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Helene

Spring 2015: La Bayadere

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" And he still has the gorgeous epaulement, carriage and refinement of a Mariinsky dancer. It's just, it's the Mariinsky of a decade ago." Amour, I am really curious about the second sentence in this statement. Can you please explain it to this "bear of very little brain"?

I didn't mean that sentence to sound disparaging (which it may have). It's just the current talents of the Mariinsky have less and less of the refined style and gorgeous epaulement. After having seen the Mariinsky this winter at both BAM and in DC I dug out an old DVD that had Paquita with Makhalina in the lead and Lezhnina in a variation. The deterioration of style was really evident. The loss of full epaulement in the latest dancers is quite evident. In past years Kimin Kim would probably not have been accepted into the Mariinsky (not trained at the Vaganova). Now he's the company's poster boy. Hope that explains what I meant:)

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Haven't had time to report, but I went to Bayadere Monday night.

I was disappointed with Hee Seo's performance. I felt she lacked in both her technique and her characterization. Gillian acted well and threw in some astounding pirouettes, but her grand jetes seemed so labored.

It was my first time seeing Kimin Kim, and he did dazzle technically, especially with those running assemble tours (once again, I lack the proper terminology -- sorry). Each time he spins through the air and lands softly in a perfect fifth position.

I can't comment as to why the partnering looked so labored at times, but it certainly did, especially the overhead lift in the Shades scene. He really had to build momentum before he got her up there, rocking her back and forth. Then he looked like he might fall over as he set her down. I'm interested as to how he would have done partnering Seminova. She seems bigger than Seo, although I can't say for sure.TBnniU

IMO, the reason the partnering with Seo looked so labored was because Seo doesn't lift herself up. She's just like a sack of potatoes. If you're like that no one, not even Marcelo, is going to make partnering look good. And Kim is not the strongest partner in the world. But still, I think the problem was mainly with Seo.

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Just wanted to say a few more things about Wednesday night. Sarah Lane was one of the 3 Shades (Misty and Devon Teuscher were the other 2). Sarah was just exquisite. She danced the first shade, which looks to be the hardest. Lots of pirouettes and all those releves to pointe that go almost all the way across the stage. Her turns were perfect, she didn't fall out of one. And the releves done perfectly. Her line in arabesque, her arms, the way she holds her head is so classical. Seeing her dance next to Misty was very revealing of Misty's inelegant dancing. Also Sarah looks to be and inch or two shorter than Misty and about half her size. Interestingly, Sarah's variation got cheers and bravos from the audience. Misty got polite applause.

Gabe Stone Shayer was the head fakir in Act 1. He was good, nice jumps, very "wild" but not as impressive as Aaron Scott on Monday. And Scott was not as good as Craig Salstein on Monday as the Bronze Idol. I thought he hit all his poses too hard, with too much attack.

BTW, I happened to see Kevin last night during intermission. He was running down the stairs from the parterre. He met my gaze and I thought of telling him how I think he's ruining ABT. But, instead, I kept silent and just glared.

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Amour, thanks for explaining that comment. I hadn't realized the Mariinsky had declined that badly! If a dancer doesn't have beautiful epaulement and port des bras, I can't watch. In fact, I wince the whole time. I can't even think of them as dancers.

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Amour, thanks for explaining that comment. I hadn't realized the Mariinsky had declined that badly! If a dancer doesn't have beautiful epaulement and port des bras, I can't watch. In fact, I wince the whole time. I can't even think of them as dancers.

The Mariinsky epaulement still is better than any American or British but it's just not what it was 15-20 years ago.

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IMO, the reason the partnering with Seo looked so labored was because Seo doesn't lift herself up. She's just like a sack of potatoes. If you're like that no one, not even Marcelo, is going to make partnering look good. And Kim is not the strongest partner in the world. But still, I think the problem was mainly with Seo.

Thanks to Marcelo, there wasn't any major mistake during the 3rd act pas de deux when Seo substituted for Murphy last year. It's just that her variation had many technical issues- she also stumbled slightly at the end of the coda.... Other than that, I thought the pas de deux itself was quite good. Marcelo didn't look too labored.

Kim is still very young (13 years younger than Gomes) so hopefully he improves on his partnering skill in future!

