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ABT opener

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#16 Siren



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Posted 06 November 2000 - 02:34 AM

Hi all! I've been inspired by everyone that has posted so far-- they have been fun and enjoyable to read! So I've finally decided to take the plunge and start posting myself!

I also went to opening night of ABT and the Sun mat. (10/29) and here were my highlights:

Opening Night

Sleeping Beauty PPD - I thought Susan was lovely and it was nice to see her again onstage having recovered from her injury during the spring. I think she's among the ballerinas that seem to be "complete" ballerinas; she's classical and precise with a beautiful line. She's not flashy and does not posses a Sylvie Guillem extension, but, IMO, these do not a great ballerina make! No one brings such detailed attention to the arms. I find so many times that I just watch her arms with my opera glasses and become mesmerized; they're so liquid. I have also read interviews with her where she says that she spent a long time with Irina Kolpakova trying to create that affect. Well, it seems to have paid off. During her variation, when she goes from one foot to the other (I don't know the technical term here) and follows her hands upwards, I got the feeling that this was a girl discovering that she was a young woman-- perfectly in tune with her wedding ceremony!

I also think this PPD works best when seen within the full production.

Tch. PPD - Marcelo looked good with Paloma.

Theme - I enjoyed Gillian and Picone. It was nice to see him back. Gillian was the essence of precise technique and I liked Giuseppe's energy and charisma. His leaps were good, his beats were clear, and his partnering was smooth. I think they dance very well together and would like to see more of them in pieces.

I think Stiefel and Kent gave a creditable performance. Considering my screen name, I feel I have to comment on Kent's portrayal of Siren. I found her steely persona a Siren to be reckoned with-- she was quite scary. She also made the most of the part when she and the Prodigal are "getting to know each other" and sitting on the table when the Prodigal friends fight (Sean Stewart, incorrectly listed as Kalinin, was especially good here). In this section, her glances could have bore a hole through Stiefel! All in all, a good performance, but a kind of strange choice for a gala evening.

On Sun, 10/29

Michelle made a stunning debut as Siren. She had the right air of mystery and completely surprised me. Her long line also worked best; her tallness gave the choreographic shapes the right kind of drama. She nailed the subtleties of the character and was the best ABT Siren, IMO.

I'm beginning to feel like I'm the only one, but I think "Lilac Garden" is one of my favorite ballets. It is so subtle and filled with so many compelling details. It's such a specific Tudor way of dancing that I think many times goes underappreciated. All the emotions lie underneath and the acting, for me at least, seems to work best when it is small and genuine. I really liked Julie Kent in this. I think this piece suits her very well and she was the only one that I saw that pulled off the inner torment of Caroline. Caroline is facing a life of a loveless marriage and seems to convey a sense of an impending doom. With Kent, she conveyed the underneath emotion without subjecting to histrionics. There were flashes of passion there, most especially when she touches her Lover's hand to her mouth and looks skyward. Also, during the "freeze" when she looks longingly at her Lover and resigns back to her place in society. This, to me, seems to be what Tudor was trying to represent-- a world where everything looks pretty, there are currents of deep emotion buried deep, and flashes where this emotion emerges to the surface. I felt that Julie Kent, Robert Hill, and Erica Fishbach conveyed this. I've seen Kent be very passionate in the past (Juliet-- where you could tell she was physically crying because her mascara was running!, Manon, Odette/Odile, etc.) and saw a different, contained emotionalism from her this time around.

Alas, I never had the good fortune of seeing Kirkland nor Fracci in this. I'm terribly jealous of anyone who has! I think if I had seen either of them, I would not have been able to see anyone else in that role.

"Black Swan" was wonderful drama and presented a different interpretation that I've seen in the past. It brought down the house and for good reason. First of all, Picone and Murphy danced so smoothly together. Part of it was that Picone's partnering was good (and gallant, I'd like to add) and the other was that the two of them seemed to be comfortable with each other. This resulted in genuine rapport. They received a tumultuous reaction and it was well deserved.

Gillian was an ice princess who tempted her Prince through sheer technical wizardry. Her variation was the best I saw all season. She did a triple pirouette and then a double attitude turn-- all of which with such precise smoothness. She made the variation more exciting than it usually is. Her fouettes were amazing! I seemed to have seen a few quads there right to the beat of the music! I've never seen anyone else do that and it was way more impressive than the standard 32. Her technique is so crystal clear and she deserves recognition for that.

Picone was a different artist than I had seen before. His partnering seems to have improved and he was one of the few to hoist his swan into the air that gave her attitude line such soaring beauty. I've seen some of the men just let the swan jump herself or lift her in that position, but nothing replaces the thrill of seeing the movement high in the air. I saw a maturer Picone from before. Sometimes I find that this PPD becomes too much of a contest between two great dancers, but Picone pulled off the acting of being seduced. Afterwards, I had the picture of him clutching Gillian's hand indelibly imprinted in my mind. He held onto that hand with such won-over urgency that you knew this black swan had triumphed!

"Etudes", as usual, was a good time of classical technique. Corella snapped his fingers with such energy and enthusiasm! This role really is his and it's always a pleasure to watch him in this.

