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carbro, October 25, 2006 in American Ballet Theatre
Call me crazy, but I thought that Michele Wiles (violin) and Paloma Herrera (viola) were wonderful this evening (Wed) in Symphonie Concertante. Gracious, warm, elegant, attentive to each other, secure, confident, glorious. I kept thinking that it was like enjoying good wine. Wiles, a lush chardonnay; Herrera, a smooth cabernet with an exotic bouquet. I enjoyed this piece very much this evening. Oh, and that pesky pirouette-develope-pirouette item: Wiles again performed it beautifully, but Herrera did a double pirouette that evolved into attitude during the revolutions. Since Herrera could probably do the pesky thing in her sleep, but did this other thing, I now wonder what the original 1947 version was.
I guess Glow - Stop didn't offend me as much as it did other people. I observed everything that people complained about - it's all true. I don't know if anyone else got this feeling, but I got the idea that maybe one of Elo's concepts or devices was to make the audience feel like it was at times watching this piece from behind rather than from the front of the house. For much of it, I had this feeling like I could be standing in the back of a studio watching it all from the rear. And I think that's what much of this (awful) lighting was about. Did anyone else notice this? If this wasn't the case, then I haven't a fig of an idea what Elo was trying to do.
In any event, compliments to the dancers for looking superb. There is nothing that these people cannot do. I guess I'm seeing Glow - Stop again Friday night, so I will continue my analytical effort (?).
The Green Table continues to be awesome. The whole cast was a standout in my mind, but particularly memorable was the death dance between Hallberg (Death) and Jennifer Alexander (Young Girl). I wonder if we will ever see this degree of originality and developed concept from a choreographer again.
I went last night expecting to be disappointed by Part's absence, and came away astonished by her replacement, Hererra. She evoked, for me, the essence of Maria Tallchief's performance. When I saw Tallchief and LeClercq, it was Tallchief with her darker, richer tones who left a lasting impression as the one true Ballerina on the stage. I saw this same quality last night in Herrera---and all was not equal on the stage last night; Wiles paled in comparison. While watching Elo's new work and being lulled by the monotony of the Glass score I couldn't help thinking that these new modern day choreographers are so fortunate to have at their disposal such a bevy of extraordinary technicians--(imagine what a Balanchine would have done with this quality 60 years ago)---are they worthy of it?--They dazzle the audience with the proficiency of the performers and give us little else to admire. The Green Table has lost its punch for me. Except for the brilliant opening/closing scenes, it all looked cartoonish. To go against the current, I found Hallberg disappointing as Death--he was more Halloween-ish than profound.---I wish I could find that old Joffrey tape.........
Was I seeing things last night? It sure looked to me like Herrera danced the Violin role as she had previously and that Wiles switched over to the Viola role that Part & Kent danced before. I thought Wiles did well and that she and Herrera looked good together (no surprise there). To me, Wiles was close to perfect in the first & last movements but the adagio 2nd movement was the problem. She looked like she overdid it trying to force herself into the regal lyricism of it, like a little girl in Mom's evening gown. Arms and eyes were overdone. Still, she was very good and she did do the elusive pirouette combination beautifully.
I don't know if the Elo is growing on me or if it just got a monumentally fabulous performance last night. The dancers were unbelievable and this time I almost liked it. I also thought that The Green Table was done especially well - Jennifer Alexander was really beautiful but I actually felt that everyone - from Carmen Corella, Marian Bultler, Jared Mathews & Jesus Pastor to Patrick Ogle & the anonymous solders dug even deeper into their roles and turned in very affecting performances.
Sidenote - Sara Lane replaced Misty Copeland in Glow-Stop last night, and she was also replaced in the Morris on Tuesday. Hope it's nothing serious...
I am pretty sure that Wiles danced the violin, as she had earlier this season, and Herrera took on the Viola. With Beloserkovsky as the cavalier, I found this trio more satisfying than Wiles-Part-Gomes -- even though Part and Gomes get me to the box office much more than Herrera and Beloserkovsky.
A problem with Part in this -- ahem -- part is her tendency to create a world of her own when she dances. Usually, this is a wonderful, magical thing. And especially with Gomes, she has a partner who meets her wherever she is. Wiles is most likeable when she can be the Ballerina Next Door. She is very much in this world, in this moment, and that's how she takes this ballet. As does Paloma. Max was a lovely partner and danced with his customary masculine lyricism.
