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ABT opener


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 01:21 PM

Didn't ABT open at City Center last night? Didn't anyone go??????

#2 Michael

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 04:05 PM

I was there and so were one or two other Ballet Alert people whom it was good to see.

The first portion of the evening can be characterized as great moments (pdds) of classical ballet.

Pdd from Sleeping Beauty (Jaffe and Malkov - an odd couple)

Black Swan pdd from Swan Lake (Dvorovenko and Belotserkofsky). Tumultuous ovation -- She really is their prima ballerina now and their gala crowd knows it. They've been told! I love her -- I too am a fan -- but I was struck again by how individual, even a little strange she is. That some of her movements, flows ending in a particularly bowed line, gestures and twists, are a bit distorted, pushed beyond things, with her primary technique sometimes going by the board. She's not a Vaganova nor a NY dancer. Hard to say. But oh how amazingly that woman moves. And what turn out.

Tschai Pdd (Balanchine) - (Paloma Herrera paired with Marcello Gomes). Gomez was surprisingly good as Paloma's partner. He is well matched with her, bigger physically than her prior partners, which is a good thing for, as a very knowledgable friend pointed out, she's not fifteen years old any more. Paloma had surprising nuance in this Balanchine. Though she looks a little heavy right now and the lack of attention to her upper body was evident as usual. On balance, though, I thought it was one of her more appealing moments outside of her Kitri repertory.

Grand pdd from the Nutcracker - Ashley Tuttle and Angel Corella. Tuttle was simply brilliant. It was clear, in juxtaposition with everyone else, that she is the real classical ballerina of this group. The finish of each step and gesture, right to the fully realized brushing motion of each pas de cheval, were a joy to behold. I held my breath. The way she holds herself. The spring in her runs off stage. I know no one else will agree with this. But my God, she was a dancer from a different planet than the other women. You recognized classical technique and finish as beautiful, as worth aiming for, disciplining oneself to achieve. Georgina Parkinson would have been proud.

Finaly, the finale of Theme and Variations (Balanchine) danced by Gillian Murphy and Giuseppi Picone. They're both very striking and the ensemble of the corps and soloists was also quite good. Ekaterina Shelkanova, what a joy to see. I'm looking forward to seeing this fully performed this week.

The second part of the program was Prodigal Son, with Ethan Stiefel and Julie Kent both totally miscast - Kent even more than Stiefel.

Stiefel at least came to life about the time he got stripped of his possessions, and even before that, when sitting and lusting after Kent while the gnomes gambolled. But it's really not a role for him. At the beginning he appeared half Parsifal, half frisky puppy. The best performances were by Sascha Radetsky and Vladislav Kalinin as the prodigal's friends. The entire performance, though, was just plain boring.

But maybe it was me? Who can tell when you're bored. I'll see it again.

[This message has been edited by Michael1 (edited October 25, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Michael1 (edited October 25, 2000).]

#3 Yvonne

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Posted 25 October 2000 - 11:13 PM

Michael, thanks for the interesting comments - enjoyable reading!

Since I've accepted the sad fact that ABT will probably NEVER come to Salt Lake City, I must depend on the kindness of you and others to keep me up to date! Posted Image

#4 Dale

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 02:32 PM

I don't know whether Stiefel and Kent were miscast, but I don't think it was a ballet that was really "gala" fare. It did not go over well with the audience, which makes me wonder what sort of ballet enthusiasm goes into donating large sums of money (thank god they do, no matter what the motives). This is not a new ballet but a masterpiece. Anyway...

Sleepting Beautie pdd (jaffe, Malakhov) -- Personally, I think this works better coming at the end of a four hour ballet rather than the beginning of a gala. Jaffe was a little unsteady while Malakhov seemed purposely to avoid the gala technical fireworks for a more musical approach.

Black Swan pdd (Dvorovenko/Belotserkovsky) --I've got to agree with Michael, it was the highlight of the night. Unfortunately, about 1 minute into the peice, the ushers decided to let in about 20 highrollers, who were trying to get to their front-section seats, causing many of the plebs in the back (where I was sitting) to start screaming, "Sit down, sit down" as if that would help. Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky rose above the fray. They danced this not as a showcase but placed it emotionally in context of the ballet -- she was seductive (especially with her eyes and legs) and he was besotted. I've got to mention her beautiful turnout, which just opens everything to the eye.

