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laurel

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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
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    New York
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    New York

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

    Exactly my thought . . .
  4. 2018 Met Season

    Black Swan on Black Friday! Clip of Aran Bell and Sarah Lane in their recent performance with Boca Ballet Theater.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Fall 2017 Season

    I attended the Friday evening performance. While I found Ratmansky’s "Songs of Bukovina" mildly enjoyable, I felt it was more important as a showcase for the four male supporting dancers (Marshall Whiteley, Joo Won Ahn, Duncan Lyle, and Patrick Frenette) who rarely, if ever, get the chance to appear in any kind of supporting or featured roles (though Duncan Lyle was the dancing bottle of slivovitz in "Whipped Cream"). As Daniil Simkin pointed out last season, Ratmansky is very good at providing opportunities for dancers who "may have been overlooked" before, and these four tall men from the corps de ballet danced beautifully together, and proved they have the focus, energy and skill for larger and more prominent roles. There was a casting change for "Her Notes," as Paulina Waski and Catherine Hurlin were replaced by Skylar Brandt and Cassandra Trenary, providing a most serendipitous opportunity for the two soloists to perform once again with Sarah Lane. These three dynamic women were the best thing about the evening's performance. They are all of a height, and worked in remarkable, splendid tandem with one another, while retaining their own buoyant personalities and style as they zipped across the stage. Someone needs to create a ballet specifically for these three! They really are an electric trio, and just the thought of a ballet built around them probably would prove a bigger draw for ticket buyers than anything found on this season's listless schedule. (The house appeared to be half-empty Friday night.) Why is ABT still wasting so much untapped energy and talent throughout the company? A little imagination from the management would prove most welcome.
  10. I came across this wonderful podcast, “Listen, Ladies,” featuring an interview with Sarah Lane, which was taped back in August, not long after her promotion to principal. The podcast, which is free on iTunes, was produced by the online journal, “Women Across Frontiers,” and their magazine’s article “Meet Sarah Lane” contains text transcribed from a portion of the interview. Lane is the first guest on the podcast, “Dancing with the Ladies” (8/14/17) (her interview lasts 30 minutes). In addition to topics covered in the article, Lane also discusses working to maintain her focus and confidence, difficult lifts in Giselle, the cultural aspects of touring overseas, her evolved attitude toward social media, and – perhaps letting the cat out of the bag! – looking forward to her upcoming roles this spring in La Bayadere, Don Q, and Harlequinade! Links to the article and podcast below. http://wafmag.org/2017/08/meet-sarah-lane-principal-dancer-american-ballet-theatre/ https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dancing-with-the-ladies/id1223800463?i=1000391012215&mt=2
  11. Veronika Part leaving ABT

    Marcelo definitely is much more of a class act than the current AD. As I stood there this afternoon, watching those rose petals fluttering down across this sad and somewhat awkward farewell, I started wondering what things might be like if Marcelo were running the company. I can't help but think that a proper farewell would have been planned for an honored veteran performer like Veronica, because Marcelo is human being who genuinely likes people. You can see it in his dancing and in the way he behaves with others. Well my little daydreams often go nowhere, but I do hope that the current regime will depart sooner rather than later. Managerial and financial skills are one thing, but sensible behavior towards employees and the public is quite another.
  12. Promotions

    I am so grateful to each of these four newly-promoted dancers for the great joy they've given me this past season, but most especially to Sarah Lane, whose artistry has soared to such astonishing and unexpected heights. May each of them continue to grow and bring us many more great performances! I expect to see Lane making her debut as Juliet in the spring, and I also expect her to nail those fouettes in her next Swan Lake! I have faith in her!
  13. Veronika Part leaving ABT

    I purchased tickets for $145 apiece in the center orchestra for the July 8 matinee performance, but that was back in March when they first went on sale. All I wanted to see was Veronika Part and Blaine Hoven together in Mozartiana! Who knew it would turn out to be an unplanned, unwanted, unbelievably emotional farewell performance? It's devastating!
  14. ABT 2017 Swan Lake

    My apologies, NinaFan, I meant no offense and sorry if I sounded callous. Wednesday matinees nothwithstanding, I have two elderly parents who are homebound (they live in another state) and everyone in my family is more than familiar with the needs/problems/indignities of the elderly and geriatric care. We do not take these things lightly, and are well aware of what lies ahead for all of us. (I consider the word "senior" offensive and always use "elderly" instead.) Were they able to leave home and attend a theatrical performance, as the rest of us are still lucky enough to do, I'm sure my parents would attend a Wednesday matinee. Like others their age, they do better during the day. Wish they could have seen Sarah Lane tonight, or Devon Teuscher yesterday. They would have been greatly cheered knowing such great artistry remains in this world.
  15. ABT 2017 Swan Lake

    That is precisely the count I got. She seemed so close to nailing it. If only her finish had been cleaner, even with 26. I really think she meant to do all 32. The rest of the performance was magnificent. She has nothing to be ashamed of.
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