That said, Symphonie Concertante, of Balanchine's big tutu ballets, is my least favorite. He said of choreographing to Mozart that "he always defeats me," and here we see why. The music is absolutely sublime, and while inventive, the choreography is very academic. It doesn't even try to refer to the spiritual fluxes in the score -- which was probably the wiser choice. The single most satisfying performance of this ballet that I've ever seen was the one by SAB students (led by students Tara Keim and Rachel Rutherford) at the first Balanchine Celebration. It was likely because the young dancers didn't feel compelled to "make something" of it. They had the joy and freshness of pre-pros on a special occasion, and gave an unaffected, highly disciplined reading.
I enjoyed the performance of Glow-Stop -- the dancers took on new post-Tharpian movement style and delivered with great panache. While it was hard to see just who was who in the murky lighting, Sarah Lane's assertive presence caught my eye often. Opening to a movement of Mozart, Elo then proceded to move to Glass. I've already posted a few times my feelings about ballets made to scores by composers who sound not at all alike. (insert thumbs-down smiley here). I'm not so sure this piece will wear as well after the third or fourth viewing. The Glass wore out its welcome, which was never an issue for me with In the Upper Room. Also, I thought of those poor dancers -- all of whom (I think) also are in ITUR -- going from the rehearsal of one to the rehearsal of the other. I imagine they suffered torment from all that Glass going through their heads as they tried to fall asleep at night.
I agree that The Green Table lacked the overall impact I recall from the Joffrey, despite terrific performances from Marion Butler, Carmen Corella and the Hallberg-Alexander duet.
Symphonie Concertante- I think it was a little big for the CC stage, but I enjoyed it. I was dissapointed that V. Part was not dancing. Wiles was quite beautiful, she was very clean and sharp. Paloma was ok, her legs and feet were beautiful as always and her arms were a little sloppy,as always. The demi soloist and the corps also danced very nicely.
Glow-Stop-.......WOW...that is an AMAZING piece. I love every second of it. The dancers were amazing. Julie Kent always blows me away and really shows what a Ballerina is! Sarah Lane she always catches my eye and danced at such a top level last night. Now, I had never really seen Kristi Boone in much until last night and can I just say, she is amazing. She is such a beautiful dancer. Marcelo was his usual amazing self and I really enjoyed Cornejo. Sascha Radetsky was a little...stiff? I felt like he didn't really commit to the movement like the others did. But still this is such an amazing piece and I would love to see it many more times! Bravo to ABT and Elo!
The Green Table- This was the first time I had seen this piece. I like it. I think it was performed very well and has a lot of meaning behind it, even if it didn't really move me that much. The dancers did a great job with it. David Hallberg was very creepy as Death.
This was my frist viewing of ABT @ City Center and I quite enjoyed it. I like being at closer range so that I can see the pieces better and see more detail than I can at The Met.
Thursday night, October 26, 2006
Clear (Welch) Kent, Corella with Radetsky, Belotserkovsky, Hallberg, Salstein, C. Lopez, Piris-Nino in support.
Afternoon of a Faun (Robbins): Abrera, Carreno
Sinatra Songs (Tharp): Marcelo Gomes, Luciana Paris
Fancy Free (Robbins): Radetsky, Salstein, Carreno, G. Murphy, P. Herrera, Angela Snow
First of all, some bad news - Ethan Stiefel was to dance in the "Faun" but was replaced by Carreno. Stiefel is no longer down for any City Center performances on the ABT website casting page. He has been replaced in "Fancy Free" as well. This does not bode well for his recovery. He has been not dancing with ABT for almost a year now.
The rest is good news.
