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About laurel

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan/avid balletgoer
  • City**
    New York
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    New York

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  1. 2018 Met Season

    I think this will be the season to see Murphy and Abrera in anything, and with anyone; I can't imagine the AD will be renewing their contracts after next season. I am a devoted fan of Lane and Cornejo, and I won't miss any chance to see them together. Theirs is a partnership like no other in this company, with great chemistry and utterly harmonious artistry. Unfortunately Cornejo is usually monopolized by Copeland, but at least this season he and Lane are scheduled for two ballets. Cornejo will be 37 this year, and this season's performance as Solor in La Bayadere may be his last. With Skylar Brandt's debut as Gamzatti, this is one performance I will not miss. And the Lane-Cornejo Don Q has Abrera scheduled as Mercedes, which makes it a winner as well. Last year I attended five performances of Whipped Cream, and I hope to attend at least two this year. I love this ballet; I find it joyously silly, filled with crazy imagery, a gorgeous score, and a great chance to see so many different members of the company in varied character roles. I expect the same will be true of Harlequinade, and am prepared to suffer through the initial first-cast performance with two distressing dancers in the leading roles, in order to see David Hallberg as Pierrot. I don't know how the character will be presented in the production, but I feel that a soulful, melancholy Pierrot would be perfect for Hallberg. If he remains uninjured after his performance in Giselle, this will be another performance I'll look forward to seeing.
  2. Yuan Yuan Tan Barbie doll

    Unfortunately, most of these dolls are not for sale. It appears they were created as one-off prototypes just for this special promotion for Intl. Women's Day. Four of the dolls, including Frida Kahlo and Gabby Douglas can be purchased online, but the rest, including Yuan Yuan Tan, are not available. It seems like a kind of mean trick to play on kids or collectors who might actually want to purchase one of them after seeing all the publicity today. https://barbie.mattel.com/en-us/about/role-models.html
  3. 2018 Met Season

