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ABT Swan Lake

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#16 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 19 June 2001 - 10:26 AM

Ben Stevenson's Swan Lake, for Houston Ballet, has a proglogue. I haven't seen it for a long time, but I remember liking it and thinking it was quite well done.

#17 cargill


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Posted 19 June 2001 - 12:23 PM

I know we pretty well raked the new ABT Swan Lake over last season, but some things are worth repeating! The problem I have with the whole idea of the prologue is that it just sneaks the ballerina in and destroys the wonderful musical and dramatic buildup in Act 2, which is one of the most amazing entrances written. If we have already seen Odette in the dark behind a scrim running around before the ballet even starts, much of the thrill of Act 2 is gone. And if Odette is going to do the mime (and she definitely should), the story she tells should be the same one we saw at the beginning. ABT's beginning looks like some Macmillan rape scene, but Odette tells Siegfried about her mother. Though I don't know if I would like a mime scene that had to refer to a big green man and a little stuffed duckling.

[ 06-19-2001: Message edited by: cargill ]

#18 Manhattnik


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Posted 19 June 2001 - 12:56 PM

Though I don't know if I would like a mime scene that had to refer to a big green man and a little stuffed duckling.

I have this awful mental image of Odette slipping on some colored sock puppets....

#19 cargill


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Posted 19 June 2001 - 02:11 PM

What a great idea. And one of the little socks could be green on one side and purple on the other. And they could smack the poor little duck sock around.

#20 Michael


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Posted 19 June 2001 - 04:33 PM

Another unforgiveable point dramatically about this production (in addition to what Mary and Eric have already mentioned -- though this relates to Eric's point about Von Rothbart taking too long to die) is that Von Rothbart's death has replaced Odette and Siegfried's denouement as the emotional and musical climax of the piece.

At the end, to one of the greatest passages of Romantic classical music, the orchestra swells and all the musical themes combine and what do we see . . . Von Rothbart dying! Odette and Siegfried have already jumped.

Do you remember the Dance Magazine piece before this production last year, with Susan Jaffe on the cover, where ABT claimed that this production would revolutionize ballet, reinstitute narrative as ballet par excellence, and mark the end of abstraction on the balletic stage?

#21 Drew


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Posted 20 June 2001 - 09:20 PM

I went back to see Julie Kent with Vladimir Malakhov Tues. evening. In my opinion, this is a better pairing than Kent/Corella -- certainly for Swan Lake. Although I am a big fan of Malakhov, I was not quite as won over by his Siegfried as I was by his Albrecht or even his James. The interpretation did, though, have many lovely romantic qualities; in act II his hands seem to linger ever so slightly wherever they touched or held Odette, and the sheer length and stretch of his line seems designed to express balletic longing. He was not having a completely impeccable evening technically (some flubs a the end of his doubles tours in Act III; his spins in the coda not perfectly centered). At other moments he settled for simplicity, albeit simplicity perfectly executed; his multiple pirouettes were, for example, all doubles -- but that aspect I do NOT complain about as I really do mean perfectly executed and the result was at once beautiful and expressive. (I know we are wary of rumors on ballet alert, but my understanding is that he is coming off some sort of minor injury/surgery that caused at least one earlier performance this season to be canceled.)

Withal, for my taste, the sheer quality of Malakhov's classical dancing -- underline classical -- just puts him in a different category from ABT's other male dancers, terrific as many of them are. Just one rather obvious example: in his grand jetes Malakhov describes a soaring arc in the air, so exquisitely curved, so beautifully shaped in every portion and proportion of his body, that it is as if one were seeing the step in its essence, at once idealized and intensified. With Malakhov one gets a rare chance to see the ballet vocabulary as it is supposed to look, but only rarely really does -- if you will, the way one imagines it in one's balletomaniac's mind's eye ... and it is just breathtaking.

#22 atm711


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Posted 20 June 2001 - 09:23 PM

I will take two Rothbarts (Yea! even four!!) to ONE Jester any day.

