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ABT 2018 La Bayadere

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Bayadere kicks off this week and I'm looking forward to seeing some debuts and reading everyone's critiques (if anyone sees Ahn's debut, please post!).

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Posted (edited)

Last night was absolutely spectacular.  Kimin Kim has amazing spring, height and gorgeous soft landings.  Hee Seo was quite lovely and very well suited for the role of Nikiya, and I thought they had very good chemistry.   Gillian’s Gamzatti was terrific as always.   The Kingdom of the shades was beautiful and the corps did themselves proud.  I wasn’t able to stay for the third act, so I don’t know how Gorak did as the Bronze Idol.  Did anyone see it? 

Edited by NinaFan

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15 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

 I wasn’t able to stay for the third act, so I don’t know how Gorak did as the Bronze Idol.  Did anyone see it?  

Gorak was wonderful as the Bronze Idol. And I agree that Kimin Kim was incredible. He seemed suspended in midair for most of the ballet. Such a noble, ardent partner for Hee Seo and Gillian Murphy as well. Wow. Same cast on Friday night - definitely worth seeing again.

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I have to admit I was disappointed.  Kim was wonderful - not just that his jumps are almost unreal, he stays in the air so long, but he's so elegant and beautiful as Solor.  But I think that, to some extent, he showed up the rest of the cast.  I found Gillian Murphy's dancing  labored  last night in some sections and missing some of her usual razzle dazzle.  During the Italian fouettes, it looked like she was giving it all she had to get up there; it didn't have that effortless flowing appearance where it looks easy.  Her regular fouettes, on the other hand, were fantastic and had that magic.  And in Act III, at the beginning, she had some very awkward moments.  I couldn't tell what went wrong exactly, but it looked like she didn't have the balance and control to make a couple of transitions and rushed them.  To me, it did not feel like she was at her best.

Hee Seo was lovely in the pas de deux and the scarf variation.  They had some wonderful lifts that were one of the highlights for me.  But I find her very frustrating as a dancer because she plays it so safe.  Her jumps lack explosiveness, and there were too many moments when she could have done more, but didn't.  For example, she was in a beautiful arabesque pose with Kim on pointe, but she started rolling off pointe as he let go of her hand, and she did it every time in the sequence.  It looked like she wasn't even trying to hold the balances by herself, not even for a brief moment. Her bourres weren't that fast and kind of unexciting.   And the backward hops in arabesque, her leg was way too low to the ground.  It turned what is supposed to be a beautiful moment into something unimpressive.  It was almost awkward because Kim would come out and do something incredible, and she would do something... nice.  

I thought Gorak was very good.  He was super sharp and crisp with all his moves, and he had the almost statue like moves down perfectly.   One little bobble, but other than that, danced with a lot of beauty and clarity.

Finally, the Shades.   I saw so many trembling legs during the entrance initially that it was scary.  Not just little quivers either, but serious shaking.  The first shade  took a number of steps before she got her leg under control, and of course, I noticed her because she was first.  I don't know if that was nerves or lack of rehearsal time.  As it progressed, it got better, and I was able to relax and enjoy the beauty and not worry about potential mishaps.

People have commented about ABT lacking world class talent right now, and for me, last night's performance reinforced that.  I saw Tereshkina and Kim in DC, and they blew me away, whereas this time, Kim blew me away, but not the performance overall.  I really hope that some of the other casts are able to deliver incredible performances. 

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My first time seeing La Bayadere. After the Osipova/Hallberg Giselle night I have to say the saddest thing was to see how empty the house was and the overall sleepy / cold / low energy audience. 1st the ballet as a whole does not speak to me..but has pieces that I like and pieces that feel silly. Kim is insane - I am in love - so glad I go to see him literally fly and float and beautiful lines. Hee the usual.. Nice lines but something missing? Gillian had some good moments but I agree that she did not seem like her usual. Agree with above - LOTS of wobbly legs in the shade chorus entrance (it was distracting). I thought  the 3 soloists were excellent. Gorak was perfection. 

