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Helene

Spring 2015: Giselle

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One of the most incredible nights at the ballet, ever! Stella’s performance was as brilliant and perfect as everyone imagined it would be. She and Vladimir Shklyarov were superb together and received a standing ovation from the ENTIRE AUDIENCE at the Met, which extended into multiple curtain calls. Sascha Radetsky seated several rows behind us, grinning from ear to ear! ABT hasn’t seen a debut like this in many years. If the AD doesn’t give Abrera more leading roles after this, he’s more than a fool. Congratulations to Stella!

So thrilled to read this!

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Tonight was one of the most special evenings of my ballet going years. Stella was a heartbreaking Giselle, and Shkylarov 's performance was among the best I've ever seen. Pure magic. Hopefully McKenzie got the message LOUD and CLEAR that he has been a fool.

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Tonight's performance has to be one of the most incredible nights at the ballet that I've ever had. Stella was INCREDIBLE. Heartbreaking yet remarkably beautiful the entire night. I really thought Kevin was going to walk onstage and promote her on the spot. That would've been the only thing that could've made it more special. She is lightyears ahead of the new "crop" of principals, its such an injustice to not promote her.

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Agree with everything else that's been said. Tonight was special. One of those performances I'll remember for years.

Stella was fantastic. Shyklarov is amazing. Together, they were unreal. Hard to believe this is a brand new partnership, their chemistry was off the charts.

Veronica Part is the definitive Myrta to me. And the corps was just outstanding. This really was a homerun for ABT tonight.

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I heartily echo all the accolades for Stella and Shklyarov!! I will write more later, but one thing that really touched me was how excited/happy Skhlyarov seemed to be for Stella! Someone threw bouquets during the first curtain call, which Shklyarov picked up and presented to Stella with great affection. And then, during the second curtain call, he escorted Stella out, and then left the stage so she could soak up all the applause by herself. Lovely to see!

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Tonight's Giselle was one of the most marvelous I have ever seen. Stella and Shklyarov both acted up a storm and danced spectacularly. Stella in Act 1 was the shy, lovestruck girl who becomes infatuated with a cad. Her line, her arms and legs were beautiful throughout. Soft, delicate, pliant, arms - very Romantic era. Her jumps in Act 1 had a gorgeous ballon and lightness to them. Basically she was the antithesis of the athletic Osipova style we get to see all too often now, IMO. And Shklyarov! Well he is a tremendous actor and technical virtuoso. But he looked beautiful with Stella. When they jumped together their arms and legs were at the same height. He never tried to outdance her, seeming to realize it was her night. Even though I was in row L of the orchestra I spent a fair amount of time looking at facial expressions with my opera glasses. Stella's ran the gamut, from innocent shy girl to wonderment at Bathilde's gown to anguish and despair when she discovers Albrecht's treachery. As for Shklyarov, he seemed like a young man who didn't set out to deliberately deceive Giselle and did not totally spurn her, as some Albrechts do. Shklyarov also seems to have a very, youthful stage presence and I found that to be the case tonight. And Stella's mad scene was just perfect. Driven to madness but not acted over the top. As one alum said to me at intermission, Stella was clearly very well coached (and probaxbly by the Australian Ballet). My one minor complaint (I would be remiss to not mention) were her hops on pointe were not strong and she moved only about 1/3 of the way downstage. Still, they were a lot better than Cojocaru's and most people don't mind hers at all.

While Act 1 was good, Act 2 was spectacular. I was truly moved to tears and that hasn't happened to me since Ferri danced Giselle. Stella was truly an otherworldly presence, a spectre. Again, the opposite of Osipova, of which I am glad. Stella's lightness and buoyancy were a delight. The way she did her développe into a la second, the ballon of her jumps were wonderful. She didn't protect Albrecht like a tigress (that's Osipova) but a spirit. Again looking through the glasses I saw kind a tenderness but not fierceness, which I loved. Stella also wore a rather simple skirt in the Act, eschewing the typical costume that is rather large, full of layers of tulle (and that everyone else wore). Also in Act 2 Shklyarov got to really show how magnificent a dancer he is. Multiple air tours landed perfectly, upright and close fifth. Beats galore. And he did the entrechats sixes wonderfullyl, first starting with his arms at his side, the one hand on his heart, the other outstretched as if asking for forgiveness. Only at the very end (I stopped counting at around 26) did he raise his arms above his waist. But thankfully, no fist pumping like Sarafanov did in the fall. And when Giselle went down into her grave, Shklyarov kind of hugged the earth that was her grave. They had terrific chemistry together and were a joy to behold.

