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beck_hen

Sylvia

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I'm going tonight to see Murphy/Beloserkovsky/Lopez/Gomes. Last year I saw the Kent matinee and found it a pallid mess, though she was still getting back in shape after having her baby and I've really found my way into Ashton in the past year. My turning point was seeing the film "Ashton at 100: Fred's Steps" at the 2006 Dance on Camera festival at Lincoln Center, and I would definitely recommend watching it if you can track it down. As a next step, archival footage of Sibley and Dowell in Thais and Sleeping Beauty's Awakening pas de deux at the Performing Arts Library excel above the contemporary interpretations.

Ashton at 100: Fred’s Steps

Ross MacGibbon, UK, 2004; 138m

This beautifully shot documentary captures an evening of choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton marking his 100th birthday. Featuring the Royal Ballet Company, the film also includes priceless archival footage of rehearsals, interviews with former Royal Ballet stars, and biographical insights into an extraordinary artist.

Dance performance highlights include “Brahms Waltzes” in the style of Isadora and “Daphnis and Chloe.”

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We'll be looking forward to your report, beck hen.

Missed he Ashton documentary, but maybe it will be issued on home video and/or turn up on PBS. :clapping:

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I'm going to see Wiles & Hallberg wednesday @ 2pm. I've never seen it and I'm excited. If I like the production, then I will go see Kent on Thursday. I'm excited!! :-D

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The ballet began with a long overture—a preview of the tuneful music. I think if I were designing it I would have had a scrim there (I think everyone likes the two Swan Lake drops, and Petrouchka has the fabulous and fantastical Benois designs to look at), but probably musical purists don't mind the lack of visual distraction.

The first act did not open well at all. "Ragged" and "messy" would be generous in describing the corps work; it seemed downright unprofessional how the dancing was so unsynchronized and the formations so unclear. I went through an agony of trying to decide whether this was intentional and decided it wasn't. Ashton's choreography was too quick and precise for some. There was a peasant boy with curly hair who navigated the choreography better than the rest (I think this was Remy Wortmeyer of the Australian Ballet), and things started looking up with the arrival of the hunt attendants. Stella Abrera demonstrated her versatility by adopting more of the Ashtonian twisting torso than her colleagues.

However, the evening was a success because of Gillian Murphy's incredible, true ballerina performance. She carried the ballet, as it demands. To be expected was her power, pride and agility in Act I. At the beginning of Act II, where she is entrapped by Orion, she seemed like a wild creature in captivity; though she was not cowed, her vitality would be lost by further imprisonment (shades of Firebird). However, she quickly mastered the situation (her a-ha moment gleefuly legible) by getting Orion drunk and pretending to seduce him (shades of Odile). Marcelo Gomes' smoothness, control, virility and wonderful partnering were in evidence, and it was priceless watching him stumble around drunk.

Murphy was a revelation in Act III where she appeared warm and womanly, her pride thawed by love, a new softness in her arms. She seemed to be dancing her own homage to the Royal Ballet style (her coach is Georgina Parkinson). She would hold a pose crisply and long and then melt out of it. More crescent curve, arms to her side and palms up, was given to her arabesques than the arrowy ones she did in Act I. It was all a bit reminiscent of Raymonda and Sleeping Beauty. She had witty legs a la Danilova. I have never seen her better, and hope she brings the same joy to her other roles. This may become her signature role, and ought to convince her detractors she is no empty technician.

It was a pleasure to catch a brief glimpse of Eric Underwood's gorgeous line, partnering Veronika Part as Apollo to her Terpsichore (there aren't variations for any of the bit players besides the goats). On the goat question: I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than Craig Salstein. He had a serene upper body while he executed the challenging petit allegro cleanly. As to their overall effectiveness, the whole atmosphere is a bit twee anyway, with boys in shorts carrying in mythological statues on palanquins. I can appreciate the slice of ballet history (England in the 1950s reflecting back on the Paris Opera of the 19th century), but I think it would be interesting to redesign it. I know this criticism is made of some other Ashton ballets—that their sets or costumes date them—like Scenes de Ballet.

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Great review beck_hen!

