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Swan Lake-Spring 2014

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Zhongying Fang just posted on her public instagram that Nicola Curry will be departing the ABT after this final performance of Swan Lake. The corps de ballet departures continue. mad.gif

That's a shame. I hope she is not ending her dance career but is going somewhere with more performance opportunities.

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I've kept print-outs from recent years and the complete schedule, with principal casting, has been posted on the web site in mid-October for the next Met season.

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Stearns was much improved this afternoon as compared to the Wednesday matinee. The differernce was quite startling, in a good way. Bravo Cory for getting your act together.

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Boy, these principals are doing ok for themselves. Salaries have come a long way (up) since the 1980's.

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Perhaps if all of us write letters (politely) advocating for Stella to finally get her chance to dance the role we're all dying to see she inhabit on the Met stage...there is no way that Kevin McKenzie can ignore us. I know it's not just us on the board but the people who have gone to watch ABT repeatedly over the years and have completely fallen in love with her and her dancing.

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I attended this afternoon's performance and I'm seriously speculating that Cory Stearns reads our forum. I thought his acting today was greatly improved from Wednesday. I had the sense he was adding, quite successfully, an acting dimension to his already accomplished partnering and dancing. He interacted with others on stage, smiled when appropriate, was excited by his birthday gift, turned his face upwards into the light and towards the balconies, ran instead of ambled, added much more emotion, always tastefully. For me, just as Wednesday's performance was all about Part, today's performance was all about Stearns.

Although Semionova is a technical wizard, I found her interpretation seriously lacking. I had no sense of an interior life, as they say, her arms were flapping every which way, her upper body expressed nothing of tragedy. Admittedly, she was better as Odile than Odette, but overall I think someone's earlier characterization of her as ABT's in-house ballerina was underscored by her performance today. Of course, she got deafening ovations and applause, but for me she paled in comparison to Part.

this is basically the exact same rundown I got from my friends who attended the matinee...they said Cory seemed tight at first but definitely relaxed and got more comfortable as the ballet went on, and Polina is "gorgeous to look at/watch but seemed emotionally on-dimensional at times" (fyi, they were first time ABT attendees...they both moved to NYC within the last two years and FINALLY had the time and money to go to a ballet -- so if they could tell, it's something she really needs to work on)

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Saw Seo/Bolle for the first time tonight. While I thought Seo was fine in Acts 2 and 4 (I would agree with a previous poster that Act 4 is probably her best), her Odile is definitely weak, lacking in seductive energy and struggling with some of the technical parts. Bolle also wasn't perfect but overall still solid

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Perhaps if all of us write letters (politely) advocating for Stella to finally get her chance to dance the role we're all dying to see she inhabit on the Met stage...there is no way that Kevin McKenzie can ignore us. I know it's not just us on the board but the people who have gone to watch ABT repeatedly over the years and have completely fallen in love with her and her dancing.

Does Stella have a sponsor? I'm convinced that the dancers who get promoted are those who have sponsors, so ABT doesn't pay their salaries. If she doesn't, maybe a bunch of us should get together, either to find her one or sponsor her ourselves (haha). Seriously, I've seen Wendy Whelan 3 times this week and she is constantly chatting people up (the members of the Boston Ballet Board of Directors all knew her). Stella should also think about cultivating that skill set - it can come in very handy. Were she to find a rich sponsor I think she would get promoted. (Of course that doesn't mean you will dance much; one need only look at Veronika Part to see that)

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Perhaps if all of us write letters (politely) advocating for Stella to finally get her chance to dance the role we're all dying to see she inhabit on the Met stage...there is no way that Kevin McKenzie can ignore us. I know it's not just us on the board but the people who have gone to watch ABT repeatedly over the years and have completely fallen in love with her and her dancing.

Does Stella have a sponsor? I'm convinced that the dancers who get promoted are those who have sponsors, so ABT doesn't pay their salaries. If she doesn't, maybe a bunch of us should get together, either to find her one or sponsor her ourselves (haha). Seriously, I've seen Wendy Whelan 3 times this week and she is constantly chatting people up (the members of the Boston Ballet Board of Directors all knew her). Stella should also think about cultivating that skill set - it can come in very handy. Were she to find a rich sponsor I think she would get promoted. (Of course that doesn't mean you will dance much; one need only look at Veronika Part to see that)

FYI: contrary to belief, the sponsorships don't pay for the dancers salaries. The money goes into the general fund and the amounts for each level are (as I remember) $15k for corps, $25k for soloist, and maybe $40k for principal?

