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Tonight's performance was also a winner for Shevchenko. She dances the role with strength and confidence.  Sterns was her Conrad, but I didn't see a love interaction  between the two.  I always sit very close to the stage, so I could tell theirs were two worlds apart. 

For me the night belonged to Teuscher.  Devon's Gulnare was a very pleasant one.  I love the way she projects...her strong, beautiful body type, and the way she doesn't look vulgarly hyper extended-(especially during the pas de esclaves adagio's overhead lifst in which she splits her legs as in a grand ecarte.  She also uses her face with great benefit, and in general she transmitted the type of sense of stage control that I always look for in a ballerina.  I ca't wait to see her as O/O! 

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cobweb   

I thought Shevchenko looked like a star last night. I loved how she accented her finishes with a gracious and confident smile. I am eager to see her in anything else. Odette/Odile at the top of the list. 

Kaho Ogawa also caught my attention as the odalisque with the difficult pirouette sequence. She was really lovely, with a grand "wingspan" and arresting presence. 

It was interesting to see the JKO students, having just seen SAB students in Midsummer Night's Dream and in Scenes de Ballet at the workshop. The SAB students strike me as more gracious, precise, and better rehearsed than the JKO students. 

I hadn't intended to see Corsaire this time, but with the casting switcheroo for Swan Lake I had a ticket for a performance I no longer wanted to see, so I swapped it for Shevchenko. IMHO, ABT should think long and hard before they schedule this ballet again. I'm finding it harder than I used to, to laugh about women being bought, sold, and kidnapped, and the ethnic stereotypes aren't so great either. 

Edited by cobweb

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DeCoster   

I don't have time to say much, but a few comments about Saturday's matinee and Hee Seo in particular:

 

But first . . .  there is a lot of talk on here and elsewhere about Copeland's technical limitations, but I must report she completed that tricky third act section with the emboites leading into the double pirouettes from fifth without a hitch.  (I've seen other dancers, including Abrerra struggle there.)  In general, I'm happy with Copeland in this role.  I enjoy her carriage, port de bras, and upper body.  She doesn't have much of a leap (which is why I shy away from her Giselle), but that is not a huge disappointment for Gulnare.

 

Hee Seo, on the contrary, seems to have bigger grand jetes than ever before.  I noticed this watching her Mercedes and it was even more apparent on Saturday.  (I have never seen Seo's Giselle, and I would like to some day.  She has a wonderful lightness and buoyancy.)  Yet I am still of a divided mind about this ballerina.  I remember when she danced a lead role in Kudelka's Desir, still in the corps.  The beauty of her lines and fluidity of her movement were captivating.  She looked like a star to me, certainly more polished than Boylston, also a corps standout during that time.  Since then I have had mixed experiences.  I adored her in R&J and later Ashton's Cinderella, but not so much in Bayadere or La Sylphide, where she struggled visibly at points and sometimes literally stumbled.  (My husband, present at both of these performances, characterizes Seo as "not a very good dancer.")  Veronika Part has had inconsistent performances over the years, but there is more riskiness and transcendence to her dancing, so the baubles seem somehow worth it.  Watching the recent instagram videos of Annaisvilli's pique menage made me think in particular of Seo's pique turns and how she doesn't really drive forward with much power or energy.  Everything is sort of underneath her and a bit tentative.  So went Saturday's performance of Corsaire.  Her stumbles were fairly minimal, a bit of odd hopping in fouettes when she seemed to come off pointe yet kept going and one unfortunate double pirouette where she was crooked from the start and landing awkwardly.  Otherwise, her dancing was secure but too guarded for my taste.

 

I'm holding out hope for Wednesday's Swan Lake.  If Marcelo can't bring out the passion in Seo, I don't know who can.  And I think her plasticity and grace will suit Odette well, if she can just keep that supporting ankle strong and roll through her foot coming off point.

 

James Whiteside was the highlight of Saturday's performance for me.  He was absolutely perfect in his dancing with clean landings all around and great musicality.  He partnered Seo easily.  Her supported pirouettes whirled beautifully, and the lifts were all easy and nice.  I also think he is perfectly comfortable with the silliness of this ballet.  He pursues silliness seriously, and it shows.  Bravo James!  :clapping:

 

Corps member Joo Won Ahn isn't quite there with all of the tricks and spins, but I still enjoyed seeing him featured in Corsaire.  He has quite the physique and gets huge air in his grand jetes.  I hope he develops into something special; I see princely potential there, for sure.