All in all, a fun day at the ballet and wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Sorry if this is a book, it's my first time posting, and I got a little excited!

[This message has been edited by Siren (edited November 06, 2000).]

#17 Alexandra


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Posted 06 November 2000 - 11:10 AM

Welcome, Siren, and thanks very much for your post -- length in the service of art is no vice Posted Image It's wonderful to have so many views -- to repeat, I think this is the best, most complete, series of reports of a season we've had so far. I hope you'll keep contributing.

#18 Giannina


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Posted 06 November 2000 - 12:20 PM

Green green green!


#19 Siren



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Posted 06 November 2000 - 01:04 PM

Alexandra and Giannina,

Thanks for all the encouragement. I had a great time at all the ABT performances and it was fun to share my thoughts.

#20 Yvonne


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Posted 08 March 2001 - 10:55 PM

I know this is an older thread, but I'm wondering, does ABT routinely perform ALL of Theme and Variations - or usually JUST the finale (as was mentioned above)?? What about NYCB?

Thanks to a kind board member, I was finally able to see the entire ballet on video (Kirkland & Baryshnikov) and I really like it. In fact, I like the first half of the ballet much better than the finale! If I was paying to see this ballet (which I will be in a few months), I would definately want to see ALL of it, not just the finale (and not just because of the dancing - I hate to miss all that great music at the beginning!!)

Just curious..... Posted Image

[This message has been edited by Yvonne (edited March 08, 2001).]

#21 Drew


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Posted 09 March 2001 - 12:50 AM

Yvonne: At the opening gala, according to what I read in the papers etc., the company only performed the finale of Theme and Variations -- and reports on this may have given you a misleading impression. When ABT does Theme and Variations in an ordinary repertory program, it does the entire ballet. So, if it's listed that way, that's what you will see. (I can't answer, of course, for natural disasters...)

As you may know (?) -- decades after Balanchine choreographed Theme and Variations, he decided to choreograph the whole of Tchaikovsky Suite no. 3, of which Theme is just the last movement. When one sees this at NYCB (called Tchaikovsky Suite no. 3) one sees a progression of the suite's movements danced in a very different, quite schmaltzy style -- barefoot women with long flowing hair -- and then the scene changes a bit abruptly for the final movement which is a slightly revised version of what used to be the separate ballet -- Theme and Variations. (I believe the revisions were done for Kirkland -- Manhattnik posted something about this -- and make the ballerina role even more difficult; according to Manhattnik's post, ABT ballerinas -- with the exception of Kirkland -- have always danced the original version of the ballerina role. It's not hugely different.)

Although I enjoy Tchaikovsky Suite no. 3, I doubt that I am alone in thinking that Theme and Variations, danced as an autonomous work, is the real masterpiece...

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited March 09, 2001).]

#22 Yvonne


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Posted 09 March 2001 - 01:01 AM

Thanks, Drew! Ballet West is presenting Theme and Variations soon, and I hope what I will be seeing the entire ballet and not just the finale.

In regards to Balanchine, barefoot girls and long, flowing hair - are you refering to Elegie?? Posted Image

#23 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 March 2001 - 02:56 AM

The main difference between the ABT and NYCB versions of Theme are that the NYCB ballerina does gargouillades instead of simple pas de chats? In non-technical terms, a gargouillade is a pas de chat on crack Posted Image More seriously, it's when instead of lifting the legs up for a jump, the ballerina lifts the legs up and makes small circles with them as well.

Yvonne, I'm absolutely certain that BW will do the entire ballet. Also, Balanchine choreographed the first three movements of Suite No. 3 in 1970, the first is the Elegie. Then there is the Valse Melancolique, and the Scherzo. I'm pretty sure I've written about it on my dance writing page in the essay called "A Two Part Invention."

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#24 Manhattnik


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Posted 09 March 2001 - 09:38 AM

I'm rather fond of the Elegie, and Suite No. 3, schizoid as it may be. A critic friend once suggested the Suite tells a story, and I tend to think that, in typical illusive and allusive Balanchine fashion, it does.

I remember reading in Gelsey Kirkland's Dancing on My Grave that she refused to do the "Alonso" version of Theme, but insisted upon the version Balanchine had set on her, with the gargouillades. So I was quite surprised to see the video of one of her 1975 performances at the Dance Collection. No gargouillades. I recall seeing her do them back when, so perhaps she had a change of heart on the matter.

Of course, these days the NYCB gals are so sketchy with them, they might as well not bother. Now when Merrill Ashley did it, that was another story.

#25 Sonora


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Posted 10 March 2001 - 11:55 PM

Living about as far from New York as Yvonne does, I, too, am grateful for the perspectives on ABT's season.

It seems to me that both Lilac Garden and Prodigal, two ballets I love, must be meticulously and passionately coached as well as very carefully cast. I would be curious to know who is responsible for coaching them...

Prodigal I have actually only seen on video, with several casts. One fairly poor quality performance video of Ib Andersen in the title role, with Merrill Ashley. It was remarkably moving.

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