I would like to add that I enjoyed SYLVIA last night.

Ms. Murphy was divine and the corps work got better as the evening progressed.

In the past I would have complained. I paid a lot for my orchestra seats, but when I think about the volume of ballets ABT has to produce in any MET season I can only marvel at how well they do.

Kudos to Christopher Newton (whom I've worked with twice on "A Wedding Bouquet") for his work on SYLVIA. He made the ballet shorter and even worked on updating the sets and costumes. I loved the look of this 'how it might have been before the Sylph' ballet and I adore Ashton!

*edit* Sorry about the name beck_hen.

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I also enjoyed Sylvia. I have seen Gillian Murphy dance before. Her dancing has always been very good, but I never felt that she was right for some of the roles that she played in the past. However, this is a role that fit her like a glove. She was able to combine everything together wonderfully last night. She is such a powerful dancer, but last night there was also a gentleness and sweetness to her dancing.

One thing I can't get over is how short the ballet was. The first act ended at 8:45 and the ballet was over at 10:00 on the dot. The corps was a little sloppy in the beginning, but got better as the night went along. I sat in Dress Circle and one of the things that bothered me was - should the corps be making THAT much noise when they dance? In some parts, it sounded like they had heels on the bottom of their toe shoes.

Ashton's choreography is always wonderful to see. I had the pleasure of attending a night of the Ashton Centennial back in the summer of 2004. Many of the group dances in Sylvia reminded me of the shapes and patterns that the dancers made in another of his ballets, Scenes de Ballet.

Maxim Beloserkovsky and Marcelo Gomes were both wonderful. The role of Aminta is not a flashy role, but Beloserkovsky brought his powerful partnering and solo dancing to it. Marcelo Gomes looks like such a great guy in person, but he is so right for bad guy roles. I'm thinking not only about last night's Orion, but also his von Rothbart from Swan Lake. He oozes charm and sex appeal in his attractive bad guy roles.

Bravo to Carlos Lopez as Eros for being able to stay in that immobile position for so long as the statue. His dancing was a little shaky in Act III and unfortunately, at the end of Act II, some people around me started to giggle when he assumed that Statue of Liberty pose at the front of the ship.

I felt bad for one of the corps ladies in Act III. Her prop fell apart and when she bent down quickly to pick it up, her hand missed, and when she stopped to try again, the girl behind her danced right into her.

I liked the Goats! They were played by Anne Milewski and Craig Salstein.

How I wish Veronika Part had more to do as Terpsichore! I couldn't take my eyes off of her when she was on stage. Same for Zhong-Jing Fang who came in Act III as one of Sylvia's attendants. No one in the corps carries themselves the way she does. Next year, I would love to see more Part and more Fang!!

But the night belonged to Gillian Murphy! :crying:

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Yes, I read a bit more about the original version in David Vaughan's Ashton and His Ballets, and there used to be third act variations for the other characters. Streamlining was part of the reconstruction. I'm not sure that's really an improvement; I have a feeling the audience would have welcomed more solo dance passages.

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I'm a little late but wanted to comment on Monday night's performance with Murphy/Beloserkovsky. I had never seen this ballet before, and while it is delightful in many ways, I found it very short and slight to carry an entire evening. I'm not sure what could be added to beef it up, but restoring the solo variations that were apparently cut from Act III would be an improvement. I just felt it wasn't substantial enough, like a cold light dinner when you're expecting a good hot meal.

It is perfect for Murphy's range of interpretive/acting skills (as opposed to her dancing, which is impressive no matter what she does). And I never thought of her as voluptuous before, but it's a wonder she didn't "pop out" of the top of that harem-girl outfit.

As noted, one of the corps ladies dropped (?? someone else said it fell apart?) one of her props -- what I can only describe as a miniature golden cymbal the ladies were all carrying. She tried to retrieve it, causing a noticeable traffic jam. The women all then sat down on the stage floor, and one of them was right on top of the "cymbal." As an audience member, I was relieved that when she got up, she retrieved the "cymbal," and danced away with it offstage, even though you could visibly see her scrambling to find it on the floor beneath her skirt.

