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ABT-The National Ballet Co. "Swan Lake'' in Detroit

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This is a posting that I have made elsewhere on the internet, but I hope that because of the wonderful nature of this exceptional performance you will allow be to post it here as well.

Some more quick thoughts.

Gillian Murphy's dancing last night was generally excellent, but what was wonderful to me was the 'Drama That She Sustained' throughout the entire evening. If the evening had stopped after her performance of Odile, I would have no idea how she could go on living with herself as a normal person. Her Odile was the Woman who Could Collapse Empires. She knocked over a few of mine in regard to my views of who's who in the world of ballet. It was definitely more a portrayal of seductive power than malice.

I would like to also add that I have the video of this performance and last night Gillian Murphy and the ABT in general carried it beyond to a new level of excellence.

I have to say something else as well. She is one of the healthiest and most wholesome principal ballerinas that I have seen in a long time. The ABT female dancers as well as the female dancers at the Pennsylvania Ballet (the only two American companies that I have seen a few times) generally have a very healthy (to be direct, "normal weight condition") appearance. All for the Good, this !!!!

What last night's performance of the entire company showed me was that in addition to technical prowess the ABT has the emotional depth to equal any of the world's great ballet companies.

The scenery was magnificent as were the costumes. The director of the Detroit Opera House, who announced the ABT's new designation by the US Congress as the National Ballet Company also informed us that the ABT arrived with " 'Ten' semi's [very large trucks] full of stage scenery ! ".

Description of the Corps de Ballet could easily fill another posting. The Swans moved along dramatically, emotionally and expressively in a wonderful manner. They sustained what to me was an absolutely 'Symphonic Progression' of the entire evening.

The men were a constant source of highlight and more importantly an underpinning of security. There was no worry (there was a 'secondary' slight mishap that passed quickly) about any ballerinas being dropped here.

The ending was a bit ambiguous, but brilliant to me. Odette and Sigfried seem to jump off the face of the earth, but then reappear at the very end in a 'Wondrously Dramatic Final Affirmation Of The Triumph Of Love And Beauty'. This particular ending allowed Tchaikovsky's remarkable music to keep building to a magnificently dramatic conclusion.

When I said in my first posting that I had tears in my eyes at the end of the evening, these were not because of any sadness in the story, but because of the Absolute Beauty Of It All. !

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>...last night's performance of the entire company....

Who danced the pas de trois in the first act?

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...

I would like to also add that I have the video of this performance and last night Gillian Murphy and the ABT in general carried it beyond to a new level of excellence. ...

Actually, every Swan Lake of hers that I've seen has far surpassed the video: it helps when the ballerina is not dancing after an injury! It also helps when she's working with a partner with whom she's developed a rapport and chemistry, although I suppose one (but not I) can understand the commercial need to cast for maximal star-attraction for a telecast/video. I'm assuming her Detroit Siegfried was Ethan Stiefel, as listed in ABT's casting? As a long-term couple and frequent partners, that must have contributed greatly. And bravi to the Detroit audience for giving such a joyous response to dancers without the cachet of Russian names!

I hope someone will review her second Detroit performance, where her Siegfried is listed as Jose M. Carreno. He was her Siegfried for some performances a few years ago, including that magic matinee with the bawling kids, that they transcended with one of the most intense White Swan pdd's I've ever seen.

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Haglund's, do I have any regrets ?? Absolutely Not !!

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...pic=22733&st=45

Last Night's ABT Performance Of Swan Lake Featuring Gillian Murphy Was 'Off The Scale' As Was The Audience Response !!

She Was Absolutely Wonderful !!

Hopefully I can tell you some more about it at another time. Right now I am 'euphoricly' exhausted !

Now you see why some of us go to 7 or 8 or 11 straight Swan Lakes in the spring. It's madness what this ballet does to people. Every cast that ABT serves up is a completely different audience experience. Glad that you fell under the Murphy/Stiefel spell.

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Now you see why some of us go to 7 or 8 or 11 straight Swan Lakes in the spring. It's madness what this ballet does to people. Every cast that ABT serves up is a completely different audience experience. Glad that you fell under the Murphy/Stiefel spell.

I understand perfectly. I try to see as many as I possibly can. They are never the same even with the same artists reappearing.

The ABT site has just announced that Gilliam Murphy will be scheduled for a second appearance. She is great !

Last night Paloma Herrera danced with beautiful dreamlike lyricism and Gennadi Saveliev as Siegfried also danced very gracefully with wonderful suspended in mid air jumps.

sz, the pas de trois on night one was danced by Maria Riccetto, Stella Abrera and Jared Mattthews and on night two by Melissa Thomson, Hee Seo and probably Jared Matthews again (there was a cast change announcement that I missed, but he looked the same).

