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  1. Casting announced - no big surprises. Cirio and Lendorf are back. Klein and Shayer will debut their Boy in "Whipped Cream" before the Ratmansky is revived for the Met 2018 Spring/Summer season. Big surprise: Lane and Cornejo in "Other Dances"! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PRINCIPAL CASTING ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ * = first time in the role Tue., Jan. 30 evening Serenade after Plato's Symposium: Cirio, Gomes, Hoven, Royal, Shayer, Simkin, Whiteside, Teuscher Other Dances: Boylston, Lendorf I Feel the Earth Move: Teuscher, Copeland, Seo, Hallberg, Cornejo, Stearns Thirteen Diversions: Lane, Gorak, Boylston, Gomes, Abrera, Forster, Brandt, Zhang Wed., Jan. 31 evening Serenade after Plato's Symposium: Zhang, Hammoudi, Forster, Sebastian, Maloney, Scott, Gorak, Seo Other Dances: Lane*, Cornejo* I Feel the Earth Move: S. Williams, Trenary, Hurlin, Hoven, Simkin, Hammoudi Thirteen Diversions: Hurlin, Sebastian, Copeland, Davis, Murphy, Hoven, Giangeruso, Hammoudi Thu., Feb. 1 evening Whipped Cream: Simkin, Abrera, Hallberg, Lane Fri., Feb. 2 evening Whipped Cream: Klein*, Seo, Stearns, Trenary Sat., Feb. 3 matinee Whipped Cream: Shayer*, Teuscher, Gomes, Brandt Sat., Feb. 3 evening Whipped Cream: Cirio, Murphy, Whiteside, Copeland Sun., Feb. 4 matinee Whipped Cream: Simkin, Boylston, Lendorf, Lane
  2. Roster in Review - 2017

    With the promotion of Sarah Lane, the stardom of Misty Copeland and the continued development of soloist Skylar Brandt, I guess Kochetkova was considered superfluous. I have liked Kochetkova in some contemporary pieces and also a few classical ballets - other things like Ashton's "Monotones" I hated her in. What I find odd is the almost unanimous turn against her on the ABT board. Kochetkova has been ADORED for years on the San Francisco Ballet and "Dancers" discussion boards - all sorts of lovely pictures with admiring captions and comments appended. For a long time it was like she could do no wrong. Not saying that either group is wrong, but it is odd how the same dancer can be adored among one set of dance aficionados and dismissed by another. Anyway, her departure from ABT will open up opportunities for recently promoted principals and soloists.
  3. Krohn Retiring On Oct 7, 2017

    In a NY Times article written in 2006, Ask la Cour is listed as being 24 years old. So he is currently about 35 years old. Jared Angle per this article would be about 36 now. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/20/arts/dance/20milz.html?mcubz=3
  4. Not sure if this is the right place for this information but The New York Daily News has this little tidbit concerning Talicia Martins' arrest for burglary in Maine: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/daughter-famous-new-york-ballet-stars-arrested-burglaries-article-1.3393432 http://bangordailynews.com/2017/08/07/news/police-beat/socialite-daughter-of-famous-ballet-couple-busted-for-maine-burglaries/?ref=polbeat The New York Post states that Talicia Martins has a history of drug abuse including heroin: http://nypost.com/2017/08/07/rich-daughter-of-ballet-stars-busted-in-burglary-spree/
  5. The cookbook is interesting in that there was some diversity in the old NYCB ballet and it is reflected in the recipes that the dancers contributed. Violette Verdy offered classic French recipes in old fashioned preparations. Edward Villella has some nouvelle American stuff but also classic Italian-American dishes brought here from Southern Italy like an Italian rice cake. Melissa Hayden, née Mildred Herman in Toronto Canada has a bunch of your Jewish grandmother's old world dishes - stuffed cabbages, potato latkes, etc. Balanchine himself has Russian dishes (some with a Parisian touch) like borscht, kasha and blinis. This gentleman Ryan Wenzel organized dinner parties with Antonio Carmena of NYCB as the master chef utilizing one chapter each of the "Ballet Cook Book". Here is his blog entries for each party (Hayden, Balanchine, Villella, Verdy and Le Clerq herself): https://rpwenzel.wordpress.com/category/ballet-cook-book-dinner-series/
  6. Veronika Part leaving ABT