Marcelo Gomes looks like such a great guy in person, but he is so right for bad guy roles... He oozes charm and sex appeal in his attractive bad guy roles.

How I wish Veronika Part had more to do as Terpsichore! I couldn't take my eyes off of her when she was on stage.

Re Part, I agree -- hard to take my eyes off her.

And re Gomes, he oozes charm and sex appeal in everything he does, not just bad guy roles! Orion is a very silly role, and contradictory in that he's a brute but the ballet is so light in tone he can't really be brutal. But Gomes carried it off with his charisma. I keep thinking about him as Siegfried in last Wednesday's Swan Lake... and I think I'm in love!

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There was a peasant boy with curly hair who navigated the choreography better than the rest (I think this was Remy Wortmeyer of the Australian Ballet),

Or possibly Cory Stearns. He's an American who did his finishing training with RBS.

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Hi Chauffeur! Cory Stearns looked fabulous in a couple of the 3rd act national dances at both the Part & Vishneva Swan lakes, but I didn't notice him in Sylvia on Monday. Doesn't mean that he isn't the dancer beck hen was talking about, just that I didn't notice him

I saw Murphy's Sylvia last year. I liked her then but after Monday nighty's performance I think she has really come far in terms of delineating Sylvia's character development throughout the 3 acts. She is a dancer with such technical prowess but she really has a hard time portraying tenderness & vulnerability so, yes, this is a great role for her and I was really glad to see her bring some of those elements into her portrayal. Belosekovsky and Gomes were both great and it was wonderful to see Part & Underwood, even in such small roles. I also liked C. Corella as Venus, another small role that was done well.

This was my 3rd viewing and the ballet dragged a bit in places but I still love it, for me it is a very welcome addition to ABT's repertoire. As for the length - or lack of it - I think part of the problem is McKenzie's self imposed mission to "streamline" his full length ballets . As far as I'm concerned it's one of his most misguided policies, but it's clearly a priority for him. I recall reading that when the Royal first revived Sylvia they presented it with 2 intermissions and McKenzie ditched the 2nd intermission for ABT's version.

I'll be interested to read reports on the Wiles/Hallberg Sylvia. I saw Wiles last year and thought she did a pretty good job. Since reports from ABT's recent West Coast engagement were pretty negative I'm looking forward to hearing about this performance.

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Disaster/farce has struck! One of the locks on my apartment isn't working properly, so, today of all days, my boyfriend locked me into the apartment when he went to work. I had a ticket for today's matinee! I tried going down the fire escape, but the bottom ladder to the ground wouldn't budge. Apparently, in case of a real fire I'm supposed to go up to the roof. I'm not sure what is supposed to happen after that! Rescue by helicopter? Needless to say I'm supremely annoyed and await your reports eagerly. If I had enacted the escape I'm sure I would qualify as a real balletomane. Do you think it's worth going tonight instead? Herrera is not a favorite of mine but she seems to be on a winning streak.

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Disaster/farce has struck! One of the locks on my apartment isn't working properly, so, today of all days, my boyfriend locked me into the apartment when he went to work. I had a ticket for today's matinee! I tried going down the fire escape.....

Do you think it's worth going tonight instead? Herrera is not a favorite of mine but she seems to be on a winning streak.

I think Herrera might be very good in Sylvia tonight. She, like Gillian, can handle all the difficult technical demands with ease. Herrera does have the most beautiful legs/feet, and she knows how to use them! Herrera has also grown overall as an actress/dancer in the last couple of years. Her Swan Lake this season was her best ever... So she'll, at minimum, probably give everyone a clean, technically amazing, and pleasant performance.

Btw, relieved to hear your trial escape wasn't due to a real fire.

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I am seeing Herrera in a matter of hours and will report tomorrow.

It is disappointing to read that Newton or his assistants haven't cleaned up the corps work. It is hard to praise his work if he can't get basic patterns, consistency and ensemble from the corps.