    My guess would be Columbine, Harlequin, Pierrette and Pierrot.
  4. I’m delighted to hear this news. Many of my family members have relocated to Chapel Hill from New York, and this will be a great opportunity for me to take them to see some of the dancers they’ve heard me raving about/complaining about over the past few years. I would imagine that, if Trenary and Brandt are promoted to principal next spring, it’s most likely they would make their Giselle debuts at Duke. I assume Copeland would be appearing as well, but it will be interesting to see if she is given more than one performance. In two years’ time she’ll be 37, going on 38, and who knows what kind of physical shape she’ll be in. Those punishing schedules of two performances of everything may be too much for her.
  5. I traveled to Washington DC on Wednesday in order to see Lane and Cornejo in “Other Dances” at the Kennedy Center. My family thinks I’m crazy, but I couldn’t resist. I’m convinced we’ll never have the chance to see this casting in New York, but after yesterday’s show I’d like to be proven wrong. Both dancers were so superb in this ballet that maybe management may give them a chance in the fall. They were well-coached and well-rehearsed, but more than that, they connected with one another physically, visually and emotionally throughout, in a way that too many other ABT dancers do not. Their gestural dialogue with one another between the Chopin mazurkas tied the dances together like a kind of big performance piece, and their dancing in each piece was sublime. Cornejo performed the Jerome Robbins head-shaking “Slavic gesture” complete with outstretched arm with great brio, and though he was not performing full-out as he used to, nevertheless the spirit was there and understood. He is so well-suited to the choreography, as is Lane. Lane imposed her lyrical porte de bras on the dances and made them her own. Her arms moved like floating ribbons, curving through the air from the shoulders down through the fingertips in one long motion. She had the audience mesmerized with her movement. In her final solo, it was apparent she was acting her way through the last mazurka, using the tonal changes in the music to shift her emotions. What began as a happy romp as she seemed to recall a delightful memory became dark and fearful moment of worry. Like her Giselle, it seemed to be her own unique take on the dance. Both dancers moved in beautiful tandem during the last piece, the waltz. In the supported pirouette at the end, rather than move her arms outward in an “offering” gesture, Lane instead rolled her arms upward from first position to fifth overhead while spinning, as she does in the Black Swan pas de deux. I’m not sure if this movement of the arms has a formal name, but it was a dynamic ending to a wonderful performance. If you can catch their next performance in Chicago, you won’t be disappointed. The rest of the program was composed of pieces we’ve seen before. In “Plato’s Symposium,” Marcelo Gomes’ role was danced by Joo Won Ahn. While his dancing was excellent, he doesn’t bring to the role the years of experience, training and the warm personality of Marcelo, nor would I expect him to. But he didn’t bring much of his own personality or anything singular to the piece, either. However, he was very good at partnering Hee Seo, and to my surprise I really didn’t mind her in this. With no big technical challenges, she floated on and off rather harmlessly. That Millepied thing. Ugh. I hope never to see it again. All that wild applause you might have heard on Instagram posts from the curtain call for “Thirteen Diversions” was for – you guessed it – Misty Copeland. Her fans in the balcony levels began screaming as soon as she appeared for her onstage bow and they didn’t stop. They’d been forced to sit through the first three ballets in order to see her in the last piece, and finally they were rewarded! Copeland was partnered by Cory Stearns (replacing Gray Davis), and I thought he was a terrific match for her. She is a short dancer, but she has a broad torso, and sometimes Cornejo and Simkin have had difficulty lifting her. Stearns had no trouble lifting her, supporting her, and manipulating her through the nonstop movement of this energetic ballet. Maybe she should be teamed with a tall male dancer more often. And a word about Aran Bell, who was also one of the leads in "Thirteen Diversions," since there's been so much recent chatter about him. While on stage with the other male leads (Cory Stearns, Jose Sebastian, and Blaine Hoven), he appeared to be the same height as Sterns. His dancing is much improved from last year - I remember well that he was the lone Gingerbread soldier in more than one performance of "Whipped Cream" who was out of step with the rest - but he, too, displays no personality when he dances. In fact, he registered no emotion whatsoever. If it weren't for his partner, the bouyant and upbeat April Giangeruso, he might have vanished from view completely. Maybe he was nervous, or maybe he was too busy concentrating on executing the steps to worry about adding emotion to the mix. But performing alongside Stearns, who has years of experience, and Sebastian, whose dancing is more nuanced, and Hoven, with his vibrant presence, he comes across as a blank. He has lots of time to improve, though, and my hope would be that he becomes a dancer like Calvin Royal, whose hard work over a long period of time one day becomes readily apparent in his visibly improved performances, and you realize what a great future he has ahead of him.
  6. 2018 Met Season

    Stearns is the new Seo! Love it. I really was looking forward to Blaine Hoven picking up Gomes’ Swan Lake performance with Murphy, at the very least. In my estimation this spring should have been Hoven’s breakout season. He is more than ready for those leading roles, and his skills are very much needed. But it’s ABT, so instead, all we have is another wasted opportunity. ABT is so thoughtful, they really want me to save my money this year and buy very few tickets! I don’t know whether to thank them or kick them. Gabe Stone Shayer is young and full of energy, but his dancing for me is disappointing. He is sloppy, his arms and legs do not fully express the flowing, articulated movement I expect from ballet dancers, and he seems unable or unwilling to work at creating real characters on stage. Hard to believe he has Bolshoi training. He is, however, very good at fooling around on Instagram videos. He needs to get serious about his dancing. Rather than Shayer, I’d prefer underused principal Cirio picking up the slack from Cornejo and Simkin, and getting more stage time with Lane, Trenary and Brandt. Why the rush to promote him if he’s mostly relegated to soloist roles? Let us hope the AGMA artists are able to settle their dispute with management before too much more time passes, or all of this discussion may prove irrelevant by springtime.
  7. Gomes and ABT