Tschiak pas -- I like the the pairing of Herrera and Gomes. However, I think it will take a little time to grow. There were moments which I really enjoyed myself and everything seemed right but other times when I thought the dancers ignored the music or just didn't seem to find their center. It's difficult to explain. The way Paloma danced made me think that perhaps she's over coached. She didn't look mannered but never quite comfortable in her own skin.

Ashley Tuttle and Angel Corrella did look comfortable in their skins. Everything about their dancing in the Grand pdd from the Nutcracker was easy and smooth.

Theme and Variations finale only whetted my appetite to see Gillian Murphy dance the complete ballet. As Michael mentioned, Ekaterina Shelkanova was very crisp as one of the demi-soloists. In fact, I thought all the four demis (Shelkanova, Brown, Konobyeva, and Tamara Barden) were very good. And it was nice to see Picone back on stage.

Prodigal Son -- First off, I thought Stiefel's hair deserved its own billing. It was long and out of control and distracting in the opening scene but Stiefel got the Prodigal's frustration with home life and desire to see the world. However, the dances with the group of bald goons seemed sketchy. Knowing how Stiefel likes to build on a characterization, I hope things get better by the time I see him in this role later in the run.

I was worried how Kent would attempt the role of the Siren. Would she go sexpot out of control, supermodel, ice queen? She was more like an alien and it worked for her. Her face was a complete mask, no emotion. And her long line was used to good effect. And she coped with a snag with the cape very well. When she crouched down to hide under the cape, it completely slid off her, leaving her exposed as she undid the cap so the Prodigal can pull it off her. So she just, with elaborate hand movements, ripped the velcro.

Stiefel definitely nailed the suffering part at the end. He was very moving but not overwrought.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 08:26 AM

Thank you both, Michael and Dale, for such detailed reviews. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

I hope people will continue reporting throughout the season? Manhattnik, surely you were there for Dvorovenko's triumph!! Any comments?

#6 Drew

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 02:39 PM

I attended Wed. the 25th. (I don't know whether that should be a new thread or not, but I'll put it here and let the moderator decide.) The program was Theme and Variations, Prodigal Son, Etudes.

Prodigal Son had good elements but did not work because the siren, Paloma Herrera was (beyond) badly miscast. I thought Corella was a good Prodigal -- somewhat petulant and spoiled in the first scene but with terrifically high energy and intensity -- it was a legitimate interpretation -- and the pathos (especially when he took his first fall to the ground after having been stripped of all his goods) natural and affecting. But the absence of a Siren completely kicks the guts out of the ballet. Herrera is not merely too short, she has no "siren" in her stage presence, no adult sexuality -- not even withheld or "cold" sexuality -- and the idea of her dominating the Prodigal was, to say the least, unconvincing. Her actual dancing was also inadequate to the choreography. One detail: Her hands seemed wrong -- she was cupping them or holding them too softly to achieve the sharp broken line that I have seen other ballerinas offer and that I assume Balanchine wanted. In any case, it didn't work. She also seemed to have difficulty getting her body into the shapes demanded. There's a sort of crab walk (the siren is walking on all fours, but with her body facing skyward) from which the Ballerina kicks up her leg. Herrera's hips were sagging the whole time, so that it just looked like awkward gymnastics. But the problem was not this or that step -- she was just unable to connect with the part in any way. I think this is the harshest I have ever been about a dancer on this board, so I'll add that I do think it was a bad miscalculation to cast her in the role at all. . .The company was okay, no better. Ethan Brown unpersuasive as the father, and the ensemble didn't achieve the image of the boat as effectively as I've seen it done in the past. As Michael 1 reported of the gala cast, the two servants were a rare strength in this production -- my cast (according to the program): Gennadi Saveliev and Sean Stewart.

Theme and Variations with Gillian Murphy and Belotserkovsky was accomplished and enjoyable. Murphy was very impressive (no gargouillades though), and communicated calm in her upper body, with grace and detail in her port-de-bras, as her lower body was speeding through enormously difficult combinations with precision and confidence. (Her dancing was, I should add, all of a piece -- my prose divided upper and lower body, not her performance.) She could afford to look at her partner more, and -- good as she was -- once or twice (e.g. at the end of her first solo) she seemed to "relax" into the movement and suddenly become really gorgeous, really distinctive. At those moments, you were suddently aware of how much better she still can be. However, even at the level she is now, she is terrific -- well worth seeing. Belotserkovsky was fine, not 100% on top of every difficulty just yet.