I don't know what I think of Stanton Welch's "Clear" as a ballet. There is a lot of energy on the stage and it gives the men of the company a lot to do (always a big Kevin McKenzie priority). Angel Corella gets lots of pirouettes and extending turning sequences which of course he performs with joyous abandon. The dancers are constantly moving about the stage. Max and David Hallberg have a big ballet boy dance-off. Julie Kent just looks like (lovely) stage decoration or a ballerina prop as she flits across the stage to be briefly noticed and lifted by Angel before flitting off and letting the bare-chested boys do their thing. After various groups of boys have their big dance competitions and Angel gets a pyrotechnic solo, suddenly, it gets serious. Julie is back and she means business actually dancing for more than 30 or 45 seconds. Then there is a final pas de deux for her and Angel in contracting spotlight with them gazing up into immortality. Suddenly, we are having intimations of mortality or something but where it came from and what it means is introduced too late with nothing building up to it to have much significance. Nice vehicle for the dancers though the style of choreography reminded me of Kylian, Mark Morris and others. The performers gave it all they got, I think with a lesser cast the conceptual flaws would be more evident.
The evening's theme could have been either "Men with their shirts off dancing" or "Sexy Latin Devils Strut their Stuff for You". Carreno was working both of these criteria last night. I am going to descend from the sublime to the trashy in saying that José with his shirt off is an aesthetic masterpiece in and of itself with or without a ballet surrounding it. Okay, now that I have gotten that off my chest, back to dancing. He is in great dancing shape and brought an animal sensuality to the young dancer as well as the necessary self-absorption. The problem with the first cast last year (Stiefel/Kent which I didn't see) was that they seem very mature, experienced people onstage. The whole theme of this ballet is youthful sensuality, self-absorption and the first experience of sexual contact (PG-rated of course). Better that you cast young or young-seeming dancers in the roles. Herman and Xiomara might be wonderful in it too. Or Angel Corella and Misty Copeland. Anyway, I thought that José might be too manly and experienced in it but he suggested a very young man who had put all his energy into his dancing but in the intimacy of the studio and alone with a woman was pulled out of himself. Stella Abrera's delicate, porcelain beauty and her air of sexual allure with a touch of remoteness was a convincing erotic magnet. Very good performance.
This was my first encounter with Tharp's "Sinatra Songs" so I can't compare this cast with others this season or with Misha and Elaine Kudo back when. Marcelo had his shirt on but was working the sexy stuff as well. He has strong stage presence and that is necessary with this piece. With his slicked back jet black hair, flamenco strut and erect carriage he could have been a tango dancer. Marcelo is also one of the very best partners at ABT and that is a plus in this piece with its adagio dancer acrobatics (woman doing cartwheels over the man's shoulder, lots of lifts and spins). I don't know if this is a masterpiece of choreography but it is striking and a good vehicle for the dancers. My only complaint is that there was one odd section where it looked like Marcelo was duckwalking while carrying Luciana Paris in an awkward position for a few bars. That might have been the original choreography but it needs work and they both need to loosen up a little and have fun with it - holding certain poses and milking certain moves with brio. Marcelo's final solo was very fine. Lots of young people around me in the upper gallery and they were loving the piece.
"Fancy Free" has been programmed recently at NYCB and I have seen it before with ABT and with Carreno. I still enjoyed it yet again due to the more intimate space and the elan of the fine cast. Carreno was still terrific and funny as the would-be ladies man mamboing sailor. More personality and theatricality then you usually get from him. Sascha Radetsky is ideal for a piece like this and had both brashness and boyish charm as the romantic sailor from a small town. Craig Salstein is a natural comedian and despite some cautious splits in his solo was very bouyant and funny in the Jerome Robbins role. Paloma Herrera was spot on as the girl with the red purse and Gillian Murphy had a mischievous twinkle as the other girl and danced up a storm. Both did more acting than we usually see from them and funny, sharp acting as well.
Lots of students up in the gallery and they seemed to enjoy the evening as did I.
Nomination for most valuable player in the ABT City Center season: Sascha Radetsky (David Hallberg a close second or tie). He looked good up there up against such competition as Carreno and Corella. He seems to be dancing in everything. He has a recent new tattoo on his right shoulder. He is dancing better than ever in a wide variety of dance genres. Bravo Sascha and let's hope some big roles in the Spring season materialize!
Boy, do these people love to dance. Holy smoke!