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ABT's Swan Lake of 16 March in Detroit had Paloma Herrera and Gennadi Saveliev as Odette/Odile and Siegfried. Benno was Jared Matthews, subbing for the listed Sascha Radetsky. Radetsky danced the 'human' Rothbart with Jesus Pastor as the 'sorcerer'Rothbart (I think I'm right on this last dancer).

The Pas de trois was led by Jared Matthews with Melissa Thomas and Hee Seo.

Altogether a wonderful cast.

Ms Herrera, in the appearances I've seen the last few years, has offered a solid technical foundation in her dancing, but sometimes with deficiencies in port de bras or in upper body plasticity, that would exclude her from the rarefied and elite category of a 'ballerina'. No longer.

In my view, she has emerged as an artist with a refined style.

The lakeside pas de deux with Saveliev flowed as a seamless, compelling and inevitable whole, without excesses or embellishments. An astonishing performance.

Both leads exhibited a musicality without an emphatic rubato, lending their movements a purity of style.

In this, my first viewing of Mr. Saveliev's artistry, I found him a focused dancer with total command of his time on stage, whether in the exhibition of technical feats, in mime passages, or as a presence.

The motto of Ms Herrera's dancing seems to be 'nothing in excess'. In her variation, in the series of entrechats-quatre and retirés passé, one of the jumps (and one only) was so high as to be breathtaking. Like playing with the golden mean.

Her Odile reminded me of an enchanted enchantress. There was playfulness, smiles, and bravura display but none of vulgar excesses (such as the supported a la seconde split lift done across the stage in the pdd --that one sees everywhere nowadays, and leads one to wondering what it is supposed to mean in a Petipa ballet). Her lifted legs in second looked more like 45 degrees than 90. A touch of classic sanity.

For the record: Her fouettes started with a double-single sequence in the first half, and thereafter singles that, yes, traveled but in a straight line downstage and with an elegant 4th position finish. A joy to watch.

McKenzie's production grows more likeable for me with repeated viewings. The costumes of Zack Brown are sumptuous and gorgeously decorated. (Even Odette's tutu has red/pink stones in the midriff.)

In the first scene, the double pirouettes of the corps ladies in the long gowns of the 'aristocrats were phenomenal-an altogether different experience from the pirouette of a leotarded body. The ABT corps is absolutely top-rate. Only time prevents me from praising their many virtues. Actually they deserve a review of their own.

Of the soloists I particularly enjoyed the performers of the pas de trois and the Neapolitan dance of Aaron Scott and Craig Salstein. It was good to see rivoltades and other character steps well-danced.

McKenzie's choice for the ending, the double suicide of the couple and their union in the afterworld, was supported convincingly by the climactic Tschaikovsky score,

eloquently conducted by Ormsby Wilkins.

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May I just say most briefly that for me All the ABT performances this week in Detroit were Outstanding !! Michele Wiles was an overwhelming surprise in how beautifully she did. Paloma Herrera added a wonderful layer of character portrayal in her second performance to her exceptional display of grace and technique the first night. Gillian Murphy was a dramatic megaforce.

And on and on it goes. A simply wonderful week !!

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Anybody see the perfs on the 17th and 18th?

Who were the dancers for the pas de trois in those performances?

Sorry, ABT's website only provides the main leads, and I figured ABT might be trying out some new casts in the second banana roles while on the road.

The debut of Sleeping Beauty in Costa Mesa, CA, should be very interesting with lots of secondary roles....

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Does anyone know specifically what Irina Kolpakova does at ABT these days ? A friend pointed her out to me. She was in the audience watching Paloma Herrera's performance Sunday and appparently would go backstage immediately at the intermission.

Also the dancing of the corps de ballet swans seems to be speeded up since the video was released. I find this to be very effective, but that is just my opinion. Does anyone know who might be responsible for this and also who does some of the 'acting' coaching, which also to me seemed very fine at times ?

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Altogether a wonderful cast.

Ms Herrera, in the appearances I've seen the last few years, has offered a solid technical foundation in her dancing, but sometimes with deficiencies in port de bras or in upper body plasticity, that would exclude her from the rarefied and elite category of a 'ballerina'. No longer.

In my view, she has emerged as an artist with a refined style.

Her Odile reminded me of an enchanted enchantress.

chiapuris, thank you very much for your very fine review. I definitely agree with the good things that you say about Paloma Herrera. I saw her a few years ago performing Giselle. I said to myself at the time, " I guess you don't have to be from Russia to be a great dancer (but it helps !) ".

Your statement "Her Odile reminded me of an enchanted enchantress" seems like a very fine description--even more so on Sunday.

Thanks, Dale, for the information. Does Irina Kolpakova 'coach' anyone in particular ?

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As I understand the system at ABT, coaches are assigned to coach particular roles, not particular dancers.

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Anybody see the perfs on the 17th and 18th?