The program closed with Etudes which qualifies as what another thread called a "guilty pleasure." The cast was Dvorovenko, Gomes and Picone. Dvorovenko was terrific -- equally enjoyable as the image of 'classical' and the image of 'romantic' ballet. (For those who haven't seen it, the ballet has separate episodes in which the ballerina appears in different styles). She made the very pastichy "romantic" section a mezmerising episode of little flirtatious details and amazingly airy dancing. In the concluding allegro section, her jumps were as impressive as most male stars, and altogether (as far as one can judge in such an utterly thin piece of choreography) she looked like a young ballerina in bloom.

For the men. Gomes looked to be having such a good time, that I hate to carp, but for this ballet to be tolerable the dancing has to be truly sensational. He was very good -- but not quite sensational. Picone is back (!), looking to my eyes at least, a little less macho than he used to -- perhaps because of his new Lizst-like hair. His long legs were effective in the big flashing jumps of the ballet's final section. I thought he handled the beats and footwork of his solos quite well, too, though presumably the role was created for a Bournonville dancer and it would be fun to see a real Bournonville dancer in the part. Mostly, I was just happy to see this tall, beautiful dancer back on stage. . .

In both Theme and Variations and Etudes the ensemble was overall impressive, but the men especially. Actually, in Etudes, the women were ragged here and there, one or two of the demi-soloists etc. ran into difficulties (nothing too obvious, but if you happened to be watching that dancer at that moment . . .) The men, however, were more consistently impressive (at least to my eyes). Mckenzie's attention to male dancing is important -- but classical dancing cannot live on men alone. . . I'd like to see the women equally consistent. I will say that the energy and elegance from the company all evening (in the Balanchine and Lander) came across very nicely. (And this was the first non-gala performance, so the company as a whole is probably still settling in . . .) For me, the best part of the evening was my growing confidence that with Murphy and Dvorovenko the company has newly emerging ballerinas -- which it needs.




[This message has been edited by Drew (edited October 27, 2000).]

#7 Dale

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:48 AM

I saw the same performance as Drew.

I agree with him about Herrera, she was just miscast. I found myself trying to like her performance as I thought she was doing her best in a bad situation. But she really doesn't have the right body type or temperment for this role. She's really is more of a soubrette than dramatic dancer.

Maybe, Sandra Brown -- one of ABT's best dramatic dancers -- should have been cast instead. Besides, I prefer (and I think Balanchine intended) for the Siren to be taller than the Prodigal with an elongated line. Felia Doubrovska was the original Siren and chosen for her height and long legs.

On the whole, I enjoyed Corella in the early portions of the ballet, when he could be exuberant but Stiefel was better as the humliated Prodigal.

I wonder if it wasn't in the coaching that didn't translate when it came to creating the image of the boat (as Drew mentioned) because Julie Kent didn't get it quite right either. Neither ballerina seemed to arch quite enough and the goon holding the cape didn't get it in "flying sail" formation quick enough.

Murphy was a joy in Theme and Variations, really showing off her schooling under Melissa Hayden. Yes, she seemed a little distant in the pas de deux but I've noticed many younger dancers have that problem because they're so used to dancing alone, especially the technical whiz kids such as Jennie Somogyi, who admitted she was just getting used to being partnered. Perhaps, Murphy is going through the same thing. She'll get more than enough chances, I'm sure, as she's scheduled to dance Theme quite a bit as well as Swan Lake and Don Q during ABT's summer season at the Met.

Again, I agree with Drew in regards to Belotserkovsky. I thought he was a little stop-and-go during his first solo, showing the preparation for every turn. But I like that he's getting these roles and perhaps he'll work harder to gain the technical expertise this role needs.

I never took Etudes that seriously but Dvorovenko changed that on Wednesday night. She was really lovely -- floating and flirty during the "romantic" section and brilliant with her wide variety of turns and jumps. Picone was his elegant self while I've seen Gomes dance the hand-snapping part a little bit better but he was fine.

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 12:11 PM

Wow! This is getting to be like a daily newspaper! Thanks to both Drew and Dale.

