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ABT Gala at City Center


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#1 Dale

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Posted 16 October 2002 - 09:25 AM

I guess I'm first, but I don't have my program with me.

The night opened with a snippet from the latest Tudor revival "Offenbach in the Underworld." I have never seen this ballet, which I believe was performed last in New York by the Joffrey around 15-20 years ago. Anybody can correct me. I'm not really sure. First disappointment - Monique Meunier, who was to have danced Mistress of the Carriage Trade, was out. That aside, the scene takes place in a Paris bar with can-can girls and high society slumming. ABT's other new soloist, Veronika Part, looked sweet as the Opera Singer (she only dances a little bit at the end - a few turns). The highlight was the bawdy can-can girls and Olga Dvorevenko as the bar maid (Irina's mother).

Next up was Dancing with Monet - a pair of pas de deux by Kirk Peterson to piano music. They were nicely danced in long 19th century dress by Gillian Murphy/David Hallberg and Stella Abrera/Carlos Molina. Abrera was rewarded for her passionate dancing with cheers by the audience.

Portions of three more classical pas de deux were done in succession -- Grand Pas Classique with Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky, Sylvia pas de deux with Nina Ananiashvili and Marcelo Gomes and Diana & Acteon with Paloma Herrera and Gennadi Saveliev. It was good to see Dvorovenko back on the stage after an injury. She was her usual flirtatious self and brilliante in her fouettes. Ananiashvili stood out for her musicality, but I didn't like her costume (she always uses her own). It didn't match the dusky silvery gray tunic worn by Gomes and had the little puffy sleeves on the upper arm that Balanchine didn't like. Dancing his ballet, she should have left them off. Herrera and Saveliev looked a little mismatched but he brought the house down with some split barrell turns (not sure how else to describe them).

The first half ended with two songs from the George Harrison tribute. I forget the name of the first one, which was choreographed by Stanton Whelch. It had a man dancing in the middle while other dancers walked across the stage a la Robbins' Glass Pieces. Sometimes they'd be holding hands with another dancer or they'd stop and dance a bit. Others would take over the center area and it ended with a kind of circling around by the dancers. They wore rust colored hip-hugging jeans with cut off tops (woman) or tight opened collared shirts (men) in orange. The costumes were not attractive for all the dancers, especially Ms. Part, who is more curvaceous than the other dancers. Michelle Wiles looked best and came off best in her dancing, really letting loose a bit more than some of the others.

A white screen came down, making the stage more shallow and My Guitar Gently Weeps began (choreographed by David Parsons). The dancers began to lose their inhibitions a bit more as they were basically asked to boogey from left to right in pairs, solo or meeting up with a partner in the middle and going off stage with them. Julie Kent, looking like a flower child, stood out, as did Angel Corrella and Ethan Stiefel (with an improved short spiky hair cut).

I was not sure about the Harrison piece when it was announced. Except for a few exceptions, I'm not really sure rock music and ballet mix. Rock music seems to have its own kind of dancing, and we see it in music videos, concert stages and broadway. However, the two bits that were shown Tuesday were not awful...the Parsons suprised me. I'm interested to see the whole work.

After an intermission, a well-done Fancy Free (w/Carreno, Corrella, and Stiefel) closed the evening.