    I vividly remember Veronika Part from the 1999 Mariinsky tour at the Metropolitan Opera. She was very prominently featured in many of the programs: Part danced Maria in "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai" with Asylmuratova as Zarema. She was Terpsichore in "Apollo" and I believe also danced the Second Movement in "Symphony in C". I also remember her as the Lilac Fairy in the Vikharev reconstruction of "The Sleeping Beauty". I remember that Part was very tall but also very slender and rather more willowy of build than she was when she entered ABT a few years later. Anyway, on the 1999 Mariinsky tour Part was put forward very prominently in multiple leading roles as an emerging star of the new generation along with Vishneva, Lopatkina and Zakharova. Part danced Odette/Odile for the first time in New York in the summer of 2002 during a Kirov-Mariinsky residency as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. I don't remember her being notably out of shape at that time. I think that was the year the Mariinsky performed "Jewels" in NYC and Veronika did the walking solo in "Emeralds". Again, she was prominently featured on that 2002 tour and I believe also danced Nikiya in "La Bayadere" on a London tour around that time. Later that year Veronika joined American Ballet Theater where she was relegated most of the time to dancing "Tribute to George Harrison" in jeans as part of the ensemble. A weight gain was noticeable in her first years with ABT and also struggles with basic ballet technique. Something seemed to be off from the very beginning of her tenure at ABT. Part seemed constantly to be fighting to maintain her position and for recognition at ABT right from the get go. Interviews indicate that Veronika took classes at Steps on Broadway, not NYCB to get back in shape. Her instructor who became her boyfriend and later fiancé, was Alexander Tressor who was teaching classes at Steps. I don't know if she and Tressor ever got married - he seems to be fighting Parkinsons disease and teaches in Connecticut these days.
  7. Promotions

    One thing that happened this year with all the injuries was that Schevchenko, Lane and Brandt were now dancing the leads in ballets like "Le Corsaire" and others. This meant they were pulled out of dancing things like the Odalisque trio and someone had to replace them. Luciana Paris was injured and not dancing until the end of the season. So ABT had to dig into the corps de ballet for soloist women. The long neglected and pushed aside Zhong-Jing Fang was dancing the second odalisque variation and Zulma in "Giselle", Mme. Chartreuse in "Whipped Cream" among others. She was consistently excellent. Other corps ballerinas who were tapped for solos included Paulina Waski, April Giangeruso, Catherine Hurlin and Kaho Ogawa. Melanie Hamrick on her first season back after maternity leave was busy and in stronger form than ever. Oddly absent were Gisele Bethea (who seemed invisible) and Gemma Bond whose only big gig was as one of the Porcelain Princesses in the new solos put into Ratmansky's "Sleeping Beauty Act III". Scout Forsythe is a much discussed, admired young ballerina who also has been flying under the radar lately. Now that Lane, Teuscher and Schevchenko are now principals their days as a Flower Girl, Amour, Swan Lake Pas de Trois, Moyna, Zulma, Street Harlot, Shade, Odalisque and Peasant Pas de Deux are likely over. That is a lot of solo work that needs to be filled. Bond, Hamrick and Fang are experienced, gifted dancers who could be tapped for steady soloist work. Gemma Bond currently is also pursuing choreography and coaching. Waski stumbled in one of her variations in "Corsaire" this year but otherwise was lovely. Giangeruso was given harder variations and often the strain was showing. Ogawa impressed me as the turning odalisque in "Corsaire". Hurlin did nothing that knocked me out but I may need to see her do more before I judge. Bethea and Forsythe because of the recommendations and reports of other posters here whose taste and erudition I respect should be explored for more solo opportunities. But this process needs to be continued and more corps girls need to be given opportunities.
  8. Veronika Part leaving ABT

    I am afraid that "do whatever you want" DOES sound like encouragement to a fan who seems obsessive and hysterical. And yes, frankly it is the wrong approach to take - she should not be encouraging fans to disrupt the performance, nor should family members. It will mar her performance and those of her colleagues onstage. Any kind of personal attack on Kevin McKenzie or god forbid, her long time supporter Alexei Ratmansky will justify the decision to cut her loose. Personally, I think (and hope) that what will happen is that Victoriya and two other crazies hold up some signs and scream out some insults but they will be drowned out by the cheers for Veronika's performance and the flowers that will be tossed onstage. No one will see or hear them. I sadly suspect that Veronika's problem has been displaying the wrong attitude offstage - there have been descriptions of her as "not being a team player." You can get away with not being a team player if you are an international prima ballerina superstar like a Makarova, an Ananiashvili or a Vishneva or Lopatkina. Veronika has always been a half rung below that level - and her fans are mostly balletomanes, not the general public. Veronika is 39 years old and a retirement at that age is not a disgrace or terribly odd. She danced for 20 years with two great international ballet companies. She needs to leave with a loving, elegant celebration of her art, not a three ring circus.
  9. Veronika Part leaving ABT