"Etudes" was quite different in Denmark than in America or London. It really was more than a classroom ballet. If anyone is interested in its origins, there's an article in the DanceView archives you may wish to read:
[url="http://"http://www.balletalert.com/magazines/dvarchives/dvarchives/ArcFeatures/etudes.htm"]http://www.balletalert.com/magazines/dvarc...ures/etudes.htm[/url]

#9 Drew

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Posted 30 October 2000 - 09:27 PM

Impressions of Sunday afternoon the 29th. An extremely full -- long and varied -- program: Prodigal Son (Stiefel/Wiles), Lilac Garden (Kent, Belotserkovsky, Hill, Fishbach-replacing Brown), Black Swan pdd (Murphy, Picone), Etudes (Dvorovenko, Malakhov, Corella).

Prodigal Son still seems to be settling in with the company. Stiefel was surprisingly withdrawn, dramatically blank even, in the opening scene. It was as if his imagination was not the least bit inspired by the Prodigal's desire to break free of family etc. -- but (and here I agree with Dale) he got much better -- much more involved -- in the later scenes; I particularly liked his energy and physicality in all the male/group ensemble dancing. He seemed as if transformed, buoyant and energized. Perhaps this was the effect Stiefel was going for -- as if leaving home set (something) in the Prodigal "free." For me, though, the opening was just too low key. The two servants -- this cast, Radetsky and Kalinin -- were again excellent). Stiefel's fascination with the Siren was convincingly boyish (as was, unfortunately, some of his partnering in the trickier positions), and -- as Dale reported -- he handled the closing scenes very well also. . .Wiles (debut??) has much more the body and temperament for the Siren than Herrera, and -- despite some tentativeness and shaky spots -- seems on her way to an impressive characterization. Her movements had some of the necessary sharpness-with-impassivity and she came at least close to filling out many of the ballet's more striking images -- despite a few near flubs in the pas de deux, obvious awkwardness in undoing the cape so the Prodigal can remove it, and indeed other glitches in the production as a whole that were working against her. (As when she enters on the men's shoulders when they are shaking down the Prodigal and the spotlight didn't hit her until the sequence was pretty much over . . .) Since I complained about Herrera's hands, I should note that Wiles' were similar so I guess that's how they were told to hold them. Since Wiles' longer legged, more flexible body type (and a temperament slightly more suggestive of sexual mystery) worked for the role, the broken fingered look didn't bother me as much. When the curtain came down people in the row behind me and in front of me simultaneously opened their programs and read out loud to the person sitting next to them "Michele Wiles" -- so, she made an impression.

Lilac Garden was beautifully danced -- Kent and Belotserkovsky very nicely matched, but I confess I could only admire it, as it were, from afar and I'm not sure why. (This is how I always react to Lilac Garden except for the one time I saw Kirkland as Caroline.) I would be interested in hearing from people who saw this ballet in the 40's and 50's, since my suspicion is that there's a quality of neurotic repression that today's dancer's don't know how to convey, and perhaps don't really grasp, which might make the ballet richer -- more like a Henry James novella and less like its masterpiece theater adaptation. This is not a slap at Tudor: I always find the ballet formally quite compelling, I just don't see it coming to life.

The Black Swan pdd got a huge ovation -- for Murphy especially. I'm delighted with her too and this performance showed her fearlessness and, in the solo, wonderful control. She was trying out an icy, imperious persona and seemed to be enjoying it thoroughly. . . but the performance also underlined some of the ways she is still underway to being a ballerina. The icy, imperiousness -- perhaps unavoidably in an excerpt like this -- had a little bit of playacting about it. I vowed not to count fouettes, but I know she began with single/single/multiple (double, maybe triple); repeated this a few times, shifted to singles, travelling forward, and then (I wasn't counting) stopped a little early. Her position in passe is lower than I'm used to and the overall effect was nowhere near as beautiful or controlled as the rest of her dancing. . . Picone danced with largesse and seems a good partner for her -- very affectionate and gracious during the ovation that was clearly much more directed at her than him; he seemed to join the audience in adoring her. What a guy!

Etudes was fun, though two performances in one week is a little much for me. (Thanks Alexandra for posting that very interesting article though.)Malakhov doesn't jump as high as he used to, but his movements are thrillingly beautiful, his footwork wonderfully sharp, and his partnering of Dvorovenko in the "romantic" pas de deux matched her dancing in elegance and delicacy. Corella was just sensational, brilliant and (until some jumps at the very, very end) completely controlled even as he seemed utterly spontaneous. Really, he dances better than ever and still with all the tear up the stage eagerness he has shown since the beginning of his career. Dvorovenko was quite as wonderful as Wed. evening -- some of her turns even sharper and more brilliant -- though she, too, towards the very end had a brief off balance moment. Fortunately she and Corella both are such pros, they sort of swept through their (very fleeting) problems. Essentially, with this cast, one hardly knew where to look. The women demi-soloists were different than Fri. and -- at least to my eyes -- slightly stronger, but it's still the men who are the most consistent.