 

I really appreciated Cirio's Landekem, especially his strong mime.

 

The Odalisques (sp?) were OK. April Giangeruso replaced Catherine Hurlin.  I find Giangeruso a bit ungainly at times.  In general she needs to work on her upper body and learn to relax her shoulders which seem to rise as the choreography gets difficult.  She also needs to be mindful of her elbows which drop or collapse inward when she turns, all the more noticeable on a tall dancer.  Trenary was spot-on in her variations.  (She and Lane are my favorite petit-allegro women at ABT at the moment.)  

 

Should ABT continue to present Le Corsaire in future seasons?  I say no.  It's time to move on.  But I'm glad I went once this season, and I was really pleased that Misty delivered all the goods for her young adoring fans.

 

 

Edited by DeCoster
typos galore

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ABT Fan   
47 minutes ago, DeCoster said:

Should ABT continue to present Le Corsaire in future seasons?  I say no.  It's time to move on.  But I'm glad I went once this season, and I was really pleased that Misty delivered all the goods for her young adoring fans.

 

I think it's time for it to go, but I think they'll hold onto for awhile longer as I suspect other companies will as well. It's such a shame that a ballet with so many plum dancing roles has such an outdated and deplorable storyline, and I suppose these days companies keep it around hoping the dancing will negate the awfulness. I'm glad I went once as well, but it's getting harder to sit through scenes with scantily clothed women tied up together being bought and sold (and that's not the only part I could barely stomach...). I imagine years down the road when this ballet is no longer performed and very few people are still around who remember seeing it/performing it, and it's dug up in an archive or "online", the consensus will be "are you kidding me????" that it was ever performed for as long as it was, let alone at all, much like we view certain films from say 60+ years ago.

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sandik   
14 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

 

I think it's time for it to go, but I think they'll hold onto for awhile longer as I suspect other companies will as well. It's such a shame that a ballet with so many plum dancing roles has such an outdated and deplorable storyline, and I suppose these days companies keep it around hoping the dancing will negate the awfulness. I'm glad I went once as well, but it's getting harder to sit through scenes with scantily clothed women tied up together being bought and sold (and that's not the only part I could barely stomach...). I imagine years down the road when this ballet is no longer performed and very few people are still around who remember seeing it/performing it, and it's dug up in an archive or "online", the consensus will be "are you kidding me????" that it was ever performed for as long as it was, let alone at all, much like we view certain films from say 60+ years ago.

 

Especially since there have been several public conversations about implied and overt violence in the repertory, it's getting more and more difficult to look past the problematic aspects of works like this to the considerable riches of the individual parts.

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Natalia   

Lighten up. Keep Corsaire!

 

Dump The Times Are Racing!!! OK, that one is NYCB but you get my point. 

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bingham   
10 minutes ago, Natalia said:

Lighten up. Keep Corsaire!

 

Dump The Times Are Racing!!! OK, that one is NYCB but you get my point. 

I agree with Natalia. Keep it.

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FauxPas   

There is a long history of presenting "Odalisque", "Bayadere" or "Harem" story lines in exotic ballets created for the ballet companies in Russia and Paris.  In India, the function of the Devadasi Temple Dancer or Bayadere was not only to take part in festivals and temple rituals but to provide sexual companionship to the priests who were not bound by oaths of celibacy.  The jockey club and aristocratic beau monde frequented the ballet in search of pretty young mistresses and many ballerinas (soloists or the "rats" in the corps) doubled as courtesans.  Therefore, presenting the ballerinas as odalisques, bayaderes or harem girls mirrored the position of the ballet dancer as potential sexual plaything of the aristocratic pashas in the high priced loges.  The situation was much the same in Imperial Russia under the Czars.  Of course the story is "exotic" and "foreign" so there is some distance but the subtext was clear with pretty women in scanty outfits acting as compliant love slaves to powerful rich men.  

 

By the way, human trafficking and high priced prostitution still goes on today.  Arab oil sheiks engage high priced call girls from Europe and America all the time, they are flown out to the Emirates, Dubai, etc. for long money-making business trips.    I mean this ballet is over 150 years old - it is not going to reflect current enlightened progressive values on women's roles and rights.