My problem with "Sylvia" is actually dramaturgical. I think there isn't enough conflict in the storyline. It has to be made clear that Sylvia believes that she has killed Aminta and only realized that she loved him after she killed him. A lovely pas de deux with her supporting his prostrate body a la "La Sonnambula" would be a good touch in Act I. She has to go through all of Orion act believing Aminta dead but faithful to his memory. Sylvia shouldn't know that he is alive until Act III. I have this image of Eros taking a long white scarf and wrapping it around her eyes like a blindfold ("love makes you blind"). When she is carried on in Aminta's arms in the final pas de deux entrance she still has the long scarf tied around her head with Eros holding the flowing ends billowing behind her. Eros would then pull the scarf away (it would be tied in a bow) and Sylvia would discover with wonder and ecstasy that she is in the arms of her beloved who is alive and restored to her.

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Disaster/farce has struck! One of the locks on my apartment isn't working properly, so, today of all days, my boyfriend locked me into the apartment when he went to work. I had a ticket for today's matinee! I tried going down the fire escape, but the bottom ladder to the ground wouldn't budge. Apparently, in case of a real fire I'm supposed to go up to the roof. I'm not sure what is supposed to happen after that! Rescue by helicopter? Needless to say I'm supremely annoyed and await your reports eagerly. If I had enacted the escape I'm sure I would qualify as a real balletomane. Do you think it's worth going tonight instead? Herrera is not a favorite of mine but she seems to be on a winning streak.

That is a disaster!!!

Herrera is not one of my favorites either, but reports have been good lately and last year one of the papers said that she was their favorite Sylvia in the whole run (I can't remember which reviewer it was, but I think the review said that she was able to do all the hard parts and was more lyrical than Murphy in the last act)

That was enough to convince me to buy a ticket for tonight, and I hope you will too!

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My problem with "Sylvia" is actually dramaturgical. I think there isn't enough conflict in the storyline. It has to be made clear that Sylvia believes that she has killed Aminta and only realized that she loved him after she killed him. A lovely pas de deux with her supporting his prostrate body a la "La Sonnambula" would be a good touch in Act I. She has to go through all of Orion act believing Aminta dead but faithful to his memory. Sylvia shouldn't know that he is alive until Act III. I have this image of Eros taking a long white scarf and wrapping it around her eyes like a blindfold ("love makes you blind"). When she is carried on in Aminta's arms in the final pas de deux entrance she still has the long scarf tied around her head with Eros holding the flowing ends billowing behind her. Eros would then pull the scarf away (it would be tied in a bow) and Sylvia would discover with wonder and ecstasy that she is in the arms of her beloved who is alive and restored to her.
Morris' Sylvia and Aminta don't have a first act pas de deux, but it will be interesting to hear what BTers who've seen both ABT's Ashton version and will see San Francisco Ballet perform Morris' at the Lincoln Center Festival have to say when comparing the two, especially with both performed the same month.

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I fervently hope that another one of our members saw Michele Wiles! :beg: But beck hen, I am glad you are ok (he did come back to let you out, right?)

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Poor beck hen! I had a similar experience last week, when I misplaced my keys, and unable to locate a neighbor who could promise to be home when I expected to return, was compelled to cancel a meeting. Had it been a performance, I might have been reckless and gone, leaving unlocked door behind me. But you didn't even have that option. I hope your Rapunzel experience is now over.

Someone at ABT must have taken your Monday review to heart, beck hen, because the corps work was pretty neat and tight. It took a while for this cast to gather steam, but by the pdd in Act II, both Michele and David had roused a previously listless audience to Bravos. Michele's variation to the famous pizzicato was both strong and delicate. David was heroic. He may be a new principal dancer, but he gives the impression of one much more seasoned. He just continues to blossom all over the place. Gennadi Saveliev's Orion could have been more menacing, but his dancing was much improved over the sub-par (ballroom) Rothbart he gave last week. The frisky goats were Misty Copeland and Craig Salstein. Misty, IMO, is having a great season. Her range has grown, and she's become more lyrical, still with a full-out attack when necessary, but able to temper it nicely, too.

Arron Scott, whom I saw as the boy goat last year, was delightful here as Eros, especially when disguised.

The Act II celebrations were brightened by Zhong-Jing Fang as Ceres and Maria Bystrova and Bo Busby as Terpsichore and Apollo. Kristi Boone was a commanding but utterly feminine Diana.