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Who is staging La Bayadère for ABT? Is it Makarova?

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4 minutes ago, pherank said:

Who is staging La Bayadère for ABT? Is it Makarova?

Yes, Makarova.

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3 minutes ago, pherank said:

Who is staging La Bayadère for ABT? Is it Makarova?

Yes, it’s still the Makarova version that  hasn’t changed in 38 years. 

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Did anyone see the debuts this afternoon?

And who has been dancing the three shades so far (last night and today)?

BTW Gabe Shayer posted an IG story saying that he'd be dancing the bronze idol tomorrow night.

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2 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

Yes, it’s still the Makarova version that  hasn’t changed in 38 years. 

Others have criticized her handling of the Shades 'promenade' of arabesques, and other things, though I've seen the SFB Corps (coached by Makarova) perform the arabesques elegantly and look rock-solid - very few wobbles or bobbles. But it's really important to place the best arabesque performers in the first third of the group - after that the audience isn't noticing the details of the movements so much for the dancers entering last on the ramp.

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2 hours ago, pherank said:

But it's really important to place the best arabesque performers in the first third of the group - after that the audience isn't noticing the details of the movements so much for the dancers entering last on the ramp.

Right — I always got the sense that ABT did that. I remember strong dancers like Renata Pavam frequently leading the troops. But it sounds like last night was pretty shaky overall. Probably they’ll reach their peak late this week, as they usually do. 

It makes me wonder if there’s been more turnover than usual in the corps.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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7 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

It makes me wonder if there’s been more turnover than usual in the corps.

There’s definitely a good number of names in tonight’s shades lineup that I don’t recognize, though it’s quite possible some were around last year and I just don’t recall.

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1 minute ago, nanushka said:

There’s definitely a good number of names in tonight’s shades lineup that I don’t recognize, though it’s quite possible some were around last year and I just don’t recall.

The apprentice Zimmi Coker was in the front this afternoon and was very very good...

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Have not seen ABT’s La Bayadere for a while. The L Samaritani scenic designs are as beautiful as ever. It was a very good performance by all but especially for the debuts of Devon, Christine and  Joo Won. Act II was very well done esp by the principal couple. Also notable was the debut of Anabel Katsnelson as the first shade. As usual, Arron Scott was a spectacular Bronze Idol. 

 

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Tonight was definitely a great night at the ballet, with a few ups and downs. I was very taken with Lane's interpretation in Act I, Scene 1. Every movement seemed to have dramatic intent, as opposed to some Nikiyas who just go from beautiful post to beautiful pose. She and Cornejo looked fantastic together. I'm convinced we need to see them in Giselle again, and they'd make an ideal Romeo and Juliet. 

Act I, Scene II is always a bit of a wash for me, with lots of melodramatic sequences and not a lot of real dancing, besides the d'jampe dancers. Brandt impressed me as Gamzatti. She's not a fierce villainess, but rather an aloof, gorgeous princess who can't be bothered with Nikiya's nonsense. 

Scene III was great. The corps and demi-soloists looked better and more in sync than they have in many previous seasons. The partnering between Brandt and Cornejo wasn't as comfortable as that between Cornejo and Lane. There was a promenade that went awry, but Brandt danced through it well and I'm sure many in the audience didn't even notice it. The supported pirouettes definitely had that super handsy look that isn't so attractive. Cornejo's variation brought the house down -- he was clearly giving 110%. Brandt's variation was also just about picture perfect. Her Italian fouettes went off without a hitch without being particularly beautiful (her extensions weren't particularly high), and she followed them with super solid single fouettes. Seeing Cornejo and Brandt together made me realize that Brandt has a pretty low jump, though the jumps themselves look nice. Lane's basket dance was lovely, with a few foot adjustments that detracted. She's not a luscious NIkiya -- maybe that's impossible given her short limbs -- but she's one that very much embodies the character.

