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#1 Giannina

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Posted 03 February 1999 - 12:56 AM

Today I started my 8 (maybe 9) ballets in 13 days and thought I'd comment. Today was a rehearsal of ABT's "Le Corsaire". Reviewing a rehearsal is unfair because dancers are winging it, but there were some interesting moments. There was a trio of dancers (called Odalisques), one of whom was whipping out triple pirouettes left and right. Until I see an actual performance I won't know if that's what's called for, or if the required doubles were her triples. None the less she was an eye-opener. Who was she? Brown, Konobeyeva and Murphy were the trio; it wasn't Brown so.....? Herrera danced. She has matured and is lovely. Odd, though; as much as I've waited for her to mature, and as much as I enjoyed her today, I miss the young firebrand whose legs and arms were all over the place. Corella was over-doing his Slave role; he's good enough to not have to push it.
More later.

Giannina


[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited 02-03-99).]

[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited 02-03-99).]

#2 Olivier

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Posted 03 February 1999 - 02:39 AM

Just a guess...
I'll bet you it was Gillian Murphy...

Olivier

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 03 February 1999 - 07:52 PM

Thanks, Giannina. Please give a full report -- I love watching rehearsals. Sometimes they're more interesting than the performances -- because the dancers were winging it.

I agree with Olivier; best guess is Gillian Murphy. Check the Ballet Alert! with the interview with Georgina Parkinson in it.

As for Herrera, last time I saw her, her legs and arms were still all over the place. She's still awfully young -- but the endearing pride in and zest for dancing have been tamed. A friend said that ABT was turning her into their idea of a ballerina -- all the airs (I don't mean that she's stuck up, I mean the outward appearance, carriage -- as opposed to placement -- of a ballerina) with none of the polish.

Alexandra

#4 Giannina

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Posted 05 February 1999 - 02:44 AM

"Le Corsaire" Thurs. Feb. 4th at Orange County Performing Arts Center. The cast had Maxim Belotserkovsky as Conrad, his wife Irina Dvorovenko as Medora, Ashley Tuttle as Gulnare, Keith Roberts as Ali. Of all of them Tuttle was the stand-out. Except for some shakey double pirouettes in Act 3 she was simply lovely. Very secure; smooth, mature, each phrase slowly and completely filled out. Roberts's Act II solo was the most understated rendition of that war horse I've ever seen, and one of the best. He was dancing well within his means and was in control at all times.
Michael Crabbe, our regular pre-ballet speaker, was in rare form tonight. He warned us that the story line of the ballet was nothing more than something on which to hang a bunch of dances. He's right; that's the only way you can accept a ballet that has a pirate leader quelling a rebelling while his girlfriend stands in the background in a tiara and tutu!

Giannina

[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited 02-05-99).]

#5 Giannina

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Posted 06 February 1999 - 12:54 PM

For Christmas my daughter arranged an evening at the ballet for the 2 or us: National Ballet de Cuba's "Giselle". This weekend she drove home from college, a 2 hour drive. She then drove us to the theater, another one hour drive. We got there only to find that the ballet.....HAD BEEN CANCELLED!!! My discription of my current frame of mind is unprintable; such is the life of a ballet fanatic.

Giannina

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 06 February 1999 - 10:57 PM

Oh, Giannina. I totally sympathize. The worst part of it all is -- there is no revenge!

I had a similar experience. The first year I went to ballet, I saw all the performances of the Danish ballet in DC, but they weren't bringing all the repertory there. So I went to New York because I wanted to see "La Sylphide." This was not an inexpensive undertaking, and I was not rich.

When I got there, having purchased my ticket in advance, I found a sign in the lobby that said that "La Sylphide" had been replaced by Flemming Flindt's absolutely ghastly "The Triumph of Death." Which had been inflicted on Washington for four performances, one of which I had stood through.

I did not stay.

