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ABT 2018 Firebird / AFTERITE

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On 5/22/2018 at 11:08 AM, its the mom said:

Interesting that McGregor's Obsidian Tear ("The imaginative world of the ballet is both archaic and futuristic in its exploration of the tribal behaviour of its all-male group. From the ballet’s opening duet, tender and innocent, the dancing becomes darker and more turbulent as the group plays out a dynamic of conflict and challenge, loyalty and rejection.") and other ballets could be performed and well-received at the Royal Opera House, but his work doesn't belong at the Met.  

The thing is, McGregor doesn't make ballets. He does his own thing with the addition of some pointe work. There's a rehearsal video on YT of him and Wheeldon working one after another in the studio and the contrast in language used to convey ideas to the dancers and to fine tune their movements is so clear: that Wheeldon is a ballet choreographer and McGregor is not. 

Of course, this is not to deny other possible virtues and contributions McGregor might possess and make to a dance company. As to why the Royal under Monica Mason made him the resident choreographer, I defer to more knowledgeable commentators.

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I saw the show last night.  Besides the message of the choreography, I found the dancers to be dynamic... I love seeing all the stars on one stage at the same time. 

IMO, Alessandra Ferri has the most expressive feet... she is so dramatic and beautiful on stage still, I love it.

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Posted (edited)

I am at Internezzo. WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT "FIREBIRD"...?!? First, it gets downplayed as a sort of pseudo- comedy, with all those ridiculous dancing innuendos between the "tsarevich"  and the princess, so reminiscing of Cinderella's dancing tutor sequence. And that corps in silly green wigs doing all this ridiculousness on stage, like a bunch of spoiled cheerleaders.  Jesus Christ...that was painful to watch. And steps and steps and more steps for Ivan...and of course...very busy dragging/contorting choreo for the pdd with the Firebird. And the Berceuse, one of the most beautiful segments of music, which calls for a grand choreo, gets this stupid pas de quatre, with a grand finale that seems to be a rendering of an MGM 30's production titled "Blondes have more fun".

Fokine, Stravinsky and Karsavina must be rolling on their graves.

Pathetic.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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1 hour ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I am at Internezzo. WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT "FIREBIRD"...?!? First, it gets downplayed as a sort of pseudo- comedy, with all those ridiculous dancing innuendos between the "tsarevich"  and the princess, so reminiscing of Cinderella's dancing tutor sequence. And that corps in silly green wigs doing all this ridiculousness on stage, like a bunch of spoiled cheerleaders.  Jesus Christ...that was painful to watch. And steps and steps and more steps for Ivan...and of course...very busy dragging/contorting choreo for the pdd with the Firebird. And the Berceuse, one of the most beautiful segments of music, which calls for a grand choreo, gets this stupid pas de quatre, with a grand finale that seems to be a rendering of an MGM 30's production titled "Blondes have more fun".

Fokine, Stravinsky and Karsavina must be rolling on their graves.

Pathetic.

Post Intermezzo situation wasn't any better or worse. Whereas "Firebird" looked ridiculous, "Rite"-(or whatever the name is)-was very boring. To play devil's advocate, I don't attribute all fault to McGregor. I just happen to agree with a bunch of Imperial era ballerinas who have declared at various moments their dislike for music "non dansante" for ballet purposes. I really believe Pugni, Minkus, Tchaikovsky or Delibes knew very well how to capture the magic of the dance with their wonderful waltzes, mazurkas and haunting melancholic adagios. And Rite's music, for all its iconic history, is not "musique dansante"-(nor that of Agon or Symphony in Three Movements, for that matter, but Mr.B WAS Mr. B).

And "Misty The Photographer"..😂

Anyhow...boring as hell, nothing I would try to see again. Only two things worth of mentioning:

1-How elastic and fit Ferri still is for her age.

2- How sexy Herman looked in those briefs.-(😈).

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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Thanks for your comments on this program, cubanmiamiboy! I have not seen Firebird since it premiered, and my impression was very similar to yours. I had some hopes it might improve with age, but apparently not. Memorial Day weekend is looking a little bare, ballet-wise, but I guess I won’t be seeing this program. 

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12 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Thanks for your comments on this program, cubanmiamiboy! I have not seen Firebird since it premiered, and my impression was very similar to yours. I had some hopes it might improve with age, but apparently not. Memorial Day weekend is looking a little bare, ballet-wise, but I guess I won’t be seeing this program. 

You can always go across the lobby and see the ever-lovely NYCB production of Coppelia.

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9 hours ago, FauxPas said:

By the way, Ratmansky's "Firebird" will never be my favorite choreography of this ballet but he has kept working on it.  It is no longer the muddle it was the first year it played in 2012. 