Last night’s opener was Stanton Welch’s Clear (aka Great Looking Men Without Shirts w/one beautiful lady). From the first step to the last, the piece was steeped in Tayloresque influence and energy - a good thing - and was magnificent. For those who worried about Angel Corella from last spring (I did), worry no more. He was on fire as were Hallberg, Beloserkovsky, Radetsky, Lopez, Salstein, and Alejandro Piris-Nino. Set to a composite of Bach concertos, the piece had dancers bursting from the wings, accelerating, doing remarkable pirouette combinations, and then getting out of the way so the next dancers could burst onto the stage. It also included beautiful, decelerated dancing for Hallberg and Beloserkovsky together, both of whom wore the more contemporary aspects of the choreography like high fashion. Juliet Kent, of course, looked lovely in this choreography that accented her liquid qualities and endless line.
Afternoon of the Faun, with Jose Manuel Carreno and Stella Abrera fell flat, for me, mostly because last year’s combination of Hallberg-Abrera was peerless and perhaps the most beautiful 10 minutes I’d ever seen on a stage. The match up of these two dancers did nothing for either of them. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t good. No one looks better than Carreno in a shirtless costume, but he did not convey the “in the middle of a dream” like quality that Hallberg did so masterfully last year. Also, I thought some of the dancers' spacing was a bit wide, thereby limiting the intimacy.
Sinatra Suite with Gomes and Luciana Paris was better than what I saw on opening night, but those great Big shoes are no where near being filled. Gomes was on the verge of the right idea all the way through, and made That’s Life work reasonably well - lots of panache with underlying humor. It appears that this will be substituted on Saturday afternoon for the Part-Gomes Swan Lake PdD. Just cut him loose with this Sinatra stuff, and in a while, we'll see something remarkable.
Fancy Free, with the super cast of Carreno, Radetsky, Salstein, Herrera, Murphy, and Angela Snow as the final walk by, was terrific. Everyone developed his own character to the fullest, and nobody let the steps get in the way of the story. It was very enjoyable, and again, radiated how much these dancers love what they do.
Craig Salstein is a natural comedian and despite some cautious splits in his solo was very bouyant and funny in the Jerome Robbins role.
My second viewing of Glow - Stop Friday evening did not help me figure out or come to terms with what Elo was trying to accomplish. It’s so hard to say that you really don’t care for something when in fact you like most of the ingredients. You love the dancers; you love seeing them perform amazing technical moves; you love the music. (Trying hard not to sound like one of those hyper-finicky opera critics), perhaps with ABT, we’ve come to expect more.
I wish, instead of shopping around for choreographers, McKenzie would shop around for completed original choreography. What classical composer assembles a first rate orchestra, and then stands before it without having yet written a score? What playwright assembles a first rate cast of actors for rehearsal and then tries to decide what he wants them to say and do? Perhaps we would see more fulfilling, more complete choreographic product if more of the initial investment was the responsibility of the choreographer, not the ballet company. Let the choreographer come knocking at the door with a nearly-completed, original piece of work. And then sell it for its full value or more. Standing around in a studio hoping for a collaborative effort or some kind of inspirational epiphany from the world’s greatest dancers doesn’t seem to be producing much great choreography these days - anywhere. Enough ranting.
Lubovitch’s Meadow with Hallberg and Abrera was beautiful. The corps work was a flow of Isadora-inspired joy. The PdD - gorgeous. I so enjoy seeing these two dancers together. It’s a partnership that could pack an emotional wallop in a Romeo and Juliet.
After substituting for Corella in Glow - Stop, Radetsky then had to star in Rodeo. He was magnificent in both pieces. Glow - Stop pushed him to go for broke, and we saw the benefits of that in Rodeo. Wearing his white tapping boots, he knocked off a multiple turn en attitude that even surprised himself. Reyes and Stappas were perfect as well. I didn’t want it to end.
After viewing the same program ("Clear," "Faun," "Sinatra Suite," and "Fancy Free") Thursday 10/26 and today's matinee, I just have to express my heartfelt appreciation to Kevin McKenzie and ABT -- and especially, the men of ABT. Where does ABT find all these guys? While I have particular favorites, likes and dislikes, among the women, it seems that whatever men they send out onto the stage do something dazzling.
Just to single out a very few favorites from these two performances:
"Clear" -- Corella spinning like a top, and the Hallberg-Beloserkovsky "big ballet boy dance-off" (to quote FauxPas) on Thursday; also Blaine Hoven in same today (I think that was him -- the blonder of the two men).
Radetsky and Craig Salstein in "Fancy Free" in both performances -- Radetsky is a delightful actor, and Craig Salstein was, as another poster said earlier, a natural comedian and a total ham onstage.