    This news is deeply upsetting, and has chilled me to the bone since this afternoon, especially when I realized I'd attended what was Marcelo's final ABT performance, as the Prince in the Nutcracker with Gillian Murphy two weeks ago in Costa Mesa. And he was wonderful. They both were. Even with the age-related changes to his dancing, he is still top-notch. I find it best to reserve judgment in this matter till more facts are made available. And even then, who knows. Regarding Blaine Hoven, no one would want to replace a beloved performer - as well as a close friend - under such unhappy circumstances. But based on what I saw of Hoven in the Nutcracker two weeks ago, he is more than ready for the challenge of leading roles in the major ballets. Sitting in the audience two years ago, I dreamed about him seeing him dance with Veronica Part in Swan Lake. That won't happen now, but I'd certainly buy a ticket to see him dance with Murphy or Teuscher. Let's see what transpires over the next few months.
  8. I was fortunate enough to spend part of my recent vacation in Costa Mesa, and while there, was able to see three performances of the Nutcracker (Friday evening 12/8, Saturday 12/9 matinee and Saturday 12/9 evening) at the Segerstrom Center. It was wonderful to see the Ratmansky Nutcracker once again; it’s so different from the Balanchine version, but just as enjoyable. New York City misses the ABT production very much! However, I don’t recall the jokey, comedic production I saw last weekend. When performed at BAM in the past, I remember a rather palpable, mysterious dark undertone, a kind of thread of menace that would shoot through the drama every time Drosselmeyer appeared. It created a rather sad, bittersweet ending for Clara, clutching her nutcracker and weeping. That sense of darkness seems nearly to have vanished, and it has a lot to do with the way Drosselmeyer is played now; as a rather friendly fellow who buoyantly zips around the stage making magic happen. The change was most pronounced when played by Craig Salstein on Friday night. Yes, Craig is back, at least for this run, and it was great to see him, but his Drosselmeyer was the most upbeat, energetic and utterly youthful Drosselmeyer I’ve ever encountered. Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely not the Balanchine version. The best Drosselmeyer I saw over the weekend was Alexei Agoudine on Saturday afternoon. He is a superb actor, and created a moody character who had a real purpose behind his magic. I enjoyed Roman Zhurbin on Saturday night as well, but the menace he once displayed in the past is mostly vanished now in this production. The leads on Friday night were Lane and Cornejo. All seemed well as they began the pas de deux, when suddenly it was apparent that something was wrong with Lane. I thought perhaps she was injured, or felt unwell, but it was clear something was amiss and her dancing was strained. She was lucky to have Cornejo there to support her. I saw him ask her if she was okay; she gave him a brisk nod, and then somehow, not only did they manage keep going, but they completed the pas de deux in its entirety, with no glaring errors, and no elements eliminated or changed. And that included the torch lift, which they pulled off wonderfully. Of the three couples I saw over the weekend, they were the only ones who managed to accomplish this. They are both seasoned, skillful professionals, and their visible exhaustion at the ballet’s end was a real testament to their strength and technical abilities. I believe their performance on Sunday was much better; Cornejo’s Instagram post that day shows them far more relaxed and at ease than on Friday. The leads on Saturday afternoon were Murphy and Gomes, and there is nothing I can say about them that hasn’t been said before – they are fantastic dancers, bursting with the relaxed confidence and skill that age and experience bring. They can do no wrong! What they did do, however, was alter the torch lift choreography a bit. Rather than Murphy approaching Gomes in a running leap for the lift, she simply stood before him, and he lifted her from her standing position. I believe this is something they’d done before in Brooklyn, and obviously was a choice made by Gomes. Other than that, their pas de deux was perfection. On Saturday evening, Abrera performed with Hammoudi. I had high hopes for Hammoudi, thinking that maybe he would redeem himself after that lackluster Swan Lake in the spring. However, his dancing still was not very good. He landed his jumps poorly, at one point skidding a bit across the floor. And he eliminated the double tours the Prince performs just prior to the torch lift, merely walking to his mark for the set up. The lift began very well, but once he had Abrera in the air he couldn’t hold her there. He lost his grip on her and she slid down his arm, barely making it to the next move. It was a disappointing moment. However, Abrera was far and away the absolute best of the three adult Claras. The beautiful lyricism of her arms and back, combined with her acting and interpretive skills, made her performance the golden moment of the evening. I believe she is now the finest female principal in the company and I dearly hope she will be dancing with us for another few years. There were numerous featured performances that were well done, and others that were less so. On Friday night, the four dancing dolls (Columbine, Harlequin, Recruit and Canteen Keeper) were not very good. In particular, Gabe Stone Shayer was a real disappointment. As Harlequin, he had no control over his limp, flailing arms and legs, and seemed to forget he was playing a doll. Much, much better were the four on Saturday night. Cassandra Trenary and Arron Scott as Columbine and Harlequin were outstanding, Trenary in particular completely giving herself over to the mechanical movements of a clockwork doll. Both she and Scott seemed ready for Harlequinade in the spring. As Recruit and Canteen Keeper, Luis Ribagorda and Courtney Lavine were spectacular. They were utterly musical, moving with amazing speed and clarity, and were the only dancers in these roles who finished with the music. Lavine is dancing again after a year off due to injury, and seems better than ever – on Saturday night she also appeared as one of the menacing snow flakes, and then in the Arabian dance in Act II as well. Would love to see more of her in featured roles the spring! And on Friday night and Saturday night, Blaine Hoven was "on fire" in the Spanish dance (no pun intended with those wildfires raging). He really did blaze across stage with grace, energy and intensity, and I hope his lead performances as the Nutcracker Prince with Murphy will be just as good. He is more than ready for some leading roles in the big ballets in the spring! To the parents of Annabelle and Julianna, the two Claras I saw in the three performances – congratulations! Your daughters were both outstanding, natural performers, moving the drama along with some wonderful acting and mime, and appearing at ease on stage throughout. Whether they continue to dance or move on to other endeavors, I hope the future holds good things for both of them.
  9. Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

