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2017-2018 season

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7 hours ago, pbl said:

Hi everyone-

Where do I go online to find the casting for SL? How do I know when casting comes out for future performances and how do I search for it?

Can anyone share recommendations for which dancers to try to see? I have been away from PAB for two years and with all the turnover I'd love to hear opinions on who to see. I've only seen one performance since coming back and I was really impressed with Alexandra Hughes. Please let me know who else to look out for!

On their site, go to the ballet/program you want to see and next to that it'll say Buy tickets, Learn More, and Casting. If there is no Casting button then it's not announced yet. Casting is there for SL. http://paballet.org

I've not seen the company much, but I'm going to see Sterling Baca. He was in the corps at ABT till he decamped for PA a few years ago for a principal contract. He had great promise at ABT and some of us here feel his loss and believe he would have been promoted soon to soloist. So, I'm eager to see how he's developed since then.

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On 12/4/2017 at 7:16 AM, miliosr said:

I had the opposite thought regarding the continuing magnitude of Corella's stardom. Ever since he went off to found the Corella/Barcelona Ballet in Spain, I've felt there's been a cooling off to his fame. I really felt that way when he had his sendoff from ABT, which (in my opinion) had a perfunctory quality to it. Oh well, I guess these things are hard to quantify.

I agree that McKenzie isn't going anywhere. He's only 63. And it's easy to underestimate how much good will he has with the ABT board given that he got the company through the near company collapse in the early-90s, the dot com collapse (and attendant funding collapse) in the early 00s, and the Great Recession (and attendant funding collapse) in 2008. Actually, the two plum positions to be had sooner rather than later are those of Helgi Tomasson (75) and Peter Martins (71) (although I think Peter Martins may go out feet first.)

Yes, she deserves consideration as well. The field shouldn't be limited to these "primo ballerino assolutos".

It is surpriisng how quickly dancers are forgotten, it is truly the most ephemeral of the arts...   

I apologize for being off topic of PA B's Season, but wouldn't Julie Kent with David Hallberg make a great artistic management team for ABT?  

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Posted (edited)

I saw three performances of Pennsylvania Ballet's new Swan Lake this weekend (en route to a meeting in DC) - Friday night and both on Saturday. 

This company has only 30 dancers on contract, plus apprentices, a school, and a second company, so many dancers, including principals, took on different roles on different nights. The crowd scenes in I and III seemed sparse to me, and I'm not sure why they didn't make more use of the apprentices, etc to fill things out. Nothing was credited on the program other than "Artists of the Pennsylvania Ballet."

I don't know if sets were rented from somewhere or made new. They were acceptable -- painted drops for the most part with some moveable pieces. The biggest problem were the very noisy set changes from I to II, and from III to IV with a mysterious blue scrim covering the stage and an orchestral interlude. Moving scenery makes noise, but the clearly heard conversations and directions to the stage hands should have been avoided. (Only one intermission, between II and III.)

This was credited to Corella "after Petipa and Ivanov" and was mostly standard fare at this point in ballet history. But there were a few oddities:

  • Rothbart has his own variation in the black swan PdD, before the final sequences with fouettes and turns a la seconde for him. This was no Purple Rothbart, probably the best alteration in the ABT version, just a pedestrian variation, with no apparent dramatic purpose. It seemed as if it was planted there just to give Odile and Seigfried a little more time off-stage to rest up.
  • Rothbart also has a short variation in the last act. Both variations include what was apparently intended to be a sequence of two revoltades, but they were horribly botched -- barely leaving the floor, looking more like a tangled mistake than that glorious step when done correctly. 
  • The suicides come fairly early in Act IV, but there's almost no preparation for it -- we don't sense from Odette that she's thinking of suicide, that the other swans and Siegfried want to talk her out of it, nothing. 
  • The leaps into the lake were embarrassing. Most put a hand down on a rock to steady themselves on what seemed a few steps, then just pitched forward, only a few feet above the stage.  They disappeared for a long time while the corps had an impressive series of group patterns. Then Odette and Siegfried reappeared at stage level behind some rocks, pulled along on a sled of sorts -- but no hint of an other world or afterlife. You almost thought perhaps they'd just been hiding under water until Rothbart (apparently) died himself on the rocks. I realize this must have been a bargain basement solution, but wonder why they couldn't come up with something with the lighting - anything! - to make clear what was going on.

