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  1. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 La Bayadere

    There are currently at ABT three female soloists: Luciana Paris, Cassandra Trenary and Skyler Brandt. Luciana Paris is in Buenos Aires with a newborn baby on maternity leave. Cassandra Trenary is recovering from a muscle injury and has cut back her schedule to allow maximum time for healing. She danced a very small, not very exposed role in the Wayne McGregor "AfteRite" last week and is preparing to return for her first Gamzatti tomorrow afternoon. But small things like the Wili solos or the Shades solos she is skipping to allow time to heal. Brandt has been one busy, busy girl since she also dances lead ballerina roles and just had one added to her plate: Columbine in "Harlequinade". So ABT has had to dig into the corps de ballet. Veteran neglected Ballet Talk favorite Zhong-Jing Fang is getting several solos - she could do more. Melanie Hamrick is experienced and has danced solos before. She is not a kid and has had injuries. Stephanie Williams is not one of my favorite dancers at ABT but is reliable in solos. Catherine Hurlin is a major discovery this season who is moving ahead quickly - she is young and talented. Katherine Williams is a veteran corps dancer who also is breaking into solo parts including major assignments like Myrtha in "Giselle". April Giangeruso is another veteran corps girl who has been pressed into service sometimes in demanding solo parts like the Second Shade. She can be variable - strong one day and then awkward the next day. Probably all of them would benefit from a stronger coaching staff than what ABT currently provides. Who else is out there in the corps? Lauren Post and Anabel Katsnelson have emerged from the corps as a Wili and a Shade respectively. Two of the stronger corps girls - both veterans - are Gemma Bond (reportedly on maternity leave) and Paulina Waski (back from injury and taking it easy). Both are sidelined at a time when both could present themselves as candidates for promotion. Kaho Ogawa has strong technique and could dance the Second or Third Shade solo. No idea why she isn't used more. Two corps girls whose names I have heard praised as potentially stunning up and comers but have done little or nothing in solo roles - Gisele Bethea and Scout Forsythe. Bethea has just disappeared into the corps and I don't even know what she looks like. Ditto Forsythe. But people who have seen them think they are major talents.
  2. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Firebird / AFTERITE

    I wasn't judging, I was observing. I saw one mother react one way and another mother react another way. And which one was I "harsh and unfair" to?
  3. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Firebird / AFTERITE

    So I saw the second cast of "AfteRite" last night. Teuscher lacked Ferri's strengths and that may have been a good thing for the work as a whole. Teuscher was more blankly stoic and more easily manipulated. And less emotive, but then she isn't Italian! Her character was more weak, cowed, resigned and passive and it made more sense that she does not fight for the child. You got the sense that she was not a strong or passionate woman alone, like Ferri, but a meek submissive member of some kind of cult or oppressive society. She gave in to the dictate of the community, swallowed her maternal instincts and after one moment of weak defiance watched her child be sacrificed. A note on the casting: Isabella Boylston was in the Misty Copeland track of the photographer. Gabe Stone Shayer was in Herman Cornejo's track and Daniil Simkin in Jeffrey Cirio's track. Arron Scott was dancing the Blaine Hoven (anguished friend) role and Tom Forster was in James Whiteside's (shirtless) role. The other dancers included Skylar Brandt, Catherine Hurlin, Marshall Whiteley, Tyler Maloney, Jose Sebastian, Courtney Shealy and Joo Wah Ahn. Whiteley has a lot of stage presence and he is HUGE. He is a strong partner but I noticed a tendency toward bulkiness in his frame - he needs to concentrate on keeping lean and vascular. He also sweats a lot onstage. His dancing is very good and he needs to be used more. Initially I thought Shayer was in Cirio's track with Simkin in the Cornejo antagonist role. This surprise casting was interesting and brought a whole different color to the piece. Ferri and Cornejo have an intense personal chemistry onstage. A pas de deux with them will look like it is sexual or romantic due to their chemistry and long partnership. With Ferri and Cornejo it seemed like an erotic encounter turned into sadistic torture. There was no sexual connection between Teuscher and Shayer - all that twisted partnering was from beginning to end about control and manipulation. Shayer is actually shorter than Teuscher which made the image of her being lifted and rotated aloft by Shayer stranger and more disturbing. Ferri and Cornejo were a hot pair and Teuscher and Shayer a cold pair, and cold somehow made better sense despite the loss in star quality. I noticed a detail that had eluded me in the first viewing: the Mother figure does start to try to fight the Antagonist after he turns on the gas in the greenhouse/gas chamber. She tries to push him aside but he subdues her and pushed her to the ground. It wasn't a tiger mother protecting her young but it was something - but too little too late and ineffectual. The lower level of general drama and emoting with this alternate pair let moments like that stand out. So was it GOOD? No, not really but this cast, lacking some of the individual incandescence of the star duo in the other cast, did give more of a sense of ensemble and certain aspects played better. Cornejo and Ferri deserve a better vehicle at ABT. So do Teuscher and Shayer but they are lucky to get this. Everybody was doing their best up there and looking good with what they were given. But again my reaction was "Why are they doing that at that time and in that situation?" "Firebird" was the same cast as Tuesday with Duncan Lyle returning replacing Roman Zhurbin as Kaschei. Having seen this fine cast before I was less blindsided by their excellence and the headscratcher oddities and flaws in Ratmansky's choreography did stand out more to me this time. I still had a good time but need a dose of Fokine, Balanchine or Tetley.