 

This is interesting, because I've found he mostly just leaves his work as-is, at least for ABT. (Maybe they don't pay him enough to revise less-than-successful works?) So there were actually noticeable, major revisions to Firebird

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6 hours ago, Ilovegiselle said:

I saw the show last night.  Besides the message of the choreography, I found the dancers to be dynamic... I love seeing all the stars on one stage at the same time. 

IMO, Alessandra Ferri has the most expressive feet... she is so dramatic and beautiful on stage still, I love it.

Yes! It was for me, extremely fulfilling. I'm not going to bother with a long review at this point, but if anyone wants to talk more about the dancers and performances than go back and forth on what is and is not outrageous, I'm here for it.

I'm glad I saw Afterite and plan on seeing it again. Herman Cornejo & Jeffrey Cirio's gorgeous pas de deux in the beginning...it was so nice to just watch them dance without all the bells and whistles. And each time I see Alessandra Ferri I'm reminded that she has no heir (ilovegiselle, your expressive feet comment is right on. Assoluta indeed!). I've also never seen Misty Copeland look more beautiful and confident. Etc. Etc. Every dancer made an impression on me. Even if you don't like the piece, the A cast is such a goldmine of dancers who all look deeply in tune with their given project. 

There are a few sections that feel like McGregor is phoning it in, or doesn't know how to bridge one part to the next. But after last spring's somewhat stale programing, I welcome this week's double bill with open arms. 

*shrug* I also really liked Firebird and found it to be charming and dreamlike and a welcome departure from the warhorses. The first maiden dance and the pas de quatre near the end could use some revisions, but Christine was marvelous (of course she was). She ate that role for lunch, making it look almost too easy. Thomas Forster started beautifully but seemed to have trouble partnering Christine. I was going to try and make Friday's performance but don't know if I see Devon as a Firebird. How did she do tonight? 

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33 minutes ago, Inge said:

I was going to try and make Friday's performance but don't know if I see Devon as a Firebird. How did she do tonight? 

She fell right in the beginning. 

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9 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I am at Internezzo. WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT "FIREBIRD"...?!? First, it gets downplayed as a sort of pseudo- comedy, with all those ridiculous dancing innuendos between the "tsarevich"  and the princess, so reminiscing of Cinderella's dancing tutor sequence. And that corps in silly green wigs doing all this ridiculousness on stage, like a bunch of spoiled cheerleaders.  Jesus Christ...that was painful to watch. And steps and steps and more steps for Ivan...and of course...very busy dragging/contorting choreo for the pdd with the Firebird. And the Berceuse, one of the most beautiful segments of music, which calls for a grand choreo, gets this stupid pas de quatre, with a grand finale that seems to be a rendering of an MGM 30's production titled "Blondes have more fun".

Fokine, Stravinsky and Karsavina must be rolling on their graves.

Pathetic.

I’M TOTALLY WITH YOU! It was a pathetic Firebird, emphasizing ugliness. I saw this in the initial run. Even Osipova couldn’t save that dog!!!

Ratmansky has created many lovely new (non-reconstruction) ballets, including Namouna, Concerto DSCH, Odessa, etc.) This is in the OTHER group, right down there with The Tempest and Fairy’s Kiss. I guess that ABT can’t retire the production because of the marketing tie-in to the “Misty Firebird Barbie” doll & book.

Edited by CharlieH

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2 hours ago, CharlieH said:

I’M TOTALLY WITH YOU! It was a pathetic Firebird, emphasizing ugliness. I saw this in the initial run. Even Osipova couldn’t save that dog!!!

Ratmansky has created many lovely new (non-reconstruction) ballets, including Namouna, Concerto DSCH, Odessa, etc.) This is in the OTHER group, right down there with The Tempest and Fairy’s Kiss. I guess that ABT can’t retire the production because of the marketing tie-in to the “Misty Firebird Barbie” doll & book.

Thanks, everybody, for the reminders about why I'm glad I'm not in NYC to see Firebird. I saw it a few times when it premiered, but not since. 

I saw the Tempest (twice) - still waiting for National Ballet of Canada (which co-produced) to show it. Maybe they came to NYC to take a look and decided to just eat the loss.

I'd add Golden Cockerel to the list of his ballets I don't want to see again -- there's a certain value to reconstructions of Diaghilev-era ballets, but they're mostly of historical interest and I can't imagine bothering with a second viewing.

I do value his reconstruction of Swan Lake and wish it could be seen in North America. Very curious to know what he does with Bayadere in Berlin this fall and hope we'll be able to see that one.

To the list of original work definitely worth seeing, I'd add Pictures at an Exhibition for NYCB and the Trilogy for ABT and SFB.

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1 hour ago, California said:

...

To the list of original work definitely worth seeing, I'd add Pictures at an Exhibition for NYCB and the Trilogy for ABT and SFB.

Yes and Yes!

