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Helene

ABT 2015 Season, Continued

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Don't make assumptions. I distinctly remember traveling by Chinatown bus to D.C. and the bus being delayed and getting to Kennedy Center late and finding out that Osipova and Vasiliev had cancelled and I was left with a rather mediocre Shipulina. But my point was I didn't feel completely dejected, as I loved the production, the corps, and some of the soloists. I'd feel the same way about the Mariinsky or the NYCB if there was a big cast change. I'd be disappointed that Dancer X wasn't dancing, but I'd still be able to enjoy the performances. At the NYCB I trust that there will be enough worthwhile stuff onstage that even if, say, Ashley Bouder cancelled Stars and Stripes ('Im just thinking of one dancer and one ballet where I distinctly buy a ticket just to see that dancer in that ballet) whoever is Liberty Girl will also be good.

But with ABT, it's like if Dancer X or Y isn't dancing (or is dancing), it's like the worst thing in the world and people are just absolutely distraught and can't go on. That part is what separates ABT from other companies. I mean I like Stella Abrera as much as anyone else but say Stella for some reason couldn't dance the Giselle she's scheduled for. In a real company, that shouldn't cause a massive meltdown. You should trust that there's enough depth in the company that her replacement will be worthwhile as well.

In NYCB if a special dancer is replaced you still have a lot of dancers to watch doing a lot of choreography. ABT is so big ballet oriented that there isn't much dancing for anyone but the principals. I bought a ticket to see Cojocaru in SL. Hee Seo was her replacement and I didn't stay for the whole thing. That is very different from buying a ticket to see Ashley Bouder do Stars and Stripes. In that case you'd see three other ballets (probably well done) and then be ready to have an unexpected experience.

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In NYCB if a special dancer is replaced you still have a lot of dancers to watch doing a lot of choreography. ABT is so big ballet oriented that there isn't much dancing for anyone but the principals. I bought a ticket to see Cojocaru in SL. Hee Seo was her replacement and I didn't stay for the whole thing. That is very different from buying a ticket to see Ashley Bouder do Stars and Stripes. In that case you'd see three other ballets (probably well done) and then be ready to have an unexpected experience.

ABT is only so "big ballet oriented" in the sense that many of their productions of the classics (or old productions -- I'm waiting to see how Ratmansky's SB plays out) have been watered down to the point where there actually isn't much to see but the soloists. I mean, take their old production of SB. Almost all the act three divertissements were gone. Or their production of Don Quixote, where a lot of the wonderful character dancing that one sees in the Bolshoi/Mikhailovsky/Mariinsky companies is gone, so it really is only Kitri and Basilio. Again, it's a chicken and egg thing. Are ABT productions watered down because it's so star driven, or is it so star driven because their productions are so watered down?

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I also wonder whether ABT will refund the difference in tickets prices. Osipova and Semionova performances command higher prices than the ones with Seo.

Of course, it's a purely rhetorical question: we all know that no refunds will be issued and the ridiculous dynamic pricing system will remain in effect.

This, btw, is one more reason why I'm never in a rush to purchase any ABT tickets nowadays. If I overpay to see my favorite dancers I'd like to be as certain as possible they will actually be performing.

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Just back from tonight's gala. Looked like a sell out. Too tired to go through each ballet so I'll keep it brief. Gorak danced impressively in Etudes and the finale of T&V. Gorgeous lines and excellent technique. This guy is destined for big things. Murphy also knocked it out of the park with her variation in Etudes, where she spun like a top with incredible velocity and perfect precision. She also did an impressive job in a short excerpt of Fall River Legend. In the Ratmansky ballet excerpt Piano Concerto, Christine Shevchenko performed with controlled abandon. Really great work. Gabe Stone Shayer , taking over Vasiliev's old part, also did wonderfully. Too many people and ballets to discuss. Boylston tried for too much in the wedding pdd excerpt from Don Q, and ended up coming off point twice and veering all over the place in in her fouettes. If you can't do doubles, don't even try. Hee Seo also managed to come off pointe at least once, perhaps twice, during Leaves are Fading pdd. More tomorrow.

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Loved tonight's gala, especially:

Murphy & Gorak in ETUDES. I agree with Abatt that he was impressive! He was also good in T&V but Lane, while tidy and neat, is too slight of a figure, not because of stature but but because she dances too small for my taste, unlike other short ballerinas who danced "big" (Kirkland, Makarova &, yes, Copeland).

Kent & Gomes in MANON. She was so giddy at the end, having rehearsed in very little time after Vishneva's pull-out.

Copeland/Whiteside and corps in the SWAN LAKE finale. Whiteside also terrific in brief SYLPHIDE (James) solo that nearly brought the house down.

