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Posted (edited)

I was there last night.  Boylston was terrific.  I think Giselle is one of her strongest roles.  She's got mad hops, as they say in the basketball world, and she has really made strides in controlling her tendency to jerk her head and neck with her  big jumps.  Her leaps, which always soared, now look more effortless with a more relaxed upper body.  I think her acting has improved too.   There were no technical snafus, and her characterization, especially in the first act, was just wonderful.  Strong hops on pointe, lingering balances, and soaring leaps -- yeehaw!

Whiteside danced well.  I find his Albrecht very haughty and even a bit villainous (particularly when he steals the daisy), which, paired with Forster's somewhat sympathetic Hilarion, creates a weird dynamic for me.  I think this contributed to a little lack of magic or chemistry in the second act.  I didn't really believe the love story.  I wish I could have seen Lendorf with Boylston as I think they would have been magic together in Giselle.  Generally speaking, however, I like Whiteside best in Ashton and Balanchine ballets.    

One criticism: I wish Boylston (and others) would stop "winging" their feet so severely in arabesque, particularly arabesque penche, where it completely breaks the line of the leg.  (It's really noticeable if you are not viewing her straight on.)   I feel that I may be outside of popular opinion here, as winging is quite the norm, and even expected now.  Boylston seems to take it too far, however, where her foot seems almost flexed at times.  I'm nit-picking here, as she was pretty flawless otherwise.

Teuscher delivered what I thought was a respectable Myrta, but I agree with others it's a work in progress.  Excited for her Nikiya!

I hope others go on Saturday, as I'm interested to hear your thoughts.  One thing I admire about Boylston is her capacity to grow and improve as an artist.  I know she has pursued acting coaching independently, and from her Instagram it appears she was receiving coaching in Giselle from Carla Korbes.  Something paid off, as she is much better than a few years ago in achieving the slope of the neck and soft arms required of the romantic ballet. 

Boylston is still not on the level of Vishneva, Ananiashvili, or Reyes (my 3 favorite ABT Giselles), but she's my favorite current ABT Giselle.  Admittedly I haven't seen Copeland, but I have seen the rest.  Sadly, I think Abrerra could have been great, but injuries have weakened her potential.  Murphy lacks the fragility.  Lane lacks the jumps (as does Copeland, I'm sure).  Seo I need to give another chance, as it's been a few years, but I can't imagine her first act rivaling Boylston's incredibly strong performance.

Edited by DeCoster

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Posted (edited)

Wednesday matinee May 16:  Not much to add from the previous posts - this was a great performance in Act I and a lovely if imperfect one in Act II.  Sarah Lane is a great artist - dance-wise, in musicality and in dramatic interpretation.  I happen to think that Daniil Simkin is not the best partner for her though he danced very well in his solo in Act II.  Daniil's second act solo variation might have been even better than Bolle and Cornejo in control, height of jumps and perfection of classical form.  In Act II I noticed that Lane had some difficulties in the terrifyingly exposed opening adagio of the pas de deux with the développés with the right leg and then the left leg, the rotation in arabesque dropping down to arabesque penchée.  I saw some seams and hesitations there.  Act I was gorgeous and stunning from start to finish with a sublime solo Spessivtzeva variation.  One take away was that I never had moments of boredom where I was scanning the extras or corps de ballet or my mind was wandering.  I was deeply engrossed from the first bar to the final tableau of Giselle lying dead on the ground.  I also found Catherine Hurlin a revelation in the peasant pas de deux.   Gabe Stone Shayer was the best danced male soloist so far in the Peasant Pas.  Schevchenko I think has a better Myrtha in her but maintained her high standards despite some sloppy details.  Lauren Post and Rachel Rutherford as Moyna and Zulma were promising needing a little more experience and command.

