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Best and Worst of 2017

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Best

Mariinsky Ballet's La Bayadere at the Kennedy Center, with stellar artists including Tereshkina, Kondaurova and Kim.

Jewels 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Koch Theater - Stellar performances of Rubies and Diamonds.  Less than thrilling performances of Emeralds, but 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Devon Teuscher in Swan Lake.  Looking forward to seeing more and more of this ballerina.

Sarah Lane as Giselle.  The promotion finally happened for Sarah.  What a heart wrenching performance.

Tiler Peck, Megan Fairchild both debuting in Swan Lake.  Also Zach Catazaro.  

Tiler Peck's debut in Sonnambula, Chase Finlay's debut as the Poet in that ballet in a different cast.  

The return of Maria Kowroski!

The seemingly endless pool of stellar talent at NYCB.

The return of David Hallberg. 

Worst

Shimmering Asphalt by Pontus Lindberg- lots of superficiality and posing, but not much ballet dancing

Troy Schumacher's The Wind Still Brings- hopefully the wind will sweep this one far far away from the Koch Theater

ABT's Character Assassination by Press Release of Marcelo Gomes.  And of course the departure of this beloved artist  from ABT makes this the worst of the worst of 2017. 

The break up of the seemingly perfect partnership of Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck.  Thanks for the memories, especially in Who Cares.  Their performances together in The Man I  Love will probably never be equaled, much less surpassed.

The departure of Robbie Fairchild from NYCB. 

Reichlin in Swan Lake- she's gotten worse since her role debut, rather than better.

Most Controversial

The Times Are Racing- some loved it; others (myself included) mostly disliked the choreography. The one section of the choreography which I will always remember is the exciting tap duet for Justin Peck and Robbie Fairchild, which is preserved on youtube. 

Least Surprising

Peter Martins' conduct  has finally landed him in hot water after so many decades.  What will be the ultimate outcome?  Retirement? Firing?  Or return to his old job? 

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Best:

La Bayadere by Mariinsky at the Kennedy Center

Sarah Lane in Giselle

In the Countenance of Kings by Justin Peck for San Francisco Ballet

Broadcast on PBS of New York City Ballet in Paris 

Vishneva-Gomes in Onegin in her retirement performance at ABT

Swan Lake reconstruction by Ratmansky for La Scala Ballet

Announced/planned departures from ABT: Kochetkova

Worst:

Aaron Robison leaving North America (SFB and Houston) for English National Ballet

Swan Lake by SFB (especially the first act)

Pas/Parts by Forsythe at SFB

Announced/planned departures from ABT: Gomes, Simkin

 

Edited by California

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Agree with you, California,  about the Vishneva Gomes Onegin.  As good as it gets.

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From my very limited ballet going...I still had a banner year!

Best

1. Mariinsky Bayadere at Kennedy Center. If I had seen nothing else this year, 2017 would go down as one of my "best" ballet years for these performances. Hurrah for all the dancers in all the casts but special nods to Tereshkina, Kim, and Kondaurova. 

2. Ratmansky Whipped Cream with ABT at the Met. Oddly structured, too long in bits ... and oh just WONDERFUL anyway. The parade of candy creatures coming to take the sick boy from the hospital made me feel like an overexcited child myself--not just the first time I saw it either but at all three performances I attended. Hurrah for all the dancers at these performances too, but special nods to Simkin, Lane, Trenary, and Seo.

3. Joachim de Luz in Tarantella with NYCB at Kennedy Center. Sensational--and joyous--male dancing. And, if you had told me right after it was over that his performance was NOT the most sensational male dancing I would see this year, or for the next several years, I would have thought you were absolutely insane--however, a few months later Kim was just as sensational or possibly more (see 1). 

So great it counts as a "best" for me even if I didn't get to see it:

1. David Hallberg is back!

Honorable Mentions:

1. Four Temperaments--Anytime I get to see even a "good" or "very good" performance of Four Temperaments counts as a highlight of the year for me. I got to see two with NYCB at Kennedy Center.

2. Allegro Brillante -- Balanchine is back at Atlanta Ballet! What a delight to see Atlanta's dancers getting to sink their teeth into Balanchine--sadly absent from the company's repertory for the final decade or so of McFall's tenure as director. The very fine performance I saw, led by Nadia Mara and Alexandre Barros, even had a whiff of romantic flavor that I sometimes find missing from the admittedly technically more accomplished performances of this ballet that I have seen at NYCB.