Also Stella is certainly capable of chatting up donors. I met her once during the fall season and happened to run into her right before the met season. She approached me and was as friendly as could be and made me feel important (and I'm definitely not) by asking how I was doing and being truly interested and engaged. She's really the sweetest; she and Sascha are so humble and gracious, it's a shame that they haven't gotten the recognition that they deserve

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For a moment there, I thought I was in the Bolshoi forum.

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i'm not sure about currently, but a few years ago both she and Sascha had sponsors (the same sponsorship fund)...there isn't anything on the website, but it's usually tucked into one of the sections of the playbill.

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For a moment there, I thought I was in the Bolshoi forum.

Yes, it might have seemed that way, but in light of this week’s drama (Will the same couple actually dance back to back Swan Lakes ?!) it is interesting to note the difference in dance attitudes and practices between the USA and Russia, where this probably wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow.

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In my SL Playbill, page 25 lists the sponsors for soloists/corps dancers. Abrera is not listed as having one.

I don't think McKenzie would give a rat's tail if he got a bunch of letters asking that Abrera be given more roles or a promotion. I'm convinced that she's not his kind of dancer. Not for more than secondary roles anyway. Plus she's not "famous" or all over social media with a huge following that could result in more non-ballet followers or new balletomanes buying tickets to come to the theatre (which may convince McKenzie to give her better parts). I'm not advocating she do that at all. I think that's the reality now.

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Perhaps it would be better to write Vogue to follow up Ratmansky inerview with article on Abrera

Or even a photoshot with her as model...

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I find all of this distasteful. If Stella wants to find a sponsor, she can find one. But to suggest to her (even indirectly, or on the boards, which I think we know dancers read) that she should find a sponsor and then she can get more roles that way is distasteful. It's frankly none of our business, and I find the whole idea of "sponsorship" somewhat sinister. It goes back to the bad bad old days when ballerinas felt they needed a wealthy patron to "support" them and there's all sorts of unsavory stories about what being "sponsored" meant. Mathilde Kschessinskaya was "sponsored" by the Czar. Anyway, Stella's dancing is strong enough on its own terms that she doesn't/shouldn't need a sponsor.

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I do not think sponsorship today means getting a sugar daddy as it did in the 19th century if anyone is aware

Of how this works perhaps they could write

I do not think the social position

of a ballerina today - rather exalted position of an artist - is that of a 19th century one where it was a given that they had wealthy "friends"

And were not accepted in mainstream society-similarly to actors.

But I would be worried about impact on free expression or additional pressure a sponsorship may entail unless it is

Like a fellowship grant

We should not censor ourselves because someone or other may be reading the posts.

I am sure that people frequenting this forum are capable in reading the posts in the spirit in which they were given.

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On the subject of 19th century i often wonder how these ballets were experienced by men and women then

Their erotic aspect was very different given long dresses etc. while bosoms were exposed in evening ball gowns

All those legs!

This erotic content is obviously there esp at ABT (see Manon) it is just worked differenly -

Then there is Nijinsky sending shock waves dancing Afternoon of a Fauns sans underwear.. He would be fired today...

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We've debated the question of sponsorship, in the case of ABT official sponsorship, before, including whether having one influences management's decisions. In fact it is the business of donors and ticket buyers as to whether money behind dancers determines who the audience sees in what or doesn't see. It may matter to some and not to others, and to those it matters, how they let their patronage do the talking (and walking), but there's a chicken-and-egg problem: does opportunity beget sponsors or do sponsors beget opportunity? The samples aren't large enough. Would an outside sponsor's money be any more "distasteful" or insidious than the entrenched nepotism in ballet?

You don't have to go back to Kschessinskaya or to more recent "friends of the right general" spouses-of-AD's to talk about sponsorship in high places: Joy Womack said she was told to get a sponsor if she wanted to be cast.

Stella Abrera is a grown-up. She's been at ABT since 1996. She's stayed for whatever trade-offs she made. Perhaps (if there are no other personal concerns keeping her in NYC), with her husband retiring this week, they can pick up and move somewhere where she'll get more opportunities and will be appreciated. Or not, if she prefers to stay at ABT.

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We've debated the question of sponsorship, in the case of ABT official sponsorship, before, including whether having one influences management's decisions. In fact it is the business of donors and ticket buyers as to whether money behind dancers determines who the audience sees in what or doesn't see. It may matter to some and not to others, and to those it matters, how they let their patronage do the talking (and walking), but there's a chicken-and-egg problem: does opportunity beget sponsors or do sponsors beget opportunity? The samples aren't large enough. Would an outside sponsor's money be any more "distasteful" or insidious than the entrenched nepotism in ballet?