  4. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Firebird / AFTERITE

    I will be seeing both casts of AfteRite since I am going again tomorrow. I wasn't shocked or horrified, nor did I find the ending in bad taste. I saw the references to "Sophie's Choice" and the holocaust but wasn't really offended. I expect "The Rite of Spring" or a derivative ballet to have some violence and to depict ritualized murder. My main reaction is that the choreography didn't really relate well to the story nor did it clarify the characters, their position in this dystopian post-apocalyptic society or what their reaction was to the planned sacrifice. Basically Alessandra Ferri was the Mother of the two little girls. She is brought on alone and then has a black bag thrown over her head while she is pushed around the stage. She then has the bag removed and goes into the death chamber where her two little girls are being kept prisoner. She chose one girl ("the fair-haired girl") to live on while the other remains in the greenhouse/gas chamber. Ferri then emerges from the greenhouse/death chamber and dances a bunch of twisty, turning pas de deux with Herman Cornejo. Who is Herman? At first he seems to be Ferri's husband or partner - then he turns into her tormentor. And who is the seemingly sympathetic Blaine Hoven? The child's father? He expresses desperation and grief and then just fades away. The choreography looks the same full of contorted lifts and splits with rotating limbs. The "love" duet and the "torture" duet look the same. And Ferri just keeps dancing around with men while her little girl is sitting in that death chamber for what seems like an eternity. Kick Herman in the balls and then tear the door open and run off with the kid, Alex!!! Everyone in the first section spends a lot of time in various pas de deux, pas de trois, pas de quatre, etc. but we don't know who they are or what their relationship is. Usually, "Rite of Spring" deals with a group mentality so you have a corps of dancers vs. one soloist as the "Chosen One". Here everyone is fragmented into various subgroups but the choreography looks the same with the women being manipulated into extreme positions by the men. But the men dance with the men the same way with the same partnering. There is a lot of talent on that stage (notably Cassandra Trenary has returned from injury but her role has no salient characteristics or arc). The costumes are also just the usual modern ballet tank tops, bare chest and beige pants/leggings for the men and camisole and athletic shorts for the girls. It all looks very generic with no identifiable place or time. I felt that Macauley in his NY Times review really reached out to meet McGregor more than halfway but still felt the piece came up short. The narrative just didn't gel and for me no characters were created that you could care about except that Ferri as always creates a real human being on that stage. But she was working in a void and you never knew whether she wanted to save her child or was just passive and crushed by societal pressure. Her motivations and actions seemed unclear and incongruous with the situation of having her child there in danger a few feet away. The general feeling was of total alienation from the situation and humanity. But then there was Ferri who was electric, alive and vulnerable onstage but what she was given to do didn't make sense. I was too bewildered to be offended - I couldn't connect anything I saw to any reality. By the way, Ratmansky's "Firebird" will never be my favorite choreography of this ballet but he has kept working on it. It is no longer the muddle it was the first year it played in 2012. It is full of amusing quirky moments of oddball humor that Ratmansky specializes in. There are headscratcher moments - wouldn't the corps of Firebirds and their male partners attack Prince Ivan in Act I? He has his hands full with the one Firebird? The cast last night was incredible. Christine Schevchenko looked like a ballet superstar with incredible elevation in jumps, high extensions, speed in turns and electrifying energy onstage. The choreography looked more interesting and exciting than I had ever seen it (even with Osipova who was dancing steps designed for Misty Copeland who had actually been around when Ratmansky set the ballet - two very different dancers - terre a terre vs. ballon). Thomas Forster as Prince Ivan had remarkable veracity and detail in his acting and mime and danced superbly. This is the best thing I have seen him do. Bring on the leading roles for him. Catherine Hurlin as the Beautiful Princess (who spends most of the ballet in a scraggly green wig acting like a half-wit) was stunning in mime and dance totally committing to every odd gesture and quirky reaction. Duncan Lyle as Kaschei was another discovery (Ratmansky loves to mine the corps for untapped talent) with wonderfully amusing and creepy gestures and he ruled the stage whether dancing or acting. Even if you hated this ballet in the past, you will be pleasantly surprised by this "Firebird" with last night's sensational cast.
