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Swan Lake-Spring 2014


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#16 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 05:10 AM

It was great that Hee Seo stepped into the role on short notice and that the audience was behind her, but that's really not an excuse for the glaring deficiencies in her technique.  Of course, the other way to look at it is that she was doing Act III on fresh legs, so she should have been stronger for this Act III than normal.  (There was a good half hour or more between the time that the curtain came down on Act II and rose for Act III for warm up and mental focus for Hee Seo backstage. )  She did very well with the adagio, and is a lovely adagio dancer. 

 

Whereas someone like Boylston needs improvement in port de bras and posture, you always know that the basic tools of technique are already there and very, very strong. The stage charisma and port de bras can improve with time and good coaching. Now is the time, ABT, to teach Boylston these skills.  With Hee Seo, I never get the sense that the basic tools of technique are strong, and I'm not sure that she can acquire those skills if she has not done so by this stage of the game. 

 

For me, Hee Seo divides opinions in the same way as Veronika Part, except that Part is a stellar, gorgeous adagio dancer with tons of charisma and dramatic skill.

 

I hope Murphy can make it back for Titania.



#17 cobweb

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 05:22 AM

I hope Murphy can make it back for Titania.

 

I do too, but if not, I second Drew's suggestion to get Alina Cojocaru to fill in!



#18 nanushka

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 05:26 AM

oh also wanted to mention that Joey Gorak looked the best he's ever looked tonight.  It's really been a ground-breaking season for him and he finally looks completely confident, happy, and with great presence on stage.  Really vying for that well-deserved promotion.

 

I agree this is how he looked in Act I, but in Act III he was having some real problems with the "Danse du corps de ballet et des nains" (in this version a trio with the same two girls from Act I).  He seemed to just be blanking on the choreography, and with the girls circling around him he looked overwhelmed.  At one point he forgot which one he was supposed to be lifting and had to spin back around -- too late.

 

Otherwise, though, it has indeed been a fantastic season for him.  It's exciting to be watching the rise of what promises to be an exceptional career.  I'm excited to see him next Saturday as Franz.

 

Act III last night was indeed quite eventful.  Between the botched trumpet fanfare (the sound of a sad and angry elephant), the onstage "horn players" forgetting to raise their fake instruments to their mouths, Gorak's flub in the trio, Arron Scott dancing half a beat behind the music in his "unison" Neapolitan with Craig Salstein, and Hee Seo's fouettes threatening to take her straight down into the orchestra pit -- the whole production looked quite ragged!  It should make for an interesting Times review.  But don't they say a rough opening night makes for a good run?  Something like that?

 

In the middle of it all, Hee Seo danced what I agree was one of the most beautiful first movements of a Black Swan pdd that I've seen.  For those 6 or 7 minutes we were truly in a different world.

 

I agree with nysusan's assessment completely, about both Hee and Gillian.  Regarding abatt's comments: I'm inclined to agree about Hee's technical deficiencies, based on past performances (as Aurora and Gamzatti, in particular).  But we should remember that we have no idea where she was or what she'd been doing when she got that call at 8:30 last night to rush in and dance Acts III and IV.  It seems unfair to involve this particular performance in our judgment.  I'll be curious to hear how she does on Saturday night.  And given her many gifts as an adagio dancer, I'm still holding out hope for a late blossoming of technical security in the coming years (a la Veronika Part).

 

It did seem painfully ironic, though, being shown Gillian's Act II and Hee's Act III -- exactly the opposite of what might be a perfect split-cast evening!

 

Jared Matthews danced a very strong Rothbart.  It's unfortunate that we're losing him just as he seems to be really coming into his own as a more dynamic and confident artist.

 

Devon Teuscher and Stella Abrera were the two swans.  Stella seemed to be phoning it in.  (Can't really blame her, I guess.)

 

Misty Copeland, Luciana Paris, Nicole Graniero and Skylar Brandt danced a very clean "Cygnettes" variation, with the exception of those same four bars in the second half of the piece where our ABT dancers always fall behind the beat.  I really wish they could be drilled harder on that part.