Casts:

  • Friday night was Lillian DiPiazza and Sterling Baca. She managed all the technical demands very nicely. He seemed like a reliable partner and has a nice carriage. But -- and I know this will drive his NYC fans crazy -- his technique is just so-so, workmanlike, never dazzling or exciting.
  • Saturday matinee was Oksana Maslova (a principal) with Jack Thomas (a member of the corps!). I almost felt sorry for him. He is very slight with negligible stage presence. He seemed attentive and reliable as a partner, but his variations were still just doing steps. He doesn't have any presence or command of the stage, although perhaps he will someday. I can't quite put my finger on it, but she has an odd way of flapping her ankle around in unexpected places.
  • Saturday night was Yuka Iseda (a corps member!) with Jermel Johnson (the only African-American member of the company and a long-time principal). What a knock-out performance - truly memorable. Johnson has the stage presence and experience to exude confidence, command, and calm. His technique was a cut above the others. Iseda was a wonder and I hope to see her again some day in another lead role. Every detail was extended, pushed, held, faster, higher, you name it. The white swan PdD was breathtaking -- it was like seeing it fresh all over again. Her Odile was the same - higher, faster, longer, crisper. Oh my. Just gorgeous. And her acting was spot on throughout -- haunted, almost trance-like as Odette, with a sinister, smirking Odile. But she also let us know that Odile was also under Rothbart's spell with furtive glances ("Am I doing what you want?"). The bad news? This was their only performance! Although the company is doing five more performances next weekend, Iseda-Johnson are not cast! What is Corella thinking???

Fouettes: Must note these. DiPiazza did 32 clean singles. Good. Maslova stayed with singles, fell out about 26, but recovered decently. I was wondering if perhaps Corella had said: just stick with the singles and do them well. But Iseda! The first half alternated with doubles and the last half had an arm over the head! Perfect. Solid. Wow!

Corps: The swan corps was quite wonderful -- good unanimity, attention to detail. 

I'll be interested in hearing other reactions, especially anybody who saw Iseda-Johnson.

Edited by California

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Thanks for the reports! I had wanted to see this but don't think I'll have time. 

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Thank you California. I'll look out for the various things you mentioned when I see this next weekend. Re: Baca. I really liked him when he was in the corps at ABT, and am eager to see him in a principal role, but I've honestly hard a hard time imagining him carrying a ballet. I've been hopeful for a growth spurt of sorts. Doesn't sound like that's happened. 

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Posted (edited)

So I made a day trip to Philadelphia yesterday to see the matinee and evening performances of Swan Lake. Aside from getting home way, way too late (the time change didn’t help), it was a very worthwhile trip. This is my first-ever viewing of this company, but these are some initial impressions. 

First, the production. I liked it. Attractive sets and costumes, suitably “Middle Ages,” with a vivid yet gentle color palette. As someone who is used to the tired, wan production of ABT and the garish production at NYCB, it felt like a blessed relief when, after the familiar overture, the curtain came up on a fresh, appealing production. One exception was the costumes for Von Rothbart, which looked cartoonish, and cheap to boot. There was a “black demon” outfit that looked like a kid’s Halloween costume, and in Act III he sported a laughable curlicue moustache and goatee. Most jarring was the insertion of a variation for Rothbart - right in the middle of the Black Swan pas de deux. Really?? IMHO, this can’t be removed, or at least moved, soon enough. Otherwise, a thumbs up on the production.

On to the dancing. The swans were fantastic. This alone made me glad I made the trip. Besides being marvelously in unison, with some beautifully executed “domino” effects, the entire flock gave off the impression of seriousness of purpose. They took pride in what they were doing. One detail I particularly appreciated was the commitment to eye positions when the swans are standing in formation along the sides. The uniformity of position, and the commitment to holding their eyes downcast, made their stillness very beautiful. At ABT, you don’t see the same unison or seriousness of purpose, and there are too many unfortunate wandering eyes. This was way better.  Impressed!

