Batsuchan

Giselle - Spring 2014

107 posts in this topic

It sounds like Gomes and Bolle both had valid, though different, dramatic interpretations of Albrecht. With David I really didn't see a clear, coherent dramatic through line. He seemed, as I mentioned before, kind of aloof so I didn't get either "cad" or "womanizer" in Act 1 followed by repentant lover in Act 2. Truthfully, all I saw was a guy doing steps basically devoid of theatrical content. Part of the problem was that neither Alina nor David emoted much. And because they look so odd together height wise that is the first strong initial impression you get (like, how did these two ever get together?). In terms of partnering, I felt Gomes made Diana seem much lighter when he lifted her overhead than David made Alina look. And since Alina barely got off the ground in either act you never had the sense that she was ethereal or fragile or floating.

Share this post


Link to post

I am seeing Hallberg (Semianova) in Swan Lake on Wednesday. I am very interested to see if he moves me as I share many of the same reservations stated above. By the way, I just did a side-by-side comparison of Albrecht's Variation (on YouTube they have all three- each just less than a minute) by Gomes, Bolle and Hallberg. Though this is not a deep "acting" moment, you still see how all three create excitement with terrific technique and slightly different "attitude" approaches. I must say Hallberg comes off very well. But where Bolle and Gomes really excell (which this comparison does not show) is in relating to and working witb their partner. I see Bolle with Seo next Saturday night. Last year he was terrific wifh her in Romeo and Juliet.

Share this post


Link to post

I wouldn't say that Alina failed to act. She made a decision that since Giselle is a quiet and reserved girl, her mad scene too should be somewhat reserved instead of antic and diva-esque. To me it rang more true with her character.

Share this post


Link to post

I was at the Cojocaru/Hallberg performance last night. I really loved it. Yes Cojocaru's hops on pointe are not her strong point, but I loved her ballon, her extension, the airiness of her jumps. Most of all I loved her characterization: not many Giselles will hug their mothers with any real affection, or girlishly peek inside the hut. Cojocaru's sweet, unaffected innocence contrasted sharply with Hallberg's remote aristocrat and it set up a real tension in the story from the start.

I also like how in Act Two Cojocaru doesn't make her Giselle "ghostly." She's not like Vishneva and Osipova who seem like possessed spirits. Cojocaru's Wili is the same sweet, loving girl of Act One. The finale was heartbreaking -- she left Hallberg with a single daisy petal. It echoed their earlier moment when he tossed away the daisy. I thought Hallberg was much finer with Cojocaru that he was with Semionova. For one, their partnering was much easier. Second of all, the contrast in personalities worked so well.

Stella Abrera was very fine as Myrtha too. Overall a great performance.

Share this post


Link to post

How was the Isabella-James debut last Wednesday? Any reports?

Share this post


Link to post

I also like how in Act Two Cojocaru doesn't make her Giselle "ghostly." She's not like Vishneva and Osipova who seem like possessed spirits. Cojocaru's Wili is the same sweet, loving girl of Act One.

How does the Act II choreography make sense (particularly when Giselle and Albrecht are first interacting, and the former keeps appearing and disappearing even from his very arms), if Giselle is basically the same as in Act I?

I did not see last night's performance, but it's hard for me to imagine a fully successful Giselle who's not in a fundamentally different state of being in the second act.

Share this post


Link to post

Cojocaru is very light, ethereal, and sometimes seems to vaporize into thin air. But she's also very loving and human, if that makes sense. She's sort of like Galina Ulanova, who also didn't seem like a "ghost" in Act Two.

Share this post


Link to post

Cojocaru is very light, ethereal, and sometimes seems to vaporize into thin air. But she's also very loving and human, if that makes sense. She's sort of like Galina Ulanova, who also didn't seem like a "ghost" in Act Two.

My question is not so much how she was able to visually do the choreography, though, but rather how the choreography makes narrative sense in that sort of interpretation. It seems to me that, at least early in her Act II interactions with Albrecht, Giselle can't possibly be acting of her own volition. What reason could she have for running around, appearing and disappearing like that? She (it seems to me) must be "possessed" -- and in fact we see direct evidence of that as Myrtha conjures her and causes her to dance. It's only over the course of the act that Giselle is able to gradually break free of that possession and, from the power of her love and forgiveness of Albrecht, attempt to save him. That's what we see happening when Myrtha approaches Giselle and Albrecht downstage right with the branch, which (it turns out) no longer has power over Giselle.

I'm trying to imagine a different way of successfully interpreting the "metaphysics" of Act II, but having some difficulty.