Act II started with one of the most underwhelming shade scenes I've ever seen at ABT. The shades were all out of sync, with dancers raising their legs at different moments, and not raising them in a fluid motion. The first three shades seemed to be having the most problems, so it seems puzzling they were put out in front. The worst moments came once the shades were in formation. Legs were shaking more than I've ever seen in this scene. 

The pas de deux was lovely, I've never seen a Nikiya seem so sylph-like, especially when she was in Cornejo's arms. Lane's interpretation made me see the act as more Romantic in style. Cornejo doesn't reach the level he once did in his solos, but he still looks exceptional, and it was clear he was dancing all out. Lane's only issues came in the scarf section; I almost dread that section, as so many dancers seem to have issues with it. But her issues were relatively minor compared to some. Her endings to the turns were just sort of fudged a bit, from what I could tell, with her coming off point a bit early. The coda was really great. I haven't seen Bayadere in a while, but I thought most NIkiyas end it with a manege of turns (but I could be wrong). Lane ended it with a series of turns on a diagonal downstage, then hops backward en arabesque, and then another series of turns on a diagonal downstage. 

I couldn't stay for the third act.

The evening left me wanting to see much, much more of the Lane/Cornejo partnership. Bayadere may not be the ideal vehicle for Lane, but I was still completely engaged with what she did with the role. 

With regard to the physical production, I do think it is relatively attractive, but it's looking a bit tired and some elements look dated (Gamzatti's faded 70s mustard tutu in the betrothal PDD). I think ABT could use a fresh production, as long as they don't cheap out on it. And they could consider what stereotypical imagery might be tweaked. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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5 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

The evening left me wanting to see much, much more of the Lane/Cornejo partnership. Bayadere may not be the ideal vehicle for Lane, but I was still completely engaged with what she did with the role. 

I'm collecting my thoughts about the performance, but I agree 1000% about their partnership. They have such a natural, loving chemistry that's achingly romantic. I have troubling thinking of any other notable (current) ABT partnerships. 

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It was a mixed bag tonight. Dancers who are usually secure had off nights and a few who have been inconsistent had a good performance. Still, some beautiful dancing.

This wasn't the debut Lane wanted I'm sure. She was overall gorgeous, soulful, had lovely acting, beautiful port de bras. But, her balances were really off and she had a lot of wobbles. A few of her supported pirouettes with Cornejo ended awkwardly with him stopping her too early. The scarf dance wasn't very good. Lane had a lot of trouble with the developes and the turns and she came out of all of them early. There were many lovely moments for her with strong dancing but this was an off night for her. A few people have said she's inconsistent in general, but that's not what I've seen over the years. This was an unfortunate night.

Cornejo had many gasp-inducing moments with his stellar jumps and turns. But, some of his partnering was off like the pirouettes I already mentioned. In Act II during one of his solos, he finished his pirouettes really early (the kind where he usually spins for like 10 times before turning them into another dramatic series of spins), and had to fill up the music awkwardly with walking and arm gestures before he could start his ménage. Very unusual for him.

Brandt had a stellar debut as Gamzatti. Those big, expressive eyes of hers were put to great use. The bracelet battle was intense and she stared Lane down with looks that could kill. When Nikiya was dancing with the basket of flowers and gestured them towards Gamzatti and Solor, Brandt's face said "what flowers? I don't see any flowers. I don't know anything about any flowers." Priceless. Her dancing was secure and she handled the fouettes and Italian fouettes without any issue. Her center of gravity seemed off kilter during some of her turns, but she didn't wobble or fall out of them. The biggest thing with her though was how she owned the role. Complete confidence. And, she's stopped opening her mouth so much, especially at the end of phrases.

Shayer was the Head Fakir and his jumping skills were on terrific display here. 

Gorak did the Bronze Idol and he was magnificent! Clear, precise, strong and powerful. For a guy who has fallen by the wayside over the years with so-so performances, this was a revelation. Of course, it's a small part, but he still has skill and performance ability in him.