I saw Gillian Murphy this afternoon and thought she had a smashing success of a debut. Her Odette was a bit distant to her Prince, but it was appropriate for her--after all, she doesn't know the man too well, and up to this point in her life she hasn't had much success with men. Her technique was pristine and I loved the wonderful high arches of her back. One of my favorite parts of Act 2 is the coda, and her beats were sharp, fast and close to the floor. Act 3 was just as assured as her Act 2 (although, she did have a Cook's tour of the stage during the fouettes)--and again, she kept this Prince at a distance. Perhaps she will grow warmer in the role as time goes by--but I found her perfectly acceptable and exhilarating as she is now.

#23 bobsey



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Posted 21 June 2001 - 08:00 AM

Wednesday matinee's Swan Lake cast at ABT was not the first line; no principals were seen. But so strong is the company's lineup of excellent dancers they were hardly needed.
Carmelo Gomes and Gillian Murphy danced Siegfried and Odette/Odile with great panache, clean and meaningful. I looked at a video the night before of Peter Schaufuss as Siegfried, and it made Gomes even more a real champion, Schaufuss looked like he'd eaten something bad from beginning to end. Gomes's expression and attitude were always appropriate throughout.
Reviews regularly comment on Murphy as technically excellent but lacking in warmth. But look at her pretty face; it could never be cute or jolly, it's not structured that way. Even when she smiles - rarely - it's still pretty cool. But she's terribly good, just the way she is.
The Pas de Trois people brought the day's loudest cheers: the Cornejos, Erica and Herman and Xiomara Reyes. And I looked with enthusiasm at Ekaterina Shelkanova leading the czardos in Act III.
But not all was completely satisfying. The Corps seemed to me to be not tightened up so that all the limbs were moved in unison, and the spaces filled properly. In the cygnets dance the second from the left was slightly out of sync most of the way.
But the music the settings, the costumes were elegant, and all in all I thought it was great and we were lucky to have one company dancing the classics in New York.

#24 felursus


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Posted 21 June 2001 - 11:15 PM

Wednesday evening's performance marked the last performance in a full-length ballet as a regular member of ABT by Amanda McKerrow. (Yes, Alexandra, this was confirmed to me in person by Amanda and by her husband, John Gardner. McKerrow is still negotiating with ABT about possible guest appearances.) While Amanda still has one more performance with ABT (at the Sat. Matinee), the audience marked the occasion with rapturous applause after the Act II pdd and after the Black Swan. There was a flower throw of colorful carnations. (For those of you who have never been to the Met, getting flowers over the very large orchestra pit is a feat in itself.) The company members could be seen hanging out backstage and applauding when the tabs (curtains) were paged to allow the soloists to come in front of it for their bows. Whoever did the scheduling was kind enough to schedule John Gardner as the Creature-from-the-Blue-Lagoon-Rothbart, so that he could take part in his wife's last full-length performance (it was also HIS last performance with ABT). Noticed in the audience were Cheryl Yeager, Sir Anthony Dowell and Anna-Marie Holmes.

As it was an "occasion", I won't rehash here my feelings about the production :) or write a critique of the dancers - except to say that McKerrow danced beautifully. The rest of the cast were Ethan Stiefel, partnering McKerrow, Marcelo Gomes (replacing an injured Maxim Belotserkovsky - pulled achilles tendon) as the "human-form" Rothbart, and Anna Liceica, Anne Milewski and Joaquin de Luz (dancing on an injury), in the pas de trois. Stiefel presented McKerrow well and was the complete gentleman during the curtain calls. McKerrow is NOT retiring. She and her husband have strong connections with Washington Ballet and plan to guest elsewhere - after a vacation.

#25 Roma


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Posted 29 June 2001 - 10:41 AM

Did anyone see Ananiashvilli do this ballet last Thursday?

#26 Juliet


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Posted 29 June 2001 - 01:20 PM

Yes, I saw Ananiashvili and thought she did a great job, although I don't think it was on a par with a performance I saw of this same role last year, when the Odile was simply superb. She is not one of my favourite ballerinas, but she knocked my (figurative) socks off then.

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