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It's just that her variation had many technical issues- she also stumbled slightly at the end of the coda

I think if I ever see a performance where Hee doesn't make a noticeable mistake I'll fall off my chair!

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Wow. What an amazing night at the ballet tonight!

With Veronika as Nikiya and Gillian as Gamzatti, you felt like you weren't missing out on anything! A gorgeous adagio ballerina and an astonishing allegro ballerina, covering the whole spectrum. The stage was electrified in Scene 2 with their confrontation. And in Denys Nedak we finally have a partner (now that Marcelo and she don't seem to dance together much) who can match Veronika with dramatic intensity and lyric strength. From the moment they shared the stage in Scene 1, the overwhelming love Nikiya and Solor were feeling for each other swelled higher than the music.

When Veronika appeared veiled at the top of the steps and many in the audience burst into applause, one of the women sitting next to me asked the other, "Who's that?" "I don't know," the other replied. After her first solo, I heard them both whisper to each other, "Beautiful!" Veronika was captivating, with her long luscious limbs, her temple dancer's figure, and her poetic, articulate feet and hands.

Tom Forster was commanding as the High Brahmin and Alexei Agoudine was surprisingly good as the head fakir. (I think of him as the perpetual Wilfred or Catalabutte.)

Christine Shevchenko, subbing for Paulina Waski, stood out in the D'Jampe dance in Scene 2. Nedak and Gillian had a lovely rapport during their chess match, which I watched while the corps D'Jampes were at it before the two soloists came out.

Gilian's performance in the betrothal PDD was stellar. She didn't load up on the multiple fouettes (just one triple, a bunch of doubles), but they were firm and solid and nailed in place.

Arron Scott, as usual, stood out in the waltz that opened Scene 2. His legs are just so beautifully sculpted and articulated.

I forget whether it was in his betrothal variation or Shades variation, but Nedak's beats with his feet were thumpingly strong, yet swift.

The three shades were Luciana Paris, April Giangeruso, and Katherine Williams. The first two were excellent, the last only so-so. Luciana also looked great in the betrothal Pas d'Action.

Zhiyao Zhang was the Bronze Idol, but didn't dance up to my expectations. (He's been really noteworthy in the past, even in corps parts.) It was fine, even very good, but a little messy and just not particularly energetic.

Speaking of which, it was reported earlier that Gillian looked tired earlier in the week. There were no signs of that tonight! She was on fire throughout. Her acting and her dancing were top-notch, to my eyes.

Nedak is a keeper, especially for Veronika. I wish they were dancing Swan Lake together. I'm just so tired of seeing her paired with Cory -- who's fine, and good, but just doesn't have the dramatic intensity -- or intensity of any particular sort, for that matter -- to live up to her. She's one who really can't carry it alone; she seems to feed off the interaction with a great partner. (People always talk about Marcelo and Diana, but the same is really true of Marcelo and Veronika. If you've seen their interview clips during the Youth Grand Prix video where they dance the White Swan PDD, you'll know what I mean.)

To wrap up on a lighter note, Veronika's crop top in the final scene reminded me of Sarafanov's teal midriff-baring Solor outfit in the video of the Shades scene with Tereshkina that's on YouTube. I wasn't there last night. Any chance he gets to wear this instead of ABT's costume? I don't know who has the lovelier belly -- he or Veronika.

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I think if I ever see a performance where Hee doesn't make a noticeable mistake I'll fall off my chair!

I agree. I saw her in 3 Swan Lake performances last year alone (because she was substituting for Murphy and Cojocaru) and it was a disappointing experience.

I think I liked her better when she was dancing Hungarian princess in Swan Lake or a shade in Labayadere as a soloist. I think she's a good actress but because of her mistakes I can't really concentrate on her acting anymore.

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Tonight's performance was one of the most dramatically satisfying Bayaderes I've ever seen at ABT. I'll write a more complete recap tomorrow, but in short -- I felt as if Veronika has reached new technical and expressive heights, and that Gillian was the most incredible foil to Veronika's lyricism. As Gamzatti, Gillian was fiery, confident and all of her technical virtuosity felt as if it were applied to fully express her character -- not just to show off. Nedak was such a supportive and responsive partner; his dancing felt very reminiscent of Gomes for me, though I must say his partnering of Veronika was probably the cleanest I've ever seen. The supported pirouettes were gorgeous and the lifts were lovely.