As for other characters, Veronika Part was kind of unimpressive as Myrtha. It's almost like she knew it wasn't about her tonight and so she didn't care. Her jumps were ok but she didn't bother with any beats. None! Shame on you Veronika. Her arms were also ok but nothing more. And she didn't seem a terribly formidable presence. I did think Christine Shevchenko did a very nice job as Moyna. Nice ballon to her jumps and softness in her arms. Stephanie Williams as Zulma looked like she was trying but not really succeeding at what Christine did. The corps was wonderful. When they split in half and hopped across the stage, they looked perfect, not one girl out of place in line. Good job ladies and Susan Jones for her coaching! In Act 1, Nancy Raffa did a good job of being worried and protective mother to her daughter Giselle. I wasn't very impressed by Thom Forster as Hilarion. I never got the feeling he deeply loved Giselle or would go out of his way to demonstrate his love. He was a cipher more than a character as was Alexei Agoudine as the count's squire. He was basically so invisible, he wasn't worth loathing. I didn't like either Craig Salstein or Misty in the Peasant Pas. He was messy, didn't land his tours or turns particularly well. As for Misty, nothing seemed to be working for her tonight. Her jumps weren't good (neither high nor far), and she couldn't do the supported penchee (it was somewhere between an arabesque and penchee). And does she bother to bang out her toe shoes? Every times she landed a jump, it was not only with a heavy thud but the loud noise of the block hitting the stage.

As laurel described , when the performance ended the whole house got up to give Stella and Vladimir a standing ovation. It was a pretty raucous audience, everyone screaming or shouting bravos. Not only did they get several curtain calls but even after the house lights came up , the audience kept shouting bravos and so Stella and Vladimir came out again. I think it was a wonderful night and no one wanted it to end.

In some trivia, I was sitting 2 rows in front of Stella's husband Sascha, Gennadi Saviliev and Gillian. Marcelo Gomes was one row behind but on the opposite side of the house. Oddly enough I again was sitting near Macauley, so I'm hoping he will review tonight. And finally, I spoke briefly with Bobby La Fosse who seemed to think he knew me (he doesn't) but couldn't remember my name. It was funny.

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And then, during the second curtain call, he escorted Stella out, and then left the stage so she could soak up all the applause by herself. Lovely to see!

I think that's a very lovely touch, it occurs at 7:55 of the curtain calls from Stella, Shklyarov, and Veronika's Giselle: https://youtu.be/Zk4Lxjhh0mU

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I heartily echo all the accolades for Stella and Shklyarov!! I will write more later, but one thing that really touched me was how excited/happy Skhlyarov seemed to be for Stella! Someone threw bouquets during the first curtain call, which Shklyarov picked up and presented to Stella with great affection. And then, during the second curtain call, he escorted Stella out, and then left the stage so she could soak up all the applause by herself. Lovely to see!

I think that's a very lovely touch, it occurs at 7:55 of the curtain calls from Stella, Shklyarov, and Veronika's Giselle: https://youtu.be/Zk4Lxjhh0mU

Aww that was so sweet of Vladimir! I didn't see the performance, but it sounds like Stella thoroughly deserved all that applause; well done to her! :)

Has she danced in Ratmansky's staging of The Sleeping Beauty?

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Thank you all for sharing this magical evening with those of us who could'nt be there. And thanks especially for the link to the YouTube clip of the curtain calls. I hope Stella will get many more leading roles!

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Wonderful triumph for Stella! Thanks all for the descriptions and the curtain calls. Sorry I couldn't be there but hopefully I will get the chance to see them next year.

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Now that I'm more awake I can write more. It was such an exciting evening. Yes, as Amour mentioned, the "weakest" part of Stella's performance was that she didn't cover much stage space in the hops on point in Act I. However, I will note that I saw Hee Seo's performance on Friday (an exchange to use up one of my no-show-Osipova-SB tickets) and Hee covered even LESS stage territory than Stella. Yes,the second act was so moving. Stella's port de bras and line are so gorgeous. This was not the athletic performance of Osipova. It was a mature, emotionally charged, beautifully executed characterization. And did I mention that Shkylarov did 34 entrechat sixes. Yes, kids, you read that right. An as he did more and more his elevation became higher and higher. Instead of dropping to the floor after he did them he remained toward the back of the stage area so that he could immediately be in place for his next partnering maneuver. He made Stella look weightless His partnering was flawless. What a stroke of luck that Stella ended up with him as her partner instead of someone like Stearns or Hammoudi. I've seen Shkylarov many times over the years in NYC and Washington. He outdid himself last night. I saw him as Albrecht a few years ago at the KC and I don't recall him giving the kind of perfect performance he gave last night. The partnership with Stella was magic. It was like they had been working together all their professional lives. Although he is not party to all the casting nonsense that goes on at ABT, he seemed to know that this would be the most important night of Stella's career at ABT and he, being the ultimate gentleman, was more than happy to let her have all the glory. Stepping away at the curtain call to let Stella stand alone was beyond classy. The audience went bananas at curtain calls. I guess they were having a party afterwards, so the house staff raised the lights. But the audience was not having any of it. They would demand through the unrelenting screams and applause, at least one more curtain call.