This was one of David LaMarche's better efforts this season. When she led him out for his call, Michele kissed him on each cheek.

The company has not mastered the Ashton style, and you can see the sudden "Oh, shoulders!" in their minds. But they're coming along. I just hope ABT keeps the ballet active, so they can continue to polish it. Based on the number of empty seats, I don't think I'll make unbreakable plans to see it next year. Hope I'm wrong.

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Morris' Sylvia and Aminta don't have a first act pas de deux, but it will be interesting to hear what BTers who've seen both ABT's Ashton version and will see San Francisco Ballet perform Morris' at the Lincoln Center Festival have to say when comparing the two, especially with both performed the same month.

I saw both within a week when ABT visited SoCal this past spring. The Morris does not hold a candle to the Ashton, and the libretto is virtually identical. The choreography is repetitive, small-scaled, and ploddingly enslaved to the music's grossest features, and elements seem to be inserted at random. The whole thing looks unfinished, and should be shelved. I think it's artistic suicide for SFB to present this in New York.

--Andre

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Thanks for your concern! I escaped to make it to see Herrera. I appreciated the ballet more as a whole tonight; it may be mostly a frame for the ballerina, but what a beatiful, gilded, rococo frame it is. I'm accepting it more on its own terms. But I like FauxPas' suggested plot revisions.

I realize I should clarify that the ensemble has appeared to advantage in Act 3 throughout the run, with its large scale prismatic formations; it's Act 1 that's given trouble. The cast sheet tonight was not correct; I noticed Kajiya and Copeland in roles they played opening night in the first act. So perhaps the stopgap solution was fewer cast changes. The corps was more together; that is, they hit the high notes together and muddled through the transitions on their own tempos. But I don't want them to dump the ballet, so will try to carp less. :beg: I've figured out that it was indeed Remy Wortmeyer whom I admired previously.

Herrera was a dud in Act 1, which I complained about to nysusan and Faux Pas at intermission—it was great to meet in real time and space! She looked awkward and never really seized command. I have to admit she was nicely sinuous in Act 2 and appropriately authoritative in Act 3. She gave a good performance. However, I'm not converted. One of the nice things about being a fan instead of a critic: no need for objectivity. I can't fall in love with Zakharova either and they share a flaw: at the end of a step they'll give a shove of visible effort to get that leg just a little higher, etc. I don't want to see it! I thought Gillian had the edge technically, musically, dramatically.

I enjoyed Corella as Aminta more than I expected. He entered into the Ashton spirit with the quicksilver changes of his torso and fast, bright footwork. (Craig Salstein provided similar emphasis as Eros. And had a huge presence, was a deft comic, orchestrated the action convincingly... Hey, I already admitted I'm biased.) And, as always, Corella's joy at being on stage was palpable. I think he would be a wonderful Daphnis. His Chloe? I shudder to think. As a goat, Sarah Lane rivalled Herrera for ballerina presence and control! Veronika Part doesn't really satisfy as a minor soloist. She looks so different from everyone else, which worked wonderfully in Swan Lake. She needs a frame, though not Sylvia, clearly.

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Actually, I rather enjoyed Herrera in Act I, I thought she had bounce, enthusiasm, athleticism and verve as the Amazon maiden. I thought that the role of Sylvia let Herrera combine her technical bravura with Ashton's musicality and elegance making a perfect mix. Her mime when she got struck with Cupid's dart and haltingly returned to Aminta was rather touching. In Act II, she got to be voluptuous and sinuous and she did a good job but I think she would have done even better with Marcelo Gomes as her Orion, Jesus Pastor is a focused actor but not tall enough to make the lifts exciting. Sometimes Paloma seemed to be too much for him to handle. Act III I felt showed Paloma's weaknesses. Her pizzicato solo didn't sparkle and her movements seemed studied where they should be light and delicate and spontaneous. All those little flicks of the wrist and sudden arm movements looked jerky. She didn't show much musicality and the steps seemed fussy and off the beat. Another audience member thought Paloma almost fell at one point. By the end I understood what Beck_Hen was telling me about her lower half and her upper half being disjointed. Paloma was the company's resident virtuosa ballerina in the nineties (outside of Ananiashvili) but today Murphy and Dvorovenko actually are all-around better technicians. Gillian Murphy is still growing as an artist and I am curious to know how she had improved this season as Sylvia as I didn't go on Monday.