#2 Calliope

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 05:20 AM

I went to the Sat. matinee performance.
After a bit of confusion on the programming, there was an insert saying "Grand Pas Classique" was not going to be danced by Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky, it was to be replaced by "Swan Lake pdd" with Dvorovenko & Saveliev, which elicited a bit of a groan from people as they opened they're stagebills. Only to have it announced that Swan Lake pdd was going to be danced by Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky. Very confusing.
The afternoon started with "The Garden of Villandry" danced by Sandra and Ethan Brown and Carlos Molina.
It was very Gatsby-esque in costume and setting. The men courting Brown as she seemingly waltzed alternatively with them. Not much dancing though, it reminded me of what I do with my nephews, one, two, three, swing... The audience didn't seem to know what to think of it either.
There was a pause and then I was waiting for Syvlia PDD to start, when the strains of Tchaikovsky, started. Oh, Swan Lake was on. I have to say, I'm not a fan of taking a pdd out of a story ballet and performing it alone, I kept waiting for Dvorovenko to hide behind the other swans, but, there were none. It was amazing to realize how much the corps has to do. It was nicely danced by both, though Belotserkovsky's blonde hair was a bit distracting. I never though I'd say that about a man's hair, but sitting up in the tier, it just looked funny. But enough about the man's hair. Dvorovenko's swan was graceful but not frightened enough, but you lose all of those meanings when the piece is taken out of it's entirety.
Next was Sylvia PDD. I was looking forward to this, as I haven't seen it danced in a while. Herrera and Gomes pulled out all the technique they could on this one and certainly woke up the audience. Herrera is an amazing technician, for me, she still lacks musicality, I could practically hear her counting. But she did what was needed for the piece and her feet are the strongest of any dancer I've ever seen. Her balances (and there were many) were flawless as were all of her turns and jumps. Gomes couldn't quite match Herrera's technique as grandly, but he did just fine.n his leg beats were well defined and high.
There was finally an intermission (3 pdd's is too long to make an audience wait) and then the reason I went Symphony in C.
First movement was danced by Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg. I'd never seen Hallberg before (I believe he recently won the Bruhn with Wiles) I had to check my program, initially I thought it was Stiefel (and I mean that as a compliment). I think first movement is the toughest one b/c these dancers set the tone for the rest of the ballet. Murphy was just fantastic, even though she seemed unsure of whether or not she should smile or not smile throughout the piece, again technically perfect. As was Hallberg, he had an infectious energy and beautiful line Anna Liceica and Adrienne Schulte were the demi-soloists, my only issue with them, was Schulte had a big grin on her face and Liceica a frown. It is picky of me, but it's a ballet I've seen so many times, I guess I notice the little things.
Second movement was the veterans. Ananishvilli and Carreno. To see her is to understand what a ballerina is. She continued each and every note through her wrists and her eyes would follow her hands. A beautiful demonstration of continuing the music. Carreno was elegant in his partnering. Out of all of the movements, it's my least favorite, but all held my attention raptly.
And as soon as that ends you're thrown into the whilwind Third Movement. Xiomara Reyes and Angel Corella led the movement. Both had high jumps and fast footwork. Corella's energy seemed to carry everyone else through it. A note on Reyes, I've yet to see her do any character portrayals. I'd like to see her do some of that, she seems to be brought out for the ingenue type parts only.
Which brings us to the former ingenue now budding ballerina, Michele Wiles, who danced the 4th movement with Sascha Radetsky. I thought it to be a mismatch in partners, Wiles is a very tall girl and often you couldn't see Radetsky partnering her, just a pair of black arms. Wiles is a dancer who's graced with long legs, strong feet and looked down at them several times as if to say "I can't believe they're doing this" it was fun. She's young enough for the part, yet strong enough to carry it off.
Seeing all four of the principal women in line at the end was a bit of a timeline. Here's how varied our company is, we have the "she's made it and here she is" dancer in Murphy, the "sophisticated and elegant ballerina" Ananiashvili, "the young ingenue that can" in Reyes and the future of the company in Wiles.
I have to look to see whether or not Bizet was first done at City Center, it looked a bit small on that stage.
All in all a nice afternoon at the ballet. Though I had a good chuckle, when waiting outside for a friend, a young woman in her 20's and her mother (?) passed and remarked "isn't that nice, all the old ladies are going to the ballet".
:)

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 05:47 AM

Calliope, Symphony in C was indeed performed by NYCB first in City Center (having been set originally as Le Palais de Cristal in Paris a few months prior) but it was done in a version that involved doubling up corps roles, a practice NYCB no longer does, but ABT does in its version.

#4 Estelle

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 07:35 AM

Leigh, what do you mean by "doubling up corps roles"?