From the sublime to the not so sublime, here is a brief synopsis of Friday's show. Hee was lovely, with lovely lines. She did not fall off point, but I was not particularly moved either. Cory has improved a lot as a partner and as an actor. However, his solos were low energy and not impressive. Poor elevation. He did brises down the diagonal, but they were not particularly well executed. He didn't dance till his death. He danced until he was slightly tired and in need of a nap. The evening's glory was the fabulous Gillian Murphy as Myrta.

So hopefully by Monday morning, after reading the newspapers, the entire world will wake up to the info we on ballettalk have known for years about Stella, and her mistreatment by McKenzie.

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Wonderful triumph for Stella! Thanks all for the descriptions and the curtain calls. Sorry I couldn't be there but hopefully I will get the chance to see them next year.

Yes, a triumph! I am speechless. I knew she would be wonderful, but I didn't think she would be THIS wonderful! OMG! One of the best Giselles I've seen. So many details, I can't enumerate all of them, but suffice to say, she was so present at every moment, both in her technique and in her portrayal. And he was more than splendid. Such nobility rarely seen since Bruhn. I take back what I said about the entrechat sixes......when done like this, all else pales. I was so moved by the two of them together, as if they had been doing this forever. So hoping this might be the beginning of a new partnership. Please!

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I don't have much to add and especially agree with Amour's detailed review. A truly memorable evening and Stella deserved the lengthy curtain calls and standing ovation. The entire crowd seemed genuinely moved.

I was also impressed with Shklyarov as a dancer himself and a wonderful, supportive partner. I'm glad Stella got to make her debut with him, especially considering how little rehearsal time they must have had. I hope they bring him back as a guest in future seasons. I counted 36 entrechats, although I still prefer the brises. (In the latter, Albrecht is looking right at Myrtha, under her spell, while in the entrechats he turns to look at the audience and Myrtha's power seems irrelevant.)

I, too, was disappointed in the hops on pointe in Act I. She did fill up the music and stayed on pointe, but didn't cover much territory. The only technical weakness I noticed all evening.

I was impressed with the "chugs" by the corps in Act II -- lines and positions were surprisingly uniform, compared to past performances.

More trivia: I got a last-minute ticket when Stella's debut was announced and ended up in the front orchestra/side/fourth row. I'll avoid front orchestra like the plague in the future. Really atrocious sightlines. Heads constantly bobbing and weaving to see beyond the people in front. I will never understand why the rows slope downward away from the orchestra, making things even worse than they might otherwise be.

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I just want to toss my bouquet onto the heap. Stella was as glorious as we knew she would be.

And such an ardent partner in Shklyarov - hard to believe they had not danced together before.

He is spectacular in every way. Wish he could hang around and give acting lessons to ABT's men.

The reception of the audience was also a factor in the evening's success. Comprised of current

and former dancers and impassioned fans, the Met crackled with an excitement that hasn't

been present in a long, long time.

Thank you Stella, Vladimir, and Veronika for an unforgettable performance. Hope to see you

again soon.flowers.gif

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ABT should definitely try to bring Shylarov over more in the future. He was fantastic ( and adorably cute, I might add!)

The audience members behind me audibly gasped during his entrechats, he had such height and quickness.

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Last night, after Stella Abrera’s New York debut in Giselle, the audience erupted with such thunderous applause and choruses of bravos that the Metropolitan Opera House shook from the sonic boom. This was an audience whose members knew they were in for greatness, having waited years to see this remarkable dancer perform the role she was destined to dance. Not since the likes of Ekaterina Maximova in the 1960s has there been a Giselle so innocent and wronged in Act I and so ghostlike and ethereal in Act II. The romantic shapes her body made in the air were iconic, and the perfection of her technique showed every step with a singular distinction. Oh, that I lived to see this performance!

Vladimir Shklyarov, whose name, judging from the questions overheard around me, I alone in the audience knew how to pronounce, was a fine partner for Stella. They had wonderful chemistry and his technique was formidable. His graciousness toward Stella in the curtain calls was exemplary—he knew that this evening was about her, and that he had danced with one of the greats.

Veronika Part was ferocious as Myrta, tearing up the stage with her mighty leaps and leading the wili corps to do what wilis do. Thomas Forster was an excellent Hilarion. It was wonderful to see such fine acting on his part from Row C Orchestra, although it may not have registered further up and back in the house. Of the leading wilis, Christine Shevchenko stood out with the fluidity of her body as she danced the role of Moyna.

