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ABT, Corsaire, Saturday afternoon

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Not quite a thumbs up -- I still think the production is less than top drawer, shall we say. BUT it looked much better this afternoon -- there were hints of a serious ballet here, if they'd just slow down and let us see it. And some glorious dancing.

Gillian Murphy, as Gulnare, had a triumph, an absolute triumph. Everybody was talking about her -- "I loved the girl in yellow." It's by far the best thing I've seen her do, not just beautifully danced but expressively danced. AND she didn't do four pirouettes every time she turned, either. She danced the variations, rather than just coming out and scoring tricks.

Dvorovenko is not at the same level technically -- this ballet exposes both Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky as not-quite-top-of-the-line-technicians. BUT she danced very well, and very graciously, and the two of them together (she was Medora, he was Conrad) actually mimed and made the action, the motivation, in their scenes quite clear. Belotserkovsky can also partner, and can hold the stage standing still. I know that most people can never see too much dancing, but I like the contrast a 19th century danseur noble provides. He was the strong pivot around which a ballet swirled. And so the many solos diluted Belotserkovsky's effect, for me. He's a better turner than a jumper, but he's tall, and these solos, done for short, quick men, don't suit him.

Marcelo Gomes, a dancer I'm enjoying seeing grow up, was the slave and danced very well, the phrasing very a la Nureyev (that one is branded in my brain). Why he was cast in this role is beyond me. He's very tall -- a Conrad, not an Ali. Do they just shuffle cards and pull out names for the casting? Since all the men get to do the same steps, it's not a question of, "Ah! Ted does double assembles very well, so we'll give him X, and Pete has terrific cabrioles, so he's suited to Y." One of the many unanswered questions in American ballet.

Carreno, who made no impression as Ali (he's also miscast in that, IMO) was very good as Lankendem, both in dancing and in mime.

The ballet didn't look as silly today. The principals didn't condescend to it, and the second act actually had a few touching moments. There's still a lot more that could be done with it, and the bumbly, silly Pasha drives me up a wall (not fair to blame this one on the dancers, it must be set this way, as both Pashas have done the same business). But it was enjoyable.

The audience cheered at the end -- many more calls than last night. Deservedly, I'd say.

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I also loved Gillian Murphy this afternoon. She danced beautifully!!! However, one little thing bothered me (and this is VERY little), she was wearing Gaynor Mindens! The shoes don't continue the line of the leg and foot. Instead, the shoes become the focus of my attention. They didn't "mold" to her feet, and it became a distraction to me. However, put the shoes aside, she had a wonderful performance.

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Considering that she is a major spokesperson for Gaynor Minden, it would be surprising if she were not wearing them. wink.gif

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Murphy actually looked like she had some charm, personality and warmth. And maybe no quadruple pirouettes, but weren't those some quadruple fouettes she did on that diagonal? Or was I just seeing quadruple?

A lot of the dancing was quite nice, even allowing for the little girls in Jardin Anime who might need a teeny bit more rehearsing.

I did think there was a scary moment at the end of that big feet-to-the-sky lift for Dvorovenko in the duet Medora does with Conrade in Act II after she's ditched her tutu for a nightie. Perhaps it was my imagination, but Dvorovenko seemed to have some trouble getting her right arm free, flinging it back in a not-terribly-elegant gesture, and then she came down quite precipitously. Or perhaps it was my imagination.

My sister noted that one of the pirates came onstage in the last act wearing black pants, and had to beat a hasty retreat, returning onstage quickly in the requisite white ones. I wonder what that was all about?

My parents and sister, by no means balletomanes, loved Corsaire. And why not? The music keeps pounding merrily (or relentlessly) along, there's lots of tricks, flashy show-off stuff (at least the ABT dancers can deliver, at least they did this afternoon), not much mushy stuff, only enough mime (done verrry broaaadly) to keep the story moving along. Although ABT aimed pretty low, at least in an artistic sense, with this Corsaire, they've clearly hit their target, and it's hard to quibble with the sell-out crowd which clearly loved the show. Like they say in baseball, whatever puts fannies in the seats. And I'd rather see people drawn to the ballet by a "real" ballet like Corsaire, even this Corsaire, than by some pseudo-modernist dreck which uses ballet, but doesn't respect it.

Maybe some of this afternoon's fannies will next connect with a seat at an ABT performance of Dream and Bizet. And if this Corsaire doesn't educate its audience, at least it delivers everything it promises, and real thrills, even cheap ones, are not to be sneezed at.

I'll try to have more to say later -- I'm doing this on a borrowed computer.

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