    At the moment, there's no word on the nature of the sexual harassment charges leveled against Martins, and as the physical nature of dance instruction and its "hands-on" approach are endemic to the art, I seriously doubt it would have merited such serious charges. What struck me in the NY Times article was the following sentence: "In recent interviews, two former City Ballet dancers and three former students at the school described a culture in which Mr. Martins was known for sleeping with dancers, some of whom received better roles because of their personal relationships with him." This seems to be a description of classic quid pro quo sexual harassment, which creates a hostile work environment and if proven can lead to the firing of the harasser and/or monetary damages to the victim, and more. I imagine the charges against Martins - specifically described as sexual harassment - would stem more from this sort of incident or incidents than any touching or rubbing during class or coaching.
  10. Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

    Exactly my thought . . .
  11. 2018 Met Season

    Black Swan on Black Friday! Clip of Aran Bell and Sarah Lane in their recent performance with Boca Ballet Theater.
  12. 2018 Met Season

    I counted 31 - looks like there are two doubles early on. A little too much traveling for my taste, but they look beautiful, and the finish is clean and on the money! Thanks, Dreamer, for the IG clip - love this!
  13. 2018 Met Season

    My apologies, but after more than a year, this is the only clip I could locate. This brief glimpse may give you an idea of how nicely Lane and Cirio's lyrical styles match.
  14. 2018 Met Season

    Lane and Cirio also danced together as Princess Florine and the Blue Bird in Ratmansky's Sleeping Beauty during last fall's visit to the Opera Bastille in Paris. From the video clips I viewed on Instagram, they looked wonderful together, physically well matched, with their liquid, lyrical arms creating the sensation that they really were flying together. Would love to see them paired in anything in New York.
  15. 2018 Met Season

    Perverse is the operative word. I don’t think his original intention was to promote Lane last season; I think he found himself backed into a corner following her phenomenal performances – scheduled and unscheduled - and had no other choice. My hope is that Lane will continue to astonish us in whatever role she’s given, just to prove that there really isn’t anything she can’t do. Of interest to me is the scheduling of Don Q during the next to last week of the season. It seems like an attempt to ensure that there will be no repeat of last spring’s opening week with Don Q, which proved disastrous with so many principals injured, but provided triumphs for some wonderful soloists. Which ultimately led to some unplanned promotions. You can attempt to mitigate the odds so that your plans hold up, but there’s only so much you can do. I’m looking forward to more spring surprises.