Wednesday evening May 16:  This was the opposite of the matinee - uneven, not entirely dramatically convincing Act I, sensational Act II.  Full enthusiastic house with some shout-outs and cheers with individual solos and bravura steps given applause.   Isabella Boylston has gotten rid of the blonde streaks in her hair and has obviously had coaching in use of the hands and port de bras.  (She coached the role at the Mariinsky some years ago on an exchange program - Am I correct?)  She burst out of that cottage with high coltish leaps exuding raw exuberance, health and total assurance in the world.  Then a few seconds later she had to pretend to be too shy to sit next to her suitor on a small bench or even look him in the eyes.  Shyness and maidenly reticence which came so naturally to Sarah Lane just don't convince with Boylston who seemed extroverted, experienced and at ease in society.  I also didn't believe she was physically frail with a heart condition - she had stamina and strength to spare in her dancing.  And what dancing!  Fast pirouettes in the Spessivtzeva solo with hops on pointe that traveled the width of the stage.  Lane in the afternoon was more elegantly phrased and delicate and just as technically finished but WOW!!!  Girl can dance!  I didn't see her but I suspect this may be what Cynthia Gregory was like as Giselle.

Whiteside is a strong partner and decent technician.  I don't find him the most romantic leading man and dramatically his Albrecht didn't engage my interest or affection.  His face is long and horsey and not very varied in expression.  Unlike Simkin or Cornejo and very much like Bolle and the late lamented Gomes, I always knew he had the ballerina's back (or arm or waist or leg or any other body part) in any partnering situation.  In "Giselle" that is not nothing.  I didn't sense any great romantic connection between Whiteside and Boylston in Act I's love scenes.  Tom Forster repeated his excellent brooding, damaged Hilarion.  Katherine Williams and Blaine Hoven in the Peasant pas de deux both looked a little nervous and slightly under rehearsed.  Hoven was overdoing the arm movements and even looking down spotting a landing which was unnecessary since he landed perfectly.  Being more experienced, he did fine.  Williams momentarily bobbled a pirouette and was obviously dancing carefully but well yet the tentativeness was evident.  The shortage of female soloists is forcing ABT to dig into the corps de ballet.  Some of these corps dancers like Zhong-Jing Fang are more than ready for the spotlight, others are finding their way.  I wonder who is available to coach them.

Act II was a whole different ball game.  Here Boylston's physical strength, rather than undercutting her portrayal of Giselle as Wili, supported it brilliantly.   Her steely technique (a pleasure on its own) was channeled into soft ballon and otherworldly lightness like a iron hand in a velvet glove.  Her use of the arms and positions of the torso followed Romantic models.  The low chignon and pale makeup made her look like a nineteenth century cameo portrait.  The développés to each side were smooth and seamlessly transitioned into turning arabeques into deep penchée with no wobble or shifting.  Obviously, Boylston has a great jump and she could capitalize on that as a weightless spirit but they were soft, weightless and high, not jerky or acrobatic.  Whiteside's physical strength showed in his bench lifts in the opening encounter with Giselle where he lifted her very high with no strain and held her aloft easily.  He danced very well but without the beautiful line of Bolle or Simkin.  In Act II, the two leads had a much better connection and interaction and the pure dance element brought out their best qualities as performers.  Teuscher dances quite well but lacks a certain steel core and iciness as Myrtha.  She seems a dutiful rather than imaginative actress.  Melanie Hamrick and Zhong-Jing Fang excelled as Moyna and Zulma.  The Wili corps has been excellent at each performance and they got a very enthusiastic response on Wednesday night.

 

Edited by FauxPas
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From the photo--love Boylston's new hair and, for my taste, much better suited for the nineteenth-century repertory and even for the 20th-century ballets that are set in the past...

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

Isabella Boylston has gotten rid of the blonde streaks in her hair and has obviously had coaching in use of the hands and port de bras.  (She coached the role at the Mariinsky some years ago on an exchange program - Am I correct?) 

 

Boylston danced Gamzatti at Mariinsky.   Seo danced Giselle, perhaps a year or two later.  I think there is some video of both appearances on youtube.  Not sure if there was any other coaching.

Edited by DeCoster

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Posted (edited)

Hi all – I have two side orchestra tickets (row L) for tonight's Giselle (Abrera / Stearns / K Williams) but am unable to attend. I'd be happy to give them for free to someone who would enjoy using them. I realize this is very last-minute (curtain is at 7:30), but if interested PM me. I have a PDF that I could email to you.

Edited by nanushka

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I mentioned this in another thread but one of ABT's very greatest Giselles (Diana Vishneva) just had a baby boy. Congrats Diana!

 

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I don't think Abrera should dance Giselle anymore.  Lovely as her acting is, her diminished technique shows.