Angel brought deep romantic yearning and vulnerability to Aminta though the choreography doesn't exploit all his technical abilities and power. He was working hard to be smooth and work with the music which made him more Ashtonian in style. His joyfulness in the last act lit up the stage and engaged the audience in the story. Craig Salstein did have some wit and mischief as Eros and seemed to enjoy his various transformations. His dancing was light and bouyant.

Sarah Lane was delicious as the Goat-Girl but seeing her and Veronika together doing little bits after having leading roles in the City Center season was a little depressing. I wish that ABT would put together a gorgeous new Desmond Heeley production of "The Sleeping Beauty" so that Veronika could have a go at Lilac Fairy and Florine and Sarah Lane could be Canari qui Chante, the White Cat and Florine as well. Kristi Boone, Liceica, Fang, Bystrova, Misti Copeland and all these little girls we have been seeing in the background could go front and center in all the solo opportunities that "Beauty" gives soloists and principals. It is time we saw Gillian and Irina as Aurora. The parallels between "Sylvia" and "Sleeping Beauty" made me connect the two in my mind. There are inspirations from "Beauty" that Ashton has taken and transformed for "Sylvia" - clearly this was intended as Ashton's "Beauty" for Fonteyn. Kevin spends a lot of money and energy finding vehicles to keep his superstar men happy, he needs to start paying equal time and attention to his junior women. Also, I think Veronika might make a stronger Sylvia than Julie Kent who was wobbly in it last season.

As for the corps, they improved after a messy nymphs and satyrs dance at the top of Act I. Oddly the sets seem to impinge on the dancer's space though this is the Metropolitan Opera stage which is football field in size. Maybe they need to move the sets a little further upstage to give a bit more space in front? I hope we get to see this ballet again soon but I think this production has to go back to the Royal (are the sets copies that ABT owns or are the RB's sets?).

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Herrera is not one of my favorites either, but reports have been good lately and last year one of the papers said that she was their favorite Sylvia in the whole run (I can't remember which reviewer it was, but I think the review said that she was able to do all the hard parts and was more lyrical than Murphy in the last act)

That was enough to convince me to buy a ticket for tonight, and I hope you will too!

Quoting myself (!), either I was remembering last year's rave review for Herrera incorrectly, or I absolutely disagree. She was fine, and I thought this was a good role for her in general but if I was advising someone on which Sylvia to see it would be Murphy - emphatically. I always thought of Herrera as a great technician who lacked lyricism and flow in her upper body, but I agree with Faux Pas that even technically she was no match for Murphy. Her leaps didn't soar (I found them kind of clunky), and I found her lacking in musicality and phrasing. I also thought her interpretation wasn't well defined. Murphy used the individual qualities of the steps as well as acting to delineate Sylvia's personality very distinctly in the 3 acts, I found much less differentiation in Herrera's interpretation. In the first act she did have bounce & enthusiasm but was too sweet to be believable as a proud, fierce Amazon and at the start of the 2nd act it really wasn't that clear to me that she was plotting against Orion and not just enjoying a little dose of hedonism - whereas Murphy's intentions were crystal clear. Her third act characterization was much better but, again, as Faux Pas said she wasn't on technically and her timing seemed off.

I thought Corella's characterization was perfect for Amnita, so open & guileless. His leaps soared but I don't think the quick Ashton changes of direction looked good on him. I agree that Pasteur may have been a little small to partner Herrera effectively, but I still really liked him in the role.

...Sarah Lane was delicious as the Goat-Girl but seeing her and Veronika together doing little bits after having leading roles in the City Center season was a little depressing. I wish that ABT would put together a gorgeous new Desmond Heeley production of "The Sleeping Beauty" ... The parallels between "Sylvia" and "Sleeping Beauty" made me connect the two in my mind. There are inspirations from "Beauty" that Ashton has taken and transformed for "Sylvia" - clearly this was intended as Ashton's "Beauty" for Fonteyn. Kevin spends a lot of money and energy finding vehicles to keep his superstar men happy, he needs to start paying equal time and attention to his junior women...