  5. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    Did anyone go to Gillian and Cory’s Saturday matinee “Giselle”? I am curious if Gillian has refined her interpretation since last season.
  6. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    I know but Stella didn't have to be basically stalled for another 7 years in soloist roles and also why did she have to wait until she was thirty to be cast as Giselle? In Russia, talented soloists are given a shot at Giselle or Odette-Odile at age 18 (sometimes earlier). We sat through years of Paloma Herrera and aging Julie Kent as Giselle when we could have had prime Stella. Only at ABT, nowhere else in the world do they keep dancers waiting until their thirties to dance the great classics. Lane, Schevchenko (I think close to thirty), Teuscher and Copeland are all learning the great classic ballerina roles in their thirties. Anywhere else they would have been dancing them for a decade or wouldn't be considered prima ballerina material. I also hope that Cassandra Trenary and Skyler Brandt also don't have to wait a decade before dancing Giselle, Kitri and Odette-Odile. As for Stella on Thursday, to me you either concentrated on what she had or what she didn't have. She probably lacked about three or four classic steps. Throughout she had lovely line, style and expression. Copeland on Tuesday also flubbed some steps in the variation but her arabesque was low, she had no jump, she had no Romantic style and she never suggested a Wili in Act II. She was lacking throughout in line, expression and style. Misty also came to Giselle in her thirties after a lot of injuries in her feet.
  7. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    I was out of town this whole weekend and therefore did not get to the Friday night "Super Giselle" (I have seen both Hallberg and Osipova in this ballet several times) nor any of the others. I did however see Abrera on Thursday night. Giselle Thursday May 17, 2018: It is really a shame that it took ABT so long to cast Stella Abrera as Giselle until she was nearly forty. I hope Catherine Hurlin, Paulina Waski, Katherine Williams et al. don't have to wait that long to get their chance. In some ways this was the most stylistically pure and genuinely Romantic interpretation of the entire run. But diminished technique (due to age and possibly a recent injury) limited Abrera's otherwise superb achievement. First of all, unlike Seo and Copeland, Abrera has a lovely arabesque. Her use of the arms is wonderful. Though not young, she plays young very naturally onstage and her Giselle was particularly naive and vulnerable. Act I was fine until the notorious Spessivtzeva variation where the descents off of pointe in the diagonal of hops on pointe looked preplanned this time and were timed to the music. It was disappointing but understandable but at least it was planned and Stella knew her limitations. On the final circle of turns Stella landed too hard and nearly tipped over to one side on the final chord reaching out her arm to steady herself. This was unfortunate since it was the final image and kind of sealed the variation as a failure. Otherwise, there were a lot of beautiful things to see there. Stella's mad scene was moving: her Giselle was lost in a shifting haze of her own emotions and though understated, was convincing and realistic. Throughout Cory Stearns was a very handsome attentive partner and the way that he finishes movements with elegance was a consistent source of pleasure all night. His Albrecht was not a cad or roué but a sincere and noble young man who gets in too deep with a game that turns serious. Joseph Gorak and Skyler Brandt danced the peasant pas de deux - he was much improved and she was a consistent delight with buoyant jumps and steady balances and crisp footwork. Act II was much better though it was obvious that Stella was dancing with some caution. Jumps weren't too high. In the opening adagio of the pas de deux the développés were good with only one or two jerky milliseconds but in the final pose Stella opted not to go into a deep arabesque penchée. I guess this was due to back problems and again looked planned out beforehand. The rest was really exquisite - the entrechats were light and feathery. Her arms were a vision of beauty every moment. Her use of the back and the torso was flexible and soft. Stella really gets the Romantic style with the soft landings, floating arms and flexible torso. Cory Stearns looked every inch the handsome prince as Albrecht and he really showed a pleasing command of the role. No dizzying heights of virtuosity or dramatic bravura but convincing, noble and beautifully danced from beginning to end. He was not dead behind the eyes and I felt he was connected to his partner and the character throughout.Katherine Williams initially seemed a bit girlish as Myrtha but her skimming bourrees showed that she can dance the role with real power. As the Wili grand pas continued she gained in authority. She still lacks icy command but this was a more than promising debut.