 

I don't see how "Le Corsaire" is glorifying this as Lankendem is portrayed as a villain and the Pasha as a buffoon.  The woman are desperate to escape the harem and free themselves.  The corsair Conrad spends the whole ballet trying to free his beloved Medora from the slave traders.  I don't understand the social justice worker tone here - perhaps those who are offended because sex slavery is portrayed as part of a light hearted comic adventure story in dance.  I agree - lighten up.  Don't watch Maria Montez and Jon Hall movies either.

Edited by FauxPas

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nana   
1 hour ago, DeCoster said:

Hee Seo, on the contrary, seems to have bigger grand jetes than ever before.  I noticed this watching her Mercedes and it was even more apparent on Saturday.  (I have never seen Seo's Giselle, and I would like to some day.  She has a wonderful lightness and buoyancy.)  Yet I am still of a divided mind about this ballerina.  I remember when she danced a lead role in Kudelka's Desir, still in the corps.  The beauty of her lines and fluidity of her movement were captivating.  She looked like a star to me, certainly more polished than Boylston, also a corps standout during that time.  Since then I have had mixed experiences.  I adored her in R&J and later Ashton's Cinderella, but not so much in Bayadere or La Sylphide, where she struggled visibly at points and sometimes literally stumbled.  (My husband, present at both of these performances, characterizes Seo as "not a very good dancer.")  Veronika Part has had inconsistent performances over the years, but there is more riskiness and transcendence to her dancing, so the baubles seem somehow worth it.  Watching the recent instagram videos of Annaisvilli's pique menage made me think in particular of Seo's pique turns and how she doesn't really drive forward with much power or energy.  Everything is sort of underneath her and a bit tentative.  So went Saturday's performance of Corsaire.  Her stumbles were fairly minimal, a bit of odd hopping in fouettes when she seemed to come off pointe yet kept going and one unfortunate double pirouette where she was crooked from the start and landing awkwardly.  Otherwise, her dancing was secure but too guarded for my taste.

 

I agree that Seo was shining when she was in the corps and when she was a soloist. I also thought that she's a star material and had had hopes for a long time but now I'm tired of seeing her falling off/stumbles. It's OK not to be very technical (we don't request triple turns), but I want to see "clean" variations at least after 8 years of her debut of principal role. Also as mentioned by vipa, I don't see her uniqueness either in terms of artistry. 

 

Agree that although Ali variation didn't go super well, Ahn seems to have potential to grow as a prince; will need to see him in other roles. Trenary was gorgeous and lovely. I saw Cirio as Ali and Lankendem and I thought he's well equipped with acting and clean techniques.  

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Helene   

[Admin Beanie]

 

No one has to "lighten up" about anything:  people absorb art in a specific context based on what's important to them and their values.  And it has no place on a discussion board, since it's about as subtle an attempt to stop the discussion as "Talk to the hand."

 

[/Admin Beanie]

 

[Fan propeller cap on]

 

I think ABT should dump their "Le Corsaire" and do the original-from-reconstruction version.   Even the "Truncated Third Act  to End Before Overtime at the Kennedy Center Kicks In" version that the Bolshoi presented in the late '00's is 1000x preferable, in my opinion.

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nanushka   
31 minutes ago, Helene said:

I think ABT should dump their "Le Corsaire" and do the original-from-reconstruction version.   Even the "Truncated Third Act  to End Before Overtime at the Kennedy Center Kicks In" version that the Bolshoi presented in the late '00's is 1000x preferable, in my opinion.

 

I don't know the specific production that Helene refers to, but I imagine that a rigorous research-based reconstruction (à la Ratmansky's Sleeping Beauty—in concept, even for those who didn't like the style) would have the benefit of viewing Corsaire as an "of its time" historical artifact. The historical context that FauxPas refers to is a particularly fascinating element of ballet history, and certainly interlocks with the ambivalence that some modern-day lovers of the art may feel about its gender politics, body politics, aesthetics, etc.

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Emma   
2 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

 

I think it's time for it to go, but I think they'll hold onto for awhile longer as I suspect other companies will as well. It's such a shame that a ballet with so many plum dancing roles has such an outdated and deplorable storyline, and I suppose these days companies keep it around hoping the dancing will negate the awfulness. I'm glad I went once as well, but it's getting harder to sit through scenes with scantily clothed women tied up together being bought and sold (and that's not the only part I could barely stomach...). I imagine years down the road when this ballet is no longer performed and very few people are still around who remember seeing it/performing it, and it's dug up in an archive or "online", the consensus will be "are you kidding me????" that it was ever performed for as long as it was, let alone at all, much like we view certain films from say 60+ years ago.