    Personally, I believe that Part's relationship with ABT was seldom good all these long fifteen years. But whatever the bitterness, Part should exit and conduct herself with quiet stoic dignity. She should take her leave like a prima ballerina, not a petty prima donna. I think that Part and her family should discourage any sort of public demonstration on Saturday afternoon. Their social media should reflect that wish. That final "Mozartiana" should be a moment of reflective beauty and artistic excellence above all the politics and personal ugliness. Part should exit as a vision of beauty and then, let the chips fall where they may. Veronika should look towards her future. Frankly any talk of a demonstration would give ABT an excuse simply to not give Veronika any kind of special bow and final presentation. Probably Kevin McKenzie (who won't be missed) and Alexei Ratmansky won't even come out to present her with bouquets. It will be counter productive. By the way, no one should throw tomatoes at Ratmansky - it was likely not his decision, he said nice things to Veronika on her social media and he cast her for years in leads in his new pieces.
  10. Misty was indeed delightful as Lise - pouting, flirtatious and very well danced. Her Colas was Herman Cornejo who had previously danced Alain in this ballet. They were a delightful pair. (Cirio danced with Isabella Boylston as a replacement for Alban Lendorf) I was also at the spotlight seminar on Tuesday, courtesy of a friend. The subject was preparing dream roles and the other two participants were Christine Schevchenko and Devon Teuscher, both soloists. The only principal, Misty was very open about the fact that she is catching up for lost time becoming a principal in her early thirties and after many injuries and surgeries. She was frank about the fact that she has often danced while injured and just after an injury. Misty said that having to project a story and be a character onstage helps her overcome physical pain while dancing - the character and the adrenaline just push you through. Misty mentioned that she had been rehearsing and preparing the role of Princess Praline in California but was injured and now is coming back to the role. She said that she had forgotten everything and it was like learning the role from scratch and that her performances were only a week away. There was no indecision as to whether she was going to perform, just the impression that it was all very rushed.
  11. ABT 2017 Swan Lake

    The best thing I ever saw Alexandre Hammoudi do was the title role in Lar Lubovich's "Othello" ballet a few seasons ago. It was basically modern dance with some classical technique thrown in and that really seems to be his groove. Hammoudi was sexy, commanding and really in control of the dancing. There was an interview posted with Hammoudi in Time Out (Gia Kourlas) a few years ago. He was trained not at the Paris Opera Ballet school but privately with a former POB dancer Max Bozzoni. It was felt that the POB school would "break his spirit". I think the single-minded focus on technique and the discipline to push against your limitations is just not there with him. It would have been drilled into Hammoudi at the POB school. http://frenchculture.org/visual-and-performing-arts/interviews/interview-dancer-alexandre-hammoudi
  12. ABT 2017 Swan Lake

    The issue here is injured dancers and dancers dancing over or recovering from injuries. This does not follow any kind of predictable timeline in terms of recovery. From what we know of Boylston's injury it occurred during the "Giselle" and involved her ankle. Executing 32 fouettés requires turning on one ankle for a few minutes, really grinding that leg into the floor almost. So perhaps to prevent reinjuring her ankle, Boylston "dumbed down" the choreography. As we know, not all great Odette/Odiles have performed the 32 fouettés - Maya Plisetskaya is a leading example. There was a time when only a few technically gifted ballerinas could do that stunt - now every girl in the corps de ballet seems to be able to do it. There is a lot more to a great "Swan Lake" than amazing fouettés in the "Black Swan" - though it helps. I think the lack of lyricism in the upper body is a greater technical and artistic flaw and one which cannot be excused by a recent injury. As for not announcing cast changes - I would imagine that Kochetkova really wants to dance this Thursday. She may really think she can at this point and is planning on it since it is her last contracted show of the season. She canceled all the rest (including her first ABT "Giselle" and the "Corsaires") except for that one "Don Quixote" with Herman where Kitri ended up with Espada! So until Kochetkova tells McKenzie "I can't do it", he doesn't know and neither does Sarah Lane at this point. But Sarah is prepared. Also Sarah didn't dance all of "Swan Lake" at the rehearsal, and the pas de trois is short. (I'd be curious to hear from Cristian who did which act) Often ballet dancers rehearse the same day they perform - at least that is my impression. I will be at Deven's matinee tomorrow. Looking forward.
  13. ABT 2017 Corsaire