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 07:52 AM

Estelle, "doubling up corps roles" means that a corps dancer may dance in the 1st as well as the 3rd movement, if you don't have enough dancers to go around :)

#6 Calliope

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 08:12 AM

Thanks Leigh. There were only a few corps member that seem to have doubled up though was Kristi Boone, who was in 1st movement corps and then a 3rd movement demi and Erica Cornejo in second movement and 4th and Carrie Peterson 2nd and 4th

#7 Estelle

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 02:46 PM

Alexandra, thanks for the explanation. So, if I understand it correctly, the difference for "Symphony in C" is that if you double up some corps roles, then there are fewer dancers on stage for the finale?
I wonder if some corps roles were doubled for "Palais de Cristal"- and also, how does the stage of the Palais Garnier compare to that of the City Center?
(Oh, to see the gorgeous finale of "Palais de Cristal" on stage again... )

#8 Saveta

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 05:53 PM

First movement was danced by Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg. I'd never seen Hallberg before (I believe he recently won the Bruhn with Wiles)


Sorry that this is off topic, but just to clarify - Hallberg did compete for Bruhn's prize, and danced beautifully, but didn't win. Wiles did, but in male category the prize went to Friedemann Vogel from Stuttgard Ballet. (Of course, not that winning any prize matters that much anyway in arts, and thanks for that wonderful revue Calliope -it felt like I was in the audience:cool: )

#9 carbro

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 01:17 AM

Who might have seen Sun. Eve. perf., on the 20th? Specifically, Dvorovenko in 1st Mvt, "Symphony in C". An absolute revelation! Astonishingly fresh reading of the role! Her playfulness was totally right; it's in Bizet's music. And I loved the way she angled her head in acknowledgment of the partner behind her, maintaining an interaction where the possibility was never considered before.

Amazing how this product of the Soviet system has become such a versatile stylist. Almost everything she touches she makes her own within the parameters of the work and with nary a false note.

Earlier casts had Xiomara Reyes in 3rd Mvt., who insisted on doing double sauts de Basque with great difficulty. Scary how unstable her landings were! Why won't anyone tell her she'd look 100% better doing singles?

#10 Manhattnik

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 03:00 AM

Although there is within me an evil voice which wants Dvorovenko never to rein in her most diva-ish impulses, I was more pleased than I'd imagined possible when she did just that Sunday night. She was much more restrained (well, for her) than Wednesday night, and she certainly has the requisite attack, musicality and grandeur for First Movement. In fact, this was one of the best performances of Symphony in C I've seen for a long time. Certainly the corps has sparkled, and looked a million times better than they did last year.

Reyes' saute de basques were more like one-and-a-half or one-and-a-quarter ones, finishing the rotation with a quick (and not pretty) little catch-up after her landings. Sunday night Murphy (who looked great otherwise) did singles in one direction (to the right?) and doubles to the other. But doubles, whether done by the woman or man (Stiefel and Corella do toss them off rather brilliantly) just don't look right here -- at City Ballet they just do a simple chasse en tournant, and it looks much better. Did they ever do sautes de basque here at City Ballet? Clearly they must have at one point, or why would John Taras include them in his staging for ABT? Yet, also clearly, they've been gone for a long, long time, and not without reason -- the step doesn't really fit in the musical phrase.

(I've seen Reyes do singles and doubles here, and seen them done more prettily, too. Someone should tell her not to bother with them if they're just going to look ragged and incomplete.)

Estelle, the POB doesn't double up in Symphony in C, excuse me, Palais de Cristal. How could they, when the corps for each movement is dressed in a different color? When NYCB first performed Symphony in C (in 1948, I think), they didn't have enough dancers to do the entire ballet without some doubling-up, hence the decision to ditch the colored costumes, and go with white for everyone.