Who were the dancers for the pas de trois in those performances?

sz,I didn't perfs. of the 17th, but I saw the 18th [the performance that was originally listed as Veronika Part's]

The pas de trois on Sunday comprised Misty Copeland, Sarah Lane, and Carlos Lopez. Top drawer.

Copeland elegant and expressive, Lane all precision and exquisite phrasing, Lopez buoyant and

a reliable and elegant partner. I really enjoyed them.

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The pas de trois on Sunday comprised Misty Copeland, Sarah Lane, and Carlos Lopez. Top drawer.

Copeland elegant and expressive, Lane all precision and exquisite phrasing, Lopez buoyant and

a reliable and elegant partner. I really enjoyed them.

Were You the Friend who told me that Irina Kolpakova was in the audience ? (clickable 'Smiling' Smiley).

[format later edited]

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As I understand the system at ABT, coaches are assigned to coach particular roles, not particular dancers.

Thank you for telling me this, carbro. If she is coching Odette/Odiles I would say that she is doing an extremely good job.

chiapuris, did you see her there Friday ?

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Since this is probably the first "Classical' ballet that I have seen in this style it might be interesting to share a few impressions. I have focused mostly on dancers from Russia, either as lead dancers or as an entire company.

I have seen a few performances before by ABT, but the ones last week were much more pronounced in style. I felt that ballet dancers from Russia may move with more fluidity and have a more delicate atmosphere. A company like the Kirov-Mariinsky is also very famous for the unity of it's group dancing.

One of the first things that I sensed at last week's performances was that even if the dancers weren't totally uniform in their moves, although often they were, there was an intangible unity to their dancing. It seemed like there was a strong inner force connecting them. They appeared to 'know' that they were connected. It seemed to come more from the center of their body perhaps, rather than from their feet, their legs or their arms. It seemed more like something I that I sensed rather than saw.

The corps de ballet of White Swans danced at a much higher velocity and energy level than I had ever seen before in a classical ballet, especially a Swan Lake. Even in other American 'classical' performances, ABT, ect., I have never seen this kind of energetic corps de ballet dancing before. Gillian Murphy was the Odette/Odile, who came closest to this of the lead ballerinas. I have to say that I am only minimally familiar with the Balanchine style, but quickness and energy are some of the things that I have heard that Balanchine is famous for.

I have always associated delicacy, subtlety and precision with Swan Lake. The ABT performances extended these boundaries. Somehow for me it worked extremely well, although I am not quite sure why because I love most the 'delicacy' of Swan Lake and of classical ballet in general. 'Drama' was a key element now, but here it didn't somehow overwhelm the sensitivity of the dancing.

I recalled almost immediately a recent quote by Alina Cojocaru saying how concerned she was at first to get her Odette/Odile just right and to later decide that there really is no one way or 'right' way to dance this part.

Still I felt a subtlety to what the ABT dancers were doing, that came more from restraint. The moves might not have been as expressive, expansive or fluid as I have seen in dancers from Russia, but it was in this constraint that the subtlety seemed to exist. The expression was there, but it was being held back, and from this came a sense of compressed energy. You could maybe feel what might happen, and it was almost as tangible as actually seeing it happen.

The fast velocity of the White Swans dancers, that built dramatically in what I mentioned before seemed like a wonderful Symphonic Progression, worked very well for me. As much as they might have appeared to be charging around the stage there once again was a hard to define sensitivety to it. The sense of femininity was always dominant.

There was one element that I would call "Almost Russian", and that was the facial expression of the White Swans that was very commited and compelling. A very fine quality, I thought. There was also a 'characterization' at times by the entire cast that was very commited and compelling , yet different from what I would call "Russian". It too seemed to work just fine, although I am still unable to describe it very well.

This wasn't a purist Swan Lake, but it certainly wasn't a radical one either. It seemed to me to be one where the obvious delicacy was replaced by a much more subtle one that for me was just as wonderful.

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Just a few more quick comments.

I mentioned that Giillian Murphy was the closest in style of the lead ballerinas to the dramatic, fast moving elements of the ballet, most noticeably sustained by the corps de ballet swans. Paloma Herrera on the other hand had a beautiful, more classical, more lyrical style that I thought worked equally well. Her Odile was consistant with her reputation as a fine 'technical' dancer. The fast moving drama around her beautifully graceful Odette seemed to frame her lovely dancing rather than detract from it. Michele Wiles' very lovely dancing style was also delicate, but also had a crispness to it that worked very well with the surrounding energy level.

In referring to Paloma Herrera chiapuris said, "The lakeside pas de deux with Saveliev flowed as a seamless, compelling and inevitable whole, without excesses or embellishments. An astonishing performance." For those who really notice things like six o'clocks (legs straight up) I don't recall seeing one in the entire week. In many ways each entire performance seemed to reflect what chiapuris has said about Paloma Herrera.

[last two sentences added later because of posting error]

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