  8. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    Wednesday matinee May 16: Not much to add from the previous posts - this was a great performance in Act I and a lovely if imperfect one in Act II. Sarah Lane is a great artist - dance-wise, in musicality and in dramatic interpretation. I happen to think that Daniil Simkin is not the best partner for her though he danced very well in his solo in Act II. Daniil's second act solo variation might have been even better than Bolle and Cornejo in control, height of jumps and perfection of classical form. In Act II I noticed that Lane had some difficulties in the terrifyingly exposed opening adagio of the pas de deux with the développés with the right leg and then the left leg, the rotation in arabesque dropping down to arabesque penchée. I saw some seams and hesitations there. Act I was gorgeous and stunning from start to finish with a sublime solo Spessivtzeva variation. One take away was that I never had moments of boredom where I was scanning the extras or corps de ballet or my mind was wandering. I was deeply engrossed from the first bar to the final tableau of Giselle lying dead on the ground. I also found Catherine Hurlin a revelation in the peasant pas de deux. Gabe Stone Shayer was the best danced male soloist so far in the Peasant Pas. Schevchenko I think has a better Myrtha in her but maintained her high standards despite some sloppy details. Lauren Post and Rachel Rutherford as Moyna and Zulma were promising needing a little more experience and command. Wednesday evening May 16: This was the opposite of the matinee - uneven, not entirely dramatically convincing Act I, sensational Act II. Full enthusiastic house with some shout-outs and cheers with individual solos and bravura steps given applause. Isabella Boylston has gotten rid of the blonde streaks in her hair and has obviously had coaching in use of the hands and port de bras. (She coached the role at the Mariinsky some years ago on an exchange program - Am I correct?) She burst out of that cottage with high coltish leaps exuding raw exuberance, health and total assurance in the world. Then a few seconds later she had to pretend to be too shy to sit next to her suitor on a small bench or even look him in the eyes. Shyness and maidenly reticence which came so naturally to Sarah Lane just don't convince with Boylston who seemed extroverted, experienced and at ease in society. I also didn't believe she was physically frail with a heart condition - she had stamina and strength to spare in her dancing. And what dancing! Fast pirouettes in the Spessivtzeva solo with hops on pointe that traveled the width of the stage. Lane in the afternoon was more elegantly phrased and delicate and just as technically finished but WOW!!! Girl can dance! I didn't see her but I suspect this may be what Cynthia Gregory was like as Giselle. Whiteside is a strong partner and decent technician. I don't find him the most romantic leading man and dramatically his Albrecht didn't engage my interest or affection. His face is long and horsey and not very varied in expression. Unlike Simkin or Cornejo and very much like Bolle and the late lamented Gomes, I always knew he had the ballerina's back (or arm or waist or leg or any other body part) in any partnering situation. In "Giselle" that is not nothing. I didn't sense any great romantic connection between Whiteside and Boylston in Act I's love scenes. Tom Forster repeated his excellent brooding, damaged Hilarion. Katherine Williams and Blaine Hoven in the Peasant pas de deux both looked a little nervous and slightly under rehearsed. Hoven was overdoing the arm movements and even looking down spotting a landing which was unnecessary since he landed perfectly. Being more experienced, he did fine. Williams momentarily bobbled a pirouette and was obviously dancing carefully but well yet the tentativeness was evident. The shortage of female soloists is forcing ABT to dig into the corps de ballet. Some of these corps dancers like Zhong-Jing Fang are more than ready for the spotlight, others are finding their way. I wonder who is available to coach them. Act II was a whole different ball game. Here Boylston's physical strength, rather than undercutting her portrayal of Giselle as Wili, supported it brilliantly. Her steely technique (a pleasure on its own) was channeled into soft ballon and otherworldly lightness like a iron hand in a velvet glove. Her use of the arms and positions of the torso followed Romantic models. The low chignon and pale makeup made her look like a nineteenth century cameo portrait. The développés to each side were smooth and seamlessly transitioned into turning arabeques into deep penchée with no wobble or shifting. Obviously, Boylston has a great jump and she could capitalize on that as a weightless spirit but they were soft, weightless and high, not jerky or acrobatic. Whiteside's physical strength showed in his bench lifts in the opening encounter with Giselle where he lifted her very high with no strain and held her aloft easily. He danced very well but without the beautiful line of Bolle or Simkin. In Act II, the two leads had a much better connection and interaction and the pure dance element brought out their best qualities as performers. Teuscher dances quite well but lacks a certain steel core and iciness as Myrtha. She seems a dutiful rather than imaginative actress. Melanie Hamrick and Zhong-Jing Fang excelled as Moyna and Zulma. The Wili corps has been excellent at each performance and they got a very enthusiastic response on Wednesday night.