 

I completely agree.  I have to add I was extremely unimpressed with the choreography and costumes for the corps.  I saw Brandt and thought she was fantastic -- this was the first time I saw her in a featured role and bought a last minute student ticket when her casting was announced.  However, the production itself was not my cup of tea even before considering the offensive story line.  IMO it would be best to keep the Act II pas de trois for galas and dispose of the rest.

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nanushka   
23 minutes ago, Emma said:

I completely agree.  I have to add I was extremely unimpressed with the choreography and costumes for the corps.  I saw Brandt and thought she was fantastic -- this was the first time I saw her in a featured role and bought a last minute student ticket when her casting was announced.  However, the production itself was not my cup of tea even before considering the offensive story line.  IMO it would be best to keep the Act II pas de trois for galas and dispose of the rest.

 

Given that choreography is really only preserved through a history of subsequent performances, I think there's something to be said for the preservation of a full major work—even if quite adulterated—by one of the greatest and most significant choreographers in ballet history.

 

Loss and adulteration are of course inevitable, which is one of the great frustrations of the reality of ballet's fragile heritage. But they can at least be guarded against, in those cases where such guarding seems deserved. And I'd argue that there's enough fine choreography in Corsaire (even if not for the corps) that it is deserved.

 

This is certainly not an argument for ABT's physical production or for Anna-Maria Holmes' staging of that choreography. But I would not want to see Corsaire go unperformed for so long that it becomes irretrievably lost.

Edited by nanushka

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Jayne   

FWIW Dance Theatre of Harlem performed the Anne-Marie Holmes full length.  Make of it what you will, but the dancers involved descend from the legacy of slavery and found a way yo present the ballet without making it awkward.  

 

If you really want yo go to the original text, read Lord Byron's poem. 

 

Personally I have more problems with the excruciatingly awful blackface in La Bayadere.  But the music is so gorgeous!  Can't Bolshoi turn those children into juvenile Macaques wearing adorable jeweled vests and hats?  

Edited by Jayne

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Drew   
5 hours ago, Helene said:

 

I think ABT should dump their "Le Corsaire" and do the original-from-reconstruction version.   Even the "Truncated Third Act  to End Before Overtime at the Kennedy Center Kicks In" version that the Bolshoi presented in the late '00's is 1000x preferable, in my opinion.

 

I enjoyed the Bolshoi reconstruction, albeit with a few caveats, and if ABT were to present that production, then its audience could admire it, as mentioned above, as a work 'of its time.' But it does add potential fresh offensiveness--even beyond its treatment of Muslim characters--that might reasonably strike a nerve for ABT's audiences. I think ABT would be wise to think twice unless they were permitted a few modifications. And, if something needs to be cut to avoid overtime, then a few of the more egregiously dated and troubling episodes could go. 

 

An example from the Bolshoi site English language synopsis:


"Enter Seyd-Pasha. The odalisques are required to bow down before their master, but the unruly Gulnare mocks him too. Seyd-Pasha, carried away by her youth and beauty, throws her his handkerchief, but Gulnare throws it on to her friends, eventually the handkerchief, passing from hand to hand, reaches an old negress who, picking it up, starts to chase Seyd-Pasha, smothering him with her caresses.Seyd-Pasha is hard put to it to contain his anger."

 

(When I saw the ballet in London I thought the episode included the fact that the "old negress" was veiled and only on the unveiling was the Pasha angry. I don't have the program and haven't the time to check what they did when the Bolshoi broadcast the ballet...but others may remember.)

 

There also is no Lankedem: the miserly seller of slaves is "Isaac"-and he IS miserly. At one point the Bolshoi synopsis says simply: "Seyd-Pasha orders the eunuch to send the Jew packing..." Even those who haven't seen the production can probably imagine the make-up.

 

(Here is the link to Bolshoi page: http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/198/libretto/  )

 

Still, obviously you can't have a full-length Corsaire that isn't, say, problematic in many respects (or, if you prefer, dated);  there is no point in trying to sanitize it altogether--and a lot of comedy is cruel one way or another. But in this day and age I would be dismayed by an American production (and am not happy with a Russian one) that kept the episode with the "old negress." I think some of the other gags could reasonably be cut or modified too, though honestly I quite enjoyed most of the reconstruction even if Gennadi's Yanin's pitch perfect "Isaac" and the mockery of Muslim prayer made me uncomfortable.  But I can also respect some of Anne-Marie Holmes' choices. 