The stars aligned and we got the three amazing leads that this ballet requires.

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Tonight's performance was one of the most dramatically satisfying Bayaderes I've ever seen at ABT.

I wholly agree. Tonight's performance felt more dramatically satisfying than many Swan Lakes I've seen. Which is saying something, when you consider it's a Minkus score! I felt heartbroken in the final scene, along with both Solor and Nikiya for two completely different, dramatically realized reasons. The emotions felt so vivid. I don't think I've ever seen this in a Bayadère before.

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To wrap up on a lighter note, Veronika's crop top in the final scene reminded me of Sarafanov's teal midriff-bearing Solor outfit in the video of the Shades scene with Tereshkina that's on YouTube. I wasn't there last night. Any chance he gets to wear this instead of ABT's costume? I don't know who has the lovelier belly -- he or Veronika.

LOL. No, Sarafanov wore the standard issue ABT garb.

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Hi nysusan -- as someone without dance training, I'm interested in this concept of "line" and how it gets talked about and what exactly it refers to. Could you describe what, precisely, you're seeing when you say that MK has "an ugly arabesque" with "no line to it." I'd love to learn more about this topic. Thanks!

Hmm..I don't think I developed my understanding of line from any dance training, more from dance watching. And any appreciation of "line" will be subjective but I understand line to mean the physical shape the body makes, the geometric relationship of different parts of the body to each other and the space around it. For me, classical line starts in the core, the torso and back and radiates throughout the body and out into infinity (especially in arabesque).
Specifically, in terms of Kochetkova's arabesque (and particularly in the classical shades act as opposed to the less restrictive phrasing in the first act) I find her body placement too angular (forward arm to torso, torso to working leg), her torso too rigid and I see no energy radiating from her fingertip through her body and out through her working leg.
There was a discussion of classical line here several years ago:
see post # 19 with some very good quotes from Robert Greskovic's Ballet 101 (pp. 151-52) by way of bart, and quotes from Gia Kourlis (of all people!)by way of 4mrdncr - post #22. I especially like " It means that every muscle and bone--from the toe to the fingertips--is working in exquisite harmony."
There is also a great paragraph on line in the glossary of Ballet 101, on page 517. Its not online but here are a couple of quotes:
"Whats important for clear, pure line is that, as the eye follows and takes in the shape held, however momentarily, by the dancing dancer, it finds a totality, a continuity of energy and form without noticeable disruptions, snags or breaks."
"One aspect of line is its unending harmoniousness; it leads the viewer simultaneously to fix on the dancer's physical design in space as well as to follow the performer's energy as it radiates beyond its actual physical limits. Line doesn't outline or contain the dancer's presence in space, it continues it."

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And about last night - Part, Nedak and Murphy were sublime! Part was lovely, a very beautiful,sensual bayadere and she looked so happy to be dancing with Nedak, so secure. She may have come down a bit early from the second series of pirouettes with the scarf (in the shades scene) but she covered it well and aside from that there were no technical problems whatsoever.They looked great together and had great chemistry together. He is not a virtuoso technician, but he's certainly no slouch, either. Tall, strong with beautiful lines (there I go again!), his positions were always fully stretched and he has great flexibility for a big man. He was also a good actor and a great partner for her. Lets have more of them together!

This was certainly the best all-around Bayadere of the season, too bad they only got 1 performance.

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Thanks so much, nysusan. It's a term I hear a lot, and it seems to be somewhat hard to pin down precisely, but your explanations and references are very helpful -- much appreciated!

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ALINA, ALINA, ALINA!!! Tonight with Cornejo was pure magic. He was simply magnificent, and she, well she was beyond belief. The two together were that rare dance event that one remembers always.

And I can't praise the three shades enough. Stephanie Williams, Cassandra Trenary, and especially Skylar Brandt were all in amazing form. Kudos to all.

But it really was all about Herman and Alina.

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ALINA, ALINA, ALINA!!! Tonight with Cornejo was pure magic. He was simply magnificent, and she, well she was beyond belief. The two together were that rare dance event that one remembers always.

And I can't praise the three shades enough. Stephanie Williams, Cassandra Trenary, and especially Skylar Brandt were all in amazing form. Kudos to all.

But it really was all about Herman and Alina.