 

Speaking of the beat, one thing that perhaps most bothers me about this production, among its many flaws, is how often there are jarring shifts in tempo right in the middle of a piece -- shifts that have no musical justification whatsoever.

 

And another thing (waving a drink and slurring my speech): the sort of prancing / running-in-place thing that the corps does during the B section of the "Danse des coupes" (while raising their arms and then dropping them to their waists) -- I see this sort of step (with variations of arm movement) in the corps (often peasant) dancing of every Kevin McKenzie ballet.  It was there last week in Giselle.  I don't remember ever seeing this particular type of movement in other stagings.  It looks so silly!  I'm calling it "the Kevin McKenzie Special" from now on.



#19 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 05:36 AM

I'm assuming McKenzie gets paid a royalty every time SL is performed at ABT because the program lists him as the choreographer, even though a lot of it is directly from Petipa.  He's laughing all the way to the bank, while fantastic dancers leave the company because there is no money for promotions. .



#20 Mazurka

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 06:35 AM

I will, grudgingly, admit there were moments  I liked.   Hee does not have that uniform beauty of each line that for an example  Marcello has it in spades.

 

I sometimes wonder if Marcello's  attention to perfection in every move has something to do with his training in Paris - I mean the culture of movement

in the 18 and 19th century costumes true to period has survived in French theater,as it did in the rest of Europe as well, so perhaps it is also more pronounced in the

ballet - although I have never seen the Paris Opera ballet.  When he gets up from the desk to dance with Manon he has that melting 18th century poise.

 

Maybe they could make Von Rothbart go jump in the lake and Odette and Siegfried could walk into enternity a la Cinderella and her Prince a week ago ;-).

 

Was the music off yesterday?  I found it lacking.



#21 fondoffouettes

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 06:45 AM

I look forward to reports of Saturday evening's performance because I think that will be the true indicator of Seo's current technical ability. I do absolutely think it is possible for dancers to grow technically, even at later stages of their careers, and Seo is still near the beginning of hers. I agree that the more traditional trajectory has been for a dancer to begin with prodigious technique (Murphy, Herrera) and to work over the years at becoming softer and more lyrical. Murphy has clearly done better than Herrera in that department, though perhaps the tragic, adagio roles will never quite be the ideal fit for her. I think she is absolutely stunning, though, in roles like Sylvia, Gamzatti, and Titiania, just to name a few.

 

If you had told me ten years ago, when I first saw Part in Swan Lake, that she would one day whip off an entire series of double fouettes (in Corsaire), I wouldn't have believed you. Who knows where Seo will go from here, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility that she could develop a more secure technique. She's not the first ABT ballerina to have a catastrophic Rose Adagio or to travel like crazy in her fouettes. I look forward to seeing how she develops over the next few years, and if there is really no advancement in her technique, then yes, it will be problematic. 



#22 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 09:33 AM

Casting changes on the ABT website

 

Gomes is replacing Hallberg on the Wed evening SL.  We're getting a Semionova Gomes SL on Wed evening. YEAH!!

 

Radetsky replaced by Jared as Purple Rothbart for tomorrow's matinee.

 

Any theories on why Hallberg is out of Wed evening's show?  My guess is they are rehearsing him with a new partner for Dream, but that is mere speculation.



#23 onxmyxtoes

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 09:45 AM

Gomes to the rescue yet again... he deserves a huge bonus and a vacation in St. Tropez.

Casting changes on the ABT website

 

Gomes is replacing Hallberg on the Wed evening SL.  We're getting a Semionova Gomes SL on Wed evening. YEAH!!

 

Radetsky replaced by Jared as Purple Rothbart for tomorrow's matinee.

 

Any theories on why Hallberg is out of Wed evening's show?  My guess is they are rehearsing him with a new partner for Dream, but that is mere speculation.



#24 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 09:49 AM

Definitely.  I'd contribute to a crowd fund for a Gomes St. Tropez holiday.  He is ABT's MVP.