Fang, Giangeruso (both just ok) and Hurlin were the 3 shades. Hurlin was extraordinary. Such presentation, lovely upper body, secure technique. She stood out amongst all of the shades. Speaking of, the shades entrance has not improved from what others already saw this week. R Richardson was first followed by Nicole Graniero (always love seeing her return for the Met season). Richardson was very wobbly and finished each arabesque a second earlier than the rest. Several other shaking legs in the rows. Once they were all in formation,    Richardson and Graniero were so off balance in the opening develope, that I was sure one or both of them would fall over. A woman behind me gasped they were wobbling so bad. Very uncharacteristic of Graniero. She is always one of the most solid and reliable dancers (and is perfectly in sync when she does the 4 little swans in SL). And, in the Pas d'Action, Graniero and McBride collided. Also, McBride is an excellent dancer and she stands out, but she needs to tone down her Colgate smile that I notice in every performance. It looks forced.

The D'Jampe dancers were all over the place and not together. I didn't catch in the announcement who the 2 dancers were who replaced the ones in the program, but they looked poorly rehearsed. Aran Bell had a small part in the Pas d'Action. His dancing was excellent but he had no presentation. 

I really wish Lane and Cornejo got another performance this week to iron out the kinks. Hope the corps can come together and give some better shows.

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11 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I went to the performance tonight and agree with the plaudits:

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2018/05/balanchines-coppelia-and-makarovas.html

This was the most surprising change I noticed in Cornejo:

"Grand jetes look like a very narrow upside down V."

I haven't seen him dance a leading Petipa role in a while, probably because he's so often paired with Copeland, so it  was a bit of a shock to see how changed his grand jetes were.

10 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

In Act II during one of his solos, he finished his pirouettes really early (the kind where he usually spins for like 10 times before turning them into another dramatic series of spins), and had to fill up the music awkwardly with walking and arm gestures before he could start his ménage. Very unusual for him.

 

I noticed something was perhaps awry, but couldn't remember what usually happens during this section. It seemed like he was taking a breather and walking to downstage right before starting his manege.

But I only have major props for Cornejo. He still delivers in many ways and is an exciting dancer.

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1 minute ago, fondoffouettes said:

But I only have major props for Cornejo. He still delivers in many ways and is an exciting dancer.

I completely agree. I'm just used to seeing him virtually flawless so that made this stand out to me. His lessening flexibility doesn't deter anything for me. And, I also wanted to add, as I forgot before, that I couldn't agree more with the others on how special and intense the partnership is between he and Lane. I really wish they could have done a Giselle together again this year. It was so full of passion. Their sweet and personal embrace during the bows tonight made many in the audience go "awwwwwww" at the sincerity of their affection towards each other. 

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I agree with everyone about tonight's performance.  It wasn't perfect, but I'll take it.  Who knows when Lane will be permitted to dance this role again - if ever?  And with Cornejo?  They're paired together in New York so rarely, and she has so few performances as it is.  His partnering has been wasted on Copeland, and Lane's talent has just been . . . wasted.  I thought she gave a gorgeous performance tonight, soulful and lyrical and deeply felt.  And Cornejo really gives his all when he's teamed with her.  If only they'd been given a second performance - like all the other casts have been given - many of their technical issues could have been worked out.

The women in the corps de ballet were a mess tonight, as were some of the men in the first act.  In addition to the problems during Kingdom of the Shades, the two circular groups of women performing the third act candle dance were completely out of sync with one another.  What is going on?  I think the fire gods of La Bayadere are angered by ABT's management issues - lack of rehearsal for the dancers, minimal coaching, a 35 year old production which is looking shabby, a large theater with many, many empty seats - and will send the roof crashing down on everyone for allowing things to have deteriorated to this extent.  I sure hope Harlequinade will be good.

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Posted (edited)

 

9 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Act II started with one of the most underwhelming shade scenes I've ever seen at ABT. The shades were all out of sync, with dancers raising their legs at different moments, and not raising them in a fluid motion. The first three shades seemed to be having the most problems, so it seems puzzling they were put out in front. The worst moments came once the shades were in formation. Legs were shaking more than I've ever seen in this scene. 