As to Carreno in his "shirtless costume," for "Faun," I refer you to yesterday's posts by FauxPas and Haglund's.
Thanks, guys, for a wonderful performance!
Was I seeing things last night? It sure looked to me like Herrera danced the Violin role as she had previously and that Wiles switched over to the Viola role that Part & Kent danced before. I thought Wiles did well and that she and Herrera looked good together (no surprise there). To me, Wiles was close to perfect in the first & last movements but the adagio 2nd movement was the problem. She looked like she overdid it trying to force herself into the regal lyricism of it, like a little girl in Mom's evening gown. Arms and eyes were overdone. Still, she was very good and she did do the elusive pirouette combination beautifully.I don't know if the Elo is growing on me or if it just got a monumentally fabulous performance last night. The dancers were unbelievable and this time I almost liked it. I also thought that The Green Table was done especially well - Jennifer Alexander was really beautiful but I actually felt that everyone - from Carmen Corella, Marian Bultler, Jared Mathews & Jesus Pastor to Patrick Ogle & the anonymous solders dug even deeper into their roles and turned in very affecting performances.
Sidenote - Sara Lane replaced Misty Copeland in Glow-Stop last night, and she was also replaced in the Morris on Tuesday. Hope it's nothing serious...
I liked the Elo piece, and Paloma is better than ever. JIM
Thank you for this review, atm711, and your view of the original cast. And yes, wonderful dancers with not much to dance, it's the story of our time....
I went last night expecting to be disappointed by Part's absence, . . .
The tears came during Strangers in the Night, when Gomes' longing for the lady was all but unbearable. It was all told through the angle of his head, subtle changes of posture and timing. And this dancer broke my heart in a most unlikely vehicle. His One for My Baby was not up to the (extraordinary) level of the prior four songs. It may be that Marcelo lacks the necessary cynicism, or perhaps the absence of a partner to bounce off of was the missing element.
Another ABT heartthrob, Jose Carreno, had a romantic -- or not romantic? -- encounter Saturday afternoon. He was magnificent in Afternoon of a Faun, capturing the aura of the youth and partnering Stella Abrera seamlessly. However, this performance belonged to Abrera. Her fluidity and flexibility; her beautiful, silky hair and her accustomed aloofness contributed to making this one of her best performances. The pair were quite a treat for the eyes, too!
The opening piece, Clear, is a virtuoso showcase. It is also, paradoxically enough, not terribly memorable. The guys did great -- Cornejo as usual tossing of the most incredible moves with no apparent effort, Jared Matthews giving his all , and Xiomara Reyes made what she could of the sole female role, one to which she is not terribly well suited. It really calls for long legs and an attenuated line, and she's simply not built that way.
Fancy Free closed the bill. Nobody can show off that ugly black-and-yellow dress like Paloma! She almost makes it look good. It's a great role for her. Sasha Radetsky did the pas with Gillian Murphy, generating zero sparks. There are problems with this staging. The part when the sailors play keep-away with the First Passerby's has a tendency to be too rough -- more threatening than playful. It didn't reach that point on Saturday, but it came very, very close. Also, some of the timings seem off. It takes much too long for the girls to recognize each other -- both in terms of what it would likely be in real life and for the overall pacing of the ballet. There was some terrific dancing here, but the ballet as a whole was not very satisfying.
But that Strangers in the Night . . . Oh, yeah!
[humming "Love was just a glance a way, a warm, embracing dance away."]
The tears came during Strangers in the Night, when Gomes' longing for the lady was all but unbearable. It was all told through the angle of his head, subtle changes of posture and timing. And this dancer broke my heart in a most unlikely vehicle. His One for My Baby was not up to the (extraordinary) level of the prior four songs. It may be that Marcelo lacks the necessary cynicism, or perhaps the absence of a partner to bounce off of was the missing element. But that Strangers in the Night . . . Oh, yeah!
[humming "Love was just a glance a way, a warm, embracing dance away."]
Gomes was wonderful in Sinatra Suite, truly wonderful. I hope they keep this in repertory for a few seasons, I really have to see him in it again (and again, and again)! Watching both Cornejo and Carreno previously I’d been thinking to myself that without technical tricks to wow us with, neither one was really able to make this compelling. I should have known that Gomes would do it justice. While his One For My Baby may not live up to the original (who’s could?) I thought it was very pensive and expressive.