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I just saw my 3rd Giselle this week.  Between Hee, Isabella and Stella, I think tonight (Stella) was my favorite performance of the week.  She has the most beautiful and classical lines.  Her acting and emotions is unparalleled.  She may not be perfect all the time, but for me she makes it up with some very strong and genuine moment.

 

in addition, Cory has reached a new level of performance.  His acting was believable and the big gasping at the end reminded me of the way Marcelo used to do.

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I completely disagree with cubanmiamiboy. I thought Stella was superlative. She is clearly working through a minor injury-- this is apparent from pulling out of Firebird, Myrtha, etc-- but she had the fortitude to persevere and pull off a truly beautiful, affecting performance. I cried at the sheer beauty of her perfectly Romantic lines and port de bras, and the meaning that she imbued into every step of choreography until it was no longer choreography but just pure storytelling. I know that many audience members, including many who post here, would have been sorely disappointed (and whined about it, and complained about ABT's spotty casting) if she chose to not dance Giselle this year, and I for one am just as grateful to have seen this performance as I was to have seen her previous two Giselles at the Met. 

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From watching many performances of Giselle over the years, I believe that Katherine Williams sets the Gold Standard for bourrees.

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2 hours ago, angelica said:

From watching many performances of Giselle over the years, I believe that Katherine Williams sets the Gold Standard for bourrees.

It was a wonderful debut as Myrta for Ms. Williams.  She commanded the stage.  I truly felt her presence during her solo performance at the beginning of Act II.  It would be so lovely to see her promoted this year.

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Today is “Birthdays D’day”! May 18.

Happiest Joint Birthdays to the stars of tonight’s Giselle:

Natalia Osipova - 32

David Hallberg - 36

ABT should roll out a great big cake onto the Met stage tonight. Cheers! 🎂 

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Just a few more thoughts on the Lane-Simkin Giselle at the Wednesday matinee. The audience was sparse and didn't seem to know when it was appropriate to clap, which was strange. Her first act hops on pointe were superb. I also liked her entrechats in Act II -- starting very slowly and high and dramatically increasing speed as she moved backwards.

I didn't notice the partnering problems others did, but there was one very wobbly move, the first overhead "tabletop" lift in ActII - short and shaky. But the second was very strong and secure. 

His technique is just glorious -- high, impressive, controlled. The one thing I didn't like: his flying brises on the diagonal in Act II. Just three each time and very low to the ground. The image of Baryshnikov flying across the stage is indelible for anybody who tries those. I do prefer them dramatically, as he is looking straight at Myrtha, under her spell, which is lost with the entrechats. 

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Let's elaborate on last night. I might be a minority here, but I go to the ballet to watch dancing...superb dancing... devilish dancong rather than acting-(sup'Mr B!😉). I don't except nor do I care too much about finding the next Meryl Streep onstage, although if a BALLERINA can spice her less than perfect technique with a big personality to make for an outstanding career, then kuddos to her-(sup' Mme. Danilova!😉).

I felt that Giselle's technical demands were beyond Abrera's current skills level. And Giselle is, technically speaking, all about those iconic sautees in act one-(sup' Mme. Spessivtseva!😉) and saut de chats and jetes all over the place. And yes, lovely as her acting was during the whole flirting segment with Albrecht, it was obvious by her simplified Spessivtseva's diagonal-(a pre rehearsed off pointe little step after three pointe sautees)- and her total lack of elevation that she should be off this role for good-( along with Seo...along with Copeland). 

All this technical assessment, of course, goes down the drain if she is, just like Copeland, marketable. 

Abrera's performance had the weight shifted toward her portrayal of a shy, visibly shaken, delicate village girl. I think she's one of the few ballerinas I've seen that has gone out of carbon copy offerings. She feels her weak heart giving her the first trouble warning right after Loys/Hillarion fight. She comically points at the floor to Loys when she asks him to dance with her. She happily wiggles her head when she's up the thing before being paraded as the Queen of the Harvest. And she actually voiced a nervous laughing during her mad scene, which truly looked taken out of a frikin' psych ward.

But... even so, that's not what one of the top 5 world class ballet companies Giselle should look like, technically wise.

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I truly enjoy all the drama on stage from last night ... I think that is why the company is called Americans Ballet Theatre.