The principals were a more mixed bag. At the matinee, I saw Oksana Maslova and Jack Thomas. I found Maslova mannered and lacking in dramatic depth. She also had some technical issues. Her fouetté position looked awkward from the get-go, and she couldn’t seem to straighten up and get her working leg into the right form. Then she fell out with a few revolutions to go and stood there awkwardly for a second. And in the Odette variation, I couldn’t tell if she was having problems or just making some choices I didn’t understand. Her Siegfried, Jack Thomas, seemed (and is, I guess) very young. It’s easy to see why he was singled out for a principal role - he has a noble air and a noble line, and a princely, pouty face. He did well with the tours a la seconde in the black swan pdd. But the partnering had glitches and he had no acting range - just variations of a pout. I’d say he’s someone with a lot of potential, but maybe too inexperienced for this role. 

In the evening the leads were Yuka Iseda and Jermel Johnson. He was way better than Jack Thomas. Much better partner, a solid dancer, and just far more polished and professional. Also he has real acting range - his Siegfried had a searching, yearning air. He’s someone I’d be glad to see again. Yuka Iseda - I’m still trying to figure out what I think of her. I also saw her in the pas de trois at the matinee, where I was highly impressed by her buoyancy and fluid feet. In the evening I was ambivalent. In both performances she wore an excess of black eyeliner which bordered on the bizarre. It was hard to figure out her facial expressions. She is marvelous technically - but like Maslova, verges into being mannered. Fouetté report - excellent- many doubles, with varied arm positions in the second half. Traveled way downstage, but I’m assuming that was deliberate. 

Von Rothbart - in the matinee was James Ihde, who struggled with his variation. Evening was Sterling Baca. He was better, but it was hard to get a real sense in this one short variation. 

At the matinee, Benno was danced by Etienne Diaz. He looked too much like he was powering through the role. In the evening it was Federico d’Ortenzi. He had some trouble in the pdt, but did much better with his solo in Act III, and has an engaging, confident stage presence. In the pas de trois in the evening, I loved Sydney Dolan - an apprentice?? No way! Give this girl her corps contract now! She was fresh and lively, with a beautiful smile and a natural, unforced technique. At the matinee, Nayara Lopes was fresh and charming as the "peasant girl" who interacts with the Tutor. 

The folk dances were presented with care and vigor. A highlight of both performances was the Neapolitan, with its ebullience and laugh-out-loud charm. Love the tambourines!

Overall I was impressed with the swans, the production, and how they manage to do so much with the number of dancers that they have. Given the principals, however, I was left wondering about what kind of dancing Corella is encouraging. My ideal is dancing that is refined, straightforward, and unmannered. I didn’t get the impression that is the kind of dancing that Corella is rewarding. 

A real damper on both performances came not from the dancing, but audience disruption. Talking, cell phone use, and more. Expectations of audience behavior seem to be very different in Philadelphia versus New York. (Although I was at the Philadelphia Orchestra recently and didn’t notice any problems.) At the matinee, in Act IV there were so many irritants I couldn’t wait for the performance to be over. Two kids a few rows in front of me were talking, standing, switching seats with someone in the row behind, waving their arms (as in “conducting”), and practicing their port de bras. The guy across the aisle was tapping his foot to the music. The trio on my right were conversing. And the woman in front of me was taking photos, then a video of much of Act IV. At the evening performance, the woman next to me texted throughout the entire folk dances, while her friend sipped a glass of wine. And there were conversations coming from multiple directions. This wasn’t even all the disruptions (there was also late seating), but you get the picture. It’s not that none of this happens in New York, but when it does it’s usually shushed down firmly by nearby audience members. I didn’t hear a single shusher (and not being in my home audience, I didn’t want to shush, not knowing local standards), leading me to believe others aren’t bothered by all this. Could I ever get used to this kind of disruption, and still be transported by a performance? I hope I never have to try. 