 

Radetsky was replaced in Giselle, and now replaced as Purple Rothbart. Hope he can dance at his farewell Coppelia next week.



#25 ABT Fan

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:01 AM

Whoa.  I feel like I should be shot for complaining, but tomorrow was my only chance to see Hallberg dance this season.  He probably needs a break after dancing a second last minute Giselle on Saturday.  But, to see Gomes dance again......well, twist my arm!

 

Regarding Seo, I agree that she definitely has her weaknesses and I think she was promoted to principal too soon, but it's unfair to critique her dancing on Monday given the circumstances.  As nanushka said we have no clue where Seo was or what she was doing before she got the urgent call to go on.  I imagine she was already in theatre, but 30 minutes isn't nearly enough prep time - and that 30 minutes wasn't just for her to warm up, but to get her hair/make-up done and get dressed.  I think she deserves nothing but praise for Monday.  Yes, she's a professional and a principal, but stepping into a performance half-way through is a tough one and thankfully that doesn't happen that often.  And, luckily Gomes was dancing - who better to help anyone get through a tough situation (including helping Murphy to finish Act II).



#26 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:11 AM

ABT has back up performers for the lead roles waiting in the audience or backstage in the event the lead performers cannot continue.  The show must go on.  It is part of their assigned schedule from ABT. So Hee Seo did not coincidentally happen to be nearby and  available to perform.  It was part of her job as the understudy for O/O on Monday evening.  She was very lucky that Gomes was her partner.  In lesser hands the evening very well might have been a disaster.

 

The theory that Hallberg is replaced because he's too tired after his extra Giselle doesn't seem plausible.  Why would they give the performance to Gomes, someone who just performed on Monday and is now - justifiably - even more tired than Hallberg.



#27 Golden Idol

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:27 AM

Thank you, abatt, for explaining how ABT manages covers; I'd wondered if they were stationed in the house if needed. Although I was very pleasantly surprised by how, overall, Hee managed on short notice, I must say that contra what someone else wrote above, her extended balance was more than a bit wobbly, hardly in the Cojocaru league of breathtaking balances. Nevertheless, nice try, Hee! And it's too bad she ran out of steam on the fouettes, but again, she is forgiven. Did you really hear the point at which she sprained her foot? I was in front row Fam. Circ., so heard nothing and was unable to tell anything happened--unlike the time two years ago when Hallberg did the ballroom Rothbart (and it was amazing--fascinatingly reptilian!), injured himself visibly, and was limping at the curtain call. I've read (here and elsewhere) about onstage accidents that incapacitate a dancer and force them to leave the stage, but thankfully I've never witnessed one. On the contrary, whenever someone has slipped and fallen, or done a little sit-down on his bum, I'm astonished at how INSTANTLY they pop back up and keep going. I guess that speaks to just how strong they are!



#28 California

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:34 AM

Was anybody at the open rehearsal Monday afternoon? Bolle sent out a re-tweet that Bolle and Seo were substituting at the last minute in the Act II rehearsal for Hallberg and Semionova. That all happened, of course, before the Murphy injury Monday night. So, that opens up different possibilities -- e.g., that Hallberg just didn't feel ready for SL with Polina (or vice versa). 

 

 


 

On a related matter: I don't know that these details have ever been made public, but how are big stars paid when they cancel a performance (like Cornejo last week) or add ones (like Gomes, several occasions this season)? I assume these are negotiated individually for the big names, but for Marcelo's sake, I hope he's getting major pay for each performance! 



#29 nanushka

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:41 AM

I must say that contra what someone else wrote above, her extended balance was more than a bit wobbly, hardly in the Cojocaru league of breathtaking balances.

 

 

I have to disagree.  The balance was, to my eyes, quite breathtaking, and quite long -- perhaps a bit wobbly, but not more than a bit.

 

Cojocaru is kind of a freak of nature when it comes to balances.  I don't think we need to make that our standard!



#30 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:45 AM

Cojocaru's oversized pointe shoes  may make it easier for her to hold balances. I'm not sure.




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