Add to the “No” list: Souvenir d’un Lieu Cher (from ABT 2017 Tchaikovsky program). Ratmansky’s batting average is generally higher at NYCB than ABT...but I enjoyed Songs of Bukovina for ABT’s 2017 fall season.

Edited by CharlieH

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Ratmansky's best works for ABT are IMO Serenade on a Symposium, his Shostakovich Trilogy, and his Sleeping Beauty reconstruction.  I also like Seven Sonatas although that's not a ballet that really works on the Met stage.

At NYCB his batting average is much higher: Pictures at an Exhibition, Concerto DSCH, Namouna, Russian Seasons, and Odessa are all pretty great with PAAE and DSCH being the greatest.

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2 hours ago, canbelto said:

Ratmansky's best works for ABT are IMO Serenade on a Symposium, his Shostakovich Trilogy, and his Sleeping Beauty reconstruction.  I also like Seven Sonatas although that's not a ballet that really works on the Met stage.

At NYCB his batting average is much higher: Pictures at an Exhibition, Concerto DSCH, Namouna, Russian Seasons, and Odessa are all pretty great with PAAE and DSCH being the greatest.

I agree. I might add Whipped Cream to the list of his best works for ABT. I know opinions on here were somewhat divided, but I found it delightful (if only he'd make the whipped cream waltz a real showstopper...). And it was certainly a box-office success for ABT. I'm curious to see if it does as well this year.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

I agree. I might add Whipped Cream to the list of his best works for ABT...(if only he'd make the whipped cream waltz a real showstopper...). 

Fondoffouettes, didn’t you love the Dairy Queen soft-serve curly-top headdresses of the waltzing ladies?

http://time.com/3736331/free-ice-cream-dairy-queen/

 

Edited by CharlieH
Inserting better DQ cone pic!

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51 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

Fondoffouettes, didn’t you love the Dairy Queen soft-serve curly-top headdresses of the waltzing ladies?

http://time.com/3736331/free-ice-cream-dairy-queen/

 

I really liked the costumes and scenery (including the metal slide). I just felt Ratmansky could have choreographed a waltz that was more evocative of cream being whipped, perhaps. I do like how the corps members form a peak at the end, but overall the choreography in that section felt a bit ho-hum. The ballet could have really used show-stopping choreography to close that act. Maybe Ratmansky's Waltz of the Snowflakes led me to set my expectations too high. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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I loved it too...even the headdresses and the rest of the outfits! 

Aurora, the “peaks” were too smooth...not the crinkles in your photo. It made me hungry for ice cream at intermission...like one can enjoy at the Royal Opera House in London!

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14 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

Aurora, the “peaks” were too smooth...not the crinkles in your photo.

Surely they were intended to evoke the smooth, light peaks of cream whipped by hand in a bowl, no? — as opposed to the "crinkly" stuff that comes from a can.

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5 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Surely they were intended to evoke the smooth, light peaks of cream whipped by hand in a bowl, no? — as opposed to the "crinkly" stuff that comes from a can.

Cool Whip! 

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59 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Surely they were intended to evoke the smooth, light peaks of cream whipped by hand in a bowl, no? — as opposed to the "crinkly" stuff that comes from a can.

Right -- it's why I expected more swirling, circular imagery, especially since it's set to a waltz.

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20 hours ago, CharlieH said:

I’M TOTALLY WITH YOU! It was a pathetic Firebird, emphasizing ugliness. I saw this in the initial run. Even Osipova couldn’t save that dog!!!

Ratmansky has created many lovely new (non-reconstruction) ballets, including Namouna, Concerto DSCH, Odessa, etc.) This is in the OTHER group, right down there with The Tempest and Fairy’s Kiss. 

I have little recollection of both. I fell asleep on The Tempest, and right now al can recall is Marcelo Gomes looking like Moses with a huge white beard and a ship prop that turned onstage. And La baiser... something similar. A couple of flashes of the work here and there, like the baby/prop being tossed around from hand to hand. Not too much else I'm afraid...😶

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Maybe the strangest thing for me about McGregor’s new ballet is that the gassing seems like it should shock, and it doesn’t, really. I’m not sure if that’s deliberate or not. (I saw it Tuesday, and I still can’t say I understand what the thing was about.)

The idea that ABT should include a warning when a ballet isn’t child-friendly bothers me in a couple ways. First, it seems to me it would promote the cliche that ballet is a decorative art, nice and “girly,” where everything occurs in some fairyland. One doesn’t expect a new play to advertise how many deaths occur in it, and what kind; a parent reads up and decides whether to take their child. And what is child-friendly anyway? Swan Lake, that ends with a double suicide? Wouldn’t it make more sense for ballet companies to offer a few short programs geared towards small children? (Finally, and this is purely a personal opinion—obviously people can raise their kids however they like—but I think many parents worry too much about protecting their children from, well, life. I say, take ‘em to stuff, even grown up stuff if they seem to have interest. If they’re old enough to have questions, then it’s a great opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with them.)