  9. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    At the farewell of Paloma Herrera in "Giselle" three or four seasons ago, Bolle went over 40 entrechats and the orchestra and conductor had to vamp extra bars of the music to cover them. (They worked it out beforehand I would think...) It was mentioned in the NY Times review. I wouldn't be surprised if Bolle usually starts low and then gradually gets higher in the entrechats - it makes dramatic sense that way. I haven't seen as many Bolle "Giselle" performances as I would wish to because he has usually been paired with ballerinas I don't like or don't like as Giselle.
  10. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    Full fall on the butt on the floor. Dancers I have seen slip and fall include Ashley Bouder, Irina Dvorovenko, Monique Meunier and likely others. A few Russians with the Maryinsky in "Serenade" some years ago on tour. It can happen to the biggest star and best technician.
  11. FauxPas

    ABT: Roster in Review - 2018

    Sean Stewart was one of the dancing peasant men in Act I of "Giselle" on Tuesday night - he is still listed in the corps. According to his ABT bio, Sean Stewart joined the ABT corps de ballet in 1997 - twenty-one years ago. He left the company in 2002 and rejoined in 2008. I don't know his age but I think 40 is looming on the horizon. Hopefully it is his choice to move on from his life in ballet since he has always been a very stylish dancer and a good performer.
  12. FauxPas

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    I am on a "Giselle" marathon this week thanks to the TDF offers. Opening night Monday May 14th: I had seen Hee Seo in a matinee "Giselle" several years ago with Cory Stearns. I remember being surprised how much I liked them but they both seemed very young and innocent and in "Giselle" that can be a very lovely thing. Both danced very solidly but I especially liked Seo's freshness and her unaffected naïveté. Like NYSusan I was going last night for the Albrecht, not the Giselle. Seo was still very natural and unaffected in her acting and miming in Act I but it seemed somehow not fully engaged. One never got a sense of life and death investment in her love for Albrecht, her love of dancing, etc. The mad scene was sort of stunned dislocation from reality but never generated excitement or awe or pathos. Dance-wise, Seo has nice lyrical attack, softly curved arms but she doesn't hold arabesques on pointe which are rather low. She also doesn't have the most flexible back. In the Act I Spessivtzeva solo, she managed the hops on pointe but they didn't travel. In Act I, Seo was in general pleasant but unmemorable. Bolle however was a pleasure from beginning to end. Bolle has an encyclopedic command of every nuance of the role of Albrecht and he was a very strong partner for Seo. I saw very little deterioration of technique and he had gorgeous line and control throughout. Jumps had height and landed with the music and every step was executed cleanly and with finish. The Act I Peasant Pas de Deux was danced by Joseph Gorak and Skyler Brandt. Gorak seems to be the latest stranded soloist in ABT limbo. He started out well with lovely line and feet but landed badly at the end of his first solo variation. He seemed blandly boyish but tired and even ineffectual. Gorak's technique seems to have declined repeating the same supporting roles over and over. Skyler Brandt on the other hand was full of freshness with buoyant energy and attack. She was also very delicate and elegant as well and looks like a future Giselle. Thomas Forster's Hilarion sulked and brooded but also suggested real hurt under the anger. He danced and mimed very well. Susan Jones was a loving if stern Berthe. Alexandra Basmagy was a very haughty condescending Bathilde with her nose in the air swishing her riding crop. In Act II, we started off strongly with Gillian Murphy's icy Myrtha skimming across the stage in tiny rapid bourrees. Murphy looks to be starting out the season in fine form and like Bolle was in no way outshone by her younger self. Footwork was strong and jumps were high. Zhong-Jing Fang and Katherine Williams danced strongly as Moyna and Zulma. Hee Seo began Act II excitingly showing some uncharacteristic bravura by spinning backwards like a whirling dervish and leaping offstage with abandon in Giselle's "awakening" dance. Later on I was noticing that again her back is not very flexible