Share this post


Link to post

Cojocaru is very light, ethereal, and sometimes seems to vaporize into thin air. But she's also very loving and human, if that makes sense. She's sort of like Galina Ulanova, who also didn't seem like a "ghost" in Act Two.

My question is not so much how she was able to visually do the choreography, though, but rather how the choreography makes narrative sense in that sort of interpretation. It seems to me that, at least early in her Act II interactions with Albrecht, Giselle can't possibly be acting of her own volition. What reason could she have for running around, appearing and disappearing like that? She (it seems to me) must be "possessed" -- and in fact we see direct evidence of that as Myrtha conjures her and causes her to dance. It's only over the course of the act that Giselle is able to gradually break free of that possession and, from the power of her love and forgiveness of Albrecht, attempt to save him. That's what we see happening when Myrtha approaches Giselle and Albrecht downstage right with the branch, which (it turns out) no longer has power over Giselle.

I'm trying to imagine a different way of successfully interpreting the "metaphysics" of Act II, but having some difficulty.

Its not that she wasn't a ghost, or wasn't under Myrtha's control - its just that she still showed the same characteristics as she did when she was alive. She was no longer flesh and blood but her essence, her personality still came through.

With regard to the performance, I was disappointed that Cojacaru only sketched the hops on pointe - she did them but they didn't travel more than maybe a foot. I also missed the traditional act 2 press lift where the ballerina's legs are stretched out behind her and her body is parallell to the ground. I found this photo which illustrates it pretty well:

20131216_010255_mosina.jpg
Image Viewer
Maria Mosina took on ballet's most difficult role with the ferocity of a prize fighter. Here she gets a lift from Alexei Tyukov in Colorado Ballet's "Giselle." (P...
Preview by Yahoo

This is the traditional version and to me, this gives the illusion that she is floating above Albrecht's head. They did a press lift but not the traditional, if I recall correctly she was more upright and only 1 leg was behind her, the other was bent with toe to knee.

But these are minor quibbles, overall I thought Cojocaru's dancing was beautiful - light, airy, supremely musical and so very expressive. She is today's ultimate example of a traditional Giselle - sweet, innocent & trusting. In the early part of the 2nd act I could swear she was using her legs to flirt with her Albrecht!

And Hallberg - from the moment he stepped onto the stage last night I knew this was going to be a different performance from the one he gave with Semionova. He was such the arrogant aristocrat until Giselle came out and then you could see that he was smitten but still, all the signs of privilege were there, you could tell that he wasn't just one of the villagers. He and Cojocaru had great chemistry together and I felt that the size difference only underscored their characters' differences in status & experience. I wish he had done the entrechats because they are a much better fit for him, but it was not to be.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you, nysusan, for posting this photo of Mosina and Tyukov from the Colorado Ballet. I never miss any of their performances here in Denver and encourage anybody else who has a chance to see them to grab it. Their Giselle last October (5 performances over two weeks) was as extraordinary as anything I have seen anywhere. Twice, he just swoops her up without any apparent effort and they hold that balance forever. (BTW - I usually refer to that as the tabletop lift - has anybody else heard that?)

Both are Russian born and trained (she at the Bolshoi, he at Perm), but they have been in this country for many years. Alexei was the one who explained at a Q&A/luncheon last year why he does the brises. And he does them beautifully, even though he's rather tall.

Share this post


Link to post

I enjoyed last night’s performance very much, despite a few reservations. It’s a shame Herman Cornejo didn’t dance. He seems a better fit with Cojocaru, and not just height-wise. Hallberg’s Albrecht was so ultra-refined and aristocratic, it seemed at odds with Cojocaru’s unmannered girlishness. Of course, I don’t know how Cornejo would have played Albrecht, but it seemed like Hallberg and Cojocaru were working with two different interpretations, and I chalked that up to the last minute cast change. I fervently hope that Cornejo is well and able to dance in Swan Lake.

I enjoyed Cojocaru’s Giselle. Musical, expressive, light and airy, and of course, that special Cojocaru unmannered sweetness. She is a special dancer.

I look forward to seeing Hallberg in The Dream. My impression from last night is that he has gained tremendously in refinement and control, but I missed the freshness he had when he was just a joyous and beautiful youngster at ABT. Perhaps it was just his interpretation of Albrecht. I hope so.