 

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On 5/23/2018 at 2:27 PM, nanushka said:

I'll be curious to hear how Teuscher does in the role. I've liked her a lot in some things, but I don't know that she has anything near Ferri's strengths in these particular aspects of her work.

So I saw the second cast of "AfteRite" last night.  Teuscher lacked Ferri's strengths and that may have been a good thing for the work as a whole. Teuscher was more blankly stoic and more easily manipulated.  And less emotive, but then she isn't Italian!    Her character was more weak, cowed, resigned and passive and it made more sense that she does not fight for the child.  You got the sense that she was not a strong or passionate woman alone, like Ferri, but a meek submissive member of some kind of cult or oppressive society.  She gave in to the dictate of the community, swallowed her maternal instincts and after one moment of weak defiance watched her child be sacrificed.

A note on the casting:  Isabella Boylston was in the Misty Copeland track of the photographer.  Gabe Stone Shayer was in Herman Cornejo's track and Daniil Simkin in Jeffrey Cirio's track.  Arron Scott was dancing the Blaine Hoven (anguished friend) role and Tom Forster was in James Whiteside's (shirtless) role.  The other dancers included Skylar Brandt, Catherine Hurlin, Marshall Whiteley, Tyler Maloney, Jose Sebastian, Courtney Shealy and Joo Wah Ahn.  Whiteley has a lot of stage presence and he is HUGE.  He is a strong partner but I noticed a tendency toward bulkiness in his frame - he needs to concentrate on keeping lean and vascular.  He also sweats a lot onstage.  His dancing is very good and he needs to be used more.

Initially I thought Shayer was in Cirio's track with Simkin in the Cornejo antagonist role.  This surprise casting was interesting and brought a whole different color to the piece.  Ferri and Cornejo have an intense personal chemistry onstage.  A pas de deux with them will look like it is sexual or romantic due to their chemistry and long partnership.  With Ferri and Cornejo it seemed like an erotic encounter turned into sadistic torture.  There was no sexual connection between Teuscher and Shayer - all that twisted partnering was from beginning to end about control and manipulation.  Shayer is actually shorter than Teuscher which made the image of her being lifted and rotated aloft by Shayer stranger and more disturbing.   Ferri and Cornejo were a hot pair and Teuscher and Shayer a cold pair, and cold somehow made better sense despite the loss in star quality.

I noticed a detail that had eluded me in the first viewing:  the Mother figure does start to try to fight the Antagonist after he turns on the gas in the greenhouse/gas chamber.  She tries to push him aside but he subdues her and pushed her to the ground.  It wasn't a tiger mother protecting her young but it was something - but too little too late and ineffectual.  The lower level of general drama and emoting with this alternate pair let moments like that stand out.

So was it GOOD?  No, not really but this cast, lacking some of the individual incandescence of the star duo in the other cast, did give more of a sense of ensemble and certain aspects played better.  Cornejo and Ferri deserve a better vehicle at ABT.  So do Teuscher and Shayer but they are lucky to get this.  Everybody was doing their best up there and looking good with what they were given.  But again my reaction was "Why are they doing that at that time and in that situation?"

"Firebird" was the same cast as Tuesday with Duncan Lyle returning replacing Roman Zhurbin as Kaschei.  Having seen this fine cast before I was less blindsided by their excellence and the headscratcher oddities and flaws in Ratmansky's choreography did stand out more to me this time.  I still had a good time but need a dose of Fokine, Balanchine or Tetley.

 

Edited by FauxPas
remembered something

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Posted (edited)

I recall the religious school teachings about the lifeboat dilemma as a child which I endured daily, and comparative religious debates as an adult.  

My Catholic friend says if a group has one hundred dollars spend it all on a sick unborn fetus. He says he never thought of anyone else's issues.  My Jewish teachings disagree.

i just saw Mel Gibson in a movie  urge fellow men to die for "freedom" in Scotland, whatever that means when dead.

I have a friend who says die inevitably but take the other with you to the grave.

 I think of all the children sent to world war , to Iraq Afghanistan, and the Middle East. I think of civil wars and religious wArs and "sacrifices".  

I wonder what a mother could do without allies or power or skills or strength or weapons or money or looks or a manipulative personality besides die with her child. I think your judgment harsh and unfair.

Fighting ferri's child died, too. 

 

As for "stoic" think about the Spartans and their warrior training and what they did to their children

 

stoic can be a strength or a weakness or misinterpreted (eg socially fearful or shy people are arrogant and stand offish).  Another interpretation, she is thinking about what to do and how to do it

Edited by Vs1

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