From your lips to McKenzie's ears!!!!!!! I was in DC for the Royal's Sleeping Beauty and so much of Sylvia reminded me of it, especially the pastel costumes and pastoral scenery, as well as the style. I wish ABT would bring us THAT production (with a few minor changes, of course!)

... Also, I think Veronika might make a stronger Sylvia than Julie Kent who was wobbly in it last season.

I haven't seen Kent (yet) , but I was just thinking that if Kent can do it surely Part can

and finally,

... I appreciated the ballet more as a whole tonight; it may be mostly a frame for the ballerina, but what a beautiful, gilded, rococo frame it is..

I really love this ballet, and last night I just suddenly realized that the season is almost over and that it will be a long time until NYCB starts its post Nutcracker run (I'll be out of town next week and miss most of the R&Js). So against my better judgement I've decided to go for one more and give that Kent/Saveliev/Radetsky cast a chance!

beck hen and faux pas - it was great to meet you, I'll look for you next time!

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Well, I'm not going to disagree with any of the points you've added regarding Herrera's performance. I think the overall feel of the acts, as well as Murphy's example, colored my assessment, since she was so indelible in Act 1. The first act is so dark, and hasn't begun well, and by the time it's over I feel a sense of anticlimax. It's really a bit unbelievable that Orion can overpower Sylvia no matter who's playing the roles. The third act has that empyrean sunshine, and the exquisite pas de deux. I would like to see that done as an excerpt.

It goes to show that it is dangerous to cultivate an image as the technical whiz kid, since there will always be someone with more firepower coming up to take your place. Attention to line, musicality and expression is more important. Personally I would define those first two attributes as part of good technique, and Herrera has never really shone in them.

I've also been thinking and hoping that Sleeping Beauty is around the corner...

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Herrera has not been one of my top favorites either, and last night reminded me once again why... Sigh.

But I'd still go to see her over some other principals... depending what ballet. Sylvia is definitely Murphy's.

Herrera is a great technician, but not as big in line or big in the style as Sylvia requires. Ashton makes lots of tiny, fussy steps inbetween huge leaps, etc. -- and they disappear and/or look terribly uncomfortable with Herrera. With Murphy, I think there is no limit technically as to what she can make look enormous.

Herrera seemed to be holding back in act 1.... and there was little joy in her entrance dancing.

No, last night, Herrera was not at her best especially in act 1, but I wonder how many readers here actually understand how awkward and uncomfortable the choreorgraphy is, for the main ballerina, to execute. My heart goes out to anybody who attempts it. Ashton's choreography for men is much more at ease and flowing. The female parts are full of hiccups and steps that don't blend well together... well, that's from this Balanchine girl's eye...

However, Herrera's lovely musicality in the 3rd act's solo was so "on" that the audience couldn't stop themselves from applauding - three times! - once when the solo had just begun. Herrera was definitely at her best then and throughout the 3rd act. I thought her 2nd act was sexy enough, and actually sexier than I had expected.

I too thought Sarah Lane nearly stole the show, dancing better and bigger than ever, and with so much flare and personality. Actually a few corps dancers also kept taking my eye away from the main leads. I imagine those corps dancers were happy to be dancing something challenging again, compared to a long season of ballets requiring very little dancing for them besides acting, costumed scenery.

Kept thinking that for the leads this season, this has been a primarily one-shot-per-ballet experience for the principals, with the exception of Cinderella. That's a ton of hard preparation work each week for each principal. Did we need to see seven different swan queens in one week? That idea may have looked good on paper, but I thought this season did not work that well for anyone performing. I would like to have seen Part given two opportunities of Swan Lake... I thought, except for Part and Murphy, that the principal females looked a bit tired at each new ballet's one-shot performance. I wonder how well the house sold...

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Was the schedule like this last year? One ballet per week and trying to cram as many leads in as possible?

Swan Lake every year? It's a bit much but it seems like they do R&J just as frequently.

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