You don't have to go back to Kschessinskaya or to more recent "friends of the right general" spouses-of-AD's to talk about sponsorship in high places: Joy Womack said she was told to get a sponsor if she wanted to be cast.

Stella Abrera is a grown-up. She's been at ABT since 1996. She's stayed for whatever trade-offs she made. Perhaps (if there are no other personal concerns keeping her in NYC), with her husband retiring this week, they can pick up and move somewhere where she'll get more opportunities and will be appreciated. Or not, if she prefers to stay at ABT.

I've always been under the impression that Stella and Sascha would venture back West once their time in NYC was done -- in a way, I always assumed it would be a joint retirement...but alas, such is not the case. However, if I'm not mistaken, Flesh & Bone films in NYC so I doubt Stella will be leaving ABT until she calls it a career.

Regardless, as long as she keeps giving the kinds of performances we on this board have come to enjoy and love so much, I'll keep the hope that she'll continue to get opportunities to share her technique and artistry with us. Yes, the chances for regular principal roles probably have come and perhaps gone, but I don't doubt the chance for her to retire in a principal role -- i mean next week's Coppélia's are all farewell's of some sort...(but, PLEASE let it be a Giselle for Stella!). And correct me if I'm wrong, she's one of the soloists with a relatively "heavy" schedule during the Met season, as it seems rare to not have her dancing on the Met stage even in smaller demi-solos...this obviously has to do with the fact that she's been with the company since 1996 and her repertoire is expansive.

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Actually, Nicola Curry is leaving for a good reason: She is getting married next month to a man from "Down Under" and moving to Australia. More good news: Nicola will be joining the Australian Ballet! (I'm not sure when she will start with the company.) While she is sad to be leaving NYC and ABT, she says she's excited--and nervous--about starting this new chapter in her life. She has posted about this on her Instagram account.

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re: Nijinsky's costume 'controversy,' about which facts remain somewhat murky, the costume in question was Benois's for Albrecht, not Bakst's for FAUNE.

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Re: SWAN LAKE. Sat. Nite. Seo/Bolle. I saw both Wednesday night (Semianova/Gomes) and this performance. Both were excellent though quite different. I am a little surprised by how many people seem so dismissive of Semianova. I found ber to be astonisbing - authoritative, technically flawless (ok maybe the arms in Act I could use a hair more fluidity). I did not find her "cold" or uninvolved as some above and certainly not boring. There were many nice moments of contact with Marcello. Her Black Swan had the same great authority and was a real Vixen, but not super evil. All in all, a dazzling and exciting performance and in my opinion, one very difficult to top.

The Sat nite was a all around lovely performance. Not as astonishingly accurate as the Seminova/Bolle, but in some ways even more moving. On tbis evening it was Story First. Both Seo and Bolle seemed quite steeped in the actual story. I want to say especially Bolle, but really Seo's acting and attention to little nuances were terrific and in some instances even went beyond some of the fine tender moments Semianova had.

Bolle gave a masterful performance. He said on instagram that these Swan Lakes were the first since bis last Swan 5 years ago. He has obviously thought long and hard as he readied himself to return to the role. Marcello's Siegfried is young man who is a bit scattered and unfocused, but he is still pretty exuberant. Bolle's Siegfried, on the other hand is a bit of a "lost soul". He doesn't fit in that comfortably anywhere. Even with his best friend he is a bit removed. He adores his mother, but is basically a loner otherwise. There was something a little dark about the way Bolle approached it, and sometbing sad, long before we got to the tragic ending. He expressed that sadness, loneliness and isolation very well in bis adagio in Act I. I liked it very much when the mother took the cross-bow from Marcello and he sort of reached for it as if to say"wait! That's mine!". With Bolle, once the mother took the cross-bow and she wanted to talk to him, his entire attention was on her, with some trepidation, keeping with his darker approach to Siegfried.

If you are going to get into this story as if it were true and not just a ballet performance, then Bolle's approach made it very clear why he would be so attracted to this mysterious creature in the forest - so different from anyone at court. The two of them are sort of "outsiders" in their own worlds. At first Seo is frightened of him, and rebukes all of his advances. Hurt, he turns from her. All of a sudden she seemed.to sense his sorrow (perhaps like her own?). In that moment she seems to fall in love with him and goes to him and caresses his cheek. Maybe that moment has always been there, but it never affected me as it did when Seo and Bolle did it.