Herrera in her wonderful TCHAIKOVSKY PDD solo...and what a gorgeous princess gown she wore for final bows! (Irina Dvorovenko, in aqua ruffles, also spectacular!)

Simkin as Ali in CORSAIRE

THE ENTIRE FINAL BOWS...Makarova, Serrano, Koesun, Van Hamel, Jaffe. Was Gregory there? They all came out so quickly. Tons of fun.

Baryshnikov not there but he managed to get one of the loudest cheers of the night during a film of his DON Q Tavern solo.

Ps - "Ouch" for Hee Seo, managing to flub the only turns in LEAVES pdd ( but was gorgeous in the fluid non-tech sections). Boylston almost lost it in the middle of her DQ fouettés but cheers to her for getting them back on track. One of the two female soloists - Skylar B, I think - in the Shodtakovich fell on her poh-poh but tried to cover it nicely.

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According to an article that Marina Harss wrote for the June issue of "Dance Magazine," the "Swan Lake" will be done by Ballet Zurich in February.

Perhaps they will do a live stream program -- a girl can hope!

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Back from tonight's gala. An overly long somewhat tepid affair. As usual, the guests were more interested in chatting among themselves than in the dancing. The show started 20 minutes late and at intermission they had to turn down the lights before people sat down.

As for the dancing, I thought it was a very mixed affair. About 50% good, 50% bad and of the latter, 50% tragically bad. It says a lot about the gala that the highlight of my night was seeing Kimin Kim at intermission and talking briefly to him.

To be brief I enjoyed Billy the Kid, Rodeo, Push Comes to Shove, Pillar of Fire, La Bayadere Shades Scene, Sinfonietta, Piano Concerto #1, Etudes, la Sylphide,and T&V. Under the bad column, were Fancy Free, Fall River Legend,, Les Noces, Bright Stream, Giselle, Tschai Pas and Corsaire. In the tragic column were Black Tuesday, Manon, SL excerpt, Leaves Are Fading and Don Q.

I'll begin with the tragic. I've seen Black Tuesday several times at both ABT and Paul Taylor. Tonight's performance just didn't seem to have a clue that this ballet is about the Depression. And Danill was very sloppy all night (he headed up this cast). Manon was also tragically bad but I feel for Julie, getting such short notice she had to dance. I've seen Manon innumerable times with Ferri and Bocca, Vishneva and Gomes. There are also some good YTs to be found. The way Julie danced this with Marcelo was sterile; no hint of sensuality or sexiness. And of course there's the large problem that Julie just can't do the choreography correctly. Her spine is stiff; instead of multiple fast pirouettes going into a lunge in Marcello's arms, she does a few tepid pirouettes and extends herself a little. No. Julie is simply not able to pull this ballet off technically and the playfulness, sexiness and sensuality weren't there. Tragic. The SL excerpt with Misty and Whiteside excerpt was also tragic. Why, in any case, pick the shortest act of SL and then only a portion of it. If you perform it, you should perform either the PDD from the first lakeside scene or part of the black Swan Act. I suspect Misty knew she's not ready for prime time. First,she is overly muscular, too heavy and has too large breasts to look good in a tutu. Her limbs look short and she looks thick and dumpy in a tutu. Anyone who compares her to Sara Mearns hasn't seen much of either of them.. Sara is much taller than Misty, her muscles are elongated, she doesn't have much of a waist and she has virtually no breasts. Then Misty's dancing is just leaden. Where everyone else seems light, she dances like she has lead in her toe shoes, not light or lifted out of her hips at all. Reminds me of my modern training. When James was trying to lift her (and not even an overhead lift) he looked like he was struggling mightily. And no expression or acting AT ALL. Just awful!

Also in the tragic column were The Leaves Are Fading. If you ever saw Amanda. McKertow and her husband John Gardiner perform this you know what a good performance looks like. There's also one onYT (less good) with Altynai Asylmuratova. This performance by Hee Seo and Cory was not good technically and dismally acted. There should be some use of the arms and some acting conveying sadness. I'm beginning to think Hee Seo is just a cipher with no ability to convey any drama. She also messed up the technical part of the arms where they look like pinwheels and are so beautifully linked to each other and fell off pointe. Tragic. Finally Don Q this time Cory with Bella. Oy. What a disaster, Bella in her 32 or so fouettes managed to fall off pointe twice, zigging and zagging across the stage towards downstage. Unnbelievable (and she still got enthusiastic response) Go figure.