Edited by cobweb

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12 hours ago, cobweb said:

A real damper on both performances came not from the dancing, but audience disruption. Talking, cell phone use, and more. Expectations of audience behavior seem to be very different in Philadelphia versus New York. (Although I was at the Philadelphia Orchestra recently and didn’t notice any problems.) At the matinee, in Act IV there were so many irritants I couldn’t wait for the performance to be over. Two kids a few rows in front of me were talking, standing, switching seats with someone in the row behind, waving their arms (as in “conducting”), and practicing their port de bras. The guy across the aisle was tapping his foot to the music. The trio on my right were conversing. And the woman in front of me was taking photos, then a video of much of Act IV. At the evening performance, the woman next to me texted throughout the entire folk dances, while her friend sipped a glass of wine. And there were conversations coming from multiple directions. This wasn’t even all the disruptions (there was also late seating), but you get the picture. It’s not that none of this happens in New York, but when it does it’s usually shushed down firmly by nearby audience members. I didn’t hear a single shusher (and not being in my home audience, I didn’t want to shush, not knowing local standards), leading me to believe others aren’t bothered by all this. Could I ever get used to this kind of disruption, and still be transported by a performance? I hope I never have to try. 

Ugh. Just reading this I'm getting angry and anxious, imagining being in your position. One or two of those things would drive me nuts — I can't imagine them all! I find it impossible to ignore such disruptions and, as you say, be transported by a performance. (That's perhaps a fault of mine.) I'm grateful to be living in a historical era (unlike, for instance, the nineteenth century) and attending performances in a cultural market (NYC, mostly) where silent attentiveness is the (more or less enforced) norm. I just hope things don't change!

Re: some comments above about Sterling Baca. My impression has been that some NYC/ABT fans sentimentalize him a bit as "the great taller male principal hope who might have been"—and I do agree with them that he had a good deal of potential and might have become that. I haven't seen him dance since he went to PAB, but his frequent IG videos often leave me thinking he still needs more refinement. Perhaps he'd have developed more of that if he'd stayed and had to work harder for a possible principal position at ABT.

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12 hours ago, cobweb said:

Overall I was impressed with the swans, the production, and how they manage to do so much with the number of dancers that they have. Given the principals, however, I was left wondering about what kind of dancing Corella is encouraging. My ideal is dancing that is refined, straightforward, and unmannered. I didn’t get the impression that is the kind of dancing that Corella is rewarding. 

Thanks for your report.  From the dancers' instagrams, I feel as though so many of them are concentrated on tricks, especially turns.    As, nanushka says above, Sterling is one example of this.  

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Posted (edited)

I wrote my review before reading California's comments above, but I agree about the noisy set changes and hearing the stagehands. I also heard the stage manager calling places right before the curtain went up. Probably there isn't much they can do about the acoustics. I also agree about the embarrassing leaps into the lake. However it was set up, they all looked awkward and quite un-balletic as they got into place for the jump. And the mattress is not hidden enough. You can pretty much see the dancers' legs as they hit the mattress, and even glimpse them as they get up. 

Edited by cobweb
unnecessary comma

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I follow some of the PA Ballet dancers on social media and agree that it seems as if the way to get cast is to dance very much like Corella himself danced: lots of bravura tricks and endless pirouettes a la seconde. It seems very exciting but I'm curious how they do with, say, Jewels later this season.

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21 hours ago, cobweb said:

A real damper on both performances came not from the dancing, but audience disruption. Talking, cell phone use, and more. Expectations of audience behavior seem to be very different in Philadelphia versus New York. (Although I was at the Philadelphia Orchestra recently and didn’t notice any problems.) At the matinee, in Act IV there were so many irritants I couldn’t wait for the performance to be over. Two kids a few rows in front of me were talking, standing, switching seats with someone in the row behind, waving their arms (as in “conducting”), and practicing their port de bras. The guy across the aisle was tapping his foot to the music. The trio on my right were conversing. And the woman in front of me was taking photos, then a video of much of Act IV. At the evening performance, the woman next to me texted throughout the entire folk dances, while her friend sipped a glass of wine. And there were conversations coming from multiple directions. This wasn’t even all the disruptions (there was also late seating), but you get the picture. It’s not that none of this happens in New York, but when it does it’s usually shushed down firmly by nearby audience members. I didn’t hear a single shusher (and not being in my home audience, I didn’t want to shush, not knowing local standards), leading me to believe others aren’t bothered by all this. Could I ever get used to this kind of disruption, and still be transported by a performance? I hope I never have to try. 

I didn't notice anything so awful Friday night or Saturday. A young girl took a flash photo from the side tiers Saturday night but then others in that box told her to stop. Then again, I've seen people take flash photos from the boxes at the Royal Opera House...