The biggest moment of interest (perhaps an unfortunate choice of words) was Veronika Part's Second Movement. She's a big gal, and clearly out of shape. Lots of wobbles, and there were times it looked as if Molina was about to drop her, although this may say as much about Molina's skill as a partner as it does Part's need for some time on the stairmaster. (I remember Ananiashvili looked much better in Second with Carreno than with Molina.) Part had some soulful moments, but I was reminded how much I preferred Lopatkina's Second Movement when the Kirov did this here in 99.

#11 Estelle

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 04:23 AM

Manhattnik, thanks for the explanation about Palais de Cristal/ Symphony in C. I was imagining if it was possible for some dancers to change their costumes between movements, but probably it would be too complicated (and the finale would look a bit awkward)- and anyway, probably in 1947 the POB corps de ballet was large enough to have enough dancers for each part. I didn't know that the change in costumes was because of the doubling up... Actually I like both sets of costumes, it gives different atmospheres to the ballet but both are great. (The only costumes I didn't like were those of the men in an excerpt of video with Allegra Kent in a documentary- I think it was already discussed here- with the bizarre white socks for the men... :D)

#12 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 04:47 AM

Dvorovenko as a Balanchine stylist. . .

I guess stranger things have happened, but somehow I feel the end of an era. I really treasured her "Miss Piggy" approach to Balanchine. No, she doesn't look like Miss Piggy at all. But her First Movements a year ago seemed to say, "Vous want moi to dance with three other ballerinas? Vous want moi to watch three other ballerinas when moi is dancing? HAAAAAAAIIIIIIIYAH!"

Tell me that's not all gone.

#13 Manhattnik

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 05:46 AM

Leigh, restrained for Dvorovenko would be about the same as Nioradze on her fifth cup of coffee. But Wednesday night she was the only ballerina who was on the music, and last night she toned down the smirks, feral smiles and moues to mere mortal proportions, and looked simply dazzling. However, it was the end of a busy week for her, and doubtless after some rest she'll once again be happily maxing (no pun intended) out the City Center diva-meter.

She's also exactly the sort of dancer Balanchine hated. I can only imagine what he'd have given her to do in NYCB....

#14 emhbunhead

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 06:54 AM

i adore the miss piggy comment... i was rolling on the floor for about an hour in a fit of giggles!! :D

Thank you all for keeping a NYC girl transplanted in the south updated on the going-ons of home!!

#15 sneds

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 11:45 AM

Hi!
I don't have my old programs with me, but I'm almost positive that NYCB does double up corps roles in "Sypmphony in C"-just two or three though.

Carbro-It looked to me as if Reyes was doing doubles to keep up with Corella. She would start a single and then see him doing a double and throw in a second rotation a bit late, thus the unsteadiness. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only who's not fond of the doubles in Symphony in C-Reyes Corella and Murphy & Stiefel were both of out of synch in their attempts to get doubles in where singles would have looked much nicer!
Dvorovenko was lovely in "Symphony in C "last night!!

Having seen Carlos Molina in "Sin and Tonic", I think the mistmatch in size with Veronika Part was much more the problem than his partnering skills. Last night in "Symphony in C" he was clearly concentrating on the partnering, and there were some strained looking poses, but no real problems in his partnering. I'd fault the person in charge who cast them together-it's not fair to either dancer to be put in a situation like that. Plus, ABT can hardly afford to risk injury to any of it's male dancers!
In contrast, yesterday afternoon, Molina looked very comfortable partnering Paloma Herrera in Kudelka's more modern ballet, "Sin and Tonic". He was relaxed enough with the technical part of the dancing that he was able to get into his character. I don't think Part is too tall for him-she's just a big gal for such a slender guy. However, Molina's long lines may make him look taller than he actually is.

Sascha Radetsky and Michelle Wiles are also mismatched a bit in size, but he did not look at all strained or overly concerned with the partnering. I believe that they trained together at the Kirov Academy, and so have probably danced together for many years. Appearances can be deceiving-Kent and Corella are often paired, and though she is quite tall for him, he always look perfectly at ease with her, and thus the size difference is not so much an issue.

Kate


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