Not as bad were Fancy Free, Fall River Legend, Les Noces, Bright Stream,Giselle, Tschai Pas and Corsaire. Just to make this review shorter, my objections to Fancy Free were that Herman is much shorter than Marcelo and Cory and doesn't dance anything like them. Fall River Legend, despite Gillian's attempt to seem menacing when she picks up the axe, the audience just started giggling and laughing. This really was not a bad performance at all. It's just the gala audience tends to be pretty unbelievable at times in their reactions. It was unfortunate and took me out of the moment. I didn't like Danill in Bright Stream (really in anything) tonight. For me, his attempt at humor fell flat. Look to Nikolai Tziskardize doing the role on YT. He's a hoot. As for Les Noces, it's like the Rite of Spring's poorer cousin. Less well danced and no compelling story. The very brief Giselle excerpt showed that Maria Kotchekova is really nothing special. Little ballon, no excitement in her whirling. Blah. I thought Paloma tried with Tschai Pas, especially to play with the music but it just somehow didn't work. As for Daniil as Ali in Corsaire, he was kind of sloppy, made the audience gasp when he nearly fell over doing a barrel turn and his neck muscles were clenched so tight I could see it all the way from rear orchestra.

Really the bright lights were mainly the ensemble pieces. Billy the Kid and Rodeo were very well done. Xiomara was charming as the cowgirl. I haven't seen Push Comes to Shove live since the 1980's. I thought Herman did a very credible, engaging turn in Misha's role. The corps girls didn't look totally comfortable with the style but really good effort. The corps did look beautiful in the Shades entrance in La Bayadere. Very synchronized and well rehearsed. I also very much liked Jiri Kylian's Sinfonietta. Devon Teuscher, Veronika Part, Bella Boylston, Thom Forster, Blaine Hoven and James Whiteside did an excellent job. James also did an excellent job with footwork and batterie in his excerpt from La Sylphide. Certainly as good as any James NYCB has presented. Piano Concerto #1 was very well danced (except for a little stumble in the corps) by Christine Schevchenko, Calvin Royale, Skylar Brandt and Gabe Stone Shayer. Seeing it again reminded me how much more I like this piece than Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvres (choreographed to the same music). But the highlight of the night was definitely Joey Gorak in Etudes and then Joey and Sarah Lane in T&V. Gorak was simply incredible. His multiple turns in a la second and then around 32 fouettés perfectly done, in time with the music, all the same height. Astounding. Gillian was good in the lead female role but on YT I've seen Tereshkina do a lot better. And finally T&V. This was just the finale but Joey and Sarah were fantastic (the demis looked a bit leaden, though). This was the best live T&V I ever seen, and that includes Tiler Peck. Sarah's scintillating footwork was fast crisp,and clean. Joey lifted her overhead as if she weighed nothing. If there were partnering problems they weren't visible. It was an utter joy to watch. I haven't seen anyone this good since the Kirkland/Baryshnikov one done for PBS (it's on YT)

At the end, all the dancers came onstage. Diana was there with Marcelo. Then dancers from the past came on. I only recognized a few: Bobby La Fosse, Kirk Peterson, Makarova, Irina (looking stunning in the evening's most beautiful gown)and husband Max, Susan Jaffe, Martine van Hamel. Then the ballet masters and the conductors. Confetti rained down. It was a celebration.

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I believe Osipova has also danced Nikiya with the Mihailovsky? But either way, very little experience with the role.

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This is so irritating about Seo dancing all those roles and Sarah Lane none of them! I haven't read every post here but from some of the concerns, complaints and comments, perhaps ABT needs a new AD. Bad decisions being made at this company. I'm seeing Bayadere June 6 and I'm disappointed, but will keep an open mind and give Seo a chance.

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How anyone can call last night's gala as "tepid" is beyond me (but I'll respect the opinion of everyone who paid for his/her ticket). To me, the energy from the audience, and many volleys of "Bravo!/Bravi!" ranked right up there with Havana audiences. Wow - what an invigorating night!!! I can't wait to return to NY for the big SB premiere on May 29.

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The SL excerpt with Misty and Whiteside excerpt was also tragic. Why, in any case, pick the shortest act of SL and then only a portion of it. If you perform it, you should perform either the PDD from the first lakeside scene or part of the black Swan Act. I suspect Misty knew she's not ready for prime time. First,she is overly muscular, too heavy and has too large breasts to look good in a tutu. Her limbs look short and she looks thick and dumpy in a tutu. Anyone who compares her to Sara Mearns hasn't seen much of either of them.. Sara is much taller than Misty, her muscles are elongated, she doesn't have much of a waist and she has virtually no breasts. Then Misty's dancing is just leaden. Where everyone else seems light, she dances like she has lead in her toe shoes, not light or lifted out of her hips at all. Reminds me of my modern training. When James was trying to lift her (and not even an overhead lift) he looked like he was struggling mightily. And no expression or acting AT ALL. Just awful!

What Swan Lake part did they actually perform?