One thing that annoys me about that theater: the rows of seats are so close together in the orchestra (what they call the parterre). Very often, several people had to move out to the aisle because people couldn't squeeze by. The seats are frayed with worn out springs. The whole place is pretty funky. But I doubt money is available to do a major remodel. 

Letting people bring drinks into the theater seems to be spreading. San Francisco lets you bring a drink in a covered container into the theater. But with old seats, no cup holders, and minimal space between rows, it seems like a terrible idea. I guess ballet management is open to just about anything these days to bring people in.

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I  am encouraged that your experience was better than mine. After the matinee I was hoping it was just a fluke. After the evening I was really dismayed.  But maybe it was two flukes. I hope so!!

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On ‎3‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 9:07 AM, nanushka said:

I haven't seen him dance since he went to PAB, but his frequent IG videos often leave me thinking he still needs more refinement. Perhaps he'd have developed more of that if he'd stayed and had to work harder for a possible principal position at ABT.

 

On ‎3‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 9:30 AM, its the mom said:

From the dancers' instagrams, I feel as though so many of them are concentrated on tricks, especially turns.    As, nanushka says above, Sterling is one example of this.  

 

On ‎3‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 3:13 PM, canbelto said:

I follow some of the PA Ballet dancers on social media and agree that it seems as if the way to get cast is to dance very much like Corella himself danced: lots of bravura tricks and endless pirouettes a la seconde. It seems very exciting but I'm curious how they do with, say, Jewels later this season.

I follow some of the Pennsylvania Ballet male dancers on Instagram and I would concur with the comments made by other posters. From what the dancers post on their Instagram feeds, they come across as a company of mini-Angels. I don't know if they're being pushed in that direction by Corella himself or, as canbelto notes, they've collectively decided that imitating Corella is the road to advancement. The impression they're giving via Instagram is a very one-dimensional one, though.

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1 minute ago, miliosr said:

I follow some of the Pennsylvania Ballet male dancers on Instagram and I would concur with the comments made by other posters. From what the dancers post on their Instagram feeds, they come across as a company of mini-Angels. I don't know if they're being pushed in that direction by Corella himself or, as canbelto notes, they've collectively decided that imitating Corella is the road to advancement. The impression they're giving via Instagram is a very one-dimensional one, though.

The thing is, while Corella had that dynamo side, I feel like he was much more than that. Admittedly, I didn't start following ABT until near the end of his career there, so I only saw him live a handful of times. But the impression I got, even in those last years, was that he was much more of an all-around high-quality dancer. If these are "mini-Angels," they seem modeled on a caricature.

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

The thing is, while Corella had that dynamo side, I feel like he was much more than that. Admittedly, I didn't start following ABT until near the end of his career there, so I only saw him live a handful of times. But the impression I got, even in those last years, was that he was much more of an all-around high-quality dancer. If these are "mini-Angels," they seem modeled on a caricature.

Angel was a delightful dancer with a wonderfully boyish persona and a radiant stage persona. Part of this was his appearance -- his huge eyes and smile was just made for the stage. But the PA Ballet dancers' instagrams almost seem to be auditions -- lots of class footage of how many tricks they can do. 

This is one example. It's impressive but that urge to squeeze an extra revolution prevented him from ending the pirouettes in fifth position which IMO would have been more aesthetically pleasing.

 

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

The thing is, while Corella had that dynamo side, I feel like he was much more than that. Admittedly, I didn't start following ABT until near the end of his career there, so I only saw him live a handful of times. But the impression I got, even in those last years, was that he was much more of an all-around high-quality dancer. If these are "mini-Angels," they seem modeled on a caricature.

I don't disagree with you. It may be that the male dancers are picking up on the most obvious strand in Corella's career and no one is getting them to see Corella (if he is indeed the stylistic model they're all looking toward) in a more nuanced way.

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1 minute ago, miliosr said:

I don't disagree with you. It may be that the male dancers are picking up on the most obvious strand in Corella's career and no one is getting them to see Corella (if he is indeed the stylistic model they're all looking toward) in a more nuanced way.

Yes, that explanation definitely makes sense and seems a likely one.

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Is it possibly all the emphasis on competitions rather than on artistic quality these days?  Maybe they don't see beyond the tricks? And this is their way of measuring themselves against the rest of the world?