3. Helen Pickett's adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Camino Real with Atlanta Ballet--an engrossing and memorable evening--also farewell to a lot of company dancers leaving after this season.

4. Alessa Rogers variation in Paquita with Atlanta ballet. Poised, poetic, classical dancing. 

Worst:

1. Alessa Rogers' departure from Atlanta Ballet

2. See 1.

3. See 1.

etc.

Too soon to tell:

1. The uncertainty around investigations of Peter Martins at New York City Ballet and, with even less information available, Marcelo Gomes at American Ballet Theatre.  It's not just that we don't yet know "what happened" -- we also don't yet know what the consequences will be for how ballet companies approach issues of sexual harrasment/exploitation and misconduct going forward.

2. Cancellation of Lincoln Center Festival -- what exactly does it mean for ballet at Lincoln Center in the coming years?  Will New York continue to see tours of major foreign companies?

 

Edited by Drew

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I need to add to my worst list.  Joffrey Ballet's Romeo and Juliet.  What a ghastly production.  After such a long absence from NYC, why would they bring that ballet for their Koch engagement.

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Best:

Justin Peck's The Times Are Racing. I'm one of those that loved this sneaker ballet, and I thought it got the NYCB crowd worked up like no other. The best: the tap duet between Justin Peck and Robbie Fairchild and/or Ashly Isaacs.

Prodigal Son with Tess Reichlen and Daniel Ulbricht. My god it was great. It sizzled and chilled and was all the things you'd ever want this ballet to be.

Tiler Peck in Allegro Brillante. She just seems to grow more and more brilliant in the role every time she dances it.

Sterling Hyltin as the Sleepwalker in La Sonnambula. Good to see that this Danilova/Allegra Kent/Wendy role has found such a worthy heir. Also Hyltin in Sleeping Beauty. Such a lovely, poetic, sweet portrayal of Aurora.

Mariinsky's La Bayadere - the performance I caught (Tereshkina, Kim, Matvienko) was heaven.

Superjewels - really interesting to see the three different companies take on the different sections. 

Sarah Lane's Giselle - the sincerity and beauty of her performance was unforgettable

Diana Vishneva's farewell in Onegin. It was sad that it was a farewell, but what a performance by her and Marcelo Gomes.

Tony Yazbeck's tap dancing performance in "The Right Girl" in the otherwise dreadful Prince of Broadway.

David Hallberg returning to the stage.

Worst:

Whipped Cream - I found it to be entirely charmless except for the costumes and designs.

Veronika Part's sudden dismissal from ABT and the rushed, awkward "farewell" for her.

Troy Schumacher's What The Wind Brings - I actually can't believe I sat through that.

Some of the "nuggets" dug up by the Here/Now festival that really did not need a revisit. 

The pall of sexual misconduct that hangs over NYC's two biggest ballet companies -- Peter Martins for NYCB and Gomes' sudden resignation from ABT.

Edited by canbelto

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Pacific Northwest Ballet had a very powerful year – they performed Forsythe’s “New Suite” in March, with wonderful parts for a whole chunk of the company, but especially for Carrie imler in the Handel duet. We watched Imler with special interest last year, since she’d announced she would be retiring at the end of the season. She had another great outing in the June rep, dancing “La Source” and “Pictures at an Exhibition.” (I’m just now realizing that both Wendy Whelan and Carrie Imler performed that Ratmansky work right before they retired). There were three great performances in Robbins’ “Opus 19” – Dylan Wald, Benjamin Griffiths and James Moore all took a personal approach to the leading role, and they all looked fresh.  (I was sorry to realize that Jonathan Poretta wasn’t cast in this – a reminder that he’ll be finishing his career sooner than I would wish.)

The company opened their season with “Jewels,” and it was full of wonderful performances – some of them people coming back to parts where they’d excelled, and others with debuts. And after that they really stepped up with an amazing production of Crystal Pite’s “Plot Point.”  It’s a multi-layered work that’s an exploration of narrative structure while it bounces between different worlds, different casts, and different layers of expression.  I’m not making a lot of sense here – I would need many more words for that, but I can say that it’s still in my head a couple months later, and I’m really hoping it reappears in rep soon.