Part of Copeland's cause is for body acceptance in ballet. She thinks we should just overlook her muscular form. I think her overbuilt muscles are getting in the way of her dancing. When I look at pictures of her in the past, she wasn't always this overbuilt. On YT is a short clip of her in the ABT summer intensive 2000 performing Queen of the Dryads. She was very streamlined then. Granted she was still a teen, but she had past puberty and her growing years. Her body should not have changed to the significant degree we see now unless she began some kind of training that built her up. Maybe she thought it would make her look different from the rest. I don't know.

I feel bad for Whiteside. He is the go to guy in the company now charged with the job of making technically questionable dancers like Seo and Copeland look decent. Mainly by carrying them around like luggage.

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They danced the last 7 or 8 minutes of SWAN LAKE, straight to the end. So more drama than sustained dancing...but the partnered bits just whetted muy appetite for the full thing , Misty & Jjames so gorgeous together...lovely leg lines.

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I'll just add that Hee Seo's Gamzatti variation was also not up to standard and not controlled. I also thought it was tragic that Part has been a principal for many years, and SL has been her calling card since her days at the Mariinsky, but all they could find for her to do was as part of an ensemble in Sinfonietta. The SL excerpt for Misty was really brief and truncated. It was mostly the portion where Swamp Rothbart and Siegfried fight over the ballerina, she runs to the ramp and dives in and Siegfried follows. They also showed the last part where the corps waits for the sun to rise. The parts of intimate storytelling between OO and Siegfried were completely deleted. For me Cornejo has the right technique for Push, but lacks the sexy swagger of its originator, and therefore falls a bit flat.

Wanted to add that I saw a lot of the red carpet arrivals in front of the Met. Vishneva walked the red carpet looking completely relaxed. If she is injured, you wouldn't have known it from her appearance.

Additionally, at around 6 PM Misty emerged from the Met in her gown, accompanied by her publicist. She escorted Misty to the red carpet area so that Misty could have her photo taken. Since her publicist is also apparently the publicist for ABT, this was orchestrated in order to make sure that Misty's photo ends up in the news. I did not witness any other dancers who were scheduled to dance coming out for a photo op before the performance.

My favorite moment of the red carpet was when Angel Corella arrived. A few people spontaneously applauded him, including me. That brought a smile to his face. How I miss the old days of ABT, when quality mattered.

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Yes, I also noticed Vishneva's ultra-high stilettos. Whatever injury she may have ism 't related to feet or legs. :)

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They danced the last 7 or 8 minutes of SWAN LAKE, straight to the end.

That is it? So she really didn't have to dance. Heck, they could have hauled Natalie Portman up on stage to do that much.

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Yes, I also noticed Vishneva's ultra-high stilettos. Whatever injury she may have ism 't related to feet or legs. smile.png

Maybe not injured. Just sick. Cold/flu? It can take a bit out of one.

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Did anyone else notice that ABT forgot to mention on the slip inserted in the programs containing the casting and program changes that Semionova was replaced by Kochetkova. Oops. No mention of it on the sign at the entrance to the Met either.

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Angel was there and he didn't come out at the end with the other retired dancers? Odd... Does anyone know who was the girl in the corps who ran offstage during the first (Billy the Kid) number?

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Angel was there and he didn't come out at the end with the other retired dancers? Odd... Does anyone know who was the girl in the corps who ran offstage during the first (Billy the Kid) number?

Angel came out at the end. He accompanied Susan Jaffe.

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If anyone ever witnesses Seo dancing without falling off point or messing up in a different way, please, report it, that will make history at abt…….Misty SL excerpt was horrendous, poor James W. has to carry with this…Part almost ignored…..Kochetkova dancing in an abt gala, to do anything really significant……...Boylston completely lost and out of control in Don Q………..Hallberg, Semionova and Vishneva injured……. Boy, this gotta be an all time low for this company, beyond my imagination….. depressing.

Big congrats to J Gorak, he is a very especial dancer, in my opinion the best that the company offered last night. Sarah was also terrific, I hope she keeps trying, although considering KM tastes for ballerinas, good luck with that……..I am not really surprised that she is being ignored, as Stella and to some extent Part….it actually makes sense….

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The ABT Gala curtain call is posted by Vic Toriya in YT. For all it's present problems, they can always have fun galas. The parade of former dancers is the best although it is occasionally difficult to identify the dancers. thanks Vic Toriya.

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If anyone ever witnesses Seo dancing without falling off point or messing up in a different way, please, report it, that will make history at abt

You have to wonder what is motivating KM. I'm sure he must see these problems time and again in her performances. Does he think the audience members are too dumb to notice. Well I guess the rich donor crowd probably had no idea since most of them go to the ballet only for galas, and they pay the bills.

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