Anyway, I know these are long reports, and I am NOT a professional critic, but I have absolutely no-one with whom to discuss performances in detail or even in general, so here's where I spill it out...



[This message has been edited by Drew (edited October 30, 2000).]

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 30 October 2000 - 09:32 PM

Drew, please continue spilling Posted Image

Perhaps we should start a new thread for the second week's performances, though? I'll put up an initial post as a lure Posted Image

#11 Yvonne

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Posted 30 October 2000 - 10:32 PM

Drew, I also like "long reports" and always want to know what's going on with ABT...so please feel free to continue - every day!! Posted Image

#12 Drew

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Posted 31 October 2000 - 02:15 AM

I only wish I could go every day!!

#13 dirac

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Posted 31 October 2000 - 02:08 PM

Do keep spilling, Drew. Posted Image

#14 Juliet

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Posted 31 October 2000 - 03:59 PM

I went on Saturday night (Div. of Angels, Beauty pdd, Weren't we Fools? and Jabula) and Sunday afternoon. I am going to blast Manhattnik out of his cave to write about the Sunday afternoon performance at least (He and I disagree about some of the Saturday night, so you can hear MY views first! Posted Image

Quick notes on Sunday:
It was a relatively low-key beginning for Stiefel in Prodigal, but I agree that he became more involved with the role as the ballet progressed....It was Michele Wiles' debut in Siren and I think she will get better and better in this role...I was happy to see her cast for it. She was quite good, despite the production hitches, and will only get better, I feel.

I was very disappointed in Black Swan...I think Murphy is a turner and that's about it, at this point. I know this was done as a set-piece, out of context, and yet I have seen many dancers inbue the role with a *little* bit of personality...I didn't see icy reserve, I saw a blank sheet of paper. Picone is very pretty, has a beautiful body, and he was quite nice. I had expected more than nice.
Lilac Garden was not as affecting as it is for me sometimes, but I do think Erica Fishbach allayed my disappointment at not seeing Sandra Brown quite well. I didn't sense a "connectedness" in Kent, but maybe either she or I were on different wavelengths.

Etudes was a stellar, stellar cast--Malakhov looked as if he was actually enjoying himself by the end of the ballet--and was beautiful to watch in the role, of course with his jumps and beats....Corella snapped those fingers and leapt through the air and twirled and grinned and was, as usual, thoroughly engaging without being a caricature of himself.
And Dvorovenko was The Ballerina with a megawatt lighting job and a mien to match. She was wonderful and she knew it. Don't know why they didn't cast her in Sylphide last season, either.....

*********
Saturday night was Diversion of Angels....Stella Abrera was lovely and still in the white role, but the rest did nothing for me. I love Graham costumes...but why they keep doing this ballet is beyond my ken...

Sleeping Beauty pdd was Belotserkovsky and Dvorovenko and I will not go on for pages rhapsodizing....although I could. He was not the least bit flashy, the technique was assured and demeanor princely, but he was a beautiful thing to watch.....Dvorovenko was radiant. It was wonderful. Perfect.

More on Jabula and the Cole Porter piece later--did anyone else see them? I really, really liked them----

#15 Michael

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Posted 31 October 2000 - 10:20 PM

The image of Stiefel at the beginning of the Prodigal Son, was like "Leave it to Beaver meets Sodom and Gomorah."

I thought Kent and Belotserkofsky very good in Lilac Garden on Saturday afternoon. Kent played it very straight and very sad at the beginning. But I would have liked more real passion when the role called for it - but that's not a color in Kent's palate. That quality was what made Shelkanova so wonderful in the role last spring. Belotserkofsky, though, was just superb on Saturday.

What a beautiful violin concerto score Jardin Aux Lilas has. That's where it all starts. The ballet feeds off of and explicates the contrast between the passion of the violin score, very like Elgar's violin concerto or Sam Barber's, and the repressed emotion and limited and constricted range of motion of the characters. Until one or two brief passages of intensely poetic motion, as it were, break out with such force. I wonder what it would be like to see this performed really well.

The violinist and orchestra played this piece very well.



[This message has been edited by Michael1 (edited October 31, 2000).]


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