Away from PNB, the contemporary community here had some great moments as well.  Elby Brosch, who is just clarifying what he’s interested in as a choreographer, took a big step with “Implied Forever.” He began by whispering his name into his joints as if he were breathing life into them, and ended in stillness, with us all listening to an old Paul Simon song – in the middle was a whimsical sequence where he invoked the name of other, much taller dancers. He created an integrated whole from these disparate elements – it was a fascinating transformation.  Choreographer Stephanie Liapis, who spent part of the year exploring the music of Harry Partsch, worked with musicians at the University of Washington where Partsch’s eclectic collection of custom instruments are housed.  She created a work to several of his compositions, finding a movement analog to his unusual sonic world.

The Seattle International Film Festival screened a restored version of “The Dumb Girl of Portici” in June, which is the only extended film we have of Anna Pavolva.  It was an incredible view of a supremely influential artist.  And then later in the summer the UW hosted a workshop with dance historians Catherine Turocy and Mellicent Hodson.  Hodson has been investigating another Nijinsky ballet, this one an incomplete work he planned to a Bach sarabande. Turocy taught an authentic Baroque sarabande, and Hodson extrapolated from it using scraps of choreographic notation from Nijinsky – it was an astonishing process to watch.

PNB has been developing a wonderful audience education program – this autumn’s “Ballet 101” session on programming and production was packed with information, and then Doug Fullington’s compare/contrast session on “Nutcracker” for its 125th anniversary put the original Ivanov choreography side by side with the Balanchine version.  It’s a thrill to get access to this kind of detail.

One last wonderful thing – tap dancer Jessie Sawyer (yes, I know) helped to put together a weekend workshop with the phenomenal Dianne Walker – the jam at the end of the session was full of young artists dancing with and for Walker, who got up on stage for a little magic of her own.  My favorite moment was when one young woman was working at her absolute edges – hitting her marks but obviously struggling to do it.  Walker got up on stage with her and just shadowed some of her rhythms – you could see the tension leave her shoulders as she relaxed into the work.  Dance is an art form that is passed directly from person to person -- you don’t always get to see that transmission, but that evening I was there.

 

Edited by sandik

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Best: Kim's Solor, Osipova's Sylvia, Tereshkina's Nikiya, Jeanette Delgado's Walpurgisnacht.

Worst: Copeland's Odile, Seo's Odile, Gomes' ABT departure. 

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Best:

The Mariinsky's Bayadere. Wonderful performances from all the principals and that corps is absolutely the best!

Veronika Part's last ABT Swan Lake. Heartbreaking and not her best, but definitely a highlight of any year

Veronika Part's Mozartiana - spirituality personified

The Superjewels - especially NYCB's Rubies & Diamonds and the Bolshoi's Diamonds - it was heaven!

Lane & Simkin in Giselle. Sarah's Giselle was luminous and so was her O/O in Swan Lake. Despite the fouettees it was a wonderful debut

The return of Maria Kowroski - especially her warm, wonderful and gorgeous Sugar Plum

The return of David Hallberg - not at 100% yet, but so wonderful to see him back on stage

The Times are Racing - I absolutely loved it

Vishneva's farewell performance with Gomes. I'm not an Onegin fan but this was so special

Tiler Peck in NYCB's Swan Lake  - just exquisite

Agree with Canbelto - Tony Yazbeck's insanely wonderful tap dancing performance in "The Right Girl" from Prince of Broadway. I will never forget it and will miss it now every time I see Follies

Worst:

Absolute worst - ABT's despicable treatment of Part & Gomes. At this point they are on very thin ice with me

Vishneva's retirement from ABT

The Joffrey's R&J - just awful

The Bolshoi's Taming of the Shrew - we get to see them so rarely, wish they had brought something better

ABT's fall season - dull, dull, dull

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12 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Best: Kim's Solor, Osipova's Sylvia, Tereshkina's Nikiya, Jeanette Delgado's Walpurgisnacht.

Worst: Copeland's Odile, Seo's Odile, Gomes' ABT departure. 

Just curious -- did you see an Odile you liked last year?

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1 hour ago, sandik said:

Just curious -- did you see an Odile you liked last year?

Maybe Teuscher's, although I seem to remember I liked her rehearsal more than the actual performance.