Alexandra

#7 Giannina

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Posted 07 February 1999 - 02:40 AM

I've seen "Le Corsaire" 3 times in 5 days. I'm either over-exposed or tonight's performance was uninspiring. I think tonight's performance was uninspiring. Susan Jaffe was Medora, Guiseppe Picone was Conrad, Yan Chen was Gulnare, Keith Roberts was Lankendem, and Marcelo Gomes was Ali. Chen was the only one who drew my attention, but she was in total contrast to Ashley Tuttle on Thurs. night and I preferred Tuttle. Chen was crisp, lively, young, whereas Tuttle was grand and expansive, giving the role maturity (I'm at a loss for adjectives here). Comparing all these performances in such a short time has been very interesting. At the same time I'm reading Edwin Denby's "Dance Writings and Poetry" from which I'm getting the idea "less is more". As I said Robert's Ali was understated. Tonight Gomes had the flashier steps and had the audience in the palm of his hands....except me; I preferred Roberts. Tomorrow it's Corella in the same role (yes, I'm going); I've already commented on his portrayal at rehearsal and in my present frame of mind I'm not going to like him. Belotserkovsky danced Lenkendem at the rehearsal and I preferred him to John Selya and Roberts. Belotserkovsky has a forward facing preparation for his double tours en l'air, a deeper plie ending to a particular jump in the 1st act, and a suppleness to his introductory side kicks (don't know the ballet term), all of which lent to the exotic evil air of his character. Tomorrow's performance has everyone, and I mean everyone, in it. It's being taped over 3 days (same cast) for a PBS broadcast. I think it's going to be too much...we'll see.

Giannina

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 07 February 1999 - 10:36 AM

It's interesting to see a lot of performances back to back, isn't it? I know the companies do it to save money (it's cheaper to just hang the sets once, apparently), but I think they do themselves a disservice. A ballet has to be pretty darned good to hold up to five or six performances in a row, and the company has to be very deep to be able to mount two or three casts on something so big.

But it's a a great way to learn a ballet. My first year of ballet going I was determined to learn the repertory -- no videos yet -- and standing room was two bucks at the Kennedy Center. I saw "Sleeping Beauty" (old Stuttgart version, unfortunately, but close enough choreographically, if not stylistically to the real thing) seven nights running.

One of the tests of a great ballet is that you see more of it each time. Sounds like you're seeing less. What's the audience reaction generally, Giannina? New Yorkers loved Corsaire; it was a megahit. But the few Europeans I knew who saw it were shocked at what they considered a low dramatic standard -- they didn't know how to mime, they didn't seem to understand they were supposed to be telling a story.

Thanks much for the reports! At least you'll know the company when it's all over. Hang in there.

Alexandra

#9 Giannina

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Posted 08 February 1999 - 10:42 AM

OK, I was wrong....but not entirely. The final performance of "Le Corsaire" was the best I saw but it was still a bit "too much". Cast: Ethan Stiefel as Conrad, Angel Corella as Ali, Vladimir Malakhov as Lankendem, Julie Kent as Medora, and Paloma Herrera as Gulnare. This was my first look at Malakhov and he did not disappoint; the same qualities I found and liked in Belotserkovsky. Corella set the house afire. He had all the splashy moves, including the multiple pirouette that descended and arose from a plie position. The audience went crazy. Too much. Herrera was beautiful but I now definitely miss "arms and legs all over the place"; I hardly recognized her style. The evening belonged to Kent and Stiefel. Stiefel immediately established himself with giant split leaps with a hesitation at the top of the leap; he was wonderful throughout the performance. Kent was beautiful. One thing I particularly notice about her (and I'm at a loss for words here because I do not know the ballet terms): when she does a develope forward...has her leg elevated 90 degrees in front of her...and "presents her foot" as I once read Balanchine said, she presents a most beautiful foot. That sounds silly but that position is perfection. She has a series of pirouettes in the first act which start with a single pirouette with the leg coming too and moving while in that position; I darn near cried it was so beautiful.
Alexandra, you asked if the audience liked "Le Corsaire". I think so. They applauded everything enthusiastically (don't get me started). The last performance was a full house, very unusual in So. Calif.; part may have been due to the fact that the ballet was being taped for TV.
One last thought. Those triple pirouettes I saw at the rehearsal were indeed called for in the performance. All the dancers did them, but whoever that first girl was (and I think it was Gillian Murphy) did them without a hitch: not a wobble and in a straight line!!

Giannina

#10 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 08 February 1999 - 03:08 PM

It is one of the many things most people really don't understand about ballet lovers: "How can you possibly see the same ballet more than once???" "And three La Bayadères back to back?" "What 6 Sleeping Beauties? You are... "(something)-- "Why do you do that for -- It's always the SAME!"