I recall vividly from a past Giselle the moment when Bathilde indicates Albrecht's clothing with a question -- her hand gesture says, what's up with this outfit? And Hallberg, as I recall, hesitated then suddenly made his excuse -- a gesture of shooting with a bow -- saying I've been hunting. It's a small detail in the ballet, but the way Hallberg did it, it seemed to arise spontaneously in Albrecht, and was so absolutely beautiful, expressive, and fleeting, that I've never forgotten it. Last night, at the same moment, Hallberg just hesitated and looked confused, unable to muster any response for Bathilde's question about his clothes.

I enjoyed seeing ABT. In past years I was a heavy-duty ABT fan, but I’ve gotten weary of the same old rep, and also trying to get my ballet budget under control, so I’ve seen very little this season. A month or so ago I saw the Theme & Variations/Duo Concertant program (skipped Gaite Parisienne), and was disappointed. Perhaps the company is just not prepared for, and too exposed in a demanding piece like T&V. On the other hand, they do Giselle well (even if the Wilis were a little ragged). I particularly enjoyed Yuriko Kajiya in the peasant pas de deux. Not to beat a dead horse, but I don’t understand the loss of talent and artistic decisions that are being made at ABT. Kajiya is so delicate and so engaging – I would much rather see her than the unrefined Isabella Boylston who is being pushed so heavily. Alas. Houston will enjoy seeing Kajiya, as San Francisco enjoys Simone Messmer.

Share this post


Link to post

Hallberg’s Albrecht was so ultra-refined and aristocratic, it seemed at odds with Cojocaru’s unmannered girlishness. Of course, I don’t know how Cornejo would have played Albrecht, but it seemed like Hallberg and Cojocaru were working with two different interpretations, and I chalked that up to the last minute cast change. I fervently hope that Cornejo is well and able to dance in Swan Lake.

In a weird way, this worked for me. They're so obviously from completely different worlds, so incongruous, and Giselle is just stunningly naive: how can she not realize? These are two people who never were even supposed to meet and whose worlds would never intersect, and Giselle's shock is almost a realization of, I don't know, social stratification—that she was never supposed to marry someone refined, that Hilarion really was the most sensible match, that her village is insignificant to a whole class of society. The mad scene's as much a realization of what surrounds her and the forces governing her world as it is her shock of betrayal.

(I'm realizing now that it might not be a good idea to read Pikkety before the ballet.)

In any case, that mad scene: Cojocaru plays it with this dead-eyed vacancy that is absolutely disturbing. It didn't feel silly last night; it felt like her soul had been sucked away.

Share this post


Link to post

I just wanted to add that this wasn't Cojocaru's first Giselle with Hallberg. I saw them do it at ABT a couple of years ago.

Share this post


Link to post

The quote function isn't working for me now, so I'll paraphrase:

Cobweb recalled a past ABT Giselle in which Bathilde asked Albrecht (performed by David Hallberg) why he was dressed so oddly and Albrecht "hesitated then suddenly made his excuse--a gesture of shooting with a bow--saying I've been hunting." This was in contrast to Hallberg's performance of that scene this past week, in which he could not come up with a reason for his attire.

I find Hallberg's earlier gestures to be confusing--Bathilde has arrived in the village as part of a hunting party with the other nobles, who are all dressed in their finery despite chasing after wild boars. Why would Albrecht expect Bathilde to accept that hunting is a reason to dress like a peasant?

By the way, I was at the Saturday night performance, hoping to see Herman Cornejo perform with Alina Cojocaru, but under the circumstances was pleased that Hallberg was ready to step in. I believe that Cornejo's absence was due to a medical issue that may be resolved by his scheduled Swan Lake performance.

Share this post


Link to post

I A month or so ago I saw the Theme & Variations/Duo Concertant program (skipped Gaite Parisienne), and was disappointed.

Share this post


Link to post

I saw Semionova do T&V with Whiteside this spring (with Cory Stearns in the fall) and it was pretty terrible. She just isn't good at moving fast. However, this spring I returned to a performance when Andy Vyette guested in T&V. What a difference!! I think ABT should leave the Balanchine works to NYCB right now.

I also agree that ABT is looking a bit ragged right now. I, too, am tired of all the warhorses being dragged out every season. IMO, ABT needs a new AD and board of directors.

Share this post


Link to post

I am also with the crowd that really enjoyed last night's performance. Hallberg and Cojocaru had SO MUCH more believable chemistry than Semionova/Hallberg. I think that it is in part because Hallberg needs someone with a compelling stage presence for him to be really engaged, and perhaps also that it was his second shot at "Giselle," and because there was the excitement of the last-minute substitution. It's easy to keep the interactions fresh and real when you haven't had time to practice them!