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Maybe......they are having fun and tricks are easy to post?  Maybe they go for broke in the studio so it's easier to do more modest and clean turns or jumps on stage?  When in class, doing barre or center, everyone is working and they don't have their cell phones out?  Maybe there are restrictions on the choreography that they can post?  I don't know for sure.  However,  I do know this company is full of unique and talented artistic athletes who are bringing some beauty to the world.  I'd rather see them dance than not!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I don’t mind at all seeing the “tricks.” I just wish they were done with more refinement.

Edited by nanushka

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

Is it possibly all the emphasis on competitions rather than on artistic quality these days?  Maybe they don't see beyond the tricks? And this is their way of measuring themselves against the rest of the world?

I think that may be part of it. The other thing to consider is that Angel Corella jettisoned the old company in order to bring the new company into being. Presumably, he wants the big jumps and non-stop turning.

10 hours ago, wallis said:

Maybe......they are having fun and tricks are easy to post?  Maybe they go for broke in the studio so it's easier to do more modest and clean turns or jumps on stage?  When in class, doing barre or center, everyone is working and they don't have their cell phones out?  Maybe there are restrictions on the choreography that they can post?  I don't know for sure.  However,  I do know this company is full of unique and talented artistic athletes who are bringing some beauty to the world.  I'd rather see them dance than not!

You are correct that Instagram videos are not the best measure of a company's health. However, Instagram videos are a form of advertisement for the company. Unfortunately, the impression being left from all the turning videos is that all the guys want to dance is Don Q.

Edited by miliosr

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In fairness, tricks are easier to make a short video statement with.  I was just surprised to see Swan Lake sold that way... sure the black swan pas de deux, but some stuff that came out from the company on facebook was about how well the dancers were technically handling the "difficult" white pdd, as if the technical tricks were the focus of that choreography.  I've never seen the "tricks" there promoted as such rather than the soulful expression... very weird.

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I think another issue is that Corella unfortunately has acquired a reputation for firing dancers en masse, and also making it clear that he wants the company to head in the direction of dancing full-length classics. There's nothing wrong in molding the company to your vision but some of the instagram videos look like auditions for a YAGP gala.

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I saw SL last Saturday night, 3/17, and regrettably I have many critiques. California, I agree with most of what you wrote earlier.

First off, this was my first time at the Academy of Music, and at 160+ years old it is absolutely beautiful. It looked like an old opera house should, I think, in grandeur and ornateness. Not much leg room in the rows, but I was 2nd from the aisle and I didn't have to get up too many times for others, so it was manageable. And, despite the academy being as old as it is, they have installed ample-sized restroom facilities, for the women at least :) which even newer concert halls cannot accommodate for some reason.

The house was packed; it looked pretty much sold out. I'd expect that of SL, but PA Ballet has had a hard time selling tickets, in general, so this was good to see. Also, the age range was extremely diverse - including many young folks (millennials) and some children (who were very well behaved). Luckily, I didn't have the nightmarish audience interruptions like cobweb did. There were two cell phones that did go off, one right before Odette begins her solo in Act II, of all places, but both times they were quickly silenced by the many heads that whipped around with death glares (including my own). Otherwise, everyone was quiet, very respectful and serious.

ACT I:

I certainly didn't miss ABT's prologue that shows how Odette was captured as a woman and turned into a swan (or, if going by the prop, more like a rubber chicken). The overall idea is appreciated, just not how it's executed. So, I was grateful that PA just gets on with it by starting with the birthday celebrations. The sets were ok; very simple painted backdrops. The stage is smaller than what I'm used to, and at times that really inhibited the choreography. Though it's not a grand stage, they really could have used a few supernumeraries as village elders and as additional guests in ACT III (the only people on stage were the dancers, except in ACT III they had two/three non-dancing footmen). They could have been stationed off by the wings so they wouldn't be in the way of the dancing. A sense of village community was really missing. The costumes were a mixed bag. The Queen mother's gown was no different from the peasants, except that they added maybe three rhinestones to her dress and she was wearing a crown. No way to dress a queen. Peter Weil was a charming Benno, who looked like a very young Angel Corella. He has the same boyish good looks, was extremely charismatic and a good actor. His technique needs some improving, but he's a corps dancer with potential. The peasant pas de trois with Alexandra Heier and So Jung Shin, was forced to dance under themselves at times as the size of the stage really limited them. They each had some nice moments, but they all ran out of steam quite visibly at the end. Clearly they were exhausted. When Sterling Baca made his entrance as Siegfried, I was questioning if he was a prince or just some random guy who wandered into someone else's party. Speaking of Corella, at his ABT farewell performance several years ago, his inner conflict during ACT I was so beautifully and articulately portrayed, clearly struggling with his noble responsibilities and impending marriage (to someone); better than I've ever seen. Baca, and it pains me to say this, was extraordinarily bland during the entire ballet. No character development, no passion, no excitement, no nobility, ok technique, ok partnering. From my perspective, he hasn't progressed at all since leaving ABT and frankly, I'm questioning why/how I thought he had so much potential back then. What did I see then that I clearly didn't see here?