I guess you realize by now, Giannina, with your 'shock-therapy' of Corsaires that it is NOT the same at all. I agree with Alexandra that it is the best way to learn a ballet, as well as the artists involved, especially when the company is big enough to present different casts. Automatically you start to compare, and a dancer who seemed brilliant on the first night, may even turn out to be the worst of all after several nights.
It also tells you a lot about a production. I once saw 14 Kirov-Nutcrackers in a row, and the last one I enjoyed even better than the first, even when everybody was saying this Vainonen version is no good at all. But after that third Nutcracker by the Royal Ballet, I was relieved to see that final curtain coming down.

But whatever, Giannina, if you really dig a ballet, go and see as many as you can. The real fun only starts the second night...

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 08 February 1999 - 07:33 PM

Wouldn't it be nice if the tickets were cheap enough so that we could all go every night? When I started, as I noted elsewhere, I could stand for $2 a night. And at the Kennedy Center, there's only one line of standees, right across the back of the orchestra, so it's the best "seat" in the house.

As for multiple performances, it's one of the things non-ballet people really don't understand, as Marc said. I remember offering my extra ticket once to a friend for "Giselle" -- Kirkland and Baryshnikov, if you please. "Didn't we see that one last year?" she said, as she declined.

Alexandra

#12 Estelle

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Posted 09 February 1999 - 09:48 AM

About multiple performances: my parents still don't understand it, and
they also don't understand why I want to record a ballet on TV when I already have some tapes of other versions.
"But you already have 2 or 3 Giselles, why do you want us to record that one? It's
always the same ballet..." They understand that a recording of, say, "Le Bolero"
conducted by Boulez is not the same as one conducted by Celibidache (sp?),
but for some reason they don't understand it for ballet.

(And Giannina, thanks for your comments about "Le Corsaire").

#13 Giannina

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Posted 09 February 1999 - 11:58 AM

Be sure to catch Steve Keeley's excellent (as always) "Le Corsaire" review on a.a.b.

Giannina

#14 Steve Keeley

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Posted 09 February 1999 - 11:35 PM

<blush>

Since I've already posted on a.a.b., I won't add much here other than to say I had a ball at the two performances I attended. "Le Corsaire" is a silly, lightweight story to a trite (if lively) score. But the focus here is on splashy, spectacular dancing, and with no real characters or mood to betray, the dancers are free to show off all they can. Gianinna felt that at times it was "too much," but I was thrilled to sit back and let these dancers show me "what they got."

(NextStage was also at those performances; maybe we can persuade Next to comment, too.)

What I didn't mention on a.a.b. (A Ballet Alert! Exclusive!) was that on Sunday, just before the performance, I observed company class. What a treat that was! Since the class ended a half hour before the performance, some of the dancers (Malakhov, Kent, Herrera) were in make up.

Most of my attention during the barre was focused on soloist Veronica Lynn, who was directly in front of me. My word, but she is gorgeous! Tall and elegant and flexible, it was amazing to watch her working and paying attention to the small details. She would come out of a stunning port de bras and go to releve', letting go of the barre and holding her balance, then, SO slowly and deliberately, lower her foot back to fifth maintaining proper placement throughout. It was a beautiful sight.

Just behind her her and to the right were two young corps members I couldn't name, who were also impressive.

During the center work, I had an opportunity to notice Angel Corella's sister Carmen (you can't miss the resemblance). Turning must be genetic; when the women were doing fouettes, they dropped out one by one as they reached their limit, but Carmen just kept right on turning until the music stopped. She gave the impression she could keep on doing them forever. She even got a hand from the dancers.

I love to watch dancers working as much as I love watching them perform. There is something magical about seeing them, not on stage in character and in costume and under the stage lights, but as people working hard on their craft. The wonders they work with their bodies are all the more impressive up close.

~Steve

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 10 February 1999 - 12:43 AM

Thanks very much for the exclusive, Steve -- and a great exclusive it was, too. That was a terrific picture of a rehearsal!

Giannina, is the Russian National Ballet there yet? Is it doing Sleeping Beauty?

alexandra


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