In fact, in his talk on Wednesday, Hallberg said something along those lines--he had performed "Giselle" so many times with Zakharova over the past year and was so used to "their version" of it that Tuesday was a bit of a wake-up call. Maybe he got a little too used to just being there to lift the ballerina and forgot that there was supposed to be chemistry (judging by the reviews they didn't have much chemistry).

At any rate, I totally loved him on Saturday (aside from the brises and the omitted Act 2 press lifts). On Tuesday, he lay down on Giselle's grave twice, and while it did not look silly, it certainly didn't move me. Last night he merely knelt down by her grave, but it felt so much more genuine and heartfelt.

As others have mentioned, Cojocaru's hops on pointe were almost painful to watch, and before that there were a few pirouettes that end with her curtseying that seemed a bit wonky, but otherwise I thought she was a lovely, winsome Giselle. She's totally believable (and totally endearing) as the peasant girl, and her mad scene was touching. She has incredible extension, which she used to great effect in Act II with the slow developpes to the side and the deep penche arabesque. She still has great balances, but sometimes I feel like she shows them off in a way that distorts the musical phrasing.

I agree with what others have said about Cojocaru's Act II Giselle being not drastically different from her Act I Giselle in terms of characterization. On one hand, I think this helps maintain the viewer's sympathy for this very sweet ghost, but I guess I personally prefer a greater differentiation between the sunny peasant girl and wili.

Comparing Vishneva and Cojocaru's wilis, what I thought was very interesting was that Cojocaru's wili can still see--she made eye contact with Albrecht, she gave pleading looks to Myrta and the other wilis--whereas Vishneva's wili is basically blind--she never looks directly at Albrecht or Myrta. Cojocaru's wili can still communicate with Albrecht in a human-like way (as if she is looking at him and speaking to him), but Vishneva's wili cannot. She can only give him flowers, and lean her head against his chest. She never looked at him, and yet you could overwhelmingly feel her deep love for Albrecht.

As for Stella Abrera's Myrta, "BRAVO!" is all I can say. As good as I thought she was on Wednesday, she was even better last night. There were a few jumps that she landed a bit heavily on Wednesday (ALL the Myrtas I saw uniformly struggled with them), but last night they were soft and easy. Her manner was so powerful and imperious and yet so beautiful. When she summoned the other wilis, she did it with such a deep spirituality and authority that it reminded me of Nikiya around the sacred fire, and I wondered (again), why she doesn't get these roles...sigh...

Yuriko Kajiya and Craig Salstein were fine in the peasant p.d.d., but not as well-matched as Lane/Gorak, who definitely were the gold standard for the week, if not for every Giselle performance I've ever seen.

Overall, however, I thought it was a lovely end to "Giselle" week.

On to "Swan Lake"! I so hope Semionova/Hallberg's SL will be more enjoyable!

Share this post


Link to post

I don't have a lot to add to the comments above. I saw all the evening performances of Giselle. Monday night's performance with Vishneva and Gomes was exceptional. Gomes set a very high bar for his fellow dancers to meet, and none of them seemed able to reach it. He makes partnering look so easy. For example, no one else was able to execute the closing phrase at the end of Act II where Giselle appears to float in front of him before going to her grave as well as he does. Somehow he lifts her without showing any exertion. Every other Albrecht that I saw failed to make this lift look effortless. Vishneva's assumption of the role impressed me much more on Monday than in the past. I love Vishneva's attention to detail down to the gesture of a hand or a glance. This is my first post this season, so I will add that I also enjoyed her Nikiya earlier this season. I still love the way Murphy rolls through her back as Myrtha as if she has no spine. She really gives the part an otherworldly flair. Abrera and Part were also excellent as Myrtha and Abrera's second performance was even better. She held the balance at the end of phrases longer on Saturday. I love Veronika Part, especially after seeing her in Swan Lake with Bolle a while back, and I agree that she is underused. I thought she was wonderful as the fairy godmother in Cinderella. I thought both of Veronika's performances as Myrtha were beautiful. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite among the three.

If I have to rank the performances, my second favorite performance would be Cojocaru's. I'm surprised to read Amour's description of Cojocaru's performance above because I experienced something completely different. That description of the low jumps seems more apt for Julie Kent's performance. I thought Cojocaru really captured Giselle's joy and love of dance. Yes, she modified some of the steps, but that did not diminish my enjoyment of her performance. Judging from youtube videos, she's been doing these changes for years. I thought she inspired a stronger performance from Hallberg than his performance Tuesday night with Semionova. I felt more of a rapport between Hallberg and Cojocaru.