In the great PDD, Bolle was alternately dazzled and delighted and then hurt and confused by Seo's hot and cold manipulations. His horror (especially when he runs to his mother's arms) was really moving. I love the way Bolle's shoulders and face express anguish. Marcello's banging the big doorknobs was great, but Bolle's crumpling against the door with one arm stretched upward was equally moving. Nobody leaps to his death like Marcello, but on the other hand it does get a big laugh and the story goes out the window. I wouldn't want to tell him not to do it, because it is astonishing and fun and is his thing. But I don't think it should be anyone else's standard.

The way Seo and Bolle handled the jumps was moving and still rooted in the reality of the story.

Seo was pretty technically secure, but not with Polina's incredible backward arch, with every sinewy muscle evident. She did not hold that moment as she Black Swan as long or as bigh as Polina. Her foutees traveled downstage (but straight downstage so you could almost believe it was on purpose - I doubt Polina moved even two inches). I thkught Bolle might have made some adjustments to get himself through these back to back performances, but I went back and looked at the Grand PDD from the Golden Jubilee in London with Zanaida Yanowski (early 90's) and it doesn't look like he made any major compromises, other than a little leeway from the conductor. His lifts were easy and assured and his partnering excellent.

Whiteside was.more bravura and flamboyant than Hammoudi (who still seems to be being cautious from his injury) but not every single thing was absolutely perfect. This small role is evidently very difficult. No one but Marcello seems to have mastered it completely. Blaine Holven and Grant DeLong were excellent as the twins, as had been Aaron and Craig on Wed. Luis was also excellent as the friend.

I am very happy to have seen both of these performances - both unforgettable in their way. There is so much perfection these dancers are striving for: perfection of steps and moves, truth of relationships, dramatic truth etc.. it is.endlessly fascinating to see each cast reach for the (unattainable) perfect achievement.

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I was at the June 28th matinee of Swan Lake. I thought Semoionova was spectacular. Guess that's what makes this an interesting site.

Polina Semionova is magnificent in the dual role of Odette/Odile. Usually a ballerina favors one role over the other. Semionova is one of the few Odette/Odiles I have ever seen who is equally stunning in both parts. As the Swan Queen Semionova has gloriously rippling swan arms which appear to be almost boneless. Her wonderfully supple upper body shows clearly the misery Odette feels when Siegfried declares his love for Odile at the ball. Semionova’s every movement is plush and luxuriant. Her petite batterie at the end of Act II, where her legs crisscross in the air, are amazing. As Odile, Semionova is gleefully seductive. Her phenomenal balances seem to go on forever. During the coda she starts by whipping off double and triple fouettes, then ends with a series of very fast single fouettes.

As Prince Siegfried Cory Stearns shows off his marvelous line and very secure partnering skills. During the black swan pas de deux he impresses with high leaps and very fast turns a la seconde. Cory Stearns’ puppy dog eagerness is perfect for his portrayal of a very young Prince Siegfried. The look on his face at the end of the black swan pas de deux is priceless. All Siegfried seems to want to do is grab Odile and have his “way” with her. Stearns’ desolation, however, when he learns that he has been tricked by Odile and her father, is heartbreaking.

As good as Semionova and Stearns are separately, together they are truly breathtaking. Their chemistry is passionate in Act II, combustible in Act III (Fireworks occur during the black swan pas de deux.) and poignantly grief-stricken in Act IV.

I usually find the handsome von Rothbart’s solo in Act III to be a waste of time. Most of the time I’m thinking to myself “Please let this be over so the black swan pas de deux can begin." On Saturday afternoon, however, Jared Matthews is so perfect as the von Rothbart in purple that I am totally engrossed by his variation. Matthews is deliciously evil and it’s quite clear that he is having the time of his life as the wicked wizard. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone better in this part except for Marcelo Gomes.

In the pas de trois Blaine Hoven stands out for the elevation of his jumps and his ballon. Melanie Hamrick’s dancing is full of joy and Stella Abrera shines with musicality and vibrant movements. The all important female corps members in Acts II and IV dance in splendid harmony with the music and each other. Christine Shevchenko and Katherine Williams’ big swans show off their lovely lyrical phrasing. Tchaikovsky’s glorious score is played beautifully by the orchestra. In spite of the production’s flaws it is a glorious afternoon at the ballet. June 28th matinee performance of ‘Swan Lake’ is one I will carry with me for a long time.

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