and that her arabesque is low. The sequence where Giselle revolves in arabesque and then drops into a deep arabesque penchée with her hands across her chest looked stiff. In the opening adagio, her right side looked arthritic opening up in développé but the left side was more fluid. However, her entrechats going backwards in the coda section were fine and the pas de deux in toto went very well with major thanks to Bolle. Bolle's Albrecht solo was elegant and strong and his entrechats started low but got progressively higher with surprising stamina. He ended them precisely with the music though in earlier performances he would do extras and force the conductor and orchestra to repeat some bars. All in all, it was a very satisfying Giselle thanks to the ageless Albrecht of Roberto Bolle and Seo's lyrical second act. Tuesday May 15th: Misty Copeland has improved her acting in Act I but Act II showed that she really isn't a Giselle. Misty came on from Giselle's cottage in Act I with a modest radiance and peasant girl verve that was pleasing. This wasn't a very complicated interpretation - this Giselle was just happy and in love. She smiled a lot but it is a lovely smile. Copeland has said in interviews that she loves dancing with Herman Cornejo and they had excellent rapport. When Misty is on flat feet she is a few inches shorter than Herman but on pointe she is a few inches taller - he can still promenade her and they look good together. Only Maria Kochetkova really looked perfect dancing next to Herman but Sarah Lane probably is a good partner too. However in the Spessivtzeva variation some problems arose for Misty. Copeland executing pirouettes slipped and fell on the floor badly but pulled herself back up and resumed dancing. Her hops on pointe began adequately but like Seo's didn't travel much and she ended them before the music. However, her Mad Scene was rather impressive with lots of poignant details and dramatic flair - she was much more demented than Seo and rather wild at the end. Cornejo was ardent with a certain Latin macho arrogance under the princely air. Skyler Brandt again danced the peasant pas de deux but her partner this time was Arron Scott. Brandt was lovely as she was on Monday. Scott began strongly and with more oomph than Gorak but then he fell over on a landing in his second solo variation and had to put his arm down to keep himself from spilling over on his side. Alexei Agoudine was Hilarion and was fine as was Nancy Raffa as Berthe who really got into the grieving over Giselle's dead body. Luis Ribagorda as Wilfred of course had little dancing (he was showing so much promise four years ago when he retired) but communicated deep concern over Albrecht's actions and welfare. In Act II it was the Albrecht who ran away with the show. Misty Copeland danced adequately but showed no real Romantic style in her port de bras and she didn't evoke the spectral supernatural quality of Giselle. Her entrance was just a slow ambling walk up to the grave with no speed like she was spirited in from the afterlife. She didn't capture the right port de bras - her Wili spirit arms seemed to be reaching out to something rather than hanging like mist in the air. Copeland's arabesque is fairly low and again her back not flexible like the Russians. Misty has no real jump and that really showed in Act II so her Giselle never flew over the ground. Her adagio is really not that impressive and her Act II Wili seemed too corporeal and rather mundane. Her posture looked too much like the same village girl in Act I. She is really best at quick turns and piqués en tournant and the entrechats came off well. Cornejo was superb. I did notice that rather than bench Misty horizontally overhead in the opening Act II encounter he just lifted her overhead by the waist vertically and spun her around. It actually looks quite lovely that way. Cornejo's solo variation was classical perfection and he performed brisés volés that were impressively light and precise. He performed a huge jeté on his exit with Giselle while Misty pretty much just ran offstage. Devon Teuscher was an authoritative Myrta with excellent jumps. The Wili lieutenants were Melanie Hamrick and an excellent April Giangeruso. Herman was heartbreaking as he wept over Giselle's grave and it was Albrecht who broke my heart, not Giselle, in Act II. Will be back tomorrow afternoon for Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin!