    There is a long history of presenting "Odalisque", "Bayadere" or "Harem" story lines in exotic ballets created for the ballet companies in Russia and Paris. In India, the function of the Devadasi Temple Dancer or Bayadere was not only to take part in festivals and temple rituals but to provide sexual companionship to the priests who were not bound by oaths of celibacy. The jockey club and aristocratic beau monde frequented the ballet in search of pretty young mistresses and many ballerinas (soloists or the "rats" in the corps) doubled as courtesans. Therefore, presenting the ballerinas as odalisques, bayaderes or harem girls mirrored the position of the ballet dancer as potential sexual plaything of the aristocratic pashas in the high priced loges. The situation was much the same in Imperial Russia under the Czars. Of course the story is "exotic" and "foreign" so there is some distance but the subtext was clear with pretty women in scanty outfits acting as compliant love slaves to powerful rich men. By the way, human trafficking and high priced prostitution still goes on today. Arab oil sheiks engage high priced call girls from Europe and America all the time, they are flown out to the Emirates, Dubai, etc. for long money-making business trips. I mean this ballet is over 150 years old - it is not going to reflect current enlightened progressive values on women's roles and rights. I don't see how "Le Corsaire" is glorifying this as Lankendem is portrayed as a villain and the Pasha as a buffoon. The woman are desperate to escape the harem and free themselves. The corsair Conrad spends the whole ballet trying to free his beloved Medora from the slave traders. I don't understand the social justice worker tone here - perhaps those who are offended because sex slavery is portrayed as part of a light hearted comic adventure story in dance. I agree - lighten up. Don't watch Maria Montez and Jon Hall movies either.
  14. ABT 2017 Giselle