ABT needs to turn their attention to the corps in the shades scene pronto - the descent from the ramp and opening was the worst I've ever seen. Uncoordinated arms & eyes, as noted, but to me the most distracting part was that the second girl down the ramp was consistently behind the lead girl and the next 4 or 5 with her arabesques as they snaked through the stage. Once in formation she was still behind everyone else in that first line with her developees and arabesques. And the whole front line were shaking like leaves. ABT  should be ashamed, this was completely unacceptable.

6 hours ago, laurel said:

I agree with everyone about tonight's performance.  It wasn't perfect, but I'll take it.  Who knows when Lane will be permitted to dance this role again - if ever?  And with Cornejo?  They're paired together in New York so rarely, and she has so few performances as it is.  His partnering has been wasted on Copeland, and Lane's talent has just been . . . wasted.  I thought she gave a gorgeous performance tonight, soulful and lyrical and deeply felt.  And Cornejo really gives his all when he's teamed with her.  If only they'd been given a second performance - like all the other casts have been given - many of their technical issues could have been worked out.

The women in the corps de ballet were a mess tonight, as were some of the men in the first act.  In addition to the problems during Kingdom of the Shades, the two circular groups of women performing the third act candle dance were completely out of sync with one another.  What is going on?  I think the fire gods of La Bayadere are angered by ABT's management issues - lack of rehearsal for the dancers, minimal coaching, a 35 year old production which is looking shabby, a large theater with many, many empty seats - and will send the roof crashing down on everyone for allowing things to have deteriorated to this extent.  I sure hope Harlequinade will be good.

fondoffouettes & laurel - I agree with just about everything both of you said in your posts. Lane and Cornejo were wonderful, despite her problems with the scarf dance and his lessening flexibility. I also thought his elevation was somewhat diminished, but his last solo in the shades scene was spectacular and it is a pleasure to see the two of them together.

Edited by nysusan

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21 minutes ago, nysusan said:

 

ABT needs to turn their attention to the corps in the shades scene pronto - the descent from the ramp and opening was the worst I've ever seen. Uncoordinated arms & eyes, as noted, but to me the most distracting part was that the second girl down the ramp was consistently behind the lead girl and the next 4 or 5 with her arabesques as they snaked through the stage. Once in formation she was still behind everyone else in that first line with her developees and arabesques. And the whole front line were shaking like leaves. ABT  should be ashamed, this was completely unacceptable.

One can only imagine what Makarova was thinking as she watched. As the corps got a huge ovation, all I could think was, “I think that’s the worst shade scene I’ve ever seen at ABT.” I’ve seen some wonky mistakes over the years — a single corps girl raising her arm at the wrong moment, half the corps breaking formation too early after the scene is over — but the overall quality of dancing has never looked so poor, IMHO. They need more than their pinky circle ritual to help them through it.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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9 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Brandt's variation was also just about picture perfect.

...

Seeing Cornejo and Brandt together made me realize that Brandt has a pretty low jump, though the jumps themselves look nice.

Agree with much of the above praise for the leads and criticism of the shades corps. In Brandt's variation, the diagonal of chaines near the end was stunning — tight and fast. Wow.

And yes, I also noticed that about Brandt's jumps. She wasn't getting much height at all. I don't recall if that's typical for her.

My takeaway: Cornejo is still a star; this was a stellar debut for Brandt; and this was a very, very strong debut (with potential for further seasoning in the role, which I hope she'll have the opportunities to achieve) for Lane. (In particular, I'd like to see her dancing Nikiya as if the movements are more deeply engrained. There were lots of little adjustments last night in many of the steps.)

I had to miss Giselle unexpectedly and chose to skip last week's double bill, so this was a great start to my Met season!

Edited by nanushka

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I don't  buy cornejo tickets anymore because he is great but I remember when he was GREAT and it hurts 

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