A very beautiful and deeply felt performance from Cojocaru. The splendid Cornejo was her match -- they are ardent classicists so to speak. I though the company, which I missed last year, looked good all evening, despite some shaking in the opening of the shades scene. And although I enjoyed all three shade soloists individually--Brandt, Williams, and Trenary--I didn't think they looked that great dancing together as a trio (a not unfamiliar ABT problem); Brandt especially, though, was impressive in her variation.

Also loved Gorak as the Golden Idol; he made his solo look like real dancing, not just an acrobatic gimmick.

Copeland's Gamzatti made more of an impression on me in the final act than in the Petipa of Act I, though she had her moments in the Act I divertissement. I had a similar reaction to her in the role once before. But I have to agree that this evening was about Cojocaru and Cornejo and their extraordinary artistry.

I continue to find this one of ABT's most visually beautiful productions.

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I was there last night and agree that Cojocaru's Nikya is still one of the most spiritual portrayals. She had some shakiness with pirouettes but the plasticity of her upper body, her enormous and feather light jump, and her uniquely sweet stage presence make her a special performer. Herman lost some flexibility in his back and legs but he still has such enormous elevation (wonderful cabrioles!). Copeland was okay as Gamzatti -- she struggled a bit with the Italian fouette sequence in the betrothal scene.

Skylar Brandt was a standout as the first shade, and Joseph Gorak maybe wasn't as powerful as some Bronze Idols but he was very elegant.

Full review here:

http://poisonivywalloftext.blogspot.com/2015/06/la-bayadere-brought-to-life.html

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I thought Cojocaru's performance was gorgeous and ethereal. Every line and position was fully stretched as the temple dancer Nikiya. Yes, she has such a sweet stage presence that helps to create character. She simplified or modified some portions of Act II (Shades) scene, but overall it was very impressive. Cornejo also gave a stellar performance. Some of his jumps were very high and fast. No problems partnering Alina either. Copeland was better n the final act than in act I, but I found her performance disappointing. Her jumps in Act I barely got off the ground, and she lacked control during her fouettes. Traveling during fouettes and spins is less problematic when it's done in a straight line, but when you start zig zagging to the side it becomes obvious that the dancer lacks control and the zig zagging is unattractive. I also noticed the music was slowed down during the Act I Gamzatti solo to accommodate Copeland. Sklyar Brandt did a knockout first shade. More of her please! Gorak was also impressive as the Golden Idol.

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I was also at the Friday night performance and don't have much to add. I hadn't seen this production in a few years and don't remember details of omitted or simplified steps. Someone said here re: a Giselle that a gracious partner doesn't try to outshine his female partner. But Cornejo with Copeland in Act I showed no such restraint. In various side-by-side jetes he was so vastly superior -- height, stretch, etc. - that she looked even worse than she might have otherwise. But I think it's fine for Cornejo to dance to his own level. And he was spectacular in his variations -- very appreciative crowd. The tricky partnering with Alina seemed flawless to me.

Is there a company anywhere with such noisy, clunky shoes? Copeland was the worst, but many women seem to have this problem. Yuk!

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I don't think the danseur should lower his standard to make the ballerina look better. Rather the ballerina must raise her standard of dancing.

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I, too, thought that Cojocaru was gorgeous--luminous, ethereal, sympathetic, very moving--and particularly admired the way she made the character her own. Cornejo's solo dancing was spectaclar and his partnering was secure, although his portrayal was perhaps a little one-dimensional. I seem to be a minority in liking Cassandra Trenary best among the shades, because she wasn't merely performing a sequence of difficult steps; she was actually dancing.

After the performance on the platform of the 66th Street subway station, a flautist was playing excerpts from the score. Presumably he was sight-reading, and I have to note that he found the first shade variation particularly tricky. He probably didn't suspect that the hack Minkus' oom-pah music might not be as simplistic as it sounds.

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So sorry I missed Cojucaru- I missed out as I was feeling under the weather. Looking forward to reading more about her performance and hoping to see tonight's show if possible

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That flute guy has been playing on the 66th Street platform for years. He always plays something related to the performance that's happening at Lincoln Center that night. A few years ago the NY Times ran a story about him, I think. There is now also a trumpet guy who has muscled in on the flute guy's "territory". Only in New York. kids. Only in New York.

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