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As for other characters, Veronika Part was kind of unimpressive as Myrtha. It's almost like she knew it wasn't about her tonight and so she didn't care. Her jumps were ok but she didn't bother with any beats. None! Shame on you Veronika.

I didn't notice that deficiency in her performance, but if your interpretation is correct she at least showed that same recognition in a more positive way during the curtain calls, when she refused Shklyarov's gesture for her to come forward during the final bow (at about 6:08 in the YT video linked above).

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Vladimir Shklyarov, whose name, judging from the questions overheard around me, I alone in the audience knew how to pronounce...

I was able to figure out the pronunciation only from his brief "Meeting Mariinsky" interview on YT. My personal mnemonic is "As far as I'm a-WARE of, his name is pronounced vlad-mir SHKLAR-ov!"

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I'm so happy for Stella and her wonderful debut as Giselle and thanks to all who've provided accounts and critiques of the evening. I'm sorry I couldn't be there, but I'm tickled pink that I'll be seeing Reyes, Abrera as Myrta, Lane, Gorak and Cornejo order Wednesday night yahoo.gif ! Love that tweet (Stella, Stella, Stella,......)

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I was able to figure out the pronunciation only from his brief "Meeting Mariinsky" interview on YT. My personal mnemonic is "As far as I'm a-WARE of, his name is pronounced vlad-mir SHKLAR-ov!"

Yes, nanushka, you are quite right, except that in Russian the L in SHKLA is palatalized (which is reflected in the Y as part of the spelling), but if you don't know what that means, that's okay, it's still good. I studied Russian in college and I made that statement half as a joke, although it's true that I had everyone seated around me asking and trying to get it right. It's a mouthful, even for a Russian. And the R should be rolled.

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Another rave for Stella and Shklyarov. She was wonderful, especially act 2. And he is a beautiful dancer. Watching him, I felt I was seeing a perfect embodiment of the Russian training system, impeccably trained and professional in every detail. And the perfect gentleman, so touching in his deference to Stella's special occasion. When she stepped onstage the audience greeted her - not the applause you hear for the entrance of a famous ballerina, but the more raucous, hearty, and warm shouts of people glad to see an old friend shine (I count myself as one of her old friends, and I've never even met her!). As for Myrtha, I found Veronika Part a little sluggish. Overall a very exciting evening at the ballet.

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So excited to hear about last night - wish I was there!

Every time I see Shklyarov I am amazed by how he grows as an artist. I think I saw him for the first time back in February of 2010 when the Mariinsky came to DC in The Sleeping Beauty. I remember thinking he was good - nothing outstanding. Then I saw him in July of 2011 when the Mariinsky came to the Met in Symphony in C. I noticed how much he matured and thought that he was excellent in that ballet. Last summer, I saw him in La Bayadere with Tereshkina and marveled not only at his superb dancing but his command of the stage as a leading man.

Thanks for all the reviews and again - wish I had been there!

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I don't have much to add and especially agree with Amour's detailed review. A truly memorable evening and Stella deserved the lengthy curtain calls and standing ovation. The entire crowd seemed genuinely moved.

I was also impressed with Shklyarov as a dancer himself and a wonderful, supportive partner. I'm glad Stella got to make her debut with him, especially considering how little rehearsal time they must have had. I hope they bring him back as a guest in future seasons. I counted 36 entrechats, although I still prefer the brises. (In the latter, Albrecht is looking right at Myrtha, under her spell, while in the entrechats he turns to look at the audience and Myrtha's power seems irrelevant.)

I, too, was disappointed in the hops on pointe in Act I. She did fill up the music and stayed on pointe, but didn't cover much territory. The only technical weakness I noticed all evening.

I was impressed with the "chugs" by the corps in Act II -- lines and positions were surprisingly uniform, compared to past performances.

More trivia: I got a last-minute ticket when Stella's debut was announced and ended up in the front orchestra/side/fourth row. I'll avoid front orchestra like the plague in the future. Really atrocious sightlines. Heads constantly bobbing and weaving to see beyond the people in front. I will never understand why the rows slope downward away from the orchestra, making things even worse than they might otherwise be.

I wouldn't make too much of the fact that Stella didn't cover a lot of territory on the Act I hops. Some dancers do, and some don't. I seem to re-call Nina doing a small circle with hers at one point (which is much harder!), and the old film footage of Spessivtseva shows her not moving all that much down stage. I've even known dancers who substitute quick fondus in eface' in place of the hops. I certainly don't view this lack of spatial coverage as a "technical weakness". It's what one does with the hops that matters. Stella more than conveyed her joy of dancing and the love she had for Albrecht. She held her skirt very daintily at one point and glanced over at Shklyarov as if to say, "these I am doing especially for you". It was an extraordinary example of choreography doing what it's supposed to do and that's convey an emotion. I say brava, brava, brava!

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