Semionova was beautiful, but she had the same pasted on grin for most of Act I. She has so many wonderful attributes, but I never sense an inner fire in her dancing. After watching Semionova dance Giselle, my friend said she thinks that Semionova doesn't have an inner beat. I have to agree. Sometimes she seemed to dance whenever she felt like it rather than when the music required it. I will say that I enjoyed her dancing in Giselle and La Bayadere more than I have in the past, but I doubt she will become a favorite of mine.

I thoroughly enjoyed Reyes and Matthew and Herrera and Stearns.

I feel as though I've always taken the dancers who play Hillarion for granted, but seeing other people in the role made me realize what a wonderful job Radetsky and Matthews do with the part. They both do an excellent job of matching mime with the music. Patrick Ogle filled in for someone (I think maybe Radetsky) before his announced performance later in the week. His dancing was fine, but his mime gestures could be stronger. The Met is a big house, and the gestures need to be bigger, fuller and stronger than he makes them. He wasn't the only new--at least to me--Hillarion who could work on his mime. I don't know if he'd done the role before and how much rehearsal with the orchestra, if any, he was given, but his performance was much better on his second outing, but he never really got close enough to the door before making a knocking gesture.

While I thought they all the peasant pas de deux couples were good, I liked Gorak and Lane and Ribagorda and Paris the best although none of them eclipse memories of Cornejo and Reyes.

Share this post


Link to post

She still has great balances, but sometimes I feel like she shows them off in a way that distorts the musical phrasing.Macauley in 2011 observed that

"And, whereas other Royal dancers in this role tend to dance on and into the beat, Ms. Cojocaru tends to arrive, with Romantic responsiveness, after it. (By contrast Ms. Vishneva, unlike many Russians, danced a few steps on the beat, pingingly.) Ms. Cojocaru doesn’t fill a musical phrase to the brim."

Perhaps that would explain it?

Share this post


Link to post

I quoted the first sentence in previous post from Batsuchan's post but I did something wrong and it did not show as quote. Sorry.

Share this post


Link to post

I watched Vishneva/Gomes, Seo/Hammoudi, and Cojocaru/Hallberg this week. I think most of the posts have captured my thoughts so I'll keep this brief. Each couple presented very different Giselles from each other; V/G - wild and passionate, S/H - beautiful and classic, and C/H - character and story. I was surprised by how much I liked Seo's Giselle. I haven't seen her perform in a while and was ready to be maybe just satisfied, based on other reports. I thought her dancing, especially in Act II, was clear and so breathtaking. When she had to do that series of jumps/hops, it really looked like she was levitating in air for a moment. I thought she deserved a partner in better state in Hammoudi; some of the partnering looked rough. I was so disappointed that both Hammoudi and Hallberg eschewed entrechats for the brisees!! Especially after Marcelo set the bar so high on Monday.

As for the other two couples, they were truly fantastic. Perhaps Alina has had better performances of Giselle, but her portrayal of Giselle lit up a lot more lightbulbs for me than Vishneva or Seo did. I noticed she did a few "character" moments differently than the other two dancers (for one, keeping the necklace on while starting her variation in Act I). I'm a fan of how Cojocaru uses her extensions to play with the music; I love that she lingers in the music sometimes. As for Vishenva, I let the Diana Vishneva Bandwagon gladly pass me by the past ten years, but I think I'm finally ready to hop on this year.

Looking forward to Swan Lake!

Share this post


Link to post

It seems that many on BA are familiar with Alina (really fans) and her Giselle interpretation. I am not. I just watched a YT clip obviously from some years ago and had I seen that I would have been happy. But unlike most here, I saw no stage presence or attempt to emote. Alina left out chunks of choreography, especially in Act 1. For her mad scene, to my disbelief, she didn't bother to recapitulate any of the steps she has done earlier ( not even any glissades) but simply walked rather aimlessly around the stage. My husband described her mad scene as looking like a girl who has misplaced her earrings and is wondering, are they in the bathroom, no maybe the bedroom, etc. Hardly, the demeanor of a grief stricken girl. Then very obviously she can no longer do the hops on pointe; she did only a few and they barely traveled. And what some saw as "natural" acting I saw as no drama and really phoning in your performance. I was irritated and bored beyond belief. I instantly realized why she had problems renewing her contract with the Royal.

While I may be the sole Alina detractor here, I think we should all realize ballet is an art not a sport so it is subjective. Everyone has their own opinion and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And now, as Nyankeesy01 said, on to Swan Lake.

Share this post


Link to post

Cojocaru performed part of Act II of "Gisele" for the Makarova tribute as part of Kennedy Center Honors. Some of it was televised, which made it accessible to many outside NYC.

Share this post


Link to post