevchenko and Zhong Jing Fang were also quite good as Moyna and Zulma respectively. Jared Matthews was Hilarion (as he was on Monday) and was fine.

Finally, Yuriko and Craig Salstein did the peasant pas. They were a little mismatched height wise and not always together on the music but were ok but nowhere near as wonderful as Lane and Gorak on Monday.

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I had a more positive reaction to Cojocaru and Hallberg. First, Hallberg was much more engaging tonight than on Tuesday. In addition, he performed all the lifts that he left out on Tuesday. (He did the brises again tonight.) Cojocaru completely looks the part of a fragile girl. I found her portrayal very believabe. If I'm not mistaken, during her mad scene she crossed her arms in such a way that she looked like she was cradling a baby - the life she had hoped for but was not to be. I think she did that a few years ago too, and I find that detail very moving. I didn't find her Act II deficient even though she didn't hold her positions long. I loved the fact that the last flower she gave Albrecht was the little daisy from He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, but why why why did Hallberg proceed to just drop it on the floor like it was nothing during the final moment!! The place was PACKED tonight.

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I attended today's matinee and will just add a few additional thoughts to nanushka's already very complete report. I, likewise, have been one to question Seo's abilities in more classical roles, but today I was convinced that she is the interpreter of Giselle within ABT's home team ranks. Her expressiveness, the fluidity of her upper body and arms, ballon and quick, effortless footwork were truly breathtaking. As much as I admired the masterclass delivered by Vishneva on Monday, it was refreshing to see a performance that was much more effortless and spontaneous. There was nothing labored or calculated in Seo's performance. I walked away thinking, "This is what Romantic dancing is supposed to look like." If she could combine today's artistry with a more solid classical technique, I can only imagine the heights she could reach in roles like Aurora, O/O, etc.

After Hammoudi's long absence, I was worried he wouldn't be up to the task of partnering Seo, but he did very well. His solo sections were less impressive but fine. Overall, I felt it was a triumph for Hammoudi, especially after dealing with an injury.

Teuscher was wonderful as Myrta. I saw Murphy on Monday, and while her stern stage presence would seem ideal for Myrtha, her dancing just isn't lyrical enough. Murphy's dancing is too compact and rigid, while Teuscher was expansive and lyrical. I could watch her arms for days! It seems odd to say it, but I wonder if ABT should drop Myrta from Murphy's rep. Murphy is a natural at being intense and stern onstage, but that's not enough for a good Myrta. Teuscher was beautiful, without overdoing the sternness, and I very much hope ABT will give her more opportunities in the future.

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The place was packed tonight and the audience went wild at curtain time. Not surprisingly. Cojocaru was the definitive Giselle,

absolutely natural, without affectations, or exaltation so ill fitting a young girl - her portrayal of a spirited unguarded in her first love and innocent young girl was perfect. In the second act she was loving and protective of Albert - a true heroine - the fact that with the size difference she was able to pull this off is a testimony of her talent.

The PDD was unbelievably lyrical. The second act kept me at the edge of seat it was so moving and convincing.

I did not like Hallberg before but thought him perfect tonight - there was palpable chemistry between him and Alina. I hope they are paired

together again. Hallberg replaced Cornejos who I heard has a kidney problem.

The brises looked mighty fine and expressive to me. (I sat on right side thus saw Hallberg almost like Myrtha)

The mad scene was measured and touching.

Stalla Abrera was stellar - I want to see her paired with Marcello!

I saw Diana and Marcello last Monday - tonight was just as magical if not more.

De gustibus non est disputandum...

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I have to say, in Gillian's favor, I have seen her do Myrtha many times and she has always (except Monday) been excellent. I think she was having an off day, maybe tired from having done Cinderella the previous Saturday night.

abatt, I don't know where you were sitting tonight but we were in center orchestra row J and half the row was empty (at least before the intermission). Same with the row behind us. I also happened to be at the box office today and know they had student rush available. So my impression was the house was not completely full. Now Monday night it was packed, almost sold out, I'd say.

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It is so interesting reading these reviews of recent performances. It just highlights how hard it is to declare any performance the "best" when you are talking about these amazing dancers. I saw the famous Monday night performance with Gomes and Vishneva and certainly was blown away by it. Matthews, Gorak and Lane were all wonderful as well. Vishneva's Giselle was very detailed and moving in a real theatrical portrayel. Gomes is so precise and accurate in all of his moves. Still, it is hard to forget Bolle's more innocent characterization (past seasons). With Gomes, you defintely feel that Albrecht has done this before with other girls. He knows she will be hurt, but so what - sbe'll get over it. It is only when she dies and he has seen the consequence of what be has wrought that he suddenly is filled with remorse and is truly toucbed by her. Tbis interpretation also changes the relationship a bit with his servant, who now seems to be cautioning bim about coninuing on his cad-like path.

Bolle's Albrecht, on the other hand, may not have actually done this scenario with other girls. His is more of an impetuous and spontaneous dreamer, who gets caught up in the moment and doesn't consider the consequences. The "cautioning" from his servant is more "this is a terrible idea" instead of "oh, no! Not again!". So which is better? It is really impossible to say. You are talking about two fantastic dancers who are also true dramatic artists. I feel that is true about so many of the ABT dancers. That is why it is so great to see more than one performance of a given ballet. Each one can give you a slightly different, but equally valid experience.

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It is so interesting reading these reviews of recent performances. It just highlights how hard it is to declare any performance the "best" when you are talking about these amazing dancers. I saw the famous Monday night performance with Gomes and Vishneva and certainly was blown away by it. Matthews, Gorak and Lane were all wonderful as well. Vishneva's Giselle was very detailed and moving in a real theatrical portrayel. Gomes is so precise and accurate in all of his moves. Still, it is hard to forget Bolle's more innocent characterization (past seasons). With Gomes, you defintely feel that Albrecht has done this before with other girls. He knows she will be hurt, but so what - sbe'll get over it. It is only when she dies and he has seen the consequence of what be has wrought that he suddenly is filled with remorse and is truly toucbed by her. Tbis interpretation also changes the relationship a bit with his servant, who now seems to be cautioning bim about coninuing on his cad-like path.

Bolle's Albrecht, on the other hand, may not have actually done this scenario with other girls. His is more of an impetuous and spontaneous dreamer, who gets caught up in the moment and doesn't consider the consequences. The "cautioning" from his servant is more "this is a terrible idea" instead of "oh, no! Not again!". So which is better? It is really impossible to say. You are talking about two fantastic dancers who are also true dramatic artists. I feel that is true about so many of the ABT dancers. That is why it is so great to see more than one performance of a given ballet. Each one can give you a slightly different, but equally valid experience.

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