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I don't have a long list but here goes:

Best

Sarah Lane's Giselle - honest, moving, technically flawless. She proved her artistry and, IMO, left no doubt that she deserved the promotion she received.

Tiler Peck - Allegro Brilliante - nothing left to say about her

NYCB - For the deep, deep talent in all the ranks

PNB & Carrie Imler's farewell performance - I never had the privilege of seeing Imler live but have been smitten with what I've seen in video. Thank you PNB for sharing her final show and thank you Carrie Imler for being remarkable to the end. 

Worst

Misty Copeland's Swan Lake - I'm sure she sells tickets but ..... I can't even go into it

ABT's fall season - Boring, boring, boring.

The cloud hanging over NYCB because of the Peter Martins situation and ABT because of the Gomes situation. I hope for resolution and communication soon in both cases.

 

 

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Based on time spent in Russia and travels to various locales in the USA, as well as my hometown of Washington, DC:

 

BEST:

Full-evening ballet and Luxurious Experience:  Ratmansky's WHIPPED CREAM in Costa Mesa

One-act ballet: Ratmansky strikes again with the haunting ODESSA at the NYCBallet...although it could almost be a symbol for 2017, with its abused female characters. Love it for the dancing and the music, though.

2nd-best new one-act ballet: Justin Peck's adorable PULCINELLA VARIATIONS, bringing out the best in so many NYCB dancers, not least of all Huxley in the Tarantella solo!

Competitor/Dancer of the year: Evelina Godunova's gold medal performances to become the star of the 2017 Moscow IBC

New company of promise:  Carlos Acostas' new Acosta Danza troupe

Washington Ballet's delectable rendition of Ashton's THE DREAM, staged by Dowell, starring Maki Onuki, Brooklyn Mack and A. Ndlovu - all brilliant!

The June 2017 graduation performances of the Vaganova Academy (incl. Eleonora Sevenard and Oscar Frame, both off to the Bolshoi) and SAB (Roman Mejia and so many others to NYCB...and the promise of young non-graduate Mira Nadon in SCOTCH SYMPHONY)

At ABT, the promotion of Sarah Lane to Principal after two gorgeous GISELLEs, especially the 2nd one opposite Cornejo!

The return of David Hallberg and the publication of his autobiography.

 

WORST:

The death of Sergei Vikharev, bringing an end to his noble 19th-C Petipa reconstructions

Ballet-Dog of the Year:  Stiefel's FRONTIER for Washington Ballet, a sound-and-light show with aerobic exercises and a bit of acting

Close 2nd and 3rds for Ballet-Dogs: "bow wow" to Millepied's I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE in the Fall ABT run and Ratmansky's FAIRY's KISS in Miami

Ballet Dance Across America III "festival" at the Kennedy Center, especially the program curated by Misty Copeland. Not a pointe shoe in sight.

The sudden dismissal ("resignation") of Marcelo Gomes at ABT. Whatever the facts behind it (which we may never know), this dismissal is right-up-there with Nijinsky having been dismissed from the Imperial Ballet for not having worn shorts over his tights.

 

THE EXCITING PROMISES OF 2018:

Ratmansky's upcoming recon of Petipa's HARLEQUINADE, for ABT...and any other Petipa recon efforts that may happen during his Bicentennial Year

The Robbins 100 celebrations around the world, with the promise of many interesting revivals in different venues, including DYBBUK, NOCES, WATERMILL

More Ballets in Cinemas live offerings, such as the Bolshoi's Ratmansky R&J and the Royal Ballet's new SWAN LAKE by Scarlett

Edited by CharlieH
correcting name of Pulcinella Variations stand-out dancer (Huxley the magnificent)

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I'll keep my observations short and sweet:

BEST

The continued personal and professional successes of Misty Copeland - and the ways that she has exposed racial resentment and classism in ballet

The deep bench of rockstar principal women at NYCB

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE

Justin Peck's THE TIMES ARE RACING - there was so much joy and abandon in this ballet, but the electronic score was often loud, dull, and repetitive

WORST

The Peter Martins and Marcelo Gomes situations (though I think that balletomanes have been too quick to defend Gomes, especially since we don't really know what happened).

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15 hours ago, CharlieH said:

 

WORST:

The death of Sergei Vikharev, bringing an end to his noble reconstruction of 19th-C Petipa reconstructions

 

 

A huge loss....

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