Since I was not hesitant to express my disappointment with Luciana Paris when I first saw her dance this with Carenno let me say that she was a completely different dancer here with Gomes - so passionate and engaged! The only thing that still bothers me about her performance is that her character didn’t really change for That’s Life - she seemed perfectly happy to be knocked around by her partner. I wonder if that was a conscious choice on her part or just a lack of experience.
Watching Sarah Lane in a later performance with Corella (she was substituting for an injured Misty Copeland) really illustrated how important the woman’s role can be in this. She managed to be an active participant rather than just a beautiful cipher throughout the whole piece, but especially in That’s Life. Their rendition of this wasn’t about him tossing her around - this was a series of fights and reconciliations, and she gave as good as she got!
As stated earlier, I have a historywith "Sinatra Suite" and was greatly anticipating the performances by this generation's stars of ABT. Besides just the simple execution of the steps, I looked for the ability to phrase each sequence from the opening tango; through the waltz; to the jazzy, tightly syncopated & acrobatic That's Life and back to the final waltz. In short, not only were steps fully executed with panache, but was there a smooth flow between them and into the next sequence/song? As for the final solo, I looked for the contrast--also seen in other pieces choreographed by Tharp for Baryshnikov--of Tharp's loose-jointed soft-shoe punctuated by the precision, grace, and tight control of a classical ballet move--eg. fouettes, chaines, 4th arabesques, fondus, and epaulement. And until the final performance this season, that's what was missing in that solo.
I saw Herman Cornejo & Sarah Lane do it last weekend, and this week Gomes & Paris (2x) and finally Corella & Lane (filling in for injured Misty Copeland). The dancing certainly improved over time. Herman Cornejo was better on Saturday than opening night. And Thursday night, Marcelo Gomes was smoother than Cornejo, with much more nuance in the dramatic interactions. The last solo was played as slightly more inebriated than Baryshnikov et.al. did, which put a little more literal spin on the lyrics. In fact, overall Gomes was much more literal in his interpretation of the music and choreography, and his height did make some of those more acrobatic moves by his partner easier to accomodate. But there were steps that were still incomplete, or truncated, or not smoothly connected between phrases. This was even more apparant in Saturday's performance, which surprisingly was worse than Thursday's...several missed catches, slips, bumps in the partnering, though the final solo was smooth enough. The lady sitting next to me was most disappointed: her comment, "I can see this on any cruise ship. You don't see Swan Lake on a cruise ship." Well yes, Sinatra songs probably are performed on cruise ships--though not Tharp's version--and yes I too really wanted to see Gomes/Part do the White Swan pdd rather than ubiquitous Black Swans, but SS does have it's charms too. Overall, Gomes WAS good in the part and should improve with practice.
And then Sunday there was Angel Corella & Sarah Lane. After seeing the problems Corella had partnering Michele Wiles et.al. at speed in final sequences of "In the Upper Room", I was glad light petite Sarah Lane was his partner for Sinatra Suite. And though I've never seen a straighter back than that first entrance in"SS" (nerves?), finally, there was the fluidity and phrasing I remembered. AND more importantly, Lane finally completed the steps she (and Paris) had shortened, flubbed, or missed in the previous performances: developes, sutenus, that drop & pop-up split, the spirals and then somersaults thru and over her partner, the push-away sissone throws, the swirling headturns and deep bends. There was also some very saucy give-and-take in looks and actions that indeed made That's Life something more than a misogynistic romp. And despite one missed-timed carress between them, the ending was effective. Credit for that interaction, and those completed moves, must also go to Angel Corella--though Lane's small light build probably helped.
As for Corella, as always I watched the musical phrasing, grace and innate extended line in partnering, and there it was. And though that ever tighter/faster chaines string across the stage and 8+ multiple pirouettes Baryshnikov did (and I assumed Corella would have no problem duplicating) seemed to be a bit attenuated, the sharp contrast between the softshoe and the ballet wasn't. And FINALLY, alone of everyone, the foutte attitude arabesque touched the floor before it punched the sky in a perfect 4th...surrender into triumph in one move. Thank you Mr. Corella.
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