ACT II:

The set changes, as already noted, were very loud; I didn’t hear any stage hands talking, but I was in the orchestra’s 6th row, so maybe I wasn’t close enough. But, from each act to the next, there were a lot of loud booms.

Lilian DiPiazza was O/O. Her grand jete entrance was nice, but then she stumbled a bit coming out of her first arabesque and out the next step, so that killed it a little for me. She has pretty good technique, but I saw several bobbles and a few over/under-rotations during some turns and other steps. Her swan arms were unremarkable. Her characterization was a little better than Baca’s, but for the most part she just maintained a far-away look on her face. There was no passion or story-telling with these two. And, I’m not a fan of the long tutu for O/O, though it’s fine for the corps. Rothbart……what the….? Starting with the most hideous costume that ever wandered out of a B horror film, complete with really tall horns, this character needs to be completely re-done: costume, choreography…. Ian Hussey, a principal, looked heavy and out of shape. Was he recently injured and is just now returning? The saving grace for the entire ballet were the swans. The four little swans were excellent; totally in sync till the very end (at other companies, sometimes I’ve seen them start off well but end all over the place). The swan corps was immaculate. Clearly, they were very well rehearsed and with a few very minor exceptions, they were incredibly in sync and had some beautiful domino effects. These were the hardest working swans I’ve ever seen (not overtly so) and they deserve every accolade I can give them. Corella needs to invest the same amount of time and energy with the principals.

ACT III:

The Queen mother was finally dressed like a queen and overall the costumes for this act were very good. The princesses and the national dances were danced very nicely. The two Neopolitans, Cato Berry and Taro Kurachi, are both apprentices! Berry had a few stumbles, but was still charming. Kirachi, wow! Beautiful, plush jumps, nice feet, crisp pirouettes. Very impressive for an apprentice. Again, Rothbart…..oh my. The ridiculous horns were replaced here with super white make-up and an equally ridiculously long goatee. Hussey executed his solo very poorly and his revoltades barely left the floor. Baca came out with an inappropriately huge smile on his face which remained throughout this act. He had a very low arabesque, lacks flexibility where it’s needed (in grand jetes, for example) and most of his turns and jumps ended in a sloppy fifth. Odile has an added solo here, that’s not in most SL’s, and DiPiazza had a lot of trouble with it, a lot of stumbles. The typical Odile variation was better and she did, I think, 28/29 fouettes (and singles, which is fine) but she ended with a stumble. Also, during her fouettes, her right hand turned downward from the wrist as soon as she started each fouette, which I found very distracting.

ACT IV:

The suicides are rushed here, and as noted by others earlier, with no explanation beforehand. The jumps were embarrassing, which wasn’t the dancers fault – they take off from a very low platform, after they cumbersomely climb a few steps (due to design), and at least from the orchestra the jump looked more like a trip. The swan corps again, brought their A game.

Finally, there was one corps dancer that I couldn't identify who kept catching my eye. His face was very animated, and he interacted really well with his partners in the ACT I village scenes and in the ACT III Czardas. He also has a wonderful mop of curly hair.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the reviews. Swan Lake is a steep climb for anything less than a world class company. It sells, but is very hard to do well. Pleased to read about the dancing of the corps. I guess that compensated somewhat for principals still finding their way ...

 

Edited by Drew

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