  13. I saw the production a few weeks ago on May 1st. Amar was in as Jigger Craigin and I expected to be impressed with his dancing but also found his acting quite natural and his handling of dialogue convincing. I found the two leads problematic in different ways. Something that was brought up by Canbelto in her blog review and is apposite here is that there is little or no sexual chemistry between Julie and Billy in this production - Jessie Mueller and Joshua Henry just don't strike sparks. Julie Jordan needs to have this quiet, "still waters run deep" manner about her with passion and strength underneath it. The bench scene needs to crackle with undertones of suppressed sexual excitement, danger and desire. Jessie Mueller just didn't capture Julie's personality at all making the character dull, passive and recessive. Joshua Henry is certainly physically built, handsome and imposing but he didn't radiate the charisma with insecurity underneath it that is so central to Billy. But the lack of connection between the two leads is the problem and contributed to your bewilderment. BTW: I thought Joshua Henry's "Soliloquy" was outstanding. I could get into the subject of casting a black actor as Billy and some of the racial issues/perceptions that arise from that. Making him a black man in a white community kind of makes Billy's problems with society, women and money a racial issue instead of a class and attitude problem. But that is a fraught subject that is open to be misconstrued and misapplied. Another thing: the old-fashioned light operatic "legit" vocalism of Broadway in the early and mid-20th century seems to be a thing of the past. Carrie Pipperidge was a high belter and Julie Jordan a folky soprano - neither the lyric soprano of Jan Clayton, Jean Darling, Barbara Cook, Shirley Jones or Florence Henderson. Similarly, Joshua Henry had a gritty high pop baritone that could handle the wide range of the "Soliloquy" but wasn't an operetta baritone like John Raitt, Alfred Drake or Howard Keel. Even Renée Fleming as Nettie toned down the operatic overtones in "You'll Never Walk Alone".
  14. FauxPas

    2018 Met Season

    One factor here seems to be that the first week of ABT always sells poorly. There are usually a number of factors in play: people still in school, opera season just ended, too early for out of town tourists and vacationers, NYCB going full swing across the plaza, etc. But in prior seasons ABT has opened the Met season with "Onegin" performances that were half sold. I must mention that I am on TDF too. The earlier TDF ABT ticket offer also included performances of the Firebird/AfterRite program on May 24th and 25th. Naturally the Osipova/Hallberg and Copeland/Cornejo "Giselle" performances were not offered. The opening Monday night "Giselle" with Seo/Bolle was offered but not their repeat the following Saturday evening.
  15. Having never seen the company since I believe a Strauss "Cinderella" over 20 years ago at City Center(??), I am curious and would like to see the "Don Quixote" in DC at least for Viengsay Valdes. This is confirmed now: "Giselle" June 6 to 8. https://spac.org/calendar/calendar-of-events/?view=list&gen=2 This is the casting from the Kennedy Center website: http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/BSBSJ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PRINCIPAL CASTING (subject to change) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Don Quixote Kitri, the beautiful: Viengsay Valdés (5/29 evening), Grettel Morejón (5/30 evening) Basilio, town barber: Dani Hernández (5/29 evening), Rafael Quenedit (5/30 evening) Espada (Sword), bullfighter: Ariel Martínez (5/29 evening), Patricio Revé (5/30 evening) Mercedes, his lover: Ginett Moncho (5/29 evening), Claudia García (5/30 evening) Queen of the Dryads: Claudia García (5/29 evening), Chavela Riera (5/30 evening) Giselle Giselle, young peasant girl: Sadaise Arencibia (5/31 evening), Viengsay Valdés (June 1 evening), Sadaise Arencibia (June 2 matinee), Grettel Morejón (June 2 evening), Viengsay Valdés (June 3 matinee) Albrecht, Duke of Silesia: Raúl Abreu (5/31 evening), Patricio Revé (June 1 evening), Raúl Abreu (June 2 matinee), Rafael Quenedit (June 2 evening), Dani Hernández (June 3 matinee) Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis: Ginett Moncho (5/31 evening), Claudia García (June 1 evening), Ely Regina (June 2 matinee), Ginett Moncho (June 2 evening), Claudia García (June 3 matinee)