 

I suppose, too, with any production, some issues could also be addressed in program notes--nothing too intense or scholarly but maybe a short piece which could also compare Corsaire to some of Rossini's and Mozart's comic operas on related themes.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Drew

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3 hours ago, Natalia said:

Lighten up. Keep Corsaire!

 

Dump The Times Are Racing!!! OK, that one is NYCB but you get my point. 

 

Definitely. With all the countless floor rolling aberrations I have witnessed in my ballet viewing life, getting to see a Petipa survivor is always a breath of fresh air. I say keep it.

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31 minutes ago, Jayne said:

FWIW Dance Theatre of Harlem performed the Anne-Marie Holmes full length.  Make of it what you will, but the dancers involved descend from the legacy of slavery and found a way yo present the ballet without making it awkward.  

 

If you really want yo go to the original text, read Lord Byron's poem. 

 

Personally I have more problems with the excruciatingly awful blackface in La Bayadere.  But the music is so gorgeous!  Can't Bolshoi turn those children into juvenile Macaques wearing adorable jeweled vests and hats?  

 

 

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2 hours ago, Jayne said:

FWIW Dance Theatre of Harlem performed the Anne-Marie Holmes full length.  Make of it what you will, but the dancers involved descend from the legacy of slavery and found a way yo present the ballet without making it awkward.  

 

As I mentioned in the thread on Pennsylvania Ballet's Corsaire earlier this spring, they changed Aili to a "servant," not a "slave," in the program, but he behaved exactly the same as in other versions. At least we know they were aware of the awkwardness of that one character.

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Helene   

Of course, there is no Ali in the original, so that's one problem solved.

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rg   

um, really? as stated above: Dance Theatre of Harlem presented the multi-act CORSAIRE in AMHolmes staging? i'd love to where and when, as it's not a factor in DTH history as far as i've kept up with it. (i rem. the pas de deux w/ Paul Russell and a number of DTH women, but the complete ballet?)

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Jayne   

I thought they did the whole tamale back in the '80s.  Though I was a child at the time, I thought Virginia Johnson gave an interview saying as much.  But if I am wrong I stand corrected. 

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I don't think DTH did it. 

 

However Holmes did a full length Bayadere in about 2000, and little Idol attendants did the same dance but were dressed instead in gold outfits. Its not too clear in this screen shot but you should be able to tell.

mmmmmmm.jpg

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maps   
14 hours ago, Drew said:

 

I enjoyed the Bolshoi reconstruction, albeit with a few caveats, and if ABT were to present that production, then its audience could admire it, as mentioned above, as a work 'of its time.' But it does add potential fresh offensiveness.... But I can also respect some of Anne-Marie Holmes' choices. 

 

I suppose, too, with any production, some issues could also be addressed in program notes--nothing too intense or scholarly but maybe a short piece which could also compare Corsaire to some of Rossini's and Mozart's comic operas on related themes

 

Byron did not write Corsaire in a vacuum and it sold 10,000 copies the first day.  The Mediterranean/Aegean were dangerous and pirate ballets existed  since at least 1826.   Galzarani and an 1857 ballet by Guisseppe Rota based on Uncle Tom's Cabin:  https://books.google.com/books?id=RH87XE25bCEC&pg=PA110&lpg=PA110&dq=Giovanni+Galzerani&source=bl&ots=O5V8Ty-iFE&sig=Ib5QRd6uJMW0ztXZ_35HSR1wuH0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwikwZqx6brUAhVDxoMKHSJFCVQ4FBDoAQgsMAI#v=onepage&q=Giovanni Galzerani&f=false

 

Corsaire, Bayadere, Raymonda, etc should not be removed from repertory but companies should not have dancers in blackface.   [http://www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_3_No_18_October_2013/28.pdf ] . 

 

Balanchine's Don Quixote in 1965 had a publication  including essay by Auden, excerpts from the 1605 Miquel De Cervantes Saavedra novel, photos, illustrations [woodcuts by Gustave Dore from the 1869 French edition].  

Edited by maps

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