    To KarenAG: the house manager will honor past dated tickets if you can get to the theater. If you held on to your ticket and explain the transportation problem last Saturday afternoon, the house manager should seat you tomorrow night. There is availability throughout the house. The problem is getting there!
  15. [Edited since now I have the program] This weekend the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet is presenting a program entitled "Eternal Spring- The Arrows and Errors of Eros" which opened last night and will be playing through Sunday. I thoroughly enjoyed this program which was a fascinating look at 20th Century Soviet choreography - kind of like your Russian grandma's attic trunk filled with ballet transported from Russia and unpacked in DUMBO. Choreography by Leonid Yakobson, Kasyan Goleizovsky, Leonid Lavrovsky, Arthur St. Leon and Rostislav Zakharov! These are all gems that were brought over here by Vera Solovyeva and Nikolai Levitsky who were members of Leonid Yakobson's State Ballet Theatre and directed the company after his death in 1975. Trailer for show: 1) "Vivandière Pas de Six" (St. Leon) The "La Vivandière" pas de six is the restaging from the notations of Arthur St. Léon by Ann Hutchinson-Guest and Pierre Lacotte set on the company by Liudmila Polonskaya. It was very charmingly danced by Nerea Barrondo and Koki Yamaguchi. This choreography manages to give you a kind of moving silhouette of how Fanny Cerrito actually danced - lots of old-fashioned "taqueté" quick petit allegro steps. Cerrito was petite and short-waisted (much like Barrondo is) with somewhat shorter legs that were very strong and quick and suited for turning. You see a different kind of épaulement - very much opening from the center and swaying the torso with the arms curved and low like in Bournonville. Barrondo seems to be working from the feet up whereas you get the sense that the choreography requires the dancer to open from the torso. Yamaguchi did some wonderful assemblé turns and pirouettes which got the audience excited. "Vivandière" pas de six - Kirov with Elena Pankova and Sergei Vikharev: 2) "Gopak" (Choreo Rotislav Zakharov, Music Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi) A crowd pleasing Moiseyev style Ukrainian acrobatic peasant dance mixed with Soviet ballet bravura for solo male. Kaito Yamamoto had the bravura split jumps and revoltades to put this showpiece over. 3) "A Village Don Juan" (Yakobson) Thin and dated comedic character dance for a couple impersonating Russian bumpkins. He sports the peasant shirt, cap and baggy pants and is a bravado low-life lothario, she has braids that stand up on her head and a mini-skirted peasant ensemble and character shoes. They stumble around, kiss, fight, she socks him and walks off all to balalaika music. The large numbers of older Russians in the audience enjoyed the kitsch. I wanted it over. Chieh-hung Hsueh and Georgia Brinkman were very well coached and high energy as the rambunctious pair. Some taped Rodion Schedrin music provided a set change interlude and then we got: 4) "Melodiya" (Goleizovsky) Music by Dvorak ("Songs my Mother Taught Me" in an orchestral transcription) This is a lovely pas de deux that I wouldn't mind seeing Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes add to their repertory if they ever wanted to do an evening of ballet. Haruka Yamada had lovely long lines and a flexible back and Johnny Almeida was a very romantic partner. Nice lighting and scenic arrangement. [Here is Bessmertnova & Aleksandr Lavrenyuk in this ballet] 5) "Eternal Spring" (choreo Yakobson from his "Rodin Collection of Miniatures" music Debussy) Somewhat silly and cliched piece evoking the old trope of sculpture coming to life. A male-female couple in white leotards evoke the famous pose of Rodin's "Eternal Spring" then they come to life. They skip and run about embracing and doing some kissy face coy stuff. The girl is on pointe. Then they run back and freeze back into statuary. Very silly and precious but Nina Yoshida and Koki Yamaguchi threw themselves into it like it was a masterpiece with convincing innocence and ardor. Like the other pieces in the first part of the program it is blessedly short, so if you don't like it - it is over quickly. 6) "Jewish Wedding" (Yakobson) Music by Shostakovich. This is really quite an interesting though somewhat odd piece. It is character dancing with strong folk inflections but also kind of eccentric with grotesque movements with bent knees and elbows and comedic exaggerations. I was reminded of Jerome Robbins - specifically "Les Noces" and also his Fruma Sarah dream ballet and wedding dances in "Fiddler on the Roof". Basically poor Jewish girl (well danced by Katerina Schweizer) loves poor Jewish boy (Johnny Almeida) but the girl's mother wants her to marry Rich Boy (strutting, clueless Miguel Solano). The community and family encircle the lovers who keep running away into each other's arms and divide them. The wedding takes place and the poor boy in despair drinks poison or something and ends up in a contorted position on the floor with his head resting on his lifted bent leg (is he dead in that position?). The tone is kind of confusing - the girl seems deadly serious and the parents, rabbi and townspeople seem sort of comic cartoon types. The Poor Boy keeps flailing around with bent arms and hands to the forehead gestures like a romantic ninny that you want to laugh at but the finale suggests a tragic figure. Probably this was clearer when the original company did it. I heard several audience members praising this as they left. This ballet got Yakobson in a lot of trouble with the Soviet censors. Trailer here: Intermission 7) "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" (Leonid Lavrovsky, music by Gounod). Fairly elaborate neo-classical cum diabolical scenery and fun Greco-Roman costumes. Nina Yoshida danced very well as the lead Nymph until some pirouette variations at the end nearly got away from her. Cristian Laverde-Koenig as her Bacchanal partner did a fine job and rocked the toga. Koki Yamaguchi as the lead Satyr stopped the show again and again with his high jumps and revolving turns in the best old Russian bravura style. Nicely drilled corps de ballet. The whole program showed a loving attention to detail and careful coaching and rehearsing that are a trademark of the Gelsey Kirkland Academy Ballet. Whatever the level of basic talent everyone was on the same page, had been given the style and knew what they were supposed to be doing every moment. A lot of this choreography is from another culture, another time and another aesthetic but these dancers threw themselves into it with total commitment. Lots of discounts can be found for this program but here is the official ticket seller: http://gelseykirklandballeteternalspring.brownpapertickets.com/ I know there are some Soviet ballet aficionados on here who have never seen these ballets except on video as I had. Here is a lovely chance to see them live in an intimate space. Here are some video treasures from the past: Yakobson documentary in Russian with clips: Nadezhda Pavlova and Vyacheslav Gordeev perform "Melodiya" in 1977: "A Village Don Juan" by Yakobson Incomplete "Jewish Wedding" "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" with Maximova, Yagudin and Vlasov, Bolshoi 1974 Alla Sizova and Boris Blankov in "La Vivandière" ("Markitenka") Pas de Six (1982)