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ABT one of the top 5 world class ballet companies? No way. 

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

it was obvious by her simplified Spessivtseva's diagonal-(a pre rehearsed off pointe little step after three pointe sautees)

That’s interesting because something similar happened last year — after about three hops or so, she put down her free leg for a moment to help steady herself and then continued with the hops. If I remember correctly, she stayed on pointe when this happened. It looked like a spontaneous correction, not a rehearsed simplification. It sounds like she did something different, but at the same moment, this year. 

So basically she came off pointe after about three hops, then went back up on pointe and continued them? 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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1 minute ago, fondoffouettes said:

That’s interesting because something similar happened last year — after about three hops or so, she put down her free leg for a moment to help steady herself and then continued with the hops. If I remember correctly, she stayed on pointe when this happened. It looked like a spontaneous correction, not a rehearsed simplification. It sounds like she did something different, but at the same moment, this year. 

So basically she came off pointe after about three hops, then went back up on pointe and continued them? 

Yep.

3 minutes ago, Olga said:

ABT one of the top 5 world class ballet companies? No way. 

I would go as Mariinsky, Bolshoi, RB, ABT and POB.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I would go as Mariinsky, Bolshoi, RB, ABT and POB.

Not directly on topic, of course, but at this point in time, is ABT really more of a world-class company than NYCB? In roster, in repertoire, in general overall quality of performances, etc? (What other factors should be considered in making this determination?) Hmm. I'm a longtime ABT fan, but given the current state of the company I don't know that I'd include them on a list of world-class companies that NYCB isn't also on.

Edited by nanushka

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If principal dancers aren't able to execute principal roles why are they pricipal dancers?  At what age is a dancers peak, physically?  Are these dancers too old?  I'm really asking- I'm a new ballet fan.

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ABT is nowhere near the top 5. In order to be top 5 you'd need a school and a specific style and training. ABT has neither. I'd say top 5:

- Mariinsky

- Bolshoi

- NYCB

- Royal Ballet 

- Paris Opera Ballet

A good case can be made for Royal Danish Ballet, Cuban National Ballet, and smaller Russian companies like the Mikhailovsky or Perm Ballet.

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46 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

That’s interesting because something similar happened last year — after about three hops or so, she put down her free leg for a moment to help steady herself and then continued with the hops. If I remember correctly, she stayed on pointe when this happened. It looked like a spontaneous correction, not a rehearsed simplification. It sounds like she did something different, but at the same moment, this year. 

So basically she came off pointe after about three hops, then went back up on pointe and continued them? 

From my recollection, she had to switch to her other leg two or three times. I think she was definitely dancing through an injury. She also fell over a little when she finished the variation. 

As a Stella fan, it made me nervous for the rest of the ballet. Maybe I was projecting, but I could feel a lot of hesitation in her dancing Act II.

This is also the best I’ve seen Stearns dance. 

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, canbelto said:

In order to be top 5 you'd need a school and a specific style and training.

This is one particular definition of what constitutes "top." I don't think it's necessarily the only possible definition. What's the justification for requiring "a school and a specific style"? Could there be alternate justifications for not making those a requirement?

The notion of a "company" may be constituted and conceived in multiple different, overlapping ways — e.g. the roster of dancers, the physical performances offered to the public in a given period, the school (if there is one), the cohesive style (if there is one), the institutional entity (structural, financial, etc.), the administration and coaching staff, the strength and maintenance of an historical legacy, etc. etc. It seems to me that different people will have different opinions as to how those should be weighed and factored in determining which companies are "top." Your definition is one particular response, reflecting one particular set of values, no?

Edited by nanushka

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, canbelto said:

ABT is nowhere near the top 5. In order to be top 5 you'd need a school and a specific style and training. ABT has neither. I'd say top 5:

- Mariinsky

- Bolshoi

- NYCB

- Royal Ballet 

- Paris Opera Ballet

A good case can be made for Royal Danish Ballet, Cuban National Ballet, and smaller Russian companies like the Mikhailovsky or Perm Ballet.

I believe the company needs to include at least "Giselle" in its repertoire. And well versed, generally speaking, in the Petipa repertoire. ABT has always been a wonderful world class company. Just look at the array of stars who have been on it since the 40's. Quite unique. It is just that right now its looking very thin, technically speaking.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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