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ABT's Corsaire, Saturday

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Some notes on Saturday night's Super Star cast (Ananiashvili and Bocca, with Corella as Ali the Slave. Also Ashley Tuttle as Gulnare and Herman Cornejo as Birbanto).

What a difference the lack of a grin makes. From her entrance, Ananiashvili -- bowed, sad and vulnerable -- set the tone, and this performance of "Le Corsaire" had as much depth as the production can support. Bocca's Conrad was touched by her -- her dignity, as well as the air of mysterious sadness -- and wanted to save her, and the plot took off. Both dancers have the authority (as well as, of course, the technique) to remain the center of the ballet. With that strong center, the ballet falls into place. It's a far cry from Petipa's original (as was Baryshnikov's "Don Quixote") but it's enjoyable and certainly moves along at a good clip smile.gif

I liked Bocca during his first two seasons at ABT, but liked him less as he became a brighter star. I hadn't seen him in several years and was very pleasantly surprised to see how he's matured. Unlike some of his colleagues, he didn't try to outshine everyone else on stage, he didn't serve up every trick in his arsenal at every entrance and his dancing had weight, power and shape.

The other pleasant surprise was Cornejo, who, I think, is a real artist. He didn't camp up Birbanto, but made the assistant pirate a real man, with real ambitions and real anger. His second act solo seethed with anger and frustration -- it was as brilliantly danced as one could wish, but there was more to it than whiplash turns.

Corella, as the Slave turned more, and faster, I'm sure, than any human being at any point in history has turned. During his final final final series of pirouettes, he turned from a bent working leg. He was completely centered, the turns were beautiful. He's supposed to be a slave, assisting in a pas de deux, worshiping, and paying homage to, his master's beloved and this was somehow lost in the centrifuge.

Ananiashvili rose to the occasion, peppering her sequence of fouettes with a few doubles AND some dazzling arm changes. Ananiashvili had the best jump, I thought, of any of the women on view this weekend, and she used it as a metaphor for freedom. The second act pas de deux with Bocca was tenderly, as well as cleanly, danced.

Ashley Tuttle was a fine Gulnare, very clear, very soft, beautiful arms. Hers couldn't have been more different than Murphy's virtuosic portrayal at the matinee (and different, still, from Herrera's the night before). This is one time when comparisons among dancers are out of place -- each danced her best, each brought different things to the role.

Ananiashvili, it should be noted, also brought her own tutus to the role and the other ABT ballerinas should beg for copies. In my fulsome praise of the production Friday night, I forgot to mention the costumes, credited to being "on loan from the Bolshoi" and looking very low budget. Nothing low budget about Ananiashvili's tutus, especially the second act with a blue/blue violet bodice and deep violet skirt. The Jardin Animee tutu (white, with tiny flowers) was gorgeous too.

Saturday night's audience was quite different from the others, older (there must have been a party afterwards, as there were quite a few men there in black tie), very absorbed in the ballet, rather quiet (except for Corella's solo in the second act) although they seemed to be enjoying it, and slow to rise at the end. But when they did, they gave a sustained standing ovation.

I'm very glad the company brought this -- it was its hit several years ago (we got "Merry Widow" that season), and I'm very glad for the star-studded Saturday night cast. We haven't seen Ananiashvili and Bocca in years. But I don't want to see a pirouette for at least a month.

[ March 12, 2002, 05:15 PM: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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Guest Christopher   
Guest Christopher


I attended both the saturday matinee performance and the saturday evening. and I must say, the evening cast was more brilliant to watch.

I saw the matinee from the house, and was invited by Angel to see the evening performance from back stage.

First off, Maxim and Irina. This is the first time I've seen them dance and was happy to find that they'd be dancing together.. I wasn't pleased with Maxim, he had forgotten some of the choreography and presented his jumps as difficult and hard to get off the floor. Irina was good, beautiful legs.

However, seeing Julio's extravegent energy later that night revived the spirit in Conrad I think.. he is somewhat romantic, but shouldn't a pirate have the ruthless energy still? Personally, I think so. It added to his charector and dancing. Nina was also nice to see, her pirouettes proved to be more exact and smooth then Irinas.

Birbanto in the matinee was performed by Joaquin and I like his role in it. Herman was also fun to watch because he added a more fury, pirate brilliance to the role. Unfortunately, his boot lace got caught under his foot and somewhat slipped during his 2nd act variationsolo right before the last toure.

Angel was brilliant... Maybe I'm being biased because hes my favorite dancer in ABT? but seeing him dance from backstage was just great. after the 2nd act pas de deux he asked me how i was enjoying the show, I replied "Its great.. that was incredibly fierce" and he replies humbily "oh.. thanks." a powerhouse, hes a complete powerhouse.

Gillian Murphy was amazing in the matinee show, as was Ashley Tuttle in the evening.

I'd like to write more, but I have to be going!!

But to sum it up, I much more enjoyed the evening show.

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The wing's eye view entry was very enjoyable. My husband and I were in front orchestra side and occasionally we could see the dancers in the wings Saturday night. I kept thinking how wonderful it was to see so many in the bravura pieces this ballet allows. And, as one who missed both Nureyev and Baryshnikov while they were in their balletic prime, how blessed we were to see Angel Corella now in his. Now I am in 'ABT Withdrawal' and am pouring over their Spring brochure for the Met and watching videos!

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